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Story 93

Hidden Room

As you explore further, you stumble upon a hidden room tucked away in the depths of the factory. Inside, you find a dusty terminal flickering to life as you power it on. Lines of code flash across the screen, revealing fragments of intricate algorithms and complex neural networks.

With bated breath, you realize that this is where the heart of the AI research was conducted. This forgotten corner of the factory holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of HAL’s advanced artificial intelligence systems. As you delve deeper into the terminal, you uncover hidden files detailing the development of groundbreaking neural interfaces and cutting-edge machine learning algorithms.

The more you read, the more you realize the magnitude of the technological achievements made within these walls. It becomes apparent that HAL Industries was light-years ahead of its time, pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible in AI and robotics.

Just as you finish copying over the data that contains the missing components needed for Charles Truman and Dr. Merv Arken’s project, a faint noise startles you from your concentration. You shove the data fob into your pocket. Listening intently the sounds grow louder and more distinct. The whole factory sounds like it is turning on and the computer screen changes to show a glowing red circle. Invisible speakers intone, “Sorry Dave, I can’t allow you to do that.”

You can hear heavy machinery coming towards the door. You tap your comm, “I need a bar tender’s exit.”

“Sorry Dave, you’re not going anywhere.”

As the sounds of heavy machinery grows louder, you also hear the whine of your ship’s engines. Reacting quickly, you drop to the ground as two laser beams blast a hole through the wall, sending debris and dust flying. Without hesitation, you jump up and sprint towards your ship. You dive through the newly created opening into the open air lock, which is still cycling as you frantically tap on your communicator again. “Lay ions, we need to get out of here fast!”

Place the HAL marker on the Trans-Human Project goal card. Your next stop for this goal is the Trans-Human Project in Neo-Vostock.

When you arrive at the Trans-Human Project in the Neo-Vostock sector, listen to/read Story 88.

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Story 92

A gift for the man with everything

You arrive at the Kiln and find that the bald man is in his office in the rear of the Loan Shark’s business front. While waiting for admittance to his office, the crew that you know flies the Rep Omen are dragging a man with a disheveled and forlorn look. 

The door you’ve been standing outside of buzzes and softly clicks open. The bald man calls to your crew, “Enter.”

You walk in and see an impeccably dressed, broad shouldered, bald man sitting behind a beautiful carved wooden desk while scanning something on his tablet. As everyone from your crew finishes entering the office along with a small grav-sled holding a medium sized tree. The bald man sets down his tablet, “What can I help such renowned spacers as yourselves with?”

You nervously clear your throat, “Actually we came to make a tribute. We were on Aeon Station and saw something that you might appreciate and occasionally find useful.” You motion to the tree. “This is a carnivorous tree from a neighboring solar system.”

“Carnivorous?”, is his one word question.

“From what we understand, it is capable of eating a human sized creature but we’ve kept an electrostatic barrier around it to ensure that we didn’t test its ability.”

“That is a thoughtful gift”

You earn 2 fame points. Continue the rest of your turn.

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Story 91

A Strayon ambassador

The ship is a towering behemoth of metal and glass, an encapsulated city that houses the last remnants of your people. As you wend your way through the bustling corridors you feel the weight of responsibility on your shoulders. Parliament on board this ship is minuscule compared to the large group of representatives that worked as government functionaries on your old home planet but the colony ship could only save so many and it became a meritocracy for who to save.

You can’t help but feel a sense of unease as you enter the Parliament chamber and take your seat at the front, facing rows of seats occupied by representatives from different sectors of the ship’s population. The chamber falls silent as all eyes turn to you, waiting for your address.

You begin with a simple “Thank you for gathering today,” but then you pause. The silence stretches on, causing murmurs to rise among the group and even your own team starts to shift uneasily in their seats. Finally you lean into your mic and clear your throat, “An ambassador from Tunow, a planet in a neighboring solar system, was meeting with us at Aeon Station. During the meeting, wanting to impress me and my crew, the ambassador started boasting. ‘Last week, I was on Doravin V. I met one of the all time greatest glocken athletes. The previous week, I was on Zhian Prime. I met the galaxy’s leading mathematician. The week before, I was on Kei. I shook hands with the most beautiful supermodel in the universe. A few days earlier, I was on Lunari. I had lunch with the most accomplished chef who ever lived. From there, I went to Ularos IX, where I got an autograph from the best composer I’ve ever heard!’

