Eclipse Phase

Interlude - Agent 23, Stan and Jak
The Jovian's mobilize

“Why Physics?” Cpl. Tom Akins asks, lowering his hand after being acknowledged by the briefing C.O. in the ready room. “Hell, Son, why not?! It’s a damn machine ain’t it? They’re good at math like girls and twice as quick about it. Why wouldn’t a Toaster try to convert the whole universe into numbers and equations? Makes sense to me!” returns the Colonel, a little exasperated. “What you gotta worry about is the training. This thing has who-knows-how-much black-ops spook training from the old Agency, and that ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at. You run up on this target without being squared-away and you buy the farm.”
Lt. Brian Hoskins raises up his and the Colonel nods at him expectantly. “So we’re gonna peel this Toaster away from the Anarchists it’s hiding with and bring back it’s stack or it’s head. Gotcha. Now it’s the crew that it’s embedded with that worries me. That’s a weird bunch-a mooks, right there. Prizefighter, Head-Shrinker, Merc and a cat-lovin’ car salesman? That’s too oblong a group to not get a second look. What’s the intel on that bunch. Could be some kinda re-activated TITAN sleeper-cell.”
“Little of this and a little of that,” returns the Colonel, “Fight-girl’s as suspicious as they come, suspected criminal background right outta the gate. DO NOT ENGAGE unarmed…” Cpt. Mike Hardwick snorts derisively at that and studies his Ranger tattoo avoiding the C.O.‘s gaze. Colonel Everett West lets that one slide and gets back to his intel breakdown of the known accomplices. "The Shrinks a pushover, but the brass have an unarmed DO NOT ENGAGE flag on him too for ’classified’ reasons above my pay grade, but you heard it here so don’t go trying the strongarm him and get some nasty surprise."
“Now the Ballerina ( slang. A reflex boosted female assassin in the employ of a major corp ) is trouble only if she knows you’re coming. Solid recon/sniper operative for Medusan Shield, we bought her whole combat record from ‘Shield so you can review her story after the brief. As long as she hasn’t prepared for you and posted up top of a kill-zone waiting for you to bull-in, your jake.”
The Colonel goes on, “Now, fuck that shyster and his pussy. I don’t care if he’s collateralized in the OP.” Nods of agreement ripple acorss the soldiers in the room. “Just get Iso-7 out with the head intact and back here where our Eggheads can take it apart.”
“Now we got a fair budget on this one and the requisitions will be fabbed by 09:00 next Deuce, so you’re going in with fair to bangin’ kit and enough loadout to get the job done. I don’t want any excuses. I want to see a head. In a bag. On a lab table. Don’t forget, you are the second team to be tasked with this extraction. Review the previous missions XP thoroughly and don’t make the mistakes of your predecessors, Gentlemen…” The Colonel pauses a minute to eyeball the assembled soldiers, “Now get ready to rock! HUA?”
HUA!!!” shouts the Jovian assault team Spartan-7 and breaks up for the pre-mission prep.

Before anyone can leave the room a smartly uniformed Military intelligence officer walks int the room and straight up to the colonel. After a brief exchange, the Colonel calls everyone back to their seats before they can file out into the halls. " ‘Agent Smith’ here has a little addendum for you, I gather. Buttin seats and eyes from and center ladies," The colonel commands, “this wont take long.”
Cpt. Cyrus Burns turns to look at the Colonel for a second before taking a stand at the podium and Mesh-feeding new readouts to the AR display at the head of the room.

“This operation is going to bring you into contact with person’s of interest of the Security Council’s Vice Commander, General Brown. As such I think you can understand the sensitivity of that I am about to tell you. This information has been cleared for your security clearance and is otherwise classified and all that that implies. The tertiary target operating under the name “Stan Johnson” is a secondary target. The SwarmCat carried by mister Johnson is a Priority target and must be extracted with at least the cyberbrain or cortical stack intact. That is a minimal expectation, Gentlemen. Whole retrieval is preferable. Is that clear?" Mumbles and head nods murmur through the briefing room.
WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SHIT!!” bellows the Colonel. “Sir, YES SIR!” shout the soldiers, three of them actually standing bolt upright at attention before sitting back down. The Colonel nods to the Cpt. Burns to continue.
“Do not underestmate the Cat. Intelligence indicates that it is some sort of lethal bodyguard smart-pet for Target Johnson.” A string of high definition images plays across the interface, showing Barsoomian rebels Ruster biomorphs, scratched and hideously swollen by toxins in unzipped bodybags filthy with Martian red dust.
“These rebels encountered the Cat armed with improvised assault vehicles and military-grade hardware. As you can see…” Cpt. Burns clicks through several more images, “…they did not overcome.”. “Additional gear is being assigned for the purpose of restraining the animal. It is also to be Black-Bagged and under no circumstances released unless it is to the custody of the debriefing officers that will receive you upon your return for post-op review.”
“This entire mission is graded as Hard Target status. Maximum prejudice is advised. Collateral damage is expected and pre-pardoned by the High Command.” Some ‘Yeeeahs’ drift out of the assembled troops.
“That it?” The Colonel asks Cpt. Burns as the images stop on the tactical display. “Yes, Colonel.” replied Cpt Burns.
“You heard the Spook!” the Colonel shouts, “Move out and gear up!” The Intelligence Officer, an African-American can’t quite be sure if that was a reference to the old-school slang for military intelligence or an oblique reference to old-Earth racist slang for humans of color. The Colonel doesn’t stand around long enough to give him a chance to ask. This will go down in the Colonels record. Cpt. Burns thinks to himself ans he has his muse save and upload the XP of the incident into the Colonels personnel file.

