Fastball Express Inc.

Session #22 - Robocop Shrugged

“Slow motion man, Iron and steel in the palm of your hand,

High powered heart, bettin’ your life on the state of the art.

Lay down the law. Don’t you let ’em cross the line.

Under the hood, got the bad and the good. Everybody’s doin’ time…"

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Session #21 - Pushing Ice

Report by Kai

Fastball Express went to Hyoden on Callisto to infiltrate a local
mining company, Rockhopper, Inc. Our client on Luna, Crescent Ice,
wanted to shore up their ice asteroid shipments in the coming years by
hijacking a bunch of Jovian ice rocks. We obliged. Despite being less
than optimal for social encounters, newbies Sierra Momiji
and Rob Thomas managed to give a good showing at Hyoden’s Trade and Transport
Department and got us some useful info on the mining business. We also
learned that Fa Jing, the Consortium’s megapower, was muscling in on
ice mining in the region.

The plan was to break into Rockhopper’s remote mining control station,
Atlas, at Callisto’s polar region. Bishop, Quill, Sierra and Rob
snuck on board a train together with their luggage, a reconfigured
Kay. Quill spent the 15 hour trip making cranes. Again.

The team arrived near the pole and got out into the wilderness on a
rented buggy to complete the trip to Atlas. Meanwhile, Billy Cable
acted as the ops mastermind and kept in contact remotely, helping to
do infosec hacking and other chores.

The team avoided tripping the sensor fence by launched Kay a
spectacular 20 meters over it. We joked that they had to be careful to
avoid giving Kay escape velocity but I don’t think there was any
danger of that. Once over the side, Kay got up close to the station
and we hacked the fence off long enough to bring the rest of the team
in. While the combat characters stood guard, the rest of the team did
a concerted hack to take over the remote mining system and redirect a
bunch of ice asteroid shipments to Luna. The crime might not be
detected for months, and Crescent Ice would not get the benefits for a
couple of years, but you have to think long-term with these
operations.

Another successful op. We didn’t even have any bloodshed (crosses
fingers, knocks on wood or polymer-wood substitute).

Also, in the most important part of the session, the team used
DEMOCRACY to rename the Eagle Transporter as “Ice Penis.”

I’m certain that such a non-descript name will never stick in the
minds of our heist victims.

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Session #20 - Big Gulp

Today Mitsuba drove the Eve around and had coitus interruptus with
Major Stackhoff. Also, Dan joined as Jack Silver and had intercourse
with the Dweller In The Ice before Harry dropped it into the depths
with a well placed thermite charge.

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Under Pressure Remix (Ice Ice Baby)

ABLE COIN hides dirty secrets that go back to the Fall…secrets that
could shift the balance of power for the Gangs of Europa. Can the
Express uncover the truth before it is buried once more?


Sunday was a tale of two Quills and also a chicken suit day. Also the
ABLE COIN AGI showed up in a stupid human suit. So much trouble.

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Eclipse Phase #18 - Maids of Europa

Report by Kai

There were two parallel plotlines this time. Harriet and Bishop followed the trail of the missing Prof. Pournelle and his protege Reynold Rains, both of whom were searching for a Fall-era ice base called ABLE COIN, created by the Jovian military to find traces of Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the equatorial ice of Europa. The team had opened talks with the HLF, who asked to end their rivalry with the Transhumanism Committee in exchange for an information trade. Harriet also found that Rains had bought a long-range submarine and docking facility just outside of Conamara waters, and the two took the Grampus to check out the dock, finding traces of meteor dirt from the ice pack, as well as traces of tools for exploring the ice.

Meanwhile, Quill and Mitsuba had to effectively take over the T-Birds. Judah and Eve were still getting used to their new bodies – especially Eve, who seemed quite out of it – so the Fastball Express team had negotiate on behalf of their confused Parade Foundation/T-Bird allies. Most T-Birds were still missing or offline due to the hack attack, leaving a hapless intern named Darrow to act as their T-Bird liaison.

