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[Actual Play] Æon - When is the Future?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by LazyGM View Post
    Love your writing and this is a perfect highlight of how organic the Storypath Path character creation works. Well done and looking forward to more.
    Last edited by Graylion; 04-24-2020, 10:41 PM. Reason: Bevause I correct Autocorrect more than autocorrect corrects me!

    Roleplaying not Rollplaying or Ruleplaying
    Current Focus
    Storypath & Storypath to Run CoD, VtR, WtF, MtA
    Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition


    • #17
      1.5 The Phantom Pain

      And we’re back, sorry for the delay, it's been a busy week. This was a shorter session, due to interruptions causing several pauses, and really only one long combat scene but it was fun.

      We join our cast where we left it off with about a minute to reinforcements.

      “So do we go to the general or do we stay here and play it safe?” Antonin aks the group

      “The mission was to follow the general’s orders.” Jodie reminds them.

      “Then let’s go.” Lucio, on edge.

      The group make their way outside and dash between buildings. They manage to avoid any crazed soldiers and find a suitable place to wait outside the entrance to the Auge. They have a few seconds so Jodie takes out her mysterious radio emitter and activates it. An annoying high pitch static burst out of the device but nothing else. She shuts it off. They can hear screams and shots being fired from the HQ.

      Willie, who is monitoring the security feeds, calls them, “Shit, I think it appeared beside the general for a second. I’ll send you the video.”

      And then a portal starts to open up beside them and they can see Kim, armed in biotech, with a mysterious caucasian man with cropped brown hair. He has a round energy shield with the company logo on and a custom heavy pistol holstered on the hip. Otherwise he wears green, military fashion civilian clothing. Behind them are four Trisec-Nakamura mercs with high tech rifles.

      Kim has subtly changed shape, she is something both more feline and strong. She points at the man beside her and says, “This is Roy Bailey, our teleporter, that portal is open for three minutes, if any of you want to leave, now is the time.”

      “We’ve decided that we’ll see this through.” Jodie says, speaking for the group.

      “Ok. Have you found the aberrant?” Kim, wasting no time.

      The security feed is sent to their HUD’s and they get to watch how General Aicha Neumann is outside her office lobby and in the command central, broken and littered with a couple of bodies scattered among the furniture. She appears to be trying to restore order to the dozen soldiers and staff members that have survived until now.

      Then suddenly this man hovers in the room beside the neutrals. His skin is chalk white, his hair long and black, eyes glowing red and wears black leather. The Phantom has a vampiric look and has smeared red paint, or maybe blood, over his jaw and throat. He appears unarmed but his fingers seem to be talons, like needles of obsidian. Then he vanishes.
      The staff and soldiers go crazy, and the general has to fall back. Then the clip ends.

      The clip is passed along to Kim, and she takes a breath, a moment to think, and then speaks, “Ok. Number one, save the general. Number two, kill the monster. We need Bailey alive, and if we are going to have a mindlink then we need Jodie alive. So Antonin, you make sure they don’t die. Lucio and I, we will be batteries to help with keeping the Psi flowing if we need to form a link. If any of you need to break the link, be clear about it. Let’s get moving.”

      The players start to discuss tactics, powers and ideas. We start to figure out some of the rules and how to best apply them. If best means psi point efficient, well then we failed.

      Jodie establishes the mindlink, and the team gets a dizzying amount of noetic awareness. Kim orders the neutral Trisec-Nakamura strike force to set their weapons to stun against the Allianz soldiers. The nine of them advances up the stairs. Jodie scans the area for aberrants, her range increased by combining with a teleporter, “The Phantom, I presume, is near where we saw him, there are two sub-aberrants outside and I think that they are approaching.”

      “Do we know any weaknesses?” Kim asks.

      “Children can see him.” Antonin replies.

      “And I can make him visible, kind of.” Lucio adds.

      Kim and Antonin are leading the way, two mercs behind them, then there is the teleporter, Lucio and Jodie and finally two mercs, keeping rearguard.

      They hear a new voice in their heads as they ascend the stairs, “Hello, this is Roy Bailey, and I wanted you guys to know that I have a bad feeling about this.”

      Before anyone else, Kim cuts in, “He is being melodramatic.”

      Hearing her thoughts, Jodie perceives something more about Kim then the flat facade she has been using with them. Kim has a passionate fire within her and she is enjoying this. The neutrals stay outside the command central to block any crazed Allianz personnel from entering. The psions breach the room.

      There is a lane between cubicles leading to the general’s lobby. She is under attack from her own people and tries to hold her ground with her zweihander. Corruption is thick in the air and Jodie senses the Divergent in the middle of the room. She relays his whereabouts to the group.

      Initiative: Kim, Jodie, Phantom, Bailey, Antonin and Lucio.

      Kim throws herself to the ground and crawls, with inhuman agility, along and around the cubicle walls to take a flanking position to the right, “I’m in position”. Jodie walks up to cover just to the left, focuses past the aberrant and uses her telepathy to calm the soldiers down. She manages to get them down to what she hopes is a manageable level of fear and anger. The invisible enemy doesn’t seem to act so Antonin, unsure of how to proceed, attacks where he thinks the Phantom is but only manages to send a computer screen flying with his telekinetic psi-gauntlet. Bailey goes to the right and tries to shoot at the shrouded Divergent but misses. Lucio focuses on the bio-electrical currents in the room and forces the electrons to become visible. The Phantom’s nervous system now glows with a sickly green light. Jodie can sense that the two Enfants are closing in fast.

      With their enemy revealed, Kim pounces into close combat and rips into the Phantom with her biokinetic claws. Antonin joins in, and manages to hit something. In response the aberrant roars and tears off part of Antonins armor, knocking the vitakinetic down on the ground in the process. Before the Phantom manages to dig his claws into Antonins chest, Lucio fires a laser blast, hitting the spectre in the eye. With inhuman speed the Phantom flies into Lucio, and makes a reality-shattering howl but Lucio’s enhanced reaction speed allows him to dodge away. Bailey curses and tries to track the creature, he manages to keep it pinned down but not injuring it. Jodie senses how the sub-aberrants are phasing up through the floor to the left and right of them, but the Phantom is almost in her face so she tries to electro-laser it to oblivion. The shot goes wide and hits the roof, frying a light panel.

      The green tendrils of nerves in the outline of man claws toward Lucio once more and he manages to avoid another banshee scream. Bailey’s overwatch punishes the creature and Kim leaps through the air and rips the Phantom’s head off. The body falls to the ground in Lucio’s lap and Kim howls in triumph. The malicious ambient corruption pops like a balloon bursting, leaving only the trace corruption of sub-aberrants.
      “Bailey, behind you!” Jodie mindlinks, and blasts electro-laser at the Enfant standing in the corner to the right, a few metres from their teleporter. She manages to injure it. Bailey turns and empties his clip into the general area where the ghostly killer should be. Blood splatters on the walls as he hits. The Enfant retaliates by emptying its automatic rifle at Bailey and runs towards the upper right corner, closing in on the general. The second Enfant fires at Antonin and gets a critical hit. Antonin feels the burning sensation of a bullet lodging somewhere in his guts. Lucio tries to protect Bailey and forces the Enfant into cover. Antonin, in pain, tries to decide what to do. He could hide and try to heal, but would consume the others energy in doing so. He decides to target the aberrant that the group is focusing on and destroys its cover, and thinks to the group, “I’m injured but I’ll live.”

      “Dr. Severin, heal yourself, we don’t need our powers combined for this. I think that I’ll try to view the world through a child’s eyes.” Kim thinks, and breaks the link. Suddenly she can see the Enfants and moves closer to the one that’s injured. Lucio fires at the barely perceivable spectre and manages to kill it with his laser. Bailey ducks into cover and reloads. Jodie tries to command the remaining Enfant but fails, but she manages to sense what it is about to do.
      “He is going for the general!” she informs the team. The creature pulls a grenade and moves towards the lobby, Antonin tracks the Enfants corrupted life energy and engages. He is bruised and injured yet somehow manages to disarm the near-invisible assassin! The grenade is thrown away from the bystanders and goes off, causing property damage only.

      Kim can see the creature and leaps over it and Antonin, placing herself in the way of the Enfants path to the general. She swipes with her claws, tearing into flesh and manages to grab hold of the sub-aberrant. She roars and thinks, “Shoot at me, it’s right here!”
      Jodie follows orders but the stress gets her to be dangerously off target, unluckily hitting Antonin in the back of the thigh. The electrical blast tears his ligaments and he cries out in pain. The Enfant shifts out of Kim’s grip, pulls his knife and grapples Antonin. The blade goes into Antonin’s spine with a sickly crack and laughing the mutated man says, in french, “You’ll never walk again.”
      “Yes, I will!” Antonin yells defiantly, trying to use the last of his strength to crush the skull of the beast that maimed him. He misses and falls down to the ground, not feeling his legs, everything above is pain and misery. Bailey empties his clip again with controlled bursts, carefully positioned to not hit Kim or the bystanders behind her. Lucio lines up a shot as well and the both of them do massive damage.

      The last child of the Phantom stagges back into the taloned embrace of Kim and she makes his last moments short, using her signature move of decapitation and kicking the instantly visible body to the side. It lands beside Antonin with a thump. They all feel the oppressive corruption that remains vanish. It is over.

      Seven rounds of combat!

      Kim turns around and addresses the general. Meanwhile Antonin spends his last energy to heal his spine. Lucio approaches and realises that Kim has her bio computer on her, decides to try to clone the information within. It becomes quite stressful but he manages to complete the hack without leaving any apparent traces.

      “Hey Antonin, I’m so sorry that I shot you.” Jodie says, with honest remorse.

      “That was you?” He answers, takes off his helmet and gives her a smile, “Don’t worry. Things got crazy.”

      “Yeah…” she trails off. She picks up the radio device again and spends a few minutes trying to figure it out.

      And that’s where we ended the session. The first story is nearly finished, just a few scenes left for closure.
      Combat was fun, tense and engaging with lots of cinematic moments going on. I think I spent at least 6 corruption in the first two turns, it could have been brutal!

      The addition of two extra psions tipped the balance in the protagonists favor but they didn’t steal the show, Kim happened to steal the kills tho. The friendly npcs were directed by the players and they did the dice rolls as well.

      We learned that psions should put up all their buffs before linking up. Also, Jodie never finds out what the radio was for.

      Next week: the dreaded evaluation

      Originally posted by Graylion View Post

      Love your writing and this is a perfect highlight of how organic the Storypath Path character creation works. Well done and looking forward to more.
      Thanks, this comment made my day!


      • #18
        1.6 The Evaluation

        We picked up this session during the aftermath of last week’s scene. We got straight into a series of montages with the players picking up plots, advancing their long-term aspirations plotwise and spending XP.

        Kim has a meeting with the general after the group secures the immediate area. Down on energy, the group takes a 10-minute break. The protagonists go back to the comms building and Lucio reestablishes the OpNet connection. This allows Kim and General Neumann to contact reinforcements. Bailey spends the rest of the day transporting personnel to the base.

        Response teams from the Legions and the Aesculapians are brought in, fresh Allianz soldiers, a Aeon Trinity investigation team and later some Orgotek engineers. Meanwhile this is going on, Antonin and Lucio check the hospital. No sign of the doctor but some of her research is left behind. Lucio transfers it all to Antonin and Antonin takes samples from the victims. Jodie is too tired to focus on anything more for the day and just watches the base be restructured, happy to have survived the battle. The three of them discuss how to handle Suman Rao’s footage, they decide to remove the french refugee family from the harddrives but let him keep the footage from the fight in the village.

        As the day draws to close, Kim gathers the group, “Time to leave. Mission accomplished. Bailey, take us to the moon.”

        Roy Bailey looks exhausted but does what she says. He focuses and opens a portal, motions to the group and says, “After you.”

        They step in and Bailey follows, closing the portal behind him. They are in a biotech formatting chamber, a shocked technician sits at a workbench and in surprise drops a tray with tools. Bailey shrugs apologetically and walks out of the lab. Kim addresses the technician and the group, “You are here to deposit your psi gauntlets. Keep the armor, you passed the test.”

        “What..” Antonin confused.

        “Weapons are restricted on Olympus.” Kim responds.

        “I think he means that we’ve passed the test.” Lucio adds.

        “Oh. Well, we didn’t actually think that you would run into aberrants, the test went totally out of our control and you handled yourselves well. Saved people and survived.” Kim says.

        Jodie takes off her electro laser, and says, “What now?”

        “Downtime. The company is paying for a luxury hotel. I’ll send you the contact information. Take the week off. On friday we’ll have a meeting and an evaluation.” Kim answers and starts heading for the door.

        “Downtime doesn’t sound too bad.” Lucio, yawning.

        Kim leaves and the guys leave their gauntlets to the technician, and the group leaves Trisec-Nakamura’s lunar office. Along with the booking information, Kim has added some suggested activities, such as combat training and other classes. Jodie gets a message from Yin Xun, the Trisec-Nakamura investigator that works her missing persons case, he has found something and wants to meet.

        The group part ways at the hotel and decide to get together on Friday before the meeting. Antonin spends the evening sifting through the mad doctor’s notes. Apparently she was brilliant, if insane, and had invented a new method of administering chemicals hidden within other compounds. She was using it to spread Quantum Flux to the soldiers. Antonin can recreate her techniques in the future, but he will almost certainly leave out any corrupting materials.

