Aliens Log Episode 3
This is episode 3 in an ongoing campaign - did not write up episodes 1 & 2 but basically the crew are salvagers who got sweetheart lead on some abandoned computer parts on a remote world as a result of giving dirty nuclear bomb equipment to terrorists on the occupied world of Tientsin.
The crew retire to a seedy spacers bar to discuss what to do. Finally they agree to the extra $10k offered to them by Ancane Shipping, on the expectation that the company lives up to their offer of a generous contract next time. The idea of trying to sell the components of a dirty bomb to terrorists on reflection seemed a little risky.
They let Bolan, their agent know, and she is relieved to hear they've accepted the deal. She tells them that the remaining payment will come through once the Agamemnon is docked at Cartwright Base. They ask if it's safe to bring all that contraband in and Bolan tells them that Ancane has ... people who will take care of that.
They jump a day into interstellar space and hook up the Agamemnon and tow it back to Eta Bootis A III. They dock it at Cartwright Base and Ancane comes out to thank them, arranges their payment, and then goes off to discuss something with a military officer called Colonel Ross. The crew wonder if this means that the military are really planning to fake a dirty bomb to destroy the rebels, or whether Ross is working with Ancane to get the contraband through customs. Before he goes, though, Ancane shakes Jones' hand and hands her a sealed manila envelope. "This is to say thanks."
Jones first checks its not a bomb or cash by feeling the envelope, and then opens it in the privacy of the ship. It is a series of maps of a scientific outpost in the nearby 2 Tau Bootis system, run by a company called BioDyne. There's a number of printouts of reports and equipment manifests - it seems that about two years ago the lab was rapidly packed up and abandoned for reason or reasons unknown - after operating on this remote ice world for seven years to study local single celled bacteria. A highlighted item is on the printed manifest - $150,000 of computer and technical equipment, which apparently was left behind. That's a lot of money they could use to shore up their mortgage.
Between the money they stole and the extra cash for the job they have about $7k left over after making their last mortgage payment. They leave $1k in the petty cash, put $1k aside to buy a new android eventually, and give each crew member $1k each. They gear up.
Meanwhile, Jones does a bit of research - she manages to find that the owner of BioDyne, a man named Damian Drew, died at about the time that the lab shut down - after a long illness - so she guesses that the reason for the shutdown was that once Drew died, his heirs had other plans. She reads some other reports of high security at the base - but that's not uncommon for
The only glitch in this heist is that it requires an ability to land on a planetary surface - a capability the Korsakov lacks, since it doesn't have a dropship or landing capability. Jones and Simon work to try and solve that and they find a broker called Sweeney, who is prepared to loan them an ex-military UD4 Cheyenne dropship (in pretty poor nick, to be honest, and with all weapons and military tech removed) in return for a share of the booty worth $20k. They feel happy with the deal - even when Sweeney insists he come along as well to keep an eye on his asset. Jones likes the look of Sweeney and is happy to have him along.
They load the Cheyenne into the cargo bay and set off. The crew sleeps and Simon takes care of the maintenance of the ship. The first thing he does is blast all of Torres' cigarettes out the airlock. During the 20 day trip (Syd manages to crank a little more out of the engines to reduce the travel time from 25 days to 20 days) Simon unfortunately makes an error in maintenance and breaks the artificial gravity. Fortunately the sleeping crew don't drown in their pods, and Simon works diligently to just repair the gravity in time for the crew to wake up at their destination and never notice that anything was ever wrong.
The crew rouse themselves and gear up. They scan the planet - they easily find the base (it has an active navigation beacon still going). They decide to spend a prudent 24 hours doing a few orbits of the planet - it's an icy rock, covered in sheets of water ice, average temperature -50 at surface. There are dark patches where bacteria are clustered on the surface, around thermal vents or sheltered area. There is only one sign of human habitation and that is the abandoned lab.
Satisfied that they know the lay of the land, they clamber into the dropship. Sweeney decides to stay on board the ship - he didn't sign up for any risk nor any heavy labour. They debate whether to leave anyone with him but decide to let him alone - but Jones carefully locks him out of the computer systems just in case.
The descent is rough due to the atmospheric storms but not especially perilous. The dropship is old and a bit shaky but fairly solid. They manage to located the landing pad above the y-shaped lab next to what appears to be a small energy plant. The borders of the lab and the energy plant are smeared with black mold. They also see some sort of large shape buried under the ice - perhaps a vessel of some kind but it is covered in ice and it is hard to tell.
They set the dropship down and review the lab - the whole place is dark. Though scoured by winds there is very little atmospheric water so barely any snow. They don their suits and exit the vehicle - the dropship doesn't have an airlock so they are straight into the icy air. They make their way to the airlock and try to open it - but are unable to crack it.
Torres lights up his cutting tool and makes an excellent job of cutting and then sealing the airlock behind them. They are inside the compound. As expected the lab is completely empty - it has been totally stripped. In a warehouse they find boxes and boxes of the expected computer equipment. In an abandoned lab they find that outside the window there is a large pile of scorched and half buried synthetics - about twenty or so. They look like they have been melted with an incinerator unit and then abandoned outside.
As they head down the corridor they come across - a man, zipping up a jumpsuit. He seems shocked and surprised to see tham - he says he has just woken out of cryosleep and when they tell him the year he says he has been in sleep for two years. He says he was left behind due to a shortage of cryochambers and expected to be rescued within a week or two, when they abandoned the base. He says his name is Tait, and he was a scientist on this base. He says he was doing research on the monocellular molds that grow on this world.
He mentions he's hungry and they go to the canteen and try to rustle up some food - but the cupboards are quite bare. He's dehydrated from his cryosleep. Jones goes and inspects the cryochamber - there is one open pod and the others are empty.
Meanwhile Syd and Simon try to see if there is any evidence of files or the research on the base. Pretty much everything has been stripped and scrubbed but they find one video file, corrupted, buried deep in one of the servers embedded in the station. Simon and Syd take a shift to try to repair the file enough to read.
Meanwhile the others try to get more information out of Tait. Torres threatens him with a wrench, and Tait seems frightened and confused. Torres ups the stakes and makes to take a swing at Tait. To his surprise Tait swiftly pulls a pistol from his jumpsuit pocket and plugs him. The others pull their weapons and Tait takes cover, letting loose several shots. But Torres brains him with the wrench and he takes a bullet. He is hurt and he drops the gun and surrenders. Jones, furious and suspicious, steps forward and kills him with a well placed bullet between the eyes...
They repair the file and cluster around the monitor enough to watch. It is a grainy file and they see a dissected human body, connected via tubes and wires to a large black object that looks like a huge ribcage. Syd is shaken - this looks like alien technology. The body is hooked up to a Simon synthetic, strapped to a gurney. A scientist directs a number of other scientists, and they seem to set some machines going. The Simon wakes up, and starts screaming and thrashing around. It manages to break one strap and it's arm thrashes about, striking a lab worker. The head scientist gestures and a security man steps forward with an incinerator unit and incinerates the Simon while the lab workers flee. The file ends...