Mothership - Titan

Séadna

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Lassie shrugs in approval, still moving through the lab to look over as much as he can to make heads or tails of it all.

"I would hope she at least could give us information on her potential killer, if there is one. I'd also like to know what this organic being was that she took in with her. Do you have a chemical breakdown of this matter, by any chance?"
"Sure thing" Coombs says.

He prints out a long list of chemicals and gives them to Lassiter

You can tell this is mammalian tissue along with some kind of electronics.

OOC: When I say "You can tell" this often includes using your tablet. I just mean "as somebody versed in chemistry and biology using your equipment".
 

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Coombs thinks over the details of what Finn has suggested.

"Yes, in fact I think the equipment here is the best suited for such a task in the colony. I could make something more susceptible to manipulation from Ariadne's...that is Dr. Contos's side. It should only take me two hours"

OOC: Upon confirmation I'll skip to when he has completed it
 

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Over the next two hours Coombs prepares a sheet of an odd silver looking metal. Occasionally he enters with unusual looking parts that he says are unused spares from other Teleportation spheres. He connects several of them to each end of the sheet of the metal and hooks up other ends to a console. Eventually a shimmering effect emerges on the metal. Although it's not bright for some reason it's slightly painful to look at. A stinging feeling at the back of the eyes.

Coombs then begins to speak aloud. Clearly to Contos as he uses her first name. After about ten minutes he turns back to Finn and Lassiter.

"I think it might be working roughly" he says showing them the screen.

The onscreen text reads:
HI TO YOU ALL
 

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"Hello Dr. Cantos, nice talking with you again. May I call you Ariadne? I assume you've been listening to the conversation so far, and you know we've got a bunch of questions. By the way, how are you feeling?" Finn begins.
 

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OOC: Once pleasantries are out of the way, these are the questions that I intend for Finn to ask, in order. His approach is to gradually come to the point, starting with the most friendly and obvious questions that reveal the least about what he knows. Finn wants Cantos to think he's completely on her side, whereas he actually thinks that she should be sentenced to hard labor on Mercury for the rest of a short and unpleasant existence.

@Smith feel free to ask your own and even specify interjections. Finn isn't going to rush through this, so there's plenty of opportunity to jump in.

  1. Where the hell are you?!
  2. Is your body intact?
    1. If not fully intact: How are you still alive?
  3. How can we get you back?!
  4. What were you trying to achieve with your teleportation?
  5. What went wrong?
  6. What was the Inner Way's role in all of this?
  7. What was the nature of the schism?
  8. Do you know what has happened to our colleague, Cooper?
  9. Do you know where we can find the cranium of <the diplomat>?
  10. What can you tell me about the entity in the inner sanctum of the Visitation Site?
  11. What is its agenda?
  12. Why did you hook an AI up to the teleporter?
  13. Why did you delay reintegration of yourself?
  14. What exactly was it that you took with you on your last jump?
 

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There is often a little delay between responses.

"Hello Dr. Cantos, nice talking with you again. May I call you Ariadne? I assume you've been listening to the conversation so far, and you know we've got a bunch of questions. By the way, how are you feeling?" Finn begins.
GOOD

Where the hell are you?!
OUTSIDE THE UNIVERSE. HOWEVER FROM HERE I AM SOMEWHAT AWARE OF MOST OF TITAN

Is your body intact?
YES

How can we get you back?!
THERE IS A REINTEGRATION PROGRAM IN MY DIARY. UPSTAIRS FROM WHERE YOU ARE. OPEN THE COVER. IT WILL NEED TO BE AMENDED

What were you trying to achieve with your teleportation?
TO REMAIN HERE FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.

What went wrong?
MISTAKE IN MY CALCULATIONS

What was the Inner Way's role in all of this?
ASSISTANCE IN TESTING. MANPOWER TO CONDUCT MY WORK.

What was the nature of the schism?
DISAGREEMENT OVER ACCESS TO THAT SITE OF THEIRS. I HAVE LITTLE INTEREST IN IT.

