By: Brendan O'Donovan
From: email@example.com [Digest 363] Dated: Sat, 29 Jul 1995
I know someone else was going to write this, and if they do it will probably be far superior to this, but here goes with....
Olga Stokova is a free trader operating in the wilds. As well as operating standard trade she also operates a "dating service" on the side. She offers passage to young women from the wilds, with their tickets paid for by citizens of the RCES, hoping for love and romance. Most often they are stood up as soon as their future partners reach Coalition space, but Olga has already collected the money for the passage, ensuring her a steady flow of work. To drum up interest in her service, she has acquired an AI advertising probe, which, infected by virus, has acquired an even stranger personality than before...
Somewhere at the edge of the Aubaine system a small jump capsule burst out of jumpspace, tumbling over and over. A carefully executed corrective burst from a maneuver jet set it spinning even faster in another direction. Unfortunately the ship’s computer knew no words suitable for this situation, so it began to search its database for an expression.
"These are Damn fine opportunities" it printed. This didn't seem right, so it thought for a moment and then tried again.
"Damn these fine opportunities". It sat back smugly, and went back to solving the navigation problem. After several more failed burns the ship's computer gave up and tried firing the main engines whenever the ship was pointing in the right direction. After a few hours the computer stopped the engines and shut down the main fusion plant, satisfied that it would probably hit the mainworld somewhere.
A few days later a meteor was seen to come down in the ocean near the shipyards on Aubaine. The probe opened up its cargo bay and dispatched two black shapes before sinking slowly to the bottom of the ocean, where it sank into the mud.
The characters wake up one morning to find their mail terminal overloaded with junk mail, which should have been filtered out by the postal system. All the junk mail (which has cost each character Cr 100 to download) are adverts for "Olga's dating services". Make sure the players know how much the junk mail cost them, and that the postNET is responsible. Do whatever is necessary to get them into a righteous fury, have a message on the screen inform them that messages from lovers/lottery offices/employers messages were returned to sender due to the volume of junk mail held.
As the characters walk to the local postNET office to complain they will notice that projection billboards are also showing adverts like the ones in their post-box. Even innocent municipal garbage-bots have begun sweeping the litter into words. At the postNET office a giant surging crowd blocks the doorway for the players. If the players are to be able to make their complaint before closing time, they need to find a way past the crowd. Bluffing, acting, and blowing alternative entrances with heavy ordinance are all acceptable methods of entry.
Inside, the receptionist stares blankly into space. At the character's approach he looks up, stiffly, with an audible whirr and click. The players need to pass Easy: Observation tasks to realise that this is a robot, in appearance it looks human, but its mannerisms give it away. The robot will answer their questions in the most transparent way - "What is wrong with the mail? I did not alter the mail. It was not me who redirected sub-grid filter two to enable this post. I did not enter this building and break into the secured areas of the computer cores to send the mail."
The players should be about to take violent action when a human employee walks in, saying "Oh, Stan, what do these people want then?" - "They want to know about the junk mail, Dave". Dave will try to assist the characters, but he has no idea what caused it. If the characters suggest that Stan did it, or that Stan is a robot, Dave will resolutely disbelieve them. Dave will not respond to logical arguments, only a physical attack on the robot will cause it to reveal it's true nature. If the players don't try this, and are getting very annoyed, eg. threatening you with violence, then the real Stan walks in and Dave will realise - "Stan? But....if you're Stan......then who's?.........."
When attacked or found out in this way, the robot will stand up abruptly, its eyes flashing red. "Must terminate opposition - Must continue mission - Must advertise". Dozens of little panels on its forearms open up and various sharp pointy bits spring out. The robot's designer obviously intended this to be scary, but unfortunately it looks more like a Swiss army knife, it's case not being helped by one of the spikes, which can be positively identified as the thing for getting stones out of horses hooves. (I've only just got Vampire Fleets, and it doesn't seem too good for anthropomorphic robots, so...) Use whatever template NPC seems most suitable, improve it's combat abilities a bit, let the players blow it up.
All is quiet for a few days, then Olga herself jumps in-system. Once she has landed at the starport there are plenty of opportunities for players to get involved:
Next day, on another free trader, a young farmer from the wilds arrives, claiming that his fiance was kidnapped by Olga. This could develop in several ways:
Olga will manage to getaway from Aubaine, although she is fined Cr 1000 for misuse of public messaging systems. If the players feel this unjust (ie. not severe enough), then they can track her into the wilds and try to apprehend her for slavery, drugs or some other questionable trade.
And what happened to the second Spambot?
Congratulations in advance to anyone who actually manages to make an adventure of this.