Pride: Eli McGraw starts some exploring and looting.


After a victory dance for old times, Eli was unsure of where to go next. They had found the bits of Riley, and it seemed he had contracted some technomantic sickness from the Dragons Blood.


“Heh, Eli buddy? I think you got some plague,” Jellia Jamb said.

Technomantic sickness? This can’t be good. Eli “Don’t want to be a freak” McGraw decided to put some purpose into his steps.

“No time for gripes. Let’s go back to Oolong and go get a doctor.”


Eli was met on the Tram by EEF Special Forces. His call to Oolong had gotten a shockingly rapid response. Met by scientists in bio-sealed suits, Eli was a bit worried. He had seen nanoplague turn people into all sorts of monsters during his wedding ceremony in Tal Hanon. But he kept calm, kept breathing, and waited while the doctors poked him and prodded him, took blood samples and bone samples and even memory scans in case the EEF had to clone him to save him.

Finally after four hours in a quarantine room, the door slid open and Commander Oolong was there. Oolong tossed Eli some clothes, and had his staff stand at the door while Eli changed.

“The good news is you are not infected,” Oolong said with some actual joy, the first Eli had seen since coming the Research Facility, “Of should I say you have a natural resistance to this infection. While the nano-biologics did transfer into your blood stream, they could not survive in a Leyas devoid environment”

Eli asked, “Can you put it in layman’s terms?”

Eli was pretty sure he understood, but wanted Oolong to say it outloud.

Oolong said, "This sickness the monster you killed was infected with cannot survive in Immutables. The nanite infections would require a hearty supply of Djinni blood to keep it alive and powered up long enough to convert your cells. So as long as you don’t get into the habit of shooting up Djinni blood, your body will cleanse out the rest of the dead nanites within twenty four hours. We will keep you under observation, but you don’t need to worry.

Once you make it past the 24 mark, I’ll have you come up to my office and have the Field Marshall and the Colony General debrief you."

And so Eli sat for 24 hours in a small room with a comfy plastic bed, an endless supply of road beers and snacks, and a toilet with a bidet. He was lucky that the room had an original Holovid TV, the type that were common enough before the Fall of Earth.

He spent the first hour exploring the Iron Republic NewsFeeds from across the Polar Expanse. It seemed 2219 was not a calm year in space, and the year in review on TV at the beginning of 2220 told that story clearly. Newscasters spoke, while showing videos of E-strain manslayers slaughtering entire cities of civilians.

Orbital camera angles showed massive Unity conversion spikes the size of skyscrapers crashing down onto planets and converting them with technomantic tendrills and clouds of nanites.

Another channel showed tense negotiations between an Iron Republic diplomat and Kasanthian space pirates over the release of hundreds of local politicians on the Moon of Reneh 21.

Space seemed a dangerous place, Eli thought. Time for some entertainment. He spent the next two hours flipping through what felt like 1000 channels of reality shows and IR propoganda.

Finally after the third hour he was bored of the IR Holonets trying to endlessly sell him crap. He cozied up next to the Holovid control console, and began tweaking the limiters on the incoming signal until he could pick up Holonet News out of Dusk. It was technically a pirate channel, no government owned it, and was run by a former Sheriff of Dusk who was proud to say it was funded independently through viewer donations.

"And if you are just listening in, I am pleased to say thank you to the Absalom and Hebron Council for Better Relations and the Lucky Fate Squad of Unen, for providing us space for our reporter down at the First Annual Southern Olgog Games.

After a tense day, a lockdown, and what is being reported as an attempt on the life of Judge Siedermann after the final event by an enraged contestant, we can report that the EEF has given the all clear. Judge Siedermann is still in intensive care, but Dunesphere authorities assure us he will make a full recovery.

The real winners of the week were the team from Zh’Ka’al, who netted more medals than any other team competing. Following the Zh’ka’al team was the UtR Team, with medals for their Auf Lal’al Dodgeball team and their Uf Mag’og Choral Team. Other important medalists include Hekeriki winner of the Gold Medal in Surfing,

There was also a gent who claimed to be Olgog the Olgog who won a variety of medals including the Gold Medal in Unarmed Combat. Now the real Olgog the Olgog was on the EEF most wanted list for much of 2219, and was granted final death a few months ago. Our reporter on the ground is telling us the crowd was split down the middle by rumors. One third said the Olgog that competed was a copycat, another gog trying to take up the infamous OtO’s mantle. A second group believes that Olgog found a way to become a Leyas User and leave his Immutability and mortality behind, which was how he was able to win the 9km Relay Race as a single Olgog. Another group believe that this Olgog was a cloned soldier, an Olgog version of a Brethren being massed produced by some underground terrorist organization called OVC. Our station has no facts as to what OVC stands for, or why a terrorist organization would be sending a cloned soldier into Refuge’s first Olympics. The EEF has refused to comment.

Now I know for some of you with Satellite dishes, this may be old news, the games are long over. But for the majority of our viewers across Refuge, this may be their first time hearing about the Olgog Games, or about the South lands at all. And I know for those who listened to our last broadcast on the games, you’ve been waiting since the end of our live games broadcast to find out what interrupted the Winners circle at the Sharpshooter competition.

