It's what you know....

By Sue Wilson

Colour Designation: Jade
Minimum SCL: 9
Training Package Recommended: I&I, Medical, Any
Consolidated Pay: 2000c per Squad
Contact: Dr Moran, Room 4251, Dark Lament, Dept. of eb
Coverage: Station Analysis
Summary: Squad required for emergency investigation on board foldship Balahebron currently in Mort orbit.
Contact Dr Moran, Room 4251, Dark Lament for further details including transportation.

Summary

"Gentleman.. We have theorized that the vector is Eb related and its infection rate is directly related to the affected individuals control of the Eb. Thus we recommend that a squad of operatives containing low ability Eb users is dispatched to gather more data. If we are correct they should last a good five or six hours. This should be sufficient. Do we have a consensus? Good. Select a suitable squad. Insure they are not individuals essential to our program. I doubt they will be coming back."

Dr Moran

Where do we start? Ah the beginning..

This is the story of a friendly little Memetic Virus (Hereby after referred to as MV) Where it came from is up to the Ref; could be some anti ebon thing from the conflict wars, a terrible dark lament mistake, a R.T. Incursion trying to reset the world, a slamass present for Teeth from big uncle B. Up to you.

However this is what it does:
Just as a genetic virus infects the body of host the Memetic virus infects the mind.
A meme is a thought, an idea, a concept. Just as a genetic virus is a group of genes working together to propagate itself cross the available 'food' source, a Memetic virus is an interrelated series of ideas that work in tandem to spread itself. Now normally memes are fairly unstable as peoples understanding of the concepts explained to them twist and distort them but the Eb using races have an 'advantage' in that they can communicate directly mind to mind, and thus this distortions are reduced. Add to this their way of writing down such thought processes in the form of glyphs and the scene is set for our little friend MV...
You still don't get it.. Ok remember that Star Trek Next Gen when they met Hue the borg and went through all sort quandaries over whether to send that pretty formula they had come up with to destroy the borg collective... Well the cute unfolding formula thing was acting as a Memetic virus. Got it?
No?
Mail me then and I'll give you some good books to read.

Power corrupts or Mechanics for the MV infection.

Any Eb users in the squad can become infected by the MV. So far attempts to infect non Eb users have failed (they will find the remains of these 'experiments' on the ship) Infection occurs if the artifact is activated by communicating with it or they communicate with an infected Eb user. However there is a slim chance that infection will not occur if their brain just can not grasp the complex concepts that make up the M.V.

So if a Eb user puts them self into a position where they can become infected ask them to make a formula roll. If they fail the roll then they just didn't understand and the MV has not got a foot hold.

If they make the roll then the MV has insinuated itself into their brain. The Eb user gains a point of formula as the MV explains the world to you. (Its nice like that) However it is no re-engineering how the Eb users brain works to make it a more suitable host for itself. The immediate effect of this is that their Eb abilities start to play up.. pick one Eb ability the victim has which the MV has just re-engineered. Next time they kick that off, play with it to your hearts content. The MV doesn't know what it is doing, it is just desperately trying to find a way of infecting more people.

After an hour repeat the formula test as the MV spreads its way through the brain.

If formula reaches 10, the MV can possess the Eb user "like a white daemon does or something". At this point you probably need to take the player to one side.

How you deal with this is up to you. If its a good player you might be able to get them to go along with it. Remember the MV is desperate to get off this ship by any means it can. It would like to communicate with that big thing out there, but if that is impossible jumping a communicate talented individual into a life pod and taking a risk on re-entry will be acceptable.

If the player is not one that will go along with such things then have them cook off in some orgy of Eb ability feed back as the MV tries to find a way to infect more people by force evolving communicate. Of course if the infected individual has communicate then every one is in trouble.

This 'formula infection' is why the scl 9 squad has been chose. The first thing D.L. sent up was one of their trusted unions.. They last 20 mins as the MV ran through their inter group communication system.

