``What is the Law?''
Dr. Kye has acquired licenses for three sites on Sundown. Two are the basic "loot and pillage" licenses. The first is for the remote nanotech campus of the Polymath Institute (Dr. Symphony-Hayes used to work there, and thinks it's possible that that's where Kaufman research would take place - she also vaguely recalls that there was some sort of explosive for if the nano got out of control). The second is for the AI research area, in the heart of plague country. Additionally, he has a "permission to look around" permit for the island where Janzur picked up Sophia, but there's apparently people doing ecological research there. The first stop is the nanotech campus. However, coming in over the site, the landing site is still well paved and painted. The idea that there are little nanotech paint-bots on the loose down there is immediately suggested. Well, the worst that could happen is that Hippocrates gets painted, right? Maury thinks that it's possible that worse things could happen. Sharra comes up with a little detector that has a lot of yummy nanobot substrates, and then looks to see if any of them gets eaten. Of course, from up here, it's hard to tell anything about whether there's nano running around.
Hippocrates, scanning, notes that the island is, in fact, inhabited. By nano? No, no, by larger things. Like people. Eva hails them on the radio: "Hello, unidentified colony." The radioman is psyched - it is the Ship! Come! Welcome! Eva asks who's in charge of the colony - the reply is that they serve Dr. Cain. (Eva uses her vast powers of intelligence analysis to deduce that this is the Island of Dr. Moreau, stunning the GM who had expected that revelation to wait a few moments longer, like until they saw the animal-men...). Again, they are welcomed. The Hippocrates lands.
An honor guard of six, who look something like lizard-men with blaster rifles, meets the disembarking party. Maury thinks that they look sort of like uplifts, but badly done. Their bones don't quite fit right, or something. The honor guard brings them in, where they meet Dr. Cain. Pretty much everyone else on the island is one of the animal-guys; Hippocrates thinks there's about sixty. Dr. Cain offers to show them around his facility, and they must stay for dinner before everyone goes. At some point, it becomes clear that he expects them to take him, plus all of his Servants, away when they leave. In fact, as he explains to Eva, they will take him away, with his Servants and his Cleansing Fire, and then he will RULE the WORLD! Er. He probably shouldn't have told her that. Well, then, he'll just have to rule the world with her at his side! (Dr. Kye wonders whether the captain of a ship can marry herself to someone else on board the ship. He is summarily glared down.) The tour continues. The older and smaller Servants trail at a distance after Maury - one is brave enough to ask why he does not have the Mark of Cain? Maury says it's because he's not from around here, and notes that all the Servants have scars on their temples.
Dr. Cain shows off all of the front buildings, including several barracks, a combat training area, and such. Anya tries to talk to the armed Servants about their plans to take over the world; they are soon replaced by a Servant named Caliban, a wolf-man with ram's horns. He answers some questions (yes, they are trained in tactics, some with weapons and some not) but eventually he decides that Dr. Cain is talking a little too much. He doesn't seem to consider himself able to point this out, though.
There are some larger windowless buildings further back, which Cain does not show the party. Dr. Kye suspects that's where the good stuff is. Eva asks if that's where the Servants are born - yes, it is. But such things are not for the tender eyes of women. Hmm. Would they be for the less tender eyes of Eva's minions, like Kye and Janzur? Well, no, not so much. Dr. Cain declares that dinner will be ready in an hour; a servant scoots off in panic to make it so. Eva asks if there is somewhere that they can rest until dinner? There are the gardens, or would Eva like the comfort of a room (he leers)? The gardens will do fine.
Dr. Cain is mostly monopolizing Eva; there are armed Servants around to spot if people are trying to wander out of the garden (Dr. Kye tests, by wandering casually over towards the edge; one of the Servants wanders casually in that direction too). One of the unarmed Servants tries to catch Maury's eye. He looks at the group, at the trees, at Dr. Cain, and back at Maury as if to say "Are you really working for him?" Maury drifts to the end of the garden to talk to the Servant, a bird-man named Ariel. Ariel implores Maury to help, to rescue them. The servants will want to escape, the soldiers probably not. Maury says he'll see what he can do. Ruehan tries to mind-read a couple of the soldiers and a couple of the servants to figure out what's up with these paingivers; they seem to be, well, things that cause pain whenever they're disobedient. The fact that Ruehan's mind-read is painful causes the servants in particular to try and figure out what they're doing wrong to be punished. Maury looks for what Cain is using to control the paingivers, and notes a bracelet with buttons. It looks like inworld tech, not higher.
Struck with inspiration, Eva sends Kye and Janzur back to the ship to fetch the gift she has brought Dr. Cain for dinner. Off they go, without guards - apparently minions on missions aren't considered dangerous. They go back to the ship and pick up a half-case of Sparky Cola, as well as a vial of Relaxation and a vial of Affection. Once the minion-mission thing seems to be working, Dr. Kye starts trooping back and forth between the ship and the garden. Nobody bothers him. Sharra "gets sent" back to help him, where she starts building a scanner and an all-purpose jammer.