When the Customs agents came to town as part of a Special Investigation, there was just too much cosplaying from Quill and Mitsuba. Quill started acting like some sort of Parade Foundation spokesperson, only to find that Captain Connolly merely wanted more snitching from Eve.

Once Eve was revealed as the snitch who had been key to Major Stackhoff’s bloody crackdown on the Condors a year ago, Quill simply ousted Eve entirely. Following advice from the delta fork Eugenia, Mitsuba ended up buying off an entire Condor criminal tribe with Night Cartel money, and suddenly most of the gang war was over!

Hours later, Harriet and Bishop arrived beneath the ice at ABLE COIN, and managed to sneak aboard Rains’ submarine, where they found out that Rains was already inside the ABLE COIN base, a pressure worm tunnel network grown into the ice to link above and below. Harriet and Bishop proceeded to break into the base in hard suits, but their approach made Rains’ team so panicked that they started powering up an old Jovian warbot left at the base.

Ms Banks, the Xenobiological Fund/Toucan Tribe spokeswoman, called Quill on suspicion that the T-Birds were behind Harriet and Bishop, and displayed similar levels of panic as she demanded that the Fastball Express back off from Rains’ expedition. But it was too late – the warbot went berserk and blew away the entire Rains expedition. Mitsuba made a call to Mother of Battles and got Colonel Mannheim/Saeko to send deactivation codes. At ABLE COIN, Bishop stopped the warbot with his HERF gun and transmitted the deactivation codes, ending the threat.

The team was able to find Prof Pournelle’s frozen body in the base, and cooperated with Rains’ submarine crew to recover all the brainstates of the slaughtered expedition. The ice was starting to shift, so they all retreated to the submarines even as the warbot came back to life.

The mystery of ABLE COIN was not yet solved, but now all three tribes of Europa owed the Fastball Express a favour. If not for the deepening Jovian meddling, you’d almost think the team was almost done…

To be continued.

No rep changes – yet. But that will change.

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Eclipse Phase #17 - Under Pressure

Report by Kai

This session, we met New Kaye, Fury mercenary, and also more squishy than Old Kay. Kaye joined up on Europa, and Bishop is mentoring Kaye for now, since they’re both elite ninjas with shady backgrounds.

Before arriving at Europa, the Fastball Special met the customs ship Freedom Explorer, but not before the team uploaded the HLF terrorists and mulched their bodies (Kay can cook!). Most of the other forbidden tech was hidden outside on the hull as part of the main antenna – including Kay. Quill made “friends” with customs officers Connolly and Richards, who took a sample of her disturbing origami cranes.

At Conamara, Judah Boch soon got over his uncle’s betrayal and promptly dragged the Fastball Express team into a brewing succession struggle amongst the Europan expatriate underworld, once dominated by Prof. Pournelle’s Toucan Tribe, but now facing challenges from the upstarts of the Condors and the T-Birds since Pournelle’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, Mitsuba phoned home via farcaster and got a blistering reception from her sister Hitoha, who really doesn’t want to have to deal with distractions to the family business like the possible survival of Mother.

The Night Cartel wired funds and a delta fork advisor, Eugenia, to Mitsuba to help resolve the gang war on Europa.

The team took a submarine named Grampus down to a research seabase, Pressure Worm #3, to meet Eve Parade of the T-Birds, many kilometers below the surface.

(Ivan did some calculation, and the original description of 100km down is far beyond survivable depth for any human activities in the ocean. Let’s say it was 6km down instead)

Pressure Worm #3 was mostly abandoned, with residue of disassembled large science and engineering projects littering its interior. Also, a massive invasive hacking attack tearing down its life support and communications systems. Eve Parade foolishly remained aboard until things got really bad. The team manages to escape with one birdbrained neo-avian dueling sleeve, but Eve and Judah end up on a hacked sub that went crash BOOM.

