Your Own Personal Unification Day
[Ringo's background has been revised since this episode was completed to account for the changes made in it since we adopted the "Out In The Black" adventure source book from Margaret Weis Productions Ltd. into this campaign.]
THE EX-BLUE SUN AGENTS:
Blue Sun Research Vessel "Jiuxing", Persephone orbit
The three PC's wake simultaneously in their biobeds, each in a separate room. Taking a quick look around they see a standard medical suite with all the accoutrement one would expect. The biobeds they are lying in are unusual, however. A variety of unidentified devices are attached to multiple sensors pasted to their bodies, especially on and around their heads. Most disturbingly there seems to be one rather thick cable in particular jacked directly into a strange plug implanted at the base of their skulls.
As the PC's shake off their grogginess the dermal delivery units mounted on their wrists each cycle, injecting them with some unknown chemical. The PC's move quickly to determine whether or not it is safe to disconnect themselves and decide at last to chance it. They each remove the dermal delivery units from their wrists and snatch away every monitor they can find from their bodies, including the cable plugged into their heads. They have time to sit up, recover from a short period of initial dizziness and get a good look at their surroundings before they suddenly realize they have no idea who or where they are. Each PC gets up from their biobed to check their surroundings, noting (beyond the biobeds themselves) nothing unusual or particularly useful in the room. They themselves are dressed in nothing more than the standard paper hospital gowns and there don't seem to be any of their personal effects in evidence. The only clue to their identities are the simple plastic bands on their wrists (identifying them only as Michael 7, Echo 5 and Sierra 3)
Before they can explore further, however, they experience a tingling sensation in their wrists and are each simultaneously struck by a most vivid series of memories...
THE INDEPENDENCE SOLDIERS:
Ringo Lassiter was born and raised in Frisco, Regina, the son of a prospector. Before the Unification War he inherited a sizeable amount of coin when J.W. McClarrin settled his debt with Ringo's then-deceased father. Ringo promptly dropped the cash into a lucrative share of the newly formed Hornsilver Mining Company, pretty much setting himself up for life. When the War erupted he naturally took up his grand pappy’s customized Grizzly rifle and went off to war. For the last three years he's worked as a sniper with the Colonel Farrimar's Sniper Corps, using his regular periods of down time "in the rear with the gear" to ensure he received his monthly Pascaline-D injection. After the division was disbanded following its staggering losses in the first wave of bombings on Athens, Ringo accepted transfer to Special Operations with a profound sense of relief. Three years of bushwhackin' has worn on him and he's since developed the conviction never to kill again without facing his opponent first.
Angelina Verbena grew up on, no surprise, Verbena. Though most of the inhabitants of her home planet supported Unification, heavy handed Alliance "adjudication" drove her father out of the luxury resort business and financially bankrupt the family. After her father's suicide Angelina joined the Independent movement just two years into the War. A talented surgeon, she had little trouble applying herself successfully in the Medical Corp, though her clumsiness and naiveté did little to aid her advancement. After the initial wave of bombings on Athens she spend the following two weeks alongside her fellow medics elbow deep in wounded and dying young soldiers, an experience which troubles her still. When the position became available in Special Operations she applied and was accepted, though due mainly to prompting by her unit commander who was, frankly, more or less glad to be rid of her.
Isabella Delores Claire was a native of Paquin and the favored daughter of a very wealthy and influential family. When her singular talent for electronic engineering was discovered her father was less than pleased, having always expected she would follow in her family's more cultured interests. When this led to an eventual break with the rest of the family Isabella eventually enrolled in a mediocre technical institute on Beaumonde (the only course she could afford). There she developed a vehemently anti-Alliance political and social view which led to her quick enlistment with the Independent forces when the War broke out. She has served as a demolition specialist with Special Operations almost since its inception, earning the moniker "Iddy Claire" from her teammates. Less than a year ago, however, her entire company was wiped out in a horribly brutal attack by unidentified forces on Hera, with only "Iddy" and her new-found friend "Rink" surviving. Since then she's been more than a little "off her nut" and subject to the occasional screaming fit. But with her technical skills still in demand the Special Operations commander has so far managed to gloss over her odd behavior and stave off the inevitable psychiatric discharge.
In late February, 2511, Ringo Lassiter has suffered some minor complications from his Bowden's Malady and "Iddy" Claire has been railroaded into a psychiatric evaluation. Both are currently at the Triopolis M.A.S.H. Unit with Angelina Verbena (who hasn't even been officially posted with Special Operations yet) and several of the unit's other medical personnel. With the rest of the SpecOps unit out in the field the three of them are hastily assembled when word comes down the pipe of a particular operation requiring immediate resolution.
