I’ve been reading up on my Eclipse Phase lately. As its all Creative Commons (something my regular imaginary readers will no doubt realize I make extensive use of) it makes a good way to smash your brain open and fly onto a new creative horizon when on a budget. Which I am. So I’ve smashed through character creation… which I’m going to come out and and say was pretty painful and drawn out, even with the handy module system in Transhuman.
But I came out with Vik Archaki, a bedevilled interplanetary historian and robot enthusiast. As its taken a few hours, I’m gonna reward myself by writing some fiction for y’all. The crunch junkies can get their nuts and bolts further down.
One more piece, and it would be perfect.
The metal guts came in to sharp focus in an instant, a nest of scavenged junk remade into something beautiful. Over that was a skin painted and finished so that it was just the way he remembered. Down to the finest micro-shade, it was perfect. Not even the mouthiest Neo-Raven could dispute him on it. Not this time.
His hand did not shake as the final element moved across the gulf of the valley, inexorably drawn to its rightful nest.
There was a sound like a shuttle ramming the door, and Vik clutched his ear, screeching as the metal fiber slipped away from his snatching fingers and tumbling away to the other side of the room.
Exhaling deeply, he unhooked his harness and let the microgravity buoy him, his little family moving off the tabletop and clambering onto his sleeves as he pushed off. The hammering continued. He punched the door control, felt the restabilization of atmosphere fumbling over his skin as the hatch slid open and his bots shimmied to his shoulders, forming a strange halo of antenna and gun barrels.
“What… do you want?” Vik stage whispered.
He took a momentary double take. He had been looking at the Gargoyle morph’s spindly, gunmetal torso. He looked up at the holographic face. Vik blinked, and the face changed, cycling as they spoke.
“Shop talk, Vik.” The elongated figure warbled, its voice shifting with its face. “You got time for a little chit chat, don’t you?”
Vik sniffed. Talbot. Had to be Talbot. She was the only one who thought that premium double-refined protective oil made any difference. Well, so did Jonah, but he wasn’t the door knocking type…
“Of course you do.” The Gargoyle clambered forward along the railings like a fluid stop-motion nightmare.
“Tchtchtchtchtch- Talbot… what’s it about?”
“Cool stuff.” The synth voice replied.
“Oh. Good.” Vik replied, and let her pass.
“What’s the project?”
“Just… just a memory. You know.”
“The gravity doesn’t make that tricky?”
“Oh it does.”
“I bet.” There was a moment of silence. Talbot’s holographic face shifted again. Vik struggled to reconcile her as a middle aged Javanese man with poor image quality, but before he could worry it changed again.
“How’s the new digs running?”
“Not the best,” Talbot replied, leaning casually against a work rig like a pile of brooms in a corner, “Had a burnout in the fabber on third deck, and a micro-meteor shanked our quarter a few days back. So byee to the atmosphere. Not such a problem for yours truly, but… its made things difficult for some of my pals.”
“Oh, it was a meteor?”
The synthmorph cocked a holographic eyebrow which changed from brown to grey. “You felt that on this side of the barge?”
“Maybe. 19ish ship time, two cycles back? Thought I heard a pop.” Talbot chuckled like broken glass in a blender.
“But we haven’t the spares to patch up that sector right now, so… I’m bunking with Teal until we make port. Which I think is why Indigo’s looking for you. She wants eyes on a piece of scrap, think it’ll have some resale.”
“I thought you hated Teal. He’s a dick.”
“I’m mostly bunking with Teal’s fabber. Gotta keep patched. I’m glad this place never sleeps, or I would get so bored… besides, he’s no more insufferable than you.”
“What?… You have eyes. Fancy ones. Why doesn’t Indigo want your eyes?”
“Because I’m just a sweet little spy,” Talbot lilted, “And of all things, right now Indigo wants…” She gave the best synthesised sigh she could muster, “… a historian, for reasons her own.”
There was a brief silence as Vik sucked the corner of his mustache.
“Cool stuff you say?”
“The fucking dickens.”
“Great.” The goatee’d Observer clambered through the hatch and hurled himself along the corridor outside, leaving his spindly compatriot to ponder where he had scrounged all that modelling clay.
“What do you care where I got it? And keep your hands where I can see them, Vik, you’re a shite thief.”
“Sorry, I just wanted a closer look.”
“O… kay. Can I handle the thing?”
“Why of course Vik, you may handle the thing. See? Politeness works wonders.”
The crewcutted Fury passed him the padded wooden box, open at the top. There was a cylinder… a cylinder? A tiny replica of a monolith perhaps… Vik knew that it was almost… no. Exactly the length of his forearm, elbow to the little burn mark on his wrist from when his engine blew out over an unnamed ocean. His Speck bots crawled out onto his hands to inspect the strange object.
