The lost expedition. A prologue.

Abbey in the Oak Forest

When I started writing this in May, I knew I wanted a star vampire to be at the core of the conspiracy. Latching it to the Tunguska event, I had the means of arrival and declared it a spore with a fungus like ability to reproduce. I stayed pretty vague on the rest of the details as they were not required at the time. Now that the players have gathered information from the research binders they started looking more closely at the Tunguska event; it became self-evident that a prologue was the best answer. In my opinion it will give depth to the story and shed light on the organism itself. That being said, it also means that the Colonist must be better defined if we want a proper investigation type story. So here it is.

The Colonist

What happens to an ecology, when the parasite level reaches critical mass? The ecology dies.
— Hugh MacLeod, How To Be Creative

Alien Origins

The vampire in the Shoot at the Stars campaign is a fungus like entity that arrived through the Tunguska incident in 1908. The fungus is a parasite that migrates from star to star colonizing any ecology that it encounters, once the entire ecology is subverted, it becomes dormant for until a catastrophic event, planet collision, or even attempt by the inhabitants to send it out to space, enables it to reach the next stars. The organism is so simple that it can survive in most environment in its dried state, and will return to it when exposed to danger. When dried the organism looks like a white gray powder that could easily be mistaken for Anthrax.

– From Research Notes on S100A4 KU1/KU2/KU4

Einstein’s math was sound, faster-than-light travel is not possible. Unknowingly for the human race, this little tidbit of math is what protects it from most of the dangers of the universe.  The problem is that Darwin was also right. The organism known as the spore is a product of the adaptation trait, on a distant planet near a dying star. In the final days, before the star collapsed, the organisms living on the planet discovered a way to encode their unique DNA on hyper resistant spores that could travel the stars on the remnants of their planet. The dormant spore travels the void using meteors. In addition to the alien DNA the spore contain a really simple bio software algorithm that triggers when entering a new biosphere. The algorithm steps are really simple to ensure a maximum percentage of success. When connecting to the new biome, the spore begin establishing a bridgehead by mimicking the most simple organism it can find in the new locale. Afterwards it follows the evolution path to learn about the local biome DNAs, it then uses a high level organism from the host planet to act as scaffolding for its own DNA. To build this scaffolding, the organism harvest from local source and rebuilds the host completely by using available parts. This is where the colonization system can fail. Landing in a remote part of a world often means that the spore needs to lay dormant for a long time before being able to latch on a new organism. It’s parasitic nature also prevents it from colonizing barren worlds. Once the scaffolding material has been harvested, the spore enter the second phase of their programming. The graft the alien DNA to the protein base, allowing the parasitic organism to be reconstructed completely from local stem material.

The Tunguska Event

Historical sources tell us that the first expedition to the region of Tunguska following the fall of the meteor did not occur till 1921. What they fail to tell us is that the 1921 expedition lead by mineralogist Leonid Kulik is the first public recorded expedition. There was another one in 1909, lead by a geologist from the St-Petersburg Academy of Sciences. The record of which are currently unknowingly sealed in the Smolny Institute extensive historical library. The log was written by a journalist part of the expedition and was seized by the Cheka along with samples from the region in 1921.

Following our survey of the Tunguska region we investigated the possible presence of meteoric iron in a region just a couple of kilometers north. On the order of the expedition team leader, we used our remaining resources, equipped our dog sled and started our 3 weeks trip. Most of us were tired but happy, knowing that after this final trip we could finally go home to our loved ones.

Lost and Found – A background Story

“Now that the war is through with me
I’m waking up, I cannot see
That there is not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now”
One – Metallica

If you’re reading this, please bear with me, the doctors, they say it will help me get better. Not sure if I believe it, but might as well try, if only for you mom. Mom, I love you, I am sorry about what I did, but I guess you can never come back from where I sent you. I suppose I’ll need to deal with this once I am in hell, because that’s what gonna happen to me when I die.
This time it was supposed to be good intel, like the thousand times before. Some of us even worked on getting this intel, I was sure it was solid, they tell me I suffered (am suffering) from some sort of shell shock, I don’t believe it, it might be the drugs. I do not remember, all I see every night is the faces of my team, one after the other while they try to run away from me. Why would they be running away from me?

We hit the compound, we hit it real hard to make sure that the towel heads would not destroy any evidence this time. Insertion was full on aggressive, heck we even lost Corporal Legs before it had even started. He fast roped way too fast and lost his footing. I saw him pummel down the side of the main hangar in a heap of human flesh. I guess this was par for the course for us 22nd Rangers “Team 7” tasked with finding WMDs in Iraq. I should have taken the hint and aborted, I would probably have lost my commission but I least these men would be alive today. I lost 8 men that day, as their commanding officer I take the full responsibility of it.

