[UW] Disarming Personality [Jek 1.2] [Robynne 1.2]

edited January 2016 in Uncharted Worlds


It’s down a deck and aft to get to engineering. When you start, Rajani touches her wrist, expanding the holo interface, then touches her ear, and sharply relays King’s orders to the her section chiefs, then keys into another frequency.

“Peshi? I’m headed your way with the SecCon, Captain’s orders. There in 3.”

She glances at you. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”



  • image

    I keep pace, maybe push it a step or two faster. "Of course I do," I say confident, with a chip on my shoulder. I hope you stop being a bitch. "I hope all we're dealing with is kudzu, and not a stowaway or worse."
  • Jek,

    She doesn't reply. A moment later you're entering engineering.

    Engineering is full of crew calling back and forth and moving quickly from station to station with grim, intense faces, doing their best to do diagnostics and lockouts on clean systems. The room is dominated by the jump core, a large metallic sphere, maybe three or four meters in diameter, with a variety of lights, small structures, hoses and pipes on its surface or connecting to it. It sits in a conical pit surrounded by a catwalk.

    Rajani cuts efficiently between people until you find Peshkov. Peshkov, lanky and tall, probably a lifetime spacer, is down in the pit on one side of the catwalk. He has a portable terminal with several leads attached to the jump core. He's frowning at the result of another diagnostic when he looks up to see you both.

    "Four more nodes... it's spreading"
  • edited December 2015

    I barely glance at the engineering triumph that is the core. The grim mood is right on target. "That's what it does, it spreads. Lemme take a look." I'm pulling out bits from my own kit, scopoes, meters, packaged code.
  • edited December 2015


    Peshkov moves aside to let you work. You get your gear set up, and jack in your terminal, the blue holo interfaces materializing and spreading out, and you can see the extend of the node invasion into the ship’s systems. The bomb itself is its own network, and a run by an onboard virtual intelligence. Sophisticated, adaptable and capable of learning, but not self-aware. It also gets smarter with every node that develops, the good news is that you found it before it became to smart for anything short of a full scale computing and engineering lab to remove. The bad news is that the growth rate is geometric.

    Thing is, you’ve seen this kind of thing before, haven’t you? When was that and what happened on that occasion? It’s not Imperial tech… what faction does it come from?

    To even mess around with it you’re going to need to get access. Tell me your approach and Roll +Interface for that.

  • edited December 2015

    They call it a bomb, but it's not, not really. I mean, it can blow up, but then you can kill a guy by beating him to death with a slugthrower pistol, but that's not the same as shooting him with it.

    Sometimes I get into lecture mode when I'm working with noobs. "Kudzu like this is like that creepy mushroom that takes over ant brains. One second you're a happy li'l ant, chomping' on seeds or berries, next you've got a mind controlling fungus parasite in your brainpan." I hold a few tools in my teeth, swapping them out as needed, bent over intense, looking in the panel.

    "I saw something like this on Deep Station Typor, few years back." This was before I got in with the Void Wasters. "It was more advanced, both in design and in incubation. They didn't catch it, and it had been in place for a long-ass time. Some eight thousand nodes. By then, it wanted into the organics... By any means. It got ugly." I break off. There's some things you can't unsee. And I don't know these crew so much, Raji already doesn't like me and this might be not the greatest first impression working shoulder to shoulder with Peshkov.

    I adjust a setting, calibrate a sensor. Dive in again like a laproscopic dentist. "Wound up pushing the whole station into the sun." I lost some friends that day, but I don't need to say it out loud.

    I look at the electrospectography and compare the readings with a data spread. It's alien tech, possibly the Remnants or the Wasters. Given who's on this ship, I bet it's the Remnants.
  • [OOC: Roll access, roll+interface.]
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 5, 5. Total: 11)
  • There’s an uncomfortable chuckle from a nearby crewman at your story, which cuts off suddenly. Rajani probably turned her glare on the crewman. Peshkov stands by, watching the data stream, ready to help.

    The infiltration is hardly even a challenge for you, Jek. Sometimes things just go right. You have accessed the device’s internal system. What’s your plan now?

  • image

    "Open sesame," I mutter to myself.

    First things first, slow its growth. Next, inoculate some areas and get an accurate census on the thing. Once that's done, we can start taking it apart systematically.

    I've got some custom code from my kit of various degrees of legality, depending on where you are, and I get to work, talking mostly to Raji and Peshkov. "I'm gonna set up a tarbaby-honeypot node of my own to slow this thing down, give us more time." There's gotta be something to attract a nascent intelligence, and I settle on a construct like the ship but more interesting, more shiny, more complex, a seductive labyrinth with a bear trap in the center. I'm shaking a steak at a dog so he don't take the ball.
  • Peshkov looks impressed at your codebreaking.

    "Clever" he says, sharing a look with Rajani which you carefully don't see.

    Sounds like a plan Jek, Let's see you face Adversity +Interface
  • image

    I nod a thanks back to Peshkov. I manage, mostly, to not look smug at Raji.
  • [OOC: Face Adversity, roll+Interface.]
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 4. Total: 8)
  • edited December 2015

    Terci is waiting at the door of engineering, holding out your kit for you when you approach. She keeps her eyes down.

    photo Terci.png

    "I'm sorry about earlier, Sai.... I should have been better prepared."
  • Jek,

    You carefully set up the construct as a honeypot node to attract the intelligence, keeping an eye out for intrusion countermeasures that these things are lousy with. After all, they wouldn't be effective if they were too easy to take apart right?

