Scattered Seeds

They Speak for the Truffula XIII

The team continues their adventure aboard The Consequence, which is carrying fateful liquid hydrogen shipment C7.

Mary reads the "captain" the riot act about a "last minute crate", and after listening for a while, he hangs up.  She then checks her information about the ship and its crew, and although Azat Toros is supposed to be the captain, the ID photograph on the crew roster isn't the same as the man she just talked to.  The dossier shows Azat as a middle-aged Rast, but the man she just talked too is an unmodified, light-skinned human.  She also finds that the ship carries about 15 crew, but that 5 of the crew were replaced by last-minute substitutes at Upermavik and another 3 were replaced by last-minute substitutes at Reef City.

After a discussion, the team decides their best option is to find their way to the (required by regulations) emergency lifeboat submarine, exit, and then have BSI destroy the Consequence.  With this in mind, they exit the container.

Cal is concerned that the "captain" may send crew to investigate, so they decide to try and lure someone to the empty container by rigging up a strobe on its outside.  Then they make their way down out into the hold.

The submarine is like an elongated mushroom, with a large tapered bow-shroud covering the bridge and crew quarters and shielding a number of large liquid hydrogen tanks arranged around the center stalk.  Then an elongated (150') shaft mostly filled with mechanical space but with a cramped and not-very-straight central corridor for people, and a wider base which makes up the cargo hold and is surrounded by the six driving impellers and fuel containers, etc.

The cargo hold itself is basically a 400'-long cylinder at the base of the mushroom, with a huge hatch at the base end and a personnel hatch at the top end leading to the "stalk".  The hold is filled floor to ceiling with racks or shelving designed to hold 12' x 12' x 48' containers  The shelving is basically a 15' x 15' x 50' grid of girders with the long axis aligned with the long axis of the ship, and with the bottom girders basically a set of rails with rollers and breaking mechanisms so that containers can be slid in from the end.  There are ladders on each of the racks at both ends and at the center.  Visibility is very limited, and because of all the vertical drops caution is necessary.

They work their way along the girders towards the bow of the ship with Phoenix leading.  Just as they pass the center, they see lights up at the bow end of the hold.  They hide and wait as four people with head lamps move up the girders in the very middle of the hold and then climb up and over to the row the team is using, clearly heading for the strobe.  The team decides to let them by and heads for the end, but by the time they get to the personnel airlock the 4 lights have turned around and are heading back, and are only 150' away.

So Mary, using her knowledge of ships and racking systems, hot-wires the breaking systems on all the racks to release, and as the ship changes direction and speed and hits turbulence, the containers begin moving back and forth, crashing into one another and breaking free.  They see several crash together like runaway railway cars, sending shrapnel and frozen seafood through the hold and sending one of the people with head lamps down to the bottom of the hold.

Then the ship abruptly slows and accelerates, and all the containers crash against the rear hatch, smashing it open, with the team shutting the personnel hatch just in time to escape the deluge.  The hatch holds, but is leaking slowly.  The ship immediately begins to list, and shortly loses power and stops moving forward, and they press forward in the dark.

They enter the crew area, levering open the hatch manually, and they see signs pointing to the left-hand corridor to the lifeboat.  But Phoenix, heading up the party, also sees a couple of human shapes disappearing ahead of them down that corridor.

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They Speak for the Truffula XII

Eden recognizes Mary, and goes to check on her.

Mary begins to wake up.  It takes her time to focus, but she eventually recognizes Eden leaning over her, and when she's finally up she recognizes Phoenix on the gurney.  Too late to change course, though:  the container is loaded onto the ship and the ship departs.

They check on Phoenix, who seems to be in pretty good shape, and is kept asleep by a regular drip of Ceftatecan Finastone.

Mary doesn't say anything, but the last time she saw armor like Tennan is wearing was during the rebellion on her station (Station 7; she's known as Mary Riley 7).

Dominé wakes up and struggles some.  Cal fishes through the medical supplies on the gurney and comes up with an injection of a sedative named Invanazole, which he things can be used to keep someone unconscious.  He doses Dominé with enough of it to keep him asleep for about 3 days, but not before Dominé somehow manages to trigger his hand comp to send a transmission.  Cal can't stop the transmission, and he can't decrypt it, but he is able to use the eavesdropping tech he's acquired to check routing codes and so forth, and deduces that the message was being relayed to some location in orbit.  Eventually he gets enough information from the handcomp to find that "Operation Vengeful Dance is underway" and that "Vengeful Dance" seems to be an operation to divert a shipment of liquid hydrogen leaving Reef City to the genetic research station at Narsaq and blow it up.  Shipments C5 through C9 were potential targets.

