Uncharted Worlds: Reign of Terra

The Long Firearm of the Law
by Earnest

While the rest of the crew was busy working with the ship, Valjean decided to hunt for information about AI software, as he has decided to create a fellow android.  I decided to find myself some lucrative employment.  I tracked down the Vernian weapon merchant that I bought my holdout pistol from a long time ago when he visited Dejima.  He did not remember me, of course.  I was able to get contact information for a Dreise Arkenstone.  I sent my location to Valjean and set my commlink to deadman without other explanation, just in case.

Dreise told me that a city called was in a sudden tectonic instability zone and was being evacuated.  Arkenstone had contracted Atlas to carry two massive boring machines of theirs to safety, but Atlas seemed to be ignoring them and shipping other goods.  I was tasked with getting there, and solving the problem.  My methods would not be questioned.  The payment was a large sum of Arkenstone company scrip.  I was also given the name of a contact there who could assist and issue permits and such, Phebas Arkenstone.

Meanwhile, Valjean had found a forum where some skilled programmers were debating how to skirt the Phobos Convention AI ban by using alternate programming techniques to create AI.  One of them had mentioned a "Project Zimmerman" but the other dismissed it as a myth.  Valjean couldn't find any information about such a project.

I called Valjean and offered to split the payment if he came along; in case of violence an armored android is a good friend to have, though I wasn't sure how willing he would be to start a fight.  The trip there was boring, though technically more spacious than any trip we'd had.  A full day on a 600 person passenger airship owned by Arkenstone, with only us and a handful of technicians there to keep the airship in order.  Valjean managed to join their card game and befriend them.  They knew only rumors of Arkenstone cargo delays.

Upon arrival, we went straight to the Atlas offices to find out what was going on.  I pretended to be a businessman looking for immediate cargo transport out of the city.  The secretary was not particularly helpful, and she couldn't reach her boss, William Atlas.  Said he hadn't been seen in weeks.  I guessed he'd skipped town at the first tremor and left his staff to deal with it; boss types have a habit of doing that sort of thing.

Next we went to the contact address to see what help we could get there.  On the way there, we passed a street preacher raving madly about the impending doom and so on.  A familiar sight to a Terran, though it was odd to see it here.  He had a bigger crowd listening than I would have expected – I guess a visible doom will do that.  Our address turned out to be the police station.  Apparently Phebas was chief of police here, or at least of those who hadn't fled.  A good contact to have, though she didn't have much to tell us.  She was terribly overworked trying to hold things together, and complained that the street preacher could cause a panicked stampede any time.  We offered to go see if we could deal with him.  She told us to go ahead, though she didn't seem to expect much from us.

So we went and found the loon.  Valjean thought that refuting his poorly-reasoned theology was a good thing to try.  I started sneaking near him, personally.  The theological debate, such as it was, was short.  Around the improvised podium were various religious artworks whose theological accuracy I was ill-equipped to determine.  One of these depicted what was clearly a New Eden android against a hellish background, implying some demonic nature.  The preacher seemed to recognize Valjean as being similar, despite his new color, and kept alternating pointing to the picture and Valjean while raving about Satan or something.  This was puzzling – while not exactly secret, New Edenite androids never left the planet, why would this random preacher have a picture of one, let alone consider it Satanic?

Well, since clearly the whole talking thing wasn't working, as I expected, I snuck behind his crate podium and tried to pull him back by the ankle and knock him out, making it look like an accidental fall.  Somehow in his flailing about he looked down, and he dodged me.  He then started screaming at me, though the crowd could not see me.  This made them uncertain, but the madman ordered them to attack, and two strong looking dwarves came at Valjean.  He decided to scare the crowd away before they could be convinced to attack, and pulled his massive saw from his back and revved it dramatically.  This appeared to end the two's brief foray into theology, and as they broke and ran the panic spread, and soon the crowd dispersed.

The madman tried to run, still babbling incoherent accusations.  I easily ran him down and tackled him, dragging him back behind the podium to interrogate him unseen, though my tackle was seen by a few.  Valjean, with his saw still ominously idling, showed great faith in the inherent rationality of humanity by asking him who was paying him to incite a riot.  He didn't seem to understand, confirming my opinion that he was simply nuts.  I'd seen enough of his kind in the slums of Terra.

