Anything not nailed down
Having finally arrived at Tangar Station at the end of the last session, the crew continued to put into motion their plans. Lord Dray finally had access to a banking node and was able to pay the crew. Everyone made use of the few remaining stores open for business to gather supplies for their next destination – the A.I. homeworld.
Once shopping was done, everyone helped oversee the evacuation plans. The available starships received hasty maintenance and modifications for the amount of passengers to be transported. Goods deemed useful to the enemy were either to be taken with the evacuation flotilla or destroyed and reimbursed by the Dray family.
Finally, Tangar Station itself was to be turned against the invaders. Traps, computer viruses, and other nasty ways to eat up as much time and resources of the Zealot forces as possible were readied and set to be primed once all friendlies had departed.
Josua’s sister, Evie, would lead the flotilla from Tangar to Hudson. She would raise the alarm in all the systems along the way. This also might gain the assistance of others in the Periphery to help repel the invaders.
Lastly, an Imperial Scout was waiting at the station, ready to depart as soon as the enemy appeared. This brave crew would bring word of the enemy position to Hudson and all systems in between.
With everything nearly ready, the crew of the Sleipnir prepared to depart for the A.I. homeworld. Their primary goal was to free the Oaian A.I.s from the the yoke of Zealot control. Second to that was the capture of the Kalian agent Shakila Wai, who had acted as an intermediary between Zen’s traitorous brother and the Zealots. If the opportunity presented itself, Zen also intended to end his brother. Finally, they planned to remove any organics interfering with the A.I.s.
Before leaving, Evie and Joshua had a brief conversation. He advised her to lead the forces at Hudson to make their stand outside the system and avoid getting bottled in. Evie expressed frustration with him that, after all her work and sacrifice with the Serrans, he didn’t ask for their assistance in the coming struggle.
With all ships nearly ready to make way, the crew departed for the A.I. homeworld in the company of Sister Four. In the next system, they encountered a massive minefield set to wreck any ships arriving in the local Anderson Point. Mines in their vicinity winked on and several began drawing closer to the Sleipnir with alarming speed. The crew transmitted the fleet code which had seen them safe passage in enemy space this far. Several tense moments passed and finally, the mines stood down.
The next system in their path was also mined, but this time, they also encountered a ship which had been caught by the mine field. Lord Dray and Zen took Zen’s ship out and very perilously rescued 4 settlers from the fatally damaged freighter. Zen and Lord Dray docked with Sister Four and returned to Tangar Station in time for the settlers to join the flotilla bound for Hudson.
Meanwhile, the Sleipnir continued on the path out of the Periphery to determine the extent of the minefield. Several jumps on, the crew found the last mined Anderson Point along with a couple of pirate frigates and the remains of a few unlucky ships caught by the mines.
The crews reunited and resumed their trip to Radix.
Sister Four provided many details about the Oaians home as requested by the crew. The A.I. didn’t have a name for their world, but their city was call Radix. An orbital facility over the city, call Starside, was used as a star port. Sister Four also warned Oa-La to stay out of the Concourse, cryptically saying it wouldn’t be safe for her.
Oa-La and Charlie had been working on a way to immunize the A.I. to the exploit used by Zealot forces. Oa-La seemed immune to the it, so they compared her to Sister Four and Brother Five. They narrowed it down the precognitive processor chip and realized fully overcoming it would require replacing the chip. Logistically, this would take a bit, but in the meantime, they devised a workaround.
The pair devised a code which could be remotely transmitted using the gauntlet taken from the scientist on the gas giant base. Those A.I.s receiving the code would first stunned, then temporarily able to ignore commands issued using the exploit. One thing they didn’t know for certain was how long it would provide this immunity.
When they arrived in the last system before the jump to the A.I. world, the crew boarded Zen’s ship and docked with Sister Four. Elric took the Sleipnir and headed to a nearby uninhabited world to hide himself as the crew continued on hidden in Sister Four.
Sister Four patched her sensor through to Zen’s ship so they could monitor things as they jumped to the A.I.’s system. On arriving, they observed the homeworld, tidally locked, with the sunward side covered in solar panels. In the midst of the shadowed side, they got their first glimpse of Radix. Under the watchful eye of several Brother Five’s monitoring the system Anderson Point, Sister Four headed to the orbital star port.
The planet had a very thin atmosphere which would require space suits for the organic crew members. Once they arrived at the city, a force field dome would provide enough pressure for the crew to use their combat armor.
