Monday, December 5, 2011

Case Study No. 0100: Masterson

Let's Play Privateer part 050
One last freighter to defend and we finally get access to the Oxford library.
Tags: Let's Play Privateer part 050
Added: 1 year ago
From: byron4545
Views: 256


"Wing Commander: Privateer" (1993) - Character Bios: Masterson

Masterson is not your typical, thick eye glass wearing librarian. He looks healthy and robust, knoledgeable, yet sharp and practical. He's the type of man that can hold a vision while keeping his eyes on the next step.

By saying "I thought that gun was dangerous in your hands" he reveals he has concern for what's going on. He looks beyond Oxford.

His knowing Monte is no accident.

The 10,000 credits he pays Burrows on many occasions probably aren't university funds, but money from his own pocket. They add up to quite a sum, considering that 10k may be small change to a privateer, but probably a lot of money to a ship-less civilian.

The dismantling of the Oxford library also seems to be his own descision.

The most curious event is when he lets Burrows know that he knows what he's looking for. Makes Burrows quite nervous, forcing Masterson to reassure him: "You need not be threatened...". Nor did he need to reveal the fact to Burrows. Why did he? Seems to me he wants to gain Burrows' confidence before he goes, and finds no better way of doing it than by saying "Here, I know stuff about you already, so you already trust me, if you're not killing me, –and I hope you aren't." Risky move. Burrows' trust must mean a lot to him. But why?

By the way, when you read the library entry for Dr. Monkhouse, it says there that he studied at two universities: one in Sol, and Oxford. That means, they know each other. Masterson probably knows that Monkhouse was kidnapped by Rondell, rather than being financially supported by them. He knows that Monkhouse has a piece of a map. He also knows that you have a piece of a map. But he knows also that what you're doing for your own benefit will result in his benefit and Monkhouse's. He sees Burrows as a long term investment; and that's good for us. It means that Masterson is a primary character to keep in Privateer sequels.



