The Last Parsec

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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The Unraveling Doom VI
Reunions Part I

Zen marveled at the beautiful, lush plateau onto which the ship had just been teleported. 4 of the 5 vessels involved in the instantaneous travel hung silently in the air around the ship and in the distance he could see a settlement around a large crystal tower. Smoke was rising from home fires withing the settlements as dawn spread across the ships, moving to the down to the lowlands.

Oa-la elected to hide in her cabin with 5 as Joshua lowered the ramp to meet the trio of Serrans awaiting him outside. He recognized one as the Serran who had left Tangar Station with his sister several weeks ago. Beyond them, he saw the damaged (injured?) living ship they had fought the alien beast upon a short while ago. He also noticed the Lazy Hound near by, which was the ship his sister and the Serran had left on.

The Serrans escorted Joshua to the tower, which was much larger than he initially expected, reaching over 200 feet in diameter and open in the center. Larger crystal windows allow natural light to illuminate the interior. The lower level seemed to be a meeting area and audience chamber for the ancient Serran leader. The upper levels contained a market and art gallery or library.

The Serran leader questioned Joshua about his arrival. Others mentioned that it was Evelyn, Joshua’s sister, who had returned had returned Timara home and who was now missing while trying to help with the shrikes. It was also his crew which had found the wounded ship and likely saved it. The leader apologized for her abruptness, relating that the Serrans had cause to be weary.

She related the story of a stranger who had arrived a few months ago, seeming friendly and asking many questions. However, he disappeared one night, and was suspected of kidnapping 2 Serrans. They had been unable to locate him, but suspected he was hiding somewhere within the gas giant. Then, a fleet which Joshua recognized as a Rigelian slaver fleet came through and disappeared into the gas giant’s atmosphere. It was after that the shrikes started attacking. Joshua accepted an invitation to attend the funeral of the pilot found killed in the living ship. He also bartered some spice from the ship for simple crystal “torch”. He gave it to Charlie.

While Joshua was attending the funeral, Zen and Oa-la took the Restored Honor out and scouted the gas giant for signs of where the shrikes might be coming from. They detected abundant life within the atmosphere of the gaseous planet and deduced that this might be what was throwing the Serrans off.

As they returned and Joshua was leaving the funeral, a small vessel was detected moving out of the gas giant’s atmosphere at high speed, heading towards the moon. The Restored Honor attempted to intercept, but the unidentified vessel was too fast. Joshua told Esmeralda to take the Slepneir to the location the vessel was heading, then asked Ravik if he could teleport him to the landing zone. The words has scarcely left his lips and he was standing in a small village without even a chance to fetch his gear from the Slepneir.

The sun was setting on this part of the planet and a thunderstorm was rolling in from the east. He could make out the vessel entering the atmosphere at a high speed, taking on the appearance of a shooting star. A second star followed with Zen at the helm as he angled the Restored Honor for the best shot possible. He had one chance and scored a good hit on it, sending the small, missile like vessel spinning to crash a mile away from the village Joshua was in.

Several Serran warrior approached the crash sight and Joshua could hear their cries and seem them tossed into the air as something escaped the wreckage. Rain started to fall as the Slepneir arrived and Charlie ushered terrified villagers on board. Joshua kept an eye toward the crash site and watched as the tall grass parted in that direction moving toward him, indicating that something was heading his way. Quickly.

As the people fled to the safety of the ship, Joshua watched the shrike pad into the edge of the village. The shrike dropped its cloak as the rain was ruining its effect. Joshua squared off against the beast, putting himself between it and the people escaping. It snarled and charged him, snapping its jaws and striking him with a poisonous pair of tails.

Zen brought the Restored Honor in hot, not slowing, but instead angling so that Oa-la could jump out and join the fight. She and Joshua matched laser sword to claw. As the last villagers ran up the Slepneir’s ramp, Joshua drove his pair of swords into the shrikes head. With Oa-la’s help, he limped up the ramp of the ship.

An explosion from the crash site caught their attention. A milky eyed Serran floated above the warriors and, with a wave of his hand, sent them scattering away from him. He glanced in Joshua’s direction before vanishing in a flash of light.