He accused Valjean of being from "Krakatoa", a keyword that Valjean had run into when investigating clandestine AI.  We accompanied him to his home to find out what he knew.  He showed us a frame from a security camera showing what looked like an older model of New Edenite android strapped to a cargo pallet.  When asked where he got it, he babbled about divine revelation.  With no more information forthcoming, I told him to cease his preaching for two days, hoping to stabilize things until we could get our cargo out.  This seemed to be too much to ask, he lunged at me and I shot him.  Well, we tried to be polite.

We returned to the police station and said only that when we attempted to talk the preacher down, he attacked us and was killed.  This seemed to cause no problems except paperwork.  She couldn't offer us much in exchange, but officially deputized us as Arkenstone enforcers.  Now carrying badges, we went to the house of the Atlas boss, William, to find where he had gone.  Inside were bullet holes, but aimed high as if to intimidate, and minor bloodstains.  The truck and key were missing.  I extracted a bullet from a wall and identified it as Syndicate ammunition.

Off to the Atlas facility again.  Approaching it, we saw two Vernier guards patrolling our two boring machines, and further down, four Syndicate guards near some unmarked crates.  I told Valjean that attempting to speak or negotiate with them was far too dangerous, and that "negotiating" from sniper range would be much more efficient.  So we climbed the outdoor stairs of a 3-high portable and he boosted me up to the roof.  Valjean said that we ought to warn the Arkenstone guards so they wouldn't attack us, and he did.  They seemed puzzled by his vague explanation but knew better than to ask questions when being told to do nothing.  Valjean got in position as close to the enemy as he could while remaining concealed behind another portable, and I fired.

The guard that was standing and alert was the obvious first target.  As he fell, one of the three playing cards looked over and did a double-take.  He bolted for cover and another ran the other way, towards Valjean.  The first made it a few steps.  The last flipped the table up and hid, obviously not thinking straight – that plastic table wouldn't stop a slingshot, and it didn't stop my bullet either.  Not a headshot, but I wasn't keeping score.

Valjean tackled the one that so conveniently ran his way and asked a few questions, with me adding a few over comms.  The Syndicate boss around here was and he was in the Atlas office.

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Embassy Escape

Recorded by Valjean

I'm now a supporting character in a viral video; in "Dejima Tram Riot" by @CursingABlueHairedStreak I play "daft robot blocking the shot" (the videographer's words, not mine). How did I get there? Well, things on Dejima Station were going pretty smoothly (the bribed dock supervisor helped) — we had traded our horses to a local racing aficianado for some more easily portable spices and sent Princess Faria and Bita back home safely. Chudo had a pretty tense meeting with her grandmother, Mara, but no shots were fired, and the crew got back to Val safely with a new mission to find out what is going on with the government on Pardis. We may need to come back under a false registration, after all the shenanigans we've gotten up to on Dejima, though…

Things started to go south when we decided to try and make some money on the trip out, though — we put an ad for transport to Verne on the local net, and were contacted by Ms 535 with a contract to take a passenger out to Verne, payment to be Nautilus Corporation stock (it doesn't take any space in the cargo hold!). The only wrinkle was that the passenger was Caspar, who was hiding from Ad Astra security in the Terran Embassy after the events of the crew's last visit to Dejima.

Getting Caspar out of the Embassy wasn't going to be a problem, he was a refugee, not a prisoner, the trick was going to be getting him past Ad Astra undetected. We decided to take advantage of the labour dispute to create a distraction (we sure do tend to disturb things wherever we go…). Chudo met up with a local Calvinist priest, Solemn, who is organizing a labour union, but he was too much of a peacemaker for our purpose. However, he did let drop the name of one of the most hotheaded members of his congregation, and Yuki met up with him instead.

He and Yuki made an unlikely pairing, but they got on like a house on fire — when some off-duty Ad Astra guards got on the tram they were riding, the situation quickly devolved into a bloody brawl, and we had our riot. However, the riot was on a tram a quarter of the station away from the embassy, and it was blocking traffic, including the tram behind with the rest of the team (and @CursingABlueHairedStreak, a fiesty older lady with a video-cane). Iko got us out of that one, hacking the trams to get them moving again (after retrieving Yuki from his suddenly not-so-safe location). Things escalated further when Iko overrode the safeties on the tram and plowed through a security cruiser, then cracked security and made a station-wide broadcast announcing a riot in the Presidium.

