Ex Post Human

Ten Stars To Guide Me
The Beginning of the Beginning

July 5th, 10AF, 1911 LST
Command Deck (Formerly Mess Hall) of the Escalating Application.

There are still scorch marks on walls and ceiling of the mess hall, and even vaguely humanoid silhouettes where plasma fire scorched away an infested miner. That’s how they all were, really – only vaguely humanoid. The computing hardware had entirely been scrapped, and hunter-killer teams had mapped the entire complex. Still, only a fraction of the beehive was marked as safe for general habitation, sterilized down to the last atom. The mess hall had been turned into a ‘command room’, complete with holoprojectors and AR controllers. If they wished, anyone could turn the room into a sunny forest vista, or somber, efficient-looking military headquarters, rather than the ad-hoc, blemished mess that it actually was.

The holoprojector filled the room with the outlined image of the Ten Star Hotel. A torus, with an inner diameter of 250 meters with a 100 meter docking spar, all shot to hell by both deliberate attack and a decades worth of microdebris. Senator Alexander waved his finger at the image. “We don’t have a lot of time. If we are on to something, they’ll-”

“They’ll be expecting it, dear.” A stitched-together pod, still trailing vat goo smilled wryly. One of “Mother’s” many little puppets.

“They’ll be expecting more drones, heavier drones. Not for us to go all in.”

The pod sighed. “Of course they’ll expect you to go all in, because they’ll expect you to expect them to not be expecting it.”

A dozen razor-thin wire-hands traced over the image. Nengyi focused on the damaged section, that had been scouted out by the probe. “I’m sorry, but who, exactly, are we worried about there? Are we worried about…them?”

The pod shrugged. “Can’t say we’re not. Can say we are. But…” The holoprojector zoomed out, projecting a display of low-earth orbit, shimmering with thousands of objects – debris, and killsats. Then the number of lights decreased, in favor of an interlocking series of ever-shifting cones and spheres. “…but we think we’ve found a way down. And that hotel could be the key. We need to gather supplies, yes, but we need the station itself, in its current orbit, if we’re going to be able to use it as a launching point. Assuming, of course, they aren’t there. Or the PC doesn’t decide to blow the station, just to be safe.”

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The Ten Star Encounter
First Contact Is A Bitch

The team, consisting of Kathi M.D., William Jackson, Sevastian Rianofski, John Stevens, Shinobu Saito, began an attempt to scout out the Ten Star Hotel, an old megacorp habitat that skirts the edge of the forbidden zone of Low Earth Orbit. Partway through the mission, contact was lost with the team. They attempted to evacuate the habitat before it would drop into the killzone and make egress impossible for another full orbit, but their shuttle was engaged and destroyed by a fighter hailing from the Exceeds Expectations, a destroyer-class ship belonging to the mercenary group Red Zone. The only survivor, if you can call it that, was Kathi, who suffered severe brain damage and all memory of the mission was lost. A dedicated search found pieces of both William Jackson and John Stevens, but not of the other two, leading to some speculation that they may have remained on board – however, in the past week nothing has been heard from them, and a small constellation of Red Zone killsats now patrols that orbit, making any sort of recovery operation…problematic. They are now assumed to have either died on board, or in the shuttle shoot-down.

Officially, nothing has happened – Red Zone’s stance is that they were hired by the holding company that has the title to the Ten Star Hotel, but not the time or inclination to begin recovery operations, and are thus protecting their client’s claim from scavengers. Fortunately, the scavengers that they shot down have not been identified.

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Remember, Remember

The team, consisting of William Jackson, Mary Watkins, Cipher Anaphylaxis, Kathi Dion, and Sevastian Rianofski met Senator Alexander, did some research, and went to a bar where we nearly got into a very, very bad fight. Some of the highlights of things that we learned.

The Unknown Intruder

Right around the time our team was being blown to bits by a Red Zone fighter, a specialized surveillance rig in a higher earth orbit detected a pattern of cloaking artifacts traveling through one of the less well-scanned zones of the blockade. Most notably, this pattern changed course, apparently executing a high-G turn with no detectable exhaust. A through analysis would seem to indicate that a novel populsion system at work. Senator Alexander suspected something called RAINDROP CASCADE could be responsible, but that it hadn’t made any progress. The only other faction known to be in possession of that sort of technology is the alien Factors.