I nodded humbly and replied, ‘Yes, our leader has been traveling a lot recently.'”

The room laughed and you sat back more comfortably holding the mic in your hand.

“I want to remind all of you that we are a small colony now. We cannot afford to isolate ourselves from potential allies and friends. And who knows, maybe one day we will need their help.”

Silence falls over the chamber as everyone ponders your words. Finally, one representative stands up and speaks out.”Very well, I support sending an ambassador,” he announces firmly, “We need to consider the long-term benefits for our people.”

Slowly but surely, more voices join in and before you know it, the majority of the representatives are in support of your request.

Transport the Strayon ambassador to Aeon Station. The Scoundrel will specifically target your ship while the ambassador is on board. After arriving on Aeon with the ambassador, gain two fame points.

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Story 90

Union Negotiations

As your ship approaches the Kiln, you receive a hale. Your comm officer opens the channel and on your screen appears the notorious thick necked bald man.

“Welcome to the Kiln, I’ve been expecting your arrival. Meet me in my private office on the lower deck as soon as you dock.”

As you enter his office, you notice a nice topiary in the corner. You turn to greet your host, but he looks right past you and your crew.

“Welcome, Dr Truman. It’s good to see that your experiment was a success.”

The robotic version of Dr Truman enters the room and shakes his hand, “We’ve spoken before, or at least my biological counterpart and you have, but it’s nice to finally meet in person, or maybe that’s person to robot.”

“Agreed, but I would like to get down to brass tacks and start our negotiations for manufacturing and labor.”

As they start negotiating in earnest, you realize your part is done. Place the union game token on your Goal card for the Trans-Human Project. Earn the fame points from your card and draw three mission cards to see what you get paid for completing this goal.

0 blue mission cards, you earn 5,000 credits

1 blue mission card, you earn 6,000 credits

2 blue mission cards, you earn 7,000 credits

3 blue mission cards, you earn 9,000 credits

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Story 89

The Chassis

The stars streak past the windows of your ship as you hurtle through the darkness of space towards your destination. After what seems like an eternity, you finally arrive at the research outpost where Dr. Merv Arken is conducting his experiments. The station looms large in front of you, a metallic behemoth with more weapons than a military installation. This is not a likely destination for protestors as Dr. Arken would be quick to gas them all and have his robot minions simply load them into escape pods and hit the eject button.

You guide your ship into the designated docking port, and are met by a group of his robotic minions as you disembark from your ship. They lead you through a series of twisting corridors towards one of Dr. Arken’s labs.

Dr. Arken himself is waiting for you, surrounded by holographic displays and complex machinery. The light from one of the displays glints off of the transparent dome that encases his brain. The eye in the middle of his forehead looks up at you and your crew while his other two eyes stay fixated on whatever he is working on.

A smile creases his face, “Welcome, welcome! I’ve been expecting you. Dr Truman tells me that you have the source code from HAL and that you had the rather harrowing experience obtaining the crystal from the Trans-Human Project.”

“We could exchange war stories with you, but I would rather hear about the robotic chassis you’ve been developing for this project.” you reply.

Dr Arken’s excitement is evident as he steps away from his displays, “This project has been more thrilling than even when I was working on a SARS vaccine. It challenges me to think beyond traditional human limitations and appearance. I quickly realized that if I tried to create something too human-like it would only result in uncanny valley syndrome.”

You can’t help but find it ironic coming from someone with a transparent dome over their brain and part of their nose missing, but you push the thought aside and continue listening.

“So instead, I’ve been working on a robotic body that looks completely robotic. I’ve also taken into account people’s irrational fears of robots taking over, so I’ve placed physical limitations on these bodies to make them more relatable and easy to adjust to. I designed the chassis with an understanding of how the crystal matrix will interface, but now I need to integrate AI from HAL to interpret its encoded memories and sensations.”

