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Campaign:Black Moon
Adventure:Expedition to Zhodane
Send To:Jack, Kyle, Mek Meday, Midnight, Omen, Surge, Vamperina
Turn Start Date (ex. 12/31/6565)02/23/6570
Turn Number:13.6
Combat Turn:
Subject:Black Moon - Old
After three weeks of rest and relaxation on and around Jewell, everyone returns to ROCK. The crew of ROCK now consists of the professor, his wife and daughter, Jack, Surge, Midnight, Mek, Kyle, Omen and Vamperina. The gives the ship two licensed pilots (Professor Ricket and Vamperina), two licensed engineers (Professor Ricket and Surge), two licensed astrogators (Professor Ricket and Surge), three licensed Sensor Ops (Professor Ricket, Surge and Kyle) and one licensed gunner (Midnight).

It takes about a week to reach Jewell JP, another six and a half days to reach Lysen JP where the professor pays for fuel at the Jump Station, and then another ten days to reach Newcomb JP. Then the ship begins the week long trip to Black Moon, an inhabited moon that orbits a very large gas giant in the system. As systems go, this one is extremely cluttered with several asteroid belts, including a massive one that orbits Newcomb Prime (the gas giant around with Black Moon orbits).

MEK: During the voyage, Mek seems back to his normal self. If anyone asks if he's still hearing voices, he'll answer, "WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

MEK: He enrolled in a college course via distance learning (but doesn't know what he paid for that yet {ahem}) in Occupational Therapy. There's a fair amount of basic anatomy he'll have to learn, so Kyle will be a reference point for him. Given the long hours he can keep now, he gets a lot more done.

JACK: Jack spends his time much the same as he did on the long trip home from Qantseqr, with the addition of some playtime with Lisan and some beginner studies with Midnight on the Rocket turret, getting familiar with the controls, just in case we get displaced after all this and he needs to be able to get a license to do a job on a ship.

JACK (GM): He figures rockets are the most common type of ship-board weapon, I thought I'd heard that somewhere. Is it correct or obviously wrong or just a misconception?

GM: Yes it is a fairly common shipboard weapon.

Obviously the ship could arrange for a radio link to the imperial net immediately upon arriving in system but latency would be a major issue (161 seconds one way, 322 seconds round trip). An alternative would be for Surge to deposit Storm into the net but that also carries a risk. If the radio link dropped while Storm was enroute (i.e., during the 161 seconds) he would abruptly cease to exist. The issue has waited this long and can certainly wait a few more days until ROCK reaches orbit around Black Moon.

The next week passes uneventfully and, on 03/25/6570, ROCK connects to Black Moon Orbital, a moderate sized space station orbiting the moon. Professor Ricket pays for a radio link to the imperial net and then Rockora begins searching for Rocknetta. It does not take long. Rockora and Rocknetta are closer than sisters and now how to find each other. No one, with the possible exception of the professor, is privvy to conversation that takes place between the two.

A short time later, the professor summons everyone to the wardroom for a briefing.

PROFESSOR: "Rockora has recovered her alter ego, whom she names Rocknetta and has analyzed the accumulated data. Rocknetta has been in communication with Xorn on several occasions. As far as she knows, Xorn is not in Circle City. Xorn does not require any of the necessities that most humans require and can easily survive in the toxic atmosphere of Black Moon indefinitely. Xorn does wish to depart Black Moon and has given Rocknetta specific instructions on a long term plan to depart. His plans are hampered by two things."

PROFESSOR: "First, he is an escaped criminal and thus does not want to risk the attention of the authorities. This is not a great concern as he can easily procure papers that will pass scurtiny."

PROFESSOR: "The second concern is a bigger one. A shadowy group known as the Anubi Brotherhood is looking for him and they have not relaxed their guard at all in the years since his escape. Xorn made one previous attempt to get off-planet and though he escaped the attention of the authorities, he did not escape the attention of the Anubi Brotherhood. A battle ensued at the starport. Xorn managed to escape after killing two members of the brotherhood, but several innocent bystanders also died, the result of the brotherhood's tactics. Unfortunately the brotherhood's resources are tremendous and the only story that got out was that an escaped criminal tried to board a starship but was discovered. The official news story is that a criminal named Etienne killed several innocent bystanders before managing to escape."

