Shadows of Thexd Game

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Setting: AIF Classic™

Referee: RooK

Player(s): Dave - playing a sadistic Groten... medic?

Character: BRUNO

Bruno was a citizen of Dossalth - sort of. Dossalth as a political collective did not require certified identity of citizenship to have full access to public benefits, and Bruno received defender and medic training under the aegis of Dossalthian Volunteer Service. Not being particularly inclined for the rigid oversight of Dossalth Forces, Bruno was much happier working aboard a mercantile freighter. So it was that Bruno was awkwardly already in Thexd space when the Kingdom of Thexd invaded Dossalth.

It needs to be mentioned that nobody expected the invasion. While Thexd was large, their sprawling naval force had no ability to face the concentrated prowess and technological might of the Dossalth Forces. Thexd's long expertise in slave-trading lead them to develop the med-tech ability to force unsuspecting biological beings to temporarily act as agents of Thexd. This undermined many of Dossalth's mighty warships, though notably Thexd was unable to claim either of the Dossalth Forces 1VFS carriers - one scuttled itself by opening its 1-variable fold space inside a small black hole, and the other discovered the vulnerability and escaped.

After the existence of Thexd's "Salt of Obedience" quasi-sentient nanoscopic robots became known publicly, Bruno became important for his ability to maintain the freighter's crew's resistance to overt external control. Especially since the freighter's captain insisted on returning to Dossalth space to assist the Resistance. This forced the freighter's crew through many Thexd checkpoints, and a number of tense experiences with pretending to let SoO force answers in interrogations.

The past few years have been spent mostly waiting around in various queues, occasionally in temporary custody for arbitrary search and seizure of contraband, punctuated with extremely tense moments carrying weapons or Resistance fighters.

Plot 000 - Crash onto Aksaray

Aksaray is a strategically insignificant planet in an economically depressed corner of the Kingdom of Thexd. It has no significant manufacturing, nor any precious resources to export, and is located too out of the way to facilitate trade. This means that it has no significant military presence. And by being in an uncontested region inside the Kingdom of Thexd, Aksaray can be visited from many locations without much risk of running into a Thexd checkpoint. Which makes it a great location for the ghost network of smugglers to buffer transactions.


Except that this past run for the freighter had it run afoul of a rare Thexd military patrol. Luckily, patrols in this portion of space are not front-line troops. Unluckily, the freighter was unarmed, and was only able to avoid being blasted into glowing chunks by ramming the patrol ship. The freighter was badly damaged, but could still maintain some limited mobility. Worse, the battle was impossible to miss from Aksaray, and more daunting military response was certain.

Instead of being hunted down and killed all together, the captain decides to dump the crew in the main city - Rageltsac - and set the freighter to fly itself over the sea and overload its fusion generators.

Captain Barnstable: "Well, we're fucked. The people on this planet aren't fond of Thexd, so it should be easy enough to blend in. Stay in groups of 3 or less. Lose all the Dossalth tech and clothes. If you run into the police, play dumb and don't make a fuss - be nobody interesting or troublesome. Look for opportunities to get off planet, but watch out for scams - most of the people Thexd pull offworld from here become property. Don't be slaves."

First Mate Shohada: 'Any questions?"

"I can play dumb. Everyone expects a Groten to be dumb. I have a feeling not being troublesome might be difficult."

I look over whatever gear I have and shed anything that might be interpreted as Dosslath. Hopefully I'm able to keep a med kit or pack. I have a feeling there will be those among the crew that want to go with the medic, so I wait and see if anyone suggests a team-up.

First Mate Shohada flicks a look up at Bruno. "Yeah, it probably goes extra for you. Problem Grotens are too dangerous for local police to take into custody - they'll just shoot you. Keep in mind that you get less slack than most beings. Brodki - you're a total coward. Stick with Little Bruno and help him not get shot by police or picked up by Thexd military."

Brodki is a TaArbori, and he gives a full-body nod to the Reptiloid First Mate. As Brodki deftly progresses along the ceiling, it occurs to Bruno that this suggested pairing might be more about finding somebody big and duck-capable enough for Brodki to ride on instead of being left behind.

Every single scrap of Bruno's gear screams Dossalth construction - even the personal med kit. He's going to be naked. It's pretty much the conclusion that everybody is coming to as well, and piles of discarded gear form around the edges of the central hall.

Captain Barnstable: "OK kiddiewinkles - we've got a Thexd fighter inbound, so landing isn't an option. We're going to slow down and swoop over the harbour. You'll have a 3-second window to jump before we punch it up to combat speed. This is your 10-second warning!"

The rear bay door cranes open and the internal comm system broadcasts a countdown to the jump zone, and a countdown to the jump to hypersonic.

10 - 9 - 8...
The crew share a mix of worried and grim looks and make their way to the hurricane howl of the open hatch, carefully gripping as they go.

I grin at Brodki. "Climb on Brody. And hold on tight."

Then I wait until about the 2 count, hold on to Brodki with one hand incase he's not able to hold on, and leap out with a 'Geronimoooooooooooooo!'.

Brodki is acrobatic and strong, and even Bruno has a grudging sense of respect for the apparent robustness of his grip.

When the moment of jump comes, the enormousness of the feat is a bit staggering. Bruno is among the demographic that have a willpower gut-check that fail out of hand. And queasy second of the jump window passes and over half of the crew are rooted to the spot.

Then Captain Barnstable yells a commanding "JUMP! NOW!". This is in turn also outside of Bruno's willpower league, which counters the jump fear, leaving Bruno able to pick which irresistible drive to not resist - and he leaps clear of the freighter with a brave battle cry. Falling into the water takes a horrifying eternity. Groten physiology is thankfully more than adequate to face the instantaneous pressure of water surface tension. Others fare less well, and Bruno watches some others hit the surface with painful-sounding SMACKs - but is certain that nobody is in mortal trouble. Sadistic chuckles escape Bruno at the pain that must have inflicted.

A few unfortunate crew mates had sufficient willpower to resist the Captain's command, but flubbed the first and second jump checks. They find themselves tumbling quite far through the air when they finally manage to hurl themselves out. The energy of their impacts, and the distance they'll have to swim make their fates more difficult.

But Bruno doesn't get to observe that directly, as his dense physiology overwhelms his paddling and he slips underwater and sinks to the bottom. But this is unsurprising to Bruno; it's just how swimming goes for a Groten. And Bruno's been living on a spaceship during war time, and has pretty much always got his personal oxygen supply kept with an extra 10-minute buffer. And that is plenty of time to underwater jog to <2.8m water depth. Turns out that Brodki can't swim either, but he's just as nonplussed by a brief submarine jog-ride.

The first thing that strikes Bruno when he strides out of the lagoon is the sheer number of people. There is a lot of people. There are crowds everywhere. Even the shallows are veritably teeming with people. Hiding in the crowd will not be a problem. Hiding from the crowd would be essentially impossible.

Does anyone pay any much attention to the Groten/Taarbori emerging from the water? Regardless, I stride into the crowd and wander in a random direction away from the water. Plan is to get a feel for the general area, and look for bars.

Does Brodki have any useful skills?

Also, how well armed is the typical person in the crowds?

A towering Groten is hard to not pay attention to, especially for a crowd of beings with a mean stamina in the single digits. This is particularly true for beings in the Groten's trajectory. All movement is movement through crowds of people. Bruno accomplishes this somewhat more easily than most, because most beings get out of his way for fear of being crushed (most - some are oblivious, some are obstinate). What Bruno cannot do readily is move through the crowd stealthily. To succeed in not being noticed prevents people from getting out of the way of the nigh-intermediate-scale biped. The inverse of that is that Bruno would have no difficulty moving through a crowd at whim, but the inevitable crushing of people would be far from stealthy.

The local architecture is... motley. It's a continuous favela draped over the bones of what was an elegant city. Which makes for a a hell of a lot of places to hide, since literally every square meter is some sort of habitation. However, it poses a unique problem for locomotion - there are no direct routes anywhere. Buildings are also not laid out with any predictability, making differentiation difficult. In fact, at first glance, Bruno sees nothing other than habitations by the way of structures.

