Sunday 31 December 2023


The northern coast of Extranor is dotted with exploratory bases. Little grey and black mould-spots in the pristine white of the frozen outerland.

Extranor is a series of lumpy little mountain ranges, ugly islands and huge stretches of rubble. A layer of rock, placed atop an immense, shimmering cuboid of stuck-force, called the Antipneumic Sheet.

The stuck-force is translucent, and rings like a bell when struck. It’s indestructible, near as anyone can tell. If it is a perfect cube, it goes under the seabed, and the back half protrudes through the Boundary itself, out into the Psychodarkness. Suspended in it, like flies in amber, are the Old Things. Gigantic, monstrous creatures, which defy biological classification and resist even mundane sight.

They could leap up and snatch the fitful sun in their jaws - if they got out of the Sheet.


The cartography addicts are scared.

They’ve mapped all of Supranor. Every mountain in the Magnaxeric Desert has a height marker. They’ve established the path of every river in the Mazanbar Jungle. They know how far Old Dalfort sank. They’ve counted the islands of Ongosa.

Ultranor gave them about 150 years of peace. Lots of grey little coastlines to keep track of. But even that ran out. It has become part of the known - the Norm.

All they have left are the endless tiny islands of the great seas, the Hyperpelagic and Telepelagic, and those aren’t worth much. What’s there? Weird parakeets and unsettling ruins.

Beyond that, what else? The mere suggestion of land in the Sea of Fog to the north, and the last unexplored continent, to the south: Extranor.

You’ll find them crowding the place for their next fix. Survey tools and reams of paper.

Borgizad Base was set up by cartographers from Besomar, then purchased by the government and filled with scientists of every sort. The Ultranori noticed that the Supranori were crowding towards the Empty Continent, and they thought the damn centrals knew something they didn’t, so they purchased the cartographer’s camp in haste.

To be clear, there’s nothing here. Extranor really is devoid of life. And I mean devoid of life. There aren’t even any weird parakeets. No native plants. Barely any soil, even.

But there are Things. Things that crawl and gnaw at the Sheet. Things that lie dormant in snow-banks with their jaws open. Things that go bump in the night.


Outside, the sturdiest of Ultranori plants struggle to grow, forming an ugly, faded garden in a ring around the central base and the microtram lines. Regal hogweeds, thick gorse, wormwoods and spurges sway in blizzards and harsh whipping sea winds.

Often, the haar is so thick you can’t see past ten paces.

A Local: Sasha Wiestberg
Mrs. Wiestberg is the Director of Borgizad base. Her office sits in a huge concrete towerblock in the upper-central part of Primary, with an incredible view of the sea through a huge scleroglass sheet, serving as a warp-tinted window. She insists on Mrs. Wiestberg, though has no photograph of her assumed husband on her desk, and, indeed, refuses to speak of him.

She is a big, gammony sort of a person, with closely cropped hair and trophies from her time as a shot-put champion in the Interpolitan Games.

She has an avtomatic left arm, extremely cutting edge, derived from study of the bio-mechanical innards of the Faktors. She doesn’t mind telling the story of having it eaten by an orca (long story) and how the death of her shot-put career put her on the path to high-level govern-mental positions.

She eats adaptogens by the handful and participates in unproven medical fads (and Sadhanan yoga, but that’s hardly a fad, is it?). For the director of a scientific base, she really loves pseudoscience.

Wiestberg is a sort of max-level, hyper-evolved version of the person you might encounter in the process of acquiring a licence for something. She is a Super-Functionary. Despite her boisterousness, anyone can see she is engaged in a stony, banal romance with The Paperwork.

A Place to Waste your Money: The Commissary
A gigantic, draughty warehouse on the hillside near Primary, lit by harsh halogens. It is un-prettily decorated in huge sheets of yellow hard plastic and spiky radiocom antennae.

This place sells equipment for a cheap price, or in exchange for requisition slips only Director Wiestberg hands out. The firearm cabinet is locked, and sits on an elevated metal area behind a cage door. See, you need the guns, sometimes - for the Things - but it’s not base policy to give any old academic a 9-grade rifle, just because they feel like shooting tin cans.

