Interface Zero: Pattern of Entropy

Beach Weekend Session
The big debut

Richard Truehart’s staffing firm, Pattern Solutions, has expanded into Black Ops. Truehart has fielded security staff before, but the sort of flexible teams demanded as deniable assets is a new challenge for him. Using his skill identification methods, he ends up contracting a fairly unconventional team:

A Catholic nun
A badger hybrid bartender
A security android in a kawaii chassis
A psionic reader
A bounty hunter
A cyborg
Robert Hackerman (guess what his specialty is)

Truehart has been contracted to find proof that Scientology stole the DNA and fabrication designs to a Simulacrum built by a small startup called FabWorks. At the same time, FabWorks wants proof that Ravenlocke, the security firm they initially hired, is trying to dupe them. This simulacrum is scheduled to be rolled out at a massive Scientology event in Rehoboth Beach, the NAC’s hottest (and least flooded by sea level rise) resort town. After showing up, Truehart gathers the team and sets them up on a relatively tense conference call with Kara Fogel, the FabWorks founder. Her emotional investment is showing through, but Truehart keeps things mostly on the level. After the briefing, the team heads in different directions. Sister Maria Constance has some old underworld contacts from her time running an orphanage, and makes a few calls. Dino, the group’s resident psionic, heads straight to the local Scientology Center to talk to whoever is available. And Urthwyte, the bartender, heads into his home turf…a local bar.

Sister Maria is connected with a local mob tough who has connections in security rackets in the town. According to him, his typical guys were cut out of their typical roles, and Ravenlocke is running the ship. After hearing about the job, he gets Sister Maria on the event list, using the VIP passes he received from Ravenlocke as an “apology”.

Dino’s trip to the Scientology Center is a bit more eventful. Using his psychic power he’s able to trick the e-meter, causing a fearful reaction in the glassy-eyed tour auditor he’s with. She calls down the Center Director, who is impressed with his mental power and invites him to meet with the Scientology Chief Technologist who is in town. The meeting is scheduled to take place at the event that night.

Urthwyte heads to a local bar after hearing stories about some off-duty security guards who have been getting drunk and disorderly at a number of local watering holes. It doesn’t take much information to figure out that it’s the same guys at every bar, at at one bar they even stiffed the bartender, which left the transaction open on the cash register. Using a credchip trace (they only stiffed him on the last round), Urthwyte and Robert Hackerman find that the credchip was issued through a Ravenlocke disbursal account.

Sister Maria heads to the hotel, and starts chewing out both a few of the guards and the hotel bartender, who denies serving the rowdy guards. She is thrown out of the hotel, but gets an anonymous phone call asking to come back in and meet on the 15th floor lounge. The guards reluctantly escort her to the elevator. Once upstairs she meets James Hoffmann, Ravenlocke District VP and event manager. They have a chat about FabWorks, and about the dupe…James explains the double booking issue, and his intent to return the money to FabWorks. Among a longer conversation, James does “let slip” that Scientology has a reserved block of rooms on the second floor the Ravenlocke guards aren’t allowed anywhere near, and that if she or her team were to enter them, they’d be out of his jurisdiction.

The event draws near, and the team gets to the hotel where it’s taking place. Dino is brought to a room on the second floor, where the Chief Technologist reveals his opinions about psychics and physically threatens him. The rest of the team, who had given him a dead man’s switch for that very purpose, rushes the restricted hotel block, using flashbangs, firearms and monowire to quickly overwhelm the Scientology guards. The group saves Dino, takes the shellshocked Chief Technologist hostage, and steals back one of the simulacrum decanters, all while the gala goes on downstairs uninterrupted. They escape out the back in an unmarked van, leaving Delaware to regroup.