Do you know what has happened to our colleague, Cooper?
HE CAME WITH YOU? ON THE SHIP? I HAVE NOT BEEN FOLLOWING YOU SO I CANNOT BE SURE. I CAN SEARCH FOR HIM.

Do you know where we can find the cranium of <the diplomat>?
RENNER? HIS HEAD?! NO.

What can you tell me about the entity in the inner sanctum of the Visitation Site?
There is a long delay. Coombs turns to look at Finn. Somewhat confused.

"There's no error on this end. Maybe..."

Before he finishes a super-heated spray of liquid metal erupts from the sheet in the direction of Finn, but it goes wide. A second lashes out at Luca but hits the floor just short of him.

"JESUS!!" Coombs shouts falling backward off his chair.

Luca shouts to Lassiter and Finn.

"The lab door!!!..." he gestures in direction of the large metallic vault door which is slowly moving shut.

The metal sheet they had being using to communicate with Contos begins to distort, slowly shaping itself.
 

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"Jesus! Luca grab the door!" Lassie grabs Finn and tries to pull him out, through the vault door. He pulls his sidearm with his other hand and trains it on... whatever that form is morphing into.
 

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"EVERYONE OUT!" bellows Finn, grabbing Coombs' sleeve to give it a sharp tug before sprinting for the gap. He's not planning to stop until he's clear of the complex's blast doors.

OOC: I thought I posted this yesterday.
 

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Luca rushes to the vault door and uses the strength of his suit to hold it open.

"She's not as strong as this suit. Hurry!!"

As the metal accrues a vague stick man like humanoid shape it's knocked back onto the floor by a well placed shot from Lassiter's pistol as the others make it through the vault door. This gives Coombs time to get out and Lassiter follows shortly and finally Luca jumps out hitting the vault sealing button.

They make it all the way out into the office and race past the office with the bewildered guards (OOC: You can fill what if anything you shouted at them and I'll mention how they reacted in the next post).

They make it outside the complex. Coombs pants heavily.

"Well...." he gasps for breath half panicked "...hard to know what to say...we keep running?"

OOC: See spoiler below for current Stress count if you wish
Lassiter: 2
Finn: 2
Luca: 1
 

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While running past the guards, Finn pauses to blurt "We were attacked by a...thing! It's not normal and it may be coming! Call for help!"

OOC: What do you say in a situation like this?

After catching up with the group, Finn pauses to catch his breath and replies to the scientist, "I'm not sure what happened. I think it was Cantos answering our questions, but I can't imagine she would do that. I think it was the entity that attacked. I suspect they may have become somehow...combined. Perhaps that was the additional mass.

"I think we should try to get that journal and then get out of here. Can you lead us to it, Coombs?" Finn asks.
 
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"The question regarding the additional mass triggered that response, so whatever it is did not like the fact that we knew it was there, but was content to let us listen to Cantos. Cantos needed our help, so I am doubtful she would react that way, even if she was capable."

Catching his breath after that slew of speech, Lassie throws his arms up in the air. "Now what the fuck do we do!? We have a metal-man loose and we're still no closer to getting answers!" His voice raised and his breath quickening, Lassie mentally notes that he's frustrated and stressed but struggles to calm himself down.
 

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While running past the guards, Finn pauses to blurt "We were attacked by a...thing! It's not normal and it may be coming! Call for help!"
Quickly glancing at each other they run out with Finn, getting on their comms for help once they get outside.

"I think we should try to get that journal and then get out of here. Can you lead us to it, Coombs?" Finn asks.
Coombs is doubled over gasping from the physical exertion.

"Hate...*wheeze*...to fuckin...say it man but it's back in their on the first floor..."

He takes deep breathes and stands upright.

"There is a skylight entrance though, up on the roof"

Catching his breath after that slew of speech, Lassie throws his arms up in the air. "Now what the fuck do we do!? We have a metal-man loose and we're still no closer to getting answers!"
Luca turns to Lassiter at the mention of the metal man.

"Didn't see it come out..." he watches the blast doors intently.
 

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"There is a skylight entrance though, up on the roof"
Finn can't help but grin, perhaps a little too much. "That sounds like fun! Do we have any rope for abseiling through the ceiling?"

