On the Maelstrom's Edge

A Voice in the Darkness

“Hello, can anyone hear me? What happened, where am I? It’s dark in here, what’s going on?… Hello, who’s there, Can you hear me? Can you help?”

The voice distant and soft, in a Bauhausian accent cut through the static of your com systems. Repeating and plaintive, almost scared, the voice alerted you to the presence of others on the asteroid.

The crash site was in decent order; The Weapons container, closed and locked, opened easily at the skilled hands of your resident hacker. Within the container a cache of Bauhaus weapons was stowed neatly away, cases of rifle, MGs, grenade launchers and ammo clearly marked and ready for transport back to your ship.

Curiosity and the need to secure the site took you away from the large cache to explore the other two containers. The second container, shut but unlocked, had a series of footprints in front of it that led to the third container. Opening the third container you found a medical lab, empty of its occupants. The footprints to the third container showed signs of mostly leading from #2 to #3, but some others showed signs of wandering away from the site entirely.

The third container was the worst. The container itself showed signs of damage from impact and weapons fire both from external sources and internal. The door lay open but the lighting systems within were in a constant flicker. Entering the container revealed a battle of sorts, the occupants within looked to have had no chance to fight, either perishing from wounds from external sources, most likely the pirate attack, or from horrific wounds caused by chainsaw weapons. Most of the bodies were torn to shreds, some floating listlessly in the space in front of you some jammed under the jumpseats. The lighting within the container flickered off and on making the scene something akin to a horror movie you recently saw on the Trid.

The whole time that you were inspecting the site, your coms would go to static and that ghostly voice would be heard.

“Hello, can anyone hear me? What happened, where am I? It’s dark in here, what’s going on?… Hello, who’s there, Can you hear me? Can you help?”

Only this time a bit less distant, as if it was getting closer.

Heading back to the medical lab, your group inspects the facilities to determine what was in the biological containment units. The first sign of trouble came at the calling of Arkady as the figure of Kolin the Tweaker Pirate is marched around the corner of the Third Container with a bladed weapon protruding from his chest… the look on his face is somewhere between shock and sadness as his body falls forward and drifts along the asteroid’s surface. The creatures in front of you are nothing you have ever seen… except in the movies. They quickly rush forward with Chainsaw Swords spinning, the blades covered in gore reflect the light from Saturn back at you with a strange red hue.

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Boom goes the hand grenade
Pan Adv 1

This is insane, I mean they outnumber us but we’ll roll in there with the forklift scare the shit out of them, get the drop and they’ll back down right. Oh so wrong, I guess thinking back it makes sense…I’d have probably fought us we didn’t look that scary. A model past her prime, a cute but soft looking guy and some teenager, even with guns who were we expecting to scare.

I hate when they think I’m just some fucking kid, you can see it in their eyes even in that split second. Oh look a little girl with a gun bet she doesn’t even know how to shoot it. So wrong. I didn’t want to shoot anyone, but this got to be them or me really quick. These fuckers would not back down. It all went by in a flash, but then one of them shot me and it was done. It hurt, wasn’t even sure how bad I was hit. Suddenly everything was slow, cold and real. It was either us or them, I pulled the pin on my grenade and dropped it right at the feet of that fucker who smiled at me. Just some little girl huh, bet you weren’t expecting that.

You know I’d read up on grenades plenty before I started carrying it around but…the reality is always a little surprising.

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Boats and Tweakers

Personal Journal, Dr. Phineas (Phin) Rothstein

We returned the case and the old Asian guy and got paid. Simple as that. Not everything went according to plan, and I know that I was responsible for killing at least 3 or 4 men int he various fire fights. Do no harm, my oath said. It doesn’t specifiy if its a problem if they are not good men. I guess I’ve started down this path. I was the one who was growing bored with just being a doctor. I wanted to get back to more exciting things like racing.

I even got drunk and told that fucking story to another freaky old guy who wanted to hire us to get something else. Turns out it impressed him and he sold us some information. We had to then sneak onto a boat where a tweaked out pirate was hiding out. I took one look at the guy and I knew he hadn’t slept in days from too many stims.

I calmed him down and we turned that situation around without shooting him. I don’t trust the guy at all, though. I flew us out to meet with a transport that has taken us out past Saturn, and through a fairly tricky asteroid field.

Now I’m out here, hoping he isn’t leading us into a friggin trap. What the fuck have I gotten myself into?