July 5th session
The roadtrip continues

Rich Truehart had a few tricks up his sleeve to get his employees far out of Delaware before Scientology took notice, and the team scattered to the wind. Sister Maria led up a smaller contingent to go meet up with the organization who bought out their Scientology hostage, the American Conclave of Churches. Asked to provide security for the hostage handover, the smaller crack team of Sister Maria, Dino and the bounty hunter Hayate were joined by an old android named Dummy, salvaged from a (I kid you not) Android Demo Derby League of some thirty years past. He brought along with him an old Buick Roadmaster, with straight pipes and geared for the demo course. Not ideal transportation, but it would have to do.

Scientology had negotiated the handoff in an abandoned paper mill, likely to keep their failures away from the press and the celebrity members. In going to scout the area, the ACC dropped a hint that the tech team who had set up the Simulacrum heist were being transported back to the Scientology Center in Chicago, where they likely faced execution, or worse. Both Sister Maria and Truehart himself have minds for social justice, so it became a secondary objective quickly.

However, the mission looked fishy from the getgo. After setting up a forward base in an abandoned humane society building, Hayate scouted the area and found a large number of vehicles set up at several locations. Contact with their ACC liaison had provided denial that they were even in the area at that time, yet there were two mobile command trailers and heavily armed men who were not Scientology-aligned. Indeed, Hayate found the Scientology contingent, which included a relatively high-ranking official.

Thanks to Dino’s psychic monitoring and hacking, the location of the hacking team was quickly discovered. Given the incongruities in mission description, Truehart was willing to can the mission, but not until the hackers were out safely. Dummy brought the car around while Hayate sabotaged the Scientology vehicles to prevent a chase. After loading everyone into the station wagon, the crew borrowed a spike strip deploying device from the local police (thanks to the Sister’s connections) and headed for Atlantica, fearing the worst.

The team reached the Atlantica border and crossed uneventfully. It was around this time that they received a cryptic message of thanks from their ACC liaison, one William Bradbury. It was also around this time that it became clear what had happened: The ACC massacred the Scientologists there, using the opportunity as cover to kill two high-ranking officials, even though one was a hostage.

Pattern Solutions narrowly escaped direct association with this crime, but also helped it occur, through their recon work and accidentally by slashing the tires on the Scientology vehicles. It’s not clear what either ACC or Scientology will do next, but that’s not foremost on Rich Truehart’s mind as he tries to get his new team settled into a new home base in the Atlantica city of Syracuse.

July 19th session
And on again

The crew has started to get settled in Syracuse, when they hear that Mr. Bradbury of the ACC is speaking at an event near them. Not wanting to take risks, they prepare to pull up roots again; before they leave Rich Truehart has a job for them. Quint, an on-the-ground operative for the group Hybrids for Humanity, heard that his life may be in danger from operatives at the ACC and wants to head to Boston. There was one thing that Quint was interested in: rumors that the ACC had been emboldened by their successes with Scientology, and moving against other groups they didn’t like, namely Zeeks and Hybrids.

After hearing the the ACC had left one of their mobile command centers in police lockup, Sister Maria came up with a plan. Thanks to one of her contacts she found a sympathetic police officer who was willing to run any data in the vehicle as part of an “audit”. After that, Truehart’s IT staffing division would take care of the rest. The team was able to get the data, and warn their Scientologist hacker friends about the ACC movement prior to getting in Quint’s van and heading towards Boston, the capital of Atlantica. As they were crossing into Massachusetts it became clear that they were being followed. They got off the highway and Dummy wound the van through some winding backroads…eventually their pursuer was unable to keep up. His car went though the guardrail and over an embankment, rolling several times. Like a good nun would, Sister Maria went down the hill with Hayate to render aid. The driver was relatively young, and told them about the ACC and who was working for Bradbury. Bradbury’s group was mostly church “volunteers” working for the group to avoid jail time or other community punishments, which explained their amateur mistakes and, as the driver said “playing soldier”.

