Send in the Clones

An unlikely pair of low level technicians seem to be in the midst of a heated argument. The situation almost guarantees there is more here than meets the eye.

Level: 13
Start: Cloister Vindaloo, Market, Caen Stronghold

Introduction

The market is teeming with a veritable smorgasbord of the various parts that make up what is left of humanity as you weave a path through the shoppers and hawkers, vendors and smugglers of the station. The scents that waft through the area assail the senses in what can only be described as a three-pronged tactical assault. The already acrid and tinny artificial air that is pumped through the station's jury-rigged life support system blends in a particularly nasty way with the smoke off the various artificial protein pastes that grill in various stalls and the hodgepodge of odors drifting gently but purposefully off the vendors themselves.

Air Vent: CLOISTER YOU REALLY ARE AN ABSOLUTE GOIT!

The words momentarily cut through the background noise of the market crowd. Various passersby raise their eyebrows in curiosity, wondering about the angry disembodied voice issuing forth from what appears to be a nearby air vent. A low level technician standing close-by covers his mouth with a oily, gloved hand, barely trying to contain his mirth. You assume that, if there is a story here, it no doubt begins with him.

You have accepted the "Send in the Clones" mission.

  • "Why is that air vent shouting?"
  • Walk away.

Walk away:

You just can't imagine a situation where this will end well. You decide to extricate yourself from the vicinity of what is shaping up to be a shenanigan before it drags you into its tumultuous embrace. As you walk away, you shake your head at the continued tirade from the irate air vent.

Voice from the Air Vent: You're a gimboid Cloister, a class A hollow-head with nebula gas where your brain should be! A space weevil would get the job done faster than you, and do it considerably better as well I should imagine.

You have failed the "Send in the Clones" mission. You can retake this mission and try again.

Why:

Me: Why is that air vent shouting?

You approach the mirthful technician, a greasy label on his overalls identifies him as 'Cloister Vindaloo.' You notice the stocky bearing of a colonist genotype and can't help but observe that he may well be the dirtiest and most slovenly individual you have ever seen. The dreadlocks that hang limply off his scalp are less of a fashion affectation and more of an oily clumping of hair fused together by what appears to be industrial strength grease. His overalls are a visual encyclopedia of stains and colorful remnants of what you can only hope was once food. He arches his eyebrows and grins at you while he rolls up what appears to be a cigarette of smoking spores.

Cloister: What that? Oh that would be the distinctively warbling mating call of the Brain-dead Smog-head, a strange and eerie life-form native to trash-shoots, sewage pipes, and generally anyplace you would associate with the word 'filthy'.

Still grinning, he pops the rolled up cigarette in his mouth and lights it with what appears to be a welding torch. After an indignant pause, the voice from the air vent once for issues forth.

Air Vent: I'm in an air vent asteroid brain! And the name is First Low Level Technician Judas Gazpacho, thanks to the person (and I use the term in its loosest possible sense) you're currently talking to, I'm stuck up here!

  • "So what's the problem exactly? Why are you stuck?"
  • "So I've gotta ask, your names are so…"

Names:

Me: So I've gotta ask, your names are so…

You leave the question hanging in the air, unsure if defining their names as strange would cause offense. Cloister stares at you for just enough time for the silence to get awkward before grinning a gap toothed smile and answering.

Cloister: …unique? It's the freebooter way innit? We're all about redefining ourselves we are, Freebooters don't follow the rules of the old society see? We're about startin' over, defining who we are on our own terms yeah?

Cloister takes a deep toke of his rolled up cigarette and lets the smoke drift out of his nose, your own wrinkles at the cloying smell of vaporized fungus that is characteristic of spore cigarettes. He shrugs and continues.

Cloister: Names are a part of your identity, they're literally what people define you as. So Freebooters name ourselves as soon as we come of an age. Judas had found some old archives and we liked the sound of these words, took 'em for ourselves. Literally!

  • "So what's the problem exactly? Why are you stuck?"

Me: So what's the problem exactly? Why are you stuck?

Judas: Because gimlet brain here let the vent gate close on the other side! The vents have a dual system for security reasons. You have to open both sides at the same time to access the interior. Someone has to go to the other side while Cloister opens this side.

Cloister, leaning on the nearby wall with his arms crossed, rolls his eyes and shakes his head at the statement coming out of the air vent. Smirking, he replies.

