The crew picks up a phantom distress signal originating from the Bermuda Nebula, an area notorious for swallowing ships. Intrigued by the fact that the SOS is coming across in binary, they head to check it out.
Once within scanning range, they notice 2 ships- a smaller disabled ship that was not the one broadcasting the distress call, and the source of the signal- a cargo freighter that is registering one biological lifeform and a fluctuating number of inorganic signals. They communicate via military morse code with Mere Camillus, a medic-for-hire who came to investigate the distress call in hopes of being able to fix her ship, but was stranded on the cargo freighter when she realized the air was full of nanobots.
The crew decides to investigate. The ship’s life-support is running, but comms, navigation, and engines are disabled, crippling the ship. There is no sign of the crew, and the escape pod is intact. The nanobots attack Jack Crawford, and Professor Virgil Bedlam is targeted by a hostile mining robot with glowing red eyes.
The crew heads up to the second level of the ship and are attacked by 6 more mining robots from one of the ship’s two cargo holds. The robots are behaving pretty weirdly, and one of them deliberately misses their attack on Jack. Professor Bedlam attempts to switch off the nanobots in the cockpit of the ship, but encounters the bodies of three crew-members (including a teenage boy) and loses his mind a little. He recovers and at the suggestion of a very helpful computer interface, runs a program that links the robots in the hold with their consciousnesses that have been stored in the ship.
The crew finds out that the ship was chartered by All Corp to deliver a new generation of mining robots to one of their colonies. By reading the ship’s log, Jack finds out that the ship’s pilots and their children began to suspect that the robots were sentient (a first in the universe!), shortly before the nanobots that were planted by All Corp attacked, killing the pilots and their son and corrupting the bodies of the robots- but not before the robots were able to back up their consciousnesses into the ship’s computer and disable the ship. It becomes apparent that All Corp knew about the sentience of their robots and was deliberately trying to silence them.
Meanwhile, Mere breaks into the second cargo bay that had been welded shut and finds the pilots’ remaining child, a young girl named Kaelia who had been sealed in the hold to protect her from the robots that were now programmed to kill.
Jack invites the robot consciousnesses to take up space in his cyborg brain computer and together the crew formulates a plan to disable the nanobots. Using Mere’s medical tricorder, and the Professor’s mad coding skills, Jack broadcasts a signal that summons the nanobots to him and reprograms them. The crew realizes that while the nanobots are currently only coded to destroy, they could be further reprogrammed to repair- in an industrial or a medical context. They also find out the nanobots are self-replicating, albeit slowly. With the nanobot threat neutralized, they are able to gain control of the ship, which they name the AI Fitzgerald.
Mere signs on with the crew (At least temporarily) and they decide to take the ships back to Rome to plan their next move against All Corp, and to spruce up the new ship a bit.
- The crew has an inventory of weaponized scones
- Kaelia is the second orphan they’ve
- The nanobots have imprinted on Jack like a swarm of angry murderous ducklings
- Many of the AI have returned to their original bodies, but several have now moved into the nanobot swarm, and one is staying in Jack’s head.
-Zhery is ALL for the crew’s idea of using the nanobot colony to promote Universal Healthcare.
-Maybe Vashon has some old mining equipment/military surplus the crew can use to make the AI-F more combat ready?