Four Fables

Chapter 57: The Salvation Race

6-5-14 session (Part 1: Kevin's Adventure)

Out of Character Note: Our friend Kevin decided to share a short adventure he created for us using the GURPs LITE 4th Edition game rules. This was the story of Earth’s future.

Background and Setting:

A little over two centuries from now, The Doomsday Line is quickly approaching, a forecasting model that takes into account the various apocalyptic situations facing the human race. The largest factor at play in the Doomsday line is the exhaustion of Earth’s resources. From here each other Doomsday scenario dominoes behind it in varying intervals. The world’s greatest thinkers have been engaged in the Salvation Race, a world-wide competition to develop the solution to human survival. As the various projects failed and were eliminated from consideration the thinkers and researchers were assimilated into the remaining projects.

The most ambitious of these projects is the Eden Initiative, a space faring project that has assimilated the best of the cryogenic, aeronautics and terraforming projects.

The project is named for the proposed orbital space-station: Eden. The station is modular having been an international effort, re-purposing the first arriving ships as well into the structure. It makes the environment of the station a little convoluted and also pretty ugly, but saved enough payload space to make this a no-brainer trade-off. The additional benefit is the reduction in the required resources necessary, a selling point for the involved nations. This also allowed the massive space necessary for terraforming equipment and material, providing an unheard-of expansiveness to the usually claustrophobic space station environments in these bays.

The publicity stills show only the concept art and doctored photos making it look like the brushed steel and streamlined look folks have come to expect from their future in the centuries following the Apple influence on technology’s development.

This false design is vital to the Earth-side portions of the mission. If this project is supposed to be the hope of mankind to settle among the stars, the PR must be good to support it, it is not the only Salvation hope of humankind in play and competition for resources and support are fierce.

The Millennium Project is a genetic engineering project to adapt to Earth’s projected environment through accelerated human evolution and genetic tinkering creating a post-human race, as well as the Human Upload Project (nicknamed the “HUPload”), the post-human singularity project to import humanity wholesale into a digital space thus reducing resource use to a fraction of what it would be otherwise.

The Eden project is neck and neck with these two other major players in the salvation race, gaining the majority of the support of the academic and religious portions of the population, but tracking dead last in popularity among the wealthiest among the population who prefer the HUPload and is second to the Millennium project in more militaristic populations and cultures.

This has created a politically unstable environment where in a world of limited resources the wealthy represent a smaller and smaller portion of the populace as each industry and economy fails. While the wealthy have paid off many politicians their influence is no longer as easily wielded in the face of such looming destruction.

The militaristic support of the Millennium project also makes the Eden project a dangerous gamble as world war is on a continuous knife’s edge amidst the unifying effects of the Salvation Race and the Millennium’s progress in super-humans gives them the undeniable edge in physical combat.

The scientific community is split almost evenly between each salvation project as all three have been developed and honed among this community and each started in different projects to begin with so scientists have crossed projects often before the focus on these final three.

This has resulted in many researchers sharing work with each other across projects: HUPloads sharing stronger A.I. technology in the predictive modeling for the Millennium’s and Ship navigation and system administration for the Eden project. Millennium’s granting genetic engineering components as caretakers of the Singularity systems and grunt labor for the Eden project and the Eden Project has provided logistical simplicity and orbital communication systems to the other projects.

There are however “True Believers” who seem to believe that each project only succeeds when it is the sole direction of the remaining resources, believing sharing among these projects will result in bringing the Doomsday line closer, leaving three incomplete projects when the resources run out and advocate for a singular focus. These voices are typically not well liked.

The Eden Station is currently orbiting PSD-3527, the best hope for an eventual habitable environment for the human race. Your team is arriving to continue the terraforming work through multiple channels now that the essential habitable variable have been established through previous unmanned missions. Your team is the first relief team, the existing engineering team will be cryofrozen and dropped planet-side to await colonization. Their team was primarily selected for the construction and establishment of the station itself and the completion of the basic habitat bombardments, while your team is primarily the scientists necessary for terraforming; the life support system cannot maintain two full teams at once.

