The Last Parsec

The Unraveling Periphery: Episode XVI
To Endings, Part 1

Preparations

War plans were discussed.

Charlie worked to unlock the secrets of the scalar with help from Triple 8.

Lord Dray established a formal treaty between the Oans and House Dray to formalize his intentions on treating them as equals and not slaves..

Scouts reported the enemy fleet spread between Lucknow and Ybarra. Not good.

The main forces moved to the Belarus system. A ship arrived carrying Lord Josua’s uncle, Aston Bek. He said he was sent by Lord Dray’s mother to find Evie. Josua reacted with suspicion and quarantines Bek’s ship. Brother Fives were dispatched to inspect the ship, but found nothing out of the ordinary to them.

Admiral Yamoto agreed to send 90% of the Ghost Fleet with us. She requested 25% of the Dray fleet remain to guard the Anderson Point.

Two strike teams would be sent to deal with the frightening Fanatic command carriers. The crew composed one of the teams with the mining bot (MAB) and the nuke taken from the enemy on Home. They would travel in the Scalar, inside of the Sister Four who volunteered to deliver the solar fireworks. They would then jump back to let the main force know when it is safe to jump in following the “show”.

The other team would be composed of White Feathers, the Dray naval special forces unit. They would jump in with the main forces via Zen’s Restored Honor tactical shuttle and be armed with the reactor gun. This gun was reported to be able to instantly halt, start, or overload a ship’s reactor. The White Feathers’ orders were to shut the reactor down.

Remaining White Feathers would be aboard the Sleipnir to man the guns and provide extraction if it became necessary.

Sundancer

The team traveled to Ybarra system inside the Sister Four and Josua identified the carrier he believed the Avatar was on board. Sister Four told the crew they need to leave immediately.

Fanatic forces were suspiciously close to the Sister Four’s arrival location and attacked her almost immediately. Oa-La received a message from the Sister Four. She didn’t share its contents with the crew but, from then on, she referred to that Sister as Sundancer.

The rest of the crew rode the Scalar to the nearby planet’s ionosphere and watch as Sundancer dove into the star and the fireworks begin.

As soon as it was over, the crew jumped to the combined Ghost and Dray fleets, gave the signal “Attack!” and then jumped back.

Charlie had an epiphany, developing an understanding of the underlying paradigm guiding the wacky construction and modifications to the scalar. He could now, or example, locate and work the built in radio.

Lord Dray tried to convince the Avatar to submit, transmitting “Your power to me.” but was only met with radio silence. Zen docked the Scalar with the Tormenter, the dreadnought believed to be carrying the Avatar. On approach, Zen notices that it seemed too quiet.

The Ghost fleet jumped in and, unlike contemporary fleets, this ancient fleet arrived in almost perfect formation. As soon as their systems came on line, they began to tear into the Fanatic ships.

The Battle of Ybarra had begun.

The Battle of Ybarra

Meanwhile, back on the Tormentor, the crew found the bridge disconcertingly deserted. Oa-La tried to hack into the ship’s computer and discovered another active presence working against her. She proved the better hacker and successfully flipped the shipboard anti-intruder guns to target the crew instead of intruders. Its was a bad day to be a Fanatic.

Zen tried to return to the Scalar, but discovered that the airlock had been remotely voided and the Scalar set adrift. The hacker seemed to have gotten his revenge and cut off their escape route. Then they realized that the “bridge” has been rigged with explosives and the elevator disabled. Oa-La was able to override the elevator and the crew escapes just before the bridge exploded.

They made their way down to the engineering section and arrived on a scene of carnage. The anti-intruder guns had cut to pieces a Fanatic ambush that was awaiting the crew this level.

Picking their way through the bodies, they looked for a room to stash their bomb in. Trying a nearby room, they found a trio of Fanatic techs fleeing from some Arc Beatles. The beatles turn on the crew who decided on discretion rather than valor and sealed the door.

The nuke was stashed in a nearby closet and Charlie whipped up a convincing fake bomb to mislead anyone who might be observing them. The MAB also accompanied them.

Evie checked the ship’s computer and the resisting hacker entity was gone. Shortly thereafter, the ship reverberated and internal sensors seemed to indicate a ship had jumped from within the hangar of the dreadnaught.

They headed to the hanger, commandeered a Fanatic bomber and left the Tormentor.

Evie contacted Josua. Unbeknownst to him, she had accompanied the White Feathers strike team. Her team mates seemed to be turning on each other, victims of a psychic attack. Josua told her to send the remaining soldiers away and take the reactor gun on her own.

Midway between the dreadnaughts, Lord Dray detonated the nuke. The Tormentor broke in half with the majority of the aft disappearing in a nuclear light.

Zen vectored their stolen ship to the Undying, the other dreadnaught which Evie was onboard.

While transiting, the crew took stock of the space battle unfolding around them. The combined Ghost and Dray fleets had overwhelmed the Fanatic fleet twice their size. However, they had also taken a beating in the process and many of the ancient ships were damaged or disabled.

As they watched, the Undying deployed a previously unknown weapon of tremendous firepower. It shattered two smaller ships before slamming into the Ghost fleet flag ship, causing serious damage.

Josua opened a channel to the flagship and said it was time to retreat.

Elric reported that he was being pursued by six fighters.

Josua received a communication from one of the White Feathers describing the death of Josua’s brother’s. He then began threatening Evie. The crew exchanged uneasy looks at this.

The MAB, reprogrammed, managed to disable a Fanatic Battle cruiser.

The crew launched an assault on the primary hanger, causing massive damage before heading to the secondary hanger. On landing, they made sure to squash someone. (No XP left behind!)

The crew next made their to the ship’s command center. Once there, grenades were tossed, shots were shot, and faces were murderized. The crew overcame the resistance and eventually most of the remaining Fanatics changed sides.

“Run!”

Triple Eight warned that someone was approaching; it turned out to be Evie. She said “Run” and the crew didn’t argue.

Before departing, Lord Dray commanded the turncoats to ram the ship into the nearest capital ship and then evacuate.

Evie explained that one of the White Feathers had been stalking her. She had used the reactor gun, which seemed to be doing an excellent job of overloading the reactor. She led the way to where they had docked the Restored Honor.

As they approached the airlock, one of the White Feather stepped out between the crew and their ship. He seemed to be controlled by someone else. Lord Dray guessed it was Kayzo, Lord Balisian. Oa-La and Zen engaged the White Feather, but it was ineffective. Charlie blew a hole through part the possessed soldier’s face, but that just seemed to irritate him.

Josua and Evie used their telekinesis to move the White Feather up and out of the way. The crew dashed onto the ship and departed the command carrier..

As they caught their breath, they watched the death of the Undying.

View
The Unraveling Doom Part XV
Desperation

In game date 3166.07.06

Zen met Greep, the Castle security chief with distinctive features. He was hairless, orange skinned, green fractal eyes, and very muscular humanoid (comms channel 114p). He’s probably from a high gravity world. Greep indicated there are go/no go zones on planet. Zen touched base with the security chief and started coordinating activities.

Ark

All the other team members were being shown around the ARK by Chief Archivist Courson. Archive Repository of Knowledge (ARK). Charlie was inspecting the scalar and Zen was called in to assist him.

The Ark was on a moon orbiting the gas giant Maleron. Maleron has its own Anderson point, a closely guarded secret.

The team described to Courson and his fellow scientists the Ansible device recovered from agents of Goratu. The Imperial scientists were interested and offered to look it over in addition to the current project. They were in the process of inspecting the recovered pieces of a Oatian A.I. model five. Oa-La provides the scientists with cursory information about the Oatians. She also insisted on collecting the parts of the five from the lab

Meanwhile, Charlie used his “magic” rod from the Serrens to get the Scalar started. The ship’s voice control interface identified the craft as the Anderson Prototype Model #1. Zen was able to get it in the air and it flew off through the ARK facility. It jumped directly and instantly to Hudson.

Zen tried to radio to Hudson Air Traffic Control that they were friendly, but couldn’t locate a radio. He requested that the navigation system return them to Maleron.

Ghost Fleet

Meanwhile, Courson took Oa-La and Lord Dray to meet the leader of the Ghost Fleet, Admiral Yamoto.

The Fleet itself was appearing/phasing in from “somewhere” and included a dreadnaught class flagship on par with one of the 3 that the Goratu flagships.

On boarding, Josua and Oa-La noticed the uniforms, ship designs, and technology present were all foreign to them and represented a different technology level than standard Imperium. Josua theorized that it could be First Imperium.

They are led to the Admiral’s quarters which have been decorated with paper walls and doors similar to ancient Japanese architecture. Unknown to them at the time, the Admiral is the ancient looking lady serving the tea, not the man sitting at the table.

