Far Beyond the Reach of Earth

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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Biding Time
Cyclopean

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