[trying to enter the university library on planet Oxford]
Masterson: Excuse me, where do you think you're going?
Burrows: I have some personal research I need to conduct.
Masterson: I'm sorry, sir, but access to the Oxford library files is restricted to students.
Burrows: Look, couldn't I just buy a library card...?
Masterson: I'm afraid not. Good day to you, sir.
[enters local bar]
Bartender: Didn't I see you here, 'bout six months ago? You know, back when the Rondell Corporation was hiring mercs. No? Too bad. You could've cleaned up. They were looking for people with blockade experience... Oh well. Can't win 'em all, I s'pose. Have you heard the bad news? No one has been able to establish contact with Palan. It's like the whole planet has just... disappeared. I got family there... I... had family there... Man... nobody in this bar needs a drink worse than me. Get this. Kilrathi patrols are sweeping the outskirts of Rygannon. Nothing there but refineries, but they're flying sweep patterns... almost like they're looking for something. Weird, huh? I'm glad I'm running a bar and not flying anymore. It's getting crazy out there! Beastly affair. Seems the InterSys Patrols are looking for a murderer. He eliminated a diplomatic party on Matahari. Ten dead. Horrid. I hear this was done to stall negotiations with Oresville, prolonging the labour disputes. What do you think?
[heads back to the library]
Masterson: I'm sorry, but library use is restricted to students and teachers only.
Burrows: Yeah? What makes you think I'm not enrolled at Oxford?
Masterson: Students don't generally conduct research while armed.
Burrows: Okay, you got me there. I'm a privateer.
Masterson: Sorry, access exceptions are only made for endowment sponsors.
Burrows: Then how would I go about doing that? Making an endowment?
Masterson: If you have to ask, you can't afford it.
Burrows: Okay, maybe we could work a trade. I could fly for the University... say, four runs at a reduced rate in exchange for access to your files, Mr...?
Masterson: ...Masterson. Yes, your offer might substitute for an endowment... You could start with an escort mission which pays 10000 credits.
Masterson: Good, now listen. We need you to escort someone to Oxford. You will find him in the Oxford system, in the vicinity of Nav 3. The man you are to escort here is named Hunter Toth.
Burrows: Hunter Toth? He wrote that book, what was it...?
Masterson: Prometheus Unplugged. The Church of Man has marked him for death because of it. He's scheduled to give a commencement speech here... and he's already cashed the chit. Unfortunately, the Church of Man has vowed he will never reach Oxford.
Burrows: That's one vow those freaks will have to break. I'll bring him. Count on it.
[mission complete]
Masterson: I and the Oxford Graduating Class thank you for delivering Mr Toth unharmed.
Burrows: Think of it as a tribute to free speech. What's your second mission?
Masterson: Some low-level data pirates have been troubling us. We would like you to intercept them, and end their activities. This mission pays 10000 credits upon completion. Can you do it?
Burrows: Sounds easy enough. Where can I find these hackers?
Masterson: They operate a ship that hides somewhere in the Oxford system. From their vessel they somehow tap into our database remotely. No one knows how. Information is copied from the Library and then our memory is deleted. Afterwards, they try to sell our own information back to us! More often than not, we lose it anyway. It goes to the highest bidder. We simply cannot afford to outbid the private sector.
Burrows: Yeah, I can tell how strapped Oxford is for capital, ever since you started letting smugglers like me make endowments. Any other leads? That's not much to go on.
Masterson: Only one. The name of the ship is The Black Rhombus. Return here for your payment and third assignment. Good luck, privateer.
[discovers ship]
Pirate: Oxford has no right to hoard data! Access is ours! Knowledge belongs to the galaxy, you fascist!
[mission complete]
Burrows: Okay, Masterson. Those pirates won't be hassling you again.
Masterson: That will be a welcome change. How did you manage...?
Burrows: Right now I'm more interested in getting into your stacks... nothing personal.
Masterson: Perhaps if you told me what you're looking for I could find it for you. The fee for research is much lower than that required for private access.
Burrows: I don't think so. This is private business.
Masterson: Might there be a large sum of money involved?
Burrows: Might you be looking for disability payments?
Masterson: Really, you needn't be threatened that I've discovered your intent. People are always coming here to research one treasure or another. But enough of this. We have a shipment of rare and valuable books en route here. The ship bringing them in needs an escort. We'll pay you the usual 10000 credits upon your return...
Burrows: Okay, where can I intercept the courier?
Masterson: Vulcan's Forge is awaiting her escort at Nav 3 in the Oxford system.
Burrows: Any particular reason it needs an escort?
Masterson: Several unscrupulous collectors have offered a... finder's fee for the books.
Burrows: Don't worry. I'll bring them in... safe and sound.
[mission complete]
Masterson: I don't have time to swap pleasantries. Here's your payment of 10000 credits for the last mission. We have an incoming freighter laden with materials about to be attacked by several fighters. Valuables as well as vital supplies are aboard. You'll probably find it somewhere near Nav 1, Oxford system. Rendezvous with the freighter and bring it back safely... and return here for library access, along with a final payment of 10000 credits.
Burrows: How long before they strike?
Masterson: They could arrive at any moment. Please, will you help?
Burrows: Okay, I'll save your freighter. But I'd better get full access to the library... hell, you better name an entire wing after me!
Masterson: Stop stalling and save that freighter, dammit!
Burrows: Touchy, touchy...
[mission complete]
Masterson: The freighter is safe, thanks to you.
Burrows: Skip the hearts and flowers. My library access...?
Masterson: Everything has been arranged. And here's your final payment of 10000 credits. Good luck with that personal business. I hope you find what you're looking for.
[goes to the research computers and analyzes artifact]
COMPUTER: Structure unknown. Trace failure. Origin unknown.
[the computer pulls up a profile of Doctor Lemuel Monkhouse]

Xenoarchaeology Researchers (contd.)
Monkhouse, Lemuel A
Entry 1009872

Doctorate - Xenoarchaeology - Oxford University
Masters - Xenobiology - Olympus Mons University
Bachelor of Science - Xenophilology - Oxford University

Dr Lemuel Monkhouse, the Confederation's foremost expert in xenoarchaeology, brings to the field a unique multi-disciplinary approach, grounded in the knowledge of alien biological systems and the conceptual analogues common to all languages.

The pinnacle of Monkhouse's career was his discovery of the Mars Steltek Site in 2667, relics from which have been dated at 2.4 billion years of age. This find shook the scientific community and called into question previous estimates of the age of the universe. This was also the first evidence found which supported the "Steltek Hypothesis", the postulation that an advanced, galaxy-spanning civilisation existed before the so-called Dawn of Intelligence. That evidence has been confiscated by the Confederation, and the Mars Site has been closed since 2668. Despite Monkhouse's unsurpasses reputation, many authorities still dispute his findings.

