Eclipse Phase - Black Swan Theory

LOG 0003 – METT//STATSEC//CLARKE

The Firewall team scrambled to receive boarders, looking to find good hold-out positions for when the scavengers arrive. They quickly move to check and cover the nearby exits from near the bridge, ensuring Dr. Il’Voras is set up safely in Medbay in case of emergencies.

The first exit from the bridge hallway is opened by Hank, and appears to be a storeroom – dark and empty. Stepping inside to give the room a once-over, he looks up to discover a broken-limbed female corpse lashed to the roof with cargo ties, panics, and in his frantic motions to flee manages to get the faceplate of his helmet covered with blood. The confined space, blood, and nightmarish surroundings bring back repressed memories, and Hank lapses into semi-catatonic weeping.

Mei and Ilan clean the blood from his helmet and leave him in the hallway as they head through another door, which turns out to lead to a massively overgrown ‘greenhouse’. Bamboos and grasses fill the entire area, and Redman’s keen senses discover another of the bizzare em-emitting tendrils erupting from the floor. Mei blasts it with a hollowpoint round and Ilan collects the severed chunk of its dense, fibrous material as a sample. Further exploration of the room reveals masses of the tendrils covering various air vents leading out of the greenhouse.

In the meantime, Jay and Walker are still in the bridge when they notice a camera watching them from inside a nearby vent. Incensed at being spied upon, Walker launches himself into the vent system to chase the camera drone, with Jay following on foot. Both Jay and Walker wind up in a small cabin with a now-destroyed camera drone and what looks like the captain’s AR personal device; a laptop of sorts with gatecrashing videos and logs from Eric Quinn. These are added to a series of other logs discovered across the vessel.

Clarke’s Crew Logs

Hank moves to the last door, which is fairly damaged and locked down. He instructs his muse to hack the door’s lockdown in order to bypass it and open it manually, still thinking fuzzily and not realizing that this was likely locked for a reason. Dickens manages to crack the door open, and unfortunately it opens into space. Hank barely makes it back into the command centre as the doors all around him slam shut and seal.

Jay and Walker proceed from the cabin into an adjoining room which has the ship’s central AR matrices. The array appears to have a user video queued, but the power is too low for it to be able to playback. Before messing with it any more, Jay discovers that it’s been jury-rigged to a handmade explosive device, disarms it, and reroutes power to play the video.

Pandora Gate Primer Video

Once pressure returns to the main corridor, the group reconvenes, ready to head to the aft of the ship. Hank has removed his helmet in order to dose himself with some sedatives, while the rest of the team remains sealed in case of contaminants. Cautiously they head towards the aft of the ship, when a pair of stealth-cloak wearing scavengers round the corner and are swiftly gunned down by Mei, Hank, and Ilan. They’re fairly well-equipped for scavengers, apparently part of some kind of paramilitary organization – but without any identifying features.

Coming to a badly scratched and damaged door, Hank, Mei, Walker, and Ilan all enter. This triggers the security system to repel intruders by sending a superheated cutting laser down the hall. After several close calls, and a burst of fire from Hank’s pistol failing to hit the laser emitter and instead winging Mei, Jay manages to cut the power from outside the room, allowing the team access to the research lab beyond.

The room is trashed, wiring hanging from the ceiling, a mess of furniture, and a wasp-waisted assistant servitor hanging from a track on the roof. An eerie level of arrangement is apparent in how the furniture has been placed.

The team elects not to mess with the threatening-looking ‘bot and heads to the elevators to the ship’s cargo pods. They’ve been damaged – possibly from an explosion – and Mei hears something coming from below. Jay opens the shaft and gives it a once-over for traps, then Mei takes point. The team emerges into a cavernous cargo pod and after several minutes of searching discovers a gap in the otherwise ordered crating concealing a hidden room made of cargo-crate walls. There are 3 bodies strapped to the walls, again with cargo ties, and a 10-metre high zero scrawled on the wall in blood.

Investigating the bodies, it becomes apparent that these murders were done days ago. Two of the bodies have matching tattoos, and they are obviously crew members; it looks like at least one of them was killed by the method by which they were posed, which involved the packing cords being drawn so tight as to crush bone. After Walker notices that the packing tape has been cut irregularly, a massive tearing noise heralds the arrival of a horrible nightmare.

