Sunday, July 16, 2017

宁静的龙 - Session 2 - Cortical Bombs non grata


The Níngjìng de lóng (Serene Dragon) is a Mudlark-class Utility Space Vehicle (USV) registered in Duncan Silas as an independent tramp freighter. It picked up a cargo of ZR-3 bioroids that the Xiao chu seemed all too eager to get away from the highport. They are on their way, pushing slowly toward Ceres in hope to peddle the 'roids for a large profit margin.

宁静的龙, or Níngjìng de lóng. Bursting with ZR-3 bioroids.

y2100m2d10 - Janie's got a gun

The pileup of 11 ZR-3 boiroids into the Ning felt like a smelly game of tetris. All of them short stature female dressed in plain clothes. They obeyed the commands of the crew without questions nor hesitations. The Ning had begun a 60h burn to acquire a 20mps vector to Ceres. John pushed one of the ZR-3 out of the way as Takeda went about writing a number from 1 to 11 on each of them.

A diagnostic scan revealed that #7 had an add-on to her virtual interface implant (VII). A small antenna was running underneath the skin over the skull, and ran down the spine, connecting 4 large capsules. A 3D Web search returned as best match a cortical bomb implant coupled to the VII. The crew panicked when they realized there there was enough stabilized hydrogen-metal material to punch a hole through the Ning. 8 of the 23 bioroids turned out to be walking bombs. They rearranged the cargo bay full of reclaimed titanium ingots and turned the room into a blast-proof area where any explosion would destroy the cargo bay door and minimize structural damage.

Pradeep found a way to break into the VII of one of the non-bomb ZR-3. He then used this knowledge to carefully break into the VII of one of the bomb-laden 'roid. He identified one process running on the VII that looked like a remote controller, and terminated it. He then replicated the procedure on all other bomb bioroids. They rigged the radiation shielding in the cargo bay to prevent radio access to the bomb via the subcutaneous antenna.

With the VII controller disabled, the bioroids couldn't be detonated from Internet requests. With the radiation shielding, even a direct peer-to-peer connection was blocked. The crew felt a bit better, although piling the bomb-laden roids into the improvised blast-shelters felt a bit cruel.

y2100m3d25 - Let sleeping vargr lie 

When Pradeep polled the sensors, a blip showed up on the display some 5 LS away. John hauled his sickly carcass to the control room: the surpopulation had taxed life support. He was having none of it.

The blip turned into a Mudlark-class ship on a parallel vector as theirs, but a bit slower. The navigation display showed a nearest points to be only 1700 miles apart. The broadcast UID matched an old EU/UK ship called the Vargr. The ship, however, was not broadcasting nor responding to requests. 

They considered closing in and investigate. However, the Ning was on its last 10mps margin and had very little room to maneuver. The Ning trained its nose laser onto the Vargr until out of range. 

y2100m4d14 - No doesn't mean no, this time.

A ping from Ceres' deep space control came before anything human-made registered on the sensors. The Ning transmitted its ship's manifest, omitting the ZR-3s, let along the bombs. Still at 60 LS, the lag was about 2 minutes. A denial to dock came back shortly later, citing dangerous cargo. John got into an argument, suggesting that the bad guy was the Vargr coming into their range soon. This seemed to do the trick and the Ning got cleared to enter orbital space. Everyone on board couldn't believe that this trick worked (God bless critical successes on Fast-talk). 

y2100m4d15 - Yo-yo to the hardware store

The 'Ning slowed on the approach almost perfectly and parked itself in a low orbit to Ceres. Given the illegality of the cargo, they decided to dock only after the buyer of the ZR-3 would make a sign. Unfortunately, this sign didn't come. Horatio placed an order for material to fix the punctured water tank and started to get going on repairs. John and Takeda called an unmanned shuttle to descend to the base since web searching yielded no results. John paid a shady character at the pub to locate anyone interested in a shipment extracted from Deimos, but the man took the money and would never be heard of again. 

y2100m4d17 - Fender bender no-nos.

Two days of wait and there was nothing to show but a mounting tab of drinks at the pub. The 'Ning fumbled in port and tore its cargo bay door, along with the port's docking gate when a glitch in the attitude thrusters couldn't be compensated for. The port's insurance immediately lodged a claim to the 'Ning's insurance, a couple AI/cybershells adjusters inspected the site and within 10 minutes the claim was settled to $12K in favour of the port. In the explosive decompression, 7 dT of titatium was lost to space and salvaging tags attached to the containers. 

The security contractors were cued in to the 'Ning and warned of a cargo inspection within the next 10 minutes. The crew decided to push away from the docks, citing mechanical issues, so as to avoid the discovery of the contraband ZR-3s. John remembered of a small staging warehouse some 10K miles away from Ceres. The station was called Soulfall. They decided to bunk the ZR-3s there and reattempt the deliver with a clean cargo.

The trip to Soulfall was only a few hours with minimal delta-V thrown into it. They paid $1.4K for 14 days for a discreet lodging of the ZR-3s. The operator in Soulfall made clear that if payment weren't made in 14 days, the ZR-3s would be sold or liquidated. No mention was made of the fact that there was enough stabilized hydrogen-metal embedded in some of them to blow a hole in the station.

They returned to Ceres, cleared the cargo from the titanium just to see half of their proceeds evaporate to settle the lawsuit that they had just lost.

y2100m4d19 - Blind date, all dressed up.

At long last, the message from the one way channel came to John. The message read: Dock ADA-11, a timestamp for later in the day, and the mention of a 2% commission. John realized that the negotiation for a better payment wouldn't be easy, but necessary. They picked up the ZR-3s in Soulfall and returned to Ceres. 

Takeda and John suited up for negotiation. They packed the ZR-3's into Bay 3 and docked with Bay 2. Takeda, in his battlesuits and sporting a police armgun was woefully aware that being caught with this on would cost him his pension cheque for the month. John slipped into his nanoweave suits.  Pradeep teleoperated into his tech-spider and positionned just outside of Bay 3. 

Feeling bulletproof,  they docked. The bulkhead opened, a seal was made and the iris door opened into a pitch black bay... 


  1. Well, each time it looks like more and more "interesting times" pile up ^^ . Interesting read, although I prefered the meme-girl.

    Waiting for the next one !

    1. I should continue with the Mem girl as the whole memetic thing is interesting to me.

    2. The PLAyers in this campaign wanted a Traveller-like feel to the campaign.

    3. Is the frequency of "interesting times" (i.e. fails) a feature of Traveller ? Not that I complain, it keeps tthings interesting, but it leaves me wondering how could the space infrastructure still exist with such a density of fails ^^ .

      Concerning Meme-Girl, where did you get all the ideas you used ? It had a wonderful feel to it !

    4. The odds of two critical failures in two checks is about 4 in 10,000. It will never happen.

      The mem girl was an idea that I got for a short story, and exploring the idea of memes (that I like a lot).