The rest of the trip to Boston was uneventful. When Quint made it to the Hybrid section of town in Roxbury, he offered to connect the team with a guide to the Boston Underground, the disused highway and subway tunnels under the city which are probably one of the best places to hide in all of Atlantica…

August 9th session
New city blues

The group has been hiding out with Hybrids for Humanity in a safehouse in the south of Boston. Quint, the dolphin hybrid which the group rescued, introduces them to a member of the Trogs, a group which uses Boston’s abandoned subway and highway tunnels for safety and transport. Unfortunately, the group gets lost, and encounters a couple of mutant Beetle Rats. They were dealing with them fairly well until Dummy decides to spray them with automatic gunfire. While this does kill the rats, every Trog in a mile radius has temporary hearing loss from the gunshots reverberating off the tunnels. The group is delivered to their destination and told not to come back.

Through links with the local Catholic Diocese, Sister Maria ends up connecting with an underboss of Callahan’s Mob, the Irish mob in Boston. They’re given some paying work: spy on a meeting between the local terrorist group Scions of Liberty, and a data security company called DIT. After determining the identity of one of the meeting participants, the group breaks into his car to plant a bug on his shoe. The bug affixes, and the group sits in a stolen car in the office’s parking garage listening to the meeting. Turns out Scions of Liberty are expanding their sphere of influence from Boston and Atlantica to try to coordinate bringing the free city of Chicago into the NAC fold. And who is orchestrating this move? William Bradbury, former ACC security director and board member of DIT.

Sister Maria comes up with a quick plan. Using the Scientology techs they rescued, the group is able to place a bounty on Bradbury from Scientology. Thanks to Armind Cruise’s press conference about the murders orchestrated by Bradbury, it seems convincing enough to stay on the system. Then, as Bradbury exits the building to go to his car, the group blocks him in, bags him and tags him. They deliver Bradbury to a local Scientology center, and the woman at the front desk has no idea what’s going on. They take Bradbury into custody, but insist on holding the group and their payment until they can figure out what’s going on. Having none of this, Dummy drives his (stolen) car through the front of the building, and the group makes a hasty escape.

October 4th session
A friend in need...

After their Boston misadventures, the team received a cryptic message from their Ravenlocke contact, James Hoffmann. Turns out, his tactics with his assignment from FabWorks (you know, the one that brought everyone to Delaware) were not appreciated by Kara Fogel, their CEO. When she turned down the Nortec acquisition in favor of Chimera’s competing offer, Hoffmann took the fall. And as the team found out, he took a job from Pinkerton and stole some proprietary information just to make sure the employer wouldn’t forget him anytime soon.

After converting all of his money to encrypted bearer chips, Hoffmann flew the team into Chicago, explaining his situation. He bought plane tickets, train tickets and a rental car, knowing that though the money would eventually be traced to him, Ravenlocke couldn’t touch him while he’s in O’Hare, an airport/space elevator/military base controlled by the Chicago Defense Force, and not Ravenlocke. Even so, living in the airport was not a good option, and it was only a matter of time before his location was discovered.

Opting for another option, Sister Maria called up a group of nuns working with undocumented migrants and refugees around the space elevator, and got the hookup on a boat to get them onto Lake Michigan. Only problem is that the dock is north of O’Hare, and near a Ravenlocke sector base. Dummy has a solution, and gets his buddy Crash to lend him a van…well, most of a van. What’s a carburetor doing in 2090? The group hands Hoffmann’s anonymous tickets to a few confused but desperate refugees, and spoofs their TAPs so they have a hope of getting through security. This opens a time window, and they jump in the van and head north. Unfortunately, city traffic puts a slight dent in their plan, and by the time they arrive at the wilderness sanctuary there are a couple of black cars close behind. Dummy notes attempted intrusions on his TAP, but the group is too nervous about the cars to go back now. They get to the boat and put in, and the navigational radar is almost immediately overwhelmed by the signature of a helicopter right above them. Dummy makes some solid maneuvers to keep them off the boat’s tail, but ultimately Dino’s psionic fear attack makes the helicopter beat a hasty retreat.

