Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dark Stars XIII: Netherspace Sector Survey Part 5

This week's game was quieter, thanks to our guest players being absent. The group got a lot done, and there was much plot and serious effort at enjoying the game to be had! Good stuff all around.

Quinlon salvager/dreadnaught Dark Claw
Roster of the crew of the exploration cruiser ISS "Juan One":
101010 the combat robot
Erin the star pilot and her trusty emancipated void lord snub fighter Sole
Dyvinil the totally not Sailor Moon star girl and her cosmic space Nancat
Dirk the rugged mercenary
Tamralese the xenosociologist, aristocrat, super model and secret sociopath
Samaros the crewman and survivor of Blight (NPC)
Oski the engineer (NPC)
Max Fuller the crazy transporter who's lost his mind after touching a "Mother Box' (NPC)
Medical Bot NB8 (NPC)

The session more or less went like this:

The group left New Germanican space in a hurry, only to be ambushed by non-baryonic dark matter aliens in Transitional Space. Three of the alien ships, which were effectively invisible except for a gravitationally interactive "signature" that the PC's ship's sensors could detect and use to form a picture of sorts  showed two carrier craft and a warship of some sort. They had captured the cruiser in three gravity beams acting like tractor beams....and inside the beams a boarding party of dark matter aliens!

Erin's AI-infused void lord snub fighter Sole mentioned that the Void Lords called these beings the In-Betweeners, or the "Vogel" in the Void Lord language.

The crew did all it could to bust up the ships' gravity beams, which would quickly turn into powerful torque weapons, using increased graviton beams to rip and crush the ship. Erin could pilot "into" the torque to avoid too much damage while Dyvinil, Dirk and 101010 targeted the hell out of them....but the laser weapons weren't too effective, until they direclty targeted the actual ships; the lasers didn't seem to damage the ships but did disrupt the source of the beam energy. Once all three beams were interupted Erin jetted out of the area.

Meanwhile the vogel boarded in the upper crew quarter area. A fight ensued, during which it became clear they didn't care about lasers at all...the nearly invisible beings only displayed eerie colors of red and black energy as the light refracted through their bodies, which appears to be infused with gravitons to let the dark matter aliens interact. Using graviton particle guns the aliens managed to be formidable, but Sam the alien brute chopped one in half with a star sword....the dark energy of the star swords could harm them! 101010 figured out his newly installed particle beam cannon also harmed them. The aliens were defeated....but each one "imploded" in a graviton particle wave collapse on death, and being too close could cause harm...Sam lost some skin to the graviton implosion, and Dirk's arm was badly broken as he was almost sucked in.

After the dust cleared the ship had a massive engine failure and dropped out of t-space into the middle of nowhere, surrounded by other dead ships. They figure out they've jumped several parsecs, and are resting a light year from the Dark Twins, two immense black holes with a great nebula of gas between them, slowly engaged in a death spiral.

The group started on repairs but it was going to take at least a day. Once power was restored to minimum functionality a quick scan detected dozens of dead ships, and a few with faint heat or energy signatures. Several events took place from here:

1. A chilopteroid salvage ship showed up (suspicious!) and began investigating each ship with an energy reading....they powered their ship down although IR emissions would still give them away. Before the chilopteroid ship got to the ISS Juan One  (the cruiser), another ship dropped out of t-space and immediately cloaked....minutes later a quinlon dreadnaught blows the chilopteroid ship to bits!

2. Tamralese (corrected name! formerly Marlese) went into a chrysallid state in her room, as her form begins to change to the strange matter of the Stellar Librarian's universe in the midst of all this.

3. The crew investigates the mysterious hatch into the cargo unit attached to the bottom of the ship, which Dyvinil recently opened and discovered contains the frozen remains of the former captain of the ship, Ephemeron, along with an eerie growth of biomechanical substance that is super-cooled. Since the hatch was opened and closed the "growth" of silvery material has been creeping out of the hatch and quadrupled in covered area.

101010, Erin and Dyvinil decide that the substance is probably a variant of the Von Neuman Plague nanovirus, and they proceed to irradiate the area and repurpose some stasis units to freeze the area around the hatch to keep it under control. Efforts appear successful.

Amidst all of this Erin and 101010 read/process the diary of Captain Ephemeron she found. It reveals much interesting detail: the ship they are in was originally his, and was called the Star Dolphin before it was scrubbed of any IDs and repurposed by Captain Lars of the Makamian Imperial Navy for their "survey" mission. Ephemeron's last mission was to accompany Tesla Dane into Netherspace Sector! He believed in her mission, which started with a quest to find out the relationship between the Void Lords and the Dark Stars (the planet-sized starlike energy beings which created the star knights) and turned into a quest to stop "the void lords and the betrayers" but the diary doesn't elaborate. She intended to co-opt the Von Neumann Nanovirus to do this, reprogramming it...they found samples at Hapson's World, but this is where an accident happened and Ephemeron contracted the plague. They froze him to slow it down while a cure could be found. Ephemeron also confirms that Tesla Dane did release a version of the virus many years ago in New Germanican space that specifically targets and destroys t-space tech. Much was learned here.