A few hours after arriving, Sister 4 relayed a transmission from Radix. It was Shakila Wai, the Kalian female in league with Zen’s tratorius brother. She was surrounded by a circle of Nine-type humanoid A.I.s. She seemed to be trying to determine if any could overcome the exploit in their design as she told them she would not destroy any who could not respond to her next command. She then used the exploit to order them to clap their hands when she did and proceeded to do a dance where she would clap on pair of her hands and shoot a clapping Nine with the pistols in her other pair of hands. By the end of the song, all Nines were destroyed. She used that as a warning to the other A.I.s before providing them with a “Tonight’s Code”.
It seemed a failsafe was created by Wai, unless the A.I.s received an ever changing code from her every day, they had orders to self destruct. The crew was relieved that the transmission was not an indication they had been found out, but they were also troubled by this new complication.
Once Sister Four was close enough, Zen carefully dropped his ship out of her storage bay and stealthily skimmed the planet surface until they reached some abandoned mines outside the city. There, they hid the ship and Five guided them underground to the city.
It was an eerie sight, as the city showed no signs of life. Five explained that few walked the surface as an underground system of rail cars moved materials and bots around.
Five led them into a near building and down to the rail cars. On the way to “someplace safe”, a beastial looking merc lead a small group of Nines to attack the crew by surprise. Charlie got sniped, but luckily, only his gear was hurt. The party used their special code to know out the bots and made quick work of the dumbfounded merc. Their foe ultimately met his end when Lord Dray used his powers to lift and drop him into oncoming traffic.
The party switch into their armor and stashed excess gear at their destination. They passed a holding pin for seemingly insane bots. When a Sister Ten, one of the 13’ tall warrior bots, surprised the party, they used the patch code and left her unconscious as they proceeded up into the building.
Heading up, the crew came to a large chamber where the “soul” of each A.I. is created and quantum entangled into two parts: one part is placed in a bot chassis and the other kept on an a special structure in Radix.
Several of the small, insect like Sister Eights were overseeing the chamber operations. Oa-La made contact these repair and maintenance bots and asked if they could replicate her version of the chip which was free of the control flaw. They seemed to take a liking to Oa-La and quickly consented. A chip was produced and one of their number was, somewhat unwillingly, the recipient of the new chip which proved to be working.
Just as they were finishing up, the crew detected someone coming, so they sent the Eights out to start fabricating and installing chip as widely as possible. As the bots escaped, the crew prepared an ambush.
The Smell of Burning Fur
Those who appeared were clearly not A.I. bots, but instead a motley assortment more akin to mercenaries or bounty hunters than the religious fanatics thus far encountered. Included in their numbers was a hulking Yeti. Overheard were mentions of planting explosives.
Charlie struck first, an excellent shot fulling evaporating one of the rough-looking organics. Oa-La tossed a plasma grenade which took out several opponents, including the Yeti. Zen felled a pair of enemies while Josua tried to use his Rubric on another who proved more resilient that anticipated.
One of the guards radioed Wai and reported the team’s presence just before being cut down. Wai used the open comm to taunt the team and challenge them to combat. Zen overheard his brother, Tenzirick, and informed his kin “I will kill you.”
Wai told the team that she would meet them in the central dome and would set off a warhead to destroy the city if they didn’t show up there in the next hour.
The Sister Ten who they used the special code on earlier arrived. Oa-La convinced her to help the crew free the A.I.s once and for all. The bot consented. She grabbed a large bin for the crew to ride in, knocked a hole in the wall and flew them to the central dome.
Atop the transparent, dome was a large antenna town used for maintaining communications with the bots within across the city. At the center within, they could see a large, tree-like structure covered with glowing points of light as they had seen the in the Soul Chamber. The branches of the “tree” seemed to sway in a breeze unknown. Before the tree stood Oa-Nal, also referred to as Brother Three, leader of the A.I.s. His back to them, as his form seemed to be constantly in motion, waves of cubes moving over his body and dripping from his finger tips.
Not seeing Wai there, Josua asked Five to locate her. After a brief pause, he announced he had found her and gave the Sister Ten carrying them coordinates. She carried them to the location, which was inside a massive factory. En route, Five related that he was detecting a fighter class vessel taking off from the city’s star port.
39 minutes remained in the deadline given to them by Wai.