ITV Session 11: Escape from Uetonah

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SAFCO is still on Ueotonah, started where we left off last game. The rebels have, with the help of SAFCO, defeated Samson Mining’s defence forces, but now find their location compromised. They will have to move to one of the other base locations they have scouted out. The rebels quickly begin evacuating the wrecked ship. SAFCO evaluates the ship for salvageable components. The rebels will be taking one large piece of equipment — and autoDoc with its own power source. SAFCO looks over the ship, and Barney determines that not only could they use some of the grav-pallets and tools to salvage the working dual pulse laser turret from the wreck, but also the ship’s power plant, worth several million credits even after decades on the ground. The Jump drive is likewise salvageable, but too big for the limited cargo space in the team’s modified Freetrader. Since they have discovered their original mission on the planet was based on a lie, salvaging these ship components will make the trip and the danger worthwhile.

Barney radios Fardt, back on the ship, gives him the coordinates, and tells him to prepare the ship to come get the crew and the gear upon notification.

The team spends the rest of the day removing the turret and power plant components and prepares them for travel. They go over options for their next destination.They have fuel for one Jump-2, which can get them back to Overon, coreward to the unnamed system they passed through weeks ago for gas giant refueling, or rimward to AT201, an orbital shipyard orbiting a rocky moon of a gas giant. They decide they’ll return to Overon where Flint can report to his contacts in RCMP of the status of the mining on Uetonah, tell Nora Slimjack the status of her son, and get them back toward the frontier and the Void. They can also try to sell their salvage there.

Barney radios Fardt to bring the ship. The novice pilot makes roll the get the ship off the ground. At in-astmosphere starship speeds it will not take Fardt long to get there.

As they wait Fardt calls on the radio. He sounds panicked. “Guys, we’ve got trouble. They tried to close the bay doors so I blasted through them, and now there are three security speeders chasing me and shooting!”. The team can hear the chaos. The security speeders are faster than the ship and very maneuverable, but Fardt had a head start. The team knows the direction they’ll be coming from. They decide to have Fardt slow down enough when he reaches they for the team to ride their grav bikes right into the cargo bay and join the fight.

Flint uses his binoculars and can see the ship approaching as well as the pursuers firing lasers. Fardt’s flying is so erratic they have not managed, from long range, to hit the ship. But they are closing. The team gets on the bikes and they leave the ground. Flint calmly uses the electronic site on his rifle to take aim on one of the speeders. He fires and hits it, blasting a hole in the cockpit windshield.

Fardt gets to the team slows down, and they fly into the cargo bay. Flint stops and takes one more shot before flying into the bay. Again he sights-in on the cockfit, fires, hits the pilot, and the speeder goes down!

Roger takes the controls and activates the automatic turret, Barney heads to the engine room, and Lucky goes to man one of the turrets. Ronda, Fardt, and the robot strap in. Flint stays by the cargo door, hoping to score another sniper shot with his rifle if one of the speeders comes into view.

The ship enters the dogfight with the two speeders (We use Cepheus Light dogfight rules). The speeders have little armor and will likely blow up with one laser strike, but they are fast and very hard to hit. Roger activates the Manuver/Evade-2 program to enhance his pilot skills and Predict-2 to assist Lucky with the laser turret.

After two rounds of combat the team has missed the speeders with each shot. The speeders, meanwhile, have scored hits on the ships power plant and computer, reducing the performance of each. Finally they score a hit, blowing up one of the speeders, showering the jungle below with debris. Having lost his two partners, speeder pilot 3 decides to break off pursuit and get out of there. The team pursues, blowing him from the sky as well.

With no pursuers, SAFCO finds a place to hide on the planetary surface and attempt repairs to the ship. Barney is able to effect repairs to the power plant, using parts from the salvaged power plant, to return it to its Power Plant-B status long enough to get them to Overon. Lucky, with Barney consulting, is able to repair the computer.

Now the question — how to leave the planet? There are likely some system defense boats in the system. Best not to meet up with them. The planet has one moon. They consider their options, and decide to try using a carefully plotted trajectory out of the system, using that moon to hide their exit from the planet. The GM makes a secret Nav roll for Roger to determine how good the course is. Barney makes an engineering roll, and manages to boost the maneuver drive up one level for the time it takes the ship to get to the Jump point. The man is a miracle worker! Turns out their plan and course is good! They are able to exit the system to the minimum Jump distance without detection.

The ship reaches the jump point, and a course for Overon is layed-in. No mis-jump. The team spends a week in Jump Space. They arrive in the Overon system.

Flint reports on Samson Mining to his RCMP contact R. Tilton. Roger finds Nora Slimjack at the Mooch Mine and tells her that Jason is fine, and apparently on Uetonah of his own free will. Flint gets the name of a trader on Overon with whom to try to sell the salvaged turret and power plant. The team gathers for relaxation at the Mooch Mine. All is well…for now.

End of Session.

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7 days elapsed in this session
179 total game days elapsed.

ITV Session 10: Jungle Battle on Uetonah

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Having defeated pursuing forces from Samson Mining as well as a giant tree snake,  SAFCO and Rhonda speed down the Pachyderm trails in the jungle of planet Uetonah on grav bikes. Roger’s bike begins to have problems. It was hit by a bullet in the previous battle, and is now losing power. Readouts indicate it has plenty of fuel. The team comes to an area of the trail where the Pachys have created a “cave” to the side of the path, probably a place to rest. They stop to repair Roger’s grav bike.

Barney quickly assesses the situation, but will need a couple of hours to fix the bike. He guesses a simple problem like a power cable damaged by the bullet. Simple, but time consuming to get to the component to repair it. The rest of the team sits down to rest. As they sit there a wailing, groaning is heard coming from the nearby jungle. They scan the area with IR binoculars, spotting a tree about 40′ off the trail with the lower trunk split open. It appears to be full of gelatinous eggs – hundreds off them in a big glob. That’s where the groaning is coming from. Roger, Lucky, and Flint venture out into the jungle to check out the situation.

When they get about 10′ from the tree the bioluminescence of the jungle is sufficient for them to see there is a human encased in the eggs. They shine a light on him. The scouts have seen things like this before – creatures used as food for egg clutches by creatures of many worlds. The man is still conscious, but being slowly fed upon by the eggs.  “Hellllp me…” he groans. As they consider a course of action, two massive shapes appear in the canopy above them. Huge insects – 3x the size of a human. They move above the team, about 10′ above them, making angry clicking noises. The teams draws their weapons. From this distance it is clear that the creatures are some kind of giant beetle. The beast turn around facing away from the team and each sprays a cone of noxious gas at the men. The gas is non-lethal, but causes 3d non-lethal damage to Lucky and Roger. Flint’s combat armor saves him from inhaling the stuff. The gas reduces Lucky and Roger’s STR to zero, and rolling 1d6 each is incapacitated for 2 minutes due to nausea.

The last 15 minutes have been rough.

As this is happening, a third beetle bursts from the jungle, races across the “cave” past Barney and Rhonda, on its way to defend the eggs. Barney tries to ram it with a grav bike, but it evades him. Rhonda rolls a 12, managing a great auto pistol shot to its head, and rolls very high damage. The creature is still alive, but badly wounded as it proceeds to the eggs.

Flint takes on 2 of the beatles. The massive creatures’ mandibles prove unable to penetrate his combat armor. Rhonda and Barney join the fight from range.  Most of the team’s shots bounce off the great insects hard exoskeleton, which has combat armor-like effectiveness.  After a full 2 minutes of fighting the team manages to kill the bugs just as Roger and Lucky stop wretching, rise, and each take a shot at the beatles.

