Spoiler Alert: this post pertains to a session run using the adventure Energy Transfer, by Michael Brown. Do not read further if you may be a player in this scenario.
SAFCO, associate Sally Rasputin, and sometimes-associate/sometimes-enemy Reesus Peesus are on Desolis, an airless moon of Trask 6, at Sierra Praxis mining base, owned by Novastel Mining Corporation. During there initial time on the base (see last sessions) there was a tremor and power dip. Miners told them a meteor may have hit nearby. Inspection team 2 is called to work. SAFCO takes care of some business and goes back to their ship to sleep.
In the middle of the night they are summoned to meet with Dr. Jonton Fawke, the administrator of the facility. It seems that Inspection Team 2 has disappeared while investigating the meteor strike, which created a small hole in an ore shaft dome that feeds into the processing plant. Fawke does not trust his miners to investigate. It is apparent from his comments and those of the miners that SAFCO met in the base tavern that Fawke and the miners doe not have a good relationship. Fawke offers the team $5000 credits to investigate and find out what happened to the crew.
Roger uses SAFCO’s mining pod to examine the exterior of the dome while the rest of the team and Fawke use SAFCO’s robot, with their drone on top of it (it can’t operate in vacuum), to explore the sealed-off corridor leading to the dome.
The strike happened during workers time-off day, so no lives were lost in the initial depressurization of the dome. The actual ore shaft in the middle of the dome was therefore sealed at the time by a secure and radiation proof hatch. There is a large air lock used before entering the corridor, which was also closed and sealed.
From the window in the outer airlock hatch the team can see that lights are dimmed about halfway down, and further it is totally dark. Power down there is totally out.
They send the robot and drone through the airlock and down the corridor, initially using infrared and ultraviolet sensors. As the robot approaches the area where the light is dimmed, they see (in IR and UV patterns) what appear to be paint splotches covering all the surfaces of the corridor and the central conveyor belt. They bring the robot closer and turn on the spotlight. They see a shiny, black, scaly substance covering all the surfaces. As they watch, the drone’s power levels decrease suddenly and drastically. They pull the robot back, to find that it too has lost a lot of battery power.
Outside in the mining pod, Roger sees that there is a basketball-sized hole punched in the dome. He sees some black scaly goo on the edges of the hole.
The team together with Falke determine the power loss rates for the drone battery vs the robot battery, based on the time they were down there and the percentage of power left, and surmise that smaller power sources will be depleted much faster. The robot, with a 24 hour charge, can now operate near the black stuff for about an hour before being depleted. They also determine that the energy drain began when the robot and drone were about five meters from the scaly substance. They send the robot back down and use one of its claws to collect a tiny sample. Bringing it back, Lucky quickly removes the claw and they store it in a lead-lined case for transporting radioactives. Barney and Falke take it to a lab for examination. Outside, Roger tests the energy drain by brining the mining pod within five meters of the hole. He sees the drain starting and pulls back.
While Barney and Falke work in the lab, Lucky and Flint decide to try to determine what happened to Inspection Team 2. They would be out of air in their vac suites by now, and are likely dead. Lucky, in his vac suit, enters the corridor. He used a light to look far down into the corridor and dome, and sees a human-shaped lump on the floor, covered with the black scales. Clearly Inspection Team 2 is dead. After he has been within 5 meters of the black scales for 1 minute he begins to feel bad! He takes 1d6 to his Endurance (for 5 damage) as the stuff starts to drain his body’s energy. He backs off quickly, having learned that the stuff can drain energy from living creatures very quickly!
In the lab, Falke and Barney carefully take a few particles of the black scales from the robot’s claw and examine it under an electron microscope. Just a few initial particles. They see the scales are composed of even smaller scales. As they watch, the scales pulse and multiply on the slide, feeding on the energy in the room and the energy of the electron microscope. Falke destroys the sample with acid before it can grow any more and present a danger to the facility or its power.
Sally contacts the team, telling them that in the taveren Reesus Peesus is causing problems. He is winning all the miners’ money at cards and they are getting pissed. He tells her that with the tiny explosive in his neck his days are numbered and he doesn’t care. Barney goes to the bar and forces Reesus to leave, and to leaven his chips with the miners — a goodwill gift.
Flint suggests that it might be possible to use a tiny amount of the energy leeching scales to drain the microscopic battery powering the bomb in Reesus’ neck. After discussing numerous ways to approach it, they decide that a tiny amount of the material brought close to the tiny battery should drain it, based on their measurements of the earlier battery drains, before harming Reesus or anything else. Falke is in favor of this experiment. The tell Reesus they need to take more data on the bomb. They take the lead-lined container to the med lab, quickly take an extremely tiny sample of the scales on the end of a probe, and hold it near Reesus’ carotid artery. After a couple of minutes they scan the bomb and find that the battery is indeed now dead, and the bomb is easily removed. The sample is destroyed with acid.
Reesus expresses his infinite thanks to SAFCO, apologizes for trying to have them killed, and expresses his desire to get revenge on Lomax.
Dr. Falke talks with SAFCO. He says the black substance is potentially extremely valuable. He wants to develop it and market it himself, as it has potential weapons, medical, and scientific applications. He seems quite greedy. He plans to seal off the contaminated dome and corridor from all energy input and make it off limits, but wants to continue running the radioactives mining operation, using it and Novatel money to his own ends.
He wants SAFCO to help him — to be his partners.
SAFCO agrees. The radioactives they came for are loaded into their ship and they head back into space. Once away, they begin to discuss what they really need to do, based on the clear evidence that the black energy leeching scales are too dangerous for someone like Falke to control. They also don’t trust him.
End of Session.
Elapsed time: 395 game days