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From: Robert Russell <>
To: [insert email addresses of everyone else who has one]
Date: February 13, 1998 at 12:41 PM
Subject: The Navel of the World

Dear friends,
As you may or may not already be aware, the collection of numbers spouted by the Malkavian last night organize very neatly into latitudes and longitudes. Ellie and I believe we have figured out what these mean.

I. Last night, Ellie did some math and figured out that there's a way to choose signs for the latitudes/longitudes so that the first six form an octahedron--that is, they are all equally spaced from each other, except for the pairs which are directly opposite. This doesn't give us data about the 7th one, but one of the four possibilities is very close to Mecca, which seems significant enough that that's probably the correct spot. This makes the locations:
1. Boston
2. South Pacific, off Perth
3. Mongolia
4. Jarvis Island
5. Southern Argentina
6. Northern DR Congo
7. Mecca

II. This morning, I noticed something else. The final event in Boston took place on October 18. The 1998 pilgrimage to Mecca starts on April 4--168 days later. Note that 168=6*28, and the Boston ritual started 28 days before it ended. So, if each location's ritual starts the day the previous location's ritual ended, everything lines up right for the last ritual to culminate in Mecca on the first day of the pilgrimage. This would give ritual dates of:
1. Boston: October 18
2. South Pacific: November 15
3. Mongolia: December 13
4. Jarvis Island: January 10
5. Argentina: February 7
6. DR Congo: March 7
7. Mecca: April 4

The boat from the South Pacific event washed up around the end of December and had apparently been adrift for a while. This doesn't provide much confirmatory evidence for this theory, but it at least doesn't rule it out.

It seems to me that, if we want to follow this up, we can either:
1. Try to backtrack to spots that we think were already hit. Weirdly, the one in Mongolia looks the most accessible (it's only about 100 miles from Ulanbataar). The one in Argentina only happened about a week ago, so the trail of whatever-it-was might be fresher there. Jarvis Island is probably easiest to get to by boat, but I don't think we have time to travel by boat no matter how much more convenient it is for Erich and Thomas.
2. Go to the Congo--we have most of a month to get there and prepare for whatever we might want to do.

The globe-spanning nature of the ritual strongly suggests to me that it is an attempt to unlock the Navel of the World, thus becoming the first post-Atlantean group to gain control of the Earth's telluric currents. Given the somewhat bloody facts of the Bostonian and Pacific segments of the ritual, it seems clear to me that these are not people who we want in control of the telluric currents, so I strongly suggest following it up somehow.


OOC notes:
-The date in the email header assumes that the Siege of New York happened February 12 and should be adjusted accordingly if we decide I'm off by a day or two. (Also adjust if the Storyteller finds it unreasonable that our characters could have figured this stuff out as quickly as that, but if Ariel and I can figure all this out in 36 hours while doing other stuff it doesn't seem too unreasonable to me for Ellie and Bob to have figured it out in 12.)
-Google Maps didn't exist in 1998 (and I'm pretty sure Mapquest wouldn't have known about locations as remote as these), but it seems pretty reasonable to assume that there was a similar tool on the Virtual Web. Pretend those are password-protected links to some sort of static cache of that, in Bob's public-html directory on the BU website. Bob sends you a password in a separate email. Everyone's password is different to make it easier to trace any leaks, but he doesn't actually mention this.

(All this is assuming we hire a courier to take some hair to a specific local airport, letting Bob teleport people there.)
1. Boston
2. JFK->Narita->Perth gets us to where the boat washed up.
3. JFK->Narita->Ulaanbataar and 100 miles of ground travel.
4. LAX/Vancouver->Fiji->Tarawa and 200 miles of ocean. (Jarvis Island is uninhabited.)
5. JFK->Buenos Aires (Ministro Pisarini)->Buenos Aires(Jorge Newbery)->Comodoro Rivadavia. 300 miles of ground travel.
6. Boston/JFK->Paris (De Gaulle)/Amsterdam->Kinshasa->Mbandaka and about 50 miles of ground/river travel. Bob also has teleport knowledge of Switzerland and London, which might make this easier--he could hire the courier in Paris, perhaps. DR Congo is on the brink of civil war, which will make it considerably more difficult.
7. It's easy to get to Jeddah, where the closest major airport to Mecca is, from just about anywhere in Western Europe.

Date: 2009-03-02 04:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Alternately, all in one map:

View Larger Map

Hmmm... clearly we should persuade google to switch to a different projection so that the octohedral nature of the points become clearer.

