Voyage of the Jeanne d'Arc

Episode X: Carving Out Corruption

Personal Log, Tikal Karah

Starting Speech-to-Text Logging

Eh, really need to get some proper Shanrazi characters into this stupid thing.

After getting away from Sylvaar we booked it to the Sol System, heading for Port Io as Yima recommended. Had to find his sister, Haruko, to tell us how to work this damned knife. Meanwhile, Macha and I traded off handling the Spirit Feather…was no telling if one of the others might snap and try to take it.

After we landed, nobody seemed to want to stay on the ship. Can't blame 'em, I wouldn't want to be cooped up on the ship either if I couldn't talk to it. I relented, but made sure they moved together…especially had to have sharp eyes on Shara. The fool girl still seemed to have no idea of the real danger her incessant yammering was putting everyone within earshot in. Probably shouldn't have let 'em go. Whatever. Was a little drunk. Port Io, for its part, was great. A vagrant's home through and through. Haven't been that comfortable around people since I left Mars. Didn't even get a bunch of funny looks, and was able to lower some of my usual coverings. Nice to let the face and ears breathe every once in a while.

It didn't take much effort to track down Haruko. Uncommon name, and she's got a good reputation around Port Io. Works as a Geisha at a place called “The Sake Room.” Guess adherence to tradition runs in the family.

This place was, to put it lightly, swanky. Real traditional, old timey appearance. Had a gold cat outside, heard it's supposed to be lucky or something. Dunno, might have been seeing things, was a little drunk. There was an obvious bouncer parked on a stool outside…I'd seen that sort of thing before. He was taking the cover charge for the place…as a matter of exclusivity. You had to give him the right charge to get in. Also, we'd have to look the part going into a place like that…Macha went and got us some fancy old-fashioned Japan clothes on Calliope's dime. That shit was DIVINE. I'm keepin' that kimono, comfiest thing I've worn my whole damn life. Flattering too. Not that anybody was ogling the Shanrazi freak.

We kept an eye on the place, didn't take long for a good mark to come out…a rather amiable shipping mogul of sorts by the name of Garth Norwood. He was stumbling drunk, too…eeeeeasy mark. Macha and I didn't even have to try to get the cover charge out of him. Twenty bucks a head…cheaper than I'd expected, but I guess that's the point eh?

We got into the place…the main room was a large sake bar. We spotted four Geishas working the joint…two of them were Mystics, and one of those Mystics was very powerful. Fourth Order Seeker. No question that'd be our girl. Just had to get her to ourselves, and that involved putting in a special request. We found out her specialty was something called a Kagami biraki. Uncasking of sake. We'd have to wait for an hour to get her, but we weren't in a rush. Me, I was excited as hell, and getting disturbingly sober during that hour, but it'd be worth the wait. This was the REAL shit. Actual fucking alcohol done right, and we were getting a whole cask! I'm gonna be stocked for WEEKS.

We kept with etiquette…didn't talk business until after the first round, after which we explained to Haruko why we were there. Granted, she's a damn Seeker, so she already knew. She offered to make us a deal…another Geisha, Yuko, decided to undermine her reputation to drum up her own business. Not exactly fair play, but you've gotta appreciate that kind of drive. Anywho, Haruko wanted us to convince her to stop, and gave us her home address, before resuming pleasantries. Very pleasantries. Gotta say, by the end of the night her charms were definitely doing their trick, even with me. Then again, I was very, very drunk.

Shek did some digging later. Found out Yuko was actually a Synth, named Saron-09. Could've used that to play dirty, get some blackmail, but eh. I wanted to do this one clean. Girl probably just needed the money…and after a visit from me an' Macha, turns out that was exactly the case. Saddled herself up with some nasty debt. Needed to make more. Well, we proposed that, instead of attacking Haruko's livelihood, we could help her bolster her own. Spread some good word, drum up her business. She agreed to stop the nasty rumors if we did that, so we left to make a plan.

On our way back to the ship, we spotted our beloved fool of a captain putting away her comm after sending all of us a simultaneous message…no question in our heads as to what it was. That fucking Demon…she didn't remember a thing of it. We had the message deleted without looking.

I didn't like the implications of that. Means that shit can spread its corruption through the written word, not just spoken…after we're done here, gonna send a note to Shek to run an automated scrub of the logs. Clear out any names we don't specifically exclude.

Back to it. I came up with a surprisingly great plan, if I do say so myself, despite still being pretty drunk. Macha was going to work through Garth, get Yuko some high end business. Meanwhile, I'd hit up the docks and find some incoming vagrants with money to spend and a taste for booze. Turns out my job was reeeeal easy. Kept the kimono on for it, but made it clear I wasn't a shill. Seems the moment you tell a space-weary crew that they can get real alcohol they're sold.

