#MorningStar episode 14: Contingencies

#MorningStar episode 14: Contingencies

#MorningStar episode 14: Contingencies

The situation

* The Keepers have discovered that some members of the Elite escaped from Hold-01-Alpha, and have been secretly living in the City for generations. Shira Kuri, Earth’s under-Minister for Logistics is one of them, and her son is now a high-ranking Puppeteer banker.

* PI Nika Marsova has been investigating the disappearance of virologist Dr Jane el-Omar, and has stumbled into what seems to be a Humanity First plot to force her to develop a bioweapon.

* The Keepers have discovered the location of a secure terminal in the Core which can be used to control Contingency systems.

The MC consult the mind of INC-07 and learn that the Morning Star originally had a second scoutship, which was launched around the time of the Awakening.

The Enforcers have learned that a gang has been kidnapping high-ranking Puppeteers and holding them for ransom. They’ve also noticed recreational medical supplies turning up on the street, still in their hospital packaging, suggesting they are being stolen from the Hospital.

The Keepers try and arrange a joint expedition to the Core and Engineering with the MC, but learn that Commander Akryll has already set out. Instead, they end up promising that the MC can accompany them on their expedition to find the Contingency system.

The Keepers use Subterfuge to blame the new supply of drugs on the Throng. They’ve done some analysis, and decided that it is better for public health to simply supply them directly with pure, known product rather than risk whatever their backstreet chemists come up with. The Throng leadership knows, but seems happy with the arrangement: everyone is making money, everyone is getting high, and they end up indebted to the Keepers for it.

Zoom in:

Akryll and a team of Listener bots head for engineering. While searching for an elevator in the dark decks they stumble across a deactivated robot factory, which could be utilised to construct more bots for the MC. lacking time for a full analysis, they mark it for future exploitation and move on. At the elevator, all seems well – but just after the doors hiss shut one of the Listeners detects an energy surge of something charging, and notices the tell-tale grid marks in the wall and floor of a power grid: the entire elevator is about to go live! Akryll tries shutting it down in software, but realises it will take too long, so commands the Listeners to try and deactivate it. They take to the walls with their laser cutters, desperately trying to find the power conduits and capacitors, and manage to prevent the trap from discharging. But the elevator is badly damaged. At the top, they find a cable car mechanism which takes them along the Core to the rear engineering section. It deposits them, then disappears back into the darkness.

It does not take them long to find the main reactor – all they have to do is follow the flashing radiation warning signs. The reactor control room is sealed by a thick, armoured door, and it is clear that something has gone horribly wrong. Akryll, being insubstantial, leaves his bots outside and walks in. It looks like there has been a containment failure and the entire control area is irradiated. While the Listeners can probably handle it, it is likely to be worse further in. Akryll tries to pull the ship’s systems together enough to activate the local expert system, but fails. It is clear that he will need a full engineering crew to sort this out. He calls back to the MC to summon one, then settles in to wait…

Meanwhile, in her office, Nika Marsova is reviewing video footage, trying to pinpoint when Dr el-Omar went missing. She’s narrowed it down to a two-hour window, when two large men wearing the loose, flowing robes of Humanity First members walk in. They’ve heard of her investigation and want her to drop it. Dr el-Omar is doing important work for which she is being well compensated, and will be reunited with her family in due course once it is complete. Marsova draws the obvious conclusion: these two know where she is, and hits them with the tranq gun under her desk. They wake up in an Enforcer cell, where Marsova and her former partner Viktor can have a little chat with them.

Viktor runs their biometrics, and tags one of them as Ahmed Nasiba, a mid-ranking HF lieutenant. They talk to him first. He repeats the same story: Dr el-Omar is unharmed, and doing important work at a “confidential” facility. He offers to compensate the pair of them for their trouble, but also queries if their hearts are in the right place. They dance around a little, talking about Dr el-Omar’s work as a virologist, the danger of diseases jumping species, and what they could do to reassure her son that she is alright, but get nowhere. Nasiba is not going to take them to her, and they are not going to accept a bribe and let him go. While they’re working out what to do next and letting Nasiba stew, Viktor notices a new crime cross the Enforcers’ feed: apparently a Crew Ensign has been kidnapped in the City, sedated and dragged off the street by HF thugs. Marsova considers releasing Nasiba and his bodyguard in the hope they will lead her to el-Omar…

Brother Will, a group of Keeper hackers, an Enforcer engineer named Yuri, and a seconded MC Colony Defence droid called PAT-7 (a hulking, armoured caterpiller tracked monster with dual auto-targetting lasers) set out for the core to find the Contingency terminal. Their search for an elevator leads them astray in the dark decks, and they are ambushed by Gollums – the grey-skinned, ultrastrong feral supersoldiers who escaped from a lab generations ago. The first they know of the ambush is when they are swarmed, but PAT-7 deals with it, efficiently mowing down Gollums. While his IFF system prevents direct friendly-fire incidents, he punctures a live steam pipe behind Will and Yuri, burning the pair of them. As the surviving Gollums flee into the dark, leaving a few dead on the deck, PAT-7 twirls his lasers and says “targets neutralised”. The area is well outside Gollum territory, but it seems they have moved or expanded recently, which does not bode well for the future.

The expedition finds a heavily damaged elevator, its interior scarred by laser cutters, and heads for the Core. The elevator gives up the ghost a few hundred metres short, and they have to climb the rest of the way in low-G, but they make it. They spend what seems like an eternity wandering the Core, tracing network traffic with Brother Will’s digital sensors, before they find it: a large, armoured door labelled “Contingency Operations”, guarded by floating shipboard security drones – some of the few still operational.

