The Network

Session 24
Normand part 1

The Greenbeard appeared in the Normand system in close proximity to the main world.  After a cautious approach to the planet, the vessel does a few passive scans searching for signs of an advanced civilization.  Finding none, they come into orbit for a closer look.  The world below is small with a slight atmosphere, but it is breathable.  This is contrary to their records which indicate the world had a tainted atmosphere.  Further scans show that the world below is agricultural with no signs of advanced technology.  In fact, there is far more farmland present than is needed to support this world

The crew decides on a planet side expedition, setting down near an outlaying village to get the scoop.  Loading up in the GTFO, they set course for a come and land nearby.   Unfortunately, that plan didn’t quite work out.  The ship lost power while they were still several kilometers in altitude.  In fact, all electronic devices lost power at the same time.  After the first few moments of shock wore off, they realized that the pilot, Daphne, wasn’t so much flying the ship as sitting completely frozen in her now unpowered armor.  Fenton was in the same position. 

Slug gave the Skiff of the Ancients a shot and found that it was still working – although it was behaving quite strangely.  The skiff was used to try and stabilize the flight of the GTFO while everyone loaded aboard.  The rear hatch to the GTFO was open manually and the Skiff backed out the end.  The GTFO, now unpiloted, continued on until it impacted the surface – making a large skidding crater where it came to a rest in the midst of a field of Red Kibble.

It took some doing to peel Daphne and Fenton out of their armor.  Daphne was unfortunately left naked and injured as the suit was forcibly removed from her person.  After securing the wreckage of the GTFO and stashing their electronics and grabbing a few survival kits – Daphne was able to fashion some clothing out of a poncho and an emergency blanket.  From there, everyone set out on foot to the village. 

First contact was made with the village in a largely civil manner.  Daphne did steal some clothing from a clothing line, however the town’s menfolk had a solid mixture fear and admiration and were enthusiastic in overlooking the issue.  It was the town elder revealed that a daughter of his had been trying to repair a tractor and was taken a few years back by the Mages.  He went on to explain that this world is ruled by the Technomages.  Before their coming, the colonists of this world arrived to live a more simplistic lifestyle.  Then the mages game and enforced the issue – ensuring that the world stays technologically repressed.  While that may seem cruel, the air has been repaired and everyone’s needs are seen to.  It’s a generally happy and peaceful society.

It is agreed that they will take the crew to see the Technomages at Castle Uwonuhwon if they will use their audience to inquire on the farmer’s daughter.  The journey will take a few days plus a few days of making preparations.  In the meantime, some of the crew avails themselves to local comforts.   Fenton catches a fish of extraordinary magnitude – word of the feat begins to spread far and wide among the countryside.  Tomi does some work for a game hunter and is rewarded with a Tennessee Long Rife.   Dr. Phil does some medical outreach and helps the sick and injured.  Scarborough, after being trapped in an underground lunatic asylum for his entire life, looks quite contented with this lifestyle.  The rest of the crew successfully convinces him, however, that this is a vacation – not where his story ends.

After a few days of getting provisions together, a wagon convoy sets out for the castle.  Arriving a few days later some of the crew does some shopping at the faire setup outside the castle walls.  Daphne purchases some armor and a sword.  Fenton purchases a pistol with an ornate leather holster.  They gain admittance to the castle and are granted an audience with the Technomages.   After being made to wait for some time, they are led in to speak with Lord Elric.  Elric seems a savvy individual who interviews the crew.  They state that they seek to return to their ship as well as are inquiring about the status of the farmer’s daughter – Sannya.  An acolyte in the room gasps at the mention of the name, but quickly regains her composure.  Slug also asks Elric of The Doom.  Elric responds that they long foresaw the doom and came this place to ride out the storm.  When pressed further, Elric responded that they will need to wait for his decision – the Technomage entourage leaves the room and the party is escorted back to the waiting area.

After being made to wait there for an unreasonable amount of time, the crew begins to get antsy and demands answers from the guards standing nearby.  While the crew was being someone rude in their demands, the guards responded with outright vitriol and then actually struck Slug.  At this point a full on melee explodes.  A great beast appeared in the room and everyone fell back.  Daphne rushed forward and attempted to strike the thing with her sword only it past straight through.  The crew deducted that they were seeing holograms.  The visual overload is too much for Slug, he huffs some Sunburn and turns into an extremely foolish dexterity monster.  Rushing back in the room the force their way into the chambers behind the throne.  The chambers contain a library and meeting room of sorts but is otherwise empty.  Daphne starts pulling books from the bookshelf and eventually finds the one she seeks when the floor starts slowly descending.

To be continued.

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Session 23
Ipidina, part 3

Ipidina Part 3

The crew’s clones spent some time stabbing each other in the back with increasing amounts of hilarity.  Eventually, they got on to the business of trying to escape. 

Tomi used an 8” floppy disk that she referred to as the Terraflop 6000 to reboot the systems in OSE sector.  Once the systems came back online, they continued to quiz Scarbarough about escape plans.  He revealed that only a High Programmer could arrange for such a thing.  He happened to know one of them personally – Fitzie-U-Mat.   The crew agreed to give him ‘passage off this lunatic asylum’ in exchange for his help in locating Fitzie.  Scarbarough had reason to believe that Fitzie lived in a sector adjacent to PIE sector, as Fitzie had a bit of a sweet tooth and could be seen ‘inspecting’ the dessert vats with some regularity.  With OSE being eliminated, that left KFC, HEY, and ART sectors. 

The troubleshooters started with ART – Avacado Research Trust.  Initially taken aback by the odd Avacado based artwork prevalent throughout the sector, they were soon visited by a butlerbot – loaded with guacamole.  As Fenton started to indulge himself in a salty treat, Phil activated his buzzbot and destroyed the bot as they noticed a severed finger in the midst of the guacamole.  The troubleshooters then became aware that the butlerbot had a blood soaked track.  As it had come down the hall it had left a bloody trail in it’s wake. 

