Episode 1 – “Newcomers”
Meetings between the Families and diplomats from the Four Systems are common – there are scheduled meetings every few months and these are used for negotiating rates, carrying out diplomatic meetings between the races, and for deciding on important group decisions. This meeting, attended by the Teth, Krayce and Humans, as well as by representatives from the Furies family and the Dragons family was a little different to previous meetings – the Scorpions family had been murdered by a group calling themselves the Web, and a JumpShip is up for sale.
A serious effort to form some kind of Four Systems council was made by representatives of a Hamak corporation, but this was most vociferously called into question by a Hamak diplomat. A certain amount of travelling was done between Teth and Hamak by the Firebreed in order to facilitate possible offers on the JumpShip for sale, but it was eventually bought by the Teth in return for a fortune in cash – enough to make Lync Hosh and Foss Grav from the Web virtual economic powers in their own right.
Having accomplished what they came to do, the Teth relayed their news to the home world. Perhaps this new weapon in the Teth arsenal made the race more confident than they had been before – they immediately declared war on the Humans of Hamak.
Episode 2 – “Cancer”
A matter of a couple of weeks after the declaration of war, a meeting was held to discuss the matter of the Teth war. Present was a Tarn – the first some had ever seen.
Almost immediately the meeting was disturbed by the arrival of a distress call from the Orchids – a distress call that had taken some time to arrive by radio transmission, its source a long way off. Jumping to the source of the transmission, the Silverfish and the Valkyrie found the wreck of the Orchids’ JumpShip, the Majestic. After investigation of the Majestic’s logs it was discovered that the ship had been fired on by the Tarn.
On discussion with the Tarn it was understood that the crew of the Majestic had been infected with “Jump Cancer” – a form of bacterial infection endemic to travel by Jump. All of the Family personnel present at the meeting were found to be suffering from this infection to a greater or lesser degree, but it was not found to be infectious.
An initiative was started to investigate Jump Cancer, its etiology and infection vectors, and the Web offered to fund this research aboard the space station they were having built for themselves. All Jump Families were notified of the discovery.
Episode 3 – “War”
The meeting took place in the Hamak System system on Serenity – a space station belonging to the Human government, one month after the Teth declaration of war.
Attending were The Furies, The Scimitars, representatives from the Teth government, a representative from the Human government, a representative from the Krayce government, corporate representatives from the Four Systems Bank and the Steam Industries Corporation as well as an independant trader and a representative from the Trade Commission.
Mostly led by the Human diplomat Tzo Kath, a strong effort was made at a peaceful resolution between the parties present. This was interrupted when the The Sting (a JumpShip bought by the Teth some month before) jumped into Hamak space in between Serenity and Hoboville – the shantytown built around the hull of the Human colony ship in the asteroid cloud on the outskirts of Hamak IV. Hoboville spaceships were launched and attacked The Sting, which responded. The Valkyrie (under the command of the Furies) and The Salamanca (under the command of the Scimitars) departed Serenity to lend support to the Hoboville forces.
Although Human diplomats attempted to stop the conflict, Hoboville claimed that the space surrounding it was sovereign territory and not under the jurisdiction of the Hamak system government. Under heavy fire, The Sting jumped behind the Hoboville forces and launched a bomb at Hoboville itself, causing severe damage (and significant loss of life) to the shantytown, before jumping away.
The Furies and Scimitars followed The Sting to Teth space, where it was disabled, and then destroyed (along with its Jump Engine) to prevent it from falling back into Teth hands. However – this wasn’t the only loss of Teth life. One of the Teth diplomats part aboard Serenity was shot dead by the other.
At the end of the game, The Furies and Scimitars had left for Krayce space, leaving the Human and Teth diplomats in Teth space to broker peace on Tethis – the Teth homeworld. The Four Systems Bank, the Steam Industries Corporation and the Trade Commission representatives were still aboard Serenity while the independent trader had returned to Hoboville.
Episode 4 – “Discovery”
A meeting took place in the Teth system on board the Vikkil II – a space station belonging to the ruling Teth tribe, four months after the events of “War.” In the intervening time, a duo of terrible cataclysms have left the Krayce homeworld in dire straits and a significant proportion of its inhabitants dead.
Attending were representatives from the Teth tribes Veris, Vallas and Vunith, and more Krayce than have been seen in one place at one time at previous meetings of this kind. Some of these number were diplomats, and some traders. Two thirds of those at the meeting were humans, including representatives from the Furies and the Web as well as diplomats and representatives from Hamak megacorporations – the Steam Industries Corporation and Sentinel Corporation. A number of independent traders were also present. For the first time, a member of the mysterious Tarn had journeyed to make contact with members of another race.
Although there was no clear single topic of discussion, there was a lot of communication between various groups. So much so, in fact, that when the JumpShip The Hobgoblin – owned by the Cabal Family – jumped into local space, not a lot of notice was taken of it. Not a lot of notice was taken of a message that was subsequently sent to the space station, to the effect that the Cabal had taken the Krayce system for their own and that outsiders were not welcome. The Valkyrie was dispatched to investigate but returned very quickly.
