The Currents of Space GM 1

Before the Game starts, I did a little more work on backgrounds and relationships. I like to keep things tidy and it was obvious that three of the characters shared something in common – the incident on LX504. But where did Achernar fit in? He was related to Capella; he knew this but Capella didn’t.

 

  • I created Bellatrix’s and Achernar’s family trees. I designed a system years ago to do this; it uses a deck of cards to create relationships and families. It seems like a lot of work; in reality it is quite quick and simple and throws up a lot of unexpected connections. It’s surprising how useful the information can be.

 

Bellatrix’s uncle is an executive VP of Makita Genetics, overseeing Resources.

 

Achernar is the illegitimate son of Capella’s aunt; born in violation of the Chinese Birth Control Laws, he was smuggled off-planet to LX504. He left the planet in 2208 to become a Drifter; returned briefly in 2216 where he met Capella.

  • I set up a matrix of character ages vs. terms served to determine when significant events happened. Tables don’t post very well on here (at least; I haven’t found how to do it). The blow-out incident on LX504 happened in 2222 (current year is 2225).

Achernar (as a Drifter) returned to LX504 in 2216 which is where he met Capella. He left in 2218 to join the Survey Scouts. He never told Capella that they were related (he knew this through his mother).

  • With the other PC’s (and a slight bit of tweaking!), the blow-out incident on LX504 happened in 2222. I created a matrix of PC age and date and looked to see where they coincided. Again; usually it falls into place easily.

 

Three years have passed and it is 2225.

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The Currents of Space – Episode 2.5

Team Gamma,’ he paused, looking at Achernar, ‘will investigate the dry alluvial bed in s02’

 ‘Would someone mind filling me in on what’s this all about?’ said Paula. Between them, they gave a quick briefing of the events on Mobius 3 station.

‘A tight-beam has just come in from the lander. There’s an emergency and it’s nearly here to pick us up. We’re needed to help Team Alpha.’

Paula examined Capella but looked up and shook her head. ‘His ribcage is completely stove-in. He must have died instantly.’

Commander Mason briefed them in-flight back to s01. They had landed outside of a crater; the target of the mission was inside the crater. The Lander was still on the ground whilst Rachel and he did some system checks. The expedition ATV was entering a pass in the crater wall when there was an avalanche and the ATV was buried. They managed to get a landline to it; the crew are alive but trapped.

‘So it’s only part-buried?’ Achernar brightened a little. ‘Both I and Bella have some mining experience. Given enough time, we should be able to get them out. What?’

Mason was shaking his head. ‘Time might be something we don’t have. A relayed message from Aurora Control via a ship’s satellite has come in. That Class 2 region is developing into a Class 3; there is a strong possibility of a major flare.’

‘How come we’re getting all these messages?’ asked Etamin. ‘I thought radios didn’t work here?’

‘They don’t, only tight-beam transmissions. The ‘Oppenheimer’ has put a comms relay satellite in orbit for the duration of the mission. It won’t survive a flare; which is why the colony doesn’t do it; not cost-effective.’

Paula went to talk to Bellatrix and managed to talk her round a little.

‘Bella, we are all pioneers in a way; space is the High Frontier and we all know the dangers. Even with the modern tech at our disposal; things happen. Capella understood the risks of being out here; else he would have stayed on Earth.’

Approaching the site, on the horizon loomed a wall of rock, approximately ten kilometres across.

‘That’s the crater wall.’

‘Do we have time for a quick fly-over?’ asked Achernar. Mason nodded and instructed Rachel to overfly the site.

The crater was circular, ten kilometres in diameter. The interior walls were smooth; the outer walls were rougher and sloped up; they were about half a kilometre. In the centre was a low hump or dome, surrounding this were a series of faint radial circles spaced about a kilometre apart. There were four gaps (passes) in the crater wall, equidistant around the circumference. One of these was blocked by rubble.

‘That’s the spot’, said Mason. Do we land inside or outside?’

‘Outside. This place has obviously been constructed.’

‘It looks like a vinyl record’, commented Etamin. Achernar, Bellatrix and Rachel nodded; Mason and Paula looked bemused. ‘You’ve never seen a record? It’s like an optical disc but it only plays music. Some of them in collections are worth thousands.’

Achernar and Bellatrix took a look at the trapped ATV. It was part-buried under rocks that had fallen; the hexagonal cross-section of the rocks was all the same. They took a couple of samples.

A voice with a Spanish accent answered the landline: – ‘Team Leader Vivero. Who are you please? How long before our rescue please, for, although we are comfortable, we are getting bored.’

‘Alpha Team leader, this is Gamma Team Leader Achernar. We need to drag a few rocks off you to free up your door, then you will be able to leave.’