The primary manager, Gniesbert Pine, who is usually on shift here, has a voice like a dream and a face like an artisanal pug. He’s a charming type, and he has a habit of mismanaging Commissary stock to make friends with people (this usually works). If you can persuade him somehow, he might even be persuaded to mismanage the guns.

A Faction to Piss Off: The Managing Directorate

Seventeen businessmen, scientists and Ultranor Coalition government types, residing back in the capital in Besomar (where the climate is hardly better than Borgizad, save for soupy hot summers wafting off the Anomaly.)

None of them are in Borgizad at the moment, because it is cold and it is horrible. Wiestberg is their representative and avatar in this place. To Borgizad, they may as well be angels.

A Place to Get in Trouble: The Port
Concrete arms embrace the freezing sea.

Even most of the scientists aren’t allowed to wander around here. High fences, concrete walls, Directorate-hired patrols of reddish ex-cops with nothing really to do. They kick a football back and forth inside the fences, when the snow permits it, and sometimes they smoke on the roof of the warehouse - it’s dangerous, but that’s the point. The ships sway in the sea, in the warmer parts of the year - and the ice seals it over, cold like a tomb, the rest.


The main body of the Adjunct is a launch-pad, for firing short-lived observational machines into the rarified plasma of the Upper Arc. They tend to get consumed before getting close to the Sun.

The outer areas are home to almost all of the residences in Borgizad, a little town in the shadow of the drum of the launch-pad. Bright red plastic walls, insulated shells, pathways marked by strings of blinking lights, for use in blackouts and whiteouts.

A Local: Ernest Miltepa
Ernest is a radio engineer, ex-communist and professional aetherographer. He wears a large red parka and thick bottle glasses. He is tall, handsome in a sort of a damp way, and has greyish hair.

He doesn’t like to make eye contact. His irises are a violent shade of iridescent purple. A gift from his ancestors - He is a descendant of old Brezencian nobility who lived comfortable lives as vassal-administrators for the local Liminals. Those iridescent eyes were given as badges of their elevation above the common disposable human slave.

Mr. Miltepa would benefit from therapy. His sole hobby is self-flagellating about the behaviour of dead people he has never met, but who he owes his existence to. The man is a vortex of sourceless guilt.

People on the base don’t even hold it against him.
Well, aside from Dr. Calque.

A Place to Waste your Money: Hemmit Fine Dining
A “fancy restaurant”, such as passes for one, a chain operated from the city of Hemmit in hot and central Ongosa.

Faux-fur blankets are slung over the backs of chairs and the interior deco is a catastrophic mix of metal-industrial, Ongosan new wave, and a Brezencian hunting lodge of the old fashioned days

The bartender, Vidio Markov, is an asthmatic conspiracy theorist (of the economic-political sort, not the scientific sort). He believes wholeheartedly in a cabal of dryzmogs inhabiting the Supranori governments - homunculi created by the Liminals to exert subtle control over the world, where formerly their control was overt. He likes to ramble about ancient machine gods who built the Antipneumic sheet, and will happily show you all of his detailed evidence for a hidden city deep inland in the Extranori wastes.

A Faction to Piss Off: The Cartographic Commission
There are a lot of cartographers in Borgizad. The same company which mapped Ultranor hundreds of years ago and maintains all the charts to this day. Accurate charts are extremely important.

Moreso in Ultranor, where people live and cargo ships actually sail - but surely there’s a market for highly detailed maps of dead coastlines, thousands of miles from the real world?

They’d scoff if you called them a “faction”. They’re just a bunch of people who live in the same place, eat in the same mess hall, share most of their interests, and constitute the majority of the civilians on the Base.

Who’s in charge?
The head of the Commission, Jaan Beltstad, understands that this is exactly why they are a faction. The staff of Borgizad Base despise him for acting as if he’s part of the Managing Directorate, when really, the only thing he has going for him is the respect and complete support of 20% of the base’s inhabitants.