The team approaches the tree again and looks through the egg blobs to the man’s face. He groans “kill me.” Roger does as he asks. He appears to be a hunter, like the ones who previously rented the grav bikes.

The jungle is indeed dangerous. Lesson learned. Don’t mess with eggs or other things you find out there.

Barney completes repairs on Roger’s bike and the team resumes the trip to the meeting place indicated on the map.

When they arrive at the indicated clearing on the other side of a river there is no one there. They wait. Flint conceals himself. Rebels second-in-command Alyx Aaryn appears with 3 other rebels, riding Jungle Crawlers – vehicles about the same size as the grav bikes, but moving via 4 robotic legs.  After a brief discussion he tells them to follow him. The group set off to the north on the Pachyderm trail.

Flint watches the group disappear down the trail. Before he can set off after them, he see a softball sized drone fly down the trail after them. He sets the visor of his combat armor to track the thing, and sets off behind it at maximum range. He’s able to trail it.

After a ride north, Alyx leads the  team through a slightly less dense patch of jungle. They are barely able to get their grav bikes through, but the Jungle Crawlers easily traverse 100 yards, emerging onto an massive clearing revealing a blue sky. In the middle of the clearing is the decades old wreck of a Lee class 400-ton freighter, serving as a base for the rebels. The ship is covered with plant life that has overgrown it over the decades, as well as intentional camouflage. The hull has several holes that appear to be battle damage, the maneuver drive section is destroyed. One of the laser turrets on top is blown up, the other appears intact. Alyx leads them into the craft to meet with rebel leader Rockyt Raboon.

Flint follows the drone, which was following the team. He decides to hang back at the edge of the clearing, in the jungle, in case the team needs help from the outside. He loses track of the drone.

In the wreck, the team meets with Rockyt, Alyx, and a couple of other rebels. Rockyt is a woman in her mid-60s, short gray hair, wearing beat up combat armor. She welcomes the team. They explain they are looking for Jason Slimjack, who they were told was kidnapped by rebels. Alyx says it was a mistake to bring them here – that they are probably being tracked by Samson Mining. Rockyt explains that Jason is a biologist, crazy as hell, and came here of his own volition to study the Pachys. They believe the creatures are sentient, and as part of the Sophont Liberation Front want the creatures recognized as rightful owners of this world, but they have not been able to communicate with the Pachyderms at all. Still, the creatures are weirdly, proactively, and voluntarily helpful, assisting the rebels with manual labor unprompted and uncoerced.  Jason thinks there is more to the story, and has headed north where he thinks the answer to some mystery awaits. The team realizes that Nora, Jason’s mother, has lied to them.

Still, Alyx doesn’t think they should help the team. SAFCO offers to use their technical skills, in particular Barney’s engineering skills, to repair that laser turret on top of the ship. The vessel still has fuel in it’s tanks, and the generator is supplying a minimal amount of power – enough for water purification and other necessities. It’s a decades old crash, predating the arrival of Samson Mining on the planet. Probably the victim of pirate activity. “You can fix a dual pulse laser turret?” exclaims Alyx. He and Rockyt agree that it would be good to have the turret working. Eventually Samson will find them, even if not now. And if SAFCO has indeed lead the company to the rebels, they’ll need it immediately. They agree to help the team in exchange for the repair work. Barney gets to work. It’s a simple job for a master ships engineer. As he works, the rest of the team explores the ship. They see “grain” shipping containers full of weapons, ammo, and supplies, as they suspected.

As the sun sets, Flint notices a Grav Carrier about 300 feet above the ship. He radios in to the team to let them know they have company. About that time there’s a flash of light up on the G-Carrier, and a plasma bolt disintegrates a section of the ship’s hull.

Rebels spill from the ship, ready to run into the jungle, as Samson troops emerge from the jungle. One of them tries to surprise Flint, but fails. Flint shoots him, and the trooper drops.

Barney having repaired the turret, Lucky race to the turret access to use his gunnery skill. The rest of the team moves into position to fight. Lucky fires the dual pulse laser turret at the Grav Carrier, just as something is dropped from it’s door.

The Grav Carrier explodes.

At the entrance to the wrecked ship, Rockyt and other members of the team see the explosion, and see a body fall to the ground, bouncing in the area in front of them, landing face up in the soft turf. “Looks like they found our mole” says Rockyt, as the teams realizes the body is that of G. Gottfried.

The explosion of the Carrier and realization that the rebels have a ship’s laser at their disposal demoralizes the Samson security troopers, and they attempt to flee into the jungle, the rebels shooting after them.

Flint drags an unconscious trooper out of the jungle, introduces himself as a member of SAFCO, and turns the man over to the rebels as a prisoner.

The team, realizing that Jason has not been kidnapped and that they’ve been lied to by Nora, gather to consider their options. Rockyt says the rebels will have to move to another location. The team considers having Fardt and the Robot bring their ship here and salvaging the valuable laser turret. Nothing is decided yet.

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1 days elapsed in this session
Game time elapsed 172 days.

 

 

ITV Session 9: the Snakes of Uetonah

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Picking up from the last session, the entire team leaves the Inn having learned nothing from the innkeeper. During his time at the starport, Barney had noticed a former colleague from the Scouts, Clem Daxon, working on the subsidized merchant ship nearby. Barney is still curious about the Pachyderms and what’s going on  with the rebels. He returns to the starport to make contact with Clem.

Lucky and Fardt look around the city, Fardt using his streetwise skill to try to pick up some leads or info on the rebels.

Roger, Flint, and Ronda decide to go to a local watering hold, Irma’s Imported Mooch Bar, to likewise try to get information on the rebels, Jason Slimjack (the man they are seeking), or any other information of use. They walk in and mingle, and begin chatting people up.

Back at the spaceport, Barney talks to Clem who was on the Scout Vessel Brave Explorer when Barney, as a junior engineer, saved the ship from being stranded in deep space by improvising a miraculous fix to the ship’s jump drive. Clem was also an engineer, but not a miracle worker like Barney. It seems Clem’s current ship is having jump drive problems, and Barney’s offer to help is accepted. Barney checks the drive and finds no problems. He suggests that the problem may be in the control programs. Clem give him access to the computer then goes back to double check the drives. Barney quickly finds a glitch in the control software and fixes it. He then examines the cargo manifest of the vessel, seeing that they have several containers of grain from Mylor they were delivering here to Uetonah. Problem is Mylor is not a grain exporter. Barney chats up Clem a bit more, after explaining he has fixed the Jump Drive. Clem says they’ve been bringing grain from Mylor to Uetonah for a few months, and the money has been surprisingly good! Captain Seahorn, of the subsidized merchant, is a secretive person but all the crew’s shares have been excellent.

Back at the bar, Lucky and Fardt walk  in, having gleaned no useful information on the street. They walk in to see an old man with cloudy eyes, dark brown skin, and a rough brown cloak begging. Their shipmates all give the old man generous amounts of credit. He pats them all on the shoulder, thanks, and blesses them. He walks past Lucky and Fardt, speaks to them, then Lucky gives him 20 credits. He blesses them too.

The team at the bar receives a  message via their communicators from Barney, who explains that he thinks he’s found the source of rebel weapons, and he’s keeping watch on what happens to the gear, thinking it might lead the team to the rebels and Jason.

As Lucky and Fardt begin to drink the mildly hallucinogenic mooch, a woman approaches Roger and thanks him and the team for their kindness to the beggar. Was she shakes hands with Roger she passes him a tiny map.

