#Morningstar 9: MRS-1
* At the Call to Order the Enforcers were asked to open the way to the Jungle for the Keepers. They have laid the groundwork by bribing “Lucky” Ivan with an apartment in New Hold, and are waiting to begin the actual expedition.
* There are several minor problems around the City: a gang of anti-bot fanatics called “Humanity First” is promising violence, and someone is opening Sleeper pods in the Dark Decks, but not harming or waking the Sleepers.
* The Puppeteers plan to solve the problem of counterfeit ration books with a new currency. The Keepers have been lobbying them to try and ensure everyone’s needs are taken care of.
* 101010 of the Maintenance Collective has led an expedition into the Dark Decks to try and uncover the mystery of Mobile Radiation Source-1. They encountered and drove off a swarm of cobbled-together scav-bots. One of them was root-kitted to join the Collective as KLG-001, an undesignated general maintenance unit.
The MC consults the memories of INC-07 and learn that the last fleet (as it became known), the one the elite were in contact with just before they lost the war, had been quarantined after it was infected with a biological weapon. It is unclear whether any human crew ere still alive, or whether it was being run by AIs, or even the nature of the biological weapon itself.
Enforcer patrols report further problems in the City. The Provisional Government seems to be having a water imbalance, and there is a suggestion that someone has got wind of the proposed currency change and is hoarding in expectation of a price rise. Meanwhile, a notorious stick-up artist known as Big Ramo is robbing Throng dealers.
In the dark decks, the expedition takes stock of its situation and questions KLG-001. Unfortunately, it doesn’t remember anything, having been overwritten by the reboot kit. It does have a disturbing habit of collecting scrap and eyeing other bots up as a source of spare parts. After it exhausts its power reserves trying to build a second radiation scanner, it plugs in for a recharge, and 101010 orders it to return to the City when it is done.
The expedition continues, led on by Foo’s rad-scanner. Eventually they reach the upmost deck, and come to the conclusion that the source of the radiation beam must be “above’ them, somewhere outside. Finding a maintenance airlock, they emerge onto the inner skin of the spin habitat, and spot a large turret-like apparatus several kilometers away across the curve of the habitat. Foo’s radiation sensor spikes as it turns towards them…
The group scatters. While 101010, Foo, and the MC attack drones make their way towards the turret, Brother Signal stays put and studies it. It appears to be some sort of heavy-duty maintenance scanner, though there’s some damage to the focal array. There’s an obvious power conduit, which suggests how it could be deactivated, and it can obviously be used as a weapon. In fact, that’s what its being used as now. The Keepers are forced to scatter even further to evade the beam, but a few catch a few rads.
Meanwhile Foo has approached unobserved and is working out the best way to disable the device. Standard system architecture means there will be a switchboard on the other end of that power conduit, somewhere where it can all be taken offline for maintenance. Unfortunately there’s a door in the way. Fortunately, 101010 has an experimental energy projector. The resulting blast is very impressive. But there’s an immediate priority maintenance call with a security protocol, resulting in nearby maintenance bots being re-tasked to defend the facility. Foo manages to talk its way past the first defender to emerge from the turret, and dashes inside. A quick drop down a shaft, and it is sitting in front of the switchboard. Foo immediately rams the shutoff, plunging the entire facility into darkness. But as it turns, it sees a pair of maintenance bots floating towards it, welders and rivet-guns taking aim.
Foo turns and flees, and dashes for the exit, taking a bad cut across its flank in the process. The maintenance bots give chase. Foo leads them straight into a fusillade of fire from the MC security drones, and leaves them to the fight. Meanwhile, there is a colossal explosion outside as 101010 eliminates the external defender, a substantial chunk of hull, and part of the turret. He also takes the brunt of the backblast, taking significant damage.
As the battle rages, Brother Signal finally makes it to the turret, and interfaces with an external network node. He uses this to convince the system that they are an emergency maintenance crew, resulting in a stand-down order to the remaining defenders. Hostilities successfully ended, he examines the turret and listens to the last residual echoes of its shut down control system, receiving memories of long ago. There was an emergency order. Sleeper Hold 01-alpha was a priority target. It had to channel all its power to get one good shot to prevent escape. Its focal array damaged, its weakened beam drifted aimlessly…
The Keepers confer. While they haven’t visited Sleeper Hold 01-alpha, they know who was in it: the top members of the Elite. If the weapon worked, then they were all cooked in their pods instantly. Long-term exposure will have killed anyone still in pods in the wandering beam’s area – and could kill anyone the beam is turned on if it is reactivated. The Keepers decide that this is too dangerous to leave lying around, and so work with the MC to dismantle it. Once that is done, they return to the City.
A week later, Commissioner Mars meets with 101010 to discuss the “Humanity First” problem. Humanity First seem to be inspired by a Throng entertainer called Eclipse, who unfortunately hasn’t done anything illegal themselves. While the Enforcers could go in heavy against them, Mars thinks there’s a better way: craft a better story than theirs. He gives a great speech about the need to give people hope, for humanity to forge its own destiny, find its own homeworld, and not be prisoners anymore. The way to do that, he suggests, is by finding the Astrogation arrays – something the MC can do from the Bridge. Then they can plot a course to wards a world of their own choosing. While initially puzzled, 101010 agrees and heads for the bridge to pinpoint the location.
Meanwhile the Keepers approach the Provisional Government with a naked bribe: anagathic treatment in the hospital for their senior staff, in exchange for the Chief Programmer debugging the hospital AIs. The Keepers get the Throng to vouch for them, and the deal is sealed.
Commissioner Mars tries to track down Eclipse by talkign to snitches, but becomes a target for a Humanity First gang. He defuses their rather clumsy attempts at intimidation, but finds himself followed and watched everywhere. When Mars attempts to talk some of them round, they react with hostility. Clearly the anti-bot movement aren’t buying his message.
Brother Signal meets with their Puppeteer contact to get an update on progress on the new currency. Things seem to be going well, and the Puppeteers have agreed to a universal allowance system to ensure basic needs are met, but there will inevitably be some disruption as relative prices adjust and the market shakes itself out. The PG’s water problem is mentioned as an example, and hoarding is suggested, but the Keepers have better intel: given the quantities and where it is disappearing from the system (and therefore where it might be going), there’s only one explanation. The water isn’t been hoarded for economic gain, but as reaction mass. Someone has a dropship and is planning a trip – without telling anyone else.
So, they solved one problem, only to create a big new one. Humanity First looks like its going to escalate into a front, and I’ll have to work out what someone is doing with that reaction mass. Fortunately I already have a few ideas…