Finn addresses the security personnel who accompanied the group. "If I'm going back in, one of you needs to lend me a firearm. I'm here on the Administrator's authority, so you won't get in trouble."

Looking over Luca and his armor, he opines, "I don't think you're kitted properly for the next phase of the mission, soldier. Ouzo at oh-one-hundred?"

A bit more somberly, Finn approaches Lassiter. "What do you think? Should we leave this to the authorities? I don't think they're doing a bang up job, but maybe you have a better idea about if or how to do this."
 

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Finn can't help but grin, perhaps a little too much. "That sounds like fun! Do we have any rope for abseiling through the ceiling?"
Coombs looks up at Finn.

"Well I haven't got any rope on me, but the second floor's ceiling isn't that high...like three meters above the floor"

Finn addresses the security personnel who accompanied the group. "If I'm going back in, one of you needs to lend me a firearm. I'm here on the Administrator's authority, so you won't get in trouble."
They look to each other before one of them hands over a pistol. A small display reads 08.

"Shock pistol Sir"

OOC: Finn would know it fires small nails that deliver an electric shock. His knowledge would be enough for me to tell you the gun's stats. Same goes for Lassiter.

Damage: 2d8
Crit: Causes Knockdown
Shots: 8
Special notes: Each shot fires a pair of nails, however they count as 1 shot mechanically. Spasming causes -10% to target's Combat next turn.


Looking over Luca and his armor, he opines, "I don't think you're kitted properly for the next phase of the mission, soldier. Ouzo at oh-one-hundred?"
"Sounds good pal. I'll keep a keen eye and ear from here. Anything goes wrong I'll...well I'll do what you tell me to"
 

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"Well I haven't got any rope on me, but the second floor's ceiling isn't that high...like three meters above the floor"
Finn shrugs. "Fine with me. Actually, it's probably a good idea for you to stay here and just sketch us a map. We can stay in contact as we go."

Pondering for a moment, "What kind of metal was that, anyway?"
"Shock pistol Sir"
"Thanks, this will have to do. I have no idea if there's any way we can hurt it, anyway. That thing was basically a metal...figure...being empowered and controlled from...somewhere else. If we hit it with a plasma cannon it might just take a minute to reassemble for all I know."
"Sounds good pal. I'll keep a keen eye and ear from here. Anything goes wrong I'll...well I'll do what you tell me to"
"Great. Actually, if you're going to still be here, I'd be happy if you could coordinate us with whoever arrives here. You can also tell them what you saw and what we're doing," Finn replies.
 

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"Well I haven't got any rope on me, but the second floor's ceiling isn't that high...like three meters above the floor"
Finn thinks about this a moment longer. "Actually, this raises the question of how we will return through said skylight." To the security personnel: "Can one of you scare up something we can climb back out with? Improvised, I don't care. It would be nice at least to have the option of returning the way we came. Two pairs of trousers tied together...whatever works."

Back to Coombs, Finn speaks "In the meantime, could you sketch out a map between the skylight, the room, and all the other reasonable exits?"

To Lassiter, Finn finally turns. "I'm going to take a moment to update my employers."
Finn writes a message to his uncle, encoding it with his uncle's key:

"Uncle, I'm about to undertake another risky venture, so I wanted to bring you up to date."

Finn spends a couple paragraphs doing so.

"I'm going to do everything I can to destroy this technology. But it might not be possible to put the genie back in the bottle. If I fail, Mars needs to get involved. 4M is great, but we need someone who is interested in protecting people and not making a profit. The Titan authorities are a bunch of small-minded morons more worried about how Earth will react to news of an alien than the much graver consequences at hand. They cannot be counted on in this moment of greatness and peril.

"I trust our military more than anyone else for this. Please relay my reports up the chain of command. I don't know if they will send a real expeditionary force or activate military intelligence, but this is just too big for me and, frankly, everyone else here.

"Once I get a chance, if I get a chance, I'm going to start dumping you as much scientific data as I get my hands on. It will be encrypted with your private key and a key of my own. Then I'll setup a few cloud mail accounts to send you the key in a week. A dead man switch. If I don't make it back or stop the switch, you'll soon be the only person in the solar system who can access this data. If I can't stop this technology from getting out, then Mars needs to have it, too.