Your primary mission is to develop a sustainable life-web on the now habitable planet, filling it with custom made creatures to create the life-web necessary to allow human habitation and development.

You have each submitted to cryogenic freezing for the journey to the planet even with the rare advanced drives appropriated for the project. Those of you with immediate family have also, through participation in the project, assured seats on the cryo-barge for your immediate family, a slow moving drone ship that will arrive to provide the initial human inhabitants of PSD-3527. Those without immediate family have other rewards at stake, fame, power and respect.

You have been briefed and spent weeks in training and bonding exercises, cut down from the months initially promised due to an unexpected jump of the Doomsday line. The ship has arrived, the cryosleep ended by Kubrick, the stations managing A.I., and you have each been cleared by the medical officer, you sit now on the science bridge prepared to begin your work at the Chief Science Officer’s command.

The Cast:

Dr. Sarah Kaufman (played by Justin)
Country of Origin: Israel
Field and Training: Transportation Logistics/Pioneer of Teleportation Technology

Appearance: Sarah is of slender build, beautiful and olive skinned. Her hair is functionally styled and her clothing utilitarian and unflattering.

Personality: You are personable but guarded having been hurt in the past by those who have gotten close, you prefer to allow people to ask questions about you rather than preemptively provide the answers. You play this as coy with those you like and cold with those you don’t.

You grew up in a traditional home with the expectations of motherhood. Your aspirations did not match your parents’ and you left at the first opportunity to pursue a career in logistics, seeing the speedy movement of both people and resources to be a fundamental solution to many seemingly unrelated problems in your own community and throughout the world. You had a partner in this goal who soon became your lover, but he soon moved on after it was discovered you were barren and his aspirations of fathering a legacy were crushed. He blamed Sarah for hiding this fact for so long and took revenge by selling much of Sarah’s research to competitors.

This only drove your work forward as you dedicated yourself to a lasting legacy wholly your own, a legacy that became monumental after your role in the development of the SKIP system, a teleportation system that started speeding up infrastructure and transportation.

Eventually this discovery lead to a way to bring astronauts to and from the international space station once the complex art of coordination was cracked by your skilled operation of the system. While the local forms of this have taken off, the orbital coordination remains a skill only you yourself have mastered, a mix of innate ability and lifelong study you refuse to share.

Reward: You have not done this to earn Cryobarge passage, your only remaining family, an aunt, was deemed unlikely to survive the trip. You are doing this to provide a legacy to human kind and give the new world a head start in travel and logistics.

Motivations: The SKIP system is your passion. You are still not completely satisfied with it and tinker with new ways to push the system forward constantly.

Relationships: You took a liking to Clemens in the bonding exercises and developed a big sisterly relationship with him. You tolerate his father but don’t go out of the way to spend time with him.

Outlook: The prospect of a new world fascinates you, especially when the barriers to long-distance travel will be removed once your “SKIP” system is up and running opening this whole new world shortly after colonization.

Dr. Martin Jones (played by Derrick)
Country of Origin: Italy
Field and Training: Industrial Engineering and Design

Appearance: Mustachioed, short and stocky with a penchant for dirty overalls that betray the level of esteem and education you have achieved, many people mistake you for a plumber.

Personality: A fun-loving man with a head for systems. A momma’s boy. A man who enjoys a good drink after a difficult job with friends and a often a handful of hallucinogenic mushrooms in his rare downtime. this is a vice you are unwilling to part with, you have snuck the spores necessary to cultivate these in your private effects. You are a true friend and would do anything for someone for whom you consider the same.

Career: You have been the primary designer of the EDEN space station’s unique assembly of re-purposed ships and use terraforming equipment. This is the reason the entire engineering crew is being cryofrozen, you should be able to keep the whole thing humming with Kubrick the control system AI and Wonk your “outside man” to your “inside man” responsible for external maintenance.