Even the non-Cartographer civilians (the spouses, the foolhardy explorers, the corporate interests and the handful of artists) respect Mr. Beltstad as “their representative” to the ivory tower academics in Primary. Beltstad wants to know what the soldiers and the academics are keeping quiet about.

They must be keeping something quiet, because trucks go into Serizona’s Hills, and twenty-two days ago, a young cartographer with a great life ahead of him calmly laid down on the tracks and was torn to pieces by the wheels of a microtram. Why?

A Place to Get in Trouble?
Well, you could always break into someone’s house.
But don’t come crying to me if you step in a beartrap.


This big glass-panelled dome is what actually feeds Borgizad. The Agriprojects are more of a cold and depressing pipe dream. The Spheroclimate is the height of Ultranori science, and it’s the image of the base. This is what people think of, on the uncommon occasion they think of Borgizad.

The heat of the Spheroclimate is, in comparison to the freezing exterior, intense. The interior is practically jungle-esque - get lost among swaying hops and tomato vines.

A Local: Igor Spotch
Spotch is a cook, primarily, working in a cafeteria in the Spheroclimate’s outer wall. He is short, greasy, hairy and round, and is widely beloved by the people on base. He’s a local hero, maybe, sort of - a poet, explorer, lover, warrior, who just happens to not seem like any of those things.

Is this a running gag, or are we judging a book by its cover?

His savoury collations add to the esprit de corps of the base - due to their unique and fascinating flavour profiles. Spotch doesn’t eat them, of course - he lives almost entirely off whiskey, fibre bars and beans due to an “unspecified condition”.

He’ll tell you stories of wandering around the ancient tombs of the Cozmai Desert, getting in gun-to-laser fights with ancient Avtomats and archaeotechnological security systems. You’ve got no way of telling if he’s bullshitting you.

A Place to Waste your Money: Climate Cafe
A little business right by the Spheroclimate Reservoir, laid out like a Pelo Tenozan beach cabana - complete with artificial grey beach, made of ground-up Extranori rocks. Standing waist-deep in hot-ish water, in your beachwear, with a martini, watching a blizzard white-out the glass panels above your head - the cognitive dissonance is significant.

Climate Cafe is the brainchild of disgraced Mesian meteorologist Sandra Beaumasse, who arrived at Borgizad six years ago. Tall, thin, freckled. Blonde, with a butch haircut, an ill-fitting floral cabana shirt, and old, worn out trainers. She has a nervous tic - her twitching eyes - and a nervous habit - alcohol. Her presence here is an awful, awful coincidence. 

She’s a paranoid wreck often dissociated from the real. She’ll read into the tiniest actions as a threat to her life, but you could point a gun at her head, and she’d do nothing but blink a little quicker.

She graduated with honours and distinction from Xelemonde University in Mese, was fast-tracked into the IBU’s International Science Union and went from there into the highest echelons of Supranori academia. From there, she was hand-picked to be posted to the very first crew of Alphanumer Weather Station, the IBU’s expensive, nu-future exploratory base, opened to finally solve Extranor.

They were patting themselves on the back. They were finally going to understand this place, and square it away into the world-paradigm of measures and balances.

When Alphanumer was abandoned without comment exactly one year later, Ms. Beaumasse returned home, then vanished off the face of the Norm for three months, then lived in Xelemonde for the rest of that year. She applied for a visa with the Ultranori government, left home, and came here - wandered around the Adjunct for three months, apparently in a daze, then… opened a bar.

A very nice bar.

She refuses to speak of Alphanumer - at least while sober. The tales she’s told while drunk are dismissed, of course, as the fabrications of an unwell mind.

A Faction to Piss Off: The Biologists
A gang of nuts dissecting Things, because what else is there for them to do? There’s hardly any native life on Extranor that isn’t fucked up - that what there is are spurges, snails, big pale crabs, and pedestrian varieties of glaucus. They’ve heard the rumours of albino penguins farther west, and they want in.

The only thing of interest they’ve found are long-fossilied plants and animals - fucking weird ones. Fleshy plant-fans, and sea creatures they’ve christened “rat worms”, with some derision.