Roger and the team examine the map. It shows a series of trails through the jungle, the route crossing a river, and ending in a spot labeled “meeting.” Clearly they are on the trail. The meeting spot is a good 40 kilometers away and they don’t know anything about the trails.

Lucky and Fardt remember seeing some hunters returning five grav bikes to a rental shop. The team goes there and inquires about the bikes and where could they possibly be of use in the dense jungle. The shopkeeper explains that the jungle is riddled with trails used by the Pachyderms to travel long distances. The team rents the five bikes, one for each human member of the group. They are not suitable for Fardt, and they have little cargo space. He’ll stay with the ship. The grav bikes are of the Imperial Scout Service variety, so the Scouts are all very familiar with them, and Flint has a general skill with grav vehicles.

The team, 4 ex-Scouts and an army colonel, are all well-versed in wilderness survival. They collect the supplies they need, choose weapons (including 2 or 3 grenade each from the stash from the asteroid), and set off.

They ride the two kilometers to the mine, and find the entrance to the Pachy trail described by the shop keeper. As they riding into the trails, they find themselves in a different world.  The trail is about 10′ wide and 15′ tall – big enough for Pachys to travel single-file, or to ride grav bikes two side by side. The ceiling of the trails is nearly solid canopy, but they are lit by a weird bioluminescence. The bikes of course have lights. The team proceeds along the route at a moderate speed.

As they approach the first fork in the Pachy trail route, Roger (in the rear position) notices that they’re being followed by men on rapidly closing grav bikes. Roger’s bike is hit by a bullet, but continues functioning, as another bullet whizzes past his head. He puts his bike on autopilot and pitches a grenade back at his pursuers. The rest of the team hears an explosion to the rear, as the two of the enemy bikes blow up pitching their riders, unconscious, into the trees.

The team continues flying down the trail. Barney decides that since the grenade worked so well for Roger he’ll try it too. As the goons shoot, the second grenade explodes, taking out two more. In front, Flint and Ronda see a hole ahead in the roof of the trail, leading into another tunnel. Ronda continues forward, as Flint flies up into this exit, slides the bike around 180 degrees, and waits for the next bad guys to fly down below him, his auto rifle ready to take them out.

However, the team nails the last two goons with another grenade, leaving Flint nothing to shoot.

Just as Flint realized there are no enemies left, he hears something big behind him. He turns to see a gigantic snake-like creature about to strike. He manages to accelerate his grav bike back into the down-tube just as the snake attacks with a loud snap of its massive jaws. It’s fast  – as fast as a grav bike – and follows him down to the Pachy trail.

Lucky throws his bike onto autopilot, swings around facing backward on his bike, takes aim, and hits it twice with his autorifle, but the beast continues pursuit.

The team looks back to see Flint racing back toward them, followed by a 5′ diameter 90′ long snake-like creature. The beast snaps again – barely missing. Flint tosses a grenade into it’s mouth.  The explosion hurts the monster, but fails to stop it. Lucky throws his bike onto autopilot, swings around facing backward on his bike, takes aim, and hits it twice with his autorifle, but the beast continues pursuit.

It attacks again, again its massive jaws barely missing Flint and the bike. Flint clicks the bike on to autopilot, takes his two remaining grenades one in each hand, pulls the pins with his teach, and lobs them into the beast, finally stopping it! The team regroups farther up the trail. Ronda reports from up ahead that more access holes to what are apparently snake tubes are ahead. The team decides that the initial blasts from the grenades used on the pursuing grav bikes must have drawn the creature’s attention. They set off again, this time quietly skimming the bikes down through these biological caves, continuing toward the meeting places on the map.

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2 days elapsed in this session
Game time elapsed 171 days.

ITV Session 8: Mission to Uetonah

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SAFCO, along with Flint Sideron and Ronda the Pilot begin the game on the freetrader, floating outside the asteroid complex they raided in game 7. They have already done ship maintenance, but have not yet skimmed the local gas giant for fuel. The set off to do just that, while discussing their next course of action. They have a hold full of military weapons that Sammy Oberon had stolen from the RCMP, but of course Sammy is dead so Flint can’t get his bounty. Mergatroyd and Reesus Peesus are waiting on Mylor for the team to return with the loot. The members of SAFCO confer amongst themselves regarding the best course of action. Should they return the loot to the dirtbags on Mylor as agreed, or return it to the RCMP, two jumps away on Planet Overon, just across the board of the Prometheus subsector. They decide it would be smarter to be friends with the RCMP, and simply give the scum on Mylor a cut of the reward to keep them happy. Ronda agrees to the new terms which will net her 30,000cr. They will eventually pay Mergatroyd and Reesus back for the fuel they spotted them, and whatever else will keep them relatively happy. After all, they didn’t risk their lives.

They make a Jump-1 to the unnamed system just one parsec rimward. That system, charted but unexplored, proves to have 6 planets, including a gas giant. One planet teeming with life but no signs of intelligent inhabitants. They do drive maintenance in that system and continue working on the drone (failing all their rolls, again).

They then make the Jump-2 to Overon, a rocky world of size 5, and home to a large RCMP mining operation. As they land, they see massive transport ships being loaded with refined and raw ore. A big operation. Flint was stationed on this planet for five years, and knows people. He suggests they visit Administrator Robert Tilton, in charge of security and law matters. The local Law Level is 6, so they leave their weapons on the ship. Barney stays on the ship to begin drive maintenance. He and Fardt keep an eye on Ronda, while Flint, Roger, and Lucky head out to see Tilton.

Legal administrator Tilton remembers Flint well. After some small talk, the team explains there can be no bounty on Sammy Oberon because he’s dead, but they have recovered a lot of RCMP military gear. Tilton agrees to pay them what it’s worth, a hefty sum of 470,000cr. (they keep a few things too – a set of combat armor, some gauss rifles, combat environmental suits). After paying Ronda her 30k and deducting 40K to repay the cost of their fuel of the job, they have 400K left, plus 10 good vacc suits worth 10,000cr each. They give Fardt a 22,000cr bonus, for which he is quite grateful. To celebrate they head to the local casino, where everyone places bets, no one has gambling skill, and everyone loses to the house. Fardt thinks gambling sucks now. They head to the a tavern recommended by Flint, the Mooch Mine. The tavern specializes in an alcoholic drink called Mooch, with mild hallucinogenic properties. Flint sees a number of familiar faces.

A women comes in who looks familiar to Flint. She’s missing a leg, and has a cheap prosthetic. She’s being treated shabbily by the other patrons. He recognizes her as Sergeant Nora Slimjack, who served with him on a few campaigns. Flint buys her a drink and invites her to sit with them. Eventually, Nora confides that she’s like to hire the team with the balance of her retirement account from the army. It seems her son, a biologist, was on the nearby world of Uetonah doing research, and was kidnapped rebels on the world fighting against the Samson Mining Company, who operate a mining colony on the planet. She has 200K. The planet is an amber zone world – serious caution required of anyone landing there as their is military conflict happening. The team considers it. Ronda says “You guys are really going to walk into a war zone to help this hag?” She seems to not want a piece of this action. However, she reconsiders. The team is glad to have her on the job – she is one more person an enemy might aim at during a firefight other than them. Looking at the star map, it is clear that going to Uetonah before heading back to Mylor will cost them only an extra week in jump space, and will of course net them some good money. They take the job. They complete preparations on the ship and take off of Uetonah. Successful jump roll made by Roger.

During their time in Jump Space, Barney assists in the drone construction, and they finally finish it.