The Slepneir returned to the main Serran settlement and offloaded their passengers. After healing and much needed rest, Joshua spoke with Ravik. Relaying his intention to head to the source of the shrikes, Ravik offered the aid of 6 Serran warriors to help with their mission. Joshua accepted and they soon departed.

Entering the atmosphere of Trianguli Reticulum Procul VII, Zen and Oa-la took the Restored Honor and led the way to the source of what they believed to be the origin of the shrikes. After a few hours of searching the area, they located a floating station, hidden in the clouds, near a massive atmospheric storm. On approach, they detected the Rigellian slaver fleet on the docking level and opened fire on the stationary ships. Zen noted that the appearance of the station was similar to the Collector’s ship they encountered during the Enigma Machine Incident.

Landing among the smoke and fire of burning ships, a pair of Rigellian insect overlords appeared with matching milky white eyes. The crew quickly dispatched them and located a terminal which Oa-La quickly hacked. Using the surveillance system, she identified 4 distinct levels, including a mist-shrouded city, storage, docking, and engineering.

The next move was to decide where to heard first…

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The Unraveling Doom V
Gift of Goratu

The crew took a closer look at the armed figures confronting them across the generator control room. Like the technicians, the un-armored figure also appeared very similar to humans with a slightly elongated for head. On his forehead, they could see the same symbol as was adorning the paldrons of the red armored figures – – a circle the vertical line extending through it.

Zen realized that he had seen same armor in a travel documentary about the disciples of Goratu. In that vid, the armored figures could be seen guarding temples and other off-limits locations on a world in the disciples space. The vid also showed training of these guards briefly Zen was able to put that knowledge to use over the course of the pending combat.

The darkly clad and caped leader attempted to engage Content Not Found: null_ with conversation to find out why he was there, but Joshua knew the time was short and gave the order to attack. _Content Not Found: null opened by throwing a plasma grenade which enemy leader was able to deflect with a wave of his hand. The enemy leader commanded his troops to engage the crew as he moved to fight Joshua.

The troops employed staff weapons able to fire particle beams and block laser swords. The crew took a few hits and the leader was able to deflect Joshua’s swings with his laser sword. Charlie moved to a control panel and was quickly able to sabotage the generator. Joshua was struck by particle beam and nearly taken out. The enemy leader, called Zyrran by one of the soldiers, moved to a catwalk over the generator seeming to try bait Joshua out of the control room. Instead, Joshua destroyed door controls leading out of the room with hislaser sword after closing the door.

The crew took the two technicians prisoner despite the fanatical resistance employed by the techs during the combat. The crew overheard Zyrran give orders to take Stormbringer. Joshua told Esmeralda to take off; he and the others would have to find another way out before the generator blew up. The conscious technician suggested hangar bay nearby.

Joshua left a grenade clumsily on the door in hopes of blowing up Zyrran. To his surprise an explosion came from that direction as the elevator carried them to the hangar. To his dismay, he heard explosions coming from the hangar that they were headed towards.

The elevator doors opened to a scene of chaos and disarray as several fires minor explosions rocked the large hanger area. Technicians ran about trying to get the fires under control. The source these fires was Stormbringer firing its canons into the hangar. The crew got off the elevator as ship spun around giving the crew access the cargo ramp in the rear of the ship. Esmeralda provided cover fire for the crew and informed them that they needed to put on spacesuits as ship was depressurized. Enemy troops had blown the airlock to board the ship so she had pulled the ship away while the airlock was open which voided Stormbringer’s atmosphere.

Everyone quickly put on suits, and the ship blasted off. Zen took the controls as Charlie and Oa-La repaired the damaged airlock before they could jump. Enemy fighter scrambled and gave chase. Zen was able to outmaneuver the fighters and managed to get one crash into some superstructure extending off the gate station. Evading enemy fire, the crew was satisfied see a large explosion from the generator they had sabotaged.

Repairs completed, Esmeralda was able to jump all the way rift point closest to Tangar Station. Before jumping, they were also treated to the sight of half a destroyer tumbling out of the gate.

Once Stormbringer returned to normal space and sensors back online and noticed another ship. The new ship’s identifier was the Slephnier, the ship Joshua had custom ordered before departing the Versallis. Opening communications, cloaked figure responded asking “This is Lord Josh Dray, who has the pleasure speaking with me today?”

