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Cold Betrayals

The morning after Kella’s rescue, after the blizzard had cleared, a courier delivered a message from Mr. Duushii, Haank’s Astro-Core security boss, requesting his presence to brief him on what had occurred the previous night. Haank did as he was bidden, and told Mr. Duushii the whole of what happened, including the discovery of the Aslan ruin, as he had no cause to be suspicious, and informed him that they had promised to take Kella out to the site when the weather cleared. Mr. Duushii warned him against returning to the site, as the geology crew had declared the area “dangerously unstable.” Haank asked to speak to someone in Geology about the area, hoping to gain some insight into what sort of dangers a survey team might expect from the area; Mr. Duushii made the call. A couple of geologists arrived, and they all went over the maps—paper maps; these guys are Old-School—and data together. Haank had some trouble following their geological jargon, but their story matched that of the security boss; stay clear of the area. Haank acknowledged the warnings, and responded that they were going to take all necessary precautions to get a “quick scan” of the site, for the sake of their promise to Kella, and return. On the way out of the office, Mr. Duushii cornered Haank and, in a subtly-threatening manner, again warned Haank to stay away from the area.

Now, with plenty of cause to suspect Mr. Duushii’s intentions, Haank brought the matter to the rest of the Team. It was decided to go ahead with the mission: the Team would take Kella to the site in the Proud Mary’s air/raft, while Ella and Haank would remain behind to observe and report whatever actions the security department might take in response.

Not long after the air/raft departed for the SE range, Haank, while practicing his golf-swing on the roof of the ship and keeping a subtly-watchful eye, spotted a pair of rollers leaving the colony in the direction of the Eastern mining facilities; he zoomed in with his HUD-glasses, and identified the occupants as eight members of the security department. He radioed ahead to the rest of the Team that company was on its way.

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Meanwhile, the air/raft arrived at the crevasse they had discovered the night before, now re-buried in snow. Although the plan, as discussed, was to scan the ruins from the safety of the air/raft, on arrival, Kella excitedly jumped out and set about digging it clear, so Abe and Sam followed; Buck remained aboard to keep watch, bringing out his hand-held sensor pack to scan for incoming vehicles. Once the crevasse was cleared, Kella wasted no time, but immediately secured a line and climbed down; Abe and Sam followed after. The conclusion from the night before was easily confirmed; it was an Aslan colony, dug into the rock-face. Skeletal remains of Aslan colonists were found; Abe scanned them, and determined that they were likely between 5-10 years dead, and riddled with bullets—given the behavior of the colony security team, everyone presumed that the attempts to warn them away from this place was an attempt to cover up a massacre. Everything witnessed was recorded for later study. Knowing they had little time left before the security team would arrive, Abe and Sam convinced Kella to leave—perhaps to return later.

Before they could climb out of the crevasse, Buck’s sensor picked up incoming vehicles; the security team had arrived. Buck alerted the team via radio, and still seated atop the air/raft, placed his laser rifle across his lap, expecting a fight. The colony rollers pulled up to their position and the team dismounted; ENS Smith and ENS Jones were among them. The team-leader, LT Richards, with a haughty sneer that belied his ill-intent, declared that they were trespassing, and should surrender; seeing only Buck at the moment, he demanded the location of the remainder of the Team. Buck was undaunted; he patted his laser rifle, and in so many words, inquired which of them wished to die first. As a result, some of the security team began to think less of their leader’s murderous plan; an argument was sparked, and in typical ENS Smith fashion, ENS Smith shot LT Richards on the spot. A brief firefight ensued among the security team; some fled for cover, some stood their ground trying to follow their orders by firing on Buck and the “traitors,” while the others (ENS Smith and Jones) tried to prevent them. Sam was the first out of the crevasse, and joined in the fray from a distance. The fight ended with one dead, two seriously wounded (including LT Richards), and the others surrendered; ENS Smith was wounded as well, though not severely. Abe climbed out of the crevasse in time to see to the wounded, and Kella followed without incident.

Once the call went out that the rollers had arrived, Haank and Ella fired up the ship to come to the Team’s aid; it arrived as the fight was ended. The wounded—including LT Richards—were taken aboard, while ENS Smith and Jones drove the rest in the colony rollers on a “scenic route” back to the colony (to give the Team time to interrogate LT Richards before, themselves, returning). Abe patched up the wounded, and forced LT Richards to consciousness. Ella began to question LT Richards, still on the medical table, as to the nature and source of the orders he was attempting to execute; when he refused to cooperate, she responded by poking at his wounds with a finger until he changed his tune (to Abe’s irritation). LT Richards confessed that his orders came from Mr. Duushii, but knew nothing of why they were given; they had initially headed for the Eastern facilities for the purpose of “plausible deniability,” leading the Team to believe that the non-corporate colony administration was unlikely to be involved in the plot.