Josua related details about the Followers of Goratu, the Bellicose Arm, and their threat to this part of space. He provided them with the information gathered so far. He requested support from the Ghost Fleet in the looming battle.

The Admiral questioned the credibility of the threat. The Ghost Fleet had protected the ARK for over 10,700 years of normal time. When not fighting, the fleet goes into a shifted space where time is compresses. From the Fleet’s perspective, they had been going on from battle to battle for nearly 10 years.

Yamoto was reluctant to weaken the defence of the the facility, especially if the opposition was as dire as it sounded.

Lord Dray brought up the possibility of letting some members of the fleet retire and replacing them with fresh volunteers from Hudson or elsewhere in the Periphery.

Admiral Yamoto dispatched forces to investigate the Goratu fleet. She would accompany Lord Dray and Oa-La back to Hudson in hopes of learning more.

Charlie’s Past

Transiting back from Hudson via scalar for Zen and Charlie took a little over an hour. Jacob and Esmerelda arrived to meet with Charlie. Jacob seemed to know a LOT about Charlie. Jacob told Charlie about the Ark Foundation.

There were 5 previous locations of the ARK. The current location was discovered to be a storehouse of Precursor relics prior to relocating the ARK here. Early on, the Foundation discovered a treatment, called Ponce, for renewing one’s youth. The treatment was not without side effects.

In the past, the Foundation had thousands of agents who circulated around the galaxy ensuring any threats to the repository of knowledge were dealt with expediently. During the long nights when galactic civilization collapsed, the agents would lead “the right people” to the ARK to help humanity and the galaxy regain lost wisdom.

Jacob offered him a Ponce treatment, but Charlie said he would consider it later.

The team plus Yamoto returned to Hudson via the space bridge and retired for the evening. Oa-La tended to several tasks as directed by Lord Dray.

Fire from Heaven

They were awoken early the next morning. A video transmission had been received. The crew joined Evie in the castle command center to view it.


Several video streams fill the screen.

One shows an unfamiliar brown planet from orbit, half cloaked in shadow. Fanatic ships can be seen at the edges of the view. Telemetry readings on the screen identify it as Flars.

Another stream is more zoomed in or from a closer recording device. You can make out urbanized areas, roads, farm lands, hyperloops.

A third stream is displaying several thousand objects as they move around a wireframe representation of the planet.

A voice is heard “People of Flars, rejoice! The time of atonement is upon you!” A readout on the screen displays the text of the words as they are spoken and is labeled “Global Transmission”.

It continues: “One thousand, three hundred and forty years ago, the great Haruspex of Goratu came to your world. He walked your lands. He visited your ancestors. He brought the messages of Goratu to them.

And they laughed at him. The beat him. And finally, they burned him.”

In the images showing the planet, a light appears, growing brighter. It’s hard to see from further out, but the closer up view shows it to be the high port, the orbiting space port. A pair of Fanatic corvettes are pushing it down, tilting it out orbit. They break off as it begins its fatal, burning plunge into the atmosphere.

The voice continues. “Their sin is a stain upon you and your world. The Avatar of Goratu has passed judgement upon you. For the desecration committed by your ancestors, the Avatar has issued the Edict of Fire From Heaven upon you.

Rejoice! Today… you will pay for their sins. And your strength will be Goratu’s strength.”

Seconds after the voice goes silent, a flash can be seen in the night part of the planet, then another, then a hundred blooms of light in a neat line from pole to pole. Seconds pass and another line of light is drawn. Another.

The wire frame display shows wave counters of the objects being hurled at the planet, originating from the asteroid belt. A four digit counter. Lines of light continue crossing the globe.
****************************************

By the time the crew was watching the transmission, all life on the planet had been destroyed by the orbital bombardment.

Admiral Aybarm, the overall commander of Hudson forces, arrived.

War Council

Lord Dray attended a war council meeting with Evie and the admirals. Yamoto was convinced as to the severity of the threat. She and Aybarm provided Josua with fleet strengths.

Oa-La worked on signaling and gathering any Oan AIs in the system. Charlie and Zen returned to the ARK to look for technology which might help the effort.

Evie had been researching Zeiss, her captor on the gas giant base and shared her information with Josua. Zeiss was from Josua and Evie’s homeworld, Covenant. He was of House Ballisian , a minor house which disappeared 17 years ago. Zeiss’ sister, niece, and nephew were killed by a bomb when traveling via water transport to a Dray organized peace talks. Zeiss was not present and escaped in the Aspect of Infinity.

Vendetta

The war council is interrupted by a newly received transmission.

Transmission begins::

A man appears on the screen, seated in a plain, wooden chair. You can see a black armored figure behind him on your left, and a red armored figure on the right.

Your first thought on seeing the seated man is albino. The man is perhaps in his thirties, but it is hard to tell. His skin looks bleached white with a slight yellow pallor, head bald, but his eyes. His eyes are solid white.

“This is Kayzo of House Ballisian and the last surviving member of his house. Under the rights granted to a noble house under the Convocation Articles of Dispute, section 36, he is now publicly declaring a vendetta upon House Dray.

Evidence is as follows:

  • The cold blooded murder of his servant, Shaikila Wai. <footage><footage>
  • And finally, the murder of his mother, sister, father, and the attempted murder of Kayzo himself while on their way to peace talks on Harmony Day. The Dray family not only failed to prevent their murders but evidence exists that the actual culprit was herself a Dray. The Dray family conceal the evidence of Juliasa Dray Bek crimes to protect their own reputations.

Since Juliasa Dray Bek escaped justice through death, her niece Evelyn Dray is considered her proxy for the purpose of this vendetta.

If she and Josua Dray are remanded to the forces of the Bellicose Arm of Goratu, this vendetta will be satisfied. Otherwise, Lord Ballisian will use all means at his disposal, including the Bellicose Arm, to satisfy the vendetta.

The fate of Flars will befall you if you resist.

This is the nephew of Zeiss, who was believed dead. It appears he is alive but still suffering the effects of an insensate bomb.

Into the Light

Oa-La returned to the Sleipnir where she found that Triple 8 has been busy. She’s ordered several parts on the Dray credit account, repaired the power armor the crew acquired at the pirate base, modified it so that she could “drive” it, and created a set of autonomous power armor that Elric could “inhabit”.

Oa-La asked Triple 8 to repair the model five she took from the ARK scientists. The little spider bot made quick work of that. Then she and Oa-La set to work in signaling any other Oans in system. They broadcast a signal using the Zeiss gauntlet signal and instructions to head to the salt flats on the eastern continent. Oa-La also request that Triple 8 duplicate herself to help with the removal of slave chips from any Oans that answer the call.

A lone Sister 4 and her thousand Brother 5 passengers appeared. Triple 8 and “Pup-8” got to work replacing their slave chips.

Freedom

Oa-La requested her freedom from the Dray family. Lord Josua Dray formally granted her request and authorized her release from servitude.

Candy!

Charlie and Zen consulted Jacob at the ARK for anything that might be helpful. He was reluctant to let anything go, as it is all one-of-a-kind and of significance. After some prodding and deliberation, he led them to a “solar fireworks show”, something that would create a system wide solar storm for a brief period of time. It should knock sensors and shields of any ships in space for a while.

The other item he refered to as a reactor gun, which can shutdown a running reactor, jumpstart a inert reactor, or overload a running reactor.

Reinforcements

Finally, an Oan fleet jumped in, having traveled from the Oan home world. They were ones who had the slave chip fixed and volunteered to aid the Dray cause. While it is a small contingent, any aid is welcome.

Man with a Plan

The Dray war council hashes out the following plan:

1) Formally engage the Oans in a relationship. This involves either hiring them as mercenaries (with full pay & benefits) which will bring them under our banner and they follow orders or signing an alliance/mutual assistance pact/treaty (my preference), in which case they will not be paid, but will be given a seat on the War Council as an equal. Note in the case of mercenaries, pay rate will be on a per soul basis, not per body.

2) Find the Bellicose Fleet. Scouts, likely Oan, will figure out where they are, while the assault force (which I am formally dubbing the Enlil fleet) advances. We plan on getting as far from Hudson as possible. It’s also important the Bellicose includes the Avatar. It’s not out of the question it remains a jump behind the main fleet, though unlikely. In that case, we’ll adapt.

3) On ready, an Oan-4 and the Scalar jump into the Bellicose system. The Oan-4 launches the Dance Party while the Scalar jumps to the closest sufficient ionosphere. The Oan-4 returns to the source system.

4) The Scalar Party waits, enjoys the light show, perhaps Lord Dray will make pimento cheese and cucumber sandwiches. On completion, the Scalar jumps to the Enlil.