They arrive in the Uetonah system, and as per their usual habit decide to skim the gas giant, but first they contact the local authorities, thinking this might be a good idea given the situation on the main world. The response “You are directed to land on Uetonah, at the spaceport, and submit your ship for inspection before you may refuel.” They learn that the locals insist on checking all incoming ships for weapons shipments to the rebels. While they don’t like this, they agree.

As they enter the atmosphere of Uetonah, they see a nearly global jungle. Heavy foliage, very tall trees. You can’t see the ground. As they approach the spaceport, they see a vast area where the jungle has been completely clear-cut. Decimated. Strip mining is occurring. They see lots of activity. Machines and large beasts of burden moving things around, hauling ore, etc. The spaceport and colony are 2km from the mine, also in a clear-cut area, with a 30′ tall stone wall surround the entire city.

They land. Immediately the local inspectors great them and insist on checking the ship. Barney stays onboard with Fardt and Ronda. The others are asked to speak to the head of security, Sergeant G. Gottfried.  As they leave the ship, the crew sees raw ore being loaded by massive green elephant-like creatures  ridden or directed by human and alien workers. The beasts are 12′ tall, have 4 tusks, and use their great strength and tusks to slowly and carefully pick up massive ore containers and carry them into cargo holds.

A small man with a grating voice, Gottfried asks Roger, Lucky, and Flint what they are doing on Uetonah. They explain they are looking for one Jason Slimjack.  Gottfried has a record of his arrival, but nothing beyond that. He suggests that he might have checked into the local in. They explain that he was apparently kidnapped by rebels for a ransom. Gottfried explains that this is not uncommon, as the rebel scum do anything they can to raise money and pay for smuggled weapons. Barney asks what the rebels are upset about. Gottfried shows the crew a flyer, one of many that are distributed around the city, that say “Free the Pachyderms!”. He explains that Uetonah mines valuable minerals useful in high-efficiency fuel purification systems. Criminal elements in the subsector want Samson Mining to pay “protection” but the company refuses. So the criminals have convinced a small faction that the big animals seen working in the docks – the Pachyderms – are sentient, intelligent beings. These true-believers, though few in number, are causing a lot of grief to Samson Mining.

He tells them that if Jason has been kidnapped, it will be hard to find him (if he’s still alive). The rebels are constantly on the move. The jungle is dense and difficult to travel through. Barney asks of the Pachyderm ARE intelligent. Gottfried laughs. Look at them (pointing out the window). They was some of the creatures doing their work, occasionally defecating like a cow might as it lumbers around. “No, they certainly are not sentient. Watch them. They are just big, strong, dumb beasts, though useful.” He goes on to demonstrate his lack of respect for the biosphere in general. Clearly to Gottfried this is simply a world with resources to be exploited.

He writes the team permits to carry their weapons outside the walled city, as they clearly want to look for Jason. He tells them the jungle is very dangerous, but certainly they are free to explore.

The team regroups and goes to the Inn, where they ask about Jason. The innkeeper has not seen him, but offers the team lodgings. They politely decline.

5 weeks, 2 days have passed. 37 days.
Game time elapsed 169 days. 5.63 months.
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ITV Session 7: Asteroid Raid

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2 weeks have passed since the SAFCO team returned to Mylor after their Scout-Reactivation mission to Planet Trillos and the encounter with the Void Bug. They have been debriefed by Admin Billy Zoom of the Scout Service.  The Type-A Free Trader has been maintained by Barney and is ready for action. Barney and Lucky have been working on a reconnaissance drone. To build it they need to make three electronics rolls and three mechanics rolls over the course of the two weeks. They fail all the electronics roll, and make two mechanics rolls. The project is giving them some trouble. Will take another two weeks, three electronics rolls, and one mechanics roll to succeed. They can roll a couple times during the next two jumps.

Onboard the jumpliner Nebula View, bound for Mylor,  bounty hunter Flint Sideron is getting impatient. After a week in jump about the liner, he has not been able to locate what should be an easy quarry, a rotund and flamboyant trader in illegal arms. He has a description but no name, but believes this man to be the next step in the trail to gangster Sammy Oberon. the Ridley Consortium of Mining Planets, in the nearby Prometheus subsector, has a bounty on Oberon’s head. He stole a massive shipment of military grade weapons from them by colluding with a now-dead crooked corporate accountant. Flint wants the 100,000 credit from his former employer, and has been tracking Oberon for two months. Finally, as the ship is less than a day out from the Mylor system, the portly scumbag shows up in the vessel’s casino, making lots of noise, winning lots of money, women hanging all over him. Flint, dressed in a subdued suit, steps up to the table and places a bet that the big man will win again. He does. Flint let’s it ride. He wins again. The man bellows with victorious laughter, dabs the sweat from his brow with a fancy handkerchief, and declares that he’s now hungry (he’s been munching on candy the whole time). Clearly, this is the man Flint is looking for, who should lead him to Oberon.

On Mylor, SAFCO is once again contacted by Ronda the Pilot and the fixer Mergatroyd.  They agree to meet that afternoon at the Happy Gluck the next day.

The Nebula View pops out of jump space in the Mylor system, a couple of hours from Planet Mylor. Flint is keeping an eye on the fat man. The massive ship lands at the spaceport and the passengers disembark. Flint has his gear stored in a locker and follows the man. Leaving the premises of the space port, they move into the busy market/bazaar outside. Flint keeps the man in view as he weaves through the crowd on the wide walk. He stops and speaks to a beggar sitting against a wall, his chubby bejeweled fingers drops a few credits into the beggars cup, then he smacks him across the cheek for no apparent reason and walks a bit farther, stopping to look at some intoxicants. Flint walks by the beggar. “You look like a man on a mission”, say the man. He’s old. Gray hair, scruffy gray beard, tattered brown cloak. Flint recognizes the man as a monk of the Galactic Brotherhood. He drops a few credits in the man’s cup. “Thank you, brother. May the galaxy’s blessing be yours!” “Why did he hit you? ” asks Flint. “I’ve no idea, I’ve never seen him before. He will have no blessings.” Flint sees that the man’s eyes are cloudy, like every brother he’s ever encountered. Another passerby drops some money in the cup. The monk looks toward him and the man’s face visibly calms, as if filled with peace. The monk directs Flint to the Happy Gluck, at which he might find information about good lodgings, as he see’s the fat man step into an expensive inn a few doors down.

Several hours later, SAFCO, including Fardt, assemble at the Happy Gluck. They are met by the 7′ tall, four-eyed, purple-skinned Mergatroyd, who leads them to a table to find Ronda the Pilot and a rotund man in a fancy jacket. They sit down. Ronda introduces the man as Resus Peesus. She explains the deal. Mergatroyd recently gained information that the criminal Sammy Oberon has been killed by a rival gangster. Months earlier, Oberon managed to illegally have a shipment of military grade arms stolen from the Ridley Consortium of Mining Planets, and diverted to a secret stash. He’d been waiting for the heat to die down before fencing the gear. The weapons are thought to be sitting unguarded somewhere. Hundreds of thousands of credits of gear, waiting to be found. Through his contacts, Mergatroyd found Peesus, who believes he knows the coordinates of the trove of goods. For a percentage of the take, Peesus will give them the location. After bargaining, the assembled group agrees to give SAFCO 35% of the take, since they are doing the legwork. As they bargain, Flint enters the tavern and manages to eavesdrop from an adjacent table. He gets enough info to tell him that he is on the right trail.

