The Pellucid Expedition
'The city had a name, we know it, but it is being withheld to protect the secrets it holds as well as to protect the interests of the Pellucid Foundation and the associated expeditions.'
Commander Edgar Barber Burroughs
To know where we are going, we first must know where we came from. This is the motto of the Pellucid Foundation. We are thus explorers, but rather than plumbing the depths of the oceans, or the vastness of space, we seek out the ruins and wreckage of our past. The destruction wrought during the Resource Wars was such that no one knows entirely how many people perished, and what was lost in that war. Pellucid works at the direction of the Glassenheim Foundation, because not even they were immune to the ravages of that terrible time. It is at their direction that we launch our expeditions, and the cities we scour might be thousands of years old and gone as surely as the dominion of Ozymandias, or they might be buried under the foundations of a modern city. Either way, we dig and we explore.
Sometimes we find treasure, we usually find a record of tragedy, and sometimes we find nothing but madness and death.
The ship of Commander Burroughs, the Wyvern is an older light cruiser that has been retrofit to serve as a scientific and survey ship. Formerly consigned to the lunar perimeter, the Wyvern has been disarmed, save for the forward turret and its solid state naval lasers, and a handful of point defense weapons. The ship has a crew of just over fifty men, women, and droids, and can operate away from support for up to 6 months. It has a limited hydroponic bay, as well as a 'barnyard' to provide the crew with food variety including eggs, fresh chicken, and other easy to support livestock. The ship also has it's own food dispensary, allowing for the creation of artificial food. Considering the dangers associated with opening up ruined and abandoned computer archives and networks, the Wyvern specifically does not have CogNet capacity, and is reliant on laser and radio communications systems.
There is a phenomenon that is not entirely uncommon around many of the wasteland black zones, dimensional sheer. Sounds dreadful, and it is, but not in the expected way. There is no insane bending of time or space, no fractal zones, no suddenly and explosively changing directions. Sheer hits the A-pods and dimensional reactor. Pods get all screwy like kites in a wind storm, and the reactors likewise go crazy, the combined result is that your ship comes plummeting out of the sky spinning on three axes while the crew tries like hell to get anything to respond, assuming they havent been slung out of their stations. Its a messy way to die.
The Wyvern has a work around, she has runners in the hull like an enormous mag-rail and can repulsor hover a few meters off of the ground. The repulsors aren't bothered by d-sheer, and the Wyvern has four banks of non-dimensional batteries and a working fusion reactor back-up to keep her moving. Didn't change the weight much, traded the space worthy ion engines and plasma burners for the repulsors and back up reactors, but not falling out of the sky to explode on the rocks, thats worth the trade.
Chief Engineer Syd Montgomery
Expedition to Site Quartermain
Site Quartermain is located deep in the Black Zone, a megacity dating from the late Petroleum Age. The scouting missions earlier found a number of potential base camp sites. The Site isn't uninhabited, there are wastelanders present, most of which are violent and unwelcoming. The potential locations are all large buildings with a good view around them, but are hemmed in with walls and rubble, the sort of places that the locals have no interest in. We settled on Site B, and parked the Wyvern in the courtyard of a megahotel, blocked in by multiple walls. The supplies and pop ups were set up, and once everything was ready, we waved the Wyvern away to move to the top of the hotel. Previous expeditions have shown that the dropship draws local attention and parking it in the center of the camp draws that attention down on men and women showering, sleeping, and going over daily details. If the dropship gets too much attention, the acting captain moves it to another site. Easy peasy.
Most of the surface structures of Quartermain are period standard, Gassner industrial, block after block after block of bland structures. Most are in damaged condition. The city was killed during the Resource Wars, some sort of bombardment, likely nuclear, judging by the damage. The Gassner stuff was well built, built to last 1,000 years without a bit of care. The expedition isn't interested in anything on the surface, most of that has had centuries to be picked over by scavengers.
Our objective is underground. All of the old megacities had extensive subway systems, which almost all remain in passable condition. Superstitious locals avoid going underground, and being intact, these lines can offer access to anywhere in the city. What is more interesting is that many buildings in the late Petroleum Era were built on top of extensive underground structures, forerunners of geofronts and geocities. These are the actual goals of the expedition, to find the buried vaults.
Themepark Unzervault - TPUV was constructed under a major Petroleum Era theme park, the sort of park that hosted tens of thousands of guests a day during peak season. The bulk of the facility was devoted to employee space, where the hundreds of men and women who ran the park could carry out their tasks out of sight, out of mind. This was not the only reason for the unzervault, under the park there were prototype anthropotronics . The park was a test facility for these primitive mind control machines. Extensive records were kept for the first generation Happiness Radiators, and the Conformitron Emulators. These devices have since been moved from experimental to routine installations, but there are other less acceptable devices that dabble in subliminal intimation and stroking psyches into spending more and being less inhibited while in the park, and even creating a psychosomatic addiction to being at the park itself.