Brodki functioned on the freighter as a low-level technician, and he can be seen unconsciously coiling one tentacle to rub at the blank spot where a tool kit used to be. He also is known to have a somewhat violent history, but the specifics are not known to Bruno.

95% of the typical population is totally unarmed. The other 5% range from walking sticks to pocket knives.

Well, this is going to be annoying. "Brodki, you were probably looking at the sensors when we flew over. How far does this habitat extend? Can we get to a less densely populated area?"

I continue walking, and keep an eye out for anyone with tools or medical gear.

Extremely annoying. Also annoying: the only etheric data network is explicitly Kingdom of Thexd supplied, and it requires identification and live telemetry to access. So: no maps, no search functions, no anonymous comms. As Bruno is grumbling about that additional deficiency, he does note that there is a rather large amount of unencrypted line-of-sight metadata being shared. He quickly pings that it's an ad-hoc locality-based social network - and that he can use it help move through the crowd by unobtrusively pinging people in his path and suggesting they nudge their vector a bit. A little unnerving, but Bruno also realizes that a lot of people are noticing him and sharing their points of view of him via this social network - often annotated with "wow that fellow is big", or "This almost stepped on me!", or "Big for a Groten with no slave collar."

Brodki: "Actually, I was pretty distracted with trying to patch the hull after that impact. But, as I recall, this habitat covers pretty much all of the peninsula, with the slave pens overlooking Rageltsac from the mountains.

Bruno does spot people with various implements, but they're all crude physical artifacts for specific purposes. Entire rooms full of such gear is required to approximate the effectiveness of a tool kit or med kit. But that's all they have, that can be seen.

A flare of awareness ripples through the social web: people spot police hover vehicles heading towards the lagoon.

Well, let's see just how good a place to hide this is. I find a habitat that seems big enough for me, and if its not locked or anything I go inside and hide.

Clearly, god has failed to convey the degree of population density that Bruno is swimming through. There are not only no empty habitats, but they are all brimming with occupants. As soon as Bruno starts moving through the crowd toward a doorway, it alarms the crowd of residents that are immediately proximal. The local social web flares with worried POV of a towering Groten bearing down on a doorway. Unless he's willing to crush people, Bruno will not make it to the doorway before it is belligerently blocked by a knot of people demanding to know what he wants. Confused and frightened whispers ask the question of last resort: Do we call the police?

Brodki [encrypted]: "Whoa there, big fella. No need to panic the locals. Let's just head down one of the gaps between some of the taller habitats; that should be sufficiently invisible from above."

Brodki [to the angry residents]: "Sorry! My fault! We got confused, and thought we were somewhere else. Apologies."

The local social web is replete with admonitions to be more careful with such huge feet.

I make an effort to put on a confused dumb Groten face, then I head towards the taller buildings as Brodki indicated.

"It would be bad if I accidently crushed someone wouldn't it? I so like the feeling of entrails between my toes. Sigh. Any ideas for a plan? I think we should just wander for a few hours, and then look for opportunities to barter your technician skills for tools. Even crude tools are better than nothing and I can carry a lot. And then after a while you can also barter 'your' medic skills. No one will believe it's me at first, but once we establish a trade I can take over. You being the skilled one, and me being your bodyguard/steed seems like a good cover."

Let's just assume that all discourse with Brodki is conducted via encrypted tightbeam.

Brodki: "Sure, that's reasonable. Though I don't think you demonstrating medic ability would be a bad thing - a stupid Groten is more of a worry than a reasonable Groten."

Heading down the irregular canyon between haphazardly stacked habitats does make observability from afar extremely difficult. Wading through the people gets slightly easier back here, too, as there are fewer 0-stage beings obliviously in the way. While Bruno carefully shambles down the depths of the alley, there is a surge in police-awareness echoing from the end of the alley - various shared images of a police hover vehicle. In response, all the social webs either go dark or pointedly don't look at anybody's face or only just re-share images of the police.

Good assumption. :)

That's cool. We also make sure we follow the trend and not transmit anything. Continue down the alley.

"Yeah, I suppose you're right. I wonder where all these people came from. Seems an awful way to live, being crammed in this peninsula, waiting to be harvested as slaves. At least that's what I'm assuming happens a lot of the time. I guess we'll find out sooner or later."

Brodki: "Yeah, they don't have slave pens for no reason, that's for sure. Do you think people get slavamized against their consent? Or do you think... what's up big guy?"

Bruno has slowed down as he noticed something odd. An extremely improbable number of people have gradually entered a domicile that appears to be a comfortable-looking closet. That and the Crocaloid lingering most prominently beside the closet has that glower-at-every-person-who-passes manner of an ill-at-ease bouncer.

Brodki: "Bar."

I hail the bouncer. "Excuse me sir. I was wondering if the establishment you're guarding is a members only type of place, or if it's open to passerby's that happen to notice it's existence."

[god rolls dice]

The Crocaloid-who-is-probably-a-bouncer snaps his attention subtly at Bruno (and, by extension, Brodki). "Thank the stars - a being with actual manners! No, fine sir, there are no qualifications required for admittance to the establishment within... sadly. Anyone with cognition of its existence is permitted entry - as is the Good Old Aksaray Way: this was a free planet. I am at liberty to hassle any whom I feel would be problematic for the operation and continued existence of the establishment, but mostly that is a matter of sussing undercover police officers - which you are most clearly not. Please, by all means, you and your companion should reside a while and strike up a conversation with the janitor."

The Crocaloid-who-is-definitely-a-bouncer gestures a sweeping welcome, much to the puzzled annoyance of the local residents who refract an array of social-web comments "Grumpy Lizard can not-frown?!?!", "What just happened with Asshole Bouncer Guy?", "Everybody needs to take a break from glowering sometimes?".

Brodki [to the Crocaloid]: "Thank you for your gracious hospitality."

Sure enough, at the back of the comfy-looking closet, behind some heavy drapery, is a steep passage downward with only ultraviolet lighting. Bruno needs to slouch to avoid scraping his head along the sloped ceiling as it transitions from quick-fab ceramic matrix to tooled stonework. The obligatory over-bright vestibule at the bottom is around a double-back passage, and opens into what was once a decadent set of baths. Now drained of water, they are instead filled with tables and stools. Two of the four un-pools are teeming with people. A third is popular, but with actual personal space between individuals. A fourth has a single occupant: a Halamite. The bar proper is in what was probably the towel area. Service appears to be mostly handled by an array of force beams in the lofty ceiling.

Brodki: "Funky."

I head casually towards the bar proper. If this is a free drink establishment I order an ultralargebeer.

Brodki: "Well, this is promising. I'm going to just hang. Up to you if you want to look for technician customers. Regardless, I think we should hang out here for a few hours until the police give up their search. Or until someone tries to kill us, whichever comes first. Fortunately we have nothing to steal."

As the Halamite obviously wants to be left alone, I head towards the third bath and see if there are any seats that can support my mass.

Brodki: "I think that, based on how novel our circumstances, just siting and observing for a while makes a lot of sense."

The self-service section of the bar proper is a relatively short line, which feels somewhat miraculous given the general continuous sea of people. Nevertheless, the ubiquitous short-range social-web clarifies who is indeed waiting in line, and there turn out to not be that many. Basic food and drink are free, and as a remaining shred of civilization that includes simple beer of any portable volume. So it is with an immense mug of beer that Bruno turns down the stairs into the third pool.

As soon as Bruno sets a huge calloused foot on the first step down there is an instant charge of excitement in the air. A significant population of the Third Pool glance at Bruno and Brodki obviously, and it feels like a good bet that the rest flicked passive sensors in their direction too. This causes Bruno to pause for a fractional moment.

But nobody does anything overt, and most of the Third Pool denizens cease staring so obviously. Though the Third Pool social-web does seem to still figure heavily in discreet glances of Bruno and Brodki - shared threat-assessment style. Bruno continues to a table by the edge of the pool. There are no chairs that look guaranteed to support his mass, but the edge of the pool has a stone ledge that should suit well for the purpose.