As the group followed the trail to it’s origin, the found a large homicidal cyborg tending to a stew of some kind using severed clone body parts as it consulting a peculiar looking book.  After a fearsome combat took place, the cyborg was dispatched and the book was recovered.  An odd site, bound in human flesh and inked in what appeared to be blood – the group didn’t even give it a second thought after being stuck in this insane asylum for the past few days.

Moving next to KFC sector, they found it locked out and proceeded directly to HEY sector.  The sector was completely overtaken by a cultish secret society dressed in robes.  Attempting to speak to a few residents, they were referred to speak with The Macon.  After being led to The Macon, he spoke with them in a very calm in easy going manner, stating that he prefer they call him Matt.  Matt agreed to help them if they could procure a book for him.  Having already obtained said book from the homicidal cyborg, they made a quick gift of book found in ART sector and gifted it to ‘Matt’ Macon-O-Hay.  He provided them with a ground transport in return which he referred to as ‘The Lincoln’

Everyone hopped aboard Lincoln and found that it granted passage directly thru KFC where they soon met the High Programmer:  Fitzie-U-Mat.  After a bit of banter, our intrepid group of adventurers secured the release of their originals and managed to learn a great many things in the process:

Year 900: Mineral Rich world with a light atmosphere, settlement started by a wealthy mining corporation. Initial settlements built in large lava tubes capped by domes. Terra-forming project initiated to make the atmosphere breathable. Wide availability of silicon oxide and other metals lead to a large industry based on building computer systems.

Year 1130:  A Rebellion in the Third Imperium seems to have grown worse. Trade vessels stop coming. Military steps in and declares martial law. While the officers are efficient and successful in keeping the population alive, the severe restrictions are not well received. The military has promised step down when help arrives.

 1132:  It's been 2 years – Not a single ship from offworld has arrived in system. Ships sent to ask for help have not returned. Lacking the resources to sustain such a large population. The military's corp of engineers rapidly builds a series of cryoberths in the original lava tubes. Most of the population is entombed until day comes communications with the Third Imperium are re-established and help arrives. This large centralized cryoberth farm is called Alpha Complex, although there are other smaller complexes built in smaller lava tubes. A small population of citizens remains active to troubleshoot issues with the machines keeping the sleeping population alive. Most of the system is automated as the computer industry on world was repurposed toward that task.

1259: It's been over a century; no help ever came. Over time the tech level has slipped from a low A to an 8. The machines keeping everything running can no longer be properly repaired and are producing large amounts of toxic waste.  The High Programmer Fitzie makes an agreement with a pirate king who goes by the name Hearst.  With Alpha complex beginning to real be in danger of failing, he has no resources with which to trade but one:  humans.  He begins trading their ample supply of frozen humans as slave labor from the lower levels which are being impacted by the toxic waste build up in return for the spare parts needed to keep the cyrofarms operational.

Fitzie goes on to share that the Third Imperium ultimately fell due to a rogue AI Virus that appeared during the rebellion.  While it was quite some time ago, it does sound disturbingly similar to what was happening in The Network.  He was also puzzled by the players sharing that their society had been run by an AI called Cain which appeared in the midst of all the chaos in the Third Imperium.  True AIs are extremely advanced technologies and had not been truly developed prior to the Fall – the timing on the arrival of Cain is suspect at best.

The High Programmer agrees to accompany The Greenbeard on their voyage to the Fourth Imperium under a few conditions.  The crew agreed to provide the materials necessary for the world to build its own defenses against pirates.  They also left behind some of their own clones to help with construction.

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Dreams and Reality

Dreams, without a doubt real experiences common to all humans and yet they are but fading wisps of memories and the imagination.  Dreams have their own internal "logic" but this logic is not built upon the foundations of rationality but upon emotion.  Anxiety brings on a series of unconquerable puzzles that while incomprehensible are also vitally important.  Scenes and environments shift dramatically without altering the basic nature of the dream.  Impossibilities happen constantly and yet everything can seem entirely real.  If this description is true then I am definitely dreaming.

As with most dreams the memories fade and disappear at a faster rate than for waking experiences, small glimpses back in time.  The first of these glimpses was waking up naked, and yet my unmentionals were obscured as by the obscenity regulations. The first flash of humiliation was broken by the realization that there were many others in the same state, and most of them were uglies.  Despite its hideous nature I snatched a red sack for propriety's sake and wondered what would be next.

I was holding a mop.  A fucking mop.  I mean, seriously, a mop.  Me?  Furthermore, it seems that even in my dreams I cannot get away from these tiresome bastards that I have to save over and over again.  At least they had mops too.  Anyway, we were in a different room and there's a broken robot, I think, and someone smacks it with a mop, which breaks, and this is going to be bad because we signed for it.  Then a lunatic ran into the room chased by some other people and confused violence happens involving doors collapsing, mops being swung, and so on.  Someone may have died, I can't remember.

Success!  Possibly.  Anyway, at this point we had laser pistols, which we may have had all along, you know how dreams can be.  The scene changes and I'm in a canteen.  I know, a fucking canteen.  I mean seriously, a canteen, with trays and a glass shield and no wine list.  Then it was like some nightmare from high school with losers passing notes trying to get me in their clique.  Somehow I went with one group and they started talking about computers and freedom and pamphlets and tractors.  Almost babbling.

Then came the random walking from room to room with no apparent point to the whole thing.  Sometimes it seemed we were following someone.  Sometimes it felt like we were running from someone.  All the time I felt some sort of bizarre connection with a greater being, or a library, it was hard to tell.  Someone may have died, I can't remember.

I changed outfits but into the exact same one but in orange, and picked up two orange laser pistols.  It felt like there was some sort of status to it, so naturally the rest of the group remained red.

