Release the Kraken

Episode 5
Double Dealings

DRAFT

SEP is played off Overwatch. Secrets are sold. Stacks are stolen. Reprisals are made. Exhumans are framed. Nobody knows who wants what; the only thing that is certain is that none of the employment options are attactive.

  • meet the snufalupagus aboard the listening post. wierd, but not too bad. They describe a desire to stay in touch with transhumanity and a drive to continue to identify as exhumans, rather than pushing for a transcendant goal. Hence, it is not in their character to have approached the TITAN infestation at Logos. They want to know about what happened as much as RTK does, and agree to send a representative to meet with Gabriel
  • Gabriel wants the exhumans destroyed, as he views them as a threat. RTK seriously considers but eventually turns down the job
  • conversation transcripts are given to Wednesday in payment
  • Zaius meets a researcher he knew from Mars who sheds more light on the large project going on, and where all the bandwidth is going
  • RTK fights off an abush, seemingly by ammature gang members but perplexingly coordinated. Some fancy “sousveilance” work reconstructs the scene of the crime, and they trace their attackers back to their points of origin, identifying their criminal factions.
  • A criminal group attacks Tasha while she is traveling alone, and steals her stack. Her cyberbrain is fine and stacks are cheap, so once he spine is reconnected she is okay.
  • Reprisals are paid out as RTK infiltrates the faction who stole the stack, and they retrieve the hardware before the encryption can be broken on the stack. Fortuneatly the overloaded farcasters limit the risk of copies of the ego leaking elsewhere.
  • Covering their tracks, Wednesday is framed for the operation
  • Magu shows back up with Kulu, and tells them that SEP needs them, there is a Project Ozma agent working against them somewhere on this very station…
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Episode 4
On the Grape Vine

Having just secured the command and control center for the Kronos docking spire, RTK is at something of a loose end.

With the automated defenses turned against the Ultimates, local Anarchist faction and Criminal faction militias are able to sweep up from the base of the spire. Space forces from SEP and their coalition of interested parties and investors press in from outside. RTK can sit back and wait for them to meet in the middle, and appoint new management to the place.

In the meantime, Tasha scrubs the computer system and locates the surviving egos of the spec-ops team they were sent to recover, along with several other egos that were in storage there. Unfortunately, they seem to have been somehow damaged: some higher brain functions are disabled or edited out, as if the egos have been afflicted with severe mental retardation.

Magu takes Kulu with him (as he is not present at this game) to run some “errands” and leaves the rest of RTK to their own recognizance until SEP has a new operation for them. They will not be returning to The Geisha, as their recent operations have brought them too much attention and they do not want that attention reflected on the Market there. SEP will be using their new security Jammer to protect The Geisha instead.

Due to the recent troubles, and because Kronos (aka the Grape Vine) is so overpopulated and heavily divided between Anarchist and Criminal factions, cost of living and local insurance rates are through the roof. Complicating that, the local Farcasters are currently operating over capacity and there is a long wait list for any significant communications out side of the station.

This means that backups are not being transmitted out, and no one is leaving until they can clear the queues. After asking about, the explanation seems to be that a new habitat is being built in the Saturn system and there is a large influx of talent (scientists and engineers) to work on the project (hence clogging the farcasters and overtaxing mainframes all over the Saturn system). There is some speculation that the habitat project is a smokescreen for something else entirely, but nothing concrete is known.

As RTK is contemplating their next move, an Overwatch agent contacts Zaius. Appealing to his patriotism and sense of (trans)humanity, the Overwatch agent (Gabriel) raises some concerns about Weyland and SEP. The planetary consortium knows about the Logos business, as their missile relayed telemetry before destroying the object. The possibility of a TITAN threat being introduced to the region could destabilize the entire Saturn system, or threaten the Solar system in general. Gabriel tells Zaius that SEP is leveraged 500x over their actual assets, and he is having trouble tracing where they are getting the funds or what they are doing with it. He wants copies of what they took from Logos, and to know what SEP is doing.

To that end, he points Zaius at a couple of exhuman presences at Kronos. The one he is interested in is Snufalupagus: a part of the same group-mind swarm that was the first to investigate at Logos. The other is Wednesday, a local crime lord who is likely to be able to put RTK in touch with Snufalupagus.

With a last appeal to Zaius’s transhumanity (and a large bankroll) Gabriel puts RTK on the project.