4. The NPC Max Fuller who is obsessed with a "Mother Box" he was supposed to receive (I wrote about this subplot before, right? Hmmmm) is found in his underwear worshipping a metal fabrication of the mother box, and something about how it will reveal the true gods and the true way. Shades of apocalypse, but none of my players read DC comics so BWAH HAH HAH
...they try to keep him restrained.

5. The quinlons that blow up the chilopteroids begin investigating wrecks with signatures. They approach the PCs. Erin diplomatically invites them aboard before they blow the hull and send in salvagers armed with disruptors.

The quinlons are led by one Captain Zassa Tamralane. Recall that in Dark Stars quinlons are 1/3 klingon, 1/3 predator and 1/3 average dude from Mad Max. They are spooky looking. As it turns out, Captain Zassa is one of the many quinlon independent mercenaries in this area...they are salvagers. But apparently they are also actively at war with the chilopteroids. She offers to trade equipment or services to repair the PC ship in exchange for useful goods; she detects a faint trace of Void Lord tech on their ship, but the PCs decline, offering functional stasis pods instead. She agrees (inexplicably) and provides recovered engine parts from the recently destroyed chilopteroid ship in exchange.

No one seems to suspect (until they read this sentence) that the quinlons may have been so agreeable because they got what they wanted without having to fight. What that is remains a mystery.

6. While pulling out used stasis pods for trade the group notices a stasis pod assigned to one Thomas Hill is now vacant...he is missing. No one's been down here for days so they are not sure how long but initially assume it malfunctioned during the power loss when the ship dropped out of t-space. 101010 starts searching for the missing formerly frozen crewman. His record suggests a criminal thug, yet another of the hapless recruits of the devious Captain Lars.

101010 detects motion in the hangar bay....and finds evidence someone is tampering with Sole, the void lord snub fighter Erin re purposed long ago! He, Erin, and Dyvinil work to stop whatever is happening....

So it turns out Thomas Hill is an alias for a void knight spy who was awakened at a specific time. He had already gathered a great deal of information from the ship, and used an override code to gain control of Sole. Erin yanked the circuitry while the ship was powering up for an escape; the ship blasted the bay doors open and Erin's latent psi ability saves her as she develops vacuum adaptation. 101010 targeted the laser cannons and did enough damage to warp the barrels so they couldn't fire. The void lord "Hill" is using cloaking tech, but jumps out of the cockpit and almost disintegrates 101010 with a ball of corrupted energy. He then tries to kill Erin with a thought but fails...her psi resistance kicks in. Dyvinil transforms into an image of the space unicorn they had met on Blight and attacks...her cat attacks (remember, Dyvinil is a "totally not sailor moon" star girl) and 101010 blows holes in the void knight's armor....they defeat him.

On his body they find evidence that he was going to flee to a location called Void Station Vartinimos, only a parsec away. He knew the old code necessary to "leash" Sole and Erin works on fixing that backdoor control issue for her snub fighter. He also had downloaded all of the ship's data and survey information to date....with close attention evident in his data on two subjects: Tesla Dane, and the Mother Box! Apparently whatever Max Fuller was involved with, it's bigger than people realize...

The group gets some advice from Oski on possible locations where they can limp to a full feature star port for proper repairs, and set out to do so. Ironically they take about four times longer than necessary as they weave their way through The Tiberon Anomaly, but somehow they come out unscathed, although they get great survey data on the timepsace distortions in the area and record data on three massive wormholes spiraling around something undetectable except through gravity waves.

The group passes through Kedrak, and discovers a civilization on a moon around a gas giant at the edge of the system; but the system has an immense, old red giant nearing a collapse point. The moon's civilization is comprised of a race of cat-men who have developed 21st level space technology and even have space stations and some other moon colonies, but that's it. The ship is detected and contacted on primitive radio channels by three groups: two military groups of opposing factions trying to suss out what they are, and a scientific research group thinking they are the aliens destined to come save them from the imminent destruction of their star system when the star collapses. All three sides want help....but one does launch a missile (or something) at the ship's location, ETA 3 weeks.

The group finally decides to send the research group a pod containing an interface to a limited-AI computer they can hook up, which will teach them how to make foldspace drive tech. They send duds for the military groups to chase. They then one's feeling overly charitable right now!

The group heads for Curiosity 796, and they arrive in-system to find an indepenent space station orbiting the moon "Relic." The Taylor-9 Station is an independent station, part of the old Libertarian Commonwealth that survived (miraculously) the void lord incursion a decade ago. They are assigned a docking berth for repairs....the only rules are that they must not be harboring the Von Neuman Plague (uh oh) or smuggling cannicks. The group bribes the inspectors to look the other way.

At this point, the only real concern is that there's also a chilopteroid exploration vessel in port.....


Taylor-9 Commonwealth Freeport

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