Then there were pirates.  Yes, pirates.  I don't know why.

The whole place was unforgivably grimy, and we were carrying mops.  it seemed vital that we carried the mops but we didn't clean anything with them.

There was a guide, some sort of faceless entity that provided some sort of role in this dream.  So naturally my companions viciously attacked him/her/it.  There was a period of extreme confusion in which Slug died (i'm pretty sure this time) and then was still there again.  I had tried to kill him but Tomi got there first.  At least he was there enough to ruin everything when I was about to become the chosen leader to free the entombed people.  I think that bit must have been a psychological carry over from my mission to save humanity, Slug ruining everything is too close to reality.  He topped it all off by jumping on a table and made a racket so awful that it broke all the machinery in the place.  Then he smashed his head through the ceiling because he couldn't control his rocket boots.

Clearly my self-esteem and confidence has been battered by my recent experiences.  I don't know if I am strong enough to save humanity while being constantly sabotaged by this bunch of losers.  I hereby resolve that when I wake up I shall work hard to strengthen my self-confidence and have less doubt about my actions.

I need to wake up, but I can't.  I wonder if I've been drugged?  it's something any of them might do.

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Ipidina Part 1 and Part 2
Referee POV

The Greenbeard entered the binary Ipidina system in the vacant orbital slot 5.  The many months they had spent in space had begun to take it’s toll – as they entered normal space, Ein reported an alert on the fuel system.  They have a leak.  They were able to isolate the affected bladders, however it will be impossible to fill the tanks adequately for a jump until the damage is repaired.  Several of the more mechanically inclined crew members headed down to the workshop only to find that they had not stocked raw materials to print the needed parts.  At a crossroads, the crew debated the best course of action:  An asteroid field was available in orbital slot 8.  Or the primary world in orbital slot 3 might be able to provide some parts – if there was anyone still there.

The crew keenly remembered their last foray into asteroid mining in the last system and the near disastrous result.  Bemoaning the lack of personnel needed to properly crew the vessel 24/7.  Resolving to take on some ‘red shirts’ at their next opportunity, they opted to try their luck with the main world – Ipidina I.  Taking shifts to keep the sensors and turrets manned as they approached, they were able to reach the planet in a little over a day.  As they approached the world, they opted for a long elliptical orbit that would allow for a quick pass of the scanners.  Once within 250km or so, they received a voice communication:

If you desire landing navigation data, press or say 1. 

If you have reached this system in error, please press or say 2 and reverse course immediately!

For all other matters, please hold or press 3, a ballistic missile will be with your shortly!

Puh puh puh press ni__, ni__, ni__……. Three or just stay on course to repeat these options.

Everyone on the bridge immediately yelled one and scrambled to find the 1 button.  The slumbering crew was recalled to the bridge.  Tomi had been scanning the world from a distance, and as they approached had switched over to life scanners.  While it was a simple matter to determine that the world was an airless void, she was able to pick up the existence of domes covering lava tubes near their assigned landing location.  She initiated a life scan but wasn’t given an opportunity to complete it before the Greenbeard set down.

Daphne was pleased at the opportunity to actually land the Greenbeard somewhere – not an opportunity they have had often given its lack of ability to maneuver in atmosphere.  Expertly dropping the vessel on the landing pad they see a nearby freight elevator and briefly discuss how to traverse the distance.  The crew gears up and opts to take the Skiff of the Ancients across the airless surface and into the elevator which begins to pressurize as the doors close.

The voice of Friend Computer advices them that the environment has been pressurized for their comfort and that they may remove their vacc suits.  Descending for quite a distance, shifting to horizontal movement, the decending again – they finally come to a stop.    As the doors open, Friend Computer advises that weapons and armor is prohibited in Alpha Complex.  They are to deposit their gear in nearby bins and remember to take a claim ticket.  A diplobot will be with them shortly.  Most of the crew complies.  Slug finds himself be shock/stunned by the door pad as he notices the rest of the crew coughing and loosing consciousness.

The players awaken in a large room.  It contains a towering pillar of cryotubes.  None of them had ever seen something on this scale before.   The first thing that party noticed was that all of their former cybernetic implants, limbs, etc were missing.  The second thing was that they were naked.  Looking around, they noticed that everyone’s naughty bits were pixelated out.  They also saw names floating over each other’s heads:  Tomi-R-OUT-1, Fenton-R-OUT-1, etc.  A ‘1’ was tattooed on their forearms.  Groggily rising from their beds a voice spoke threw speakers scattered throughout the room:

‘Greetings, new citizens!’  ‘Welcome to your first day in Alpha Complex. Any memories you may recall are pseudomemories uploaded to your brain lobes, to aid orientation and minimise psychotic incidents in fresh clones. As citizens of Alpha Complex you are now valued members of our great community. You will be given roles and tasks, some simple and some perilous, and your contributions will be rewarded with –’

An explosion occurs on the far side of the room.  A small scrub-bot that had been sitting idle near a wall of mops springs to life and attempts clean the junks of rocks and debris.  A door opens and a man with a floating name over his head steps into the room.  Flanagan-R-PET-3 tells everyone to get dressed – a terrorist attack has occurred in a nearby sector.  He states that they don’t have clearance to hear the rest of the briefing, but are free to access to Alphapedia through their Cerebral CoreTech if they have any questions.  He instructs them to each grab a mop and get to work.  If they complete their task efficiently, they will be awarded 10 XP.

The players all grab a mop, save Fenton who grabs two mops.  Everyone starts scrubbing and clearing debris.  Fenton, enthusiastically starts cleaning everything in sight – including Flanagan.  The scrub bot was damaged trying to clean debris – it is partially repaired, but some of the sharp pointy bits are stashed for possible later used by Tomi and Fenton.  Friend Computer thanks them for their service and issues them each 1<s>0</s> XP.