Dinner happens. It seems to be fish and fruit, with the Sparky Cola in wine glasses. Maury sets himself up as Eva's Servant, to bring her (and her minions) the food. Janzur is her bodyguard, and Anya her bard (Anya has also zipped back to the ship to change back out of her biosuit and pick up her lute). This doesn't leave too many people to eat, especially since Ruehan is only pushing his food around and hiding it under the lettuce. During dinner, Dr. Kye spots an opportunity to sneak off the trail between the entry area and the landing pad, and goes to look at the windowless buildings. Alas, the doors are locked - he will need Sharra to help. During dinner, Hippocrates (who was eventually scanning for radio signals) notices a "ping", and then another one half an hour later. It's probably coming from Dr. Cain's bracelet.
Dinner concludes, and the Plan gets made. Since they've been playing along, they'll offer to show Dr. Cain around the Ship, to start on the logistics of moving him and his Servants. Then, they'll Get Him. The plan is honed a bit - Kye and Sharra will be breaking into the back buildings at the same time. And the plan will be to jump him shortly after a ping. Eva makes the offer, and Cain is please to go see the Ship - Caliban insists on bringing himself and the six lizard guards. Cain clearly thinks this isn't necessary, but lets Caliban have his way. An addition to the plan is grafted on - they'll try to cut Cain off from as many of his guards as possible with a shutting door.
Off the plan goes. Sharra gets the doors open nigh-immediately. The first building has pens and cages of animals, animal feed, and a big generator. The second building has an office, a room with two HUGE BOMBS, and a room with two things that look like Kaufman tubes, except that they're full of yellow goo. There's also a smaller device which seems to be pumping yellow goo in.
Meanwhile, the door is shutting between three of the soldiers and the rest of the ambush. Maury teleports Cain's bracelet off, despite it being attached to his wrist, and then away to his stateroom. Ruehan mind-controls Caliban, telling him to come to attention and then tell the others to drop their weapons. Janzur apologizes, and says that they will not be able to take him away at the present time. He regards his now-empty wrist, and says he imagines not.
In the stateroom, the device Maury is holding goes "beep bip bip beeeeeeeeeeeeep", and over in the lab building, Sharra notes that a display on the bombs has just clicked on, counting from 10:00 to 9:59.
The fighters dither - they don't feel right pounding anyone yet, since nobody's actually attacked. Dr. Cain solves their dilemna by telling his Servants "kill them all! Except her!" Carnage ensues. The Servants, in general, are not using their blaster rifles (it being close quarters in the hallway), but they're quite adept with their claws.
Ruehan mentally thwacks Cain for a bit, until Caliban leaps upon him and tears his shoulder open, at which point he falls down. Anya and Janzur spend a while playing parry-the-Servant, while the Servants on the other side of the door are mostly thwarted by Auxiliary Power to Doors (one gets through the door before that). Cain tries to convince Eva that there is still time to join him and rule the universe together. She finds him eerily convincing, but then declines the offer and takes him out with a final blaster shot. She is promptly lept upon by a now-berserk Caliban, and also falls. Caliban is taken out, but none of the other Servants have actually fallen down by the time they take Anya down as well.
Things are looking a bit grim at this point, with Janzur and a bunch of bodies, surrounded by four still-standing Servants, when Maury finally makes his reappearance with the bracelet, broadcasting PAIN to the Servants. They fall over, clutching their heads (as, in fact, do all the other Servants on the island).
Kye and Sharra have been madly scooping things into trashcans (for easy carrying) before making their escape, and Hippocrates is bringing the ship closer, broadcasting that the inhabitants should prepare for evacuation, as the island is about to blow. However, only ten minutes is probably not long enough to evacuate the island. Maury figures out how to send the "Start the countdown now!" signal again, and then rigs up a complicated fiddly thing that will keep sending it over and over until the Hippocrates leaves. This gives Kye and Sharra license to finish looting; they discover that the tubes of yellow goo have Servants-in-progress. Apparently what Dr. Cain does is break an animal into an approximate man shape (and add decorations if he wants, like Caliban's horns), and then puts it, and a lot of his own blood, into the tube. This creates something of a chimera as the creature heals back together as a patchwork. It's unclear if they'll survive being decanted, but they'll die if they stay here (not fifty feet from the two enormous bombs). So Sharra decants them; one is able to walk, the other, alas, dies. The yellow-goo-generator, however, can be used as One Experiment for either Kaufman Process Phase I, or later, for Kaufman Process Phase II.