Perplexed and incensed, Joshua had to restrain himself from opening fire on his own ship. In short order it was determined that crew of the Slephnier was a funeral party carrying out ancient Kallian tradition. They were responsible for delivering Zen’s brother’s will and personal spacecraft to Zen. They had “borrowed” the Slephnier and modified it to carry Zen’s new ship.

After the appropriate ceremony, Zen viewed his brother’s vid will. Zen learned that his brother, in service to the Imperial Navy, had died when his carrier group was destroyed near space controlled by the Disciples of Goratu to the Drevini Carstavo.

During this time, Joshua meditated and received a vision of the Serran female who had accompanied his sister of Tangar Station. The Serran seemed to be trying to urgently communicate with him.

With that business attended to, the Kallians’ also mentioned that a small flotilla of Imperial ships had arrived at tank our station from Hudson in response to the pirate activity going on in the area.

A new plan was forged. The crews would exchange ships and Elric would be copied to the new ship. Stormbringer and the Kallians would return to Tangar Station with news about the invasion. Meanwhile Slephnier would journey on the planet that the invasion map had indicated as being the source of the shock troops. Esmeralda agreed to join the crew as a member after she heavily lobbied with Joshua should continue on in search of the survivors from Ebbar’s World.

The crews said their goodbyes and went in their own separate directions. Over the next several days Slephnier made its way from system to system along the rift. Without event, they made their way through the rift and finally jumped into the star system furthermost out.

Their destination system had a single planet, a gas giant with a habitable moon and numerous asteroid belts. Initial scans turned up a extremely faint emergency distress signal coming from one of the asteroid belts. They set course for the source of the signal and along the way heard radio transmissions from an indeterminate source that sounded like whale-song.

Arriving at the origin of the distress signal, they found a most peculiar ship. It appeared entirely organic in nature. The hull had ruptured and a figure in spacesuit could be seen drifting lifelessly in the cabin.

It was decided to investigate the ship. A docking core door was extended between the two ships and a Oh-La crossed with Joshua waited in the airlock of the Slephnier. Oa-la noted that the center front canopy was shattered and it appeared there was a rupture between a cargo space in the main cabin. She set about trying to figure out how to use the ships controls when a blue sphere approximately 10 inches in diameter came into view outside the ship.

She couldn’t help notice that shade of blue exactly matched herself but had little time to ponder that as it shouted a warning to her. Throwing herself through the front windscreen, she narrowly dodged the attack by an invisible opponent. Pulling on her lifeline to bring herself back in, the assailant broke the line ensuring that she could not do that again. After a brief fight she was able to slay the creature. Upon death it became visible as a nightmare metal plates and spikes though thoroughly organic in nature.

Shortly thereafter, several other living ships appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Oa-La returned to the Slephnier. After closing the airlock, a knock was heard from the outside. Opening it, the blue sphere entered the airlock began gushing about how happy it was to meet Oa-La and referred to as “sister”. The sphere referred to itself as Five made mention to others such as “Sister Four”.

As they tried to digest this, the crew found themselves teleported to the habitable moon. Another knock from outside the ship this time on the main cargo door for a small delegation of Serran’s could be seen waiting. Among them is the Serran female that left Tangar Station with Joshua sister.

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The Unraveling Doom IV
Edge of Sight

When the ship returned to normal space following the jump, Joshua asked Esmeralda where they were. Rather than take them back the way they came, she had taken them to the next system out, Omicron Eridani Dyrandi, in hopes of eluding any pirate pursuers. Joshua was somewhat dismayed by this as he wanted to return to Tangar station as soon as possible. He was also concerned that the map they had retrieved from the dead soldier indicated that the mysterious invasion was supposed to begin in that system.

A quick scan of their sensors did not reveal the presence of any gathering fleets or anything else that might indicate the presence of an impending invasion. Aside from a faint anomaly coming from the south pole of the star, the system seemed to be devoid of any activity.

Before they had a chance to do any further planning, a torpedo jumped in system and started to lock on to the Stormbringer. Zen began evasive maneuvers crew frantically tried to throw it off. In the end Zen was able to shoot it down before it could destroy the ship.