Cloister: I didn't let the vent gate close Smoghead. How could I? I was here having opened this side for you to go through from there! You obviously didn't trip the safety latch and she closed behind your rather sizable posterior… which is impressive enough if you ask me.

There is a moment of silence from the vent above as it appears to consider the validity of the statement. Cloister waggles his eyebrows at you and pushes himself off the wall where, against all odds, he seems to have left a stain dirtier than what was already there. Finally Judas speaks again in measured tones.

Judas: Whatever the case may or may not be, I would ask a kindness friend. Would you come round to the Public Market side of the vent and open the latch while Cloister does so from this side? It's starting to feel cramped in here. I also don't think the cleaner bots have done a great job on their last pass, I'm definitely sitting in something…pungent.

  • "Don't I have to be a technician?"
  • "Sure, no problem."

Technician:

Me: "Don't I have to be a technician?"

Cloister snorts and plays with his dreadlocks as he answers.

Cloister: To be honest matey, WE don't have to be a technician.. a deranged space weevil could do our job.

Judas: THAT is because you are a junior technician Cloister. I am several rungs above the mediocrity of your skill-set. A senior technician has to deal with things your deluded, parasitic mind could only dream of conceiving in its darkest, whimpering nightmares.

Cloister: Oh right, I forgot. You know how to unclog the bog system. Only the real elite get to unclog the latrines when too many smugglers have unloaded their dinners at once the next morning.

Sensing that this exchange is ramping up for a long haul, you decide it prudent to interject.

  • "Sure, no problem."

Me: Sure, no problem.

Judas: Ser you are a scholar and a gentleman…or maam, I can't really see you. Either way, you are the shuttle's turbo-thrusters and no mistake!

Find the other side of the vent in the Public Market.

Next NPC: Judas Gazpacho, Market, Caen Stronghold

  • Search for the air vent.

(Stamina check)

You search around the area for a good while, before finally locating a vent behind the stall of someone selling what appears to be rusty ship parts. The vent was hidden behind an old, defunct looking stabilizer coil. Judas's voice filters through as you move the coil to expose the vent.

Judas: Ah! You've found me! Splendiferous! Now there should be a latchkey on the side, simply shift the interface to the right and you should be able to slide the vent open, assuming asteroid-breath does the same on his end.

You attempt to manipulate the latch as Judas instructed but you notice some sort of electronic device slotted over it. The device makes accessing the latch mechanism impossible as it covers the interface completely. You tell Judas.

Judas: But…but that's a Padlocker! That's a security device used to secure latchkeys! If you don't get that off, I'm trapped in here. And I don't like it here. And…ok not to be an alarmist but I'm pretty sure I just heard the rattle of a cleaner bot. They shouldn't be set to clean now! And generally, when we say clean in relation to a cleaner bot, we mean burn!

New goals: Remove the Padlocker from the Air Vent in the Public Market

  • "I could try to hack it!"
  • "I could try to bust it open!"

Remove the Padlocker from the Air Vent in the Public Market

Hack:
(Intelligence check)

Me: I could try to hack it!

You quickly access the cyber slicing tool on your CORETECHS and allow it to analyse the device. Silver strands of digital data manipulation weave through the air in your field of view and probe the Padlocker. Before long, a pattern emerges and you begin weaving the strands into a delicate lattice that should hopefully unlock the device before you. As you work, you hear Judas from within the vent.

Judas: Erm, yes…yes I can confirm now that there is indeed a cleaner bot en route to this part of the vent. And yes…it is flaming the gunk in its path. So…yes. Not to rush you of course…but could you perhaps work just a smogging smidgen faster?!

You can indeed feel the heat waves slowly emanating from the vent as a cleaner bot is presumably pushing the super heated air before it. You wipe the sweat from your brow and focus on the task at hand, working feverishly to bypass the protocols that keep the Padlocker shut. Judas's panicky voice encourages you as the temperature continues to rise.

Judas: Now I would hate to distract you at a time like this, perish the thought. I just wanted to chime in and say that even though I've never met you, I absolutely believe in you! You are an ace and brilliant and terrific and OH SMOG MY SHOES ARE SMOKING!! MY SHOES ARE ON FIRE!!