Brodki gracefully moves himself from Bruno's shoulder and into a chair at the table. He sets his frothing Volcanic™ crucible on the table and takes a test sip. "Oooh, that's horrible. All acid and hardly any venom. How's the beer?"

The beer is also pretty terrible - probably diluted and a bit on the flavourless side.

Brodki: "It's possible that we're in the wrong section, demographically-speaking. But I'm willing to guess that they're making an exception because you're huge and terrifying."

As I'm sitting there I check everyone out to see if there's any evidence of patch use.


The demographic in the Third Pool are all sporting scars consistent with un-prettified patch use. And, indeed, there is one table consistently not included in the social web has one Crocaloid furtively using a med kit.


I watch him work. Does he appear to have any medic skill with it?

The operative aspect of the use of the med being 'furtive', so it is difficult to have a clear view of what exactly is going on. What Bruno can tell, however, is that the being is on track to increase its stamina by 3. This could be a lack of skill, or this could be some extremely primitive equipment, or this could just be bad luck.

Regardless, a few people in the Third Pool notice Bruno's attention. The local social web flickers with annoyance - "What's that thing looking at?", "Subtle much?", "Big walking rug has big nose."

Brodki's tentacles smoothly flex and grip on the table. It takes Bruno a beat to recognize this as a TaArbori startle-flinch. Brodki addes an image of a glistening puddle to the secure comm. "A rather immense Colloidling appears to have extruded out of some plumbing without anybody noticing...!" A flick of passive sensors in that direction, and - yes indeed - that does appear to be a larger-than average puddle of sentient slime.

I contribute to the social web:
"Don't do subtle very well."
"Just checking for fellow medics."
"Who's this janitor the bouncer mentioned?"

Brodki: "I'm guessing that's the janitor. Probably expecting a possible fight."

The Colloidling hoists a sensor-clustered pseudopod above its central mass, to give it a better look around. Then it tight-beams Bruno. "Pardon me, large sir, but may I inquire as to what sort of medic you are? It is presumptuous to ask, to be certain, but I suspect that you may not realize the controversy of the topic."

The rest of the Third Pool denizens seem nonplussed about the presence of the triple-sized Colloidling, and indeed the social web seems to self-consciously edit it out.

I include Brodki on the conversation with the Colloidling.

"Just a first stage medic, but kind of useless without tools."

Colloidling: "Your relative level of skill of interest, to be sure, but what I mostly wanted to know how you came to have these skills. The simple old Aksaray hospitals aren't what they used to be, so it is rare to see medical professionals from those. Most medics are property of the slaver operations, or otherwise complicit. And, of course, the very finest medics are Thexd-trained."

Brodki: "Is that just obsequiousness, or is there actually something distinguishing about Thexd medics?"

Colloidling: "Oh, it is very much a truth. Thexd-trained medics have extra bonuses, and Thexd medical equipment is especially effective. Though many in this pool would not be happy to hear anything like praise of Thexd."

2017.10.26 - A Taste Of The Locals

  • Underground Bath Bar
    • Informative chat with gigantic Colloidling - got secret resistance comm connection.
    • Police officer waddles in looking for suspected resistance.
    • Goons decide to harrass B & B.
      • Turns out that Brodki is an assassin, and has a laser weapon hidden in his giant mouth.
      • Bruno kills one goon by throwing it like a rag doll into one of the fleeing goons.
      • Bruno accidentally squishes a bystander - police get called.
    • Fleeing the UBB, Bruno manages to blunder directly into the police unit called to investigate.
  • Prison
    • Bruno gets picked up by the police, and decides to not resist arrest.
      • Brodki sneaks away... slowly.
    • In prison, Bruno meets a couple interesting individuals:
      • FM "Fresh Meat" - Vega Lizard quasi-slave
      • AMF "Angry Motherfucker" - Massetin pilot/psychopath
    • AMF suggest a plan to infiltrate a slaver operation and get off planet.
  • Ecker Slavers
    • From prison, Bruno applied to work for Ecker as a combination medic and "people handler".
    • Ecker offered to pay 10 credits per day, up to 100 credits per operation, get Bruno released from jail, and be open to employing Bruno's colleagues.
    • But they want to interview Bruno in person first.

Plot 001 - Slavey McSlave Face

Things are processed quickly, and Bruno is released and standing on the roof landing pad within 20 minutes. A shuttle flares in to land, and a door slides open to reveal a capacious and comfortable interior. It is currently occupied by one smiling Reptiloid.

"Hello Mr. Bruno! I am Zeep, and I'll direct you to your interview to join Ecker Group."

"Hello Zeep. Thanks for the ride." I get into the shuttle.

Zeep hides his nervousness well enough, using all the skills of a disposable middle-manager. While the shuttle sweeps its hatch silently closed and whisks through an effortless inertially-isolated launch, Zeep offers Bruno an entirely-too-small container of a good off-world beer. The shuttle whips past the nominal "slaver buildings" on the mountaintop, and Bruno gets to see that they're mostly mansions and expansive compounds with parks inside, almost resort-like. The other side of the mountains taper down to some industrial farming, which in turn gives way to a sprawling strip mine on the edge of a desert. Here the shuttle banks sharply downward, toward a well-lit compound at the edge of the strip mine and the desert. As the shuttle lands, Bruno guesses that the mine is mostly inactive, and this building has been repurposed by the Kingdom of Thexd - based on the loud insignia imprinted on it.

The shuttle drops inside of a well-lit bay, which is clean but industrial in feel. A delegation of two Reptiloids in business suits and three large goon-class servants in "ECKER" jumpsuits welcome Bruno out of the shuttle.

Zeep: "This is where we'll be giving you a quick aptitude test, and will discuss career options." Gestures to the lead suit.

Lead Suit [Harsh Thexd accent]: "Please follow us to the examination room." The suits lead Bruno back through some corridors that are designated as the "Ecker Wing", with Zeep following encouragingly, and the three probably-slaves coming respectfully last. The examination room is a medical bay. Not just any medical bay - it's beast of an advanced surgery with some exceptionally impressive gear.

Sprawled on the main medical unit are the vital organs of some poor bastard, who appears to be quietly missing them quite a lot.

Everybody looks at Bruno, to see what he does.

It would be hilarious if Bruno also had a stage of Artist-Chef and got confused as to which skill he was to demonstrate.

Bruno gets to work. I think he'll try to use as many of the pieces of gear as he can to get a feel for them as he's putting the poor slave back together. He also pays attention to evidence of slave juice and tries to learn how it interacts with the slave's mind. Finally, he tampers the pigmentation of the slave's skin/fur/whatever so that it has a large target on it's chest.

More specific applied use of the equipment cements its fearsome capabilities, technically (7D+7), but Bruno finds much of the underlying mechanism and the control system to be sub-par. At least - compared to Dossalth-built equipment.

Re-assembling the poor bastard starts of simply enough, though Bruno determines that this is not a slave - just a highly-tampered victim. And wide awake. It's not long into the procedure that Bruno discovers the first conundrum: this being is not technically complete. When pondering what to make of that, Bruno is aware enough to also recognize that several organs have been tampered to have lethal repercussions. Given the frightening tamper possibilities of the operating theatre, Bruno determines that the corrupted organs can be used as fodder for creating a medical bypass - with the liberal addition of nanoscopic robots, of course. Let's assume that Bruno decides to do that, and manages to be successful. At the end, the being is complete and viable - albeit still tampered to be paralyzed and now sporting an artistic target on its chest.

The two non-lead suits step up and make a closer inspection of Bruno's work. Clearly communicating in a closed network conversation, the Lead Suit develops a smug look. "A basically-competent first stage medic. Probably with combat-triage type training, considering the mode to directly proceed with making the subject functional without obtaining consent or asking for guidance. Also did not attempt to perform a slavamization, which suggests reasonable restraint and not over-eagre to impress. We would be willing to train, if so desired."

