Ambassador Psi-Nano-32 invited Mx Hood, Lakshmi, Burrke, Kartesh and Dr. Smith to the Festival of Renewal, a celebration held every few years on Psi’s home planet Isovrys Prime. For the first time in a century and a half the Isovran government was opening the festival to participation by outsiders.
The Psi Unit with which they were familiar would not be available for much of the festival’s duration (having to go through an extensive decontamination process due to recent exposure to temporal energies), but another Unit from their Collective (Psi-Micro-128) would be on hand if assistance was needed.
They arrived at the city of Unizoa, where the celebrations would be taking place, on the evening prior to the festival. They were greeted by Psi-Micro-128 and escorted to the Interplanetary Alliance building, where a state dinner was being held. There, they met several Alliance representatives, including the heads of state of Infinitron and Ujarak. There was some quiet unrest when the dinner was joined by Duchess Melirra Taranath, niece to the Empress of the Yaroveshi Empire.
Just before dinner, the party was approached by Rosun, a Heptascidilian who had been appointed the Festival Administrator. He asked them to meet in private the next day before the start of the festival.
The meeting took place in one of a number of sound-proof portable suites built for the Ceremony of Joining. Rosun explained that a source of his had indicated that the Duchess was using the festival as a cover to meddle with the Alliance, and that she seemed to have allies within it. Not knowing who to trust, he turned to the group from Mea Culpa for help discovering what was happening.
On the first day, during the Ceremony of Harmony, Dr. Smith began investigating by questioning different individuals. She spoke with Dr. Prism of the Infinitrons and discovered that Actuator Regulus (leader of the Infinitrons) had been considering talking to Duchess Melirra, but Prism, fearing treachery on her part, persuaded the Actuator otherwise. Burrke made contact with the Duchess’ head of security, Lord Commander Ceonid Elbarith and offered potential assistance. Elbarith was persuaded, agreeing to make contact later and providing Burrke with a communication device. Kartesh took part in that day’s ceremony and interacted with other Alliance members.
Later in the day, members of the group discovered they were under surveillance by city security. They made this known to the officers in question in no uncertain terms and the surveillance globes appeared to keep their distance from that point on.
After this, Mx Hood used the secure communicator Burrke was given to break into the communication log of the Duchess’ ship. It turned out that the only non-Yaroveshi contact within the last few days was with the aide to the Ujarak President.
On the second day, during the Ceremony of Creation, Dr. Smith visited Councilor Lakuz of the Flux in the city’s Crystallarium. Lakuz was willing to admit something was going on with respect to the Alliance and the Duchess, but that it was nothing to be concerned about. Burrke took the opportunity to enter one of the booths provided for the day’s ceremony and used the technology (meant originally to analyze a DNA sample and determine if any elements could be copied over to create a new Isovran Collective) to create a new life form from his own DNA and Psi’s. The new Collective was quickly brought up to speed on the situation and determined that the entire Alliance structure could be involved in the ongoing situation. Meanwhile, Kartesh used their arcane abilities to locate an unusual container hidden beneath the city’s music hall. It appeared to be used to transport something the size of a person.
Shortly afterward, everyone received a message from Rosun stating that there was a new development and asking to meet again. When they opened the suite where the meeting was to take place, gallons of water came pouring out along with Rosun’s limp form. While Mx Hood and Burrke managed the crowd, Dr. Smith and Kartesh administered aid, allowing Rosun to breathe again. A medical team arrived and transported Rosun to the hospital. They stated later that Rosun was in a coma. Smith set up a rotation to watch him. Burrke convinced Rosun’s Eldoryn assistant, Saran (the Chief Coordinator for the Festival) to provide a copy of all of Rosun’s files.
Later, Mx Hood examined the transport container Kartesh had found and determined it was old and meant to carry, charge and program some kind of robot. They took parts from the case and used them to cobble together a device to detect the mechanical being. After a few moments, they located a figure running from rooftop to rooftop. They chased the figure until it reached the cliffs on the north side of the city and hit a place it could not scale. Lakshmi produced a weapon and shot the robot down. Mx Hood called city security. They retrieved an information chip from the robot’s head before security forces arrived. They described what had happened and that there was a potential government-level security risk. City security accepted this explanation and took the robot in for evidence.