"Shit Darkstar. This is weird. I mean really weird. Jay is talking complete bollox, and I mean really now not like he normally does and... what was that... What the fu..."

was the last transmission they sent. Dark lament are not going to volunteer this information to the squad initially, (they might want more money or more likely if they know a union has failed they might not agree to go - and Dark Lament really do want to know what is going on up there). However once the squad are safely trapped on the ship their control connection may be more willing to reveal such information.

3 of the Union are technically still alive and on board. The other 5 died mostly at the hands of each other as the MV realized they could not communicate out and thus played with their understanding of the Eb in an attempt to be passed on. Details to follow.

Time to say hello

Foldship Balahebron has just re-appeared in mort orbit, kind of as expected. However there has been none of the usual communications from it. It was on a research mission for a small indi-company that sub contracts to Dark lament - exploration branch. Its last few communications with the company mentioned nothing out of the ordinary, other than finding some unusual, possibly early ebon, artifacts.
Dark lament would like to know what's going on please. And your squad have been roped in to find out.

Ok so what is going on.
One of those unusual artifacts was ebb active. It seemed to be covered in some complex glyph but the research team were not making any real head way with it. That is until one of the team, Misa, tried to communicate with it. At which point she said "Now I get it." And then lapsed into a coma-like condition. This was the infamous patient zero (Oh go watch "Outbreak"!)
It is desperate to spread but can only do so using communicate. The human technician, Marcus, on board realized this and rapidly 'disabled' anything with the communicate ability. Disabled that is by blowing their heads off. Unfortunately one of the infected got a good blow back and he is dead. However before it was isolated the MV detected the Mort Guidance beacon and, recognizing it as a massive communications resource went "Wow want that." It is now desperately trying to get to it.
This would be bad
Just in case you were in any doubt..

Should the MV reach guidance it would be able to propagate itself to any and all fold ships in contact with the beacon, and on to their navigators... and their crews... and any one theory are in contact with...
Get the picture.
This is something that can not be allowed to happen.

The briefing

Will be short and sweet. Dr Moran is a necanthrope of few words. He has got an idea of what is going on from the pitiful reports the union sent before they lost contact but is kind of hoping he is wrong.
He is going to tell the squad as little as possible because he does not wish to prejudice their reports back to him.

Pretty much all they are going to get is that the foldship was on a routine pick up for a research team for A.R.C. for transport back to mort. If they want to spend some time finding out about A.R.C. they will have to do it on route to the space port as "time is off the essence operative. I did insure on the BPN description that the term emergency was used."
Obviously he will not mention the union, but he will state that all attempts to communicate with the ship since in entered orbit have failed.

"Up we go" said mole

Transport up is by Drop ship. A pilot has been provided. He is a shaktar called GR'M and is not going to be leaving his drop ship. However he is a good pilot and can easily get them to the fold ship.
It is obvious on approaching the ship that all is not well. There is no real sign of life and lighting is minimal

Ok a brief departure. I am leaving the fold ship descriptions vague as it seems that there will never be a consensus on what they are really like. Personally I think they are influenced by the navigators, and thus are as individual as deathsuits and gore cannons. I also like Chris C's big dragon picture, However some people have fixed views and so to make this as versatile as possible I provide no hard evidence. However certain things should be remembered when describing this situation to your players;

The ship is boarded via the dropship connection tube. Once the squad is on board GR'M is going to pull back to a safe distance and wait for the instruction to pick them up.
Or so he says. Actually about an hour after they board, unless they are doing exceptionally well, Dark lament are going to order him out of there. Its not like they are expecting the squad to come home.
Before you claim this is VERY mean, remember there are life pods on the ship which will get them back down to the surface of mort. 'course getting home might be an adventure in itself :)

On arrival at your spacious accommodation....

Once on board an unpleasant sight awaits them..

All but one of the original crew and research team have been butchered.

There is a survivor. A wraith raider named Deriss He is the planet side protection of the research unit. He knows nothing about the research but he realized that something was going very wrong and went to ground. He can explain what happened if they can get close enough to him and get him calm enough to talk without killing him... or him killing them.

