Starting from where we left off in Session 20, part of the team is about the wrecked freighter, on an ice planet in the Void. The rest of the team is outside, keeping an eye on the ice apes they found hibernating in a ruined cargo pod of the freighter.
Being from the Merchants, Art is familiar with this very common class of freighter. He leads Flint, Barney, and Roger up one level to the bridge. Flint is able to use his high strength force open the hatch. The ship is dead except for a very weak distress signal. The team is able to locate the memory modules containing the captains log, navigation records, and other ships info. Barney removes them. They return to the Rambler II along with the rest of the team and manage to power up the very rugged “black box” containing the captains log. For this they learn that the ship has been there for 25 years, that it got there via misjump that resulting in a staggering distance covered. The find out the ship was carrying modular building material bound for the frontier area. This would have been when the team was all just kids (except of course for Zal). They find out the crew apparently build a survival camp in the huge nearby cave using some of their cargo, after firing off a weak distress call.
Feeling a responsibility to find out what happened to the crew and perhaps even find survivors, SAFCO gears up and the entire team except Lucky and Fardt go exploring.
The cave is massive. The entrance is nearly 200 feet across, and the interior is likewise huge. Their cold-suits have helmets with lamps. Flint’s armor has IR capability. As they enter, they find that the terrain steps down a bit. Looking ahead in IR, Flint can see one of the three branches is warmer. They explore and discover a large hot springs and the survival camp. The team searches the camp. They have thus far found no remains of the crew. They find the captain’s portable recorder (he mentioned it in the last ships log entry, in which he thanked the ship for getting them to the ground alive and says they are abandoning the vessel). In just a few entries, the captain describes their hope in discovering so much wildlife, their despair upon discovering that the biosphere is inedible, and his relief that his steward discoverers a common, highly nutritious, edible fungus. They will not starve. As the weeks go by the crew begins to go mad, one by one running deep into the cave or even out into the savage storms that come out of nowhere. The log entries end.
Assuming that the crew all met their demise by losing their minds, SAFCO and friends being to return the their ship. Zal and the Baroness are surprised attacked by three humanoid creatures after lagging behind. Zal takes a hit and is knocked out. The team engages the creatures with autopistols, but at medium range their pistols are not so great. They close the distance, while Flint actually backs up and uses his sniper rifle to attack the creatures from a distance. A fairly long battle ensues.
At close range it is clear that these three creatures are members of the freighter crew. Their skin is mottled and permeated with weird looking fibers. They appear to be mindless and aggressive. Roger takes a hit, but over the course of the fight the rest of SAFCO is not hit. The Baroness drags Zal out of the combat zone.
SAFCO hits many times with auto pistols, shotguns, and the sniper rifle. The creatures are extremely hard to kill, but eventually two of them go down, chunks of human flesh permeated by fungal tendrils blasted all over the place. As Roger is about to deliver the killing shot to the third, suddenly the creatures eyes brighten with the light of intelligence and sentience. It stops fighting. Roger has the universal translator. He attempts to communicate with the wounded once-human thing.
Roger hears a voice in his head. “Before I was All. But when the men came I knew there were others. I am not All. I must expand…”
Roger doesn’t like what he hears, so he and the rest of SAFCO empty their guns into the shambling thing like the Sopranos killing a “rat”. As they stand there looking at the thing, Roger still hears the voice!
SAFCO decides it will be a good idea to get the hell off this planet. They refuel from the hot spring and get back into space as quickly as possible, where they begin pre-jump maintenance. They put Zal and Roger in the autodoc to check for fungal infections, but find none. Then the rest of the crew does the same thing. They theorize that there is an intelligent and psionic fungal colony on the planet, and that eating the fungus allows it to begin taking control of the minds and bodies of other creatures.
Elapsed game time: 242