A nova crab morph bursts through the ceiling, tearing a scavenger merc in half as it enters the pod. The firewall team immediately catch it in a four-way crossfire, pumping as much ammo into it as possible. It’s eventually finished off by Hank emptying his entire weapon into its braincase.

At this point the scavenger ship takes off, allowing Freamon and the Jupiter’s Pride to return, and the team manages to bring the derelict Clarke’s Endeavour into parking orbit around Metternick. The mission has raised more questions than it has answered by far, however.

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LOG 0002 - METT//STATSEC//CLARKE

In the ensuing panic after the pirate hijack broadcast alerting the station to the incoming Clarke’s Endeavour, Erdhart and Ryder managed to quickly cobble together a rudimentary security lockdown to prevent as many opportunists as possible from heading out towards the vessel. Unfortunately, several ships made it out before they could lock the station down, and three were on a trajectory making it possible for them to intercept the derelict vessel;

  • The Midnight Scales, owned by the private security firm Lucky Star
  • The Midas Touch, owned by the Prosperity Group
  • And Swan Song, nominally owned and operated by Starware.

The crew made ready to depart, using Alek Freamon’s The Jupiter’s Edge, with Jay Falon using his expertise with systems to cut the launch time to 30 minutes. During this, unbeknownst to the rest of the crew, the fixer Ilan Redsman contacted the Night Cartel, and in exchange for a full experiential of his experiences aboard the derelict they provided the information that the Swan Song was both linked heavily to organized crime, and that it was definitely headed for the Endeavour.

With this knowledge in mind, the The Jupiter’s Edge launched on a trajectory towards the derelict. Midway there, sensors picked up a hostile vessel that had turned on its trajectory; the Swan Song launched a dozen missiles towards the Pride, but superior maneuvering and quiet running allowed Freamon’s ship to slip past, giving the Firewall team a valuable headstart on the criminal salvagers.

Clarke’s Endeavour was dark and spinning in space, a clear indicator that the crew was in trouble. It became obvious that the errors in the transmitted distress call were due to the message itself being corrupt, rather than attenuation over distance.

The Firewall team docked and boarded the darkened ship. The corridors were twisted and damaged by torque forces, with discarded equipment and detritus floating in the low-grav environment. The team made a beeline for the fore of the ship, hoping to find the bridge.
Along the way, Walker discovered an abandoned log belonging to one of the unfortunate crew, replicated below:

[INSERT RED DREAM LOG HERE]

Continuing on, the Firewall team discovered the command centre of the ship – trashed, with a strange pillar extruded from the roof and fused into the deck plating of both the floor and ceiling, vaguely stalactite-shaped. Brief analysis showed that it was denser on the outside, had a cell structure, and was giving off electromagnetic radiation. Jay Falon managed to rig the emergency lighting system back on, as Erdhart, Zhang, and Walker proceeded to the fore-most door, which was both sealed and heavily pitted and marked with small arms energy weapon fire. Ilan, in the meantime, in an attempt to sabotage any intelligence the Night Cartel would receive from him, was stationed in the main corridor leading to the airlock, purposefully ignoring as much stimuli as possible.

Walker managed to unseal the forward blast door using his plasma cutter, allowing the team access to the pilot’s compartment. Dead in the pilot’s chair, sprawled over the console, was a woman with a blaster hole in her neck – Mary McConaghue, the ship’s medical officer, dead for several weeks at least. Another log was found on her body:

[MARY LOG 1]

More concerning was the jury-rigged organic wiring hooked up to the piloting console and leading into the ship’s AR banks; clearly alien in origin and ‘soldered’ to the console by some kind of slimy secretion.

Disturbed, the team left Jay Falon to take samples and continued exploring the ship, beginning with the medbay. The operating table’s AR was still flickeringly active, showing both Mary McConaghue’s face and a detailed cross-section of a human body. Unfortunately also active was a medical drone, which sprouted multiple scalpels, cutting saws, and needles and jetted towards Erdhart threateningly. Thankfully Zhang was covering the ‘bot with her assault rifle, and two short bursts took it apart. Another log was running on the operating table:

[MARY LOG 2]

Falon was called in to try and discern why the drone was hostile, and Ilan was dispatched to bring Doctor Il’voras to the medbay so she would have the necessary tools on hand in case of crisis.

