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Traveller: Session 4

 


This is part of an ongoing campaign. You can find the other sessions over on the sidebar. This session was run on October 20, 2022. This session contains secret communications between me and the individual players. This means that these recaps do not cover everything that happened in the session. I will be reporting only the information that all players had access to.

 

131-1116

 

The session picked up right where the last one left off, the players have just stopped a psionic assassination attempt against the emperor during the christening of the new imperial flagship, Iolanthe.

 

After the immediate threat had passed and the emperor was safe, Archduke Ishuggi went to talk to Ambassador Yerlaruwo about psionics and the Aslan. He learned that the Aslan, having generally low psionic potential themselves, know little of psionics since they have little reason to interact with the Zhodani on a regular basis.

 

Adair took the time to apologize to the imperial family for the actions of the assassin “Baron Pazi” who turned out to be someone from his domain. Grand Princess Ciencia assured him that no one thought the attack was his fault. He also apologized to the woman he accidentally shot.

 

Archduke Bzrk, who was scheduled to have the honor guard the next day, talked to his chief of staff, Zurzi, who suggested that he try to convince the emperor to use the force field in the throne room. The emperor does not like to use the force field because it is visible and separates him from his subjects. Bzrk asked if the force field would protect against psionic attacks. Zurzi admitted that he did not know for sure but argued that a potential attacker would have used their strongest psionic attack in the first attempt, and it had failed. He cautioned that they needed to be concerned about physical attacks as well.

 

After a discussion with his Khugi, his chief of staff, Archduke Adair told the others that he had learned that “Baron Pazi” was actually Yuri Lang, a member of his intelligence service. He assured them that he had no knowledge of the assassination attempt or that Yuri had psionic abilities. Archduke Tranian admitted that he had also learned that Pazi was actually a member of Adair's intelligence agency because Shuri told him that he had been part of a combined operation with Gateway Intelligence against pirates a few years ago. Shuri had not known about his psionic abilities.

 

After the group broke up for the evening, Tranian took the chance to call on Ciencia. She thanked him for his quick actions in saving her father and, after some small talk, they discussed their mutual misgivings about the twin princes, Lucan and Varian. The also reminisced about their school years and the princess urged Tranian took look after Dulinor.

 

Bzrk met with the emperor and convinced him to use the force field during court the next day. Strephon insisted that it only be for one day.

 

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All of the archdukes insisted that the attendees of court be subjected to facial recognition scans to guard against another rogue intelligence agent. The emperor opened court by announcing that Prince Lucan would also be going on a Grand Tour of the empire along with Prince Varian. He then announced his decision to allocate 10 trillion credits of the budget surplus to Princess Ciencia’s proposal to conduct a Supplemental Survey of the Imperium. He placed Margaret and Ciencia in charge of planning the survey. Finally, he announced that he and Yerlaruwo, the Aslan ambassador, had reached terms on an agreement where the Imperium would allow an additional 1 billion Aslan to immigrate over the next ten years in exchange for a reduction of tariffs and duties on tech level 14 and higher technology imported into the Hierate by the Third Imperium. He stated that he planned to announce two archduke that would coordinate the immigration tomorrow.

 

As everyone shuffled out of the throne room, Shana called Margaret over to see LCDR Windhook. Windhook, who had a staff assignment to Duchess Margaret’s court as a junior officer, is in Capital coordinating the Grand Tour of the Imperium. He noted that, in typical fashion, he was made aware that Lucan would also be on the tour this morning in court with everyone else.

 

The meeting of the Council of Archdukes started with a discussion of which archdukes should oversee the settlement of the additional Aslan immigrants. The three interested candidates were Tranian, who wants to settle them in a buffer zone against the K’Kree, Ishuggi, who wants to limit migration, and Bzrk, who has an overall interest in the rights of non-humans in the Imperium. Eventually, Strephon chose Tranian and Bzrk to head up the effort.

 

When that discussion ended, the emperor dismissed everyone but the archdukes and Margaret from the chamber. He explained that what he was about to reveal was one of the most valuable secrets of the Imperium.

 

In the 800s, the Imperium became concerned about Zhodani expeditions in the direction of the galactic core. Due to the distance, it was almost impossible to learn more about what the Zhodani were up to through conventional intelligence methods, so the Imperium secretly build a gigantic telescope in the Lishun sector of the Domain of Antares.

