Patron: Scientist (actually a media star)
Required Skills: Engineering, but not above -1; Pilot; No-one may have science above -1
Required Equipment: none
While the party is visiting a high-tech starport, they are approached by an attractive middle-aged lady, Professor Hara Ren. She explains that her corporation has just patented a new device, which when coupled to an existing jump drive, and using a special jump program, can ensure that the jump is made in three to five days!
She explains they are ready to make a product launch, but require an experienced, professional crew to make the first public jump – which for public relations issues will only be to the system’s limit, where a tender is already waiting to greet the triumphant crew. The good Professor herself will be coming along, and of course, a host of sub-sector media will be waiting at the other end to cover the event (said PR issues).
She guarantees celebrity status, and payment of Cr 15,000 for every crew member. The party may not take any weapons (they will be scanned thoroughly) as a security measure that they will not steal the device. All party possessions, vehicles, and ship (if they have one) will be stored by the starport authority, and are properly bonded. They will be using the corporation’s vessel.
If the party investigates any of this story, it all checks out. The Professor’s corporation is indeed known to be researching a breakthrough technology, and all the scientific data she provides checks out, including the secret jump tests they have successfully carried out.
The party are expected to shuttle up to the ship in orbit tomorrow morning.
The Professor is not of course in any way genuine. She is in fact a media star from several years ago re-launching her career with a new reality-holo show, called ‘Dupes In Jump‘.
The ship the party are to use is, in fact, a super-sophisticated fake, which to all intents and purposes seems like a real ship on a real mission. The deception would be discovered by characters with high skills, indeed they would know the theory is bunkum – hence the low skill limits.
The ‘ship’ is super luxurious with a stateroom for every person, an excellent galley, holographic controls, lots of luxurious extras, J-1, M-1, P-2… And the device, which calculates the hyper-dimensional mathematics that enable the ship’s computer-2 to use the custom jump software that folds jump-space nearly in half, shortening the time taken to transit the jump. There is no ship’s locker. And in reality it is just an orbital holo-studio.
Everything will apparently go smoothly, as the ship apparently thrusts out to a safe jump point and enters J-space, and continues to until halfway through the first day of the jump. Then weird things start to happen. First, the computer crashes… Then after an hour somehow rights itself. The Professor is mystified, and looks worried, but everything checks out and seems to be going to plan.
Then a couple of hours later, weird sounds are heard – snatches of shouted conversations, arguments maybe – in some alien language. This is followed a few hours later by the ship’s computer reporting that an unauthorised life form is on board! The Professor is beside herself, and believes that a rival corporation has an infiltrator on board. No search or scan can reveal anything.
After this there will be various mechanical and electrical problems that manifest themselves for a couple of days – all easily repairable by the party, but none explainable. Meanwhile the occasional alien shouting is still heard. Then, on the third day, a party member sees an ethereal waist-high blue and orange quadruped gallop through their stateroom. Within the next two hours the Professor disappears, and can be found no-where on the ship.
For the fourth day, the ship rocks and shudders, and whatever the party try to do to fix it fails. The alien shouting becomes more frequent, and is now joined by the wailing of the Professor’s incorporeal voice!
When the, presumably by now, panicked and paranoid party drop out of jump space they immediately pick up the welcoming party on the ship’s comms! Whatever else has happened it appears they were successful and they dock with the recovery ship… Where they are greeted by the Professor – actually Stacy Costs, an ageing holo-model – and a horde of media, holo cameras, and clapping, cheering people! The party will be debriefed on camera and the whole scam explained to them. They will indeed be celebrities in this sub-sector for a while… Celebrity dupes! At least they get paid Cr 50,000 each instead of the Cr 15,000 they were initially offered for being such great sports.
The options to modify this outline are:
1. Vanilla – use it as it is written.
2. The party are actually hired by another corporation because of rumours of a breakthrough by this fake (but well-documented) corporation to seek out the Professor and steal the technology. They provide kit form body pistols that can be smuggled through the security.
3. The party are hired by a rival media network that got wind of the show and wants to ruin it, briefing the party before they embark on the mission so they can expose it on live holo.
4. A rival corporation is duped by the fake information embedded in library data etc. They get an agent onto the ‘ship’ to steal the technology. It is up to the GM on whether he/she works out what is going on or not, and what his/her reactions to events are.
5. One of the show’s producers has become mentally unstable and has begun to believe that the fantasy is real. He has decided to ‘stow away’ with a few weapons, and intends to kill everyone on board and steal the technology for himself.
6. Any two options from two to five combined for maximum chaos!