    You confirm your suspicion that this is Remnant States tech. Whatever you can say about it, it isn't human, the peculiar structure of the logic says that much. As you are delicately manipulating it into your construct, your IC warning flares for a moment and dies. The reading was real enough, but the IC program isn't attacking your honeypot node…or rather it did for a moment, which is what caught your attention, but it now seems to be chasing a higher priority threat. Had it not pinged your alarm,you probably would never have seen the sideshow.

  • image

    "That's weird," I catch Raji's attention, frowning slightly. "Do you know of other anti-IC systems in here? Better not be two humpin' infections here, chasin' each other." I'll send a subroutine to monitor the other threat, but my main concern is squelching the intelligence knols so we can stay on top of the network structure as a whole.

    "Peshkov, can you give me a list of clean ship systems, prioritized by demand?" I know that atmo is more important than sewage reclimation, say, but I gotta delegate some part of this.
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I gather the bag to myself and throw the shoulder strap over, then loop the waistbelt around and secure it in case we lose gravity. "Terci, it was a drinks list, not a firing squad." I say it lightly, but with an edge of impatience. Even though I'm not particularly upset, this isn't the time.

    I draw on my gloves to protect my hands from charges, light cuts and chemicals.

    "Now, this..might be more like a firing squad." I approach Peshkov, Rajani and Jek, looking all-too-comfortably over Jek's shoulder. Specks of highlighted problem nodes float in his holo-interface. A primarily software-component bomb? I've never seen anything like this, but I've thought about it a couple of times. Nasty imagination. "Is this building its own hardware or piggybacking ours? Or a mix of the two?" I look to Peshkov, as Jek seems to be concentrating.
  • edited December 2015

    "Yes," I say absently, shuffling motes and nodes, adding bricks and prebuilt components, adjusting spectra as needed. "Worse yet, there's some true cybernetics as it makes its own organic components." I swallow, concerned. This thing needs to be contained ASAFP.
  • edited December 2015
    photo RobynneBW.png

    "Mm, that's bad. More flexible than just relying on industrial nutriment." But it does mean that I have an inroad to estimating its arrival time. Well. I'll have Terci do it. When it's no longer a threat.

    "I can sequester some of it physically when we have a way to make sure it won't trigger. Perhaps give it a brownout." I keep looking at Jek's work. Atmosphere, pressure, engine core. Prime physical attack vectors for any invasive tech.
  • edited December 2015

    Jek and Robynne

    You’ve successfully contained the growth, it’s trying to figure out your construct, thinking it’s a part of the ship it hasn’t seen yet. You can keep ahead of it for a while. You have maybe half an hour to an hour before it overwhelms your countermeasure.

    photo ee243c22-f993-4fa8-ab9e-68cde7daa5f7_zps05cwil0l.jpg

    “List is on your console, Bezier.” Peshkov says. The guy might not be imaginative, but on a purely technical front, he knows his shit. “It isn’t good. Most primaries are showing some infestations, though not complete takeover. It’s not in gunnery, comms, waste reclamation, water production or the back up atmo scrubbers. It’s deeply into power regulation, environmental control, navigation, sensors, emergency evac, sub-light and jump drive systems. Though it hasn’t taken active control of any of it.”

    Rajani has stepped away, from the party around the jump core, probably bi-locating to the bridge from the nearby console. The Captain’s announcement comes over the speakers:

    “Attention crew and passengers, this is Captain Allevard King speaking. We will be making an unexpected detour to a Mayaran Naval Yard orbiting Agliesse-2a. Our stop there is expected to be brief, and we will be on our way shortly after our recall has been lifted. Prepare for deceleration, course adjustment, and burn in 10 minutes.”“

    Then a moment later on the crew channel:

    “I need to know who put those bombs on my ship!”

  • image

    To Robynne, "Kick its ass before it kicks ours? I can get behind that. Dangerous, though." Which is an understatement. Nobody wants explosions in space. And I'm not sure how it's triggered yet.

    I'm nodding along, satisfied watching the dumb thing chase digital ghosts. After Peshkov reports, I bite back a curse. That's a lot of systems. "Peshkov, help me set up double data walls around those virgin systems, wouldja? I can start tapping into this thing's feed to find out how to best take it apart." By watching how it spreads, I hope to have a good handle on an attack vector. Sensors is probably the first thing to get back up. That'll help detect it. I sort the virgin list, too. "Gotta keep it out of comms so it doesn't get to phone home."

    I catch Raji's eye and glance at the radio. Subvocalizing to her, I ask, "Do you think they're still on the ship?" I mean whoever dropped this thing on us.
  • edited December 2015

    photo ee243c22-f993-4fa8-ab9e-68cde7daa5f7_zps05cwil0l.jpg

    He nods, fingers flying over his own interface. “Will do.”

    photo Rajani_zpsfeehquft.jpg

    “If they were still on the ship, they would surely know what we’re doing and take steps to interfere or trigger it early. I don’t know. It seems terribly elaborate and expensive for someone to babysit it, doesn’t it? Is it meant to destroy the ship? It could have done it already in a dozen ways before we found it.”