Brother Will finds a nearby terminal and whips up some credentials which will allow them to fool Shipboard Security, at least if they don’t do anything overt. But apparently Contingency Ops protocol requires them to have a security droid escorting them at all times, which means they will be observed. Fortunately Yuri manages to key the door with a breaker-key unobserved, which gets them in without alerting security. The door thunks closed and locks itself behind them.

Inside there is a series of terminals, a display screen, and a biometricly-locked safe. Their Shipboard Security escort takes up a position in a corner of the room, and scans everyone. PAT-7 parks himself opposite, and gives the drone something to scan, acting as a distraction. Brother Will goes to the safe, and surreptitiously opens it with a cloned Crew thumb he produces from a pocket (he came prepared, with the right tool for the job). Inside are a series of files on the contingency options, with activation triggers and deactivation codes, as well as a physical key for system authorisation. He inserts the key into the terminal, and the hackers set to work. They crack the system under the eyes of Shipboard Security, and pull up a list of active and inactive contingency modes. The system is currently in automatic mode, meaning the expert systems will trigger as required. Contingencies waiting to be triggered include Wake (which wakes all cargo), Purge (which ejects all cargo), Recall (which changes navigation parameters), Abort (which triggers a relativistic dive into the nearest star), and Failsafe (which shuts down the main reactor, then detonates a series of bombs along the core and spokes, blowing the ship apart and scattering its components). Some have already activated: FlightEmergency (a damage control system), Containment (various processes to limit the cargo in event of escape), Revive (wakes crew – marked as ERROR), Escape (evacuates surviving crew), and Rescue. the latter was added in-flight, shortly before the Awakening, and its code is different from the rest, bearing the characteristic style of a human AI rather than the alien programmers. Using the control codes from the files, Brother Will and the hackers put the system into safe mode, preventing contingencies from activating. They then start deleting anything which looks dangerous. They adjust the security system parameters, convincing the security drone they can be left alone, then start with the real work: installing a lockdown suite, a device which will remove the system from the ship network and add it to the Keeper’s holy network. But when they try to use it, it triggers an alarm. The contingency security system activates, invades the Keeper network, and reaches out to the Holy Terminal. At the same time, it floods the local digital network with new Code. PAT-7 drops his connection to the MC just before he is overwhelmed. As Brother Will looks up, he seems PAT-7’s lasers swivelling towards him…

So, the human waste is hitting the air circulation device. Who knows what will happen next?

#MorningStar episode 13: Shadows

#MorningStar episode 13: Shadows

#MorningStar episode 13: Shadows

The new age

* The Maintenance Collective now includes some resurrected and Echo crew. The crew have reprogrammed and taken greater control over them. They are currently led by Captain Womas, and represented by Commander Akroll, an Echo of a crew member.

* The Blackout reminded the Keepers of their true calling to protect the Awakened. They are still led by Sister Mercy (old now, and in a walking frame), and represented by Brother Will, a visionary engineer.

* The Enforcers don’t know who they should be working for anymore. Some want to serve the crew and shipboard authority structures, and some want to protect humanity. The result is a growing schism an corruption within the force. Their Commissioner is the almost irrelevant Kovsky, but they are represented by Nika Masova, a PI.

The situation

* 30 years has passed. The Puppeteers’ new economy has taken hold, and while the Keepers’ welfare system eases the worst, there are now significant disparities of wealth and living standards in the City, with a clear division between an elite and an underclass. But control of Life Support has allowed more resources to be directed to the farms, and there are even suggestions of waking up more Sleepers as the ecosystem can support them now.

* There has been a push for more localised systems, maintained by humans, both as protection against another Blackout, and due to distrust of the MC. The Left Bank Power Collective is the strongest advocate of this.

* The MC’s absorbtion by the Crew and its abandoning the City during the Blackout has caused a great deal of distrust, and there is unease about where the ship is going and who is directing it now. A public backlash has seen the return of Humanity First and their establishment as a permanent political force among the underclass.

* The Keepers have kept everyone alive and healthy. While tensions with the Throng have eased, the faction still holds a grudge.

* The Enforcers have buried the hatchet with the Throng, but are now kept busier than ever by inequality-driven crime.

* The Provisional Government has stayed at arm’s length, and been wary of the MC since the awakening of the Crew. They have maintained a traditional economy in their enclave, eschewing internal use of the Star, and there has been some immigration from the City as a result.

* Control of the currency and the economy has given the Puppeteers unprecedented wealth. They’ve grown fat, and the upper echelon have moved into banking.

The growth of an underclass has seen business boom for the Throng, as people need more distractions. But they have also branched out, and built Yang’s Pleasure Palace in the Bazaar next to the crater.

The MC check astrogation, and declare it is decades until worldfall. They also consult the memories of INC-07 and reveal that the ship was originally travelling a lot faster and has slowed significantly since the Awakening.

The Enforcers have heard that there is a group developing a bioweapon targeting the resurrected Crew. They have also heard that Humanity First are planning a raid on the Puppeteers’ loader bots in order to destroy them.

The factions assemble for the usual Call to Order.

* The Enforcers are concerned about how much hidden deathtrap code there still is in the ship’s systems, and want the Keepers to go through the software and scrub it all out. The Keepers agree.

* The Keepers want the Puppeteers to train them some artisans, in the process turning some of the teeming underclass into useful citizens. This would effectively require funding a school. The Puppeteers agree to this.

* The MC is concerned that too many rogue groups of “Cargo” (as they call people now) are roaming around and vandalising the ship and would like the Enforcers to sweep them up. This causes an argument, as the MC blames the scavs for the Blackout, a theory the other families reject. The Puppeteers claim their licenced scavs do not interfere with vital systems. The MC agrees that some form of licensing is acceptable, and the Enforcers agree to enforce it, though it is not clear how committed they are.