5) The Enlil jumps to the Bellicose. There will have been a firefight! Hopefully fairly one-sided. The Sleipnir is on hand to act as an evacuation for both teams:

6) Team A: (the White Feathers) boards a Bellicose dreadnought with the Reactor Gun (which I am formally dubbing the Gojira), using the Restored Honor. Their mission is to cause as much havoc as possible. However, very specifically, this is not a suicide mission—the White Feathers are ordered to minimize casualties even at the possibility of the primary mission goal being a failure.

7) Team B: Lord Dray’s party (from the Scalar) boards the Avatar’s flagship while carrying the nuclear weapon. After depositing the nuke w/ a timer and a remote detonate signal (and we’ve got to figure out how to prevent them from disarming it just by shooting the electronics), the party will attempt to locate and murderize the Avatar’s face. If they cannot succeed in appropriate time, they will evacuate instead, leaving the nuke behind.

With plans made, preparations begin for a final showdown….

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The Unraveling Doom Part XIV
Coming Home For the First Time

Banged Up

As we rejoin the Sleipnir, we see that it is damaged. Lord Dray decides we will do quick repairs to the ship and Charlie performs a damage assessment / repair estimate. Unfortunately, the damage is extensive.

The plan is for Zen to jump back to the Oan system and request aid from the A.I.s. Meanwhile, Charlie and Oa-La will begin repairs to the Sleipnir.

Elric seems emotionally fragile, very apologetic, but generally all right.

Using a recording from Oa-La, Zen obtainsthe assistance of a Sister 8, one of the repair bots. He also learns that Tenzeurik and some Oan A.I. bots appear to be headed to Tangar Station. Oa-Nal expresses zero interest in aiding us further.

Charlie, with minor help from Oa-La, does a great job with repairs. Lord Drey stays in what seems like constant communication with them, kindly letting them know when it is time to take breaks and chatting up Elric… way too much.

Meanwhile, Zen is getting a rather serious overhaul to his now nameless ship courtesy of a bunch of Sister-8s. They fix it up and enhance its stealth capabilities.

Sister 8-13182186, dubbed Triple 8 by Zen, is waiting in his ship once the overhaul is complete. She is the one who has volunteered to come with us. In the course of their work, the Sister 8s found all sorts of booby traps had been installed in Zen’s ship via several control chips. This was doubtlessly the work of Zen’s brother, Tenzeurik.

Zen and Triple 8 returns to the Sleipnir with a refueler Sister 6. Repairs had been proceeding on the ship. Triple 8 and Oa-La bond. Charlie looks over the booby trap chips, figures out exactly how they work, and throws together a system for detecting activation of the traps on the Restored Honor’s controls.

The Sister 6 refuels Sleipnir and Restored Honor. Before departing, Oa-La sends with the Sister a greeting for all the Blues and especially Five.

Time to proceed to Hudson.

Last Pass

En route, Lord Dray shares a vision / dream that came to him. He believes that our fight is part of a much larger and more significant conflict between pan-dimensional forces. If we fail, it may be catastrophic for the entire galaxy.

The plan: Go to planet slated for “Fire from heaven” in the enemy battle plans and warn them.

Well, we jump right into the first mined Anderson Point in our path and try to capture one. Unfortunately, they have been reprogrammed and 3 are headed our way.

Zen gets cracking on the dodging and astrogation. Oa-La is focused on shooting the mines, but the gun jams. Thanks to Zen’s skillful flying, the mines are mostly destroyed by each other.

We jump and end up outside the minefield at the next system. We just hang out for a bit and do a ship shakedown. Triple 8 has fixed the gun turret and she decides to figure out more things to fix.

We jump to Draconis Pyxys Modea a.k.a. Flars, a blue star. There are 3 Fanatic long range scout ships just outside the Anderson point. One jumps away, and shortly thereafter, another one jumps in.

There are many more enemy ships in the asteroid belt of this system. Zen plots a course for the next Anderson point. Once that is done, Lord Dray tries to give warning to the people of the inhabited planet in the system. Somewhat unsuccessful. (Blown off by a low level tech or bureaucrat?)

Then we jump to Suzhou. There are three more scouts here. There is a station similar to Tangar Station just outside the Anderson Point. The people of this system were warned by Evie and are trying to evacuate but do not have the ship capacity for everyone who wants to leave.

Lord Dray discusses taking the station crew and their families, but the station administrator says the crew have already refused to leave as they might still be able to help people fleeing the Fantatics. Lord Dray takes on the crew’s families and the most vulnerable people on the station, their parents, the sick and injured. We will bring them to Hudson.

It takes a while to bring the 250 people onboard, get them situated and organized.

We jump on.

Each system has star ports with more ships and people struggling to evacuate to Hudson. At Ybarra Station, we are hailed by the Purpose of Certainty. Captain Sorra is aboard and let’s Lord Dray know that the flotilla from Tangar made it Hudson. Evie sent her back to find him and also to scout the enemy. She jumps out.

Finally!!!!!!!

We arrive at Hudson on 04 July 3166. We are hailed by Captain Freeman. He says he has been tasked with escorting us to Hudson. Evie arrived seven days ago. A council has been convened to discuss the goings-on. There is a stellar fort at the Anderson poin. It takes 40 hours to reach Hudson from the system Anderson point. We rest up.

Around the Anderson point are 32 corvette class ships as well as other DSS ships.

Hudson has 2 star ports in orbit. As we approach, Captain Freeman turns us over to ground control. We land at Arly Base.

On approach, we catch local broadcasts of interviews with people saved by the Sleipnir’s crew.

The local populace is very interested in Lord Dray and what his presence signals for the days to come.

An entourage greets us as we disembark, including Lord Dray’s old teach, Sung.

Lord Dray, Zen, Charlie, and Oa-La take a limo to Castle Coventry. Evie is there… with a new paw! Huzzah!

There follows a lot of cryptic talk. They (Sung and Evie) take Lord Dray, Charlie, and Oa-La on a tour of the castle. The castle is quite nice.

Zen hits the ATM and showers.

The Ark

Sung asks if Lord Dray would like to see the Gallery or the Warehouse. He chooses the Warehouse. We go down in an elevator and through some portal to one of the moons of the system’s gas giant.

The Master Archivist, Courson, shows us a vast “Ark” of ancient technology, including vastly superior technology that would disrupt the balance of power, resources, etc. that maintains the influence of the Dray family.

Courson wants us to meet with the Grand Admiral Yamoto, leader of the Ghost Fleet.

3 X.P.

View
The Unraveling Doom Part XIII
Control, Part 2

As we rejoin our heroes, they are regrouping in the throne room.

The team is discussing options for how to handle the bomb. Through the door comes a 2D hologram of Tenzeurik’s head. He looks upset and asks to parlay for the life of Wai. Josua asks what he is offering. They bicker back and forth. Tenzeurik appears to lose interest and signs off.

Our plan is to go to Oa-Nal, disarm the bomb, try to enlist Oa-Nal to transmit the Code to the rest of the Blues. If that fails, we will try to use Wai to get through the defences. Before we leave the throne room, Charlie looks harder at Wai’s gauntlet, which is a match of the one Zeiss had.

Wai was disarmed and the following gear was on her person:

  • Hand flamer
  • Shock prod
  • Laser sword (blue)
  • Medigel (8 uses)
  • Molecular sword, Khalian make and belonging to House Resnik
  • Particle accelerator pistol
  • Personal data device
  • Plasma pistol

Tenzeurik beeps the comm the team had acquired earlier and says “Show time”. We hear a voice come of the city comms and tell the blues to proceed to transports. The team heads to where they believe Oa-Nal is. Wai is bound and strapped to a hover dolly.

We head down the causeway, Charlie and me sending the Freedom Code, and wait for a transport. It arrives and we go. To the dome. To Oa-Nal.

Oa-Nal

He is protected by some Nines. He is distrustful of all organics and believes that all of them only see the blues as weapons. I try to persuade them otherwise.

Charlie realize the “magical” rod given to him by the Serrans might be helpful in free Oa-Nal. Charlie passes the rod to me. Just then, another group of Nines shows up, raises their weapons at the team, and begins shooting at them.

I begin running towards Oa-Nal who tells her she will have to run around the force field he just erected between the fighting and the Blue Soul Tree.

Charlie and the friendly Nines return fire. Lord Dray tries to persuade the newly conscious Wai to order the Blues to turn their radio receivers back on in hopes of rendering the hostiles susceptible to the Freedom Code. She thinks that’s adorable and that Dray is cute when he’s all serious. Zen guards Lord Dray.

Charlie gets hit by the hostiles, but shakes it off like a boss, though his armor has seen better days. Lord Dray sees Charlie get hit and retaliates in kind.

