It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done, compared to what he might have done.
Oasis -> New Light
Maury wakes up from a nap he appears to have been taking, in the tall grass. There are no people immediately evident, nor tech. Maury declares himself to hate the place already. Then he notes that the sky is made out of tech. Weird. Turning on his headset, he locates Ruehan, who was also napping on a park bench, on the other side of a wall of bushes.
Ruehan notes a young woman with a parasol, who looks at him worriedly and hurries along. He says hello to her, and then reads her mind - he's in the Hanging Gardens, and sleeping on a park bench, which he's not supposed to be doing, which is why she's leaving. She also seems to think think he's naggingly familiar. Alas, she is not thinking strongly about what planet she lives on.
Maury and Ruehan regroup; Ruehan mentions the name of the place, and Maury points out the tech sky (which does look a lot like a real sky). Nearby, they spot a little boy, who seems to have skinned his knee, being comforted by the lady with the parasol and Dr. Kye. Ruehan thinks that this Kye is brighter than the one he is used to, but also "harder colored". Kye medics the child's knee; the woman with the parasol offers to take him to the lost and found.
This Kye isn't on their heads up display, Maury notes. Maury and Ruehan start heading off again, followed by Kye. More hedges and flowers later, they run across Kith (also not on the heads-up display), harvesting some flowers with a mortar and pestle in hand.
"Growltiger! Ruehan!" "I found some nice nightshade." -KithMaury wants to find a cybercafe, to try and learn about where he is, but Kye is becoming impatient, looking at his watch. The transport is waiting. Once they exit the dome of the Hanging Gardens, there are some public access terminals that Maury immediately heads to.
"Good to hear it. See you later." -Maury
Maury "downloads the inworld bluesheet", and notes a couple of things. The Architect is the First Citizen on Oasis. There's a general warning - the Hector has been sighted in the system. But citizens should take note that there are not that many of them, and the Civil Defense Forces have the situation well in hand. Maury is jealous - nobody issues warnings when the Hippocrates comes in system. Another bit of current events - Victor Lazlo has commissioned the Imperial Zoo to fly through the system, as part of his PR campaign.
Maury then turns his efforts to searching for Kaufman tubes and medical nanotech. There are some nanotech imports from the Margravate. He finds the site for Happy Healthy Universal Health Care - it wants to know if he has a complaint. Happy Healthy Universal Health Care is open to all citizens and tourists, but they don't mention Kaufman tubes or nanotech medicine specifically.
Kye keeps looking at his watch - the transport for the Imperial Zoo leaves in ten minutes. Maury doesn't want to go to the Zoo, though, he wants to look for the Kaufman tubes. Kith applies a few geases, and the party is off.
No tickets are required - passage to the Imperial Zoo Ship Pinta is courtesy of Victor Lazlo. Maury starts hacking the little ship's public computer, and sends off email to the Happy Healthy Universal Health Care people with a description of Kaufman degeneration (Ruehan helps), asking for medical advice. He sets up an Oasis hotmail account for the return receipt.
The Imperial Zoo ship looks like a flying mushroom, with a circular dome and a stem containing really big engines, of an older tech than the dome.
"I hate you, I hate you, I hate you." -Charles, seeing the engines he wants for the Santa Maria, a dimension away.Maury requests that Kith "convince me again we're going to get away once we steal them?" How big is the stuff they're planning to steal? This gets glossed over again, since Growltiger knows the plan.
The shuttle docks, and disgorges the passengers into the entrance to the exhibit halls. There's a little speech by a docent, talking about how the ship is a relic of the long-ago times, the Imperatrix's arboreal retreat. Zoo-goers are asked to obey any signs, and the directions of zoo personnel (in gray jumpsuits), for their own protection. The transports will be leaving in three hours.
The dome has three main sections:
Hall of SentientsThe PCs are suddenly appalled - there are sentients in the zoo? The Hall of Sentients has fewer species than the others, and each enclosure is larger "because of the constant need of sentience to expand and conquer." The sentients include:
Hall of Uplifts
Hall of Nature
The Dryads, shy and reclusive tree-people, once believed extinct.Starro's sentience is described as "of a lower order", and there are pictures of his being captured near a number of crop circles he was believed to have created. He generally refuses to communicate with handlers "due to his low intelligence", but he is capable of speech (there's a recording of him saying "Si, Senor!").
The fierce and deadly Tinoori
The most enigmatic example - Starro, a giant starfish
The plan clarifies a bit: Kith wants to grab as many sentients as possible, for use in her Black/White experiments. Kye seems to have some other plan up his sleeve, but he's not being clear about it.