‘Then we shall play a few more hands of poker. Do you play poker my friend? Yes! Then you must join our weekly game on the ship.’

Clearing the rubble took a lot longer than expected; a lot of it was jammed and more fell at times. Bellatrix picked up one of these and looked closely at it.

‘Ach, look at this.’ She pointed; Achernar recognised them immediately from his mining days. ‘Those are shot holes! Someone has planted explosives and booby-trapped this pass. Okay, keep this secret and hide this piece of rock somewhere.’

Overhead, there came a blue-green flicker of an aurora, which began to pulse faintly.

‘Achernar.’ It was Mason; the signal was scratchy and he sounded worried. ‘We’ve lost contact with the satellite. You’d better hurry.’

They attached a cable to the Team Alpha ATV and tried to drag it out; the plan worked but there was a loud grinding noise from the Gamma ATV and it stopped.

‘Frack! We’ve blown the transaxle.’

The aurora was pulsing green and purple across the sky; there was no time to waste. They loaded the Alpha ATV and Team Alpha; leaving the Gamma ATV behind.

Mason made a command decision: – ‘Rachel, go sub-orbital back to the spaceport. The ‘Oppenheimer’ will have left and be in the planet shadow; we don’t have time for a rendezvous. We need to get into the port shelters stat.’

Etamin glanced back and down as the lander boosted for sub-orbit. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. It seemed that the aurora patterns were circling the crater!

To be continued …

——————————————–

GM Notes

A nice, relatively straightforward couple of evenings playing The Currents of Space.

The ruin/ site of interest was originally generated using SWN ‘Dead Names’ and modified by a few random rolls. However, at this point, I don’t know much more about it.

There is a horribly complex method of classifying sunspots; I just went with a version based on the Fujita Scale of 1 -5, where 5 is Extinction-Level (I’m currently re-reading ‘Sunstorm’ by Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter; I love this book).

 

 

Tales from the Riverlands – 5

Skyhorn Lighthouse

‘Coppertree, you thieving whore. We know you used loaded dice. You owe us your ship’

Coppertree was just able to steer the damaged ship into the small harbour at the foot of the lighthouse. They looked up at the lighthouse. A path and steps led up to it; they noticed that the beacon was burning.

Ganthor, Borgus, Honeysuckle and Bjorne set on up the path from the ship. Part-way up, Ganthor paused and pulled something out of his pack.

‘I think we need some help’. He smashed a green crystal on the rock; a green-purple cloud appeared and out of it stepped Galadiir the Chromatic.*

Borgus looked a little wary, he had still not forgotten the incident with the harpy during the descent into the Ring of Fire; the last time Galadiir had been with them.

‘Greetings! I trust you are all well since we last met?’ said Galadiir. He looked at Borgus. ‘Where is Frank?’

‘Frank crawled off to the great spiderweb in the sky. This is Honeysuckle.’ Honeysuckle hissed at Galadiir. **

‘I’m sure we will be good friends.’

At the lighthouse, a tapering square stone structure of six stories, the heavy outer door was ajar and from inside came a guttural sound of several creatures talking; along with the sound of objects being tossed around. Bjorne sneaked a look in, he saw several Eelfolk; they looked like bipedal eels with long tails that are raised when they walk. They have two arms which they use to wield weapons; currently they were tipping over boxes and sorting through the contents. One of them seemed to be in charge and was issuing orders, although they were in an unknown language

Using his Elven cloak, Bjorne sneaked in and headed towards the only exit; the foot of a spiral stair leading up; he hid in the shadows. Ganthor pulled the door open and threw his javelin at the leader; it missed and alerted them and combat started.

Things started relatively normal, with Borgus, Honeysuckle engaging two of the Eelfolk and Ganthor engaging the leader. They soon found that, like electric eels, the Eelfolk could generate electric shocks that they could transmit along their weapons.

Then Galadiir got involved and things went really weird. *** He used his Chaos Ray to hurt the leader, then his Blarrrrgh! to hurt most of the other Eelfolk. He used Warped Healing to heal himself and Honeysuckle, whose eyes suddenly stood out on stalks. He blasted the leader with his Twisted Beam (killing it, despite the Eelfolk Resistance to Lightning (t was the acid damage that got him)); Galadiir then sprouted wings and flew to the other side of the room and blasted away with Magic Missiles that were his Wizard spell for the day. As a result of all of this chaos, Borgus grew a second head that kept arguing with him and Bjorne briefly became transparent.

Borgus, meanwhile, used his Helm of Thunder to bellow out in a giant’s voice ‘COME! I CHALLENGE ALL HERE TO BATTLE’.

