GuideStar

by Sandy Antunes (sandy@clark.net)

Initial setup-- (see also *Newsblurps* file)

This Investigation assumes that the characters already work together, and that they have either an official or unofficial reputation for work in security, general do-gooding, lost causes, or strange situations.

A man comes to the Investigators, inquiring politely if they are available for hire, for an indefinite period, for security work. The job? To protect him, since someone suggested he might need it. Why them? The guy who delivered the most excellent pizza he had last night suggested they might be good to contact. He's not too used to the different outside (non-DuPont) firms, so he appreciated the advice.

He appears to be true-blue corp-- i.e., clueless about the outside. When asked, he replies how different things are on the street (reasonable enough). If tested, though, he is corporate-clueless also. His other excuse is "corporate mind wipe, part of contract" (see, he's clever!)

In actuality, he is Dick Mellit, former Vice President of DuPont, the corporation that owns Baltimore. The news has been abuzz about his sudden retirement. Just by being approached by Mellit, the Investigators are now involved. They can accept the case, or turn it down. If they accept, the economic rewards will be great, but many people have issues to take up with their client. If they turn the case down, they will have to deal with DuPont interrogators (polite, non-destructive ones) that would like to know the results of the meeting. If they handle this well, they might be hired by DuPont to find this man. Also, the competition will be interested in interrogating the Investigators (in impolite, destructive ways) to get an edge on finding and acquiring him. As this progresses, they will also find out about the various good deads he is doing, thus pulling on their heartstrings.

If they took Mellit's case, this scenario involved following him to various destinations as he tries to "fix" everything that he feels was done wrong in his life (his wife, his daughter, being a blood-sucking corp exec), while various agencies and individuals try to either kill or capture him. If they turn down the case, they'll spend the first part of the adventure escaping from the agencies and individuals looking for information, and in the course of things find out about the many redeeming good deeds Mellit is doing. He hasn't approached anyone else about guarding him, so he'll not last long unless someone steps in.

It is entirely possible that the Investigators will decide not to get involved in this matter, despite the obvious personality change and other strange aspects of the case. This begs the question why they are investigators anyway, but it is their choice. In such a bleak event, Mellit will eventually be killed by the street merc RedRod, and this adventure concludes.

Info

Project Springboard-- a pure research project, overseen by Mellit, which follows up on some early research by Dr. Malthus suggesting that life force can be harnessed to provide interspace teleportation. The project is seeking a way to make space access cheaper. Involved industries include Perdue (providing chickens for the life force) and a few others.

Dick Mellit-- yep, it's "Human Is" time, as per the Phillip K. Dick short story of that title. This is the plot. While attending a demo of the preliminary results of Project Springboard, he was zapped. Now the alien wants to 1) get out of DuPont, since it knows nothing of what he does there, and 2) enjoy experiencing Earth life. It has tremendous credit and cash resources even after giving all obvious funds and stock back to DuPont-- on order of 2 mil. It has no spending sense but does have basic sensibility.

His wife: He was married, fancy that. The (messy) divorce was around seven years ago, his ex-wife got nothing and lives poorly but honestly running a small antique/bookshop near the Walter's Art Gallery (near the Washington Statue, in walking distance of Lexington market, actually... though not a quick walk.) Her name is Lenore Foele (actually, a cousin to the owner of the meat market, he loaned her the money to start over). She used to love Mellit because he was only a bastard 90% of the time, when he switched to 100% AND got a mistress, she left him. She is still alone, having forsaken love, *sigh*. They never had children.

The orphanage-- he'd entrusted illegitimate baby daughter to their care, seventeen years ago, and the kid ran away. Well, actually, the place was a popular way to dispose of illegitimate children, which he did (the mother was discretely killed, of course, shortly before the divorce trial). It's an unpopular place, even with DuPont (who tolerate Mellit 'cause he was profitable) and in fact DuPont funnelled them money to keep going, largely because Mellit wasn't the only one using their services. The place is legit, albeit sad. As for the daughter herself, she doesn't know who her father is-- in fact, only Mellit knows what's come of her. The Keeper should make her end up being any NPC that the players get along with, to add some angst to the matter, and have Mellit reveal this information at some appropriate point in the scenario.