An Alliance officer of "high interest" to Special Operations, Colonel Sarczech Roush, is believed to have been shot down en route to Athen's orbit by Independent air defense forces. With the crash site located well away from the combat zones a small unit is needed to find the Colonel and bring him in. Just the kind of job Special Operations was made for. As luck would have it there are three SpecOps members currently available at the M.A.S.H. just over the hill from HQ...
After a hasty briefing the PC's are hustled out to a waiting shuttle (after a minor disagreement with the pilot concerning Rink) and are quickly transported into the air near the crash site. There they discover they are expected to mag-glide down to the site, something they've never been trained in. Nonetheless, being the gung-ho heartbreakers and life takers they are, they strap on their floaters and jump ship.
Ringo and Angelina are able to operate the unfamiliar back-mounted floaters effectively and land near one another a hundred yards from the crashed Alliance shuttle. Iddy, on the other hand, is wrestling both her floater and Rink, and lands some two hundreds yards away. Ringo and Angelina are forced to keep the shuttle under surveillance while she makes her way to them. By the time she rejoins them Ringo and Angelina haven't spotted anything unusual around the shuttle, though they do see the many bodies of Alliance soldiers and officers littered among the debris of the crash site. Moving cautiously the PC's approach the main body of the downed craft.
Stopping to check the bodies as they pass, Angelina finds no survivors so far. Approaching the shuttle itself, however, the PC's can clearly hear muffled sounds of movement and weak coughing within. Taking point Ringo moves into the forward section of the shuttle with his Grizzly shouldered. Angelina follows at his flank while Iddy covers the surrounding area outside from cover. Inside the wreckage Ringo spots the gravely wounded Colonel near the cabin section, neatly impaled on a jagged section of the fuselage.
Angelina moves forward to check him out. She quickly identifies his injuries and determines a course of treatment, though his prognosis isn't very hopeful. Angelina decides stabilizing the Colonel and simply guarding the crash site until Independent forces can come in and secure it is the best option. In his current condition any attempt at removing him from the wreckage impaling him is out of the question. She attempts to stabilize the Colonel but her Klutz complication kicks in and she drops the vial of medicine she intends to inject him with, shattering it. Having to rely on secondary medications, which aren't the preferred treatment, she fails her attempt to stabilize the Colonel and he continues to bleed out.
Outside Iddy botches her Alertness check and fails to spot the small group of Alliance soldiers moving in from the north. Taking advantage of her distraction they are able to move within close range of the shuttle wreckage without being spotted and take up positions to cover the opening where Iddy is crouched.
Deciding there's nothing he can do here to help Angelina, Ringo joins Iddy at the edge of the shuttle's open midsection intending to take over and send her to scrounging around the wreckage for intelligence. He fails his Alertness/Perception check as well (spending a Plot Point, even) and doesn't notice the small squad of Alliance soldiers positioned in the surrounding trees. He sends Iddy first to the cargo section of the craft which rests a dozen meters away. The Alliance squad takes the opportunity to open fire on the PC's.
Two of the Alliance soldiers lay down suppressing fire on Ringo's position, though they fail to pin him down. Another fires on him directly and he is hit, though not badly. Iddy, on the other hand, staggers under a hail of auto fire from no less than three of the soldiers and goes down almost instantly. Angelina, busy working on the Colonel, snatches up her assault rifle and runs to take cover with Ringo. She empties her clip on the two purple bellies at their left flank, wounding them both despite her penalties.
With Iddy unconscious and in danger only meters ahead of them the PC's are anxious to end the fight quickly but are badly outnumbered. They decide to stick to their cover at the broken section of the shuttle and return fire as best they can. Two of the Alliance soldiers toss grenades but both deviate beyond the rim of the shuttle, detonating harmlessly. The auto fire from the other soldiers around them, despite their cover, proves quite painful. Judicious use of Plot Points by Angelina and some very nice called shots by Ringo manage to turn the tide, however, and the PC's quickly drop three of the six purple belly bushwhackers.
Deciding it's time to turn the tables Ringo and Angelina both use the last of their Plot Points for a called head shot and a burst of auto fire, respectively, as well as each tossing a grenade at one of the remaining enemy positions. They quickly wipe out those two soldiers. Meanwhile Rink, who initially ran for cover with his tail between his legs (and whom Mary has now dropped a Plot Point on to control for the remainder of the fight), has successfully snuck up on the remaining purple belly. While he lays prone and prepares to reload his weapon Rink rips into the wounded soldier and ends the fight with a called shot to the head. He trots back over the Iddy looking rather pleased with himself.
