|NOBODY: When the entire group, except for Curt, is gathered in the DZ for an escape meeting the old man requests to speak. Once granted leave, he appears quite grim and resolute. "I have been doing further research into the cave-in. I have come to a conclusion that I find inescapable. I have found that we have a high probability of failing. Now I am not putting down Dayne's skills. I am simply pointing out that we do not have the skills necessary to realize the full situation.|
NOBODY: According to my research, we have a higher than fifty percent chance of failing with the cave-in. The closest that I can figure it is that we have a one-in-three chance of successfully pulling off a cave-in of the right proportions. The other ways it can go are too little of a cave-in, in which we get hunted down and caught, or a cave-in of catastrophic proportions, likely killing much of the prison population. With the significant lack of safety procedures and monitoring of the miners, I put nearly a 45% chance of the catastrophic cave-in, which, by the way, would most likely kill us as well.
NOBODY: I have been talking to Jack about convincing Etienne to either aid, or join our escape. Yes, I know that I don't like the man much, but we need him for this plan to succeed. That sucks, but that is reality. I believe that the man is, by far, the best miner in the prison, including the engineer. He has special skills and abilities, which I am not able to disclose at this time, that lend to his knack. Jack has refused to approach Etienne because of Etienne's desire to not have anything to do with our escape.
NOBODY: Since I feel very strongly that this data is incorrect, I am wholly withdrawing my support of the cave-in portion of the escape plan. If you decide to go through with it without Etienne's help, I will simply withdraw from the escape altogether. I have no intention of being part of a plan that has such a high chance of committing murder, especially mass murder.
NOBODY: Of this last decision, I will not discuss changing my mind.
NOBODY: Here is what I am going to do now. I am going to a nearby tunnel (Eli gives you an exact location) and I will commence mining until you come to me with your decision.
NOBODY: If you scrub the cave-in plan, I will be quite willing to rejoin to help find alternatives. I do want to escape as much as any of you.
NOBODY: If you decide to kick me out, I will simply request work in the MML from now on and hope that I don't die in a catastrophic cave-in. If you do cause the catastrophe that I am predicting, I will gladly spill my guts to the authorities. Of course, you'll probably be dead, so you won't care if your names are spat upon through the rest of history.
NOBODY: Anything else happens; you escape successfully, or get caught, I don't know anything, and I won't say anything."
NOBODY: The old man stands. His face is sad and he looks a thousand years old. He turns, sighs, and limps quietly away down the tunnel. Soon you hear the sounds of him working nearby.
NOBODY (OOC): Eli is out of any followup discussion. I will be deleting any replies, unless you yell at him as he walks away, to any of his comments.
NOBODY: Just to add a little bit of data: Eli has positioned himself so that should he be killed, his body will be most easily disposed of down the hole to the cavern. He is watching his back, and does have his forcefield up, but should one, or more of the core group approach hime, he will drop his forcefield and keep his back to them, thus making it easier for them to kill him should they so choose. He is feeling quite bad about his mutinous actions, but believes that he is in the right.
VAMPERINA: Vamperina also speaks up (hopefully) before Nobody has departed. "I have no objection to talking further about the cave-in aspect of our escape. I'm not really sure why you don't want to take part in the discussion, Nobody, since you seem to have the most to say about it. I was under the impression from talking to Dayne, that he was fairly confident that he could set it up to work in the manner that we need it to. You obviously believe differently and I am interested in elaboration on your part, as well as further discussion by Arpad and Dayne. Now that you mention it, I do recall that Arpad has expressed concerns about the cave-in aspect in the past."
NOBODY: The old man pauses. "I just want to make you fully appreciate how strongly I feel about this. Unfortunately, we don't have several months for me to lay down all of the data I've collected, and the work I've performed mentally. The thing is this: From the very first day that I started mining here, I've collected data, made observations and constantly updated my theories and hypothesi on mining. During this time, as my knowledge grew, I realized how much I did not know. Its like discovering an ocean, wading in to my knees, and making observations on the enormity of the hydrosystem of the planet that lets me know, daily, how much more that I do not know about the ocean itself. The more I learn the less I realize that I do not know.
