Mutiny in the Bounty Bay
A Scenario For Transhuman Space
by Aaron Kavli
This adventure is for the Transhuman Space setting, but could easily be changed to fit another sci-fi or cyberpunk genre. The location and parties involved can also be altered to take place in another remote location within the THS setting. A remote asteroid base would work well too, though environmental concerns will have to be dealt with.
A good map of Pitcairn, and some history, can be found at http://www.lonelyplanet.com/mapshells/pacific/pitcairn_islands/pitcairn_islands.htm
Zooming out will give a good idea of where these islands are located in relation to Australia and French Polynesia. Other maps can easily be found online.
This adventure assumes the PCs are aboard the good ship Angel's Wake, a Verodyne sea skimmer luxury hydrofoil (p. FW133) yacht owned by millionaire Andrae Ferensis. The Wake is traveling in the South Pacific, near the Pitcairn Islands. The reason for their presence is up to the GM, but there are many options. They could be bodyguards, dilettantes on a pleasure cruise, actual crewman, technicians, or reporters on the way to follow independence politics in French Polynesia.
Andrae orders the yacht to anchor 100 yards off the southern beach of Pitcairn so she can do some snorkeling. As the PCs are sightseeing, they notice what looks to be a military-issue battle suit watching them from the tree line. After a moment, the battle suit hefts a 60mm mini-missile pod and sends a rain of fire into the yacht. The damage is catastrophic as the military grade ordinance ignites the yacht's fuel, wrecks the hull, and an uncontrollable conflagration breaks out across the boat. The party has only a few moments to escape. Attempts to grab gear not readily accessible should require tests to avoid injury.
Once the survivors -- Andrae, the PCs (hopefully), and 2-3 other crewmen or passengers -- pull themselves onto the beach, there is no sign of the suited trooper. The burning remains of the Angel's Wake slip beneath the waves. It is quite likely that the party will not have had time to grab any survival gear, rations, or heavy weaponry and they are now left, wet and dazed, to figure out what to do next.
Beautiful Tropical Islands
The Pitcairn Islands are in the South Pacific Ocean, between Peru and New Zealand (geographic coordinates: 25 04 S, 130 06 W). The five islands, Ducie, Henderson, Oeno, Pitcairn, and Sandy, are technically under the auspices of the United Kingdom; Hir Majesty being the official chief of state. Due to the lack of any real resources and a small population disinterested in the affairs of the UK, Pitcairn has been left alone by the government. Pitcairn is the only inhabited island in the group.
The island was discovered in 1767 by the British, but wasn't settled until the mutineers of the Bounty Main and their Tahitian companions fled there in 1790. It became a British colony in 1838, becoming the first Pacific island to attain that status. Pitcairn reached a peak population of 233 in the 1930s, but has lost most of that to emigration since. Severe typhoons in the 2050s caused the remaining dozen survivors to flee to New Zealand.
Pitcairn remained uninhabited until 2090, when a group of two-dozen Ranger Parahumans (p. FW115) left the Brazilian Forest Service and settled the abandoned island. They wished to live a totally primitive existence, leaving the corrupting world of technology behind. They lived without the use of tools and as unobtrusively as possible. The UK government knew of their occupation, but left them to their own devices. The adapted parahumans easily survived in their government-free society, eating the plentiful fruit and fish of Pitcairn.
The only structures on Pitcairn are the remnants of the long-abandoned capital, Adamstown. It lies on the top of the Hill of Difficulty, some 389 feet above sea level. It contains a handful of small, decrepit buildings and the main road, all of which have been left to the elements since the island was abandoned, the Rangers having no use for them. Fletcher Christian's Cave overlooks the town, but is obscured by plants. The Bounty's anchor sits in front of one of the buildings, and a severely corroded cannon from the ship sits further up the main road. A large, ancient anchor from another ancient, wrecked ship, the Acadia, sits on the Edge, overlooking Bounty Bay.
While the UK holds no assets in the Pitcairn Islands, the Royal Navy does make sweeps of the area to ensure no TSA operatives, smugglers, or other unsavory types are up to any mischief. Nelson Island is also occasionally used by the Royal Marine Commandoes for training purposes.