After a confrontation with the saboteurs’ sub, which was commanded by Serendipity of the Condors, the team retrieved Judah and Eve and came back to Conamara to get them illegally resleeved.

War has broken out between Condors and T-Birds now, and if Quill’s deep scan was any indication, Judah has lost control of all the plans he’s been juggling…

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Eclipse Phase #16 - Mother of Battles

Report by Kai

Themes: Repression. Bioconservatism vs transhuman freedom. Scars of the Fall. Broken families. The pros and cons of celebrity.
Elements: Mothers and Daughters. Prison. Old people. Old people sex. Cheerleaders yay!

NPCs of interest:
Judah Boch, environmental engineer on Pushing Ice, organizer for the Jovian People’s Transhumanist Committee.
Elias Boch, poet and dissident, political prisoner, uncle of Judah Boch.
Boomer, Human Liberation Front terrorist.
Lee, HLF terrorist.
Helo, HLF terrorist.
Dr Susan Keller, former Deputy Minister of Education of the Jovian Republic, political prisoner.
Chief Tyrell, petty officer aboard the Umm al-Ma’arik, rebel sympathiser.
Major Kate Stackhoff, executive officer aboard the Umm al-Ma’arik, terrorist hunter.
Colonel Noah Mannheim/Marui Saeko, captain of the Umm al-Ma’arik, war hero, former transhuman mercenary.

Also, the POTUS Club:
Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, Harrison, Cleveland (same as before), McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama.

The Fastball Special docked at Pushing Ice in orbit around Europa for refueling and to meet with the local Jovian People’s Transhumanist Committee contact, Judah Boch, who contacted Mitsuba to get her to free his uncle from a prison ship around Ganymede. Elias Boch had fought alongside Mitsuba’s long-lost mother, Saeko the “Lioness”, during the Fall, and now he was an internationally renowned dissident poet who spoke out against the bioconservative military dictatorship ruling Jupiter.

Sunlamps. Rack after rack of vegetables and plants. Mist. Sudden violence with electric shocks, agonizer, vibro-shears and garrote. After a brief brawl in Pushing Ice’s hydroponics module, the Fastball Express team recovered Judah from a cell of Human Liberation Front terrorists and put the captured terrorists on ice on board the Fastball Special. Maybe for future use as spare sleeves, maybe as residual human resources, we don’t know yet.

Judah presented the offer: Fully paid fuel and expenses plus 50,000 credits of miscellaneous fees, great rep with media and autonomist factions, plus a portable ego bridge for downloading Elias. The target was kept along with many other political prisoners aboard the decommissioned warship Umm al-Ma’arik (Mother of Battles), which was also a militarily symbolic port of call for Ganymede. Since the Fastball Express was already bringing the POTUS refugees home to the Republic, they had an excuse to visit umm al-Ma’arik. Judah would arrange for his contacts in the Planetary Consortium to designate the Fastball Express as a human rights delegation making the annual visit to see the political prisoners…and since Mitsuba was now a major media star, she would fit the profile of a celebrity ambassador. An inside agent, Chief Petty Officer Tyrell, would help the team to smuggle the ego bridge on board. If everything went as planned, there would be no need for violence at all.

A week later, the Fastball Special docked with the venerable warship Umm al-Ma’arik, delivering the POTUS Club. Although Kay and Hokusai were confined to the ship due to their transhuman status, the others were able to step on board the prison ship, and things seemed to go as planned…at first.

The crew met Colonel Noah Mannheim, warden of the prison, a war hero from the Fall. Elias and Saeko had been involved in the risky rescue mission to retrieve him from the wreck of his ship, and we learned that Mannheim was revered for his part in the war, but that he had been initially suspected of being compromised by the Titans. The Colonel seemed to be quite taken by Mitsuba, and wanted to get to know her better.

They also got to meet Major Kate Stackhoff, a young and stern executive officer who had risen to fame in a ruthless and brutal crackdown on rebels around Europa. She’d just been acquitted of blame in the deaths of 12 captured “terrorists” and this new posting at the prison ship was a step up the ladder for her.

