Dulce Lena Moreno
Frederik Bo Severin Falk
Pran Jai Neelam Ajit Avninder
Iskra / Nataly
The team resleeves after the near disaster aboard the Kepler. Wong and Lena, both feeling the stress of killing their friends, eventually fill Frank and Fred in on the details of their demise(s). Pran links up with them, but Iskra / Nataly is off on a bender. Frank has a message waiting from Maria Santiago, his lost love, which shows her pinned down under fire beneath unfamiliar stars. The message stops mid-sentence, before she completes whatever she was saying. Frank panics and tells everyone he has to figure this out. They agree to help, but are unable to do much other than determine that it’s not their solar system, and that the date/timestamp have been erased.
Luckily, Pran gets a call from Blackvein, who wants him to look into a suspicious murder and disappearance involving an uplift brothel called Tooth and Claw. Frank needs a distraction, and agrees to help, as do the others. Shortly thereafter, Frank receives a still photo of Fiala O’Donnell holding his last morph’s severed head, smiling tauntingly, with the message, “we’re having so much fun!” attached. He is disturbed.
They head to the brothel, and Fred accesses some local spime feeds to review who’s been coming and going, but doesn’t find anything obvious- the brothel has an entrance concealed in a maintenance tunnel, not visible from any cameras he finds. The entrance is only marked in a coded AR setting, which Blackvein has given Pran access to. He inputs the entrance passcode, and enters an airlock-like room with Frank and Lena, while Fred and Wong stand watch in the hall with the weapons. The inside team is forced to check their small arms, and see that the airlock seems to be easily flooded with gas (or other substances) as a security measure.
They enter, and track down the proprietor (or at least manager), a neo-pig named Ai Liao. She tells them that they’re welcome to take a look around the crime scene, as Blackvein vouched for them, but that she wants them out soon so her staff can clean up and get the room back in use. The place is guarded by a half dozen neo-hominids, and seems to be staffed entirely by uplift morphs and smart animals. Pran is disturbed by the conditions, as well as the presence of what seem to be some botched or partial uplifts, and a large and distressingly well-kitted out medbay. He presses on with the mission, putting aside his personal feelings for the time.
They invesitgate, and find 2 corpses, sleeved into sylph morphs, that have been brutally dismembered. They are both Somatek employees, and apparently repeat customers (at least thus far…). The missing third man is a biocon journalist, Sohrab Wallach, who snuck in with a high quality fake ID as another Somatek drone. His ruse was only discovered by Blackvein after this “incident.” They specifically requested a session with 2 new employees, a novacrab and an octomorph (which explains the nature of most of the wounds). The team can’t find any signs that anyone left the room, but do find a suspiciously recent weld leading down into a maintenance shaft below the room.
They cut in, and convince Liao to let Fred and Wong in with the weapons. They enter the shaft, sending the speck ahead, and make their way to a water reprocessing facility, where they find some odd little monkey-like creatures, who try to pull them into a running disassembler, which is making short work of the reamins of the missing biocon. It’s hooked up to a wet fabber which they seem to be using to try to make more of themselves, with little success. They slay most of the little fellows, although Lena manages to convince one to side with her, using treats and smart animal skills. Lena dives into the waste pool (with vacsuit on), to investigate some odd body shapes way down in the murk, but is quickly ko’d by the hiding octomorph. The team dives in to help, while Frank finds a lever to drain the pool. They defeat the octo, but it does some pretty serious damage, and Frank comes under attack from the crab up top before they get back to the surface. He is heavily injured, but they take out the crab. Neither have stacks, or any identifying possessions.
They take some genetic materials to analyze and try to glean info from, and decide they’d rather not leave through the brothel again, unsure what the exact situation is. They call Blackvein and fill him in, and Pran is unable to determine wether or not BV wants him not to fuck with the place (which Pran very much wants to). They call Mr. Smith, and tell him about some additional corpses they found in the recycling pool (apparently a popular dumping spot), and get him to agree to get them out of a different entrance to the maintenance shaft.
Blackvein gets them some lab time, and they analyze the genetic samples, finding them marked with a code as property of Somatek and Dorris Lockwood, who Lena knows was a peer of her parents’. However, Lockwood is recorded as having died during the Fall. They research it a bit, and find out that she was working on a station called Reino, in Venusian orbit, which reported TITAN activity, and then lost contact. However, no-one is recorded to have been up there to check it out yet, so it’s current status is unknown. They also find out that there have been reports of other abnormaly-behaving uplifts appearing suddenly in a variety of places, all bearing the same genetic code.