At least Legs did not see the rest of it all. The rest of us went into action as soon as we hit the deck, we took down insurgent from all corners, some of them coming without any weapons at all, just bared teeth and claws. I shit you not, fucking zombies. The doctors say I should not repeat that, but for me that’s what it felt like, a god damned George fucking A. Romero movie.

We secured the ground level of the main hangar, and established a perimeter. We took a quick headcount and not counting Legs, we had lost 3 team members, PFC Skinny Steve, Sergeant Big Earl and Corporal Wheels, we tried them on the comms without success. The were probably wandering outside the security perimeter, but the radio silence was eerie. We would link up with them during extraction I suppose. we started gathering intel and came in contact with more insurgents, I said before that it felt like a Romero movie, let me rephrase that, it felt like a Romero movie alright, but where the zombies would be on a crack cocaine/speed melange, throw in some of the new stuff the kids take nowadays, they were just crazy, they ran so fast and came at us without fear.

Even with a good perimeter like we had, some of the crazies managed to break through the line. Once in they pummeled  us with the strength of a battering ram, one punch from one of these guys cracked my helmet. I’ve spoken to a quartermaster about this, and he flat out told me I was out of my mind. The army might have cheapened out on a lot of our gear, but the Kevlar helmets are as hard as a rock. There built to withstand 7.62mm rounds. Anyway, I’d lost my helmet, but Lucky Jay’s ran out, he got hit on the chin, the lower portion of his jaw was teared of. I remember hoping he had died then.

That was the first time I thought we might not get out of this one. The after action report says that I’ve radioed the ground extraction at that moment, it would take them 10 minutes to reach the compound, I had radioed them early. The airborne unit already tasked to another mission could not come to us.

We dropped a lot of them before we understood that these guys were not insurgent but some sort of prisoners, some of them in hospital gowns. Not unlike the one I am currently wearing these days. You know the one, the robe that can never fully hide your ass, and puts your dignity down the shit hole.

Anyway back to my story, we managed to secure a laboratory section and went through as much of the dossiers as we could. The prisoners unable to breach our defenses.I asked Sergeant Brooklyn to do a quick ammo count.

Conserve ammo!

Fuck me, poor fire control, from a junior officer, lead to lack of ammunition when we needed it the most. As you would expect, it’s as if they knew; the crazies took out Sergeant Knuckles early and overran our defensive position. I remember crawling on my hands and knees with my pistol and K-Bar firing center mass at anything that was not wearing camo.

They finally came for us, they told me they found us in a pile of bodies, badly battered and wounded. Every dead ranger had been completely pummeled, not a single wound via firearm, this is what bugs me the most. We got hit by thugs with their bare hands and they took us out.

The official story is that we got hit by nerve agent and were not able to defend ourselves properly. Bullshit, we followed every fucking procedures in the book, we established defensive perimeters, we shot center mass and took them down, they just kept on coming.

We just kept on dying.

This is my tale of the assault of Al Salman,
God as my witness, this is the truth.
Lieutenant Jake Greenrose

Baldak Shipping co.

The Baldak Shipping Corporation is owned and operated by a 63 years old Romanian named Vasily Milea. Documents show that Vasily was an important member of the Romanian Communist party, but following the collapse of the Soviet Union he used his numerous contacts to create a small monetary empire. As a good capitalist, seeing that the illegal trade was getting locked up by former high ranking KGB personnel, he came up with a service geared exactly for these types of trade. Complete anonymity for the shipper by creating perfectly forged shipping manifests. The service offered by Baldak Shipping Co. also include the payment of substantial fees to political figure and local and regional police to insure that the goods make it through without any problems.

The Baldak headquarters are located in Constanta, Romania ( Smaller offices are present in most major train stations, ports and airports throughout eastern Europe. Vasily operates these offices exactly like terrorist cells, with the local members never knowing that the content of the containers are mostly illegal goods. Once a docker begins to suspect something is weird, one of Vasily lieutenant determines the potential and loyalty of the employee and if this not positive he is quickly dispatched. Loyal employees are often rewarded with a local office of their own.

In regards to the conspiracy, Vasily or any member of Baldak Shipping are currently completely unaware of anything untoward with the content they are shipping. They are happy the Mafiya is trusting them and using their services, but they do not suspect any alien or paranormal event is taking place, not that he would really care. As long as the aliens pay, business will remain business.

About Maria Ivanova

Maria Ivanova was born Manushak Arshakuni in Sisian, Armenia. Like most girls her age, born in the claws of communism she dreamt of a better life, a life where she could be a princess. She was jealous of the western girls she saw on bootlegged American shows, she wanted to marry a rich man for America and shop in the beautiful stores of California. Manushak wanted to live the American dream.