As SAFCO returns to their new HQ , Flint follows them. He uses the stealth inherent in his Forward Observer skill and they don’t notice him. Finally, he knocks on the door of their office and hands them his business card. He tells them that Ronda and Mergatroyd are planning to double cross them (a lie) and offers to split the loot with the 50/50 if he can join in on the trip, as he wants to capture Sammy Oberon. Fardt laughs. “Oberon is dead!” The others say it’s a rumor, but they believe Flint, and agree to take him on the trip.

They spend the next day preparing for the trip. The next morning they go to the spaceport, where they meet Ronda and Mergatroyd at the ship. Merg gives them a chip with the coordinates of a large asteroid in the Zerix system, the supposed location of the weapons stash, and wishes them well. They board with Ronda and set off.

One week in jump space takes the group to the Zerix system. The scouts are familiar with the system, having helped in the initial survey many years before. Roger pilots the ship to the asteroid belt, and successfully gets to the target asteroid without incident. The asteroid is about 1.5 miles long, 1 mile wide and thick. There is an opening on one end large enough for a very large ship to enter easily. The opening has some working lights around its edge. Barney runs a sensor sweep, detecting some power and heat generation from inside, but no radio emissions. Roger takes the ship into the opening.

Inside they find a huge cavern. The walls are scattered with abandoned mining equipment. The interior is still lit, though dimly. There are openings to very large tunnels that appear to be natural formations. They take the ship deeper, slowly exploring the interior of the asteroid. To be on the safe side, the crew dons their vacc suits.

The find another large chamber 1/2 mile per side and just as tall. At the “bottom” is a complex of modular structures that appear to be quarters from the old mining operation. Some lights are on.  As they survey the area, the robot detects the electronic chatter of other robots – up to 20 – on the ships radio. Simultaneously, two mining pods fly into the chamber behind the ship. The pods are spherical, with powerful thrusters, 2 manipulator arms, and close range mining lasers. The pods are fast. Faster than the ship.

Roger takes the ship into an evasive course, skimming the walls of the cavern, as Lucky and Flint each take a gun turret. They destroy two of the robot-piloted pods and two more appear. In engineering, Barney uses his Engineering-3 skill to boost power to the maneuver drive temporarily, making the ship only slightly slower than the pods. They are still faster, but at least now SAFCO is 2/3 their speed, rather than 1/3.  Barney bounces against the cavern wall, but the hull remains intact.The crew destroys the two pods and one other while Roger evades. Finally the pods stop coming.

The team lands the ship some distance from the buildings, with both turrets still manned and ready for action. As Barney, Fardt, and Ronda get out in the vacuum and microgravity to repair the hull damage, more robots exit one of the buildings, armed with military gear – guns, a grenade launcher, a laser cannon, and a plasma gun. Flint and Lucky blast them with the ships lasers before they can fire, exploding the plasma gun, grenades, and laser cannon and destroying the robots.  SAFCO’s robot reports that there is no more robot chatter on the radio. Apparently they’ve destroyed all of them.

The team explores the buildings, eventually finding a number of large crates full of military gear intended for the corporate military of the Ridley Consortium of Mining Planets. Besides personal weapons, there is a very valuable Gauss gun turret meant to be mounted on some military vehicle.

They load the stuff into the ship’s cargo hold and take off. They intend, at this point, to return the stuff to RCMP, after perhaps taking a few items for themselves, and hopefully collect a nice bounty on the stuff (since Oberon is, apparently, dead). They will decide how to deal with Ronda, Resus Peesus, and Mergatroyd next session, and finalize plans on where to go and what to do with the goods.

Elapsed game time: 132 days (4.4 months)
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ITV Session 6: the Evil Bug

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5 weeks have passed since the last session. The team returned exoarchaeologist Zal Twist to Planet Mylor, and from there he began the long journey rimward to Planet Zapata. The team spends their time doing maintenance on the ships, replenishing gear, maintaining the robot, and designing a drone (to be built soon). They consider buying an office for the company, SAFCO, but decide against it. They calculate that annual maintenance on the ships will cost 30,000 credits for the Scout ship, and 38,000 for the free trader. Berthing at the spaceport will cost 3000 credits per month, per ship. Clearly they have some thinking to do. They calculate how much total money they have made, minus expenses, on the Zal Twist missions, and each put 20,000 into an account for the business, for a total of 60,000.

While maintaining the ships, a local gluck delivers a hand-written message. “Have I got a deal for you. Meet me at the Happy Gluck tonight. Ronda.” Wondering what the old pilot of Croyd’s Scumbags could want, the team goes to the tavern at the appropriate time. After sitting down, they are approached by a 7′ tall, purple skinned, 4-eyed humanoid who introduces himself as Mergatroyd. He claims to be a treasure hunter with information about possible riches in the Void. He finally admits to working with Ronda. The team expresses interest and he says he’ll be in touch. At that time Scout administrator Billy Zoom walks up with two local law enforcement, greets the team, and sits down. After some small talk, he gives them the bad news — they are being reactivated for a short time. The Scout Service needs them, and all the other teams are away on missions. They go back to his office to discuss matters further.

Admin Zoom explains that a research station on the interdicted world of Trillos, 2 parsecs away and on the edge of the Void, has been out of communication for 6 months. Probably just an automated x-boat failure, but still, the situation must be investigated. He explains that the planet is interdicted because of the station there is conducting weapons research. It is run by a small team of scientists, led by Dr. Marla Glascow. Lastly, he notes that she is a low-level Psi, with a minor ability in telepathy. Two marines stationed on Mylor will accompany the team in case there is trouble — Force Commander Gregor Rodrowski and Captain Clementine Strongbow. They’ll be well equipped. The Scout Service will pay the team 60,000 credits and cover fuel expenses. The free trader is already set up with extra fuel tanks, so it can make the Jump-2 trip there and back without refueling.

The marines arrive at the ship the next morning, introduce themselves, and load their stuff.  The team takes off. During the week in Jump Space FC Rodrowski helps Roger train with his autopistol. The rest study their own skills.

Arriving at Planet Trillos, Barney sends the appropriate access code to the network of interdiction satellites. He then downloads recent data from them, which indicates no ships have landed in the last 6 months, and no weird activity.

Taking the ship in and surveying from their air, they see the entrance to labs, which are in a natural cavern complex in a mountain. The terrain is rocky. They also see a damaged Scout ship on the landing pad, blocking them. They land 200 yards away, suit up in Vacc suits (the Marines in sealed combat armor), and take the air raft up the landing pad. Fardt goes with them, not needing a vacc suit as he can breath the tainted air.

They see a large hole blown in the left rear hull of the Scout ship. Entering the ship, they find a dead man in a vacc suit near the the hole. He head has been blown apart. Roger examines and determines that it was blown from the inside out. Barney examines damage to the ship, and finds a remote detonator in the same area as the dead man.

The team enters the main airlock to the underground complex, finding a large chamber containing supplies. Lights are very dim – emergency lighting only.

As they explore the complex, Fardt alerts them to a threat from the rear (it’s hard to surprise a gluck). The team turns to find two humanoids fast approaching. The beings wear the tattered clothing of the research team, and each has a 20′ tentacle with claws extending from its back. The team orders Fardt to the back, as they and the marines engage the creatures. Gunfire erupts in the dim light. The creatures lash out at the marines, but their striker appendages prove ineffective against the combat armor. The group blasts the creatures with enough gunfire to kill a dozen normal humans before they fall. As the last one falls, Fardt calls out again — two more are approaching from the other side. They attack the gluck, whose luck proves incredible, as four attacks miss him. Again he runs to the back, the Marines to the front, and again the team blasts away until the creatures are dead. They clearly are the science team, mutated by some as-yet unknown force.