    She shakes her head, perplexed, turning back to her console.

    “If… when you shut it down, Mr. Bézeier, I trust you and Mxr Archbelloch can discover its intent.

    Sounds like you want to do an Assess action here, Jek Go ahead and Roll + interface.

    Robynne, are you ready to get your hands dirty? What do you do?
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "Yes, I'd rather not trigger it, so we need to learn how to make sequestered sections falsely report back to other nodes. Then we can get aggressive." Which, honestly, is what I'm fairly certain Jek is thinking of.

    "Well, the ship has a plenitude of targets aboard at the moment, not even counting itself...supposing it's a ransom device?" I ask in response to Rajani's musing.

    I commandeer an engineering console to take a look at what the fuss is about. Ideally I want to patch into an infected system locally, see how the bomb talks to itself and to TXR components, compare it with Jek's data. There's a benefit to being such a company animal; I know all the firmware protocols and proprietary code that helps run our self-made components.

    "Terci, if we can give you some growth estimates can you trace back a few likely exposure times and compare that to our itinerary?" I put my hair in a twist and clip it up and out of my way unceremoniously.

    Then I'm lining up little 'chatterboxes', diagnostics spikes that I can make into false reporters ready to receive whatever useful code we dredge up.

    I'm ready to Get Involved with Jek's Assessment or start my own via Expertise.
  • edited December 2015
    [OOC: roll+interface.]
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 2, 3. Total: 6)
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    Trying that assist I mentioned;

    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 2, 5. Total: 9)
  • Jek and Robynne,

    “Of course, Sai” Terci says from your elbow, Robynne, where she just handed you the hair clip.

    The main thing you learn in looking at the read outs, both of you, is that this thing didn’t seem to observe the reporting structures of the systems it has infiltrated. In each system looks like it plugged right into the secondary data bus, code at the ready, and simultaneously disabled it, physically burning it out, and took over instructing the system from the secondary.

    THe code at the ready part is odd, Robynne. It should have had to observe and then mimic the necessary proprietary code for each system, but what logs you access show no such thing, meaning the device has to have the code to start with.

    The attack vector you’re looking for, Jek, is the tertiary data bus. You can, with Robynne’s help, essentially pull the same trick on each node, bypassing the bus it’s using and feeding it a mimic of its reporting stream so it doesn’t get suspicious and do something awful before it loses control of the ship.

  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I let the people who can see what's going on with these data logs figure out what they can for themselves. I feel the mask I normally reserve for company meetings fall into place.

    I look to Jek, not with suspicion (though it would be warranted with his patchy background), but to see if he's having a similar revelation.

    This information can't leave this room. If we tell the captain, we have to tell him face to face, or else we could lose our chance to catch the TXR or ex-TXR employee who handed off the code. Worse if they're still on board and plan to use their virus' evac We can't put this knowledge into our after-incident reporting.

    If Jek were our saboteur he'd never let me look at these logs, or if he made the careless error, now would be the time to escalate, period.

    "I think we have a solution, now we just need to decide - a rolling implementation node to node, cleaning as we go, or a blanket implementation, not cleaning until all nodes have been covered. Thoughts?"
  • edited December 2015

    I make a sound of impressed fear, mostly like a whistle. The rising tone matches my eyebrows. "That's very slickly done," I say as I point out a data structure. "It's like the code doesn't even realize that it's infected." I glance at the tall TXR rep, wondering if xie can connect the dots or if xie's just a suit. Or worse, the saboteur and all this is just a tax write off. Our eyes meet.

    I'm not sure Peshkov has the imagination, but Raji may have the right instincts. I watch them, too, to see their reactions.

    "Steamroll, clean the nodes. Better to start wiping this out faster. I figure we can shut it down, dumbing it down so's it doesn't realize that it's losing instead of growing." I trace paths along the tertiary bus. "We get inside its C&C loop, and that's all she wrote."
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I raise an eyebrow. That's a nice little dodge. 'Doesn't even realize it's infected.'

    "Good reasoning, I like it." I nod to Jekintar, satisfied. "Let's get started, then."
  • image

    Taking a look at Peshkov's list, I consider. Power reg, atmo, navigation, sensors, evac, sublight and jump drive systems. "I figure power, sensors, and navigation are the first to clean. Peshkov?" It's a cheap tactic, to make him feel like he's part of the decision, which is mostly true. "I figure we each can take one system, to go wide instead of deep."
  • edited December 2015

    He nods. "Aye, sounds like the way."

    And you all can do it too. Tell me what you do exactly and I'd say this is a Face Adversity +Interface again, unless you're doing something more physical than hacking it.
  • edited December 2015

    Time to get my hack on. I crack my knuckles and get into the zone. My aim is to start isolating the nodes so they stop talking to each other, get dumber. I dive into the power reg system.
  • [OOC: roll+interface.]
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 4. Total: 8)
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I do my part to move the rolling isolation solution along, patching into tertiary data buses and setting up my little cadre of digital liars. As with the hairclip, sometimes I hold a hand out and Terci places what I need there. I'm sure xie, erm, she has enough to handle with my data request but she hasn't left arm's reach, so..