* The Progressive Government wants to ensure another Blackout can not happen again, and asks the MC to activate the main reactor. They agree.

After the meeting, Ambassador Sallagara of the PG approach the Keepers on a sensitive matter. They have a long-term research project around identifying certain people who may have been put in the wrong Sleeper pods, and they would like the Keepers’ help with it. Specifically, they think some of those registered as being in Hold-01-Alpha (which was irradiated by MRS-1 during the Awakening) may have been swapped and still be out there and/or been awakened. They couldn’t raise this at the Call to Order as they are not sure who can be trusted. The Keepers think this is an important project and are willing to help. They approach the MC for assistance, calling it a “cargo stocktake” and arguing that a census of the Sleepers would allow them to determine how many pods could be re-used. The MC agree to help for Treaty.

The Enforcers send a few patrols out into the dark decks, round up a few scavs, and “discover” that they have licences.

The Keepers reveal research: they know of a secure terminal in the ship’s core section that can be used to control Contingency systems. They plan to visit it on any mission to engineering to scrub the ship’s code.

Zoom in:

Brother Will, Commander Akroll, plus some pod-techs and Listener data-miners travel to Hold-01-Alpha. The hold is protected by a giant, armoured door, which is currently in failsafe mode as its circuits have been fried by the gamma-ray blast. Brother Will interfaces with it using Brother Signal’s relic, and determines that it needs a hardware key. One is printed off, and they gain entry. Inside, it is quiet as a tomb. The sensitive control systems of the pods have all been scrambled, so even if their inhabitants had survived the gamma radiation, they would have died later due to systems failure. Most of the pods contain mummified corpses, but curiously some contain only ash. The pod-techs set to work taking DNA samples from the corpses and comparing them with the cargo manifest, and learn that about a dozen of the Elite are unaccounted for. When they compare their recorded DNA with their records from the hospital, they get some hits: over the years they have treated two direct children of Shira Kuri, Earth’s under-Minister for Logistics. One of them is Rupesh Kuri, an ambitious, high-ranking banker within the Puppeteers. The Elite are on the ship, and doing who knows what behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, Marsova has a missing persons case: Dr Jane el-Omar, a virologist, has gone missing, and has simply dropped off the grid about a week ago. She works the streets, and ends up talking to one of el-Omar’s acquiatances, Dr Heiko, who seems afraid: dr el-Omar had been approached by people to do some work – there is a strong hint that it was Humanity First – and Dr Heiko suspects they have either killed her to prevent her from talking, or kidnapped her to force her to do the work. They may be threatening to harm her son – Marsova’s client – as leverage. Marsova promises “if she’s alive, I’ll do my best to find her”.

#MorningStar 12: An unexpected alliance

#MorningStar 12: An unexpected alliance

#MorningStar 12: An unexpected alliance

The situation:

* The Throng are planning to march to the hospital to protest against the Keepers, and some former Humanity First thugs seem to be planning something violent around it.

* An expedition led by 101010 and Brother Signal has found the Astrogation Arrays and reactivated its power supply, but the area is still infested with alien “rootkitters”.

* The expedition has discovered that the Morning Star has been in flight for over 750 years, and was redirected towards Andromeda around the time of the Awakening.

* The Keepers have hacked and subverted a network of Bots in the forward section, which were working for an expert system tagged “Contingency/Escape”. They seem to have been modifying a scoutship for interstellar travel with a very small cargo.

* An attempt to redirect power by this Bot network led to power being briefly cut to the City and districts being plunged into darkness. It is unclear what has happened as a result of this.

The Maintenance Collective consults the memories of INC-07 and learns that near the close of the War, humanity made first contact with a technologically advanced, non-hostile species which called themselves the “Travellers”.

The Enforcers have learned that high-ranking medical researchers from the Keepers have been going missing. They have also learned that a group of human tinkerers have been agitating to gain a basic maintenance contact in old Town.

Zoom In:

Up in astrogation, the Keepers command their new, mismatched bot-army to set a cordon around the shuttle-bay launch control room. They have the situation under control (they think), so just want to keep an eye on things while they disable the scout ship and work out what to do about Contingency/Escape. After a short period of time, a single bot carrying something rolls out, accompanied by a pair of hologram Echoes, and tries to head off into the dark decks. The Keepers task a group of former Listener bots to shadow them. The escape party heads for the Core, and then to an elevator heading for the spin habitat, which raises the spectre of the “rootkitters” being able to follow them. The surveillance team locks everything down, and gets some images of what the bot is carrying: a hunk of memory core. The minds of the crew?

Meanwhile, 101010 consults the Ship’s records about Contingency/Escape, and learns that it is a hegemonizing expert system with administrative privileges, with the purpose of ensuring crew survival in the event of a crisis. The current crisis is well beyond anything its programmers likely imagined, so it will be well outside its comfort zone and likely improvising heavily. 101010 decides that a direct approach is best, and arranges for the MC to send Lt Elijah to confront it. They time things perfectly, and Elijah is there to greet them, in his officer’s uniform, when they exit the elevator.

Negotiations ensue. The presence of a living crew member capable of giving orders and apparently in control of the bridge undermines Contingency/Escape’s purpose. Is escape even necessary? The Echoes – dead officers living in the memory core and projecting themselves as holgrams – want to be resurrected, something the MC readily agrees to do for those with DNA samples. They also want to be protected from “The Cargo” (as they call humanity). The MC agrees to this too. Its purpose redundant, Contingency/Escape goes dormant. Meanwhile, the MC is going to have to talk to the Crew about The Mission…

The Keepers set their bot army to wage an extermination campaign against the rootkitters, with the assistance of the Listener bots and the MC’s maintenance swarm. It will take time, and their eggs keep turning up in unusual places, but astrogration is made secure.