Artist: Bob Eggleton. Book: Shadow of the Scorpion, by Neal Asher

The team continues to search the facility, finally entering the engineering section. In the corner of that room, they see a horrible sight. A massive insect-like creature sits, leaning against the wall, revealing it’s underbelly. The head scientist, Dr. Glascow, is enveloped in its flesh, tentacles and limbs penetrating her skin, her eyes flashing back and forth as if panicking. Roger hears a voice in his head. “You — are the pilot. I need you. The others must die.” The marines quickly evaluate the situation and begin shooting. Roger shoots too. Barney enters the room to hear a loud popping sound. Captain Strongbow falls to the floor, the interior of her helmet’s visor covered with blood and brain. Barney aims not at the bug, but at Dr. Glascow, having reasoned that the bug is using her telepathy to do some kind of psionic assault.  He blows her brains out.  Roger and FC Rodrowski continue blasting the bug until it is dead.

They remove Captain Strongbow’s helmet to find her head blown up just as the man they found in the Scout ship. They secure the rest of the facility, collect data. They discover that this was a bio weapons lab, working to weaponize a species discovered in the Void. They had no idea it was intelligent and able to take control of other creatures. Using Dr. Glascow’s knowledge and telepathy, it was able to use the lab to capture and mutate her fellow researchers. Clearly, the dead scientist they found in the Scout ship disabled the ship to prevent the creature from leaving the planet, moments before the creature, able to greatly boost  Dr. Glascow’s telepathy and psi power, blew up his brain.

The team leaves the planet, returning to Mylor, where Captain Strongbow receives a proper burial. The team collects 60,000 credits for their work, and are of course instructed that this is all classified information and not to speak further of it.

“I wonder” thinks Fardt, “if there are more of those bugs out there.”

Elapsed game time: 109 days (3.6 months)
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ITV Session 5: To Kill a God

This image is the work of Charles Chi — great stuff. https://www.artstation.com/artwork/nB6qX

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The players pick up exactly where they left off from session 4. They are standing before an animated 3-d construct of an insectoid alien’s head, who has said “I was one of the ancients, and I’ve brought you here…to kill me.”  The insect-like Protectors surround the players and the 3d-printing pedestal. The image communicates via the universal translator held by the Protector Chief.

The group questions the alien. It explains that this world is its prison. “Why do you want to be killed? Can we simply take you to another planet.” No, says the alien, who goes on to explain that thousands of years before he was a political dissident in the highly oppressive society of the Ancients, known to Zal as the Precursors. Their civilization had grown to a very high tech level, but had become controlled by a “death cult” at its upper echelons. They wished to destroy all intelligent life outside their own culture. This ancient, apparently a person of some influence, sought to change this as well as return a sense of positive purpose to the Precursor society. For this, his mind was stripped from his body, transferred to an artificial matrix, and he was imprisoned on this world on the outskirts of Precursor space, to exist in a state of limbo, alone and going mad, for eternity.

Now the alien wishes for the players to destroy his disembodied consciousness. He reveals that the “Heart of the Gods” worshipped by the Protectors, is in fact simply a minor broadcast power outlet of the true Heart of the Gods – a contained singularity power source, housed hundreds of feet below in a chamber in the bedrock of this planet. He reveals further that his mind is actually stored in the very structure of that singularity. He tells them that they must not allow that level of technology to infect their society, and that by helping him — by killing him – they’ll be serving their own civilization. When they revealed that they understood the true, disruptive potential of the Heart of the Gods (at the end of the last session), he knew he could reveal himself to them.

In talking to the alien, they discover that the weird “cells in space” they have seen on the Precursor star maps represent a planet-killing weapon apparently unleashed after this being’s imprisonment. Not good, as it is headed for Imperial space (at sublight it’s a long way away).

The players voice their concerns that destroying this device, containing a singularity, might destroy the planet and thus annihilate the Protectors.  The alien voices some disdain for the Protectors, but also admiration for the groups ethics. He suggests that they might first relocate the Protectors. They decide to move them to Zal’s World – the moon in this system which they first visited. The Protectors, it is determined, could survive there. The Precursor agrees to command the Protectors to cooperate. They believe him to be a god. He tells them that the PCs are the Messengers of the Gods.

The 3d printing pedestal slides sideways, revealing an elevator platform. The team takes it hundreds of feet down, and find themselves in a massive chamber. In the chamber is a circular 200 foot deep pit – smooth metal sides, 90 feet across. The chamber is bathed in shifting blue-green glowing light that shifts eerily on the walls.

Halfway down (100 feet) is a 15 glowing translucent globe suspended in the very middle of the pit, held in place by four 5′ wide metal spokes extending from the walls of the pit. The Heart of the Gods, and the container of the alien dissident’s consciousness. The walls of the chamber and the pit are featureless. Not visible controls or technology. Silent.

The team examines the room, and decides the best way to destroy the machine would be to put a high explosive charge against it.  Back up in the main chamber, the Alien agrees, stating the spinning singularity is held in place in the middle of the globe be a complex matrix of artificial gravity fields. Disrupting those fields violently, even for a moment, should destroy the system.

Now – logistics. They need to move the Protectors and they have no explosives. The team decides to return to Mylor and get the much larger Type-A Merchant ship. While there, the team acquires explosives from a mining supply company, a timer and detonator, and some rope to lower a team member down 100 feet to one of the beams holding up the Heart of the Gods.  A week there to maintain the ship, and another week in jump and they find themselves back on the Precursor system. They spend a couple of days moving the Protectors to Zal’s World. They then return to the Precursor “prison”. As a show of gratitude, the alien uses the 3d printer to create a data module for Zal, containing cultural info on the Precursor society. For the rest of the team, it creates a smooth black sphere the size of a softball — a universal translator.

The team descends down to the power source. Lucky repels down, with the rest of the team and the robot securing him. He plants the bomb next to the globe, sets the timer for 5 hours.

Then they get the hell off that planet.

From 200 planetary diameters they turn the ship, train the sensors on the rocky little world, and watch the planet disappear into the singularity, releasing a burst of radiation — the last trace of dead god.

Back on Zal’s World, the small red humanoid aliens meet their new Protectors.

 

Elapsed game time: 58 days.
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ITV Session 4: The Heart of the Gods

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When we left the Travellers, they had just left the moon we’ll call Zal’s World. Having made repairs to their ship, the Rambler, and the ship formerly owned by Croyd, they begin making their way with both ships to a safe jump distance. The survivors of Croyd’s crew all in cold sleep about the merchant ship, Roger calculates Nav routes for both ships back to Mylor, where they intend to return Zal and collect the other half of their pay.

As they make their way to the jump point, about the Rambler, Zal continues to frantically study information he’s able to extract from the Precursor data module acquired in the alien Ziggurat. The ships sync up for simultaneous jumps, and just as they hit the JUMP button Zal exclaims “Wait! Don’t jump!” It’s too late, jump has been initiated and the ships leave the system.

It seems that Zal has uncovered evidence of another Precursor site within that same system, on a rocky planet in the inner solar system. Too late. The ships are in jump space on their way back to Mylor.

During jump, the team each works on the long process of upgrading their skills. Roger begins learning proper operation of the Vacc suit. Lucky begins studying navigation. Barney begins studying Computer. Zal spends his time reading texts on Galactic Folklore. Fardt, having watched the Scouts pilot the ship, says “I think I can do that! I’m going to become a pilot!”, and begins studying ship piloting. Iron Balls McGinty just watches movies.

