Spacecraft & Spycraft

Suspicion

It wasn’t until after they had already left where Shu found out that part of their team received a message and went on a mission without him. Shu began to reach out to his superior in the SJG to figure out what happened and why wasn’t he notified of the fact that half his team suddenly disappeared without his permission, but received a “We’ll get back to you!!” message. Eventually someones does reply to his question – a simple message that contains a single word – “Betrayal”. Not even moments later, the captain of the Black Adder contacts Shu on comm, letting him know that he has visitors with the police department.

One of the men introduced himself as Investigator Cluseau, claiming to be part of the Martian Federal Bureau of Investigation. He says with a heavy French accent that he is here with a warrant for Shu, Danny and Drew – the three of them are being charged with murder of a SJG team, with the plaintiff being the SJG. The second man with him, a large and lean athletic type by the name of Sargent Callahan, suggests to them that it would be good for their health if they cooperate, cracking his fingers as Cluseau waits for their response.

Shu and the team quickly discuss and come to the conclusion that they would be able to get more done if they cooperate with the law for the time being instead of being on the run, so they agree to accompany the pair of them to the station for further questioning. Right before he was able to leave, Shu contacted his hacker friends to have them find a competent lawyer for him as well as if they could dig up any dirt on any other lawyers that may possibly be put against them in a court of law. Callahan looked rather disappointed that they agreed to come with, putting a tracking device on their ankles so that they could be found in case they decide to run later. He especially looks at Danny and tells him that he knows he will be trouble – the latter responds that he’ll stay out of trouble as long as there’s no trouble to be had. The three of them are told that they are unable to go back to the ship as long as they are under investigation, though will be allowed to stay at a hotel until their names are cleared.

When they were brought in, they were sat down and shown the surveillance footage of the murder. They watched as a group of four people turned the corner, blasters drawn, and then suddenly got gunned down by security measures. Through the police’s investigation, they found out that those murdered were not part of the FBI as their identities claimed – they were actually SJG members that were in that building on a mission. The building was the Federal Reserve of Mars, and while they had managed to take security down, a signal from the Black Adder reactivated the gun at that precise time they turned the corner and murdered the entire squadron. The SJG is bringing charges against Shu and his two accomplices for the activation of that signal which came at a surprise to all three of them.

They kept the fact that they were SJG members themselves shut, demanded that they are innocent and would be able to prove it if they were able to help out with the investigation. The judge presiding over the case allowed them 10 days for investigation before their trial would begin in proper. They were quickly able to prove Drew’s innocence though by showing he was in a different location at the time of the event, though both Shu and Danny were on the ship and are unable to prove the same. As Callahan removes the tracker from Drew’s ankle, he looks him dead in the eye and says that he’s keeping an eye on him and that he better stay out of trouble.

A lawyer meets up with them on their way out, saying that he was sent from the hacker group and that he is able to represent them if they are willing. They agree, and soon were pulled into his car. The lawyer then pulls out an anti-bug device and says that he has some information for them, though they must speak quickly as to not draw suspicion.

He delivered the news that the King of Jupiter’s son, Thomas Crown, was killed and that two SJG teams were sent to investigate. The first team was supposed to take the task to recover some “goods” – that, he does not know, but it is related to the case – these ones were the ones that were murdered on the video that they just watched. The other team was supposed to find the murderer, though it was a rush job and the leader of that investigation team was murdered – he had a computer that he was keeping information in his head, but had his head completely blown off. A third team was soon hired to investigate who murdered the prince and why – quickly revealed to be the other half of Shu’s team.

The lawyer then tells them that there are two surviving members of the original team that went to investigate the murder, and while they are hiding he will try to find them for an interview. There are also three important SJG contact here on Mars as well, who go by the names of Abel, Baker and Foxtrot. He doesn’t know much about them, except that Foxtrot, an old SJG operative, is known to be a bit of an oddball while Alpha and Baker are investors that are interested in finding out who did this to the SJG. He also notes that SJG communications have been compromised, so they will need to do all interviews and contacting through more primitive means.

When Drew gets back to the ship, he finds Kit has been redecorating his room with posters of male rockstars. She sighs, saying that she thought it would take him longer before he was completely freed. She lets him know that he has a message delivered by a carrier pigeon. He looks at her sternly, asking her if she knows what it says. While she initially presumes innocence, she eventually does admit to looking at it and describes that it is from a “crazy prospector looking dude” which Drew assumes is Foxtrot. The message tells him to meet at a local bar, and that the message should be destroyed once read.