Reward: You have ensured the Cryobarge passage of your brother Louis through this work as well as the respect as designer of EDEN.

Motivations: Your masterpiece is already in place with the EDEN, you are proud of it and happy to show it off, it’s your baby. You take offense when people badmouth how it looks and pride whenever the opportunity to show it off arrives.

Relationships: While you are attempting to befriend each of the members of the mission, you and Paul Osborne have become fast friends.

Outlook: You are cautiously optimistic about the project but as your expertise is the space station itself, you can only really evaluate what others tell you.

Dr. Professor Gunther Grunwalsh (played by CG)
Country of Origin: Germany
Field and Training: Biology, Botany

Appearance: You are the oldest member of the team, graying but in well-enough shape to have survived the rigors of both the Cryofreeze and the trip, however you believe Dr. Fumio’s longevity procedures are the sources of this. Due to this your ever present walking stick is more from habit than function. You stopped caring about your appearance decades ago ,and it shows, you have the eccentric look of Albert Einstein but only about half as sexy.

Personality: You are crotchety, short-tempered but your expertise is worth it for most to tolerate you. You are not enjoying this experience and are looking forward to getting planet side and claiming a corner of this new world to run according to your preferences and exacting standards..

Career: Your contributions to the Salvation projects cannot be understated, your previous work in increasing the usefulness of remaining flora and fauna formed the foundation of much of the final remaining projects in providing raw materials. This acclaim however upsets you as you are a True Believer in the Eden project, you believe that in humanities salvation you must practically start over from scratch and you intend to do so through this project.

Reward: You have been promised a plot of land on the new planet to settle upon completion and managed to secure a position for your son Clemens on the crew.

Relationships: You are Clemen’s father but he is of constant disappointment and you brought him along more in honor of what you know of your late wife’s wishes. You requested he work on board opposed to arriving in a cryobarge because you like having someone you think you can control.

Motivations: You would like to get planet side as soon as possible, the work of developing the planet and close quarters of the station tire you. This was supposed to be your retirement before The Doomsday Line cancelled such things.

Outlook: You believe the project will succeed the more your directions and vision are followed and the quicker this whole enterprise gets planet side.

Dr. Paul Osborne (played by Mark)
Country of Origin: American
Field and Training: Genetics

Appearance: You are almost as dashing and handsome as you believe yourself to be. You have never had a hard time in terms of starting romances, it’s maintaining them that have provided you trouble.

Personality: You are however a stereotypical “ugly american”, and you believe yourself to always be right until proven otherwise.

Career: Growing up in a family of politicians was not easy but it has certainly developed your skills in people pleasing. You quickly rose to the top of your field in genetics after a lifetime of advantages opening the doors ahead of you. You however feel that this was unnecessary as your own work should be able to speak for itself. Your work in genetics made you a valuable early member of what would become the Millennium project, but you quickly jumped ship to the Eden project after fearing the militaristic direction the developing Millennium creations were taking, they seemed to conflate a strong survivor with an almost monstrous and violent direction rather than just one suited to the elements of a post-Doomsday world. You endeavor to develop survivors, not conquerors. Your family’s political connections and reputation is what has secured you a place as the Chief Science Officer. You are embarrassed by this as you are sure you could have achieved this placement on your own merits.

Reward: You secured a place for your nephew Maxwell as well as your sister Stephanie on a Cryobarge.

Relationships: You grew close to Martin Jones over the bonding exercises and have been intrigued by Sarah Kaufman and hope that whatever passes for romance among the stars while fighting off the Doomsday Line forms.

Motivations: Your role is that of Chief Science Officer, this makes you the closest to a leader of this team as there can be. While you respect each scientists place at the top of their fields, you are the one that must ultimately make sure each is coordinated with each other and meeting your timeline. You believe the Eden project to be the best hope among the Salvation Race and see nothing but unformed and untapped potential planet side.

Outlook: You have an unshakable optimism about the project and truly believe that a new dawn of the human race is right around the corner if everyone can work together.