They arrive in the Mylor system and must decide what to do with the merchant ship and it hibernating crew. They land. They want to sell the Type A Merchant as-is, but fail to find a cash buyer on Mylor. After some discussion, Fardt makes a Streetwise roll – succeeds – and says “ I know a guy.” He leaves, and a couple of hours later come back with another Gluck named Rawlph whom they apprise of the situation. “For 15K I can make this problem go away, he says.” They agree. Rawlph sees about changing the ship’s transponder and registration. When asked what company name it should be registered under, the team tells him “Super Adventure Friends Co.” (SAFCO). They go about making complete quality repairs to both ships.

They still have a number of the Scumbags in cold sleep. They check all for criminal records/rewards. Two have records on Mylor. They wake them and turn them in for the rewards. They wake Ronda the Pilot and just turn her loose, as they do the remaining Scumbags.

Finally, they decide to cut Iron Balls McGinty loose. He’s been a pretty good crew member, but the scout ship Rambler is crowded, and he really doesn’t have any skills they don’t have. Still, he’s was true to his word when he joined the crew. They give him 10,000 credits – enough for high passage to another world. He thanks them, saying “I’ll have ten times that much once I get to the casino!”. They get contact info should they need him again, and they part ways with him.

They consider what to do with the Merchant ship. They don’t want to be flying a fleet around the sector. They are now the “legal” owners of the Merchant ship. However, it might prove useful in the future, at least until they can sell it. They pay to keep it at the Mylor spaceport.

Zal, of course, is anxious to return to Precursor system in the Void. He agrees to pay them the same fee as before, though he admits that will nearly exhaust his research budget for the time. At least until the University on Planet Zapata can see the value of the Precursor artifact and research he’s accomplished.

A week on Mylor. Maintenance is done on the ship. New gear and provisions are purchased, and they set off of the Precursor system. No jump mishaps. A week in jump. On the way, Lucky installs new heavier plating on the robot, making it a bit more resistant to damage.

They arrive in the system and locate the smaller, rocky inner planet. First they go to the gas giant to refuel, Roger skillfully avoiding the dangerous radiation bursts. Arriving at the smaller rocky world, they find it to be size 3, with a thin tainted atmosphere. No water – no large liquid bodies at all. From orbit the planet appears to be blasted. The surface is covered by massive craters. They scan the surface, but detect no abnormal radiation. Spending some time in orbit, taking turns searching for signs of Precursor civilization, Roger detects an obviously artificial radio signal. They trace it to its approximate point of origin. Having taken the “covered” air raft from the Merchant vessel, they leave the Rambler in orbit and take the air raft to the surface. As they descend, more surface features come into view. They see some volcanic activity. The surface is covered by some alien flora – clearly based on a completely different biology. Still no radiation.

Following the radio signal to its source, they see the ruins of an installation far below on the edge of one of the massive craters, next to a dry river bed which runs along the side of a cliff.

The examine the area from the air. The alien forest surrounding the small ruins is thick. They can see that something large — some things — seem to be moving in there. They find a landing spot in the compound far away from the movement. They decide that Roger and Fardt will stay in the air raft, keep it floating above the compound, watching for trouble, while the others investigate.

Donning protective suits and respirators, the landing party investigates the ruins. They notice what is apparently a collapsed bridge, leading across the dry river bed. On the other side appears to be the entrance to a natural cavern. Reporting to Roger, he brings the air raft down to get closer, confirming the opening and seeing that it’s big enough for a human to go through.

The robot reports something is approaching from the other side of the compound – audio sensors indicate something big. The team turns to investigate, to see 3 giant insect-like creatures approaching. The things are about twice the size of the air raft, 8 legs, and seem aggressive. Roger quickly brings in the air raft, they landing party gets on board, and he takes it up high in a nick of time. The beast stand below trying in vain to reach the air raft, opening their jaws and extending powerful 20’ “strikers”. The teams determines from their behavior that they are probably not sentient, and they are impeding the team’s mission. Opening a hatch, Lucky uses an auto rifle to test the creatures toughness. They are easy to hit, but 8 shots simply deflect from the monsters armor before one strikes a relatively soft spot. The monster barely notices. This will be a problem, as they have no more powerful weapons.

About this time, one of the monsters, then the others, seem to back down and begin retreating. From across the dry river bed, a new group of creatures has advanced. Insectoid — resembling a cross between a man-sized grasshopper and preying mantis, these creatures each old a circular device between manipulative limbs. While the team can’t see what is affecting the monsters, it is clear that the new creatures are using a technological weapon. They drive the beasts back into the forrest.

The team lands the air raft and meets the creatures. Zal attempts to communicate. The creatures seem friendly. They motion for the team to follow them, leading them into the cave entrance at the foot of the cliff.

The interior is of a regular shape. Clearly not natural, and opens into a large, square chamber. It is lit. There are openings all over the walls, which are 40’ high, in which the team can see many more of the insectoids.

There are two features in the room. First is a stone column extending to the ceiling, with a glass window displaying a technological system. In front of that is a small black stone pedestal. The leader of the insectoids again attempts to communicate, as more of the creatures some out front the walls. The team finds itself in the midst of an entire tribe. They can see that floating in the middle of the chamber in the column is some kind of slightly glowing metal ball.

The insectoid leader turns to the pedestal, bows, and on top of the surface a device is quickly materialized. The leader picks it up, clicks out some of it’s language, and the devices translates. “We are the Protectors. Are you the ancients?”

Zal responds. “No, we are not, we are simply seekers of knowledge. What do you protect?”

“We protect the Heart of the Gods”, replies the being, gesturing toward the floating ball in the column. “For Millenia we have served this function, awaiting the return of our creators.”

“May we look upon the Heart of the Gods?” asks the team?

“Yes, of course.”

The team sees, on display through the glass, a glowing metal ball floating in what is obviously a magnetic levitation/containment system”.

Zal looks astonished. “Boys, we have just discovered something of incredible danger. From my research of the last few weeks using the precursor data module, as well as folk tales, I had thought this might be possible. I believe this is a confined singularity power generator. Should this technology become known, it would change the balance of power in the entire Empire. Our civilization is not prepared to handle this power. We can’t allow this power to be taken — it will be misused.”

“I agree”, say Barney and Lucky. Roger nods.

The black pedestal becomes active again, as thousands of tiny black cubes form the 3-D image of an insectoid head and face, vaguely similar to the Protectors.

It speaks, the voice emanating from the spherical translation device.

“Greetings. I was one of the Ancients, and I’ve brought you here…to kill me.”

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Elapsed game time: 38 days

ITV Session 3: Showdown in Space

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The scouts begin this game on the surface of the moon, on which they have investigated the Ziggurat temple and its observatory upper level, obtained the robot, and taken a data storage module.  They attempt first aid to the Scumbags from whom they saved the natives. Roger uses his Medic skill – failing his roll on Croyd, the leader. Croyd will bleed out and die. He makes the roll on the others. They keep the Scumbags restrained.

They know that Croyd’s ship is still in orbit, and is likely bigger than theirs. Iron Balls McGinty confirms this, noting that they are dealing with a modified Type A Trader, with 2 double laser turrets. However, most of the crew is here on the ground, leaving Ronda, the pilot, and 3 crewmen in the ship. The PCs need to get Zal Twist back to Mylor to complete their job, but realize that with the enemy craft in orbit they may not make it to the jump point. They devise a plan.

Roger realizes that the Scumbags’ ship must be parked in orbit, using the moon as a shield against the periodic radiation bursts from the planet.