After contacting Danny about following him as a guard, Drew drives out to his hotel with Tawny and Sabin. Once he arrived there, Drew took some time to disguise himself before heading out to the bar properly with Tawny in tow. Danny and Sabin head out separately on motorcycles, teasing each other about racing, though Sabin has superior skill in the area. The two of them soon realized that Drew was being tailed by none other than Callahan, who managed to recognize him and kept pace all the way to the bar.

Once Drew went inside, Danny went over to talk to Callahan to try and distract him a little, saying it was a coincidence that they met up at the same bar and that they should go get a drink. Callahan saw through him and told him that he’s not going to go inside at all, he’s on security detail. When Danny pressed him on it, he said that he’s following Drew to protect him. Even though he’s not part of the case anymore, as Danny pointed out, Callahan feels like Drew will be targeted and he’s there to protect him. Danny says that he would be able to protect him as well, and bids Callahan adieu as he follows Sabin into the bar.

Inside the bar, once dropping Tawny off with Danny and Sabin, Drew had no troubles finding Foxtrot who seemed to be several drinks deep. The bartender let out a sigh of relief as he took Drew’s order – it seems that Foxtrot had been there several hours already and is clearly on his way to drinking himself under the table. As he orders himself a drink, Drew whispers to the bartender to close the tab after a hundred more credits, and then turns to Foxtrot.

After introductions, Foxtrot tells Drew that there is someone targeting Shu for some reason and he doesn’t know why – there’s clearly a mole or something in the SJG though, and if he was in his prime with his old buddies Whiskey and Tango alive, they would have been able to solve it already. He especially praises Whiskey, who was an extremely skilled hacker in his time, though was nothing compared to Evil Stevie. Foxtrot drunkenly mutters something about the password being “Release the Kraken” before turning back to the subject at hand. He tells Drew that while Abel and Baker are also SJG contacts, they’re not to be trusted. He drinks deep into his glass again before sliding under the table in a drunken stupor.

Drew tells the other three at the bar what he had learned, then they take their exit. Seconds after they left the bar, a group of bikers drew near and pulled out their weapons. Callahan shouted for everyone to get down immediately as the bikers started to fire their blasters. Drew ducked behind a car and was spared most of the bullets that rained down in his direction, though he did take three and was gravely injured.

As the bikers passed by, Callahan took out his modified pistol and shot down two of the bikers, leaving gaping holes in their backs before their motorcycles exploded. As Tawny rushed to Drew’s side to provide medical aid, Danny thanked Callahan for some real impressive shooting and wanted to look at his gun. Callahan chided Danny for not protecting Drew – in fact, if he wasn’t here, Drew would have been even more dead. Danny insisted he was fine, and the reason why he wasn’t able to do his job to the fullest degree was because he didn’t have his equipment on him due to being banned from the ship. He tells Callahan that he’s actually a very good shot, and after some back and forth banter the two of them agree to a contest later at the range. Callahan then tells him that he should go back to tending to Drew while he goes to find out more about the gang.

Shu manages to convince the investigators that he should be allowed to board the ship with supervision, to see if he could find any traces of the code used in the case. After a little bit of digging, he discovered that the signal actually came from somewhere else in the space port, and it was disguised to look like the Black Adder. Armed with this information, he goes to Spaceport Security and explains the situation after introducing himself. They are shocked that their security systems were hacked and they say that they will look into the matter immediately. He then asks them a favor – if they find anything, they should let him know, and they agree to the terms.

Shu then gets to work on his computer and suddenly feels a sense of dread. He immediately unplugs himself and finds only seconds later that his computer was bricked with a ransomware program, causing black ice. After backing up his data, he tried to factory reset his computer several times to no avail – the virus was still there. A little annoyed, he shoves his computer into a pile of interesting issues to poke at later and then goes to buy a temporary computer to continue his work.

After checking in with the police and finding out that he’s actually ahead of them in terms of what they know about the case so far, Shu goes to tinker with the computer again. He finds that whatever malware is sitting on his old computer has managed to make it 50% faster, which he finds extremely suspicious. He tinkers with it a little bit with the help of the second computer and finds that the malware cannot be removed at all – it is part of what is making the computer process information in this fashion. The malware program also wants to constantly reach out to the internet, in which Shu put a quick halt to that.

Danny met up with Callahan at the shooting range – the latter looking much worse for the wear. Danny asked what had happened to him before they met, in which he responded that it was the usual day at the job, and while related to the investigation, Danny would need to beat him at the range to find out what it was. While Danny performed well, Callahan performed amazingly, which truly impressed Danny. After cheering him and giving him a pat on the back, Callahan invited him to the bar and said that they would discussed what had happened to him after all.