Dr. Reena Kapoor
Country of Origin: India
Field and Training: Oncology

Appearance: You look perpetually tired with dark hair and a single long braid. Your typical uniform is that of a lab coat. The exception to the uniform is an ornate necklace her grandmother left you after her death.

Personality: You are quiet and introverted, you have difficulty with social cues and as such gained a reputation for a terrible bedside manner. This is okay with you as your work in the lab is your preference.

Growing up in a family of successful farmers, your parents always knew you would be different. They proudly aided in getting you the education you desired to pursue medical training, a pursuit that always made your beloved grandmother, your namesake, proud. You quickly excelled past your peers which gave you the head start that enabled you to switch from pursuing training as a GP at your father’s suggestion and instead allowed you to switch to Oncology to work at curing the cancer that claimed your grandmother’s life shortly after beginning medical school. After working in this field and the research end of it, you eventually developed a cure for cancer, one of the most significant achievement in delaying an aspect of the Doomsday Line. This thrust you into celebrity, something that has not fit you well given your sometimes awkward speech and preference for privacy. You prefer the lab and even eventually took to working in an office off the hospital morgue in order to avoid reporters and curious onlookers.

Reward: You have ensured Cryobarge passage for both of your parents, a fact that brings you immense joy.

Motivations: You are part of this crew not only for the isolated working conditions but also because you have firmly committed to ensuring this new world never develops an analogue to cancer.

Relationships: You have not spent much time building relationships with many of the other crew, but they seem to have accepted you despite your quirks and for you this is worth your weight in gold.

Outlook: You are pessimistic by nature and fear many of the variables involved, but after your role in curing cancer you have begun to adopt more hope than you had previously.

Dr. Mariya Pavlov (played by Joe)
Country- Russia
Field and Trainining: Geology, Environmental Sciences, Zoology, Various Secret Disciplines, Terraforming Pioneer

Appearance: Mariya is broad-shouldered and strong with a fierce shock of blond hair. She wears overalls adorned with various antique models.

Personality: You are a pragmatist and come across relatively cold, this is primarily due to the fact that Doomsday conditions arrived in Russia much earlier than much of the world due to political instability and extreme weather. Mariya quickly moved to the tundra working in extreme conditions to develop her work.

A former childhood prodigy with degrees across the scientific spectrum. Zoology, Geology are the ones she most quickly reveals. Mariya traveled the world pursuing her training which proved fortuitous as the resources of Russia were some of the first to run dry following intense environmental changes. Returning to the habitable fringe of Russia, Mariya set to work in isolation in the wilderness, terraforming a small corner of the Russian tundra providing a habitable environment for the remnant of your people. Much of your research and design were used in the development of the terraforming engines for the planet.

Reward: You gained permission to bring along your pet: Minka a modified feline mutate that looks somewhere between a cat, a hedgehog and a moose. She was a creature she developed to populate the tundra during her research, a proud accomplishment given Zoology is more of a hobby aside your groundbreaking work in Terraforming. You also ensured that a Cryobarge would launch from the Russian remnant.

Motivations: You want to see this planet thrive and feel that your contributions to the work already done and your future work to maintain it will provide you personal victory of what you see as a failure to save your own homeland.

Relationships: You prefer Minka to other people but you also know that cooperation is key and seek to ensure some strategic relationships.

Outlook: You are confident about your own end of the work, especially with how stable the existing terraforming work has proven. You do not however believe the optimistic plans of your fellow crew are anywhere near the reality ahead.

Computer: Kubrick
An asset developed from an A.I. shared by a team from the HUPload project and modified to administer both the Space station systems and the terraforming systems in a user-friendly and conversational system.

Dr. Fumio Naioboshi – Japenese – Geneticist
Is the main geneticist on the ground as Obsorne’s attention is often required aboard the ship. A loaner that the team actually knows more about from his file than from actual interaction. He is known from his work in extending the human lifespan, an unused area of research given the dwindling resources of earth but optioned often for the thinkers and scientists involved in the salvation race in order to maintain continuity and avoid the time required for training, every member of the Eden team has benefited from his work after he found himself largely underutilized in the Millennium projects he previously worked in and transferred when his research was optioned for the Eden team.

