The Keystone

“Why are you doing this Artie?” said Plisky, almost crying from the trauma of the event.
“Yeah, Artie! Why are you being such a meany?!” Al snapped, trying to be braver than he really felt.
“SILENCE!” shouted Regent Supreme Artemis K. Pritchard VI, “I do not answer to you! Now I’ll ask again, where is the resistance?!”
“What’s a resisty stance?” asked Plisky for the 11th time.
“I swear on Terra,” said Artemis and he raised his hand.
But before he could bring it down, the APC rocked with an explosion, a whole bursting into the side of the vehicle. Smoke poured into the small room, blinding all present. Al saw his chance and grabbed Lil’ Plisky’s hand, “It’ll be okay,” he whispered.
Al zoomed out of the whole and up over the nearby hill that flanked the road.
Al panted as they came to a stop just over the crest of the hill, just out of sight.
“Shouldn’t you say thank you?” laughed a Gas Mask clad man in a thick Russian accent. Various homemade weapons hung from his back pack and a revolver cobbled together with various upgrades was held tightly in his hand.
“Thank yoo,” said Plisky happy, the message stranger danger clearly not taught in the land of Candy.
“Hey, who are you?” asked the more street (or Sesame Street) smart Al, not wanting to follow a potentially dangerous man.
“I’m Artyomn,” he said extending a gloved hand, “And welcome to the resistance.”

Artemis was brought to his feet and escorted out of the wreck by two of his soldiers. An officer, clad in a black version of Artemis' uniform (sans the cloak and revolver) saluted the Regent Supreme. "General Deifore (pronounced Day-for), where are they?" Artemis growled. "Sir, they escaped our grasp. They were rescued by the resistance during the commotion" "And you let them escape?" "I was...." "Colonel, your successor made the mistake of coming up with too many excuses for his lax judgement" "Yes sir...I did, I am sorry" Artemis rested his hand on the man's shoulder. "You are forgiven. But you will not fail me again, not in this critical hour. I will join the men at the front line, you however have a new objective" "Where has the front line ended up sir?" "Just outside the swamp of the Keystone. We must seize The Keystone from the Turians if we are ever to find High Temple" "What about the resistance? With those mages they may gain enough power to pose a significant threat" "You will be handling the resistance. Find and destroy their base, but get those mages alive. If so much as a cut is on them...." "I understand" "Good. I will contact you once the Keystone is ours"


Al and Plisky had been brought to the resistance's main base in the Capital Wasteland. Along the way, they were told the story of the capital and first war....

In the time before the dark times, the Capital Wasteland was a beautiful city that presided over the many lands of Augmentia Realitia. However, in the first war, the Great Empire of Terra invaded the lands and took the southern provinces. The king of the land refused to surrender, but his refusal resulted in the Imperial Navy bombarding the capital with nuclear warheads until nothing was left. The empire then proceeded to wipe out most of the tower lands until the one known as Cass revived the caretaker Holly. Holly brought about peace, protecting the surviving lands from the empire. Holly was gone now, and the empire had returned to finish their campaign.

The resistance was situated inside of The Citadel, a pre-war structure that once housed the military leaders of Augmentia Realitia. The building had been heavily fortified over the years,and most systems had been restored. In addition, due to the interference from the radiation and the dangers of the wasteland, the a citadel was almost undetectable, and was essentially the only safe have from the onslaught. Al and Plisky were escorted to the front door by Artyomn. Two men , one wearing a heavy suit of power armor, the other wearing an old Crimson Lance uniform, guarded the door. "Artyomn, who are these children?" The Lance uniformed guard barked. "Allies to the cause, and the solution" The guards looked at each other. "You better be right Artyomn" The large gate slid open, Artyomn lead them into the courtyard of the Citadel. Resistance guerrillas ran exercises, maintained their equipment, or simply chatted with one another. "Who'er dose guys?" Plisky asked. "Those are the resistance guerrillas, our infantry and brothers in arms against the empire. "The empire? Is that those guys Artie was with?" Asked Al, trying to sound brave. "Artie? You mean Artemis the Regent?" Al was clueless. Artyomen began to wonder if these kids somehow knew the tyrant personally. "Are you....acquainted with Artemis?" Plisky pulled out a picture that had been taken of the Dwarfers at the Whiskermas afterparty. "Yeah! He's our friend, but he's actin' all mean all a sudden" Artyomen examined the picture. Though the man in the photo looked more....ragged than the Regent, it was undeniably him. "Where was this taken? Who are these people?" Al stepped in front of Plisky and swiped the picture from Artyomen to get a better look. "Oh! That's on Blue Dwarf! It's a big spaceship, and it's our home!" My god Artyomen thought. These children are from the Dwarf! "Children, come with me"