"Wish me luck, uncle. I want you to know that I heard everything you ever told me, even when it seemed like I wasn't listening to anyone. I hope I didn't disappoint you too much. If I don't make it, know that I died with my boots on for Mars and the rest of mankind.

Finn"

Finn also does send 4M a quick update on what he's found and what's going on.
 

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Finn shrugs. "Fine with me. Actually, it's probably a good idea for you to stay here and just sketch us a map. We can stay in contact as we go."

Pondering for a moment, "What kind of metal was that, anyway?"
Coombs sketches a map and hands it to Finn.

OOC: This is the map exactly as Coombs drew it. If you find it simplistic note that this is due to me constraining my immense artistic talents in an attempt to emulate Coombs. Thus this constitutes shocking verisimilitude and deep "in fiction" immersion.

The shaded thing is a bookcase just beneath and bheind the skylight. The rectangles on the walls are doors. Contos's room is the fifth one anti-clockwise, i.e. the top one on the corridor going down.


20200218_111845.jpg

Ground Floor. "T" are the vault doors to the teleportation chambers. The nine little open squares are sets of four cubicles in the adjoining office.

20200218_113841.jpg

Pondering for a moment, "What kind of metal was that, anyway?"
"An engineered alloy. Mostly iron and silver. It has some unusual nuclear properties for use in the project, but you can think of it as iron" Coombs responds.

"Great. Actually, if you're going to still be here, I'd be happy if you could coordinate us with whoever arrives here. You can also tell them what you saw and what we're doing," Finn replies.
"You got it boss" Luca says.

"Just be careful in there man"

OOC: Forgot to attach ground floor map. Attached now
 
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Finn thinks about this a moment longer. "Actually, this raises the question of how we will return through said skylight." To the security personnel: "Can one of you scare up something we can climb back out with? Improvised, I don't care. It would be nice at least to have the option of returning the way we came. Two pairs of trousers tied together...whatever works."
One of them looks at the still parked tram that brought Finn and Lassiter here and heads in. In returns shortly afterward with a bit of metallic cord. It's four metres long.

"For replacing parts on the tram, should work" the guard says to Finn.
 

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Coombs sketches a map and hands it to Finn.
Finn studies the map. "I suppose that's pretty unambiguous."
"An engineered alloy. Mostly iron and silver. It has some unusual nuclear properties for use in the project, but you can think of it as iron" Coombs responds.
"So what does that mean?" asks Finn. "It can control any ferrous metal?"
"For replacing parts on the tram, should work" the guard says to Finn.
"Good, I want to be able to leave in a hurry if I must."

Turning to Lassiter, Finn asks "Ready to roll, buddy?"
 

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"So what does that mean?" asks Finn. "It can control any ferrous metal?"
Coombs finally regains his breath.

"That sheet was specially treated, since it was meant to be used in the teleporter. I imagine it can't control untreated ferrous material as easily...I hope"
 

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(Apologies, I had meant to reply yesterday but got distracted.)

"What's the play here, we both jump down?" Lassie asks, standing tall after regaining his breath. He could tell he was out of shape, either the long sleep or lack of physical exercise before he even arrived is doing it to him, and he feels a pang of frustration at being unable to control his own schedule. "I don't want to weigh you down, Finn. I'm not exactly in peak condition." Lassie pats his belly, but doesn't laugh.
 

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(Apologies, I had meant to reply yesterday but got distracted.)
OOC: No worries at all...PbP is here to accommodate your fast-paced modern lifestyle with gaming on-demand!
"I don't want to weigh you down, Finn. I'm not exactly in peak condition." Lassie pats his belly, but doesn't laugh.
"Hmm, if you don't feel mission-ready, I can go it alone. This isn't really a job that requires a whole bunch of us. Maybe you can wait near the skylight, and you can warn me and shoot at the damn thing if it comes after me," Finn replies.
 

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Shrugging, Lassie nods. "I will stay close to the rope in case you need a heroic save. My tactical ops days are long behind me, though."
 

