Lubuck, the centre of the Germane industrial revolution. A small trade town only 10 years ago, it expanded rapidly when the great alchemist Bropp discovered a way to extract a powerful fuel from the nearby underwater corals.
Now the city is a bustling port as industry rises and new discoveries are made almost every day.
For example the new train you are on speeding rapidly through the city towards your destination.
You make a colorful bunch, two earth ponies and a crystal pony, a rare sight in Germaney. But the train is less crowded than it usually is. A sign "SNIFFLES EPIDIMIC. In case of coughing, sneezing, or red snout, report to your local physician at once!"
Your train rolls into the harbor. You've been sent here by the Adventurers Guild to visit the Bropp Refinery. But more you do not know yet, except to report there.
>>618590 Set aside today's paper and pass a hoof through my grey mane, trying to look dignified despite being unused to train rides. Off we get, without a word and with all the haste I can muster, onto the plantform.
You step out of the train. Another sign of progress, that's what the mayor called these steel platforms planted inbetween the old stone warehouses. Reactions in Lubuck range from praising them as another sign of the coming technological age, to ponies deeming them ugly among the traditional Germane houses and parks.
As you step of the stairs down you come into the busy harbor street. In front of the warehouses there are marketers trying to outshout each other on who's got the freshest seaweed and a few griffons selling fish. The street is bustling with ponies, many wearing the new primitive masks to protect them against toxic fumes in the refineries. Ever since the sniffles these have started showing up in town as well as some believe they protect against the disease. Other ponies carry carts full of chemicals, food or other wares.
>>618620 She snorts, but gives you one. You've got one as well!
>>618619 >>618618 >>618620 You make your way through the street. You see the large chimneys of the Bropp refinery up ahead, belching dark clouds into the grey sky. The sour stench of processed coral invades your nostril. The Bropp AG and the Rathaus assure that as long as you're not in the liquification chambers themselves it's "perfectly harmless". The Refinery is right next to the water and you see ships directly offloading large chunks of brightly shining coral to the workers.
The Polizei is here as well, leading away three ponies in chains from the building. A mare is cleaning off a large painted slogan on the walls. "DOWN WITH BROPP. STOP THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CORALS"
There's an office building next to the main plant.
>>618623 Put the mask on, I have enough fumes going through my mind to worry about already. And use Investigate as I cast a glance at the ponies being led away and the slogan painted on the walls. '1d20+12'
>>618625 >>618626 >>618627 You head into the office building and are greeted with a small lobby. There's an orange mare just saying her goodbyes to a police officer, she seems tired.
She looks towards you. "Welcome to Bropp. Can I help you? Are you looking for the employee entrance?" she says while looking at your masks.
>>618627 Your brilliant deduction skills deduct that they're probably members of the ABL, anti-bropp league. They are a relatively small group of ponies protesting what they perceive as the destruction of nature by Bropp. In particular the forests around Lubuck and the shining coral basins within the ocean. You also deduct that one of the arrested recently had a fight with his girlfriend from the red spot on his face.
>>618634 >>618635 >>618632 She carefully presses each of your names on a card and than enters this card in a small machine. "Just a second, you'll need a visitors pass to enter…" The machine clicks open and produces three brown badges with the 3 triangles of Bropp AG and each one has one of your names. "These badges will make sure you can pass through the Lightning Gates unharmed. Wear them at all times on these grounds. Now please follow me, the boss will want to see you." She walks from behind the desk through a large opening flanked by metal tubes. A light on the tubes turns green as she passes through.
>>618635 "That's the second time that group vandalizes our walls this month." She shakes her head. "As if we don't have anything better to do than write paperwork on it."
>>618643 "Yes, they seem to believe the corals are alive or something and that we're "murdering" them. They say just the same about the trees of the Herz forest. Can you believe that? How ridiculous. These ponies use the trains every day, live in houses warmed by our new electrical heaters and than they have the nerve to accuse us of these things?"
>>618644 >>618643 >>618641 You pass unharmed through the lightning gate and follow the mare through the clerk offices. She knocks on a door. "Mister Bropp, the gentleponies from the Guild are here." You're let into a small office. At the desk sits an older, fat pony. "Ah yes, I was expecting you. Please take a seat." The window looks out over the harbor and the sea. There are paintings of various Bropp buildings in the office. On the side of his desk is a small cump of shining coral.
>>618651 One of the paintings shows the Bropp family. Clearly from some time ago as this shows the current boss in his prime youth with his many brothers. The father looks pretty frail on the painting.
The large window looks out on the harbor, you remember the look of the walls and figure that a skilled climber could circumvert the lightning gate through the window here.