Monkhouse, Chairman of the Jones Memorial Archaeological Foundation, is widely sought for consultation on alien artifacts. Rumour has it that he retains some Steltek artefacts in his possession. Currently, he can be found on Palan, overseeing an excavation at an undisclosed site. Funds for these excavations are provided by the Palan-based Rondell Corporation.


["One year later ... "]
Bartender: I hear they're dismantling the Oxford library. That's too bad. I took a holiday in Oxford once. Very pretty place. I wonder why they're going to tear it down. I hope the Retros didn't give you too much trouble on the way here. They're making a lot of people feel like prisoners on their own planets and bases ... I know you! You're that famous singer! Would you do a number for us? It would really make the customers happy. Oh, wait a minute. Wrong guy. Sorry.
[enters library]
Burrows: Hello, Masterson. I've come looking for a little help.
Masterson: Great, we can use all the help we can get these days.
Burrows: You misunderstood. I'm looking for information that'll help me find my gun.
Masterson: I heard news. I thought that gun was dangerous in your hands, but... Perhaps we can trade services. I have a friend who considers himself an expert on every fringe organisation in Gemini. He has his ear open to all underground activity, but... he's leery of meeting new people. Somewhat paranoid. I can't blame him. He's pretty unpopular from exposing certain groups. But, if you could help me out I would consider introducing you.
Burrows: Meeting your friend doesn't sound too exciting, but I can check my own leads with your money. I hope you're not expecting charity work.
Masterson: Well we are an academic institution, and rather needy at the moment. The constant threat from the Retros has us worried. We are disassembling the Oxford library. With the Retros on the rise, having all our knowledge in one place has become dangerous. We've become too big of a target. And with the Confederation occupied with the Kilrathi, we're virtually unprotected. I need you to deliver part of our rare books collection to a safer place, Base Edom in New Constantinople. The job pays 10000. Return here afterwards. How about it?
Masterson: Hurry back for more work, and I'll see about locating my friend.
[mission complete]
Masterson: Good to see you back. We've been needing your help.
Burrows: Yeah, well, I didn't realise how dangerous research had become.
Masterson: The Retros are always at our throats trying to stop it, and the pirates trying to get to it. Which, of course, could mean money for you. We need someone to patrol Oxford.
Burrows: Well, I suppose I could take easy money from you. Don't you have less skilled help for your simple chores?
Masterson: The militia reinforcements are weeks late. They're in high demand these days. We need you to patrol each nav point, and eliminate any threats... fanatical or opportunistic. Come back here for payment.
Burrows: I could use the target practice, but not for free, of course.
Masterson: I can offer the usual 10000.
Masterson: Good luck. See you soon.
[mission complete]
Burrows: Hello, Masterson. I'm back.
Masterson: Great.
Burrows: What's next?
Masterson: I need you to deliver part of our rare books collection to Burton in Junction. The job pays 10000. Return here afterwards. How about it?
Masterson: Hurry back for more work and I'll see about locating my friend.
[mission complete]
Masterson: I don't have time to swap pleasantries. We have a freighter making the jump to Saxtogue from Nav 1, Oxford system. We're making a series of transports of library support machinery. We believe they could be in some danger from Retro attacks. Escort the freighter and make sure it jumps out safely and return here for your payment, along with more work.
Burrows: How long before they strike?
Masterson: They could arrive at any moment. Please help. Surely, 10000 credits still interests you.
Burrows: Okay, I'll save your equipment. But I'd better get a full letter of recommendation to your friend.
Masterson: We'll see about that.
[mission complete]
Burrows: Hello, Masterson. I'm back.
Masterson: Great.
Burrows: What's next?
Masterson: I need you to deliver our Twentieth Century Artwork collection to Perry Naval Base in Perry. The job pays 10000. Return here afterwards. How about it?
Masterson: Great, I'll see about locating my friend.
[mission complete]
Masterson: Well, with your help Oxford base has transferred most of its valuables offworld, and until the Retro threat abates, we will remain an empty shell. Now the business about my contact... I'm afraid my friend is a little wary about meeting you. However, if you were able to provide reliable services to a few other employers around Gemini, then I could pass on more than just my own recommendation. Perhaps then we could talk further.
Burrows: Sounds like you're changing the terms of our agreement. I didn't intend to do this much work.
Masterson: Hold on. I'm not setting the conditions anymore. I'm just making a suggestion on how to alleviate his paranoia. You had best take my advice and find a few employers around Gemini. Then we can continue our business.
Burrows: You drive a hard bargain, Masterson.

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