Angelina is only lightly wounded and hustles immediately over to Iddy. She stabilizes her easily and prepares to operate on her gunshot wounds. Ringo, meanwhile, hustles into the bush to flush out any remaining purple bellies. He soon returns after confirming their assailants are all dead. He checks the bodies and finds no obvious intelligence of note. While Angelina continues operating on Iddy he checks on the Colonel and finds he's died during the battle. He checks the Colonel as well, identifying the written orders he carries containing what appear to be dozens of numeric codes and an odd use of the phrase "The grass is always greener". While digging through the Colonel's gear he finds a well-worn text romance novel titled, "The Grass is Always Greener" and inside the book's cover he finds another hastily scrawled code.
As it appears Angelina is going to be busy tending to Iddy for a while, he calls into HQ to request extraction and the PC's settle in to await their retrieval. No other intelligence is found among the wreckage as Colonel Roush seems to have been the only officer on board the shuttle. Ringo takes up a concealed position atop the shuttle's main fuselage to cover his two teammates until the shuttle arrives.
In short order the Independent shuttle arrives with a squad of hardened infantry. After some brief interaction with the commanding officer the PC's board and are shuttled back to HQ. Once there Angelina and Iddy are transferred over to the M.A.S.H. unit to continue Iddy's treatment. With Angelina's care and taking her Second Wind for the day, Iddy recovers consciousness in the operating room. Waking up in a strange place, surrounded my masked medical personnel after such a traumatic incident evokes a Traumatic Flash in Iddy. She freaks out before the medics can put her under for surgery. The medics are eventually able to restrain her and Angelina manages to administer the anesthetic, but Iddy aggravates her wounds in the struggle and is now even more badly injured than before.
After several hours of surgery and with the support of the M.A.S.H. personnel Angelina is able to stabilize her and successfully treat her injuries. She does, however, manage to fumble and damage a very valuable dermal mender in the process and has the cost of the repairs deducted from her pay.
Ringo, meanwhile, has met with several high ranking officers over at HQ for debriefing. An intelligence officer takes great interest in the code-laden dispatch found on Colonel Roush as well as the cheesy romance novel. In short order he has determined that the strings of numbers presented in the Colonel's secret dispatch are an equidistant letter sequence code, with the romance novel as key. Within hours the officer and his staff have decoded the entire document by hand and find themselves in possession of a veritable cornucopia of intelligence data. The information is quickly waved to upper echelon officers in hopes that Independent forces can take advantage of the intelligence while it's still "hot".
An offhand remark by the intelligence officer gets Ringo's attention, though, in reference to the small string of numbers scrawled on the inside cover of the book itself. Questioning the officer about it he discovers that this particular series of numbers don't seem to translate as anything more than a meaningless string of random letters. Satisfied with the intelligence they already have, though, the officer seems more than willing to disregard this one troublesome number string as irrelevant. Unable to secure the novel from the intelligence officer, Ringo hastily makes note of both the numeric string and the letter series in order to look into it with the other PC's later.
THE EX-BLUE SUN AGENTS:
Blue Sun Research Vessel "Jiuxing", Persephone orbit
Recovering from the disorienting assault of traumatic memory they've just suffered, the PC's take a moment to collect themselves before moving out again. Each of the PC's immediately make for the doors of their individual rooms, having more or less determined that there is nothing of interest there. Each emerges into the hallway outside within seconds of one another and come face to face for the first time.
Meeting one another at last the PC's realize three things simultaneously. First, they seem to have recovered several of the traits from their memories, as well as most of the skill and at least a partial sense of identity. Second, their forearms where the dermal injection units once rested are tingling again, likely signaling another bout of disturbing memory. Third, none of them are the people they clearly remember being. They are, in fact, several years younger than they seem to recall themselves being during the War.
Within seconds they are wracked with very powerful, very vivid memories...
THE YOUNG READERS:
St. Lucy's Hospital, Ariel City, Ariel
Eric Render came to the Thomas Aquinas School for Orphaned Youth at a very early age. His knack for empathizing with others and his unique Reader abilities have led him to a position of trust with most of faculty over the years. He was influential in paving the way for Pamela Yang and Jessica Alphonse to be admitted to the school, in fact, after he encountered them individually and recognized a kindred spirit in each of them. Eric has earned high marks for his acrobatics skill as well as several trophies and awards of recognition. He is currently petitioning the school council to include martial arts as an elective course of study.