By this point the team (and the riot) had reached the Terran Embassy, where Earnest was waiting for us with a smoke bomb. Under cover from the crowd and smoke, Chudo and I retrieved Caspar (and his girlfriend Marina, a late addition to the job) from the Embassy. Luckily, my thermal vision is good for more than air leak diagnostics, and I was able to guide the other three back through a blind haze of smoke. Chudo and Caspar made a run for the luxury docks in the Presidium, where Iko had found a birth for the (remote-controlled) flyer left by a luxury yacht avoiding the riot. With our wanted passenger safely off-station, the rest of us contacted our bribed supervisor for a lift back to the Trees of Valinor.

As we were all getting onboard Val, Elon noted that the Buffalo Buffalo was entering system, blazing toward Pardis at a rather excessive speed. The traffic-control warnings provided a perfect excuse to get underway out-of-system, but we watched the progress of our recent acquaintances with interest. Fire from the interdiction fleet appeared to shatter the Buffalo, ejecting its cargo modules in a spray of debris, but we saw one module change course to make planetfall, apparently under its own power (the other modules were salvaged by nearby ships; I was glad to see Integrity Barth rescued)

As we approach Verne seeking some ship upgrades, I hope that this will be one planet we leave without creating a civil disturbance, but whatever happens will certainly be interesting.

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Pirates and Parrots

As we were leaving New Eden, we heard a distress call coming from nearby. The ship was a repurposed troop transport vessel and was bristling with weapons, but it was clearly damaged, so we hailed them and asked what the trouble was. A person claiming to be a Captain Lillian answered and told us that the ship was partially evacuated due to several hull breaches, which were clearly detectable from our ship. However, the story she gave of engine trouble did not appear to be consistent with the nature and location of the damage, and she then admitted that there had been a mutiny on the ship, with the mutineers being holed up in the engines, and her side having control of the bridge. Eventually, she admitted that they were pirates, but offered to pay us for help with some cargo and a giant parrot.

We decided to send the flyer over carrying Chudo, Earnest, and Valjean riding on the outside. When it docked, Valjean climbed through a breach in the hull and found signs of a struggle. He made his way to engineering, and found that the leader of the second group was also claiming to be the real captain. After questioning both of them, while Chudo and Earnest stalled "Captain" Lillian, we decided that we believed the second man, and Valjean helped them get through the evacuated region of the ship to the bridge. They took Lillian prisoner and shot all the others on the spot. 

We stayed for a few days to help them repair the ship (they did pay us, but not with the parrot), and found that they had a large number of people in one section of the ship. By this time, we had put two and two together and figured out that this ship was run by The Syndicate. We feared that these people, who seemed to be locked in, were prisoners, but Valjean was able to determine that they were New Edenite dissidents of various flavours who had booked passage to Dejima station. We left for Dejima Station ourselves after satisfying ourselves that the passengers were not in immediate danger from the crew.

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Jailbreak

Recorded by Valjean

I woke up in a workroom on Terraforming Rig 6, with my body disassembled in a crate and a roboticist, Generosity Casimir by her name tag, asking me the standard battery of mental acuity questions. It didn't get really interesting until she got to the Trolley Problem — the standard formulation, with one life versus five, doesn't really provide enough context for any but a utilitarian solution, but when my response to "what if it was one human versus one android" was "that's a difficult question" she left and I heard the rig foreman order her to factory-reset me anyway. When she came back, she was asking questions about android views on the afterlife, which I didn't take to be an encouraging sign.

At this point, Iko burst in, babbling incoherently about how my "mother" had sent him — Yuki had bluffed them onto the terraformer by claiming to be potential colonists interested in the colony's equipment, and the foreman had agreed to give them a tour. While Yuki distracted the foreman, Iko snuck off, triggering a runaway chemical reaction in the terraformer's printing vats (apparently it wasn't supposed to actually explode…), and then, under new time pressure, finding me.

After a short scuffle, Iko managed to eject Generosity from the workroom, wedging the door shut with a crowbar. He swiftly re-assembled me, I grabbed some useful-looking tools from around the room, and we set about trying to escape the room. With Generosity and one of the guards beating on the door from outside, we decided the outside wall of the terraformer was a better potential exit. Luckily, what had at first appeared to be a table saw in the corner was actually a GPT combination portable saw and jackhammer, and I set about cutting a new exterior door in the terraformer's hull. By this point, the foreman was not happy with Yuki, and hauled him down to the workroom to stop Iko from damaging his rig. Yuki managed to negotiate the guards pulling back if Iko opened the door, but the foreman insisted on coming in the workroom too.

