The crew of the Oranos is wrapping up another supply delivery at the new Z3 research facility when a coded message for Gideon arrives.
“Hello, I never introduced myself, my name is Alaina. I don’t know who else to turn to. You and your crew operate outside the normal channels and have a ship. I need to get off Z4 before something happens to me. Workers have been vanishing or getting killed. I’m afraid I might be next. Please, Gideon, I don’t have anyone else I can trust. You spared me once, will you save me now?”
The crew agrees to stop at the Z4 Outpost on their way back to check in.
Strange Events on Z4
When the crew docks with the Z4 Outpost they are greeted with the usual disinterest. They can pick up cargo headed back to the Terminal. It will require a couple hours to get everything loaded. Plenty of time to find one person on a small outpost… right?
Zopa does a quick search of the Outpost worker directory. It shows Alaina is still listed among the crew assigned to Sector 2 where the raw processing happens. Her quarters are listed as the dormitory in that sector. Glack opens his hive mind to the thoughts of the station personnel and discovers a significant population of human telepaths working on the station. Since most of the workers on Z4 are human it’s even stranger to sense the currents of telepathic communication on the station.
Zopa digs into the station computer system and accesses various records. Alaina disappears from the outpost surveillance system not long after the date and time stamp of Gideon’s message. She is apparently flying under the official radar. Zopa also discovers her profile on the stations “apprehend for questioning” security list.
Glack and Kallie’Dar, being the only native telepaths on the Oranos, approach an individual near the docks and gather some additional information. Since the crew dropped off the thought probe device to the Colonel, it has been used to pry information out of the telepathic workers. This initially resulted in the death of those being questioned till the Colonel began to fine tune the device. Now he seems to have a vendetta against any telepathic workers on the station. Most did not arrive on the station as telepaths, it developed over time as they worked on the Outpost. It’s as if something in the materials being processed on this outpost have awakened the latent telepathic talent in only the human population.
There was also recently an accident with a refinery silo that was supposed to be in maintenance mode. It activated and killed a dozen telepathic workers. Glack and Kallie’Dar are invited to a meeting being held by the telepathic leaders of the work force.
Meanwhile Zopa and Bosho are continuing to sift through the station records to track down their wayward contact. Zopa decides to interface with the locals and probe about Alaina and where she might be hiding. He meets a Vesk worker that knows Alaina and, after a little discussion, offers Zopa some insight. Apparently, Alaina has been shift hopping and bunk surfing to stay off the official radar. The vesk directs Zopa to a bunk number to find Alaina.
Gideon and Drax are restless and decide to help Strig get the Oranos parked in near orbit of the outpost while Glack and Kallie’Dar investigate the meeting. Zopa informs them he has a bunk number and a reasonable lead on Alaina. They schedule an auto-shuttle to return to the Outpost.
Glack and Kallie’Dar get much the same information in addition to news that the Colonel has been allowing strange ships to dock with the Outpost and offload strange cargo containers. The telepathic counsel requests that the crew find a way to destroy or remove the device from the station if at all possible.
The crew meets at the local café when Gideon and Drax return to compare information and determine the next course of action.
Drax points out that it’s very likely that neither the Administrator nor the Commander are aware of the events and developments on this Outpost. He thinks they need an official channel before undertaking an intervention otherwise they may tarnish their current good standing.
In agreement, the crew relays their message and evidence gathered up to this point via Strig and the Oranos to avoid any official Outpost comm systems. Within a half hour they receive their answer.
“You are duly authorized to relieve the Colonel of his command and detain him for delivery to the Terminal for debriefing and sentencing,” followed by a command encoded transmission providing temporary security override codes and a general promotion of the Oranos crew to Oryx Security Personnel. They head to the command center.
With the override codes Zopa makes short work of accessing the command center. The Staff, initially surprised review the clearance and realize it’s legitimate. They direct the crew to the ready room where the Colonel is questioning another worker. The crew can hear screaming. Zopa overrides the command level lockout on the door and the crew enters the room.
A worker is restrained to a chair while the Colonel sits across a table from him. The device delivered by the crew over a month ago has been reconfigured into a matrix of some kind. It glows and a beam of energy connects the Colonel and his captive to the device. The Colonel is asking questions about plots and uprisings, the captive is resisting and each question is obviously causing him pain.
Glack telekinetically throws the device off the table ending the torture session. Gideon, Bosho and Drax subdue the Colonel and bind him for transport. He is incoherently babbling but otherwise compliant. The other man collapses in his seat, unconscious.
Kallie’Dar, unnoticed by the other crew, picks up the device and hurriedly leaves the room. She heads to the auto shuttles and to the Oranos.
Gideon and Zopa head to Sector 2 where their information indicated Alaina could be found. The workers of the Outpost have spread word that the Colonel has been apprehended and the device has been removed from the Outpost. The mood is much improved as Gideon and Zopa move through general quarters. Reaching the designated bunk space Gideon discovers Alaina tucked under a second bunk wearing a heavy blanket like a hooded poncho.
A Dark Twist
Drax decides to investigate the Colonel’s personal quarters. Strewn around the room are papers covered in a strange language. A container of strange coins marked with similar symbols are stashed under a desk. The Colonels personal logs start to get erratic about two weeks after the device arrived. His entries stop making sense after about a month and cease all together a few days ago.
In addition to the persecution of the telepath population on this outpost, the Colonel apparently arranged for unknown ships to dock, load cargo of some sort and depart off the official records. Only a com frequency is provided in his records.
Connecting the Dots
Glack tracks Kallie’Dar back to the Oranos and with Gideon’s assistance retrieves the device from the obsessed drow. Invesitgating the device, Glack discovers that the crystals within the matrix are Void Glass like that used by the Grioth. When in close proximity Kallie’Dar seems to hear tempting whispers causing her to react obsessively. Glack senses the telepathic interference created by the Void Glass as static that causes discomfort.
Enroute back to the Terminal Glack inspects the reconfigured device trying to discover what it’s purpose might be and how it operates. Apparently, with two minds connected, the device creates a synaptic bridge. This operates much like a translator allowing one mind to probe another. The interesting thing is that the matrix can apparently manipulate both minds and has a subtle instruction set influencing the person using it. Extensive use of the device would alter the users mind to the point that they would be a complete slave to the suggestions of whomever created the device.
On arrival at the Terminal a security team takes the Colonel into custody and the Administrator invites the crew to the conference room for a discussion of the events on Z4. Discussion of the device results in the Administrator securing it in the Terminal vault. Topics turn to the disposition of Outpost Z4 command and the future of the developing telepathic workforce. Gideon suggests Alaina would be a good option for representation and supervision of those individuals. The disturbing topic of the Colonel trading in captured telepaths is of serious concern and both the Administrator and commander will take steps to tighten telemetry and patrol routes to better track ships moving through the system.
At the end of the meeting the Administrator pauses, “The crew of the Oranos have become an unusual asset to the Oryx operations in the Ki Nebula. I dare say that your role in this sector may become more pivotal as events unfold. We very much appreciate your continued service.”