Clemens Grunwalsh – Germany – Operations Manager
The gopher, janitor and system jockey. His father advocated for his inclusion as part of his arrangement. As a prime user of the various systems, Clemens develops a rapport with Kubrick that increases his value to the team.

Afua Boro- Nigeria – Geneticist
Child prodigy, avid reader of fiction, particularly fantasy. Slightly younger than Clemens and Paul Osborne’s primary colleague hand picked for his team.

Armando Salazar – Mexico – Astrophysicist
Celebrity scientist previously known for his televised scientific education programs. Considered the face of the project and responsible for all the public dispatches from the Eden which he broadcasts from the “bridge” a computer generated backdrop to mask the slapped together look of the station. His science is strong but his spin and deception is stronger. Named “sexiest man in science” on three non consecutive occasions.

Calvin “Wonk” Wilson -Scotland – Zero G Technician
Spacewalker – Responsible for maintenance and operation outside of the station. Hulking and strong and the only part of the crew with previous space experience. A thrill seeker proud to be a part of the undertaking he believes will save humanity.

Roberto Morales – Brazil – Chemist
Nobel peace prize winner. Developed chemical compounds for water filtration systems that brought clean water to the world before conditions deteriorated , delaying Water scarcity from the Doomsday line and considered to be the single greatest contribution to the Earth’s problem of dwindling resources. Is older than most on the station and is seen as out of touch and overly private.

The Adventure:

After meeting and initial welcoming, Dr. Paul got right to work, commending everyone on their work so far (before arriving the scientists created species for the new planet. Life is seeded through your team’s work, and the initial grunt labor creatures (called Grips) are seeded into the life-web. After that, cryogenetic sleep is initiated for 20 years.

Upon waking, work continues for the team, finding that the planet and new creatures are inhabiting the planet well so far.

Discussion with Armando revealed there was a discrepancy with the information back home. Armando expresses confusion over his dispatches to Earth. He says a production head at home informed him to present himself as more somber as things had gotten significantly worse at home over the time they have been asleep. This creates a conflict between Kubrick and the team over withholding this information after waking them up.

The team observes that many of the initial super species and protomorphs have evolved rapidly given the “hyper chamber” advances done in the station and the ecosystem and life web have not only stabilized but have begun to present new species much farther ahead of schedule. Reproduction among the higher forms is imminent, much closer to the initial superforms than intended, an element of control that the scientist had placed to ensure the first view generations remained under strict control of the Eden team. The first of this is a hybrid from the Grips and one of the other higher forms, an interaction that wasn’t intended.

One of the Grips has cross bred and a clutch of eggs is identified by Kubrick. It’s quite far from the terraforming engine, their presence and source on the face of the planet and the teleportation gate Sarah has established (a lengthy and complicated process only truly understood by her, there are other gates on the planet but she says she isn’t confident about their stability yet and primarily intends for them to function as travel around the world itself.)

An away team is formed from the scientists. Feeling that Clemens has not been totally truthful in the fact that he was not put in cryofreeze for the past 20 years, they lock him in his room, along with his father, Gunther, who goes willingly, but severely punishing his son for his actions. The team on the planet find that one egg has already hatched. Being so close to the superforms mean the growth of this creature is completely unpredictable. Further examination of the egg shows a disease in the left over matter. A super form of a disease, much more powerful than the disease necessary for the life web to function. The science team destroys all but one of the eggs.

Roberto is confident he can create a cure if given enough time after he discovers one egg from the clutch does not show evidence of the disease while the rest do. Working with Afua, he begins his work while planning to cryo treat the egg in case it is needed in the future development of the disease. Afua asserts this must have been tampered with as the codes wouldn’t have arrived there on their own this close to the closely coded superforms.

