Previously: 01.05 The Card In The Warp
The crew arrive on the city-station to a smoke-filled hangar with a burning ship inside. They investigate the station, look for work, meet some colorful characters, and hustle them in holographic bar games! Also, a new player joins the crew.
Active Crew: Alex Hardcastle 02BZ Sasha Denisovich Janice Nyman Albie
Having just arrived on the space station Iblis’s Crown, the crew disembarks the IMV Grasshopper to find warning lights flashing through a hazy, smoke-filled hangar. A nearby ship is smoldering and belching black clouds as paramedics in hazard gear carry body bags down its cargo ramp. Marines in SMC (Sol Military Contracts) uniforms interrogate a soot-stained woman in a medic jumpsuit outside.
The crew approach and overhear an SMC marine commander grilling her on what happened to the ship, and how she managed to be the only survivor. As the commander orders her to be taken into custody, another marine squad emerges from the smoking ship. The squad’s leader reports that the explosion was the clear result of a coolant leak — no signs of foul play.
The commander turns to the woman with a sneer and says, “sorry for your loss” and says there’s no point taking her in at this point — she’ll find her if she needs her, it’s not like she has a way off the station anyway. The woman in the medic jumpsuit watches the marines follow the paramedics as they carry off the remains of her crewmates.
The Grasshopper crew approaches her and ask what happened. She introduces herself as Albie and tells them she doesn’t know — she was the ship’s doctor, and was in the medbay when the explosion happened. She also tells them she’s been to this station several times and knows her way around the place. Maybe she could be of some help? The crew figure they could use a guide, and possibly a medical officer for their own crew, and decide to interview her at a local dive she recommends, Below Zero. They agree on a time to meet and split up to explore the station based on some more of her suggestions.
Albie (Scientist): Medical officer, devout follower of the Universal Mechanistic, and only survivor of a ship explosion.
Patch: “All-Seeing Eye”.
See 3 Androids for Mothership for how to make a cyberized PC.
The crew heads across the station to a structure labeled Kenbishi Medical. They hope to find a way to help Sonia (the psychic teenager who pilots their ship) relinquish her human form to become one with the IMV Grasshopper. They figure the way forward is cyberization — a very involved process of turning an organic being into a synthetic one via systematic replacement of biological parts with mechanical ones.
On the way they pass through the station’s central hub and see among the noodle stands and neon lights that a lot of the people here are roughneck types with an unusually high number of prosthetics — they guess that the salvage work here is probably quite dangerous. And their pastimes look just as brutal: they see on the holoscreens above the crowds recaps of vicious cage-fight matches, with a particular crowd favorite being “White Ape” — an albino gorilla with cybernetic augs and a penchant for ripping limbs off of his opponents.
Arriving at Kenbishi Medical, they find an understaffed clinic with its own small space dock. A doctor on staff, Sonia Talon, is grim-faced, doing triage in the waiting room and telling patients they don’t have enough medication for everyone. She tells the crew they’re having issues with prosthetic rejection and would be willing to buy medical supplies at a markup. They confer: it looks like they may be able to sell off some of the ship’s BioGel here, but this place almost certainly doesn’t have the facilities to perform a full cyberization. They decide to head to Below Zero and meet Albie.
Meanwhile, Albie heads to her church in the depths of the station, a temple of the Universal Mechanistic. The UM preaches a mechanical view of the universe, as created by an entity they call the Clockmaker. She consults the AI inside, Mother Alice, who, as always, instructs her to seek answers to her questions in the rim worlds. She takes this as a sign that she should sign up with this new crew and heads to the bar to meet them.
Sasha makes good use of his Rimwise skills here. Clint, on the other hand, crit fails.
The crew arrives at Below Zero and watches as Sasha talks a drunk local, Clint, into anteing up his payday money on a game of Orbital, a 3D holographic game in which players throw holo-balls into a holographic solar system that creates gravity wells: players must slingshot their balls around planets and stars to hit other balls and earn points. Sasha’s a bit of an Orbital shark and keeps dogging Clint, shot for shot. Clint sees an opportunity and calls out to the whole bar, gloating that he’s about to win, but slips and falls on a puddle of beer and throws his ball right into a holographic black hole, losing the game. Albie steps out of the shadows with a half-empty beer, smiling as Sasha collects credits from Clint.
They all post up in a booth and discuss bringing Albie aboard — she tells them she wants to head to the outer rim and, when they ask about Tannhäuser, she says she has no affiliation or affection for them. She seems to pass muster, so they welcome her as the newest member of their crew and discuss possible employment opportunities on the station in the meantime.
An older drunk salvager with white stubble and a big goofy grin pulls up a chair and starts chatting them up. As he talks, he animatedly points around the table with his bionic hand, the robotic index finger seemingly loose in its socket and waggling about. He introduces himself as Nip Lacey, and congratulates Sasha on the win against his pal Clint. He says he overheard them talking about looking for work, and says the only good work around here is salvage on the Iblis, the huge space hulk outside the station. It was a colony ship, hundreds of years old, and a lot of folks around here trace their ancestry back to its original passengers, himself included. Now it’s just a big stripping and scrapping operation.
If they want a piece of the action, they’ll need a license from the local Anders-Klimt Mining Corporation rep, Ben Rashid, since AKMC runs all mining operations in the sector. Once on the Iblis they’ll want protective gear, and they’ll need to watch out for illegal squatters and scavengers, and unstable parts of the ship, but they can make some decent cash scrapping.
Also, he says, leaning in close and wafting his synthetic alcohol breath across the table, if they want to make some real money, they should try and sneak out some of “the fruit” — the local Solarian Church is buying. He’s cagey about details but it sounds like they’re running some kind of racket with the stuff. When the crew asks what “the fruit” is used for, he just gives them an address in the station’s hab stacks, says they’ll see what they do there, and then cackles and shuffles off into the crowd.
Albie reaches out via the local intranet to another member of her congregation, Father Gaskell, and asks if he knows about the Solarian Church’s operation, and if he knows on what part of the Iblis this “fruit” can be found. He won’t say much about it but he says he’s heard the Solarians are involved in moving it and that it supposedly grows near the hulk’s engines.
Fairly drunk and satisfied with their intel gathering, the crew heads back to the ship for the night. Janice gives Albie the tour, starting with the lower deck, and explains how they came about owning the ship, that they’re on the run from Tannhäuser, and that they now cohabitate with several psychic teenagers with severe PTSD. Albie takes this fairly well until Janice shows her the video feed of Yu Yin: on seeing her, Albie faints on the spot. Janice sighs, having half-expected something like this, and drags her over to one of the cells where she can sleep it off.
In the cell, Albie dreams of holding a pulse grenade but not knowing how to use it, or how to throw it, or even how to use her hands. Her new crewmates are standing all around her, and they are just so disappointed…
Eventually she comes to, and Janice, having watched over her, takes her on the rest of the tour, showing her Jonesy, still in cryo, and Sonia on the bridge, who sasses her a bit for fainting but seems ok with her joining the crew. Everyone heads to sleep, thinking ahead to their next day on the Crown.
To be continued…