This caused some more Eelfolk to charge down the stairs and into the melee; giving Bjorne (who wasn’t transparent anymore), chance to sneak up. He found a sleeping area and two more Eelfolk  that he was able to sneak up on and kill easily.

At the end, with everything restored to normal and Borgus back with only having one head; they searched around and found two Loot tokens.

The floor above the sleeping quarters was a kitchen/ living area as Borgus entered there was a ‘YEOWL!’ and Jones the cat leapt out of the shadows, clawed his face and disappeared again. Galadiir got some chopped-up Eelfolk on a stick and tried to lure Jones out; the cat sniffed at the meat; ignored it and clawed Borgus’ face again before running off.

‘I’m going to kill it.’ ‘No you’re not.’ ’Yes I am.’ ‘No you’re not, I like cats.’ ‘I don’t, look what it’s done to my face. I hate cats.’ ‘That’s why it clawed you and you are not going to kill it.’

On the next floor was a closed door made of ironwood bearing a bas-relief of the Great Tree of the Wild Wood. Inside it was like stepping into a druid’s grove; soft green light illuminated the room and there was a smell of jasmine and honeysuckle (the plant!) Then they heard a dry, whispering voice.

‘Please help me’

In the centre of the grove (room) was a cage made of twisted briars and thorns. Inside was a black nettle-like creature with a dandelion puff-ball head. It swayed as they approached and in a voice like the sighing wind said: –

 ‘Please help me and release me. I have been falsely caged by the druid Lucien Skyhorn. He captured me as a seedling off a passing ship and has forced me to grow here; imprisoned against my will.’

‘Where did you come from?’ asked Bjorne.

‘Lucien Skyhorn captured me as a seedling off a passing ship and has forced me to grow here. Please help and release me.’

Borgus looked for a doorway or keyhole but there was none. Ganthor looked at Galadiir.

‘Can you do a ritual to open the cage somehow? I was a paladin of the High Druid; I am now a Delian Knight, but I still do not like to see living things caged.’

Galadiir shook his head. ‘I have no understanding of ritual magic and cannot do it. However, I may be able to use my Force Tentacle to break the cage open.’

They watched as the conjured tentacle curled around the cage and began to break it apart. ****

To be continued …

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

GM notes

‘Skyhorn Lighthouse’ was originally written for 5e by Kelsey Dionne of the Arcane Library and adapted for 13th Age with her permission. Please check out her site at http://www.thearcanelibrary.com.

* Galadiir is Matt’s character; he has re-joined the Game now he has finished Uni.  Of course, he had to choose to play a Chaos Mage (from 13 True Ways)!

Chaos mages cause random and unpredictable effects to occur around them when they cast magic; in fact, they have little control over what magic they can cast at a given time.

The core rules themselves say – do not allow Chaos Mages in a Game that prefers the more “serious” gaming!!

** Frank was Borgus’ original animal companion, a giant spider. He died in the Ring of Fire fighting the undead dwarves.

*** Chaos Mages are complex and I’m not going to go into great detail how the magic works.

**** A bit of a balls-up here, I allowed Galadiir to use Ritual Magic to open the cage, completely missing the fact that Chaos Mages are forbidden from using it. Oh well, it advances the plot so we’ll just put it down to a weird chaos effect.

There has been a bit of a gap since the last Game due to holidays and various work commitments. Hopefully we’ll get back on track, Ben is planning an extended 13th Age campaign to follow this adventure (I might try out a Commander or possibly a Monk, both from 13 True Ways); I’ve got a Squadron:UK Game to run and of course, the Currents of Space is ongoing.

The Currents of Space – Episode 2.4

+++ SECURITY ALERT +++

Priority One – All security personnel respond

 > Rioting on the Strip between local workers and off-duty US Marines.

They emerged onto the Strip into the middle of a riot. A massive brawl was going on; there were US Marines and Port Security facing down a mob of (mainly) Chinese workers; many carrying and chanting TLA slogans.

‘Call up all information we hold on Lieutenant Crossland, Serial number 023488.’

Dr Singh frowned. ‘I may join a ground team if I think it is necessary; this would normally only be if progress was unsatisfactory.’

After debunking from hypersleep, the team gathered in the planetary survey office. The ‘Oppenheimer’ was coming in to Aurora from the darkside; even so the aurora playing around the planet was impressive.

‘What the frack is that smell?’ asked Achernar. A ship’s tech poked his head in. ‘Sorry about the smell; a malfunction in the water recycling system. It’s a recurring problem on this ship. We’ve fixed it now; the scrubbers should fix the stink.’ He grinned and bowed out.

