Arion, Episode 22: How to Lie to a Telepath

Blimey, that’s a month of my life I want back. It’s left the Arioniad quite a bit behind schedule, so let’s start catching up…

Jumpspace, 154-3401

Taking Solo’s usual elements of a week in jump in turn…

  • Starport Encounter leaving Gazzain (p. 39). 11. Starport Shutdown – 1 week. Issue is a labour dispute, accident, festival/holiday or security problem (security problem with a giant cat, probably).
  • Starship Encounter leaving Gazzain (pp. 40-46). 9 > 6 > 14. Tanker tender 1000 dt, require assistance with violent crewman. Pfft. Boring. We’ll ignore it and drive on.
  • Onboard Events in jump (p. 56). 45. The ship computer is acting oddly. Why? Is it malfunctioning? Has it been reprogrammed? (No, it can detect an Ancient stargate in distant orbit; the deeper backstory dictates that there should be one there, and this is a good time to start foreshadowing it.)
  • PC Reaction Tables in jump (pp. 19-20). 9. OK.
  • Starship Encounter arriving Kamat (pp. 40-46). 6 > 7 > 13. Yacht 150 dt. Requires help with repair, please. There’s a proper grown-up naval base here, they can handle it.
  • Piracy warning arriving (p. 40). 5. No.
  • Starport Encounter arriving Kamat (p. 39). 54. Meet one of your contacts. None of the crew has any contacts here yet. I can see I’m going to have to keep track of who knows whom on which world. Hmm. Not sure I want to take that much work on board, it would be less of an issue in a smaller setting.

“I was expecting a debate over whether we go back to Kov, after Schrodinger, or carry on to Kamat,” Arion says one evening, over dinner.

“Why?” asks Dmitri. “The orders are clear, go to…” he pauses and glances at Coriander.

“Karpos,” says Coriander, fork halfway to her lips. “What, you thought you could keep that from a telepath?”

“Well, I figured maybe if I didn’t think about it…”

“Try not thinking about a Dinobastis… See, doesn’t work, does it? And I want to see Bulan anyway, so if you try to turn back I’ll dominate your feeble brains with my psychic powers and bend you to my will.”

“You can’t really do that. Can you?”

“That’s what you said last time I had to erase your memories.”

“It’s that sort of thing that gives psions a bad name, you know.”

Coriander chews thoughtfully for a moment before going on. This gives the AI known to the humans as the Dolphin, but which thinks of itself as Partial Fork vYsquBTzf6H5yPfthV3L, plenty of time to wonder whether to tell the crew about the anomalous G-band emissions it picked up at Gazzain, run several hundred simulations of possible outcomes, and think better of it.

“Question, Dmitri,” Coriander says. “You’re a spy. I mean,” she nods sideways at Arion “So is he, but you’ve obviously been doing it longer. Your boss knows there are psions around. How are you supposed to keep a secret from us?”

“How do you lie to a telepath, you mean? You don’t. You lie to someone else, and let the telepath read their mind. Look,” Dmitri continues, gesturing with both hands and dropping a morsel which a member of the repair swarm scuttles to pick up. “I could be conned, tortured, bribed, blackmailed, seduced… there are any number of ways I could be made to give up a secret. Telepathy is just one more. So, they don’t tell me anything I don’t need to know, and some of what I think I know is probably misinformation in case I let it slip. For all I know, the boss lied to me and deliberately put me where you’d find me and read my mind, just so you’d find out we’re going to Karpos.”

“Ah. Now I see.”

“See what?”

“Why you aren’t going to turn me in, at least not yet. You never know when your boss might decide to throw you to the wolves. When that happens, you’ll need either a friend or something to bargain with.”

“I was hoping for a friend,” Dmitri says. “What about Arion? He could turn you in as well. And turn me in for not turning you in.”

“The thought literally hasn’t crossed his mind. He’s imagining what I look like under these robes. Inaccurately.”

This defuses the tension, as Coriander had hoped. Dmitri collapses in hysterics. Arion tries to look innocent, and fails.

GM Notes

Interstellar travel under Solo calls for a lot of dice rolls, and I’m starting to skip ones that don’t inspire me; ain’t nobody got time for dat. Also, these characters have been around for almost ten years now, and that makes them very easy to run – easier in some situations than others, and while they’re in jumpspace, I won’t try to cut against the grain. Just because the crew is getting along fine this week doesn’t mean there’s nothing to write up.

A strict reading of the rules would suggest Coriander can’t do some of the things she is shown doing, or at least claiming to do. Maybe she’s lying. Maybe I’ve decided that some of this stuff is the Persuasion skill, using her psionics as a trapping. Maybe I just make stuff up to move the narrative along.

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