Mission 01- Holdfast.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
GM
 GM, 3 posts
Fri 31 May 2019
at 14:58
Mission 01- Holdfast.
VPN briefing transcript, 11 AF

This avatar gives no name, although it is wearing a name-tag 'Hi! My name is Eddie.'

"Hello all, I have been tasked with acting as your facilitator for this mission. For those of you who are new, that means that it is my responsibility to get you there, tell you the problem, see to morph and gear requests and extract you afterwards.
Firstly, the place."

The main screen lights up to show a typical beehive colony.

"'Holdfast' [(55636) 2002 TX300] is a Kuiper Belt cubewano. Home to a Brinker beehive colony of paranoid survivalists, it is famous (or perhaps notorious) for it's policy of accepting any ego willing to swear (and mean) the prescribed oath to 'place the defense of humanity against the Titans above all other considerations'. They do not require skills, training will be provided, but dedication is assumed. Ugly rumors of behavior modification for those not sincere about their oaths continue to surface, but in truth the population of Holdfast is small enough (aprox 10k) that all they really need to do is sift through the millions of infugees for those already zealots on the matter.

Autonomist but not anarchist, they are theoretically a military dictatorship (although the lack of an actual dictator since no member has yet met the ludicrous requirements for promotion to Marshal makes this something of a dead letter) with every citizen assigned a military rank and expected to give precedence to those above them. The founders were determined that there would be no 'General Blimps' amongst their ranks, and promotion is by voluntary 'test of merit', with the parameters of the tests set by the Consensus (a direct democracy of all citizens) making their actual governmental system a meritocracy. The real kicker with Holdfast is that the higher ones rank, the more time one is required to devote to Regimental affairs. Buck privates can get away with an hour of weapons drill per day, with another hour of 'regimental service' per week, the rest of their time being their own, whereas a General is lucky if he has two or three hours to sleep in any given day. Failure to meet these demands is of course grounds for demotion. Most stabilise around the Sergeant level, although Holdfast contains some extremely driven individuals."

The screen shows a single-tier military rank chart, numbers next to each rank presumably indicating the number of egos at each. Most, indeed are Sergeants, although there are also a lot of Recruit Privates.

"Their policy of taking anyone willing to swear the oath means that they have one of the worst Ego/Biomorph ratios in the outer system (1/10) and residents are encouraged to take mercenary service elsewhere, both to gain experience in the real world and to allow them to earn their bodies. Known as the 'deadly housewives' by other militaries, Holdfastians are respected for their task focus and technical skills but not considered the equal of other Ultimates in battle.  In addition, Holdfastians do not use Muses, instead recieving Partners (infomorphs trained in psychology and accounting) to reduce the demand for bodies. Partnership is considered the fast track to a morph for those without significant military skills as it is 24/7 service. Considerable effort is put into determining suitable partnerships, and many continue long after both parties have morphs.

They are a military society, with basic needs, medical treatment and training universal and specified levels of luxuries by rank. Privates are often 'richer' than Generals however, as their greater free time allows them to participate fully in the thriving secondary economy. Barracks housing (even infomorph simulspaces are barracks) is the norm for Privates as many of their recruits are psychologically fragile and having 30 well-armed buddies sleeping next to them helps. Extensive recreational, workshop and training areas are open to all and personel are welcome to secure off-base quarters subject to the demands of their rank. As a result of this Holdfast is surrounded by a cloud of personal quarters set up by those prefering their space and willing to routinely put up with the rigorous testing required to enter the hab proper. As long as they put a gun on it, nobody cares.

With everyone armed to the teeth serious crime is pretty much non-existent, although when it does occur Courts-Martial is swift and punishment brutal, Holfastians firmly believing that punishment should be both cruel and unusual. The most common sentence is flogging (or direct pain simulation for synths), with prisoners given access to medical tanks between each dozen lashes. Recidivists are given the choice of death, exile, cold storage or behavior modification. Minor offenses are dealt with by the DI's, whose ability to describe the physical, mental and moral shortcomings of offenders approaches an art form.

Forking is frowned upon as a result of the ego/morph imbalance but there is no actual regulation against it and they are not shy to do so when driven by operational necessity. Backing up and re-sleeving is considered plain common sense although Safehold is well aware of the dichotomy between what they would like to do and what they can actually do in terms of providing shells. AGI's are cautiously accepted provided they are willing to take the Oath and Uplifts are not distinguished from any other recruit.

The Regimental Basic 'morph, a localy produced 'morph specialised for drone control is the most common biomorph, with new recruits usually earning sufficient rank (rep) to acquire one after about 6 months. Most Holdfastians aspire to Remade or Olympian 'morphs but their cost and growth time limits such. They also produce a Case variant, the Training Bot and a Reaper variant, the Assault Bot."

