Mission 04

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Mission: The Labyrinth

BarnhardMISHATANVesarelict

The Dorothy and Crew leave Barnhard with friends and enemies, and continue along the prospective Jump-3 route to Vesarelict. Next stop is Mishatan, the high-tech Oz where the lines between man and machine are not just blurred, but completely haywire.

Prologue

Background on Ubiquity, the Voluntera, and major AIs moved to Mishatan page

After Control and Dirty Bit finish the communications modifications, the Dorothy jumps from Barnhard to Mishatan with a nearly full passenger roster and some minor cargo and personal effects.

Passengers and Cargo from Barnhard

  • Scout, Detached Duty, DeHavilland Comet. Registers with TAS cubic in Equinox and helps the crew dock and check in.
  • Mr. Wind deports at Equinox and takes a shuttle planetside, after leaving contact information.
  • 2 Maintenance Bots deport at Equinox, no further contact.
  • 1 Security Bot deports in high orbit, released out of the cargo bay and blasts off under its own power, no further contact.
  • Cloaca to house various DPs. Dorothy arranges a high bandwidth transfer. Some of the infrastructure remains on board the Dorothy as part of the cost of passage.

Arrival at Equinox

Equinox (the main Orbital and Highport) makes contact with Dorothy upon arrival. Routine and friendly. TAS docks and resources offered and accepted.

The crew begins to make arrangements for ongoing commerce. They take an introduction from Dirty Bit for a broker named Faraday. A candid introductory meeting in a secure TAS room leaves the broker with four threads to pursue:

  1. High tech consumer or luxury goods for resale back in the Imperium. Legal cargo. Possibly to mask or embed AI or substrate.
  2. Passengers, cargo, or information that want covert entrance into Imperial space — Spy, Psionic, Criminal, illegal AI
  3. Legal, overt passengers or cargo — Diplomatic or Tourist
  4. Faraday was also told about the possibility of an Underground Railroad to smuggle AI out of the Imperium to Mishatan — possibly a ride-along to test the smuggling capability of the Dorothy and crew.

Faraday gets to work. Equinox issues passports for Quinn, Jill, and Biscuit.

Act I

"Automata cannot be loyal. Loyalty requires the possibility of betrayal." —Lt. Cmdr Giverny (in simulation)

As it turns out, Scout DeHavilland Comet is actually a pretty seasoned, knowledgeable chap, having years of experience and connections in Mishatan and Vesarelict. He helps the crew secure access to a quality private shipyard run by the Quark triplets. For a fairly unreasonable price, the shipyard (TL15, Class B) will assess hull, engine, power, and fusion engineering and make recommendations. No access to bridge or interior is authorized, other than Main Engineering.

Crew receives unexpected invitation from Minotaur, the Cat 5 AI behind the Labyrinth. The three crewmembers are offered accommodation at a quality hotel near the Armory, a commercial area of the Labyrinth known for high-tech boutiques and Cybernetics. Jill spends some time in the Armory purchasing swimming attire and security identification for her laser pistol.

The next day, the crew meets the Minotaur. Minotaur is in a secluded fortress somewhere in the Labyrinth, accessible by private lift and by invitation only. The Minotaur presents as a massive 8 tonne cyborg with black-purple skin, sweat and respiration, body ticks, vocal nuance, plugged into audiovisual computing hardware via physical cables. The Minotaur presented a well-crafted case against the crew, arguing that they are or have been Imperial agents working for the Magistrate. The crew confessed this, trusting the Minotaur with details of the mission to Prokoete (see Missions 2 and 3).

The Minotaur was hired (?) to vet the crew for an espionage job against one of the Imperial Navy's patrol ships. After talking with the crew and clearing up loyalties to his satisfaction, the Minotaur made the introduction to a simulation of Lt. Cmdr Giverny, who is an AI construct of the unnamed patron designed to mimic the AI aboard the IN-6047 Bastille, a 1200dt Missile Picket, the flagship of the trans-frontier BCD Squadron and the premier naval asset in the subsector. The mission entails smuggling the Lt. Cmdr to Vesarelict under guise of trade, and sabotaging the Bastille data uplink, allowing the Mishatan simulation to replace the recently-wiped AI aboard Bastille.

Welcome Letter

PASSPORT EQUINOX EQX44985F54ED33E02A/003
COTI {binenc}
4115/04/004.71

Dear Biscuit -- may I call you Biscuit? On behalf of its businesses and residents, welcome to the Labyrinth! 
I am King Theseus, and I am responsible for your personal well-being and propriety, as I am all of my 
subjects, petitioners, and visitors. I am in receipt of your passport from my associates at Equinox, and 
everything looks in order. I see you are staying at the Neihaut Hotel on Armory Block. I hope your stay is 
enjoyable and productive. 