After a brief discussion of their findings, the Team decided the best course of action would be to report the incident to the Colony Director, and go from there…


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Kella’s Rescue

On the third afternoon of the Team’s “extended stay” on Kegena-Prime, deep into a massive, howling blizzard, they picked up a distress call on the Proud Mary’s radio: a woman was caught in an avalanche somewhere on the SE range. Haank recognized the area from colony maps from his work with the security team; it was around 10 miles out. There was some discussion about how to get to her, and it was decided that anything “flying” was doomed to fail in this weather, so ground transport would be needed.

The Team forced its way through the wind and snow, from the ship to the Colony Director’s building. Ella informed him of the distress call and the Team’s intention to answer it; the Director responded with a “you’re crazy” and offered the use of a colony roller, admonishing them to maintain radio contact. Sam and Abe remained behind at the ship, while Ella, Haank and Buck piled up some survival gear into the roller and headed out to the SE range.

Buck used the woman’s radio signal to guide them in, keeping her providing as much information as she could about her location; her name was Kella, an independent archaeologist studying the various old-world ruins on the planet, who fell afoul of the sudden storm while surveying the mountain area. They arrived without incident at the foot of the mountains, taking the vehicle as far up as they dared, and then set out on foot. The Team secured a lifeline to each other for safety, which turned out to be quite necessary, as the climb proved to be rather difficult for all but Ella, who was the most experienced in such matters; they arrived at the avalanche site mostly-exhausted. Buck used his biosniffer, and Haank, his handheld sensor pack, to attempt to narrow down the woman’s position, with little success through the interference of wind and snow, so Buck resorted to “yelling,” which, miraculously, yielded better results. With some improvisation, they dug out the snow and uncovered the crevasse where the woman had fallen. She was effectively uninjured, though she had lost her backpack in the fall. Ella climbed down into the crevasse with the aid of Haank’s autograpnel (from one of the Titanic VII’s lifeboat survival kits), which he used to winch them both back out, individually. (The backpack was not found.) After a few moments of rest, they began to descend back to the roller—which proved an equal challenge to their ascent, and might have ended in disaster if not for Ella as the group’s anchor. Further down, Buck, in the lead just ahead of Kella, slipped and broke through into another crevasse that opened up into a larger cavern, taking Kella with him. The two dangled at the lip of the crevasse while Haank secured the autograpnel and winched them back up; during that time, the two could make out what would later be identified as an oddly-recent Aslan colony ruin dug into an old cliff-face. After being pulled up, Kella begged to be allowed a closer look, but the Team convinced her to return later, Buck having marked the location on his inertial compass.

They all arrived at the roller thoroughly exhausted and freezing, but otherwise unharmed, and after a few moments of rest, returned to the Proud Mary, now late-evening. In the crew’s lounge, they discussed the day’s activities, and promised Kella to take her out to the Aslan site at her convenience, once the storm let up.


Notes

  • Rigil Kent was on vacation, and unavailable; Winston failed to report in for reasons unknown (presumably related to the Memorial Day holiday)
  • The colony rollers were tracked vehicles; nobody had the skill, but Haank had the best Driving to default from; combined with the Routine Usage, it went without incident—unlike the climb 😛
  • There were a lot of Critical Failures rolled during the climb and descent, on top of Ella being the only character with points spent in Climbing, resulting in a “Comedy of Errors”
  • There was some mild argument about the capabilities of radar, imaging radar, and terahertz radar, and their listed game effects, and whether or not it can “see” through snow, that was tabled for later; after much research and discussion after-the-fact, the answer is: sometimes


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Kegena Settlement Evacuation

Abe stayed behind at the infirmary while the rest of the Team, along with ENS Smith and ENS Jones of the colony security team, boarded the Proud Mary and took off for the settlement.

On approach to the settlement, detected heat signatures of numerous humans at the settlement, in and amongst the buildings; the Team was able to separate those outside the buildings as “tribals.” Their observed behavior was unexpected; they were not attempting to break into the buildings, but were “looking in the windows” for something and moving on to the next settlement building. Ella contacted the colonists by radio and attempted to get them to explain the situation on the ground, but they were too panicked to say anything other than to beg for rescue. Haank fired a warning shot with the ship’s laser toward the center of town, causing the tribals to take cover.

The ship was set down to the immediate NW corner of the settlement, and the colonists were instructed to make for the ship, to be covered by the security team (Haank, Buck, Smith and Jones) from the lowered cargo ramp; one family did as instructed, but the others there were too cowered to move.

When pressed for more information, the family would only say that they needed to get out of here in a hurry, and not to wait for the others—a little unusual—so Buck escorted them to a passenger cabin and politely locked them in “for their safety.”

