Far Beyond the Reach of Earth

Home Again, Home Again
...After A Brief Detour

Anna Cornucopia, Micha “Corvus” Ashland, and Silver finish searching the facility. They discover a jury-rigged gate control unit, as well as some useful intel. They head back to the gate, accompanied by the reaper morph.

Upon reaching the gate, they surprise a Gatekeeper Corp tech, Chang, who tells them that he was sent through to take some readings on their end after he noticed an anomaly during their last contact. He is manipulating a GCU, but none of them know who they work so they are unable to tell what he is programming. However, they decide not to trust him based on body language.

Soon, he tells them the gate is up again, and that they can head back early. Corvus accepts, and takes the reaper morph, to keep an eye on Chang. Anna and Silver decide to wait for their scheduled pickup. The gate opens at the planned time, and they step through. Upon emerging, Anna bumps into Iskra, who has been missing since they entered the Pandora gate. Silver is nowhere to be seen, and they are on an unfamiliar world.

Iskra has no since of time having passed, and their muses report an apparent time anomaly. The gate that they emerged through sits out on the end of a thin spit of rock projected over a deep chasm. They head down the spit to the chasm edge, and try to get their bearings. They don’t recognize the local star patterns, and can’t pick up any signals. Seeing a group of people approaching from what looks to be a village nearby, they ready themselves for trouble.

However, the villagers seem merely curious, and even somewhat underenthused. Anna determines that they have all been implanted with emotional dampeners, and the two of them piece together that this is some sort of holding facility for kidnapped/forknapped individuals. They apparently were all kept it some sort of sped-up simulspace in this same setting, and then loaded into cheap morphs and deposited here. Anna and Iskra figure out how to cycle addresses on their GCU, and manage to open a gate back to Pandora after a bit of trying.

Pandora goes through the usual rigorous ‘first contact’ protocols, but they get everyone through fairly quickly. A Firewall Proxy is waiting to debrief them on the other side. Apparently, Chang somehow knocked Corvus out (he is still comatose) and fled the facility, knowing that he was discovered. It seems likely he was working with the exhumans on the planet they went to first. The Proxy tells them that they tracked his egocast to Phelan’s End, and that the team will be following him, and detaining him for questioning.

They call in some favors from the autonomists to get quality morphs on the other side, and ‘cast over. Using local camera feeds, they track Chang to the shuttle port, and Silver chases him down before he can leave. They haul him to a friendly lodging, and Iskra deepscans him while Silver hacks his muse. They discover that he was a deep cover exhuman plant at the Pandora facility. He was going to meet Anna’s other self, who has apparently converted to the exhuman philosophy, and is bringing a tailored x-virus of some sort to Mars, where she will use her university contacts to spread it widely.

They call this in to Firewall, and are told to stop her by any means necesary. They also discover that the exhumans were funding their operation (to repair the TITAN artifact and ‘improve’ themselves) by providing security for and access to the secondary planet, where the kidnapped people were. This was a 9Lives storage site for high value individuals who they didn’t want to store as infomorps for various reasons. The primary planet is also accesible from the Discord gate (the exhumans are a splinter faction of the Ultimates who control that facility), which seems to have been their primary access point. Chang was planted on Pandora to prevent the discovery of the fact that the that gate could also connect there.

The team ‘casts Chang back to Pandora for furhter interrogation. They then forge and cajole their way aboard a small spaceship and head out after ’Evil Anna.’ Silver and Anna’s combined skills find them a good route, and they catch the larger bulk freighter after 3 days travel. They decide to fake a distress call and try to get picked up, rather than storming the vessel, as there are probably anywhere between 50-100 people aboard. They will need to ID ‘Evil Anna’ and any companions, and take them out without unleashing the x-virus. They have 8 days before the ship reaches its next port, which gives them some time at least.

They rendevouz with Evil Anna and Silver and Anna are killed when EA sets off a cortex bomb of some sort when cornered. Iskra survives, and transfers to the bulk freighter to rendevouz with the scum barge Ecstatic Metamorphosis, to track who Anna was going to meet. She meets up with 4 other Firewall sentinels aboard the barge and they successfully track down the virus dealer aboard, and many of them are killed when her ship is destroyed after the virus is unleashed during a firefight with mysterious pursuers. They then egocast to Mars to find the dealer’s supplier, Night Cartel scavengers in the TITAN Quarantine Zone. They take out the scavengers, and close in on the cache, but once again are beset by mysterious pursuers, and accidentally detonate an anti-matter bomb in the cache when they try to destroy it with an explosive charge. Iskra then egocasts off to Venus where her patron, Ben Johanssen has transferred.