As they are wrapping up, another explosion is heard and alarms begin to sound.  A popup window appears on everyone’s iBall display which obscures everyone’s vision.  It indicates that the terrorist known as Wossisname the Not Dead is in proximity. 

‘Be careful!  He may be after your mops’

A man bursts through the door – the name floating over his head is Wossisname.  He has 5 traitor stars as well.  The work party springs to life and great hilarity ensues.  When the dust settles.  Wossisname is dead, as is Flanagan.  A few of the party members have shiny new treason stars floating over their heads.  A mop is broken.

Friend Computer is very pleased that they have successfully stopped the terrorist Wossisname.  It states that they are being granted 500 XP, but is subtracting 5 XP because of the broken mop as a reminder to take care of their equipment.  Sadly, this leaves everyone 4 XP short of achieving Orange security level.

Friend Computer provides another update directly to the iBall displays.  Retrieve your new red clearance laser pistols from a locker and report for mandatory volunteer nutritional duty in The Lunchbox.

The party of troubleshooters enters The Lunchbox and finds it be a large cafeteria style room – shaped and colored like an old thermos.  They all split up picking their own preferred food options:  Tastes Like Something Orange!  Flavor Meal Bar, Taragon Happy Fiz Drink, Guacamole Flavor Puff Crunchers to name a few.  Most of the party mingled and made new friends, trying to extract information about their new surroundings.  As the nutritional period came to a close, they were ordered to report for duty.

Joining on them on this duty was a new troubleshooter who was assigned to replace Flanagan.  The new clone – Phil-R-OSE-1.  As they prepared to move out, a Molotov cocktail dispatched a group of nearby clones.  While it initially appeared to have been thrown by Slug, it was later found to have actually been thrown from a table of nearby Commie Mutant Traitor Scum.  Phil-R-OUT located a duct and beckoned everyone to evacuate.  Slug couldn’t resist the temptation to throw a Molotov cocktail as he departed and was welcomed by the warm embrace of a flamethrower for his trouble.

The route to the elevator they were to take was recalculated as they entered the ducts.  The new route turned out to be quite fortuitous as they heard the commotion of security enforcers and laser pistol fire as they made their exit.  Arriving at the elevator – they are joined by Slug was surprisingly less crispy than they expected.  He was, however, sporting a ‘2’ tattoo.  After a brief conversation they entered the elevator and left for sector PIE.

Just short of their destination, the elevator stopped.  A speaker states that an inconvenience is preventing the doors from opening.  Daphne pops thru the roof to see if they can climb out but sees no method of actually climbing up.  Left with no alternative, the force open the doors to find that they are stuck between two floors.  A red viscous fluid, that smelled of strawberries, pours through the elevator doors and begins to fill the cab.

The troubleshooting party climbs out and begins to explore the sticky sweet environment.  They come across the occasional clone bobbing along trying to find a way out.  A few abandoned breakrooms from which they are able to liberate some additional equipment also crosses their path.  As they make their way through PIE sector and enter HOY sector, some sort of catalyst triggers a giant wave of liquid desert.  A fresh set of alarms again being set off.  Riding this wave is an upside down table with two clones on top.  They have a jolly rogers flag hung from one of the legs. 

‘A-HOY sector! Torrents amidship on the scurvy bow port!  Overclock the mainsail and prepare to be motherboarded!’

One of the men, Lloyd-R-Dru-1 has an unspoken conversation with Phil-R-OUT-1.  After some posturing, they agree to make their escape together.  As the escape is made, Lloyd relates some of what he has learned as a custodian of this sector.  There are other complexes – at least a Beta-Complex and a Gamma-Complex.  Each is built in large lava tubes topped by a dome.  There was a Tech Level fall back when ships stopped coming some time ago – now the cities compete for the limited life support resources available on this barren world.

The crew is convinced they need to seek out the Scarborough-I-JON who is rumored to be in OSE Sector for additional answers.  On their way they run into Flanagan-R-PET-3 who has been reassigned to security here in Orthodontic Supply and Equipment.  He immediately halts the party and demands to see their O2 Ration cards…  Phil-R-OUT-1 prepares to activate a buzzbot, but suddenly – Flanagan leaves, with a somewhat bewildered expression on his face.

Finally reaching Scaraborough-I-JON, the party is finally able to start getting some answers.  It isn’t long, however, before an all out Melee erupts.  Def Leopard is first broadcast thru the room, then throughout the entire sector.  Lloyd is almost tranqued, almost killed, and almost retranqued a few times, before being tied up with surgical tubing.  Slug uses rocket boots to blast his head thru the ceiling while playing air guitar.  The entire sector loses power.  Emergency lights come on, the little strings tied to the air vents all go limp.

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Ashley's Rant
Not for publishing.

I cannot believe these guys!!  A bunch of pirates break into the Greenbeard and all these military veterans go all hmmm, what shall we do?  So they just wander on up to the bridge and start bitching like they own the place and what do the soldiers do?  "Hmmmm, what should we do?"  And then Slug gets bitchslapped and these tough guys go, "Hmmmm, what should we do?"  So I had enough and just left them to it.  And then the pirates just walked off the ship, leaving a broken door.  Then they just flew off.

Then we go down to this shithole planet, that has all these poor people suffering because of all the atmosphere.  What do they all do?  Stroll around from bar to bar making drug deals and talking to prostitutes until they decide to get hammered at the only decent place in the dump.  Even that they can't manage to do!  I have a great time with some people with some class and they end up pissing everyone off and going to jail.  The best evidence I have for them being framed is you need some competence and willingness to fight something to kill anyone.

So next I spend all day going around and investigating, talking to important people, viewing the crime scene, until I make a deal to spring those losers.  What do they decide to do next?  Do they try to free the town from the clutches of the evil tyrant who tried to get them lynched so he could make some money?  Did they decide to live up to the agreement that got them out in the first place, and so honor my word?  No, the went, "Hmmmmmm, what should we do?" and then ran away like cowards.