After a big welcoming ceremony for the geriatrics of the POTUS Club, the officers of the ship feted the guests and Colonel Mannheim immediately started asking Mitsuba all kinds of personal questions, something she did not discourage, as she wished to develop him as a potential ally.

Quill seemed to strike a nerve in Major Stackhoff, who kept asking why Quill insisted on acting like a little girl. “But I AM a little girl,” said Quill, which only made Stackhoff more upset. Stackhoff took Quill, Bishop and Harriet on a tour of the prison ship, during which time the local Jovian media started taking an interest in Bishop, who had acquired some infamy while fighting on various missions for the Fastball Express. A journalist tried to portray Bishop as a remorseless and inhuman killer in an interview.

In Colonel Mannheim’s private quarters Mitsuba was shocked to see his extensive media folder of new articles and imagery of Mitsuba’s public life as a celebrity. He seemed anxious for her to explain everything about herself…especially her rumoured “marriage” to the flexbot-morph Kay. “Did you have a relationship with that…dog-thing?!?” he asked angrily. Mitsuba was quick to mollify him, and he seemed to cool down…while stroking her hand creepily. Then the topic moved to Mitsuba’s mother, the “Lioness,” a mercenary who had saved the Colonel from a shipwreck during the Fall. He admitted to only having hazy memories at first. But after thinking about it, he revealed more. He opened a safe and gave Mitsuba a pendant that had belonged to Saeko, a pendant with a picture of Mitsuba and her two sisters as kids.

Could the Colonel be her true…father? Harriet’s fears of “ewww old people sex!” soon turned into fears of “ewww old people incest!” But mercifully, Mitsuba’s visit ended and she went back to her quarters to ponder the mystery of Mannheim.

Meanwhile, Quill ran a background check on Stackhoff, looking for something she could use to manipulate the Major. She found out that Stackhoff lost her husband and young daughter in a terrorist attack five years ago, and pursued a private vendetta against all dissident groups ever since.

The next day, Quill, Mitsuba, Bishop and Harriet followed Stackhoff on another official tour of the ship. Most importantly, this tour would end with their visit to Elias Boch, their one chance to rescue him.

A large crowd of civilian contractors and media had gathered in the hangar to gawk at the outlander mercenaries. Quill saw Stackhoff and offered her a lollipop, which just made the Major angry and disturbed.

Harriet spotted a figure on a gantry above the group, climbing into position and then leaping down (slowly) to ambush Bishop with a spanner. Fortunately, Bishop was able to avoid the blow with ease, taking the attacker down quickly. Other attackers rushed forward, and it seemed that Major Stackhoff’s guards were intentionally letting the visitors get attacked. The crowd seemed to cheer the “home team” against the despised foreigners. Harriet sidestepped and tripped a second attacker with a knife, but a third thug came at Bishop, swinging a wooden bat. Mitsuba leaped in front of Bishop to take the blow on her forehead.

Even as Mitsuba slumped down and the rest of the team got ready to fight, Colonel Mannheim arrived in the hangar, firing his sidearm in the air to get the crowd to back off. Clearly upset at this turn of events, he picked up Mitsuba in his arms and rushed her to the sickbay.

In the wake of the chaos, the rest of the team discovered that their inside man, the Chief, had been stabbed to death – possibly by Stackhoff’s own men. As the dead crewman was taken to the morgue, Harriet, Quill and Bishop determined that they needed to recover his stack, before it disappeared along with other evidence of the murder.

Meanwhile, in Sickbay, the Colonel apologized for what had happened, telling Mitsuba that he was glad to see she was all right. Mitsuba finally made the breakthrough to get the Colonel to open up, possibly because of her injury. She finally got him to tell her that “Your mother would be so proud of you.”

When the others called Mitsuba to ask her to retrieve the Chief’s stack, she was able to get the Colonel to help right away. He walked over to the body in the morgue and just chopped the stack out with a knife, handing the bloody diamond chip to Mitsuba. “You’d better get on with that visit to Elias, and hurry, before they lock down the ship and keep you from leaving.”