Meanwhile, it turns out Wai has powers like Josua and she tries to incapacitate him. He barely fights it off and manages to hit her with another dose of SleepySleepyTime™ drugs. He next flips over the hovercart with Wai still on it.

Something massive is coming down the hall the way the group and the hostile Nines came. It’s a modified Sister Ten who is terrifying. Zen steps out into the open, lobs a grenade directly into her mouth, and she drops after a staggeringly long second. In the following silences, something can be heard moving away down the corridor.

Meanwhile, I takee Oa-Nal’s hand and touch him with the rod. As the glow drains from the rod, the black ever shifting coating drops from Oa-Nal. The cables pop out of his back. He is free. He takes the gauntlet from me and ascends to the communication tower atop the dome.

Lord Dray and Zen chase whoever was running away. Charlie guards Wai while I run back to the team.

The figure running away is an unfamiliar, greenish robot. The bot turns and fires a Lord Dray, destroying what is left of his combat armor.

Zen sprints for the bot, which identifies itself as Zix-B, and tackles it. Zix-B sits up readies a grenade. Zen attempts to cut its hand off. Uncomprehendingly, Zen instead draws one of his alien crystal daggers, thrusts it into the Zix-B’s chest and covers himself with his shield. The dagger explodes into a thousand shards which then reassemble into the shape of the dagger.

The bot shuts down and Lord Dray quickly takes hold of and ensures the grenade is disarmed.

All of the blues in the dome drop. Oa-Nal descends and tells us that the blues are free. He is also holding the nuclear bomb which had been planted in the tower. Charlie removes the radio transmitter from the bomb. Huzzah!

Exchanges

Oa-Nal takes control of Zix-B who is the one that crafted the hashed control code used to enslave the Blues. While the new, enslavement-flaw free chips are made, Zix-B will continue to send the daily signal to prevent the flawed Blues from shutting down.

Oa-Nal repairs all of our stuff! He tells us Tenzeurik is fleeing the system.
Five, Oa-La’s Five, says “I have to go get fixed, too”. He promises me I will see him again.

Oa-Nal and I go into the concourse, a local cyberspace, and discuss Oa-Na. Oa-Nal tells me as much as he can and returns my memories.

Lord Dray questions Wai. She gives him a little information: The Avatar of Goratu is trying to find something called “The Ark”. She is obviously going to string us along, so Lord Dray executes her.

The team rests in the storage area where we hid our gear on arrival. I reviews my memories and have a sad.

Lord Dray crafts a speech for me to give the Blues. He wants to convince them to help the Dray cause while proving that the Drays respect the Blue’s sentience. I take it to Oa-Nal. He gives the speech himself, with some caveats. Oa-Nal provides a refueling ship to us and we depart, perhaps to some day return.

Upon arriving at the system where we left Elric and the Stormbringer, we are set upon by pirates. The main ship is called The Jewel of the Azure Queen. I have a sad.

A space battle ensues. I try very unsuccessfully to intimidate the pirates, but just gets sneered up. Our shields get pummeled , but Charlie saves the day and gets them back to full!

Elric contacts us and tells us that the bad guys showed up right after we left. He’s been evading this whole time. While we rested up and everything. His Azimov circuit would not let him take offensive actions so all he could do was run and wait for the crew to return.

We destroy their space fighters. Lord Dray tries to intimidate the pirate crew into mutiny. They continue to attack so we destroy them.

Then we proceed to aid Elric. We destroy the two ships attacking him: The Pentamouth’s Delight and The Discourteous Yeti.

Then we continue on to Hudson.

GM’s note: 4 XP was awarded at the end of the session. Given the epic nature of it, it should have actually been 6 XP. Email me BEFORE our next game and you will received the the extra experience. Shhhhhh! Don’t tell the others.

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The Unraveling Doom Part XII
43 Minutes

The party is in the machine city created by Oa-La’s fellow A.I. bots. The bots have been enslaved by zealots of Goratu, led here by the Kalian, Shakira Wai. She is aided by Zen’s treacherous brother, Tenzeurik. When last we left them, Wai had given the crew an hour to arrive at the central dome or she would detonate a nuclear weapon in the center of the city. The crew had arrived at her location, instead, and had 43 minutes left.

We begin our session in front of a foundry with a chasm running toward and then underneath it. Five reports several small craft launching from the spaceport. The Sister Ten accompanying them says she will try to distract them while the crew proceeds. They cross the catwalk to the foundry.

Out in the Open

When halfway across, five star fighters show up, one of which is painted blue. They appear to be zealot fighters and they attack us and the bridge. Five is asked to go ahead of the group to open the door.

The bridge is hit, knocking Zen off so that he is dangling by one arm. Lord Dray boots Zen’s agility on his way past. Dray, Oa-La, and Charlie head for the door. Zen makes his way, too.

The fighters blast the Sister Ten, destroying her in a blaze of glory. Oa-La vows to avenge her sister in blue metal.

There are a trio of nines behind the door and Oa-La quickly sends the freedom code. One of their heads explodes, while the rest slump the floor as they reboot.

Zen notes the expertise of the starship pilots before fleeing to cover in the foundry. The remaining Nines recover. One hesitates to shoot but the other hits Oa-La dead center in her chest. Her armor saves her and she bashes the Nine with Zen and his ballistic shield.

Tenzeurik shoots up the alcove around the door on the next pass in his fighter. Josua is injured, Five is nearly destroyed. Josua grabs Five and joins Charlie with the others inside.

Oa-La removes her helmet and reveals her identity to the Nines before asking for their assistance. They agree to talk as Josua heals himself and gets Charlie’s assistance in field repairs to his armor.

The Nines want to know if Oa-La is a slave of Lord Drey. A discussion ensued trying to define the difference between a slave and and employee. The brothers were intrigued by the idea employment and discussing it among themselves as some of the repair Sister Eights arrived.

The Eights began working on the headless Nine and on Five after Oa-La sent the freedom code.

Proceeding deeper into the foundry, the crew encountered a pair of Nines locked in a duel over a pool of molten metal, each bot wielding a pair of laser swords. Oa-La sent the code and one fell into the liquid metal below as he rebooted. The other rebooted but didn’t fall in. He said they had been locked into the duel months ago by Wai and was heartbroken to what had happened to the other. Throwing his swords into the molten abyss, he fled the scene.

Wai, over the foundry intercom, expressed her disappointment the crew had wrecked her “kinetic sculpture” of the dueling Nines; they had been at it for months. She then ordered all bots in the area to converge on the crew and bring them to her, functioning or otherwise.

The Sister Eight who had been repairing Five completed her work and Oa-La tucked him into her back. Josua asked the Eight to perform a comprehensive diagnostic on the factory comms and sensors and to hopefully off-line them for as long as possible.

19 Minutes

Proceeding towards where the Nines accompanying them indicated Wai would be, they next came to a massive and bustling automated factory floor. A motley assortment of organics ambushed the crew as they started across. Charlie took out a sniper harassing them and everyone helped take down a Yeti.

Wai Finally

The crew proceeded through the assembly lines to the other side of the factory floor. Large doors slide apart before them, revealing an improvised throne room, include a throne made of bots. The rooms was full of zealots and more organics, all of who opened fire on the crew.

Oa-La charged in and was met by another Yeti, grunting that he was Caldarac the Brute. It was quickly discovered that it wasn’t regular zealots in the zealot armor, but Brother Nines. Wai stood before her throne, showering the entryway with laser bolts from the massive gatling gun she wielded.

Zen traded fire with some of the zealots, giving better than he got, but feeling the hits. Josua faced a fierce looking zealot and when words failed to persuade surrender, Lord Dray let his laser swords take charge.

A Rakashan joined the yeti trying to eat Oa-La, but Charlie landed a kill shot on Caldarac. Oa-La tossed the yeti carcass onto the cat warrior.

As the battle progressed, Charlie winged Wai, knocking her down. Zen cut through more opponents and hit Wai again with his pistol. He then dashed up to pin her under boot. Several liberated Nines arrived and helped cement the crew’s victory.

Zen shot Wai in one of her four arms, trying to intimidate her into surrender. She screamed and lost consciousness. Everyone grew concerned that she was dead or dying and what that would mean to the bomb trigger wired to her vitals.

Josua stabilized Wai as Charlie and Oa-La disabled the timer for the bomb. Everyone looked around, panting, and decided now would be a good time to take a break.

Tenzeurik is still out there, and there is the matter of the bots requiring a code once a day or they shut down, both issues they crew will need to address soon.