The ship was relocated to the SE corner of the settlement, and as a result of some discussion, left the ship to “manually evacuate” the colonists from their homes, to expedite things; Sam remained behind at the helm. As the ramp lowered, the Team observed a pair of colonists engaged in a firefight with the tribals; one of the colonists was observed shooting a heavily-wounded tribal in the back as he tried to crawl away to safety. The Team advanced under fire to the colonists position in front of the nearest buildings, and attempted to provide first aid to one of the colonists, who took a round to the upper-chest. Ella went house-to-house, knocking on/down doors and trying to evacuate the residents, while the rest of the team tangled with the tribals. ENS Jones and Smith flanked around, and Jones was shot; Smith dragged him back to the ship, “encouraging” him. Haank attempted a less-lethal response, managing to shoot a couple of the tribals’ rifles, destroying them. Buck defended the rear-flank, dropping one assailant with his laser-rifle. After clearing a few homes, Ella ordered a pull-back to the ship, as Sam reported more tribals advancing from the East.

The ship lifted off and began to circle the incoming horde; Buck manned the gunner station and commenced to scatter the horde with laser-fire, while ENS Smith provided mostly-ineffectual fire from the still-lowered cargo ramp. Meanwhile, the locals were questioned in the hold by Ella and Haank; as Ella’s questions transitioned from polite diplomacy to intimidation, it was revealed that one of the colonists, “Jim-Bob,” had taken a tribal youth captive and was believed to be holding him in his dwelling on the settlement’s NE corner.

The ship was landed on the NE corner of the settlement, and the Team dismounted and stormed Jim-Bob’s home, finding him there, along with a couple of compatriots, and the captured youth, bound and gagged, with signs of continual beatings. As Jim-Bob argued his “innocence of any crime,” he was impatiently shot by ENS Smith; he and his compatriots were then taken into custody, and the youth released to go back to his tribe, with the Team’s apologies (such as were able to be communicated without being able to speak their language).

The situation having been defused, the colonists were released back to their homes, and the ship returned to the main colony.

On arrival, the guilty-parties were remanded to local custody, after Jim-Bob’s injuries were treated by Abe.


Notes

  • The “combat operation” absorbed the vast majority of the time for this session
  • Abe was working in the infirmary in the previous session, and being less-than-combat-capable, Rigil Kent took over a Red-Shirt, ENS Smith, and ended up playing him in a manner reminiscent of Strax, the Sontaran (from Doctor Who)—to everyone’s great amusement
  • Likewise, it was decided to be best to leave Sam aboard the ship, so Winston took over the other Red-Shirt, ENS Jones, for the combat; after having been grievously wounded, he was the recipient of much “encouragement” by ENS Smith

First Contact³

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The Team carefully approached the village with empty hands displayed, intent on peaceful communication. As previously observed, the village was populated (at the moment) with naught but children, women and the elderly; an elder woman stepped forth to angrily scold the Team in an unknown language, while they held their distance, discussing amongst themselves how they might communicate their non-hostile intentions. A nervous, rifle-wielding child fired a shot, meant for Ella (who was doing the talking, for what it was worth), that hit Sam in the chest, but failed to penetrate his tacsuit—the other villagers’ actions, as a result of the shot, led the Team to believe it to be an accident, so they did not retaliate.

There was a commotion amongst the villagers, and they flocked over to the other side of the village, toward a nearby river; a child had slipped, and was hanging by his fingers above a nearby waterfall—a 6-7 meter drop. The Team had circled around the village to see what the commotion was about, and upon seeing the scene, Abe lept immediately forward, quickly producing safety-line from his survival kit and, with some help from the village’s older children, rescued the child before he could lose his grip. After the rescue, the Team was well-received by the villagers, taken indoors and given food; Abe attended the rescued child’s wounds, amazing them with his technological capabilities. Haank listened closely to their speech in an attempt to identify the language; some consideration was given to recording it for creation of a translation database.

The village’s men arrived some time later to find “strangers” among them. After some unintelligible discussion with the villagers present, presumably telling them of the boy’s rescue, the men seemed accepting of their presence; Sam attempted to communicate their desire to locate the Imperial colony through hand-gestures, and the villagers seemed to get the gist, indicating (as it was interpreted) a three-day journey.

On the following morning, the Team set out, with a group of warriors leading; the direction was a bit off from what the Team had determined to be the direction of the colony, but they made no attempt to correct it, presuming the locals “knew what they were doing.” Around three days from the village, the group arrived at a landed, decades-old, battle-damaged Beowulf-class free trader, next to four burial-mounds; the Team gifted the villagers with all the survival-kit rifles they had, and the villagers went their way in peace. The Team immediately set about checking out the ship, the Proud Mary, sifting through the logs and such, and restoring it to a sufficiently functional state to move.