Studying the “biology” of the Things is, unfortunately, a fool’s errand, because they don’t have biology. In fact, they have what the Biologists have carefully termed “fuckyoulogy”, because when you cut one open you say “OH, FUCK YOU”.

Almost entirely from the University of Pedelk on the island of Ozna. Primarily, they gossip bitchily in Oznan about everything. Additionally, they chain smoke menthols and radiate cultish vibes. Their unofficial leader is Professor Iza Destesta, a self-described gun nut and clinical insomniac engaged in a thirty-year full contact wrestling match with gender.

They’re all a little concerned, because twenty-three days ago, a fairly significant member of their staff, Ion Lotovic, walked by a minor biologist in the corridor with a knife sticking out of his neck, and tried to ask about the weather. Why?

A Place to Get in Trouble: Containment
The deepest basement of the Spheroclimate. In here, they freeze down the ancient fossils, the strange pulsating snails - and Things, for further study by experts in their makeup. The freezers run on seven backup generators - it’d be a shame if they failed.


Named after a Demizan explorer that came down here about seven-hundred years ago, founded a colony, then starved to death. His contemporaries were having a great deal more success in the islands of the Diapelagic Ocean, but his fruitless optimism gained him a sort of cultic following in Demizo.

When the Ultranori built a base right on the site of Serizona’s old colony, they demanded it be called Serizona. The Ultranori named it after Anatoly Borgizad, most famous for sinking Demizan navy ships during the War of Independence.

It caused a minor diplomatic incident.

These hills aren’t inhabited, at least according to the Base’s documents. All that’s up here are measuring instruments and the titanic frost-rimed radio-mast tower that keeps Borgizad in touch with the world.

Some say the mast is built right on top of Serizona’s grave.

Ignore the little pre-fab town on the northern coast. Officially, it doesn’t exist. And if you’re here, you signed the document making sure you agree that it doesn't exist.

A Local: Valentyna Koltchak
She maintains the instruments up here. Going about in her cold little snowmobile, from seismograph to aetherograph, viewfinder to thermometer.

She’s from the tiny island of Szarkany, out in the middle of the Peripelagic Ocean. Szarkany spent about 300 years assuming everyone else was dead, after the Liberation, and their language and culture has diverged significantly from the rest of the Norm’s.

Officially, she doesn’t live in the town that doesn’t exist. Officially, she is the only permanent resident of Serizona’s Hills. Supposedly, she lives alone in a 2-bedroom family prefab building that does exist, next to the town that doesn’t, with a son who, as far as you could tell from government documents, was immaculately conceived, and has been flickering in and out of existence ever since.

She’s a friendly sort. From a long distance, she just looks like a blue parka and a pair of thermal trousers that have escaped from a storage locker and taken on life. People call her Tiny Koltchak back at the base, because she’s about four feet and seven inches tall.

She can also deadlift 285kg. She certainly doesn’t look strong enough to do that, but she very much is. They call her in to shut valves in the base by hand, when the machines meant to do it fail. She jokes about the Szarkaneli people having Faktor blood (and iron Faktor bones, too). Most people on the base don’t take it as a joke.

A Place to Waste your Money: The Vresian Vending Machine
It gets called that because there’s just one. Positel, a Vresian everything-corporation, came to Borgizad for six months about three years ago - sniffing around for any possible profit. They put up temporary offices right on the south-east of the hills, then got sick of the cold, the lack of money, and the Ultranori - and then they left.

But they left this vending machine behind them on the pale footprint of the temporary offices. For corporate reasons inscrutable to the sane humans outside it, Positel sends a guy in with the mail ship every spring, to restock the fucking thing - just in case a Positel servitor - er, employee needs it.

This vending machine contains red wine and overpressure ammunition and fancy condoms and pale ales and anti-depressants and a row of stuffed elephant plushies - specifically, the elephant from the flag of the International Balances Union.

It is an object of exotic, terrified fascination for the Borgizites, who snowmobile out here to just… gawk at it. Why, in the name of God (or the other name of God) would anyone need a machine that vends flashbangs? Those centrals are all crazy.