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The Unraveling Doom Part XI
Control Part 1

Anything not nailed down

Having finally arrived at Tangar Station at the end of the last session, the crew continued to put into motion their plans. Lord Dray finally had access to a banking node and was able to pay the crew. Everyone made use of the few remaining stores open for business to gather supplies for their next destination – the A.I. homeworld.

Once shopping was done, everyone helped oversee the evacuation plans. The available starships received hasty maintenance and modifications for the amount of passengers to be transported. Goods deemed useful to the enemy were either to be taken with the evacuation flotilla or destroyed and reimbursed by the Dray family.

Finally, Tangar Station itself was to be turned against the invaders. Traps, computer viruses, and other nasty ways to eat up as much time and resources of the Zealot forces as possible were readied and set to be primed once all friendlies had departed.

Josua’s sister, Evie, would lead the flotilla from Tangar to Hudson. She would raise the alarm in all the systems along the way. This also might gain the assistance of others in the Periphery to help repel the invaders.

Lastly, an Imperial Scout was waiting at the station, ready to depart as soon as the enemy appeared. This brave crew would bring word of the enemy position to Hudson and all systems in between.

With everything nearly ready, the crew of the Sleipnir prepared to depart for the A.I. homeworld. Their primary goal was to free the Oaian A.I.s from the the yoke of Zealot control. Second to that was the capture of the Kalian agent Shakila Wai, who had acted as an intermediary between Zen’s traitorous brother and the Zealots. If the opportunity presented itself, Zen also intended to end his brother. Finally, they planned to remove any organics interfering with the A.I.s.

Before leaving, Evie and Joshua had a brief conversation. He advised her to lead the forces at Hudson to make their stand outside the system and avoid getting bottled in. Evie expressed frustration with him that, after all her work and sacrifice with the Serrans, he didn’t ask for their assistance in the coming struggle.

Yokel Rescue

With all ships nearly ready to make way, the crew departed for the A.I. homeworld in the company of Sister Four. In the next system, they encountered a massive minefield set to wreck any ships arriving in the local Anderson Point. Mines in their vicinity winked on and several began drawing closer to the Sleipnir with alarming speed. The crew transmitted the fleet code which had seen them safe passage in enemy space this far. Several tense moments passed and finally, the mines stood down.

The next system in their path was also mined, but this time, they also encountered a ship which had been caught by the mine field. Lord Dray and Zen took Zen’s ship out and very perilously rescued 4 settlers from the fatally damaged freighter. Zen and Lord Dray docked with Sister Four and returned to Tangar Station in time for the settlers to join the flotilla bound for Hudson.

Meanwhile, the Sleipnir continued on the path out of the Periphery to determine the extent of the minefield. Several jumps on, the crew found the last mined Anderson Point along with a couple of pirate frigates and the remains of a few unlucky ships caught by the mines.

The crews reunited and resumed their trip to Radix.

The Journey

Sister Four provided many details about the Oaians home as requested by the crew. The A.I. didn’t have a name for their world, but their city was call Radix. An orbital facility over the city, call Starside, was used as a star port. Sister Four also warned Oa-La to stay out of the Concourse, cryptically saying it wouldn’t be safe for her.

Oa-La and Charlie had been working on a way to immunize the A.I. to the exploit used by Zealot forces. Oa-La seemed immune to the it, so they compared her to Sister Four and Brother Five. They narrowed it down the precognitive processor chip and realized fully overcoming it would require replacing the chip. Logistically, this would take a bit, but in the meantime, they devised a workaround.

The pair devised a code which could be remotely transmitted using the gauntlet taken from the scientist on the gas giant base. Those A.I.s receiving the code would first stunned, then temporarily able to ignore commands issued using the exploit. One thing they didn’t know for certain was how long it would provide this immunity.

When they arrived in the last system before the jump to the A.I. world, the crew boarded Zen’s ship and docked with Sister Four. Elric took the Sleipnir and headed to a nearby uninhabited world to hide himself as the crew continued on hidden in Sister Four.

In Control

Sister Four patched her sensor through to Zen’s ship so they could monitor things as they jumped to the A.I.’s system. On arriving, they observed the homeworld, tidally locked, with the sunward side covered in solar panels. In the midst of the shadowed side, they got their first glimpse of Radix. Under the watchful eye of several Brother Five’s monitoring the system Anderson Point, Sister Four headed to the orbital star port.

The planet had a very thin atmosphere which would require space suits for the organic crew members. Once they arrived at the city, a force field dome would provide enough pressure for the crew to use their combat armor.

A few hours after arriving, Sister 4 relayed a transmission from Radix. It was Shakila Wai, the Kalian female in league with Zen’s tratorius brother. She was surrounded by a circle of Nine-type humanoid A.I.s. She seemed to be trying to determine if any could overcome the exploit in their design as she told them she would not destroy any who could not respond to her next command. She then used the exploit to order them to clap their hands when she did and proceeded to do a dance where she would clap on pair of her hands and shoot a clapping Nine with the pistols in her other pair of hands. By the end of the song, all Nines were destroyed. She used that as a warning to the other A.I.s before providing them with a “Tonight’s Code”.

It seemed a failsafe was created by Wai, unless the A.I.s received an ever changing code from her every day, they had orders to self destruct. The crew was relieved that the transmission was not an indication they had been found out, but they were also troubled by this new complication.

Radix

Once Sister Four was close enough, Zen carefully dropped his ship out of her storage bay and stealthily skimmed the planet surface until they reached some abandoned mines outside the city. There, they hid the ship and Five guided them underground to the city.

It was an eerie sight, as the city showed no signs of life. Five explained that few walked the surface as an underground system of rail cars moved materials and bots around.

Five led them into a near building and down to the rail cars. On the way to “someplace safe”, a beastial looking merc lead a small group of Nines to attack the crew by surprise. Charlie got sniped, but luckily, only his gear was hurt. The party used their special code to know out the bots and made quick work of the dumbfounded merc. Their foe ultimately met his end when Lord Dray used his powers to lift and drop him into oncoming traffic.

The party switch into their armor and stashed excess gear at their destination. They passed a holding pin for seemingly insane bots. When a Sister Ten, one of the 13’ tall warrior bots, surprised the party, they used the patch code and left her unconscious as they proceeded up into the building.

Soul Glow

Heading up, the crew came to a large chamber where the “soul” of each A.I. is created and quantum entangled into two parts: one part is placed in a bot chassis and the other kept on an a special structure in Radix.

Several of the small, insect like Sister Eights were overseeing the chamber operations. Oa-La made contact these repair and maintenance bots and asked if they could replicate her version of the chip which was free of the control flaw. They seemed to take a liking to Oa-La and quickly consented. A chip was produced and one of their number was, somewhat unwillingly, the recipient of the new chip which proved to be working.

Just as they were finishing up, the crew detected someone coming, so they sent the Eights out to start fabricating and installing chip as widely as possible. As the bots escaped, the crew prepared an ambush.

The Smell of Burning Fur

Those who appeared were clearly not A.I. bots, but instead a motley assortment more akin to mercenaries or bounty hunters than the religious fanatics thus far encountered. Included in their numbers was a hulking Yeti. Overheard were mentions of planting explosives.

Charlie struck first, an excellent shot fulling evaporating one of the rough-looking organics. Oa-La tossed a plasma grenade which took out several opponents, including the Yeti. Zen felled a pair of enemies while Josua tried to use his Rubric on another who proved more resilient that anticipated.

One of the guards radioed Wai and reported the team’s presence just before being cut down. Wai used the open comm to taunt the team and challenge them to combat. Zen overheard his brother, Tenzirick, and informed his kin “I will kill you.”

Wai told the team that she would meet them in the central dome and would set off a warhead to destroy the city if they didn’t show up there in the next hour.

The Sister Ten who they used the special code on earlier arrived. Oa-La convinced her to help the crew free the A.I.s once and for all. The bot consented. She grabbed a large bin for the crew to ride in, knocked a hole in the wall and flew them to the central dome.

Atop the transparent, dome was a large antenna town used for maintaining communications with the bots within across the city. At the center within, they could see a large, tree-like structure covered with glowing points of light as they had seen the in the Soul Chamber. The branches of the “tree” seemed to sway in a breeze unknown. Before the tree stood Oa-Nal, also referred to as Brother Three, leader of the A.I.s. His back to them, as his form seemed to be constantly in motion, waves of cubes moving over his body and dripping from his finger tips.

Not seeing Wai there, Josua asked Five to locate her. After a brief pause, he announced he had found her and gave the Sister Ten carrying them coordinates. She carried them to the location, which was inside a massive factory. En route, Five related that he was detecting a fighter class vessel taking off from the city’s star port.

39 minutes remained in the deadline given to them by Wai.