RTK finds Wednesday’s domain (a few of the “grapes” on the cluster) to be clean and orderly, the resedents there having a strong sense of community. Wednesday, a Neurode, talks to RTK about the importance of oppenes, disclosure, and communal sharing. He wants to be privy to whatever they discuss with Snufalupagus, as well as to open-source any information they have about Overwatch’s operation as Wednesday suspects that it would benefit from peer-scrutiny.

RTK agrees in principal, though they carefully leave themselves some contractual “outs” to limit liability. Wednesday puts them in touch with the local Snufalupagus nodes, who reside in an old Torus hab not to far from the Grape Vine.

RTK rents a cheap and flimsy sp-taxi, and when they arrive at the Torus they find it de-spun and bristling with antennas. Upon approaching the docking collar, a swarm of the same sp-spiders from Logos pour out towards them!

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Episode 3
Souvlaki

After debriefing in the Weyland simulspace, RTK is egocasted and regains consciousness in their original sleeves. But alas! Those sleeves now seem to be onboard a small shuttle with only a few other passengers on ice, and no conscious crew.

Their muses supply the relative time and their location, and put them in touch with a beta fork of Mr Magu whom is riding along on the shuttle with them. The fork (an infomorph, though he does have a clone on ice aboard the shuttle) informs them that they are on their way to the Souvlaki, an old spaceliner which has been repurposed as a pleasure barge.

This is to be a “company sponsored vacation” and they will be arriving with some other VIPs whom are scheduled for well deserved time off. The Souvlaki has a number of special rules, including a strictly controlled population. New guest are only admitted as others leave, and there are a number of small craft waiting for a chance to dock. The SEP shuttle seems to have some clout though, and is bypassing the line.

While approaching the Souvlaki (and only thanks to the higher moral bearing of Kulu and Karls) RTK takes pity on a ship that has been waiting too long in line and is running low on life support. While the rest of the team debates why the Souvlaki and the other ships in queue haven’t responded to the distress call, Kulu and Karls brave mouldy space-scum coated hatches to rescue a sad and matted pair of scientists in cat-boy morphs. They check with the Beta of Magu and get SEP to sponsor the cat-boys’ admission to the pleasure barge in exchange for a term of indenturement.

The Souvlaki has a large gravity ring and is full of themed areas for a variety of fetishes or preferences. It has its own internal rep system, and if your rep drops to 0 through negative interactions with other guests, you are wiped and your memories of the stay are destroyed. All menial tasks and labor are handled by small troglodyte creatures, seemingly without any orifices or any facial features.

Kulu and Zaius both try to lay low, while Tasha’s incomprehension of the place confuses other guests. Mabuse loses some local rep, but starts gambling big by playing on his new Remade’s pull with some Ultimate guests. A pit fight does not go as well as it could.

Magu asks RTK to recruit a pair of VIP guests, one being a Jammer and the other being a scientist. The group is successful in this regard, although the Jammer turns out to be an Alpha fork who brokers a deal to provide SEP with a time-limited Alpha for their own use. The flippant disregard for another Alpha fork’s sense of individuality or identity seems a little alien and disconcerting, but the job is done.

Through a local 9-lives connection, Tasha and Mabuse secretly pocket a copy of the scientist’s ego for their own purposes…

After the rest of the trip passes in relative peace, Magu reveals that they actually have a job to do. The entire voyage was cover to get them close to Reha undetected, and the Kronos Cluster habitat specifically. An Ultimate faction operates the docking spire there, and they are the same faction that hit The Geisha back in Episode 1. This will be a reprisal operation, the other ships in queue to visit the Souvlaki are actually assault boats, and they will screen RTK from the local kill-sats as they dock with the spire.

Tasha brings them in hard and fast, and the attack goes about as well as it possibly could. The C&C section of the spire is captured by RTK, and the automated defenses are turned against the Ultimates.

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Episode 2
Logos

In the aftermath of the Ultimate Merc assassination squad, it comes to light that the victims were actually the members of a special ops team that had come aboard The Geisha for cover. They had canvassed the outer-system for a group whose morphs and skill-profiles matched their own, and had tried to use them to shake off the assassination squad.

It didn’t work out very well, and they ended up dead or captured. Unfortunately, this leaves their employer short one special ops team. Fortuneatly, the members of RTK have already been pre-selected as people who fit the bill perfectly, even though they haven’t spent the last couple years training for the job.

Mr. Magu explains all this as he drops the news that RTK has been secunded to one of SEP’s partner ventures, Weyland. They will be expected to carry out the very operation that the special ops squad didn’t survive to perform (the squad cant simply be restored from backup as some of them are captured and proof-of-life is being provided – the insurance provider wont reinstate backup egos while the originals are verified to be alive).