        Jodie thinks about setting up a meeting with Yin before passing out on her bed.

        Lucio cuts all outside connections and accesses the files that he stole from Kim’s biocomp. It takes some effort to decrypt the information but he manages to get a few messages. There is confirmation that she is part of Norça, that she is trying to get information to her order from Trisec-Nakamura and that Kim thinks that Norça should recruit Antonin because of his promising work in biotech.

        The next day Jodie returns to Trisec-Nakamura, she wants to train with firearms so that she can contribute if the team gets into a fight again. She also decides to meet Yin Xun in a public place, a café. Jodie also manages to get to know a lot of people at the Trisec building, getting a feel for the company.

        Lucio takes the day off, relaxing for the first time since he joined the mission. He gets a message from Orgotek. They have a biotech prototype that they want him to test. The appointment is later in the week but he realises that it isn’t a request.

        Antonin uses his room as a makeshift research centre, opens up all of his projects and starts to plan for future experiments. He forgets to eat, deep in work but is eventually distracted by a call from an old friend, Emmanuelle. She works as a refugee coordinator in eastern France.

        “Antonin, darling, you haven’t called in ages, and now I hear that you were so close to home and didn’t say hello?” she says, energetically.

        “Uh, close to home?” He says, dumbstruck.

        “I hear things, rumours, chérie.” Emmanuelle says, and a video pops up on Antonin’s HUD, the footage where they face the sub-aberrant hounds, and she continues, “Lie
        to me, tell me you weren’t there.”

        “Emmanuelle, I’m confused. I don’t understand what you are talking about. And if that was me, I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you.” he tries.

        “You always were a terrible liar.” she looks serious, yet Antonin senses some mischief.

        “Let us pretend that it was me, for argument's sake. How does that change things?” Antonin sighs.

        “You haven’t watched or read the news?” Emmanuelle, shocked.

        “I haven’t had the time.” he offers as an excuse.

        “Ok. To keep things short. Trisec’s heroic intervention made the headlines. The Allianz are talking with the Psi Orders again, everyone is back at the table, ready to make a deal. Everyone but us, because we weren’t invited.” she explains.

        “And what do you want me to do?” Antonin, catching on.

        “Influence them! Grab the spotlight, you would get streamed instantly. Or be devious and sneaky. You still have contacts within the UN?” she exclaims.
        Antonin pauses, looks at her and then says, “I’ll see what I can do. How about that?”

        “Thank you. It is good to see that you haven't forgot where you came from.” she replies

        “See you later.” Antonin says and the call ends.

        He takes a seat on the bed and considers what to do for a moment, then he returns to his work.
        The next day, Jodie goes training again, she has signed up for martial arts class. She used to take self defense classes at COM but that was years ago. Afterwards she goes to meet with the investigator. The café is in the tourist district and in the open. She arrives an hour early and hopes that this isn’t a trap, realising that she has become more paranoid since joining Trisec-Nakamura. Yin Xun, a portly chinese man in his fifties, wearing a dark grey three piece suit. He has a pistol holstered but seems to want to avoid it and carries an envelope. He looks around the café, before finding Jodie and walks over.

        “Miss Moon.” he says and takes a seat.

        “Mr Xun.” Jodie, says.

        She is trying to read his surface thoughts. She senses that he may have had some training to resist telepaths and hears a children’s song at first. <I love bunnies, I love bunnies, I love bunnies,>
        Eventually Yin Xun slips and she realises that he is afraid.

        “Please, call me Yin.” He says, and the waitress arrives with a hot beverage in a takeaway cup.

        “You had a breakthrough?” Jodie asks.

        “Yes and no. I found new information about Nero and his recent activities. Unfortunately nothing about his current whereabouts and what’s worse is I found something potentially sinister.” He says, sipping from his cup. She can smell the herbal tea.

        “And that’s why you didn’t send the information to me?” Jodie asks.

        “Exactly, I didn’t want to leave an electronic trail.” Yin confirms and hands her the envelope, “inside is everything I found.”

        Jodie takes it and says, “Could you please tell me?”

        Yin takes a deep breath, “Of course. You are my employer after all. I found two things. The first is that Nero was in Santiago and made a withdrawal of all of his savings. Somehow managing to bypass the parental block on his savings account.”

        Jodie nods, listening.

        “On the surveillance tapes, the young man is alone. He might have been nervous, but didn’t seem to be under duress.”
        Jodie interrupts, “Can I get this confirmed?”

        “Trisec-Nakamura has a high standing with the bank in question. You could go there now if you wanted to.” Yin answers.

        “I have a guy that can look into the data potentially.” Jodie adds.

        “I encourage you to do so. After finding out about this and figuring that it was unlikely that the boy managed to pull off the hack by himself I contacted one of my ‘guys’. She found irregularities in Nero’s medical files. Now this is the cause for my concern.” Yin explains.

        “Medical files?” Jodie, surprised.

        “Yes, someone deleted his medical records and replaced them with someone else’s. And this confirms, to me at least, that someone else is involved. Someone able to perform sophisticated data intrusions and remain virtually undetected.”

        “Can I confirm this as well?” Jodie asks

        “If your friend is willing to be creative with the laws.” Yin replies and continues, “You have to be careful in investigating this.”

        “Do you have any idea on who might be involved?” Jode wonders.

        “Intelligence agencies and Psi Orders have the capability. Freelance psions might be able to do it as well. Having a motive for doing so would help narrow it down. I’m afraid that this is all I have at the moment. Do you wish for me to carry on investigating?”

        Jodie is surprised, “You would do that?” she says.

        Yin looks up at her and she sees the steely resolve in his eyes, “Of course. I wouldn’t back away from a paying customer. It’s against company policy.” He gives her a smile. They say goodbye and Yin leaves first. Jodie keeps scanning his mind as he walks away and hears him thinking, <I hope that I managed to block any telepath, I really hope that no one listened in on our conversation.>
        She sends him a telepathic message, “You did good.”
        Yin is startled and turns to look at her. He gives her a nervous smile and keeps walking away.
        Lucio arrives at the Orgotek facility. The staff are expecting him and he notices that there is some tension in the air. People are moving swiftly in the place, looking busy. He is led to a lab and as he enters he is shocked to see his order’s prexy Alex Cassel, in a white, perfect, business suit standing at the workbench, eating lunch. The room is enclosed in a noetic bubble, shutting down any signals in and out of the room. Lucio feels the calm and silence of not being surrounded by constant electrical signals.

        “Mr Guerrero.” Cassel says, putting his fork down.

        “Uh. Sir…” Lucio responds, starstruck.

        “Please, call me Alex. And may I call you Lucio?” The Prexy says, with a smile.

        “Of course, sir.” Lucio blurts out.

        “I’m sorry for ambushing you like this but I have been following your recent work. I’m impressed.” Cassel says, and takes a seat. He gestures for Lucio to sit down beside him.

        “Thank you, sir. Ehm, Alex.” Lucio mumbles as he sits down.

        “Your supervisor ran your Trisec-Nakamura operation by me before giving you the go-ahead. I wasn’t sure that it was the best idea but nothing ventured, nothing gained. With your magnificent audition they are guaranteed to hire you. Not only that but the intervention that your team did will work for the betterment of Europe, of that I’m certain.” Alex expresses, then pauses.

        “Thank you, again.” Lucio responds

        “I’m the one who should be thanking you” Alex says, smiling and then starts talking in a more serious fashion, “Now that you are in with Trisec, I have a special assignment for you.”

        “Anything, sir.” Lucio replies, enthusiastically.

        “Trisec-Nakamura’s CEO, Tuomas Terrell has been in the corporate sector for longer than I have been alive. He is savvy and ruthless, stubborn. And he has some sensitive information about me and some of the other proxies.” Alex notes.

        “That’s surprising. What kind of information?” Lucio asks.

        “The sensitive kind, embarrassing really. Nothing criminal, I swear!” Ale remarks, with a friendly chuckle, “Still, we can't afford bad press. The public accepts us but their approval can be fickle. Terrell keeps the material somewhere and it isn’t on any electronic platform. He is too smart for that. Sooner or later you will meet Terrell, I want you to gain his trust and eventually get into a position to find the documents.”

        “What am I looking for.” Lucio wants to know.

        “Probably a safe, or something similar. His home in London is one of the most secure private residences in the world. And I don’t know exactly what he has on the other proxies. He doesn’t keep information on all of them. And I would very much like to know what he has on the rest.” Alex explains, then he adds, “Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I like working with Trisec-Nakamura. The company does great work. But I would prefer for the cooperation to be on equal terms.”

        “I understand.” Lucio replies.

        “Since Trisec-Nakamura has hired a telepath, we have brought a prototype device to help you resist any unwanted intrusion.” Alex picks up a small box, “Cutting edge biotech. I know that you enjoy our products. After they are formatted you place them on the surface of your eyes, like contact lenses. I hope I can count on you, Lucio.”

        “Of course, Alex.” Lucio responds, without hesitation.

        “Good man. Remember: Complex problems, simple solutions.” Alex says as he gets up and leaves the room. A few moments later the electrokinetic interference bubble is dropped and Lucio receives the signals around him again. He places the pitch black contact lenses on his eyes and they slither in behind his eyes.

        The same evening, Antonin writes a message to his friend Vashti, who works high up in the UN. He hopes that it will be enough to get the ball rolling. He tells his Agent that he doesn’t want to be disturbed and dives back into his work. He does noetic exercises and tries to focus his mind and body to be more attuned with the sub-quantum universe. He starts a training regimen to increase his psionic strength.

        The next couple of days pass, Jodie and Antonin keep training while Lucio starts doing research into Tuomas Terrell.

        Friday arrives and the group meets up again.

        “I missed you guys.” Jodie says, when they see each other.

        “I think that I missed you too.” Lucio answers.

        “I almost missed all the commotion about our mission. Have you seen the news.” Antonin asks. Jodie was unaware, but Lucio is up to date.

        They go to a conference room inside the Trisec-Nakamura building on Olympus, Antonin and Lucio notice that Jodie is on a first name basis with a lot of the staff.
        “You have been making friends.” Lucio notes.

        “Are they under your influence?” Antonin asks, jokingly.

        “Oh please, you don’t have to be a telepath, Antonin. Just be nice once in a while.” Jodie responds with a laugh.

        Kim is waiting for them and lets them take a seat before speaking, “Welcome back. I hope that you have taken the time to relax. There is psychological staff to speak with if you feel the need to do so.”

        None respond so she continues, “I have reviewed the data gathered through your biocomps, with the added data that Lucio retrieved and the intelligence we gained from our investigations. Are you ready for your evaluation?”

        They nod.

        “I’ll keep it brief, since we already established that you passed the audition. You managed to get through a very dangerous situation, and I would be comfortable having you in a strike team again. That being said, you made some crucial mistakes, especially during your first day on the base, that had a negative impact on the mission overall. If you had been more inquisitive and with proper application of your aptitudes, you would have likely figured out that the corruption was more insidious than any of us knew.”

        The protagonists sit in silence, agreeing. Kim pulls up an image of Lt. Holtz

        “Young Victor Holtz, injured, physically and mentally, by refugee insurgents. Probably Les Fantômes. Pushed to the edge by the being poisoned by the demented Doctor Amanda Roth, he led the mutiny against General Neumann. When the Phantom was killed, he regained his sanity and chose to bite a bullet, unable to cope with what he had done. Jodie, you could have seen his mental trauma, Antonin you could have seen his physical health. You both could have healed him, and others in the base, maybe prevented the mutiny altogether. Lucio, if you would have hacked the servers and read the reports then maybe you all could have realised that the aberrant activity was much more serious than initial reports showed. You could have had Trisec reinforcements, or the Legion and Aesculapians on site before the Phantom arrived. Your three aptitudes combined means that it is extremely hard for anyone to keep secrets from you. In the future I expect that you use it, ok?”

        This evaluation was a bit meta, as the players had realised bits and pieces of it from our post-session talks but we felt that it was an important touchstone for the characters. In a perfect world Holtz would be their “Agent Coulson”-moment, but the npc was an asshat so probably not.

        The official paperwork gets sorted out, they get gun license id tags but only Antonin chooses to carry a pistol. Kim informs them that they get the hotel rooms for the weekend and that a mission will be waiting for them on monday morning.
        “I will probably be reassigned but I hope that I get the privliege to work with the three of you again. You will be the first officially hired psion team for Trisec-Nakamura, that’s uncharted waters. What you do will change this company’s future. Good luck.”

        The three discuss the evaluation once Kim has left, basically agreeing even if some of it was hard to hear. They are curious on what the upcoming mission will be and look forward to relaxing over the weekend.

        Almost forgot about talking about how the players spent their xp. They had 21 xp each, Jodie and Lucio went for buying path dots, I had made a Trisec-Nakamura path that Jodie went for and Lucio took a second dot in Orgotek. Antonin went for a dot of Psi and a skill. All players took another skill trick as well.

        On saturday they all get an invitation for sunday brunch from Trisec-Nakamura. They arrive at a private lounge with food waiting and notice a woman in red robes seated at the head of the table. She is in her sixties, of persian descent, exudes confidence, strength and authority. She is casually peeling an orange as the protagonists carefully enter the room and the door closes behind them. There’s something about her that reminds Lucio of someone, but he can’t place what it is.

        “Take a seat, don’t be afraid.” She says, her voice is soft and caressing, deep and sensual.