View
The Unravelling Doom Part X
Crossing the "T"

A Most Cunning Ruse

The three ships floated helplessly as the pirate ship began to close the distance. Thinking fast, Josua sent for the Fanatic ansible communicator while putting together his plan. Using greetings learned from his Fanatic prisoner, Oris 114, and spraying medgel in his eyes to render them deader-style milky, Lord Dray opened communications with the Fanatic corvette lingering nearby. He claimed he was on a mission at a very high level of secrecy under orders directly from the Avatar himself.

The commander of the Fanatic ship was convinced. Utterly. He called off the pirates and offered to refuel the Dray flotilla. He also provided them with fleet codes that would allow them safe passage through the Fanatic lines.

A few hours later, having refueled and made preparations, they jumped to Ebbar’s World.

In the Midst of My Enemies

On arriving, they found themselves surrounded by a huge Fanatic invasion fleet. Capital ships were jumping into the Anderson Point at a steady pace as others moved out. The Sleipnir’s long range sensors informed them that the Fanatics had ships both in orbit and on the surface of the colony world in the system. There would be no going home for the survivors the crew had rescued and brought so far.

Elric began gathering as much information about the enemy ships as possible while Oa-La tried to fly casual. Zen recognized the largest ships seemed to be the models found in the Imperium Navy. Oa-La was able to use the sensors and find that the ships had been recently painted. Beneath the paint, she found the previous name of one of the ships, the Warden Kasper, which was a ship from the battle group Zen’s brother had gone missing with. The Fanatics has renamed the dreadnought The Undying.

Their sensors also detected an Imperium registered vessel, the Dressel, within the hold of the Undying. Zen recalled seeing that ship at Tangar Station when last they were there.

As the crew discussed this, Josua realized he was sensing something. From across the void, on board the Fanatic dreadnought, he could feel something like a wild, raging, barely contained ball of fire and near it, another presence like a cold burning and intense flame. Alarmed, he immediately contact Evie who also felt the presences. He instructed her to meditate, as did he.

The minutes ticked by as the crew waited an appropriate amount of time before making the next jump.

Through the Rift (again)

They arrived at the Rift and their fleet codes saw them threw the picket ships at the edge. Ahead, they detected new beacons being laid by the Fanatics to guide their fleet through the Rift. The crew and their fellow ships followed the beacons. After they were certain they were beyond detection range of the ships guarding the entrance to the Rift, they began tampering with the beacons. They nudged them off course or into a route leading into one of the Rift’s gravitic anomalies.

Meanwhile, the vision Zen had been granted by the Serran tribe led him to reexamine his brother’s ship to find some clue about the siblings activities or his fate. His efforts rewarded, Zen discovered an encrypted data pad. With little effort needed during this part of the trip, he sought the assistance of the others in accessing its contents.

With their help, especially Oa-La ’s hacking and Minesweeper skills, he soon had it unlocked and began pouring through its contents. He was very displeased with what he learned. His brother, Tenzeurik, was willingly colluding with the Fanatics. He had utilized a flaw in the Imperial naval ships fire suppression software to void the atmosphere from the capital ships. This coincided with the Fanatics ambushed the battle group at an Anderson Point on their patrol route. The rest of the group had been captured or destroyed by the Fanatic forces.

Tenzeurik had done all this because he saw the submission of homeworld, Kalidan, to the Imperium had no honor. He wanted to see the Imperium suffer, maybe even be destroyed, to restore honor to his people. He’d even named his personal ship, the one Zen had prematurely inherited, the Restored Honor. Zen immediately vowed to rename the ship and do his best to put and end to his brother’s efforts.

As Zen tried to come to grips with this the next day, their sensors detected a ship head. It was a Fanatic scout laying the beacons they had been disturbing. Josua did a repeat performance of his earlier ruse and convinced the scout to dock with Slepnier. After a brief but violent struggle, the crew eliminated the Fanatics on board.

On the bridge, they found Haugh, the Kali navigator who had guided them on their initial trip through the Rift. It seems the Fanatics were torturing him into leading through through the Rift to replace beacons destroyed by Stormbringer.

Haugh’s Story

When asked how he came to be in their power, Haugh sit it began on Tangar Station. He had just booked passage on the Dressel, when the ran into the engineer another ship that had just arrived. They were on a side passage with little traffic. The engineer unexpectedly handed him a vibro knife. As he looked at the weapon, his vision grew blurry and his body seemed to act on its own. The engineer had a look of terror on his face now and Haugh could see himself run the blade through the man’s chest.

He later boarded the Dressel and prior to departing the system, he witnessed himself killing the rest of the crew. He jumped the ship to the Rift and passed through to rendezvous with the Fanatics. Somehow he provided them with the correct fleet codes, docked with their flag ship and boarded it. He walked himself into a cell and suddenly he was himself again, terrified and helpless. The Fanatics tortured him into helping them plot a course through the Rift.

The crew was skeptical of his story and kept a close watch on him for the rest of their voyage.

Return to Tangar

It took a total 6 days to pass through the Rift this time, largely due to the difficulty of keeping the ships together within the anomaly. On exiting, they made ready and executed a jump to the Tangar system central Anderson Point.

On arriving, they could see a mile long super cargo carrier, transponder identified as the Optimum Forecast of Profit, burning. The ship’s keel had been rent, twisting the structure halfway down its length. Pillars of fire danced in and out of areas voiding atmosphere while white hot holes enlarge around areas of uncontrolled burning in numerous cargo containers along the ship. Its engines are enshrouded with debris floating nearby.

Warning buoys blink red around the wreck, indicating this was not a recent tragedy.

Tuning into the station information comms channel, an automated message played, saying “This is Tangar Station Chief Administrator Weston. Under the Imperial Emergencies Acts of 1308 and 1571, this station has been placed under martial law. You may dock here, but doing so is your consent to submit to any requests or orders given to you by station personnel. If you do not consent, do not dock.” The message repeated.

They spotted another ship on nearing the docking ring. Its hull darkened from several laser blasts and in some places, the hull has been gauged by the weapons fire. A pair of 4-armed, space-suited figures worked on a damaged section of the engines and two other techs mounted a turret on top. They finally caught a glimpse of the name, Stormbringer.

Three other ships were docked: a small, rusting tramp freighter (Former Glory_), medium sized (size 14) newer but severely damaged passenger vessel (Esteemed Voyager_), and long range scout bearing Imperial markings (Distance Chopper).

After docking, they found the station unnaturally quiet. No one greeted them at the airlock and the only beings seen or heard for a while were those arriving with them. Finally a few people where seen here and there, mainly station personnel.

They traveled to the station command center to find a skeleton crew manning the station. The current person in charge of the station was their favorite cybernetically enhanced chief of security, Captain Sorra. She relayed that burning super freighter they had seen on arrival was jumping to the next system heading out of the Periphery when it encountered a mine field at the next Anderson Point. The navigator had managed to jump them back before the ship was destroyed. Tangar Station had rescued the crew who had survived but could do nothing to salvage the ship.

When that happened, it finally mobilized the station leadership into action. They decided to leave only the minimal amount of people needed to “keep the lights on” in case anyone made it through the minefield. Administrator Winston commandeered all available ships and led everyone who would go with him to Hudson.

With the Fanatic fleet on their heels, the crew agreed that now was the time to completely evacuate the station. The Sleipnir and her crew, minus Esmeralda, would journey to the AI homeworld and investigate matters there. Those rescued from the Precursor station would join the remaining inhabitants of Tangar Station on the other ships. Josua’s sister, Lady Evelyn Dray would lead the flotilla to Hudson and ensure that preparations were being made there for the impending Fanatic fleet heading their way.

Tangar Station represented too vital a resource to be outright destroyed as it was an essential link between the Periphery and the rest of the Imperium. Before departing, the plan was to turn the station into “a living hell” for the Fanatics when they arrived. Insensate gas traps, computer viruses to randomly void decks into space, whatever could be done to slow the enemy down must be done.

The crew began the work to put these plans into motion.

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The Unravelling Doom Part IX
The 492 Part 2

With the ship secured, the crew began making it ready for the upcoming journey. In the last battle with the fanatics, some sort of stealth sniper had escaped and the crew was understandably concerned over this. Rather than bring survivors from the safe area, they decided to keep everyone where they were.

Zen looted what they believed to be the Fanatic commander’s body, retrieving an excellent pair of pistols and a data pad. While most of the pad was locked, they learned that the commander had been accused of trying to leave the Fanatics and that his family was being held

Sniper!

Their caution concerning the sniper proved wise a short time later as laser blasts began trying to snipe Oa-la as she kept watch from the top of the ship. Charlie had been repairing the sensors and was able to adapt them to detect the invisible attacker. The sniper connected with a few shots, but his gun was not up the the task of penetrating the crews’ armor.