You give one final twist to the digital interface and this seems to do the trick. The Padlocker's physical lock beeps twice and opens, revealing the latch beneath. You quickly release it and the vent gate slams open, a smoldering Judas tumbling out and landing in a heap at your feet.

  • "Wow, you ok?"

Me: Wow, you ok?

The Belter sitting in a bedraggled heap before you shakes his head incredulously as smoke gently drifts off his shoes. He looks up at you, trying to catch his breath before standing up.

Judas: Well I could have been a whole lot worse if you hadn't shown up when you did my friend. And this confirms it without a shadow of a doubt, yesiree! Someone is out to get me and no mistake!

A voice drifts down through the vent carrying a slight echo and tinny quality as it bounces through to you.

Cloister: HA! Judas mate, you always think someone's trying to kill you! If Paranoia and Delusion had a lovechild, it'd be you all over!

As Judas listens, his nostrils flare up and he snorts in derision. Waggling his finger in the air, he replies.

Judas: And how do you explain the Padlocker eh? And the Cleaner Bot set to arrive right during my inspection? Oh no! Mark my words Cloisty boy, someone's trying to do me in. A mystery is afoot! I was almost dead! Well…ok not dead dead. But it would have been terribly inconvenient let me tell you!

  • "How do you mean, 'not dead dead'?"

Me: How do you mean, 'not dead dead'?

Judas: Well, I mean I would have uploaded into a clone. But I spent my life savings on that beauty! I was rather saving that for a special occasion. You know what? I'm starting to think there's more to all the nightmares I've been having too. Horrible and vivid recurring visions of my death in all sorts of ways! The last one was so horrible. I was mangled to death in one of the loading bays on the docks. The images and feelings have had me so shaken. I keep meaning to go back and just show myself there is nothing there, but I can't bring myself to do it.

Judas bites his lip as he hugs himself and leans on the bulkhead wall behind him. His eyes take on a haunted and faraway look. Around you, the hustle and bustle of the market drones on, vendors hawking their wares and buyers calling out prices as they bid loudly on some salvaged piece of machinery. After awhile, Judas speaks again with a shaky voice.

Judas: Cloister is a small minded man, simple in an oafish way. He cannot conceive of the dreadful possibilities here, but I know there's more to it! Why am I dreaming of death and today somebody tries to kill me! It can't be an accident can it? I want to go and check the loading bay.. but I just can't!

  • "If I go and see everything is fine, would that help you feel better?"
  • "What's stopping you?"

Stopping:

Me: What's stopping you?

Judas: I just… I mean, you cannot understand how long these nightmares have been plaguing me friend. I dream of a different death almost on a weekly basis. I have steeled myself time and time again, and every time I come close to the place of my imaginary demise, I turn a corner or keep walking. I think…perhaps a part of me is terrified that I might actually find something there!

  • "If I go and see everything is fine, would that help you feel better?"

Me: If I go and see everything is fine, would that help you feel better?

Judas looks up, a pathetic ray of hope flickering across his features. The look on his face is completely at odds with his words.

Judas: Oh I couldn't possibly impose upon you to go in my stead. It would make me look a complete coward…which I am not!

You shrug your shoulders and begin to agree, but Judas hastily stammers out a continuation, his voice cracking with desperation.

Judas: Oh but I have offended you! You have offered such a gesture of nobility to help a lowly technician such as I, and I act the utter smoghead and reject your offer. No, you are right of course, I shall swallow my bravery and put away my ego. I humbly accept your gracious suggestion in totality! And besides, it will be such a quick and easy thing. Just head on down to the docks, loading bay 3, and just see that my nightmare was just that.. a figment, nothing more.

Go to the docks and prove to Judas that his bad dream was nothing more than that.

Next area: Docks, Caen Stronghold

  • Search Loading Bay 3 to reassure Judas.

Initially nothing seems out of the ordinary. The muted sounds of the docks above play a counterpoint to the empty sterility of the loading bay. In fact, it is almost too clean. Then you take a few steps further in and a smell slaps you in the face with all the force of an errant planetoid. You gag as your nostrils fill with what feels like the heady scent of eau de charred corpse.

Someone has clearly been burned alive here and had their corpse dragged away further into the maintenance corridor leading away from Loading Bay 3 and into the infrastructure tunnels beneath the station. Before the smell forces you out of the area, you spot the crudely scrawled lettering that those who navigate these types of sub-station corridors use to find their way. The word, 'ruins' is written on a wall in the direction that the aforementioned and, as yet, alleged, corpse seems to have been dragged towards.