        Jodie immediately opens a mindlink with her team and then tries to read the woman’s surface thoughts. There is a clash of wills and Jodie only just manages to come out ahead. The woman drops her orange, it rolls off the table.

        “Impressive. I recommend the eggs Benedict.” She says and gestures to the chairs.

        Jodie and Lucio sit down. Antonin remains standing, ready to draw his pistol.

        “Oh please, doctor. If I wanted to kill you, I wouldn’t have arranged for a god damned brunch. Sit down, please.” She says, annoyed.

        Antonin relents.

        “My name is Farah Vazari, part of UNIO. That’s the United Nations intelligence office, for the unaware.”

        <I think that I know her son, Jared Vazari.> Lucio thinks, after realising the possible connection.
        <UNIO?> Jodie rethinks.
        <Close, the Legions.> Lucio mindlinks back.

        “I’ll try the eggs. Are you our new employer?” Antonin says, buying time.

        “I hope to be.” Farah says, “I will be blunt, this is not an official meeting. I do not have any ties to Trisec-Nakamura nor do I plan to hire you officially. I am here to give the three of you a fair warning.”

        She pauses for effect, “I am going after Tuomas Terrell. I have been running an investigation into him for a few years. Trisec-Nakamura has been doing shady things for years, skirting legal matters, and Mr. Terrell has secrets that stretch back for decades. Rumours have it that he even has dirt on the proxies, that’s how far his influence reaches.”

        Lucio says nothing.

        “Terrell has so much money that he has been able to buy off the dirty secrets of his own past. That he used to work with Aberrants. His company is built on blood money. And he has a way of drawing people into his cult of personality. I am worried that you will be in too deep before realising the danger you are in.” Farah says.

        <She really hates Tuomas Terrel.> Jodie relays what her surface scan tells her.

        “Psions should work for the benefit of humanity.” Farah continues, “I am willing to offer you immunity if you are willing to testify against him.”

        “But we don’t know anything.” Jodie responds.

        “You will, men like Terrell, enjoy playing with their new toys. You will meet him soon enough. And he will ask you to do questionable things. From within you are perfectly positioned to gather information for me.” Farah explains.

        <Let’s say yes, we can always back out later.> Lucio offers.

        As if sensing his thoughts, Farah explains, “But I will not allow you to f*#% me on this. If you agree to work with me and try to stab me in the back, I will burn you. I will burn your friends and families. The heavens will shake and the ground will open up to swallow them whole.”

        “We don’t have a choice.” Antonin sighs.

        “Of course you do, you can take your chances. If you commit crimes for Trisec-Nakamura and I can prove it, then you will be punished beside Terrell.” Farah replies.

        “Do we get paid?” Lucio asks.

        “Not really.” Farah, frankly.

        “Where do we sign?” Jodie, sarcastically.

        Farah produces papers from underneath the table and passes them around.
        <I was joking!> Jodie mindlinks.

        “Read through the immunity deals. I will let you think about it, I am sure that you will do the right thing. I want you to be ready” Farah says.

        After some mental discussion, the group decides to sign the papers, after confirming Farah’s credentials.

        And that’s the first story done. Six sessions in, it’s pretty weird to think how much the world has changed since we began character generation. We played online before the pandemic and it has been a blessing to have a weekly group to play with.

        I think that we are starting to hit our stride with the sessions, I liked how the players advanced their characters narratively appropriate, Lucio getting in deeper with his order after meeting Alex Cassel, Jodie needing to get combat training and trusting Trisec-Nakamura, Antonin being complete self-centered and working to improve his psionic abilities. Hopefully this lasts.

        With all the intrigue that I have been hinting I will probably have to do a flow chart to keep track of how it all connects.

        I have got at least two more stories to tell, if real life doesn’t get in the way, before we as a group decide to carry on or switch games.


        • #19
          2.1 No More (Part 1)

          Ok, so this session became more exposition and rp heavy than planned. The story progresses but this session isn’t a frantic action adventure. There was a lot of dialogue but I’ll do my best to retell most of it.

          It’s monday and the protagonists have a meeting with their new handler, Abioye Botha, at Trisec-Nakamura’s lunar office. Botha is an older african man, bald, dignified and dressed to the nines. He presents a slick corporate veneer, speaks like a lawyer and a PR spokesperson. After a brief introduction he informs them that they will be meeting a client and expects that they handle themselves in a professional manner.

          Moments later a woman in her twenties enters the room. Dark-haired, with purple highlights, she is wearing functional clothing, a stylised flight suit. She casually tosses her biocomp on the table and a hologram presentation appears.

          “Adriene Strand, working for the Æon Trinity.” she introduces herself. The protagonists do the same.

          “We need you to go to Jupiter.” she explains, and the presentation starts.

          The image of a space station orbiting the moon Callisto appears.

          “Callisto Station, orbiting the moon of the same name. A mineral refinery built before the Aberrant war, co-owned by Russia and FSA, an arrangement made out of necessity that neither nation is satisfied with. The workers are mainly people from the Belt, and lately their efforts to unionize has turned into a political independence movement, The Belter Union Party aka the BUP.

          Two weeks ago they went on a strike. Negotiations have broken down and now the owners have sent a battle cruiser each to handle the situation. It’s a powder keg. The UN is worried that this might spill over to Earth.

          Timing is bad for us, but after your stunt in Das Auge we feel comfortable that you can help us deescalate the situation. Trisec assures us that you can get there faster than the russians or americans.” Adriene explains, her voice weirdly cheerful.

          “By almost a week.” Abioye, adds.

          In our Continuum teleporters are sparse, getting hold of them on short notice is hard and expensive. I want the players to invest in building connections with other psions if they want to have access to more aptitudes.

          “So what exactly do you want us to do?” Antonin asks.

          “Solve it. Use your discretion. Lives are at stake.” Adriene answers.

          “Any ideas on where we should focus our attention?” Lucio, requests.

          Adriene gestures and the image of a scarred asian woman in her forties appears, a stereotype of a belter revolutionary with tattoos, a distinct mohawk and improvised combat gear.

          “Yaling Jacobi. Part of the radical faction within the BUP on Callisto. We have reason to believe that she was the instigator.” Adriene, informs.

          “Are we supposed to take her off the board?” Lucio, feeling the need for clarification.

          Adriene looks surprised and says, “This isn’t wetwork.”

          “And we do not accept contract killings on neutrals.” Abioye, trying to smooth things over and glaring at Lucio.

          “Oh. Sorry.” Lucio, sheepishly.

          “That being said, Jacobi is dangerous and it is within the realm of possibility that she will be hostile towards you.” Adriene continues.

          “A hostile combatant, a situation where you are allowed to defend yourselves.” Abioye tags on.

          “Agreed. Hopefully it won't come to that. I will probably be available over the OpNet if any questions come up. You can send updates if you wish.”

          “And Trisec-Nakamura is also available for mission support. But as Lucio is well aware, anything being transmitted could be intercepted, discretion is advised.”

          “I’m confident in your capabilities. Good luck.” Adriene says, and gets up to leave, almost out of the blue.

          Abioye also gets up and leads her out of the room, “Our team has it well in hand. A pleasure as always Ms. Strand.”

          “Take care, Abi.” Adriene says, blowing him a kiss.

          After the Æon Trinity representative has left, Abioye takes the group for biotech formatting, they get new Flechette pistols and custom Bio Environment Suit. During the formatting process Abioye continues with the briefing.

          “We have acquired a fast ship, with a colorful crew, that’s waiting for you in the docks. You have about three hours before shipping out.”

          “Colorful?” Jodie asks.

          “Criminals.” Antonin, speculates.

          “Not proven in court. They have worked for us before, they are reliable.” Abioye, explains.

          “Any secondary objectives?” Lucio asks.

          “No, the situation is quite sticky as is and the stakes are high. You’ll have a stipend to spend during the mission.” Abioye answers.

          Abioye wishes them good luck and they make their way. Jodie gets a video call from her friend Detective Garret Mahoney from the United Lunar Police Force on Olympus. He looks like he’s been in a fight, adding to his already disheveled look.

          “Hey Moon. Kinda need your help here.” Mahoney says, out of breath.

          “I’m sorry Garret, I’m kinda busy.” Jodie apologetically.

          “You are three blocks, four levels away.” He states, and then shows a thug on the ground, multiple shots in the chest and bleeding. A strange blue substance dribbles out of his nose and down the corner of his mouth, “Life or death situation here.”

          “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Jodie says and hangs up.

          Antonin and Lucio get curios.

          “A police detective that I’ve worked with in the past needs help. I might need backup.”

          Antonin shrugs but Lucio is hesitant and says, “We don’t really have time to waste.”

          “Please, I’ll owe you one.” Jodie offers.

          “Fine.” Lucio answers.

          The group moves to the address the detective gave them. Four levels down is still within the “nice” area of Olympus but there are shady places here and the detective is standing in an alley, his sidearm drawn and casually aimed at the thug. The man, a belter in a mechanics jumpsuit, is in pain and slipping in and out of consciousness. There’s something odd in the subquantum field near him but they don’t immediately pinpoint what it is.

          “Ms. Moon.” Detective Mahoney says, tipping his hat. He wears a cheap suit, the stitching is loose in the shoulder of his left arm and it looks like he has been dragged on the ground. Mahoney looks at Antonin and Lucio, who are fully armored, and whistles.

          “You brought backup. Maybe I was being a bit dramatic. I need you to do your thing.” Mahoney says and points a finger to the temple of his head and gestures at the thug.

          “Life or death?” Jodie asks.

          “Career life. Make or break, kiddo.” Mahoney offers.

          With a sigh Jodie tries to read the belter’s mind. She can’t, as if an impenetrable wall stands between her and the thug’s noetic template. She realises that she can’t even register that he is there with her psionic senses.

          “That’s weird.” Jodie says.

          The thug goes into shock. Antonin walks up and realises that he can’t sense any life signs from the man. He tries to heal him and has to force the psi through the same barrier Jodie perceived in order to stabilize the dying man. The man falls unconscious. He is breathing, has a pulse but still doesn’t register as alive to Antonin’s biokinetic senses.

          “Most curious. Lucio, scan the guy for bioelectricity, if you don’t mind.

          Lucio makes an attempt. He senses the guys minicomp but nothing biological, says, “What the hell?”

          “Your mojo ain’t working. So the rumours are true.” Mahoney, observing.

          “What rumours?” Jodie asks.

          “The guy is a drug dealer. Hopped up on Blue Fever, the latest belter fashion. Gets you strong, alert and rumour says immune to Psions. I’m counting that as confirmed. I wanted him for questioning and he came at me like a ton of bricks. Had to shoot him before he tore me apart. Gotta call the ambulance.” Mahoney answers and dials dispatch.

          “You waited for confirmation before calling it in?” Jodie, shocked.

          “That’s cold.” Lucio remarks.

          “Luna is cold, guy. If he was processed and in surgery I wouldn’t be able to get you to him before the Blue was out of his system.” Mahoney answers, casually.

          The detective gets a notification from his agent, as the EMTs arrive.

          “Bloody hell, Mahoney.” one of them says.

          “Yeah, yeah.” Mahoney says, distracted by his minicomp. He waits for the EMTs to leave before whispering to Jodie, “We gotta talk. In private. You trust these guys?”

          Mahoney gestures to Antonin and Lucio, Jodie nods.

          “Ok. My agent was copying his minicomp, trying to find his connections. This popped up.” Mahoney says and shows a photo.

          It's a Belter Gang having a party, in the background a kid is sitting in the corner and holding a bottle. It's Nero. Jodie is surprised.

          This counts as Mysterious aid used for the session.

          “Timestamped a month ago. It's like I said, the kid got recruited by these vultures with their live free, live outlaw, spiel. Sorry Jodes.” Mahoney says.

          “Where?” Jodie asks

          “Callisto.” Mahoney answers

          “Then I’ll have to get him.” Jodie states boldly.

          “Good luck getting to the ass end of the solar system.” Mahoney, sardonically.

          “That’s not going to be a problem.” Jodie reacts.

          Mahoney looks at her, and then at the other two, before saying, “Ok. Maybe you can handle yourselves, being big bad psions and all, and I know I can’t stop you.”

          “I promised his mom.” Jodie interjects.

          “I know, I know. The gang is called Primal Scream, dealing in drugs, human trafficking, guns, extortion, piracy, etc. If you get the chance to grab intel, could you try to get it to me? I mean, think of the good I could do if I knew where these bastards were.” Mahoney explains.

          “We’ll do what we can.” Lucio adds.

          “Be careful. If you think that I’m cold, these assholes are absolute zero. Call me if you need any more information.” Mahoney says before they leave.

          Jodie thanks him and the protagonists make their way. Antonin goes to his hotel room to organise his research. Lucio takes a tour shuttle around Olympus and spends the time to make sure that his biocomp is clean for the mission ahead.

          Jodie, feeling lost, decides to head to ISRA’s temple. She figures that she should report to her order and maybe get some advice. One of her Order neighbours, Sait Karga, is at the temple. He is a turkish man in his thirties, short black hair and a thick black moustache. He is a spiritual advisor and dresses in soft casual clothes and always wears his green signature scarf. Some time is wasted due to a misunderstanding as Karga mistakenly believes that Jodie has a substance abuse problem but after that she manages to file a report to him and they have a conversation in a lunar garden on the temple grounds.

          We picture something like the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. There are a thousand steps to get to the top but Karga explains that Jodie’s path only requires twelve.
          I wasn’t prepared for this so we decided that she succeeded her contacts roll at a cost.