I hope again the Valencia Hour has delivered hard hitting news from the places you wish you could visit on Refuge.

And there you go, the Valencia Hour for today January 1st 2220. The next hour will be S’anda’s Poetry Corner, bringing you the finest poetry and performance art from the Children of the Falosini. Thanks for supporting our station. PBS, Pirate Broadcasting Station"

Eli let his mind drift while listening to the sound of the strange bird-like sounds, and low rumbles mixed into the spoken word poetry. Soon he was asleep. His dreams filled with repeating moments of seeing the infected monster stumble out of the shadows, and the acid spilling and the sight of flesh dissolving.

When he woke up it was the following day, he was given a fresh shower and clothes, and then escorted up to Commander Oolong’s office. The debriefing took a few hours, and like typical, Field Marshall Strykker had him sign a non-disclosure agreement about Old Vlad, Hutchens, and the Riley monster they had found. When he asked about the OtO clones, he was told they were not covered under the agreement, since the OtO clones had revealed themselves at the recent games.

He told them about what he saw, they told him about keeping away from any pools of blue blood in the facility and to report them if he found any.

Malthus thanked him for his service, and Strykker and Malthus signed off from the Commsystems. This left Oolong and Eli alone in the room.

“These nanites are different than many we have faced, but the key signatures are coming from a Unity source-code,” Oolong said, "We have our suspicions as to how they evolved into what they currently are, but they do seem resistant to EEF Anti-nanite nanites when in the blood. On surfaces the anti-nanites do their job of disabling and destroying this nanoplague.

Officially the plague is called Nanoplague 709516, but the codename that has been referenced is Dragon Sickness. It covers up the fact that the plague is technomantic in nature, yes, but it is a term we will be advising all staff here at the Glacial Research Facility, over at the main expedition base camp at Jemison Post, and your own settlement at McGraw Harbor."

“You have anti-nanite nanites? Are there anti-nanite anti-nanites?” quipped Eli.

“If anyone finds any pools of this stuff, tell us immediately,” said Oolong without humor.

“So what does it do?” asked Eli.

Oolong looked meaningfully at the Non-disclosure agreement.

“We are not sure of all it does,” said Oolong, “But our tests are bringing back startling results. The Nanoplague 709516 will infect an organic being. It will then incorporate any technology placed near the body into the organic being, changing into a technomantic being. It will only incorporate between the first 3 and 6 items the labcoats have exposed the subject to. Then once the seemingly arbitrary limit is reached, the body stops incorporating technology. In fact, once the limit has been reached, it begins excluding new technologies the user tries to interface with forcing them to backfire, malfunction or fail.”

“So that actually sounds great for a few buddies of mine. If I hear this right, you infect a person. Put them in a room full of guns, and they will be able to use all of them?” asked Eli trying to sort out what Oolong was saying.

“Sort of, the first 6 or so guns would be incorporated into the subjects body,” said Oolong wondering aloud, “The problem would be the 7th gun or 8th gun or next gun picked up would malfunction the first time it was used. In fact every bit of tech from that point onward would malfunction for a person. It would be like having someone mainline shadow leyas while trying to use technology. But those first 6 guns incorporated by the nanoplague, they would work just fine…”


“Seems like you could use this place to farm some very elite soldiers,” noted Eli, “In fact, as long as you planned on keeping them on Refuge, this would be a great way of prepping soldiers to sneak weapons into anywhere they wanted to… any idea what the size limit is on the incorporation of technology.”

“The largest bit of tech the labcoats have tested so far was a strider ten times the size of the test subject,” said Oolong, "Now other than the name Dragon Sickness, and the fact that it can be kept in check from spreading to other surfaces by low temperature, most of this information is under the non-disclosure agreement, so make sure to keep it classified.

Hutchens seems intent on finding something called a thumbdrive, apparently it was archaic technology when this place was built, but Riley had one with some important information on it."

Thinking back to the fight against the techno-monster, and all that caustic acid, Eli said, “If he had it physically on him, then it is currently melted by acid.”

“Hmm,” said Oolong, "Well its your choice, you can either go back down into the lower levels with Hutchens and see if he leads you to anything important.

But I understand if after the exposure to the Dragon Sickness you don’t want to go back down there. Your service to the colonies today has been impressive, Eli. So if you just want to return to McGraw Expedition harbor I understand as well.

Tell me what you would like to do?"


He thought about it for a couple of minutes. Eli really couldn’t be in two places at once and whatever choice he made, something about this expedition would suffer.

“Much as I enjoyed spending time in this place exploring and looting, I think it’s time I head back to the harbor. 'Ave a need see how things are going there,” stated Eli plainly.

Breathing evening, “I would shake your hand Oolong but I’m not sure that would be wise. Dirty hands. When things slow down, I could also come back and give you a hand.”

Turning to Mr. Hutchens, a lost opportunity or avoided bullet, “Look me up when you have time. You take care of yourself and don’t get yourself killed again. Don’t want to miss another thousand or so years again.”


Before he left, Hutchens passed him a small slip of paper with a radio frequency if he needed to speak later…