Gatecrasher’s Almanac #34

Name: PXC-1023 (Ferric)

Location: 22000 ly spinward from Sol

Gravity: 0.6G

Atmosphere: Nil

Body Type: Mercurial Body

The planet logged as PXC-1023 in Pathfinder’s records is a rogue world, long ejected from whatever system it called home, and likely having been subjected to some rather severe trauma along the way. Little remains of what was likely once a rocky crust, a few long-shattered masses of silicates smeared loosely across the metal-heavy spheroid that no doubt once served as a planet’s core.

There are signs of industry across the surface; sections where the metal-rich material of the world has been carved away – a few of which seem old enough to coincide with the Iktomi, mines dug down toward the heart of the world in a plain quest for heavier and rarer elements, and even one area nearly a hundred kilometers across that has been sheared smooth recently enough to suggest at least one TITAN came this way and was hungry.

Naturally, Pathfinder has set up their own base of operations around the unusually large Gate, crafting solid ingots of metal and building their own future mountain out of the slag from the operation. Security is relatively low, and the occasional gatecrashing team that stumbles through merely has whatever blue box they have along copied before being sent on their way. The only other incursion was by a group of exhumans who found that they didn’t like having the ingots dropped on them, even in the lower gravity.

As such, while Firewall has a mole in place, no one is yet aware that the operation is compromised by an exsurgent in the role of a survey scout; the scout successfully liberated copies of the egos of everyone they work directly with, and has built a clandestine base of operation inside an unreported mineshaft. The shaft is at present home to little more than a simulspace server and the barest beginnings of a fabrication facility good for churning out anything from nanoswarms to warbots, but unless someone stumbles across it no one will be the wiser.

As for the purloined ego copies, the exsurgent has infected them all with a digital strain of the virus and left them to percolate in an accelerated simulspace to let the infection well and truly transform them. The scout hopes to eventually be able to swap them for the regular backups sent back to Earth, ensuring that the exsurgent copies will be what gets resleeved after the base goes mysteriously dark.

In the meantime, there’s a chance for someone to stumble over the shaft and figure out what’s going on; unfortunately for everyone, the Firewall operative has gotten complacent and isn’t staying alert for signs of trouble. If he were, he’d have noticed that one particular stretch of the surface remains unexplored despite the entire region around it being mapped and analyzed for resource potential.

Unless someone else analyzes the data and takes steps to deal with it, it’s only a matter of time before the base goes dark, and then the Mars Gate opens up to disgorge a small army of warbots and nanoswarms into the heart of Martian civilization. Without a TITAN to actively back it, such an incursion would likely manage to be beaten off, but the cost to Mars would be extreme.

So, hopefully, someone notices before it’s too late.

Gatecrasher’s Almanac #34

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