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Interludes - Sandy
Neurasthenia Ascendant

Neurasthenia Shenjingshuairuo freefalls across the interim of the docking umbilicus from the Planetary Consortium Shuttle to the airlock of the Hindustan Aerospace Limited (HAL) LaFrance rig known simply as ‘The Rig’ by the Scum who stole it and tug it through outer-system space. The taut and supple 25 year old biomorph of Thanatophobia Boulstridge-Shenjingshuairuo still impresses in it’s easily identifiable FOOD NOT TITANS collective smart-vacsuit.
“Good day-cycle, Mother” the Anglo-aristocratic accented Mandarin purrs out from Neurasthenia like high-born honey and tea.
“How did you find me…Daughter?” is the immediate, businesslike response from freefall reorienting, suspicious Thanatophobia. Now aligned with the gravitational attitude of the newcomer. Her Mandarin clipped and staccato.
“Shinkei and Deuteranopia, are doing well. Tetsujin has never been more active and productive, but it lacks your civilizing touch.” continues Neurasthenia in ingratiatingly mellifluous Beijing Mandarin, with a cynically raised eyebrow at the uncivilized mazework jumble of habitat modules they are meeting in. A far cry from the exquisitely refined luxury of the hyperelite torus the Ego known as Thanatophobia was cloned and raised in.
“What do you want?” Thanatophobia tersely replies in English through clenched teeth. Her high-bred and carefully refined aristocratic english accent severe.
“I’ve come to visit you, Mother. And I have business in The Stars’.” Neurasthenia lilts and she audaciously floats into her mother’s personal space and hugs her. Her mother unwilling and stiff. Not returning the gesture. In the nano-sphere infiltrator nanites bridge the skin contact, cheek to cheek and begin subverting Thanatophobia’s machines with alarming suddenness.
“You’re not going to exploit ANY of my reputation for for whatever devious Consortium nonsense you’re obviously here for, Girl!” Thanatophobia sneers, pushing her daughter off into open cabin-space aggravatedly as she re-anchors herself to the Hab-wall hold-bar. “And I’ll not be seen on the Mesh lovingly embracing you as you so clearly hope to broadcast.”
After a moment anaylyzing her daughter’s behavior, GLORIANA, Thanatophobia’s Muse, appears in Augmented Reality, Entoptic space next to Neurasthenia, now anchored to the opposite wall with a foot hooked into a hold-bar. “Her kinesics are blank, I am supposing a software at work. Masking her body language. Pulse, respiration and skin galvanics are flat as a sleeping infant. It’s really high end personality masking. Venus manufacture, perhaps? That explains why she’s here in-corpus, instead of Ego-cast. Didn’t want to leave behind this morph’s mods. At first I thought that inhabiting this 38 year old body was a cheap memetic attempt to cow you with an authoritative appearance. That seems unliekly now, given that she would know that your age, you would be un-susceptible to such a ploy. Her manipulation game is much further advanced than that , I would guess.
“At my age?!” Thanatophobia responds mentally to GLORIANA. Her eyes outwardly slightly narrowing
With your experience.” GLORIANA corrects herself.
“And you as well with the flattery and manipulation?” Thanatophobia replies bitterly.
Neurasthenia continues, “I am come to visit with my estranged biological maternal parent after two years of silence and abandonment. The Planetary Consortium has no part in our family’s interpersonal dynamic.” Her Mandarin peppered with English words that defy expression in Chinese.
YOU are come either on behalf of your father or as a lackey of the Consortium, neither of which I will stand for any part of.” " Shinkei and my relationship, while of relevance to you as our daughter, I allow, is NOT a matter of appropriate discussion between us. And I will NOT have it. Furthermore, if this is some ‘mission’ for inner-system corporate, or worse, government interests, it has no place in my life and in this Autonomist habitat." “What’s more, your sneaky little blank-page morph only REVEALS your intent at treachery and deceit instead of masking your true intentions as you had hoped. Your obsequious use of the Mandarin feminine…” Thanatophobia unleashes her contempt for her daughter only to be cut off mid-sentence as Neurasthenia’s infiltrators subvert her mother’s puppet sock and wrest control from her Ego and her Muse, GLORIANA in just under the 90 seconds that Project OZMA’s manual text on the tool estimates that it takes on an average. Cross-loading the Behavioral Psyche Personality Imitating AGI fork into the puppet sock takes considerably more time however and cant be done in an airlock.
“I trust that you have spoofed this interaction successfully and patched everything over nicely?” Neurasthenia asks her Muse TITANIA.
“I deployed appropriate exploits for the childish security these Anarchists employ. If anyone were watching, and noone is, they are observing a very heartfelt reunion with your mother filled with reconciliation and tears, and your gracious offer to come aboard your shuttle to receive some gifts and heirlooms from you and your family.” All is prepared for your implantation of the Imitator Intelligence into this morph’s ’sock. Shall we move to the shuttle interior and begin the process?" TITANIA replies with military efficiency.
“Immediately. Before one of the local Terrorists wanders by and starts asking questions.” replies Neurasthenia as she slings her mothers paralyzed body into the umbilicus of her shuttle.
Following her mother’s morph into the Ozma shuttle, Neurasthenia locks her in to the shuttle’s Ego Bridge apparatus and leaves it to do the work of enslaving her mother to the AGI. Free-falling over to close the door, she reviews the entoptics of the shuttle’s Infosec AI’s gethered dossier on Taharqa Horemakhet, ‘The Pharoah’, underworld criminal and artifact thief and figure of reknown, who is also known as Shekkina Assiyah, Martian circuit-fighter champion and evangelist for the Church of Kemetic Orthodoxy. It seems here in the outer-system boondocks, she is also known as ‘Sandy’. “How cute.” cynically observes Neurasthenia, wondering if it’s a reference to the red sands of Mars or just a poor-mans pseudonym for the foreign-sounding ‘Shekkinah’. “Those Africans and their neo-judeo-hebrew nonsense…It’s almost as un-stomachable as their psuedo-Egyption lunacy” she remarks to noone in the blinking, beeping, dark silence of the shuttles interior.
“Don’t worry, little black Sand-O” sneers Neurasthenia, “the tigers will eat you long before they spin themselves into butter. And it will only hurt a LOT!”