  • photo RobynneBW.png

    Facing Adversity with Interface; (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 6, 6. Total: 13)
  • Robynne,

    You partition them out neatly, Terci handing you tools as you go. The device seems entirely unaware that its being fooled. I suppose your knowledge of the software code that it's mimicking gives you something of an edge here.


    "Sai, from your growth estimates, the device was on board before our arrival in-system and probably started growing sometime after our lay-in at Panipar for the coupler replacement."

    She murmurs it quietly in your ear as you're setting up your isolation chain.

    Jek, you aren't quite so lucky. Don't get me wrong, your dive into the power regulation has the proper effect, this isn't about skill, but you ran into just the tiniest bit of bad luck down there. The node flared suddenly and, because it's power regulation, it surged.


    "What happened? I just lost comms!"

    In any case, between the three of you, the isolation takes effect and you're able to cut the network down quite a bit.
  • edited December 2015

    "Aw, shit." I scramble to assess. "It snuck past me, Raji. We're lucky it was just comms and not the whole power regulation subsystem." I want to see how bad it is, contain the surge and minimize collateral damage. "At least we've got the nodes segregated. Comms we can repair."
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "Hmm, I rather thought so; thank you, Terci." I murmur back, tying up another quick connection job.

    "The more we get done here the easier the rest of it will go, yes? Now let's get environmental, evac and the jumps isolated. Then maybe we can patch up comms, just in time for our dock."

    I line up another array of tools, ready to go if there's no questions about next steps.

  • Are you going to go ahead and assess the comm damage, Jek or work on finishing the other affected systems?
  • edited December 2015

    No, I'll leave comms repair to the reat of crew. I must focus on taking down the bomb. "Agreed, Robynne. Environmental must stay up; I rather like breathing. Can you clear jumps?" I'm pleased to see xie's already ready at xir console and I don't bother to hide my approval. Good to know I'm not working with just a corporate do-nothing suit.
  • edited December 2015

    “I will take evac then,” Peshkov supplies and moves to tap into a different access port.

    In the background you can hear Rajani and the head of engineering directing crewman to help get comms back online.

    Go ahead and roll +expertise here you two.


    The chief engineer, Mazin, as you know, came from an exceedingly humble background as a child of unskilled laborers. He initially dismissed you as something of a dilettante. Did you try to change his mind? What happened?

  • [OOC: roll+expertise.]

    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 1, 1. Total: 3)
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    Rolling Expertise myself; (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 4, 6. Total: 12)
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "Forcing us to jump is one last-ditch way to get us killed, so yes." I patch in and start diverting data, taking care to tailor the operation to the more sophisticated, high-energy circuitry of the jump systems. Hopefully Peshkov gets evac back for us with no particular drama - I don't want anyone getting off the ship without us knowing about it.

    Mazin, more than perhaps anyone else on this ship, gave me a cold reception. I'm impressed with his drive and skill, but he's blind to my own. I've tried jockeying for upgrades, involving myself in replacing parts and systems, and involving him in presentations. None of it seems to work.
  • edited January 2016

    The trouble with this kind of device, as you know, is that it's tricky as hell. You carefully go through your countermeasure sequence... only to find it ineffective. The node closes itself off to you, not taking your bait, just as your data stream tells you this is one of the root back-ups.

    Harsh buzzes happen across the engineering deck.


    "CO2 scrubbers are down! Oxygen production is offline."

    Robynne, you get the Jump Engine node segregated but a curse from Peshkov tells you he hasn't been as fortunate.


    "It's not responding! Evac has locked up!."

    It's true... your diagnostic feeds are showing you that pretty much your only chance at this point is to go after the root node somehow and hope it's dumb enough that you can win... or that you have a really clever idea.
  • image

    "Double shit. I can't get there from here any more. Good news is we know where the root node is hiding. Maybe that's the point of insertion." I glance significantly at Robynne, an unspoken question.

    My frown of concentration deepens and I tap a staccato pattern, thinking. "Time to drop the stealth and go openly offensive, I say. We could do a controlled detonation, Raji."
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I blow out one long, frustrated breath. Holding Jek's eyes, I demand "Show me." Am I under suspicion because I did my damned job? Or is he checking to see if I think this is an opportunity to get a further idea on who did this to us? Because I do.

    Tools are stowed again so that I can jump stations if need be. "If we're going offensive I'd prefer overpowering it programmatically, but you might be right. We don't know what it will turn to now that we're made. Our priority should be protecting the guest suites, then the bridge, then everything else depending on where we are. Don't want to cause any more of a panic. That is its own kind of deadly."
  • As if in response to your words, Robynne, yellow spinning lights pop from the walls, light up and start flashing, warning of potential life support failure.

    Rajani gapes at you, Jek.


    "Mr. Bezier, the entire idea was to keep things from exploding!"
  • image

    I carefully do not flinch at the yellow alerts. "Of course the root node is in life support," I say wearily, pissed. But not at Robynne. At whoever is doing this to us.

    No shit, I think to myself. I start packing up to relocate. "Yes mam, but either way we've got to take the fight to it. We can't get to it from here any more. I believe we cut off most of its intelligence, but it's clearly progressing. Does anyone have a better idea?" I stand up, kit at the ready.

    I force myself to breathe slow and easy. I close my eyes briefly to find my center, to help me ignore the klaxons.
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    Sirens jangle at my nerves, shoulders rising.