          “Sorry again, Sister.” Sait says, mortified.

          “Don’t worry about it, Brother.” Jodie, having calmed down.

          “How can I help you?” Sait asks.

          “I may have found Nero. The thing is, we have an important mission at the same location, Callisto Station, and I can’t shake the feeling that this is connected.” Jodie explains.

          “You want to know your future?” Sait, realises intuitively.

          “This is too important for me to go in blind.” Jodie states.

          “I understand. Using Psychocognition is vague and sometimes dangerous. The future is uncertain and the Blue Fever makes it even harder to discern.” Sait takes a seat on a bench.

          “I remember from my initiation.” Jodie sits down beside him.

          “We will need to link up, remember to breathe.” Sait reaches out with his hands, Jodie mirrors him and holds his hands. The clairsentient takes a deep breath and opens up his perception to the greater universe. They both focus on Jodie and Nero

          They share a vision, Jupiter is in the background and Jodie is floating in space. She is wrapped in iron chains and drowning in blue blood. She screams but in the vacuum of space there is only silence. Then they are in a service tunnel, maybe on a space station or a ship, where a Twin-tailed Fox lies dead on the ground, five shuriken piercing its body. One of the tails is gray, withered and old, the other young and vibrant. The scene fills Jodie with immediate sorrow and loss.

          And like that they are back on the bench.

          “I die orbiting Jupiter? The fox, it’s Nero? He gets assassinated! His future and past are disconnected. I don’t understand?” Jodie, almost hyperventilating.

          “Breathe, Sister, breathe!” Karga reminds her, “And that’s your interpretation, there might be more to it.”

          “I don’t understand.” Jodie repeats.

          “That is what we got through the haze. That’s the likely future you were heading into. But the future isn’t set in stone. It can be changed. Everything is connected, we were meant to see this. I refuse to believe that you can’t survive.” Sait tries to reassure her.

          “What should I do?” Jodie asks.

          “Steel yourself. Do what you think is right. And when the time comes, be prepared to defy the future.” Sait answers. Jodie nods and gets up, realising that her time is almost up.

          “Everything is connected, Sister.” Sait bows to her.

          “Everything is connected, Brother. Thank you.” Jodie bows back and leaves.

          Decided to split the recap in two parts, just to take the pressure off. The next part is introducing the crew and detailing their journey towards Callisto.

          Jodie taking advantage of her contacts with other psions was good, hopefully the other two player’s start leaning into it as well. Having some NPCs be helpful instead of all being self-serving bastards is a bit unusual for me and part of the challenge of this chronicle. Leaning in on the Unity theme.

          Hope you enjoyed it, part two will be up in a couple of days.


          • #20
            2.1 No More (Part 2)

            Antonin and Lucio left the hotel at the same time and share a transport to the docks. They arrive with a few minutes to spare and have a discussion about their new biotech gear when Jodie walks past them, distracted. They call out to her and she is clearly spaced out but they don’t press her on the issue.
            They enter the hangar and see the ship, a heavily modified hybrid transport, with the name “Outcast Aurora” emblazoned on the side. A ramp is extended underneath the ship and two men are waiting, leaning against the landing struts and smoking. The first looks like a mix between sumo wrestler and neo-yakuza, he is japanese, big and tattooed. The other looks like a military veteran, caucasian, broad-shouldered, greying hair. He is smoking a cigar and turns to greet them.

            “Welcome to the ‘Rora, I’m your captain, call me Hutch.” he says, voice like gravel.

            They get onboard and get introductions, the mood is a bit tense since everyone looks kind of sketchy.

            “The big guy is Kaiju, our, ehm, mechanic.” Hutch explains as they walk up the ramp.

            They see a chinese woman covering their ascent from a vantage point, casually resting a boarding shotgun at them. Hutch makes a subtle hand signal and she relaxes, and he says,

            “That’s David, security specialist. Behind her are the engines and reactor room, off-limits, ‘kay.”

            Hutch leads them on, there is a lower deck for cargo, filled up with essential materials marked for Callisto Station. They go up to the main deck and into the common area. Around the dinner table sits a woman and two men. The woman, an attractive african in her twenties, has expensive HUD-glasses on, feet on the table and barely acknowledges them, lost in the OpNet. Beside her sits a muscular blonde bearded man, he looks like a viking in biker gear. The viking is playing cards with a dark-haired causcasan cowboy in his thirties. They both nod at the newcomers.
            Hutch points them out, “Siri, she’s our cyber security expert. The blonde is called Saint and our resident cowboy, Dallas.”

            “Howdy.” Dallas says, tipping his hat.

            Hutch walks over to Siri, and tries to get her attention, “Our pilot, Angel, is in the cockpit, prepping for takeoff in twenty. Siri here will show you to your rooms. Feet off the table, girl”

            “Uh, yeah, sorry boss.” Siri says, taking off her glasses and getting up.

            They are led around to their living quarters. Jodie gets her own room and the boys get to share one. Everything is cramped but manageable. The ship is actually in pretty good shape, contrasting with the rugged crew.

            The crew were the cast of our demo story in Vancouver, a ragtag bunch of loveable scoundrels and barely fleshed out stereotypes perfect for a one-shot.
            That took place a month ago in the game timeline. They weren’t caught, got their upgrades and kept flying. So the player’s already have a good idea of who they are dealing with, for good and bad.

            “So we usually share a meal together, the whole crew, captain’s orders. You are expected to be part of that. The ‘Rora isn’t that big but feel free to roam, there’s a space cleared out in the cargo hold for workouts, you can use the kitchen if you wish and the common area is where we usually hangout when we want to socialise. The captain’s quarters is off-limits of course but Hutch is usually in there or in the cockpit.” Siri, giving them a tour.

            When they are done, the pilot comes out of the cockpit and greets them. A young hispanic man, barely twenty by his looks, the tell-tale signs of being a belter, having grown up in low gravity, he has a silver crucifix necklace.

            “I’m Angel, welcome onboard” the belter says, “Siri, it’s almost time for liftoff so go get changed.”

            “Yeah, right, forgot to mention the mercury pods. When we accelerate we need to be immersed in this liquid to prevent us from turning into jelly.” Siri says, blushing.

            “It’s an oxygen enriched liquid with a few stimulants thrown in to help with the Gs, we wear pressure suits but your gear is already pre programmed for the mercury pods so it won’t be a problem for you. Just hop in and try to breathe, it’ll be like drowning at first but try not to panic.” Angel explains.

            The crew strap into their pods and the Outcast Aurora takes off. It’s a horrible experience for the psions, even though the liquid filling their lungs reminds them of the Prometheus Chambers, who haven’t experienced anything like this violent acceleration before. They all use their aptitudes to be able to handle the stress of the ‘Rora’s high G burn.

            A few days later, the psions are starting to get a routine. They have workouts, eat together and spend some time researching for the mission. During downtime Antonin is tinkering with his mechanical spider Anansi. Jodie and Lucio are sparring, and Jodie has vastly improved her abilities since Lucio last saw her in action. She is kicking his ass on a daily basis. David has been watching them, and she is nodding approvingly to Jodie. Lucio heads up to the common area, having had enough of humiliation and David approaches Jodie.

            “You have some skill. Were you in the military?” she asks.

            “Why do you ask?” Jodie wonders.

            “Beside your fighting style, you have been holding a strict routine while on board.” David responds.

            Jodie chuckles, “Yeah, I guess I have. Routines are important, keeping us balanced. Interesting how similar things can be. Well, everything is connected, after all.”

            David stiffens, she looks into Jodie’s eyes and says, “That’s ISRA talk, right?”

            Jodie nods, surprised.

            “Captain isn’t a fan of clairsentients, so stow that kind of talk, ok?” David says, somberly.

            “I’ll remember that.” Jodie answers. She informs Antonin and Lucio telepathically and they decide to keep the psionics discrete.
            And suddenly we have some tension onboard.

            Later that same day, Lucio finds out that Siri is trying to hack their biocomps. He was prepared for something like this and intercepts her. A frantic cyber battle ends with a text chat session where they reminisce about different exploits that they have tried out.
            Antonin has been sitting in the common area and tinkering with Anansi. Dallas approaches, his interest piqued.

            “Are you french?” Dallas asks, with a bad southern accent.

            “Oui” Antonin, with disinterest.

            “My condolences.” Dallas, in earnest.

            “It will rise again, hopefully.” Antonin says.

            “So what does the spider do?” Dallas asks.

            “Medical assistant.” Antonin answers.

            “Cool. I’m into tech. Check this out.” Dallas says and slowly, without threatening moves, places his pistol on the table. He takes a couple of steps away, mimicking a classical duel and turns. The pistol flies into his hand.

            “Bang bang.” Dallas says, and holsters it with a smile.

            “Impressive, so are you the official gunslinger on board?” Antonin, giving the man his full attention.

            “Actually, I’m the ship’s sommelier.” Dallas winks.

            “You have my attention.” Antonin says.

            The two share a bottle and some time discussing the finer points of wine.

            After about a week has passed, Jodie is finally ready to share her thoughts, literally. The group are hanging in their quarters and communicate via mind link. Jodie describes her vision.

            <So, basically, I’m heading towards my death and Nero’s assassination.> Jodie concludes.

            <Is that the only interpretation?> Antonin wonders.

            <Nero’s assassination seems to be> Jodie, worried.

            <But the future can be changed.> Lucio reminds them.

            <After we arrive, we have about a week before the universe locks in.> Jodie explains.

            <If both the visions are parallel, instead of an either/or situation, then we can save you both.> Antonin muses.

            <I hadn’t thought about it that way. That I might have to chose to save him or myself.> Jodie realises.

            Heh, me neither. But Ì made a note about it here.

            <We’ll try to save the both of you. Any ideas about the first vision?> Lucio, reassuring.

            <Drowning in Blue Fever. Seems pleasant.> Jodie, shudders.

            <I’m sorry but these visions are too murky for me. I’m too grounded in rational thinking, a flaw in my personality perhaps.> Antonin, giving up.

            <It’s a puzzle. I’m convinced that we can solve it.> Lucio, almost excited.

            <We still have some time to think.> Jodie, summing up.

            The group decides to dive into research about the mission. Jodie is going to delve into the depths of Belter social media feeds. Lucio will try to get any and all information about the station that can be found in open archives and compile it. Antonin will try to get some information through criminal contacts.

            We’ll get back to the results of their rolls at the end.

            The same day, after the communal dinner has finished, Angel stays at the table to speak with the protagonists.

            “It's been a week. We are travelling at a crazy speed and soon it’s time for deceleration. As I was preparing I realised that I don’t know anything about your mission.” Angel says, pleasant tone while moving a cup around on the table for emphasis.

            “What do you need to know.” Antonin says, and looks intently at Jodie. She opens the mindlink in response.

            <What’s on your mind.> She asks.

            <How much can we tell the kid?> Antonin asks.

            “You know, is it going to be a hot landing, is everything cleared. Do I need to be worried?” Angel asks.

            <The employer didn’t specify if this was secret or not.> Lucio adds.

            <So what do we tell him?> Antonin reiterates.

            <Discretion is preferable.> Jodie states.

            <My thoughts exactly.> Lucio says.

            <If we alienate the crew, we could get stuck out on the station.> Antonin counters.

            <So we tell them some stuff, just keep the general situation quiet.> Jodie suggests.

            They go back and forth for a while. I make a couple of rolls.

            “Uh, hello?” Angel says.

            <Don’t mention Jacobi.> Lucio adds.

            As they sit in silence for a few moments, they notice that Hutch is staring at them and Antonin starts to reply, “Sorry, lost in thought. We don’t expect any troubles with the landing.”

            “But there’s a belter’s strike on the station. Things are heating up.” Angel says.

            “That’s what we are going to help out with.” Antonin answers.

            <Don’t!> Lucio thinks, too late. The captain walks into his quarters.

            “Part of our mission is to help stabilize the negotiations on Callisto. There might be criminals interfering with law-abiding citizens.” Lucio says, trying to smooth things over.

            “You working for the corps or the belter’s?” Angel asks.

            “Neither. There are more interested parties in this situation that want everything to resolve peacefully.” Jodie says.

            “Oh. Well I have a lot of contacts on Callisto. If I can help in any way, just say so.” Angel offers.

            “Do you know Yaling Jacobi.” Jodie asks.

            <What the hell> Lucio, annoyed.

            “No, but I can probably get you in touch with her.” Angel says, and then looks at his minicomp, “Speak later, gotta pilot the ship.”

            The argument continues in the mind-link. They can’t decide how to proceed, who to trust and what information they can share. Hutch sits down at the table, as far away from them as possible.

            “Ok. You’re psions. Now I need to know, what orders are you from and what the hell kind of mayhem you all are capable of.” Hutch says, very serious tone.

            “We are the.. Good kind.” Jodie answers, carefully.

            “Cut the crap. Orders and aptitudes. Now.” Hutch moves his hand towards his holster. From one side of the room David and Kaiju have appeared, Saint walks up towards them from the crew quarters, he is carrying his vibroblade and cleaning it with a rag.

            “Listen, we don’t want any trouble.” Lucio says.

            “Answer me.” Hutch, almost growling through clenched teeth.

            “As I said, we are the good kind of psions.” Jodie says and activates mob mentality, pushing her effort and shifting the mood in the room. She commits the energy, keeping the effect in place and says, “And we have a job to do.”

