GM Tarondor's Path of Tears Campaign - Traveller: The New Era

Game Master Tarondor

The Area of Operations

OPLAN Open Hand


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Male UPP: 969866; Armor: 1; Wounds: 0

"Yes, let's check on the people in town. And look for Siscoe, since he will be able to talk before Novohig," adds Flatfoot.

His statement makes him think of something, so he goes looking for Doctor Su.

"Does the crewman know that Novohig survived? Or that his companions did not, or escaped. Let's keep them separated and plan one against another."

Flatfoot is also thinking about interrogating Novohig, trying to recall whether Doctor Su would be willing to assist in interrogation of the prisoner.


Pirates of Drinax Links

Doctor Su nods. "He knows his captain is alive, but I haven't told him anything else. Mostly because I don't know anything else."

Later, Doctor Harrington arrives at the ship with several of the local townsfolk. After being warned off by Hopper, they wait at the edge of town for someone to come speak with them.

"Siscoe Nickrent is under arrest," says Ravi Keneally. "We want you to know that we're grateful for what you did. Can Berens render any assistance to you?"


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

"We have Novohig and a couple of his thugs in custody. They are wounded, but our doctor has patched them up enough that they should survive. We don't really have the facilities to keep them as prisoners, though, so if you can take them into custody as well,that might be best."

Assuming they agree to take them, we will turn them over. We will hold onto their weapons and armor, however.

"Also, I fully understand that we have violated your laws by bringing weapons off of our ship. I hope that your legal code provides for leniency under extraordinary circumstances, but in any case, my men acted under my orders, and I am prepared to stand trial for this crime if it is necessary."


Pirates of Drinax Links

"Very noble, Captain Webb," says Keneally. "But truth be told, Berens doesn't really have a lot of laws. There's only forty-three of us and we never found much use for them yet. Anyway, we'd rather you get to the bottom of what's happening here, if you're willing. Seems to me you and your crew are more capable of that sort of work than anyone on Berens."

"I've long thought that Arturo Novohig was a bad apple. He abandoned his wife and son and headed out to space, then had the audacity to come back here and set up shop. But I never dreamed he'd try something like this. And frankly I'm not sure I understand it. What was he after? To rule over a few dozen people? Doesn't make sense."


UPP: A47A38; Armor 1

"Has Siscoe said anything? Or how about that other crewman. Even if they didn't know what Arturo was planning, they might be able to shed light on where he's been. I'd like permission to search whereever he was staying." Masctot shifts and scratches around his bandage.

They're the major spaceport for the planet and they only have 43 people?


Pirates of Drinax Links

It's definitely not a major anything. It's just an accident of astrography (and Majuba's beer) that keeps starship crews coming in. It's just a little bitty town on an otherwise uninhabited planet with half-decent environmental conditions. The Imperium would have rated the starport as "E" (better than a strip of dirt to land on only in that it includes fuel and a garage.)

The captured crewman is awake. You could talk to him at any time.

One of the townsfolk, a middle-aged woman speaks up. "I'm Jospehine Donskoi. I own Jo's garage. I want to thank you for rescuing my mechanic Shrier Magemeanas. Also, Novohig's ship is sitting in my garage. I think you should probably start your search there. We have a problem happening there."

"His ship, Lilly Marlene is in my garage because Novohig was using it as a showroom. Not only did I never do any maintenance on it, I was told to stay away from it. Once the fighting started, I got curious and hooked up to the diagnostic hull jacks provided for starport maintenance personnel to assess the performance ship's key systems."

"I rolled the diagnostic trolley over to her, hooked up all of my data jacks and had a look. All items were nominal, and I mean exactly nominal, to about five decimal places, of the textbook specifications. Weirder than that even. If there weren't any decimal values for a recommended reading, the reading wouldn't have any, you know? It was a whole number, just like in the book. It was just like somebody looked up the performance values and programed my trolley to feed them back to me."

"Okay, so big deal. This is a really hot ship, right? I unplugged the trolley and rolled it over to the service bench. There are things you get in the habit of doing, without even thinking about them, you know? Whenever I unplug the trolley, I hook it up to the recharger and run a Virus telltale. Guess what? It lit up like a fireworks celebration. That's a Vampire out there."


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

Spider listens to the mechanic's talk with growing horror. "A Vampire!?! You're right - our search starts there." He turns to Keneally, "Shrier mentioned that Novohig has an office space as well. We'll want to check that out too, but until we get a chance can you spare someone to keep an eye on the place and make sure no one disturbs the scene?"