Having bribed Iron Balls to join their crew, Lucky and Barney take him, the Robot, and Fardt up in the Scumbags’ landing craft. Iron Balls reports that he’s returning with the injured Croyd — that the “marks” were tougher than they looked — the rest of the crew is dead. Ronda believes him and sends him coordinates for the current location of the ship. The landing craft leaves the atmosphere and after some time approaches the ship. Ronda opens the bay doors for the lander, and they touch down in the small hanger.

As this is happening, Roger has taken the Scout ship (the Rambler) just beyond the horizon of the small moon. When he gets word that they are about to board the other ship, he pops out of the atmosphere by surprise, with Zal manning the laser turret. Now, Zal isn’t trained on the turret, but the goal isn’t to hit the trader, but only to cause a distraction for the pilot. Zal screws up and hits the enemy anyway, disabling the traders’ maneuver drive. Ronda, using the automated turret, scores a laser hit on the Ramber, hitting the hull. The ship begins to depressurize. Roger and Zal put on their vacc suits. Roger continues to use the maneuver/evade program to avoid further damage, no knowing that the trader is now incapable of maneuvering.

Back on board the Scumbag’s ship, the boarding party guns down two of the remaining crew members in the shuttle bay (“I never liked you anyways, Jonesy”, says Iron Balls, as he blast his former crewmate). Iron Balls leads them to the hatch down to the main crew deck, which is guarded by “the Crab” an alien crewman resembling a huge crustacean. The crab is, sadly, outnumbered and outgunned, and is quickly rendered unconscious. They open the hatch and go down the ladder, finding themselves right in front of the door to the bridge. The door is locked. They need to get in there. They know they are in a damaged ship, but have no idea what the damage is. They need to end this before either of the ships is further damaged or destroyed. Iron Balls voices concern that Ronda might depressurize the rest of the ship, in which case they are screwed. They order the Robot to use its immense strength to open the door, but as the Robot moves to do this, the door opens…

Ronda, the pilot, is standing in front of them, hands up. “I surrender. This ship is dead in space. If it takes one more hit we’re all dead. Call off your attack before it’s too late.” The Scouts contact Roger, who tells Zal to stand down. Disaster averted.

Now — what to do? Both ships damaged. While Roger lands the Rambler back at their original landing site on the moon’s surface to make repairs to the hull and take on more atmosphere, Barney uses his Engineer-3 skill to get the trader’s maneuver drive working again. It won’t last forever, but should hold until they get to a proper space port. They land that ship on the surface too.

So, they have two ships available, but also a bunch of captured Scumbags. They are able to keep all of them from bleeding out. They can’t leave the Scumbags on the moon. They may get loose and cause problems for the natives. They don’t want to kill them, or take them into orbit and space ’em. Scouts — good scouts — don’t do that kind of thing. So they take them all onboard the trader and put them to sleep in that ship’s cold berths. They keep Ronda awake, locked in a state room. They’ll have to deal with her at some point. They recognize her as former Scout who was kicked out of the service years ago for a breach of ethics.

Both ships leave the surface. They spend a day in orbit, as the trader carefully avoids radiation bursts and skims fuel from the gas giant.  Zal connects the alien data module to his mobile computer, interfaces it with the ship’s mainframe, and continues investigating its mysteries. Together the ships begin the journey out to the jump point, at which point they plan to jump back to Mylor, deposit Zal there, collect their pay, make proper repairs to both ships, and go underground to change the traders’ registration and transponder so that they own it. They may need a company name.

That’s the plan, anyway…

Elapsed game time: 11 days

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Elapsed game time: 15 days

ITV Session 2: In the Temple

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The PCs, archaeologist Zal Twist, and Fardt the Gluck cautiously enter the ziggurat. As they enter, the giant columns inside slowly begin to glow, illuminating the inside of the huge structure. While it is big, the inside is very simple. Zal deduces that it is a place of worship. Of what? No telling. Hieroglyphs carved into the massive walls depict star systems. Roger attempts but fails to use Navigation skill to recognize the formations. Zal believes they are probably unknown systems of the Precursors’ past.


As they proceed into what is apparently a temple, Roger helps Zal to photograph and catalog the glyphs for future analysis. Lucky and Barney continue to explore the temple and discover  a dusty but apparently undamaged robot. They examine the robot, determining that it is of fairly common manufacture. Not a precursor artifact.  They drive the air raft into the building, and use its system to recharge the robot. While they do that, Fardt had been fiddling with a stone control panel on top of a slightly raised section of floor. Slapping a hand on top, he activates the section — an elevator. A door in the ceiling opens, and he disappears into it as the elevator reaches that level.

As the robot continues to charge and the others continue to study the carvings, Roger manages to find a control to bring the elevator back down. Fardt reports that there’s a whole control room of some kind up there. When asked why he didn’t just come back down, he says he was “looking around.”

Lucky and Barney manage to reactivate the robot, which speaks galactic common.  It is apparently a survey robot, sent to this temple some 450 years before, by an unknown source. It ran out of power while waiting for it’s party to arrive. Learning that 450 years have passed, it agrees to complete its survey mission by joining the PCs crew.

The party, including the robot, take the elevator to the upper level, and discover an astronomical observatory and data center. The walls are still carved with similar glyphs. A huge glass sphere occupies the middle of the room. The PCs discover what they surmise to be data storage media — polyhedral objects arranged in sequence. Zal makes his archaeology roll, and figures out the newest one. They put it in a player and activate it, as the glass sphere lights up with a hologram of star charts. Manipulating the data unit, the image changes to diagrams of what look like living cells, separated by space, with beams of light flickering between them. Further tinkering brings into view a star chart/hologram of the galaxy from a very wide view.  The PCs are able to see the Great Nebula of the Void in one place. Some distance from it, a glowing dotted line and arrow hang in space — pointed toward the Great Nebula. A trajectory? Who knows?

Zal wants to take that data unit back to the ship, where he has gear to analyze it. They load everyone, including the robot, into the air raft and take off back for the ship.

As they approach the landing site, Barney rolls and the party gains surprise on the scumbags from the tavern back on Mylor. The ones who told Zal about this planet.  From the edge of the woods, they use binoculars and see that the scumbags have a bunch of the natives held captive, and few are dead. Not good dudes. They see that the scumbags have come down in a landing craft, suggesting a larger ship in orbit.

The PCS come up with a plan. They’ll used the element of surprise to do a high speed drive-by of the bad guys, taking out as many as possible. Clearly, they are not there to be nice. I have them roll for 1-3 rounds before they are in close range. They roll 1. They manage to come out of the forest quietly, then roar toward the bad dudes. They exchange gunfire. The robot shoots electrical bolts. One bad guy hit. It’s Croyd, their leader. He’s hit bad enough to be rendered unconscious. Roger is hit, but his ballistic jacket keeps him from taking damage (shot “misses” due to jacket).  Round 2 – Roger, Barney, and Fardt (who is borrowing a shotgun) all fire. 2 more goons go down – Iron Balls McGinty and Tommy the Gimp. Lucky is driving, and runs right over the serpentoid henchman, Glych. The bad guys are all alive, but out.  They tie ’em up. The natives lavish praise on the PCs for saving them. Iron Balls regains consciousness. Displaying no loyalty to his colleagues, Iron Balls offers to give the PCs info on the ship in orbit, to help them get past it. He says if they don’t check in by tomorrow, the pilot will probably come in and blast their ship from the air. He wants to be a temporary member of their crew, and be promised safe passage back to Mylor. They agree.

End of session. Players are already devising their next moves for leaving the planet without getting shot up by a potentially larger ship.

IY 6025.246
Elapsed game time: 12 days.