I am so pissed but I suppose if I have to save humanity I have to try to be the adult in the room.

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Session 20
Zisurar part 2

We open the scene with three individuals arrested for the murder of Pearle de Vere – Slug, Tomi, and Fenton.  As they familiarize themselves with their surroundings, they learn that they are really in a secure storage room for the Colorado Freight Company’s office.  A woman named Calamity Jane snores in the cell next door.  The crew does some communication amongst themselves and with the ship using their Neural Links and plots some next steps.  Ashley will do some investigtation at the scene of the crime.  Daphne will run back up to the Greenbeard and return with Dr. Phil.  The imprisoned crew will try to negotiate with their captors.

Slug kicks the metal wall between their cells and rouses Jane.  She wakes up with a curse and walks out of the cell, over to a desk, pulls a bottle of whiskey and takes a few plugs.  Shocked at Jane’s apparent escape, the crew tries their own door but finds it to be locked.  Jane appears to setup a small crude laptop and begins typing away.  Occasionally looking at shipping labels on the boxes and typing them in.   After several failed attempts to swing something, they end up engaging in a drinking game with Jane.  A shot a question, honest answers only.

Jane asks if the crew really did the crime, asks about their origins, and learns quite a bit of additional information about the crew going shot for shot.  The crew is able to hang for a while.  They learn that the Jane believes the murder was done by Hearst, the crew extracts some information about his nature.  Jane offered some hints regarding the nature of her name, stated that she was formerly of the Freedom League and formerly a Space Viking that flew with Bill and Charlie.  Unfortunately the crew, succumbing to effects of the drinking game, didn’t press for additional information on those topics.  They did manager to learn about Jane’s pantaloons, favorite colors, and grooming habits instead.

Meanwhile, Ashley returned to the scene of the crime: The Pearle.  She finds the body of Pearle on display out front.  A long line of folks shuffle past to pay their final respects.  She questions a few of them, but these sad saps are largely from Lungertown and don’t really know anything.  She then enters the Pearle, and states to the doorman that she is acting as the Advocate of the accused and would like to examine the evidence against them.  While he initially registered anger at seeing her walk in, her statements immediately changed his attitude and he escorts her to a couch where Poker Alice Tubs is lounging.  Ashley also spends some time examining the scene of the crime – Pearle’s bedroom.  She sees no sign of a struggle or a forced entry.  The window is unlocked.  There is small blood spray on the ceiling above where her body was found.  The ground next to the window is hard packed and rocky – no opportunity for footprints.

Ashley meets up with Phil and Daphne.  They head over to Wu’s hydroponics operation.  Phil, sells 120 doses of Sunburn for 650 credits.  He is quite pleased with himself, although Daphne notices Wu chuckling with his minions after the price is negotiated.  Wu’s take on the situation is that this Hearst fellow is a cocksucker – they are unsure if the translation program is operating successfully, but it seems to be a common all-purpose curse in Deadwood.  Asking how they can free their friends, he send them to Al.

Next stop is Al, at the Gem.  He greets them in his second-floor office with shots of whiskey for all.  He seems to be noticeably pained.  He tries to talk some business however Phil insists on getting him medical attention, despite Al’s statement that the Doc said he would be fine.  Ashley and Daphne talk about Hearst, getting their friends freed, and the like while Phil runs some scans with the medkit.   Phil finds that Al is suffering from kidney stones and that the situation is days from becoming quite serious.  A bargain is struck – Al will arrange for the release of his friends and aid in dealing with Hearst in exchange for medical treatment.  They also slip in a map of the polities in the region.

Having patched Al back up, they then meet Wild Bill with Al and arrange for the release of the prisoners.  Slug and Bill extend apologies for earlier misunderstandings back in the orbit of the gas giant.  Bill extends a grave and serious warning about the dangers of this place and advices them to leave.  He also drops hints regarding the nature of space traffic in the region, but no one bites and probes more deeply.  Slug uses this opportunity to test out some of the product Wu was selling and Trixi warned them to steer clear of.

The crew takes the GTFO back to the Greenbeard for the night to plan their next steps.  A number of different plans are floated, ultimately the crew decides just to leave the system.  The crew spends the next few hours transiting out to a jump location – opting to leave behind an opportunity to sell their cargo of medical supplies and manufacturing parts to a town full of people that have a lot of Gholde, but are sickly and unable to manufacture filters allowing them to breath clean the air.  Slug begins to get extremely tried and ultimately falls asleep – leaving Fenton in charge.   As Slug drifts off to sleep he muttered something under his breath about offering passage on the ship all the former Star Vikings on that planet who were simultaneously disillusioned with their lot in Deadwood but also had a wealth of information both about this region of space but of their destination as well.  Sadly, no one heard.

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Tomi's Diary (session 19)
Oops

Well this is shitty. So let's start at the beginning when things were only sort of shitty.

We arrived in the Zisurar system at the 8th ring. We're getting all cocky lately, so we started preplanning for everything and decided to fuel up now in case the inhabited planet was hostile. (In case? Stars alive, we should just assume that anything outside the Network is hostile.)

So fueling takes about 8 days, and I decided I'd use the time to really get to know the sensors on the ship. Let me tell you, I was really hardcore nose-to-the-pedal studying my ass off, cerebellum deep in user manuals, schematics of schematic rendering schematicizers, etc.  So into it, in fact, that I really wasn't actually checking the sensors. (I said "oops" already, right?)

So we're almost fueled up and I check the sensors on a whim (I get a whim like this at least once a day, I swear). Well, twist me in the titty! but a ship was right there, like right there, right up on us. Docked. Appeared out of nowhere (or well, appeared when I wasn't checking for it). 