I believe Phoenix also is awake by this time.

They contact BSI, who says they will vector ships to destroy any shipment that veers off-course, but can't do anything at this time to board a shipment.

The team calls the bridge and speaks with a man who identifies himself as captain Azat Toros, but who's wearing Third Officer's insignia.  Terry Madsen, who's face is familiar from the resort in Reef City, is standing behind him.

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They Speak for the Truffula XI

Mary has been working the high ports in the New Greenland system for some time.  Because of her efficiency, she's been transferred to Reef Island to manage the port there, since she is effective, and the port ships out large quantities of liquid hydrogen as energy stores for other cities, and needs good management and security.

She is readying large shipment S7 to go out in the next thirty minutes, and is talking to one of her shift supervisors when she sees a group of medical personnel rushing away from container rack A in the warehouse.  She stops them by the elevator, and they tell her they took a woman named Phoenix at the behest of an armored woman with BSI colors to a container on row A level 3.

She goes to investigate, but just as she's reaching row A she sees the automated gantry systems lift a container from that row and place it in row C, and return another container to the A3 location.  So she goes instead to row C.  She sees someone has added a scheduled move to her calendar without her authorization, and she can't access the move order:  Access Denied / Security Override.  The container is supposed to go out on S7, rush-rush.  So she climbs up and opens the container (a fully pressurized, heated one), and inside recognizes Phoenix lying unconscious on her gurney, and Eden standing over her.  But she just barely sees Tennan unlimbering her weapon and then Fos bringing his huge hammer-like fist down on her head, and that's the last thing she remembers. 

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They Speak for the Truffula X

Phoenix is taken to the local hospital, and she's there in a medically induced coma.  The police have kept her under guard and basically have only let Dominé see her.  Strangely, though it was thought destroyed during the attack, her implanted bug begins broadcasting again, at least until her hand-comp runs out of power.

Cal and Eden send word to Sara about the situation, and they hear back that they should investigate, but that they should avoid talking to Sev Derstine, and they won't be "on the clock": though they'll be paid as part of a "black op," the whole thing will be entirely deniable and won't be officially a mission.

Cal also spends some time figuring out how to use the communication equipment they found in Nellie and Terry's room.  He doesn't find much data, but he finds lots of hacking and eavesdropping tools and oblique evidence that the pair has been gathering a lot of data about New Greenland in general, and also things like shipping routes in the Hive system.

Tennan arrives with Fos, the large warrior-type from BSI.  She tells them that BSI has gotten wind of Dominé's involvement in things relating to the Humming Fish, and they want the team's assistance in taking care of the problem:  they are to capture Dominé and get him to Upermavik, and they should bring Phoenix back with them.  Tennan takes care of getting Phoenix out of the hospital while Cal and Eden watch Dominé's movements and break into his apartment while he's out.  There is a brief encounter with a Rast named Ben Kidd who accuses Dominé of having sexually assaulted a housekeeping worker, but Cal and Eden convince him to leave them alone.  When Dominé comes back there is a brief scuffle, and then they put him unconscious in a box and take him to an arranged location where a shipping container is waiting.  Shortly thereafter, Tennan arrives with a frightened medical team who are pushing Phoenix along on a gurney.  They all get in the container, have it moved to a new location, and wait to be taken away as "cargo"…

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They speak for the Truffula IX

While Phoenix and Dominé attend the party, Cal breaks into the nearby bank and convinces the guard manning the security systems that he's from the security company himself, and gets the guard to scan through recent security footage to see if anyone has broken into the building.  He doesn't find any information about a break-in (other than his own), but he notices gaps in the building's security that would allow someone to get to the roof without being noticed, so he heads to the roof himself.

A police drone begins patrolling the neighborhood from above, so Eden gets off the roof and mingles with street traffic outside of the apartment, where he sees the drone come crashing down, either hit by an EMP attack or hacked.  He decides to get to the apartment roof, and talks his way past security and onto the elevators.  From the floor below the penthouse, he finds a stairwell to the penthouse roof, and fries the electronic lock to get out onto the roof itself.