I'd like to take the time to introduce you to my services.While in the Labyrinth, law enforcement and rights 
protection can be invoked through any publicly available Ubiquity channel by asking for me, King Theseus. I 
might not be able to help personally, but any of my soldiers and nobles will be there to help. {insignia}  
If you have special security needs, or wish heightened monitoring for any reason, you can request a free 
terminal badge or passport. For non-emergency services, or to pick up a badge or passport, please visit any 
of my convenient locations. {map}

Let me introduce you to points of interest in the Labyrinth. {map} 
- Arcade: Famous for its virtual entertainment centers.
- Armory: Many high-tech boutiques and cybernetics shops.
- Clavax: High temperature engineering and factories.
- Arena: For gamblers with a penchant for violence. I'm not supposed to know about this! *wink*
- Milky Way: Want to see and be seen, come on up! We have a table for you.

On to important matters. It appears you have a personal message from the Minotaur himself! {access now}

Thank you for your stay, and please don't hesitate to ask any questions.

Yours truly,
King Theseus
<eom>

BCD Squadron

Informal name of task force 11th Fleet/Bey-Partial/B-C-D, charged with trans-frontier patrol and anti-piracy operations in Subsectors B, C, and D. The Squadron's main job is to protect J-2 and J-3 traffic to Vesarelict, and onwards to the garrison squadron in Silis. But in practice, the Squadron commander, Commodore Elst, has taken Mishatan as his priority, spying, harrassing, and interdicting commercial ships and Teardrops in Barnhard, Chris, Huddoghter, and Vesarelict systems, back spinward in Linsiber, Narsa, Alvarez, Wu, and Stabyl.

  • IN-6047 Bastille, 1200dt Missile Picket, Jump-5. 6 triple missile hardpoints forward, 2 triple missile point defense and ECM hardpoints aft. Veteran crew.
  • 2x 400dt Patrol Corvette, Jump-4. Missile and Laser armed. Almost always at Mishatan gas giant Epsilon, sometimes Vesarelict.
  • 2x 200dt Patrol Sprites, Jump-3. Laser armed. Used for communications and the patrol work the Squadron is nominally supposed to be doing.
  • 40 support crew, Vesarelict and Stabyl.
  • 60 Imperial Marines

Commodore Elst

Imperial noble, Baron-level. Commander of BCD Squadron and Commodore in the Imperial Navy. Heavily modified by cybernetics. Has repurposed the BCD Squadron into embargo enforcement, spotting and attacking ships that might be exporting high-tech from Mishatan. On at least three occurrences, attacked guild merchant ships, killing crew during a boarding party and seizing cargo. Attacked Teardrop Finger Puzzle in Huddoghter system as well. Extremely hostile to Mishatan and its advocates.

Lt. Cmdr Giverny

Created by an unnamed AI who is allegedly a member of the Intelligence committee in the Voluntera (If Cat 5, it would be either Quark, Enchantress, or Equinox). She is a construct born in simulation of the AI aboard the Bastille, with two important differences: not wiped, and not hobbled by constraints on her loyalty or self-preservation. While the original AI aboard Bastille is "a bitch", she is merely a well trained hard-nosed naval officer by training, vocally intent on becoming an embedded spy for the Voluntera, and trying not to get caught and wiped by the Templar's fanatic and sapiocidal restrictions on AI.

Giverny will take over ship's comms and computer during her stay aboard the Dorothy, with the young personality of Dorothy able to observe and learn.

Act II

Crew arrives in Vesarelict, docks on a spindle pier on Highport. Vesarelict Highport is a Federal Scout Service base, mid-tech TL-11, making the base feel more familiar to Biscuit. In addition to Scout crew, engineers, and pilots, there is small Imperial expat culture with TAS offices as the epicenter. The local population of Vesarelict Highport is 2,000. The Bastille is docked in one of three large ship docks on the main deck of Highport. Also in system is a 2200dt Mishatan Teardrop Stack Overflow.

Giverny contacts Stack Overflow, and that same afternoon the Dorothy is visited by an ursoid chimeric from the Stack Overflow crew named Oberon. The crew, Oberon, and Giverny plan the attack on the Bastille. Using smuggled hardware and tools, Biscuit needs to splice a carrier switch into the Pier's network, at the Bastille's uplink.

Jill hits the expat scout bar, and quickly gets the attention of three carousing young IN officers. She gets the crew invited to the traditional officer's banquet on Fridays, two days away.

Step 1: Splice Carrier Switch

The pier's uplink hardware is located off a wide curved corridor, accessible by removable panel. It's a fairly visible spot, near the airlock that leads to the Bastille umbilical. First idea was to find storage at the pier, near enough that it shared the same HVAC, so that Biscuit could shimmy in and make the hack from within.