The screen shows each of the morphs in turn. The Regimental Basic is notably ugly, obviously designed for function over form.

"The common language is English (it seems the founders could not agree which of their languages to use so selected one that none of them used) although German, Dutch, Czech and increasingly Mandarin are also used."

The avatar shimmers, becoming a dowdy middle-aged woman. 'Hi! My name is Judith.'

"So, several thousand heavily armed technically skilled paranoid Brinkers. Easy money, right? To be honest, this is the third iteration of this mission, it has been canceled twice by risk-averse Proxies. However, our asset there..."

The screen shows a ReMade morph, his subtly inhuman face a mask of concentration as a pair of pistols and a pair of weapons tendrils spit fire at something off-screen, the pov circling the morph as height, weight, gait, kinesics listings, ego markers and other details blink at the side.

"... Lt-Col Jaxom Hedley, Holdfast, has gone dark. He is not on contract, and enquiries to Holdfast have gotten us only that he is taking 'personal time'. This is very much out of character, and we would like to know why. If Holdfast is compromised, it is a fucking nightmare. It is a long way away, the hab would take a young fleet to reduce, and they have plenty of travel options.

Travel time even by antimatter courier is four months, so this one is definitely farcast. I can see three options to get you in. The first, and simplest, is that you go there as Firewall, looking for him. Holdfast is friendly enough to Firewall (although they do consider us a bit soft) and the local powers-that-be will probably assist you. He is, after all, their asset too. This is fast, but rather overt. If Holdfast, or even a significant faction in Holdfast, is compromised, you are screwed. The second is to go in as traders. Load you down with gourmet recipies and simulsex XP. Sell your stock to the luxury trade and make enquiries at the same time. Slower, but more subtle. The third is to send you in as prospective recruits. Work your way in from the inside, classic Sentinel stuff. Very slow, but also very subtle.

Questions, preferences, options?"
Caleb Nils
 player, 3 posts
 Ultimate Mercenary
Thu 6 Jun 2019
at 12:59
Mission 01- Holdfast.
Tall, dark and handsome would describe the Avatar Caleb was using, it mirrored his original body and more often than not his morphs looked a lot like this, although over the years he had managed to procure many different morphs to meet the requirements of whatever mission he was currently on.

Tilting his head he listened, something totally unnecessary in this situation but a habit nonetheless, his muse made notes as various comments were made and finally when it was question time he frowned, Lt-Col Jaxom Hedley, he knew that name,"Depends on the authenticity of those Oaths, I can swear to hunt down the Titans pretty easily and it's a real thing but I don't want to be compromised by someone who secretly thinks they can harness the power of the Titans."

Unlikely within a Firewall team, but it took all types to run missions like this,"Why do they not allow Muses and if we go in as recruits would we need to leave our muses behind?" Another thought occurred almost as quickly on the heels of the other,"If we go in as merchants do we have someone with the skills to pull that role off and do they use reputation or cold hard credits?"

This message was last edited by the player at 13:09, Thu 06 June 2019.

Jaya Shea
 player, 1 post
 Scumborn Argonaut
 Mesh Specialist
Thu 6 Jun 2019
at 14:05
Mission 01- Holdfast.
Jaya's simulmorph was a relatively faithful representation of her birth sleeve, an exalt of South Asian genotype that was mostly unremarkable, save for a large number of freckles and heavily braided hair pulled into a ponytail.

"I don't trust this 'partner' system. As the briefing said, the infomorphs involved are being given a chance to advance within their society, and that chance may require that they inform their masters of suspicious activity. Posing as traders seems the safest option. My public RNA profile history should mean that my showing up to assist fellow autonomists with minor software and blueprint optimization work would not raise any red flags."

A small, one-eyed cat appeared on the shoulder of her green jumpsuit, and she whispered a few words to it. A map of the solar system displayed itself, red lines beaming from a great variety of outer rim habitats to one another.

"Granted, the distance involved is a bit outside my usual pattern. Accompanying one of you in some other capacity would probably be best. Less odd if assisting a friend explains why I'd travel so far."

This message was last edited by the player at 14:19, Thu 06 June 2019.

Selena Ortiz
 player, 1 post
Thu 6 Jun 2019
at 14:18
Mission 01- Holdfast.
Selena's avatar was a jade statue of a coiled dragon in a pillar of light.  Her information read as Dr4k3, which was a name fairly commonly seen in certain sections of the Eye.

"There's no reason we can't take more than one approach," the avatar declared.  "Traders would have my vote, too, if only because it avoids the no doubt extensive ego scanning that recruits would be put under.  If an asset is suitable for recruitment, we could meet on the inside."