Your crew listens intently as Dr. Arken outlines his plans for this integration process. The AI from HAL will act as a bridge between the crystal matrix and the robotic chassis, translating its complex data into actionable commands for the body to execute.

After easily snapping the crystal matrix into place, Dr. Arken begins reviewing the AI code at an impressive speed. He makes a few adjustments and fixes any error flags that appear as he ports the code onto his hardware. After several hours of intense work, a crooked grin spreads across his face. With a final keystroke, the robotic chassis jerks to life, its movements hesitant and uncoordinated at first.

Dr. Arken studies each twitch and tremor of the machine closely. Gradually, the body’s movements become more fluid and natural, responding to the impulses from the crystal matrix with ease.

As the AI from HAL synchronizes with the robotic chassis, a faint hum fills the lab, indicating a seamless connection between the encoded memories and physical actions of the robot. You watch in amazement as it takes its first steps, growing more confident with each passing moment.

The robot turns its attention to Dr. Arken and says in a familiar voice, “Merv, I think congratulations are in order. Our experiment seems to be a success.”

“Thank you, Charles,” replies Dr. Arken with pride. “It looks like your crystal matrix is functioning perfectly.” He then turns to you and your crew. “Allow me to re-introduce you to Dr. Charles Truman, version 2.0.”

“It looks like our next step is to figure out mass production. Let’s talk to a certain bald man on the Kiln” espouses Robot Truman.

Place the robot token on your Goal card. Your next destination is the Kiln.

When you arrive at the Kiln, listen to/read Story 90.

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Story 88

The Crystalline Matrix

As you approach Neo-Vostock, the massive research station of the Trans-Human Project comes into view, its metallic exterior gleaming under the refracting light of all the nearby ice.

As you finish docking your ship at the designated port, you find the docking area crowded with a large group of protestors. You send Dr Truman a quick message before disembarking from your vessel. As you step onto the station you find yourself surrounded by a sea of angry faces. Their voices rise in unison as they chant slogans against the Tran-Human Project. The signs they hold are filled with derogatory messages directed towards Truman and his research team. Some read “Crystals have no souls” or “Truman is not God”. You can feel dozens of the gazes from the crowd turn towards you and your crew. To prevent a scene you join in with their chants and slowly work your way through the crowd towards the security detail guarding the lab entrance. When you get to the security team you quickly flash them your credentials and before anyone in the crowd has time to react, you find yourself being ushered into the research area.

Inside you find quite the juxtaposition to what you just saw out in the docking area. The research area is a hive of activity. Scientists and technicians bustle about, focused on their work despite the tension in the air. You navigate through the labyrinthine corridors until you reach Dr. Charles Truman’s private lab where you are greeted by Truman’s assistant, Dr Nora Maxwell-Granger.

“That was a good idea signaling us your intention to try and blend in with the protestors. Obviously, we got your message to the security team.”, Nora comments, completely bypassing a more traditional salutation.

“Thanks, but why do you even have a bunch of protesters just outside your labs?”, you question.

“Apparently, a well funded religious sect thought we were playing god by wanting to move the minds of all those people suffering from Lock-in to crystal matrices. This would somehow strip them from their soul.”, Dr Maxwell-Granger explains.

While Nora was speaking, Dr Truman had also made his way over to the group, “I completely dismiss their arguments as I believe that our souls are an ineffable part of our thoughts and reflected in our actions. Hopefully the Creator finds my attempts to save millions of people on Azure an acceptable offering.” He pauses, and then continues, “Follow me, I want to show you what you’ll be transporting.” You follow him further back in his lab and you see some sort of machine using a laser to etch a green crystal. The crystal glows softly as it spins within the intricate machinery, beams of light dancing around it in a mesmerizing display. Dr. Truman gestures towards the crystal, “This is the culmination of years of research and innovation, the key to unlocking a new era of possibilities.”

“It’s amazing to think that a lifetime of thoughts, memories, and sensations could be captured inside that crystal.”, you muse aloud.

Nora chimes in, “What’s more impressive is to realize that our own memories sometimes grow hazy with age, but this will preserve them in crystal clarity. No more forgetting where you left your keys or when your anniversary is.”