Date: 2009-03-02 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Also, I think we should do both. Erich may wish to stay in New York & consolidate power there, but after a few nights of cleanup, Thomas's interest in the city is nil & he would go back to Boston. I don't think Thomas's skillset adds much to investigating prior ritual points. I propose that he starts investigating the Congo site, and the Mages go over a few of the past sites. We might consider pulling in a Tremere to help--seems close to up their alley.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I second bringing in a Tremere; mages and vampires working so closely together is definitely outside any particular expertise we have in-group.


Date: 2009-03-02 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I guess we have no hermetics to object strongly to Tremere...

Date: 2009-03-02 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. I am confused as to how 6 points are defining an octagon. Maybe you mean hexagon? (My other theory was that two points were being duplicated, but that doesn't seem to be the case in your list.)

2. I know nothing of the Navel of the World (as either Martha or Newt). Is there any background I'm missing that I should know of? "Telluric" == ???

3. Thanks for taking the time to figure this out, and knowing more than I do. You guys are great!

4. I am willing to send a variety of animals to whichever locations we cannot personally reach. Bob, perhaps you could assist with transportation of such? We could also send a flies-only team to alternate interpretations of the coordinates, as insurance against being wrong in our hexagon interpretation.

5. Given that we can send animals to some locations, it seems to me more important that we ourselves go to the location where we think a ritual will be happening in the future, because the animals are likely to be as effective as we would be at gathering information, but we are likely to be more effective than they at stopping a ritual in progress. (Unless, you know, we wanted to do that mouse-with-antimatter thing again. And even that would still be an option with us on-site.)

6. Bob, if you would prefer to have information in some more digital form than brains tend to naturally yield, I am open to ideas on integrating some UMB ports into the system somehow or some such.

7. Didn't we kill the guys who were doing the first set of rituals (in Boston)? Which means that if more rituals have happened / are happening, we're dealing with a group of powerful lunatics, not just a lone one or two. The mouse-with-antimatter solution is appealing in its directness and simplicity, but if more people are involved than those directly performing the rituals, that makes it (and all tactics used only against those performing rituals) less effective. Ugh. Groups of powerful lunatics; just what I need early in the morning. We need some way to trace this back to the leader(s) of the group, and/or find the other group members.


OOC: Nick, I am stepping up breeding operations to assure that I can send a couple dozen mice and a small swarm of flies to each location and still have a reasonable supply of super-animals on hand. The best of each generation are, of course, retained in the lab to breed the next generation. Groups of powerful evil lunatics are hard on the animals. Also, I'm considering diversifying into sparrows, so as to reduce dependence on Ellie's hovercraft, but I'm guessing they have longer generations; one per year would be my guess.

Date: 2009-03-02 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. Octahedron, not octagon--look at one of your d8s.

7. We killed one of a pair. IIRC, a vampire got away and we killed what we believed to be a nephandus.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. Ah, right. Duh. Sorry.

7. Oh, that's right -- we left a vampire out to face the dawn, but did so by letting you guys embrace the mage, thereby severing him from his magical power. So yes, the vampire is still at large. So it's possible that this is all some weird something being run by one vampire, but since he did seem to require the services of the mage, he either had another mage in on the thing from the beginning, or was able to recruit another one quickly; either possibility is disturbing. What's more, he was able to find another one with the same bizarre paradigm, which is also disturbing. (Although I'll admit I don't know much about nephandi; perhaps they all attach weird significance to things in connoptic jars.)


Date: 2009-03-02 05:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. Octahedron, not octagon. Eight faces, six vertices.

2. "Telluric"=="earth-related". The telluric currents are the mystical energy-flow that controls essentially all geological processes; the Navel of the World is the center-point of the telluric flow, from which it can potentially be controlled.

3. You're welcome!

4. As I lack any kind of connection with these points, I normally would find it extraordinarily difficult to teleport to them, which would make it difficult to get animals there in any particularly efficient manner. The new satellite may be of some help there. [ooc: It seems like it ought to be useful, but there ought to be some degree of narrative restriction on where in the world we can go. I need to talk to Nick about how this all should work.]

5. The one issue with using animals as scouts is that the margin of error here is pretty big. Maybe if we can narrow the location down a little better...

6. This would be a good idea if we could manage it. I'm not sure either of us really has the appropriate expertise, but maybe we can work something out.

7. We killed the mage; the vampire got away. Then again, if this timeline is right and the new ritual is always starting the night the old one ends, there would almost have to be at least two teams anyway. The other problem with the mouse-with-antimatter solution, of course, is that it almost has to be implemented at the Congo site--large mysterious explosions in Mecca on the first day of the pilgrimage are likely to have problematic consequences entirely unrelated to this ritual.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
1. Right, duh, sorry. Brain engaged now.