At the end of the meeting a Cabal agent aboard the Vikkil II was revealed and taken into Teth custody. In the absence of any other transportation, all those wishing to travel on to other systems did so aboard The Valkyrie.
Episode 5 – “Union”
Representatives were called to the asteroid belt shantytown known as Hoboville in Hamak space. Ostensibly, the meeting was designed to act as a venue for the signing of a peace treaty between the Humans and the Teth, officially ending the Teth/Human war. Traders and diplomats were invited to the meeting, and it was also attended by a number of the residents of Hoboville itself.
Attending the meeting were representatives from the Hamak, Krayce and Teth system governments. There were three JumpShips present – the Firebreed, the Valkyrie and the Majestic, carrying envoys from the Furies and the Dragons Families. For the first time, all three of the major Hamak corporations were present – Tourou, Steam Industries and Sentinel.
There was a certain amount of discussion at the meeting regarding recent events in the Krayce system and the actions of the Cabal in taking it for their own. These were interrupted when a pair of activists burst into the conference room waving guns and took one Teth hostage. The activists were both gunned down, and interrogated about their intentions and why they took the action they took. They explained that they were part of an anti-Teth movement, growing on Hoboville since the strike the Teth-controlled JumpShip Sting made on Hoboville (in “War.”)
The Valkyrie, crewed by a conglomerate of diplomats and the Furies travelled to the Krayce system in an attempt to parlay some kind of peace with the Cabal. They were threatened and left promptly, but not before observing that a space station is being built in the Krayce system – assumedly by the Cabal.
As the meeting drew to a close, three JumpShips of an unknown configuration jumped into Hamak space not far from Hoboville itself. They remained stationary and in formation for a number of minutes, prompting panic among some of the meeting’s delegates. Although they were hailed they did not respond, and promptly jumped out of Hamak space.
Episode 6 – “Damocles”
At a small scheduled diplomatic meeting in the Teth system, the Cabal sent their first “public” agent to talk formally to other factions in the Four Systems. He was met with a surprisingly positive reaction, and talks began regarding the treatment of the Krayce as well as the mystery of the unidentified JumpShips and their sightings.
The Tarn presented themselves at the meeting to discuss that they were under attack by Humans, demanding an explanation. The Humans present at the meeting were unaware of any attacks, though they shed some light on the situation. The fleet attacking the Tarn bore the sigil of the “Sol Unity” – the birthplace of the Humans before they came to Hamak.
The meeting was interrupted by another appearance of unidentified JumpShips, and the Valkyrie scrambled to investigate and protect the meeting if required. The unknown vessels released a small item into space before jumping out of the system. The item was brought into a space station and was found to be a large black box with strange markings, a power source and a porous membrane covering an access hatch on the front.
A number of those present at the meeting subjected themselves to the inside of the box, and discovered its purpose – to send a telepathic message into the mind of the user. The message was scrambled, and the meeting turned to discussion of what it could mean, as well as the greater meaning of an unknown fifth race, using an unknown form of technology, different to that of the Jump engine builders.
Episode 7 – “Doppelganger”
The Trade Commission space station “Equilibration” has been a center of Krayce culture in space since the natural disasters on the Krayce home world and subsequent invasion by the Cabal made it a no-fly zone. A diplomatic meeting co-incided with local celebration of the Krayce New Year, and festivities took place including a Krayce ritual to join with friends as well as a traditional Krayce banquet, neither of which were marred by the presence of the Cabal in the form of their diplomatic face as well as a captured agent under Teth supervision.
It was made clear that the Humans of Hamak had received diplomatic word from their cousins in the Sol system, and that Hamak and Sol were allied. This caused a significant amount of consternation being as how the Sol Unity have a very pro-Human agenda, and refused to deal with the non-Human races. Over the course of the meeting it was discovered that in fact the Sol Unity was prepared to wage war against the non-human races.
A message was received by the medical community that some kind of disturbance had occurred on the Web space-station’s research area, with a cadaver apparently having started talking, reciting some sort of string of numbers and letters. While the issue was hushed up and the research personnel aboard the Web calmed, the event cast a pall over the festivities.
Later during the course of the meeting a small escape pod jumped into Teth space and was recovered by the Valkyrie and the Majestic. It was found to contain a Human seeking asylum from the Sol Unity. He was interviewed at great length and explained that the Sol Unity possess the ability to “exo-Jump”: to jump objects from place to place without using a Jump Drive, the Jump Drive remaining in place. The asylum-seeker identified the sequence of numbers and letters spoken by the cadaver on the Web space station as a form of astrogation co-ordinates.
The Equilibration was attacked twice during the meeting – once by the Tarn who were concerned over when the Majestic travelled through their space, already jumpy after being attacked by the Sol Unity. Secondly by the Sol Unity itself, who jumped a battlecruiser into Teth space. This battlecruiser was repelled by a combination of the Families, local Teth forces and Equilibration itself, although there were casualties among the Teth.