With that, the Lead Suit appears to consider the evaluation complete and marches out of the room with the other two suits in tow.

Zeep: "OK, that went well enough. Your demonstrated initiative to do what was obviously necessary is key, as well as the patience with the slavamization. And, well, you obviously know enough to function most basic requirements. So, we probably don't have to waste your potential in the maintenance infirmary. Which means we have two options - if you're interested. Option 1 is placement with the Presentation Team in the Sales Arena. That is a high-visibility position, with opportunities to develop industry contacts. Option 2 is to work an internship with a Thexd Enforcement team. This would probably let you earn a stage of Thexd-Medic, and certify you with some of the tactical gear. What do you think?"

"I don't think I'm suited for sales. And earning a stage of Thexd-Medic is intriguing. I would probably lean towards option two. However, I was hoping to also procure employment for two other individuals - a technician and a pilot. The technician I've known for some time and is trustworthy. The pilot, I just met, but as he led me to you I feel I owe him one."

Zeep appears to approve of Bruno's stated career path preference, for whatever that's worth. "Indeed, we would need to interview the individuals in question, of course, and determine what positions would be suitable. Give us their contact information, and we'll set up the next steps. Meanwhile, is there anything that you need fetched for you? You can officially start up with the TET immediately, as this is where their base of operations is."

Bruno follows Zeep out of the operating theatre and is lead to a well-appointed vestibule after walking down a corridor featuring a seemingly-unnecessary number of bulkhead doors. The jumpsuited probably-slaves also come along, and wordlessly head to some cabinets and start collecting some gear. They assemble a small pile and present it demurely to Bruno. It includes an Ecker medic uniform suited for a lanky Groten, a Thexd med pack (2D+2), a satchel communicator, a 1D blaster of blunt military design, and 10 Ecker slave-capable patches.

Zeep: "We're waiting for <checks a random article on wikipedia> your mentor: Gorna. She's a Sandarak medic for Thexd that you'll be working with."

I give him the comm number of AMF. "I'll have to go get my technician friend. He likes to keep off of the Thexd network."

"While we are waiting, can you fill me in on some specifics of the job? Tasks I'd be required to perform? Where will I live? How many hours a day of free time will I have. Will I have use of any of the slaves myself?"

Zeep stretches out a patient "aren't you adorable" smile. "The specifics of a Thexd Enforcement team medical intern deployment are best summed up as high-intensity medical training in a variety of tactical settings. When not on active duty, you can stay in the base's barracks. Or, if you have a place to stay in Rageltsac that you'd prefer, we might be able to arrange transport. Free time is typically allocated as six hours of recovery time after active duty debrief, followed by up to ten hours of being on-call. Active duty, once engaged, lasts as long as the mission lasts."

"Unfortunately, we do need all Ecker employees to be using valid Thexd certified identification. So it is not acceptable for you to just show up with some random person; in fact, you are explicitly required to not bring unauthorized personnel to any Ecker facility."

Then Zeep placidly agreeable expression fractures for a moment. "Apparently this Ay-Emef person you have recommended is a suspected serial killer, and has been certified as mentally unstable. What were you proposing that this being do?"

"Ha. Yeah AMF seemed the type. I told him I would put in a good word for him, and now I have, so my debt is cleared. If you choose to ignore him, that's not my issue."

I guess I'll have to go find Brodki on my first recovery time. :)

A fierce-looking Sandarak in Thexd combat fatigues stalks into the Ecker waiting area, and immediately looks completely out of place. The comfy chairs of varying scales, tastefully appointed decoration, and hide-all-the-functions detailing are straight out of some utopian planet office block. The armoured-and-shielded combatant with a moderately huge blaster and ready-for-shit stance would be more appropriate on some crater-strewn hellhole. After a brief glance to determine both of your threat levels, she pauses to look way, way up into Bruno's eyes.

"Holy zarking mother of zark, they gave us a huge meat shield this time. Are you really able to train as a medic?"

Zeep: "I presume that you've already been given the evaluation by-"

"Yeah, yeah. Words. From a person's brain. Better indication is the indignant flare of the nostril but not roaring and trying to rip off my arm, so this could be a smart-enough Groten after all."

Zeep looks at Bruno: "Gorna is misrepresenting your function with the term 'meat shield'. Your safety will be paramount."

Gorna gives a sour chuckle. "Yeah, about as much as the rest of us, anyway. You do what I say, and listen to what I mean, and we'll make a proper combat medic of you." Gorna extends a hand by way of greeting, possibly with intent to clasp appendages and oscillate them in that creepy manner proliferated by the Confederation eons ago.

I raise an eyebrow at the hand, then shake it. Careful not to squeeze too hard. "Sound good. When do you propose we begin?"

Before Bruno can worry about squeezing too hard, a tentacle-like appendage flicks out from Gorna's palm and tampers an interface with Bruno's huge palm. There's a tamper check competition, but Gorna figuratively crushes Bruno's ability to defend, and quickly finds himself paralyzed (and with his feet gripped to the floor, so that he doesn't topple over).

Gorna proceeds to communicate directly with Bruno via the physical connection. "Ah, well, I guess that's the first lesson: Medics can be scary."

Zeep appears somewhat discomfited. "What are you doing? I demand that you treat this member of Ecker Group with all due respect, and release him!"

Gorna [out loud]: "If he's sufficiently unhappy, he'll probably have plenty of opportunity to rip one or more of limbs off. But if I'm going to let a creature - that can tear me in half with its bare hands - watch my back in combat settings, I really want to know some fundamental things about it. So relax; we're talking."

Gorna [secure]: "The fact that I could even attempt that tells me that you're not Thexd-native or slaver-trained. So I'm guessing that you're Dossalth diaspora. And, you know what? Fine. I don't zarking care. But I know you probably do, so let me tell you this - I won't mention it to anyone."

"Regardless of what happens next, what you should do after that is take one of those slave-capable patches and slavamize yourself - to yourself. That will allow you to create defensive architecture that would need to be systematically breached before your root nanoscopic robots can be tampered directly. Since you're probably Dossalthian, this will seem like a horrific idea, because 'slave=bad'. Well, lesson two is this: stop thinking about biological beings as having some correct default state. That corners you into the assumption that nanoscopic robots are primarily servants of their meat-host. This leaves the massively influential population of nanoscopic robots as a slave population ripe for coercion. Start thinking of beings as cooperating populations of cells, bacteria, and nanoscopic robots. Let the so-called slavamization act as your own internal constitution to ensure your collective core principles are always followed."

A flicker of unease creases the Sandarak's eyes. "OK, what's next is I release you. We can either bow respectfully to each other and head out to deploy together, or we can throw down and make a fuss. In three... two... one..."

Gorna takes a step back from Bruno with the alien-looking med-pack tentacle extending to maintain contact. Then she releases the paralysis, and the tentacle zips back to Gorna's arm. Both Gorna and Zeep watch Bruno carefully.

2017.11.02 - Semi-Accidental Organ Removals

  • Bruno meets Thexd Enforcement Team he'll be working with:
    • eenie
    • meenie
    • miney
    • moe sargeant
  • applies slavamization to self
    • high level of access/intervention
      • stay conscious
      • tamper resistant
      • enhanced calm
  • deploy = get the slave theives
    • wave of slaves
    • one herboven gets slapped --> very messy spray of vitals and crushing death of 3 others
  • deploy = domestic disturbance
    • external spleen action

Plot 002 - Insert Funny Subtitle Here

The rest of the on-call period passes without any further active deployments, and the team wraps up their FPS game (Team Wolfenstein 36) and trudges out of the ready area to make way for the fresh team that rolls in looking less than entirely eagre.

Moe: "Hey Tall Idiot, you did good for a first day. Of course, the bar is 'not dying', but even so. You coming to crash with us in the barracks, or do you want to ping that slaver suit to arrange for a lift back to the teeming masses?"

One day I'm going to bite off Moe's head for calling me an idiot.