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Interludes - Marbles
With special thanks to Will Bird for the idea

Behind the pale hum of the clinics’ rejuvenation pods and sterile white starkness of the examination chambers, in a safe-room carefully retrofitted into premium cubic meters of ever-so-scarce pressurized hull-space, the blanched face of Dr. Catherine Wright Armitage Blake stares intently at nothing in the room. Eyes skittering over entoptic visually displayed data overlayed with the rapid drone of dense audio data from a Shirakawa Heavy Industries command and control military issue Muse. The government/military grade cyberbrain inside her masterfully crafted T-X infiltrator synthmorph operates at roughly twice the speed of the finest un-augmented human brain. The Ego living inside this technological masterpiece, now accelerated to intellectual capacities previously impossible, spots flaws in it’s defenses and develops contingencies and stratagems to compensate for it’s earlier, biological-minded oversights. The consciousness formerly known as Dr. Antonio Pascal is concerned and a little distracted by the after-affects of the Behavioral Masking and Personality Editing Simulspace psychosurgical procedures it has undergone and the affect it has on unconscious thoughts and new, unfamiliar facial expressions this Morph exhibits, but this is cutting edge work. His cutting edge work. His Alpha fork did a stereotypically excellent job in altering his true Ego’s habits and kinesthetics. It’s perfection to behold. His own family would never guess it was he behind this gaze. This myth-addled boy-thing, Urizen, the former subject of the Psiclone Project, an errant Futura exsurgent mutant async, will certainly never unmask this perfection of deception. Besides, the control personality, Urthona will constantly tug him away in more fanciful directions.
Certainly he’s gotten close, tracking the fugitive research psychologist and genetic genius to this insane carnival of anarchist miscreants. Too close to regard as coincidence. Measures have been taken and countermeasures arranged. No demented scientific reject is going to throw a wrench in the carefully laid plans for the future. The Psiclone EX program is barely underway! The private military corporation detention facility he’s headed to will keep him well under control until the leisure time is available to fully conduct a thorough set of experiments over the next decades into determining how this one came out so generally functional. It could have positive implications for the new generation. It will be amusing to let the remains of Dr. Amelia Sheppard’s Ego do the harshest of the breakdown work of the reconditioning. This Albion Ego should be rewarding on several levels.

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Session 27: Into the Hinterlands with Rep and Rifle
A new journey begins among the Scum.

Concerned with the intense media pressure and law enforcement scrutiny being brought to bear on the Team, Lieutenant Miller opts to move his Cell to a headquarters in the Outer System, choosing as the new rear-ward operating base the science/mining ship USG Ishimura. This sizeable vessel was salvaged by FireWall after a particularly bloody Exsurgent encounter ( See the game Dead Space for details )and is now retrofitted with modern and secret Firewall equipment. Through arrangement with Anarchist FireWall agents from allied Cells, the way has been paved for the now-renamed U.S.S. Sulacco to join the Scum Swarm “The Stars Our Destination” and travel the Outer System under the anonymity and cover that the Swarm provides.

Retired Player-Character Johann rejoins the FireWall Cell of Router Lieutenant Miller as the space-ship-sleeved AI in command of the Sulacco. As the crew of sentinels come aboard and take stock of their new surroundings the vessel is tentatively renamed The Fuzzy Earwig and then Rudolf the Red-Nosed Fuck You and Agent 23 nearly succeeds in welding giant plastic antlers onto the vessel before he is wisely voted down by the rest of the Cell. Miller’s cell has come to be named The Murder Hobos (as a result of their rootless, unconnected string of homicides left in the wake of their operations) in the banter on The Eye ( the covert network of Firewall operatives). This chafes Lieutenant Miller and is a primary factor that is instrumental in his decision to shove the Sentinel Beta Team (our heroes) out to the rowdier outer-system, where they either could do less harm, or at least no one would care as much about the harm they continue doing. Agents of The Murder Hobos Alpha Team will continue to mop up as Firewall ‘Cleaners’ in the inner-system, covering the tracks of the organization. Agent Motoko resumes direct Vector and Scanner work for the Cell as Agent Nikolai covers everyone’s media tracks as the Cell’s Social Engineer back on Mars. Mr. Thursday joins Fenopy in piloting Firewall’s trans-atmospheric shuttle for Agent Mike Chin and Gunnar Vorstagg. They team up with Victor Vorstagg Gunnar’s now-reunited estranged brother. (This surprising turn of events having come about after some very interesting psionic cerebral editing by the mysterious Async with no past Ganos and fantastically expert psychosurgery by the inner-system-reknowned psychosurgery wunderkind Dr. Albion Bernal ( aka Marbles )). This Alpha Team remains stationed in the Martian theater of operations to help clean up Beta Team‘s flashy, public assault on the "Olympus Infrastructure Authority’s":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/eclipse-phase-austin/wikis/olympus-city classified-site crater base. This event having been the biggest media event of a string of recent local terrorist actions that have been attributed to the Barsoomian Movement. With the powerful Erasure Squad Sentinel VIctor Vorstagg now at his disposal as an overseer for the AI murder machine Soldaat Moordenaar v7.01.0023 ( also now hesitantly deployed by Miller as an erasure squad operative ) Miller has then skipping around the inner system in the Cell’s last remaining spaceship engaging in extraordinary renditions, wetwork black ops and other silent operations required to keep the existence of Firewall under wraps while not raising any further flags among the Planetary Consortium or Lunar Lagrange Alliance. This is becoming increasingly difficult as dogged former L.L.A. New Detroit Colony Delta City police inspector Jayne Lewis and the indefatigable Reginald Stonecypher of The Planetary Consortium’s OVERSIGHT are hot on the trail of even the tiniest clue left unbruied. Stonecypher is networked with the hideously well connected and very VERY pissed-off Project Ozma operative Neurasthenia who after being murdered by Agent Sandy seems capable of almost miraculous insight into Firewall-related hijinks as concerns The Murder Hobos. Supporting the fearful rumors about Ozma’s reach and capabilities that pass among Sentinel agents on The Eye.

