Far Beyond the Reach of Earth

A Proposal
Explosive decompression & grant writing together at last!

The team, still minus Iskra, reunites with Zanzibar Tranh at the shuttle after their hacking expedition. Corvus and Anna Cornucopia fill everyone in. Corvus has hacked them access to the insurance wreck investigation asteroid, so they head off. The new tags and IDs for the Pariah all seem to work, so it seems Corvus’ dockside contact hasn’t betrayed him to the 14k, as least yet…

Arriving, Anna pulls up a local map and locates the wreck. They take a monorail to it, seeing only crab shaped synthmorphs on the way. Corvus knows that these are generally remote operated for investigations, but are also used for site security.

At the wreck, Zanzibar quickly recognizes that the TTL was destroyed by an internal explosion rather than external (as the newsfeeds claimed), proving their suspicions correct: sabotage! He also finds that the emergency vacsuits have been tampered with, and locates the damaged, but maybe usable, main computer. Corvus sets to work, and uncovers 2 video logs as well as scoring some Petal from a hidden smuggling compatment that he unlocks.

Zanzibar views the vids in simulspace to save time, and finds a suspicious edit in the internal one. He fast forwards to the same time on the (apparently hidden) external camera, and sees two figures that he recognizes as Mr and Ms Willaby entering and exiting the TTL while the crew is all absent. He also sees Ben Johanssen board shortly before takeoff, proof that he did indeed die in the explosion. That settled, they report back to Tor Dietrichson and put out a general request amongst contacts for any info on the Willabys.

The team returns to Titan and meets up with Val Balou to write the grant proposal for their gatecrashing expedition. After a series of edits, they get a draft they are content with, and the recently returned Iskra and Anna head over to Arturo Sandoval’s office to submit it. They encourage him to keep it extra quiet, and he assures them that he will. He still seems uninterested in their flirtations, but does seem quite excited about being the primary researcher on discoveries from a new gatesite.

The team prepares to head out, and tries to think of anything else they might need to visit an unknown exoplanet.

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A Death in Transit
The Plot Thickens

Iskra and Mindy X. leave on a short vacation to see the local sights. The rest of the team hangs out around the Pariah, where Orly is still hiding and working on the ship. Corvus discovers that the Triad who he got the false ID from has some connections to the 14k triad, his enemies, but doesn’t seem to be a member, and the ID looks good, so he doesn’t worry too much.

Zanzibar works on making connections within the psych department at TAU, with some success. He, Anna, and Corvus debate what to include in the gatecrashing grant they are writing for Arturo Sandoval, but decide to wait for Iskra (and more info) before making any final decisions. Corvus also discovers some info about his last visit here, he appears to have arrived and left quickly similar to Anna, and tried hard to keep his presence and activities on the dl.

The team decides to investigate the death of their former proxie, Ben Johanssen a bit more. Anna discovers that he died in an ship explosion midway between Pandora and Titan. She gets the name of the ship, a tugboat, and Corvus hacks the company database. It seems the company only has the one ship, called ‘Tow the Line’, and does freelance space based scrap and salvage ops. Johanssen is not listed amongst the crew, although his name was oncluded in the news reports. Corvus finds records of what are referred to as ‘semi-regular bonuses’- the team deduces that Johanssen had a deal to travel surreptitiously aboard the ‘TTL’.

Corvus also finds that the job on which the crew was killed was a last minute addition to a return trip from Pandora, and that the hiring party was a ‘Mr and Ms Willaby’. Suspicious! It seems that 3 of the 5 crew have been resleeved, but the other two (and any ship replacement/repairs) are tied up in an insurance dispute. The wreckage of the ‘TTL’ is aboard a small asteroid that serves as an claims investigation site for the insurance company, Allspace.

Val calls in a favor, and helps Corvus gain admin access to the Allspace system. He creates freelancer accounts for the team, registers their ship as authorized to travel to the asteroid, and schedules their arrival. The team prepares to head out and investigate the wreck further.

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Arrival at Titan
That's Titan the moon, not TITAN the existential threat

Zanzibar decides to spend some time in simulspace, feeling stressed after the gun battle. Nataly, feeling trusting, reveals that her real name is Iskra, and welcomes her teammates referring to her as such. Anna and Iskra head back to the Does Not Compute after talking to the captain, and calming him down a bit about the bomb threat. Val and Corvus stay aboard to fiddle with ship and check for traps. Corvus takes them in a bit closer to the ‘DNC’ so that they will have an easier time crossing the gap.