With that crisis dealt with, crew turned their attention to the mystery of malfunctioning sensors on the bottom of the ship. Content Not Found: null was selected to go out and investigate. She was able to determine that the bottom of the ship had been tampered with, a panel removed, and a bomb attached to the ship.

Lord Dray retreated to his quarters to meditate while the crew dealt with this problem. Ultimately Charlie was able to improvise a bypass to the device and discarded it by tossing it at the star in the system.

Next the crew turned their attention to trying to locate mysterious invasion fleet. Only likely location was the watery moon orbiting a gas giant mid-system. It was decided to head in that direction but keep an eye at the anomaly appearing in their sensors periodically around the south stellar pole.

Esmeralda reveled that the south Anderson point of the star was unusual and best described as a “super Anderson point” capable of allowing ships to jump much further than usual.

After a day in transit, the anomaly resolved itself into an extremely large structure approximately, 1 mile in diameter. Deciding that this was likely related to the invasion, they headed towards it. As they drew closer can see that it appeared to be still under construction as several worker shuttles moving about it. With better energy readings determine that is powered by four generators and at the center of the structure appeared a gate leading to another part of the galaxy. As they observed, a pair of destroyers began moving towards the gate from the other side.

The crew selected a generator which seemed the most remote from the other structures on the gate. The crew was able to dock near the generator and enter station without meeting resistance. They moved quickly cautiously toward the generator, noting more signs of recent construction technology that was unfamiliar to them.

Arriving in the generator room, they found a pair of technicians working on a control panel. Joshua engaged them in conversation and tried to learn more about them. As he introduced himself, elevator doors opened revealing a darkly clad humanoid sporting a laser sword and surrounded by red armored figures. “Dray, did you say? Goratu has given me a gift today!”

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The Unraveling Doom III
"Anywhere they're not shooting at us!"

As Charlie and Zen prepared the ship to depart the pirates’ star fortress, Joshua and Oa-La rifled the body of the power armor equipped soldier they had dragged on board. When Zen arrived on the bridge, he found that Elric had released Esmerelda due to the imminent threat of the fighters fires circling the area. Esmerelda had taken care of most of the preflight checks. She also shared her concern that the ship ventral sensor was blank but Elric could not detect any problems.

Before they could pull away from the fort, several arrester beams locked onto the ship and held it in place. Rather than trying to traverse the exterior the station’s exterior to disable the beams, it was decided to try and locate a terminal or some other access within the station to turn them off.

As the party gathered and the airlock in preparations of the entering the pirate held space station, the airlock video showed them that several pirates waiting to see if the Stormbringer crew would return to the station. When they reopened the airlock, it caught the pirates off guard. Some quick sort work on Zen’s part, and grenade from Oa-La dispatched the majority of the waiting pirates and sent the rest running.

One short hike through the space station turned up a terminal being studied by a feline pirate. Zen quickly sniped the pirate and him finish them off with a knife. Despite or because of the station’s age, Oa-La was able to access star fortress computer in bend it to her will. She disabled the arrester beams, simulated a reactor leak, and created a phantom fleet of Imperium ships which occupied the majority of the pirate ships.

After this, the crew hastily return to the Stormbringer. Finally casting off from the store fortress, they began a desperate race to reach the Anderson Point on the other side of the debris field before being destroyed by the pirate ships. Zen earned his pay as he weaved and dodged the ship through the ancient space battle remains. Several pirate fighters persued them, but were unable to keep up and either damaged or destroyed by debris.

Just before they reached the Anderson Point, a pirate frigate emerged from the debris and launched a guided torpedo at Stormbringer. Zen set the throttle to full to buy Esmerelda as much time as possible to complete her calculations. She didn’t know where they were headed so when asked “Where to?”, the crew responded, in unison, “Anywhere they’re not shooting at us!”. Seizing the initiative, she jumped them to the next system out instead of taking them straight back the way they had come.

Without realizing it, she had taken them see the source of the impending invasion based on the map retrieved from a dead soldier.

A sense of unease settled across the crew. This was made worse by the fact that nothing of the ordinary in this system. Further scans revealed nothing except a faint reading that seem to be coming from around the star beneath them.