Medical examination of the captain of the Valkyrie – Ella Raas – was dying of an advanced case of Jump Cancer. Rather than continue her career she and her friend the doctor Pytr Lomo travelled to Tarn to stay there, and hopefully use the advanced medical technology of the Tarn to heal Raas.
Episode 8 – “Schism”
On a purpose-built space station in the Tarn system a number of individuals gathered to discuss current affairs. A number of those present were curious about the Tarn homeworld, but it was quickly apparent that this was no Tarn meet-and-greet. Notably there was no Tarn liaison at the meeting, though the Tarn diplomat Keenooway Rall agreed to communicate via voice.
One of the Jump vessels which was present at the meeting was the ISV Gilgamesh, a Human battlecruiser modified with the Jump engine that originally powered the Dragon Family’s JumpShip: the Firebreed.
After some discussion regarding the exact co-ordinates ofn the Sol system, and the use of some co-ordinates discovered by an astrogator in the employ of the Furies family, the ISV Gilgamesh travelled to Sol space. It found a busy star system full of comms channel chatter and space ship traffic. The journey was a brief one, though, and the Gilgamesh was forced to return to Tarn, fearing for the lives of its crew.
The Tarn system came under attack from Sol – possibly because the Unity had their sights set on the Tarn already, possibly because of the Gilgamesh’s actions. Large asteroids were exo-jumped into the Tarn system, but it seems that the Unity’s targetting system was imperfect – none of them hit anything important.
As the meeting drew to a close, the condition of Ella Raas deteriorated rapidly. Though both human and Tarn doctors attempted to save her she passed away, and just after death her body recited a string of letters and numbers which were carefully copied down by several of the astrogators present.
Episode 9 – “Voices”
At a meeting in the Teth system, the unknown jumpships last seen almost a year previous dropped another telepathic message box into space. During the intervening time, researchers working on the original box had uncovered a number of the secrets of the original box, including the name of the race that had created it – the Eyclasa.
This time the Eyclasa left an audio message along with the message box. The audio was difficult to understand, sounding like moans carried through a liquid medium. The telepathic box was as difficult to understand, but that didn’t stop a number of individuals from receiving the message for themselves and trying to interpret it.
Dr. Pytr Lomo had petitioned to be allowed to make a presentation at the meeting, and this was attended by most of those present for the meeting. He discussed his work with Jump Cancer and how he had discovered that it worked. He talked about the phenomenon of the talking cadavers, and dedicated his work to the memory of the woman he loved – Ella Raas. With Raas’ photo displayed he explained how he had used the facilities available to him to weaponise the strain of the Jump Cancer that had killed Raas. He had infected the Cabal diplomat Char Grath with the disease. Grath was evacuated to a quarantine area, and moments later Lomo was taken away as well – dead.
In the meantime, momentous events were taking place in the Hamak system. Organised by Trade Commission and Steam Industries, and aided and abetted by a number of factions among the non-humans, the Hamak system government was overthrown in a mostly peaceful coup, putting the Hoboville diplomat Owan Tari into position as President of Hamak. His first action as president was to dissolve the alliance with the Sol Unity.
Episode 10 – “Ten”
Hoboville played host to a meeting of many of the factions in the Four Systems with Owan Tari now installed as the leader of Hoboville, claiming to be the President of Hamak. Almost immediately a discussion began with many violently opposed to Tari’s right to power. At the same time, a JumpShip carrying a small group of Family members and diplomats travelled to a series of co-ordinates that had been deciphered from the string of letters and numbers recited by Ella Raas’ body after her death.
What the group found was shocking – an ancient alien base inhabited only by an artificially intelligent creature that called itself the Custodian. It revealed that it was the last remnant of the Builder race and that Jump Cancer itself had been an attempt at intelligent communication – the only attempt it had been capable of making. Various secrets were passed down by the Custodian, how to build Jump Drives and the existence of two types of race in the universe – those “seeded” by an ancient progenitor race, and those who evolved naturally.
Back in Hamak, Hoboville had come under attack from Sol Unity forces in the wake of the dissolution of the alliance between Humans. An asteroid had been exo-Jumped into Hamak space beside the habitat, and the two had collided, causing massive damage. Those diplomats aboard Hoboville separated into groups, some staying on Hoboville which was now under attack by Sol Unity troops, others running back with the Families to their respective JumpShips. The group that had left to visit the Custodian returned with the Custodian itself, and a battle took place in Hamak space with Sol Unity vessels.
In the chaos that followed, a number of important changes were made… a Teth representative and his Human companion (some say brainwashed human companion, a defector from the Cabal) aided in the capture of the Cabal’s JumpShips, effectively ending the occupation of the Krayce homeworld. Secondly, the ISV Gilgamesh launched a viral attack torpedo at the Sol Unity primed with the weaponised version of Jump Cancer engineered by Dr. Lomo. The Unity retreated.
With peace between the Four Races, the danger from the Sol Unity repelled and the promise of unlimited Jump travel the Four Systems looked forward to the future…