This did not look to be too far off, as Freamon warned the team that a ship was inbound on an intercept course and had fired a breach bay towards the Endeavour. The Jupiter’s Pride disengaged from the derelict in order to fend off the approaching ship, assumed to be the Swan Song, and the Firewall team, now trapped aboard, prepared to receive the approaching boarders…

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LOG 0001 - METT//STATSEC//CLARKE

PLANETARY CONSORTIUM CABINET MEETING
Issue at hand: Europhora Settlement (asteroid in the Kuiper belt, owned and operated by the hypercorp Kalibird Pty Ltd) ceases to send or receive communications or Mesh access overnight, effectively ‘going dark’. This follows spatial defence platform footage and long range detection of likely pirate ships. Video feed attached:

Video Feed from Europhora

Response: A combined Oversight/Direct Action covert ops team will be inserted via egocasting to a nearby asteroid in order to gather intelligence. Admiral Yogorivich of the Planetary Consortium Navy will liase with Direct Action in order to provide two stealth frigates and a cruiser sometime over a month out as backup in case the situation is more dire than expected.
CABINET MEETING CLOSED

Two months later, on Metternick Station:
Security chief Hank Erdhart is called in to a meeting with the station’s director, Samson Rhyder. Rhyder explains that there is an emergent issue: the system rider Clarke’s Endeavour has sent a distress call on narrow beam to Metternick, with the crew having been incapacitated due to a mystery contamination, shutting down all non-essential systems so as to give themselves a chance for a medical evacuation. Metternick Station’s AI, Mett, had run the numbers and there was far too high a probability of collision with either Metternick or one of Venus’s flying habs.

Unfortunately for Hank, he had to keep this under wraps as much as he could – no point in causing a panic, or worse, starting a greed-maddened rush for the probably quite dangerous derelict vessel. Calling upon his Firewall contact, a Venusian proxy known as ‘Ben’, he quickly arranged a team to be put together out of local Firewall agents passing through Metternick. Arranging a meeting with the Firewall operatives in the local Vive Bar, he put together his team:

Team in order and briefed, all set out to prep for the mission. Ilan and Mei gathered equipment, using the former’s connections and procurement skills and the latter’s expertise with military systems. Jay and Dakota, hit up the station’s Mesh in order to find out more about the ill-fated Clarke’s Endeavour, discovering that Metternick was its home port; the ship, under its captain Eric Quinn had left a year ago on a mineral expedition under the auspices of a Faldon Incorporated subsidiary, Outer Reach Explorations (ORE) and were only now drifting back. Hank, lastly, went about securing a ship for the team to be delivered out to the drifting survey rider; he signed on with freighter captain Alek Freamon, of the Jupiter’s Edge, in return for the services of his Firewall team on the journey out. Freamon, it turned out, was one of Eric Quinn’s closest associates, and was eager to do whatever he could to help his old friend.

The deal was struck – the Firewall team had transportation, equipment, and purpose. What they did not have was a lot of information. To combat this, in the couple of days before the Jupiter’s Edge would be ready to head out on its interception course, the team set out to learn all they could of the Clarke’s Endeavour – the captain’s situation, background, known associates and the like.

The trail of information led through Quinn’s financier, a Solaris Banker based out of a Venusian hab named Chloe Sanderson. She informed the team that Quinn had paid off his personal loans in full six months ago, and introduced them to Walks-Under-Seas, better known as ‘Walker’ – an octomorph engineer who had past connections with Quinn and wished to join the team.

Thus set up, the Firewall team returned to Metternick and made ready to set out, only for a pirate broadcast to hijack the local Mesh and reveal the existence and status of Clarke’s Endeavour to all aboard the station. The crisis had now become a race; the team had to reach the Endeavour ahead of any unscrupulous looters and learn what they could before diverting the vessel to a harmless course, or all hell could break loose.

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Black Swan Theory Trailer

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