4. Fair enough.

5. Maybe send in a swarm of flies to narrow down the location a bit better, and then teleport in the mice? Alternately, see note about considering diversifying to sparrows; I probably can't have them as spiffy as the mice anytime soon, but by concentrating more, I might be able to cause some not-so-special birds to fly around the area, looking for the appropriate thing. This one needs a little more thinking behind it. What size area are we starting out with? That would determine how we approach narrowing it down.

6. I think we should talk about this one in person on Saturday. [OOC: I'm more likely to have appropriate ideas when I can focus a chunk of time on it, and I'm unlikely to have free chunks of time before then that I don't need to spend on other things.]

7. Gah! Agreed. No large mysterious explosions in Mecca. We do not want to start WWIII, or even just cause the next major war in the Middle East. The little things always matter. Sometimes, they matter in really obvious ways.


Date: 2009-03-02 05:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
7. It occurs to me that it is often best not to get one's own hands dirty. The powder keg nature of Mecca/Islam does lead to some possibilities. Maybe we have enough to encourage a rumor based propaganda war in Mecca. Basically set the populus up to see the murders that are about to start there as an attack on islam itself, by a group bent on destroying Mecca, and then waves of believers would do the work for us of stopping these crazed lunatics...

Date: 2009-03-02 05:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Collateral damage is hard to control in such cases, and while it would normally be the job of the local authorities to control such, I doubt in this case that the local authorities will have even so much as a single clue of what to do/look for in this situation.

Also, given how much trouble it was for us to figure out who was responsible and where to find them, and the fact that we only did so using information we don't want mundanes to have access to, how are they supposed to figure out enough to do the right things? Maybe you have some spider-in-the-web plan that could actually work, but you're going to have to flesh it out a lot more for me to see it as a feasible option.


Date: 2009-03-02 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Controlled realease of information. rumor becomes fact becomes harnessable...

basically we know where the ritual will be down to no more then a 30x30 metere area. We just make sure the irate crowd comes to 'know' where to look somehow. "No one could quite nail down where the idea of where to look came from, but it seemed that as the hour drew near in the paniced crowed suddenly a location was being shotted out throught the crowd..."

Date: 2009-03-02 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Our margin of error is at least an order of magnitude larger than that, and possibly quite a bit more. The Boston ritual happened by the Common, which is a good 500 meters from the Malkavian's Boston coordinates.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OOC Nick has stated that he reserves the right to either revise coordinates, or claim WoD varies slightly from the real world as his ability to get accurate coordinates was a limiting factor. I believe that when we plug the coordinates in in character we get much closer then that (I think that happend in game). Basically if we are given coordinates to the the second, then I expect the order of variation to be 0.5 seconds. Otherwise the precision of the reveleation is wrong ;) Phsics lab training showing thru.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So for the two sites we know about there were a string of murders, and then a final ceremony. Some of these locations are pretty remote, but shouldn't we be able to find some news trail for murders leading to each ritual?

Date: 2009-03-02 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good idea. Bob, I think this sort of massive search of local news media would be primarily your realm. [OOC: Part of me wants to say, "I go to the local library and find a friendly reference librarian...." The rest of me thinks that involving a mundane librarian in this would be a really not nice thing to do. -- Newt]


Date: 2009-03-02 05:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm enjoying this conversation.

Anti-matter mice? Huh? Please explain.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mice that carry small amounts of antimatter in a magnetic bottle, and smash it to cause an explosion.

We got a Technocracy team this way as they were trying to stop us from launching our satellite.

Date: 2009-03-02 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mouse pick up container of antimatter. Mouse crawl up to ceiling while flies provide distraction. Mouse drop container of antimatter on cement floor. Container breaks. BOOM! Technocracy investigators go away. Satellite safe in orbit, thanks to Bob's emergency teleport.

Sadly, mouse and flies dead. Necessary sacrifices to the cause.



Date: 2009-03-02 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thomas do you think we ca find some 'volunteers' to server for courier duty...

OOC- two vampires with presence, one with dominate, both with vitae for blood bonding... we have options.

Re: Couriers

Date: 2009-03-03 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Why certainly. College students sound reasonable? They're supposed to do crazy stuff like run off on a moment's notice. I'll see how many find the idea enthralling.


Date: 2009-03-03 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Can't we just buy a plane? I am sure that I can afford one. Anyone got a pilot's license? Or maybe just borrow one, send someone on an all expense paid trip to fabulous cuisine places around the world? They just have to exchange "gifts" with local real estate agents or travel agents or something. where they will put something to keep it safe in almost war-torn DR Congo is a bit more confusing?
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