In addition the crew there are 8 others.. all necanthorpes.. doesn't take the brain of mort to realize its a union. They are not on the crew rosta and 5 are very very dead.

Feel free to expand these descriptions to be as messy as your players can stand. But make it clear there were not pleasant died in their sleep deaths. and the other 3....

Panic now..... All 8 gore cannons are missing.....

Actually they are not missing but they are going to take some finding. And the suggestion they might be out and about there is going to make the players nice and cautious.
Their primitive brains singly could not contain the MV but by instructing them all to link together the MV has been able to create a larger version of the original glyph device. It is sealed in the central hold of the ship ad the MV has decided that when the ship's orbit decays and it enters Morts atmosphere this is the place most likely to survive the impact. don't worry there is whole month before that happens and unless they are very careful the characters are not going to live that long.

So what happened - A Time line of events..

Day 1: The Balahebron arrives at Planet 67G/h3872/09I to collect the research team samples and data from an archaeological dig carried out by A.R.C.; A small independent company that specializes in such work and works almost exclusively for Dark Lament - exploration division.

Day 2: After a rest the researchers start to review their finds and prepare a preliminary report. Shortly after the evening meal Misa says she has an idea that might unlock the pyramid puzzle. She retires to the research lab alone and is found there, already unconscious, a hour later by K'L trn'R the shaktar. He takes her to the medical bay. The research team turn out to see what is wrong, most seem to think she has just been working to hard and passed out.

Day 3 10 am: Karli a brain waster assistant on the dig complains that the patterns on the pyramid are haunting him, and he keeps seeing them in random dots and in reflections. One of the other, obviously jokingly, says he is getting close. A comment he doesn't take too well and storms of. There is no record of what happened to him after this point as he never leaves his cabin. However his corpse is found there (shot by Marcus) and he seems to have tried to reproduce the patterns form the pyramid all over the cabin walls.

Day 3 3pm: Camera show many of the ebons wandering the public areas in a daze. Some folding apparently at random. And other evidence of 'random' Eb abilities being fired up. The non Eb users retreat to the galley were they accessed a large number of files form the ships records. Notably the records of the research team. There is an argument between them all and then they all split up. This is the last time we see Deriss on camera.

Day 3 5pm: Alice checks on Misa. The woman seems to regain consciousness briefly. Alice sits down at the oyster to up date her records and dies abut 10 min later. Marcus finds her 30 min later and immediately starts killing the Eb users. (starting with Misa herself)

Day 3 5:30pm: After communication via the ships coms system with Marcus the Navigator Balahebron shoots himself. Shortly after the K'L trn'R enters the bridge and destroys the Eb coms unit. Dying form his injuries.

Day 3 6pm: Marcus is attacked by Etym (one of the non communicate ebons) in beast form and killed. Etym dies 15 min later when he sets off an Eb bomb centered on his own chest.

Day 3 9pm: Union arrives, they rapidly explore the ship. One of their number finding the pyramid at 9:10. By 9:30 all the union are dead or incapacitated. By 12 the gore cannons had built there copy of the device.

Day 4 1am: Jade BPN the squad are responding to is issued.

Time line after this point is up to the ref.

Why are we here again?

As far as Dark Lament are concerned the whole point of the squad is to collate as much data as possible whilst they are still alive. As they have realized there is Eb use involved they are insisting all coms ate electronic and are routed by the dropship.