…despite the kimono, everyone still seems to think I'm a dude. Meh. I keep wondering whether I should actually start caring at some point.

I set things up with Garth to manage having him as a business contact after we were done…after all, smuggling's a specialty of ours. I'm sure he'd have use of our services.

Went back to The Sake Room, got ourselves a poetry reading. Couldn't really afford another cask. It's fine. I was still drunk. Haruko told us how to use the Spirit Feather. The user had to attune to it and be free of corruption. Then? Jam it right into a person's heart. It'd leave them unconscious for a while, but would carve out their corruption. Also makes for a powerful weapon against Demons, assuming you're in a strong mana field. Much as I wanted to take it, I let Macha do the attuning. I've never really been too capable with a knife. Also, I was pretty drunk. We got ourselves a private room, she gleefully stabbed Calliope, Shek, Noxis, Shara, and then we sat down, drank more, and played cards until they came too.

Not really sure how long that was. I might've blacked out a while. Dunno. Was really drunk.

After they came to, we started working out our new plan: Shek would keep tabs on Asshole McBoxman, so that hopefully we could track him down and give him what for. In the meantime, we'd get ourselves some work to rebuild our funds, and, more importantly, go get some Mystic Training.

…what a fuckin' busy day. Enough to drive a girl to drink.

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Episode 4: Job On Nefarista Station

Taken from the official mission logs of Chief Maintenance Officer Shek Decker

508 CT – 06 – 02
Morning
Journey to the Sylvaar system went without issue. Border security in this system appears more lax than that of Nim. Protocol in this system requires docking at Nefarista Station, the visitor and immigration hub of this system. Nefarista Station orbits around Sylaar Prime, a world that Shara mentions is a ravaged world. Due to being ravaged by Demons, the mana field of the planet is highly corrupt and travel to the world is not allowed. However, our information from our contact on Nim spoke of a holy woman who traveled to Sylvaar Prime long ago who may have possessed the Spirit Feather. We must find it for the sake of this ship and crew. Noxis comments that the sensor array on Nefarista Station is quite impressive, capable of scanning the entire Sylvaar system. This would certainly make movement down to Sylvaar Prime difficult. He wonders if he could sneak into the sensor control room via the vents. I feared more easily said than done. The cleaning system would have eradicated any living being. 

Docking / inspection went well. Noxis decided to take the form of a box although the inspector did not seem too interested in looking thoroughly around the ship.

Seeking some information, Shara remembered a place where people like us could get information without many questions. The bar was called Devil’s Punchbowl and it was located in the ghettos of the station. I suppose other cultures have places for their unwanted, just like the Consortium.

We arrived at Devil’s Punchbowl, a vagrant bar with a style I am beginning to get used to. There appeared to be only a few people in at this early time. One man stood out, he was sober. Callopie tapped Noxis and myself on the shoulder, her eyes telling us that this man was checking the two of us out and he would be the man to talk to.

We approached the man who quickly ordered beer for all our us. Tikal seemed to like this guy right away. The man, olive skinned and mundane, introduced himself as Iskander and information was his business. He mentioned the bounty on Noxis and my head has gotten quite high.

Excerpt from Personal Log
Have I been found out? Would he turn me in? Can I trust anyone? I had to be strong and stood my ground.

We noticed this bar was protected from prying eyes and ears via a nice jamming device. I wonder if we could get something similar for our ship to protect us in this system.

He asked us our business. We mentioned the need to get to Sylvaar Prime. I asked about his jamming device and if he knew a good way around the scanners. I was prepared for quite the technical discussion. Instead, Iskander laughed and told us he could help in a much more pragmatic way. He bribed the people who run the array sensors on the station. He liked to keep his business private.

Excerpt from Personal Log
Oh well, sometimes the best solution is not found via technology. Quite a hard pill to swallow.

He asked us why we wanted to go to such a terrible place. We told him the story of the Spirit Feather and that it might be down there. And that we needed it.

He told us it would take him twenty four hours to research a price for such a request. He asked about Callopie being mute. She told him she might explain if we survived. I thought that caught him off guard that she could speak at all. I hope she will one day be able to speak REDACTED again.

Day / Night
Since we had twenty hours for free time, we decided to split up and find activities on the station. Tikal spent most of his time in the bar. Noxis tried his luck at earning some credits via entertainment. Callopie had asked Iskander about his tailor and went on a clothing adventure. I really admire her tastes. Shara wandered the ghetto taking in all she could.