Endo Apsol shows Anna and Iskra that the assassin who had been aboard the ‘DNC’ had an emergency farcaster and killswitch implant, which transmitted and then fried their stack. The pirates appear pretty run of the mill. Three have been captured alive, bound, and detained. The other 5 are either dead or floating in space, having been blasted off of the hull in the external firefight. Anna and Iskra request the opportunity to interrogate the captives, and the captain agrees, with some conditions.

He tells them that, usually, a captain would gain any ships captured in space combat, but that since he is a businessman, and his business involves not getting himself and his passengers killed, and since the pirates and assassins were clearly after the team, he wants them all off of his ship. So, he proposes that the team take the The Outlander, after his engine crew have taken some parts to temporarily repair the damage to the ‘DNC’. The team agress, after some deliberation, once Corvus confirms that this will not leave them crippled.

They then question the three captives: two males and one female, all in bouncer morphs. One of the males is unconscious. They don’t respond to questioning. Iskra browses their thoughts and finds out that the female is in charge. They talk Apsol into letting them take her to their ship, Apsol says he is turning the other two in once they reach Titan. They take her, and after the crew of ‘DNC’ gets their parts, they part ways.

Aboard the ‘Outlander’, Corvus gets them underway, plotting a course and manually entering it, as the computer locks him out. After a bit of travel, Iskra and Anna begin questioning the pirate. They end up laying bad cop/worse cop, with Iskra probing her mind, and Anna kicking her in the ribs. She caves after the mind probe, seemingly freaked out by Iskra’s async abilities. She introduces herself as Orly, and offers a deal: she will give them the computer codes, answer their questions, and help fix up the ship if they let her stay aboard for a bit and don’t turn her in on Titan, as she is wanted there. The team agrees, and let her loose-the codes she provides are good, and she seems to be telling the truth, so they decide to trust her, for know.

She tells them that the couple from the ‘DNC’ hired them, naming them Mr and Ms Willaby. The crew of the ‘Outlander’ were a smalltime pirate/scavenger crew, and had recently boosted that vessel, and renamed and scrubbed it. They were supposed to either capture or kill the three original team members (they didn’t yet know of Iskra and Val), cripple and raid the ‘DNC’ to cover it up a bit, and then give the couple a ride off. Once they are within range of Titan a few days later, Corvus confirms enough aspects of this story that he believes her.

Bringing the ship in, it seems that the codes that Apsol gave them are good, but Corvus gets a Triad contact to get false tags ands registry for him once they land. He makes an ass of himself, and ends up having to pay the guy for it as well. Also, Corvus is mildly distressed to find that the 49’er recognizes him from last time he was here, which Corvus of course has no memory of. With the help of Val and Orly (who stays aboard), he fixes up the ship pretty well, renaming it the ‘ Pariah’. Val gives everyone the address for the local Firewall friendly backup tech.

Meanwhile, Anna does some research on her mysterious past, and finds out that she is a graduate of an accredited university on Mars, with a focus on archeology and xenobiology. She also finds out that she was in an extreme rush to get to Pandora last time she was here, and was scrabbling to get gear and passage organized. Iskra finds the most popular/exclusive club in town, 10 AU, and plans to make her debut there the following night, once her trendsetting outfit design is manufactured. She then goes to a bar to compulsively mingle, and meets a student who has an interest in gatecrashing, and directs her to Arturo Sandoval, a TAU gatecrashing expert. She goes home with the student later on.

The next day, Anna and Iskra go to see Sandoval, and manage to talk him into helping them put together a grant proposal to get funding from TAU for their gate use-this will allow them to access the gate, although they haven’t planned out how to get to their exact destination yet, as those coordinates might arouse suspicion. They also get a lot of useful info about gates and gatecrashing in general.

Later on, they meet up with Corvus (who Anna dresses to complement her outfit), and Iskra picks up her amazing get-up. They show up to the club, and Iskra gets waved in, past the line, and manages to get Corvus and Anna in too. Corvus invites some Triad guys along, but fails to get them in and loses some rep. Iskra socializes while Anna dances, and both make fast ‘friends’ with some local glitterati, including Mindy X., a part-time model and designer. Iskra goes home with her later on, and gifts her the trendsetting outfit. All three gain some f-rep from being seen at the club.