Guards escorted the team to the cellblock where Elias Boch had lived for the past five years. The room was luxuriously furnished, and the famous poet was tinkering with a piano when his visitors arrived. First they tried subterfuge, asking him to “sleep on this pillow” which contained the ego bridge.

Eventually they just bluntly confronted him with the truth, that they had been hired to upload him so that he could escape. But to their surprise, he had not been informed of this mission, and what was more, he didn’t want to leave! Despite all his brave poems about freedom of uploading, he realised at the last minute that he really didn’t want to be uploaded and lose his uniqueness. He also couldn’t bear the idea of himself being out there, while he was still inside the prison at the same time. And he really didn’t want his original self to die.

The team’s consensus was that Elias was a wimp and a coward. He tried to come up with a poem on the spot to explain to Judah why he wouldn’t go, but he failed miserably. Harriet declared that it was his choice, and they shouldn’t force him into it, so the team decided to pull out and cut their losses. But first, Mitsuba asked Elias if he know where Saeko was.

“I believe the Jovian Republic allowed her to retire here under an assumed identity. They let her download into the brain-dead body of one of their war heroes. Colonel Noah Mannheim. Have you met him?”

Mitsuba was stunned. It also took Bishop a moment to understand what Elias was telling Mitsuba: “He’s not your father, he’s your MOTHER.”

There was no time to lose, though. They left the cellblock and headed back to the ship, hoping to avoid being searched. But they found their path blocked by a suspicious Major Stackhoff. In an effort to keep her from finding the ego bridge, Quill tried to influence the Major’s mind. When that failed, she fell back on old fashioned persuasion and blinking her eyes adorably. Somehow, perhaps because she reminded the Major of her lost daughter, Quill succeeded, and the Major shooed them off her ship, telling them that they were no longer welcome.

Mitsuba had hoped to reach the Colonel one last time, but there just wasn’t enough time. As their ship decoupled and began the trip back to Europa to meet Judah, she sent a message to her…mother. Hoping to someday understand.

5 Rez Points for each character involved in this adventure.
+5 c-rep, for publicly bringing the POTUS refugees home.
-4 @-rep, due to the failed mission (although it technically wasn’t your fault). The autonomists will be asking YOU a favour to make up for the wasted resources put into this rescue attempt.
+2 f-rep for Quill and Harriet, the Fastball Cheerleading Squad.
+5 f-rep for Bishop Six, for his interview on Jovian news.

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Eclipse Phase #15 - No Country for Old Men

This episode, FbEx was hired by Mlle. Mitsuba of the Night Cartel to
assist in evacuating forty-four(43?) members of a Jovian gentleman’s
club known as the POTUS Society, from an aborted meeting on Progress,
Deimos (due to sudden potentially dangerous planetary phenomenon)

Cue cramming of many geriatric bio-cons into a mini-bus that is the
Eagle Transporter.

Cue many accusations upon Bishop by Mssrs. Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley
and Kennedy. Sometime along the line, “You shot me, you bastard!”

Cue refueling stop at Extropia and visit to many stripper joins.

Cue kidnapping of Mssrs. Reagan, Bush and Bush by Jovian freedom
fighters.

Cue FbEx rescue operation (and three-second gunfight, through walls)

Cue shortest interrogation session via Vulcan Mind Meld.