The crew stayed at an inn near Devil’s Punchbowl. I decided to sleep on the ship and do some general maintenance. Noxis decided to sleep on board as well.

Excerpt from Personal Log
I thought this would be a good time to put some finishing touches on the special cell I had constructed. I do not think Noxis noticed anything out of the ordinary though. I had to ensure the safety of the crew. At all costs, including REDACTED. We need to get this feather.


508 CT – 06 – 03
Late Morning
We assembled at Devil’s Punchbowl and met with Iskander. He gave us our price. Noxis and Tikal talked him down a hefty bit. It helps to have people who can talk and interact with other people.

He told us around 400 CT, a mysterious woman by the name of Ekundayo showed up in the Sylvaar system to heal Sylvaar Prime of its demonic corruption. She made numerous trips to a from the surface. No one was sure how she could do this with Nefarista Station preventing travel. One of her trips to heal the capital of Sylvaar Prime, she did not return. She clearly was a woman of great power and was said to have a number of powerful artifacts. He did not know for sure if the Spirit Feather was one of them, but it was our best shot.

As a bonus, Iskander said he would be willing to bribe contacts in the Protectorate who operate the sensors. He would get us codes that would make our ship look like a drone to the sensor array. Authorized drones had almost free roam of the Sylvaar system. This process would take him about three days to setup and complete.

Since we had three days, he offered us the communication ID of Yima, a fixer on the station who could float us some work. The Sylvaar system apparently operated a bit differently from other systems. Here, we would only deal with the fixer. Mr. Johnsons do not deal directly with vagrants to keep more anonymity, especially if Mr. Johnson was a member of the Consortium. I had no problem with that arrangement. The further away I was from members of the Consortium, the better.

Noxis reached out to Yima via comms. All he received back was a set of coordinates and a time of 12:15 PM.

The place was a Stuffer Shack, a fast food joint that was the oldest Corps still around. This Corp started back on ancient Earth in the mid 2000’s CE, a time long long ago.

11:45 AM
We arrived early to Stuffer Shack. We decided to grab a meal before our meeting with Yima. Callopie only ordered something to drink. Shara only ate a salad.

Excerpt from Personal Log
The last time I had food from a Stuffer Shack was when I was living my old life. Eating here again gave me a sense of comfort, but still no desire to return to that life.

12:15 PM
Like clockwork, a late middle aged man approached us. It was Yima. He greeted us in a language I did not recognize. I was told it was an old Earth language called Japanese. Others in the group seemed to know how to respond to the greeting. Yima seemed pleased.

Callopie mentioned to us later about a glyph tattoo on Yima’s neck. She did not say how, but she mentioned something about the Tower of Secrets, whatever that is.

Yima sat down with us and told us about the job he had for us. His client had issues with shipments being delivered to him onboard the station. The client kept getting robbed. Our job was to provide extra security as a show of force. If our efforts got on the news as a powerful message to those who would wrong this client, there would be a bonus in it for us.

The next shipment was scheduled for 2 AM.

Afternoon / Evening
We started our preparations for the job. I purchased two used C1 New Roaches. I thought they may be useful in surveillance and recording our actions for news broadcast. Tikal took an interest in one of my roaches and asked to borrow it. After I agreed, he summoned a fire spirit and bound it to the roach. 

508 CT – 06 – 04
2 AM

We arrived at meeting place, an airlock in the shipping section of the station. The door opened and we were greeted by a Heromi service droid behind a large hover dolley. A male voice announced from the droid and asked if we were the security detail. Upon confirming, the voice said to follow this service droid to its destination.

I sent my roach ahead to scout. Tikal commanded his roach to follow close to him. His roach seemed quite angry as it started to grow hot, and took on a slight red glow. I suppose working with spirits has many benefits along with some risks. Tikal said not to worry and that we would too go ahead and scout. As he slowly walked ahead, we all seemed to forget he was even with us. His power to relax is truly impressive.

2:30 AM
Ahead of the main party near a three way junction, some crates seemed out of place. Deliberately out of place. My roach was able to see about five people hiding behind these crates, your run of the mill bandits. Unfortunately, refurbished models are not quite precise. An overhead sign got knocked over, and alerted the bandits to our coming. It however, remained in a prime location to record the events.