They then retreat to the ship to write up the grant, and start researching the death of their other selves’ local proxie, Ben Johanssen.

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Aboard 'Does Not Compute'
A deadly cruise

Anna, Corvus, Nataly and Zanzibar board the scum freighter ‘Does Not Compute’, after briefly meeting the captain, Endo Apsol. He seems busy getting the ship loaded, as does the crew. Corvus spots some common smuggling mods on the exterior, but can’t get a read on what they might be smuggling.

Anna and Nataly socialize once underway, and Anna meets a fan from the party the previous night, who turns out to be another Firewall sentinel who was tasked with helping them out on the voyage and investigation. He introduces himself as Val, he is a weak looking menton morph who has an interest in explosives and an open source society. Meanwhile, Corvus locates some likely smugglung hidy-holes, and Zanzibar soothes his own stress in accelerated simulspace.

Nataly finds some drug tea, and they all take it in their private cabin, while getting to know one another. They crash for the night, and awaken to the news that the ‘DNC’ has received a distress call from another ship, The Outlander, which they are investigating. This will take them a bit off course, but should not delay their arrival by more than half a day.

They match orbits and connect a docking tube with the other ship, a dozen or so passenger small craft. Not super fancy, and experiencing massive engine failure, according to the comms chatter that Corvus intercepts. Corvus and Zanzibar decide to hide in a smuggling compartment, just in case, but are spotted by an alet crew member, and instead wait near the door to the docking bay.

As the ‘DNC’ crew equalize pressure and open the blast gate, they are rushed by raiders from the other ship in armored vacsuits. Simultaneously, an explosion from the engine room rocks the ‘DNC’. Saboteurs! Corvus seals the blast door to the docking bay, as Anna, Nataly, and Val rush out into the hall from their cabin. Zanazibar hides nearby. The team comes under fire from two camo cloaked figures whom they eventually recognize as fellow passengers. After a deadly firefight, Corvus, Zanzibar, and one of the enemies are unconscious, and the raiders blow through the door. Everyone else retreats into the cabin and seals the entrance.

They discover an explosive planted within, which Val disarms and uses to blow a hole in the hull. Anna makes for the enemy ship through vacuum, while Nataly freaks out, rushes into the hall, shoots some raiders, and is felled. Val drags her back, and Zanzibar’s monkey hauls him out the hole in the hull. Nataly and Val also slip out, after Val sets an explosive trap for any who follow. Anna emptily threatens (on a public channel) to blow up both ships if the attackers do not back down. She receives no response from the raiders, but the Captain of the ‘DNC’ requests strongly that she does not follow through. Her @-rep and g-rep also take instant hits.

The team hears an explosion as they cross the hull, and assume the trap has gone off. They exchange fire with some pursuers while reaching the enemy ship. Nataly blasts a hole in the tube connecting the two, and drops in. The team exchanges more fire with raiders returning to their vessel with Corvus’ body. They drop them, and regain Corvus.

Anna enters the enemy ship, followed by the rest of the team, as Val disengages from the ‘DNC’. They start spinning away, and Val gets the exteior door shut. They hear two thuds on the hull, and the door slides open, but they manage to bkast the two pursuers off into space in a hail of bullets. Meanwhile, Anna and Nataly reach the cockpit and get it open, having found no opposition aboard the ship.

They communicate with the Captain of the ‘DNC’ who tells them that his security teams have rounded up the dead and unconscious raiders and bound and secured them. They manage to eventually convince the Captain that Anna’s bomb threat was a ruse, and manage to calm the Captain down a bit. They examine each others hulls and, seemingly free of raiders, try to plan what to do next.

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Next stop Pandora!
Transport secured

Nataly finally decides to track down Zanzibar and help him out, arriving around the same time as Corvus, who has recently completed a black market transaction to purchase a pain inducer, as well as putting the word out on the g-list that he and some friends are looking for transport to Pandora. They find Zanzibar, meet each other, and help haul the ko’d (but still living) monkey back to a safehouse that Nataly secures from a glitterati connection.

Anna meanwhile convinces Burt Mannix to let her accompany him to his room while he prepares for their night out. As he dresses, the nano-toxin kicks in, and he gets progressively more disoriented and clumsy. They eventually head to the bar, and meet up with Nataly. However, Burt heads rapidly downhill, and, as Nataly’s mind probe reveals that he only manages the brothel end of the operation, and doesn’t have any useful knowledge of Bannock Kohn, they cut him loose. Corvus helps guide him home, and gets an hour with the talent on the house. However, he feels somewhat uncomfortable and talks about spaceships and astral navigation before leaving early.