After being rescued from the O.I.A. Crater Base by The Murder Hoboes, Asa Ivorssen remains in a FireWall top secret facility so dark, even Miller doesn’t know where it is. His formerly latent Watts-McLeod infection now having advanced to Exhuman Psi-epsilon class sleights due to his mind shattering trauma. He is perhaps among the most dangerous Exhumans in known Transhuman space and debate rages among Firewall Proxies as to whether or not he should be destroyed utterly. The safety concerns of his being kept alive for study at all being subject to hot debate among opposed cliques of Proxies.

Agent 23 meanwhile has busied himself over the last 12 months since the mission at the antimatter crater east of Olympus Mons. Having been unable to burn from his mind the image of the TITAN assimilator absorbing first Zak Corvid shuttle and then Johann terrified synthmorph before flying off to the IFF friendly signals it detected coming from the TITAN Quarantine Zone. Having seen the effect of the ElectroMagnetic Pulse grenades on the centibot disassemble worm-swarm as it destroyed the Trancom subterranean complex, he has applied his not inconsiderable talents as a research physicist and academic to network with his Titanian university and the Argonauts to craft a never before seen atmospheric photon pulse cannon and extra-atmospheric Gamma radiation directed energy weapon. This he designed in a feverish one-year hiatus from professorial academia crafting nanofabricator blueprints with the aid of some University AIs and his own custom-created Muse. And the invaluable assistance of his network of intrepid Argonaut theoretical physics and Mathematical allies.

He created a prototype experimental cannon which he promptly replaced the rail-cannon on the undermount of the Sulacco with during a moment of zeal involving considerably unauthorized and dangerously unmonitored extravehicular activity at speed. It is not yet known what this cannon will do when activated. Virtual Reality computer simulations all point to favorable outcomes.

Agent Dave has completed doing the cell’s inventory and analysis of the Sulacco’s extensive equipment load-out, verifying the materials on record as it was presented by Johann after sleeving into the vessel and running an electronic scan of all spimes in the vessel.

The Team encounters the one-girl narcotics circus that IS the teenager known as Barking Dog, and she leads them down the proverbial rabbit-hole through the Labyrinth to…A Reception!…which has been presented to the gathered representative of the Autonomist Collectives that make of The Stars Our Destination scum swarm. This introductory, ‘Getting to Know You’ event is a truly typical Scum stunt-event. It’s part a talk-show interview, part a celebrity roast (to determine starting reputation for the newcomers) and part an anything-goes deviant cosplay/S&M/potluck dinner party in the spirit of pre-Fall Brazil’s Carnivale. Led by “Captain” Sui Generis, the hermaphrodite (male genitals/female secondary sexual characteristics) Thai LadyBoy salvage barge party-girl (boy?) who is known for throwing some of the best parties the swarm has to offer and blowing apart the remaining quaint notions of binary gender.

Swarm Captains
Captains2

This Ruby-Rod (see the film The Fifth Element) style-entertainer/party personality puts on a fabulous interview until the question and answer session when Agent Sandy is confronted by a member of one of the collectives among the guests who brings a professional circuit fight challenge from one of the Swarms contenders. A berserk-exhuman borderline-psychopath named Simona Soukupova. This ego sleeves in a deeply posthuman morph with an alarming amount of hyena and jackal chromosomes integrated into an otherwise human body. Simona is a post-slavic Ego committed to extreme geno-modification and exhuman physiognomy who, due to the use of numerous extreme, experimental, and dangerous self-modifications, has done some permanent damage to her psyche, transforming her mode of thinking into something that is no longer recognizable as fully human.

This intimidating warrior runner offers a challenge to compete for reputation and bragging rights against the Martian title-belt holding Sentinel. Sandy foolishly accepts this challenge since she doesn’t want to be shamed be seeming like a coward if she backs down in front of all these Scum Captains. There is going to be a Free-Running/MMA combat event on 30 days between the two. Asses WILL be kicked.

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Session 25: Side Story - Assault on Crater Base Gamma
Player versus player power-suit mayhem with Jihadi Rebels!!!

During the events of Session 24, two members of the Miller FireWall Cell ( we really gotta come up with a cooler code-name for the group, I mean honestly… ) Agent Stan the consumate con-man, and Agent Sandy the international cat-burglar and Martian title belt-holding free-running mixed martial arts female middlewieght champion, join forces with Barsoomian Rebels and Church of Kemetic Orthodoxy Mujaheddin Warriors to create a diversionary assault on the Crater-rim Olympus Infrastructure Authority command base.

While Agent Sandy crept into the base having infiltrated the perimeter under considerable technological cover, Agent Stan strapped on a jet pack and packed himself, sardine/coffin like into the side of a multi-warhead missile turned post-war supply rocket with 11 other psychotics with no common sense and proceeded to rocket into the base at mach four or more.

Sandy commando’d on over to the communications and air-traffic control tower and placed eight shaped super-thermite charges around the perimeter of it’s base and waited for the go signal. None was forthcoming but when the missile streaked over the base disgorging it’s payload of ululating, hell-fire VII missile launching freedom-fighters, she figured it was about time and blew the tower right into the dirt. As Agent Stan’s troop of Rebels howled down out of the sky on full deceleration burn, Sandy faded back to the camp perimeter and planned her next attack.

