Prologue

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Preamble

The ascendancy of Mishatan as a high-tech powerhouse has put it on the scanners of many factions within the Third Imperium, despite its location deep in the Trailing Frontier. Mishatan is rich and lawless, and its capabilities in Robotics, Cybernetics, and AI rival the cutting edge of the Imperial Core. It is an open secret that the Imperial Navy, among others, covets Mishatan's AI computing tech, despite the Empire-wide ban on unfettered AI. Symbolic of Mishatan's ascendancy are its Teardrop-class ships — enigmatic, crewless transport vessels with a mirror hull, ranging from 2000 dt to 8000 dt.

The discovery of a non-functioning Matryeshka Drive in nearby Silis, and the commissioning of a permanent naval garrison, has only heightened the area's prospects for official and opportunistic parties.

The Imperial Navy has hired Yang AG as a civilian adjunct to handle logistics and other charters. Among such vessels operating under Navy charter in the area is the 1200 dt, J-4 Merchant Cruiser Calliope, your home ship. The Calliope route runs from Aonghus to the far trailing Scout Base at Vesarelict. Fourth along the route is Huddoghter, where the action takes place.
Calliope J4 Route

Loose Connection

Testimony and logs from FSS Loose Connection

Jumping in Vesarelict system, Detached Duty Scout Nyers Pipgras, Captain of the FSS Loose Connection reported to IN authorities multiple acts of piracy or sabotage in Huddoghter system, from where the ship just arrived. Pipgras was rendezvousing with fellow scout FSS Pearls of Wisdom (AD Scout Jessica Abel) near gas giant delta, when they heard a nonstandard audio distress beacon coming from the surface of one of Huddoghter's uninhabited planets (alpha). The confidence was not high due to three factors: first, the beacon was garbled at the source; second due to the presence of confusing broadcasts from another ship in system, a Mishatan Teardrop-class 2500 dt Finger Puzzle in orbit around another planet (beta); third due to the message being in what seemed to be a dialect of Old Terran. Regardless, the two scout vessels approached the planet to investigate.

While inbound, the two scouts deciphered the message. It was a recording of a ship undergoing an engineering failure.

  • 00:00:05, onboard computer reports J-Drive malfunction, critical.
  • 00:00:11, two crewmen or officers confirm J-Drive anomaly and begin shutdown procedure. The shutdown would imply that the ship was not in hyperspace at the time, as a shutdown in hyperspace would be fatal. This further implies the ship was on spin-up to jump, or (less likely) spin-down after jump.
  • 00:00:30, engineering reports to bridge Jumpspace intrusion "Deck H Aft and Engineering." Bridge demands repeat. Voices in background, probably Bridge, express incredulity. "How can there be a J-space intrusion when we're not in hyperspace? It has to be instrument failure."
  • 00:00:32, computer reports shutdown failure and starts automatic 20-tick countdown to jump.
  • 00:00:33, (cross-talk) bridge demands to know who authorized jump?
  • 00:00:34, (cross-talk) Condition Red One announced.
  • 00:00:35, bridge orders engineering to manually shut down power to J-Drive.
  • 00:00:37, Internal Security initiates "anti-boarding protocol" on Deck H Aft. Jumpspace intrusion plays havoc on internal systems, this is probably a false positive.
  • 00:00:40, unintelligible, confused noise and verbal demands for proper damage reports, and to stop jump sequence.
  • 00:00:45, engineering reports "one dead and four in J-space".
  • 00:00:47, t minus 5 seconds to jump.
  • 00:00:48, (cross-talk) engineering reports "(unintelligible) is attacking crew" on Deck H. Audio in background, probably engineering, is screams and mechanical howling.
  • 00:00:49, (cross-talk) bridge demands an update on the shutdown. Bridge issues emergency beacon launch.
  • 00:00:52, countdown stops at 1, howling continues for nine more seconds until recording ends.
  • 00:01:01, recording ends.

Elephant Graveyard

Surface of Huddoghter alpha, X200000-0

After magnetic scans confirmed a crash site, the Pearls of Wisdom advanced to the planet surface while the Loose Connection remained in Low Orbit. Excerpts from the comms logs between the two scout ships:

  • Pearls of Wisdom "Descending now 500 meters above surface. Have visual of crash site. It's an elephant graveyard, must be... three, four wrecks here within a click of each other. Five maybe. Are you getting the feed?" Loose Connection "Negative, Pearl, and your audio is choppy."
  • Pearls of Wisdom "(unintelligible) Teardrop-class, 2000 tonner, torn open (unintelligible) fusion is dead cold. All readings flat. Nothing. Descending to 100 meters."
  • Pearls of Wisdom "So that's what they look like on the inside."
  • Pearls of Wisdom "J-Drive failure (unintelligible) hull breach... ballistic landing... J-Drive is (unintelligible)."
  • Pearls of Wisdom crash-lands on surface. Loose Connection hailing.
  • Pearls of Wisdom Sounds of mechanical howling swelling in background "Yeah okay, I'm okay. Oh-two Green. Might need a tow. The fuck is that? -"

No further contact with Pearls of Wisdom. Loose Connection scans from orbit reveal it has joined the Graveyard. Loose Connection descended to visual range, 1000m, spotted the remnants of Pearls of Wisdom. Scanned for vitals or flares for 22 hours.

Rescue and Salvage

Two ships immediately jump to Huddoghter to initiate rescue and salvage, or to represent Imperial claims if Mishatan is there. The Loose Connection and her Captain will not be part of the operation. He is being held for questioning under charges of misconduct. By the time the players reach the crash site, 19 days will have passed since the Pearls of Wisdom was destroyed.

Ships in system

  • Calliope, 1200 dt Merchant Cruiser, owned and operated by Yang AG under IN contract
  • IN-3492 Marequest, 400 dt Patrol Corvette
  • Cutter Bravo, 30 dt Cutter dispatched by the Calliope (see below)

Your orders

The Calliope and escort will remain in standard orbit. A cutter (30 dt) with five personnel will be detailed:

  1. Establish visual contact and survey the wreck site(s)
  2. Set up a comm uplink some place central to ongoing operations, to help cut through the comms interference
  3. Determine source of original transmission
  4. Return all personnel to ship in no more than 10 hours
  5. EVA is authorized at the discretion of the officers

Game Play

For this episode, Cutter Bravo may acquire and spend PPs

Cutter Bravo
d8 30 dt Cutter
d8/d4 Corporate Property — can take risks with it, it's Yang AG's problem if it gets dented.
Assets and Crew
d8 Merchant Officer, second in command, Under Orders d6 (roll an extra d6 if he is forwarding the Calliope agenda)
d6 Midshipman, with Comms Specialist d6
d6 Midshipman
d8 Comms Uplink, a 28kg TL 11 laser communications device with its own solar array
Traits
d6 Huddoghter System
d8 Huddoghter alpha
d10 Elephant Graveyard (navigate, survey, comms)
d8 The derelicts
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