    "Someone get the backup atmo scrubbers running; they're clean. First, Jek and I take out the root node." I move with Jek, leaning over his more compact planet-built body, running through options in my mind. "Then we'd best burn out our infection and jettison the waste into the void. We're replacing quite a few data buses today."

    It's frustrating that all I'll be able to keep for evidence are the logs we're recording and an assortment of pictures. Still, I don't even want to tether a container of this junk in the ship's wake. Unless I absolutely have to.
  • edited January 2016

    I nod in agreement. "We'll need to double- and triple-check everything and make sure there's no roots left anywhere. I don't want us to have to fight this again."

    If we're out of earshot from engineering, I'll look up and ask Robynne under my breath, "Think whoever did it is on the ship still? It's a regular Orient Express if so." Totally not looking forward to a locked-room murder mystery.
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "Of course. It will be a while before we fly without anxiety over this.."

    I lean in to Jek's conspiratorial tones. "..honestly, I don't. I just want them to be so I can shove them out an airlock. If they were here, they'd be insane to let it run 100% remotely, to say nothing of how they'd escape dying with the rest of us even with a direct line to it."

    Orient Express must mean something. I'll have Terci research it for me later.
  • image

    "We still don't know their intent," I continue. I'm glad for this moment away from the rest. "With enough high-profile targets on board, maybe this was intended to be a kidnap-and-ransom situation."
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I nod. "That was my thought, even if I'm wondering where the demands are by now. Did we cut it off early enough? Perhaps we're supposed to die in a way that implicates someone?"
  • image

    I start talking faster. "I think we found it before we were supposed to. I think it was supposed to get the whole ship and take it over, smooth and easy. I think that we were going to be an example. You know the manifest. Any of these people got enemies? Do you?" I raise an eyebrow in a wise-ass half grin.
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I nod along with Jek's analysis. It does ring rather true; we'll see. I flash my teeth in a mix of proud, amused sneer and exasperated grimace. "Jek, all of my enemies are inherited. Wait till I'm thirty, then I'll have some of my own."

    "Heh. I have memorized the manifest. The ship is full of valuable targets, the harder part may be narrowing down those who would feel a benefit from ransoming us."
  • You reach life support, It is busy with engineering crew rushing this way and that, coveralls and hair in various states of disorder, shouting to each other in tense voices punctuated by curses and trying to bring the system back on line.

    Stanton, the Environmental team lead is just now cracking the case of the oxygenator.

    What do you do?
  • image

    I give a little grin to Robynne's quip. But it's like ha ha only serious.

    When we get into life support, it's not the utter chaos I feared. "On the bright side, they don't have emergency respirators out." I focus again to slow my breathing. It's too poetic to imagine that a single extra breath will make the difference in saving the ship, but it stills the mind. "Yet."

    I'll start setting up my kit locally to get at the node here, to do what I can. "How we looking, Stanton?" I ask partly just to listen to her accent.
  • "Fan-bloody-tastic, Bez." She says with a grimace as she gets the cover off with a clang. "I got no fucking control over any of this, and everyone will feel a mite sleepy in not too long if we don't rebalance. Quality too, even if they don't want to admit to breathing like us mere mortals."

    She catches sight of Robynne just past you, sits up suddenly, banging her head.

    "Ow. Bloody hell! A little warning on the company, Bezzie, that's too much to ask?" Stanton looks you over, Robynne, still clutching her head, spots your toolkit. "Heard you were something of a wiz, Mixter Archbelloch, you don't mind me saying. You helping with our troubles all personal-like then?"
  • image

    I nod sideways at Robynne. "Sorry, next time we're near to asphyxiate and explosively decompress, I'll send off for an engraved announcement. On vellum. But Mxr. Archbelloch's no slouch at a console."

    I take a look-see in the oxygenator, no real time for true OPSEC. "It's in there?"
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "I wouldn't collect these skills and then leave them behind in an emergency." I wink, then smirk at Stanton as I re-open my kit and prepare to get my gloves dirty. "Left my personal gills in my other spaceship, too, so you're rather stuck with me."

    "Your team has backup parts at the ready? Once we root out this infection we'll want to physically sequester affected parts and replace them ASAP. We need a lead to volunteer on sequestration and disposal, full jettison from the ship required, not just preferred."
  • image

    "Jettison the shit straight into the sun," I mutter. I get my kit set up and dive in to take a look see. I really want to shut this thing down and get atmo back.
  • Jek,

    “It’s in there.” Stanton agrees. “In past the second compressor. Just look for something almost as ugly as you, Bez.”

    As Jek gets down to take a look, Stanton stands up, grinning at your joke, Robynne. Then nods agreeing with you and Jek. “Too right. Parts are right there and me and these overgrown monkeys got cleanup, Mix, no problem.” She nods again, eyeing you. “Oh, I like you, and now I know why all this bad mojo is flying.” She grins “We’ve got a bloody exec who does real work! What the hell is the galaxy coming to?”

    There’s a crash somewhere behind you. “Plotz!!” Stanton snaps, “Stop gaping like a goddamn Fen suckerfish and get those bloody parts back together.” She rolls her eyes. “Rookies.”

    Jek… sounds like you’re assessing the node?