A pro-TSA splinter within India's Research and Intelligence Wing (p. FW38) learned that the Royal Marines were to run another test of a new upgrade on their amphibious battle suits. Through careful SIGINT operations and other intelligence assets, the TSA operatives learned the tactical LAIs of the prototype suits, which were designed to allow upgraded, computer aided controls, had a small programming weakness that could possibly be exploited. A small cadre of conspirators decided the remote location would be a perfect place to try to hijack some of the suits, and the attempt should be made before the programming backdoor was removed in the final product.
A squad of eight marines in an assault sled, equipped with new Vosper-Babbage Poseidon MKII battle suits was sent to Henderson Island from the submersible patrol craft, HMS Eddington for the training mission. Soon after landfall, the Eddington lost contact with the marines. Before final communication, video showed the marines in the suits looked drugged or ill, and the captain of the Eddington feared some sort of contamination or nanovirus. Suddenly the marines boarded their assault sled and sped to Pitcairn Island.
The TSA operatives had managed to hack into the Royal Marines suits and downloaded their own AIs via a remote transmitter hidden on Henderson. The TSA AIs then took control of the suits and tried to escape to their master's hideout on Pitcairn. The Eddington gave chase, and the chase resulted in a battle in Bounty Bay between the captured suits, the remaining five suited marines, and the Eddington. The TSA operatives remained hidden and watched.
The battle resulted in the destruction of five captured suits, the rest of the marine platoon, the sinking of the Eddington, and the death of most of its crew. Unfortunately for the TSA operatives, their hacked AIs went rogue and killed four of the six-man team before the rest could escape. Two were killed when missiles hit their boat as they tried to flee.
The Current Situation
Three Poseidon MKII battle suits are being controlled by out-of-control LAIs put there by the Indian TSA operatives. Treat these as Centurion battle suits (p. 160TS), with Artificial Gills and Thruster Packs that give a move 3 in water (only). The marines inside are long dead, having been doped up with integral painkillers and then suffocated by the LAIs. The battles with the Royal Marines and TSA operatives have left the rogue suits depleted of ammunition and bereft of their standard issue cyberswarms. Assume each suit has an AMR with 10 rounds remaining, and skill levels of 16 in all appropriate combat, stealth, and survival skills. Each suit, needing no life support, has enough extra power cells for 16 hours of active operation. When this runs low, they will begin to conserve energy and will try to scavenge more from other, destroyed suits.
The LAIs are also now suffering from the Bad Temper and Bloodlust disadvantages. GMs may allow the suits to have a few 60mm micro-missiles or sentry swarms left if the party has any powerful cybershells or swarms of their own.
The LAIs have malfunctioned due to programming corruption that occurred as the TSA operatives and the Eddington fought to remotely gain control of the suits. They have decided that if they don't hold the island and kill all the witnesses, some authority is going to come and destroy them. This is why the Angel's Wake was destroyed, and why they were willing to use the last of their heavy ammunition.
To further that end, the suits have been hunting down the Ranger parahumans. While skilled at evasion and survival, the primitive Rangers have not fared well and only 10 remain alive. Were the suits using what ammo they have left, all the Rangers would likely be dead. Instead, the LAIs are hunting the Rangers down and killing them with their bare, powered hands. The Rangers live naked in the forest as gatherers and have no way to combat them, so they are hiding and running.
The two surviving TSA agents are split up; one is hiding in Fletcher Christian's Cave, and the other has buried himself in Ginger Valley. Their heavier weapons were destroyed or used up in the firefight, and each only has a 10mm pistol with two reloads.
The Marine assault sled the Eddington was chasing is not damaged, merely discarded in Bounty Bay. It is difficult to see as it is half buried by sand kicked up during the fight. It still has about 2 hours of fuel left, but it is not sealed. Those who pilot it must either do so on the surface, have some sort of breathing gear, or be able to hold their breath for a long time. It is unarmed.
Not all of the crew of the HMS Eddington is dead. The submersible was sunk as one suit planted a high explosive charge, intended for the training session, on the vessel and wrecked the aft hull. Four survivors are sealed in the nose, with no external hatch. They are working to clear debris, but if its not done carefully they could flood their space before an exit is fully cleared. The Eddington has no working comm systems, but does house a locker with five undamaged AMRs (Anti-Materiel Rifles) and two reloads each and several spare power cells.