At this point, the team can recuperate and determine the extent of their TAP problem. The Ravenlocke team left no malware, but successfully copied the entirety of the data stores of everyone’s TAP, as well as put their weapons into ‘secure lock’ mode, which disables the magazine feeds and trigger mechanisms. Dummy gets to work getting the weapons back online, while Sister Maria calls Truehart in order to do damage control. Turns out Ravenlocke has already got in contact with him, but he’s not turning anyone over yet. Still, best to find out why they’re chasing so hard. Now out on the lake, the attention turns to Hoffmann. Apparently, the information he stole was in turn stolen by Ravenlocke from the C-7, the 7 most powerful corporations in the world. It pertains to a new religious organization, the Union for Religious Freedom, and tension within the C-7 between the American corporation Helios (and NAC and the ACC) and the LaCroix group (with the Russian, Chinese and Japanese firms on their side, as well as some Voudou practitioners). The fact that the rift evens exists is supposed to be privileged information, as the C-7 never wants to show weakness. Needless to say, this is big.

The group orders two autonomous cars to meet them at an abandoned cannery somewhere in Indiana, and they continue the journey on foot. Ravenlocke continues their electronic warfare, but this time Dummy is ready for them. Instead of wresting control of the cars back, Dummy makes it look like everything has gone according to plan, but puts the cars into safe mode so the crew can tuck and roll before reaching whatever’s at the new destination. They also hook up some thermite charges to leave a nasty surprise for Ravenlocke. Right at the end, the remote door open is detected by the Ravenlocke team, whose snipers disable the thermite charges. After checking the cars, a Ravenlocke hit squad begins to converge on the team. Through Dummy and Hayate’s quick thinking, the door on a nearby warehouse is opened, and the team goes for cover inside. Sister Maria takes a pot shot through a window, which gets one of the team shaken but doesn’t stop the breach. As the door is busted, Sister Maria unleashes a fusilade of gunfire, killing one of the soldiers. At this point, Dino’s fear attack does the trick again, and the team retreats. Knowing that they’ll regroup, Dummy breaks into a truck parked outside the warehouse, and hacks into the autonomous controls of several others, allowing the team along with two decoy trucks to make a getaway.

After driving through the night, the group stops at a rest area, looking to ditch their hot ride. Sister Maria is able to connect with a parish who can shelter them, but the church is in Detroit. Meanwhile, the only vehicles large enough to carry the team are another smei truck and a minivan which apparently has a small child inside. Sister Maria waves a bearer chip in the truck driver’s face, and secures passage to “Toronto”. Once in Detroit, the team tucks and rolls, and the driver has no idea where they’re going.

Sister Maria is in a position where she needs to call in favors, and she does so, calling the Cardinal of the Boston Archdiocese directly from the church line. After hearing about Hoffmann’s stolen data, his interest is piqued…enough so that the next morning, he lands his personal VTOL in the church parking lot. Once aboard, Sister Maria shows the copy of Hoffmann’s data to the Cardinal…and now the whole team, Hoffmann included, are going to be debriefed by senior church officials. Hoffmann, still surprised he’s actually alive, hands each team member five thousand-credit bearer chips, and tries to decide what god to pray to for the remainder of the flight…

November 1st session
Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder

Shortly after the first “hot extract” in the history of the archdiocese, the Cardinal of Boston has a sit-down meeting with the Pattern Solutions team and Hoffmann. Using his arcane and archaic whiteboard technology, he outlines his vision of power structures in Boston, pointing out the church’s gaps in outreach. He also writes up a bit on the C-7, gleaned from the Powerpoints that Hoffmann stole. In the C-7, LaCroix Enterprises is using a shadow religious group, the URF, to protect their interests and their religious freedom. Another C-7 corporation, Helios, is based in NAC and believed to support their political and religious interests. The rest of the corps are ostensibly unaligned, but there are whispers of certain groups beginning to pick sides. The group finds a target of interest that overlaps in Japan: Subarashii, the computer corporation which invented dubbing, is neutral in the C-7 power struggle. Meanwhile, the Yakuza, specifically the Yamaguchi-gumi, have a small powerbase in Boston and Atlantica that the Cardinal believes they’d like to expand. To further expand this particular interest, Iggy the android used to work for Subarashii, and Hayate was raised by a Yakuza kyodai (underboss) after his family was killed.