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A Whole New World?
X-threats and Insects

The team emerges from the linked gate to find Iskra / Nataly mysteriously vanished from their midst. Finding no apparent time lag, and lacking other explanations, they launch their scout missile and search the nearby area while waiting for results. They find a set of footprints which lead to a picked-over cache of gear, possibly from their previous selves trip to this location? The tracks seem to be sunk into the ground, indicating either extreme weight, or a muddier past for the currently arid and parched area. Anna Cornucopia also finds and grabs samples of a burrowing insect that she doesn’t recognize. The team sees a blue sun during a break in the dust storm, and also a comet that appears to be heading their direction, although it is hard to tell given their limited observing apparatus and the interference from the storm.

The missile sends back a data packet, and alerts them to an energy signature about 20k to the east. Realizing that they can’t get there and back before the first check-in, they send out two recon hoppers and wait. The check-in is pretty lowkey, Anna passes her specimens through and refills her air, and it sounds like Iskra did not reemerge from the other side, so they decide to proceed without her and arrange another checkin in 18 hours. Not having heard from the hoppers (they lost comms at a few K, it seems there is some interference possibly caused by the storm), they head east, towards the signature.

About halfway there, they come under fire from three figures hiding in the scrub. Between Micha “Corvus” Ashland‘s laser pulsar, Silver’s rocket launcher, and the reaper drone’s four assault rifles, they make short work of the 3, leaving one alive to question. Corvus rips off the dead men’s masks and is horrified to realize that he just killed his former morph. He panics and screams. Anna and Silver question the last man, who is using the morph of the original Firewall sentinel who set off the whole investigation. Howeever, it seems to be a different ego, espousing exhuman ideology, wearing the morph, so Corvus kills him before they gain much useful intel, although Anna discovers that her previous morph/self is off on an unspecified ‘mission’.

They head out again, and make their way to the signature without further problems. They come across a clearing, with a low concrete bunker in the center, surrounded by a ring of solar arrays. They see a junk pile off to one side, and decide to use it as cover for their approach. Disturbingly, the pile seems to be composed of sheet metal, struts and ablative coating, etc of the type that might be used on a military satellite. Having just recovered from their run-in with Myrmidon, they decide to approach cautiosuly. Corvus spots two figures in watchtowers, who the team quickly kills after Anna stumbles and gives away their presence.

They race for the bunker door, and Corvus hacks it open. They exchange fire with two more exhumans inside, and the reaper takes heavy damage. They clear the first room, a dining area/lounge, and move into the second, counting 12 bunks and small lockers. They enter the third room, a medical facility with an ego bridge and a serious surgery bot (explaining the exhumans heavy morph modification, perhaps), and continue to the fourth room, which contains a large fabber and some storage crates. Corvus hacks the security door at the far end of the room, and they enter a computer room, most of which is taken up by the core of the satellite they found bits of outside. Two more exhumans are frantically manipulating various devices, and one flips a large switch as they enter. Corvus downs her with his agonizer, and the other exhuman executes her and then kills himself.

The team searches around to figure out what they were doing, and it looks like they had sent a large data packet using a one-time emergency farcaster. They also verify that there are only 11 corpses, whereas there are 12 beds & lockers. Anna’s morph is missing, so they decide to investigate further. The team also recovers a data core containing 12 informorph personalities, which they decide to wait to dive into. They decide not to fuck with the satellite core, and to instead report it to Firewall once they return to the gate.

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Onwards and Outwards
The Gatecrash

The Pariah returns to Titan, sans Zanzibar Tranh and his unfortunate monkey Franklin. The remaining team joins back up with Iskra, recently returned from her pleasure cruise. Micha “Corvus” Ashland talks to Patrona Vazquez, filling her in on the demise of the greater part of the White Khans, and the escape (via emergency farcast) of Dexter Vo. She thanks them for the help, and seems alarmed when Corvus also warns her of the possible x-virus threat. Firewall reduces his rep for this. The team also informs Xiu’s Greenhouse that their dead have been avenged, and receive a message of thanks from Magnus Ming.

