The Let's Play Archive

Escape Velocity: Nova

by Decoy Badger

Part 21: Vell-os - Part 02 - August 6th, 1177NC: DESPAIR!!!

August 6th, 1177NC: DESPAIR!!!

Get your tissues ready for some gut-wrenching emotional pathos! We were last heading to Las Vegas to pick up some food.

Las Vegas posted:

Unlike its namesake, Las Vegas is one of the more prudish worlds in Federation space. Home to the Krim-Hwa religious organization, this cult is a fusion of many old Earth religions. This has created a culture of gentle, peace-loving people who spread their faith throughout the galaxy like the ivy winds its way through the hedgerow. Krim-Hwa monks are welcome anywhere in Federation space, where they minister to the sick and dying, and do charitable works. Led by His Eminence Cardinal Feroque deIgni, Krim-Hwa has maintained good relations with all other major powers in the galaxy even through some of the more turbulent times it has seen. Las Vegas is a farming colony, producing a significant fraction of the wheat crop of the Federation.

Las Vegas Bar posted:

This is a quiet, well-run bar. After a few minutes you see a Krim-Hwa monk going around collecting money to support the many various charities they support. You end up giving more money to the Krim-Hway than you spend on drinks.

Find Burton posted:

As soon as you land you go looking for this Burton guy. Surprisingly he's not too hard to find. The Las Vegas marketplace is very well organized, and within a half-hour, you're standing in front of the man you want, haggling over the price.

The two of you quickly reach an agreement, and you get your 10 tons of food no questions asked. He even gets one of his men to give you a hand loading the stuff onto your ship.

After a casual look around to ensure that none of the Federation authorities are paying you any obvious attention, you run through a quick pre-flight checklist before heading off-planet.
I pick up another solar panel for the Worthless Piece of Shit on the way out. More energy never hurts.

Solar Panel posted:

Most experienced traders will recommend that you buy at least one of these Sigma N41 Solar Panels. They work by converting the energy of nearby stars, via super-efficient photo-voltaic cells, into electrical energy to continually build up charge in the superconductor loops which store the energy for later use. The energy thus stored can the be called upon to slowly build up the reserves in your energy cells. Comes in handy when you find yourself out of energy in an uninhabited system with no help in sight.
Merrol is just a few jumps away.

Deliver Food posted:

As soon as you open the hatch you are hailed by a smiling Jay walking along the concourse towards you.

"I take it you got it," he states with a grin and a wink, and you can sense his relief. You realize that the rebels in this system must be living under terrible restrictions to survive the enormous Federation blockade of their world.

After you show him your holds he claps you on the shoulder.

"Come with me to my office," he says, "and we'll see what can be done about payment and a regular run. We'll leave the unloading to the people who get paid for it."


You follow Jay into his spartanly furnished office and he sits you down on a comfortable chair.

"I take it," he states, "that you will be wanting to move your way up the ranks to the more exciting missions."

When you nod he grins and claps you on the shoulder again.

"Good to hear," he says with an approving smile. "Of course, we live in times when trust is at a minimum, and if you want to become involved in the more exciting missions, then you have to prove yourself worthy by doing plenty of the tedious, lower risk runs.

"To get you started," he goes on, "I'm going to make these food drops a regular occurrence, and each one you do will go a little way to proving yourself to the Rebel High Mucky-Mucks."

You nod in understanding.

"In the meantime, here's 15000 credits to play with," he hands over a credit chip. "Have a few drinks on me."

With despair in your heart, you realize that you have taken the first step towards destroying these brave people.


You sense Jay's shrewd intelligence and happy outlook, but decide against looking in his direction so as not to risk revealing your telepathic capabilities.

"Captain Mary Sue!" you hear yelled from the back of the bar when he finally notices you. "Over here!"

You turn towards the voice and see him sitting enjoying a drink. He kicks out a chair at his table and indicates that you should join him with a grin.

"I've been told to move you up the chain," he begins smiling, "but don't get carried away," he cautions. "It is only a small step up from food drops to equipment drops. What it does mean is that some of the head sheds have noticed you. If you keep this up, before long you will be up there with the best of them."

Jay leans forward resting his heavily muscled arms on the table as he asks more seriously, "...that is, if you're still interested?" You realize you have no choice but to accept.


"Well, it's pretty simple really," Jay continues expansively. "No different to what you are doing now, except that the Bureau now reckons that what you will be smuggling is worse than what you were smuggling before.

"All we want you to do is to go to Menin in the Lesten system," he indicates with a casual wave of his arm, "get 10 tons of equipment and bring it back here."

Jay leans forward again. "The man to go and see about getting this stuff no questions asked is a guy named Arpad. He knows his work and is very competent. He'll make sure you're looked after.

"Good luck, Captain Mary Sue."