A Faction to Piss Off: Pre-Fabris
They quietly call the little town that doesn’t exist Pre-Fabricata. The base sends food to thirty officially uninhabited buildings, and a few officially non-existent people (in parkas and full-face black masks shaped like dog’s heads and leering maniac faces) come and pick it up.

The Teeth are called many things - a cult, a crime syndicate, the only thing keeping the world safe… all at least slightly true. They began on the island of Mandilese, named after the Sea of Teeth in the south-west. Their solemn creed is this: nothing of the old world must return and destroy the new. Things, Liminals, and worse besides, the Teeth hunt and destroy them with rocket launchers and a feral love for humanity. 

Of course they have a presence on Extranor. They have a presence far beyond just Borgizad. They desire a presence within Borgizad. Forbidden knowledge never remains so near university academics.

Their methods are merciless and they submit to no state. They are feared, or hated, regarded as a malfunctioning relic of an earlier age - an obstacle, now, to progress.

Working with them would cause an international scandal.

So, when the base staff need the Teeth’s expertise, or need them to hunt a Thing out in the waste - they keep it very quiet.

A Place to Get in Trouble: The Mast
It looms high above everything, caked always in hard frost, the lights of the device glittering through a halo of ice-shards and rime. It’s capable of sending and receiving as far as Brezenc back in Ultranor. That’s halfway across the Norm.

Hell of an opportunity for prank calls, if you can figure out how to work the damn thing.

It’s uncrewed, powered by a carefully sealed strontium RTG. A single maintenance worker (Valentyna Koltchak) comes here three times a year to make sure nothing’s misaligned.

The careful balance in Serizona is wobbling.

Twenty-five days ago, one of the people who don’t officially exist climbed the Mast and flung herself down through three-hundred feet of frozen air, to splatter on a loving granite slab below. People saw.

Who was that? The staff say it was nobody - but nobody sure left a hell of a stain.


Ruined by Things, partially, but primarily by neglect and a lack of budget. Mostly abandoned to the frost and decay.

The spurge seeds they scattered around here took, and they sway in yellow-green masses capped with delicate snowflakes.

Informal exiles from the academic communities live in a cold concrete block here, alongside a few "advisors" from Supranori universities, whom the Directorate keep far from everything - these friendly advisors are just passive spies for the Central institutions, or so it’s said.

A Local: Niezka Pavitz
A landscape artist who enjoys painting the serene desolation of Ultranor and the Western Base. A large, dark-haired figure in heavy overalls and woolen jumpers, she has strong, angular hands that she uses to gently whisper out hauntingly desolate watercolours - they look better than the real thing.

She has already made her fortune painting garish portraits of hyper-celebrities back in Supranor, and is now facing down the possibility that the throwaway pieces she made to pay rent will become her enduring cultural legacy as an artist.

She’s trying very hard to be grateful for the money.

A Place to Waste your Money: Alzbeta Betstat
An exile even among the exiles, Ms. Betstat is an aetherologist, a specialist in certain kinds of imaging technology, and the plasmas of the Upper Arc. She’s also a fortune-teller, a pseudoscientist, and does a LOT of LSD.

You can spot her playing solo rounds of golf in the rust-and-plastic ruins of the base, head haloed in a fiery red mane catching the snowflakes. She has never bothered with the labcoat, and prefers a leather jacket instead - somewhat idiosyncratically covered with band patches for a bunch of sad, folky Hulsan musicians with umlauts over their names.

She has the bent nose, cauliflower ear and missing tooth of a professional boxer, because she is a former championship boxer and could beat you fucking SENSELESS if she wasn’t so IN CONTROL of her DEEP SEATED and NATURAL RAGE against the WORLD HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS NEW KIND OF PLASMA CAMERA THEY HAVE IN BREZENC?

A Faction to Piss Off: Cold Storage
This is the joking title the Central academics have given themselves. Eleven startlingly intelligent, bored-shitless people, condemned to the end of the world, either in disappointed earnestness, or to be cynically removed from places in which they were too controvesial and thoughtful. They're tangled in a truly awful dodecahedron of confused feelings and mediocre sex.

