Eclipse Phase - Uncharted

Assault and Hold
3xp = Total: 6xp

Transcript: Morningstar Constellation Star Chamber Virtual Interrogation Log 33115
Subject: Aiden Nairn

Interrogator (I): State your name and polity identity for the record.

Aiden Nairn (AN): Um… Aiden Nairn… and I suppose I don't have one? I mean, I used to work for Experia before signing on with Love and Rage as a xenolinguist…

I: That will do Mr. Nairn. As you might have guessed, you've been singled out for a more… intensive customs and immigration process due to the unusual nature of your arrival in the Morningstar Constellation. It is not our intention to get unpleasant, but I'm sure you understand that we have any number of tools at our disposal, and the capacity to make any number of forks of you we require, so really its in your best interest to be forthcoming. 

AN: Um… uh… wow, really? I didn't think you Venusians went in for the whole gestapo mind-flaying simulspace interrogation thing… wasn't your whole deal that you were a kinder, gentler, more transparent version of the PC?

I: Yes, Mr. Nairn… should we choose to reinstantiate you based on the results of this discussion, you won't remember a thing. Very kind and gentle. Now, please, let's proceed. We recovered your cortical stack from the gate-chamber of our Lucifer gate facility. It had been enclosed in a diamond-silicate container capable of withstanding the Venusian surface. Whoever sent you clearly knew that we had vented the facility as a defense against invasion. Who arranged for your transport here, and why?

AN: You're… telling me an awful lot for an interrogator, aren't you supposed to be all "I'M the one asking the questions here Mr. Nairn" while getting in my face?

I: (sighs) You've been the victim of too much fiction-media Mr. Nairn. Interrogation methods have changed dramatically with forking technology. As I stated before, I can tell you whatever I like. We'll be deleting this fork of you in any event. Our methodology is backed by the best current science. Now please answer the question.

AN: Um. Right. Yes, of course. I'm a survivor of the Ultimates' attack on Carnivale. I was attached to the Love and Rage Collective Gatecrashing efforts using the Carnivale gate. I was discussing the newest papers on Factor communication methods with Dr. Macek and Dr. Pinfeather when the mesh went crazy, talking about soldiers pouring through the gate, then the mesh went down. Dr. Pinfeather theorized that the mesh came under immediate dataphage and AI attack. It didn't take long for the mortar fire to start in on the colony…

I: Mr. Nairn, you're not addressing my question…

AN: Yes, I'm getting to it. Don't you want to know about the Ultimates trying to conquer the gate network?

I: (drily) We are well aware of their efforts Mr. Nairn. But please… do continue.

AN: Yes… well… anyway… Dr. Macek… she's our exosociologist… indicated that she had always wanted to study Ultimates culture and society up close, and decided she would approach the invading force and seek to join up as a means for embedded research. We told her she was insane, but sometimes there's no reasoning with her. Dr. Pinfeather and I fled… he's a neo-Parrot… I saw him get shot down… I don't know if he survived…

I: I'm afraid I can provide no information for you Mr. Nairn. Please get to the point of my question. Who sent you here and why?

AN: Yes, right… so… I stumbled around in the dark running from gunfire for some hours. Shortly after sunset I stumbled upon a camp of other survivors… members of my gatecrashing team in fact, particularly Luna. What irony. I was embedded in their Gatecrashing team by Experia to keep tabs on her. We'd heard she had adopted extremist Anarchist ideology, and the company wanted a heads-up if she started gunning for them, but she ended up saving me. Some of them were apparently scouting the colony. Marco Macek came back with Carillo Wu, Naomi, and a badly damaged Alexi Oda along with spare tech, weapons, food, water, and the… salvaged cranial implant from an Ultimate mercenary. Some technical expertise from Aquila got us in, and we suddenly had real-time data on their whole operation.

I: That seems… sloppy of them.

AN: It became pretty clear that the invasion of Carnivale was hardly their top priority. Nearly every Ultimate involved was a rookie. Still, they had more than enough military training and weapons to take Carnivale apart. They were systematically executing everyone and salvaging their stacks, sifting them by "potential recruit" and "trash." Marco found his sister… that's Dr. Macek, who I mentioned, listed on the "potential recruit" list, being stored in a crate waiting to go back through the gate. Our vehicle operator, Chloelia Octavia, had access to some QEC data… maybe? Anyway, she told us that the Ultimates had taken the Fissure and Discord gates and were moving on Portal, Luca, and Rorty. We realized then that we were kinda stuck.