Welcome to Menin.

Menin posted:

The Federation developed dome city technology as the old Council worlds started to become more and more polluted. Menin was the site of the first test of the dome tech, and now it's a scientific outpost. Federation patrols are regular in this system, and this ensures an uninterrupted chain of supplies to the asteroid, which is totally dependent on help from the outside world. Many ship upgrades can be found here for reasonable prices. The crowd of scientists and traders that fill the main marketplace are the typical mix of Federation civilians, although military personnel on leave can also be seen on occasion.

Menin's Bar posted:

Most of the drinks here are named after bizarre scientific experiments. You feel it would be safe to order a beer. It turns out to be purple. The boffins find this immensely amusing. You find the boffins intensely annoying.
Purple beer actually exists.

Find Arpad posted:

As soon as you land you go looking for this Arpad guy. He is a lot harder to find than Burton was on Las Vegas, as the Menin marketplace is not nearly as well organized. However, after just over an hour of searching, you're standing in front of the man you want, haggling over the price.

The two of you quickly reach an agreement, and you get your 10 tons of equipment no questions asked. He even gets a couple of his men to give you a hand loading the stuff onto your ship.

After a casual look around to ensure that none of the Federation authorities are paying you any obvious attention, you run through a quick pre-flight checklist before heading off-planet.
And back to Merrol.

Deliver Equipment posted:

As soon as you open the hatch you are hailed by a smiling Jay walking along the concourse towards you.

"I take it you got what we wanted," he states with a grin and a wink, and once again you can sense the genuine relief at seeing you again. The rebels on this planet must really be struggling.

To satisfy his curiosity, you bring him aboard and show him your holds and he claps you on the shoulder.

"Excellent work!" he says. "Come with me to my office, and we'll see what can be done about payment and another regular run. There are enough people around here who get paid to do the unloading, so why don't we leave them to it."


Once again you follow Jay into his spartanly furnished office and he sits you down in the same comfortable chair.

"It looks to me," he states with a mischievous grin, "as though the people in charge of this are starting to look your way."

He claps you on the shoulder again.

"Well, you're on the way," he says with an approving smile. "Of course, it will take some time, and things won't happen overnight, but I think that you have begun your long journey to the top. Keep putting in the hard yards and you should get there.

"To help you out," he goes on, "I'm going to clear you to receive these equipment drops from the Mission BBS so that you can clock up a few more brownie points."

You nod, understanding that your willingness to do this sort of grunt work will go a long way towards impressing the people in charge of your loyalty.

"In the meantime, here's a whopping 25000 credits to play with," he hands over a credit chip, "have a few drinks on me."
Food and equipment drops are available as regular missions now. There's no point though, as we can't spend our money on anything.

Jay Again posted:

Once again you can sense the good nature and shrewd intelligence of Jay before you see him, but again you decide not to look in his direction to hide your abilities. That is, until you feel him trying to gain your attention.

You casually look over to see Jay waving his hand at you as he sits in his normal place.

You sit down and he grins at you.

"If you were going to start betraying the Rebellion," he says in jest, "now would be the time you could start."

You quickly probe his mind, and you sense that his comment is just an attempt at humor.

"The head-sheds have decided to move you up a little further," he continues quietly. "They want you to go and pick up a Rebel informant who believes that she has been compromised. Are you in, or do you need a little more time to prepare?"

Once again, you realize you have no choice but to accept.

Pick up Rebel Agent posted:

"In reality this mission is fairly simple," Jay continues quietly, "not too different from the cargo missions you have been doing, except that you will be picking up a passenger rather than freight.

"The lady in question, whose name is Anna, lives on Port Kane in the Kania system," he tells you seriously. "Make sure you aren't spotted on the way out as the Bureau would really like it if they stumbled onto a Rebel extraction."

Jay leans forward to emphasize his next point, "The Rebellion prides itself on looking after its people when it can. You are now an integral part of that idea. Our leaders have made a vow to extract any agent in trouble if it is possible without further compromising security. It is one of the things that allows the Rebellion to employ so many people, otherwise many would simply not pluck up the courage to join, and we would be struggling even more than we are."

"I leave it in your capable hands," he leans back confidently. "Good luck, Captain Mary Sue," he tells you. "You may need it."
And off we go. On the way to Port Kane, we're trailed by a Bureau agent...

This gets annoying, since the presence of the ship doesn't actually mean that going to Earth will result in more plot being doled out - it's like a red herring that just wastes your time. I ignore it and finish getting to Port Kane.

Rebel extraction posted:

You land and go through your normal post-flight checklist as usual. When you are finished you head outside to stretch your legs and await the arrival of this passenger.

You do not have to wait long; within ten minutes a plump looking middle-aged matron walks up and introduces herself as Anna. The ability of the Rebels to spread information through the galaxy must be very good if she was able to be here almost as you landed.