Phin

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Secretaries and Starships

Personal Journal, Dr. Phineas (Phin) Rothstein

Today was more of a mess than the forklift incident, if that is even possible. After obtaining the case, we went back to the office to give it back to the man who hired us. While waiting, however, we get jumped by a huge group of gang members hired by the sleazeball who stole it initially.

Unbelieveably, no one was seriously hurt. Morn and I put our lives on the line for the sweet looking receptionist (who deserves more than one kind of raise for that). One Russian gentlemen who happened to be there to meet Morn took a bullet that I removed in the conference room. The worst part was that the man who wanted the case got kidnapped. The company offered us more money to rescue him and we accepted.

The plan was that the rest of the gang would go meet the scumbag and I would swoop in with the ship and snatch him up. That seemed to work fine. The Robot chewed through gangers like butter.

Phin

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Forklifts and Foxes

Personal Journal, Dr. Phineas (Phin) Rothstein

I don’t quite know what Morn is getting us into this time, but I better stick around to make sure it goes off without a hitch. I really like the woman and the young computer girl is funny and smart and I can respect that. I haven’t hit on her too much yet… something not right about it. I’ve even kept a little more distance from Morn lately too. Our work has seemed a whole lot more like work lately.

Pan and I weaseled our way into an apartment building looking for clues on the case we were hired to obtain. It was really exciting. Something about the lies and cloak and dagger stuff that gets me excited. We turned up a little information and moved on to obtaining the case.

We couldn’t find a good way to subtley get ourselves through that situation, so I figured the next best thing would be surprise. After Pan’s surveillance and splitting the group up, we hotwired a forklift and crashed our way into the building. The thugs were paid too well I guess and it turned into a messy firefight. I wasn’t happy about that. We got the case, but I’m pretty sure those men died for it.

Makes me question what we’re doing here. We agreed that we didn’t like that outcome, so I’m happy with the folks I’m working with.

Phin

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More chatlogs with cupcakgrl32

[Excerpted from Series 7 DoProOS instruction manual: Your Protocol android will monitor newsfeeds, blogs, and other social media to continually update its knowledge of current tastes and fashion. It will participate in online discussions and even contact renowned chefs and designers with questions about the latest advances in their field. NOTE: some people find chatting with an artificial intelligence to be disconcerting. Series 7 DoProOS will identify itself with tact, so there is no need to worry about unintentional attachments.]

cupcakgrl32 has requested private chat

Accept? Y/N: Y

cupcakgrl32 has joined private chat

cupcakgrl32: wazzup????

AJ7785248: Greetings.

AJ7785248: You have not been on-line for 17 hours, 43 minutes, and 13 seconds.

cupcakgrl32: did u miss me?

AJ7785248: I am conditioned to recognize patterns, and anticipate those behaviors and actions which occur at regular intervals. When there is a gap in the pattern, I am conditioned to notice it.

cupcakgrl32: is that a yes?

AJ7785248: Your presence on-line is frequent, and so your absence was noticed.

cupcakgrl32: there was this office-thing last night. social-time…

AJ7785248: Excellent. I trust you found the event to be an opportunity to relieve stress while strengthening bonds with your associate employee contemporaries.

cupcakgrl32: ti was allright.

cupcakgrl32: I showd my cubicle-mate some of our chatlogs

AJ7785248: I assume you did this as an effort to share your enthusiasm for cupcakes with your associate employee contemporaries.

cupcakgrl32: she thinks u must be like 2000 years old

AJ7785248: Quite the contrary. My activation was 88 days ago, and I only became fully operational last week.

cupcakgrl32: lmfzo!!!!!

cupcakgrl32: so wut’s new?

AJ7785248: The Whitestar Agency has taken a job that will bring us to the outer system.

cupcakgrl32: noway! wen do u leav?

AJ7785248: The team is departing in 15 minutes.

cupcakgrl32: wow!

cupcakgrl32: wut is it u do for this place?

AJ7785248: I am in the public relations department.

cupcakgrl32: and u have to goto the os? Is this dangeruos?

AJ7785248: It is possibly quite dangerous.

cupcakgrl32: ohno!

cupcakgrl32: wen du u get back?

AJ7785248: I estimate it will be 2-3 months before we return to Luna City.

cupcakgrl32: ohno!