            Hutch starts to relax and then bursts into laughter, “Fucking Trisec-Nakamura.”

            The crew loses it as well and everyone starts giggling.

            <You overdid it.> Antonin notes.

            <Everyone’s a critic.> Jodie answers.

            “They hire me to ferry psions. That’s rich. What a bunch of assholes.” Hutch, through fits of laughter.

            “We heard that you guys always finish the job.” Jodie says, with a chuckle.

            “That’s right. At least tell me they didn’t put a clairsentient onboard.” Hutch, in stitches and with tears in his eyes.

            “No clears, no seers.” Jodie answers.

            With the situation defused, the crew go back to their chores. Jodie keeps the effect up and the protagonists return to their research. Angel approaches them later, also under Jodie’s spell and explains that he got quite angry at them. He thought that they were planning to oppress the Callisto Belters but realises that he overreacted. They in turn manage to explain that they will try to achieve the best result for everyone.
            He was going to hijack the ship to derail them.
            As the research continues, Jodie gets information about the Belter Union Party on Callisto. There are three factions and Jacobi is the informal leader of the radicals. Lucio has all the schematics and specs that he could ever dream of on the station. Could come in handy if things get heated. Antonin gets a message from Dallas to meet him in the cargo hold and Antonin figures that he could maybe get information through the gunslinger’s contacts. The two of them share a couple of bottles of wine and get caught up in the heat of the moment. During the pillow talk, afterwards, Antonin gets information about smugglers and criminals in the belt. He gets the name of a pilot, Mura Naori, who is a smuggler for Primal Scream.

            The next day they get gathered in the cockpit by Hutch. Angel and David are there as well.

            “Angel picked up an S.O.S. signal.” Hutch says.

            And that’s where we ended the session.

            Whew, that felt like a lot of text. Slow progression, working through the exposition and the players spending some time to get ready for the mission. There were more dialogues here and there but I couldn’t remember the details and I don’t believe there were any important plot points missed in the recap.

            Getting into the rp part with the Outcast Aurora crew was seamless, since they already knew the characters. Good drama, some light-heartedness and some romance made for an entertaining evening. The session went on for almost 4 hours without any action scenes.

            The confrontation by the dining table was bringing up Hutch’s backstory, he has a problem with psions predicting the future. If they had been upfront about their natures from the beginning then this scene wouldn’t have come up.

            I’m generally not that good with travelling scenes so I wanted to experiment with a zoom-in and zoom-out format, the players described loosely what they were doing and I would open scenes that felt worth exploring. I think that it worked but next session will be more frantic I hope.

            As my last point I want to discuss visions, they can be tricky. I know what’s going to happen but only if the players don’t interfere. But as soon as they reach the station they will start to interfere with the plot. So the visions can’t be too specific, but if they are too vague then they are useless. I hope that I struck the balance correctly and that the players aren’t completely frustrated by the visions.

            As always, I welcome any questions, criticism or comments.


            • #21
              2.2 Hear the Call

              The scene opens in the cockpit of the Outcast Aurora. Angel sits in the pilot’s chair and is putting the S.O.S. data up on holographic display.

              “The John Glenn, a science vessel, has had a critical engine failure and lost OpNet connection. They are using radio, but the signal is weak. They are drifting outside the reach of most ships passing between Earth and the Belt.” Angel explains.

              “What do you want to do?” Jodie asks Hutch.

              “My mission is to ferry you guys around. Angel, I’m guessing a detour will cost us time?” Hutch says.

              “We will lose days.” Angel answers.

              “So you will lose days on Callisto. Also, it could be a trap. Pirates aren’t common but honestly, your mission might be compromised and you could be the target. But I defer to your judgement.” Hutch, staring at the display.

              “I don’t know what to do..:” Jodie says, her mind racing with the visions of the future. Maybe this is why things go to hell, why Nero dies. It could be, and it’s impossible to tell. She is paralised by indecision.

              “We could send their info to someone else.” Lucio reasons.

              “The onboard S.I. couldn’t do the math properly. But maybe you guys are better at calculating astro-navigation.” Angel answers.

              “The Legions have a base in the belt. If we give them proper coordinates they can get there faster than we can, with the combination of teleporters and clairsentients. They just need to know where to look.” Hutch elaborates, betraying a deeper knowledge of psions than any of the protagonists knew that he had.

              “We can’t risk losing days. Keep our course. Lucio, I’ll assist you with the calculations.” Antonin decides.

              Lucio and Antonin bring up their biocomps and start running calculations. They are pressed on time, if they can’t get the coordinates right then they have to decide if they are willing to leave the fate of the John Glenn to chance. Antonin is of some help but Lucio does the heavy lifting, having improved his intelligence with psionics. As time runs out, they are pretty confident that they were successful. Hutch sends the data and they hope for the best.

              Our first non-hacking complex action.

              As the days go on, Jodie decides to take her mind of the visions by getting to know the crew better. She cooks dinner, shows interest and spends time with the crew. Eventually they get to a point where she feels confident enough to stop manipulating their emotions with psi. Later, after a communal dinner, Jodie has prepared a dessert and Hutch, Dallas, Saint, David, Antonin and Lucio are socialising. Dallas brought out the good wine, Hutch the whiskey and they all get various degrees of inebriated together. Saint is telling stories of growing up in the frozen wastelands of Norway.

              Large chunks of northern Europe are in a Quantum Corrupted Ice Age. A setting change because of a scene I imagined when planning the chronicle, and growing up there is an important part of Saint’s backstory.

              “And then I beheaded him!” Saint finishes the anecdote, laughing gleefully.

              “Charming.” Lucio, smiles politely.

              David has lowered her guard, “I once shot an Aberrant through the eye, just over 3 km away. It was on Mars and it turned the tide of the battle.”

              “Impressive.” Lucio, whistles. He is uncomfortable in this setting, working hard to not give anything away that could endanger him. Fortunately no one notices because of Hutch who starts to squirm at the mention of Mars. David gives the captain an apologetic glance.

              “We fought aberrants.” Jodie says, trying to change the subject, “Or rather one aberrant with several mutants. It was crazy and scary but also ended with a, uhm, happy beheading.”

              The protagonists tell the story of their mission to the alps. The crew are amused by the story, Saint especially and Hutch seems to view them with a newfound respect. Seeing an opening, Jodie asks, “I don’t want to offend, but why do you hate psions?”

              Everyone turns to the captain, the air tenses up. At first Jodie fears that the question was a mistake but after a moment, Hutch sighs and takes out a cigar. He lights it with wooden matches, takes a drag of smoke and then speaks, “I don’t, hate them I mean. Hell, some of the best people I knew were psions. I hate Clears. And I have a damn good reason to. We were in the Legions” Hutch indicates to David and keeps going, “I was a commanding officer on a mission to Mars, clearing out an Aberrant infiltration. Neutrals and psions, side by side, taking back the big red rock. It was war, so not pleasant, but it felt meaningful.”

              Another long pause, no one dares to interfere, “Two weeks until the campaign ended, I got orders from Legion command. A Seer had seen the future they told me. I got orders to kill 97 fellow soldiers because they had been corrupted and something horrible was going to happen. I followed orders even though they were wrong. Folks started calling me the Butcher. After that I left the army behind and decided to live free. I’m done being a slave to visions from Seers. I make my own destiny.”

              Jodie waits to see if he is finished before answering, “Thank you for sharing. It must’ve been rough.”

              Jodie can see David looking at her. She gives an approving nod. Saint starts telling another absurd story and it doesn’t take long before the tension dissipates.

              Before Jodie gets to her room David approaches her.

              “He hasn’t told that story to many others. I think that you have his trust.” David says, softly.

              “I won’t waste it.” Jodie, sincerely.

              “That aberrant I killed was called Goliath. That’s how I got the nickname. But you can call me Lin.” She reveals.

              “I’ve been wondering, why are you out here, on this ship and with this crew.” Jodie asks.

              “Hutch was my commanding officer. When he left I decided to keep watching his back. He is the only one that I know that doesn’t try to get me to fight for a cause. I used to fight for China, because of my parents. Then I fought for the UN, because the Chinese military asked me to. Now I fight when I choose to fight.” Lin explains.

              With that they part for the night and another couple of days pass. Antonin keeps on researching. Lucio secludes himself, memorising Callisto Station’s layout and trying to be as prepared as he can. Jodie keeps her routine of socialising and combat training. After a sparring session with David, Hutch shows up in the cargo hold and wants a word.

              “Jodie, I know that you believe that you are one of the good ones, psions, but I know what you can do. And I just wanted to make it clear that these ghosts I carry with me, all 97 of them, I want to keep it that way. Understand.” He says, in a non-threatening but serious manner.

              “I understand. I wouldn’t do that to anyone.” Jodie replies.

              Later that day the protagonists gather after watching the news feeds from Callisto. Violence is escalating, demonstrations turn into pitched battles with wounded and dead on both sides. Everyday life has collapsed in numerous working class sectors. The station administrator has declared martial law and visitors are prohibited.

              “Well shit.” Antonin comments.

              “What are we going to do?” Jodie asks.

              “Go speak with Angel, he needs to know that our landing might get rough. I’ll stay and check up on a few things.” Lucio says.

              Lucio’s player had to take a break.

              Heading over to Angel and delivering the bad news, Jodie asks, “So, any ideas?”

              “We could fake an emergency. The UN requires stations to help those in need.” Angel answers.

              “Lucio can fake the signal.” Jodie says, confidently.

              “It better be a good fake, cause if we get caught then that bridge is burnt. I was actually thinking about really breaking something. Like something essential but fixable. That way we don’t have to lie to either people or their sensors.” Angel comments.

              “So your plan is to blow up the ship.” Antonin, not amused.

              “A little bit.” Angel, gesturing with his thumb and index finger.

              Jodie lights up, “Oh! How about we do that and while you try to get emergency clearance, Antonin, Lucio and I make a jump to the station!”

              “Have you ever done a space walk?” Antonin asks, starting to do the calculations.

              “No..:” Jodie answers.

              “Because if we get the timing wrong, well we’ll just drift past the station and our mission goes to hell.” Antonin explains.

              “That is true.” Angel, agreeing.

              “Maybe. Best bet might to blow up the ship.” Jodie realises.

              “Excuse me.” Hutch, walking in and overhearing the conversation.

              “Just a little bit!” Jodie exclaims.

              Antonin and Jodie explain the problem and the different solution and as they are getting done, Lucio joins them. They ask Hutch if he has any ideas.

              “Well, not blowing up my ship is my best idea. Why not try to contact the station and get permission through lies and bribery.” Hutch suggests.

              “Not a bad idea. I think that we should try to contact the station administrator directly.” Lucio says, already having her contact information from the research he has been doing.

              “Why would that work?” Jodie asks.

              “If they are having a violent uprising, maybe, just maybe, having a team of elite mercenaries helping out isn't that bad? Also we can use some of the money our employer gave us to sweeten the deal.” Lucio answers.

              “I agree with Lucio. We can always make horrible plans later.” Antonin says.

              “Always the optimist.” Jodie remarks, but doesn’t protest against Lucio’s plan.

              Lucio makes the call, reaches the agent of the system administrator and they get a response an hour later. Sibyl Grippen, she looks like a belter, golden mohawk, facial tattoos and piercings but dresses like an Earther businesswoman.

              “I’m afraid that the station is closed for visitors.” Sibyl says, without introducing herself.

              “We realise that Administrator Grippen, but Trisec-Nakamura could be an asset in the current crisis. Especially with what lies ahead, a week from now.” Lucio, taking a gamble.

              “You.. know about that?” Grippen answers, surprise on her face.

              “Two rockets full of trouble, Administrator. We want to stop them from going… hot. We could also transfer some credits as collateral.” Lucio, choosing his words carefully.

              Sybil looks flustered for a moment, then collects herself and with determination says, “I hereby grant you permission to land. My security officers will escort you to my office when you arrive and we’ll continue our conversation in person. See you in two days.”

              The last two days pass without incidents. Jodie has been thinking about backup when they arrive and has gathered the team for a mindlink meeting.

              <So I think that we can convince some of the crew to back us up> Jodie starts.

              <Backup is good.> Antonin agrees.

              <Yeah, so who are you thinking?> Lucio asks.

              <Saint, Dallas and David> Jodie answers.

              <Sound choices.> Antonin approving.

              <Mayber Siri, she can probably get us into places.> Lucio suggests.

              <Can’t you do that, though? And I don’t know if we can trust her.> Jodie questions.

              <Sure. But if we need to split up.> Lucio answers.

              <I’m not sure that we should plan to split up.> Antonin warns.

              <Fine. Siri stays. Saint, Dallas and David it is.> Lucio relents.

              Jodie goes to talk with Hutch, gets his approval and then approaches the crew to get them onboard. Saint and Dallas agree but David doesn’t.

              “I don’t think that I can leave the ship. During disasters people panic and do stupid things. Someone has to protect the ship.” David says.

              “I understand. We would very much like to have a ship to get home with so I can’t argue with that.” Jodie replies.

              “Also, someone has got to keep an eye on the captain. He tends to get into trouble if he gets bored.” David adds.