Exchanging a few rounds with the crew, Charlie managed to get a good shot which knocked the sniper from his perch in the hanger corner to the deck. Zen quickly placed boot on neck and, surprisingly, the assailant surrendered. Joshua questioned the sniper and learned a few new things, but he did not seem to know much of the high level plans of the Fanatics.

His name was Oris 114 and he had admired the commander they killed. He seemed reluctant to submit to the crew. Oa-la expressed objections to keeping him alive and Oris said he would cooperate with Joshua if nothing else than to irk her. The crew left their prisoner in the tender care of the Yeti among the survivors, Grightrash.

Visions and Gifts

About this time, Elric radioed that the storm was ending and Joshua told him to dock when possible. Drake Bellar also related that the leader of the Serrans wanted to see Joshua and his entire crew as soon as possible.

Joshua decided it best to not leave the survivors with minimal protection, so Zen and Charlie remained to oversee preparing the ships for returning the people to their colony on Ebbar’s World. Meanwhile, he and Oa-La journeyed to the Serran moon.

On arriving, they were led into the cave at the center of the village and deep underground. Eventually, they entered what appeared to be part of a slaver starship buried beneath the Serran village. There the Serran leader conducted a ceremony of thanks.

She began by declaring that Joshua and his crew were recognized as True Friends off the Serran people and would be recognized as such from now to the end off time. She imbued them with a mystic energy which would aid them whenever they committed their hearts fully to a task as they had when helping rid the Serrans of the shrike menace (They gained the Elan edge for free). Next they were gifted with a vision of someone from their past who was somehow connected to their future. When they awoke from this, they found their final gifts before them. A crystal sword for Oa-La and crystal disk set in a leather band for Joshua. The ancient Serran also revealed that one of the crew would not survive to their journey’s end.

Absorbing all of this news, the pair returned to the ancient station and related what had happened while gone.

Charlie, Esmerelda, and Zen had spent their time calculating the success of trying to bring all the colony survivors to their home on Ebbar’s World. The sheer number of people meant triple bunking and sleeping shifts. Additional bunks left by the Zealots would be added to the cargo holds of the Sleipnir and Hound. Food would be okay, but water and life support would be taxed as all three ships would be carrying much more than their rated capacities. It was decided not leave anyone behind but not to request jump assistance from the Serran due to the damage done to the Lazy Hound’s jump drive when previously tried.

Departure

Joshua also decided it was was time to fill the Serrans in on the true relationship between their home moon and the platform hiding on the gas giant. Taking the Sleipnir down, they requested audience once again with the Serran leader. At their meeting in the village tower, he related how they had discovered that the station seemed to be responsible for their moon’s journeys into the rift and that it was the cause of the destruction of the other planets in the system. With some effort it might be possible to prevent further “rift times”. The Serrans took this will some surprise and did not know what to make of the information.

Joshua also asked that the rest of his crew be rewarded as he and Oa-La had been. The leader was willing and obliged Zen and Charlie with their own visions. Zen received a pair of crystal daggers and Charlie, a 30 inch yellow crystal rod.

On exiting the Serran’s tower, the crew saw a huge crowd had gathered, some 10 thousand at least. It was a lot more than they had suspected lived on the moon. The natives parted before them as they returned to their ship, each making a sign or speaking a few words of thanks to the crew. In the air, Serran ships hovered silently in a corridor to space for the Sleipner.

After the Sleipner rejoined the Lazy Hound and Aspect of Infinity in orbit, the small flotilla set course for the system’s Anderson point. Evie was in command of the Hound and Joshua had made Esmeralda captain of the Infinity. The crew was happy to finally be heading back out of the wild ends of the galaxy and back to more settled space lanes.

A Long Slow Trip

The trip through the Rift this time took much longer than previous passages. A combination of unfamiliar area, slower ships, and having to keep the ships together led to 9 day transit through Rift space, which was much longer than anticipated.

Lord Drey instituted a chilli cook off between the autochefs on the ships as a morale builder and began “interviewing” Oris. Neither the Hound nor the Infinity were designed to the same standards as the Sleipnir, so the group was limited to one jump per day. Crowding and minimal life support were also making things uncomfortable.

Sisters and Brothers

On one of the jumps, the AI probe-sphere Five grew very excited, exclaiming “Home! Home! It’s time to go home!” He and Oa-La both were receiving a recall signal from a Sister Four type ship which was nearby in the same Anderson point.

Oa-La requested to come aboard and the Four was happy to oblige. The android took Five and borrowed the Restored Honor to fly to large blue, conical ship. As she neared, she could see hundreds, thousands of Fives dropping their camouflage and entering the mammoth hold of the Four.

She joined them, landing and jacking into the Four’s systems. She requested information from Four about and received a concentrated data pack that would take her several weeks to months to fully absorb. In the meantime, she asked some particular questions for information she wanted now.

From Four she learned that her brother Oa-Na had built Brother 3, who calls himself Oa-Nal. Oa-Na left Nal at home, instructing him to build others and explore. Nal build the Fours and Fives to create a detailed map of space and in the region and of the Anderson points. About a year ago, an “organic” Kalian had shown up and exploited vulnerability in the code which all the AI’s possessed. This Kalian had then instructed them to intensify their mapping efforts as well as to begin creating war machine AIs. Since that time, Oa-Nal’s demeanor had changed, as had his appearance. Originally looking identical to Oa-Na, he now looked like he was composed of ever moving blocks. Larger blocks in the center, extending to smaller ones at his hands and feet with the ones at the ends of his extremities continually fall away to dust. He also wore a black cloak now and was tethered via tubes to the infrastructure of the factories producing the war AIs.

Oa-La was shaken by this revelation and asked to see the Kalian. Sister for admitted she had not seen her herself, but relayed a vid clip passed around by the AIs of her. The Kailain was dressed in a customized style of Fanatic armor, destroying other AIs with chainswords for sport with chainswords.

On reaching the next to last system before Ebber’s World, as universe condensed around them, the crew could see a pair of large ships: one a pirate and the other was of the type they had last seen heading toward the jump gate at the Fanatics gateway station.

The pirate vessel began to close the distance before even the Sleipnir’s systems had come back online.

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The Unraveling Doom Part VIII
The 494

Elric, the ship’s AI contacts Joshua while the crew is en route to the freed prisoners. His sensors have detected the fanatics doing something on the landing platform. Also, a large storm is approaching. Drey tells him to take the ship to orbit and wait for the storm the clear; the crew will investigate the landing platform later.

As they near the new refuge of the prisoners, they hear shouts and weapons fire from that location and receive a frantic message from Esmeralda. Leaving the unconscious Evie nearby with Five to watch her, the group closes in. A group of Nihilis controlled insectoids, more of the Slavers, are trying to breach the room with the prisoners. One of the red-armored fanatics is with them. The group suspects they want bodies as hosts for more Nihilis.

The group attacks the Nihils, catching them in the crossfire with those prisoners who secured arms and the Serrans protecting them. A few of the Nihilis breach the room, but the bulk are drawn into the fight with the group. The largest one engages Zen with a flack gun, almost dropping the Kalian as his cohorts split their attention between the fortified former prisoners and the party. A few slavers make it in and one of the Serran warriors loses his life while the rest feebly engage the party.

The large leader realize their tactics aren’t working and signals his fellows to switch to their electric stun sticks. This proves especially effective against , who takes a hit and feels it as the electrical charge plays havoc with some of her subsystems.

One slaver creates an unusual sound with its vocal synth which Charlie suspected was a shrike summons. The battle seems to be running well for the crew when Charle is proven right as a shrike bounds down the wall toward them. Charlie is knocked down by his opponent while the party is taking down slavers, the numbers are against them and victory isn’t assured due the shrikes arrival.

Suddenly, Lord Dray squares his shoulders, raises his hands towards the shrike, and in a voice that is low yet heard by all, says “This. Ends. Now.” Lightning arcs between him and the horror and in a flash of light only wires and ash are left of the shrike.

The Fanatic retreats calmly as the remaining slavers try to withdraw. A yeti from the survivors bounds into the hall and literally rips an opponent in half with its bare hands. Zen finishes off his tormentor and the crew mops up the remaining slavers.

Inside the sanctuary for the freed prisoners, they find a few had lost their lives defending the others. Joshua assists in the treatment the injured. Zen sees to the bolstering of the defenses. While they were gone, Esmerelda had sent small groups to retrieve weapons and supplies from the fanatic barracks the group took earlier and selected the most able from the colonists to aid in the defenses.

Oa-la enlisted Charlies and Five to help her plumb the sophisticated gauntlet worn by Dr. Zeiss for anything useful and it proves to be a treasure trove of information about their enemies.


