Saturday, November 9, 2013

313: The Broken One

ENTRY 313: The Broken One

In their communications, the Factors have made it clear that they were observing transhumanity for some time before they made first contact. Most of those who make it their business to care about these things assume this consisted primarily of signals intelligence - human civilization has long been sending all manner of transmissions out into the void, and as a form of passive intelligence is more than sufficient to generate a good picture of transhuman civilization. Some of the more ambitious suggest more exotic forms of intelligence gathering, mostly involving unmanned probes and quantum entanglement communication or something more esoteric connected to superliminal transportation. It is nearly universally agreed that physical scouts would have been too dangerous and costly to use.

This is the story that Firewall has carefully promulgated and fostered throughout the intelligence communities, the better to cover up the impact of an unknown craft on Venus in AF 2. A single living occupant was recovered, and quickly hidden away in an impromptu secure facility. It quickly became apparent that while alive and sentient, the extraterrestial was severely damaged and, as it was later learned, several of its component parts had died off or become diseased, leaving a fractured personality and crippled form. Efforts at communication with the captured extraterrestrial were ineffective until after the introduction of the Factors. Since that time, Firewall has put what they have learned of Factor biology and language to use in caring for and interrogating their captive.

Given its damaged state, the information received from the captive Factor has been limited - some suggestion of a base or forward operating base, a few notes on its culture and technology, and quite a bit of close examination regarding its biology, but not much in the way of actionable intelligence. Currently, the administrators in charge of its health and interrogation are in a tricky situation - their captive is of limited value, but there is no way to release it back to its own people without revealing its long captivity and exposing Firewall's operations, both of which could spawn considerable blowback from the Factors and the sides they deal with. Further, any use of the intelligence that the broken Factor has provided could tip the Factors off that their missing scout was discovered, again prompting a political incident.

Most worryingly, at least to the truly paranoid aware of the Broken One, is that the Factors may well be aware that some faction of transhumanity has had long access to one of its scouts - they are after all an intelligent species, and must have a full accounting of their surviving scouts. What transhuman spymasters cannot guess is how the Factors may be acting on this data. Some speculate that the damaged Factor was deliberately seeded on Venus to prepare transhumanity for first contact (or as a false flag spreading misinformation), while others believe that even now the Factors are attempting to quietly discover who has their lost member and is offering for their return, no questions asked.


  • A xenocult has breached the holding facility on Venus and made off with the Broken One. Firewall has begun an extensive but surreptitious alert, and the player character's local handler approaches them for help locating the cult and recovering the "xenobiological mass," though the handler doesn't know the specific details of what the latter is. Of course, things might get complicated if the PCs ever find out what they're actually trying to recover.
  • The PCs are hired to break into a remote facility, recover the Broken One, and then allow it to build a communication device to contact its compatriots. The PCs will be told they need to lie low until the Factors come to collect, and may spend some paranoid/boring days in a safe house before the extraterrestrials show up, and the PCs get quietly thanked and paid off. Of course, if any of the PCs get curious, they'll find out that it was a Firewall facility they broke into...and a Firewall handler that hired them. The whole episode was effectively a repatriation, with both Firewall and the Factors working to avoid publicly acknowledging a pre-"official" first contact Factor encounter.
  • The time has come for Firewall to clean house, and it has begun removing all evidence of its "guest" of the last several years. The PCs, coincidentally, come into possession of a data file from a flat named Jheri Culkin, who claims to have been the first transhuman to make contact with a Factor and has evidence to prove it. When Culkin turns up dead, the PCs are left holding the evidence and in Firewall's sights.

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