They decide to pay a visit to Reino station, and see what exactly is going on up there, and if Lockwood survived the Fall after all. BV is especially worried about rumors of violent, sociopathic “feral” uplifts getting out, and turning the general populace against them. Or, worse yet, of some radical Mercurials deciding to free or encourage any ferals or botches that may be up on Reino, which would give the various biocon factions too much ammo. They start stocking up on gear and calling in favors.
They hook back up with Iskra, who agrees to join them, and calls the job in to Firewall. Blackvein gets them a ride up to Reino as stowaways on a hauler, and they use their newly fabbed and assembled thruster packs to jet over to the station. Lena brings along her odd new little friend, who seems to be vacuum sealed. The station looks worn but intact from the outside, with no obvious weapons damage. They gain entry, and see that someone has entered the airlock more recently than someone has left, based on the air left inside.
They travel into the next room and find another pack of the odd monkey critters, working in a tangle of station parts, loose cabling, electronics, and machinery. They once again try to lead the team into a biodisassembler, and Lena almost gets fed in after failing to convince them not to. The rest of them open fire and quickly scatter the pack, along with Lena’s “buddy”, who seems less interested in her when her treats run out. Wong notices a pair of catlike eyes staring at him out of a pile of debris, and is startled when he is charged by a humanoid in a heavily modded morph with long sharpened bone spurs attached to its arms. His armor manages to save him from harm, and they take out the new threat. Iskra saves its head, which has some implants.
They find 3 doors in the room, with different faded images on them: a tree, a wave, and a desert dune. They choose the desert, pass through a floatway, and enter an airlock, dropping down onto a desert plain. They quickly lose sight of the airlock, as a hologram of the night sky drifts overhead, and the cylinder they’re in has spin, to give it around .5g. Pran flies up and re-locates it, just to know how to get out. He stays ariborn to scout ahead, and the rest of the group advances on foot.
They here a cry for help, and Frank, convinced that it is Maria, races ahead. He is quickly ambushed by some sort of camoflagued desert beast, who tackles and begins mauling him. The rest of the team closes in, but gets flanked by the rest of the beastpack. They take some damage, and are disturbed to notice that the things are using some sort of language to communicate. They kill them off, and figure out that they seem to be some sort of bizaare lion/hyena hybrid, with a lot of mods, but again no stacks or mesh insert.
They continue on, and Pran comes under attack from another clawed morph near a small oasis that he spots. He avoids injury, and the morph flees into the water as the rest of the group closes in. They find another airlock in the bottom of the pool, pass through another floatway, and come under assault from 2 more of the clawed morphs. Pran, Lena, and Frank are paralyzed by some sort of poison that they excrete, and Pran is killed as the poison shuts down his heart and brain. The others shake it off, but remain paralyzed. The rest of the team kills the morphs, and enters the final module.
They find what remains of Lockwood, now a pulsing cluster of intertwined brains suspended in fluid in a vat, connected via cables and manipulator arms to the massive amount of devies and machines in the room. She seems to be frantically busy, until Iskra shoots off her manipulators, and begins probing her brains. Lockwood does not seems thrilled about this process, but Iskra is heartily annoyed by her adoption of an obnoxious AI voice.
Lockwood expresses dismay that they killed the lyenas, saying that they had developed their own beautiful language and culture. They have apparently been engaging in a variety of “feral” & non-standard uplift processes, and releasing some of the variants into wider populations around the system to see how they fare in different social environs. It was apparently some of these that the team encountered on Parvarti. Frederik and Wong also gain some data suggesting that they have some other much larger research areas, in addition to the station, but a lot of the data has been wiped after being sent to a mesh address on Mars.
Lockwood eventually reveals to Iskra that she has triggered a self-destruct sequence, after making sure her alpha fork was sent successfully. The team cuts out of the nearest floatway using Pran’s scrapper gel, and jets away just as the station blows. Wong and Fred take some damage, but their suits hold up, and Iskra calls in a pickup from Ben Johanssen. She also outs Fred as an async once again, and Johanssen tells her to keeep an eye on him, while he looks into it.They return to Parvarti, and prepare to resleeve Pran.
Blackvein contacts Pran (in an infostate) to tell him the “good news”- Tooth and Claw has shut down (presumably to reopen elsewhere under another name, dodging scandal). Pran isn’t toatally satisfied. Fred gets a call about from some old Barsoomian contacts, asking him to look into their “secret” delegate on Octavia, who has seemingly been acting strangely lately. Fred tells them he’s on it, and prepares to convince the team to assist him as needed.