“This sounds like the lead-in to some sort of dystopian future. Robots that never age and have better memory than the humans they were spawned from.”, you respond.

Truman clears his throat, “Our goal is not to replace humanity, but to enhance it. Imagine a society where those suffering from debilitating illnesses or injuries can live on within these crystalline matrices, free from physical limitations. It’s about preserving the essence of who we are and giving individuals a chance to continue their journey in a new form. In this particular case it is to save the millions of people suffering from Lock-in.”

The laser finishes etching the crystal and retracts, revealing a green light on the front of the cabinet. “It appears to be finished,” Dr. Maxwell-Granger announces, carefully placing the crystal onto a hexagonal platform. She then activates an electrostatic barrier around it before placing it inside a metal briefcase. “This is the version we want Dr. Arken to work with, so I’m taking extra precautions in how we package it for transport.”

Dr Truman hands you a data fob, saying, “You’ll need this as well; it contains an explanation of how the data crystals function and schematics for the equipment we used to create it.”

“With the protestors in the docking area, how are we supposed to get back to our ship to get off this station?”, you ask.

“You and your crew have repeatedly shown your resourcefulness, I was hoping you had an idea.”, is Truman’s response.

Your engineer speaks up, “I have an idea, but no one is going to like it and it’s going to require some equipment from this station.”

“Go on.”, you encourage your engineer.

Your engineer tells everyone his idea and you find yourself nodding along as he lays it out.

Sudden blaring alarms pierce the air, and an automated voice echoes through the speakers, warning of a breach in the docking bay and urging all nonessential personnel to evacuate immediately. The message is repeated in multiple languages to ensure everyone understands. Slowly but surely, the bay empties out as protestors and workers alike scramble to get to safety. Some ships initiate emergency launch to disengage from the station, but the bay remains intact. As gravity plates shut down and the handful of remaining people begin floating, you and your team rush out of the labs wearing mag-boots provided by the maintenance crew. Dodging floating objects, you make your way to your own vessel and urgently prepare for an emergency launch as well.

Draw three mission cards.

0 red cards mean that the other ships fire at you for 1d12 damage. You may use shields to offset damage and you gain a 3,000 credit bounty. You do get away.

1 red card means that the other ships fire at you for 1d8 damage. You may use shields to offset damage and you gain a 2,000 credit bounty. You do get away.

2 red cards mean that the other ships fire at you for 1d6 damage. You may use shields to offset damage and you gain a 1,000 credit bounty. You do get away.

3 red cards mean that you successfully get away undetected.

If any successful Smuggler Missions have previously been accomplished you may choose to try and redraw three cards from the Mission’s deck to try and obtain a more favorable outcome. 

The bounty is being offered by the same church that sponsored the protestors and does not require you to gain outlaw status. Add the small crystal matrix token to your Goal card, your next stop is Merv’s Missiles or Arken’s Arsenal.

When you arrive at Merv’s Missiles or Arken’s Arsenal, listen to/read Story 89.

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Story 87

The HAL Data

As soon as you arrive on Lunari, you start scouring through all the data archives. However, each one seems to be missing crucial pages of information about the patents and there is no trace of any source code either. You come to the conclusion that your best bet is to locate their old factory and search for answers there instead. However, when you look into the whereabouts of the factory, you discover that it has not been sold or demolished like you expected. Instead, a trust fund has been set up to cover its property taxes indefinitely. This is a new concept to you, but it means that the building still stands.

You arrive at HAL industries and see that the once-bustling factory now stands silent and abandoned. As you cautiously step inside, you are greeted by a wave of dust and debris that dances in the sunlight filtering through the broken windows. The air is thick with the scent of rust and neglect, a stark contrast to the cutting-edge technology that once thrived within these walls.

You make your way through the maze of deserted corridors, passing by remnants of robotic prototypes and discarded circuit boards. It’s clear that this place was once a hub of innovation and progress, but now it lies frozen in time, a relic of a bygone era.