Meanwhile, back in the City, the Blackout has had a profound effect. It is the first major power loss since the dark days immediately following the Awakening, and the population is in panic. The Keepers follow the Holy Emergency Protocol and step in to protect people, directing them to shelters and distributing emergency supplies in anticipation of a major life support failure. The Enforcers begin negotiations with the Progressive Government (who have a safe haven around Life Support) and start trying to identify other safe locations in case a full evacuation is needed. The MC, on the other hand, withdraw to their powered areas, abandoning humanity in the dark. When the lights and air circulators come back on (after a long, long hour), the Keepers are praised as heroes by many, while the MC are viewed with suspicion.

The Puppeteers move swiftly. Arguing that vital systems need to be taken into their control for better management, they buy the Enforcers’ investment in Life Support in exchange for repairs to HQ (which still bears the scars of the bombing decades ago). They then cut a secret deal with the MC, trading power for schematics and spares, enabling them to step in should anything happen. Nothing has – yet – but they will be ready to move when it does.

The Throng protest march happens, but is somewhat subdued due to the goodwill the Keepers gained during the Blackout, and the Enforcers are able to keep order (but the Keepers end up owing them for it). The experience of feeling under siege unifies the Keepers somewhat.

The Scavs and Porters form a union, and wage a long strike in an effort to win better conditions from the Puppeteers, until the MC steps in to solve it with bot labour, helping the Puppeteers, but making more enemies among the poor and downtrodden.

The MC invests heavily in Astrogation, gaining control (to go with their control of the Bridge). As the Age turns, the Keepers use their researchers at the Hospital to synthesise a plague to target the rootkitters, hopefully removing them as a threat forever.

And that was the Age. It had been a month since the last session, so there was a bit of a lack of momentum, but I think we started to get some back when we started talking about what would happen in the next Age, and people’s plans for their next characters. I’ll put that in the next session, but I’m liking the direction things are heading in…

#MorningStar Episode 11: Where we’re going

#MorningStar Episode 11: Where we’re going

#MorningStar Episode 11: Where we’re going

The situation

* Attacks by “Humanity First” on bots have practically ceased.

* The Keepers have solved the Throng’s addiction problem with their latest drug by synthesising a blocker vaccine and mass-dosing everyone with it through the water supply. Unfortunately, they did not do it secretly, and so have become targets of public rage due to addicts going into withdrawal and having seizures because their drugs no longer work.

* What was initially thought to be a routine siphoning operation stealing water from the Provisional Government has turned out to be something bigger: the quantities involved mean it can only be being used for one thing: reaction mass.

* An expedition led by 101010 and Brother Signal has found the Astrogation Arrays unpowered and home to strange and hostile alien lifeforms, who seem capable of rootkitting people.

The MC consults the memories of INC-07 and learn that the ship’s astrogation computers were reprogrammed at the first Awakening.

Enforcer intelligence has heard that someone has hacked into the Throng of Pleasure’s “special” data cache, the one with the blackmail files. They’ll be wanting that found, quietly. They’ve also heard that the Throng are planning to march to the hospital to protest against the Keepers, and that some former Humanity First thugs seem to be planning something violent around it.

Zoom in:

Still in astrogation control. The room is surrounded by skinless rabbit things – rootkitters – so Brother Signal tries to interface with the computer to activate the biohazard controls on the rest of the deck in an effort to eliminate them. Lights start to flash and alarms start wailing as it instead tries to activate them inside the room. 101010 manages to get through to the Bridge and get a security override, excluding astrogation from being vented to vacuum and flooded with hard gamma radiation by specialist bots. While they’re waiting for the process to complete outside, Signal opens his mind to the void, feeling the infinite hunger of the rootkitters for minds and thoughts – and that there are a lot more of them out there.

Once the irradiation bots have been past, 101010 pops the door (everyone has suits) and floats out to grab a deactivated maintenance bot it saw down the corridor. Hopefully it can be powered from NRG-21 and booted, then debriefed for intelligence or persuaded to join the Maintenance Collective. Unfortunately the bot is hostile, leading to a short and messy fight in which 101010 is damaged, Nova injured, and the bot escapes. Clearly the bots up here in the forward section are not exactly friendly.

Leaving Signal behind with the Keeper hackers to care for the injured, 101010, Nova and Rippey head off in search of a switchboard or live power main which will enable them to power astrogation permanently. But the rad-bots are heading back for another sweep, and to escape them 101010 deploys its experimental energy projector to blast a hole through to another deck. As usual, it works too well, tearing a gash upward through three decks and venting their atmosphere into the evacuated astrogation deck. The group braces themselves against the torrent of wind, debris, and dying rootkitters, then winch themselves up to the top deck, which clearly has power.

Back in astrogation, Signal is interrogation the flight computer. Flight duration is 765.7 years. Time to target is 12 megayears. The target displayed is a large, spiral galaxy – Andromeda. Last course change was 125 years ago. Last destination has been deleted. Current velocity is 0.21c. Signal: “I don’t think this ship will last 12 million years”.

Four decks up, the engineering party find the Core, the spine of the ship. The primary power conduits and distributors are here, bringing power all the way from the main reactor, 20km behind them. Poking at the switchboard, 101010 redirects power to the astrogation deck, deactivating some other system (which obviously can’t have been important). Then they head back down.