"Nah, I'm going to go visit the teeming masses for a bit. Maybe next time."

I ping Zeep: "Hey Zeep. Can I get a ride back to Rageltsac?"

I look for a locker or something where I can store some of my stuff.

Moe has 64 stamina, so biting off his head might require some gnawing.

Moe: "OK big fella. Remember you need to be back here in 5.8 hours. Ping us if there's any delay, so that we don't have to come looking for you."

Zeep: "All right. A shuttle will land in the operations bay in 3 minutes to give you a lift."

There are plenty of lockers of varying sizes available. All of them look very rugged and industrial. What does Bruno want to leave behind? Besides the "ECKER GROUP" slaver smock, I mean.

As promised, a shuttle rapidly decelerates over the bay and drop down for an artless landing in the corner of the bay. It's intermediate scale, probably about 200 years old but well-maintained. The pilot pings Bruno, opens the big doors, and asks where he wants to be flown to.

I was mostly thinking of the medical uniform. I'll leave it behind and just use my cloak.

I send the pilot the coordinates of where I was picked up by the police. "I want to end up there, but how about you drop me off somewhere within a kilometer of that spot. Somewhere where it's wouldn't be too noticeable that a ship flew in and dropped off a Groten.

The slave pilot hears and obeys. The shuttle flies low over the favela, and drops Bruno off on a rooftop that is slightly less crowded. Bruno does have to remember to warn people via the short-range social web to get out of the way, due to the cluelessness of 0-stage people.

A careful stroll through the crowds later, Bruno comes to the scene of his arrest.

Ok, I indicate via the social network that I'm looking for a Ta-arbori. I'll keep broadcasting that as I go. I'm going to slowly and carefully head towards the bar. Not planning to go in, just want to chat with the bouncer.

The social web bounces back mostly unhelpful quips. "Maybe he doesn't want to be found." "Why is a shaggy monster trying to eat a TaArbori?" "What the zark is a TaArbori?"

Once Bruno turns into the narrow alley that the Underground Bath Bar hides in, The social web once again grows somewhat more reticent. Shouldering through... er, I guess it's more like hip-nudging through the crowds, Bruno makes his way deep enough in to catch sight of the bouncer Crocaloid.

He also appears to have noticed Bruno. "Well, hello there O ye mighty squisher of patrons."

"Yeah, sorry 'bout that. I overestimated the patron's intelligence. So, remember the weird looking tentacle dude I was with? We got separated when the cops caught me. He might have come back here. Have you seen him?"

The crocaloid bouncer arches an eyebrow ridge. "Indeed, we do not filter our clientele based on intellect, and I do not think that we should reserve judgment based on cognitive prowess alone. What we do judge are people's actions, particularly the casual murder of innocents. Defending one's self against non-innocent actors is entirely different - lauded even. But even though we cater to a rougher crowd, because this is a somewhat rough neighbourhood, we are still fundamentally a neighbourhood bar. People living around here don't have much, but what they do have is family."

He sends Bruno a location. "Go and make things right with that family, and we'll help you."

"I think you're using 'casual murder' incorrectly. That implies intent. 'Accidental impact' would be more appropriate. But whatever."

I wander off. I'll keep wandering for next 5 hours. Hopefully Brodki will hear that I'm about and come find me. Otherwise I'll call for a ride back to the barracks.

The Bouncer narrows his eyes, and beckons Bruno to approach. Let’s assume that Bruno is sufficiently curious and beguiled by the Bouncer’s manner. Once within reach, the Bouncer establishes secure contact.

“Even tightbeams can be read, so I was trying to slow the mathematicians from gleaning too much. Your partner is at that location. You’ll have to hurry, now that we’ve had this quiet conversation.”

Doh. Ok, I thank the bouncer and start heading to the location. Start occasionally checking to see if I'm being followed.

It's hard to imagine a nearly-three-meter-tall monster moving stealthily through a dense crowd, but there is draped laundry and awnings and guy wires that help obscure Bruno. Unfortunately, this also makes it virtually impossible to determine if he is being followed. He wends his way extremely inefficiently through the favela, because there is no direct or logical path anywhere. Eventually he comes to a blind canyon of crappy construction that roughly approximate the coordinates that the Bouncer indicated.

"Hey man, what happened?" It's a tightbeam of Brodki's voice from an entirely-too-sophisticated communications pin hidden on a pole with excellent line-of-sight.

"Brodki! I'm pleased you're safe. I spent some time in jail, met some interesting characters. So, um, it's been hinted at me that tight-beam communications aren't that secure. So, either we meet up, or we be careful what we say. Whatdayathink?"

Brodki: “Yeah. Heard that you were bought by some Slavers who contract with Thexd. So I think we’ll just keep this a remote conversation for now.”

"Yeah, don't blame you. I haven't been turned into a slave, but if I had, I would probably be ordered to lie about it to trap you, so completely understand if you want to stay away. I've gotten myself a job with one of the slaver guilds. I'm hoping I can save up enough money to get a ride off this rock one day. But in the mean time, their medic skills are amazing. Going to try to learn all I can."

"So are you safe? I'd offer to help, but I'm not sure how. I could probably get you a job at the same guild I did if you're interested."

Brodki: "So you're saying that you work for slavers, but are not a slave. I think I can admit that's possible. However, you are objectively very different in mannerisms, like you've got something editing your expression. Which, I have to say, seems pretty slave-y to me."

[awkward pause]

"What the hell kind of job does one do for a Slaver, anyway. Isn't that just 'associate slaver asshole', by definition? Or perhaps 'junior slaver asshole'? 'Apprentice slaver asshole'? Can't say I'm super-stoked by any of those titles."

[another awkward pause]

"So, yeah - I'm OK. I wish there was some way you could prove that you're not slavamized - ironically, considering that you were the one who we counted on for knowing this stuff. If there's anything you need built? I bought a shitty tool kit, and used it to build a proper tool kit."

"Not built, but maybe examined. They gave me a satchel communicator. Is there any way to tell if it's set up to record everything I say and relay it back to my employers?"

Brodki cautiously emerges from hiding, from a location only a TaArbori or sedated Takolee could hide in. He swings along the upper edge of the structures with elegant dignity - above the crowd, to maintain a thousand-meter-stare on Bruno. He gesticulates for Bruno to put down the satchel communicator and back away. After slapping the hand of an inquisitive passer-by, Brodki hoists it up for inspection. He then promptly lapses his glowering to inspect the satchel.

"Wow. This was made by a bunch of children. I mean, yeah, it'll work just fine. But just barely. And look how clunky this thing is. It's got this huge ruggedized case to make up for the fragility of the inner construction. And they need all this space to make up for their apparent inability to optimize components. Oh, wow - the user interface. They might as well have physical buttons with no markings. Still, it could be deceptive and some sophisticated override firmware could be buried in the buffer or something..." He starts pulling out fistfuls of electronics and connections, then pulls an efficient-looking artisanal communicator-sensor out of a satchel. He modifies his own handiwork in some esoteric way, then installs it in the satchel communicator.

"There. All the processing is now done by my controller. And now you should be able to seamlessly and securely patch into the satchel from anywhere within its range. I've uploaded my local node to obscure my position." He places another comm-bug on top of the satchel. "If you want to keep your actual location more obscured, use this relay in a daisychain."

"That's awesome. Thank you. If you ever need help from a medic, let me know.

Brodki: "I'm stranded on a planet run by slavers deep in Thexd territory. I can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to need a medic - if only to avoid being tampered. Luckily, being a first-stage Dossalth technician appears to have significant advantages over the clumsy junk they build here. If you're not slavamized, you could probably use my help, too."