Pamela Yang encountered Eric Render during a field trip by his class to her home world of Ariel several years ago. After a brief conversation, in which both youngsters recognized a common trait in one another, she was surprised when social services tracked her down and offered her a chance to attend the school. Over the years Pamela has shown a remarkable talent and keen interest in life sciences and medicine, which has led her to a prestigious position in the school's advanced class alongside Eric Render and Jessica Alphonse, her two best friends.
Jessica Alphonse has always been a troublemaker and, despite Eric efforts to curb her tendency to mischief, has been a bane to most of the faculty of the Thomas Aquinas School since she enrolled. Despite her abundant disciplinary record she's managed to perform well enough in general studies to earn a seat in the advanced class. Nonetheless it's clear to the faculty that Jessie's talents lie in some rather disagreeable areas. Though they are determined to discover a more productive course of study that might pique her interest, she continues to make more trouble than progress.
By December 2517 the three young friends have already cemented a close friendship and continue to perform well in their studies. The three have long since developed the ability to utilize their Reader talents as well as their respectable academic records to their benefit. Most recently they've managed to convince the school council to approve a field trip for the advanced class to tour St. Lucy's Hospital in Ariel City, Ariel (something that Pamela has long desired to do).
En route to Ariel, aboard the passenger ship "Olympic Blue", the PC's come into conflict several times with two of the most recent members of the advanced class. Though quite successful academically Jeremy Relic and Tilly Roberts seem bound and determined to make life miserable for the three youngsters, most likely out of simple jealousy for the respect the faculty seem to show them. While the three PC's have largely ignored the verbal sparring, innuendo and outright insults by the two pests so far, things are clearly beginning to come to a head.
While touring St. Lucy's Hospital with the rest of their classmates, however, Jeremy and Tilly's distain for the PC's takes a nasty turn. When Pamela lingers over a 3D mirror imager the rest of the class moves on down the hall to the next portion of the tour. Eric and Jessica stay behind long enough to drag Pamela away from the fascinating device only to find they've been locked inside the room from the outside! With the rest of class moving away rapidly to their next destination the PC's are frantic to escape the room and catch up to the them before they get themselves in trouble. They immediately suspect Jeremy and Tilly for the situation and expect they're looking forward to making the most of the trouble they're bound to get into.
Pamela checks the key pad on the door and attempts to bypass it without tools. Surprisingly, she pulls it off handily (using a little trick she picked up on the cortex weeks ago) and triumphantly slides the doors open for her friends. After properly expressing their awe at her abilities the PC's move out into the hall...where they are confronted with the Pompous Doctor who is less than pleased to find teenagers wandering around his hospital unattended.
Eric attempts to reason with the Doctor and assure him they are on their way to rendezvous with their class right away. He succeeds, playing up to the Pompous Doctor's apparent need for fawning, though the Doctor insists he'll have security keeping an eye out for them just in case. To Eric and Pamela's horror, however, Jessica takes advantage of the Pompous Doctor's distraction to whip out her PortaPad. On it she sketches and prints a quick "Kick Me!" sign, complete with stick-figure caricature illustrating the procedure, dabs a bit of adhesive on it and casually attaches it to the back of the Doctor's lab coat.
Seeing that Jessie has actually gotten away with her prank, the PC's decide making their exit quickly might be the wisest course of action and leave the Doctor to his business. They immediately realize, though, they have no idea where their class went nor exactly where they themselves are at the moment. Pamela quickly finds a fire escape plan posted on a wall display, pinpointing their current location in the hospital, but there is still the matter of catching up with their class before they're missed. With a quick look around they realize they aren't in sight of anyone at the moment and so they detour rapidly into an empty office off the hall (taking their chances with the security monitors). Pamela links up the office computer and accesses the hospital's unsecured information. From there she hacks the system a bit to trick herself into the security feed monitoring the guest ident-badges. The PC's groan as they realize the class is already a full five floors above them in the infirmary wards. The PC's peruse the layout of the floors between and determine the quickest (and least trafficked) route from here to there.