I: It sounds like an untenable position. I'm growing increasingly curious to discover how you were tranported here, and why.

AN: Yes, I'm getting there… so we rapidly realized that our only long-term means of survival was to somehow get through the gate. The problem was, the Ultimates had heavily fortified it. Some data analysis revealed, however, that they had protocols in place should they encounter weapons of mass destruction. Apparently they considered it entirely possible that the scum of Carnivale would resist invasion with nuclear force if given half a chance. That explains the all-out assault on the colony and securing the nanofabrication facilities. So we decided to attack them with a weapon of mass destruction, at least temporarily, to force a retreat from the gate.

I: You… just had one lying around?

AN: Strange, right? Apparently Marco had a dissassembler nanoswarm hive that targets biological material. He claimed he uses it for "clean up." I… think he might have been a hitman before becoming a gatecrasher. Needless to say, this startled many, but led to our eventual plan. Luna and her backup singer/dancer/artillery forks would destroy one of the fighter aircraft the Ultimates brought through as a distraction. Chloelia would fly their getaway while Marco and Naomi used the distraction to infiltrate and plant the hive. They would then activate the hive, and the rest of us would monitor the Ultimates tacnet to see their response. Should they follow protocol and evacuate the affected area, we would then all pile into Chloelia's shuttle and make a mad dash for the gate. Alexi would open it, and we'd go through.

I: That's… a remarkably ambitious and risky plan, but under the circumstances, I can't really see any viable alternative. What gate location did you decide on? You knew already that you couldn't return to Chat Noir.

AN: Um… yeah… so… there were some other folks with the group, not part of our gatecrashing team. Apparently they were engaged in some sort of local business when everything went down. Anyway, their spokewoman Irina Kuznetsova told us that she had access to a gate location, but that the organization she works for would not appreciate it getting out. It would, however, prove safe. 

I: I see we're finally arriving at the answer to my original question. You do know that we'll get this information out of you eventually, so you might as well come clean.

AN: Um… ah… yes… apparently there's a gate location called "Lassiter" that's controlled by Ms. Danielle Astra? I imagine you've heard of her…

I: The spokes-AGI for Canaan? That's… a surprise. Although perhaps not, considering Canaan was a major contractor and participant in Lucifer gatecrashing operations. So this Lassiter connects to both Carnivale and Venus?

AN: So it seems. We stayed in her facility for a few days while things with the Ultimates played out. She then offered everyone else a job. Apparently being cut off from supplies in the solar system concerned her, and she wanted a gatecrashing team able to use the Lassiter gate to explore and gather needed materials. She offered, as an alternative, being sent here to Venus, although she made it clear that we'd be traveling in cortical stack form, considering the… uh… climate of your gate nowadays. And… well… that's the last thing I remember. If she killed me to get my stack, it was fast and painless and I have no memory of it. It seems she was good for her word however.

I: So it seems. Mr. Nairn, I'm going to have to ask you to think very carefully. This is important. Do you remember the gate address for Lassiter? The data was corrupted by a clumsy Q-Morph when you came through. We're very interested in Ms. Astra and anything you can tell us about her and her extrasolar projects.

AN: Um… well… 

I: You're getting a shifty look in your eye. I should warn you I'm trained in kinesics-recognition. It seems you are trying very hard to hide something from me.

AN: I… cantaloupe… larvae… epsilon…

I: What the…

AN: (emits complex tonal harmony)

Data Corruption Detected, Fatal Error, Ego Retrieval Status: Total Loss

 

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Bag of Mucus
4 XP = Total: 4 XP

Encrypted Report, Sentinel Ricky Thompson, Auto-transmit Code 00X04

Recipient ID: Proxy code-name Eagle

"Kioroshi" and I are in. She used her pull in Oversight to get me on the "recruitment" short list. Everything else was out of my hands. It seems whatever strings Das Frettchen and the other Firewall Proxies pulled were enough. Here I am, one of three "Oversight Auditors" attached to The Facade Corporation Extrasolar Initiative. And, of course, our good old friend Hamza Al Quraini is here. Fortunately, this version of him was apparently restored from a backup that doesn't remember how we got him killed, or at least he hasn't let on that he recognizes me. I can't say it's particularly comfortable, but his presence does confirm the involvement of certain shadowy people and organizations behind the facade of Facade. 