In an attempt to reestablish contact with Subarashii, Iggy calls up his one contact, his deceased boss’s former administrative assistant, Hitomi Nagako. In order to get through official channels, Iggy tells Hitomi about the data breach the group experienced in Chicago. Suddenly, after about 3 minutes of records checking, Hitomi is on a plane bound from Tokyo to Boston.

Suspicious at this sudden turn of events, the group is now quite curious about what Iggy is hiding. Dummy hooks up his own system to Iggy’s and finds an encrypted block of files, disguised to look like a secondary OS for cyberware. Inside the file block are Iggy’s boss’s e-mails, a raft of technical documents, and a few dozen powerpoint presentations (cue groans from everybody). Looking through, it appears that Subarashii is colluding with Chimera to make Subarashii’s dubs work best with Chimera’s simulacra and bioroids. When Hoffmann comes in the room, he confirms this sort of secret collusion is the type of stuff that would cause the entire C-7 to devolve into a corporate war. Hayate and Sister Maria are barely able to keep a straight face, but Hoffmann is still none the wiser about the contents of Iggy’s brain.

Iggy and Sister Maria meet Hitomi in a swanky sushi restaurant in Boston’s financial district, while Hayate and Dummy keep overwatch in a borrowed taxicab. Hitomi is not pleased that the group broke the file encryption, but acknowledges that they are the ones who have the best chance to recover the stolen data. While the data breach was done on behalf of Ravenlocke during the group’s extraction from Chicago, they don’t know much about the hacker, as he didn’t pursue them directly after they reached the lake. Therefore, Sister Maria and Iggy agree to find the hacker and figure out where the data is. Meanwhile, Hitomi reveals the likely consequences of this issue to Iggy: his boss, Shuzo Iwahara, is going to be “resurrected”: his dub is going to be uploaded into a new body so he can do corporate-level damage control.

The group has precious few leads on the hacker that broke into their TAPs, other than the fact he was hired by Ravenlocke and was quite good at his job. But the clock is ticking: while the files were both disguised and not Ravenlocke’s primary target, it’s only a matter of time before someone in the Ravenlocke information security office decides to break the encryption and cause some serious problems…

December 6th session
Herbie's daring escape

Hoffmann tipped off the team that the hacker who had stolen their TAP data was an independent operator working in the Great Lakes Union, and that Pinkerton analysis of his activity had traced him to Toronto. Indeed, Herbie was under house arrest in his apartment after Ravenlocke believed he was involved in Hoffmann’s data theft. Truehart authorized an extraction mission, and provided the team with a new member: “Doc”, their patchman.

The team headed to Toronto in a military-spec diesel VW van, painted up in camo. Dummy’s friends also saw fit to provide a copy of Journey’s seminal 1980 album, “Departure”. Upon making it into the city, Doc scoped out the apartment under the pretense of renting a unit, since his TAP ID had never been scraped by Ravenlocke. Sister Maria headed to a local underworld spot, where she was able to get guidance from a local Irish tough named “The Patrick”. From his explanation, it sounded like Herbie had gotten in over his head with Ravenlocke, and was looking for a way out. Using Doc’s information about the building’s floor plan, she began to come up with a plan.

Using a relatively cheap quadrotor drone and hobby-shop walkies, the team sent a walkie talkie to Herbie’s window in order to establish an unmonitored communication link. Sister Maria then took a chance using a pay phone in The Patrick’s bar to send a coded message to Herbie in order to get him to open the window. The scheme paid off, and Herbie confirmed his desire to escape. Iggy’s “otaku mode” came in handy for getting Herbie some tools to help him make a master key for the building; the guards were suspicious of the tiny Japanese girl for prurient rather than security reasons. Once Herbie got the tools, he hustled to the second floor, where the team extracted him to the van. However, Herbie’s destruction of his old computer equipment was a tad (thermite) enthusiastic, and as such the fire alarm was set off in the entire building. This tipped off the guards, but Dummy was able to goose the old van hard and make it out of the city. The team switched vehicles to an old stretch limo, and made use of copious Journey songs and “kawaii” to avoid attention.