2017.11.10 - Thexd Enforcment Team Destroyed

  • finish meet with Brodki
  • back to the barracks
    • horrific Thexd medic training - reassembling interrogation victim
    • discovers interrogation victim was a crew member
  • early summons for the Thexd Enforcement Team
    • spooky dead stuff
      • eenie - dies in shuttle
      • meenie - assassinated / bleeds out
      • miney - NOT QUITE DEAD YET!
      • moe - assassinated / revived / killed anyway
      • gorna - toasted
    • leaves SALT trap
    • first shuttle immolates
    • escapes on second shuttle

Plot 003 - Failure Of Foreshadowing Title

The Thexd combat shuttle pilot: "Are you two all that survived? Is the rest of the team taking control of the bridge? Because the short-range fighters are having a rough time with a new ship that has shown up - and either we need to fire up this freighter to get it back to cover of port or we need to bug out."

Miney: "Crap. Bug out, the rest of the team were taken out by some well-equipped Resistance. Not sure what's on that freighter, but we need to get back to base and report it to the Royal Navy so that they can intercept whatever they have going on in that thing."

"Yes, bug out now!"

Bruno contemplates to Miney: "So, a team boards a freighter and disappears, and Thexd command decides to send a force of exactly the same strength to the same situation. I'm no tactical genius, but that seems dumb in hindsight."

The shuttle turns back towards Aksaray and the engines groan with acceleration.

Miney: "We're in the middle of nowhere that matters! Anybody from the main Thexd military that's here is because of zarking up somewhere else and being sent where there's just petty shit that doesn't matter!. What the hell are Resistance fighters doing way out here‽ The only thing of value out here are the slave traders, and the Resistance don't give a zark about slaves!" Miney is clearly upset. He pulls off the remains of his helmet and fling it hard at the opposite wall and gives a reptilian scream of frustration and loss.

After some uncomfortable moments of the ship trembling as it skips along just sub-relativistic, the shuttle pilot pings the back. "We've cleared the EM jamming, in touch with base now. They're not sending any more fighters, but are calling Royal Command for assistance. Maybe a cruiser is near enough to help out."

"Well, let's get back to base as soon as possible."

As soon as we're within 10K of Rageltsac I'm going to use the satchel communicator to send a brief message to Zeep, letting him know what happened. At the same time I'm going to send a similar message to Brodki.

Shuttle pilot: "OK mister intern! I'll just do the thing that I've been doing, just as you instructed!"

Miney: "Lay off. He saved my life back there; he's earned some respect. Plus, I'm in no condition to stop him if he decides to rip his way into the cockpit and tear your arms off."

Silence from the pilot.

Zeep: "That sounds traumatic, and explains the arrival of the reserve troops at the base. Do you think that you'll want some counseling?"

Brodki: "Dude, pretty intense."

The rest of the flight back to Aksaray is over in a few minutes, with the slowest part being the need to wend through the thin ship traffic around the planet. Even though there aren't many hoppers or ships altogether, there is no set patterns of travel which means that it's every ship for itself. Most vessels are mindful of keeping open comms and transmitting their vectors, but some assholes don't. Ironically, it makes them stick out even though they might be trying to be secretive about their path.

In the operations bay of the Thexd base, Bruno sees two squads of Thexd soldiers he's not seen at the base before. One looks rumpled and out of sorts, sitting awkwardly in the "ready" area - probably a reserve unit unaccustomed to active duty. The other unit looks intimidating. They have an air of professionalism and capability Bruno has not observed in the Thexd troops he's seen on Aksaray so far. This second Scary Squad is arrayed around a Human in Thexd officer's garb. He gesticulates to Miney, who in turn tells Bruno to follow.

Miney: "Come on, time to debrief with the REMF."

During the trip, I use my ample supply of patches to heal up Miney and myself.

I follow Miney over to REMF. I'll let him do most of the talking and let myself be viewed as the lackey I am.

So it is that Miney and Bruno are in good physical condition for the interrogation debriefing. The Thexd officer never introduces himself. He first demands a download of the team's battlewiki and all relevant metadata, which Miney provides. The REMF doesn't waste time asking about observations or operations, since that's all obvious from the download. He is, however, relentless about demanding explanations for all the things the team didn't accomplish. Like secure the first shuttle, and lock it up or set to fly out and get controlled by the second shuttle (Bruno is unsure if they have that capability). Like why they didn't breach the bridge directly to establish control of the freighter first (a decision made above both Miney's and Bruno's authority). Like why they didn't expect that sending in the same-strength force would be just as futile as the first (derp derp derp).

Miney does not seem cowed by the experience, which seems odd. Perhaps because he just saw all his friends killed and this is nothing in comparison. Perhaps because he knows that all the major strategic failures are actually the officer's responsibility, and that all the fuss is defensiveness.

Eventually the REMF halts the painfully-overdone debrief. "All right. Corporal Miney, you are dismissed. The rest of this active cycle and the following rest cycle are free for recuperation." Miney salutes, and takes a step back. He eyes Bruno, and does not leave. Perhaps expecting to accompany him back to the barracks. The REMF becomes impatient. "You are dismissed, Corporal. I wish to speak with Intern Bruno for a moment. Alone." Except, not alone, because Scary Squad is still arrayed about the debriefing room in a menacingly effective tactical manner. Miney gives Bruno a nod, and leaves.

The REMF crosses his arms and looks up at Bruno in a gesture of demonstrating a lack of being intimidated. "Intern. You displayed commendable capability in action, even successfully using the SoO, despite not yet completing a stage of Thexd medic. Very impressive, for a Groten. We find ourselves short of combat medics. Would you consider taking a commission? We would be able to complete your training immediately, instead of having to wait for finding a new Enforcement Team medic to mentor you."

"Interesting. I'm quite eager to finish my training, but considering what I just went through, being in the Thexd military might cut my lifespan short considerably. I have a question. If I accept, will I continue to be stuck on Aksaray, or will there be opportunities to leave this world for other posts?"

The officer visibly squirms at the question. "Yes, the enlistment would technically allow transfer, based on qualifications and available opportunities. However the hope is that you would serve a tour of duty here on Aksaray, where we have a shortage of qualified personnel. It's not like your current arrangement with... whichever local slaver organization you are contracted to... is going to have you operate elsewhere anyway."

He abruptly turns and starts marching out of the debriefing room. "Think about it. You have until the beginning of the next active duty cycle to decide." Members from Scary Squad dart out the door first, then the rest filter out after the REMF. The Scary Squad medic gives Bruno a dismissive glance before he leaves.

I shrug and head into the barracks. I say on the squad's battle wiki to Miney: "He asked me to enlist. How long does a tour of duty last?"

Miney: "There's, uh, no set term. My contract said something about 10 months, but the fine print allowed for extensions as needed. Apparently a lot of extensions have been needed. Not that that's a problem, it's sort of my career now anyway."

Faint screams come from the direction of the medical section.

Zeep pings Bruno: "Let me know if you need anything. I heard that you're off duty early this cycle because of the inicident."

Brodki [encrypted]: "Psst. Reminder, you should bring me one of those funky Thexd combat med packs."

Zeep: "Any slaves I can borrow for medical practice?"

Brodki: "Noted."

I wander the barracks until I find any kind of equipment storage. If there's no obvious guards or security I'll grab another med pack. I'll wear it so that the extension is usable by my other arm. If anyone asks why I have two, I'll say it's so that if one arm is occupied, I can tamper with the other one too.

Also, I head near the medical section to see what the screaming is all about.

Zeep: "Possibly. For medical practice, does this mean that you are considering ending the Thexd internship?"

The equipment storage is actually well-labeled on the base network. The room unlocks as Bruno approaches after it pings his ID. Metadata tags on the various lockers show which ones Bruno can access. Pulling out another Thexd tactical med pack is easily accomplished. The network then adds one med pack to Bruno's online inventory check-out.

As Bruno heads toward the medical section, a couple professional soldiers guard the entrance. They project an aura of disallowance.

One on the left: "This section is closed during interrogation."

One on the right: "Scram, tall furry moron."

Muffled screaming vaguely-familiar voice: "aaaaAAAAAAAAGGG!"

Zeep: "My trainer was killed. So either I wait for a new one, or accept their offer to enlist."

Guards: "Hmmm... as part of my medical training, it would help to be able to observe the interrogation. Is there a sensor feed I could have access to? That way I can watch without bothering anyone."