We assembled at the Martian Gate, and after a lot of logistical wrangling, were ready to send the tactical squad through to secure the base camp site on Olaf abandoned more than a year ago by the previous science expedition. There were some complications with the gate that took some of the wind out of our sails, but eventually we all got through and secured the site without issue. There are just shy of a hundred of us, mostly science and technology staff to get our base camp infrastructure established and our laboratories running. There are two "Gatecrasher Teams" which double as security teams. The head of security, Ji Su Khim, has apparently made the best of a bad situation and put all of the insubordinate or otherwise eccentric personnel in Team One, notably a small group (cult?) of ex-Ultimates extremists led by Kiyoshi “Noah” Kitano. They clearly follow Kitano and barely even acknowledge Khim as a superior officer. Of particular note to me, though, was Ansel Ness, a corporate security guy from Ecologene who is apparently on the outs with his company and on "extended leave" to go gatecrashing. Whatever his problems back home, he's been nothing but extremely competent here, putting together a tactical topography of the base camp and surroundings complete with strategic notation. He seems a bit wary of me, though. Dunno if it's the "Oversight" thing or if I came on too strong.

Our infosec guy is an infomorph AGI named Kvasir. He's apparently from the Titanian Commonwealth. In fact, I'm very surprised at the diversity of the personnel on an ostensibly corporate mission out of Mars. The team leaders of both gatecrashing teams are uplift corvids, Team One's exogeneticist is a neo-bonobo. We have an AGI infosec head… none of these people are even legally people on Mars yet here they are in positions of authority and nobody is batting an eye. Whoever is pulling Facade's strings doesn't care who they get so long as they have the necessary talents.

Which brings me to Ivan Kuro. Yeah, the fashion designer out of Extropia. Nobody explained to me what a CEO and fashion designer was doing on this mission, but he seems to have an… unusual facility with exotic materials and alien specimens. We'll get to that in a moment.

So Base Camp got established pretty much as expected. Days here are 50 earth-hours long, but considering a Venus day is 243 earth-DAYS long, it still seems pretty short to me. Still, people used to Earth-Standard Time were taking some time to get used to things. Initial scouting showed various plant and small animal life until Kitano and two of his cultists stumbled on a primitive pit trap, complete with sharpened stakes in the bottom. This caused quite a hubbub. The prevailing theory was that this was a sign of the scientists of the previous expedition who were left behind more than a year ago, that maybe their tech broke and they were resorting to stone-age tech. Others claimed aliens. Most everyone was siding with the "primitive humans" theory until Kitano and Ness were attacked at the trap site by what was apparently a Factor.

Yeah. That caused a stir, especially when bits of Factor corpse were brought back for study. Fresh biological Factor samples are… well… priceless, and a bunch just jumped into our lap. The scientists all got quite busy plumbing the secrets of Factor biology, insofar as our equipment to go, until Ivan managed, somehow, to bring a sample to life. It seems Kitano had given him a handful-sized sample of Factor goo and Ivan managed to… enliven it somehow. So now we have a live Factor specimen (albeit a really really small one that doesn't seem particularly intelligent). After some passive scanning and trying to feed it various insects and whatnot, we let it out into a large basin to try to observe behavior. So far it's not really doing anything other than oozing around exploring its surroundings, reacting to movement and light and spritzes of chemical scent. This isn't really my area of expertise. I'll make sure to gather a copy of all the data being gathered for you.

Huh. What's that? 

Log file ends

 

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Weapon Smuggling
3xp = Total: 3xp

ID Code 885xz7, "Carillo Wu" Report

Primary asset remains in place. Secondary assets beginning to cohere into a useful whole. Can't say my first official "gatecrash" was to an exotic and unexplored world. Instead we were smuggling weapons on behalf of some direct-action anarchist allies of Love and Rage. Our exobiologist, Dr. Pinfeather, has allies in the neo-avian science station on Solemn and found a path to Rorty via the Solemn gate, permitting us to access the colony of Mockingbird without having to explain ourselves to either TerraGenesis or Fa Jing (or, y'know, bribe them). In exchange for a crate full of electrical-discharge weapons capable of surviving the plastic and metal eating microbes of Solemn, they were happy to open the gate for us to transport a half-dozen crates of more conventional arms slated for the Mockingbird colonists in case they ever felt like rising up against their corporatist masters (or, you know, just defending themselves).