PROFESSOR: "That being the case, Xorn is somewhat leery of further attempts to leave the planet using the starport. However, he may trust Rockora enough that he will depart on ROCK. He gave Rocknetta instructions for contacting him which she and Rockora will use if a plan is put in place to get him off planet. They will not reveal the means of contacting Xorn as that was a specific order that Xorn gave to Rocknetta, and one that she feels compelled to keep."

PROFESSOR: "I hope that this can be kept fairly simple. We need not visit Circle City at all. We can ask Rockora to contact Xorn and arrange to have him meet PEBBLE at a location some distance from Circle City."

PROFESSOR: The professor looks expectantly at the others, awaiting their input."

SURGE: Surge does not react greatly to this and his body language suggests he's comfortable with the extraction attempt. "What do we know of this brotherhood and their resources? Has Rocknetta done any research on this? Say if they got word of this and decided to attack us, what should we expect?"

MEK: Mek looks surprised, "He's a criminal? Shouldn't we be trying to catch him and send him back? I mean, that may seem kinda old fashioned, but that's the way we always did things on Enope, and the Army encouraged that view. Something about security from homicidal maniacs."

JACK: The Anubi Brotherhood's tactics seem heavyhanded and rely on overwhelming firepower with no concern at all for bystanders, and in fact seem to rely on the fact that while the target may not fear the firepower, he will fear for the people around him. This was the case when they interrogated us about Xorn, threatening to blow up the entire building and our vehicle outside, leaving everyone exposed to the toxic atmosphere of Black Moon even if they DID survive the explosions. Their interrogator seemed like a complete fanatic, unconcerned about his own life being lost in the explosions. They had some kind of aerospace fighter jet at the time, though I didn't see it. Wasn't it you that spotted it Surge? What can you tell us about it? How would PEBBLE fare in a dogfight with it?

SURGE (OOC): Correct, Surge spotted (I think most did) the fighter jet and remembers the encounter well enough. However, Surge doesn't know anything about fighter jets beyond some basic stuff so he would be the wrong person to determine how PEBBLE would stack up with their jet(s).

JACK (OOC): I never spotted it because I remained inside the house the entire time. I was hoping with your memory you could perhaps give us an image or spot it among several standard type assault jets in imperial or private service, or something like that. Once we had more info on the base jet, you and Vamperina could come up with at least a ballpark estimate of how we'd fare.

GM: Actually everyone saw the plane. Jack came out of the house with Brother Gray and so he saw the plane, and saw another member of the brotherhood dive out of the plane using some sort of rocket assisted backpack. He flew down and picked up Brother Gray and carried him up to the plane.

VAMPERINA: "Their vehicle was better armed than PEBBLE but I think that, in space, PEBBLE would be faster and more maneuverable."

JACK: I have no doubt that if the Brotherhood gets wind of our attempt to extract him they will attempt to blow up the PEBBLE. Ideally they need never know, of course. I am still willing to try, but then I can survive the loss of
the PEBBLE, so I should not be given much weight in the discussion, my risk is much less than others.

JACK: Surge, I know you have checked over the PEBBLE extensively in our months in space since leaving Black Moon, but I would suggest you and the Professor and Midnight give it one more sweep in case the Brotherhood planted a bomb on it, especially the outside of it. It seems unlikely, but they did have at least one opportunity to get to the outside of the PEBBLE, if not inside, and given their tactics, one can't be too careful.

SURGE: "Sure, I can do a complete sweep of it with my EM sense. If there's an electronically-based bomb somewhere on PEBBLE, I'll find it. I suppose if they possessed some sort of cloaking technology then it could remain hidden."

JACK: "I was more speaking simply as an engineer, but I agree that your special sense would be particularly helpful. I included Professor Ricket as another skilled engineer, and Midnight as the team's demolition expert.

SURGE (GM): Surge will spend a few days doing a very thorough scan of PEBBLE covering every inch. He'll use his EM scan power as well as his EM sense and EM Probe to explore all parts of the electronics and mechanics of PEBBLE.

SURGE (OOC): When did the brotherhood encounter PEBBLE? I thought our only encounter with them was Parl Klive's house. Though we don't know the brotherhood's history with Xorn so they may be familiar with both ROCK and PEBBLE from way before Black Moon.

JACK (OOC): Technically I cannot be certain that they did. I do know that they know where PK's house is, and Vamperina parked the PEBBLE right outside PK's house when she first brought it down to Black Moon to meet with us, so if they had PK's house under surveillance, they had the opportunity. It seems a reasonable enough possibility that taking precautions is only prudent.