>>618649 >>618650 "Yes, I would like this matter to be handled confidentially. I'll get right to the point. The past few weeks several of our sensitive machines have been sabotaged, luckily as of now without any wounded. I have informed the Polizei of this but they have as of yet not found the culprits. I want all of you to find out who is doing this and how they got in."
>>618653 >>618654 "Indeed, I considered the Anti-Bropp groups. But there would be a serious hole in our security somewhere if even those lowlifes could break into our facilities. One of my advisors has suggested magic is at work here. But we have the latest magic silencing equipment around. My guess would be our competitor Tysstahl is at work here. They are new to the coral processing business and would love to get an advantage on us. But I have no proof."
>>618655 He perks a brow. "Around 7PM. The security dogs keep watch over the plant grounds as well as this building. Doesn't seem to stop those vandals however."
If you roll a 20 and pass the check you can spend an Action Die to activate that crit, ADs have many uses and you get only a limited amount (3) per session. Want to use one? Next time you simply say you want to activate it before I post the results.
>>618657 You don't notice anything. Still it's a serious security gap, might get some extra rewards for bringing that to his attention?
>>618659 You don't get the feeling he's directly lying. But when he was talking about Tysstahl you got the feeling he wasn't telling the whole truth either…there's something he's not telling.
>>618658 "Tysstahl is close by, they have just opened a small plant at the other end of the harbor. It would be hard to get an appointment however. I hear they have guards patrolling the grounds day and night."
>>618661 "Listen, Herr Bropp, you can trust us, we're professionals. But you also need to be upfront with us about what you know about Tysstahl. Are you sure there isn't something else we should know before going in ?"
>>618666 "Tys himself is in Coltogne, I believe the plant is run by an unsavory donkey called Bronco."
>>618663 Herr Bropp mulls it over for a few seconds. "Mmmmm, yes. I believe I can. There is something I haven't told you. But make no mistake, it was not because of any attempt at deception on my part, more because it's something very harmful to my companies reputation if it came out. You see, the reason my advisors warn me about the use of magic is that in one of the smashed machines a mess of…cotton candy."
>>618671 "Around the smashed gears to be exact. Clearly put there by the saboteurs. Now I do not know if the saboteurs are Chaos worshippers or not. But if the workers got the idea that there's chaos activity in the plant…well I'd have trouble finding any workers no matter the recompensation."
>>618674 "We found it a forthnight ago while doing repairs to the smashed machinery. It is curious because at the first incident a week ago there was none. That room has been sealed off for the time being if you wish to investigate, but please do not mention this to any of the workers. You know how superstitious they can be. Perhaps causing panic is what those saboteurs are trying now. And Tys is more than willing to hire them."
>>618672 "I've heard stories…just stories mind you. He used to be a mercenary during the last Prench engagement for our side. After the conflict he's been hired as a security officer for Tys."
>>618676 Cotton candy is usually the domain of Chaos worshippers. And even you have a hard time figuring out what exactly they want, if anything.
If it was you, you could just open up the machines, throw some cotton candy in there, then smash the thing. But perhaps seeing the scene itself would give more clues.
>>618677 >>618682 No I want to check out the cotton-candied machine, go with the ladies. "By the way… Whoever did your security was a thief. This sparkly gate of yours? It can be jumped over like any other fence. Why, you could climb right into this office."
>>618684 Bropp responds. "Your badges will disintegrate as soon as you leave the grounds. A security measure for all visitors badges. You'll need to report back to my secretary if you need another one."
>>618688 "I don't know all the details but all visitors badges disintigrate themselves once they're out of range of a central machine in the plant itself. It sends out some kind of waves. I hear one of my brothers is using the principle to make something he calls a radio."
>>618690 The tysstahl plant. The boss looks at you… "But…this wall faces the water. You think somepony could scale it?"
>>618693 As Bropp leads you away to the plant he notes. "I'll have my security chief reprimanded. But what you say about the water, I can assure you the junk we dump into the water has no harmful effects to ponies. The ocean obsorbs it marvelously unlike what some would have you believe." You pass another Lightning Gate unto a sealed bridge. And then another into the plant itself. You see large processing plants. Ponies in masks are mixing coral oil, rainbows and other alchemicals you can't detect (or can you?). "Please, this way."
>>618692 >>618689 You go back onto the streets. Once you're a few hundred meters away, the badges spontaneously disintegrate.
>>618694 Number one: Sense motive the thing about ocean dumps. It's a well known fact ports are shitholes, industries or no industries, so this defensive stance sounds suspect. '1d20+10' And then k-check the chemicals. '1d20+5'
>>618697 >>618698 You cross the streets again. As you go about your way, you are only halted when the polizei block the street to bring a diseased mare from a home into a prepared carriage. The doctors look grim in their uniforms.