Dr. Zeiss Notes:

The Station / The City

  • The station is fascinating. Within the mists of the city, they have witnessed several creatures that appear to be frozen humanoids. Whenever they try to take a sample, the station reacts by killing/destroying the offending zealots/probes.
  • The station appears to be capable of broadcasting energy at the Serran’s moon. The signal to the moon is part of an experiment (on the moon). It creates a psionically active crystal within the moon. The signal coincides with the timing of the rift. They had to consume the other planets in the system to power the signal. * The experiment has been running 8,800 years.
  • The people in the city are not the ones who built the station. They apparently contracted a disease, so the station froze them.

Evelyn

  • The driver successfully attached, but she’s unconscious.
  • Her psychic powers will be greatly augmented for the driver.
  • Continue hiding her identity until the Avatar…

Goratu

  • The Avatar appears to not only have supreme power among the zealots, but is a potent power.
  • His teaching, the Anti-Rubric, is fascinating and bears further study.
  • He referenced the control code for the AIs, which he got from the Cipher Oracle. The code appears to work on all “blue-type” AIs, except Oa-La.

Genetic Research

Shrike Enhancement Program
He noted that there were 16 Shrikes (now 12?)
He wanted to make the Shrikes resistant to laser swords.
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After sharing this with everyone, the group decides it prudent to let Oa-la recover before investigating the landing platform activity. The decision is made to make their way through to the control tower rather the main entrance to the hanger. This proves a wise decision as they survey the hanger from the control deck. The fanatics have set up a large mini-gun aimed at the main entry to the rest of the station. Furthermore, the fanatics have brought a large yacht from an enclosed bay out to the main deck and are prepping it to leave. Joshua recognizes it as the one which brought Zeiss to the system.

After devising a hasty strategy, crew attacks. Smoke grenades provide cover as Charlie snipes the fanatics manning the gun while Oa-la charges in. She dodges a hail of lasers and takes out those still standing after Charlie’s attack. Continuing her fluid motion, she turned the laser cannon to the yacht, raking it with energy blasts and gratified to see a large explosion of sparks near the front of the vessel. Between bursts, she hear the old engineer mention something about “…sensors…”

Meanwhile, Joshua and Zen focus on the group defending the gangway to the yacht. Three insectoids carrying a half-meter long metal cylinder were boarding the ship. The Dray slashed his energy sword at the guards as he pursued them up the ramp. A grey clad sniper fired a couple of shots at him and then seemed to vanish.

Zen ended up facing off against a different sort of fanatic, it’s armor seemed unique, as were the dual pistols it fired at him. Shots exchanged, but Zen ended up finishing off his opponent, with a volley of shots to the chest. As his opponent lay dying, Zen heard him gasp “My family… failed you”.

On the ship, Joshua had cut down two of the three possessed insectoids. When he swung at the third, it instinctively raised the cylinder to protect itself. The energy blade easily bisected it, releasing a torrent of Nihiis deader slugs.

Zen finished off the remainder of resistance on the ramp and the crew secured the ship. The crew then had to decide how to proceed.

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The Unraveling Doom Part VII
Reunions, Part 2

Oa-La continued searching through station security sensors for signs of the kidnapped people from Ebbar’s World. Suddenly, the holographic figure of an old, rotund human wearing a strange, brass environmental suit materialized in their midst. He spoke with an odd accent and was very curious about the crew. He introduced himself as Dr. Zeiss and after some initial vagueness from Joshua, suggested and equal exchange of information.

He informed them that he not a follower of Goratu, but merely working with them as it suited his own ends. He confirmed that he had been the one to travel to the Serran’s moon last month, meeting with the Serrans there, and kidnapped two of them. The shrikes were his pets and he had been improving them.
On his turn, he asked questions about why the crew was here. He also had some very pointed questions about the crew, including asking Charlie how old he was. Finally, he activated a control on his gauntlet which sent out a subtle signal which tried to activate a subroutine to render Oa-la subject to orders from him. She did not have that subroutine, but Five did, as the little blue probe replied he was ready for commands. Oa-la blocked the signal and told the others what had happened.

Oa-la discovered what appeared to be a temple to Goratu on the station sensors. At this point, Joshua decided the conversation was becoming non-productive and led the team away. Esmeralda insisted on coming along with the team as she had people she cared about among the missing believed taken from the colony. Elric was instructed to take the Slepneir and recently arrived Lazy Hound and orbit the station from a safe distance. The helpful A.I. was to monitor things from outside while instructing Aston, Evie’s would-be paramour, in the functions of his yacht.

En route, they detected another shrike ahead of them, but it moved out of their detection range.
Oa-la’s sensors detected signs of activity from a pair of doors opposite the temple. The team picked one and opened the door, weapons at the ready. What they found was an make-shift barracks room for the Goratu warriors, with many of them asleep.

Several plasma bolts and laser sword swings later, the team whittled the sleepy warriors down to one who, succumbing to Joshua’s mind powers, revealed the location of the missing. At least, those still alive.
The team next stormed the door beside the barracks and found and equally impromptu mess hall, with crates of rations, tables, and some entertainment devices. Finally turning their attention to the probably temple, they found it empty. Several line-bisecting-circle banners were found, along with a small stage, data pads containing texts dealing with the Followers of Goratu’s religion, and a series of daggers. After collecting samples, the group gathered everything into a pile and Esmerelda incinerated it via plasma grenade.
The used the directions of the coerced follower which led them to the lightly guarded prisoner holding area. While quickly dispatching the guards, a tech sounded an alarm. The team “convinced” him to turn the alarm off, then help them free the remaining surviving colonists of Ebbar’s World. The survivors were being held in suspended animation cells like those seen on board the Collector’s ship. They left the tech in one of the cells as a reward for his assistance and left the surviving 494 colonists in a defensible position with Esmerelda and the Serran warriors to protect them.

The tech’s directions led the crew to Dr. Zeiss’s laboratory. They entered what appeared to be a medical bay with an observation window at the opposite end through which they could see Zeiss. Sneaking in, they observed the doctor discussing matters with a black, armored figure. The doctor made no mention of the teaming being on the station, but the other figure referenced their activities at the space gate and that they timetable had been delayed by “a few weeks”.

The doctor appeared to be having the conversation using a device which was allowing FTL communication with someone either several systems away or possible even half a galaxy away. Such technology was unknown in the Imperium.

Searching for a door to the doctor, they quickly found several tanks holding shrikes at various stages of growth and, finally… Evelyn, the sister Joshua had been search for these last few months. She was also in a tank, alive, unconscious, and missing her left arm from just above the elbow. Joshua briefly paused before her tank, and then stormed into Zeiss’s office. He pinned the doctor against the window to the med bay using telekinesis, then used his laser sword to cut off the doctor’s hand.

Joshua proceeded to interrogate the doctor, who seems almost eager to brag about the procedure done to Evie. He related she had been mangled by a shrike when she was captured, and how he had hopes for her as she had the potential to be the most powerful deader yet. The doctor’s relationship with the Goratuans seemed utilitarian at best, the result of an arrangement of convenience and not due to ideological or theological alignment. Zeiss was affiliated with some deader faction, the Nihil, that did not hesitate to utilize living hosts and they grew their own, genetically sculpted host bodies, as well. At some point after hearing his sister had been implanted with a deader parasite, Joshua stopped listening. Blind with rage, he telekinetically executed Doctor Zeiss.

Charlie took the FTL comm for later examination, and he and Oa-la began rifling through the doctor’s consoles. They found controls to dispose of the shrikes being grown in the next room as well as several hundred future deader host bodies being bathed in the radiation of a central reactor. Lastly, bringing Zeiss’s wrist computer, they turned their attention to the tank in which Evie floated.

She appeared alive, but unconscious. The doctor’s records indicated this was unexpected and he was closely monitoring her. The crew got her out of the tank and discovered she was alive and appeared “unpossessed”. Though weak, she was able to relate how she had used her elemental powers to drowned the Nihil parasite before it took hold and asked them to “please get the damned thing out of my ear” before fading out of consciousness.

Gathering her up, the crew prepared to head back down where they had left the survivors. Checking in with Esmeralda, she told them she had moved the people to a more defensible location near the holding cells.
The doors to the medbay opened as they were leaving, revealing a hideous, armored humanoid, seeming thrown together out of muscle, bone, and rage. It bellowed at how they had just ended his future brothers and now they would die. He launched a grenade into the room while swinging a powered battle axe. Oa-la shielded Evie with her own body, then the group responded, obliterating the fiend in a hail of energetic blasts.

With the immediate threat dealt with, they planned to continue back to the survivors.

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