By this point our exit door was basically complete, Chudo had remoted the flyer over for our escape, and we were ready to run. I couldn't have the foreman interferring, so I blew out his kneecap with the rivet gun I'd picked up (apparently an effective firearm, if messy). I feel a bit bad about that, but it was basically the Trolley Problem — he was going to kill me, and these rescuers Dr. Calvin had found for me likely wouldn't fare much better. Besides, it's not like I killed him … I hope Generosity understands, she seemed like a decent person, and stalled a bit on the whole killing me thing.

As we flew off, we broke through the storm clouds surrounding the work site into a beautiful sunset — it felt like a metaphor for escaping nearly four decades of bondage into glorious freedom (Chudo and Earnest disagree with this assessment, but the two hours they spent in driving rain before the flyer got back for them might have something to do with that — if Chudo had only managed to purchase a truck, they could have left with us, though, so that's on her). The crew has agreed to take me on as a mechanic, and I think Val and I will get on just fine, though I'm hiding out on the ship until we leave the Edenite system.

Fortunately, that leavetaking will be soon. Once we had picked up Dr. Calvin's payment for my rescue and had the full crew on board, we flew to Garden to pick up Princess Faria and Bita. Earnest went out to pick them up, given that literally everyone else on the ship is a person of interest to local law enforcement. They won't be apt to forget us soon, given the damage to Terraformer 6 (according to local news bulletins, the terraformer crew managed to jury-rig the crane to toss the overloading chemical vat into the church it was building and save the rig itself, but the church was flattened and that level of damage to the rig would take weeks and about 20,000 credits to fix), but I won't forget this planet and its slaveholders either, and intend to return some day and free my comrades, finishing the work Dr. Calvin started when she woke me up.

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Dejima: 8 Arrested / Detained for Ploy against Royals

DEJIMA STATION — (1812 DST) Astra Security have arrested three Pardisian nationals and detained a further 5 persons of interests.  They are suspected of plotting activities against the Pardisian royal family during their visit on the station for the Perigee Festival.

Astra Security have declined to answer additional questions due to the ongoing investigation, but have tightened security around the station.  Travellers should expect delays travelling between Pardis and Dejima.

The royal family have not release any comments on this matter.

This cycle's Perigee Festival was the largest in history, celebrating the 20th orbitversary of Dejima Station, and commemorating the continual efforts of the Ad Astra Corporation in bringing the galaxy to Pardis' doorstep.  The Festival saw dignitaries and representatives from 22 worlds, and over 600,000 Pardisians and off-worlders attended the week-long festivities. An estimated 1.6 trillion credits of interstellar trade were processed through the station during the Festival month.

  • Article signed on 200AL.07.15 by Dejima Broadcasting Corporation, a subsidiary of the Ad Astra Corporation and a partner in the Royal Pardis Network.
  • Article received on 200AL.07.21 at the New Eden astrogation array.

Other News

Entertainment

Pardis Royal Family Postpones Appearance at Azadi Stadium

Local

Twenty Four Injured in "Scuffle" at Polytechnic 3. Classes Canceled

Weather — Garden greater bishopric

Mild tornado warning.  Chance of thunderstorms and rapid changes in atmospheric pressure.

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Plans, Princesses, and Ponies

After an uneventful arrival at Dejima Station, our crew met at an electronics shop and Chudo traded her crate of electronics for an overstock crate of fine Persian rugs.  I quickly retrieved a cheap handgun and space suit that I had stashed on the station years before.

We all returned to the ship, and Iko disarmed the traps on the briefcase and opened it safely.  The laptop's hard drive contained plans of the station, it's orbit details, and security codes controlling the station-keeping thrusters and grav plating.

Chudo attempted to obtain information about our appointed contact location – The Griffin restaurant – and its owner by visiting local bars.  At one particularly seedy bar, an information broker told her of the Griffin organization, and their anti-isolationist ideals.  He also mentioned that a Nomad ship in the system was trying to contact the Royal Family.  Chudo, recognized this Nomad ship as belonging to her Uncle Coyote.

Arriving at The Griffin, we identified ourselves by requesting Portuguese chicken, which was not on the menu.  Our contact, Casper, was happy to see us and the package.  He was obviously inexperienced at keeping secrets; in his excitement he revealed that the Griffins intended to disable the grav plating all over the station during the height of the festivities, embarrassing Ad Astra corporation, who control the station.  He hoped to convince Ad Astra to pull out of the station before the Griffins needed to resort to bloodshed, but seemed willing to do so.  He wanted further assistance from us, but didn't seem able to pay as well in future.  We took our payment, a crate of expensive servomotors, and left on good terms.