  • image

    I glance at Stanton and Robynne. Think about Raji and Peshkov. I can't smeg this up, not with everyone looking at me. Counting on me. I double-crack my knuckles and dive in with my kit. I feel a bit like that Normal Rockwell dude, looking back and forth between my displays and laying physical eyes on the thing.

    Stanton's right. "I see it," Throbbing on the compressor like a semisentient boil. It's gross and full of a terrible beauty at the same time. Oh, and certain death if things go tits-up.

    "Let's see what you're made of," I mumble.

  • [OOC: Assess. Roll+Expertise.]

    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 10)
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "Hmm, so it's bad luck if I work? I'll be sure to get extra drunk after we've gotten this thing licked, then." I settle in and arrange the tools I expect will be the most useful, trying to find that balance between available for the action and out of the way of my fellow experts.

    "What are we looking at, Jek? Tell me where you need me."
  • Jek, you get a data point to gain +1 on a related roll here.

    Like you said, Jek, hideous, but thankfully a lot dumber than it used to be... hopefully. The bright spot here, is that it's exactly the type of thing you saw on that god forsaken space station. Your experience from the other one is going to apply here directly. You researched those devices after that experience, right?

    The good news is that you have a good idea of how to use some micro explosive charges to simultaneously stun it and pull it loose. The smaller boils on the big boil is the vulnerable point. It's all up to your memory of which lump is which, though, I'm sure to the Skoi, the device components are clear as day, but then they have multispectral vision.


    Stanton nods at you as she moves across the bay to marshall her team. "You two get us out of this and I'll get your first three rounds, Mix."
  • image

    "What am I, Stanton, chopped liver? Okay," I start, feeling confident but aware of the shaky ground. I start pointing out structures with a blunt stylus. "Here's the main ganglia, and this tendril here and... here were connections to another node, but this one here? This is one trying to grow again. If you can peel that one back, like so, then watch the edges an' make sure no more creeping lemurs decide to show up." I hate the sound it makes when it peels off. It's squicky, makes me want to forget about food.

    I start counting out the boils, clockwise. "We can use micro explosives here to take out the coronal gyri. Do you have any multispectrum scopes over there? That would help."
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "Hrm, got it." I take some probes out and peel back the growing node carefully, fascinated. "We could also freeze some of the new growth, yes? I have some liquid nitrogen 'spikes' for chiseling off seized parts and other applications.."

    I hand over a scope that does infrared, low-light and volatile offgas visuals. "Heat, darkness and stuff with a low flash point. Anything more exotic than that I don't have in my kit here."
  • image

    "Thanks, Doxter." I take the scope and give it a once over, hopefully. I'm definitely remembering the right boil, but measure twice cut once.

    "Freeze it, sure. Keep it from spreading. Be able to take a look at it later." I give xir a quick look, like I see what you did there. I want to know our saboteur, too.
  • All right you crazy kids. Tell us exactly how you do this thing then throw down, yeah? You freezing some new stuff first? Or one doing one and one the other? Organic computation means you should be able to recover at least part of the things code, depending on development.
  • image

    Robynne is right. We take a sample of it now and keep it in a sandbox to we can test it, trick the thing to thinking it's succeeding and maybe learn some more about who placed the damn thing. Then we go with microexplosives on the correct boil. I make sure Stanton has a catchbasin underneath for when it dies. You ever hear about when a man hangs, what happens? This is sort of the same thing. Then pull the trigger and we should have our air back.

    Then cleanup.
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I return Jek's conspiratorial look. I want to get ahead of these people in case they try again. I prepare the spikes around the new growth and have some tongs nearby, with a case for isolation. A dumb case. Not radio-enabled, not dessicant-tracking, nothing.

    "Let's get this done."
  • Allright. Robynne it looks like you're rolling for the isolation? Let's see it.
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    Rolling Expertise; (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 4, 6. Total: 12)
  • With a buzz, a section of the thing freezes solid in an instant. You cut the repellant thing away inside the frost line and use the tongs to get it into the case.

    After that's done it's time for the rest.
  • image

    Robynne's impressing me again. Not too many suits get their hands dirty, and even fewer are good at it. I set the microexplosive on the control boil.

    If I was cooler, I'd have a nice one-liner pun or something for Stanton and Robynne. But that's not my style. It'll come to me in a few hours, when nobody can hear it.

    Agreeably, I answer back: "Done and done." I push the button.
  • edited January 2016
    [OOC: roll+expertise.]

    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 3. Total: 7)
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "If you ever work with Angelique Tessalt, you'll hear her say 'everything is to my advantage.' We have to learn to turn our challenges and barriers into tools and opportunities." I say as I take an additional spike and set it to trigger on wetness contact in the waste tray. Just in case whatever spills out of the soon-to-erupt boil is especially, er, bilious.

    Rolling to Get Involved with Expertise; (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 4. Total: 9)
  • edited January 2016
    Jek you trip the microexplosives after Robynne set the freeze spike. There is a series of of quick pops, an exceedingly awful smell, and, as you expected the mass drops into the tray with wet splattering plop, freezing solid once it hits the spike.

    Unfortunately Robynne, your measures to freeze the foul thing didn't count on it being somewhat pressurized. Or maybe one of the explosive spikes on your side goes off a fraction early. Either way you're hit with a spray of foulness that gets to your skin. Where does it hit?