The next day, at the appointed hour, Nataly and Anna attend the simulspace meeting with Kohn. Nataly presents herself as a broker for an outside party, looking to set up a time-dilated simulspace similar to Kohn’s, wherein they can enslave infomorphs effectively. Kohn agrees to help, after some persuading, and they decide on doing a testrun with one infomorph. If they like his services, they will send the rest.

Anna calls on the @-listers to provide a skilled hacker for the next stage. Zanzibar creates an alpha fork of Corvus, and they send it to Kohn, with the hacker piggybacking on the signal. The hacker traces Corvus 2 through a series of server switches to Kohn’s (seemingly) main server, where the hacker creates a backdoor out and begins pilfering incriminating data while Corvus 2 is worked on to make him more pliable & cooperative. The hacker exits around the same time as Kohn ships Corvus 2 back.

Zanzibar performs some quick psych therapy on the fork, before reintegrating it with Corvus 1. Anna, Nataly, and Corvus team up to do some mesh-based research and data compiling with the info from the hacker. They put together a damning account (including some xp from Corvus 2) and Anna leaks it to the media, causing a a bit of a to-do. Kohn’s operation is quickly shut down, and his servers raided, but he himself manages to escape with a few of his enslaved infomorphs.

The job being complete, the @-listers come through on their end and find transport to Pandora in a day and a half aboard the scum freighter ‘Does Not Compute.’ Corvus’ black market connections upgrade them from steerage to a private compartment, and they prepare for the trip.

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Aboard Phelan's End
Off this rock!

Aboard the shuttle, Anna and Zanzibar decide to lay down arms and explain themselves to the Phelan’s End port authorities (a local citizen’s militia), while Corvus makes use of the smuggling compartments that he noticed aboard the vessel to hide himself and any questionable gear the team had.

Anna charms the militia leader, and after a brief review of recorded data from the shuttle, they are let go. Corvus sneaks out later with the gear, and begins examining the various docked ships to find a suitable transport to Pandora (as well as satisfy his personal curiosities and compulsiveness).

Phelan’s End is a beehive cluster, a partially hollowed out asteroid filled with livable tunnels and caverns, and spun to generate .2g. It is one of the major ports in Phelan’s Recourse, and is a good hub for in system travel, as well as a center of vice and mercantilism, as befits a port.

Anna finds some locals who are hiring dancers for a party, and wows the crowd, increasing her @-rep. Zanzibar uses his allies to send a coded message to Tor Dietrichson about the shuttle attack, warning that there may be a mole in Firewall. Anna manages to find a local Firewall contact named Nataly who is also looking to leave Phelan’s End. They meet up, and agree to join forces. Zanzibar gets hired by a sleazy local sex parlor to do some brief simulspace psychtherapy on some of the employees-he decides that since he is trying to lessen their pain, this isn’t unethical.

Anna also receives a contact from a local @-lister who met her at the party, looking for a favor. There is a local sex-trade kingping known as Bannock Kohn, who is rumored to also be running an infomorph slave ring. He apparently transfers uncooperative (or worn down) infomorphs into pleasure pods after their abuse in the virtual sweatshop. He is rumored to use illegal psychosurgery to make these infomorphs more pliable, and to be willing to meet almost any customer demands, no matter how extreme or outlandish. Zanzibar is worried that he may have accidentally helped this guy the other night.

The @-listers want him removed (or his operation exposed and dismantled), but due to Kohn’s high local rep with the gangsters and politicos (due to bribes and scientific ‘discoveries’ he has made using slave labor) they can’t effectively target them themselves. So, they want an outside party to assist. The team agrees, although Corvus remains occupied.

Zanzibar tries to use his g-rep to his advantage, but instead ends up sending his monkey into a trap. He action heroes a rescue, and ko’s 6 goons with his brutal ap ammo, while Anna and Nataly go to Kohn’s bar and seduce the talent manager/muscle Burt Mannix. They agree to meet him after work, and Anna slips him a weakening nano-toxin.