Zeep: "They asked you to enlist? That's a clear violation of our cooperation arrangement. Pardon me while I escalate this incident to management, and see if we can use it to forestall their delaying tactic."

Guard on the right: "You? Medical training? Haw haw haw! I'm surprised you can even say 'medical'. Can you believe this tower of shaggy stupidity?"

The guard on the left suddenly gets a pained expression. "Hold on a moment." He and the guard on the right are obviously participating in some dynamic communication.

Presently, the Reptiloid in a suit that evaluated Bruno's medical skills when he first arrived on the base stalks out and eyes Bruno. "Follow me. Let's see what you've learned so far, and what is left for your contractually-agreed upon stage of Thexd Medic." As Bruno is compelled to follow him into the medical section, he notices that the screaming appears to have paused. The Lead Suit is joined by his Assistant Suit, and they take Bruno into room with high-fidelity neurological linking equipment. "It will be fastest to conduct this final evaluation and training in virtual reality. Please connect to the test apparatus."

The connection procedure is pretty standard, and soon Bruno finds himself in a rather convincing simulation of himself standing on an infinite featureless surface. He is soon joined by the Lead Suit, except that for some reason the Lead Suit felt it appropriate to have himself be 6 meters tall. A series of different species and tasks are then presented to Bruno. The Lead Suit is harsh and implacable, and schools Bruno on the ways of physical modification and combat stimulation he hadn't considered before.

And then it's done. Bruno can tell because the simulation ends, the Lead Suit says, "You are done." The Assistant Suit walks Bruno out of the medical section, carefully keeping him from seeing anything interesting.

One stage of Thexd Medic:

  • +4 Stamina
  • +1D+1 Heal
  • +1D+1 Tamper
  • +1 Duck
  • +1 Hide

Zeep: "Well, that was intense. I've finished my training. What now?"

With my new found skills, I reapply a slave patch to myself with the same parameters as before.

Zeep: "Ah, so they decided to forestall the breach of contract by accelerating the training. Excellent. This means that any further participation with the Thexd Enforcement Team is voluntary on your part. Ecker Group will support your continuing to assist, as that was the original intent of the agreement. However, if you wish to change assignment, that is also possible. We do not currently have anything queued up for you to transfer into, so there's no rush for you to decide. I believe that the next cycle of active duty for you is not for another 7 hours. Do you plan on staying at the base, or would you like transport to somewhere else?"

The updated slave patch goes without a hitch.

"I'd like to get transport to Regeltsac."

Assuming I get a ride, I let Brodki know I'm coming. I'll get dropped off the same place as last time.

Bada-bing, bada-boom. Transport to Rageltsac is arranged and accomplished in a manner essentially identical to before.

This time when Bruno heads to the rendezvous location, Brodki pings him directly instead of from hiding. "Some checking on the whole slavamize yourself thing turns out to be widely understood among medical specialists. Still creep as zark, but it at least makes sense. And I see you've brought a spare Thexd freak-pack - excellent. Hand it over so that I can work some magic."

Assuming that Bruno hands over the Thexd tactical med pack, Brodki pulls some heavy robotic coils out of hiding and starts creating something plainly Frankensteinian.

"Um, should also mention that I think another member of the crew was captured. I could hear an interrogation happening and the voice sounded familiar."

"If you're interested, I can slavamize you. You'd have root access to your protocols, so you'd still be in full control. And it would make it difficult for a medic to tamper you or someone else to slavamize you. I'm not sure, but it should protect you from the SoO too. I'd have root access as well, but I promise not to make you do anything too demeaning."

Brodki: "Another crew member? Zark. How are they getting pinched? Are you suggesting that this slavamizing voodoo would make me resistant to interrogation? Or that interrogation would somehow be less demeaning that the stuff you would make me do."

With a flourish, Brodki presents his creation. "Here you go - try that on." He's created a Groten-sized version of the Thexd tactical med pack tentacle. "It's intermediate scale, and can handle your full strength. It's got 5 meters of reach, and now sports arrays of grip pads. And it's got all the creepy creepy medical robotic cilia action of the original, for transferring patches and smaller doses of nanoscopic robots. Plus I've upgraded the user interface so that you can use combat bonuses with it. ...not that you have any, as far as I know. I call it the 'BAD MOTHER FUCKER med pack'."

"Sweet! Thanks Brodki. Can't wait to try it on someone. The slavamazation wouldn't make you resistant to the type of interrogation I was hearing. It would just make you resistant to tampering, salt of obedience, or slavamazation."

Brodki: "Right. I'll consider it. Meanwhile, have you considered the many benefits of becoming an Assassin?"

"Assassin? That doesn't seem like a good fit for me. With this BMF med pack, I would have thought Striker or Aggressor in hand to hand would be useful. That way I'd have a bonus attacking with it. If I hit with it, it wouldn't matter how much damage I do, because the intent would be the tamper. If I wanted to inflict large amounts of damage, I'd just punch them."

btw - Custom occupations?

Brodki squints with confusion, like Bruno is missing the obvious awesomeness of Assassins. "But, you're a medic. If you're busy flailing around as an Aggressor or Striker, everybody will know to stay away from you. As a sneaky sneaky Assassin, you can be healing and saving team members - all the while acquiring a huge bonus to hit. And you don't need to get placement for your tampering! You could even do it sneakily, so that they don't know what's happening." Clearly he has strong feelings about this.

Custom occupations seem appropriate. Go for it.

I shall called it 'Puppeteer'

  • 3 to 5 to Hit (Hand-2-Hand)
  • 1 to 2 to Duck
  • +1D Bio-Tamper
  • 2D Stamina

Nice. Just 1 more experience point away from seeing how that works out.

Where to next?

I head back to the barracks via my ride. When I get there I hail Miney.

"Yo. Want to do some combat training? I'm just shy of my next combat stage, plus it might release some stress."

The return trip happens as before, uneventfully.

Miney: "Well, there's at least three things impeed... impede... impair... making that plan not work out. Firstly, I'm drunk, an' I don't wanna. Secondly, god is an asshole. I mean, not to paint too critical a picture of an omnipotent being, but that fucker just killed off all my friends - and almost made me a smear - just to further some half-baked plot idea about contriving a mechanism for accelerating the main character's training as well as ratcheting up the drama for him as a green combatant stuck in a virtual slaughter. Have you met him? Asshole. And, as an asshole, there's no way in zark that god is going to let a player-character earn their final point of experience in a combat occupation with plot-inflicted utterly non-lethal training with a non-player-character whose entire spreadsheet existence consists of 2x5 cells of shorthand - one of which is 'uses stim patches from combat medic for bonus to hit'. And third, I'm reeeeeeally drunk, and think I'm communing with god. Which is profou... profoun... important enough to mention the drinking twice. Also all my friends all just died, and nobody cared that I was sitting in the middle of our barracks with all their stuff all by myself drinking and crying. So I don't wanna. That can be number four, too, even though I kinda said it already, too."

Ok then... one thing I want to try is to convert a regular patch into a slaver patch.

Interesting idea. It probably takes more nanoscopic robots than the usual patch carries, so at least 3 regular patches needed to make one slaver patch. I guess the question is whether a stage of mathematician is required.

It seems feasible that the control architecture would be present in generalized biological nanoscopic robots required to make slavamization happen. However, my imagining is that without the input of competent biologists and mathematicians it would be of the crudest sort, essentially guaranteed to get in the way of all higher-order cognitive processes. At best such a slavamization would prevent a being from earning any more stages and give them a very flat affect. At worst, well, vegetablization is possible even with more sophisticated slavamization if the subject resists. But that eventuality is probably more likely with a crude slavamization attempt.