They go to a local police dive, which Danny was surprised to see that it was also named Callahan’s. The Sargent pointed out that it’s actually his uncle that owns it – the man lost his ability to walk due to his time in the service, so he decided to open a bar when he was forced to retire. The security scanners stopped Callahan and forced him to reveal and take out the many guns that he had on his person, before letting him through. When the two of them sat down, he whispers to Danny that while they had taken all of his guns, they still haven’t managed to find the brass knuckles that he keeps on his person.

Then, Callahan reveals that he did run into that gang from earlier – they are a small time group that basically are for hire, and do not work for any particular people. What’s interesting about this particular case though is that the gang is not able to remember anything about who paid them and why, just that they had a target that they needed to go after. Callahan says that he believes, due to their collective memory losses, that Psycorps is behind the whole thing. The whole organization makes his blood boil, and for his safety and theirs, he tries to stay away from them as much as possible. He then goes on to deliver a short lecture about justified killing, as long as it’s for a good cause then it shouldn’t be a problem.

After finishing off his drink Callahan wishes him farewell, and Danny shakes his hand and pats him on the back before he takes off. Once Callahan left, the rest of the bar looked at Danny stunned, and he was told that he must be a brave soul to have a rapport with Callahan like that. The man has a reputation for being a psychopath and a killer while working cases, though he’s usually able to squeeze out a “good enough for the court” justification on what he has done while doing so. They also tell him that Callahan wasn’t always so violent, though rumor has it that a run in with the Psycorps a few years ago scrambled his brain, resulting in the man today, and that there may be a time where he just goes off without any warning. Committing that to memory, Danny thinks to tread a little lighter with Callahan in the future, and takes leave of the bar.

Drew reaches Abel and arranges a time to meet with him, in a very public place. Drew recognizes him as a corporate man with millions of dollars, then the two of them depart to a more private area. Abel asks what is going on, and if there is any information. Drew says that he’s trying to figure it out – someone is trying to target them and he has no idea why. Abel says that he has faith – he has watched Shu for awhile and has no doubt that they’ll be able to dig themselves out of this pickle. Abel then offers some help, though he says that he’s unfortunately unable to give to the fullest extent – someone has hacked into his information and communications, cutting him off from the SJG. This person, Abel says, seems to be going out of their way and putting a lot of effort into this project and he’s curious as to why.

Drew returns to the ship to find his sister in a fitful dream, screaming bloody murder. Drew grabbed Tawny and then woke Kit up. It took a lot of comforting and some medicine before she calmed down enough to say what had happened. She said she had a dream of spaceship that came across the horizon, screaming in horrendous pain. It was made of flesh and pulsing, and she could feel that the ship had its eye on her especially. Tawny confirmed that the rest of the crew on the ship also described dreaming something intense, though she seems to be the only one that remembered what it was. Kit then turned to Drew and thanked him for being her brother. He says that he returns the sentiment, and Kit asked if that was true all the time, even after the trouble she gives him. After he confirms, she makes him promise that he will not let the “living ships” get a hold of her – he says that he holds her to it.

Shu receives a message from Spaceport Security – they found that the signal came from the landing pads next to their ship. What they find scary about the situation is that there was no ship at the time at that station, and that the dock should have been completely deactivated. Shu then goes to the judge with the information, saying that they were framed for this crime and the judge was able to drop all charges. The judge agrees and releases both Shu and Danny from the investigation. When Shu goes back to Spaceport to see if he could use their systems to look further into the mysterious event, they immediately tell him that the case is dropped and it was just an anomaly.

Shu takes Drew with him to try and talk to security staff to see what happened. The guy that Shu talked to says that it doesn’t involve him, he doesn’t want to get involved and that it was just an accident. Drew had much better luck – the lady that he schmoozes whispers that a Psycorps ship landed next to their ship around that time. There’s something in the computers that rewrites itself whenever a Psycorps ship docks, so that’s why they’re supposed to drop this investigation. Upon hearing that Psycorps is deeply involved in this matter, Shu tries to contact Bester to get any further information, though was unable to get through – he only got a busy signal.

The group then goes to meet with Baker, senior leader of Edgars Industries – a company held responsible for terraforming Mars. He greets the team very cordially – congratulating them for beating the charges, and believes that it’s gotta be an inside job. He also offers whatever assistance that Edgars Industries is able to deliver, which includes parts of MarsGov. When Shu asks about the Federal Reserve, Baker says their contacts with them were cut off unfortunately.

After their meeting with Baker, Shu decided to look further into the “Evil Stevie” person that Foxtrot had mentioned earlier. It turns out that Evil Stevie is a legendary hacker, extremely crazy, and rumored to be the one that started the SJG over 200 years ago. People believe that he may still be out there because nobody has been able to confirm his death or found his body.

