Episode 314: Libertas
Air date: 06 Apr 2010
Present: Maer, Terri, Andy, Bobby, and Tony
31 December 2520
St. Lucy’s Hospital, Ariel
We’ve cleared the imaging lab at St. Lucy’s by faking an imminent disaster and when the hospital’s cleared, we waltz in and hit their scanning bay.
The Operative walks in on our scanning session. He pulls out a 3D VR imager and plugs into Valerie’s headwire and watches whatever it is that she’s recorded unknowing. While he does Valerie appears out of it, almost in a trance. He offers us a chance to look. Rina takes the offer up and sees MP Gibbons talking to a hologram of Gen. Nguyen and together they are talking about assassinating Prime Minister Holbrook on Londinium. Joshua asks to view it next and he does. Both Rina and Joshua aren't sure what, but there is something not quite right about the "memory". We relay what we’ve seen to the rest of the party, who seem content to go with our accounts and initially the consensus is not to get involved. Until Rina mentions it’s Nguyen in the hologram. Then Nika’s all for going to Londinium and stopping the assassination. She’s got an adversarial stance toward Nguyen and understandably so, and since she’s Captain and we’re generally in dislike with Nguyen too, we agree to make the trip.
Arden gets his scan as do Valerie and Joshua. The scans reveal that Valerie has had heavy exposure to Chempliant and that she’s had her DNA restructured by it, and then returned somewhat to normal by medical means. Rather similar to Mike Carter’s situation. The wetware she’s got in her head appears to be only a recording device. The means to return her free will to her is not known. There are problems with whatever they did to restore her will since she is/was obviously vulnerable to programming.
With Joshua, we see that in addition to the brain surgeries Arden has been able to detect on his own, Joshua’s amygdala has been stripped and oddly enough is covered in a layer of altered epithelial cells, the function of which we’re not entirely sure. Dr. Samson and Arden think those cells may serve as a short term protection for the amygdala.
We leave St. Lucy’s before we’re discovered and take off for Londinium. The PM is scheduled to address Parliament the next day and if we leave now, we can just make it to warn him in time.
01 Jan 2521
Houses of Parliament, Londinium
Arden gets us all in by posing as his "brother", the Operative. It works like a charm, even though the PM's security head seems to recognize Valerie as ‘one of our projects’.
Weird. But then, so was our getting our self-appointed mission.
Arden asks to speak to the PM and we get an audience with him. We visit the man in his office with the guard attending and as introductions are made and we try to explain our reason for being here, the PM shakes hands with everyone. While the PM is hooked up to the wire, Valerie seems to come out of her trance, and she scratches him with her fingernail.
One of ten fake…poisoned….fingernails.
The PM falls, the guard draws his gun and calls for back up. Arden convinces the guard to let him help, he’s a doctor. The permission is given and the rest of us are held back by four heavily armed miligrunts. The PM is stabilized until help can arrive and in the medic’s first aid kit, Arden finds and administers the Universal Antidote. He pauses, wondering if the assassin’s plan was just this—to activate a deadly poison upon interaction with the Universal Antidote, fully anticipating the UA’s use. No. Arden injects the PM with it and the patient survives for transfer to a medical facility.
Not that we’re able to see that part. Antidote administered, we’re all hustled onto a heavily armored shuttle and flown to Colchester. Once there we’re taken to a prison facility and thrown into a Kevlar padded cell, there to await questioning.
02 Jan 2521
Interrogation Facility, Colchester
We’re removed one by one, questioned to establish a ‘baseline’ and returned to our cell. Despite Rina’s avid examination, there is nothing in the cell she can use to effect our escape, nor is anyone wearing anything of offensive or defensive utility. We’d left all our weapons and tools behind on the Gift, knowing we’d never get past Parliamentary security with so much as a nail file. For her part, Rina’s off the boat without gun or knife or vest or tools and she’s very twitchy indeed.
03 Jan 2521
Even so, not even Rina could anticipate what happens next during our transfer to another shuttle scheduled to take us off Colchester. Someone comes up behind us and tells us to get ready—it’s Not-Malcolm Reynolds, the man we’d rescued two years ago off a derelict ship. He’s here to pay off his debt to us and with his help we manage to shoot our way free of our guards and hijack the shuttle. We pick up what guns and rifles we can reasonably carry from those we’ve shot and Not-Reynolds brings up the rear along with Rick. At the entrance to the facility, Not-Reynolds plants a limpet mine to the wall and triggers it. As it whines to life, two shots hit him full on in the chest and Rick grabs the man’s harness to pull him into the safety of our stolen shuttle. He comes away not with his intended prize but a grenade—pin pulled and ready to explode. Rick throws the damned thing as far away as possible, grabs Not-Reynolds and with a herculean effort pulls them both to safety as the grenade detonates…and the mine goes off.
Flames, shrapnel and debris shoot everywhere, injuring Rick and Not-Reynolds to unconsciousness. Arden tends to them while Nika gets us the hell out of there. We have only one place left to go—Rubicon, where the Alliance wouldn’t think to look and where Blondie told Rick to meet her. We decide to fly the shuttle there. We dare not go back to the Gift. She would have been impounded upon our arrest and Nika has Rina leave a message for Faria on the slim chance he’s free to take off to find us: Meet us at the next landing place. We cut the channel and pray that the Shepherd will be able to follow us and fly for Rubicon.
Late 03 Jan/early 04 Jan
It’s 14 hours to Rubicon, nothing hard for our long-range shuttle. During the trip over, Rick revives (Not-Reynolds remains unconscious but stable) and we fill him in on our game plan. Such as we have one, anyway.
