Ethereal Skies

White Ops
Episode 10

Nish’s media ploy has paid off and a multitude of emergency rescue workers and geoscientists have converged on the Ganymede conference centre to lend their help and expertise to rescue the Norça colonists. The colony itself is attached to a huge 300m deep stalactite, one of a row that has grown from accumulated debris rising from a fault line of black smokers on Europa’s sea floor. The last 3 miles of the 10 mile deep borehole down to the colony has collapsed in itself and the stalactite has cracked just above the colony attachment points and is hanging at a precarious angle due to the constant slamming against it by a gigantic psudo-whale which appears to be attacking the colony.

As Summer’s noetic projection watches the pseudo-whale she becomes aware that the only other wildlife around, large bio-luminescent manta rays, appear to sense her and are trying to interact with her. Up on Ganymede four plans are formed:
1) Lim to teleport Machiko and Jamie directly onto the colony to start triage of both the people and structure.
2) Pyrokinetic Legionnaires to start tunnelling down the collapsed borehole with the mining engineers and mine pumping equipment to remove the meltwater.
3) Ash to take a team to La Furo – the other colony 200 miles away – and use the minisubs docked there to race to La Buraco underwater.
4) The Laser array on the Mafaa-3 to punch a hole 10 miles away down to 3/4 of the crust depth. spotting using a transponder placed by Ash on his way to the base. Then Leah to lead a team of pyrokinetics and cryokinetics (and Calisto station’s only water capable VARG) to melt the rest of the way down.

Once on board La Buraco Machiko makes contact with the scientists still there. With Summer’s observations of the black smoker and the way the native wildlife are acting around them they realise that the faultline is about to blow, causing a massive upswelling of lava and superheated water that will destroy the colony utterly. Within four hours. Ash provides a little more time for the evac by organising the drop of another of the stalatites using mining explosives to release a little of the pressure on the huge magma chamber beneath the smokers.

Jamie starts putting into place a plan to move the colony off the stalactite and up to the orginal borehole by presurising the air in the airlocks to use as thrusters, however Dr Asenjo’s calculations predict an upswelling of such magnitude it will destroy the borehole before everyone can be evacuated. Lt Dioumbe has been swimming around the psuedo-whale which has been displaying playful qualities and has been named ‘Charlie’ by Machiko as she has been watching it’s behaviour. Hoping that they are correct about the beast not being malicious Ash, Jamie, Leah and Machiko get Dioumbe to fashion a bit out of structural girder and, using the pressurised airlocks as stabilising boosters, unhook the colony from the stalactite with the VARG leading Charlie (now wearing the makeshift bridle) to pull the entire colony upright away from the fault line to where the Mafaa-3 laser borehole punched through, getting it clear of the blast radius as the magma chamber erupts a few minutes later – obliterating the site of the stalactite.

As La Buraco is attached to the ice sheet below the borehole (now called ‘Camp Charlie’ by the rescue workers camped at the top) celebrations break out in all the other Jovian colonies. Even more celebrations break out as most of the rest of the Buraco colonists are found with their lifepods huddled in an air pocket 3/4 of the way to Furo, all of them still alive. As Nish hold court in the conference hall dealing with the press who are desperate for interviews with the ‘heroes of Buraco’ Summer hides in Nish’s office quietly falling asleep on the couch and dreaming of swimming with mantas.

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Almas Perdidas
Episode 9

At the wake for the Legionnaires and Alejandro, Ash is invited to Gelo Cidade – the I.C.E. managed industrial complex on Europa – by Yasmin Carreňo. Distrustful as always, Ash accepts but makes sure the invitation is extended to the rest of the Aeon team. As Nish heads off criticism from the press that Ganymede obviously isn’t safe enough for the conference, the rest slip off to Europa landing at the spaceport. Seeing UV messages painted on the wall of the hanger corridors for Ash to read, Leah creates a diversion by being her normal bouncy vid personality allowing Jamie to hack into the I.C.E. servers and locate the prearranged meeting point.

Meeting Yasmin, Ash recieves a datastick of info about ‘La Buraco’, one of the fully fledged Norça undersea Europa bases which is being attacked by the indigenous wildlife. Yasmin wants the information to be leaked by Nish as she does not think the Norça can extract all the colonists before the base is destroyed – especially now Yasmin and Esteban are badly injured. However, Norça command are refusing to ask for help from the other orders as this will reveal that they have sucessfully placed two fully functional seabases beneath Europa’s ice crust. With all the publicity from the rescue of Ganymede Yasmin believes that the other Jovian colonies will be willing to help no matter what.