They don’t class Alzbeta as a member, and they’re down one as of late.

Their geologist reports - the soil at the western base is, bizarrely, alright for agriculture - and the archaeologist has turned up old Demizan material culture from the Liberation Era. These are the bludgeons they will wield in functionary-battle with Wiestberg, to claw for relevance. The horns of war will be sounded - when they get over the terror, the ennui and the cocaine.

Why the terror? Well - twenty-four days ago, their hobby numismatist and professional biologist walked into the communal kitchen, humming, and poured himself a brimming cup of drain cleaner. Dead. Why?

A Place to Get in Trouble?
This place is basically empty, really. You could go kick around the abandoned concrete structures and do some urbex.

Is “a whirlwind romance with a socially inept scientist from Supranor” trouble? You could get heaps of that shit here - if you wanted that, for some reason.


Cuts Borgizad off from the rest of Extranor by land.

Also home to the tiny Ultranori Army detachment assigned to keep order on the Base. Their barracks are cramped, usually cold, and sit right in the shadow of the wall. Steel duckboards carry them through trenches cut in the snow to tiny pre-fab plastic shacks, where they can sit, unloading and reloading their coruscating rounds - waiting for trouble.

Twenty-two soldiers with no regular activities, and an enemy that attack with no warning, no surrender, no measurable tactics, no ability for communication, and no regular intervals.


A Local: Ham [Redacted]
He doesn’t officially live on Borgizad Base, in the records, though he returns to Primary at night to sleep without particular issue. He’s a liaison to the inhabitants of Serizona’s Hills, who are also not on the records.

Ham manages to come across as everybody’s dad, the inexplicable father of Borgizad. He’s patient, supportive, gruff, bearded, slow to anger - and quick to quip. He works from a little workshop hut, out in the snow next to the tram station from the Adjunct. It’s heated by a big block radiator and copious cups of hot coffee, which he will offer to anyone.

Ham is the most dangerous man on the base. It’s pretty clear from the way he walks, the way he checks his corners, the way he moves. The way he dismembers Things that sneak through. 

People assume he was in Coalition Special Forces, reassigned here after a long career of garrottes to watch over Borgizad, with the broad-browed paternal instincts of a hardened killer. They are wrong - he was not Coalition Special Forces, and when he machine-gunned people in the War of Independence, he was fighting for different interests. Only a select few know that.

He owns one jacket, from his time in the army, which he has failed to remove his full name from:

A Place to Waste your Money: Blowtorch Bar
Not the recommended bar for anyone.

Not even a sanctioned business, really. A civilian, up at the Adjunct, felt bad for the constantly vigilant, swivel-eyed soldiers, and opened for them a third place, that wasn’t their bunk or their post. The bartender’s name is Hortensio Fenks, a third-rate Mesian accountant hired by the Ultranori to bean-count at the base. When he discovered how few beans there were to count, he decided to take up a hobby.

It’s got that name because it’s heated very cunningly with spare blowtorch fuel that nobody has noticed is missing, yet. The soldiers keep telling him to change the name, since it’s effectively an admission to theft, but he’s attached to it.

Hortensio is a suicidally overconfident man. He has a home-made stabproof vest and he keeps asking muscular soldiers with big murderous knives to help him test it. Sgt. Vorodmiko has officially banned the soldiers stabbing him. Killjoy!

A Faction to Piss Off: The Extranor Detachment
Ultranori soldiers generally come in two categories.

The first are the majority: those who have been serving for less than 20 years, whose entire career has consisted of sitting around on shorelines and boats waiting for trouble. 

The second are the minority, the veterans of 20-years-and-over service, who massacred and were massacred in the War of Independence and have felt nothing but clotting blood inside their heads since that day. Combat drugs, vacuum bombs, phosphorus, you name it, they saw it.

None of the detachment here are veterans. The captain was. The longest serving member of the unit is Sergeant Vorodmiko, who has been in the army for 16 years. She took part in Cleanup, the long, arduous process of removing unexploded ordnance from the rural lichen-covered shit-end of Brezenc. She has a very careful tread.