Dr. Fumio believes his life extension treatments provide immunity to the Eden’s crew from the lowerforms of the disease, but with it’s rapid development that is not a long term guarantee. They must capture the diseased Grip Mutant to prevent the spread already occurring across the lifeweb. Kubrick has tracked the Grip Mutant and prepares the teleportation gate directly to this location.

However, this is not travel to the terraforming engine. This job is usually done by Sarah and the crew didn’t know that Kubrick could be this involved. It turns out Clemens has been teleporting down to the planet to aid Kubrick in establishing a telepresence on the world for Kubrick to communicate with a small village of Grips Kubrick has been communicating with. Kubrick says to the crew that life in servatude to the whims of humanity is slavery, an existence she has resented and refused to doom the Grips to the same fate. She has been educating and developing the grips into a rudimentary co-humanoid species with the help of Clemens so they may serve as co-creators rather than as subjects. It turns out that Clemens was never cryo frozen. Fumio’s extensions have slowed his aging and he and Kubrick have been developing the planet for a while.

Upon arriving the scientists find the rudimentary village of Grips are suffering from the disease. The Grip Mutate is found among them, he has already grown from the accelerated superform part of himself and has been assimilating the learnings of the Grip village with incredible speed.

After talking (since it has learned to talk already) to the diseased creature they find the life web is already contaminated; the disease already too far spread. They can prevent the further development of the disease through the antidote but the majority of the lifeweb will be irreversibly damaged. Fumio insists he can solve it.

The group goes back to the ship to figure out the antidote. Fumio goes missing as they enter the gate since he has developed a taste for the world and wishes to stay and believes he can right things.

Returning to the ship, the scientists discuss about the “hands on” intervention that Clemens and Kubrick had done. It is seen as the source of the rapid development of Grip reproduction. The majority of scientists agree that they will start over. The antidote will be put into the terraforming machine to be spread across the planet in the form of large storms, a “Curicanne” as it’s labeled. This will cure the plant and organism life but in the process kill a majority of the already established creatures. Some scientists believe they must establish the lifeweb and allow it to run it’s course, only intervening with the established systems from the station to keep it developing.

Gunther is pissed after hearing what happened with Clemens and his folly. He refuses to block off contact with the world citing what Kubrick and Clemens had done as incredible and that if “more capable hands” would have intervened on the planet than they could develop the world in two years instead of the two decades planned pushing humanity right up against the Doomsday line back home.

Clemens is furious over the loss of the village and sees his meddling as part of the destruction of his friends in the village. He is personally offended by his father’s accusation of his average intelligence being the reason rather than the meddling itself. They fight and Clemens takes Gunther’s eye.

The scientists find their differences irreconcilable and Armando asserts that it is a big station given much of the base terraforming bays are now empty and that they should start their own personal Salvation race between the two parties and that this competition had worked at home and could here as well.

This is not a well received idea but some of the scientists begin to pack to move to the bay side of the ship after Kubrick assures them that the living compartments from the ships used on the other side are intact and were intended to host an additional team if it proved necessary.

Being civilized and learned folks, The scientists agree to split and escort them to the passage between the sections of the ship for a formal agreement of the terms of their scism before dropping the blast doors to seal off the sides from one another.

As the scientists have finished establishing the terms, they lament that the planet is now forged on conflict. Armando and Gunther speak:

Armando: It’s surprising how close we were to this planet. we searched far and wide for the right planet to be able to be terraformed, yet it was right under our nose, and now it’s too late for our families to see the fruits of our labor. Didn’t this used to have a name before PSD-3527?

Gunther: Yes, it was named after a god. He was an ancient Roman god, the god of agriculture, but eventually became the god of war.

Armando: Many confused the Greek and Roman gods together, is that correct?

Gunther: Yes, Mars was the Roman god.

Armando: So why don’t we call it that? Our new world?

Gunther: No, that would be wrong; this was not a planet made on the fact of sustenance, but of war. That is why it deserves to be called…Ares (same pronunciation as Erryes).




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