Water Processing Facility - Quartermain is surrounded by desert for miles, but there is a large lake worth of water stored in vast cisterns under the city. This water supply is sustained by the water reclamation systems in the city, which themselves are contributing to the aridity of the land around the city. The damaged cisterns aren't replenishing the surface water supply, but are slowly draining into the aquifer under the city. Technically a good thing, but sealing the tanks would allow them to overflow and start flowing back into the area watershed.
Supply Vaults - the denizens of Petroleum Era were materialistic and there are dozens of vaults that are supply bunkers. Most of these supplies have long since perished from time. There are others that are considered 'genizahs' or book depositories. These vaults are massive hardcopy archives. While most of these are filled with the information detritus of a lost age, but there are still tons of relevant data, seed stocks, supplies of precious metals, art, and other objects of value. These can also serve as time capsules from another age.
The Cult Compound - located under the edifice of a financial institution, the Cult Compound has records of decades of excess and debauchery, and evidence of a secret society that might have made nation shaking decisions, and when the era ended, they retreated to their bunker under the city. When it was obvious that the end was on them, they committed suicide, their corpses surrounded by tons of paper currency. The wealth of another age decayed under their necrotic fluids, until the bundles of cash are as brittle as old fungus.
Chemical Weapons Development Facility - also known as Hive 16, this facility was a corporate/state joint project that worked to develop chemical weapons that would depopulate enemy cities without causing infrastructure damage, or to render hostile or occupied populations complacent and pacified. The work was abhorrent, and there are still large stockpiles of nerve gas, prototype chemicals, and other weaponized substances.
Genetic Research Facility - the first years of genetic research were under the aegis of the Petroleum Era, but the work was done in extreme secrecy, given the hostility towards science at the time. The records contained are dark age genetic manipulation, primitive techniques and brutish designs smashing genomes together. There are also corpses from the last days the facility operated, victims of that dark time. These facilities are dangerous, many are viral repositories, and some diseases remain dormant for even centuries, waiting to infect a new host. Where the Petroleum Era lagged behind in genetics, they excelled in viral weaponry.
Casino Unzervault - Similar to the Themepark Unzervault, the vault under the mega-hotel and casino mixed the systems that ran the gambling operations above, the bank after bank after bank of slot machines, along with a state of the art surveillance system, and predictive computer models to ensure the maximum level of loss the visitors to the house would accept before leaving, and how to keep them gambling and losing money as long as possible. Full of human biometric data, as well as works of art, and a precious materials storage area.
Secret Weapons Arsenal - There was never a shortage of nuclear or atomic weapons in the Petroleum. The news of the shortages was spread to make rival nations more conservative with their arsenals while the other nations ramped up their acquisitions and stockpiles. There are still untold numbers of thermonuclear weapons stashed under well protected non-strategic cities. It was assumed that in a time of crisis, these weapons could be rapidly reactived and moved to combat in things like atomic cannons, or air dropped ordnance. These weapons need to be found, disarmed, and their fuel scavenged for useful purposes.
The Daycare - a secret training facility, the Daycare was used to take children off of the streets and from their parents. In this underground facility they were trained to be lifetime spies for the state. These children would become sleeper agents and moles to be scattered across the nation and other nations to act as hidden actors for the state. The Daycare is full of records that would indict a generation of politicians to historical damnation should they come to light.
Cryostasis Center - These are not all that uncommon, and the majority of cryo-centers have been defunct for years, their power systems long since failed. These are sad places, with broken down freezers filled with bones and dust. The more problematic cryo-centers are the ones that have beat the odds, with humans still frozen inside. These are typically taken into long term custody and continue their stasis. Most of the time this becomes a game of Kick the Can Down the Road, while a small sampling will be revived for questioning. More than one cryo-citizen has turned up with unexpected modifications, or a communicable disease, or were criminals frozen for testing purposes.
Museum Unzervaults - the store rooms and bunkers to protect the museum exhibits not currently on display, and in some cases can include as much as 90% of a museum's collection. These are recovered for posterity and for cultural value.
The Treasures of the Past
The Pellucid Expeditions aren't recovering ancient relics, or alien specimens. They are digging up the wreckage of humanity's past, considering how much was destroyed between the middle Petroleum Era and the Cosmic Era.
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