Administrator Wellard of Colonial Services greets you in his small office aboard Starbase Keppler. After the mission debriefing, he answers the captain’s concerns about the Zangid Star Empire. “No, I hardly think the Zangids have access to the Lucanii Drift. That’s why they tried to shut down the Corridor by blowing you up, because they don’t want us to have access either. Between here and there is a matrix of pulsars, neutron stars, hyperspace distortions…it’s completely impassable. Their ships would be battered to pieces, their crews dead. No, it’s not hardly possible, never, never.”
As for the ships encountered, he’s a little more worried. “Well… of course we knew the Lucanii Drift has had hyperwarp-capable civilizations. Heck, my starbase is built on the proof of that. But the academy types said whatever people built this sphere, they were long gone. It sounds like this life-form you encountered isn’t capable of building something like that, but… then there’s this technology that makes them invisible to long-range sensors… we don’t know what they’re capable of, do we?”
He picks up the data tape containing the death report for Captain Cygnus. “In spite of all that’s happened, until we hear otherwise, it seems like your orders remain the same: explore the Lucanii Drift. Colonial Services stands ready to help Fleet in any way. But… learning more about this… insectoid life form, let’s call it… that seems like a priority if push comes to shove. And if they do mean us harm, then I assume you’ll remember that your orders are also to protect the colonies.”
Dr. Zangor has no problem finding the Melisol bar. It seems like every intersection has a sign directing the traveler to the Melisol bar.
Built inside the shell of an old engine room, it feels like the real center of life on the starbase. The proprietor, an Entirran named Waka’biizi, is quick to prescribe Zangor whatever cocktail he wants. When he begins speaking of the encounter with the Bug Men, he becomes the center of attention, and many patrons pay for further prescriptions in exchange for his tale.
Though none have heard of the Bug Man, many are quick to speculate on Bug Man hopes, fears and dreams.
“Whoever they are, there’s no need for a feud. They’re welcome at the Melisol! We welcome all people! I love everybody!” Waka’biizi shouts in a way that, like her smile, is both merry and creepy.
“They’re just aggressive in protecting their business interests in this area… but I’m sure we can make a deal,” says Mr. Neek, a human trader, slightly soiled. He consults his Market Analyzer. “Don’t grasshoppers eat plants? A shipment of Struvian Alfalfa could be provided to them for a bargain, plus a finder’s fee…”
“But what if they hate us for our values?! What if they fear love, or art?!” cry out Shavira and Ravira, the Pleiadian croupiers/singers/chandelier technicans/fortune tellers/exotica dancers, between sets.
Chemisa finds the bowling alley in corridor 12C. There’s four lanes, and one is taken by the crew of an independent trader back from Gateway Colony. It doesn’t take her long to figure out the young sport in the flight jacket and the sandgator boots is the pilot. He winks at her. Apparently a good Rigellian introduction is in order.
There’s actually a minigame around starbase bar/bowling brawls (and 30xp for all participants before the first punch is thrown), so we’ll play out the fight next time we’re at the table.
Captain White-Linen calls Spaceman Xox to the brig. He knows why he's here: she wants him to use his Tauran ESP technique on the captured Zangid spy, "Paxton." He's hesitant. What will they say of him on Taurus? But he only mutters, "It seems invasive."
White-Linen points at their grinning captive: "Spaceman Xox, he's a Zangid spy and saboteur who nearly killed everyone on this ship, the population of Bifrost colony, and would have condemned the Drift to military conquest. He had help. I'm no expert in Tauran ethics, but the Kantian Categorical Imperative, the Rawlsian Veil of Ignorance, and the Golden Rule all indicate that we have an moral obligation to protect others from similar threats, provided we do so in a manner that is not gratuitously painful. Violating this fellow's privacy is distasteful, but it's the only way to be certain he's not lying.
"If that doesn't convince you: consider it an order, and I take full command responsibility. Should you wish to file a report to Star Force, we're in a good spot for it, and I will not retaliate for a man simply following the dictates of his conscience."
Spaceman Xox complains — "This will be going into the logs!" — but ultimately enters the Zangid's mind with an expression of distaste.
Xox needs a 3 or less on a d20 to win a psychic battle with the Zangid. James, for sternum, rolls a 2.
The Zangid spy actually knows very little – their intelligence service understands the importance of siloing information — but he does know a little. With a great deal of face-fondling and brow-furrowing, Xox wrenches these images from the spy's mind…
…a massive ship, under construction in orbit around a moon of the Zangid homeworld of Zonos…
…preliminary tactical plans, involving one or more of the Alpha, Zeta and Lambda sectors of the Drift…
…and a fierce Zangid Commodore, Zak’akh, at whose will both ship and plans move forward.