Maury heads to the Hall of Uplifts: "I'm going to kick some anubi." There is, in fact, an anubis, who looks like an uplifted Pomeranian. Maury grins mockingly at him - the anubis barks and curses Maury. A tank full of dolphins call out to Maury: "How can you support this travesty? Your own people are kidnapped!" Maury also notes a bird-uplift who resembles Ariel, though she's an uplift rather than a chimaera.
Kye heads to talk to one of the Zoo curators, offering them a Jellical (not so impressive), and... a VAMPYRE. The curator is not convinced by talk of Vampyres, but agrees to go and scan Ruehan.
Kye asks if Ruehan wants to go with plan A or plan B - he thinks it depends on the number of guards and security. Maury checks out the Nature preserve, and notes that the Smeerp Enclosure seems to be missing its smeerps. He warns Ruehan that there are smeerps loose on the ship. There's a tank with a bunch of sea creatures, including some isinglass. And there's a magnetic bottle under armed guard, with some glowing pulsing things swimming around in it - the plaque notes that on average, six imperial biologists are killed for every sundiver recovered (these are from the Creek sun).
After examining the security, Maury thinks going in through the front of the enclosures would require more sheer force, while going through the back (where the zoo employees access the enclosures) would be easier but require getting into the back first.
Ruehan and Maury argue over Ruehan's mind link about what to do. Ruehan doesn't want to right the wrongs of this universe, at least not universally - it's not his plot. Maury wants to free Ariel, though. Maury and Kith chat. Can Kith go over the getting away part again? She seems somewhat confident that it won't be a problem - she can take care of the guards, and at least one pilot at a time. Maury remembers the overconfidence that goes with Black, and is not convinced by the escaping part.
How about the idea of stealing the whole zoo? Just convince the captain... But it can't land, and the guards might think something is up. Ruehan might be able to help with some of them, though. On the other hand, what does Kye bring to the plan? He seems to be useless. He suggests just getting the ship to the ground and the doors open - then nobody will stop the sentients and uplifts from escaping. Kith points out that she wants them, not just wants them escaped. Well, they can probably be picked up again at that point, it'll be easier there. Kith starts to suspect Kye of being up to something. Kye claims this will let them split up and not leave a trail straight to the Hector.
Kye says he's been starting to implement Plan B. Ruehan can do the turn-to-mist trick, Maury can teleport out, it'll be great. Maury and Ruehan aren't psyched by the implications of Plan B, which seem to involve selling them as zoo animals. Maury suggests triggering an uplift riot, and breaking the sentients out at that point.
Ruehan sets up a mind link to the starfish, which sullenly says "I'm not talking, screw!" Ruehan offers to get it out - it says that if Ruehan gets the cell open, the guards out of the way, and a path to the shuttle bay, it'll handle the rest. Ruehan asks if it's part of the Hive, but it doesn't admit to it. The Dryads, on the other hand, seem very nice and helpful to whatever plan Ruehan arranges.
Maury investigates a door to the back area - it's locked by a key and a swipe card. He acquires a key ring, but not yet a swipe card. Ruehan says there are ten more guys in a level underneath, who will probably notice something. The uplifts agree to riot on command, when freed, and to not hurt the plasma containment field.
Ruehan negotiates with the Tinoori, which agree not to kill anyone but guards if they're let out. Ruehan doesn't think they're lying. Kith starts making guards drowsy, Ruehan starts mind-controlling guards to not do anything, and Maury aquires a swipe card from one of the drowsy guards and heads into the back area.
Maury gets Ariel's door open after a bit of lockpicking. He tries to explain that he's getting her out, but she isn't convinced of the goodness of his heart. She eventually does follow him, but this is noticed by a kid in the Uplifts spectator gallery. Kith notices the kid noticing, and shushes him. Jellicals start getting teleported out, as well, and the uplift riot starts.
A drowsy guard calls in an alert: "Yawn... we've got a breach in Sector 2." Ruehan sends a guard to the bathroom.
Maury gives Ariel the swipe card, and tells her to stand at the door and swipe it whenever the lights go into alarm mode. Ruehan convinces a guard to let Ruehan takes his post - the guard gives him his gun. Guards keep falling asleep mid-alert, which begins to panic the other guards.
An announcement comes over the loudspeaker:
"All patrons please report to the central area for their own safety." -public announcementRuehan, on the other side of the door Ariel is at, tries to knock in a non-guardly fashion. She shouts to Maury that someone is trying to get through, and keeps swiping the card. Kye starts directing more guards to the Hall of Uplifts, while Maury summons the renegade smeerps (two parents, five babies), which bounce around his feet, cheeping happily.