New goals: Continue your investigation in the ruins or call Judas.

Next area: Ruins, Caen Stronghold

  • Search the Ruins of Caen Stronghold for signs of the charred body.
  • Call Judas on your CORETECHS

Search:

You enter the ruins area of the station. A perpetual haze hangs in the air here, a result of the fluctuating atmospheric conditions due to the patchwork re-pressurization after the catastrophe. You find a high vantage point and scan the area, looking for something out of the ordinary (other than the massive crater that dominates the landscape).

The ruined cityscape lies around the crater in a jagged starfish pattern, pointing away from the old blast radius. There is very little movement here and you are about to give up when something catches your eye. With so little life here it actually stood out quite easily to you from your precarious point of view, squatting on-top of the angled precipice of what must once have been a high rise building. You spot none other than Cloister emerging from a dusty and dilapidated old building.

Cloister steps out and lights up another rolled up mycelial cigarette. He takes a couple of puffs and, after a moment, another man steps out behind him. They glance around and exchange some words as well as what appears to be a bag of credits. After some time, they shake hands and move off in different directions. The other man, who appears to be wearing some sort of lab coat beneath his duster, turns and points a device at the building they emerged from before moving on.

New goals: Figure out what's been going on in the ruins on Caen Stronghold

  • Follow Cloister
  • Get a closer look at the building.
  • Follow the man in the labcoat.

Figure out what's been going on in the ruins on Caen Stronghold

Follow lab coat:

Staying high above the broken streets you run along the ruins of rooftops to tale the man in the lab-coat. He hurries through the detritus of the blasted city and only pauses to manipulate the air in front of him as he apparently makes a call on his CORETECHS.

Strange Man: Hullo, Verner? Yes.. we shall soon need another batch of the nano-serum. Ya, inform Janosh that it works perfectly. Clone gestation is delayed at the very last moment, allowing for a delayed regaining of awareness as well as the deletion of any CORETECHS notifications. Well done! Credits are running low as well. I am well aware that they are no object in this case but it bothers me greatly that we should have to pay such…degenerates! Surely a firmer method would be more cost efficient no?

The strange man's voice trails off as he leaves the area, leaving you wondering just what exactly is going on here. You look back across the ruined city, at the way you came. The strange building the pair walked out of squats like some silent, regocrete gargoyle in the shadows, almost beckoning you to come over…

New goals: Figure out what's been going on in the ruins on Caen Stronghold.

  • Get a closer look at the building.

You wait for the two to move a safe distance before you move closer to the building they emerged from. Initially, it looks to be just an ordinary ruin but as you approach, a number of things begin to stand out. First, you notice a strange hum in the air around the ruin. Upon closer inspection, you realize that dozens of small drones hover around the area. This must be what the other man activated as he left the area, a flying drone security network.

Secondly, you notice that there is definitely power coming to the building. While it is hidden from far away, as you approach, a soft light can be seen emanating from underneath the door. While the rest of the ruins seem devoid of power in this area, someone has obviously rigged up some power source within the building. This whole situation is growing increasingly more curious.

  • Hack the drones to allow you into the building.
  • Sneak past the drones into the building.

Hack:
(Intelligence check)

The drones must have a network to communicate with each other and presumably report any breaches to their owner. In your experience, networks can be hacked. Surprisingly, this network itself is not overly sophisticated, and after a bit of probing via your CORETECHS and couple of false starts, you're in. You hesitantly approach but the drones do not react as you enter the building.

  • Explore the building.

Inside the building several fluorescent green lights bathe the room in a dim, almost fey illumination. Your CORETECHS alerts you to the digital interface of what appears to be a private computer next to one wall and a door on the far wall catches your attention as there are trails of dry blood leading from it and into another room. The other room appears to be a macabre looking operating theater.

New goals: Explore the building in the ruins of Caen Stronghold.

  • Look inside the closed room.
  • Investigate the operating theater.
  • Access the terminal.

Explore the building in the ruins of Caen Stronghold.