You take her inside and show her around before heading back up to your cockpit to begin preparing to head back out into space.
Yet their ability to discover obvious skull-mounted mind control devices is lacking. Getting back to Merrol, we encounter the saddest sight:

Even completely unarmed as we are, it's still harmless.


Over the course of your journey, you learn that Anna is really only an informant. She only relays information regarding Federation and Bureau activities on to other members of her cell-network. You are a little impressed at the way the Rebels have set up their informants. If any one person was 'turned', they could only ever incriminate a maximum of three others, and even then, unless they acted within two days, they could not even do that.

Anna thanks you for helping her out as she leaves and you watch her walking away. You realize that you never did find out the story behind her removal, but then you doubt that she would have told you. She didn't seem like the blabbing type.

You look over to see the muscular figure of Jay walking towards you.

"You did good out there," he states seriously. "Come to my office, I have someone I want you to meet."


You walk in to see a vaguely familiar figure with short hair and a military bearing.

"Allow me to introduce myself," the man says easily, reaching forward to shake your hand. "My name is Cade Smart, retired General."

You realize that you are talking to one of the founding members of the Rebellion. You remember vaguely that General Cade 'Sundown' Smart, as he was called, took command of the Federation's forces when the Aurorans had wiped out whole fleets of the Federation Navy under the incompetent command of his predecessor. His brilliance kept the Federation alive at a time when its destruction looked a virtual certainty.

"I want you to know that we have been following your career carefully," General Smart continues, "and I wanted to pass on my appreciation for what you are doing. We are truly grateful for your efforts.

"Jay tells me that he is going to make similar missions available to you through the mission BBS, and I can think of no-one better for the job. Thank you, Captain Mary Sue."
Yet another Atmos dev inserted into the game. After dropping the agent off, the Bureau is ready to receive us at Earth.


You feel a familiar tap on your shoulder and you turn to see a young soldier who informs you that you have to go to New England in the Wolf 359 system. Commander Krane will meet you there.

At the mention of her name, a nameless dread rises up in your stomach, and once again you realize the hopelessness of your situation. As they have done so many times already in your short time of enslavement, the dark bands that enclose your mind twist you into thoughtlessly obeying the commands given to you.

Report In posted:

You are taken into a darkened room by a dockworker who refuses to be drawn.

"Hello my pretty," comes that horrifically beautiful voice. "Report."

You make your report and she grills you about the extraction and the appearance of General Smart. Your conditioning means that you cannot resist her questioning. Not that you would with that small lump of explosive just behind your ear.

"Good!" the voice decides finally, "you have done well!. Now we must start using your position to best advantage.

"From here on," she commands, "I want you to bring any rebels you pick up here and we will do a quick body switch, so that we can start planting a few agents in amongst their network. Hopefully they will start getting you to place agents in future, and then we will be really getting somewhere.

"In the mean time," she continues meaningfully, "I want you to deliver this message pod to my man on Earth, you know who he is. Don't think for a moment that my finger has left your switch."
I don't even know why this mission exists, even plot-wise it's entirely pointless.


As you exit your ship you see the soldier who has been your link to Krane sitting nearby in a seat that affords excellent visibility. You walk up and drop the message pod in front of him. Without a word he punches a long string of numbers into the encryption lock and reads the contents.

He looks up and in clipped tones says, "Commander Krane wants you to continue as planned with your infiltration and await the usual 'Prodigal Son' signal before returning here."

With that, he closes the message pod and returns to looking around ignoring you. Obviously, as far as he is concerned this conversation is over.


As you head back to your beloved Worthless Piece of Shit, you wonder how you can live with yourself doing what you are doing to these brave rebels. Nobody deserves to go through what was done to you, and you have no doubt that they will be subjected to it as well.

After you spend over an hour sitting at the controls sweating, shaking and weeping uncontrollably you recover and head out into space in the deepest despair of your life. You see only two paths ahead of you; death or damnation. Which will it be for you...
Mary Sue tears can cure cancer! We quickly get a BBS Mission to rescue a rebel.

Rescue Rebel posted:

Message to: Captain Mary Sue
Message from: Jay

I have been informed that another agent needs extracting. He is located on Spacedock II in the Tichel system. Return him to Merrol.

Good luck!
There's a grand total of 6 spacedocks. They're all located at the edges of Federation space.

Spacedock II posted:

Spacedock II is the headquarters for the Federation Navy's logistics department. The base is also utilized as a secondary repair and outfitting facility with the shipyards on the Kane Band around Earth being primary. Materials and parts produced on Viking below are shipped up and assembled on base. However, the primary purpose of this base is to provide a home for the people who have to keep track of the Federation military on a day-to-day basis. An occasional Auroran skirmish keeps the pilots and gunners of Spacedock II on their toes, as the Auroran commanders see Spacedock II as a potential "weak point" along the Federation border.

