Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another Sun Rises - A Cypher*Space Campaign - Session 3

Crimson b, viewed from apoapsis.  Image created with Universe Sandbox


Past Session Logs


Apoapsis


"She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me.  I ought never to have run away from her… I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little stratagems.  Flowers are so inconsistent!  But I was too young to know how to love her..."

- The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery



Given that the last few hours were beginning to look rather bleak, for the crew of the Argos III's last remaining Remora, the sight of a full cargo bay was quite welcome.  One-hundred feet in diameter and twenty feet deep, the forward cargo bay was stacked with boxes, crates, and usable goods that lifted the spirits.  Since this chamber was only designed to outfit the utility craft for repair and rescue runs, the crew found vast quantities of the gear already discovered on board their Remora.  Of course this included thousands upon thousands of sealed MRE's - meals ready-to-eat.  Taking a brief break to satisfy their agonizing hunger, the four crewmembers discussed their next course of action.


Dr. Bruce ExeterHard-Boiled* Savant who Works Medical Miracles, played by Andy
Dr. Game Dijkstra, Learned Savant who Talks to Machines, played by Matt
Karl Travers, Graceful Trooper who Blanks** played by Marc***
Evart Crymouth, Stealthy Operative who Adapts to Any Environment played by Jeremy

*Hard-Boiled is out of Wits Alone, by Ryan Chaddock Games
**The player has chosen not to share his Focus with the party at this time
*** Karl Travers was NPC'd for this session


While nibbling on frozen fruit pockets and semi-heated soy-gel, Dr. Dijkstra took a look at some of the more technical pieces of equipment salvaged from the forward hold.  One piece of equipment, a portable orbital uplink unit, could facilitate communication between planets in a system, but Dr. Dijkstra had another plan.  With just a few modifications it could be redesigned to remotely hack into other parts of the Argos III, potentially bypassing GAIA.  So far the General Artificial Intelligence Assistant had been quite a thorn in the crew's side, sending defense drones to intercept the Remora and manually depressurize the craft's compartments.  GAIA interpreted the Remora as an EBE, an "Extraterrestrial Biological Entity", and was handling the crew and their ship as if they were dangerous boarders.  Dr. Dijkstra was the first to formulate that there was possibly an EBE on board the Remora, and took a look at his crew members.  Could it be one of them? The savant pushed it from his mind… 

...for now.

From inside the cargo bay Evart could look out onto Crimson b itself, the tiny ice dwarf that the Argos III was orbiting.  The miniature world appeared to have a reddish glow, as the light from the dwarf star Crimson weakly bathed the orb.  The Argos III's forward docking bay initially held three Remora craft, and although there were several guesses as to what had happened to the other two vessels, Evart wanted to know for sure.  The operative examined the rest of the forward cargo bay and got a good look at the other two Remora docking stations.  One was completely vacant, although  a long broken tether could be traced from the port out into space.  The other had the broken remnants of Remora 2 (the party's vessel was Remora 3).  Given the status of the rest of the bay, and Evart's understanding of shipboard operations, it looked like someone, or something, opened the forward cargo bay door while it was still completely pressurized.  This forced everything in the cargo bay out into space at an explosive rate of velocity.  Luckily for this particular crew, their tether held, and the Remora craft simply dangled out and away from the Argos III.

But the question remained: how did they get on the Remora?

All four crew members remembered going into stasis nearly a quarter-millennia ago, but their pods were located in a cargo chamber in one of the rotating wheels of the Argos III.  To create gravity, the Argos III spun three individual wheels, a main cargo wheel, a habitation wheel, and a hanger wheel.  Actually all three sections of the craft seemed to have power and were currently active.  But someone would have had to take the stasis pods out of one of the three rotating wheels and brought them to the Remora.

Dr. Exeter had a hunch that the dead body the crew found floating in the Remora would yield a few clues.  Although he only had rudimentary medical equipment, the good doctor was a skilled surgeon and was able to determine the cause of death.  Upon noticing the last name imprinted on the crumpled remains of the man's jumpsuit, Dr. Exeter remembered that the gentleman's full name was Blake McGavin, a member of the medical team who was a nurse.  McGavin died due to improper orthotic connections, drowning when his stasis pod filled with Bio Ice since he was unable to swallow the tube that would go down into his throat.  It seems like McGavin was rushed when trying to connect the devices.  Dr. Exeter further deduced that McGavin did not enter the stasis pod until it was moved to the Remora, and that the nurse probably was responsible for getting the crew on board the craft.

With full stomachs, Evart, Dr. Dijkstra, and Dr. Exeter continued to investigate the Argos III's forward cargo bay.  At the center of the bay was a transit tube station, a trio of shafts that ran the entire length of the Argos III.  Earlier Dr. Dijkstra noticed that the tubes were sealed off, most likely by GAIA, but there were three access panels that could easily be opened with a crowbar.  The pods that traveled in the transit tubes used mag-lev rails to move about, and there was a man sized gap on either side of each rail that could be accessed for maintenance and repair.  The only downside was that the rails would cause havoc for anyone carrying metal equipment - or like Dr. Dijkstra possessing cybernetic implants - who entered the tube.  Dr. Dijkstra was fairly certain that he could interfere with GAIA's connection to the tubes long enough for another member of the crew to crawl to the next section of the craft, the Main Hanger compartments in the forward most wheel.