NOBODY: Where the danger comes in, is our significant lack of sensing equipment and serious understanding of the surrounding earth. Even if Dayne were as good, or even better than the prison's mining engineer, he is lacking in the necessary data to make an accurate and safe evaluation. That is, unless he has other abilities he wishes to volunteer that will give us the necessary data to perform the cave-in safely. The safety of this mining venture has been seriously undermined for decades, if not centuries. I believe that in our ignorance, we are about to risk kicking out one of the few supports that is keeping disaster a breath away.
NOBODY: Unless we find an alternative plan, then our only choice is to find somebody with the neccesarry skills and talents to perform the cave-in. To do otherwise would be criminally reckless and that is where I draw the line. I would rather be innocent and rotting in this prison, then guilty of murder and running free. I will not willfully take unnecessary risks with the lives of the unwitting. Now if we are willing to commit a few months debating this in a scientific manner, we need to make some decisions about the cave-in very quickly.
NOBODY: Unfortunately, I had to be this dramatic as our time is close, and it would very easy for you guys to blow me off in your desperation to escape. You may feel that we are too far committed to this action, but we can always pull back and try again later."
VAMPERINA: "Eli, you are just as much a part of this group as anyone else. No more and no less. What I'm hearing is that you are very concerned about the risks of a cave-in but, rather than presenting your concerns in a calm, scientific manner, you feel it necessary to resort to sophomoric theatrics to bring it to everyone's attention."
NOBODY: The old man shrugs. "Sophomoric, no argument. Unscientific? Wrong. Very calculated. Who here, now, doubts that I will withdraw from the escape if I see necessary? I may not be a man of much spine, but I do have my limits. The scientific weight of this problem is too much to describe in such a short period, so emotion is necessary to get the point across. Besides, I've spent the last 170 years being calm and scientific. I think that I was due."
VAMPERINA: "I don't think anyone here is any more or less desperate to escape than you are and, if we have to remain a little longer to make sure we have a good, well thought out escape plan, then so be it. Our planning up until now has been careful and I have every reason to believe that we will continue being careful. What you're saying is that you think that a cave-in is too risky without better tools. Do you have an alternative suggestion? If not, let's re-examine the issue and decide what we want to do. The reason for the cave-in was to cover our escape. What are some other options along this line?"
NOBODY: "My first recommendation is that we figure out how to approach Etienne. If we can convince him to at least help, then our plan can go forward. Unfortunately, I do not feel that it would help our cause, in convincing him to aid us, if I released further data on his abilities without his permission. I do consider it a high probability that I can release his powers from the mindblocks more readily than anyone else. Again, this involves previous research and data which it is not in my rights to reveal. As you can see, with all of my knowledge and research locked behind a code of ethics, I am stuck with 'sophomoric theatrics' to get my point across. If Etienne is willing to let me release this information, then we can proceed more scientifically.
NOBODY: As you have seen, my persuasive skills are pretty minimal. I leave the convincing, of Etienne to aid us, to those more skilled in that area.
NOBODY: If that doesn't work, then I see little choice but to scrap the cave-in portion and seek some other form of distraction to convince the authorities that we are not worthy of pursuit.
NOBODY: Blackmail is a possibility, but we need more data.
NOBODY: Maybe later, in the escape, we can 'die' in an accident. Exploding shuttle, massive vehicle wreck. Huge explosion in the wilds. Might we be able to get our hands on that explosive that is hidden with an inmate? What if the 'accident' happened further down in the natural cavern? We could always set up some of these surface travellers as witnesses."
MAX:"Your methodology might be scientific, but your ideology isn't. Most scientists bring there information up for review and explain there conclusions. You have just announced that its wrong and may be dangerous, but you haven't shown or explained any of your data on why. Is the mine that unstable? I haven't seen much of an example of that, in the last two years we have had a few mining incidents. These have all been relativity minor and in some part due to the prisons safety equipment or lack there of. I would like a better explanation on why it's now so dangerous. As to a big fiery death later on, isn't that as dangerous. At least we have/had time to get a good start on this. Also does Arpad and Dayne agree with you on this matter, as they are the miners setting this up.
MAX: Also we have also already committed our selves to a course of action, and you trying to have us change that course is putting Curt in direct jeopardy. Why didn't you bring this to us before he went into hiding? Have you thought of a plan to protect him and from being found?"
NOBODY: "As I said before, it would take months of covering the data, research, and proofs to show you how I came to realize our level of ignorance and thus the significant increase in danger. I would be willing to pause our escape for the next three months while the scientists hash out the data. Unfortunately, unless you have eidetic memory, you will be at a significant disadvantage unless you wish to make copious notes and risk discovery. I have no blackboards or slides, or any other minimally necessary tools to present my data. So it will probably take more like a year.