It was black, carved with swirling glyphs that seemed to leave the stone it was carved from unblemished. He ran his fingers along it. Too smooth for granite, too rough for any kind of volcanic glass. Like stone that he’d only ever touched once before. His eyes picked up unusual wave activity around the stone, like it was trying to drink in the light around it.
Just like in the ruins.
“It’s a hoax.” He looked up at Indigo reclining on the other side of the low glass table. It was odd to be in centrifugal gravity again. Everything always seemed more… left than it should.
“A hoax?” The towering woman cocked a flared eyebrow, the wing of purple tattoo following it.
“Where did you pick this up, Indigo? Some Souk back on goddamned Olympus? I could have made you a better one.”
“Great to have a volunteer Vik. Glad your willing to do a solid for the swarm and make us a better one, so we can, you know… patch the holes in the goddamned ship.”
“How do you know its a hoax, little man?”
“Oh, er…” he scrambled for a convincing lie, “The glyphs, they don’t make sense… its like someone was working from a good copy, but didn’t understand what they were making. A very good copy, don’t get me wrong. But still… hell, I’ll make your copy. Then we can see how much we can scam for it. Do you mind if I hang onto this… just for a little while?”
“As long as you don’t hawk it for yourself Vik.”
“No, its fine, I don’t need the money.”
Indigo looked at him sideways again, before snorting.
“You know, if you weren’t so weird that could be taken as an invitation to rob you.”
“Yeah… maybe. So where’d you get it?”
“I have a feeling we’ll be hauling that particular merchant in for a chat fairly soon. You can talk to him once I’m done. Now you make us a good replica of this, and we’ll be in the money. Just don’t drop it out the hole, there’s a good boy.”
The amazon clapped him on the shoulder, then pushed him back off her gravity.
Vik put it where it belonged.
The monolith sat in pride of place on top of the hill, over the minute replica of the city that he had been rebuilding from memory, a block and a street at a time.
It was perfect, this ruined city, and it was still waiting on the other side of the Pandora Gate.
You can’t dodge the hairy hand of Fate, his old man had once told him, on an orbital that had gone down with their lives during the Fall. And Fate’s fingerprints were all over this, and it was then that Vik knew that somehow he would make it back.
The city waited, and soon it would be peopled again.
So on that ominous twinge of obsessive weirdness (Author’s Rebellious Id: Ooh, do you mean the character or the one who wrote about him? Teeheehee!) that’s the end of my short fiction. If you wanna hear more from Vik, you just say so in the comments, otherwise he probably won’t appear again.
As for the nuts and bolts, Vik was created using the random lifepath tables from Transhuman almost entirely. The only thing I retconned was illiteracy… which given his origin didn’t really make sense. So here’s the fiction that ever entertaining random generation has gifted us with.
Victor Archaki was born in orbit over the Earth, his family the inheritors of an immense aerospace company that had left their native Poland for space when encroaching climate change made it unlivable. He was born and raised in the spotlight, and as he grew to maturity his expensive education focused on the best use of that. He achieved a level of fame as a director and practical special effects designer pre-Fall, though the glitterati he filmed drew most of the spotlight. This ended when the Earth did, as a swarm of TITAN attack drones tore open the habitat and left the inhabitants to the freezing void, returning occasionally for the memories in their Cortical Stacks.
It was a few years later that Vik was reinstated from backup by the Cognite hypercorp, looking to put his expensive education to use as a lab indenture. A few years after reawakening in his new Hibernoid body, Vik was able to reconnect with his family accounts, paid off his morph and hitched a ride as a techie on the next Scum swarm to pass. It was with the trailing space nomads that he remained, continuing his study and tinkering on board, until one of his many manic schemes came to fruition.
The lottery was taken, and Vik found himself on an exploratory mission to an extrasolar planet through the Pandora Gate wormhole. He doesn’t often talk of what he saw, but the cyclopean ruins of some dead species have left him thirsty for more.
And so that’s where we would probably start a roleplaying game with that character. Probably won’t though, as I said, the character creation system was a bit of a pain (maybe I’ve just spent too much of my recent life Powered by the Apocalypse), but we got some nuance. Here’s his character sheet for the curious, though I was tired enough by the end to not bother filling in weapons, armour or defaulted skills.
Tired, like I said, but I think Eclipse Phase works a lot like Call of Cthulhu in this respect, in that its extremely front loaded. Character Creation is a lot of work, after which the system gets out of the way with a level of elegance. And hey, from me trying to learn something you all got a nice piece of fiction, so that’s nice.
Have a good one folks.