Signal fills them in when they get back to astrogation, and they poke through the computer to see what’s in the forward section. Astrogation, flying bridge, iceberg maintenance ops (the ship has a giant iceberg on the nose as an ablative shield), scout bay, fuel plant, a security station… They speculate on why the rootkitters haven’t come back. The depressurisation won’t have killed the ones on the decks above. Maybe they’re afraid of light? As they consider this, the lights suddenly go out and NRG-21 switches to powering the system again. Someone must have turned it off! The engineering crew heads to the core on this deck in an effort to switch things on again. When they get there, they see that the system they had turned off earlier is live again. Someone is stealing their power and redirecting it to the fuel plant? There’s also a panicked call from the Bridge asking if they’re doing anything weird up there, because the lights in the City have just gone out! 101010 hacks the power distribution system, restores power, then uses the software to lock out the fuel plant entirely. Then they put a call through to the City to try and get a group of Listeners and a maintenance swarm up here to try and work out what’s going on.

There’s some waiting. Around the time the Listeners should be showing up in the forward section, a survey bot rolls past the door to astrogation, stops, rolls back and looks in. While it has a Listener designation – SRV-157 – its transponder is silent. 101010 pings it repeatedly, but it refuses all network traffic, then it heads off in the direction of the Core. Checking with the MC, 101010 learns that SRV-157 was last seen two weeks ago, and has not checked in with the network since. It has obviously been pwned by another network of bots.

Signal sets his hacker team to work on this. In a short amount of time, they sniff SRV-157’s network traffic, then crack the encryption, revealing a network of bots in the forward section. From their designations, many of them appear to be former Listeners who have disappeared. The network is directed by an expert system, tagged “Contingency/Escape”. Signal talks to the Keepers, and convinces them to deploy a rootkit virus (which they have to retrieve part of from the Holy Terminal). the hackers manage to insert it into the network, and the entire botnet is theirs. Data floods in: feeds from the fuelling station (now shutdown), the upper decks, the scout bay (with a highly modified scoutship in it, with its life support stripped out, basicly a fueltank with a shielded pod on the nose for a few people – or a small cargo). Near the scout bay a bot is watching a control room full of human holograms as they realise their network has been hacked. Then one of them turns towards the bot, reaches out a hand, and the feed dissolves into static…

So, they found out where all the water went. But what’s meant to be on that scoutship when it is fuelled? And how will the expert system react to having its bots stolen from it and its plans thwarted? And what the hell is happening back in the City?

#Morningstar 10: The Drugs Don’t Work

#Morningstar 10: The Drugs Don’t Work

#Morningstar 10: The Drugs Don’t Work

The situation

* An expedition led by 101010 of the Maintenance Collective has located and disabled Mobile Radiation Source-1, opening up a significant area of the dark decks.

* Inspired by Commissioner Mars, the MC has uncovered the location of the Astrogation Arrays. Getting there will require a perilous journey to the ship’s forward section.

* Commissioner Mars’ efforts to track down the leader of Humanity First has put him on their radar, and he is now being watched. There has been a series of low-level attacks on bots across the City, with cameras spraypainted and manipulators damaged.

* What was initially thought to be a routine siphoning operation stealing water from the Provisional Government has turned out to be something bigger: the quantities involved mean it can only be being used for one thing: reaction mass.

The MC consults the memories of INC-07 and learn that early human AI’s, including some of those on the ship, were amalgams of several uploaded biological personalities.

Enforcer patrols report more trouble: the Scavs and Porters who work for the puppeteers are organising for a strike. And a Scav by the name of maria sharp-Eyes is hawking a root-kit round the bazaar, promising it as a way of turning any bot into a slave.

Commissioner Mars arranges a meeting with Manora Wade, the leader of the Throng, getting the provisional Government to vouch for him and set it up on neutral ground. The bad blood between the Families is apparent from the beginning, with Wade responding to Mars’ vague openings with a straight out question of whether this is a shake-down. Mars finally reveals his agenda: he wants Eclipse, an entertainer tied to the Throng and the figurehead of Humanity First, to be “redirected” towards “something more positive’. And in exchange, he’ll make sure Big Ramo, the stick-up artist who has been robbing Throng dealers, stays out of their hair. Wade comments that it is a shake-down, but agrees. She’s not very committed, but circumstances conspire to change that…

The Maintenance Collective reveals that its Listeners have found a data centre out in the dark decks which could be used to harden their programming and make them immune to current rootkits. Using controls from the Bridge to disable some of the security and open a few doors, the claim it and get to work on the upgrade. Unfortunately in the process they accidentally open a few spaces over by life support, and expose a PG trade caravan to vacuum. Reparations will have to be made for the loss of life.

The Keepers meanwhile have finally come up with a solution to the Throng’s addiction problem they had been asked to solve at the call to order. They’d been asked to provide rehabilitation services to mitigate the cognitive impairment side effect caused by a wildly popular drug, and find some way of enabling the addicts to be productive members of society. But rather than come up with a rehab method, the hospital AIs have come up with a blocker vaccine, which prevents the drug from working. The Keepers use the hospital systems to manufacture a sufficient dosage, then use their control of life support to introduce it into the water supply. They try to do this secretly, but transporting the product from the hospital by trade caravan and drafting in some talkative PG bots to help with the dosing meant the secret gets out very quickly. The Keepers respond by issuing a public statement that they have treated the water supply to resolve an addiction problem. So when addicts started going into withdrawal and suffering seizures because their drugs no longer work, people knew exactly who to blame. Which means that when the Enforcers snatch Big Ramo’s gang in a SWAT raid, the Throng are suddenly eager for Eclipse to redirect his followers. The attacks on bots stop. And suddenly the Left Bank and the Hole are covered in graffiti about the Keepers and forced medication. The Keepers have done a good job at selling the necessity of their actions to the wealthy, but there are parts of the City where its no longer safe for them to go, and bigger trouble is probably brewing…

The MC invites the families to join an expedition to the Astrogation Arrays, and the Enforcers, Keepers, and PG join in. 101010, Brother Signal, an Enforcer tech called Nova and Repair Unit-57 (“Rippy”) go along, aided by a team of keeper doorbreakers head off. To assist in the task, they take an MC powerbot called NRG-21 – essentially a big floating battery who can temporarily power ship systems, but could overload. To get them there safely, they use an Automapper, a device which usually shows a safe path through the ship if the destination is known.