Proposition 1171

Currently, the big thing going on in Lunar political sphere is Proposition 1171, a referendum to shut down the Lunar Mass Drivers. These robotic bombardment systems continually fire asteroids at suspected TITAN groupings, though detractors say that they’re only killing survivors, as well as continuing the ecological devastation of Earth. Reclaimer sentiment is strong in Lunar space, and there’s a massive memetic media struggle going on that is sucking all the political oxygen in the room. The smart money says that the proposition will fail or otherwise be negated by backroom dealings, but that much stronger controls on the mass drivers will likely result in any case.

Certain factions are making use of the decreased media coverage to get away with things that they might otherwise be worried about sparking a media event in. The PC, as always, is vocally supportive of the bombardments, in subtle and unsubtle ways. The crew of the Escalating Application are divided; reclaimer sentiment is strong, but so is a desire to smack down potential TITAN outbreaks, and there is a certain practical side to having a potential “get through the blockade free” card periodically flinging rocks through.

Red Zone

The mercenary hypercorp Red Zone is descended from a squadron of Russian aerospace forces that defected to form their own corporation in the wake of the Fall, unlike most of the Russian forces that were absorbed into the newly minted LLA military forces. Despite their official membership with the Plantary Consortium, they enjoy some relationship with Lunar shipyards and it’s very plausible that they have some degree of an ‘in’ with the oligarchs of the LLA, or at least those that share their nationality. There is no official record of any corruption in Red Zone, but the Russian aerospace forces were noted for both their brutality and their ties to organized crime pre-Fall. Senator Alexander informed the team that it is commonly believed that Red Zone has a special relationship with [[ :yuri-golyubev | Oversight’s Sub-Director for Lunar Affairs]].

Our team found rumors that Red Zone soldiers frequented a bar called Roach’s Nest (named for its owner, a Québécois scoundrel and criminal money-man), and were lucky enough to find several that were there escorting the Captain of the Exceeds Expectations, the destroyer whose fighter vaporized the crew in their expedition to the Ten Star Hotel. Captain [[ :ludmilla-semyonov | Ludmilla Semyonov]] had no idea who they were, of course, and a bar fight was narrowly avoided. The fact that the Captain was at Roach’s Nest is in itself highly fascinating, though not proof of anything in particular. She could have been meeting with Roach, or a representative, or someone else entirely; [[ :roach | Roach]] offers highly secure privacy services for his usually criminal clientele.

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Reality Checked
Game over man, game over.

We did a combat simulation of an attack on an Oversight outpost to upload some malware to the mass driver control systems. This was a fairly successful simulation, resulting in only one (simulated) casualty, and even that had a stack recovery, along with several hundred thousand credits of simulated damage to Oversight. After running the simulation, we discussed the current political situation, with the Proposition 1171 vote underway in all LLA habitats, and the vote swinging back and forth.

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Planetfall
Landing Hard.

The team attempted to scavenger the Cairo ruins, searching for hidden bunkers and egocasters, looking for a reliable way to get people on and off the planet, as well as to assess and rescue any survivors.

Alas, it rapidly became clear that Cairo was a tomb entirely, infested by killbots. A widespread assault by headhunters caused all contact to be lost with the party, and they are assumed dead or worse. The move was a longshot in the first place, so this comes as no surprise, but higher hopes were had, and the closing of the Lunar Mass drivers means that another try might not be possible for the foreseeable future.

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Down With The Sickness
Toxic Love.

While relaxing in the Escalating Application’s common area, Cipher Anaphylaxis and Jared Dirac are summoned to the Gamma Labs by Patience, on of the EA’s citizens, for medical treatment. What at first appears to be a simple infection or biomod malfunction turns out to be a deadly nanovirus infection.

Fearing that the infection might be of TITAN origin, left over from the days before the EA was reclaimed, the other EA citizens seek to trace the origins of the virus. Instead of finding a leftover monstrosity, they find a hidden laboratory, created by [[ :adonis-51 | Adonis 51]], a Lost Generation resident of the EA. With some quick thinking, they are able to mostly neutralize the lab and its creations, and Adonis 51 is apprehended without a fight.

Patience is (mostly) saved thanks to the quick medical intervention of Cipher and Jared, and, after careful review, Adonis 51 is allowed to remain, albeit under closer supervision, and continues to work in the Gamma Labs.

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A New Driver
Action and Reaction

BREAKING NEWS:

In the wake of the unexpected upset regarding Proposition 1171, the Planetary Congress has authorized the construction of a new series of mass driver facilities in Earth Orbit, to replace the soon to be decommissioned mass drivers. A spokesperson for the Planetary Consortium expressed that this move was “a long time coming” and that “the Earth security situation remains dangerous, and the lunar mass drivers were always an unsatisfactory half-measure”.

