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It's 3am, and whatever you're doing at this time of night, it's a safe bet you don't want to hear from your boss. But your personal assistant sprite won't take no for an answer-- it hovers at the edge of your peripheral vision, insisting more and more loudly that you *have* to read this message. Now.
I must apologize for the bad news I now deliver. It has always been our policy at Yamada, Koivu and Rostand to treat our indentured employees as colleagues rather than assets. But I have just learned that, as of noon tomorrow, control of the company will pass to Architeuthis Cybernetics. All our major shareholders deny selling them any stock, although one of them must have betrayed us. I only wish I had time to find out which.
If you are unfamiliar with Architeuthis, count yourself lucky-- they are notorious asset-strippers whose main business is buying up indentured workers' contracts and using their brain tissue for computational processing tasks. Due to heavy corporate pressure, the government continues to deny that this is hazardous to the unfortunate people involved, but serious side effects are almost inevitable.
As my last effort to protect you, I've sold your contracts to an offworld trading house, Faria Inc., whose ship, the "Bois Dormant", leaves port at 10 this morning. As your sales may be challenged in court, I encourage you to be on it when it departs; sadly, I cannot tell you anything about your destination, but I suspect it will be more pleasant than your fate should you remain here.
I myself must remain to greet the new management, since if I commit any offence against them, my daughter Marianne could lose her claim to my estate. However long you've been with us, I want you to know it's been a pleasure working with you at YKR.
It's early morning; the Metro shuttle to the port district is nearly empty, and only a few cafes are already brewing coffee and baking croissants for the hardest-working traders. You step off the railcar, feeling the lighter gravity this close to the station's hub, and flash your identity card at the scanner. It blinks, confirming you have permission to visit the docks; the bored gendarmes on duty barely look at you as you pass.
The Bois Dormant is moored to a docking clamp in an out-of-the-way corner, the ship itself hanging outside the station, but with open umbilicals linked to its fuel tanks and cargo bay. From what you can see out the station windows, it's some kind of courier vessel, an older design that's seen extensive repairs over the years. As you draw nearer, you can see loading bots carrying the last of a series of shipping containers into the cargo hold, most of them the bright red or yellow used for biologicals and perishable goods.
A dark-haired, middle-aged man supervises the loading, cursing loudly at the robots whenever a container bumps or shakes. Meanwhile, a youngish woman kneels next to a strange apparatus, tightening the last few fasteners with a magnetic ratchet driver. Neither of them seem to notice you. The woman stands up, punches some commands into her tablet, and stands back. Whatever it is she's built is as tall as you are, a core of crystal and optic fibre wrapped in clamps, capacitors and metal pipes. You look on intently as the crystal starts to glow, red, then yellow, then a piercing blue that hurts your eyes. A thin whine builds in intensity.
You look around. There are three of you standing here, you notice, all packed for a journey. All watching your new crewmates and their... device. You wonder who the others are.
Isaias, having never been one to meekly wait on the sidelines, walks straight up to the supervisor, figuring that things can't get much worse than being forced out of a job he loved and sent away from the station he has grown to know so well.
"Excuse me sir?" he says to the supervisor, offering his hand to shake in attempt to be friendly. "Name's Isaias Rhodes. I've been...assigned to your company and told I should be here?" he says, trying to confirm his instructions and get an idea of what he should be doing next.
Awesome avatar by kaptainkrutch.
The man looks over at you. He's sturdy, weathered, his black hair going grey-- probably about fifty, you think.
"Claude Duval." He offers you his hand. "And that's Abby Faria." He waves at the young woman, still intent on her tablet and the apparatus she's just assembled. "She owns the company, I just work here."
"Oh, lots of stuff. Negotiations, deal making, fetching coffee." Rhodes says with a smile. "Such is the life of an indentured. Is there anything I can do to help out here? I'm not much for heavy lifting but I'm at the company's disposal I suppose." Rhodes notes, wanting to make a good first impression since the company owner is present.
Awesome avatar by kaptainkrutch.
Harlan growls near the back of his throat as he approaches the docks. He has had an amazingly adorable night. First his sprite had woken him in the middle of his last nap of the night then, he had spent the rest of his now terminated shift locating his baton and other considerations.
He grumps at the memory of his corperate credit card being chewed to pieces by the Vend-All machine as he had tried to purchase a new firearms license. Which then meant his cafeteria card would be invalid.