              The Outcast Aurora arrives at Callisto station. It is shaped like a disk with a reactor in the middle. The design is old, hardtech based and not very visually appealing. It orbits the moon Callisto, an ancient rock full of impact craters, the most heavily cratered surface in the solar system. The docks are at the edge of the disk and they receive landing permission and guide A.R to bring the ‘Rora in near the Administration sector. The ship lands on an extended platform that slowly brings them into a hangar, like an insect being swallowed up by a curled up snake. After the hangar is sealed and filled with air, they get the green light indicating that they can go out. Four security officers enter their hangar and approach the landing ramp. As they make their way down, they feel the gravity of the station, about two thirds of Earth’s. They try to perceive the presence of Corruption but can’t detect any trace of aberrants. Jodie, Antonin and Lucio are in full armor, helmets included. Saint has a combat jacket on and a samurai designed motorcycle helmet. Dallas has a long, white, faux-leather duster and a white hat to match, the only one to show his face.

              “Playing up the Badass Mercenary part, I see.” Dallas says, smiling and checking his gun. He has switched out his laser pistol for a replica revolver with frangible bullets.

              “That’s what they are expecting.” Lucio replies.

              “Play to your strengths and carry a big sword.” Saint agrees, keeping his vibro-blade in a matte black casing.

              They let the security officers check their equipment and weapons. They ask that the weapons be put in a locker while they’re in the administrative part of the station but that they’ll get licenses for their sidearms later. The sword should be a tougher sell but the officers happily carry the case for Saint. Then they are taken to Sibyl Grippen’s office. Dallas and Saint wait outside and the protagonists enter.

              The place is a mess of fast food containers, excessive amounts of paper and books, as well as multiple minicomps. Grippen looks like she hasn’t slept for days and nurses a large mug of coffee. Antonin senses that her stress levels are alarmingly high but otherwise she seems to be healthy.

              “Welcome to the Call, as we locals call it.” Grippen says and sits down in her chair. The tall and somewhat frail woman, exhausted.

              “Administrator.” Lucio nods, still standing. The other two follow his lead.

              “Take off the damn helmets, this is a business meeting, not a war zone.” Grippen says.

              “That’s not what we hear.” Lucio says but lets the biotech helmet retract. They take a seat.

              “And you hear a lot. You knew about the incoming cruisers, so I take it that you are working for the Americans or Russians.” Sybil takes a sip from her mug.

              “Neither. The Æon Trinity hired us to stop a potential war.” Lucio answers.

              Grippen gives a whistle, “Simple job. You must be good.”

              “We do our best, Ma’am.” Jodie says.

              “Very well. So the troubles started a little over a month ago when the BUP and the company negotiators couldn’t agree on worker rights and salaries. That led to a slowdown strike, that escalated into a full strike.”

              “That escalated to violence.” Antonin interrupts.

              “No. When the full strike started, and we got word that the military was on the way, we did everything that we could to solve the situation peacefully. Our negotiators made major concessions, and a deal was agreed upon. That was two weeks ago.” Grippen, a little agitated.

              “So what’s the problem?” Jodie asks.

              “The BUP walked away from the table. It doesn’t make any fracking sense. They got what they wanted. Yet they chose to start a rebellion instead!” Sybil explains, almost spilling her mug.

              “You must have some idea, or theories at least.” Antonin tries.

              “Sure. Nothing official but I have some idea of what might have happened. Do you know Yaling Jacobi?” Sibyl asks, they nod in response and she continues, “Wow, you guys are prepared. Well I think that Jacobi is strong-arming the other two faction leaders to join the radicals approach to the strike. I don’t know how and my people can’t get to them without wading through angry protesters and armed radicals.”

              “But you know where they are?” Lucio asks.

              “Yes. I’ll send you the info. Now about the collateral.” Sybil replies.

              “It’s already on the way to your personal account.” Lucio answers.

              “Excellent. One more thing. If you fail, and things turn to shit. I want a seat on your ship and a way out. I won’t let the company crucify me for this.” Grippen says and stands up with a groan.

              “Deal. We’ll contact you if we need anything.” Lucio stands up.

              They get the intel and gun licenses. After getting their weapons back, two security officers take them to the Rapid Transit Station. As they walk there, through the administration section, they get a feel for the Call and the outer area of the ring. This place is called Topside and is pretty nice, clean and has plenty of parks and hydroponic facilities.

              David calls Jodie who answers.

              “Jodie, it’s Lin. Just made a sweep along the docks and I found a suspicious ship. I think that it's chinese.” She says.

              “Oh, do you think that it's the Ministry?” Jodie asks

              “Might be paranoia, but I thought you would appreciate the heads-up.” David explains.

              “Thanks. Call me if you see anything else.” Jodie answers.

              <Ok. There might be Ministry agents onboard. I’ll try to keep my senses open.> Jodie through the link.

              <That’s not ominous at all> Antonin thinks back.

              <Too little intel to speculate on their intentions, if they are even here.> Lucio states.

              <Either way, best to be prepared.> Jodie states, and shields her mind.

              As they go deeper into the middle part of the station they notice that the living conditions worsen, the gravity crystals are uneven and they can feel why this part is called Vertigo. They exit the car, and enter the station in Vertigo closest to where the elected leader of the progressive faction of the BUP resides. Outside the station there are protesters. They target the protagonists, wary of their battle gear but Dallas, the only one not looking like an obvious mercenary, convinces the protesters that they are a bunch of criminals looking to get some work done. They manage to get through the crowd and make their way towards their target.

              “Criminals? Can’t believe that excuse got us through.” Jodie says.

              “Game recognizes game.” Dallas answers.

              “Ok, our target is Fenris Nicolau, technician, one of the leaders of the BUP. We should be careful not to alienate a potential ally.” Jodie explains.

              “Understood, I’ll keep quiet.” Saint answers.

              They arrive outside Fenris’ workshop, where the man is sitting and handing out food and drinks to union members. The belters stiffen at the sight of the mercs. Fenris has brown dreadlocks and soft cyan eyes. He wears military cargo pants and an orange t-shirt, and carries a taser on the hip. He stands up, his hand on the taser and says, with a thick belter accent, “I hope you boys are here for the coffee.”

              “There’s coffee?” Jodie asks, cheerfully.

              “We’re just here to talk.” Antonin adds.

              Fenris gives them a suspicious look, and then pours a cup of coffee and hands it over to Jodie.

              “If you are willing to send your IDs, then we can step into the shop and talk.” He says.

              <I can make sure he doesn’t send them anywhere.> Lucio thinks.

              “No problem.” Jodie says and sends her info to Fenris.

              “We’ll sit this one out” Dallas says, referring to Saint.

              Antonin and Lucio send their IDs as well and the three follow Fenris into the workshop. It’s dusty, the air is stale and it appears that very little work has been done here for the last weeks or so. Jodie retracts her helmet to sip at the coffee and gives Fenris a warm smile.

              “This is good coffee.” Jodie says.

              “This isn't about coffee.” Fenris notes.

              “We are here to solve the conflict on the station before things escalate beyond the point of no return.” Lucio explains.

              “Earthers coming to the Call, high-tech guns and armor to teach us a lesson?” Fenris accuses.

              “Not these earthers, but if things don't get better soon, others will come.” Antonin tries.

              “What my friend here is saying is that we are here to help. We aren't working for your employers, or Earth but the Æon Trinity. And to be fair, from what we have gleamed, you and your faction should be pretty happy with the deal that you got.” Jodie says.

              “Say that I believe you. That you are here to help. Say that I trust you. What are you willing to do?” Fenris responds.

              “We are able to quite a lot. So why are you against the new treaty?” Lucio asks.

              Fenris squirms, clearly uncomfortable but says, “I have to side with the radicals because of Yaling Jacobi, she has brought in muscle that’s threatening our people. They can’t get back to work because Primal Scream gangers are blocking the maintenance tunnels.”

              “So if we clear out the gangers?” Antonin asks.

              “And take out Jacobi. To be clear, I need you to kill her. She is a dangerous fanatic and I wouldn't be comfortable to force her hand.” Fenris says, a hint of desperation in his voice.

              <Are we doing this?> Jodie asks

              <Its like surgery, take out the tumor and let the body heal.> Antonin replies.

              <At the moment we don't have a choice, now do we?> Lucio adds.

              “How can we find her?” Lucio asks, remembering to speak during their mindlink.

              “I might be able to get a meeting with her. Somewhere clandestine, and you can ambush her?” Fenris suggests.

              <Well?> Lucio thinks

              “Do it.” Jodie says.

              Fenris goes to the corner of the shop and gets a message sent. They wait for almost an hour before Jacobi contacts him. They can hear his side of the conversation, they don't detect anything wrong.

              Not that they were trying...

              They pack their things and head towards the ambush site. The maintenance tunnels are lovingly called the bowels, Fenris knows his way and Lucio confirms through his research that they are heading to the right place. A coolant room at the end of a corridor, there is a 5 meter shaft leading down in the middle of the room with an open grate. Antonin’s drone checks the shaft for any surprises but it's empty. The corridors are less than 2 meters wide but the room is spacious. They climb up on tubes, ladders and rafters so that they have fire lanes down to the ground floor.Antonin and Saint on one side of the room, the rest on the other, with Fenris standing in the open in front of the shaft. Then they wait. Fenris is getting restless but keeps his calm. They hear footsteps approaching and can sense a large number of people getting closer.

              “Kill the traitor” They hear from down the corridor, around the corner and then the people are charging.

              So Fenris failed to lie to Jacobi, she has sent a hit squad of 20 drugged up gangers. It's initiative time and the three players go first, then the friendly npcs with the 4 mobs going last.

              “Saint and Antonin, try to hold them at the entrance. We’ll cover you.” Jodie barks the orders and covers the entrance. Lucio enhances his mental abilities and readies his pistol.

              “Yes Ma’am” Antonin says, climbs down to the entrance but stays out of sight and improves his noetic template to better resist damage. Dallas ignores the order and jumps down, and fires a couple of revolver shots at the gangers. Saint leaps after Antonin but the gravity causes him lose his balance and falls to the ground, the impact knocks the air out of his lungs. Fenris manages to climb down the shaft without injuring himself and is out of the line of fire.
              The gangers move forward and try to answer the cowboy standing at the end of the corridor, miraculously they miss him with their cheap plastic firearms. Dallas in turn drops one of the gangers with a headshot.

              And we’re out of time, so we’ll finish the fight next session. I made it clear that the bad guys want Fenris dead, so that they know the stakes. Not that I think that they’ll hand him over but anyway.

              As a note, I want to show that Jacobi is a talented woman, competent, dangerous and perhaps a bit lucky. It will be interesting to see if she can survive physical contact with the PCs if it comes to that.

              Next session is today and hopefully I’ll remember mysterious aid if Jodie needs it.

              C&C welcome, cheers!


              • #22
                2.3 The Eyes

                And after a short break we’re back. Being a teacher in may/june usually sucks but this year has been especially trying, with the pandemic going on.
                This recap is from two weeks ago and last week was cancelled due to technical difficulties.
                We pick up with the second turn of combat.

                As the gangers are pushing forward through the cramped corridor, Antonin, Jodie and Lucio step forward to open fire with their formatted flechette pistols. They unleash three swarms of needles into the mob and drop more than half of the gangers. There’s pandemonium as screams, bodies and blood intermingle in a gruesome heap. Jodie and Lucio back away but Antonin stands ready to hold the entrance. Saint stands up and fires a quick shot, dropping another ganger, before limping to cover behind Antonin. Dallas drops another two. The rest of the gangers, drugged up and seemingly unaware of their foolhardiness, rushes up to swarm Antonin and Dallas. They are unable to piece Antonin’s enhanced physique and Dallas manages to dodge injury.

                <Antonin, drop down!> Lucio thinks and aims at the swirling mass of combatants. Antonin, thinking fast, pushes through to Dallas and drags him down.

                <Jodie, open fire, aim high!> Lucio orders and unleashes a salvo of needles into the gangers. Jodie does the same and their combined fire takes the rest of the gangers out. The room goes quiet except for the painful moans of a few of the criminals lying on the floor.

                Well that went quick. I had hoped to drain their resources some with this scene, but since they had done their research and picked a spot where they had the advantage it didn’t turn out that way. Oh well.

                Dallas stands up, looking at the bodies around him and whistles in surprise.
                “That went surprisingly well.” Antonin says as he rises.

                “But no Jacobi.” Jodie says and walks over to the shaft and looks down, she sees Fenris and asks, “You ok?”

                The dark-skinned man looks up at her and starts pacing, “Shit, shit shit shit… shit!”

                Lucio perceives the downed gangers electronics, one of their minicomps is transmitting a call. He walks over to the body and scoops the comp up. He can see Yaling Jacobi glaring at him.

                “I don’t suppose you could tell me if we got the traitor.” She says, her tone steady but dripping with hate.

                “You should have sent more men.” Lucio, cockily responds.

                “My intel suggested that you were posers. Why are you here?” Yaling asks.

                “We are here to stop you.” Lucio answers

                “Good luck. Tell Fenris that he is a dead man walking.” She says.

                “Why are you doing this?” Lucio asks in turn and starts to try to sense where the transmission is coming from.
                And promptly rolls 8 successes on 5 dice.

                “Why do you care, Earther?” Jacobi answers.

                “Because you are risking the lives of everyone on the station.” Lucio states, realising that she is close and straining to get the exact location before Jacobi hangs up.

                “You call this living? All Belters are leashed by Earthers but here in the Call, we are under the boot of dictators. Sometimes lives have to be sacrificed in the name of freedom. Besides, I don’t really think that you care. If you did, you wouldn’t have come armed to the teeth with biotech.” Jacobi says, strangely impassionately.