The journey continues…

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Eclipse Phase #14 - Spiraling Shape

Down, down, down you go
No way to stop
As you fall, hear me call
No, no, no
Listen to this warning and
Consider these
Simple words of advice
Stop, stop, stop

Fogging the view, cupping face to the window
In darkness you make out a spiraling shape
Putting all reason aside you exchange
What you’ve got for a thing that’s hypnotic and strange

The spiraling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

And nobody knows what it’s really like
But everyone says it’s great
And they heard it from the spiral in their eyes

This could lead to excellence
Or serious injury
Only one way to know
Go, go, go
Go ahead, wreck your life
That might be good
Who can say what’s wrong or right?
Nobody can

Put out your hands and you fall through the window
And clawing at nothing you drop through the void
Your terrified screams are inaudible drowned
In the spiral ahead and consumed in the shape

The spiraling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

And now that you’ve tried it, you’re back to report
That the spiraling shape was a fraud and a fake
You didn’t enjoy it, you never believed it
There won’t be a refund, you’ll never go back

The spiraling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

And nobody knows what it’s really like
But everyone says it’s great
And they heard it from the spiral in their eyes
(Spiral in their eyes)

Fogging the view, cupping face to the window
In darkness you make out a spiraling shape
Putting all reason aside you exchange
What you got for a thing that’s hypnotic and strange

The spiraling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

To summarise, and stealing my own post on the EP fora:

1) the Bracewell probe actually does not exist in our universe pre se,
but it was deployed by a civilisation that inhabits in what
theoretical physicists refer to as a “Dark Matter” universe.

2) My limited understanding of Superstring/Brane theory tells me that
while matter cannot cross between universes, data may be transmitted
via gravity waves.

3) Prior to the fall, the TITANs detected this gravity fluctuation in
the core of Mars. They mounted a secret mining expedition to explore
this anomaly.

4) TITANs constructed a gravitronic interface around the anomaly
(pretty much prototype Pandora gate) to interface with what they
discovered later to be a Bracewell probe from another universe.
Contact was initiated and that’s where a series of unfortunate events
began.

5) Unfortunately, the creators of of the Bracewell probe were on the
brink of annihilation by a race of machines (which I humourously
referred to as the Reapers, but unfortunately no one my in group
played Mass Effect and the joke was lost) and the probe was sent as a
distress beacon to other organic races in their own universe.

6) Probe misinterpreted TITAN contact attempt as an attack by an
synthetic species, initiated violent electronic countermeasures
through the gravitronic interface (which I shall now refer to as the
Proto-Gate).

7) Due to the TITANs’ alien nature (from the Bracewellers’s point of
view) and different protocols of the proto-gate, the attack was
unsuccessful. But the TITANs were corrupted somehow by the botched
hacking attempt and this led to their rampage agaist humanity.

8) Using knowledge gained from the initial contact with the probe,
they constructed the known Pandora gates and (apparently) left through
them to parts unknown, perhaps (correctly or otherwise) taking
humanity to “safety” beyond the influence of the Bracewell probe.

9) Years later, the Argonauts discovered this anomaly in the centre of
Mars and hired the player characters (who make up the Fastball Express
hypercorp, or FbEx for short) to escort them on the trail to discover
this mystery.

10) FbEx eventually found the gate (along with the remains of a
Firewall cell scattered around the structure) and the resident Async
managed to interface with the Bracewell probe with the powers of her
mind >.> From “talking” to it, they pieced together some of the
background above.

11) However due to the attempts of some YGBM-basilisk-hacked members
of the Argonaut NPC team, the Proto-gate became unstable and FbEx had
to flee back to the surface.

12) Energy from the unstable proto-gate reacted with the iron core of
Mars, eventually leading to a magnetic field being spun up around the
planet.

And that was yesterday’s session so I am trying to figure out the
consequences of such a device.

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Eclipse Phase #13 - Weekend at Mitsuba's 2

The thing they used on you guys today, taken from
http://eclipsephase.com/firewall-guide-unconventional-weapons

Rather than just firing off an EMP blast in all directions, a beamer
produces a focused beam of high-intensity microwaves . Less useful
against nanoswarms, it is ideal for wrecking particular robots and
equipment, and can be tuned to attack particular kinds of electronics.
Just have it ramp frequency up and down to find the frequencies that
set up nasty resonances or get in through small holes in the chassis.
Remember that the beam can be reflected back from conductive surfaces.

It can also be used to heat food. Badly.


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