Ragnarök ensues in the base as Barracks with sleeping and off-duty OIA soldiers are torn to absolute ruin by the anti-titan missiles and the inflatable structures with their volatile oxygen/nitrogen pressurized interiors erupt into hideous, soldier immolating crematoriums. Six soldiers survive.

Master-Sergeant B. I. Douglas who happened to be awake, pre-duty shift, so lovingly maintenance testing his Vulture Exoskeleton armor.
Sgt. W. Bird who had drawn perimeter patrol duty for beating the Captain at poker most soundly the previous Saturday.
Commander A. Gonzales, whose modified military DAITYA synthmorph sleeve was bunked in the Motor Pool where it was MUCH easier for his hulking form to fit.
Cpl. B. Willingham the K-9 Trooper, just returning from the final round of her outlying patrol shift and thus not in the ground zero of the Götterdämmerung that broke out in the middle of the base-proper.
Capt. S. Nishimura, the operations leading CQB commando who had an uncanny feeling that woke him up pre-dawn and caused him to don his martian surface gear and head out into the dark to take a look around for whatever was setting his ‘spider senses’ tingling.
And finally PFC Blackwing a Wampanoag descended brave who ancestral spirits were truly watching out for him that night. He survived by waking from nightmares of strange armored animal men with hulking, brutish forms and tough hides that turned his sharp flint tomahawk at every turn, (see the movie The Pathfinder for the dream) to go get a whiskey from the hidden stash the Captain kept in the Rec-Room next to the barracks.

As the Rebels Blitzkrieg the base, Agent Stan slips off into the pre-dawn shadows to hunker down out of the crossfire while Agent Sandy creeps up on Sgt. Bird in her Thermoptic Camouflage armor and cloak and commences a dizzying assault of high-speed blurring Hyper-vibrational, Mono-molecular-edged whip attacks on the patrolling trooper while he stands, momentarily agape at the ruin of his base in so few seconds. His blood sprays out in frozen droplets from his depressurizing body-armor and clatters like gravel on the stones and sand of the Martian desert. Unable to pinpoint the location of his near-invisible assailant, he opens up with his standard issue Battle Rifle and hoses down the general area with hypersonic tungsten core rounds, blazing lines from staggered tracer ammo showing that the bulletstorm is soaring off across the martian landscape, finding nothing solid.

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Session 24: Assault on Sphere Base Omega
Sentinels against the Olympus Infrastructure Authority

Background

The ‘Miller-Cell’ Firewall team has taken on the task of seeking out known Kemetic Orthodox artifacts and returning them the Church headquarters on Venus for safekeeping. The ‘Nebt-Het’ helmet/headwear/asa-assimilator is thought to be enclosed within a 3-meter diameter black impenetrable sphere at the bottom of the new crater near the Quarantine Zone on Mars. The team decides to go after this artifact first in the hope of penetrating the sphere with psi-sleights to communicate with or otherwise activate the artifact within. As a secondary objective the team will capture any scientists found, or at least retrieve their cortical stacks, particularly the chief scientist on the project, Dr. Karl Ulstadt.

  • Dr. Karl Ulstadt, the martian specialist on Xeno-material science

Fightpunch metal gear kitano

Operation

This operation is the most complex yet attempted by the team. A month of infosec, scientific and security ops research reveals a lot of details about the new research base, including security, communications, infosystems, logistics, troop rosters, defenses, base layout and scientific personnel assignments. Use of science networking and rep identifies the chief scientist assigned to the project, Dr. Karl Ullstad, and his team’s cautious and thus far unsuccessful attempts to open the ‘Sphere’. A full scale multi-day assualt operation is devised for immediate execution against the new temporary research facility constructed by the Mars Olympus Infrastructure Authority (OIA) around and within the crater. The team acquires the necessary equipment, the most imporant piece being a small but capable shuttle. Firewall is unable or unwilling to provide such a resource, so Dave exerts her influence to borrow a shuttle from Gorgon Arms. The team installs a hacked Martian OIA IFF.

  • Borrowed Gorgon Arms unmarked Shuttle

Koryface interplanetary explorer

Crater Base Security

Perimeter and Crater Base (5km radius): 1. electronic fence with monitor posts every 6m (IR, visual, ?); 2. Up to 12 Troop Insertion and Air Superiority (TIAS) transports with 2 crew and 6 troops, carrying 1 externally mounted OIA BattleSuit; 3. up to 55 Mars OIA Regular combat personnel (up to 24 deployed in 4 airborne TIAS transports at any given time).

Exclusion Zone (30km radius); 1) patrolled by an unknown number of synthetic patrol drones that have standard senses plus enhanced motion and sound sensors, and probably t-ray emitters (stay out of LOS). The Sentry ‘Dog’ Drones are programmed to stay 100 meters apart, minimum; 2) patrolled by 4 airborne TIAS transports at any given time. The TIAS transports orbit the Exclusion Zone in a programmed equidistant patrol pattern.

  • The Soldiers of the Olympus Infrastructure Authority

Team by sttheo

  • OIA Troop Insertion and Air Superiority (TIAS) transport

Drop by sttheo

  • OIA BattleSuit

Regulator by sttheo

  • OIA Sensor Sentry Dog Drone and Synthmorph Handler K-9 Trooper

Fox by sttheo

Teams

  1. Nomad Relations: Sandy (Nomad Contact); Stan (Negotiator)
  2. Infiltration: Sandy; Dave
  3. Infosec: Jak
  4. Sphere: Marbles (Async); Mr. Thursday (Security); Agent23 (Security)

MISSION LOG

A week prior to mission h-hour, the Sphere and Infosec teams conduct a reconnaisance of a known spy or communications satellite serving the OIA Crater Base. The satellite proves to have a 30km exclusion/detection zone around it. It is determined that the satellite is using encrypted laser point-to-point communications with various OIA ground stations including of course the Crater Base communications truck/tower. Agent 23 uses his hardware and physics skills to build a reflector/refractor/laser transmitter so that Jak can attempt a hack during h-hour. Jak will join the ‘Nomad Relations’ team and attempt to hack the satellite from planetside.