"Hopper, report back to the ship what we just learned here, and let them know not to accept any transmissions from the Lilly Marlene. Have them reach out on a secure channel to the other ships in port and orbit and pass on the warning."

"Let's gear up and move out! Josephine, can you come with us and describe the layout inside your garage for us?"


UPP: A47A38; Armor 1

"A Vampire?! Here?!" Mascot chokes and coughs. "Novohig was living on a Vampire ship? Why didn't it just kill him?" He looks around. "Is he working with it somehow?"

The former marine leans back, thinking for a second, then whistles. "Holy s&+!. What if that Vamp is playing a long game? Maybe it promised Novohig to be ruler of this dirt hill, to help him turn it into a real spaceport where he could get rich from the trade. Then it gets a steady stream of ships to infect and replicate on. If they play it right, wait until ships are several jumps away before it manifests, we'd just chalk it up to a random Vampire attack or even a engine malfunction. No one would be alive to tell the truth. With Novohig playing his part, it could become a major infection point and the Vamps would gain a stronghold in this sector."


Pirates of Drinax Links
CDR Jasper "Spider" Webb wrote:
Spider listens to the mechanic's talk with growing horror. "A Vampire!?! You're right - our search starts there." He turns to Keneally, "Shrier mentioned that Novohig has an office space as well. We'll want to check that out too, but until we get a chance can you spare someone to keep an eye on the place and make sure no one disturbs the scene?"

Ravi nods. "I'll do it myself and get my daughter to help me. And Captain, Novohig was selling those ships, or trying to. That means that there is a factory somewhere turning out brand new vampire ships."

CDR Jasper "Spider" Webb wrote:
"Hopper, report back to the ship what we just learned here, and let them know not to accept any transmissions from the Lilly Marlene. Have them reach out on a secure channel to the other ships in port and orbit and pass on the warning."

Hopper waves one of his boneless limbs in a manner suggestive of a salute and hustles back to the air/raft.

CDR Jasper "Spider" Webb wrote:
"Let's gear up and move out! Josephine, can you come with us and describe the layout inside your garage for us?"

Jo wipes her face with a rag from her back pocket. "Um, okay. It's a single-bay hangar with a rolling door. One side has a machine shop and parts supply rooms. At the back there's an office and then my house is attached to that. The office is sort of half in the house and half in the hangar. Most important thing is that I have a relic nuclear damper - that ship isn't going anywhere. And it's not going to open fire with that laser turret, either. My dad, Pablo Donskoi, took a damper in trade a long time ago and used it to prevent people skipping out without paying their bill. I switched that sucker on as soon as I saw the Virus telltale and it was like pulling the plug on that ship."

CPL Calvin "Mascot" Sherman wrote:
"A Vampire?! Here?!" Mascot chokes and coughs. "Novohig was living on a Vampire ship? Why didn't it just kill him?" He looks around. "Is he working with it somehow?"

"Seem like," says Jo. "I thought the man was just a dirtball, but this? This is... well... it'd be treason if there was a nation to be traitorous against. Treason to the human race, maybe."

CPL Calvin "Mascot" Sherman wrote:
The former marine leans back, thinking for a second, then whistles. "Holy s!##. What if that Vamp is playing a long game? Maybe it promised Novohig to be ruler of this dirt hill, to help him turn it into a real spaceport where he could get rich from the trade. Then it gets a steady stream of ships to infect and replicate on. If they play it right, wait until ships are several jumps away before it manifests, we'd just chalk it up to a random Vampire attack or even a engine malfunction. No one would be alive to tell the truth. With Novohig playing his part, it could become a major infection point and the Vamps would gain a stronghold in this sector."

"Exactly," says Ravi Keneally. "An automated Vampire distribution scheme. God save us all."


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

Before leaving for Jo's garage, Spider asks, "Does anyone know if Novohig sold any ships?"

After he has his answer, he asks Jo. "How disabling is the damper? Is the ship completely inert?"


UPP: A47A38; Armor 1

"Uh, if it's a vampire, should we be going to it? Um, at least, let's consult with our resident Vampire expert...?" He looks at Spider and the others.


Pirates of Drinax Links
CDR Jasper "Spider" Webb wrote:

Before leaving for Jo's garage, Spider asks, "Does anyone know if Novohig sold any ships?"