Anyway, these two space vikings with bad attitudes just come on the ship with a cockamamie story about they thought we were abandoned, and I know pirates, and I know what they were after, but turns out they aren't good pirates, because they didn't even rob us. They just tried to trade us a map for a ton of goods. Ashley had the right idea and tried to drug them with that delicious moxie squid, but they rudely let the squid get cold and rubbery while they hustered and blustered and blew any chance of decent dialog. 

Now, Slug was in his "cups" (that's what some people say, but really I think he was in his drugs), and a bit overly confident and overly dim. He tried to fire at one of them, but that damn tall one had blasted the blaster out of Slug's hand before Slug could even get his finger near the trigger! It was the fastest damn draw I ever saw in my damn life. But that just about ended it. They stormed off without a word and without any loot and took off on their frieky-ass looking accordion ship. I knew I should have snuck behind and sapped the smart one as soon as they were on the Greenbeard, before we even said howdy do. (oops)

So long story short, we get to Zisurar prime and land in the only habitable area of the godforsaken planet. I have to wear my vac suit out there cuz the air is dangerous, so all of us look pretty ridiculous among the inhabitants—who are a mix of gutter rat poor and swanky tourist moneyslingers. There's lots of brothels, so I thought to bring some of my sex toys down for trading, since I knew they wouldn't be taking our credits.

I met a nice whore named Trixi at the Gem. She got a kick out of the dildo I brought, said something about not getting splinters with that one. Poor dears. But no one really wanted to trade. She warned me to stay off the crank that Wu sells but thought he might like to buy some of our "cups" (nope, I really like "drugs" better). So we went out back, met up with Wu, and saw his gaggle of drugged out junkies and talked some trade. We also heard some about 4I (the Fourth Imperium) rising in the Gateway. Useful intel: it's 4I credits they use on this world. We should probably try to learn more.

But that's when highclass Ashley wanted to go to a "nice place" so we go to a fancy brothel run by a hoity toity bitchy witchy who was a straight up cunt of sand. Funny her name was Pearle… I didn't even plan the sand pun there! Well she totally ignored me even though I showed her my best butt plug (the one with the fiber optics) and didn't offer any money for it.

But then we came into a lot of money, and well, that's where it gets hazy. (oops) I remember drinking some liquor made from the alien-looking flat leaf plants they have on that tumbleweed of a planet. Tequila/ToKillYa I think? And I'm hoping I didn't do any of Wu's shit, but I definitely was mixing my cups/drugs. I remember every time I heard Pearle speak or laugh I literally wanted to kill her. She just got a ballistic rise out of me with that tinkly I-come-from-money-and-class-and-am-better-than-you fakeass laugh. But I don't remember killing her….

In fact, all I know for sure is that I woke up with a hangover to loud banging on the door. And the tall guy and the smart guy bust in – get this, now they are "sheriffs" and they throw me in jail along with Fenton and Slug. Apparently, we are wanted for muder of one Ms. Sandy Cunt Pearle de Vere. Oops? Well this is shitty.

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Session 19
Zisurar part 1.

GM's log:

The Greenbeard entered the system near the outermost planet in the system, a gas giant.  The target world for this system world was found to be a five and a half day journey to the inner most orbit.  With the remaining inner planets being rocky vacuum worlds, the crew decided to refuel here prior to heading to the inner system.  After some debate, the crew decided to use mining drones to do the refueling.  While it would be slower, they would be able to avoid the risk of a skimming operation with the Greenbeard.  The extra time would be utilized brushing up on their studies.

Tomi elected to leave her studies and do daily sensor sweeps over the course of the week it took to fill the Greenbeard’s fuel tanks.   Unbenownced to the crews, near the end of the refueling operation another vessel started to approach the Greenbeard.  Over the course of a half a day, the vessel continued it’s approach.  With the Greenbeard making no attempts to move or communicate, the other vessel decided this was either a trap or a salvage opportunity.  Either way, they were going in.  Bad luck/timing struck as Tomi didn’t do her daily sensor sweep just as the other ship was docking and breaking their way into the airlock.

The crew congregated on the bridge and debated for a while the proper course of action.  Meanwhile, two men were seen to board via the ships security cameras.  Using some kind of handheld device they seemed to be tracking toward the bridge.  Without their being time to do much else, the crew opted to greet them at the entrance to the bridge.

The two men entered the bridge and introduced themselves at Colorado Charlie Utter and Wild Bill Hickok.  Charlie did most of the talking and was extremely suspicious at their presence there.  This was his secret jump in location for the system and he’s supposed to believe it’s just a big coincidence that another ship is here waiting for him out here in the Wilds.  Crew offers that they are obviously sitting here refueling, and yeah – it is a coincidence.  Bill took some measures to try and calm his friend Charlie down.  However the crew decided to openly discuss right in front of them the option of murdering them and taking their ship.  Bill, being amused at the bluster, tried in his way, to diffused the situation by making light of it – the two of them, being Former Star Vikings, had been through countless such engagements.  Capt Slug then decided draw on the two men.  Before Slug even knew what happened, Bill had drawn a chrome six-shot revolver and fired in one fluid motion.  Slug’s weapon lay damaged on the deck and Slug was bleeding profusely from his hand.

The two men backed out and made a hasty exit while the crew rallied to support their injured comrade.  As they discussed next steps, the two men exited through the damaged airlock and proceeded to pull away.  Luckily, Fenton was already working on damage control and was able to prevent a significant loss of atmosphere as the other ship pulled away.  Over the next few hours they watched the other ship exit sensor range while they continued refueling.

The fuel being topped off, the Greenbeard set course for Zisurar prime.  As they approached the planet they received an audio transmission from the planet’s surface.  The man on who hailed them tore into a string of obscene insults and gestures, as he mistook them for Colorado Charlie Utter.  Apparently, Charlie was grossly overdue on a delivery of much needed supplies needed to keep this world viable.  After the case of mistaken identity was cleared up, they were invited to go visit the man, named Algen, at his saloon named The Gem.