Turns out, it's a good thing we had those crates, particularly the crate of smart-grenade launchers.

We got to Rorty (terrible ice-ball, you already have the files) and noticed that there was nobody at the gate, nor was there a local mesh. As we moved through the driving sleet in our environment suits  Marco and Naomi spotted a large shape moving in the snow. Some recon later revealed a hulking synthmorph with six legs, two heads, and an assortment of telescopic appendages. Someone (I don't remember who) said it was the size of a moose. Fortunately by the time it sprang to attack we were prepared and we lit it up with seeker-grenades and Marco's adorable little pistol. Our Infosec specialist, Aquila, said she couldn't get anything from its local systems, but indicated its cyberbrain was something of a custom job, and had some 14 egos squashed into it. This is consistent with reports from the last batch of exhumans to attack Mockingbird a couple of years ago… crazy gestalt-mind whackjobs.

We moved closer to the colony and set up a fortified base camp to protect our scientists while Alexi Oda, Luis Acosta, and Chloelia Octavia scouted ahead. Alexi found a buried mesh-relay and managed to get it booted up. She sent us the data from the gate facility when it came under attack by three of the hulking things which we were now calling a "laser moose." Mockingbird had plenty of advance warning to set up defenses, but were somehow surprised. Chloelia noticed some sort of exotic energy field being projected in a dome around the silent colony. Further analysis of the dead morph's wreckage discovered that these moose-morphs can generate a lot of heat, and Naomi figured maybe they burrowed through the ice. Sure enough, some scouting and Alexi found the tunnel. 

We crept down the ice tunnel and it came up right under the generator hab-building. These laser-meese must have some serious T-ray emitters to navigate through all this ice. Anyway, Marco scouted up and found a laser-moose standing right above us plugged into the colony's main fusion generator. Luna's backup-singers, now armed with smart-grenades, provided covering fire while Marco and I popped up to finish the laser-moose off. Sadly, the thing was generating that weird field, and a lot of power was flowing through it. It exploded, trashing the reactor and the hab-building and fucking up Marco and me with shrapnel. The rest of them came out of the tunnel, and the third laser-moose was nowhere to be seen, so we assessed the damage.

Our suits were leaking air. Alexi pulled a particularly jagged bit of shrapnel out of Marco leaving a nasty sucking chest wound. It looked like maybe the two of us would need to retreat, but then Alexi did something… traumatic. That synthmorph of hers has all sorts of shape-adjusting capability. She grabbed one of the smart-material environment-suit patches and shoved her hand into Marco's chest. Apparently the nano-adhesive on those things also sticks to blood-slick organ-flesh because she patched his lung directly using her hand as a surgical instrument, then slapped another suit-patch on his outer flesh to hold his blood in, then slapped a third patch on his actual suit to keep the air in. It was the damnedest thing, but it seemed to hold him together pretty well. I opted out of similar treatment and permitted Mercury to escort me back to the scientists through the tunnel.

I'd barely made it back before Acosta came to base camp overland indicating the colony was secure. Apparently the third laser-moose had gathered all the colonists where were stunned, apparently by the expansion of that weird energy field. The thing was systematically extracting their cortical stacks and… ingesting them. Alexi took the things apart and found the cartridge of stacks. Apparently they weren't getting overwritten, just copied into the gestalt. So. The colonists were mostly recovered and resleeved. They were duly grateful. You should contact Ferdinand Ramos, Assistant Director of Colonial Affairs for TerraGenesis and collect the reward money for my part in saving the colony.

The colonists seemed rather surprised to see these exhumans again. Apparently Ultimates have been patrolling through the area fairly regularly, but have stopped coming of late. I'm not sure why, but apparently the exhumans who attacked Mockingbird a few years ago got bold enough to try it again. I have to wonder what's caused the Ultimates to disrupt their patrol and hunt patterns to this degree.

Anyway, not much else to tell. We made it back to Carnivale via Solemn. Another ego-hunter came looking for Naomi and was duly diverted.  Karim Jalal is still here, but I'm keeping an eye on him.

Until later.

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