MEK: "Yeah, but he's still in prison, or would be if he weren't on vacation. I thought we were coming to talk to the authorities and plead his case, not help in a jailbreak. That's illegal. And besides, you guys were different. You were scurvy spies, not REAL criminals. And you're clean now. Well, at least not as smelly."

JACK: "Pleading his case before the very authorities that still believe we are wanted criminals was never an option. They may notice that our record is clean, but they will almost certainly ignore it and arrest us anyway, believing that we somehow hacked into the records to get them expunged. Doing such things publicly is almost certain to draw the very attention of the Anubi Brotherhood that we are seeking to avoid.

MEK: "Look, I know the Empire can make mistakes sometimes, but breaking out of prison and helping people escape back into society doesn't seem the best way to do things. It just puts Midnight in peril. See, I'm not just thinking about my selfish skin."

MEK: "I know this sounds silly, but if Black Moon is as bad as you say it is, why not have it investigated and shut down? Call in the cops. Get the government to turn it into a decent prison again where people are treated the way they're supposed to be."

SURGE: "Well, actually Xorn is not in prison. He broke out a short bit after we did several years ago. He's just trapped on the moon itself. The prison is only a small part of the moon. It's quite large, relatively speaking."

JACK: Yeah, the moon is pretty big, big enough to have E-normal gravity... It's mostly unused real estate though.

MEK: "Duh! I KNOW Xorn isn't IN prison. I'm not all that dim. Only half. But he's supposed to be. And I'd like to stay on the right side of the legal system for awhile longer."

JACK: "What the legal system doesn't know won't hurt you. I agree that this were an ideal world where we could clear his name, we would.

JACK: "See there's part of your misconception. Black Moon isn't a prison for 'people', it's a slave camp for dirty muties. The new warden has cleaned it up a LITTLE bit from the extreme corruption of the old one, but she still uses prison gangs to her own ends, forcing 'people' to do things they wouldn't otherwise do, using their friendships against them, and more. The Empire simply doesn't CARE how badly the mutants who are incarcerated in its MULEs are treated, Black Moon is literally a death camp with a longer life expectancy. Probably half of the mutants who are sentenced to Black Moon die before they are ever released, and not just to inmate violence, there's also radiation poisoning from working the mines, cave-ins, and the like.

SURGE: "Mek, I'll don't really want to deal with the prison at all. Our names may be cleared now but that won't keep some local authority from taking the law into their own hands. I'm willing to go along with this as the Professor and Rockora both want to see this resolved. If the Professor is willing to take the risk that fetching Xorn represents, I'll go along. Knowing more than we do about the Brotherhood would make me feel more comfortable but it's not a necessity."

JACK: "Exactly. Our pictures were circulated amongst the Circle City authorities as well, so who can say whether they believe that our record is cleared if we suddenly turn up.

JACK: Now that there's a war on, it will be even harder to get the Empire's bureaucracy to care about a badly run MULE. I'm not saying that the Emperor himself wouldn't be outraged at the treatment of his prisoners there, but he never even knows what goes on, because of the bureaucrats on all the levels in between. Speaking as a man who was sentenced there simply because a security guard who worked in the same movie lot was killed, with no evidence whatsoever linking me to the crime, I gotta say that I'd rather err on the side of freedom. Don't worry, I will definitely be paying attention to Xorn and his activities once he leaves here, if not asking him to remain with us until we are certain of his rehabilitation, but that rehabilitation is definitely not going to be best served by putting him back in Black Moon's MULE.

MEK: "So? Why not tell the Emperor? Let him know."

JACK: If this were an ideal world where we could just pick up the phone and call the Emperor and convince him that everything his trusted bureaucrats are telling him is a tissue of lies, I'd do it. It's just not that simple, and you know it. You can't just see the Emperor whenever you feel like it, let alone actually talk directly to him.

MEK: "Look, these Anubies sound bad and I don't like them and I think it'd be a good idea to send them all away, but this is turning more and more into an army ops, and all my army gear is, well, back in the army. It sounds like you guys have met these Anubi guys before, and meeting them again would be bad idea, so why not put off the family reunion and let the younger members of our outing grow into dysfunctional, angry, but productive adults? Couldn't we work out a deal with the authorities? Maybe offer to watch over Xorn, be his legal guardian until he comes of age or eras or whatever. If people are trying to blow holes in the asteroid, bad thing, maybe getting him out LE-GAL-LY would be a win-win situation. Oh, and the bomb checking idea sounds like a winner by me."