They’re jumpy, because twenty-one days ago Captain Melko, their hero, their father, their leader, calmly walked into their barracks, asked how the weather was, then shot himself in the head with a coruscating round halfway through the answer. They buried everything under his collarbone, and scraped what was left of everything above it off the wall into a plastic bag. Why?

Who’s in charge?
Sgt. Vorodmiko, without question. The soldiers are clinging to her like remoras to a big shark, for stability in the aftermath. And she would put you in mind of a shark - she’s as grey as the homeland camouflage. Her teeth are big, her canines prominent. She carries around a folding entrenching tool that she keeps knife-sharp at all times - just in case she sees a Thing. She loves card games, acts as a mother figure to her soldiers, and hates Demizans (in a racist way).

A Place to Get in Trouble: The Agriprojects
Corn mash and bug mash, and massive frozen fields. Plastic greenhouses torn through by the claws of things. Snowmobile patrols by the soldiers from the Defensive Wall pass through dead roads that go nowhere towards collapsed “ranches” in the stubble of Borgizad. One maintained road sweeps through the remaining farms, stopping at a frozen hip of architecture out in the snows.

People call this huge, disused, freezing storage warehouse the Mash Dispensary, though every year it dispenses less mash. In two years, or so, there will be no reason to come here.

The fields are dying. Going brown and sick.
Something in the soil here is wrong.

Past the Dispensary, the road is dirt and gravel, and so begins the Wilderness.



Endless grey, or white, when it is snowing. Hard, irregular formations of rock, impossible to form naturally except under extremely bizarre conditions. Long, lifeless roads traversed only by sturdy snowmobiles once or twice a year.

Under everything, the faint, distant ringing of the Antipneumic Sheet.

A Local: Bojan Khodemchuk
The exile. Not officially, at least, but Professor Bojan Khodemchuk has done a stunningly good job of burning every possible bridge in Borgizad. He has done this by being personally difficult, perfectionist, creatively minded, socially pushy, politically extreme, and by spoiling the endings of the few television shows available to the staff of Borgizad Base.

He is notably tall, with brown skin and a black beard, most often dressed in many layers of heavily scraped and crudely reinforced winter gear. He lives in a fortified shack far enough away from Borgizad that he would have no chance of making it to the base on foot in the snow. Everywhere he goes, he carries a shotgun.

Anatoly Borgizad was his uncle, and his sister is part of the Board of Directors. He could go home anytime he wanted, but why would he - he’d end up at home if he did. No, Bojan likes the death of the place. The tangible aura.

Bojan used to make bombs. He’s not particularly proud of that - and he’s very happy they never deployed any of his work. However, there used to be something fascinating about standing there, in your black boots and your lab coat, next to a twenty-thousand-pound finned bomb explicitly designed for maximising casualties. You can feel the death coming off of it. It’s exhilarating.

Living in Extranor and killing Things with a shotgun when they try to break into your shack is a safe and legal thrill.

And it’s better for the world than building bombs.

A Place to Waste your Money?
None out here. You could always bury it in a hole, but the paper they print it on is cheap and fragile.

A Faction to Piss Off?
Do the Things count as a faction? No. That would require organisation. And that’s definitely the only advantage we have over them.

A Place to Get in Trouble: The Exposed Sheet
A four-hundred mile long valley, twenty miles south of Borgizad, where wind and water has scraped away enough of the stone to show the Antipneumic stuckforce beneath. It runs all the way east to the sea.

The “River” Ribati runs through here - it has sawed away its banks, and simply flows across the entirety of the Exposed Sheet. A foot-and-a-bit of nearly lifeless, perfectly clear water in late spring and summer, and a sub-sheet of brittle, shiny ice the rest of the year.

Down below, they’re visible. The Things. Huge measuring instruments sit on concrete blocks or stainless-steel tripods out in the Ribati’s flow. People don’t visit this place on a lark.

Looking straight down can have a bad effect on your mental health. Bring your GLAZBLOK visual-protective helmets, your anti-psychotics, and your radios.