Thus RTK is de-sleeved, their morphs are put on ice, and they are egocasted to a Weyland server somewhere near Titan. They are briefed in simulspace on the particulars of their mission… wherein the history of “Episode 0” becomes relevant to the main plot. Weyland came into possession of logs from the Leviathan-12, and have learned of the presence of the military outpost at Logos. RTK is shown 3D stills that seem to be taken from a first-person perspective or some sort of Experia:

Caverns in the ice laced with gold superconducting wire, outdated but inscrutable computer banks, fluid splashing as globules in zero-gravity, fragments of grey matter being knocked around a control room, an arm holding a wrench… All frozen in time.

Now (10 years after the incident) that they have a better understanding of how to combat TITAN threats, they are going back for salvage. What they want is in that control room, the operating software from the nanohives that build and the computer system in the caves of ice. Three ships, one from the Planetary Consortium, one from Morningstar, and their own, are on their way to Logos with differing objectives.

Weyland is sending synthmorphs (including an Octobot and an Apeotron) to save on resources and gain speed, though they are still arriving second. They are interested in salvaging the command and control software from the nano-hives on Logos, to study the military technology that originally ran the outpost and built the computers there.

Morningstar is sending a full organic crew, in a bid to avoid computer infection. They will be the first on the scene.

The Planetary Consortium is sending a missile, and it will be a day or two behind Weyland if they are lucky.

Additionally, an exhuman hivemind swarm was mining TNOs in the Kuiper Belt as Logos passed near in its orbit, and they detached some members to investigate. They have not been heard from since.

When RTK arrives on the scene, Karlstad’s ego hasn’t survived the transfer. Some sort of jamming stopped the farcaster signals after the first four made it through, and his upload didn’t finish (he isn’t here for this session). The Morningstar ship is already in orbit and has already been disassembled by a robotic swarm, and similar spherical drones are launched at RTK’s ship as they approach. They are easy enough to evade, and the team makes it to the surface of Logos while leaving their ship in a distant orbit.

On the surface, a small firefight ensues with the spherical drones, which unfold into mechanical spider like contraptions (sp-spiders). They seem to be designed for mining or salvage, and the military grade weapons that Weyland has sent cut them down quite effectively.

The interior of Logos does not look like before (though only the Players remember Episode 0, not the Characters) and instead of the repurposed and gutted interior of a NASC ship, they find a vast cavern. Perhaps 10Km vast, such that their lights cannot illuminate the far walls. Every surface is covered in fine ice crystals, almost like a clear moss or an inverted lung. The contours bulge and arch and branch in complex fractal patterns, all traced though with fine gold wire just under the surface of the ice.

Somewhere in the center is a control chamber, preserved in its original state and where the nanohives perhaps still maintain the entire system. While RTK tries to break their way in to the metal control room, TITAN fractals (bush robots) begin to emerge from the walls to defend the place. They are not impervious to bullets, but due to their decentralized nature they are able to withstand vast amounts of damage before they are immobilized or reduced to shards.

Mabuse and Tasha breach the central chamber, from which a viscous fluid quickly spews out into the vacuum of the central cavern. Upon entering, they find something similar to the Experia that Weyland had shown them. But instead of multiple brain tanks, they find the remnants of all the nervous tissue salvaged from logos reconstructed into a single enormous cerebellum. It’s outer membrane fills most of the room, which is filled with a viscous life supporting fluid. They have to cut through it to get at the nanohive control systems around the chamber, but they do download the operating programs from them onto specialized ectos, and escape unharmed.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team has been battling back growing waves of Fractal bush bots, and RTK beats a hasty escape towards the surface… Only to find their ship being assaulted and by those sp-spider drones.

Zaius takes out several surface based jamming sources with a seeker launcher, and everyone abandons their synthmorphs to egocast back to their ship before the sp-spiders can disassemble the farcaster, and back to Weyland with the goods.

Except Tasha and Mabuse arrive a little late. When they do show up on the Weyland mainframe back in the Saturn System, Mabuse’s memories are slightly edited, and Tasha never tells Karlstad that a copy of his ego did finally get downloaded into a morph when the jamming went offline – just as the ship was being disassembled by sp-spiders. No one knows for sure that an Alpha of Karlstad is floating in space contemplating his misfortune as the nuclear batteries in the military grade synthmorph slowly wind down.

