Tick 1852, 9752 H, 112 CE. Rural Gaul in the waning years of the Roman Empire, one of the Free Market’s many meeting places. Major Gordon Bishop and his allies Naila and Yoshi are on a tech-scavenging mission for the Revisionists. They’ve heard rumors that a merchant named Casselman has been talking about a machine called the Sampo, capable of building anything out of thin air, and Gordon wants to find out if there’s any truth to it.
Casselman at first seems to be nothing more than a huckster, putting on a show with a fake magic box that the team quickly sees through—but once they speak to him in private, they determine that while his Sampo is indeed a fake, he believes there is a real one, in an obscure corner of space-time. The city of Roget is supposedly a high-tech city in a post-apocalyptic timeline, completely out-of-place, in 2600 CE/12240 H, with a Sampo in every house.
Bishop and co. debate for some time the morality and practicalities of the Sampo: will Bishop’s superiors misuse this intensely powerful technology? But what if OTL gets it first? What if Casselman tries to sell it to another faction—should they kill him to prevent it? Eventually, they decide that at worst, the Revisionists will end up on a level playing field with OTL if they both get the Sampo, and that they will deal with Casselman if and when he sells the Sampo again.
After organizing a meet with Casselman in Tick 1855, 1971 CE Hawaii, they Travel to the Revisionist Base and prepare for their mission. They do some research and decide to start their mission in the small city-state of Lanshar (formerly Lancastershire) near Roget, and gather up some gear for their chosen cover as merchants: Gold, leather, fancy combs, and leather needles as trade supplies; marking Travel tech to transport two Sampos (one for the Revisionists, one for Casselman); period-authentic merchant garb; a nanite saw for cutting gold; a sword; a rope and grapnel; and some antibiotics.
Approaching Lanshar, the trio sees that though Lanshar is a primitive city-state, Roget has become a city of gleaming black spires, ultramodern and wildly out of place—and isn’t even Roget, at least not anymore. Interrogating a local drunk who had been driven out of the technological city, they discover it is now known at Blaidd Drwg (Blythe droog) and ruled by a tyrannical AI named MYCROFT. They try to determine MYCROFT’s agenda and origin, but besides hypothesizing that it and the Sampo are one and the same (or at least closely linked), they discover nothing.
Before any further decisions can be made, three cyborgs enter the tavern in which they are seated and begin slaughtering the citizens. In the ensuing fight, Naila spends all her time gathering nanites from the cyborgs to enhance her nanite saw; Gordon takes a splinter to the head but otherwise stays safe—but only makes one successful hit; and Yoshi quickly and efficiently slays all three cyborgs with the Emperor’s Sword, suffering only a minorly-hurt leg in the process. Unfortunately, two civilians die in the chaos, but the team reassures themselves that it could have been much worse.
Afterwards, they search the cyborgs inside and out, analyzing skin, weaponry, and the data in their heads. The cyborgs were sent by MYCROFT, on a roving patrol that seems to have started up four months previous; they followed the signature of the temporal radiation let loose by Travel; all of their cybernetic limbs are marked with a strange symbol that Yoshi thinks is similar to that he saw on the robots who invaded his home space-time. They make the supposition that MYCROFT knows about Travelers, and decide to investigate his creator, Dr. Helen Blazejewski, in the detention camp where she has been for the last thirty years.