                Lucio gets the location, up a few levels and out into the lower parts of the Vertigo slums. He is annoyed by Jacobi and says, “Fine. If you want us to be killers, we’ll be killers. We are coming for you.”

                “And as I said before, good luck. You won’t stop me until it's too late.” She hangs up.

                Meanwhile Jodie and Antonin are talking to Fenris, who has climbed up the ladder and is smoking a joint.

                “Don’t worry, we’ll stop her.” Jodie says.

                “You don’t get it, she is a fanatic and she’ll send her people after me. I’m dead. You were supposed to take her out!” Fenris, raising his voice.

                “A minor setback. We still plan to kill her..” Antonin says, clinically.

                Fenris starts to point at Antonin, tapping him on the chest and says, “And while you are chasing her, who is protecting me, huh?”

                “We can’t protect you and go after her at the same time.” Antonin replies, ignoring Fenris’ tapping for now.

                “Dallas and Saint, have you done any bodyguard work in the past?” Jodie asks.

                “Sure, we can hole up somewhere and keep Mr. Union safe.” Dallas responds. Saint tilts his head towards him but doesn’t say anything.

                “What do you say?” Jodie asks Fenris.

                “What choice do I have?” Fenris replies.

                “We have a message server on the OpNet that we use when we go covert. I’ll send messages there and the ‘Rora will relay it to you.” Dallas says and indicates to Fenris that they are leaving.

                <We have to go, I know where Jacobi is and it's close.> Lucio thinks.

                Antonin and Jodie start moving towards him.

                <Dallas and Saint are keeping Fenris safe so we are on our own.> Jodie informs

                <Shit. Well, fine, she wants him dead anyways so that’s fine> Lucio reflects.

                When the trio get past the bodies and out into the service tunnels they start jogging.

                <So what’s the plan?> Antonin wonders.

                <Sneak up on her and then attack.> Lucio answers.

                <This will go well.> Jodie thinks, her tone sarcastic.

                They take the elevator two floors up and reach the doors that lead out of the service tunnels. Jacobi’s minicomp is just outside the door. Lucio can’t sense any traps, but there are dozens of humans on the other side.

                I don’t know if there are any rules for this but I let them use the worst dice pool among them for sneaking, with enhancements from the others as help. Jodie’s player rolled the dice and had a botch. This presented a perfect opportunity but I let the player’s decide if they wanted to use momentum to re-roll or not.

                The doors open quietly and they can see that a group of five Primal Scream thugs are sitting around a table placed at the intersection from the busy main street to the side street leading to the maintenance tunnels. They are playing cards and smoking Blue Fever. Across the street from them are another group of six thug lookouts. They haven’t seen the psions and the trio approaches carefully, since they can’t see Jacobi.

                <Her minicomp is on the table> Lucio confirms with his electrokinetic sight.

                While trying to find her, Jodie spots a slim figure sitting on a cargo crate with the gangers across the street. She recognizes him, and without thinking waves and shouts, “Nero!”

                The gangers around the table turn around and start cursing and drawing their weapons.

                <What the hell?> Lucio asks and the psions spring into action.

                Lucio veering towards the left wall to get some cover and fires at the table, turning three gangers into human pin cushions. The civilians walking at main street start screaming and fleeing as Antonin advances along the right wall and takes out the other two, nailing one to the chair and the other falling over the table, overturning it. Jodie tries to reach out telepathically to Nero but is blocked by Blue Fever in his system. She moves up to the table, and uses it as cover while taking out two gangers without hitting any stray civilians.

                Nero draws a knife, starts to approach but as he looks at them he gets a shocked look on his face and turns to flee. The remaining three gangers swarm Jodie with knives and her armor takes a beating. Lucio picks off one of them with covering fire. Entangled in melee for real, for the first time since her training, Jodie puts what she has learned to good use. She slams her elbow into the nose of the first thug, there is a sickening crack and a spurt of blood as he falls backwards, dropping his knife. Jodie catches it in midair and turns to slam it into the second thugs eye before running after Nero.

                Wasn’t planning on introducing him yet but that botch gave me the idea to complicate things now. The combat was over before it even started though. I might have given them too good weapons.

                With the thugs dead in the streets, Antonin and Lucio spend a few seconds to cover Jodie, checking the street for Jacobi but not finding their target and then decide to follow their comrade.

                <Don’t shoot him> Jodie pleads.

                They run down the streets, passing food carts and street vendors, people having cleared the vicinity in a hurry from the sudden fight that the protagonists started. Nero is free-running but Jodie is keeping up by sheer force of will. Antonin uses his enhanced physique to barrel through any obstacle, while Lucio plans his pursuit with his knowledge of the station's layout. He sees how Nero turns around a corner and Lucio heads into an apartment building and plans to intercept the teen through a shortcut. Unfortunately the poor maintenance in the slums means that when he gets to the door he plans to exit the building from, it is out of order and he is blocked from the pursuit.

                Another botch, this time it’s Lucio's turn.

                The chase continues and Nero is heading towards the Rapid Transit Station. Antonin can’t keep up but somehow Nero miscalculates and Jodie catches up to him. She manages to tackle him to the ground right before he reaches an open part of the train tunnels.

                And now it’s my turn to fail. Nero has 8 dice and enhancement, Jodie 4 dice and maybe momentum, but I rolled zero successes. I had hoped that Nero would get away in this scene.

                They slide close to the train tracks, Nero’s knife clatters to the ground as well as a pill bottle, and Jodie telepathically turns her helmet transparent and yells, “Young man, your mother and I have been worried sick about you!”

                “Aunt Jodie!?” Nero exclaims, shocked.

                “What in the name of the Heavens and Luna are you thinking?” She asks, still yelling and looks at the pill bottle, its contents spilling out, blue pills.

                “What are you doing here?” Nero asks.

                “Getting you home, and what is this? Why are you taking this poison?” Jodie asks, picking the bottle up.

                “Calm down, it's not what it looks like. I’m on a mission.” Nero says, palms up defensively.

                “Then explain it to me.” Jodie says, forcing herself to calm down.

                “Ok. I can’t go home, not yet. I have to complete the mission. And the pills are for protection.” Nero says.

                “You are going home, I won’t let you keep slumming with gangers and drug addicts. And what do you mean with protection” Jodie says.

                “From mind readers. They are after me!” Nero tries to explain, pointing at his temple.

                <Oh boy> Jodie thinks

                Meanwhile Antonin is slowing down and keeping his distance, he doesn’t want to interfere and is waiting for Lucio. Lucio on the other hand has to go back the way he came and as he exits there is a large dark-skinned man pointing a gun at him. The man is kitted with biotech, subdermal implants and enhanced eyes. He wears civilian combat gear, a long green coat that probably was concealing the SMG that’s in Lucio’s face. Behind him is a blonde woman in black leather gear, with a large display visor and electrical wiring implants in her hands. She also has a gun trained on him, some high tech automatic pistol. He can see that their biocomps have coded ID’s for the two of them, the man is tagged as Ra and the woman as Odin.

                “Drop your gun, merc.” Ra says, his voice commanding.

                “Hey, you have the wrong guy here, friend.” Lucio tries.

                “You were after our target. Drop your gun.”

                Without speaking, Odin starts moving towards where Nero, Jodie and Antonin were heading. She looks ahead but the weapon is still pointing at Lucio.

                That’s when he hears Jodie thinking in the link, <Oh boy.>

                <Hey, I’m in trouble here.> Lucio thinks and describes the two unknown agents.

                <Sounds like Odin is on her way here.> Antonin thinks and moves a little close to Jodie and Nero.

                <Try to distract her.> Jodie replies through the link and asks Nero, “Who is after you?”

                “I think that it’s the Ministry.” He answers.

                <Oh crap, have you guys heard about the Eyes of Heaven?> Jodie shares the rumours she has heard about the Ministry’s clandestine agents.

                <I think that I’m staring at one of them.> Lucio replies.

                “Last warning, drop the gun, let me cuff you and nobody has to get hurt.” Ra says, but Lucio gets the sense that there’s someone else speaking this time.

                <I’m going to do something stupid.> Lucio thinks and drops the gun. As Ra glances down, Lucio sees that there is a light at the side of the building and reaches out to it with his electrokinetic abilities. He takes a step to the side so that the light is behind him.

                Odin has rounded the corner and is approaching Antonin. Antonin sends his drone to her and she aims at it.

                “Looks expensive, I’ll break it if you don’t get it out of my face.” Odin says.

                “Sorry. The little critter has a mind of its own.” Antonin says, his hand on the holster.

                The Drone returns to him and Odin approaches cautiously.

                “We’ll protect you. Just stay calm.” Jodie says to Nero.

                “As long as they are on the station, I’m frakked.” Nero responds.

                As Ra lowers the gun and produces plastic handcuffs, Lucio thinks <Now> and forces the light to brighten and explode, blinding Ra momentarily and Lucio grabs his flechette pistol from the ground.

                It was starting to get complicated, with three different situations going on simultaneously in the same scene but Lucio’s player saved me by starting combat.
                Now these Agents are no joke, two Moderate threats with excellent gear and a telepathic handler with even better stats. My inspiration for them are from the excellent Inquisitor novels by Dan Abnett, from Warhammer 40k. So I imagine that they are communicating through mindlink exactly like the PCs have been doing but with a distant telepath calling the shots.
                Unfortunately for the Eyes, I fail the initiative rolls.
                Order for the first round is: Lucio, Ra, Odin, Jodie, Nero, Antonin.

                Lucio’s enhanced reaction speed lets him take aim at the operative and he fires the flechette pistol at point blank range at Ra’s head with devastating effect, even though Ra manages to pull away at the last second. His right eye gets destroyed and he howls out in agony, but somehow manages to regain his composure enough to look at Lucio and says, “Go, buy lunch.”

                Ok, so Command shouldn’t work on Lucio, he has Artifact Enhanced Telepathic Resistance but the Dice Gods were with me and against him. Hilariously Lucio gets Remotely mind controlled.

                Around the corner, Odin leaps into action and looks past Antonin, sees Nero and opens fire with her automatic pistol. Nero is wearing armor but it gets shredded by the bullets and hurts like hell. Jodie turns and charges at Odin with a snarl, her flechette pistol spits out a swarm of nails that reveals Odin’s clothes to be shifting armor. Nero calls out something to Jodie and runs across the train tracks to the other side, throwing his minicomp on the tracks before leaving.
                Some inside reference or similar that will help Jodie find him later.

                Antonin charges Odin and throws a Psi empowered punch that knocks her to the ground, breaking a rib, she loses the grip of her pistol and Antonin kicks it away.
                Lucio blinks, holsters his weapon and walks towards the food vendors they passed on the way here. Ra comes running around the corner and fires a burst into Antonin but the armor protects him from injury. Jodie returns fire and Ra gets hit, centre of mass and spits up some blood. Odin says, “Please don’t hurt us. We surrender.”

                Antonin pulls his pistol and aims it at Odin, “Tell your colleague to drop his gun.”

                Ra does so, and Jodie aims at him as he moves closer.

                “Why should we let you live?” Jodie snarls.

                Antonin is shocked by Jodie’s ferocity but doesn’t go against her.

                “I underestimated you, don’t let them die because of that.” Odin says, with the inflection of another persona.

                “We’ll talk, but if you try any telepathic abilities or any other tricks, we’ll pull the triggers.” Jodie says.

                “We agree to these terms.” The same persona says through Ra this time.

                “Who are you? Why did you attack us?” Antonin asks.

                “I’m Yeung, leader of this operation. As for attacking, we didn’t, your ally escalated the situation.” Odin-Yeung says.

                <Didn’t really answer who they are> Antonin thinks.

                <Probably won’t. Lucio, you ok?> Jodie reflects.

                <I’m buying food?> Lucio, snapping out of Yeung’s telepathic influence.

                “As to the why, it seems that we were after the same target.” Ra-Yeung continues.

                “Not anymore, he is ours and you will leave Callisto.” Jodie states.

                “With respect, Ms Moon, we cannot do that. We have a mission to carry out.” Odin-Yeung says

                Jodie curses internally, realizing that her face is visible as Lucio returns to the group.

                <We have to make them leave.> She thinks.

                “We might be on the same mission. If Blue Fever is involved.” Antonin, having a hunch.

                “How curious. Everything seems to indeed be connected as you Israns are so fond of pointing out.” Odin-Yeung says, looking at Jodie.

                “Let us finish your mission for you. But we need you to leave the station.” Jodie replies.

                <And maybe get compensated.> Antonin muses.

                “We are looking for the source. We can’t have this drug flooding Chinese soil. The risks for crime, corruption and societal instability is too high. Although I suppose I could let you have a week to find it and stop the production. I have great respect for you Ms Moon. My order doesn’t allow just anyone access to our promethium chamber.”

                “If we do this, what do we get from you.” Lucio tries.

                “My understanding was that you get to operate without our presence onboard Callisto. Isn’t that enough? You have already cost us greatly. ” Ra-Yeung turns towards Lucio, with his ruined eye.

                “We would be putting our lives at risk.” Antonin says.

                “That is true. If you are successful then you will have a friend in the Ministry. That can have some value.” Odin-Yeung answers.

                <Good enough?> Jodie asks, and the others accept.

                “We have a deal. Since your agents are injured, please allow us to escort them to your ship.” Jodie says.