 

The Long Baseline Observation Window (LONGBOW) returned some useful information about how far the Zhodani had traveled towards the core but was limited and eventually decommissioned. Over the last few years, Strephon initiated a new project, LONGBOW II. LONGBOW II consists of many stations spread across he far side of the Vargr Extants, linked by an XBoat network and an experimental, rudimentary psionic communication and observation system. In essence, LONGBOW II is the largest telescope ever created.

 

Thirteen days ago, the emperor personally received psionic contact from a LONGBOW telepath located in the old LONGBOW I facility in Lishun. The rudimentary nature of the psionic communication means that it is hard to transmit details, and the information he received had been transmitted through several psionic relays from the far stations. He learned that a powerful wave is propagating from the galactic core. It is electromagnetic, but also seems to contain a psionic component as well. Observation indicates that it does not travel at a constant speed, spending most of its time moving at sublight speeds but suddenly accelerating to speeds faster than any known jump technology. There are theories that the speed of the wave might vary with its strength, but there are no ways to test this yet.

 

The initial wavefront causes a moment of intense anticipation, “as though all the birds stopped singing at once.” This is followed by a crushing feeling of despair and the image of a human woman, dressed in black, holding a scepter. She seems to be asking for help, or perhaps warning others to flee.

 

The emperor immediately dispatched jump-6 craft to Lishun, but it will be at least 14 weeks before any further information, if available, can return from there. There is reason to believe that it is wreaking havoc on the coreward sections of the Zhodani Consulate but seems to have less impact on the Vargr areas that it has reached. He expects the wave to reach the Imperium between 1200 and 1210. He then opened the floor for discussion.

 

Dulinor expressed that this was exactly the kind of crisis that he had been warning about and that he did not think that the Imperium, in its current, calcified, state could withstand it. He pressed that the liberalization reforms need to accelerate in order to be prepared.

 

Ishuggi disagreed, saying that this is the worst time to make big changes. He also stated that he suspected that the Vargr were faring better because they were less psionically active and this gave credence to his warnings about not repealing the Psionic Suppression Laws.

 

Dulinor argued that a crisis like this was a good reason to do away with central control. If key systems were hit hard by the despair effects of the wave, it could cripple the Imperium’s ability to respond. Ishuggi countered that only central control could allow for the kind of coordination needed to survive the wave.

 

Tranian supported his mentor and pushed for further liberalization and an expansion of psychohistory research in hopes of countering and predicting some of the effects. Ishuggi replied that he thought that psychohistory, even if it worked at all, would be a waste on this kind of “black swan” event. He stressed that he thought pushing control down to a lower level in the face of this crisis could make it harder to hold the Imperium together and result in another Long Night.

 

Adair advised that careful planning was required and that capabilities should be distributed with the assumption that the wave would be a disaster in mind. He stressed the need to be able to recover from the wave however destructive it wound up being. He also though that some additional psychohistory funding was in order.

 

Before inviting the rest of the council back into the room, the emperor closed out the discussion by saying that he was inclined towards Ishuggi’s position himself.

 

Strephon asked for each archduke to present their budget priorities for his final consideration. Adair highlighted military funding and further political liberalization. Tranian weighed in for liberalization, psychohistory, psionic research, and faster information infrastructure. Bzrk expressed a preference for direct research on how to protect from the effects of the wave, accelerating Aslan migration, and building basic intelligence capabilities. Ishuggi’s priorities were military spending and research, psionic defense research, transportation initiatives and to not waste money on liberalization and psychohistory. Dulinor stressed that he thought that liberalization and pushing the budgetary decisions down to the archduke level.

 

The emperor closed out the council meeting by announcing his intention to promote Norris in court the next day, effective immediately. He would send a delegation by fast transit to Deneb immediately following the announcement.

 

Tranian talked to an obviously upset Dulinor following the meeting. They both felt that they had hoped not to see these times during their life. Dulinor felt that the emperor was acting in a reactionary fashion that could make the problem worse. As they parted, Dulinor reminded Tranian that he had always been proud of both him and Ciencia since they were his students.




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