"SHUT IT ALL DOWN!" -over the guards' radios
Ruehan notes that shutting it all down means locking all the gates between sections. Kith starts causing mass panic among the vistors, in the main area. The gates shut.
A guard shoots Maury with a dart - he slaps himself with a Yellow patch, and scolds the smeerps for letting him get shot. Kith tries to convince security to open the door from the lobby: "In this enclosed space they'll tear us apart! You have to let us into the shuttle bay!" While he's convinced of his imminent peril, he can't actually control the gates.
There are three ships in the shuttle bay - the largest has the driver sleeping in it. Kye and Ruehan lay claim to the smallest ship. The current situation:
"We speak your human language" -the TinooriMaury sends them after the ten guys in the security area downstairs: "Hunt them all you like." Off they go.
"Don't call me human." -Maury
Kith starts working on loyal followers among the visitors, since she's stuck in the lobby. Maury brings the smeerps to the shuttle bay.
"You think bringing those along is a good idea?" -RuehanThe Tinoori inflict carnage downstairs. The smeerps mob Dr. Kye. Maury suggests that he and Kye teleport down to the security control room, and Dr. Kye can protect him with his big gun.
"No." "But they think I'm their savior... so we'll take them back to the Hector." -Maury
Kye begins to think there's something strange going on.
"Okay, what's going on?" -KyeMaury introduces himself, and they start to conference. Ruehan points out that there's a jailbreak in progress - perhaps they should think about leaving?
"We're breaking jail." -Maury
"If you were really Growltiger, you'd know I don't have a gun, and I never have."
"Then it's just a jailbreak."
"What did you do to Growltiger?"
"I have no idea where he is and I hope I never meet him."
Kith starts sending little kids down the Jeffries tubes towards the Tinoori slaughter. Eww.
Kye and Maury and the smeerps teleport down to the security room, except that the smeerps decline to come with them. The room is full of blood and bits of people. They proceed to the bridge - one of the Tinoori is down, and the captain and two wounded guys are holding off the Tinoori. Ruehan mind-controls the captain into surrendering, at which point the Tinoori kill him, and then kill the others.
"Oops." -RuehanThe Tinoori make will rolls and don't continue on to try and kill anyone else. Maury swipes the armband the captain had - it's like the Santa Maria armband. Kye checks - GYGYYG will disarm the outer ring, but leave Kith trapped, along with the inhabitants of the Hall of Nature. Good plan.
Can Kye cover himself as far as Kith and the Hector are concerned? Yeah, he'll paint Ruehan and Maury as the bad guys. Kye asks about Black addiction. Maury tells him it can be cured, but requires Green Kaufman tubes. He gives Kye a blood sample, and says to look for the nanites like these. They give Kye a quick crash course in how to make more Black from Black, and promise to send information about how to make a portable tube.
The two Tinoori declare: "The next time we see you, you will die, but you will not die today" and head off in the smallest ship. Starro seems to have vanished in the confusion. Ruehan, Maury, the uplifts, and the Dryads, take the larger ship - Ruehan takes pity on the anubi and lets them out too. Kye takes the armband, loots the snack bar for food for the refugees, and agrees to sound the all-clear once they've gotten away.
The smeerps hop around the cabin, and accidentally knock the autopilot on. The ship heads towards the jump gates. Well, there's no arguing with smeerps. Maury asks what happens if they head to New Light with the uplifts? As long as they don't land in the security area, it should be okay.
Maury discovers that he can't eat anything - everyone else is fine. It's that whole chirally reversed thing.
Ariel questions Maury about what's going on - he's not really usually in the political dissidents business. She explains that she ended up in the Blue zoo through a "detente" program, in which political prisoners from Red were somehow bought.
Maury asks about the starfish. It would talk to you as long as you didn't call it "Starro". It was caught on Highguard, but they don't know what it was. The Dryads are particularly helpful, and willing to work with Ruehan on his xenopsi research. Their third stat is Resolution:
Ruehan designs a Mad Plan to test Resolution, which succeeds. Now all he needs is the destructive test!
- Strength of Resolution
- If you do something, and then do it again immediately afterwards, you can add another die, up to your Strength of Resolution, total.
- Precision of Resolution
- Once an hour, you may make a plan. If you execute the plan more than an hour later, you may add your Precision of Resolution.
- The strength of your family, and your bond with nature
Then, it's off to New Light for the rendezvous...