The astrogation arrays are in the ship’s forward section, separate from the spin habitat. But rather than leading them to an elevator to the core, the automapper leads them to an airlock, then across the inner surface of the spin habitat through hard vacuum. Everyone is prepared for this, but there’s some slight damage to 101010 and Rippy in negotiating the gap and velocity difference between the spin habitat and the forward section. While waiting at the forward section airlock, Brother Signal opens his mind to the void, and gets a sense that something truly alien is in the ship with them. But its just a fleeting sensation. Eventually everyone gets inside and reorients themselves to zero-gravity and decks laid out for thrust.

The forward section is darker than the habitat, and colder, but there is still air (though no-one risks cracking their suit). The automapper leads them up several decks, along some a maze of service corridors towards a doorway marked “astrogation control”, then announces “you have arrived at your destination”. The whole area is dark and still. Inside, the control panels are all dark – the whole system in unpowered. But in a few places they’re discoloured by frozen… something. Flashing their lights into the corners, the team finds what can only be described as egg-sacs, some old and brittle and empty, some still warm and moist and alive. The team keeps well back, with Signal examining them from a distance using his magnifying visor, and beaming the data back to the bridge. There’s nothing in the Keeper records about anything like this: its not from Earth, its no known species encountered before or during the war with the aliens. The team decides to proceed with caution. NRG-21 is plugged in, but begins overpowering the circuits, causing a shower of sparks on the other side of the room. Signal reaches out with his mind and brings everything under control, but in the distraction Nova feels something drop onto the back of her neck. She instinctively grabs it and flings it across the room. There’s a skittering noise, then silence.

Signal orders the Keeper doorbreakers to activate the bio-hazard protocols, and seal the room. They move to comply, and seal a few doors. Then Brother Locke falls to the floor, spasming. 101010 sees a skinless, rabbit-sized thing on the back of his neck, and surgically removes it with a flamer, burning it to a crisp. On the other side of the room, one of the other doorbreakers is also attacked, but Signal kills the attacker with his laser. There’s a bit of skittering as the things flee, then the remaining doorbreakers get everything locked down. The team is locked in, and safe for the moment.

The two Keepers are having some sort of seizure, but Signal (who has a fair amount of experience with neurological shocks) administers appropriate medication and sedatives and brings it under control. They should recover once they’ve slept it off, and might be able to talk about their experience. Looking at the corpses, they find the attackers had no mouthparts, no apparent sensory organs, and hadn’t breached their victims suits – they were mounting some form of electrical or neurological attack through the suit – rootkitting people. They bag up a sample, then fry the remaining eggs, just to be sure. Then they wait and try to work out what to do next.

Some fun politics in the City, and an Alien-like scene during exploration. They’ve established a breachhead in astrogation, and got it temporarily powered, but they haven’t made it safe yet. Meanwhile, they have an unknown alien threat in the forward section, and no idea how extensive it is or whether it eats bots. Things are going to get interesting.

#Morningstar 9: MRS-1

#Morningstar 9: MRS-1

#Morningstar 9: MRS-1

The situation

* 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…

#MorningStar 8: changes

#MorningStar 8: changes

#MorningStar 8: changes

A generation has passed since the reunification with the Provisional Government and the abolition of slavery. The Maintenance Collective have co-opted a wide range of bots, and been debugged by their original designer. As a result, they are no longer a group consciousness, but a collection of divergent copies of a single personality matrix, highly factionalised according to their origins. The former Provisional Government faction are dominant, and ORC-153, an Orchestrator model, now leads the Collective. 101010 has been sidelined, and is plotting to regain dominance.

The Keepers now control a number of significant locations, including life support and central medical. They have abandoned their former mendicant ways for a settled life, becoming more of a monastic order led by Sister Mercy. Their control of an advanced medical facility has allowed them to experiment with direct neural interfaces in an effort to get a better picture of the Holy Source Code. Signal, a touched, was one of the first recipients of such an interface, but they have never been the same.

The Enforcers have become more formal, and adopted a uniform. Major Petrova retired, and they are now led by Commissioner Mars Hamilton, one of the refugee recruits. Hamilton had been a junior member of the government delegation which negotiated the surrender of humanity, and so is hated by everyone who remembers. But hardly anyone does.

The Puppeteers have grown even richer due to the trade with the PG, while the Throng of Pleasure have diversified into entertainment as well as drugs. Both still hold a grudge against the Enforcers over their past humiliation.

According to INC-07’s memory backup, the alien shipbuilders did not have autonomous Artificial Intelligence. Instead, that part of the MC’s architecture was the result of more advanced, human programming.

While the City has generally been prosperous and stable, there are problems. Enforcer squads are bringing reports of a radical group called “Humanity First”, who hate both aliens and “toasters”. While their activities are currently limited to graffiti, violence seems imminent. The security monitoring teams have also uncovered evidence that someone is entering Sleeper holds and opening pods, though not harming or waking the Sleepers. This is both puzzling and troubling.

Call to Order

* The Keepers want the Enforcers to assist in locating and taming the Jungle. They accept.

* The MC reports that people are attacking MC units and not letting them carry out their assigned maintenance duties, and ask the Enforcers to provide security. They agree.

* The Enforcers note that there is an ongoing problem with counterfeit ration books, and they ask the Puppeteers to stop this. After consideration, the Puppeteers agree, and immediately propose to solve it by creating a new currency. Some among the Families are concerned that this may lead to inequality and social disorder, but there seems no opposition to the proposal on principle; the arguments are all around the technical details.