                They take the Rapid Transit System to the docks. It takes some time and mostly they travel in silence, the two groups in separate mind link discussions. After some time Ra looks up at Antonin and says, “You got us pretty good. Embarrassing really, being broken by amateurs. Still, as a courtesy, could you maybe fix my eye. I understand that you are a vitakinetic.”

                “Maybe lead with the request and leave out the insult next time.” Antonin replies and walks over to Ra. He considers forcefully removing the agent’s biotech but thinks better of it and opts to simply restores the eye.

                They drop off the operatives at the docks. They never get to physically meet or see Yeung but they exchange contact information and watch as the ship leaves the docks.

                “That went easier than expected.” Jodie says, relieved.

                “I had a chance to review the surveillance from the location where we found Nero, while we traveled here . Jacobi was never there, a courier came and she was watching through his minicomp. I spoke to a damn hologram.” Lucio informs.

                “Seems that Yaling Jacobi is quite formidable, much more so than our intel seemed to suggest.” Antonin speculates.

                “This is going to suck.” Jodie sighs.

                “So what’s the plan?” Lucio asks.

                “We find Nero. He might know where to find Jacobi. If that doesn’t work, we’ll look for her courier.” Jodie says.

                The team spends a moment staring out through the dock windows, into space. They can see Callisto, the moon, and Jupiter “rising” beyond it. The view is quite breathtaking, serene even. It is almost hard to imagine that in six days, war might come to this place and threaten the lives of thousands of people onboard the Call.

                And that’s where we left the session. Now this was two weeks ago but I think that I managed to remember the important story beats and dialogue.

                I’m impressed that the players didn’t execute the Eyes of Heaven operatives. If it had been D&D I’m sure that they wouldn’t have let them live. Shows how important rules and tone is for what kind of actions players feel that they should take.

                Oh, I forgot, but the vision of Nero’s future has been averted. I think that we talked about it after the game but not in-character. If Jodie hadn’t intervened then the Eyes’ investigation would eventually have gotten him killed.

                Introducing Nero into the mix this early will probably change the Chronicle entirely. That’s what forced me to introduce the Eyes as well. We’ll see how it goes, the next session is today (hopefully) and I’m looking forward to it.

                As always, C&C welcome and appreciated.


                • #23
                  Great Story so far. Fantastic build up!

                  Gamelines: Requiem, Lost, Awakening, Trinity Continuum: Aeon, some V5.
                  Likes cheesecake (quark-based)


                  • #24
                    Thanks! Sadly the game is on hiatus atm.

                    Lost a bit of energy after having been stressed out by work, my vacation started and we were moving into our new home, having bought our first house.

                    We kept playing, only took a week off, and our group even managed to meet in person over summer. But I needed a break from sitting at the computer and writing, I’m a teacher and because of the pandemic my home computer became my office space.

                    I still have the notes to give a general ending of the first "season".


                    • #25
                      No Problem and you have alot going on.
                      Roleplay is to have leisure not to have one more thing to stress you out.
                      Just wanted to give appreciation as I one that giving such good readable actual play write ups is also time consuming.
                      I hardly even looked into the forum for 5 months - and I did not even moves houses (congrats on you new nest!).

                      I hope everything will ease out in the future and you can have fun with it again.

                      Gamelines: Requiem, Lost, Awakening, Trinity Continuum: Aeon, some V5.
                      Likes cheesecake (quark-based)


                      • #26
                        2.4 A shocking turn of events

                        Well, that took some time. As I mentioned, the past months were busy and I didn’t really have the energy to spend typing everything out. But for those interested, I’m back and plan to recap this story to its conclusion. This is the last recap in this style but more on that later.

                        With the Ministry off and away Callisto the team make their way to the Rokkit Rabbit Coffee shop, a franchise based on a popular VR game series that Jodie and Nero used to play. These places used to be popular but that was some years ago. They enter the colorful shop and the mechanical rabbit service unit, in a horrible state of disrepair, greets them, “Hop and Away, Space Explorer! Can I take your order?”

                        They order a coffee/carrot themed beverage each and sit in the corner, near the emergency exit and wait.

                        <So, let me do the talking.> Jodie thinks.

                        <Of course.> Antonin answers

                        <We should actually talk smalltalk, instead of mind speaking, because three people sitting in silence looks out of place.> Lucio suggests.

                        They start talking about random subjects and get to distract themselves for a while. After twenty minutes or so Nero arrives. He makes an order and sits down at the booth. He is a dark-skinned teenager with buzz cut black hair, wearing gang colors and subtle urban combat gear. Jodie barely recognizes him.

                        “They gone?” He says and takes a sip, making a face at the bitter coffee taste.

                        “Yeah. You don’t have to worry about them. Are you ok?” Jodie asks.

                        “Yup.” Nero nods.

                        “Good.” Jodie says, then leans forward and smacks the back of his head, “What were you thinking?! Do you realize how worried your mother is, how worried I’ve been? I’ve been searching for you for months!”

                        “Jodie..” Nero tries to answer.

                        “Call your mom!” Jodie says sternly.

                        “I can’t..” Nero struggling to find the words.

                        “Yes you can. Just call her.” Jodie states matter of factly.

                        “It’s not that simple. I’m on a mi..” Nero starts but is interrupted.

                        “A mission, yeah I remember. Call. Your. Mother.” Jodie, not budging.

                        Nero looks around, tries to argue but realises the futility. With a sigh, he leans in and says, “Look, if anyone knew what I was up to, it could put her and everyone at home in great danger. I’m sort of a freedom fighter.”

                        “Listen, kiddo, I get it, but you have to realise that she is worried sick and if it was up to her she would risk everything just to know that you are safe.” Jodie holds his hand.

                        “But I’m not safe, Jodie. I’m infiltrating a gang of drug dealing scum and being hunted by the Ministry. My team is missing and protocol states that I should wait for my, uhm, allies to make contact. I’m feeling pretty isolated here.” Nero responds, clearly stressed out.

                        “We’ll protect you.” She replies calmly.

                        Nero glances at Antonin and Lucio, “Do you trust these guys?”

                        “With my life.” Jodie answers, truthfully.

                        Nero gives a deep sigh, as if he is trying to blow troubles away, “Ok. Well I trust you and I’m not supposed to tell anyone but there is another reason why I can’t contact mom.”

                        “Go on.” Jodie says.

                        “So I kinda got recruited by a psi order.” Nero states.

                        <He’s either lying or hiding it with blue fever because I don’t sense anything> Antonin thinks.

                        “Are you on drugs?” Jodie asks, worried.

                        “No. They are just a cover story. And the reason that we were sent here. Check this out.” Nero says, and suddenly all of them can get psionic inputs from him. He disintegrates his coffee mug to their astonishment and then his aura goes blank again.

                        “What the hell?” Lucio asks.

                        “Yeah. So have you guys ever heard of the Chitra Banu?” Nero smiles awkwardly.

                        So we go through the official story that the characters know. Jodie and Antonin are inclined to believe what they have learned during their training but Lucio doesn’t really trust any second-hand source completely so he has more of an open mind.

                        “You better explain.” Jodie states, suddenly feeling exhausted.

                        “Yeah, sure. Apparently they weren’t completely destroyed, our proxy survived and managed to rebuild the prometheus chamber. They have been staying below the radar since. A few months ago I got interviewed by their recruiters, they basically asked me if I wanted to save humanity’s future and I wasn’t raised to say no to that. So they made me disappear, put me through multiple tests and then boot camp before activating my abilities. Most of the order is scientists so I’m the muscle I suppose.” Nero explains.

                        “Kind of scrawny to be the muscle.” Antonin states.

                        “I’m working on it, be shway man. Anyway they told me that I needed to keep things secret because the other orders would hunt us down and finish the job if they found out that we were still around. You get it now?” Nero continues.

                        <We need to talk about this.> Antonin thinks, matter of factly.

                        <Later.> Jodie replies.

                        “Yeah.” Jodie says, and after a dramatic pause, “Call you mom.”

                        Nero looks at her in surprise, then with defiance and finally relents, “Fine.”

                        “Good boy.” She says.

                        “You said that you were infiltrating Primal Scream, are you here for Jacobi?” Lucio asks after a moment of awkward silence.

                        “Jacobi? Nah, we were after the source of blue fever. Jacobi works with the gang but not with the drugs.” Nero answers, relieved that someone changed the subject.

                        “Could you help us find Jacobi?” Jodie asks.

                        “She’s sneaky, I’ve never met her in person, she always uses couriers and holographic calls to make it harder to trace her. But Primal Scream has a bar where some of the couriers hang out. I have pictures of them and could take you there.” Nero suggests.

                        “Pictures and address is fine. You don’t need to blow your cover.” Jodie replies.

                        “Ok. But in return, you’ve got to help me find my friends.” Nero states.

                        “Fine, we’ll do it after we’ve stopped Jacobi. It’s kind of urgent.” Jodie explains.

                        “So is helping my friends.” Nero says, crossing his arms.

                        “And we’ll help but everyone on this station is at risk unless we can stop Jacobi and her plans.” Jodie states.

                        “And your friends might be with her? If they were part of the gang when they disappeared.” Antonin suggests.

                        “Nah, they aren’t on the station. We found out that the drugs are coming from the moon. They are on Callisto. So I need a ship.” Nero answers.

                        “We have a ship.” Lucio offers.

                        “Later. First things first. Jacobi’s courier and the bar.” Jodie, standing up.

                        Nero transfers the files, “There’s a pilot that does the smuggling for the gang, she is usually hanging at the bars at the docks. I’ll go there and keep eyes on her. Contact me after you’re done saving the station, I suppose. And good luck.”

                        Jodie gives him a hug and whispers, “Promise you’ll call your mom?”

                        He nods and they part ways.

                        The group starts heading towards the shady parts of the station once again.

                        <Chitra Banu. They are dangerous.> Antonin muses.

                        <If what we have been told is true.> Lucio offers.

                        <Guys, I can’t really focus on both worrying about the mission and about Nero. If you don’t want to be a part of this after our job is done, fine. But for now, let’s get Jacobi and stop a war.> Jodie states.

                        They agree and drop the subject for now. All of them will have to decide where to stand on the issue eventually.
                        The group reach the bar, it's called Universal Howl and they can see a dozen gangers outside. They decide to infiltrate by shifting their armors to appear in gang colors and Jodie uses her telepathy to shift the mood away from suspicion. There are at least thirty Primal Scream gang members inside but under Jodie’s influences none approach. Sitting a few booths away from the courier, the same that was sitting outside the maintenance tunnels earlier, Lucio trivially steals his data and they make their leave. With the information Lucio manages to track Jacobi’s location.

                        This took a long time to plan but quick to execute. They passed all rolls with flying colors and were approaching my big bad ahead of schedule.

                        <We got her location, what’s the plan?> Lucio asks.

                        <We’re in gang colors, so why not just go to her and act like we’re part of her crew.> Antonin suggests.

                        <And I could fool them if need be, unless they are on blue fever that is.> Jodie adds.

                        Lucio gets a notification from his agent.

                        <Jacobi is moving in another set of maintenance tunnels.> Lucio informs.

                        <Let’s go.> Antonin decides.

                        And this is how far I had proper notes for dialogue. The played sessions aren't quite over yet and I have my rough notes to edit but can’t remember the dialogue properly.

                        The protagonists head into maintenance tunnels and find that Jacobi is in a part where the air purifiers are for a section of the station. They try to sneak in but Jacobi and her paramilitary gangers aren’t fooled. Jacobi is rigging the place to collapse and would kill thousands of people from asphyxiation. They aren’t done yet but our heroes aren’t inclined to let them finish and a fierce battle takes place around the sensitive hardware. Jacobi is a Talent, she has 15 goons with proper guns, armour and plenty of cover. Lucio and Antonin go for Jacobi while Jodie becomes a goddess of war, moving from cover to cover and taking out 2-3 goons a turn. When Jacobi gets hurt she decides to flee and Lucio follows after her. He is almost killed by her guards but Antonin manages to keep him alive enough to send an electrical blast that stuns Jacobi.

                        Lucio executes her, not taking any chances before being gunned down.
                        The goons start to flee because of Jodie and that gives Antonin a chance to save Lucio from the brink of death. After the skirmish, they spend a few hours to heal up and then dismantle Jacobi’s sabotage.

                        They phone their Belter contacts and say that their mission was successful before heading back into the station proper.

                        Another exciting fight in this game, could have gone either way for the heroes with deadly stakes but Lucio’s player didn’t want Jacobi to get away again. Sadly that meant that they didn’t get the full scope of her plans or motivation. Also, this was the first combat where Jodie really managed to shine and she made full use of her newly trained combat skills.

                        This was the first game in the new house, and boy was it a weird one. With hindsight, I have a couple of thoughts. The pacing around Jodie and Nero has been off in the chronicle, this goes back to my initial prep for the first story, which I foolishly made before character generation, that didn’t leave much room in the first five sessions to explore the individual player’s interests.

                        I can’t be the only ST that constantly gets their big bads killed off prematurely, but here it happened again and deflated the climax for the main plot. I wasn’t a problem since the Nero/Blue Fever plot can be switched to the new main plot, but I find it funny that this keeps happening.

                        I have already started typing out the next session, it's coming but it will take however long it takes. As with the end of this session, my notes are lacking proper dialogue except for a few quotes, so the coming recaps will probably be shorter but posting them will grant me a sense of closure at least.

                        As always, happy to answer any questions.