What “Evil Stevie” is most known for, it seems, is his hacking signature – a highly sophisticated code that was left behind after each hack, that when it was isolated, revealed to be a virtual reality fantasy game. Since it was over a century and a half old, the game itself was available to tap into directly from the internet, so Shu gave it a try. He found himself in a highly detailed fantasy town, and immediately started going up to various NPCs repeating the words that Foxtrot muttered earlier – “Release the Kraken”. It was mere moments before he found himself kicked out of the world, and Shu put it aside to try again another time.

The lawyer got in contact with them shortly after with more information. It appears that one of the members of the initial investigation into the murder of Thomas Crown was killed with an Indian push dagger. He had the team review the available footage – there was a man at the victims door who staggered inside of the room, and then walked out again moments later. There was no footage of the building inside unfortunately, nor were they able to get a clear shot of his face.

Shu and Co also started getting reports back from the other half of their team – the victim was suspiciously murdered in the same manner as Thomas Crown, and it seems that “Edgars Industries” gave them some trouble. Shu, Danny and Drew decided it would be best at this time to treat Edgars Industries with suspicion, and instead contact Abel to see what he knows about Baker and who he works for.

The three of them set up a meeting with Abel in a secret room behind a laundromat, though discovered quickly once they had arrived that it has been ransacked. It was apparent that there has been blaster fire, though no bodies were left behind. A hand reaches for Drew’s shoulder and pulls him around, revealing to Drew’s surprise to be Callahan. He asked Drew what he was doing here, which Drew said that he had to do laundry.

Drew then asks the same of Callahan, which he replied that he simply came when he heard shots ringing out. He asks Drew if he knows who owns it – he was unable to find any name. When Drew denied it, Callahan pointed out that whoever it was must have had bodyguards on him, there were two different types of blasts in the room. Seeing that there was no blood, it must have been the kidnappers that were using the PPG guns, in order to avoid damage. The bodyguards must have been using regular blasters, but were taken down before they managed to do any bodily harm.

Then, the group are taken to review a security tape from the building. It showed a group of people with white suits and surgical gear jumping out of a white panel truck. A few minutes later, they were back outside – clothes shredded to the point where it revealed tactical vests underneath. They were also carrying something large wrapped up in linen. They throw it in the back of their truck and then peel out of the area. Shu tries to track the truck with cameras but is unable to follow them very far before losing it.

Shu first tries to contact Abel’s company, but they tell him that he is out of the office for the next few days. Then they believe the next best contact is Foxtrot, and after walking backwards in a circle three times with a bandanna on his head, a pigeon lands with a message to meet him at a bar.

Once they arrived, Foxtrot tells them about a strange event that just happened to him – that there was a guy that staggered up to him, saying he was from Edgars Industries and tried to shake his hand. Foxtrot ran immediately in the other direction screaming – it didn’t feel right at all. In fact, he tells them, he believes that it might have been an assassination attempt.

Shu asks if he knows anything about Edgars Industries. Foxtrot knows that while the original Edgars was a genius businessman and philanthropist, his son was not and lost the company to a board of investors. Bakers is part of the most recent board of the company, a greedy group of people which he believes is slowly trying to turn Mars into a large corporation and that the original Edgars is probably rolling in his grave. There is a clause in the ownership contract though, where a full blooded Edgars could buy back the company if they were able to raise the funds. Shu asks if he knows where the most recent full-blooded Edgars is – it appears the most recent descendant, Lisa Edgars, disappeared a week ago. Foxtrot found it curious that they would want her, since he heard that she doesn’t have a lot of business sense.

When asked about Abel, Foxtrot says that he never trusted him – while he acted like he was one of the guys, he never trusted Abel’s “sense of justice”. Foxtrot then tells them that Edgars and Psycorps are the two major centers of powers on Mars outside of the official government. When Shu mentions Psycorps involvement in this case, Foxtrot says that those Psycorps and Bureau 13 are scary and that they should avoid them at all costs. Either way he believes that, Edgars or Psycorps had something to do with Abel’s disappearance and possibly Lisa’s as well.

When Shu dug further into Lisa’s background, it was revealed that she actually has good business sense but is easily misled. He discovered her private email account, which was tied to Edgars Industries – it seems she was able to fake her ID and go work for them. It also seems that she discovered something – the emails are not quite clear what – and the correspondence led all the way to the king of Jupiter, asking for assistance to buy back Edgars. Thomas Crown was to be a contact for the two of them, who touched down on Mars. She suddenly disappeared before he was killed, apparently her boyfriend that worked Spaceport security also disappeared around the same time. No bodies have been found yet at this time, and its up to the team to figure out what has possibly happened to them.

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BearerOfTidings

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