Bleed Out: An Ashen Stars Campaign

Episode 1.1 "Witness of My Worth" part 2 of 2

Ares-3, Aventine Cluster

Parking the shuttle just outside the settlement, the effectuators approached the open-air bar to hard stares and reticence.

When asked about the Ev-base settlers, the bartender dismissed them as “suitfruits,” but seemed surprised to hear about their deaths.

Checking out one of the barflies, Vedeg approached a human woman bristling with broken-down cyberware and turned on the charm. The woman, Lora Vasquez, was more than receptive, running her fingers along the rough fleshy jointures between skin and shell while she spilled what she knew.

She was surprised about the massacre at the EvBase. Nobody around here much liked the suitfruits. The only EvBaser anybody liked was McClung, who could hold his liquor. But he stopped coming here lately, and relations between the base and the community deteriorated even further.

The ringleader in the campaign against the base is a guy name of Derek Streets. There’s no one more respected than him among the salvagers. The ringleader in the campaign against the base is a guy name of Derek Streets. There’s no one more respected than him among the salvagers.

She sadly added that if there were Mohilar secrets to be uncovered here, they’d have been found already.

Conversation was interrupted when a truck barreled into town, driver and passenger firing shots toward the bar. Townies scrambled for cover, and the Lasers took cover to return fire. The driver stood on the steering wheel, his torso fully out the sunroof while he steered with his feet; a woman leaned out the passenger side; both fired disruptor rifles at the bar. A third man clung tightly to the truck’s grill.

The Lasers return fire stunned the driver, and the out-of-control truck slammed into a freestanding concrete-and-rebar slab, a section of ruined building. The man on the grille was impaled and crushed, and townies descended upon the Lasers, a few headsets recording the entire incident.

The Lasers talked the townsfolk down and took the surviving attackers, Derek Streets and Berta Cordo back to their shuttle for examination. Using an espresser to wake Streets revealed only madness. He yelled variations on the following:

“Blood! Blood! Always remember martial glory!:

“With proud down-smashing fists he saved Ares-3.”

“Stand up against the treacherous durugh! Stand tall against the [inaudible gibberish] Mohilar!”

Sedating him, they woke Cordo, who retained no recent memory. The last thing she remembered was approaching a destination to the northeast of the settlement. Derek told her he’d taken some unexplained atmospheric readings after an ashen stars manifestation a few days back, and that it might lead them to an interesting scrubber technology or something.

Upon closer examination, NCC1701 noticed scorch marks where Streets’ and Cordo’s headsets meet their temples, as if the devices had somehow delivered powerful electrical shocks. Their injuries from the shock effect were severe, but looking back at the readings he’d taken from the Ev-Base crew’s autopsies revealed similar, subtler effects.

Downloading the data from Cordo’s headset, the Lasers identified the probably destination to which Derek had led Cordo, and they decided to investigate.

They took their shuttle to the coordinates and found the Brian Hudd Museum, dedicated to the famous Admiral of the Mohilar war. One wing of the museum lay crushed under a toppled skyscraper.

The Lasers took the precaution of turning off their headsets. Opting against the clearly open front entrance, the investigators made their own entrance with explosives and disruptor fire. Inside, a calm, disembodied voice greeted them. Scanning the facility revealed that the Museum’s generators had been running for three days, but atmospheric scrubbers on top of the building had been going for much longer, presumably to protect the artifacts in the museum.

The Museum AI greeted them in a garbled message, urging them to go to the Combatorium. Digging into the Museum AI’s files showed that a large contiguous group of files was corrupted and inaccessible. Eventually entering the Combatorium, the AI urged them to fight, but the Lasers refused. Instead, they decided to blow the building and the AI, which they determined was somehow scrambling people’s brains through their headsets.

Planting explosives throughout the museum, the Lasers succeeded at leveling it. However, when they boarded their shuttle and power up their comms, the AI’s message continued; it had been uploaded into Ares-3’s ionosphere. Eventually, Deadbeef transformed into a passable likeness of Brian Hudd and ordered the Museum AI to shut down, and it did so.

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