    It all seems just fine, if merely disgusting for a moment... before your skin starts to burn.
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    Well. This is awkward. I look down at my chest and collarbone in something more like offense than anything else, at first. Of course I didn't take the time to change out of this plunging-neckline outfit. This seemed, you know, urgent.

    I do try to keep it together for the whole audience of Jek and Stanton and so on, but in no time I'm sweating and feeling the burn. "NgaaaaaAAA, fuck, it's corrosive!!"
  • edited January 2016

    What the- Quickly, I call out. "Shitfuck, Stanton, where's the med kit? " I'm not sure if I can leave the console. Everyone needs to breathe. Everyone. "That's a new trick," I saw, a little dazed.

    How's the atmo?
  • edited January 2016
    You've got a minor debility, Robynne, mainly pain and the damage it will do to the skin, a little nausea.


    "Shit! Grab xir and get xir to the emergency shower, Bez, I'll get our air back online!"

    She points to the emergency shower folded up on the side of the bay.

    The backup carbon dioxide scrubbers have been doing a decent job, as soon as Stanton gets the main Oxygenator back online, you'll be good.
  • image

    I drop kit and get up and go, pulling Robynne to the shower, thwacking the controls with a foot to get it started. "Sorry, 'Bynne, no time to be shy, strip!" I look at xir fine clothes, I'll rip them if need be, but there's gotta be a damn zipper somewhere! "No telling what that gunk will do- gotta get it off you."

    It's kind of like a suit leak. You check your modesty at the door, right?
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "What!?" Getting bodily pulled around is startling, but I catch up. Of course there's an emergency shower - standard in any room that handles volatiles like atmo, fueling and engines. My face scrunches up in pain and..can he seriously not tell where the zipper is on this? "I've got it, just-"

    I just forgo all the approved mechanics of the outfit and peel myself out through the front. The shower is cold and unpleasant, but doing its job. Liquid-like metallic sequins hang just over my hips, then slide down over my legs. Ultimately there wasn't much between myself and the world. I kick the contaminated cloth away.

    I look at Jek. He looks uncomfortable. I wonder if he finds my body as enlightening as he would like. My skin is bleeding subtly and I'm dizzy, nauseated. I wipe water and hair away from my mouth. "Assay our sample. And thanks."
  • image

    I'll use a plastic dowel to dump the ruined clothing in the incinerator, wondering what it cost for a mere mortal.

    I turn back and I am very studiously looking xir in the face. "Welcome. Uh-" There's gotta be some paper coveralls or a generic woven plastic jumpsuit near to the shower, right? If so, I'll hand xir one. "Not the highest of fashion, but the material just breathes." Dry humor, get it? I heard a comedian once say that nervous laughter don't count.

    If xe looks like xe needs help to be steady, I'll stick nearby. Otherwise, I'll check with Stanton and the sample.
  • edited January 2016

    imageI pull open a comm to Jek, "Mr. Bezier, you're needed on the bridge, immediately."


    I have the sample case in my hand when the comm goes off. I stop in mid step and click my tongue. I shrug at Stanton in apology, and meet eyes with Robynne as I fold the case deliberately into a pocket and slap Velcro.

    I open the comm back and say, "Aye Aye, Captain King. I can leave the situation here. En route."
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I pat dry with the provided disposable towel and nod to Jek as he responds to the Captain's command and hands me the plastiweave jumpsuit which will be a ridiculous one-size affair. I'm glad he's got our little takeaway, and he wants me to know.

    For a few moments I observe the activity in the room as Stanton and her crew swap all of the necessary parts out of the oxygenator. Should I check back in with Peshkov? The tilting feeling of the room is draining my certainty.
  • Robynne

    You're lithe even for a spacer, right? So a good fit just isn't in the cards here certainly. Stanton steps back when a couple of her guys are changing some components and looks over at you.

    "How you doing over there, Mix? You're looking a little rough, yeah? Where's your little satellite?"

  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "I've had better, Stanton. I'll have to delay those drinks with you, sadly." I tie the attached belt around my waist and think. "My assistant is probably still in main engineering working on a small project for me. Ping me if you need me, I'm checking in with her and Peshkov."

    With that I snap off a lazy little two finger salute and make my way into the halls to do just that. I need momentum again, and not some internal doldrums.
  • Moments later you re-enter main engineering. There's a small cheer for you from the engineering crew.

    Terci looks up to see you, a megawatt smile at first

    "I have a precise implant time on the device given its growth rate, Sai and I have an isolated personal transponder signal in that time.."

    She blinks, realizes how you're dressed, then her face falls into one of panicked concern.

    "Rob... Mixter Archebelloch! What happened?" She's immediately looking you over for injury.

  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I manage a smile for the engineering crew, leaning on the bulkhead.

    "That's good to hear, Terci. Recapture of control of our systems was a little hard won." Pain roughens my voice still, and I'm probably staining the front of my emergency plastiweave vestment with blood. "There was a chemical splash and I'm afraid I was in the way."

    I take a hold of her fussing arms. "Don't panic," I say, gently.
  • edited February 2016

    “But, Sai, you’re bleeding. We have to get you to the medic!" She turns but is caught by the announcement.

