Anna Cornucopia, Micha “Corvus” Ashland, and Silver finish searching the facility. They discover a jury-rigged gate control unit, as well as some useful intel. They head back to the gate, accompanied by the reaper morph.
Upon reaching the gate, they surprise a Gatekeeper Corp tech, Chang, who tells them that he was sent through to take some readings on their end after he noticed an anomaly during their last contact. He is manipulating a GCU, but none of them know who they work so they are unable to tell what he is programming. However, they decide not to trust him based on body language.
Soon, he tells them the gate is up again, and that they can head back early. Corvus accepts, and takes the reaper morph, to keep an eye on Chang. Anna and Silver decide to wait for their scheduled pickup. The gate opens at the planned time, and they step through. Upon emerging, Anna bumps into Iskra, who has been missing since they entered the Pandora gate. Silver is nowhere to be seen, and they are on an unfamiliar world.
Iskra has no since of time having passed, and their muses report an apparent time anomaly. The gate that they emerged through sits out on the end of a thin spit of rock projected over a deep chasm. They head down the spit to the chasm edge, and try to get their bearings. They don’t recognize the local star patterns, and can’t pick up any signals. Seeing a group of people approaching from what looks to be a village nearby, they ready themselves for trouble.
However, the villagers seem merely curious, and even somewhat underenthused. Anna determines that they have all been implanted with emotional dampeners, and the two of them piece together that this is some sort of holding facility for kidnapped/forknapped individuals. They apparently were all kept it some sort of sped-up simulspace in this same setting, and then loaded into cheap morphs and deposited here. Anna and Iskra figure out how to cycle addresses on their GCU, and manage to open a gate back to Pandora after a bit of trying.
Pandora goes through the usual rigorous ‘first contact’ protocols, but they get everyone through fairly quickly. A Firewall Proxy is waiting to debrief them on the other side. Apparently, Chang somehow knocked Corvus out (he is still comatose) and fled the facility, knowing that he was discovered. It seems likely he was working with the exhumans on the planet they went to first. The Proxy tells them that they tracked his egocast to Phelan’s End, and that the team will be following him, and detaining him for questioning.
They call in some favors from the autonomists to get quality morphs on the other side, and ‘cast over. Using local camera feeds, they track Chang to the shuttle port, and Silver chases him down before he can leave. They haul him to a friendly lodging, and Iskra deepscans him while Silver hacks his muse. They discover that he was a deep cover exhuman plant at the Pandora facility. He was going to meet Anna’s other self, who has apparently converted to the exhuman philosophy, and is bringing a tailored x-virus of some sort to Mars, where she will use her university contacts to spread it widely.
They call this in to Firewall, and are told to stop her by any means necesary. They also discover that the exhumans were funding their operation (to repair the TITAN artifact and ‘improve’ themselves) by providing security for and access to the secondary planet, where the kidnapped people were. This was a 9Lives storage site for high value individuals who they didn’t want to store as infomorps for various reasons. The primary planet is also accesible from the Discord gate (the exhumans are a splinter faction of the Ultimates who control that facility), which seems to have been their primary access point. Chang was planted on Pandora to prevent the discovery of the fact that the that gate could also connect there.
The team ‘casts Chang back to Pandora for furhter interrogation. They then forge and cajole their way aboard a small spaceship and head out after ’Evil Anna.’ Silver and Anna’s combined skills find them a good route, and they catch the larger bulk freighter after 3 days travel. They decide to fake a distress call and try to get picked up, rather than storming the vessel, as there are probably anywhere between 50-100 people aboard. They will need to ID ‘Evil Anna’ and any companions, and take them out without unleashing the x-virus. They have 8 days before the ship reaches its next port, which gives them some time at least.