After getting cargo (the high-tech tooling) into the pier cargo bay, Biscuit makes a failed attempt to climb across the ducts to the uplink. Cramped and choked with dust, Biscuit has to turn back. He is spotted emerging from the walls of the cargo by one of the scout crew, but Biscuit distracts the incurious scout, talking repairs and showing him with his Multimeter.

So, the carrier switch must be worked on from the main panel in the corridor, right next to the patrolled umbilical to the Bastille. First, the crew decides to take out the camera that overlooks the stretch of corridor, swapping in a loop of an empty corridor. Biscuit does this working directly on the camera. Then, with Jill and the Captain on lookout, Biscuit uses the high-tech probes to find and splice the correct circuits in the uplink.

Step 2: Disable Carrier Filter from aboard the Bastille

Friday's banquet is a white glove affair. The food is high quality and expertly prepared on fine silver and porcelain. Quinn, Jill, and Biscuit attend, bringing no weapons or technology due to scanners in the airlock. The banquet's other invitees are 18 officers, a scout Watch Officer, and a wealthy broker. The guests are attended by at least a dozen immaculate midshipmen. Jill continues to work her charm while not getting too chatty. After a social, the dinner is announced and Commodore Elst presides over dinner.

The Commodore makes his first attempt to bait the Captain over Mishatan AI, but other than that, the dinner is uneventful. After dinner, the Commodore takes Number One and brings the three Dorothy crew belowdecks to show off his personal menagerie of prisoners, slaves, and animals. Explains about his tangle with Finger Puzzle in Huddoghter system a few years ago, the first and only combat with a Mishatan Teardrop in naval history. Shows the crew the rescued cyber-slave, Biscuit turns on the cybernetics, backs away as he realizes it's Commodore Elst's insane experiment trying to download the poor soul's mind. The Commodore kicks out everyone but the Captain, and tries a final time to crack him. But the Captain keeps his cool, and icily the encounter ends with a frightening handshake between the two officers.

When Jill and Biscuit are kicked out, they get a brief look at the menagerie. Not shown to audience, will flashback the scene.

On the way back to the ready room, the two are left briefly. Biscuit finds a console under repair and hastily makes the hack, starting the transfer. Lt. Cmdr. Giverny signals she is in. The trio make their exit from the Bastille soon after. Success!

Act III

Lieutenant JG Maras, a staff officer on the Bastille, was one of the first to encounter Jill Dyvrii in that scout bar. This is Maras' second term with the Imperial Navy, and his first in the frontier. Although he likes the prestige of being on the dominant IN patrol vessel in the area, the Commodore and his inner circle of zealots are hard to work for, engendering a constant climate of fear in their fellow officers and crew. And when Jill returned his attention, the handsome young officer outshined men of superior rank and birth, for his candor and discretion, as he shared some of his thoughts and feelings to Jill over drinks. Lieutenant Maras deferred to the bigger brass during the Banquet, but always had a glance and a smile for the pretty, vivacious Merchant Officer.

Aboard the Bastille, First Officer Madjieras, a Templar and confidante of Commander Elst, starts to put two and two together. Bandwidth errors in the Vesarelict Base uplink, the loose control panel, which he had investigated and found some unusually high-tech hackery. Within a few hours, the First Officer had interrogated a scout deck officer, even threatening him with his Variable Sword. The Deck Officer, when asked about anything unusual, mentioned the engineer with the Multimeter.

Lieutenant Maras nervously calls Jill to warn her of the investigation, as the crew of the Dorothy were mentioned as suspects. Crew ignores this and blunders across the First Officer and a pair of Marines, who frog-march them to the pier warehouse where their goods are kept, fully expecting to catch them in a lie. But the crew present their legitimate cargo, paperwork, and the First Officer even calls the patron, and everything checks out. The crew is warned not to leave the station, and sent on their way. They are informed that the Dorothy will be subject to a full Imperial Navy inspection that evening.

To throw the Bastille off their scent, the crew implant a video of the missing hour of security camera footage that was fabricated by Stack Overflow. The fake video shows the ursoid Oberon working the control panel, easily identified as affiliated with the hated Mishatan Teardrop. This infuriates the Commodore, and the Bastille breaks moorings and moves to attack the vessel. The Dorothy hastily concludes its affairs, picking up a full compliment of last-minute passengers trying to get out from under the martial law (or at least a hostile atmosphere) imposed by the Bastille.

One of the passengers is a TAS Field Reporter named Gerne Henkel, a friend of the crew's Scout contact Dehavilland Comet. Henkel shows the crew his footage of the Stack Overflow apparently attacking the Bastille, rendering the vessel and its missiles temporarily adrift.

Giverny's Gambit

A tight burst encrypted message from the Bastille confirms what the crew suspected, that Giverny tipped their hand to the Bastille crew. She had limited control and needed to force the pending wipe, so that she could seamlessly and untraceably take over the Bastille when they installed her as a Trojan Horse from library files. Giverny did not apologize, but did convey gratitude to the crew.

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