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"Alright, no time like the present! Let's get this over with." Finn asks for the quickest route to the skylight, and takes it.

Along the way, he whispers to Lassiter, "No matter what happens, I expect we didn't find the journal." Finn gives a wink.
 

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Coombs takes Finn up onto the roof. Since the complex is built into Titan's bedrock, this basically just a matter of climbing up a gentle sloping mountain path. After a short ascent a passage takes them to a flat area of ground with the skylight. Coombs takes out a key and opens it.

Upon opening the skylight, Finn sees the light matt blue floor below him, with the bookcase just under the skylight. He can hear a repeated clanging from within and indeed can maneuver himself to see over the 1st floor balcony down to the ground floor (OOC: All without jumping through the skylight) to see the metal figure prowling around the ground floor.
 

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Finn whispers to Lassiter, "Give me a holler if it seems to notice me or be heading this direction."

And with that, he attempts to quietly climb down to the balcony.
 

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Finn makes it down to the balcony without a problem.

On the right hand side of the corridor four doors are slightly open. Two are unlabelled, but the other two say "Materials preparation" and "Kitchen".

Contos's room is visible at the end.
 

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The metal figure doesn't react to Finn's landing on the balcony
 

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Finn takes off his boots in case the thing can hear. He proceeds to tie their laces together and hang them across his neck.

Then, Finn proceeds down the balcony as quietly as possible. He pauses by the first of the two labeled doors. Turning around, Finn tries to make eye contact with Lassiter to see if anything is amiss. If not, he inspects the room from the doorway.
 

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From looking at Lassiter it seems everything is fine.

Looking into the "Materials Preparation" room Finn sees shelves full of chemical compounds in what look like large pill bottles. All of them are stored in sterile looking cabinets. These cabinets flank the left and right sides of the room which is about four meters long. At the other end of the room after the cabinets and going from left to right are:
A sink
A large black cylinder with a computer display on its side
A small bookcase full of texts on chemistry and physics
A safe of some kind with a radioactive symbol on it.
 

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Finn slowly creeps into the Materials Preparation room and approaches the black cylinder. Without touching it, he examines it closely, looking for labels, mechanisms or any irregularities. What are the materials and dimensions? Does it look like it can be carried?
 

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Lassie watches intently, his weapon drawn and trained on the figure as best as he can, periodically checking on Finn's position.
 

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OOC: Sorry, I should have mentioned publicly that Finn steps inside one of the rooms. Lassiter would be able to see that.
 

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Finn slowly creeps into the Materials Preparation room and approaches the black cylinder. Without touching it, he examines it closely, looking for labels, mechanisms or any irregularities. What are the materials and dimensions? Does it look like it can be carried?
It looks like with would be difficult to carry and is about a head taller than Finn himself and of comparable width and depth. Finn can clearly see from its interface display that it is a machine for preparing various compounds given the raw materials in the cabinets. The interface program looks complex, listing various chemicals down the side and a broad range of options in the menu.

Aside from these basic features there is nothing unusual about it
 

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The interface program looks complex, listing various chemicals down the side and a broad range of options in the menu.
If it doesn't look like it's set to prepare something specific, Finn will leave the room (quietly) and continue to Dr. Cantos' office.
 

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Finn arrives at the door to the Contos's office. It appears to be locked given that there is a red bar over the biometric scanner.

The scanner expects a thumbprint.

OOC: Given the clearance you've requested from Koga you would expect to have access, i.e. your thumbprint would have been entered into the pad's database
 

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Lassie watches intently, his weapon drawn and trained on the figure as best as he can, periodically checking on Finn's position.
Lassiter sees the figure patrol the lower level, though it is now returning to near the stairs up to where Finn is
 

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Finn has exited the office he peeked into, and emerged to stand before Cantos' office. He turns behind him to make eye contact with Lassiter. Then, assuming that Lassiter is not waving his arms wildly in alarm, he presses his thumb to the biometric scanner.
 

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Lassie tries to give his most affirming nod to Finn, and continues to track the creature's movement with his firearm.
 
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