At the party, Phoenix is introduced to Sev Derstine, and later to a man named Terry, who happens to be the "husband" of Nellie Razen, the sniper who Cal and Eden think is still in the area.

On the bank rooftop, Cal doesn't find anyone, and so waits on the rooftop looking for trouble at the party.  He sees Eden emerge on the rooftop, but is almost surprised by Nellie as she crosses the roof to attack him.  She fires at him a couple of times, but he gets to the safety of the stair tower and contacts the police and then Eden.  She blocks the doors somehow so that he can't get out easily.

Terry tries to stab Phoenix with some kind of hypodermic needle, but she manages to notice and moves away through the crowd, just as Nellie starts firing at her from across the street, hitting someone else in the crowd accidentally.  Phoenix dashes through the crowd towards the interior of the penthouse while Eden fires back at Nellie, trying to keep her pinned down.  Although partly successful, Nellie manages to fire into the (mostly glass) penthouse and Phoenix takes a couple of injuries, one minor and one very dangerous.  She manages to make it into the foyer where many people are trying to crowd the elevator, so she finds the stairs instead, but as she is just entering the stair tower, Terry surprises her and kicks her down the stairs, where she passes out to the sound of police feet running past her into the penthouse above.

On the bank roof, Cal burns through the door hinges with his pistol, and engages Nellie with his taser.  He exchanges a couple of shots with her and gets her out into the open where Eden can hit her from across the street.  She's pretty badly injured but still alive when police pour out of the bank stair tower and open fire at her.

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They speak for the Truffula VIIi

Dominé and Phoenix proceed like this is an ordinary romantic getaway, though they both probably know better.  They're in a large suite in one of the major hotels in the tourist area of the city.  Phoenix has a bad dream about the bug in her arm spreading blue spider-webs across her skin.  She discusses the dream with Dominé.  The week proceeds uneventfully, and he asks her to go to party on their last night, hosted by Nal Underwood, who is important in the city for some reason.

Cal and Eden find a couple staying in a room nearby who seem not to be regular tourists and keep an eye on them.  Eden encounters the woman of the couple coming out of Phoenix and Dominé's room, and confronts her; Cal comes quickly and there's a minor physical altercation, but the woman (named Nellie Razen) escapes downstairs.  Cal and Eden investigate Phoenix and Dominé's room and find a medical scanner capable of identifying Phoenix's bug device, so they disable it.  They break into Nellie's room and find some fancy communications equipment which they disable and an (empty) gun-case that seems like maybe it held a sniper rifle.

Cal and Eden study the area around the party, and decide on a couple places where an assasin might hide.  They go there early, and sure enough discover someone hiding in the structures holding up a set of signs over the street.  They call the police, who surround the area, but are unable to capture the person before they use a handgun to blow out a nearby window and enter the adjoining building.

Cal goes around and enters the bank building in an attempt to cut off or investigate the other potential sniper location, while Eden waits on a rooftop near the apartment where the party is being held to watch events.

Phoenix and Dominé come out of the train station and have to detour through the nearby streets to get around the police cordon.  They fail to see Eden watching them.

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They speak for the Truffula VII

The team plans to renew contact with Dominé, but in the end he renews it willingly and eagerly with Phoenix.  There's some back-and-forth, but not much new is learned, and eventually he invites her on a five-day trip to "Reef City", an underwater city near a large volcanic / thermal vent formation where tourism, research, and energy generation share the location.  Cal and Eden head to Reef City the day before Phoenix is scheduled to leave, in order to be there for support.  Cal has Tennan fabricate an audio bug that lives under the skin on Phoenix's left bicep and masquerades as implantable birth control.  It uses her handcomp for communication and transmits in bursts.

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They speak for the Truffula VI
In which things go sideways...

Phoenix is on a date with Dominé, eating at a restaurant near the docks.  But he's spent much of the evening on the phone, and fifteen or twenty minutes ago disappeared towards the bathroom.  Convinced he's run off, she has a discussion with a sympathetic red-haired waitress named Marie James, from whom she hears that Dominé is in that particular restaurant with a different woman every few nights.  Then she sees her friends Cal and Eden go by, and decides to follow rather than hang around.

