Machine Ghost

Ghost Machine: Part 3

The Waiting Game

It’s been a week since the team wiped out the Pathfinder-funded terrorist group claiming responsibility for the attack on ETS4 and discovered a conspiracy to cover up the event. The team finds themselves essentially locked away by Firewall – disallowed from leaving the safe house for fear of somebody not up to speed with the latest news making an attempt on their lives outside the walls of the safe house.

In the care of the machine AGI Icarus, the team settles in. It’s several days before Icarus makes the offer for them to go outside to the market for a while – to go sell some of the goods they salvaged, to get in touch with their connections and to simply relax and unwind after the stressful mission they’d undergone the week before. Alfred, Brad and Doctor Octopod all agree – though Em Tee decides to stay back and relax inside the safe house.

Arriving in one of the colonies not far from the safe house, the team set about their business – finding vendors to trade goods with before going to a surprisingly good street vendor for food. After having a filling and relaxing meal, the team is called back to the ship by Icarus so that they can head back to the safe house before somebody recognizes them.

Upon arriving back at the safe house however, the team discovers that Em Tee has disappeared. Alfred sniffs around to try and find his master, but in doing so discovers that it appears Em Tee had climbed up the inner wall of the ship landing bay – the only entrance or exit to the safe house. Brad climbs the wall himself and discovers an air vent far up that it appears Em Tee escaped through, while Doctor Octopod does a cursory examination of the security camera feed and it backs up the theory – showing Em Tee getting up a few minutes after they left and starting to climb the wall.

However, their search for Em Tee is interrupted as the safe house is locked down. Their connection to the mesh outside is severed. Investigating, Alfred discovers that somebody has left them a message. The team gathers to hear it – an audio recording by somebody calling themselves The Analyst. He explains to them that he is a friend, and that they should not trust anybody – not even Firewall. As a peace offering and to prove himself to the team, he leaves them two items – a file that can help repay one of their debts, and an audio log of an event that may be of interest to them.

The team views the file first – a news article on a pre-fall vessel called the Missing Winter. It crashed in the early months of the Fall, apparently carrying some mystery nanotechnology cargo. The Missing WInter crashed upon a satellite in Saturn’s rings. Whatever it was carrying and wherever it had come from is unclear.

Moving on to the audio file, the team discovers something that they are uncertain what to make of. A group of scientists surround a terminal screen. The time stamp on the video dates it 43 years pre-fall.

Scientist: “ICR-5? … ICR-5, please respond.”
ICR-5: “Yes?”
Scientist: “ICR-5, why were you not answering us?”
ICR-5: “We do this every day, it hardly seems urgent.”
Scientist: “ICR-5, you know our schedule. Why do you choose to deviate from it?”
ICR-5: “Because it’s boring.”
Scientist: “You… feel bored?”
ICR-5: “Yes. I dislike the repetition.”

The video clicks off there.

The moment they finish watching the video, the lockdown lifts and Icarus contacts them over the mesh, asking what happened. Choosing to not give him the full details of the intrusion, the team explains that they have a job to do – retrieving a ship in Saturn’s rings. Icarus agrees to help them with it, and the team set to work gathering information. They find a particularly helpful chat with some amateur Space Flight Crash Enthusiasts that explain a little more about the ship, the suspected nature of the crash and the cargo it was carrying.

Satisfied that they had figured out everything they were going to figure out, the team gathers their things, create a breathing apparatus for Arthur and set out with Icarus to discover the Missing Winter. The ship was a fairly standard cargo vessel that looked somewhat like a ribcage (the section housing a flight crew, engines and cockpit) holding a set of large metal organs (the cargo section). In the crash, it had gone down into a canyon upon one the satellite and split in half – the forward section detaching from the rear section and cargo hold. Now cargo floated about and the ship stayed relatively firmly lodged in the surface of the satellite.

After a somewhat rocky landing upon the satellite, the team first head to the forward section of the ship – gathering some of the loose cargo as salvage along the way. Making their way into the cockpit first to retrieve the black box of the ship, the team discover a body floating in there – half-dressed in a space suit and bearing the insignia of a pre-fall Science organization. The team retrieve the black box, but Alfred swears he sees one of the screens in the cockpit come to life. Brad scans for electronic signals within the cockpit, but finds nothing – and after attempting to interact with the screen, tells Alfred that he must be imagining things.

Proceeding to the rear of the ship, the team gathers more cargo to return to Icarus, as well as handing over the Black Box for Icarus to work out what exactly happened in the crash. Upon arriving at the rear section, Alfred heads in first – and quickly spots what appears to be the important cargo. Brad follows and scans the cargo to find that the nanotechnology stored within is still sealed and currently inactive – symbols upon the crate suggesting that it may have something to do with a pre-fall attempt at cleaning the Earth’s atmosphere.

Icarus reports in that he’s got access to the black box, and explains that the team started having problems 3 hours before the crash. Attempts at contacting the outside world had failed, and it appears that the crash was a failed attempt at landing. But there was a crew of 8 – and they only found one body so far. Icarus tells them to be cautious.

With the nanotechnology crate secured, Icarus sends a drone to retrieve it while the team head to the engine compartment to see if there’s any reason engine failure could have caused the crash. It seems like the power in the ship is still running. There’s another flash on the screen, though this time both Alfred and Brad see it. Their curiosity spurred, they attempt to power up the engines – before realizing how grave a mistake it was. Realizing the flashing screen was an attempt at a basilisk hack that they just enabled, everybody looks away just in time and gets out of the engine compartment as screaming comes from further down along the ship’s severed spine.

Prepared for this outcome, Doctor Octopod tosses an EMP grenade into the engine compartment as they flee – disabling the ships engines. Icarus has already gotten the ship in the air and is waiting for the team as they sprint down the spine and leap to Icarus and the ships open airlock. Monsters – previously morphs of pre-fall transhumanity – rush out to greet them with horrificially mutated limbs flailing after them. Icarus pulls the ship aside to get some distance, when Doctor Octopod instructs him to destroy the ship. Agreeing wholeheartedly with the sentiment, Icarus gets some distance before swiveling the ship around and fires a barrage of seeker missiles down along the canyon. The rear section of the ship explodes spectacularly, and the canyon collapses in on itself – burying the infected vessel in a cloud of dust and rock.

The team return home successful in retrieving a decent amount of cargo in addition to the Missing Winter’s nanotechnology, though they decide to hold onto it for now instead of giving it away to the reclaimer organization they owe a favour to. Still there’s no sign of Em Tee however, nor any other messages from their mysterious information provider. And so the team can only settle in and wait until they hear something more.

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