Moonbase Alpha

We land the ships in the shadow of a crater, docking in secret. Smythe appraises us that there are 47 souls here, comprising cut throats, murderers and thieves, but mostly a good lot. The Marquis’s whisky - the good stuff! - goes down well and we settle in to refuel.

Smythe is quite old but vigorous, dark skinned, with close cropped hair. He introduces us to Roy Livingstone, his Chief of Security and 2IC. Roy is slightly pudgy, also dark skinned, and jovial. He is toying with a combat knife, but puts it away and welcomes us. He offers us security for our stay, implying that he knows we need to be discrete. He also assures us that they are not totally defenceless with regard to detecting incoming threats.

Smythe starts saying we must be tired after our voyage, then realises The Salamander is luxurious. He takes us through the docking area, which is all carbon steel lined, but after a few airlocks, bare rock predominates.

“This is the middle section, with about 50 souls around.There are maybe another 50 scattered around the rock. We’ve mined out most of the easy to get stuff, and now act mostly as a conduit for other areas sending stuff on. The base is into our 9th decade, and I’ve been here for 40 years, it’s my home. Below here is the plant, with an O2 generator, backup scrubbers, fusion plant for power. We have grav plates everywhere, but maybe don’t leave too much lying around, some of them are a bit iffy. We have 1 licensed bar - it’s a bit grim, but provides entertainment of sorts. They workers are a rough lot, but if anyone steps out of line, we’ll sort them out. There’s a compact area upstairs we’ll put you in, it even has a little garden, a 2-300m by 50m rectangle”

We are about to turn a corner when hear a women’s voice ring out “Geroge Smythe I need a word with you”, and women with freshly scared right arm walks up and says

“This has to stop”

“Yes Mary. We have guests. This can wait”

“It can’t wait. You’re pushing us too hard, you have to tell the bosses, or they’ll be another accident”

Smythe introduces her as “Mary Tomlinson, Director of Engineering. She’s concerned about employees well being. Sorry about that. Let’s go on”

We come to a commissary “Ah, Mr Roland Lomax, please let me introduce you to our guests. Our quartermaster”

Lomax asks what he can do to help, and Armitage explains that he has a problem with fresh steak taking up freezer space…they agree to meet later.

We take a glass elevator up to topside. Smythe has most of his quarters here, plus part of the control room. There are 4 guards on duty at all time, 1 outside control at all times, 1 roaming on the middle deck, and 1 in the plant room, plus 1 shadowing the boss (Smythe). There are 12 guards total, on rotating 8 hours shifts, armed with stun batons and some form of sidearm. Smythe again reiterates that “it’s a rough crew here, they work hard, and don’t have a good relationship with alcohol. Whilst they’re mostly good sorts, they are occasionally not. It’s been a while since we’ve had to space anyone”. It almost feels like he’s priming us for some brutality that he is going to commit in the near future.

He asks us for the Names and Photos of everyone to circulate.

In the garden area, Smythe tells us about his other chiefs: The CTO, who keep the plant running, Jaffa O’Koye, and the Chief Medic, Su Yin Indrani, in surgery right now (another accident?!?), who would love to swap experiences with Dr Ntesh. There are intercoms all over the place, and “111” goes directly to Smythe’s earpiece.

Smythe will be in the control room for the next 4 hours. He suggests we go to the middle deck bar, owned by Marianne “Tough nut. No sense of humour. Guess she has to be”

Armitage unloads belongings to the quarters they’ve been provided with in Topside, including emergency vacc suits for everyone. The Marquis offers dinner to Smythe and his chiefs on board the salamander, arranged for in the middle of next shift. The guests will be the 6 top dogs:

Armitage meets Lomax, very discreetly in his office, for a drink

astrocola

He confirms the place is a powder keg, with Smythe pushing hard. Tomlinson had an accident, and Smythe won’t let her go to Karin for plastic surgery, making her complete her rotation. Bad for morale. Lomax thinks that Smythe might be on the take - shipments and inventory don’t seem to line up properly. He seems worried, and Armitage promises to see if he can get an anonymous tip off into the Baron’s network once he’s left the moon. They agree to trade the steaks for floorplans of the base, and Armitage gives Lomax a bottle of whisky to keep them informed if (when?) trouble is brewing.