NOBODY: Since we have been mining with safety and caution in mind for the last two years, we should have seen very few accidents, and very little in the way of major accidents; however, with the plan to cause the cave-in, we are specifically throwing quite a bit of the safety procedures aside and purposely trying for a large 'accident'. That is where the current danger lies. We have never attempted this magnitude of an action previously, and we are seriously lacking in the necessary sensing equipment to proceed with any real probability of safety or success."
NOBODY: "I only just finished with the third check of my data, research and conclusions last night. I have mentioned, several months ago, that I was not too certain about the safety of our performing a cave-in. But that was when I was just starting to seriously work on the barely perceived danger.
NOBODY: Also, as I said earlier, we can still pull back, maybe not all the way, but put the plan on hold until we can safely perform the cave-in, or put an alternate plan into action in its place. We could also take this time to further scan the rest of the mine, and have Curt scout.
GM: Vamperina is busy translating the conversation for Dayne.
ARPAD: "I was going to wait to speak until Eli had summarized his findings that showed why there was such a high level of danger involved but I now gather that he is not going to provide a summary." Arpad looks curiously at Eli and asks, "Are you serious that it would take three months just to give us a *summary* of your findings?!"
ARPAD: "Anyway, I will provide a summary about our plans for the cave-in. As I said before, it does hinge on having rope. We *might* be able to do something with rope made of clothing but I doubt it. A good, manufactured rope has a relatively uniform strength. A makeshift rope made of clothing is going to have weak spots and we are much more likely to break the rope than to trigger the cave-in."
GM: Just a quick interjection about the supports for the mining tunnels. The mining engineer and his three trustees are constantly enlarging the mine. They have a machine called a digger that tunnels through the stone to make new secondary tunnels, or elongate existing ones. The device tunnels at a rate of about 6 meters a day. As it tunnels, it builds the side supports using a liquid composite that is mostly high tensile plastic. The machine forms the molds on the sides of the tunnel and pours the liquid plastic in. The plastic cools and hardens quickly. After forming the side supports, the molds are retracted, and an arched mold is built on top of the two side supports. More liquid plastic is injected into the new mold and the top support is formed. Then the machine moves on. The resulting support structure is basically three plastic 'logs' that are 15 cm square (about the size of a 6x6), the top one of which is arched for greater support. Someone with normal strength cannot hope to break one of these logs normally. An exceptionally strong person could.
ARPAD: "In a nutshell, our plan is to make some strategic cuts above some of the supports in the escape tunnel. Then we will run a rope around the base of one of the supports that is between the hole that we have yet to cut, and the entrance to the escape tunnel. Ideally I would like to have a couple of ropes so that we could pull two supports at one time but, at this point, we don't even have one rope."
ARPAD: "The scenario that Eli described, where we end up collapsing a larger part of the DZ, is a possibility, but a remote one in my opinion. The greater danger is that we pull the supports and the tunnel doesn't collapse at all or only collapses a little and the guards are still able to get through. A huge help in creating the cave in will be Max and the densiometer. Max knows geology and with the densiometer he can tell us where to cut for maximum effect."
ARPAD: "So, in summary, I think the plan is workable if we can get some rope. I would like to have at least 20 meters of rope so that we can be some distance away when we trigger the cave-in."
ARPAD: "Having said all that, however, I will reiterate what I have said before. This is not an exact science. Something could easily go wrong. We might accidentally cause a cave-in as we are trying to set it up, wounding or killing myself, Dayne and/or Max. We could set it, pull the support and then have nothing happen. I don't really know Etienne very well so I don't know what kind of mining skills he has. If he is a good miner and a good mining engineer, then I can certainly see the value of including him. However, if we don't...", Arpad shrugs, "then we can get by without him. The one thing that I do suggest is that we have some sort of backup plan in case the cave-in, assuming that we still want to try it, fails."
ARPAD: "We also need to get some rope."
GM: Vamperina translates all of this for Dayne, and then talks to him for a bit.