    The Captain’s voice comes over the loudspeaker.

    this is your captain speaking. We are currently being pursued by Commander Taru of the Council of Free Suns. We’ve been instructed to surrender, or die. As in accordance with TXR policy, we will be engaging self-defense measures to ensure the safety of our crew, and all of our passengers. We will be continuing our current course to Agliesse-2b, in hopes we can petition the Mayaran military for support. Please proceed to your appointed crash couches in preparation for a high-g burn.

  • photo RobynneBW.png

    I straighten and give the loudspeaker an incredulous look. I am not a big believer in coincidences. Did the rebellion commit to a pronged attack on this ship out of uncertain logistics? They may not have expected to move Taru's ship here in time. Are parts of the rebellion communicating poorly, perhaps a split between the alien and terran factions? It's too soon to tell, and not fully relevant right now.

    "Well...much as I think I'd love that, you heard our captain. Let's get secured." I put an arm over her shoulder to steady myself.

    While we're headed to an available crash couch, in engineering or otherwise, I ping Rajani on my comms, "Rajani, can you send me a visual of Taru's ship, or patch me into any scan data? Professional interest in make and model, could be of tactical relevance."
  • image

    "Yes Sai. Visual coming through now. I will route you through to Alchea. She can help you with everything we have on sensors. As you've demonstrated your superior engineering skills, I hope you won't mind my asking you to monitor our shields. An experienced hand down there would be useful. Rajani replies.

    Terci gets you over to an acceleration couch in front of a control panel. The rest of the engineering crew is busy locking down tools, then themselves. Terci helps get you strapped in, trying not to aggravate your injury before getting herself into the couch right beside you.

    As she does the image of Taru's ship comes through. It's a class three destroyer, heavily armed. How familiar are you with the ship technology of the unmanned fleets?


    "Sai, I'm sending you what I have so far. Are you looking for something in particular?"

  • photo RobynneBW.png

    "Of course, I'll take over shields from here." I can't help but feel a little punished, but it gives me something to do. I'm sure Rajani means it earnestly.

    I let out a long breath at the sight of the destroyer. Terrifying. I love starships, and most makes are either ours or direct competitors. Unmanned fleets represent a handful of interesting logistical strategies - unless you mean the unmanned fleets of the rebellion?

    They're starved for ships and similar resources. Taking a ship in the middle of its life cycle and automating it is a viable way to stretch that thin ship budget. Commander Taru warrants a good ship..this beast, in fact..and of course if there are no fleshly persons on board it has fewer concerns in its maneuvering.

    "Hello Alchea. I'm interested in radio noise and magnetics, signs of internal atmo, that sort of thing. I want to see if I recognize the automation package that might be onboard from how it talks to itself - I think Baylin Corp makes the top-of-the-line." I muse as I get a feel for the console and assess our shield power.
  • edited February 2016

    "No signs of atmo, Sai. I do have a magnetic carrier and some power plant fluctuations." A series of readouts are transferred to your station. It's excellent work, but then you have a fine sensor suite. Even so, most sensor operators would have trouble pulling something so clear. Let's have you roll Assess + Expertise to evaluate this.

    Alchea is a senior remote sensing research engineer for TXR, something of a prodigy and head of a team of such engineers at TXR’s main R&D facility. Had you met before? TXR research really didn't want her to leave her sensor design team for this little jaunt. Does she know she owes you for that? Why did you do it and how did you swing it?
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    Rolling Assess+Expertise; (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 11)
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    This is wonderful; to think, that I thought Alchea's expertise would be superfluous to the journeys of the Thousand Blessings. I'll admit it, I'm greedy for the time of anyone labeled the best at something, anyone else labeled a 'prodigy'. If I can integrate a third of Alchea's skills with sensor suites and design into my own abilities, I'll be satisfied.

    For other people, the words 'prodigy' or 'genius' get used, and for an Archebelloch the term is 'good enough.' I may be the combined issue of my prime and second, my cexie and cici, but I still have to prove my worth. From those who are given much, much is expected.

    Alchea had written me a missive, a half-hopeful 'I heard you would be on the Thousand Blessings, I am trying to get assigned there in order to gain field experience' etc etc. It was an unusual request, and I can't say I fully believe it; back on-station Alchea led a very capable team and was on a comfortable promotion track. Clearly she approached it as the long-shot that it was. But I pulled strings with my prime to have her placed here, and I don't regret it.
  • It takes you moments to piece it together but you have just the right data for the job. You've earned a data point on the ship Seeing how it all fits together now, why is it terrifying and what's the biggest weakness of this arrangement?
  • photo RobynneBW.png

    Well, the ship outmasses us by about quadruple, and with no atmo signs on board, that means very little of that mass is superfluous to the ship's purpose; no human cargo to meticulously maintain. It can burn harder, make sharper turns and brake faster than us.

    Chatter from the bridge clips into my comms. This situation just keeps developing.

    As I scan over the power plant data, though, I'm seeing familiar patterns. The biggest weakness of the unmanned fleets is their standardized automation schema for every station that would ordinarily be run by a breathing, erratic-minded human being. If you had something like, say, a software demo sent to you by someone eager to build an automated shipping business, you could do things like predict burn times or work out a shield-baffling firing solution.

    I listen to the countdown to hard burn, controlling my breathing, while I queue up said software.

    "Terci. What timing and transponder ID did you come up with?"
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