The players might be hopping for a little more than this. :)

Basically they have to work out what is going on without getting infected themselves and then get out of there having destroyed all the traces of the MV (Including the 2 d4 thing)

How easy this will be depends on how generous you want to be with the clues. to build up the suspense and panic though I suggest you only reveal things a little at a time, and make them work for it. So they should have to spend time with the survalience equipment coxing it back into life to see the tapes and then spend time trying to remove the corruption from the recording to get a clear signal of what is going on.
That way you can control the release of the clues

Ok clues

  1. The original device in the hands of the female nec and the 'copy' in the central hold structured from the Gore cannons. Also around the ship are the doddles done by Karli but they are less and perfect copies.
  2. The communication problems; i.e.t he way the ebs coms devices have been destroyed, the fact that Dark lament do not want reports sent back via Eb powers - which is kind of out of character for them. The cacooned nec yelling nothing but "no". Things like that. Marcus may also have left some notes out lying his theory (if you are being generous)
  3. Computer and surveillance records; (see the time line above) The notes on the medial oyster documenting the strange behavior being displayed by the Eb users after Misa fell unconscious. The surveillance records which back this up. (But they only show the public areas such as the galley and the bridge and most have been corrupted by the miss use of Eb abilities.)-Basically there is enough data in the computers etc to tell them what is going on but make they draw their own conclusions. Pulling the same data on the crew that the non Eb users pulled reveals that the all the ebons shot through the head are registered as having communicate abilities, those without communication have died in more exotic ways. Data form the original research which suggests it is some complex form of glyph and the complaints of the Eb researchers that the patterns "won't leave his mind."
  4. The wraith witness. Actually he is less helpful than you would realize. Survival being a strong instinct in wraiths the moment he realized where was something 'contagious' on board he went to ground. He didn't really understand Marcus's theory "It was something to do with the way those ebons mess with each others minds" He was able to listen in to the chaos in using the ship board system, but had more sense than to emerge to find out what all the noise meant. He is hiding out in the rear storage hold where he has barricade himself in. Chance is are that he will assume the squad are 'infected' and will be not too keen to meet them. Look some one to shoot at at last :)
  5. Feel free to add in any thing else you need to do to get them to put 2 and 2 together. It would be kind of nice for them to know why they are going to die..

The way out.

Any infected Eb user is going to have to make the ultimate sacrifice.. unless you have some one in the squad capable of wiping peoples memories and who isn't infected themselves.

Dark lament will be kind of keen that all traces of the MV are destroyed and if that means taking your brain out with it they will do it. It is possible that by burning out the bits of the Eb brain that deals with the manipulation of the Eb then the life of the Eb user could be saved. But whether an Eb user would want to take this drastic action is kind of open to debate.

Non infected Eb users (How they prove this is up to you) and Non Eb using races might be able to persuade Dark Lament to send that drop ship back for them. Failing that there are the life pods which will get them back to the surface of Mort. The ship itself, unless re directed will remain in orbit for about a month before it gives into gravity and crashes into the planet.

As Sla Industries would rather this not occurs in about 1 week they will send a Shaktar ion drive to tow it out of the system and destroy it. (With the squad still aboard if need be. May be some really good fast talking might persuade the shaktar captain to save them.)

Should any infected ebon reach Mort then consider the ebon population of the planet in serious trouble. This thing spreads quickly, especially through the Necanthrope and proficient Eb users. (Those working for Mr Slayer then).

Should it reach guidance then you can say good bye to wop.

Dark lament can work all this out form the data the squad find on board, so assuming they are good loyal ops and send the computer records back then the response will be swift and deadly.

Ok, i admit it, so this is kind of a black really.

But they are paying well and if by some miracle the players solve the problem and get away then Dark lament will be impressed and SCL bonus and similar brownie points are probably in order.
Of course should they be responsible for bring the MV to Mort then they will be hunted to destruction by Dark lament, but probably for only as long as it takes for MV to destroy all the Eb users.

Given the potential for destroying the wop the MV has if the players really screw up this BPN, as written, is probably not something you would want to run as part of a long term campaign.
It would easily be possible to tone down the long term effects of M.V. The concepts it consists of can become corrupted as passes through the mind of each Eb user (kind of like chinese whispers). Using this you can have a fail safe encase the players really mess up.
However the original artifact will always be dangerous - Be sure Dr Moran has a large box waiting for it.

Handout bit

Crew rosta for fold ship Balahebron

A.R.C.Researchers

* = records state these people were proficient in using communicate Ebb ability.