The control room was patched together usgi scrap and spare parts recovered from the wasteland. It looked as if it would fall apart at any second, Al and Plisky were careful not to touch anything. Artyomen lead the boys down to the central platform where a man in a long grey cloak examined a holographic map of the region. "Whose that?" Asked Al. "That is Messiah, the leader of the resistance. He is a great warrior who once served as the captain of the Blue Dwarf, Regent Artemis' Capitol ship. He defected and formed the resistance after a heated argument with the Regent about the ethics of the invasion" Al and Plisky didn't quite understand, but nodded politely. Artyomen escorted them right up to Messiah. "Sir, these are the children" Artyomen said, saluting. The man turned around. It was an aged version of.....Jay? "So you two are the children of the Dwarf I've been hearing about?" Jay said. "Jay! It's us, Alex and Plisky!" Plisky announced happily. "Alex and Plisky? Hmm, sorry, I don't think we've met" As it turned out, the safeguard had the same effect on Jay that it did on Artemis, corrupting his in-game personality and essentially turning him into the character he was playing as. In a fitting role, Jay was the leader of the Resistance. "We need your help to stop the Regent from reaching High Temple and conquering the galaxy" Announced Jay. "Why? Is Artie not allowed to have the temple because he's been bad?" Asked Plisky. " High Temple is the site that controls the entire galaxy! He who holds the temple holds the entire galaxy. Nobody has been able to reach it since the disappearance of Holly the Protector. A strange man has taken up residence in High Temple since his disappearance, but he and his minions are no match for the Black Army of the Empire" a soldier rushed in, bloodied and beaten. "Sir! The empire, they've laid siege to the Keystone! The Turians and our men can't hold out much longer!" He said, catching his breath. "How many legions?" Asked Jay. "Eighty sir...." Jay turned and faced the map. He watched as the eighty black arrows closed in around the three green arrows. "Pull back any survivors and regroup them at the Hollow" "Sir? What of the Keystone?" "We need to regroup and find the other Dwarf Exiles if we are to end this! We will stop them at High Temple, I promise this" The doctor came and zapped the soldier with his medigun. The healed soldier was escorted to the barracks by Artyomn. "What's the Keystone?" Asked Al. "The Keystone is the only device that allows a mortal to control High Temple. We are too late to recover it from the empire. However, there is still hope. Legend tells of other defectors from the empire such as myself, and you two. The Dwarf Exiles. They all abandoned the empire for their own reasons and sought to distance themselves by coming here. They are the greatest warriors to grace the land, and once united they can stop Artemis dead in his tracks. We just set out to find them. Come children, there isn't much time"

At the Keystone

Turian soldiers and Resistance guerrillas font valiantly against the advancing I,peril forces, but in vain. Mechs and ground troops cut through their lines with heavy fire while gunships picked off support units and deployed specialists. One such gunship landed close to the front line. Artemis stepped off and with two ninja like bodyguards, advanced on the Keystone. Artemis drew his revolver and fired on soldiers as he casually advanced. His presence spurred the imperial forces to fight harder while Resistance forces began to truly grasp their impending doom. A gunship dropped a bomb on the perimeter wall, blowing a hole and allowing imperial troopers to enter. Artemis entered the base and proceeded into the chamber. He stopped in the atrium and directed his bodyguards to deal with the guerrillas that were hiding in the wings. Artemis himself advanced on the chamber. Inside was a Turian scientist and his wife, both traitors of the empire who intentionally lead the Resistance to the keystone years earlier. Artemis slowly approached them, reloading his revolver. "Please! Have mercy!" The scientist shouted. Artemis shot him in the leg. "The pain you feel is the same that the Empire felt when you took the Keystone from us. I know you have hidden the Keystone Access Codes. You will tell me where it is" The scientist didn't speak. Artemis grabbed his wife and put the gun to her head. "Okay! They're in a container in the catacombs! The passcode is Fiji!" Artemis smiled, and prepared to squeeze the trigger. A loud thud shook the room. The thud was followed by what Artemis could have sworn was static. A series of beeps and whistles echoed throughout the room. To the Turians it was just random noise, but to Artemis it was...speech? Part of him recognized it as Skutter Speak, the language spoken by the Space Corps Maintenance robots. He also recognized what it was saying. Artemis! Please listen! This isn't you! I know that you're still in there! You have to dig deep! Please, I love you! Artemis winded in pain. " that....gah!" He shook it off, the sound vanished. He suddenly didn't want to hurt the wife anymore. He pushed her away and holstered his pistol. Artemis slumped against a wall and grabbed his head. "Regent Pritchard?" Asked the wife. "Go! Get out of my sight! But remember my mercy and NEVER commit a crime against my empire again!" The couple scurried away, leaving Artemis to contemplate what was happening to him.

Outside the simulation, the situation was getting worse. The majority of Blue Dwarf's systems had been infected, with only the vending machines and emergency lighting still working. Katrina and The Missus re-routed the power from the vending machines on the deck to the AR pods to buy the "Fantasy Team" more time. Fortunately Cass' fail safe shut Holly down and erected firewalls around him, but the virus was learning and in a matter of hours would rip through and infect Holly, which would sign the death warrant for the Dwarfers (and probably humanity as a whole).

The Missus dropped her head in sorrow. She was terrified of what the game had turned her beloved Artemis into, and was afraid that Artemis and Jay might suffer permanent brain damage as a result. She also pondered how many other Dwarfers had been affected, but there was no way of telling just yet. She wasn't giving up hope yet, Holly was holding out and Artemis responded. All she needed to do now was find a way to completely snap him out of his trance.

<tag Al, Plisky, and Jay>

Did the fail safe make anyone else take on a new personality?
Where do Jay, Al and Plisky go first and who do they find?
Will somebody clean up the spilled bowl of cereal in Artemis' quarters?

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