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The logs indicated that they had been forced to land here sometime during the Fifth Frontier War, long before the colony was established, so there was nowhere to go, and were stranded as a result of a damaged jump-drive that could not be repaired. They had mapped the area extensively, and traded with the locals before they all succumbed to a local disease—the first casualty being their medic; the burial mounds were theirs. The ship’s cat returned from abroad (identified as “Mia” in the ship’s logs), and seeing the open hatch, immediately took up the flight deck, as if she owned the place—Abe took this as a good omen.

Once systems were restored to basic functionality, Sam carefully piloted the ship to the last known position of the Titanic’s lifeboat; it was successfully squeezed into the hold, with some difficulty. After the lifeboat recovery, the Team took the ship in the direction of the colony; once in range of their communication, Ella broadcast a distress call regarding the Titanic and requested landing clearance, which was received and granted. Once landed, the engineering team immediately set about continuing the process of repairs, while the colonials were further filled in on what had transpired. For reasons she did not discuss, Ella decided to leave out details of the Team’s contact with the local tribe.

It was determined that it would take at least three weeks for another company ship to arrive and investigate the lack of contact with the Titanic VII, so her survivors settled in for an extended stay, some attempting to find work at the colony: Abe easily convinced the medical team to accept his help, and developed a “rapport” with the CMO; Haank, looking for something new to learn, volunteered his help to the department providing security for the geological survey teams; Sam opted to hang out at the colony’s bar, watching TV and listening to colonials’ rumors and stories; Buck stayed aboard the ship, continuing his repairs and maintenance.

Around four days after the Team’s arrival at the colony, colony vehicles returned with wounded, having been attacked by locals: Abe was called to duty with the medical team, and demonstrated his medical talent with his first(?) trauma-surgery, managing to save the life of a colony man who was deemed “too far gone”; Haank met up with the security team and tried to get the facts of the incident; Ella and Buck kept a lookout from the ship. Colony management added that there were people in outlying homesteads that were still under attack, and the Team volunteered to take the ship out to the homesteads and evacuate them…

Snowblind

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  • The Team determined that although the lifeboat was in no danger of sinking, it might be upended by the ice, so they would need to vacate it ASAP; some land was spotted around a mile distant, and the ice appeared to be stable enough in its direction to allow the Team to walk to it. All personal gear, and some supplies were loaded onto Abe’s grav-cart, and the Team departed across the treacherous ice, taking several hours to reach shore
  • As sundown approached, while resting up before setting up camp, the Team was charged by a large predator-creature; some quick bursts from Haank’s gauss rifle brought the beast down, and it slid into Sam, knocking him down
  • After sunrise, the Team worked out a rough idea which direction they should go to find the colony, struck camp, and moved out
  • [Early in the second] day of slow progress, the Team discovered the ruin of an old-world town, and deviated to investigate, finding nothing of note, but making note of its position
  • Around the middle of the fourth day, the Team spotted an indigenous village up a hill; appeared to be nothing but women, children, and old, and it was supposed that their men were out hunting

Shipwrecked

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  • On Titanic VII, in system en route to Kegena-Prime. Awakened by “asteroid strike”; bridge destroyed, tumbling, power failing, on a collision course w/ Kegena-Prime with ~3-4 hours until re-entry
  • Total loss of power, including artificial gravity; free-fall hits Sam the wrong way, and he loses his lunch—fortunately, got his helmet off first
  • Team splits up, Ella, Sam & Abe heading for the bridge to find it missing, and Haank & Buck heading for engineering. Haank knocks on the sealed door to engineering, and is answered by a knock from inside
  • Due to the structural damage foreward of their position, rather than unseal engineering, it was decided to space-walk ’round to the port airlock and enter from there—everyone followed, without incident
  • Met Marcus in engineering, started working on getting (1) power, (2) thrusters; once available, Buck rigged his portable terminal to operate the helm, and Sam stabilized the ship and corrected the course enough to allow an orderly evacuation—after some analysis, it was decided that contragrav was too dodgy to attempt to land the hulk
  • After gathering up their personal gear, the team raided the ship’s locker, medbay, the nonfunctional air/raft, and whatever else wasn’t nailed down (or ejected by the crash), and stuffed everything possible into the lifeboat; Sam unsuccessfully tried to break into the arms locker
  • Titanic VII abandoned; lifeboat landed dirtside in parts unknown, in open (frozen) ocean
  • Observed the final moments of the Titanic VII as it augered in some miles distant; the smoke from the crash disappeared shortly thereafter, believed to indicate that the wreck had sunk


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Full Partners

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Ella Stanbridge
Captain
Sam Turner
Pilot
Ertrane Buckner
Engineer
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Ibrahim Nouri-Abbood
Medic/Steward
Henri Makruus
Purser/Cargomaster

Employees

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Dante Jones
Deckhand
Sae Rraetheg
Deckhand