The crew left Phillip Adams on board the Greenbeard to keep an eye on things and descended to the surface with the GTFO.   Daphne stayed on board the GTFO to ensure it too wasn’t jacked – as they had already had a bad taste about this system already.  The rest of the crew set out to explore the town of Deadwood after landing.  They had observed that the planet’s atmosphere was heavily contaminated.  A narrow band of conifers ran near the planets equator and seemed to be filtering out some of the effects.  The location of Deadwood was the ‘sweet spot’.  While rebreathers would definitely be needed for any long term exposure, in the short run it was possible, yet difficult to breath. 

 

While they were told to land at the starport – it was really just an area with hard flat earth.  No facilities or refueling services were available.   One other ship was visible at the starport – a 200ton yacht.  The crew attempted to communicate with it but received no response.  The first stop after the yacht was a place called Lungertown.  It’s reminiscent of many shanty villages which typically surround a starport.  The residents of these place all had horrible weezing coughs.  The residences here did not appear to have much in the way of an ability to clean the atmosphere – probably leading to illness over exposure to toxic pollutants in the atmosphere.  Fenton is able to get the skinny on the place from a local resident who shares with them the keypoints in town.

The Gem is owned by a person named AlGen.  It is a lower class everyman saloon offering gambling libations, and prostitution.  The Grand is a middle class establishment offering lodging and meals.  The Pearle is operated by Pearle DeVere.  It is a new place serving only the most wealthy clientele.  It offers lodging, gambling, and prostitution. 

The crew elected to visit The Gem next, where it was rumored a person named Wu could be found bartering in illicit substances’.   Tomi struck up a conversation with an ‘employee’ named Trixi.  After some conversation, Tomi ended up selling some dildos she had acquired on Treber.  Trixi warned Tomi not to use any of Wu’s substances but directed her to the back of the building if they wished to locate him.

The rear of a building led to an area that was walled off with towering class walls.  A large hydroponics operation was being conducted here to manufacture all manner of biologicals.  After being introduced to the big man, Wu, the crew attempted to negotiate the sale of Sunburn.  The left a sample with Wu, who had a minion test the product out.  He instructed them to return in the morning for further negotiation.

Having some down time, they opted to next visit the Pearle.  Pearle de Vere greeted them immediately as they entered the building.  Ashley felt oddly at home in this place.  It reminded her of places her daddy used to take her to when she was younger.  Fenton is well acquainted with such places – only he would have neither the means, nor the welcome at such a high class establishment.  Pearle, being a self-made woman of means, is also a savvy in matters of both business and personal relations.  She offers to comp the newcomers in their fancy launch of exotic design a free room should they wish to stay.

Everyone decides to spend the evening carousing and then back to Wu’s in the morning.  Sadly, that was not to be.  While Ashley had a decent evening before turning in for some rest.  Something did not go so well for Slug, Tomi, and Fenton – they were arrested for murder by Sherriff Seth and his Deputy Wild Bill Hickok early that next morning.

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Session 18
Whitesheet pt 2

Having fixed the last of the sensor stations, the crew decides to head back to the town and regroup.  The triplets are still at large, however Ashley is done with this world.  Dirt and bugs everywhere.  No where can a proper latte be found – she wants to move on.  She marches straight to the Mayor's office and tries to bluff her way into getting the data so that they can leave this backwater world.  She explains that the sensor network is fully repaired and they have slain many of the beasts.  The mayor was overjoyed at this news.  Ecstatic, she exclaims that she and Ashley will walk out together to walk to examine the corpses.  Trust but verify – that's what her pappy taught her.  It eventually comes out that they aren't exactly certain the beasts that were slain were the triplets.  They also needed help trying to figure out how to use the sensor network, which was more advanced than the models available in The Network.  Outwitted, Ashley seeks refuge to pout and leaves in a huff.

After a few attempts at using the scanners, Tomi eventually locates a heard of 23 of the beasts about 20km from the town.  Never would such a congregation occur if the triplets were not present.  Slug determines that the safest course of action would be to relay the sensor data back up to the Greenbeard, and use the ships weapons to blast them from orbit – it's the only way to be sure.  The plan sounds simple, safe, and effective – everyone heads back upstairs.  After some deliberation, they decide to use a single shot from the particle barbette.  The resulting radiation exposure should be limited to the immediate area and shouldn't be dangerous to the town at this distance.

Bullseye.  A single blast obliterates most of the heard, the remaining few drop to the deck unconscious.  There is some debate over whether to use a second shot or to mop things up using another method.   Tomi manages to strap the gatling laser to the GTFO with surprising ease.  They head down and pelt the remaining vlard from a safe distance.  Video evidence of the assault is sent back to the Mayor as the crew heads back toward town.

The Mayor quite pleased with the arrangement, offers up whatever information they need to continue.  The crew immediately starts tossing terms around like 'computer' and 'data dump' – the Mayors eye's momentarily gloss over before she states that Saga Jordan will be the one who can assist them with their needs.  Saga has been studying the old records her entire life.  She is quite pleased share her passion on this subject with the crew.  She arranges to transfer what records she has been able to recover to the Greenbeard as she rattles on about The Ancients and The Droyne.

The crew also queries her on both Terra and the Third Imperium.  Explaining that the colony was setup some 150 years ago by the Imperial University to study the temple on this world.  They are believed to have been related in some way to The Ancients.  The Third Imperium closely guarded most information about the Ancients, which they estimated to be at TL25.  The colony, being formed so far beyond the Imperium's borders, allowed the research to continue in privacy.  Some 25 years after being founded, supply ships stopped coming.  The residents were forced to abandon research and focus on making their community self sustaining.  They were able to maintain their technology at first, but little by little things slipped when they were unable to fabricate replacement parts.  No one knows why the supply ships stopped coming, they have been essentially trapped on this world for generations with no outside contact.  When asked about Terra and The Rule of Man, she states that the Second Imperium, as it was also called, fell some 3000 years ago.  After it fell, a period called The Long Night washed over this region of the galaxy as the knowledge of interstellar travel was lost for nearly 2000 years.