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Phelan's Recourse
The adventure begins

Three sentinels (Anna, Corvus, and Zanzibar) are resleeved into various morphs on the Duke of Heal, a medical tin can hab that is part of the Phelan’s recourse flotilla, which travels around the many small habitats and moons in Saturn’s orbit. Anna and Zanzibar are relieved to see they have received one of their preferred morphs, but Corvus is distressed to find himself in birdform.

After they regain their composure, a Firewall proxie, Tor Dietrichson, informs them of their current situation. They have reverted to six month old backups due to their 3 and 1 1/2 month old backups being heavily corrupted, apparently by either a virus or a talented hacker. Tor tells them that their (future) selves had been investigating a gatecrashing team at the Gate on Pandora (one of Saturn’s moons). The initial readings from the gate showed promising atmosphere and conditions, but also picked up some strange signatures, that Firewall thought might be TITAN related. They sent a Sentinel along with the team, who were assembled and sent in fairly quickly.

Unfortunately, the gate malfunctioned, and was not open for the team’s scheduled pick-up/check-in. When the gate was reopened, a brief message was found, which included a Firewall code phrase that the local proxie, Ben Johanssen, called in. A team was assembled (Anna, Corvus, and Zanzibar) out of nearby available sentinels to find out what had happened. Unfortunately, their results were lost when Johanssen was killed and the server he was using was destroyed in a massive mesh based attack. Firewall managed to track down the team’s backups, finally, but they were heavily corrupted: the 1 1/2 month, when resleeved, began mutating and had to be put down. The 3 month has been violent, but more stable.

The 3 sentinels are sent in to question their future selves to try to extract any further info. Corvus fails spectacularly, sending his future self into shock at the sight of himself in birdform. The other two find out the specific gate coordinates (also lost in the mesh attack) and some info about the original gatecrashers and their activities: they seemed strangely rushed, among other things. Apparently the 3 month backups are from mid-investigation, and the 1 1/2 month backups are from right before the 3 sentinels went through the gate themselves.

The 3 month backups are then destroyed. Everyone experiences some mental stress from this, but shakes it off. Tor tells them that they will take a shuttle from Duke of Heal to Phelan’s End, a large beehive habitat, which serves as a major local port for midsize craft. They will have to find transport to Pandora. Then, they will begin investigating what happened 3 months ago-now. The team boards the shuttle, and embarks.

Midway, they are attacked by 3 synthmorphs, who breach the hull, crash the AI pilot, and do some damage, but eliminated quickly by the alert sentinels. The morphs are noticeably free of markings or indetification, and the sentinels are unable to retrieve any cortical stacks. Corvus tries to take control of the ship and correct their course, but fails. A docking bay AI at Phelan’s End takes over and guides them in, warning them that they must surrender to port agents and lay down arms as the incident is investigated.

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The alpha and the omega
In the Beginning...

You have been resleeved.

You always hate this. Waking up in new flesh, or a new shell. The long moments of panic and disorientation. They say it gets easier every time.

Bullshit.

At least you had insurance. Not like some of those sad fucks you hear about, getting wiped for good cause they didn’t keep up on their fees. Firewall is good at paying the bills on time. It’s a small price to pay for your loyalty and service, after all.

Your mesh finally comes online. It’s been six months. You shiver down in your very ghost at the thought of all that lost time. What the hell happened out there?

You hear the door hiss. Not one of the regular sleevetechs. Some suit, you peg them quickly for a fork of your usual Firewall proxie. They fill you in, a little. Which is about as good as it gets with these paranoid types.

Standard boilerplate: they don’t know how or why you died, and they’re not sure where. Or they don’t want to tell you. They don’t seem surprised that you don’t remember either. They tell you they had to revert to an old backup, hence the 6 months. When you ask “why?” they say they’ll show you.

They escort you down the hall. Looks like some kind of orbital. Air has that taste too. Definitely not planetside. The suit takes you to a secure door with a portal. You look inside, and see a figure bound to a bed. It looks at you with eyes filled with hate and madness, and you recoil. You think you recognize something in that glance, and hope that you’re wrong.

The suit confirms your fears. The figure is you. Or another you, anyway. Your most current backup. Only problem is, they woke up like this. The techs haven’t been able to get anything out of them, and had to sedate them to avoid injury.

6 gods damned months. Something happened out there. Something that drove you mad. That broke your mind. That killed you. The suit wants you to find out what. You can start by asking yourself some questions, they say. After all, who knows you better than you?

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