The ship docks and the team shops for appropriate gatecrash gear: survival kits, air supply, mapping and scout missiles, etc. Corvus gets in an alleyway brawl with some local 14k Triad who aren’t happy to see a Shui Fong on their turf. They also seem to hold a personal grudge, though Corvus, not having the memories of the previous self that was here, does not know why. Silver helps plot a parkour friendly escape route, and intercepts the triad while Orly fires up the ship for a quick takeoff. Anna Cornucopia waits aboard, providing cover on the door.

The team arrives safely, and they lift off, leaving an angry group of triad in their wake. They head for Pandora, and land at the local station. The gatekeepers make Corvus deactivate the reaper drone before allowing them aboard. They shuttle to the gate facility and chat with other crasher teams while awaiting their turn. Eventually they get called into the disinfectant chamber, get scrubbed with their gear, and head into the clean room. They watch as the linkup is made, and the usual first time procedures are followed. The opposite side appears to be in a wintry season, with low scrubby plant life clinging to rock. There is a small clearing centered on the gate. A storm obscures the stars and prevents astro-location. Sensing no immediate threat to their safety via the drones, the gatekeepers send the team through, telling them to rendevouz at the gate for check-in in three hours.

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Biding Time
Now we just need to find the Wangbot

(This post is primarily composed of the events in the ‘Glory’ module, so beware spoilers!)

While waiting for the grant proposal to go through, Anna Cornucopia, Zanzibar Tranh, & Micha “Corvus” Ashland are contacted by a Firewall router named Magnus Ming, who is the chair of computational archeology at TAU. They meet him and accept the mission he offers: a Firewall sentinel specializing in x-risks, Tara Yu, has been missing for over a month, and Ming is worried something has gone wrong.

They set out aboard the Pariah to investigate a number of habitats in the Jovian Trojans, after discovering intel that Yu was last seen in that area. They make contact with a horticulturist, Morteza Bey, whose small hab, Xiu’s Greenhouse, was recently sacked by unknown assailants. They slaughtered the inhabitants, and made off with Bey’s head. The attackers were using some bizaare morphs, with unsettlingly scaly skin & claws. Zanzibar helps out some with simulspace treatments for the traumatized ‘survivors’, only some of whom have been resleeved. Bey says that he was doing freelance hacking or Yu, but doesn’t give a lot of info. He provides some vid of Yu sneaking aboard a ship, so they at least know what her last morph looked like.

Following other leads, Anna tracks down Mason Wang, a popular (and pompous) programmer and AI specialist who lives on a private hab near Locus. She finds out that Yu hired him to make her a bot and AI to aid her infiltration of a ship she was tracking. Wang believes Yu is dead, and seems to know a surprising amount about her Firewall activities for a non-member. He belongs to a group called Blue Pod, which seems to have some similar areas of interest. Anna recommends that Firewall check him out and consider making contact.

Leaving Xiu’s Greenhouse, Corvus and Zanzibar decide to track down their last lead, a red-marketeer named Nia Zheng. They make contact, bribe her into talking (with an egocast to Mars & a promise to retrieve some sentimental cufflinks), and sign a contract through the mutualist AI Nomic on Extropia. She tells them that she used to be a member of a gang called the White Khans named Sammy Li, and that she has been on the run since the gang fell apart a few months back after Dexter Vo seized power. Zheng believes that the gang has retreated to a ship called the ‘Song Cai Flower’, which they have been using as a roving darkcasting facility. She tells the team about the general state of the ship, number of crew, etc & also provides schematics.

Shortly after this exchange, an Extropian contract law enforcer named Patrona Vazquez contacts them to ask what they know about the White Khans, as she has a vendetta against them. They swap some info, and she tells them the rough course of the Flower, allowing them to estimate it’s current location. She also warns them that she believes the gang is under the influence of some sort of narcoalgorithm or something similar, as they have abandoned rationality and taken up cannibalism. They promise to tell her anything they find out about the gang. Firewall also puts the team in touch with another sentinel newly arrived to the area, Silver, who has been instructed to assist their mission as it seem they could use some muscle. Everyone decides to call in favors and procure a reaper morph as well, which they arm with 4 assault rifles & a combat AI designed by Wang.

Tracking both Yu and the Flower brings the team to Casa Arturo, a small hab in the Jovian Greeks that specializes in rocket design. It seems Yu rented a small craft here and hasn’t returned it. They manage to gain access to sensor data from the station and locate the Flower’s last registered location. Extending that course, and comparing it to Vasquez’ info, Corvus feels confident he has a lock on their position. They head, planning to look for the missing shuttle on the way.