Project Underplow-- take toxic waste and dump it in the sewers where the homeless live, then periodically monitor them through blood samples to ensure the waste hasn't escaped its containers yet. This is primarily an open hook for other adventures.

Problems

There are several people out to kill Dick for nasty stuff he has done. On the other hand, he is doing a lot of goodwill stuff now.

Enemies (in increasing order of severity):

"Try to look unimportant. They may be low on ammo." - House -

Estimted life of Mellit on the street is... low.

Other details

  • Midnight is a confidential high-tech company, Teleny is their lab division. They don't do retail, but are involved in corp and military contracts. In the context of this scenario, they are neutral-- while they greatly would like to acquire Dick Mellit's knowledge and insight into DuPont, they will only use legal means to acquire it. Further, if they receive any clues suggesting Mellit and their moon computer (see next item) are connected, they will actively get involved in finding out the situation.

  • There is a computer that Teleny taps into-- via satellite. They found it serendipidously, and have kept its existence a secret. Ultimately, they want to get to the moon and check it out, but a manned space flight is not yet feasible, merely one of their ulterior long-range goals. In the meantime, they send netrunners in, without telling them much about it. In this way, they get advanced ideas and a little technology (maybe, if lucky, 1 or 2 pieces of intel they can comprehend and about a half dozen they don't yet understand) on a 2-week run (it takes a long time for runs because of the 3-second time delay, but due to the complexity and alieness of the system, the netrunner actually can use the time to sort out his/her perceptions. Besides, they multiplex several transmitters.) They use teams because the two can provide extra sensory feedback to each other so they don't get bored with the 3-second time delay. The machine isn't hostile, but it is strange, like a game-- you have to figure out puzzles and such while running, and ultimately they get harder and harder, until you fail and are booted off.

    What Teleny doesn't know (but some suspect) is the moon "computer" is at the very least an AI. The "games" nature is because of why it was built-- it's a prison, and what they are encountering are the wards that try to keep the prisoners IN. In fact, everytime a runner gets far enough, a prisoner can often escape from the device. They travel back along the communications lines to the satellite and down. To date, none have succeeded making the final connection via Teleny because the netrunning rigs are not compatible with bio-organics. However, since DuPont has started "Project Springboard", an ultra-high-bandwidth trasmitter/ receiver that could, in theory, allow teleportation of resources to the moon (though not people, yet), this alien was able to switch unto it and take over the nearest person (visiting VP, in this case). Note that this is possible since Project Springboard received a big boost when they got the almost-free extra military satellites due to a recent job.

    "We don't want it good, we want it Tuesday"

    Project Mercury

    As another hook for future investigations... on the home front, the DuPont solution to the heavy metals pollution problem was to release a custom-tailored bio-organism which extracts the heavy metals, is at a low internal temperature so it freezes them out of any solution they are in, then keeps them embedded inside it. The organism moves in a random walk, and they were all released near the center of the city, so in random walk theory they should ultimately keep moving out and eventually take all the heavy metals out of the city. Oh, it exists by assimilating any trace organics that it encounters in the tunnels, since it's a nearly microscopic organism this should prove to be no problem. The DNA is modified human, since so much cybertech work has done a good job in mapping out human tissue parameters. (Does this sound familiar to Walker or Schreck? :)

    How did they make the critters? The lab will, grudgingly, if forced, admit they cheated-- they used the Marvel effect (named after Marc Marvel, a researcher now long since retired) where you just take a huge number of cells and expose them to radiation, cull out the useless or bad mutations, and eventually collect the survivors who have the properties you were looking for. (Gee, and the project failed near the two radio- active hotspots, they figured the organisms died due to radiation...) (Actually, now they LIKE radiation...) Oh, Mellit's toxic waste project was a cheap execu-ploy to continue in this tradition, but done with even less thought and an even nastier boss (him), and it was dismally unsuccessful. This project, at least, everyone feels was successful!

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    Last modified February 3, 1997 by sandy@clark.net