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Traveller: Session 8

 


 This is part of an ongoing campaign. You can find the other sessions over on the sidebar. This session was run on November 17, 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. This portion of the campaign uses Zozer Games excellent Outpost Mars setting for Cepheus Engine.

 

Having arrived at the second rover site shortly before dark, they set up camp and decided on a watch rotation for the night. During Romilius’s watch a flyer landed about one hundred yards away and three people in non-official suits got out and approached the rover. Romilius woke the others as the lead figure plugged a jack into 10WPink’s external port to establish a communication link.

 

She introduced herself as Cynthia Meyers from Cydonian security. She was accompanied by Dag Coleman and Tucker Nguyen. She explained that they had been dispatched to check on the team after they had noticed their activity in the area through their drone overflights. She stated that there was some concern that they might be wildcatters and this raised the risk of a blowout that could endanger the people at the Cydonia site and their research in the area.

 

After a brief discussion, they decided to invite the three Cydonians in. Hunter then explained that they were on a legitimate geological research mission to understand the newer canyon they investigated early in the day. He relied heavily on his ASU connections and the security team seemed satisfied and left.

 

In the morning, they started the search for the second missing drone. Mildra and Lukas used the trikes while the others rode in the rover. After about two hours, they found the drone in the northern portion of the drone’s operating area. Like Drone 3, Drone 2 was completely inoperative but did not have any external damage. Romilius established a connection with the drone’s memory banks and found, as was the case with Drone 3, the operating system was intact but the mission memory was filled with noise. While Romilius was working on Drone 2, Lukas and Wilson set up the replacement drone. They pulled the ruined drone onto the rover and set out for Done 1’s operating area.

 

Halfway between the Drone 2 and Drone 1 area, they lost signal with the replacement Drone 3. The signal loss was sudden and there was no degradation of signal prior to it cutting off. They stopped and decided to do a deeper investigation of the ruined Drone 2 before proceeding. They opened up the case and found that there was red sand inside the seal. The sand was concentrated on the chips and PCB board tracings.

 

Hunter performed an analysis on the sound and found that it was silicon and lacked any of the iron or perchlorates found in Martian soil. The molecular arrangement was too complex to be naturally occurring. Romilius tested the sand by subjecting it to various frequencies and found that it was excited by frequencies in the range of those present on the circuit board and radio communications.

 

Romilius decided to modify replacement Drone 1 to harden it against the sand intrusion and whatever caused the sudden failure of replacement Drone 3. He added a third memory bank to directly record the sensor readings before they were processed by the main board in hopes of avoiding the memory corruption. He also filled the computer compartment with inert packing to prevent intrusion. 

 

They decided to have 10WPinki turn back to perform similar modifications on replacement Drone 2 before going to Drone 1’s patrol area. While the others returned to Drone 2, Mildra and Lukas continued on the trikes to find Drone 1. When they reached replacement Drone 2 Zalf opened the computer bay and found a radio transmitter and small explosive charge that were not part of the drone spec. The transmitter and the charge were both off-the-shelf items and not connected to each other. The transmitter was connected to the sensor feed and the explosives were on a timer. Zalf informed everyone of his discovery and Mildra and Lukas rejoined the group.

 

Once they were all together again, Lukas revealed that he had placed the transmitter but not the explosives. He claimed that the transmitter was intended to capture the data being collected by the drone and transmit it. He claimed to have no knowledge of the explosives. They decided to all search each other and Hunter discovered that a box Mildra had in her possession was a ground penetrating radar. Mildra explained that she was using it to investigate a large cavity beneath the surface and shared her data. The cavity seemed to be in the area of the cave the passed on their way from the Drone 3 site. They did not find anything suspicious on anyone else.

 

Romilius made several additional modifications to the replacement Drone 2, including a transmitter to send him the sensor data it collected. They then headed back to the Drone 1 patrol area.

 

After finding Drone 1 in the same state as the other two, they began deploying the modified replacement drone. Suddenly, Romilius realized the danger that 10WPink may have been infiltrated by the sand and ran towards the rover to start running some tests. Before he could reach the rover, the Cydonian security flyer landed again and the three security officials emerged. As the flyer was landing, Zalf got a cuff seal failure alert from his suit, but he did not seem to be losing pressure. He also began making his way to the rover.

 

The Cydonian security representatives were armed with pistols this time and Cynthia informed the team that they had been given a tip that there were UNSCO agents on board the rover. She ordered them to pack up their drones and leave the area. They decided that it was best to not fight the Cydonians and agreed.

 

While the others were packing up the drone, Zalf inspected his suit and discovered a small amount of the red dust on the cuff seal sensor. He determined that the sensor had failed but the seal never lost integrity.

 

They set out for Reunion by going back the way they came. While passing by the cave, they discussed climbing up to explore it, but decided it was too risky with the Cydonians watching them. Mildra triggered the ground penetrating radar and discovered that, while the cavity she had detected was near the cave, it was actually to the west and under the path the original drones had taken on their way to their deployments. She also determined the return was consistent with subsurface ice. They decided not to investigate this for now.

Shortly after they left, Romilius saw the Cydonian flyer land near Drone 2 and Cynthia destroy the drone. As they were on their way back to Reunion, they got a call from Jin. A flying transport had crashed fifty kilometers to the south and they were the closest people who could attempt a rescue. They were to proceed to the area immediately to help.

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