Three days prior to h-hour, the Nomad Relations and Infiltration teams land and begin operations. Stan and Sandy are successful in negotiating with the Nomads and Barsoomian rebel groups respectively. These two groups turn out to be closely related and have no problem running a joint operation. The Nomads volunteer at least 15 fanatical ‘Jihadi’ fighters, all heavily armed and armored. More are likely to join the cause. The Barsoomian rebels review the operational plan and decide to make the most of this opportunity to hit the OIC in their exposed position at ‘Sphere Base Omega’. They will go ‘all in’, committing some of their best tech and warriors to the assault. Courtesy of Dave and Gorgon Arms, Stan delivers 4 laser guided thermobaric disposable seeker launchers to the Nomad/Barsoomian teams, for use in taking down TIAS transports, or as needed, and 2 homing HEAP variants of same (for use against OIC BattleSuits).

  • Barsoomian Rebels in the assault on Sphere Base Omega

Barsoomians

  • Martian Nomad Jihadi Fighters

618 max

With a day to spare Sandy and Dave reach their infiltration entry points, 180 degrees opposite each other.

16 hours prior to h-hour, Dave and Sandy begin infiltrating the Exclusion Zone. Communications blackout is now in force. Both manage to reach the 5km perimeter fence undetected. Dave discovers the fence is a powerful electromagnetic barrier with motion detection. She is held up by the fence and unable to find a way around, so sets up several EMP grenades near the fence and waits for h-hour. Sandy discovers a weakness in the fence and uses her amazing acrobatic/catburgler/freerunning skills to climb atop a post, execute a handstand, and complete a vaulting/flip over the top and across, barely avoiding detection by a scanning laser which begins searching the area after her chameleon cloak briefly contacts the EM barrier. Proceeding 5km past the fence to the crater rim, Sandy locates the communications truck with 10-meter mast and mines it with 8 shaped charges set for remote detonation, then takes up position to interdict OIA troops at h-hour (now 2 hours away).

30 minutes prior to h-hour, the Sphere Team begins their descent from orbit on a Crater Base approach vector. The shuttle is co-piloted by an Alpha Fork of Mr. Thursday. Agent123 straps into his orbital re-entry suit and prepares for drop.

10 minutes prior to h-hour, the barsoomian rebels and jihadist fighers launch over and into the Exclusion Zone near the crater rim using rocket-accelerated transsonic pods, artillery style. Five minutes ballistic travel time puts the rebel fighers on site at 5 minutes to h-hour.

5 minutes prior to h-hour:

  1. Agent 123 launches from the re-entering shuttle and meteors toward the Crater Base in an arc of flame.
  2. The shuttle is now in terminal re-entry mode and breaking hard for a hover near the Sphere Lab Dome at the center of the crater.
  3. Activating the new laser comlink to contact the satellite from planetside, Jak fails to overcome the VPN security, but burns a moxy point and makes it in anyway. Then in two amazing rolls, the brainy feline hacker defeats the satellite firewall (crit success) and dances past the AI monitor (2nd crit success) to gain HIDDEN/ADMIN access to the satellite systems. The team tactical VPN is linked into the satellite feed, while OIA is now locked out.
  4. Dave takes out the 5km perimeter fence with EMP grenades and begins moving for the crater at top speed.
  5. Sandy blows the communications truck and tower successfully.
  6. Scores of Barsoomian rebels and jihadist fighters, along with Stan, leap from their smoking artillery transport pods and begin taking out K9 Dog Drones, Synthmorph K9 Troopers, and most importantly arriving TIAS transports.

H-HOUR

  1. Agent23 guides his re-entry suit toward a just-airborne TIAS transport from the OIA reaction force and manages to pass close by. Making an amazing shot with his spindle climber, Agent23 begins reeling himself in toward the accelerating transport only to be caught and tossed about in the jetwash from the underwing turbines. Agent23 reaches the back of the transport just as the occupants realize what is happening and dispatch a solder to the attached BattleSuit. Agent23 shoots out the right turbine engine, causing an explosion of composite fan blades and sending the transport into a spiraling death spin toward the ground a few hundred meters below. Agent23 is violently thrown from the cartwheeling transport and barely manages to activate his drag/descent chute before impact. As he gently descends the last 100 meters to mars, the now detached BattleSuit slams into the ground below and flies apart. The spinning TIAS transport plows a 200 meter flaming trench of destruction through the martian sands. Agent23 quickly climbs out of his charred re-entry suit and begins running for the Crater Base rim 5km distant. That’s gonna make one heluva XP movie.
  2. The rebels and jihadists + Stan are now heading for the Crater Base rim, taking out additional TIAS transports and a squad of OIA soldiers.
  3. Sandy begins taking out Base security personnel, soldiers and other high-value targets as they emerge from barracks into the martian night.
  4. Having sprinted 5 klicks through the chaos and carnage around the crater, Dave reaches the rim and sights in her Railgun Sniper Rifle on the Sphere Lab Dome and entry passage.