Dr Singh entered and called for attention; Etamin clicked his heels and saluted. Dr Singh scowled but ignored him.

‘We are looking at three sites of interest. Team Alpha will investigate the rectangular structure in Environ s01. Team Beta will investigate the strange mounds in n13. Team Gamma,’ he paused, looking at Achernar, ‘will investigate the dry alluvial bed in s02’

Etamin raised his hand. ‘Will you be coming with us to investigate the dry river bed? After all, it seems to be pretty safe.’

Achernar cut in before Dr Singh could respond.

‘What is the overall mission plan? I understand that due to the high-energy cosmic bombardment from UV Ceti, radio communications are impossible and if a major storm is expected then the safest place is underground. How are we to keep in touch?’

Dr Singh beamed. ‘I like a forward thinker, Mr Achernar, (‘just Achernar’, muttered Achernar), I am appointing you Team Gamma leader. You will be equipped with an ATV and full supplies; you and Team Alpha will be flown out to the site by the expedition lander, which will then continue to s01 to drop Team Alpha. Your planned mission time is five days; the lander will return to the drop point in five days. Yes, what is it?’

Etamin had his hand raised again. ‘What if we find everything in the first two days? What do we do for the other three?’

‘I have a doctorate in planetology. What do you have? Nothing! So either prove me wrong, or don’t question me. We land in 24 hours, be ready to leave immediately.’

Bellatrix raised her hand. ‘Dr Singh. It is traditional to have a last night beer, food and movie session.’

‘And waste twenty-four hours! You will leave immediately.’

============================================================================

+++ AURORA CONTROL +++

Brought to you via landline from Parkfield Corporation

– The weather forecast is good, there are currently some minor flares; these are expected to produce normal activity.

– There is a developing region in the southern equatorial belt, a Class Two sunspot. This is being kept under observation.

– Polar magnetometers show fluctuations within normal limits; no major storms are expected.

++ ADVISORY: If the warning sounds; or the aurora deepens in intensity, then seek shelter immediately. Get into your assigned shelter or as deep underground as you can.

============================================================================

The lander took off at 0800 the following morning, heading for Environ s03. Bellatrix wangled her way onto the flight deck; she immediately saw what problems the massive radiation storms caused.

‘Hi, Pat Mason; I’m ship commander. That’s Rachel, pilot; don’t want to disturb her at the moment. As you can see, the instruments don’t give accurate readings.’

‘So how do you navigate then?’

Mason grinned and pointed out of the window. ‘We go back to the twentieth century; how they used to fly the early aircraft. They navigated by looking out of the cockpit. Look down; do you see those beacons?’

‘No’

‘Now put these on.’ Bellatrix put on the set of goggles; only now realising that Pilot Rachel was wearing them as well. Suddenly a line of beacons appeared; stretching into the distance.’

‘They only go as far as Outpost Three; after that we rely on the locator beacon that the ‘Oppenheimer’ fired down from orbit. Rachel, do you have a fix?’

‘Not yet; we’re still too far out.’

============================================================================

Approaching the landing site; there was a decision to be made.

‘The locator beacon is on a cliff above the river bed. You can be landed there; or down on the river bed.’

‘Go for the river bed,’ said Achernar; ‘the pick-up point is the beacon on the cliff. We’ll go for a hot drop, hover down and we’ll drive straight out. We don’t know what that river bed is and the ATV will float if it’s water under that ground cover.’

It was fairly firm ground; they headed for what used to be the riverbank. There were several clusters of hard-shelled pod plants in clumps.

‘Look here’, called Capella. ‘Some of these plants have been smashed open.’ He pulled out a camera; suddenly the ground heaved and a creature burst out of the soil next to him. It was shaped like a shrimp, dark-grey, with several segmented legs at the rear of its body. The upper body was bulbous and two rotating eyes on short stalks regarded him; moving to look from various angles. Capella raised his camera just as Etamin realised what it was doing and screamed a warning.

‘Capella! Get away from it! It’s triangulating!’

The warning came too late, much too late. With blinding speed, the creature’s bulbous upper body extended into a club, striking Capella full in the chest. There was a sickening crack and he went down. There was no time to help him; the ground erupted with several more of the creatures around the party.

They fought a running battle back to the ATV, managing to drag Capella with them. Even so, they were all injured and Achernar was wounded; even a glancing blow from one of the clubs was enough to cause severe bruising. Inside the ATV, for a time it came under attack; the clubs ringing off the outer hull; after a time the creatures gave up and left.

Paula examined Capella but looked up and shook her head.

‘His ribcage is completely stove-in. He must have died instantly.’

Achernar glanced at Bellatrix, expecting a bad reaction. Instead, she just stared at the inner hull and said nothing.