Walk in groups of three, or alone - but never in pairs.


Back in the base, now. Or, under it.

PLL is buried far under Borgizad Primary, accessible only by a freezing, abyssally dark lift-shaft. Far below, white and blue glints and glimmers - never bright enough to reveal what you descend through, or towards.

This is the buried core, a massive borehole drilled all the way through the rock layer to rest atop the glimmering Antipneumic Sheet itself. Intralab hangs in the borehole, like a coin mid-flip - a shiny disc of brightly lit steel, insulated laboratories, and negative space.

Even the existence of PLL is held back from the outside world. Only the Managing Directorate of Borgizad Base and the Coalition Government in Besomar know that it’s down here. Even most of the staff aren’t allowed to go down there. Those who do so are rotated in and out - one month of the year working every day in PLL, then the rest on easy duties in the Adjunct.

A Local: Ezekiel Calque
The great genius of Borgizad Base, and the chief architect of the base. Sasha Wiestberg is king - he is bishop. He is a great grey cryptid of a man, clean-shaven, gaunt and hairy-armed. He moves in total silence. The obedience of the Academics to his grand vision of scientific understanding moves beyond the professional into the semi-religious.

If you met him, you’d understand why. It’s plainly obvious - his eye burns with a mad, ferocious curiosity. On sight, you know he, himself, is not explained by science - because half of his head is missing. Just gone, everything left of his nose and above his jaw - he wears a sort of protective hood, mostly because the sight of exposed grey matter tends to put people off of his lunch. 

A Thing tore his head clean off four years ago - a chance incident after a microtram breakdown halfway to the Western Base.

He has no idea why he is alive, and is fucking thrilled about it.

A Place to Waste Your Money: PLL-Proper.
Well, it’s not a business, but it has certainly wasted millions of taxpayer dollars from the budget of the Ultranor Coalition.

A Faction to Piss Off: The Academics
Study, study, endless study. Catalogue, understand, compare, reconcile, reveal, hypothesise, gather, re-hypothesise, synthesise, study, endless study.

Why are the Things? What are the Things? Who are the Things? When are the Things? Which, even, are the Things?

Can we monetise any part of them?

So they look down into the suspended apocalypse with GLAZBLOK instruments and a higher-than-recommended dose of antipsychotics.

They’ve nicknamed the bits of Thing visible in the sheet. Thumb, Corkscrew, Nasty Smile, Beltstaad, Grippy, Flask, and so on. It’s easy to compare their shapes when you all share the same nightmares.

A Place to Get in Trouble: Intralab
The innermost core of PLL.

Ice forms on all the exterior surfaces, the doors have blasting bolts - just in case. 
Come on in, and walk on rattling catwalks to the frosty tomb of HEASRIEM II, for whom Borgizad is a headstone.

That is to say, the:
[Highly Experimental Aethero-Sonic Resonance Imaging and Extraction Machine (ii)].

Working on the innovations of one Sandra Beaumasse, this metal titan was constructed by a secret crew under strict orders of secrecy and the careful scrutiny of Khodemchuk, Calque and Miltepa. HEASRIEM hangs there under Intralab, like a cathedral of aluminium, circuity and valves.

HEASRIEM glows, halolike, with rarefied plasma retrieved from above at extreme expense, and is suspended by about a mile of high density cable. Held there, the tiny operating “foot” gently touches the shining surface of the Sheet underneath. It almost looks like it’s balancing on that tiny point of metal - or like it’s flying.

HEASRIEM is not fully understood. Miltepa is out of his depth, Calque had the plans knocked out of his head by a scything mandible, and Khodemchuk is far away savouring death.

And if you told Beaumasse they built another one, she would kill you, and then herself, on the spot - as a favour.

Even the scientists inhabiting Borgizad are reluctant to activate it - after all, the last time they did, twenty-six days ago, they put a crack in the Sheet.



  1. This and the previous post on the same setting are absolutely delightful. Thank you for writing them.

  2. Yeah this stuff's real neato... you should run a game set in it

    t. semiurge