Cal and Eden walk with Halbar (the man the intimidated in the dance club) and he leads them up into a nearby service level.  Phoenix discovers that the other man (Sor-Em) is following them, but is unable get them to understand her urgent texts before Sor-Em fires at them from behind on the service level, badly injuring Eden.  A short, sharp fire-fight ensues, resulting in the deaths of both the Humming Fish Collective operatives.  But up ahead there's more gunfire and the sound of retreating, running feet, so the team rushes up to find Sasha, badly injured but saved by a plate in her skull that must be covering some of her wetware mods.

The team calls Steve, who comes with Sam and Helv (a Haraal), and helps them move Sasha to a clinic which will discreetly treat her injuries.  She's still conscious, and she tells them that a man named Dominé was with the Humming Fish operatives, and that he was the one who shot her.

The team decides that they need to track down and deal with Dominé as soon as possible

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They Speak for the Truffula V
Something unexpected...

Phoenix goes out on a date with someone she's recently met at the hotel bar.  So she's not in when Cal gets a call from Steve saying that Sasha was in some sort of trouble  She had taken her normal tram out towards the submarine port, but had dropped off the grid, and he was concerned.  He gives them two stations she might have gotten off at, on in a commercial area near the docks and one in a maintenance area nearby.  Cal and Eden set off to see what they can find.

Poking around the commercial area, they happen in a bar upon two people who seem out-of-place; they're wearing space-crew coveralls, and not really engaging as much as one might expect with the commerce of the area.

The two people eventually leave the bar, but seem to be aware that they're being followed and duck into a dance club.  One picks up a dance partner and moves out onto the floor, while the other drinks alone at the bar.  Cal listens in, and Eden approaches the one at the bar.  The one on the dance floor eventually disappears into the bathrooms for a while, and Cal picks up some chatter between someone in the area saying things like "she's waking up" and "we need to get her to Dominé soon, where are you two?"  One is named Halbar.

Eventually, Eden and Cal manage to intimidate Halbar into taking them to their co-conspirators, and they begin moving along the street to do this.  They have convinced him that they are with humming fish; he asks them about "group 6"

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They Speak for the Truffula IV

The team huddles in Omar's Pharmaceuticals, trying to blend in by perusing Omar's wares.  After some discussion, Eden calls their contact with BSI again, and hands the phone to Phoenix.  The voice on the other end of the line reports that officers are on the way, although their search via drone did not find any know Human Potential agents in the area.

Cal keeps listening, and gets the sense that someone in the area is using a very powerful receiver / transmitter.  As the call with the BSI agents goes on, the different signals he's been tracking all disperse from the area.

Soon the area outside the shop is flooded with police officers in body armor.  They sort through everyone checking ID, and end up arresting a couple of folks with outstanding warrants, but don't find anyone who seems associated with Human Potential.

After a while, the team heads back to their hotel.  Soon after they arrive, there's  knock at the door, and they open the door to see the man in the hoodie who had been tracking them.  Eden pulls him inside and shuts the door.  He seems very nervous, and asks to sit down.  (Cal notes that he is transmitting data out of the room, and under questioning he admits he's transmitting voice and video for his own safety.)  His speech is halting and nervous, and overall they get the impression he's a little "off".  One of his eyes is obviously a technological construct, and he has surgery scars all over his face and scalp.  He says he's "Steve", a member of the Blue Gang, that his friend Sasha has been tracking them ever since Cal arrived, since Cal is obviously enhanced.  They're worried that Human Potential doesn't like them, and may want to do them harm, because of their enhancements.  Also that BSI (the Bureau of Special Investigations), which is the organization that contacted the team about working to help against Human Potential; they have a member named Sam(antha) who works in BSI.  After more questioning, the team allows him to leave.  He gives them contact information for himself and Sasha.  The Blue Gang members are moddies, a term you haven't heard before, but they all seem to have cybernetic modifications.

The team then has a long discussion of whether or not to just leave, or to go through with helping BSI.  (With asides to discuss Cal's new modifications.)  They decide to help out, and negotiate a setup with BSI where Human Potential will be informed about them and their affiliation with a "large, cluster-wide corporation."  Tennan and Cal will work with the police, and they are hooked into the police communication networks and given licenses to carry firearms temporarily.  Tennan is issued armor and weapons; she will be with the on-site team, while Cal works behind the scenes.  The police have assets in place who can give them an hour or so's warning of when Human Potential will act, and they think they will know basically what the plan is, though of course they don't have complete control over the situation.

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