“Capella,” he thought to himself. “You were my cousin and I will never know now if you knew.”

============================================================================

Paula drove the ATV up to the landing beacon and Paula and Achernar buried Capella, whilst Etamin stood guard. Bellatrix stayed in the ATV. When it came to saying a few words, Achernar hesitated.

‘What’s up?’ asked Paula. ‘Are you worried about the mission?’

Etamin was looking at the alluvial plain with binoculars.

‘There are several clusters of those pod plants. Maybe they mark nests or hives of some kind?’

Achernar tried to talk to Bellatrix; he found her lying on a fold-down at the rear of the ATV, staring at the wall.

‘Fuck off Ach; we’re in this mess because of us landing at Mobius Three. And whose idea was that? Mine! It was fucking mine!’

‘You couldn’t have known what was going to happen and we did rescue your brother from the Lebkuchen.’

‘Yeah, we rescued the fucking wanker that wanted me out and still does. Piss off Achernar and leave me alone.’

Achernar became angry; ‘Now just listen! We’re in a crawler in a potentially hostile environment. There is no room for you to be a prima don …’

‘Sorry to interrupt’, came Paula’s voice. ‘A tight-beam has just come in from the lander. There’s an emergency and it’s nearly here to pick us up. We’re needed to help Team Alpha.’

To be continued …

============================================================================

GM Notes

OMG! Another PC death!

This was a straight combat using the 1970’s retro-rules. At one point I thought I was going to lose Achernar as well.

The creatures started off by being designed using the Creature Design rules; however when it turned out that they did a load of damage using a Club; I remembered a documentary about deadly creatures that mentioned the Mantis Shrimp.

Seriously, to design some weird alien life-forms that are nasty or just strange, you don’t have to look further than this planet to skin your random rolls. Bombadier beetles are real, as is the Ant-Lion!

Capella dying has buggered up a couple of Storylines!

Where are the Currents of Space going to blow me next?

The Currents of Space – Episode 2.3

‘The best way to keep a secret is to make sure as few people as necessary know about it. I think we are on borrowed time; eventually someone will talk.’ 

‘Achernar has been badly wounded and is in the starport hospital undergoing treatment. He is guarded by two Marines twenty-four hours daily.’

 +++ SECURITY ALERT +++

Priority One – All security personnel respond

 > Rioting on the Strip between local workers and off-duty US Marines.

 +++ Priority Channel, OIC Marine squad Alpha to Captain Deladrier, USS ‘Alabama’+++

> Captain, Lieutenant Crossland reporting. Please have medical bay Delta reconfigured to an extreme interrogation suite.

> Deladrier to Crossland – under what authority is this order being issued? Delta bays are only to be used in this manner in exceptional circumstances.

> Crossland to Deladrier – The relevant order is in the computer – key CROU25V6L2H81. Please expedite immediately.

> Deladrier to Crossland – Executive order will be complied with, sir.

+++ Message ends +++

 Jane Deladrier swung her command chair back to its central position on the bridge and drummed her fingers on the side of the console.

‘Damn! Again, I’m caught up in a situation not of my making; that I can’t control.’ She looked at the executive order again on her screen; basically it said; “give the bearer any and all assistance that you would give to a flag officer.”’ She issued the necessary orders; then opened another channel to her XO.

‘Call up all information we hold on Lieutenant Crossland, Serial number 023488.’

‘Captain? That’s a senior officers number.’

‘Yes XO, I know. Proceed.’

Crown Downport

The riots were escalating and a second squad of marines had been called in from the ‘Alabama’.

‘We can use this to our advantage’; Paula said. ‘Julio, can you grease a few palms to get us some kit?’

‘Etamin,’ he smiled back; ‘with some more help from Lady Bellatrix’s money of course.’

Between them, Etamin and Bellatrix obtained three Williams Model 9 stun guns, two smoke grenades and a tear gas grenade. The plan was to dress Capella and Etamin as medical orderlies with Bellatrix as a wounded casualty of the on-going riots. Once in the hospital; take out the two guards with the stunners and get Achernar out, using the smoke grenade as cover if necessary. They would rendezvous with Paula driving a Makita Armadillo and hide outside  for 20 hours until the survey ship leaves.

The plan worked; the two guards went down and they didn’t have to use the smoke or tear gas. However, their route to the outside lock was blocked by the riots and they were forced to divert. They ran into two power technicians working at a junction box – they knew Etamin. They agreed to help and posted a [RADIATION HAZARD] warning at the entrance to the tunnel leading to Lock 27. They boarded the ATV and headed about 10k away from the port.

Achernar was seriously wounded; Capella did what he could.

