The Gemini Pheonix Affair: Ep 1 - Nexus City
Brhom B66, a synth bodyguard owned by Martian Senator Elpin Drosten, boards the low-grade passenger liner Blue Camilla on route to Terra. His visa is for 3 months but he knows he's never coming back to Mars. The senator's son is dead, and Brhom's purpose died with him. Now the synth is just a painful reminder and the family wants him as far away as possible.
Landing on Terra, Brhom is about to disembark when an 18-year-old girl gets his attention. She's a stow-away, and offers Brhom 200 scrip to cause a distraction so she can slip through customs. Designed and programmed to protect young people, Brhom agrees. He cuts in line and tells the customs agent that the company man at the front of the line left his briefcase unattended back on Mars and Brhom saw someone in the spaceport switch it with another case. This causes enough of a stir to let the girl slip away unnoticed.
Later, she meets him on the concourse and introduces herself as Gem. She is obviously escaping Mars too. Brhom agrees to let her stay with him for now, so they won't both be alone and adrift on a new world.
That evening in the cheap motel they rent, Gem pulls out her data-slate and starts looking for shady contacts who might help her score fake IDs for herself and Brhom, using her online handle GeminiPheonix281. Word gets back to a hacker calling himself Red Alert, who arranges to meet them the next morning at a small park nearby.
Tony 'Red Alert' Calderone is only 16, but he's been on his own for a while. His father drew him into a revolutionary socialist conspiracy trying to strike back at the Company. He honed his hacking skills and made some contacts, but now his father is MIA and Tony is disillusioned with a "movement" he's sure will never amount to a serious threat to the powers that be. like any disillusioned teen, he just wants to lash out and burn shit down. But for now, any job that pays will do.
While Brhom watches from a distance, Gem and Tony size each other up and build a thin layer of trust. Gem says she has only one shot to get this right and only a few days to score this ID, so she decides to take a chance on Tony. They shake hands and she slips him a data chip.
On the way back from the meet, Gem stops to grab them some breakfast while Brhom window shops. A stranger stands next to Brhom and asks if he knows what he's getting into. The man opens his wallet to count his scrip and casually lets Bhrom see his bounty-hunter badge from the Agency. Walker, his iDent reads. Brhom feigns ignorance, but agent Walker warns him again and leaves. Gem returns and Brhom quietly lets her know about their tail. She is shaken by the news. "So soon ..."
Meanwhile, Tony taps his connections and plans a dive at the Department of Administration to insert some correction files for 3 advanced fake iDents. Gem already scored the blank cards, all Tony needs to do is plant the data.
While he's hacking he looks into GeminiPheonix281. Trust but verify.
He discovers her real name is Susan Webb, foster child of a scientist working for Prime Genetics on Mars. No record of her legally leaving the red planet.
Tony remembers the data chip and carefully checks it out. Its a top-shelf Intrusion Program from Martian Intelligence. Tony is floored. Who the hell is this girl? He keeps digging ...
Tony finds public record of a lawsuit. Eighteen years ago, Senator Emilia Blanc, CEO of Aeon corp (a subsidiary of Terrax) used her immense money and influence to have Prime Genetics create a clone of her. Certain legacy loopholes in the Embassy laws against cloning allow those with enough influence to create single, personal clones to serve as ideal organ donors. Over 300 years old, a new liver wasn't going to cut it for Blanc. She wanted a full-body brain transplant. Legally, the clones must grow only a primitive brain-stem, but in Emilia's case something went wrong and her clone developed into a normal fetus.
PriGen decided they had to decent the girl and placed her in foster care. Susan Webb.
At age twelve, Susan discovered she was a clone and started looking for a way out. She somehow managed to get the Independent Center for Martian Justice (ICMJ) to take her case pro-bono and defy Blanc. The lawsuit raged for six years but finally Blanc prevailed. Susan was deemed not even Blanc's property, but a part of Blanc's body, completely under the senator's control. The final judgement cam down last week.
Susan clearly fled to Terra. God only knows what someone with Blanc's influence would send to drag her clone back to Mars. They need those IDs fast, and they better hope no one knows Gem landed in Nexus City. Only a matter of time.
Gem, Brhom and Tony plan their heist. The target is a 10-story office building housing a local branch of the Department of Administration, among other things. Opting to hide in plain sight, they go at lunchtime when the place is bound to be crowded and breaking in won't be needed.
On the way, Gem notices Agent Walker tailing them again. Brhom leads him away while Gem and Red Alert sneak into the office and start the hack. The good thing about their plan is they can walk right in and jack into one of the public, self-serve terminals where people submit forms to the DoA. The bad thing is, if Red trips any alarms security will be on them before they can spit.
Fortune smiles on them though, and with a hand from fate and a little help from the Martian spook program, Tony ghosts the system perfectly. He even leaves himself a back-door into the DoA datastore should he need it later.
Meanwhile, Brhom pulls into an alley and waits to confront Agent Walker. Walker can hardly believe Bhrom would put his ass on the line for a girl he hardly knows, but of course the synth will stand up for kids. He'll keep them alive any way he can. Walker lets slip that he's here to make sure Gem never sees Mars again. Walker would prefer she just stayed under everyone's radar on Terra, but some very bad people are coming to take her back to Mars and if it looks like they might succeed, Walker will put a bullet in her head.
Brhom: "Only if it goes through me first."
@greymorn, Cool use of the Agency and nice cyberpunk feel for Nexus City. I'll be on the lookout for your next update. If you come with any cool bars or other locales for Nexus City, there is still room/time for contributions in that part of the gazetteer. Good tie-ins to the existing content.
Scribe of the Adventure System
I particularly like the mix of characters, and how their backstories influence how they relate to one another.
I'm curious as to whether you used an Archetype for Gem and, if so, what it was?
@von-fuge no archetype. I'm pretty minimalist when it comes to NPCs, I only have a handful of stats and add as I need them. Gem has d4 physicals and huge mental stats. She'll grow up to be like the UN Secretary General in The Expanse ... if she lives.
Right now she's a mixed bag of skills she thought she would need to escape: Streetwise, Persuasion, Navigation(space).
Gem is an NPC? But she seemed so real!
At least one of those characters is a player, right? 😀
@von-fuge Yep. Paul (Tony) is a very immersive player, loves social interaction scenes. Johnny (Lu) is my game-breaker. If there's an exploit in Phil's system, I expect he'll find it. Darren (Quinn) joined last night. He is the ideal play-tester. Tells you exactly what he thinks of a rule or the current adventure, pulls no punches.
I'll keep it to three people for now.
@greymorn, please send me Darren (Quinn)'s name via email for playtest credit. It would be great if he joined the forum as well. Thanks
Scribe of the Adventure System