Summer projects down the wrecked borehole to the colony to see the precarious situation which is getting worse by the minute. Back on Ganymede Nish puts out a clarion call to the emergency services, publicising the horrific fate that awaits the colonists of La Buraco if they cannot be rescued.

While the media go into a frenzy Ash retires to a quiet corner to check out the other datastick Yasmin provided…

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*Note*

The September 8th episode is preempted by the British Science Festival. Normal scheduling will resume on the 15th.

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Fragile Rest
Episode 8

Having determined the location of Summer’s vision – beneath the mine at Ongoka – the team race to secure the area before the occupant of the cryotube wakes. Taking a group of non-psionic legionaries they travel down the lava tubes that branch off from the mine workings and find the door to the sepulchre, though the technology for the DNA scanner on the door is so advanced even Jamie cannot bypass it. The door may be impassible but the wall isn’t and the Legion logistics specialist has stocked up on mining explosives for just this type of situation. Finding the cryotube inside, Leah accidentally accelerates the wake up call for the aberrant by knocking the pumps for the cryofluid. All hell breaks loose as the aberrant Chesed wakes and the team fight for their lives to give Lin enough time to return with enough mining explosive to rebury the chamber. The team just about scramble out of the way before they bring the weight of several hundred meters of rock down on top of it.

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*Note*

Episode 8 has been preempted for the Bank Holiday.

Ethereal Skies will return on September 1st.

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Wax Wings
Episode 7

The Aberrants appear confused that they are not welcomed with open arms by Kiremte’s population until Jamie steps forward. Pretending to be a good little Aberrant cultist she stalls for time while Summer, who has slipped into the docking bay before the electricity failed, reroutes a ship mayday broadcast unit and contacts the Legion to inform them of the Aberrant incursion. Commander Owosu dispatches an imminent rescue mission. Having noticed that the bark covered Aberrant Minggah becomes distracted when the lichen covering the dome is damaged Summer starts stealthily running a spiral of aeronautical fuel through the lichen.

Inside the dome the angelic Aberrant Sabazius orders two of his ‘loyal cultists’, Machiko and Nish, to round up some mining engineers, sending a Cerberus team with them for protection. Twisting Sabazius’ orders the two of them trick the Cerberus team into entering an empty shelter in the hydroponics unit and lock them in. They then meet up with Leah who has been collecting a heavy duty mining laser from the fabrication warehouse to take on the Aberrants with. Having got to an isolated area Nish contacts the Norça emergency rescue team who begin to infiltrate into the city through the docking bay.

Playing ‘good cultist’ Ash lets slip that the Norça had been seen at a mining site earlier that day worrying the Aberrants. Minggah takes one of the Cerberus teams and heads out of the city to investigate just as a Legion shock team is teleported into the bomb-wrecked shell of the waste treatment works by Lim Yi Khy. Spooked the knowledge that the Norça were sniffing around ’Father’s Chrysalis’ the aberrant Aldinach lets loose a code that should have triggered any Shiro infected civilians in the city – or it would have had it not been intercepted by Jamie. Getting back only a nonsensical answer Aldinach becomes infuriated that ‘the Mercenary’ has betrayed them.

With the Aberrants loosing their composure the trap is sprung.

Machiko brings back a group of ‘engineers’ (disguised legionnaires) along with their ‘Cerberus team’ (the Norça shapeshifters Yasmin, Enrico and Alejandro) as Ash leads off with the last Cerberus team to appropriate transport for his ‘masters’ and Lim teleports Leah and Nish onto the minaret of Kiremte’s mosque to give them the best line of fire across the city. Summer lights the fuel on the top of the dome which burns briefly but brightly in Ganymede’s thin atmosphere, distracting Sabazius and Aldinach but completely incapacitating Minggah. Machiko grabs Sabazius’ hand, paralyzing him arm and forcing him into the air. A surprise shot from Leah’s mining laser hits Aldinach with pinpoint accuracy, killing him instantly, however the backlash from the electricity released by his death throes kills all five of the Legion shock troops. Ash kills his Cerberus team with lightning efficiency while the three Norça jump for the remaining Aberrant. This proves to be a really bad idea as he pours out his energy into a demonic construct of pure taint which nullifies the biokinetics’ powers by its sheer presence. Alejandro is killed while Machiko and Jamie rig the emergency lighting to a frequency which triggers seizures in Sabazius. This distraction allows Ash up close to the Aberrant, cutting it down and delivering the killing blow. Outside Summer uses the low gravity and the last of the fuel to burn Minggah until she is nothing but charcoal.