‘He needs a hospital; the survey ship will have one. We need a cover story.’

Bellatrix shrugged. ‘It’s obvious, really. He was caught up in the riots and some rat-bastard Marine shot him.’

‘That’s a bit extreme!’

‘Explains why they might dig out a 7.78 mil caseless round out of him.’

Sitting around and waiting

‘What ship are we joining, and why?’

Bellatrix pulled up some data

‘The ship is the ECS “Oppenheimer”, GSV – 080610; chartered by the Parkfield Corporation to conduct detailed surveys of UV Ceti and Aurora. We are listed as a Planetary Survey Team.’ She smiled. ‘We have been listed as crew for the last four months, thanks to a little creative computing.’

‘So, how did they track us down? We didn’t file a flight path to Crown; as far as ATC knew, we were outside our window for the transit to Oppenheimer.’

‘It’s the child; came a weak voice from the couch as Achernar struggled upright. ‘We all said that the kid was inside our heads. She warned Crossland just before I attacked him. I think the military are doing mind-reading experiments.’

‘Is that legal?’

Despite their misgivings, they were able to board the ‘Oppenheimer’ relatively easily; the ship was landed at the port and their papers were well in order. They were shown to their quarters on the passenger deck and run through the necessary bio tests to calibrate the hypersleep pods. Achernar was taken off to the hospital; well-equipped as befitted a survey ship. The ship lifted on time; the ‘Alabama’ did a cursory check of the ship’s manifest; as it was a scheduled flight with no sudden changes to the crew manifest; it was let past.

Time to FTL transition point: – 3 hours 51 minutes. Just enough time to meet their new boss.

They were directed to a conference room in the Planetary Survey section of the ship; an Indian woman and a Sikh were already there, looking at a planetary map. The lady looked up and smiled.

‘Hello, welcome aboard. I am Dr Jayanti Bhatnagar; Mission Co-ordinator for the UV Ceti mission. This is Dr Prasad Singh, Head of Planetary Survey; you will be working for him.’

“She’s wearing a sari,” thought Bellatrix, “not exactly the best outfit to wear in space.”  Dr Bhatnagar must have caught her look and smiled again. ‘I like to dress formally when I meet people; I like to make a good impression. When working, I wear work clothes and pants like everyone else.’

Dr Singh interrupted, gesturing at the map.

‘I understand that you are an experienced ground survey team. * There are several sites of interest on Aurora that Planetary Survey will be investigating; these will be allocated once we are in orbit. I run a tight ship and I expect results. I will speak later with all of my team leaders; all leaders will be expected to submit daily progress reports; which I shall analyse and categorise the data.’

Etamin raised his hand and spoke up.

‘Will you be joining us on any of the ground missions? Like, to get hands-on experience?’

Dr Singh frowned.

‘I may join a ground team if I think it is necessary; this would normally only be if progress was unsatisfactory.’

Etamin said nothing; his half-smile said it all.

Three hours later, with everyone safely asleep; the ‘Oppenheimer’ translated into hyperspace for the 11 day transit to UV Ceti.

Epilogue

USS ‘Alabama’

Captain Deladrier looked at the various reports on her screen and entered up the log. The riots on Crown had finally been contained; already complaints from both Makita and Haruna were being received on Earth. All Marine squads were back on-board; casualties had been light and there were no fatalities.

Her comms chimed, she sighed and keyed the channel open. As she had expected, it was Crossland.

‘Captain; a research vessel left Crown seventy-two hours ago. Why did you let it leave without a full search by a boarding party?’

‘Its manifest was in order and there was no reason to board it. Furthermore; all of my Marines were on the surface, containing the riots; my crew are not trained for EVA assault.’

‘Where ws that ship heading? I order you to set course to follow it.’

‘Order refused; you do not have that authority. Until I receive a direct order from Fleet Command, this ship will resume its normal patrol. Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that …’

The comms shut off. Deladrier ordered a course plotted for Armstrong (Procyon), then retired to her quarters. She called up a set of records and sat down to read them.

[Crossland, Davis/023488/ USMC O-5 (Lieut. Colonel)]

“So why are you masquerading as an O-2 working under an exec order when you are a short colonel?”

To be continued …

============================================================================

GM Notes

* A logical assumption based on their skills. This doesn’t mean that they are going to be any good at it.

* Dr Singh is based on a manager I used to work for (his personality and attitude to his staff). Etamin is far smarter than he is and is always going to point this out.

* This is getting out of my control now!! I called the Game ‘The Currents of Space’ because I didn’t know where I would be blown (and I like the Asimov novel); right now I’m on a rollercoaster to …

 

 

 

 

The Currents of Space – Episode 2.2

On the Luna farside they were in a US military facility that was invaded by a squad of troops from the Federal Republic of China. They managed to escape but Denebola was killed in the crossfire.