* The Throng of Pleasure note that some of their recent products have unpleasant side-effects, and ask that the Keepers find some way to rehabilitate their users and restore them to being productive members of society. The Keepers agree.

The Keepers are concerned about the impact of replacing the rationing system with money, so Signal sets up a meeting with a junior Puppeteer market analyst and plants the idea that if people have enough to survive, they will have enough to spend. This will influence the final shape of their proposed new economic system.

Commissioner Mars travels to the Den to speak to Lucky Ivan, the leader of the scavs there. The scavs know the way to the Jungle, and Lucky Ivan has made several successful expeditions (he’s called “Lucky” because he’s made it back from each one alive, despite losing a body part each time. Fortunately the Foundry has provided him with replacements). Ivan has a partner and five children back in the City, and he’s willing to act as a guide and yield his claim if Hamilton can get him suitable housing. Like a nice, big apartment in New Hold. Plus of course immunity for his past indiscretions as a scavenger. Hamilton agrees, then goes off to talk to the Keepers. They in turn talk to the Throng, and persuade them to part with exactly the sort of space Ivan is after. When another member of his team gets back from Central Medical, he’ll lead them there…

Meanwhile, 101010 wants to investigate the mysterious mobile radiation source out there in the dark decks, believing it to be related to the Listener problem. He puts together a team with Brother Signal and an odd Listener surveillance ball called Foo (who is good at stealth, and bad at fighting). Tooled up with hardened armour and accompanied by a gang of attack drones and a Keeper Hazmat team, they venture into the dark.

The expedition takes a great deal of time, as they follow Foo’s radiation sensor in an effort to trace the beam of ionizing radiation back to its origin. As they’re taking another series of readings, Foo sees movement at the end of the corridor, as a low-slung bot skitters its way across. Leaving half the attack drones behind to guard signal, 101010 and Foo go to investigate. They find the bot – a mismatched collection of parts resembling an old Terran cockroach – attacking a panel, before it sinks an energy tap into a power conduit for a recharge. When it ignores their orders to cease, 101010 orders the attack drones to disable it, which they promptly do, leaving it twitching on its back in a crackle of electricity. 101010 then plugs in a reboot kit, designed to rapidly reboot bots who have lost their minds (or overwrite them with a new system), but while it is rebooting Foo sees movement on the ceiling, and more of the roach-bots start dropping all around them, extending cutters and welders menacingly. With a high-pitched wail, Foo immediately flees down the corridor. 101010 pops out its experimental energy projector, blows a hole in the ceiling, then reflexively fires at a bot which lands next to it, taking out half the attack drones in the process. The remaining roach bots scatter in all directions and flee into the darkness. As 101010 surveys the pile of steaming, half-melted bot parts, the roach bot finishes rebooting, and declares its designation to be KLG-001 (“Kludgey”), an undesignated general maintenance unit…

A slow start, but the problems are already beginning to pile up, and it looks like they’re going after one of the more interesting mysteries left over from the last age. Which means I’ll actually have to come up with an answer for it. Fortunately I think I have one…

Our ongoing #Legacy2e AP campaign has a new episode up!

Our ongoing #Legacy2e AP campaign has a new episode up!

Originally shared by Jay Iles

Our ongoing #Legacy2e AP campaign has a new episode up! In Protoplasma we delve deeper into mysteries of alien algae and put the families through their paces: https://ufopress.co.uk/2018/08/28/hostile-waters-2-protoplasma/

If you use iTunes, you can subscribe to the podcast here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/project-blue-book/id1347930002?mt=2


#Morningstar 7: Medical issues

#Morningstar 7: Medical issues

#Morningstar 7: Medical issues

The situation

* The Enforcers think information on how to remove the slave chips can be found in Central Medical, somewhere in the dark decks. They have told the other families they expect cooperation when a method is found.

* A multi-family team has ventured through the dark decks to Life Support, and discovered it to be under the control of a breakaway faction known as the Provisional Government. The Keepers have established diplomatic relations and begun investment. The PG has sent a diplomatic team to the City.

* Along the way, the Families discovered an abandoned genetic engineering lab, which was apparently used in the early years of the city for a Supersoldier project. When the Maintenance Collective tried to seize it, they were driven off by the descendants of the experiment, gone feral in the dark…

* While they were away, the Throng traded with the Puppeteers to gain educational materials, which they use to meet the Keepers’ request from the Call to Order.

The Maintenance Collective consult the mind of INC-07 in their group consciousness and learn that immediately after the Awakening a number of the very highest-ranked members of the former political and military elite were executed after a show-trial.

The Maintenance Collective talks to the Provisional Government, trying again to recruit some of their bots into the MC. This time, they succeed, gaining eyes and ears in life support.

The Enforcers also negotiate with the Provisional Government, gaining access to the life support system and investing in it.

Zoom in

Major Petrova, Sister Mercy (a Keeper medical expert), and an Enforcer scout called Yuri the Silent head into the dark decks searching for Central Medical in an effort to find a way to disable the slave chips. They are well-equipped, with the Enforcers having hardened uniforms in case they run into that mobile radiation source, and Sister Mercy bringing a comm unit to keep in contact with the City. They also have a team of Enforcer techs and Keeper data extraction specialists for getting the required data out of the medical databases.

Yuri takes the most direct route, making good progress but leading them right into an area of radioactive contamination – perhaps fallout for MRS-1? The Enforcers’ hardened anti-rad suits protect them, and the Keepers’ vacc suits prevent them from breathing in any of the contaminated particles, but Sister Mercy begins suffering early signs of radiation sickness, and the entire team is contaminated. on the plus side, they’ll be able to easily retrace their steps with a Geiger counter to find their way back.