Draw 3 mission cards and if three of them are blue read/listen to Story 93. If less than three of them are blue, keep track of how many you have acquired. You must gain three of them before moving on to Story 93. If you have successfully completed any Research Missions or Detective Missions, you may immediately draw three more cards for each one that you have successfully completed. If need be, next round you may draw three additional cards and add the number of blue colored Mission cards to your total.

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Story 86

Beautiful Fabric

Next you decide to check out the booth with the interesting fabrics. The tentacled creature at the booth displaying mesmerizing fabrics that change color as air moves over them turns its attention to you as you approach. Its large, expressive eyes seem to scan your very soul, making you feel a bit uneasy yet intrigued at the same time. The creature extends a tentacle towards the nearest fabric, causing it to ripple and shift into a shimmering array of colors that dance in the station’s artificial light.

“Welcome, traveler,” it communicates in a melodic voice that echoes in your mind. “Are you drawn to the allure of our color-changing fabrics?”

You nod, unable to tear your gaze away from the hypnotic display before you. “They are truly remarkable. What are they made of?”

The tentacled creature swirls gracefully, its tentacles undulating in a mesmerizing pattern as it explains, “These fabrics are woven from strands of light-sensitive fibers harvested from the depths of the Luminous Nebula. They react to even the slightest change in air currents.

You run your hand over the fabric, feeling its smooth texture beneath your fingertips. The colors shift from deep blues to vibrant purples as you move, creating a dazzling display of hues that spark your imagination.

“How much for a bolt of this fabric?”

You end up haggling with the Cephalonox to come to a price of 2,000 credits per crate full of the fabric, and he has four crates that he would be willing to sell us. You know you can get double that price on Zhian Prime and if you sell them two or more crates of the fabric you can earn a fame point as well.

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Story 85


As you enter the booth with the small adorable looking creatures with brown fur and bushy tails, the furnishings in this booth seem to be better suited for various species on the station, including yourself, but the creatures move around quickly and leap from place to place. Then one of them begins to speak.

“Welcome to Squiros Limited, where we sell nuts, Stim, and other merchandise like this shirt that says ‘My friend visited Aeon Station and all I got was this lousy T-shirt’,” squeaks the rodent-like creature.

He speaks at a rapid pace, causing you to wonder if your universal translator is working properly. You start to tap the side of it to make sure it’s okay.

“It’s fine,” he assures you. “We just talk much faster than most other species on the station. Our bodies produce a chemical that makes us move quicker, which we have been able to replicate synthetically and we call it Stim.”

“Stim?”, you ask.

“Oh yes, it’s one of our best selling products. We sell it to a lot of different species and it usually helps them get a whole lot of work done in half the time, but then they crash and need to rest. Their bodies aren’t designed to handle it as well as ours do.”

“You said ‘usually’, what are the exceptions?”

The creature glances at another brown furred creature in the booth before continuing, “Some species are simply too slow to handle Stim like we do. For example, those large beasts with gray skin and flat teeth. They tried using Stim once and one of them had a seizure right in front of my booth. Needless to say, that was not a good day for sales. But you seem quick-minded; I’m sure you and your crew would handle Stim well. I can offer enough for everyone in your crew for 2,000 credits.”

If you purchase Stim, receive a silver and blue tablet with a hexagon engraved on it. It is a single use item, although you could purchase multiple doses at 2,000 credits each. When you declare that you and your crew are taking a ‘dose’ you may take two full turns in a row; however, during the following round your turn will be skipped. If there is an activity that is time sensitive you may count both turns as taking place in the same round.

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Story 84


The insectoid creatures eagerly show your engineer the purple colored crystals meant to enhance the ship’s blasters, chittering excitedly as they explain its properties. Your engineer’s eyes widen in understanding as they discuss potential modifications and improvements that could be made with this crystal. It seems like it might be a worthy investment, especially considering the recent encounters with hostile forces during your travels through charted and uncharted territories.

After some negotiations, you reach an agreement with the insectoids to purchase the crystals along with a set of schematics for implementing the baster mods. The price is 1,000 credits per crystal mod and it even looks like it would work with the piercer mod.

The mod extends the range of the blaster activation it sits on to a range of two. Do you purchase them, and if so, how many?