We arrive and take readings and despite it being a blackrock and uninhabited we do find some faint signs of life. Faint power readings come back to us from the surface and lacking any other indicator of where Blondie is to meet us, we aim for them and hope for the best.
The best is a giant ship, a mobile surface mining platform and facility, its gargantuan drill stalled and still in a shaft of its own making. Valerie elects to stay behind in the shuttle and keep an eye on Not-Malcolm while we go investigate. There is no breathable atmo on the planet and the winds are something fierce, and we’re quick to board the platform and inspect it. It doesn’t take us long to realize that the platform is deserted and any installation suitable for living or hiding in would be found underground. That leaves finding ingress….and that leads us to the drill. The drill is actually a lift down below the surface of Rubicon and it takes us to a tunnel. We disembark and follow the tunnel straight to a large chamber roughly 40 feet high and filled with a black oily lake. The chamber has the requisite stalactites and stalagmites and the lake has an island in the middle of it. A light shines there and we wade for it.
The water is as it seems, dark with some oily substance, and we wade through the knee-deep nastiness to the dry land at its center. And there, holding a battle lantern, is Blondie. And the questions begin. She’s rather forthcoming with the answers.
She’s a member of an organization called the Libertores. Back at St. Lucy’s the Operative had mentioned something of the sort, but still….if Blondie’s a Libertore, that must mean she’s not a Blue Sun agent at all but a mole, a spy. She admits she’s had to do some pretty vile deeds to maintain her cover and now that it’s pretty much blown, she’s free to tell us a little about the Libertores' agenda.
Basically, it’s resisting efforts to transform humans into something else through various means, both peaceful and violent, because it believes that such things rob mankind of its dignity. Certainly there is much in the way of entrenched policy and political corruption standing in the way of that benefit, and the Libertores hope to address that. When asked about where Blue Sun Corp fit in to all this, she mentions they’d made a plan with Falkan to support her for the Prime Minister spot in the next election. Which made the reason for assassination attempt a little more clear. It may not succeed—before we left for Rubicon, we found out that the current PM is comatose but alive, and still PM.
Other Libertore hopes: destroy the Alliance Central Intelligence’s database on Colchester. It’s there that every record on ever person, place or thing the Intelligence agency ever made is stored. The sheer amount of data in those records is staggering, as is the fact that this is the in place where all the top secret data is stored. Other sites only have a piece of the puzzle, never enough to make much use. Surprisingly, there is no backup copy stored elsewhere,perhaps because that would set up a challenger to the authority and power of Alliance Intelligence or perhaps because two such records might differ and there'd be no way to know the correct one. Once those records are erased or destroyed, that data is lost for good.
The Alliance would effectively have to reboot and start over with a clean slate, or do their best to cobble together what intelligence they trust their satellites with. There are political and practical opportunities in that and the Libertores are getting ready to make their move toward it.
However, before the records are completely blown, the Libertores wish to use the information for their own purposes. Chief pick: getting the dirt on Falkan to foil Blue Sun Corp’s bid for power. Once they grab the intel they want, they will introduce a virus program, an ‘despooling worm’ that will unravel the data of all the records stored in the facility.
Blondie has another surprise. She’s able to tell Joshua that he was not, like Arden, a clone or someone engineered in a vat somewhere, but was instead a naturally born child. He was probably a child exposed to certain elements in utero via the drinking water his mother had access to, in a subtle program that subjected untold numbers of pregnant women to human experimentation via their unborn children, the goal of which was to eventually produce the subjects of the Academy. Subjects like River Tam, Johannes Volker III….and Joshua Drake.
How does she know all this? It’s because Joshua is ‘her own’. She was the person who had been sending Joshua the mysterious messages while he was on the inside, subtly engineering his escape from the Academy. She hints that the Libertores were behind the freeing of River Tam and Johannes Volker from the Academy as well. What else does she know? She knows that the records for Joshua's trigger phrases likely reside at the Academy on Osiris and the records on his true parents are stored the Blue Sun HQ on Osiris as well.
Perhaps we can get what Joshua needs to know from those places later, but for now, we’ve got other fish to fry. Blondie (and we hope, other Libertores) have a plan to hit the facility on Colchester. They have what they need to modify the shuttle she arrived in to run the op and we have the engineer needed to make that happen.
04-06 Jan 2521
We spend the next two days making the necessary modifications. During which time, Rick and Blondie finally get to spend that quality time together.
Joshua is understandably worried about his lack of meds—we’d left them behind on the Gift and God knows where it is right now. He’s approaching five days going without and though he’s been able to partially wean his body off the drugs by spacing the doses a day or so apart, the withdrawal symptoms will definitely ensue and make him unsuitable for the coming Colchester op. Blondie tells him that she’s got a way to work around that: she could put him to sleep until the op starts. He declines, saying he could isolate himself from the others until the op is over or until he gets his hands on more meds. She reassures him that River Tam is still alive, without ever having benefit of the meds, and still on the run from Blue Sun. And Nika reveals that Simon Tam, her brother, had done surgery on Brian. We resolve to take advantage of any applicable medicines in our coming op and do our best to muddle through til then.
Blondie suggests we do a little training to gear ourselves up to the Colchester op: infiltrating Blue Sun HQ on Osiris. It would blow her cover, certainly, but if she survived the HQ and Colchester, it would no longer matter. There’d be no record of her in any case.
We hope that Faria will be able to join us on Rubicon before we leave. Blondie tells us that our ship is impounded on the ground on Londinium, landlocked and flying nowhere. We continue with our modifications on the shuttle, knowing that no matter what else happens, we are involved in something greater than hauling cargo and making a living. We have thrown our lot in with the Libertore agenda and for the moment, for good or ill, it is where we have to be.