Image courtesy of 0-hr art & technology


The trip was only 250 feet, but it would be done in the dark in cold conditions.  Evart volunteered and decided to keep his soft e-suit on for the journey.  As the operative worked his way towards the hanger, at the halfway mark the adjacent rail started to hum with power.  Dr. Dijkstra noticed that GAIA was trying to access the rail and possibly reenergize it, but the savant was able to slow GAIA's process.  It seemed like the AI unit had a complete awareness of everything happening within the Argos III at all times!  Evart moved faster, knowing that time was short, and eventually kicked his way out of the tube when he made it to the Hanger section.  It was unsettling to feel gravity on his legs and body again, but Evart didn't have time to remain uneasy.  As soon as the operative engaged the transit tube so that his fellow crewmembers could join him, Evart heard a hissing.

Something was coming!

The room into which Evart entered was a dark transit tube lobby.  Despite the lack of light, Evart's wetware enabled eyes easily navigated the compartment, and the operative got his bearings. To his left were exercise rooms and an auditorium for service personnel.  To his right were crew compartments, mostly for colonials and repair technicians.  If he moved forward, counter-clockwise through the Hanger wheel he would get to the exploration craft... but that direction was now blocked.  The sound, and smell, of burning filled the chamber, as a large hulking metal machine cut a hole through the doorway ahead.  It was a TC Magmid Unit, a mining robot designed to cut long paths into asteroids, moons, and rocky planets.  Careful to keep out of sight, and having little faith that his lowly crowbar would be of any use against the Magmid, Evart ran to the left towards the auditorium and waited for backup.

Aware of their teammates challenge via comm watch, both Dr. Dijkstra and Dr. Exeter were traveling in the transit pod towards the section of the Hanger where Evart was being hunted.  Although both savants wanted to help, they weren’t sure what they could actually use against a dangerous tunneling robot... their weapons consisted of small tools and a cutting torch.  When they got off the elevator, Dr. Exeter immediately ducked down and circled the transit tube shaft to flank the massive robot.  Dr. Exeter appeared right behind the machine, grabbed the base of the unit's neck and cut a wire that would erase the Magmid's most recent data input (memories).  The magmid shut down for a few minutes while GAIA tried to reestablish the connection.  Dr. Dijkstra pulled out his own tools and started to work on the "head' of the magmid, pulling the cutting beam off and saving it for later.  Evart joined his fellow crewmembers with his trusty crowbar and bashed the servos in both legs so that they were not functional.  The magmid would only be able to crawl, but the claws were still dangerous.

A few blasts from Dr. Dijkstra's electromagnetic onslaught unit ended the Magmid's artificial career permanently.  But the party groaned when the machine tipped over.  It was registered as TC Magmid "7".  There were at least six more units, possibly more, on board and at GAIA's disposal.  Dr. Dijkstra realized that he needed to cut GAIA's access to the the subsector of the Hanger wheel so that the team could get at least a short break.  Moving to one of the control panels, the savant started to hack GAIA's connection.  

Success! 

All cameras and sensors connecting the Argos III GAIA unit to that particular subsector were cut off.  The team moved into a lounge, gathered some Twinkies out of a vending machine, filled some water bottles and took a much needed break.

But Dr. Exeter's eyes caught something strange outside.  The dull reddish sun at the center of the system, Crimson, was starting to fade out.  Even though Crimson b's moon facing the opposite side of the craft, something was eclipsing the star.


Something.


Quotes



Exeter:  "Does that mean our being sent out in space wasn't intentional?"
Evart:  "I think it was very intentional, just not intentional in favor of us…" 

"Considering she made our GAIA snarky, I'm not sure how she'd respond." - Matt didn't know if he could charm the Argos III's AI unit.

"If we can pull you faster than the thing that is trying to eat you on the other side, it'll all be alright!" - Andy has this whole sci-fi campaign thing mastered.

"I gotta say, those first couple weeks were the best campaign in a ten-foot cube that I ever had!" - Andy being snarky… maybe he caught it from GAIA?



Thanks 



The rules for Another Sun Rises are based on Monte Cook Games' Numenera and The Strange, incredible RPG's in their own right, both of which I am absolutely in love with.  The Magmid can be found in the Numenera Bestiary, available right here either in print or as a PDF!

I will continue to share a link back to 0-hr art & technology.  Ryan Wolfe is a terrific artist, and I used his designs for the Remora, Argos III, and a few more.  All of his ships are available at DriveThruRPG, so I'd suggest you take a look if you are starting your own campaign in space!  

To build the Crimson star system, I used Universe Sandbox, a space simulator that allows you to create entire planetary systems and toy with everything from mass to orbital velocity.  You can pick up this amazing program on Steam, or check them out on their own website here.