December 13th session
Conspicuous behavior

A call was made to Subarashii, and the rep flew back out to Boston. Sister Maria got back in touch with Quint, and Herbie was hidden away with Hybrids for Humanity and the Trogs.

The rep paid 2000 credits per head for the security of their information, and dinner between her, Sister Maria and Iggy was more pleasant than last time. While on overwatch in the same Cadillac limo they drove back from Canada, Hayate got a phone call from Hoffmann. Turns out the rep’s flight from Tokyo had lit up some monitors at Ravenlocke, and they were inbound. Hayate makes the call to the Sister, and sees the black SUVs start to pull up as the trio indoors pay the check and begin to leave. Unfortunately, Dummy only sees the bus from his favorite Journey tribute band, and cranks the stereo. A limo playing journey…the Ravenlocke mercs make the connection immediately and pull into the restaurant. Two mercs begin disembarking from their SUV, and Hayate immediately opens fire. He drops one merc, but sprays bullets into the surrounding area and civilians start screaming. What was to be a peaceful exit from the restaurant turns ugly as the other patrons start running for the exits. The Subarashii rep makes it to the limo, but Iggy has to make sure the Sister gets in safely. Hayate tries to cover their tracks with a flashbang, which dazes the mercs in one of the SUVs As the other SUV moves to box in the limo, Dummy pulls a smoky burnout to pivot the car around and get moving. One of the mercs shoots out one of the limo’s tires, but Dummy keeps flooring it. Around this time, the police show up, and seeing the gunshots from the SUV shine their spotlight on it. The still confused driver of the front SUV begins to give chase, but is stopped by a rapid attack from Iggy’s monowhip, which fouls the suspension and causes the vehicle to spin out…right into the limo.

At this point, Dummy whips a J-turn, barely missing Iggy and scraping out into the night with one SUV in tow. The sister makes a “panicked” call to the police, who then open fire on the pursuing SUV, which loses control. The limo limps out, carrying them safely but out of commission for now. Hoffmann calls the sister back, explaining that Ravenlocke had been monitoring them since they extracted Herbie. As soon as they saw that the group had convinced a Japanese executive to get on a plane on a moment’s notice, they thought they were dealing with something good. Before anything else could be said, Truehart came on the other line. Apparently William Bradbury had been released from Scientology headquarters, and instead of heading back to the ACC or anywhere in NAC, he got on a plane to Chicago…site of Ravenlocke headquarters. The plot appears to be thickening, so Truehart gets the group a meeting with Chimera before things get even more complicated.

January 3rd session
A man, a plan, a man-made island

Chimera called a meeting with the Pattern team to discuss the fallout from the attempted Subarashii extraction. Putting everything out on the table, Ravenlocke’s continued collaboration with the ACC and violent expeditions outside of their jurisdiction has worried the firms, and action is seen as necessary. An agreement is put in place: go down to the LaCroix compound in the Cayman Islands for the annual C7 conference, and disrupt the ACC’s attendance, preferably in front of everyone. The payoff? A set of dubs for the entire party, valued at a cool quarter-million credits each.