Fa-Jing industrial group has been awarded the no-compete contract for construction of the weapons, and has itself openned bidding on a lucrative series of military contracts. The industrial giant has stated that it is already considering offers from not only PC standbys like Direct Action, Cyclops Armaments, Red Zone, and Krypton, but also outside organizations such as Gorgon Defense Systems, Ultimate Securities, and even LLA military corp Sunside.

The new mass drivers are planned to be placed in a lower orbit, with more extensive defense grids and a much lower flight time. Security planners have praised the arrangement, noting that it is much hard to subvert via infowar, and much more capable of flattening large-scale outbreaks should they arise.

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Blacklisted
Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

August 8th, 10AF, 0902 LST
Escalating Application, Command Deck

“Oversight’s Sub-director for Lunar Affairs, Yuri Golyubev, made a startling series of accusations today, calling for the quarantine and inspection of a dozen small habitats in Earth Orbit, and for those habitats to be brought in line with various Lunar security treaties. Calling these habitats a ‘hotbed of singularity-seeker activity, unregulated AI research, and other such dangerous activities’, he has suggested that joint ventures between PC mercenary organizations, Oversight, and LLA military forces be mounted to bring these supposed threats under control.

Critics alledge that many of the targeted groups, regardless of their compliance with the Lunar security treaties, are all noted hotbeds of reclaimer sentiment. Combined with the recent announcments regard the mass drivers, and a new degree of uncertain regarding the fate of the automated lunar mass drivers, it appears that the PC is set to continue putting pressure on LLA President Avra Don, and drive a larger wedge between the reclaimer factions and the rest of the LLA."

“So.” Mother’s Pod waved dismissively, and the newstream muted, but the text continued. “As you might have heard, we have a problem.”

Patience frowned. The newly-minted Ghost closed her eyes, accessing her inlays. “I’ve talked to my contacts, and they’re as surprised as anyone else. Normally the PC is big on prepping the media, laying some rumors and groundwork. This…this is a big bolt. I have to wonder what the hell they’re playing at.”

“We have more immediate problems.” Senator Alexander chimed in. The Senator’s hologram was connected from Remembrance. “We’re on that list, and if we get boarded…things won’t go well for anybody here. But even that’s not an immediate concern. The announcement might have been a surprise, but in hindsight they’ve been preparing for this for a while. I’m starting to hear about raids and infowar on parts of the Lunar darknet, and putting the pieces together on a larger operation that’s been going on for some time.”

Mother tsked. “Now, this is interesting, dears. I, for one, don’t plan on waiting around here to be captured. Perhaps…perhaps we can begin by finding some friends in need?”

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Friends In Need
Enemy of my enemy...

After discovering that they were being targeted by Oversight – or even higher – the team put their collective brainpower to work trying to come up with an answer to the problem. Their plans included doing some sort of infowar to recover information and plans on the new mass drivers prior to their completion, looking for blackmail material, and forming an alliance with nearby habs that had been targeted.

Due to the distance, they put the former on hold, and eventually, put the search for blackmail material on hold, until they had some better leads. Kathi and William took a shuttle to the Song Cai Flower to meet with Dexter Vo, and start working on a larger alliance (tentatively called the Low Earth Orbit Front, but with little progress on an actual organization by that name). They also started looking into helping the Song Cai Flower with a Triad problem.

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Flyswatting
Welcome To The Jungle

In an effort to establish ties of solidarity in the face of scrutiny from the LLA, Seva Kuila was invited to the Escalating Application to broker an agreement with the Argonaut Foundation. Terms were opened for the possibility of a permanent presence of the Argonauts on the EA, and a team of Applicants consisting of Cipher Anaphylaxis, Jared Dirac, Edward Novotny, Kathlaurie Dion, and Mary Watkins was sent to the ‘Flytrap’ habitat. Their purpose there was both to assist Seva and her team in an Argonaut-backed study of the bizzare life forms and local ecosystem, and to provide humanitarian aid for the people still on board. An initial survey showed that the habitat was overgrown with peculiarly hardy and fast-growing plant life and fungi, which was contributing to the slow failure of the habitat’s already-damaged climate regulation system. Jared Dirac, Kathlaurie Dion and Cipher Anaphylaxis began a long-term effort to provide medical care to treat the ailments of the habitat’s residents, while the other applicants made themselves useful in helping with the expedition.

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