‘Oops, I think I’ve triggered something. I think we’d better get out of here; we’re probably going to get visitors.’

‘They have got a creepy kid with them; she has a permanent three-man escort. They are … oh shit …’

‘Arrgh!’ screamed Achernar.  Bellatrix ducked as a portable terminal flew past her head and smashed against the opposite wall.

‘Hey, that stuff costs money. Look, just calm down. They don’t know who she is; that was probably a warning shot and they’ve taken her for questioning. Paula’s an ex-Marshal; she wouldn’t do anything stupid.’

‘Crossland is dead!’ Achernar stormed out, swearing voluminously.

Capella sat down at an adjoining terminal. ‘Let’s take stock of what’s going on; then we can plan. Obviously, we are going to get Paula out of there; but it won’t be easy. Bella, how long have we got before the survey ship leaves?’

‘Just under two days, say forty hours.’

They all undertook various research tasks to get information to formulate a plan to rescue Paula. Achernar joined in after he’d calmed down.

Crown Downport – a Class D port, with three landing pads. The security is handled by a sheriff and several deputies. One interesting thing – the spaceport was first constructed in 2161 by the Chinese, before the Second Recession. Most of the support staff are of Chinese descent.

‘I didn’t know that,’ commented Bellatrix; ‘about the construction, I mean.’

The USS ‘Alabama’ served at Tau Ceti in 2221 (the Okara-Jackson Incident.) The Marines have taken over part of the port whilst the ‘Alabama’ stays in orbit. The Chinese workers are not happy and tensions are growing.

Why haven’t we been arrested yet? – We didn’t come in through the port; we had a private clearance to land and then the ‘Marie Hope’ scattered itself over several square kilometres in the southern hemisphere. Only Makita knows we are here.

‘And Haruna,’ reminded Achernar. ‘The best way to keep a secret is to make sure as few people as necessary know about it. I think we are on borrowed time; eventually someone will talk.’

Did Paula have a contact at the port? – Yes; a sanitation worker called Julio.

They contacted Julio, who agreed to help them. A few chosen words here and there; with a little (untraceable) Makita money, stirred up unrest between the Chinese and the ‘Alabama’ marines (about Tau Ceti, it doesn’t take much of a spark to ignite this particular flame). Paula is held in a small detention cell in the main starport block.

+++ SECURITY ALERT +++

Priority One – All security personnel respond

> Rioting on the Strip between local workers and off-duty US Marines.

Orders: Contain and arrest ringleaders. Co-ordinate with OIC USMC

+++++++++++++++++++++

Travelling by ATV from Kukawa; they met Julio at Lock 17 where they parked the ATV.

Julio was a young kid, barely in his twenties; but he had a streetwise look about him

‘This way and quickly. Things are cooking off big-time between the Chinos and the GROPOS. Seems like they have previous history.’

They emerged onto the Strip into the middle of a riot. A massive brawl was going on; there were US Marines and Port Security facing down a mob of (mainly) Chinese workers; many carrying and chanting TLA slogans.*

They headed for the room where Paula was being held; Bellatrix glanced back to find that Achernar wasn’t with them.

Achernar headed towards the central control room of the port; he was looking for Crossland. Suddenly, an intense pain filled his head and his vision blurred.

‘He is here;’ came a whispered voice. Achernar opened his eyes to see Crossland and the Psi-Child, escorted by three Marines. He pulled his gun, but Crossland fired first; the heavy slug tore into Achernar’s shoulder and blackness descended.

Julio had found them a hiding place down on the power level of the port. Paula was a little bruised but okay. After a few hours Achernar had not shown up.

‘Stupid bastard; he’s gone after Crossland. Julio; see what you can find out.’

Julio smiled. ‘There is a price. First; you take me with you; I hate this hell-hole. Secondly; I note that you are all named after stars. From now on, you will call me Etamin.’

‘I’m not named after a star,’ said Paula, ‘nor do I see the need to be.’

Some hours later, Etamin reported in.

‘Achernar has been badly wounded and is in the starport hospital undergoing treatment. He is guarded by two Marines twenty-four hours daily.

‘Frack! They would have just questioned Paula; but Achernar they will put through the mill. We really need to get him out before they get him up to the ‘Alabama’.

To be continued …

==============================

GM Notes

*TLA – Tau Ceti Liberation Army, the Chinese-backed resistance group on Tau Ceti.

This Episode just flowed naturally from the events that happened in it. As I said earlier; work with what you’ve got and only put in a new Thread if it is necessary or looks interesting.