Spacedock II's bar posted:

Welcome to Remf's. The officer in charge of the mess, Lt. Col. Reynold M. French, ensures that this bar is open at all times, except for when the soldiers are off-duty.

Rescue Rebel posted:

You land and go through your normal post-flight checklist as normal. When you are finished you head outside to stretch your legs and sadly await the arrival of your passenger.

Within five minutes he arrives and you bring him on board giving him the regulation five minute tour. Then you head back up to your cockpit to begin preparing to take him off to New England in the Wolf 359 system in accordance with Commander Krane's commands. As you head out into space your mood is as somber as the sky.

No Rescue posted:

Your passenger exits straight into the arms of the waiting Bureau 'investigators'. He looks confused for a second before going red and turning on you, enraged. He lunges only to be forcefully restrained by the pick up team.

"You're going to pay for this!" the rebel agent yells with impotent fury, as you watch on sadly, wishing you could will yourself to help him.

One of the men restraining the rebel club him over the head with a short baton and he slumps unconscious.

"Good thinking," nods the leader and the man is dragged away. She turns to you, "Commander Krane isn't around at the moment, but I'll make sure she hears about this. We will have a replacement for you to take back to the rebels in a few hours. Meet us in the bar."

Insert Bureau Agent posted:

As you sit in the bar enjoying a quiet drink you sense the approach of a man with the distinctive mind of someone who has been recently trained as a Bureau agent. When you look up you are startled to see a man who appears to be the rebel agent you just brought in casually walk into the bar. You quickly realize that he is just a Bureau agent surgically modified to look like the person you captured. He spots you and comes over.

"You are Mary Sue, Captain of the Worthless Piece of Shit?" he asks and you nod slowly. "I believe that you are supposed to take me to Merrol in the Aldebaran system. I'm ready to go when you are."

In despair you stand up, leaving the rest of your drink unfinished, and the both of you head towards your ship.
Atmos is an Australian company, I'd imagine being unable to finish your drink represents the absolute depth of depression there. We head for Merrol.


Your passenger thanks you for helping him out as he leaves, but you cannot help but wish that you had never met the man. You wonder what he will end up doing to these brave rebels in the name of the Bureau.

You look over to see the muscular figure of Jay walking towards you.

"Good work," he states cheerfully. "Come to my office, I have credit chip with your name on it."


When you get into his office he goes over and starts rummaging through his desk drawers.

"Here it is," he says at last pulling out a credit chip. "This should keep you eating for a few more days.

"I'll see to it that the General Smarts of this universe hear about this," he promises more seriously as he hands you the chip, "it never hurts to get in a little good PR."

As you leave his office, you cannot help but feel despair at the damage you have already done.

The Next Level posted:

Once again you wait for Jay to try to gain your attention before looking in his direction to see Jay waving his hand as he sits in his normal place with a young slightly overweight woman next to him.

You sit down and he grins at you.

"The guys at HQ want to move you another link up the chain," he says in earnest, "it looks like you're on your way."

He gives you a wink.

"Realistically though," he continues sardonically, "your next step isn't any different from your last step. But think of it as another rung passed to make it to the top. Are you in, or do you need a little more time to settle yourself in?"

With despair in your heart, you nod your acceptance.
Just a little bit longer and we'll be done with the rebels, hang in there!

Rebel Insertion posted:

"We're talking now about insertion missions," Jay continues quietly, "where you take an agent from here and plant them wherever they need to go to start their new lives as informants.

"Allow me to introduce Fiona," he indicates the woman next to him. "She needs to get to Dunroamin in the Journey's End system. The usual deal applies in keeping away from the Federation and the Bureau. Good luck to the both of you."

You nod without thinking, knowing that this brave young lady is about to gain first-hand knowledge of the depravities of the Bureau. Despite your wishes to the contrary, you find yourself setting a course to New England in accordance with Commander Krane's wishes.

And we're signaled once more. Arriving at New England...


Fiona looks a little confused when she sees the Bureau strongarms as she steps out of your hatch. Comprehension comes slowly as she turns to you in despair. You turn away, shamed beyond words, as she stumbles into the arms of the waiting Bureau team...

"Thanks," says one of them casually as another smashes her over the head a few times with the short batons they all seem to carry.

"Commander Krane left a message that you are to make contact in the usual place," says the attractive team leader as her team drags away the unconscious rebel. "We will take care of the rest of the operation to replace her with one of our own."

You take a few moments to collect yourself from the horror your life has become as the team leader slowly walks away.

And that's it for our involvement with the Rebels, for now. You've got no idea how hard it was to resist composing this update of nothing but Linkin Park lyrics.