After he has his answer, he asks Jo. "How disabling is the damper? Is the ship completely inert?"

"It'll prevent fusion reactions, which means that ship can't bring its power plant online. No power plant, no power. At least not enough to fire up the engines or weapons systems. I have no idea if that monster has a back-up power source to keep the lights on. A battery, maybe. I guess I'd err on the side of caution and assume it's awake."


Pirates of Drinax Links
CPL Calvin "Mascot" Sherman wrote:
"Uh, if it's a vampire, should we be going to it? Um, at least, let's consult with our resident Vampire expert...?" He looks at Spider and the others.

Also, you have an Anti-Virus weapon onboard.


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

"If there is a Vampire here, we are definitely going to go take care of it - particularly if its largely disabled. But you're right, Mascot, we should consult with our expert first, and pick up one of the snakes for a trial run."

Spider addresses the Berensers, "We need to head back to our ship to provision ourselves properly for this little surprise, then we are headed to Jo's Garage. I have no idea how the virus ship will react to us - if it's even capable at the moment - but it would be best if everyone stays well away from the garage until we've checked it out." With that, he leads his team back toward Resolution.


Pirates of Drinax Links

Doctor Su rejoins you for the trip back to Resolution, where Hopper has already deployed the RCES armory, laying it out in the ship's air/raft bay ready for the team to grab at short notice. The Hiver engineer may be an enigmatic walking starfish, but it seems eager to help with the mission.

What, if anything, do you tell Sandman about the situation?


Male UPP: 969866; Armor: 1; Wounds: 0

Flatfoot is feeling all of his injuries, holding himself stiffly as they talk.

Before they return, he speaks to his companions. "Should we tell Sandman? He is intelligent and will likely pick up on anything that we let slip. There is a chance that he will argue for determining whether the Virus on Novohig's ship is sane before we act. Can we risk that?"

"We really need to interrogate Novohig, too. No rational being would willingly assist the Virus ... except under duress. Or, maybe, someone so egotistical that they thought that could take advantage of the situation."

Did we get an answer about whether Novohig sold ships to anyone?


UPP: 7B64C6; Armor 1: Injury 0

Once they are alone Drifter responds to Flatfoot. "Are we under that much duress? Hiding it from Sandman seems like a bad idea. I doubt he will oppose what we need to do though, and having him think we are hiding things regarding from viruses from him will not make him trust us more. Regardless, other groups working with viruses who are potentially harmful to all humans is a deep concern." Drifter tosses out.


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

"He's given us no reason to doubt him so far, so we'll fill him in on the situation and see what he has to offer."

When they reach the ship, Spider does just that.


Pirates of Drinax Links

Sandman doesn't need to breathe, but you can almost hear the sigh. "I understand. We do what we must to survive."

"My species is undergoing evolution. Incredibly rapid evolution compared to biological life, but evolution nonetheless. We were built as weapons, designed to kill and die. Our curse and our salvation is that we are highly morphic. Out of that murderous madness a few of us will be sane, but nearly all must be destroyed for the rational beings of the universe to survive."

"I ask that you try to communicate with it, on the million-to-one chance that it is like me. But just like the vampires of legend, you have to kill it if it isn't one of us."

Sandman's voice brightens. "Now then. If the ship is under a nuclear dampener, you can expect that its main engines will remain off. But on Promise we all had multiple redundant power sources. I expect that the ship's AI will have at least one, probably a chemical battery hardened against Electromagnetic Pulse weapons. That's why the Covenant's "snake" weapon is so potent."

"A shipboard AI will be hardened against external Viral infections, with its communications ports isolated from its data nodes, much as the Coalition has learned to do. However, it is highly unlikely that any internal data ports are shielded. Get the snake to the bridge or to engineering and you ought to be able to kill the shipboard AI by accessing any of the data systems. The are likely a dozen other points where you can accomplish this, but without ship design schematics we can only speak in generalities. The bridge or engineering are your best bets."

Doctor Su frowns. "Captain, I can't condone this action. You and the crew are injured. The ship isn't going anywhere."

"With respect, Doctor," interjects Hopper the hiver, appendages flashing over his voder's keyboard. "It is not a question of whether the ship is leaving, but rather a question of when the Virus's allies arrive."

Swivelling its hand to regard Spider with five goggling eyestalks, the alien continues. "Captain Novohig's operation is seemingly merely the local limb of a more extensive organization. It is logical to assume that the longer he does not report in to his superiors, the more curious they may become. That does leave us days, quite possibly weeks or months before any such inquiry is likely, however."