Operating theater:

The operating theater seems quite clean and sterile. Several surgical implements nearby suggest that this room is not used for healing, but rather for cutting open and experimenting on. A number of devices seem to be used for emulating certain conditions and a analysis processor monitors various metrics and seems to feed straight into the nearby terminal in the other room.

  • Look inside the closed room.
  • Access the terminal.

Closed room:

As you pull open the door, the first thing to hit you is a truly bizarre and macabre spectacle. Arranged in various positions on large shelves and gurneys are a dozen dead bodies. Each and every one seems to bear some horrifying wound, an expression of shock frozen in a silent rictus on their face, and each and everyone is Judas! It almost looks like someone has repeatedly killed a small army of Judases in strange and disturbing ways and then carted them off to this room for storage. One Judas has half his torso burned off, another wears an almost comical expression as he stares down at a gaping hole in his chest, a third's tongue lolls out of his mouth and his eyes are crossed, presumably because something caved his skull in.

The second thing to hit you is the smell. As you stagger out of the room, you find yourself wondering what your nose has done to warrant such abuse this day.

  • Access the terminal.

The terminal, appearing in your field of vision as a virtual, floating screen, is surprisingly both accessible and unsecured. Whoever has been using this pseudo-facility does not seem bothered about security beyond the drones outside. Your eyes widen as you realize this is because the drones are heavily weaponised and carry enough firepower to bring down a small squadron of intruders. You gulp and try not to think about what they could have done to you. You note that you seem to be able to issue commands to the drone network via the computer as well.

You notice several journal entries and access a couple of them. A slow, droning voice goes into a detailed analysis of anatomy specific to clones. You note the voice seems to hold a particular dislike for the concept of cloning and a little further digging reveals that the man working here is a black market scientist, working for the Promethean sect and performing research into possible biological weaknesses in cloned physiology. He also mentions having struck a deal with a local for an endless supply of cloned bodies. Apparently, the scientist provides money and a particular serum. The subject is killed and their clone is activated. The clone gestation engineer is bribed to gestate fresh clones and to administer the serum before the clone awakes in order to delay its activation. This presumably allows time for them to be dragged back to their bed and believe that they just had a terrible nightmare.

It may be time to call Judas.

  • Call Judas.

You call Judas and relay all that you have learnt. He listens in stunned disbelief but as you read him the journal entries, he is forced to accept the entirely unbelievable truth behind everything that has been going on. Suddenly, you hear Cloister's voice from the other end of the line.

Cloister: Alright mate? Shift's starting soon…

There is a pause and you can imagine Judas must have turned to stare at Cloister. Judging by the sudden nervousness in Cloister's voice, it must be a wild-eyed look indeed.

Cloister: Oh Smog…you know don't ye? Listen, Judas, mate.. it was a prank! I mean.. it kind of just started as a prank, I only meant to sizzle you a bit that first time, only as a joke yeah? But you tripped and fell into the smogging vat of acid! And I knew ye'd be so pissed when you woke up in your brand spanking new clone you'd saved up all these cycles for. So this doc yeah, he says he can help.. but then he wanted your body, and the next one after that. He basically had me dead to rights yeah? Wrapped around his finger yeah? And, you know… it WAS kind of fun mate, and I was making a bit on the side! I could split the next one with ye!

Judas: THE NEXT ONE!?

There is another short pause on the line as Judas seems to regain his composure.

Judas: Cloisty…a word?

Cloister: Erm.. listen mate, put down the spanner yeah? Let's just calm down and have a nice chat?

Cloister's voice loses volume as he presumably moves away from the eerily silent Judas. Moments later the line cuts, leaving you wondering as to Cloister's fate. You look around the grim facility that you're standing alone in and also wonder what you should do next.

  • Use the security drones to destroy the building.
  • Leave an anonymous tip with the local trade barons.
  • Walk away.

Anonymous tip:

While there is little actual law on a freebooter station, there are some unspoken yet heavily enforced rules. You are sure the local trade barons would be highly interested to find out about this Promethean conducting illegal research on what is essentially their turf, as well as spreading around unsanctioned bribes.

As you walk away, you feel satisfied that at least somebody will look into this matter and put an end to the grizzly business. On your way out, you also notice the cache of credits the scientist was no doubt using to bribe people with. Well, no sense in letting that go to waste!

You have received 500.00 credits.

You have completed the "Send in the Clones" mission.

<— Return to Missions

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License