VAMPERINA: "Like Arpad, Dayne is of the opinion that the cave-in is doable. He agrees that there is some risk but, based on the information that he has now, believes the risk to be small. However, he also admits that he is neither a mining engineer, nor a geologist and would like to hear more about Eli's information of the hidden dangers. He also doesn't know anything about Etienne or his skills as a miner. If he is a highly skilled mining engineer, then Dayne has no objection to bringing him in to the escape attempt to help with setting up the cave-in."
SURGE: Surge sighs. "Nobody, I have difficulty believe that it would take months for you to give us a summary. The other concern I have with your conclusion is clearly your theory is based on mathematical formulas, no? That being the base you did all this calculating in your mind and how did you quantify your numbers to begin with? I concede that we don't have precise numbers at all and this is definitely risky. On the same end, how can you be so sure of your conclusion with such fuzzy numbers. In my experience with physics and the hard sciences, one calculation that is off slighty can ruin any accuracy in your end conclusion. Do you feel your analysis is so tight here that you are certain of this disaster?"
NOBODY: "As I had said before, I predict approximately a 45% chance of a catastrophic cave-in, approximately 22% chance of not enough of a cave-in, and approximately 33% chance of a successful cave-in of the dimensions you are attempting. So, no, I do not feel that my analysis is so tight that I am certain of this disaster. What I am certain of is that our lack of data has a good chance of fouling up our plans, and retains a significant possibility of disaster leading to unnecessary death.
NOBODY: As I also said earlier, this is based off of how much that I know that I don't know. Its a case of our knowing enough to be dangerous. Like knowing how to prep a stick of dynamite, light it, but having no idea what the dynamite is made of, intended to do, or what to do with it once lit. Unfortunately, the densiometer doesn't have the range to tell us more indepth information on the rock strata beyond several feet. We also don't have the tools to measure what kind of stresses the rock is currently under at the point in which we wish to cause a cave-in."
SURGE: "But what troubles me more is your approach with all this. Your emotion power grab scares me. Please, give us a bit more credibility in the future and instead of laying out dire conclusions and make ultimatums on top of that you simply lay out the facts. I consider myself a very reasonable and logical person. I am superbly intelligent and am insulted when you try to degrade science and mathematics to an emotional outburst. I understand that this situation is very stressful and I've no doubt that you felt an immense weight of the possibilities as you wrestled with this dilemma. That is no justification though to treat us to such draconian tactics."
SURGE: Surge turns to the rest of the group. "Okay, let's step back a moment. Our main goal here is to give a credible reason as to our group's disappearance and to hide our exit. So I can see that with our exit being so close to the heart of the DZ mining level that it poses additional risk if the cave-in goes too far. What if we were to cause a cave-in in a remote part of the mine that doesn't pose the same amount of risk? That leaves two issues as I see it. One, the person starting the cave-in will need to get back to the exit without being seen. Two, the exit will not be covered over. What if we caused a minature cave-in around the exit that hides the opening?"
NOBODY: "I think that would pretty much tell them where to look for us. The cave-in needs to be significant enough so that they will simply not be willing to dig for us, but controlled enough that it doesn't bring down a larger portion of the mining complex."
SURGE: "As for remotely triggering the cave-in, would it be helpful if I were to blast the supports from a distance with my lightning bolt? I'm not sure about rope but with more time, once I return to the machine shop I could possibly find some rope. We can also inquire with various people about that. Maybe the fellow that hooked me up with the off-duty guard uniform."
ARPAD: "Your lightning bolt will work if it meets two criteria. First, it has significant kinetic force, much more so than even a strong man is capable of, and second, it can be targeted from a distance, which obviously also means around several corners. Can you target something if you can't see it?"
SURGE: "Hmm, my lightning bolt when not mind block has significant force and can be quite destructive. I can also fire it off at a pretty good distance though I do need to have line of sight on my target to hit it."
SURGE: Surge turns back to Nobody, "Okay, I've got a question for you about Etienne. How do you know about his special abilities? We also need more information as to what he has to offer before we involve him in discussions."
NOBODY: "As I said before, my hands are tied. I cannot offer that information since it is Etienne's. If Jack wishes to divulge portions thereof, fine, but I think that it is really Etienne's place to release the information, about himself, on his own.
NOBODY: I do wish to point out again, since some of you may not be taking this portion seriously, that if you decide to go ahead with the cave-in aspect, without more expert assistance and sensing data, that I will not be a part of the escape.