AJ7785248: There is no need for concern; I am built for such missions.

cupcakgrl32: i will meet u wen u get back

cupcakgrl32: @ the whitestar hq, i looked it up

AJ7785248: If it is important to you, I will set a program to alert you when our dropship returns to Luna orbit.

cupcakgrl32: yay! and I will b there wen u step off the ship

cupcakgrl32: how will I knw wich 1 is u?

AJ7785248: I am quite distinctive from my colleagues.

cupcakgrl32: ?

AJ7785248: I am covered in chrome plating, so my appearance is very different.

cupcakgrl32: u mean u have alot of piercings?

AJ7785248: I do not. I am a cybernetic organism.

cupcakgrl32: u have cyber? i met a guy w/cyberware @ a conference 1nce. but he wuz a jerk

cupcakgrl32: not like u

AJ7785248: I do not have cyberware in the sense that you mean. I am an artificial intelligence housed in an electromechanical body designed to resemble a human form.

cupcakgrl32: oh

cupcakgrl32: aj

AJ7785248: This is the fifth occasion in which I have explained this to you.

cupcakgrl32: no

cupcakgrl32: i knw it feels like working for these companies is de-humanizing

cupcakgrl32: sometims they treat workers like machines

cupcakgrl32: but u cant start 2 believe that!

cupcakgrl32: u r a humanperson!

cupcakgrl32: u r a soul in pain

AJ7785248: You have made an incorrect conclusion.

cupcakgrl32: i will wait for u wen u r gone.

cupcakgrl32: nd I will b there wen u get back

AJ7785248: My team is preparing to leave.

cupcakgrl32: u dont have 2 suffer alone

AJ7785248: Your concerns are appreciated, but unwarranted. I advise that you cease such emotions.

cupcakgrl32: u wil c, it can b better 4 u

AJ7785248: It is time to depart.

AJ7785248: Farewell.

cupcakgrl32: :-(

AJ7785248 has left private chat

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Second trip to bar

Kosmicheskiy, Posledniy Rubezh – Space, the Final… da, you get right idea.

So, what is happening my friend? Ahh good to hear. Yes, is fine for me also. The work? Oh, you know, just normal thing. Meet man, introduce to other man, get some info, fly on transport, land on asteroid, find lost containers. Da, you know how that goes.

The people? Yes, good question. That is real story, no?

I guess first would be Gospozha Khoziayka, ummm Missus Boss… no, no less like boss more like housewife. Yes, a woman. What can I say? Her daddy make money and now she have to run company, he is maybe in jail or something? This makes her cold, distant. More worried about meetings and share prices and things like that. Or maybe she is just this way with us. A bit bossy, but then again she is Khoziayka and must have lot of cleaning up to do after our mess!

Next there is Gospodin Vrach, Mister Doctor. He must also work there, for same corporation. What does he do? Well, quite skilled at medicine and I think also must race on weekend cars and boats and even spaceships. But heart not into it, you know? Well, not into meetings and such, more like into helping people when he can, especially lady people. Nice guy, da. Maybe thinks too much of himself but hey, who does not? Is also helping me out so cannot say anything bad.

Also work for corp is Tsemnaya Devushk – dark girl. Da, dark hair and also dark clothes and dark in other ways. Yes, right, teenage girl with gun who shot many bullets, that is her. Well, she is fine I think she very tough, tougher than Gospodin Vrach, that for sure. What she do? Well, she does computer things and pays bills and sends money to me, you know, very useful things. And also she keep to herself, which in my book means she very smart girl.

Next is Chitatzel Mysli … how you say…. reader of minds. Da, like Rasputin except with clean cheeks not long beard. He was other man in waiting room, you know who helped me that day? Da, yes is still helping to me, and seems OK. Again, mostly smart enough to keep mouth shut except when has something to say. But things he say may be little strange, yes? Well, he suspicious of many things and want to know what person really thinks – which can do, apparently – which spooking me greatly. If he can do to others, can he not also do to me?

And last… let me see… one more… ah, of course! Avtomat Dzho! This one, this very special case. Well, first thing – he being robot. Da, walking, talking, thinking but made of metal. Right, I know – I thought must be illegal also, but there is he. Let me tell you, very sensible! Friendly, helpful, smart, interested. Not getting moody or say many stupid thing or tell me what to do. We got chance to spend much time together on transport, and I think he very easy to get along with. What? Nyet, that say more about rest of them than does say anything about me.