Our fight ensued. Noxis used his abilities to turn one of the bandits into a barrel of pitch. Which in turn, Tikal’s fire roach lighted on fire. Noxis then lifted the flaming pitch and dumped it on some of the bandits. Horrific was all I could think. Three of the bandits shot at Shara, wounding her left arm. This was no match for Callopie’s ability to heal wounds, Shara’s arm was back in no time. Without blinking an eye, Callopie went from defense to offense blasting an ice lance from her hands. All of a sudden, two of the bandits started grabbing at their faces and screaming. This must have been Noxis’ doing. One of the bandits seemed quited relaxed, thanks to Tikal. Two bandits rushed toward Shara and attacked. I heard a snap, it must have been her rib. Callopie froze those two bandits and Tikal ordered the fire roach to burn them. It complied, and burned Shara in the process. She held composure and only let out a whimper as the flames seared her body. A bandit turned into a balloon and Noxis poped it. I grazed a bandit across the head who took to running who Callopie froze. The battle was over.

Shara and Noxis were ready to kill the still breathing bandits. Tikal and Callopie thought the lesson was learned and the survivors would tell others not to mess with the transports anymore. I abstained, is it really my place to vote in such a situation? Tikal and Callopie won the argument. A few casualties, but some will live to tell the tale.

As we walked to complete our mission, I told the group when we return to the hotel that I would tweak the video from my roach and send to a news outlet. Then Callopie touched me on the shoulder. She motioned for me to be quiet. I was confused, I did not know why. Tikal said I slipped. Two against one, even if I was right, I hung my head in shame as we walked the rest of the way.

Excerpt from Personal Log I would remember if I slipped, right? Of course I would.

4 AM
Back at the hotel, Tikal contacted Yima who sent him coordinates for a meeting at 5 AM.

I began preparing to submit video to the news. As I typed, Callopie looked over my shoulder. I never liked people reviewing my work. It made me anxious. She grabbed my shoulder. It is so rare to hear her speak any more. All she said was, “Stop typing. Delete it.” Why? Why did she prevent me from getting our bonus? I had to trust her. So I erased the written report for the news outlet. She then reached over and hit delete on my keyboard again.

Excerpt from Personal Log
Did she not see me do it? Is the infection taking over her mind? Or over mine? And why was I sweating when she told me to erase the data?

Tikal mentioned to the group that he looked at our auras. He could see the infection in Noxis, Shara, Callopie, and myself. He found it interesting though that Callopie’s soul seemed to be fighting back against this infection while the rest of us did not. She truly is a willful elf. Shara cannot believe that she is infected. She tells us repeatedly. Callopie with fire in her eyes just slapped her across the face, called her an arrogant child. Noxis with his control of illusions, helped Shara to see her own aural pattern to prove her infection was real. He told us he had trouble remembering details when we slip. He described it as a dream almost.

4:30 AM
Tikal told the group he was going to meet Yima alone. He seemed to not want to be around REDACTED anymore.

The time passed quietly. I kept to my room. Things were happening too fast. All I could do was go inward to try and find possible solutions, or fail safes.

5:30 AM
Tikal called the rest of the crew on comms. He asked, “Who is Naraya?”. I had no idea. Callopie though seemed relieved by that question.

Excerpt from Personal Log
What does this mean? How is Callopie related to Naraya?

6:00 AM
Tikal returned to the hotel to tell us how the meeting went. He mentioned that Yima met him at an abandoned lot decorated very nicely. Tea was served, with only two place settings. Yima spoke of our infection and that he knew it well. The Spirit Feather was indeed on Sylvaar Prime. He said the journey would be terrible. If we happened to succeed, he told Tikal that we should travel to the Sol system to the moon of Io. And we should seek out his sister there. Tikal mentions that Yima asked him not to use his name on Io and attempted some sort of magic. Tikal said he would not speak his name.

After Tikal told his story, a plain young woman appeared behind him. She wore large metal armor that seemed beyond ancient. She placed her hand on Tikal’s shoulder and begged us not to go to Sylvaar Prime. She said she might not return. Tikal agreed that if anything were to happen to us, his last act would be to release her.

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Seeking Aid
Exert from Noxis' data log

I'll go back and type it when I have my binder on me.

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Interlude: After Mars

Taken from the personal logs of Chief Maintenance Officer Shek Decker

508 CT – 05 – 25
Late Night / Early Morning

After meeting with Mr. Johnson on Mars, Macha came to me. She expressed great concern about Calliope. This demon infection can be spread by words. This puts us all at risk. She asked me to construct a REDACTED

I can tell Macha cares greatly for Calliope. Macha wants to protect us as well as keep the rest of the crew safe. I trust them both after helping me escape my life in the Consortium. Although, to be honest, I am not as optimistic as Macha. REDACTED

Macha asked for this to be between us. I told her that the captain must approve all ship modifications of this scale. I agreed to ask the captain for permission to improve our brig, and no more. This way, I will be able to meet both Macha’s request for discretion and my need to be on the captain’s good side.