SURGE: "I don't know Mek. That sounds like crazy talk. I mean we just want to get down to the moon, extract Xorn, then get out of there. No authorities, no brotherhood, just a simple, quiet pick up."

JACK: Jack nods quietly.

VAMPERINA: Vamperina does not get involved in the discussion about the legal niceties of extracting Xorn. Jack knows that she is fully on his side in this matter.

JACK: I'd be happy to get him out legally if it were an option, it just isn't. I think simply avoiding the attention of the Brotherhood and getting him out of there is our best plan, and once we have him away from here we can talk to him more about his life, his plans, and how he may be able to get his record cleared, as ours was.

MEK: "Well, crazy talk to me sounds more like, 'Hey! Let's break the law and help a convict, who we don't really know about, but who may be able to take over our ship and endanger the lives of not only the adults, who are not crazy, but also the minors.' THAT is crazy talk where I come from. OK, I come from Enope, and it's like the rear end of space, but it's still home.

JACK: Vamperina was able to beat Xorn in one on one combat alone, without any of our mutant powers, while he had his. I guarantee that I can beat him now that my bio-field isn't completely mind-blocked. The risk is very manageable.

MEK: "Jack has said that he 'thinks' Xorn 'might' have been railroaded. Fair nuf. Sounds wrong. But what if he is a real homicidal loony bin? I could probably get out of his way, but what about Lisan? It's not fair to her to risk her life, is it Professor?

JACK: You forget, I actually know him. He chose to stay behind in the MULE when he could have easily escaped for quite some time, simply to avoid risking the lives of innocents threatened by the Brotherhood's attempts to get at him. It was only when he became convinced that they were sending agents into the MULE to get at him that he left, and STILL he stayed out of sight, hiding out in the wastelands of Black Moon, trying to avoid risking any trouble with the Brotherhood. He has done a lot to convince me that his intentions are good, and risked and endured a lot to prevent even the potential harm that could come to those around him. Would he go through all that just on the -possibility- of someone coming to harm, and then turn right around and intentionally harm Lisan himself? It makes no sense.

PROFESSOR: "Young man, you seem to be a lone minority of one who believes that Xorn is a danger. I am convinced that he is not. And I am not going solely on the word of Rockora or Jack or anyone else. I am also going by his history in Cape Goliath."

MEK: "If the good guys are such bad guys as you make out, then why not go where the good guys are and work to get the bad guys. That doesn't sound crazy. Running in to pick up an escaped felon who's being chased by exploding fanatics sounds crazy to me. And I am the EXPERT on crazy. Ask anyone.

JACK: We are pretty much the only good guys around here with the power to do anything. And there's a good guy on Black Moon, trapped there because of bad guys who are willing to blow up buildings just to get answers to a few questions ABOUT him, let alone to capture him. Let's help the good guy, thwart the bad guys, and worry about straightening things out with the bureacratic legal system later.

MEK: "And another thing. Why do you guys hate mules? They're nice animals. Or is this prison lingo like army lingo? I don't wanna be a criminal. My mama would be so-o-o upset."

JACK (OOC): I assume you know this as campaign background info, so I won't go into it in character, but a MULE is an abbreviation for a mutant prison labor camp, you should be familiar with it.

GM: Yes MULE is a well-known abbreviation for MUtant Lockup Environment. Basically a working prison for mutants, run by corporations who buy prison contracts from the imperial government. There is oversight of the prisons but the whole system is perceived as corrupt. It is highly unlikely that Mek would not be familiar with this term. Many of his comrades in his Gamma Company were given a choice - Gamma Company or a MULE. Really not much of a choice.

PROFESSOR: "To put things in perspective, my plan is not to help an convicted felon escape, it is to talk to someone who has earned the love of an AI. We are not required by law to turn in a convicted felon or even report him as long as we don't actively help him. The Anubi Brotherhood is the entire reason that I wanted your group to assist in helping me find him. I did not come here to try to plead his case to the authorities because, generally speaking, that won't do any good in the case of a convicted felon who is also a mutant. I have every intention of not calling any unneccessary attention of the authorities to our real purpose here. We are in the system quite legally. We are docked at Black Moon Prime Orbital as any law-abiding travellers would be."

PROFESSOR: "If this does not sit well with you, Mek, then my suggestion is that you enjoy the meager amenties of the Orbital or of Circle City, and Jack and the other can arrange to catch up with you at a later date. If you choose to do so, you should obviously avoid any mention of our plan to speak with Xorn."
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