>>618695 Yeah, you definitely get the feel he's lying here. The stuff in these vats, byproducts of the coral liquidation process looks nasty as Tartarus.
Your keen senses don't pick up the other ingredients though
>>618703 >>618704 You take the safer path and take a detour through one of the alleyways. As you're walking there you're struck by how dirty it is compared to the main street. The walls are vandalized with graffiti. "WHERE IS GERMANEY????" "BROPP = TODT" You pass an old mare sitting on the sideway. She clutches a small medaillon. It seems to emit a strange sound. She listens to it intently.
>>618702 Your butt is secure. The boss leads you to another section of the facility and uses a key to open the gates. Inside you see an empty rainbow decolorisator, the machinery next to it is smashed and you see shiny fresh cotton candy inside. It looks delicious.
>>618706 -GM ACTION DIE ACTIVATE- CRITICAL ERROR You are completely stumped, you have absolutely never ever ever seen something like that medallion.
>>618709 As you look at it, you recognize it as a talisman. In the old days before the Reich Germanes used to carve these from the corals of the oceans as luck bringers. You've seen the markings only in books though, when the True faith of the Sisters came, these were all destroyed. And nowhere was mentioned they made sound.
>>618711 The boss looks confused. But soon the secretary arrives with said items.
>>618712 >>618713 She looks up, but not to you in particular. She seems to look right through both of you. "You sound nice. A true Germane mare. It's a talisman, my dear, a gift from the Sea. From a time before the seaponies were mere legends, when the Germanes still valued the Sea and the Forests."
>>618715 "But why would those bums be sneaking around behind the machines? The exit is right over there?"
>>618716 "A memento? No, it is alive…it sings to us, just like the seaponies once did to priests long gone. You just have to listen to it…" She holds out the talisman to you. You see the heretical symbols carved upon it. This is not something that would be supported by the Church of the Sisters…
>>618717 As you touch it, the faint melody from the talisman becomes louder. You hear a voice singing in a language you've never heard before. But somehow you know it sings about the sea, the forests and of summer days spent without worry in the ancient groves far from the city. You feel somehow strengthened, as if you have the power to do anything. +2 Strength while touching the talisman
>>620208 >>620209 "Some magic thing." I shrug and give it back to the crazy mare. "I don't know where you got this from, but if somepony holier than me saw it they probably wouldn't be pleased. I don't want anything to do with this."
>>620210 "Ah, such a shame…I had a good feeling about you…."
>>620210 >>620211 You make your way back to the main road, having circumvented the roadblock. Soon you see the Tysstahl compound. It is heavily fortified. A steel fence around all of it, except the gate for transportation and the gate for visitors and employees. Both guarded by Diamond Dogs.
>>620225 >>620226 As you walk into a comfortable lobby with on the walls oil paintings of industry in the valleys around Ponn, you see the secretary, a white unicorn mare with brown mane talking to a pegasus in employee uniform. His coat is brown but his feathers are slightly tinged yellow from factory fumes. "Look, Fritz, this is final time I make a new badge for you. Don't lose it again. You know the boss, if you lose it again, he'll throw you out. Nothing I can do about that." as she enters a card into a small machine and a blue colored badge comes out. "Thanks, Karla, say do you wa-" "Just go." The pegasus walks out again. She turns to you. "Can I help you?"
>>620227 The secretary flinches. But you're not sure if it's because of your sudden movement or hidden guilt.
>>620232 >>620231 >>620229 Let's see your Persuade roll against her Resolve. Breaches of protocol are mild retribution for her plus no apparent incentive so your roll is -6 = 24. Her resolve roll '1d20+7'
>>620231 >>620232 "Hmmm, it's normally not allowed without an appointment one day ahead, but I don't see the harm. And I do have some time right now. Very well." She prints out two grey visitors badges for both of you. "Here, these will let you pass beyond the Lightning Gates. Now, you'll have to stay close with me. If you're seen wandering alone in the factory, you'll be removed from the premises." She walks to the painting. "Tysstahl was founded 200 years ago by Siegfried Stahl, a blacksmith from Coltogne whose steel was renowned throughout the Reich. He passed his knowledge on to his children who over the years expanded the business to every corner of Germaney. Today there are 20 plants throughout the Reich. We deal in machinery, transports and weapons. Tysstahl values progress so our plant here is the newest to become part of the coral industry. We believe this technology will only become more important in the future and are committed to becoming the number one in coral processing and its various applications."
>>620242 >>620244 She walks outside. "Now I shall first show you our state-of-the-art Loading Bay." She doesn't walk to the factory but a large building next to it, partly over the river. There's a giant open hangar door, facing a similar one into the factory. On both sides they're protected by Lightning Gates. "I think they're not offloading right now, so we can go in right through here."