Breakfast
While dining with the crew, I mentioned to Shara that Macha had raised concerns about the ship’s security. I had some ideas and with the captain’s approval, I could easily upgrade our security. Shara agreed. The plans go forward. I will begin designing immediately. When we have time to stop for supplies, I will begin construction.

Day
While preparing to travel to the Nim system, I began drafting the plans to upgrade the brig.

Macha’s requests are going well. But what else can be done? I began frantically thinking up ideas to better protect us all.

Night
I think I got it. I will build Macha’s new brig. What I will not mention to her or anyone at this point REDACTED. I hope she will forgive me.

I must prepare for bed. It is quite late and we will be heading into Nim space soon. We must be quick and precise in this system. I must be on my best ability.

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Betrayal!
The Adventure Begins

Excerpt from Macha's journal.

The action began in the ship's mess, when we suddenly discovered a Synth named Noxis making lunch. No idea where he came from, but he's not half bad. Captain Shara seemed a bit over excited about it, but she's just a child. We traveled to a Shanrazi city on Mars to meet with a fixer named Razza.  I always enjoy being on Mars, it has a rather ancient and musty feel to it.

Razza seems fairly trustworthy, as far as a fixer can be trusted.  Smartly dressed, no nonsense. The Thirsty Canary (the bar where we met her) had a very strange drink made from some sort of magic fungus. It was unusual, to be generous, though it seems like Shek didn't take to it to well. It was nothing Calliope couldn't fix.

Our job is to retrieve an object for a Mr. Johnson from a decommissioned facility.  Should we accept we will meet him tomorrow at 10 pm at the Jaba Hut. (Where do they get these puns?)

We went out separate ways for a while, I went to a local orphanage to tell stories and spend time with the children. I know that Calliope had a nice 'wife gig' for the evening, I hope she'll find it entertaining. (I can't lie, I do worry a tiny bit, sometimes you can never be sure who these clients really are.)


The secret codes that kids use these days, "a large ginger caramel with an extra shot of espresso and three shots of watermelon syrup." What ever happened to something more simple like asking for more waters than the table occupants need?

Anyway, we met with Mr. Johnson, a Haryani man, very wealthy by the look of him, gave us the details. The base is on Metis, a moon in the Hephestus sub-system. The planet itself is uninhabited, the old Consortium base is located near the south pole. There's the possibility of some sort of secret project in a room blacked out on the map. Our mission is to bring what ever that is back to him, we're welcome to keep what ever else we find. The base was abandoned 30 – 40 years ago so security should be very lax. I've been entrusted with the com link to contact him when we return.


During our trip we managed to gather some salvage for the ship.


Metis is pretty much a dead rock. We found the base, and it had electricity, a weak artificial field, and life support is still intact.  The base is located by the south pole. 

The entrance is huge, the holographic rock disguise is rather clever. Thankfully, Shek is very competent with computers, he gets us through the gate in no time. The first thing we encounter off the elevator is a decontamination room. So far nothing too concerning.

Massive computer lab was the first real thing of substance that we discovered.  It's odd, there is trash and debris, but no real personal effects. Maybe they left quickly or didn't stay long. Shek wants to download the data and our esteemed pilot wants to salvage the computers. There is wisdom in that and we don't have a need to hurry.

Things were going smoothly until the data download went wrong. There were some drones, but we thankfully we came out of that mostly unscathed and with the system hacked we are now registered as personnel.  (Thank goodness, Shek says there are 30 of them more on the network, even if only 5 appear functional….)

The next thing we stumble across is a bio lab with nothing really worthwhile in it other than some old medical equipment.  The barracks though was a whole other matter. It was horrifying, and someone wrote on the wall "He is coming" (what ever that means).

Again the security systems are no match for Shek. It really makes me wonder if the Consortium is as good as they claim to be.  There's a lot of arcanium here. The secret room has a massive arcanium door, magic cannot see inside. 

What we found was deceptive, a solid arcanium crate (well there was a tiny bit of wood in it) and a computer. The only thing on the computer says "He is coming," over and over. (This can't end well).

We pack up and head back to Mars to meet up with Mr. Johnson. The drop off is at an abandoned factory, we're meeting at midnight. Mr. Johnson met us, complete with snipers (Great, I feel like this isn't going to end well). Inside the box is the name of a demon. I won't write its name here, it's too risky. Poor Calliope has been infected by it somehow. If I could kill that man, I would have. I pray I will still get the chance. Right now, I must do all I can to help her get better. Though I will speak with Shek about what we can do to protect her should the infection start to spread. She's a strong woman, but demons are insidious things….

Our next step is to head to the Nim system to find a Rasim Elchin, he's an expert in such things. Looks like I need a big hat. 

 

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