The main differentiations being the level of sophisticated conceptualization possible by the nanoscopic robots themselves. In their basic form, they're just computers running present routines - so they would need to trigger the subject's own brain to think about what they're thinking about to evaluate what they're thinking about doing. A lot of cognitive overhead for a being. More sophisticated "slavamization" nanoscopic robots are networked to be able to semi-intelligently filter most cognitions themselves, only needing to co-opt brain cells for tricky evaluations. All the way up to the vaunted Salt Of Obedience which is itself sentient, and has no need to cooperate with the host brain at all to evaluate its nerve impulses.

2017.11.16 - Oh. Well, Shit.

  • chilling back at the base
    • canitar orbodun sargeant
    • human red shirt
    • 4 croc major combat slaves
    • runs into FM delivering combat slaves
      • contracted by Coolmunda Slavers
  • deployed to Rageltsac
    • shit - they're after Brodki
    • aaand, Captain Barnstable's here
      • canitar decommisioned / guarded by slaves
      • red shirt snatched / tampered / squished
      • police is not cooperative

Plot 004 - Whatever Is Possible Before Requiring Combat Rounds

The aero shuttle pilot pings Bruno. "I have no protocols for this eventuality. Should I call for assistance?"

"No, not necessary. We're going to take the prisoners to base. Start flying back, but at regular speed. We don't want to attract attention."

wiki: "Brodki, have you gained control of the craft yet?"

I use my satchel and try to hail AMF.

Brodki rolls one huge brown eye at Bruno, then makes a gesture. The pilot has just enough time to say "Huh?" before he is ejected from the pilot console. Except that the ejection mechanism appears to have malfunctioned - in that the pilot seat, with it's array of inertial dampers and parachutes and hover units is still in the ship, while the pilot arcs out over the city at sufficient speed to deposit him several kilometers away.

Captain Barnstable: "That was foolish, he'll inform the base before he hits the ground."

Brodki: "I don't think he will."

Captain Barnstable: "Because he's a slave and wasn't given commands specifically to? That's not a gamble I'm happy with."

Brodki: "He was a slave? No, I electrocuted him, too."

Captain Barnstable: "Uh, OK then. I'm wondering if we might confiscate that police cruiser, too."

Brodki: "The police cruiser would not make sense for approaching a Thexd base - unless it's near the police station. Is it near the police station? The information on this planet is stupid."

Captain Barnstable: "I'm not convinced that attempting to penetrate a military installation is in our grasp at this time. We might do better to try to steal a ship from some slavers."

2017.11.24 - And Now For Something Completely Different

  • ping AMF
  • head to Ecker Group
    • applies +2 stims
    • Captain Barnstable
    • Brodki
  • pick up AMF
  • commandeer a BRICC - Basic Rectilinear Interstellar Confederation Carrier
    • Carenum
    • inspected by a long range fighter from NOT Aksaray
  • pirate station Bruno and Brodki
    • heals a combatant for information
      • Thexd worried about Resistance
    • Yiptaks 3
    • orbodun bounty sniper
    • Thexd Troopers ID unavailable…

Plot 005 - Don't Look Behind The Curtain

Shit, what was the name of that space station again?

Also: What do you think about taking over explicit control of Brodki?


occupations:technician 2
assassin 2
bonuses:fix/tamper +2D+2
assassinate +8
duck +5
hide +4
manoeuvre:1 (swim)
hand-to-hand: 1
mass: 50 kg
length:1.2 m

2017.11.30 - Making Friends

I think the Felinid likes me.

  • pirate station Lizant
    • bottom bar
      • medic + technician meta tag
      • scary equidon
      • odd-looking-aliens VS reptiloids
      • sells gun to bar patron - pause to fit for bonus
      • evil the cat
      • 4 reptiloids - ambush

Plot 006 - There will be plot

Bruno takes the unconscious Reptiloids somewhere secluded and practices his medic ability, while also practicing a new art form that's all the range - Reptiloid Origami.

Meanwhile, Brodki will check local networks to see if there's a source of Dynomer anywhere.

The publicly available schematics to the station do not indicate where other beings are, so seclusion has to be sought out. The crowds seem to be thickest between the main bays and the core businesses. The habitat and industrial sections have more sporadic occupation. Bruno observes some smaller being slinking into ventilation and service ducts, perhaps for seclusion, but those are too tight a squeeze to be suitable. The industrial sections seem to have a higher level of security, so Bruno and Brodki naturally drift to a residence section. Eventually, they find a quiet-enough corridor.

Brodki quickly determines that there is no raw Dynomer available; everything is reclaimed equipment.

Ah well, we'll have to start seeing what we can build from the gear of the foes we vanquish. After Bruno gets bored with his artistic expression, we dump the Reptiloids and head back to the pilot's bar. See if anyone interesting has shown up.

Bruno and Brodki get pinged by Captain Barnstable via a secure channel. "I've been catching snippets of your exploits, you two. It gave me an idea. Head to [station address] to meet with a gunsmith named Zapoteca - the shop is named after him. He'll work up some decent fake ID's for both of you, members of 'BS Consulting'. We now are nominally technical contractors, specializing in both medical and mechanical consulting of a tactical nature. It's pretty much the perfect excuse to be anywhere strange. I've already been in touch with Zapoteca, and have everything arranged - except for coded scans of you guys and what your new names are. If Zapoteca tries to squeeze extra money out of you, politely refuse. It's both unnecessary and likely a catch for some other angle he's working. But whatever you do, don't piss him off."

Brodki mutters just to Bruno. "That doesn't sound ominous at all."

2017.12.07 - Socializing With Blobs And Cannibals

  • off to see Zapoteca
    • to get ID's for BS Consulting
    • new names
      • Bruno --> GRINGO
      • Brodki --> GEWOG
  • upper bar so that AMF can drink
    • abort - too many reptiloids
  • lower bar so that AMF can drink and cause trouble
    • human - eaten
    • OPA - tampered unconscious
  • delivery mission
    • pick up cargo from unsavory robot
    • awareness twinges lead to change of plans
    • arrive at bay full of scary robots
    • unpleasant evil-the-cat appearance

Plot 007 - License To Kill

Safely aboard the Carenem, Captain Barnstable has Bruno artistically locate the crate in hold #3.

Captain Barnstable: "So, our next step is to stop by the big industrial bay and pick up 99 more crates - except with plain old work robot parts. Plus we need to dump the missiles."

Brodki: "Dump the missiles? That seems like a waste."

Captain Barnstable: "For the same reason that we're stocking up on droid parts - we need to get through a Thexd checkpoint. And, unlike patrols in the ass-end of nowhere, bribing those officials takes some major piles of credits and have a much higher likelihood of being lethal if you run across a non-bribable official. So we need to hide our contraband amongst similar components, and we can't be having ship-scale weapons hiding in the closet."

Brodki: "No, I figured we were doing something like that when you mentioned getting more crates. It's just that I can disassemble the missiles into indistinguishable parts. It'll take time to put them back together again, if we ever do, but it'll be a hell of a lot faster than making them from scratch if we need them."

"Ah. Let's do that then. Perhaps while we're underway. There's some modifications to the ship that we could use you making while we've got Bruno lugging crates."

While Bruno's not-inconsiderable raw power is used for hefting crates within reach of the Carenem's internal force beams (which in turn are directed by AMF), Captain Barnstable has Brodki disassemble the internal separations between the internal bays and has him install some ship scale shields instead - to make the interior volume more adaptable. Now the four individual 4-chassis-point bays can also be configured into two flat 8-cp levels, or two tall 8-cp compartments, or one yawning 16-cp contiguous hold.

The Carenem eases away from Lizant station and joins the general flow of traffic, and slips into the near-perfect anonymity of a well-travelled space lane.

While underway, Brodki is also instructed to install a black market Thexd transponder. The original transponder for the BRICC having the dual problems of identifying the Carenem as stolen and having been discreetly disintegrated before departing Aksaray.

Captain: "Can you confirm that this transponder is for the correct configuration of craft? I'm not confident of the source, but there weren't many options."

Brodki: "Nope. It's all arbitrary, relying on a remote Thexd registry that is functionally inaccessible to us."

Captain: "Grand. Bruno, -er Gringo - can you prep us for possible interrogation resistance?"