Two minutes later the Gorgon Arms shuttle comes in hot on a column of flaming plasma, thrust braking directly over the 2km crater into a hover position only 20 meters above and beside the Sphere Lab Dome. Agent Marbles swallows a dose of Drive and begins transmission of a realtime video/voice/data log to Firewall using a Portal QE Comm and backpack-mounted Low-Capacity Qubit Reservoir, then quick-ropes down from the shuttle beside Mr.Thursday’s heavily armed and armored Conquistador ‘Air Force Variant’ synthmorph. Mr. Thursday moves to the pressurized passage connecting the surrounding crater base ring structure and Sphere Lab Dome, then cuts a hole into the passage using his structural demolition attachment (30 seconds). Marbles unwisely rushes through the opening first, eager to reach the Sphere, and finds the 1-meter thick sphere dome entry door is wide open. Just as he turns to run down the passage, two Project Ozma Special Agents appear in the opening. While Marbles fumbles with the safety on his Shredder, Mr. Thursday steps through the gap, turns and downs one of the agents with two shots from his particle beam bolter while Dave blows the other one away with a 1500 meter RAP shot through the passage wall (tacnet entoptic painted over the target).

  • Project Ozma Special Agent (What the hell are Project Ozma Special Agents doing here? Not good.)

Jeremyloveavengersconcepts5

Marbles uses the Unconscious Lead psi-sleight and races down the passage into the dome chamber beyond. Seeing a catwalk to the 3-meter Sphere, Marbles races along the periphery and then down the catwalk. Mr. Thursday notices Dr. Ulstadt attempting to hide behind the Sphere earthquake-shock supports and moves to retrieve him. Marbles then removes his armor glove and touches the Sphere, using ‘Grok’ successfully (< COG35*2). That’s when things get weird.

From the Sphere radiates a wave of anti-energy/anti-electrical force which puts out the lights and disables all powered equipment in its path. I’m not sure if Marbles’ Portal QE Comm continues to stream data to Firewall or not, we’ll have to check on that. After apprehending Dr. Ulstadt, Mr. Thursday realizes the null energy field wave will devastate his synthmorph and flees the Sphere room while broadcasting the danger to his teammates. Meanwhile the sorely wounded Ozma Special Agent previously shot by Mr. Thursday regains consciousness and attempts to call in reinforcements. Dr. Ulstadt climbs a ladder to the catwalk and runs for the Lab Dome door. Marbles turns and runs from the Sphere.

At this point the Sphere emits a beam of pure disassociative energy which effortlessly lances through the 2-meter thick Dome, then begins oscillating wildly about to quickly slice the dome into sections. Marbles is the last out the door…just as he reaches the opening, a psychic sub-susurrous impinges itself upon the async’s consciousness, inviting a look backwards. Succumbing to the message, Marbles looks back to see the Sphere replaced by a glowing womb of light, within which floats the macabre fetal-form of IVORSSEN-NEBT-HET-INTEGRATION. Dr. Ulstadt is beyond terror and runs right into Mr. Thursday and Agent 23, who had just arrived at the Sphere Lab Dome along with the OIA reinforcements called in by the Ozma Special Agent.

The Sphere team must dodge a wall of automatic weapon fire as they run the gauntlet through the depressurized access hall, out the ragged gap and back toward the shuttle. Dave fires a seeker minigrenade at OIA troops entering the hall from the surrounding facility. The resulting thermobaric explosion flattens them. The shuttle, piloted by Mr. Thursday’s primary biomorph and assisted by an alpha fork replacing the shuttle’s AI, dodges for survival as the deadly beam of annihilating energy spins wildly outward from the IVORSSEN-WOMB floating up from the center of the collapsed Lab Dome. Marbles and Mr. Thursday, with the crazed/gibbering Dr. Ulstadt in tow, reel up into the open cargo bay door of the gyrating shuttle, followed by Agent23.

Several OIA Special Forces teams have brought portable missiles to the roof of the surrounding structures and launch a wave of seekers toward the shuttle and the IVORSSEN-NEBT-HET apparition.

  • Olympus Infrastructure Authority Special Forces Soldier

Hellenic by sttheo

As the team straps in for acceleration, IVORSSEN-NEBT-HET emerges from the Sphere of light to annihilate the OIA missiles with a blaze of other-worldly energy, then takes up a gigantic hammer of light from the glowing Sphere and strikes all about the demolished Dome, flattening structures and OIA special forces troops all at once. IVORSSEN-NEBT-HET descends a bizarre staircase of scintillating terrain that forms just under his feet, reaches the martian surface, then peels off NEBT-HET to reveal an exposed brain and face frozen in a rictus of unknowable emotion. The Nebt-Het falls to the ground and Firewall Sentinel Asa Ivorsson staggers forth, regenerated and apparently physically intact. The ship delays for a moment longer while Marbles ropes down and retrieves the Nebt-Het. Asa and Marbles are hauled back up the spindle line into the shuttle. Dave is picked up from the rim of the crater which is now in the hands of the Barsoomians and Nomad Jihadis. Mr. Thursday rockets the shuttle away toward Noctis at max acceleration and minimum altitude.

During this time Stan and Sandy battle OIA troops and special forces above the crater. Sandy sacrifices her morph to destroy the last operational enemy BattleSuit. Her ego survives intact thanks to an Emergency Quantum Farcaster. Stan survives the melee and is picked up by the fleeing shuttle. See the Session 25 log for complete details.

Jak is a safe distance from the action at the crater, but close enough to see the beams of pure energy spiral up into the martian night sky. The shuttle briefly stops to pick up Jak on the way to Noctis.

  • Mission Outcome

Nebt-Het retrieved. Karl Ulstadt captured (morph intact).

  • Additional Results

The original Asa Ivorssen, lost here months ago in the Antimatter Event is now safely aboard the shuttle. The effects of extended Nebt-Het assimilation on Asa’s mind are unclear at this time. The Asa created from Firewall backup after the Antimatter Event is living a new life, retired from active Sentinel duty and undergoing extensive psychotherapy. It is doubtful if these two personalities can or even should be re-integrated.

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Session 23: Netsahk and the Inner Sanctum - Conclusion

The team concludes investigation of the last artifact by invitation of Netsahk.