So all in all he was under slept, under fed and generally grumpy.
Best not to take it out on his new bosses.
He wanders over and draws himself in to some semblance of good posture. "Harlan Granger reportin' for duty."
"Bonjour! It's nice to meet you both." Abby smiles at you, sounding genuinely happy. "And you're just in time for the demonstration, too!"
She taps a quick command into the tablet. The strange piece of equipment dims slightly-- and then begins to flicker as the whine modulates into a low, discordant growl. "That's not right. Let me check the..."
Isaias, having seen and even worked with plenty of machines just a hairs breath away from exploding, starts instinctively diving the moment the hairs on the back of his neck go up, hitting the ground and covering his head just before the equipment detonates.
Awesome avatar by kaptainkrutch.
You sweep the woman out of the path of the blast, covering her with your body until you're sure nothing else is going to blow up. She takes the fall like a novice-- no martial arts or combat training, you suspect. But it doesn't look like she's hurt. The expression on her face is puzzled, not pained, as if she's going over the thing's design in her head to figure out why it didn't work.
Shards of crystal fly over your head, one so close you could swear it ruffled your hair.
You hear an ugly, metallic clang as the remains of the device slam into one of the shipping containers, tearing a small, jagged hole into one of its walls. Duval leans over to inspect the damage, and then leaps back. "[Sheep mustard!] Something just bit me! What the [lexicon] is in this thing, Abby?"
His hand is bleeding. You catch sight of a crablike creature scuttling away from him across the hangar floor, and as you watch, another pokes its antennae through the hole and makes its way clumsily outside.
Harlan rolls with his dive using years of security training. He bounces up nodding to the woman "Stay down."
This is what he hated about corprate security, someone's genius bottom line money making scheme always went bad. Always. Now to take care of it. Reaching for his belt he grabbed his baton and flicked it out. Let's see how tough these things are.
He moved toward the nearest crab thing and swung for it's head. Face? Whatever. It was going down.
There's a loud crunch as your baton slams into the crab-creature, splintering its carapace. It twitches feebly, but it looks like you've neutralized this one.
The second creature runs towards you. For something so small, it's surprisingly fast, and you don't have time to draw your weapon before it begins scrabbling unpleasantly up your leg.
It nips at you with its ugly little claws.
[attack: (1d20+5); if hit, take 1 damage and fort save DC 11]
Abby stays obediently on the ground, seemingly ignoring the combat as she looks around for pieces of her machine. Claude seems to be in agony right now-- the wound to his hand is surprisingly painful for such a small cut. But he's alert enough to notice another one of the creatures making its way out of the container. "Someone get this thing closed or they'll all get out!"
Isaias, still somewhat stunned from the explosion, doesn't notice the creature approach until it's bit him.
"Yeouch!" he yells, before jumping up and running over to the container.
"Any idea how we can close this thing?" he asks, grimacing in pain at the bite on his leg.
Fort save: (1d20+1)
What happens on a fail?
Move: Move over to the container?
Standard: If I have one use it to see how we can go about closing this thing. If I lose it (either because I need to stand up and spend it to move, or because of the fort save) then nothing.
Awesome avatar by kaptainkrutch.
The container rocks, and you hear its vicious little occupants slide down the side to scrabble at the bottom. But it doesn't tip over.
Two of the creatures are still outside-- three, if you count the one you just pulped. One of them rushes up to you.
[Make an attack of opportunity. Hit 15 and deal 2 damage to kill it. Otherwise, it attacks you: (1d20+5), 1 damage and poison.]
The creature that attacked you before must have enjoyed the experience. It chases after you, tiny claws clicking on the deck plating.
[Same idea... AoO vs 15, or attack (1d20+5), 1 damage and poison.]
Claude looks down at his rapidly-swelling hand. "I'd stay to help you out, but this is my weapon hand... I can't even move the loader robots without it. Abby, when this is over, you had better have a good reason for buying those frelling things!" He heads for the ship.
Abby looks over at him. "No problem, Claude. I can drive the robots if you like. Fix should be able to help you with the medkit!"
She keeps cautiously out of the way of the crabs while walking over to recover the remote for the loaders. They're squat, powerful machines without much onboard intelligence. "Let me know what you want me to do with them."