Armitage warns the Marquis that the place seems to be a powder keg waiting to blow, and the dinner on the Salamander will have all the key Company chiefs in one place, away from the control room - it would be the perfect time to start a riot. The presence of the Marquis also gives the workforce an excellent opportunity to embarrass the Baron - if anything were to happen to him or whilst he were here, it could be socially awkward

topside

Before dinner, Dt N’tesh, accompanied by Corto, meets Su Yin Indrani, who has just finished setting a broken arm. She is small, dark haired, and bit of a character. She also runs the “Clouds and Rain”, the Station’s Brothel, and thus has a particular interest in health and well being of all individuals. The brothel contributes more than her salary.

Most of the mines are remote mining, but there are some smaller left on some drifts accessed from the facility. The base mostly supplies belters mining other asteroids and bits of rocks. There is a shuttle once a week from Karin, and maybe once a week a mining operation ship comes in to have repairs done or stock up or drop of miscreants. The facility is on its last legs, with lots of cost cutting and eking last few credits. Dr Indrani encourages Dr N’tesh to visit “Clouds and Rain” - she has a delightful young man called Randal, if she were so inclined. She also encourages Corto to stop by, and he promises that if the Marquis grant shim furlough, he will swing by.

Armitage works the middle deck, trying to get a feel for the place. They are a bunch of tough nuts, and there seems to be little separation between the branches - cargo loaders and handlers and logistics working from Lomax seem quite taciturn. Armitage talks to them, they seem quite reticent, but in the end he turns a corner, which ends in a dead end. There are lots of crates stacked up, he pushes round some pallets and see a guys cursing about wedging a piece of machinery. He helps the man, who introduces himself as Gendich, out and he opines “The big Boss is alright, but can’t say the same of my immediate superior. Guy is a complete and utter asshole - I’ve worked for some shitty bosses, but Lomax, he’s bad to the core”. He realises he’s said too much, but asks for a job anyway, to get off this rock.

There is a clique amongst the technicians as well - can’t get a handle on it.The mining guys are lots more vociferous - they insist that Armirage comes down to “Midnight Sun”, owned by “Marianne, she’s a good sort. Tell us what’s going on in the real world”. A good third of the people turns taciturn when they talk about Smythe, and don’t like him.

Apparently, the CTO is obsessed with a gigalo at the Clouds and Rain, spends a lot of time in the garden. She’s a good boss but distracted with her infatuation.

Armitage picks up the plans from Lomax, which once loaded on a isolated terminal on the Salamander show there are some areas unaccounted for on topside - there is also a plant area up there of 3 rooms, that it’s not clear what it’s for, adjacent to the area with no info. There are 2 doors into that area, from a small set of stairs in the storage room and from the control room. Corto thinks that he could get through most doors in this place with his box of tricks, given time, but can’t vouch for the control area ones.

topsiderevealed

The Marquis meets O’Koye in the garden, and senses she is distracted, the garden being the only thing she really seems to care about.

At the dinner on the Salamander, The Marquis, Sir Arthur, Dr N’tesh and Benison entertain the guests, whilst Bart and George tend to them. Benison goes on about D’Jil, and in response, Smythe tells us that there are rumours that Pirates found things of interest inside asteroids in this area. It has been mined since the 1st imperium, and these are only rumours from pirates who tried to buy their lives with valuable info though.

At one point, Bart comes forward, and catches the Marquis’s attention. There is a station man there “Excuse me, sorry to disturb, been an accident, problem with the machinery. Could Dr Indrani and O’kaye come with me?”

Dr Ntesh offers to accompany her, and Sir Arthur goes along. Bart fills some glasses, comes to the Marquis and whispers “Machinery malfunction on lower decks, 2 individuals injured, some damage to machinery, but not serious”. Smythe looks a little less at ease, ties to be a little more jovial, a little embarrassed.

Armitage has snuck off, and figures out the disturbance is coming from the bar on the middle level. He informs Morle, who joins him, and seems quite jovial about the prospect of a bar brawl. They head on down, Morle instructing Armitage on how not to kill people in a fight, in time to see a big miner throw a guard out of the bar, pummel him into unconsciousness, look at them, shake his head, and head back in. The duo shrug and head on in.