The following day, during the Ceremony of Joining, Dr. Smith confronted the Quenduril Councilor, Tephasragoth, to find out what was happening between the Alliance Council and the Duchess. The Councilor advised there was nothing to be concerned about and suggested that if Dr. Smith was looking for trouble, she should look to whoever set her on this course of inquiry. After discussing this with the others, Burrke laid out all the information he’d gathered and tried to find a pattern. In Rosun’s files, he found meetings at key times with an Isovran Collective called LTZ-601, whom Burrke quickly discovered was also known as the Storyteller – an entertainer who’d appeared during the latter part of the state dinner the group had attended. Further research revealed that in prior centuries, the Storyteller had been a propagandist favoring isolation and had also been the last Knight Commander of the armed forces of the Isovran Protectorate (before it went through a change of government and helped form the Alliance).
Kartesh then confronted the Storyteller and demanded to know what was going on. The Storyteller revealed genuine concern that the Yaroveshi Empire might have sent the Duchess as part of a plot to destroy the Alliance. When pressed about the attack on Rosun, LTZ-601 was quick to point the finger at the Duchess’ forces, but it was clear they were lying.
Later, around dusk, the constant rain above the dome ceased for a bit and the group witnessed the Duchess’ security force heading quickly toward the western edge of the dome. There, from a distance, it appeared as though someone matching the description of the Duchess had been lying dead out in the rain. The security force quickly covered the body as a crowd started to form. The group kept the crowd calm and managed to convince them that the Duchess was simply engaging in some kind of publicity stunt, ultimately getting them to disperse as Elbarith quietly collected the body and moved his people away.
That evening, Mx Hood investigated the data chip they’d extracted from the robot earlier and discovered several details. Apparently this was an old model of Yaroveshi assassin robot and had been reprogrammed using an outdated ISD hacking tool. The robot had been instructed to sabotage the environment controls on Rosun’s suite. It seemed as though the reprogramming of the robot’s AI was done by someone familiar with but not used to technology.
On the fourth day, the Ceremony of Retirement began. A long procession led into the caves at the city’s north end and through a chamber where the remains of inactive Collectives were housed. During the ceremony, the group found Councilor Lakuz and pulled them aside. In a desperate effort to get Lakuz to reveal the truth, Dr. Smith revealed to her companions and Lakuz that the intelligence with whom she shared consciousness (as a hybrid being) was what seemed to be a copy of the Engine known as Mother. Lakuz, recognizing this and fearful of what might be about to transpire, raced forward and enveloped Smith, temporarily sending her to a different layer of reality.
Deciding it would be safer at that point to confide in the group, Lakuz guided them through the caves up to the entrance to an old observatory that sat on the cliffs, outside the dome. Then from out of the observatory came Lord Commander Elbarith.
The two of them explained to the group that the Duchess was still alive and that her double had been poisoned. The poison was Teleeenu in origin, likely coming from a faction unhappy with the fact that they had recently been drummed out of the Alliance (which in turn had probably reprogrammed the robotic assassin and had also been working with LTZ-601). The Duchess was seeking to break with the Yaroveshi Empire and join the Interplanetary Alliance and was here to negotiate in secret with the Alliance Council. The Councilor asked if Mx Hood and the others would be willing to help with the negotiation that evening. They agreed. Lakuz returned Dr. Smith once she had regained control of herself.
Over the course of the negotiation it was determined, among other things, that the Duchess would have to end the practice of indentured servitude on the planets she controlled and that her home world of Aratraxis would not be made a member of the Council without a vote of the General Assembly.
On morning of the fifth day, the Ceremony of Renewal took place. All Isovran Units on the planet retreated to their Collectives to renew and reaffirm their identities. That afternoon, Psi-Nano-32 returned, having been fully decontaminated and renewed. Before leaving the planet, they visited Psi’s home, a plateau housing a large, amber lake containing all the organisms of the Psi Collective.
NAMED NPCs ENCOUNTERED
Rosun, Festival Administrator
Melirra Taranath, Yaroveshi Duchess and Regent of Aratraxys
LTZ-601-Micro-256, Storyteller and Former Knight Commander of the Isovran Protectorate
Lakuz, Flux Councilor of the Interplanetary Alliance
Tephasragoth, Quenduril Councilor of the Interplanetary Alliance
Ceonid Elbarith, Lord Commander of Duchess Melirra’s Security Retinue
Regulus, Actuator of Infinitron
Dr. Prism, Biophysicist
Afl’Vog, Aughen Council Secretary
Orl Karby, President of Ujarak
Saran, Chief Festival Coordinator
HDG-842-Nano-64, Master Sculptor
Alpha-Nano-32, Isovran Councilor of the Interplanetary Alliance
SQY-997-Nano-32, Security Chief for the City of Unizoa
Ankli Chanon, Aide to President Karby
KAG-338, Festival Supply Coordinator
Lambda-Micro-128, Premiere of Isovrys Prime