  • ‘Pyramid’: emits a powerful healing field affecting all in the presence of the artifact. Heals and energizes life and soil by routing lifeforce from another dimension, actually creating a form of microbial life in the process. Long term exposure to the ‘Pyramid’ affects a wide physical area and accelerates genetic evolution.

The team ends with a vigorous debate around whether the Church is capable of protecting these artifacts from those that would attempt to misuse them, and whether Firewall should assist in recovering the missing artifacts, both known and unknown, and return them to Netsahk for safekeeping. The consensus seems to be that there is no better protection for these artifacts than the Church.

At this point the team debates which artifact to pursue first. The ‘Father of Tools’ is known to be floating in space where the firewall shuttle was destroyed somewhere off the Coventry Colony at Mars Phobos Lagrange point 2. Inquiry with Netsahk reveals that the artifacts produce no signature that could be detected from the vast distances required. By this time the ‘Father of Tools’ could be anywhere within a gigantic area of space. It is also possible that the artifact was already recovered by the Planetary Consortium or Trancom (research needed).

The ‘Nebt-Het’ helmet/headwear/asa-assimilator is thought to be enclosed within a 3-meter diameter black impenetrable sphere at the bottom of the new crater near the Quarantine Zone on Mars. The team decides to go after this artifact first, though we have no clear idea how to penetrate the sphere other than use various psi-sleights on it and hope the artifact inside responds. As a secondary objective we will capture any scientists found (or at least their cortical stacks).

The team works on the details of a raid to be conducted on the new temporary research facility that has been constructed by the Martian government at the crater. Research by the team over a period of several weeks reveals a lot of details about the new research base, including details about the chief scientist assigned to the project (Karl Ullstad) and his team’s cautious and thus far unsuccessful attempts to open the ‘Sphere’. The research information and raid plan is documented here.

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Session 22: Netsahk and the Inner Sanctum

MISSION LOG:

  1. Sandy (Team Lead / Agent of Kemetic Orthodoxy) Player:Yishai
  2. Mr. Thursday (Security Team / Pilot) Player:Brian
  3. Agent23 (Security Team / Infiltration) Player:Alex
  4. Marbles (Asynch / Secondary Hacker) Player:Will
  5. Stan (Wheeling and Dealing) Player:Kelley
  6. Jak (Primary Hacker) Player:Bree
  • Mission Summary

The team returns from their first meeting with the representatives of Kemetic Orthodoxy. Sandy gathers the team for a virtual meeting from across their various hideouts. The team rates the Church of Kemetic Orthodoxy on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest threat to transhumanity. The team returns these ratings, which are possibly more an indication of personality and propensity for religious thought than anything else: Sandy:1; Marbles:4; Mr. Thursday:6; Stan:2; Jak:5; Agent23:9; for a total average rating of 4.

Accompanied by the team except Marbles who monitors from afar, Stan proceeds to the arranged meeting with Netsahk, the ancient non-human and possibly alien elder of the Church. Prior to the meeting Marbles gives Stan a goodbye handshake, taking the opportunity to implant a subliminal suggestion. Netsahk proves to be a superhuman intelligence who among other feats empathizes with Jak’s true personality and offers assistance. Stan plays it cool and a further dinner meeting is arranged.

Marbles arrives for the dinner that evening. Now the entire team is present. Discussion soon focuses on the ancient pre-human artifacts treasured and guarded by the Church for millenia. Marbles reveals that the ‘Father of Tools’ was lost along with the destroyed private shuttle off the Coventry Colony at Mars Phobos Lagrange point 2 (see Session 12-13:Coventry), and the ‘Nebt-het’ is probably inside a black impenetrable sphere at the bottom of a new crater near the Quarantine Zone on Mars ( see Session 17 INTERLUDE: Spiderbot Resolution). Impressed with this information, Netsahk agrees to grant the team a viewing of the ancient artifacts currenly in possession of the Church.

The ark of the artifacts and the seven priests: Marbles is granted permission to ‘Grok’ the artifacts. Ultimately Marbles suffers great strain and a few psychosomatic wounds, but is able to make it through 2 of the 3 artifacts, revealing something of their nature and original purpose. The artifacts are revealed and groked in turn:

  1. ‘Bracer’: a potent defensive weapon used by Church leaders across the ages. Negates electrical fields. For inexplicable reasons, certain persons through history have proven immune to the bracers power.
  2. ‘Gorget’: grants understanding and control of any device (auto 80 skill); 2) provides instinctive knowledge to lead, control and administrate pre-fall civilizations.
  3. ‘Pyramid’: {pending)

Not present but details provided by Netsahk:

  1. ‘Father of Tools’: bestows the gift of toolmaking to pre-fall intelligent minds.
  2. ‘Nebt-Het’: a helmet-shaped artifact converting the user to Kemetic Orthodoxy and providing a deep knowledge of the faith.

The team ends with Marbles about to ‘grok’ the Pyramid artifact…

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Session 21: Inside the Church of Kemetic Orthodoxy
The workings of one of mankinds last remaining religions

The Team advance through the entire Kemetic Orthodoxy facility, finding only good people and the last remnants of ancient African traditions. Oh, and a few Asyncs and a hyperintelligent demiurge neoprophet who inexplicably falls for Stan’s bullshit despite intelligence beyond human understanding.

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Session 20: Journey to Venus
Acclimatization in Orbit

The Team Journeys by the Transport ship to the orbital colony of Gerlach at Venus. After a period of acclimatization to 90% Earth gravity, the team boards a trans-orbital shuttle bound for Octavia, the capitol aerostat of Venus and home of the Neo-Synergists of the Morningstar Constellation. After a brief series of arrangements, the Team arranges for an intra-atmospheric jet to the Planetary Consortium aerostat of Etemenanki to embark on a private tour of the Church facilities there.

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