Also left unsaid is the exact cause behind Tasha and Mabuse’s tardiness. Mabuse has taken his EVA rocket harness and launched an ecto towards the inner system with the long term objective of recovering it (and the TITAN operating code he suspects it contains)to use as a weapon to destroy his old enemies at Jupiter.

Several hours in a time-accelerated simulspace has allowed Tasha to alter Mabuse’s memories of the deed so as to (hopefully) be undetectable by Weyland or SEP, and has removed Mabuse’s knowledge of her compliancy — instead framing Karlstad as his co conspirator.

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Episode 1
Slant Eyed Pimp

…In which the party is introduced as members of RTK Security. Employed by the Extropian corporation Saturn Eliptical Products (SEP) to protect The Geisha, a Red-Market scum barge floating with Phellan’s Recourse around the Saturn system. Their direct superior is Magushi san (aka Mr. Magu, the S.E.P. himself).

Release the Kraken is (in descending initiative order):

  • Doctor Zaius – Uplifted Chimp, ex Planetary Consortium scientist in hiding in the outer system after committing humanitarian crimes against the Barsoomian underclass on Mars. He uses his expertise in the field of WMDs to help screen The Geisha from the most disastrous kinds of threats. (not present this adventure)
  • Arthur a.k.a Kulu – Uplifted Pacific Octopus, made by SEP to be a custom-built security specialist to protect their interests on The Geisha.
  • Karlstad Fintorp – Extropian social engineer, wearing a second-hand Ghost morph. Originally of spotty parentage and of questionable background, he seems to be a team player now that he has a bit more to lose.
  • Tasha – an “Uncle-Tom” infomorph, she disturbingly wears a neotenic morph (technically a pod due to it’s cyberbrain) and brokers ego’s into slavery with the 9-lives consortium. As a day job, she runs all aspects of electronic security on The Geisha (not present this adventure)
  • Edgardo Mabuse – A one-time sleeper agent for the Jovians, Mabuse was rescued by RTK somewhere in the off-camera background before he was extracted back to his former employers. Now he uses his applied knowledge of demolitions and security spoofing to aid RTK in dealing with the day-to-day dangers of protecting a Red Market.

Triads, a major participant in the market, have been pushing for the Red Market to go more red, and fall under the control of criminal elements. SEP and their Extropian investors attempt to keep things orderly and demonstrate their value to the ship’s shareholders by keeping the market secure.

Of course their services seem more valuable if there is a clear and pressing danger, so RTK never lets things get too quiet or complacent.

During the course of one ordinary and routine daycycle aboard The Geisha, RTK follows suspicious visitors, profiles merchants and shoppers on the market, harasses VIPs whom have made the mistake of traveling under the wrong stolen identity, and generally help keep chaos to a medium.

During one deal-gone-wrong, shit breaks spectacularly. A petty vendetta sets a nano-plague lose in one of the ships many modular compartments, and Kulu hoses the scene down with bullets. Mabuse and Fintorp seal out the compartment and jettison it, while (narratedly) Tasha remote pilots an Arachnoid Shell to steer it away from the rest of the ship. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, the offending customer is blacklisted, and insurance is paid out.

Just as things are cooling down and after everyone has gone back to their individual routines, there are several simultaneous alerts of assaults being perpetrated – and the victims match the character’s descriptions! Each of the team assumes the other are being hit, but upon responding to the violence they discover that it was actually a group of uncanny lookalikes that have been variously assassinated or kidnapped.

The trouble hasn’t stopped though, the Ultimate Mercs that performed the hit are gunning for the RTK team just in case they got the wrong target. The titular Kraken ends up in the healing vat after the ensuing firefight. Mabuse sees the fleeing Mercs off by launching a seeker full of nano-deconstructers at one of their fleeing shuttles, and takes advantage of the carnage by assembling a secondhand franken-morph from pieces of fallen Ultimates – and upgrades to a slightly used Remade.

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Episode 0
Leviathan-12

Officer corps of the Leviathan-12

Mendoza aka “Signals” aka “all man baby” – computers, electronic warfare, signal intelligence
“Wrench” – mechanics , engineering
“Beaker” – high energy physics, hard sciences
“Doc” – medicine, surgery, biology, soft sciences
Stoma aka “Ex” – command, combat

New Mumbai, Luna

A bustling city of domes and spires. International center of commerce and trade, the crew of the Leviathan-12 enjoys surface-leave while their Captain leverages his government connections to secure a military contract to deliver a cargo shipment to a secret listening outpost in the Kuiper Belt.