NOBODY: Of course, as Arpad and Dayne have pointed out, we are not very familiar with each others' skills. Aside from knowing that they are fine miners, I don't know if either of them have other skills and/or abilities that make them qualified to judge the extent of the cave-in. Perhaps that data would strongly modify my theories.
NOBODY: The only other person who has any related skills beyond mining, that I know of in our group, is Max, and his is the science of geology."
JACK: Jack says, "I refused to talk to Etienne only because I believed that we had the cave-in well in hand, and that while he could certainly be very helpful, we didn't need him, and he would be very reticent to help us. He's asked to be left alone more than once, so I was trying to let him have his wish. Now that I know more about Nobody's concerns, I'm willing to talk to him, and ask his help in preventing more deaths. As for his abilities, I am not familiar with the EXACT nature of them, but I know he has mutant talents for digging and mining.
SURGE: "Well, I guess talking to him is the next step then. How soon can you meet? I would think we still want to open a small opening in the exit to have Curt explore it while we wait."
JACK: "As for the need for a rope, it surprises me that you want to be scores of meters away from the key support, I was hoping there would be more of a slow chain reaction possibility, one support goes and like dominoes several others that have been weakened by us go as well. I simply don't know enough about all of this, so I defer to the experts. It's also possible that one of us has the power to survive being caught in the edge of the cave-in, or the speed to get out of range fast enough after triggering it.
NOBODY: Other than the initial outburst, Eli has calmly and coolly argued his case as if he were discussing an experiment with lab partners. Occasionally he raised his voice mildly to emphasize a point.
JACK: Jack's concern for Nobody shows occasionally during this time.
NOBODY: During his last few reiterations of points to Surge and Max, Eli began to perspire. Though his voice generally remained calm, his pacing seemed to lag here and there, as if he were forgetting a point and refering to notes.
NOBODY: As his perspiration grew heavier, random emotions began to flit across the old man's face. The emotions seemed out of context with his speech. During the last few halting sentences, the facial expressions became increasingly harsh and lasted longer. Eli was perspiring heavy and his body began to shake and shudder.
NOBODY: As soon as he is done speaking. the haggardly inmate seems to collect himself. All are staring at this strange behavior. When several of the group began to demand explanations of the behavior, or inquire as to Eli's health, the old man's eyes suddenly roll back, showing only the whites. His hands clasp to the sides of his temples and hold his head as if attempting to prevent it from exploding.
NOBODY: "nnnnnnnngggYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGG!" Eli screams for nearly a minute, at the top of his lungs, then collapses to his knees as the subsequent echos of his horrible cry echoes through the room. Those nearby see his gimpy leg twist in a painful manner as it is unable to deal with the sudden collapse of bodyweight.
NOBODY: Eli's old lungs rasp for air as he braces himself on his hands and one good knee. His tired body shudders with each indrawn breath.
JACK: Jack has been watching with growing concern, and with the very first sign of trouble he's at the old man's side to support him. Hopefully this means you don't fall, and I hold you up.
NOBODY: As Jack goes to the old man's side and grabs to support the painfully shuddering body, he finds Eli to be a nearly dead weight. First aid training will tell you that it is best to lay the old man down, so you do. Eli rolls painfully onto his back, wincing with each small movement of his injured knee. All can see small trails of blood coming from his ears, eye ducts, nose, and mouth. Eli's skin is pale, more so than usual since we have been stuck underground for nearly two years, and clammy to the touch.
NOBODY: Eli's hands clutch weakly at Jack's prison-issue shirt, pulling Jack close. Those nearest hear the hoarse whisper from the scream-tortured throat, "Jack. I'm sorry Jack. I'm sorry that it took me so long to break free. Jack..." you lean closer as Eli's voice begins to fade, "Jack, don't let me out of your sight, and don't trust..." At this point the old man slumps unconscious. Those with first aid skills know that this is a good time to treat for shock.
GM: Dayne is the resident paramedic and he looks Nobody over. By this time, Eli's scream has drawn some attention, mostly other inmates, but eventually a couple of guards show up. At the same time, Dayne suggests that Eli may have suffered a stroke and relays this to the guards. Dayne and Vamperina are then ordered to take Eli up to the infirmary. A stretcher is brought in and Dayne supervises Eli's transfer to the stretcher. Then he and Vamperina take the ends of the stretcher and are escorted up to the infirmary. They return about 15 minutes later.
GM: Let me know what you want to do now and what your plan is for the next day.