They find shuttle with careful scanning- it is a specially constructed stealth shuttle with coldgas jets and radar/lidar baffles, perched on a small ice asteroid. The corpse of the morph Bey was using on the job is aboard, minus another cortical stack. The team retrieves some video footage and sees that the killers appear to be the same as those from Xiu’s Greenhouse. They report the shuttle’s location to Casa Arturo, and head after the Flower. Corvus tries to approach as dark as possible, but it seems like the Flower doesn’t see them coming, and maybe isn’t seeing much of anything given the poor condition of it’s sensor arrays. The team decides to jump over to the slower moving ship from the Pariah, and everyone makes it except Corvus, who flies off into space, with the Pariah in pursuit. The team continues without him.

They hack their way through a series of airlocks, and gain access. They quickly dispatch the first crewmember they see after he fumbles his gun. He was sleeved in a standard bouncer morph. They find a reactor, but can’t figure out how to shut it off. They check out the greenhouse area, and are ambushed by some of the bizaare morphs from the vids, who attack with their claws while another crew member fires from further away with a plasma rifle. The team defeats them and clears the area, discovering some carniculture vats and multiple unshielded nuclear powered rocket boosters haphazardly attached to the ‘rear’ of the ship. Corvus notices that the water supply for these engines will exhaust the ships water rather quickly when ignited, which seems suicidal for the crew.

They head foreward to the crew torus, and find a machine shop. Silver attempts to activate a small drone on a workbench and unleashes a nanoswarm which envelops Zanzibar befor he can react. She shuts it off again, and Zanzibar says he seems fine, and trusts his nanophages to kick in. He heads back to the life support pod to rest and recover for a moment. They also find a bunch of pieces of what seems to have been a pre-fall military satellite, which is what Ming believed Yu was after. They load these aboard a loading sled and send them back to the Pariah.

The team ascends into the crew quarters and survives another firefight amid the bunks, retrieving the cufflinks afterwards. They get in another shootout in the kitchen, with Silver making chunky salsa out of 4 crew members hiding in a walkin cooler. They find Vo, holding Yu hostage, or so it seems. However, they see through the ruse, and the reaper shoots Vo in the head, killing him, after which they interrogate ‘Yu’, who turns out to be Ji, a White Khan, sleeved in Yu’s morph.

Silver and Corvus team up to hack the local mesh & find video footage of Yu (who Anna id’s through kinesics) sleeved in a different morph, being fed into an industrial noodle maker and eaten by the crew. Ji tells them that they trashed Yu’s cortical stack and that they won’t leave the ship alive, since Mother won’t let them. The team gets a little spooked and ko’s her, locking her in the cooler with Vo’s corpse (who they discover employed an emergency farcaster). They head back down the ladders, and hear an explosion-Orly relays that the Flower just ejected what looks like a life support mod. They are unable to get ahold of Zanzibar and decide to pick him up after clearing the ship.

They enter the ops center and are horrified to discover a fleshy mass growing thickly over most of the equipment. It is tended to by 3 more of the bizaare clawed morphs, and exhibits a number of mouths, visiblly pulsating & gestating wombs, and, most horrifyingly, a human face. Corvus (manning the reaper) and Silver almost lose their cool, buy manage to hold on. They unleash an impressive array of missile and machine gun fire as the fleshy form lashes out at them with tentacles and mental energy, and it’s minions attack. They eventually overpower the minions, and detonate the last of the fleshpile, but in it’s death throes, it sends out an overpowering psychic wave that deals some serious damage.

They take stock of their situation, and, determining that the Flower has been set on a course that will take it straight into the Sun (while avoiding other obstacles), forward the matter to Firewall, who tells them that the ship will be interecepted and cleansed later in its travels. The team boards the Pariah, and goes to pick up Zanzibar, who seems to have returned to normal after his moment of panic. However, they notice him acting strangely the next day and quarantine him, as well as Anna, after they review vid footage revealing that he seems to have infected her while she was unconscious in the medbay. Firewall instructs the team to destroy Z, his stack, and his monkey Franklin completely, while avoiding getting any of his biomatter on them, and then rendevouz with a Firewall cleanteam on its way to meet them from Casa Arturo. The team spaces Z and Franklin, and blasts them with the Pariah’s laser pods. They decide to wait on Anna.

The cleanteam arrives, clears the rest of the team (including Anna), and wipes down the ship. They also collect the satellite fragments and debrief the team on the mission. Iskra / Nataly calls shortly thereafter, telling them to hurry back to Titan as the grant has gone through: soon they will gatecrash!

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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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