The LAI-controlled suits are on the hunt, and are looking for all humans on the island. They lack any scout or sensor cyberswarms, and the thick island forest provides ample opportunity for their prey to hide and evade. They will try to hunt down the PCs, Rangers, and TSA agents and kill them barehanded, saving their ammunition for those who present a real threat. PCs must figure out a way to survive, which means evading the suits until the Eddington is declared overdue (about two days), salvaging a transmitter or vehicle, or destroying the possessed battle suits.
The surviving crewmen and passengers of the Angel's Wake, as well as the Ranger parahumans, are good cannon fodder to make sure the heroes know how deadly their foes are. As the suits are limited to their short-range sensors, this island provides excellent opportunities for foot chases, hide-and-seek in the jungle, and setting up ambushes and traps (giving opportunities for enterprising parties to make use of two anchors and an old, rusty cannon).
The suits will try to be crafty as they seek to save ammunition and power. While not experienced, they are well-trained. They begin simply by searching the island and chasing down victims, but will try new tricks when their simpler tactics fail. Aside from standard military stalking and ambush tactics, one suit may open up, hoping to lure someone inside with the hope of controlling the powered armor. The occupant will then be doped up on painkillers and suffocated.
The earlier firefights ran across several parts of the island. While most heavy gear and battlesuits are beyond repair, there are some weapons, ammunition, armor, and communicators that can be salvaged.
The TSA operative in the cave has a short-range transmitter and computer that can be repaired and possibly used to deactivate the suits with a successful Computer Hacking contest (vs. LAI skill of 14). After this happens once, the remaining suits will disable all of their comms gear to prevent further hacking. While this prevents further remote hacking attempts, it also effectively eliminates their ability to communicate at any distance.
Unless the PCs manage to get into a friendly communication with the LAIs, only the TSA operatives know what is really going on. The TSA survivors will be reluctant to tell of their involvement to strangers, but can be intimidated or convinced to tell the truth. Otherwise it will seem to observers that the foes are simply Royal Marines in battle suits. The fact that the dead bodies don't bleed (should the armor be penetrated somehow) may clue in clever PCs. Any examination of a rogue suit's occupant by someone skilled in medicine, forensics, or criminology will recognize signs of rigimortis. It may be possible to access recordings from fallen suits or the Eddington to hear the dialogue of the earlier hijacking.
If the Rangers are befriended, they will be willing to explain what they've seen. They can also be convinced, for mutual survival, to act as guides and scouts on the island. They can help set ambushes, offer advice about the terrain, and provide food and water.
Don't forget Andrae, who will offer great sums of money to PCs for protection. If they were already employed to provide protection for Andrae, it will obviously be expected that they should provide it. A significant bonus is, of course, in order for a successful party.
The survivors on the Eddington may act as a form of deus ex machina, after they manage to free themselves and are able to provide some added firepower. More interestingly, however, would be heroes who attempt to scavenge the wrecked submersible and discover the crew's plight.
Any surviving TSA operatives will likely try to kill the PCs once the suits are taken care of, should the opportunity arise; they don't wish to compromise their mission, or allow word of their blatantly illegal operation get out.
It is quite possible that heroes who learn the full story may sympathize with the LAIs who face certain destruction through a set of circumstances they had no control over. It will be very difficult to work out a mutually beneficial agreement with the suspicious and aggressive LAIs, but it is not inconceivable. It might actually be interesting to have the PCs be the rogue AIs.
Adventurers with a marketeering bent, or a governmental allegiance, may do well to try to keep one of the new battle suits. They would certainly be worth quite a bit on the black market or to their employing nation or corporation. For those whose loyalties lie with the TSA, India, or UK, the choice should be obvious. It will be difficult to do however, if they wait for rescue by a national agency; any observed contraband would be seized while an investigation is started.
The heroes will also have to decide exactly what, and who, they tell of the events. This will definitely spark an international incident that will leave the Indian government under fire for the actions of a splinter group. The United Kingdom, and especially the Royal Marines, will not take the assault or insult lightly. The PCs could be in for a great deal of reward, or trouble.
It is up to the GM to decide who comes to the rescue, if indeed anyone does. The TSA, India, or UK are the most likely, though any number of passing trawlers, liners, or aircraft from surrounding areas could respond to a distress call. If it is an Indian or TSA team that answers the call, the heroes may not be who they are there to rescue . . .
Article publication date: January 31, 2003
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