In the hallway outside, as they attempt to hasten casually toward the elevators, they have a rather strange encounter with a wheelchair bound patient, a young doctor and oddly enough a burly paramedic. While the sight of these three traveling together down the hall isn't particularly unusual for a hospital, the fact that the young lady is obviously a psychiatric patient and her two attendants are clearly very anxious catches the PC's attention. Most interesting, though, is the distinctly disturbing vibe they get from the young lady in the wheelchair, especially when she issues the strange warning, "Play in the street, don't climb up towers - little eyes shouldn't see too far" as they pass. Turning to engage the patient Pamela runs face first into the disturbingly large paramedic's chest and comes under his frightening glare. After a stammered apology, followed by a less than polite "Piss off and mind yer business, kid" from the large paramedic, the PC's decided to move on before they attract attention to themselves.
The PC's board the elevator to the infirmary wards without incident, only to have it stop and pick up a large group of federal marshals on the way. The PC's try to lay low in the elevator full of law enforcement officers, feeling more and more like they're going to be in a rather large amount of trouble if they don't get back to their classmates soon.
To their dismay the apparent officer in charge takes note of them and begins to question them. Speaking honestly they spill the whole story and more or less throw themselves on his mercy. With a frown and a muttered curse he advises them to "double-time it" back to their class before they find themselves escorted off the premises. On further reflection he comms the security office and asks about the class touring the hospital, recommending their tour be cut short and the students be expelled from the hospital. From comments between the marshals the PC's gather something is afoot and that they aren't very comfortable with a gaggle of students wandering about the hospital at the moment. Eric, furthermore, gets the distinct impression that the officer is up to something dishonorable.
Arriving at last at the infirmary wards the PC's immediately locate their class where they stand listening attentively to the tour guide's speech on blood and body fluid precautions. They manage (barely, in Eric's case) to casually blend back into the class without attracting attention, taking some satisfaction in the startled double-take from Jeremy and Tilly.
Enjoying their victory over the mean spirited couple's attempt to get them into trouble the PC's listen closely to the tour guide's speech while pretending to take notes. Passing notes back and forth through their PortaPads the PC's exact their vengeance. Pamela whips together a simple computer virus, which she uploads to Jessica's PortaPad. Jessica, in turn, swipes the teacher PortaPad while Eric distracts her with detailed questions on specific blood-borne pathogens. Using the teacher's override, Jessica transfers a live version of the virus to both Jeremy and Tilly's PortaPads, then skillfully replaces the PortaPad with no one the wiser.
The PC's return to the periphery of the group and soon enjoy the embarrassed fumbling of their two snarky classmates as they try to stop their PortaPads from loudly playing some extensive, but wholly inappropriate, vocabulary.
THE EX-BLUE SUN AGENTS:
Blue Sun Research Vessel "Jiuxing", Persephone orbit
Staggering under their last flashback the PC's immediately realize their true identities as the young orphans they just remembered (as well as regaining some of those skills and traits). Despite this realization the memories of both identities are already beginning to confuse them and they find it difficult to separate one reality from the other.
Putting these things aside for the moment the PC confer and decide to deal with their current situation before considering the implications presented by their conflicting recollections. Unsure even whether they are even in any trouble they decide to move on and explore their surroundings a bit more.
Turning to move down the hallway and explore the place, the PC's are startled by the sight of a frantic nurse rounding the corner at the far end at a dead run. Upon spotting them, however, she screeches to a halt...not to mention screeching in terror as well. Before the PC's can react she's turned about and fled around the corner again. Not wasting any time wondering at her reaction, the PC's are hot on her trail and catch a glimpse of her disappearing through a set of airlock doors around the corner. Through the airlock, down another hallway and around another corner they find catch sight of her again just as she joins a group of over a dozen doctors and nurses...as well as a couple of armed security guards. Though they can't make out her terrified stammering, from the collective gasp from the group as they spot them and the security guards reaching for their weapons it's clear they're seen as a threat.
Michael Seven immediately calls out to the group, trying to assure them of their benevolent intentions. His Things Don't Go Smooth and Leaky Brainpan complications neatly scuttle the attempt, however, and he finds himself quoting some rather disturbing lines from Shakespeare's Hamlet at the group in a less than friendly manner. Echo Five still hasn't noticed the group of terrified medical personnel right in front of her and is looking back and forth at her companions wondering what the heck is wrong with them. Sierra Three, having just recently recalled a very terrifying incident in Independence M.A.S.H. operating room, shrieks in terror when she spies the gaggle of doctors and nurses before her.
With Michael quoting Hamlet at the top of his voice, Echo scratching her head at her friend's behavior and Sierra reduced to babble incoherently, the security guards quickly have them in their sights. They demand that the PC's throw up their hands up and get down on their knees. From the trembling handguns pointed at them the PC's can see the two guards more than a little twitchy...
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