The elements are put in place. Urthwyte finds a smuggler friend who brings booze to the compound who is able to provide an escape route, in exchange for lending him a luxury yacht. Herbie leads the team to a potential mole in the electronic security team, and Sister Maria uses her religious contacts to find an original leader in LaCroix’s URF. Turns out Bradbury’s dalliances with Ravenlocke have not been known the LaCroix and the C7 administrators, and Sister Maria’s fact-finding call turns into a security flare-up of the highest order. Hoffmann informs the group of RFPs from Golden Promise and Belorussian Steel that crossed his desk, and his theories about the tension the team just inadvertently exposed. Looks like the group may have started the corporate war before even showing up on the island…

January 17th session
Season finale: From out of nowhere

The team stepped off the VTOL on the LaCroix Cayman Complex, and got a quick sniff of something wrong almost immediately. Dummy spotted a man who looked suspiciously like William Bradbury boarding a VTOL to leave the island as they were disembarking, sending alarm throughout the team. Sister Maria, Glimmer and Hayate set off towards the conference center; the sister and Glimmer were looking for answers, Hayate was looking for a potential bomb. The other attendees were abuzz about rumors of a war in space, which seemed to involve the mysterious NFE. Sister Maria checked in with the security contact they had, Leonard, and then moved to make contact with Golden Promise, one of the other parties to the rumored space conflict.

Hayate and Glimmer headed to the hotel to make use of the security tracking Leonard had provided. While Bradbury appeared to be a fairly normal conference attendee, his attendance still left unanswered questions. Glimmer deftly broke into Bradbury’s hotel room, which fortunately had not been cleaned by housekeeping yet. The search for physical evidence turned up little except for a single black sock, but Hayate spied an indentation on the room’s notepad. A rubbing revealed a phone number and the words “NFE contact”. This information was transmitted to both Sister Maria and Leonard. Sister Maria had successfully made contact with an executive at Golden Promise, Lu-Wang Shen, who was aware of the space situation. While he was aware of NFE’s potential involvement, the ACC angle was new to him. Meanwhile, Hayate asked Leonard to run the phone number against the attendance database. The number belonged to an NFE VP, who had left the island two days ago. Leonard then confirmed Sister Maria’s suspicions: all of the NFE reps had left two days ago.

At this point, the group was in panic mode. Sister Maria alerted Mr. Shen, and tried to spread the word as quickly as possible. It was around this time that the group noticed that satellite communications had been interrupted, a very bad sign. Leonard left his post, and Urthwyte and Doc both tried to shepherd as many people onto their boat as possible. Sister Maria was ready to stay behind to save as many people as possible, but after the security staff unlocked a few of the unused yachts and began helping in the evacuation effort, the rest of the team was able to convince her to get on the boat. Dummy sped away from the island, and managed to make it nearly a half mile before the orbital strike hit. The tungsten penetrator destroyed all three of the artificial islands in the complex, and sent up a massive tidal wave. Dummy’s masterful boating saved the day. In the aftermath of the strike, there was an audio message transmitted via satellite, being played on repeat: “Six powerful corporations, two religious organizations. Guess I know who’s made my Top 8.” Though his identity had been shrouded in secrecy, it was now possible to confirm that the head of NFE was none other than Tom Anderson, founder of Myspace.

The team looked for survivors among the wreckage, but found little. The other boats appeared to have been sank, though one was found using the boat’s fishing radar. Mr. Shen and some other survivors were clinging to it, and they were brought aboard. Overloaded, Dummy began steering toward Grand Cayman.

Satellite access came back as the group left the area, and Rich Truehart got back in contact with his employees. First, it appeared that NFE had used their access to earth-orbiting satellites to obscure their weapons platform, as well as disguise the incident as freak weather. Second, Bradbury had taken “emergency control” of the ACC as his superiors were all dead or missing. Third, NFE had publicly announced support for the United Colonies space separatist group, an action that was essentially a declaration of war in space. And fourth, reconnaissance had indicated that the NFE arcology in Australia was getting ready for a series of space launches, possibly leaving the planet.

Sister Maria made arrangements to keep the other survivors on the boat safe; they were the only witnesses to the real version of events and as such they were at risk. The rest of the group had two big opponents they needed to tackle: NFE and a new Bradbury-run ACC. With NFE’s escape to space coming soon, they asked Truehart to get them transport to Australia.


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