Before clearing outbound customs, North Atlantic Space Command instructs Mendoza to install new military authentication software for safe transit and FoF identification. The system should be standard across all North Atlantic Treaty Space Command enforcement areas by the time the Leviathan reaches the next leg of its journey.

While still transition out of the Earth/Luna system, the ship is hit by automated weapon system left over from an old conflict. The incident is reported, and the journey continues despite the ill omen. Stoma and Beaker work on repairing the damage while Wrench operates a remote drone to assist. The ship is patched up, and it is discovered that one of the three cargo containers is filled with superconducting monomolecular wire which is somewhat (but not terribly) dangerous when unwound.

The computer plots course for a gravity assist at Jupiter. It takes the Leviathan-12 a little over a year to get there, and upon defrosting the crew receives the belated news of a global cyber-war on Earth. The war had spread to the colonies and is in the process of rapidly escalating to a hot-war. In response to the cyber threat, Jovian command refuses to accept automated authentication attempts from the NASC software agent, and Leviathan-12 falls back on manual codes. Troublingly, Signals discovers that the computer system had attempted to authenticate on its own before waking the crew.

Solid fuel cylindars are launched from one of the Jovian shipyards to top-off the Leviathan-12 without slowing it down, and the gravity assist occurs without further incident.

It is a couple of years later that Leviathan-12 arrives near its final destination, the Kuiper Belt object 58534 Logos. The crew is defrosted once again and awakes to grim news. Most of the crew is dead in their cryo-chambers, including the captain. More troublingly, some are missing. Perhaps worse, are the innumerable messages that have come in over the radio during the past two years in space.

They are facing a flood of events, and it takes some time to determine the best way to sort (Priority? They are all the highest. Ascending chronology? Too many threads to follow. Descending? The most recent events are too profound and chaotic to parse.) before the magnitude of what has happened can be parsed.

The war has escalated out of control. Earth has been entirely depopulated. Most of the colonies are either destroyed or isolated from communications. There seems to be an ongoing fall of transhumanity at large, and an uncertainty to wither the conflict is still occurring. Days pass drifting in space parsing the news that has found its way to the Leviathan-12 via radio.

There still seems to be a functioning outpost at Logos, however. The commander there says that they have ridden out the catastrophe in secrecy and intend to preserve their safety through continued radio silence until some sort of order emerges. Stoma mercifully neglects to mention that Mendoza has just rendered this a moot point for him.

The outpost still needs their cargo, and can offer air and fuel to the Leviathan. There is not enough capacity on the outpost to house the crew permanently, but after some frustrating negotiations Stoma manages to convince the outpost commander to meet in person on the surface.

Suspicions turn out to be justified when Stoma arrives at the main colony. The commander can not physically meet him, as he claims that he and the rest of the staff no longer have physical bodies – a result of a secret military program to place long-term staff at a small outpost so far from any supply lines. Where would they get food, or air? The program demanded that their minds be disembodied, and they paid a high price in service to their nation.

Stoma reports back to the surviving members of the crew, and after some discussion they are not entirely sure if they buy the story. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew has been battling a nasty computer virus on the ship. There are strong indicators that they are afflicted with some kind of Information Warfare program or virus, possibly picked up over the radio or possibly something to do with the program that NASC had them install before leaving Luna.

It seems like the program may have killed the rest of the crew, and is attempting to bring the ship down to the surface. Doc and Beaker decide that the best thing to do is make sure that they have a few clean, working and electronically isolated cryo-chambers so they can survive the journey back to one of the outer planets.

The Logos commander agrees to help them sterilize some of their cryo-units and re-wire them to be free of any potential viral infection. But when they bring them down to be worked on, they are ambushed by the very machines doing the work. The entire station turns against them.

Mendoza and Stoma lose their heads to maintenance bots and arc-welders that seem intent on harvesting their brains. Doc fights here way to a command and control center, and finds a computer system supporting a number of small tanks filled with human brains – supposedly the brains of the station crew but who can be sure? Doc smashes it all and escapes to the surface.

Back on the Leviathan-12, Wrench and Beaker repel more machines crawling up the docking tower towards their ship. The docking couplings and cargo rails are cut off the Leviathan in the battle, though it’s noting they’ll miss. Wrench is torn apart by drones.

Doc and Beaker are able to meet back aboard the ship, and the two survivors contact a pocket of anarchists with functioning habitats around Saturn. They set course for there, freeze up with the safest cryo tanks they can rig together, and hope for the best.

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