 

The Currents of Space – S2.1

Achernar woke from a deep sleep to an insistent buzzing from the comms unit. It was a priority call from Bellatrix.

‘Achernar, get yourself to Makita Hub stat. We’ve got an incoming problem. Is Paula with you?’

“Damn;” thought Achernar, “no secrets in space.” ‘No,’ he lied; ‘haven’t seen her since dinner.’

‘She’s not answering her comms; you’d better find her quick.’

At Makita Hub, Capella and Bellatrix were already there when Paula and Achernar entered. Bellatrix gestured for the duty tech to leave.

‘Crown Downport relayed this message to us about an hour ago.’

+++ Message 2505192226 -1 +++

[USS  Alabama to Crown Downport – Captain Jane Deladrier]

‘This is Captain Deladrier of the USSC “USS Alabama” to the officer in charge of Crown Downport. We are inbound, ETA three hours, I have a warrant for the arrest of the following individuals (she named Achernar, Bellatrix and Capella.) Please arrange for them to be detained for transport back to Earth to face charges of treason and espionage. Deladrier out.

+++ Message ends +++

‘Frack! This has to be connected to that business on Luna. But how did they find us?’

‘Bella,’ said Achernar, ‘what help can we expect from your people?’

‘Very little, I’m afraid;’ she replied. ‘We’ve got some clout on Earth; but I suspect we’re not going to get that far. As you said back on Luna, we are going to disappear down a hole so deep …’

‘Would someone mind filling me in on what’s this all about?’ said Paula. Between them, they gave a quick briefing of the events on Mobius 3 station.

‘You can’t fight your way out of this – the “Alabama” is a Colonial cruiser and carries two full Marine squads. Captain Deladrier could slag this place if she wanted to. Admittedly; there would be long-term repercussions; but in space, no-one can hear you scream.’

‘We need to lie low; then get off-planet ASAP. Bella, what can you arrange?’

A few calls later, Bellatrix secured them a place on a stellar survey mission heading out to UV Ceti to study the binary system.

[Private channel Crown Downport to Emilohi Olawe – ‘The “Alabama” has entered orbit and is sending down a dropship. They are requesting that you and your companions be turned over to Lieutenant Crossland, the Marine squad commander.’]

 ‘Crossland!’

Paula looked up to see the others staring at each other; an indescribable look on their faces. A thin trickle of blood ran from Capella’s left nostril. All of them had had the same recollection – “a young child, a girl. She was about eight years old; wearing a simple one-piece tunic. Stencilled on the left breast was [F23]. The most striking thing was her eyes; they were solid bright blue, with no pupils.” She narrowed her eyes.

‘Right. All of you stay here in Kukawa. Bellatrix, put people you can trust to cover for you for a few hours. Crossland doesn’t know me; I’ll go and get things sorted to get us off of here.’

Twenty hours later, Achernar’s comms chimed with an incoming message. It was from Paula; the message was scratchy; with lots of static.

‘Ach. I’m at the Downport. The marines are here, a full-thirteen man squad led by a Sergeant Gates. Lieutenant Crossland is the OIC. They have got a creepy kid with them; she has a permanent three-man escort. They are … oh shit …’

(There came a burst of gunfire and the radio went dead …) *

To be continued ….

======================================================

GM notes

Again, I really have to assure you that I haven’t planned all this in advance.

Although, to be truthful, once you have a few Plotlines on the go, it starts to become easier to extrapolate outcomes from Plans. Rather than keep adding Plots, NPC’s and Locations (ad infinitum); see if you can work with what you’ve got, as long as it makes logical sense.

* Paula rolled a critical failure so this has to be a really bad outcome.

> I had already decided that the Marines mission was to capture Achernar, Bellatrix and Capella. However; they don’t know who Paula is; so until the next Episode I DON’T KNOW  if she is alive.

The Currents of Space – Season 2

Recap of Season 1

Achernar, Bellatrix, Capella and Denebola woke from hypersleep aboard a hospital ship, the ‘Marie Hope’, with no memory of how they got there. It transpired that the ship had been sabotaged and that they would likely all have died.

On the Luna farside they were in a US military facility that was invaded by a squad of troops from the Federal Republic of China. They managed to escape but Denebola was killed in the crossfire.

On Crown (Wolf 359) it was revealed that Bellatrix was really Emilohi Olawe, part of a VIP family connected to the Makita Corporation. Her elder brother was missing; during the search they found out that there was a connection to the notorious Lebkuchen uprising of 2209. They were able to rescue Bellatrix’s brother just in time as the Lebkuchen facility was destroyed by a nuclear weapon.

The year is now 2226

==========================