When the wall came down in 1991, Manushak aged 17 knew that she had to try her luck. Lacking papers and money she made a deal with a small time crook from Gyumri named Sayat Mkrtchyan. Using their resources they made a run for it and landed in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

Unbeknownst to her, Sayat Mkrtchyan owned a lot of money to his boss, Garen Sarkissian, and was hunted down relentlessly. Manushak now going by the name Maria Ivanova, knew that Sayat Mkrtchyan was too small for her dreams. Once the crime syndicate caught up to them she coldly sold him out in exchange for a Kryshas position in the organization, money and power.

As the Bratva in Russia solidified their presence, Sarkissian’s organization was absorbed in the Solntsevskaya Bratva, the group went from being a small time national organization to a major transnational crime organization.

Being a woman Maria was often put in charge of the sex trafficking sections of the organization, her bosses liked her ruthlessness and ability to make impossible things happen by her sheer will. She was not to be stopped from living her dream, even if it meant losing a bit of humanity along the way.

Her latest task has been to monitor the activity of the Vienna group after the Bratva noticed lots of irregularities in their payments and revenues. When she arrived on site she quickly understood that Ulric Frietz was bat shit crazy in love with a girl named Sarah Lennart. In her opinion Ulric was letting his emotions cloud his already impaired judgement. Once she understood the dynamics, she stood back slowly taking control of the operational level of the Vienna group. She saw that if she played he cards right she could take control of the whole Vienna operation becoming the first woman ever to become a Avtorityet (Brigadier).

When the Agents made their presence known in Vienna at the Millennium Building, she saw through their play really quickly. She believes the Agents are paid mercenary tasked with the retrieval of Sarah Lennart, probably from some family member in Canada. She saw her opportunity to come out on top and take over the operations.As the events unfolded, she made sure to create a situation where Ulric would be exposed. So she kindly suggested that he take a breather in Malta while she dealt with the mysterious Sheik. She assigned her most loyal bodyguards to the Malta mansion and let the events unfold.

Michael McGee

Mike McGee is one of those hard as nail old geezer that never know when or how to quit. Worked all his life for the military, MI6 and various other alphabet soup organizations. Building and repairing gadgets, weapons and vehicles that actual Agents abused in the field.

He got his training in one of the most prestigious British engineering units, the sappers, during the cold war era. Never highly regarded as a soldiers, he was one of the most prominent engineers of the unit, coming up with many vehicle designs that are still in use to this day. After his official retirement from the Corp,  he joined the group of veterans that had no real civilian skill set, or were too old to seek employment elsewhere. Being a proud man, he contacted a few friends and took a couple of contracts to help out.

Michael McGee‘s character sheet

Natasha Romanov

Natasha Romanov was born and raised in a former high level Party class family in the Soviet Union. At the fall of the wall most high ranking soviet officers took one of two choices, crime or politics, often both. The Romanov’s went in public service, her father becoming an important figure in regional politics. Like most wealthy kids in Russia, Natasha had to endure formative activities, these can in no way be considered play. In the case of Natasha her father chose ballet to give the girl direction, and a royal bearing. Hiring a former Bolshoi Ballet instructor, the lessons forged Romanov in a training machine, no task could be to hard, no task could be abandoned.

As the only child of the Romanov family she joined the KGB and rapidly became known for her skill with various weapons and weird fighting technique that she derived from her Vaganova training method. Natasha is a deadly operator, when compared to her male colleagues she often leaves them confounded and a bit depressed. That made her a couple of enemies over the years, as some operators were not promoted and even asked to re-take basic training after getting schooled by Natasha, hopefully no one holds a grudge anymore…

Natasha Romanov‘s character sheet

Sophie Sanderson

Sophie ‘Sleepwalker’ Sanderson, is your typical gen Y hacker. Really hard to get motivated or behind any causes but her own. Completely distrustful of system she will do whatever she can to expose the truth. Taking to heart the old UNIX hackers motto of “Information MUST be free”, she is currently one of the most active wikileaks source, but the information she provides is always considered suspect.

At 26 she was part of the terrorist organization, ANONYMOUS, and was arrested after her cell hacked sites and databases of the CIA, freeing thousands of pages of classified documents. Rumors have it that she cut a deal with the CIA, making her an analyst for 5 years at the employ of the NSA, once her 5 years were up, she left, promising to never get caught again. Other hackers in her cell were not so lucky and now see her as a turn-coat.

Sleepwalker is now walking a thin line between the shadows, burned on both sides, will she be able to find people who can trust her?

Sophie Sanderson‘s character sheet