Licking their wounds, the team take a quiet moment to have their wounds bandaged. While there Summer throws out her senses to the area the Aberrants were interested in and moves down through the mines eventually arriving at a buried stone chamber containing a large, liquid-filled stasis chamber marked with the symbol of the Daedelus League and a countdown which is flashing away at 00:00:00

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Shiro No Hi
Episode 6

As the evening shifts take up their positions at the mine Ash, Leah and Machiko return to Kiremte City with their two prisoners, identified by the mine foreman as workers who had lived on Ganymede for years and never showed any signs of Aberrant sympathies. Scanning the two men Machiko discovers brain wave disruptions like those she found in Summer when the pilot was controlled by Shiro, the agent of the Narukami. On a much more intensive scan she also determines that both men are latents – one with an aptitude for electrokinesis and the other psychokinesis. Digging further into their work she discovers that a new iridium scanning monitor which required a similar neural interface to the Narukami had been installed a few days previously.

Back in Kiremte City Nish questioned the would-be bombers only to discover that they, too, were latents and had received new minicomps after winning scholarships from the Amano-Kelsan mining corp. The recruiting officer put prospective recruits through a battery of medical tests (claiming to see if they were fit enough to be sent to Titan) and strangely all of those sent a complementary minicomp were latents. After discounting two prospective recruits (a latent biokinetic and vitakinetic who both seemed to have enough minor power to resist the Yamabushi mind-control program) they found the forth – a latent upeo who set off the explosion at the waste treatment plant the day before and had survived, but with severe injuries.

A search by Jamie found a number of neurally linked pilot training simulators had also arrived on the freighter with the minicomps and the mining scanner. Reporting this back to Legion command. every pilot who has used the sim has been grounded for further investigation however this could not have come at a worse time as Summer reached out her senses from the recruiting officer’s business card only to view it’s past history of being handled by an Aberrant. Nish searching for it’s thought patterns brought alarming news that it wasn’t far away. Even more alarming was the warp gate opening in the centre of Kiremte City and three Aberrants stepping out along with three sets of Cerberus teams. The city’s inhabitants fled for the shelters as the Aberrants surveyed their new domain.

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Kuro Ame
Episode 5

With the conference only a few days away Nish goes digging into the attendees. He finds that while most of the orders are sending the normal number of diplomats along the Legion is only sending Giselle Owusu and that the Norça are sending a variable number of people depending on when he checks the datafeed. Determined to make the meeting as neutral as possible he chooses a conference centre at Elimu University in Kirimte City on Ganymede as the hosting venue.

While checking over the site security protests start up around the university grounds against Psion monopolisation of the current political status quo. While Nish allows the protests to go ahead in the name of free speech Jamie tracks down the rabble rousing to a student anarchist node forum which is citing veiled threats against Ganymede infrastructure. As the protests increase and a general strike is proposed a magnesium strike at the Ongoka iridium mine 40 miles away ignites and a state of emergency is called. While Leah, Ash and Machiko are over at the mine helping to save the miners Nish and Summer have a polite but tense meeting with Javier Ossendan, a Norça who has arrived from Europa along with a 23 strong emergency rescue team. When another explosion goes off, this time at a water treatment facility being blockaded by protesters, killing several of them, Nish calls in a favour from Ossendan asking him to transmogrify into Nish’s form and organise the rescue effort while Nish tracks down the poster on the forum who telegraphed the explosion.

Nish and Summer follow the trail to the university’s humanties building and surprise the two students posting there, intimidating one into surrendering and shooting the other in the hand to stop him from going for a dead-man’s switch wired to another explosive device in his backpack. Jamie attempts to shut down the agent that is acting as the trigger mechanism only for her mental firewall to kick up as the agent fights back and refuses to stop the countdown, instead Summer loads up her shuttle and throws the device into space to explode harmlessly.

Over at the mine, while looking for survivors Ash detects a group moving through deep tunnels that shouldn’t exist, away from the mine working and the rescue effort. Moving to intercept the anomalous miners Ash and Leah come under immediate fire from the heavily armed group. The resulting firefight leaves only two prisoners alive with both Leah and Ash injured.