The initial broadcasts aren't having quite the right effect; the soldiers think that it's some sort of trick, and that evacuating is treason; the servants would be willing to come, except that the soldiers will generally shoot them if they try. Hmm, that's unfortunate. Ruehan creates an illusion of Dr. Cain saying, basically, "come aboard, we're taking the ship, lay down your weapons and come in here." That works pretty well to get everyone to come aboard in an orderly fashion, but they don't actually lay down their weapons (they seem to think that makes no sense, they must have misheard). The servants and soldiers are sorted into separate large rooms; the illusionary Dr. Cain makes occasasonal visits and pep talks to the soldiers, while the servants get debriefed, as the ship zooshes off to Haven in order to leave them.
Dr. Cain is kept asleep as much as possible; Caliban is woken up, and they ask what they should do with him. The interrogators don't seem to like "Let us go" or "Leave me with Dr. Cain", so he's not really sure what to suggest. What will he do if they let him go? He will live a productive and peaceful life, of course. Nobody believes him, and the interrogators don't like being lied to. It mostly seems to be an impasse, as he has nothing particularly clever to suggest, and, being tied up and captive, doesn't seem to feel that there's much use in pretending to negotiate.
Maury points out that if Caliban is left with the other soldiers, he's going to forge them into a Retributive Force to come and get the Hippocrates. On the other hand, leaving him with Dr. Cain, well, the two of them will undoubtedly escape, but then it's just a two man team coming after them. Exactly what can be done with Dr. Cain is another somewhat puzzling question. Blue Hegemonic law would mostly thwack him for extensive cruelty to animals, because the chimeras aren't legally people; they aren't even legally sentient, the way uplifts are. He could be left on Stannis Law, because Lord Stannis can do whatever he wants to him - but Lord Stannis probably does not want to be the official dumping ground for the rest of the Linked Worlds' mad villains. Or perhaps he could be committed to an asylum, but what with the "eerily convincing" ability, it seems like he might not stay.
Since the island will blow up as soon as the Hippocrates leaves, the choice seems to be between tossing Dr. Cain out an airlock, or leaving him somewhere that he will no doubt escape from. The party settles, grudgingly, on number two. Off the ship goes ("BOOM!" goes the island and is gone), first to Haven, where the sixty Servants are left, along with a 1500-aster research fund to try and figure out how to remove the paingivers without sixty separate iterations of brain surgery. Then, Dr. Cain and Caliban are dropped on Sanctuary, with Eva's brother Gabriel given instructions to try and get them committed.
Then, after two weeks of jumping here and there, the party returns to Sundown. (Whew!)
The area of the old AI research is in the middle of the Polymath main campus, which is pretty thick with plagues. Everyone gets into their biohazard suits, and sets off into the dungeon. Various clues and interesting data are pried out of the moldering cabinets and computers. Alas, the "backup disks for Acheron" (which Hippocrates identifies as the prototype AI) were removed by "Dr. S.". Additionally, a note is found saying "The ``patient'' is becoming more and more paranoid. I think soon treatment will become impossible unless the source of his reaction can..." which is considered mildly suspicious. Janzur has to be prevented from trying to jump a chasm just to see what would happen, and various deathtraps like Atriums Full Of Broken Glass are cleverly avoided with the use of archaeologist-spidey-sense powers. Eventually, enough data to generate a 53% chance of a successful AI experiment is recovered.
Finally, it's off to the little island where Dr. Symphony-Hayes was working when Janzur got her. Dr. Bowman, the head of the project, is pleased to hear from the group, though he was sort of expecting them before this. They land. It looks a bit more rural than it did the first time Janzur saw it - there are fields of crops, and goats and rabbits. Dr. Bowman comes out, with a couple of his other people, and introductions are made.
His eyebrows go up at Janzur's name, but then he figures out that that must be what they're here to see, and leads the group to a little round plaque outside of the main building. It has the Hegemonic Seal on it, and says
Elite Janzur TheriveJanzur is silent for a long while.
As we are many, so are we one.
If one of us falls, there we are diminished.
But so long as one of us stands, so shall the fallen stand.
Hippocrates notices that one of the people who was introduced as a grad student from Memento Mori (Jeria Mitenbach) is climbing into the landing gear compartment. He summons people back, and she is promptly interrogated. She bursts into tears - she doesn't want to die on Sundown. Her thesis isn't going well, she's going to die here. Please, she's willing to be arrested, just arrest her on some other planet? Ruehan confirms that she's not a secret agent of evil, and the party agrees to take her to New Light.
Kye prowls around a lot, and digs up some back fields, but there just doesn't seem to have been anything left behind other than the buildings. (The buildings don't seem to have had a lot of owners, and the plaque is a memorial of remembrance and inspiration, of which there are others all over the Linked Worlds.
Off the Hippocrates goes again, back to New Light, where the grad student will be dropped.