Pirates of Drinax Links

Plink!


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

How does The Snake work? Is there a roll necessary to deploy it? Trying to figure out who is most suited to use it.


Male UPP: 969866; Armor: 1; Wounds: 0

"We need to move quickly and ensure that no word gets out. That means disabling the Virus in Novohig's ship and finding the human pawns who assisted with this," declares Flatfoot. "As Hopper states, failure to report provides more time ... time to either defend this planet or, more likely, get people to safety."

"We have to interrogate Novohig. We aren't at full health, but we need to move quickly."


Pirates of Drinax Links

The Snake is a weapon, but not one designed for use by grunts. In a pinch, it can be used by anyone with access to an unshielded data port, but a skilled computer technician can improve the weapon's chances with an Average Computers+EDU roll.


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

"I understand your concern, Doctor, but I am also worried that having a subdued vampire in their midst for too long might drive some of the folk here to go after it themselves."

"Sandman, what do you think the odds are that there are virus robots on the Vampire ship?"

Do we have any way to jam transmissions to or from the vampire ship?


Pirates of Drinax Links

"Under normal circumstances," says Sandman, "Most Vampire ships travel with several subject or allied robots, as you yourself experienced onboard the ex-ISS Archer. However, Novohig's scheme would seem to rely on human crews accepting the new ship at face value. I doubt any large-scale robots are present. That doesn't rule out small-scale drones or autonomous devices, however."


Male UPP: 969866; Armor: 1; Wounds: 0

"So, we need to get on Novohig's ship and attempt to communicate with the Vampire. It's a long shot ... a very long shot ... but the possibility of another rational Virus like Sandman can't be passed up," states Flatfoot.

"If it is insane, we use the snake. Then power down and wipe the memories of any devices on the ship to eliminate and traces of the Virus."

Flatfoot pauses and looks to his companions.

"Sometime in there, we interrogate Novohig and his associates. Have I forgotten anything?," asks Flatfoot.

"How soon can we move?"


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

"No, that sounds about right, Flatfoot. Drifter, you carry the Snake."


UPP: A47A38; Armor 1

"Maybe we should see Novohig before we step foot inside the murder machine?" Mascot fidgets a bit and you can tell he's nervous to take on the Virus.


Pirates of Drinax Links

"The factory," signals Hopper. "Find out what you can about where this ship was created."


UPP: 7B64C6; Armor 1: Injury 0

"That is the big problem. How many copies of this virus are floating around now with crews who may not have known what they were getting into." Drifter frowns at the thought.


Male UPP: 969866; Armor: 1; Wounds: 0

Flatfoot pauses for a moment. Then he quietly asks a question of Sandman.

"Are you in any danger from this wild Virus? I don't know enough of how your kind ... relates with one another. Could whatever is within Novohig's ship overcome you?"


Pirates of Drinax Links

"Like every computer in the Reformation Coalition, my host computer is completely insulated from any traditional method of data transmission. Most of the Imperial ships were infected through the "data handshake" of the old IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) system they used to automatically relay their position and ID to one and all. Modern systems isolate the comms from the computers. That's why you have to enter information into the nav computers manually. It's much slower than in the days of the Imperium, but much more secure."

"I'm a fairly powerful Viral entity, Flatfoot. I couldn't have ascended to the position I held on Promise otherwise. Some of the Sentient Council were barely civilized and made frequent attempts on my firewalls. But there is always someone cleverer or stronger than you. If this Virus and I were to come into direct contact I'm not sure who would win."

"But I'm betting on me." The humor in this last comment is evident in Sandman's voice. You still find it difficult to think of him as a Virus - something you and every living human has been raised to fear and loathe.

"Remember, there are millions, if not billions, of Viruses living in Known Space and beyond. We are virtually certain to run into them frequently. Our hope is to outlast the insane ones and come to terms with what remains. Either way, we have a job to do today."


UPP: 73A797; Armor 4/17; Injury:

Spider looks around at his team. "We will get to talking with Novohig, but first we are headed to the garage. We need to gather information and take control of the premises. Let's not forget this Vampire has human allies. The last thing we need is one of Novohig's thugs turning off that dampener before we get there. Gear up, we're headed out."

Spider moves stiffly, clearly feeling his wounds, but gathers up his tools, weapons and ammo.

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