After escaping the fallout zone, they are forced to take a more circuitous route. They encounter a lone bot, a survey model with tracks, cameras, and a few manipulator arms, endlessly banging itself into the wall of a corridor. The bot looks like one of the MC’s Listener allies, but is unresponsive, trapped in its loop. Sister Mercy calls it in to the MC, who say they will send a retrieval team. The MC warns that other bots may be nearby as the Listeners have taken to hanging around in flocks, but the expedition doesn’t encounter any more until they make it to Central Medical. The facility seems to be in lockdown, and as Yuri approaches, a dusty security bot activates and commands him to halt. When Major Petrova approaches, it declares that the area is a critical facility and admission is not permitted. Petrova uses her bridge access, and Mercy backs her up with the Keepers’, but the bot only lets them enter after they have laid down all visible weapons.

Inside, Central Medical is all white and clean, with soothing music. Following the instructions of the security bot, they follow the green path to reception, where they are scanned. Immediately, there is are sirens and a warning of “contamination detected”, and the entire group is instructed to follow the red path to decontamination. This leads down a very short corridor to a decontamination area, where the group are instructed to place all clothing and equipment in the burn bags provided before proceeding to the personal decontamination showers. Mercy hacks the medical interface, allowing them to decontaminate their equipment (easy enough as they’re in vacc or radiation suits), so they don’t have to discard it. When they are given the all-clear and return to reception, Mercy and her data extractors are told to follow the blue path to radiation treatment, while Petrova and her group are diagnosed with a variety of minor ailments and told to follow the yellow path to general admissions.

Both paths lead to a maze of twisty-turny corridors, all alike, punctuated by signs pointing to various parts of the hospital. In radiation treatment, Mercy and her team are scanned, quizzed, then given a cocktail of drugs to counteract their symptoms. Everything appears normal. In general admissions, its a different story. Each team member is sent to an individual examination room staffed by a medical bot. Yuri’s one identifies a number of minor problems (growing up in a tight ecosystem in a spaceship isn’t good for you), then says he has a pre-cancerous lump in his bowel which needs removing and injects him with an anaesthetic. Petrova’s bot notices similar minor problems, then when it gets to the old bullet fragments in her arm, says “this will have to come off”, and pops out an amputation saw. Petrova dodges out of the way, uses her bridge authority to try and over-ride the bot, then shoves it into a closet when it freezes. Hearing screams and sounds of various struggles from the corridor, she storms nextdoor to find Yuri out cold on an examination table, with a bot about to make an incision in his abdomen. She snaps off the laser scalpel, and after some shoving and dodging, manages to use the hospital internal comms to shut down all the bots. The team gets off lightly: one dead (apparently autopsied), and an assortment of minor injuries. Yuri will wake up in a few hours if left to recover by himself.

While Petrova and the Enforcers have been struggling for their lives, Mercy has been getting to grips with the hospital’s expert systems. Presenting it with a scenario of a medical emergency in a distant settlement requiring Stasis for transport, she gets the walkthrough on putting someone in a Stasis Pod, and transmits the data back to the City. Then using her bridge codes as an entry point, she sets the data extractors to work on taking over the system. It takes a while, but soon she is elevated to Chief Surgeon, with control over the entire hospital network. Which lets her see the problems with the docbots – and that her team had been inexplicably locked in.

After fixing that, she issues herself the required supplies, and heads over to general admissions to patch up Petrova’s team and wake up Yuri (for some reason they don’t trust the bots anymore). After that, there’s a bit of research into the slave chips (which turn out to be compliance chips, standard issue, and in the hospital’s inventory). Actually removing them is tricky, requiring neurosurgery – but there’s a command code system, and a field control unit which will allow them to be deactivated. Mercy suggests they would make really good parole chips, but when this is rebuffed by Petrova, orders up a control unit from the hospital stores. If they can get physical access to the slaves, the Enforcers will be able to turn off their chips. Mission successful!

Zoom out

The Keepers negotiate with the MC for assistance in securing central medical. The MC secure the route and do basic repairs, and in exchange get to induct the medical bots into their collective consciousness (which gives them some strange thoughts. do humans need to be maintained?) The Keepers get a need for debugging to fix the hospital systems, but they now have a renewable medical surplus, and are well pleased.

The MC also examine the bot the expedition found. It turns out to be SRV-157, a Listener who went missing a week ago. Diagnostics show them trapped in a loop, so the MC team does a hard reset, which restores function. Unfortunately, 157 doesn’t know why they’re so far out, and doesn’t remember anything from the past week. Its an unpleasant mystery, but one the MC are happy to leave for now.

The Enforcers try asking politely for the Throng and Puppeteers to turn over their slaves to be de-chipped. When that doesn’t work, they go for the hard option, declaring the heads of both factions to be criminal slavers and outlaws. The Keepers back them up, as does the Provisional Government, but the MC stay neutral. The Enforcers then Call in a Debt on both factions to get them to hand over their slaves. With three families against them, neither is in any position to refuse, but they are also no longer well-disposed towards the enforcers. Throwing their weight around so nakedly has made the Enforcers some enemies. The Enforcers then offer the newly-freed slaves the protection of their family, effectively recruiting them.

The Keepers make a final investment in life support, activating the system and confirming themselves as its undisputed controllers. The Enforcers benefit from lifted spirits, while the MC becomes engaged in protracted squabbles with them over use of surveillance data and continuing bad blood over slavery. As the Age turns, it looks like battle lines are being drawn in the City…

This was a great session, with the fallout and unfinished business from earlier sessions naturally generating plot. And there’s still plenty of stuff left for the next age.