>>620244 "Coral processing is a new booming industry, so every day new competitors want to grab a piece of the pretzel. But having a boat and scavenging for coral is not enough. One needs to have the know-how, capital and horsepower to make high-quality coral oil. Our biggest competitor now would be Bropp."
>>620246 "And this is for loading in what? Coral? Or products for delivery? And forgive my foreign sensibilities, but what exactly is this 'coral industry' used for producing? This… electrical essence?"
You step into a hangar, high enough to let in a ship. The middle is full of water and directly connected to the river. There are lockers, crates, benches and a large amount of tools here. The hangar is right now empty except for a single pony brushing the floor. Klara walks to one of the crates. "And here we still have some unprocessed coral. You may touch it if you want." The large pieces of coral glimmer, constantly shifting color and emitting a soft hum.
"Both. It is mainly used to offload coral. Right now we have 3 ships working at different times in the day and night to collect coral and bring it here. And if we have a shipment incoming overseas, we schedule that delivery so we can offload it inbetween. As you will see we produce coral oil. A mixture of corals with certain chemicals that contains vast amounts of energy. Through it we can power things that have up till now been only the domain of magic. Like the trains in Lubuck or the Lightning Gates. It allows us to power giant machines that would have required vast amounts of coal in the past. Our scientists are working on all sorts of new inventions. Our new lightning bulbs aren't common yet, but in Ponn they're already the rage amongst the nobility."
>>620251 "Our security team is top notch and we have not had anypony breach our facility."
>>620269 Not at all. But something is off here. The hoofprint is in such a weird spot. A pony would have to be on two legs, leaning against it to make it. Why would anypony do that? And it's not a smudge in the dust, it's some kind of waste on the hoofprint, where would it come from?
>>620268 It tastes salty and your mouth is tingling.
>>620271 You see Liesl licking the coral and her tongue becomes multicolored. Good thing the secretary is already walking outside and didn't Notice.
>>620283 It stinks. Probably from the toilet or the sewer. But while you have spent nights sneakily obtaining thousands of sewer samples from different homes in Lubuck so you could immediately use it as evidence, you're not familiar with this one. But you haven't done a sample here yet.
>>620278 >>620280 You enter the factory gates and are immediately enveloped in heat. Large furnaces are burning and you see pegasi in masks pouring fresh coral into them. Through a small window you see the coral slowly turning green and dark before liquifying into a bright blue substance. "This is the first step of the liquification. We melt the coral at high temperature and pressure. Under normal circumstances the coral simply evaporates when it comes into contact with fire. But with our furnaces we can directly harness its power."
>>620289 >>620290 The furnaces roar loadly, but underneath it, you distinctly hear something else… It's the corals hum but now it's more like a wail… You notice the pegasi working here are all wearing ear dops.
>>620296 She seems irritated. "It's…the sound the coral makes when it's being liquified. I don't like talking about it. It's very…unsettling somehow. The pegasi here complained about it so we gave them the ear dops."
>>620301 "Their wings and manouverability makes them more flexible when it comes to maintaining and operating the machines, so we prefer to have pegasi here. But we employ many earth ponies and unicorns in other plants for manufacturing."
>>620307 >>620298 "Let's go to the next part." You follow the tubes to another door. Before you go in, roll Notice.
>>620309 "The sewers. The only entrance is on the other side of the compound. Well except for underneath the floor of course. But no pony could fit through there." You look down. The floor is metal with slim openings to allow any spills to go through. You see small pipes to lead any spills into the sewers, but only rats would get through there.
>>620311 You see several vents for ventilation. You bet if you could get on the roof without the guards seeing you, you'd be able to sneak in here.
>>620315 There are still followers of the old ways in town. You don't know them personally, but you're sure that with some asking around the right people (canvass outside) you'll find somepony willing to spill the beans.
The boss leads you to one of the maintenance rooms and opens the hatch. It is stinky!
>>620316 You notice a blue workers badge named "fritz" underneath one of the tubes. You get a +2 to predistigation if you want to snatch it without the secretary noticing.
You enter a sealed chamber. There are windows into chambers where masked ponies are mixing a number of chemicals into large vats of liquid coral. The oil gains its characteristic deep purple shine. "Here is where the actual oil is made, for your security you cannot enter those chambers."
>>620343 She opens a door. "The last floor is where we bottle the oil and ship it to our clients and other facilities throughout the Reich." She walks to the next chamber where you see huge stacks of vats filled with Coral Oil. "Do you have any final questions?"
>>620341 You land in some smudge. The sewer is what you'd expect from a sewer. Roll Investigate.
>>620417 "He is a shapeshifter." Announce plainly. "Now, you might not know what that means, but it means he was able to sneak into the plant and destroy the machine. Also, I have found his hoofprint on the scene of the crime!"