She is convinced to accompany the crew to the temple and aid in their investigations.  Ein relays scan information from the Greenbeard to the GTFO while they are on route.  They see that there is a weird energy signature coming from the area, but are unable to identify where exactly or the nature of that energy.  The scans show that a mountain has had it's top flattened and the temple hewn from the rock underneath.  There are a series of stair wells and chambers though out which lead back to the floor of the jungle.  Arriving, the GTFO and lands on the roof of the temple.  Everyone disembarks and begins to explore the area.  There are many hieroglyphs present which Saga is able to at least partially translate.

One are of the carvings seems to show a sphere on top of a mountain with weird bird looking things next to it, Saga says she believes these are Droyne.   Through her research, she believes that the writings indicate that a primitive Droyne culture once lived on this world.  They believe they were brought to this place by a race of gods.  The way this planet is depicted, it seems much larger than their point of origin.  Droyne were known, in the Imperium, to prefer planets of a lesser gravity, this would have been a difficult world for them.   The primitive Droyne would come to this temple on the longest day of the year with gifts, filling the chambers of the temple – hoping their gods would return and show them favor.  There are depictions of sick and injured Droyne being carried to the temple but then leaving under their own power.

The crew spends hours trying to determine the source of the energy signature but to no avail.  Ashley is even convinced to come down from the Greenbeard and lend assistance once it is demonstrated to be reasonably safe.  Ultimately, Ashley and Tomi put their heads together and have an inspired idea – they realize that this day is the summer solstice on this world!  Perhaps they need to make an offering to the gods.  The mining drones are reprogrammed to harvest the crops laying in untended fields and bring them here.  They also leave a watch and a ton of advanced manufacturing goods in one of the temple chambers.  Suddenly, the entire temple begins to glow with a blue-black light emanating from the floors/walls/ceilings.  The crew decides to enjoy the light show from the roof of temple while enjoying some brownies provided by Dr. Phil.  Apparently Phil had biologically engineered a pot brownie plant.  The brownies sprout right out of a plant, ready to eat.

The crew instantly begins feeling better – all wounds are healed.  Even old wounds such as a missing eye and long lost leg from early in the Traveller's careers are regrown, gently displacing the basic implants.  In a final flash of blue-black light, the offerings disappear and everyone feels more intelligent (+1 permanent increase to stat).

A position with the crew is offered to Saga, however she is unconvinced to leave her husband.  She does offer to trade some information regarding some interesting botanicals on this world in exchange for some help restoring some of the lost technological capabilities on this world.  A deal is struck – the information for 2 tons of Advance Manufactured Goods.  An additional offer is extended to the guard they met on first arrival, however he too was not interested in leaving his family.

Taking their leave, a course is plotted for Zisurar.

All players are granted 8 weeks of training for completing this story arc.  (plus one for the week of travel to Zisurar)

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Backwoods Armpit
I hear banjos in the woods.

The rag-tag bunch of heroes, sacrificing everything for humanity, continue onward through the great quest of history.  Unfortunately we had to stop at this <s>shithole</s> <s>hicksville hillbilly pigfucker armpit of a planet</s> technologically disadvantaged system.  Entering the system the heroes decided that it was vitally important to spend hours after hours after hours looking around the system.  In shocking news it turned out there was nothing except this planet, upon which there was basically nothing except one <s>shithole hicksville hillbilly pigfucker armpit of a </s>small settlement.  It looked fortified so the rag-tag bunch of heroes prudently decided to park the GTFO a short distance away and egg to the settlement.

On the way a giant life thing appeared out of nowhere and mindlessly attacked the egg.  (Seriously, I really think this biology thing might be overrated.  Daddy's robots never did anything like that.)  The supposedly tough "heroes" decided to run away to Mouthbreatheryokeltown, where the rudest greeting this reporter has ever encountered.  (Although there was nothing suggestive of prostitution which suggests a greater level of intelligence than those moral pygmies.)  Gunfire, yelling of instructions, no comments about awesome outfits.

Turns out this was a functional planet until the ittle wittle losers didn't get shipments from elsewhere and then totally collapsed.  This reporter was tempted to explain what Daddy taught her, that you have to work for everything you get and can't just rely on others to do everything for you.  I mean, look at this reporter, it's not like I got any help on my path to becoming humanity's savior.  So apparently everything went to hell once these human leeches stopped getting their hands held and they had to hide behind fences like little bitches because of some wildlife.

So, whatever.  Anyway, like the rag-tag bunch of heroes went into the <s>shithole hicksville hillbilly pigfucker anus dump</s> settlement where they were all demanding and hoity-toity, sending us this way and that as if we couldn't have leveled the whole <s>stinking cesspool of grunting cavemen </s>place from space.  The questers politely asked for some information to help with the mission (to freakin' save humanity!!!!) and they had the unmitigated gall to demand that we do something first!!!!!!  So, like, because <s>we </s><s>weren't raised in a swamp of mammal poo</s> some of us are good people we agreed to fix some sensor stuff or transmissions, anyway, some sort of backwoods machinery in return for their information.

So we flew off and these nasty animals showed up again and we did fixing and shooting and flying around until this rag-tag bunch of heroes <s>completed this menial task that these plebes should have handled themselves</s> saved the world!  see attached holography of the fighting and stuff.

I hate this place, this zoo.  I can't stand it any longer.  It's the smell.  I feel saturated by it.  I can taste its' stink, and every time I do I feel I have somehow been infected by it.  It's repulsive, isn't it?  I must get out of here.

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