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The Drums of Narukami
Episode 4

With preparations in full swing for the Upeo meeting the Legion has been stretched thin so Commander Owosu commandeers Ash, Machiko, Leah and Summer to investigate a Nipponese Raidan class ‘lightning rider’ civilian craft that is headed for Saturn but has passed a Legion outpost in the Trojan asteroid belt without answering to comms.

The team requisition the fastest scout ship on Callisto – The Puck – and head out along with it’s co-pilot, Oliver Knight and the detachment’s hardtech specialist Jinpochi Shimura. On reaching the solar sail powered ship, the Narukami, the Puck starts to loose power and only Summer’s instinctive piloting stops it from crashing into the side of the Narukami. Attempting to get the engine back on line Shimura is thrown violently against a bulkhead by the turbulent shaking of the ship and he suffers a skull fracture. With Oliver staying behind to watch over Shimura the rest of the team suit up to explore the Narukami which has vented most of it’s atmosphere into space – the only exception being the bridge and the massive jury-rigged hydroponics bay at the top of the ship. Investigating life signs within the engine room they find an engineer in cryostasis on a damaged lifepod which failed to eject along with strange power fluctuations which route up to the bridge. Arriving at the bridge they are greeted by the ship’s agent Shiro who is only too happy to let Ash take command of the ship but appears far too eager to get the ship and it’s cargo of terraforming biomass to Titan. Having found the body of Captain Takehiro in one of the unejected lifepods, killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Summer lets her senses roam to the biomass holding area where she sees the bodies of most of the crew and passengers chopped and spread among the planting. In an attempt to discover what has happened she interfaces with the ship’s system to try to force a way into the ship’s hololog which Shiro refuses to show them, only to be almost overwhelmed by the contact. Recognizing the start of a Mindshare she rips the biotech interface off telekinetically by instinct, saving her from the intrusion.

The ship now recognizes the team as a threat and shuts down life support, trying to kill them as well as sending up maintenance robots to reclaim the bodies to feed the biomass. Hoping to shut down the computer Summer interfaces again but this time Shiro is ready for her and she is taken over by the agent’s programming. Leah starts cutting through the floor down to the agent’s CPU while Machiko tries to unplug Summer without killing her with a massive electric shock. Ash takes down half the maintenance bots with an impressively precise attack while Machiko electrifies the other door to stop the rest getting in, just as Leah burrows down into the CPU housing and cuts the wires for the ship’s AI.

Freeing the other crew members still in cryosleep Machiko discovered that they, too, had the strange mental biorhythms that characterized Summer’s brain activity while she was controlled. The ECT treatment removed these anomalies but the crew were left with little memory of the trip. The Legion took control of the Narukami and destroyed it in case of Taint but not before their engineers took apart Shiro’s control system and found a pirated Orgotek agent system proudly noting that it was ‘Provided by Yamabushi’.

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Nidaba's Cage
Episode 3

Interrogating Emilia Van Der Hoven, the Aberrant sympathizer, gets Jamie and Ash only vague threats and the amusement of a fanatic mindset. She does let slip that her grandfather was a member of the Daedalus league and that any of her ancestors left with the Aberrants and that she expects to be rescued. In order to track down her escape route Nish sets up a jailbrake with Jamie, Summer and Leah pretending to break Emilia out. Once outside Bubasti station Emilia directs the shuttle to a group of prefab colony supply crates nestled in crater. There they discover a captive Upeo and his aberrant ‘handler’.

Destroying the crates by throwing them into Jupiter then returning to Callisto, Nish runs into a bureaucratic nightmare when the Upeo is identified as Lim Yi Khy, a member of the Vietnamese armed forces who disappeared several months before the Esperanza crash and is sworn to secrecy by Yolanda Nwaokorie who reveals herself as an Aeon operative. After Sn. Lt. Lim is woken by Machiko he immediately asks for Legion help to rescue the other Upeo who were captured at the same time he was. With the Legion informed Nish decides that the only way to ensure Lim isn’t assassinated or otherwise illegally incarcerated is to make his rescue public, calling a press conference and playing on public sympathy. Having made the Upeo a public hero, Nish is called in by his superiors who inform him that in two weeks time he’ll be in charge of hosting a conference – between representatives of the Orders and an emissary from Bolande Atwan herself.

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