The nerfherders for this session
The Face: Aethelair
The Hacker: Dantas
The Muscle: Kincade
Riding the stream alongside: Abraxas/Garland, hacker
The story so far
The scruffy ones make common cause with Fel Omric, Bliss Larkam’s previous producer and Altai Media executive. He, like they, is being blamed for Bliss’ disappearance. He arms them with pass-chips and a decryption chip. Their task is to break into Zephyr Corp’s HQ in Bastion, and remove the damning (but faked) evidence against them. The only way in to the server is by overcoming Baludan’s personal security, on the floor above. This they do: but instead of finding their enemy Baludan, they find an old engineer named Mevalian, and his niece. Who turns out to be a chameleon droid, that throws Mevalian through the plate glass window to his death. It’s a tough fight but the nerfherders finally overcome the deadly droid.
Finding a key and a clue
They take a moment to take in the luxurious living quarters here, in which Mevalian has, apparently, been imprisoned. Everything is solid and built to reduce noise.
While Dantas heads down the hall to check the armored access door towards floor 79, Kincade stops at the door and while on guard, loads his “whistling bird” wrist-rockets. Aethelair begins searching the bedroom area, in hopes of finding a secret diary. He soon does, and leafs through it then calls to Dantas, saying:
“Does the word ‘Cerebryte’ mean something to Garland?”
Dantas (having learned that the armored door is beyond his mechanical hacking) returns and looks the papers over. As Aethelair guessed, Mevalian has been working on, or is even responsible for, the terrifying virus-based implants and SIM-distributed infections. Their proprietary name is Cerebryte. Dantas is only afforded a quick scan though, as Aethelair now begins searching for something like a key, to get through that armored door. He finds two healing ampoules and a credchip in the bathroom first-aid cabinet, but nothing like an access.
“Oh like this?” – Dantas, picking up a keychip from the dresser
They head out and stop in shock: Kincade has disappeared.
Three more minutes elapse as they retrieve Kincade from way back at the floor’s security desk and finally approach the armored door. Aethelair and Kincade stay back at a respectful and gun-handy range. The door opens immediately Dantas uses the chip.
The arch-nemesis laughs
The door allows access to a passage and stair down. Again using sensible precautions they move along in order: Dantas, Aethelair, and Kincade. The stair leads to the 79th floor with no further barrier.
The entire floor of this level is covered in a variety of machine parts and tools. The north wall (equivalent to Baludan’s dining/drinking area) is a collection of computer screens, panels, and terminals. Along the west wall (the same wall that Mevalian was flung out, and facing Bastion Tower), ten sleek drone-like vehicles the size of an escape pod – but with tail vanes for maneuver – are lined up in a row, each mounted to a catapult-style launching ramp.
“Hey, we have our door out!” – Kincade
At the sound of that voice a screen, one among many, flickers on and a man’s voice laughs. As he speaks, they recognize Baludan from times they have heard him speak as a Zephyr Corp executive. He has not bothered to muffle or disguise it. He bids them farewell as his plans are already in motion and he must leave Bastion.
That screen goes blank and a larger one comes to life. On it, Aethelair and Dantas can be seen talking about their kidnapping and murder of Bliss Larkam, and now a planned assault against Bastion Tower and the galactic truce for which it stands. The recording is obviously a fake, but it would cover Stormdark’s tracks. A message reading “Exporting to SIM” is displayed at the bottom of the screen next to a progress bar.
“I think we have our priority…” – Dantas
Then, just as he thinks that is their priority, Dantas notices that six of the drones are live, and are counting down! He scans the readouts hastily:
“These pods are set to launch toward Bastion Tower within the next 20 seconds!”
Each to his task!
Each makes a judgement based on his own experience. Kincade steps to the door so he can look back up the stair. But over his shoulder he yells at Aethelair, “just shoot the launchers!”
Dantas accepts Fel Omric’s decryption chip, tossed to him by Aethelair, who draws his first pair of guns. Dantas swings onto the task of penetrating the servers and stopping the SIM export.
Just to add to the tension, Kincade catches a muffled thump, seemingly far away. But the thickness and muffling quality of Baludan’s floor suggests one thing:
“We have incoming!”
Kincade turns and begins running across the littered floor as Aethelair blazes a couple of shots into drone ramp one.
The race is on – literally!
Dantas squeaks with glee – using Fel Omric’s chip allows him to completely bypass Baludan’s security and he is now right in the servers. He focuses on preventing the SIM transmission then turns his attention to uploading incriminating evidence against Stormdark and Baludan.
As his attention returns to the room he sees that Kincade is using his laser sword to some effect, and that Aethalir has – naturally – blasted several drones’ ramps already. But two remain. Dantas draws and fires, surprising himself with a hit. With a final shot from Aethelair the fifth ramp breaks.
The sixth drone launches!
“Quick – these are Shrike Ultras, fastest racer on Bastion – and someone has put guns on them!” – Aethelair
Each hurls himself onto a drone and launches!
Unlikely crack shooting saves the day!
The launch ramp lights blaze on as the engines kick in. There’s a sharp jolt as each racer shoots out into open airspace. Then skyscrapers and steel girders loom ahead as the pods rush toward Bastion Tower!
Aethelair finds he has to rely on his natural balance rather than good piloting, but manages a hit. Kincade finds he is pretty crap as a pilot, crashes into a girder, spins out, and lands heavily on a balcony below, losing some of his gear. But Dantas – who is not a trained pilot – manages to parlay his own knowledge of machine control to catch up a little and put a good shot home. Then a not-so-great shot. The drone wobbles but stays on course for Bastion Tower.
From well back, Aethelair makes a shot – it chips a little more off the racing drone too! And far below Kincade takes a wild blaster shot – the finishing shot!
Exoneration and unexpected celeb status
Dantas brings the stores of data back to the Infinity Order. They are delighted. Not only are the nerfherders cleared and restored to their Heroes of Bastion fame, the order now has direct evidence revealing Stormdark’s evildoing. And less usefully, Zephyr Corp’s links to its uber-faction, The Firm.
A week goes by. Altai Media releases a SIM featuring the heroic exploits of the nerfherders, infiltrating the clandestine stronghold of “a powerful megacorporation.” They themselves receive a complimentary copy. Titled Zephyr Hunters, it becomes an Altai Media sensation, reaching the top of the SIM ratings list for the next few months. It appears Fel Omric used his drazwi implants to record their experiences!
Baludan is disgraced within Zephyr Corp, mostly for allowing the debacle, but partly owing to him being correctly blamed for Bliss Larkam’s disappearance (and presumed death). He disappears, for a time. But after a time of peace, as the nerfherders gain level seven, the Infinity Order recalls them for one last mission: Baludan is back!