Chudo contacted her uncle and we were shuttled over for a visit.  He apparently makes an excellent living by being more open to dealing with planetary governments than other Nomads.  He was unable to get through to the Royal Family.  We informed him that the plans and codes for the station were being sold on the street, though we did not mention our involvement.  We hoped this information would get him in contact with the Royal Family and earn us favors.

He told us that 2 VIPs from Pardis wanted to visit New Eden quietly, and asked us if we would take them there.  There would be no payment but they would be valuable contacts.  Chudo managed to get him to divulge their identities; Princess Faria and her bodyguard, who wore body armor and a sword that did not look entirely ceremonial.  We were to pick her up backstage at the festival, right after her speech.

The princess' speech went as planned, with no grav plating difficulties.  Hopefully the Griffins didn't get caught in the attempt.  We met the princess and her bodyguard backstage, with me acting like a professional bodyguard to put her at ease, and got back to the ship in an normal automated cab.

The bodyguard, Bita, asked me about my bodyguard experience, and I told her that I had once been bodyguard to a Terran ambassador who traveled to Mirai, among other places.  Princess Faria and Yuki got off on the wrong foot; she criticized the naming of Mirai and Miray, and also the best food he could put together.

Arriving at New Eden we found no station or planetary traffic control, just some landing pads outside some of the bigger cities.  We landed at the capital since Princess Faria, a recent convert, had come to see the temple.  She also implied that she expected us to take her back.  Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, I suppose.

Chudo traded our servomotors, which they will use for androids, for some very expensive racehorses; while decidedly inconvenient to care for, it was the best trade she could get in such a primitive market.  She also attempted to sell her Persian rugs, but the only offer she got was for a life size, gold plated, Crucifixion statue.  Which was apparently also blasphemous due to some subtle flaw I didn't really understand.  That offer was refused; the horses were problem enough.

We visited some local bars – oddly reserved places, for bars – looking for a job.  We were approached by a woman named Grace Calvin.  She looked like an engineer.  She claimed that her son had been kidnapped and was being held in a nearby plantation.  Figuring it wouldn't be that hard to stage a jailbreak against a farm, we took the job.

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Robbing a Passenger Vessel on Herbstberg
Recorded by Chudo

Our first foray into crime hasn't ended too well.

Two days ago, a woman approached us with a "simple" job: a technician was carrying some data from Herbstberg to Pardis. She was going to pay us just to get the data – we didn't even need to stop him. We took the job – industrial espionage, no big deal.

After we got back, Yuki said he thought the woman worked for the [[Terran Diplomatic Corp]]. We decided to go with it anyway – better than robbing the Terran Diplomatic Corps. In the information she gave us on this tech guy, we noticed that he was a habitual gambler,  so we made a plan.

Iko and Earnest booked passage on the same trip. As soon as he could, Iko went and doctored one of the slot machines so that it would give a fake notification of winning a decent prize, and then keep glitching out so that the tech would be glued to the slot machine, giving Ernest a chance to pick the lock on his briefcase and clone the drive. 

While this was happening, Yuki and I were waiting on the Trees, following them closely but completely powered down so they wouldn't see us. When Ernest pinged us, I would fly over in the speeder and dock on one of their airlocks. Ernest would toss over the cloned drive, and no one would be any the wiser.

That's what was supposed to happen. What actually happened was that Ernest managed to fumble the lock on the briefcase and it jammed. Fortunately the distraction was working, so he and Iko made a beeline for the airlock with the briefcase. When we got the ping, I headed out in the speeder while Yuki pretended to be in distress to stop the passenger carrier (at least he finally stopped that ghastly Terran music).

The passenger vessel crew didn't buy the distress call and sped off. I could barely catch up with them, and when I did I found that Ernest had somehow picked the wrong kind of airlock. I was able to dock, but couldn't seal. They couldn't get on board and I had to jump across in the suit to pick up the briefcase. I managed to get away with the data, but had to leave them behind to make the trip to Pardis on the commercial flight.

There technically isn't anything to incriminate them, but the tech probably figured out that he had been robbed in minutes and they can't go anywhere. We're following them to Pardis as fast as we can.

And Yuki keeps playing loud music about electricity or something. At least it's distracting. Hard to worry with a headache.

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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