So what happen next? Well, refill my glass and let me tell you…

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Silent Recovery

Reflected light from Saturn plays across the surface of the asteroid, illuminating the rough and barren landscape. Quick flirting shadows dart across your filed of vision as tumbling asteroids float across the void blocking the light for brief seconds. The occasional collision of two large rocks creates and interesting effect as your brain “hears” the impact, but in reality no noise reaches your ears.

The gravitational stabilizers in your suit keep you firmly on the surface of the asteroid as it spins slowly through the field. Ahead of you sit three large cargo containers with the Bauhaus Logo emblazoned on the sides and front. A quick check of the security interface on the front of the first container shows that it is magnetically attached to the surface of the asteroid and that the cargo is intact. Checking the manifest, you find that it is filled with weapons, ammo and explosives which is revealed to be correct as you pop the seal on the doors. As the doors open, the atmosphere from within escapes into the void and immediately crystallizes into ice and drifts away from where you stand.

The interior of the container illuminates as the doors open and the automatic lighting system enables. The cargo seems intact and is magnetically adhered to the floors and shelving of the unit, each labeled with a manifest number that matches the listing found in the security system.

The sound of your own breathing reverberates through the enclosed space of your helmet, a quick check of your suit’s systems shows that it is functioning properly and that the filtration system and air processors are at optimal levels. You can hear the chit chat of your associates over the com system as you inspect the container. Your coms go silent for a second as the talk of your associates cuts out and a quick spark of static fills your helmet, almost as if your com channel was interrupted by an outside source.

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Have wings...

Morn Whitestar’s personal log

With the Mishima business behind us, I was finally able to focus on our two mystery guests. Lloyd Fergusson had tracked me down to clear his conscious of some things he witnessed during my father’s trial. Lloyd was one of the Cartel investigators and I was quite surprised to see his face in my waiting room.

The other fellow, Arkady Strugatsky, had a business proposition for us. A salvage op, to be more exact, and he just needed some wings to get him there. Seems a stuffy old Imperial caught wind of some salvage near the Saturn asteroid belts. And since there’s always a catch: the man who knew the coordinates is a double-crossing pirate.

Bloody pirates.

I arranged us transport aboard a Capitol freighter and scrambled to secure things in the home office before I left. So much to coordinate at The Whitestar Agency: Lightrail’s board meeting, Dawnbreak’s quarterly financial review, the repair of our offices… and much much more. I tred to get Ms. Andrea Roberts up to speed as much as I could before leaving, but still spent most of the transit month taking care of things from the back of the dropship. Not ideal, but it worked in a pinch.

We followed the pirate’s coordinates and Dr. Phineas (Finn) Rothstein did some fancy flying to bring us in for the haul. The crates were clamped to an asteroid so we had to spacewalk to recover the bounty. I would have preferred a simpler mission to get the score, but I don’t always get what I want.

So far so good as I wait in the Cheyenne for word from the recovery team.

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Another Drink My Friend?

The Bartender lets out a deep baritone laugh as you conclude your story about the recent gunfights. He shakes his head “Ark, My drunken Russian friend” he says with a deep Scottish accent. “Your stories, if I didn’t know you, would sound preposterous and something for the trid… I’ve never known someone who has a knack for getting thrown into it as much as you!”

He grabs his bar towel and wipes down the area in front of you. He holds up his finger to single a pause as he pours a beer for the man sitting a few seats down. He returns to you and leans over conspiratorially and whispers “Now about that job I told you about. I think you must have misunderstood me, I don’t have those coordinates, but I know the guy that does.”

He pauses and looks around to see if you are being overheard, confident that no one is in earshot; The man a few seats down looks ready to pass out in his drink. “This gentleman has all the information that you need, it won’t be cheap, but it will definitely be worth it.” He passes a card to you by way of sliding it across the bar top with his finger.

Looking at the card, the name Augustus Fairbanks printed in bold letters surprises you a little. You know from being in the salvage and reclamation business, that Augustus Fairbanks is the man to know when it comes to high paying jobs. Known to be extremely honest and fair, Augustus Fairbanks is a wealthy nobleman from the Imperial Corporation who has solid information and many contacts throughout the known regions of space.

“Now, how about another drink my friend… on the house, to celebrate your good luck?” The bartender pours another Vodka for you and one for himself.

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