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The Unraveling Doom II
Speak To A Pirate Day

The group spent a few more days exploring the remains of the colony on Ebbar’s World. They noticed that there were several footprints left in the dirt that seem to come from the same type of boot. They’re beginning to think that it was some kind of organized force which caused the carnage on Ebbar’s World. Failure to find recordings of the attack force was also suspicious, making it seem like the attackers were trying to hide their identity.

Deciding that nothing else could be learned there, the group hid a fuels stash and took off on their way back to Tangar Station. A day out from the star of Ebbar’s World, they noticed a small flotilla of nasty looking ships jumping away. When they arrived at the Rift, they could barely detect that the flotilla had entered it before them.

Skillful flying by Zin got Stormbringer through the Rift ahead of the flotilla. Using a jury rigged device made by Charlie, Joshua was able to contact Tangar Station. He warned them about the flotilla, though that they could do nothing about it but watch. Racing ahead of the pirate flotilla, the group soon realized that the the pirates were not following them towards Tangar Station. Instead they were headed towards a gas giant the system. The pirate flotilla then jumped using a previously unknown Anderson point beneath the gas giant.

Upon arriving at the station, Hugh the hired navigator quickly ran off the ship in a hysteria about what happened on Ebbar’s World. Esmeralda was waiting at hatch but the group ignored her. A medical team took the young girl they had rescued from the colony. Joshua arranged a meeting with the station’s leadership where they discussed the pirate activity and the new escalation of violence. No clear decision was reached as to a course of action for the station to take. Ideas discussed included trying to jump the station, though was not known if that was even possible. During the meeting, someone mentioned an imperial armada was located at Hudson. Others dismissed this as a rumor.

While the meeting was going on, Charlie followed Esmeralda. He witnessed here desperately trying to get on a ship leaving the station, even offering to pay.

The group decided that they needed to return back to the other side of the Rift to get additional information and locate the source the attacks. After Hugh had finished spreading the stories of destruction on Ebbar’s World, there were no pilots willing to back at this time. That left the party with one choice: Esmeralda.

When they return to the ship, they found her waiting by the airlock. After tense negotiations, they agreed to take her on as their navigator through the Rift. Esmeralda agreed to guide them to the system they were looking for. Once their trip was ever, she said she might have a formation about where Joshua sister was headed.

Also before heading out, Charlie was tasked with mounting on Stormbringer the laser cannons recovered from a downed pirate fighter. Commercial garage facilities would not be available for several weeks, but Captain Sorra was able to free up a system patrol garage. Charlie was able to get the guns mounted very quickly and in such a way that they looked like part of the original ship design.

Departing the station once again, they headed into the Rift. Esmeralda seem to know something about charlie’s long life span, though he had no recollection of her or what she’s talking about. She also seem to be in antagonizing Zin. After a quick stop back by Ebbar’s World to refuel, they were off to the system they sought: Magellan Omicron.

Arrival of the system was somewhat of a shock, as before them floated the remains of several ancient star battles. In the wreckage, they could see the remains of a stellar fortress, one of several battle stations used to defend the system’s Anderson Point. Deciding it was a good place to start looking, Zin carefully piloted the ship through the hulking remains to be far side of the fort. There they could see a pirate frigate docked with the fort and under repairs. The decision was made to hold position and observe things for a while.

Unfortunately as they waited, a message was sent them inviting them in and letting them know that they had not been a stealthy as they thought. Joshua identified himself as Lord Dray, immediately someone screamed his name in rage in the background on the other into the communication. After locking Esmerelda in the master suite, the group docked and entered the station where indicated. After a short walk down a hall, they fouind themselves in a hangar from well-armed pirates awaiting them. Pirate Captain Varyag spoke with them but gave no useful information or admission of involvement in the attack on Ebbar’s World. Realizing he was getting nowhere, Joshua made a decision to retreat.

As soon as they started to run, the pirates opened fire. Their way back to the ship was cut off by a human wearing power armor, screaming the name Dray, and frothing at the mouth. As he opened fire, there were attacked from another side by what appeared to be Captain Varyag’s robotic parrot.

Joshua drew his laser sword and started swinging at the robot. With help from Zin, he was able to finally slash it neatly in half. Meanwhile, Oa-La engaged the power armor with her sword after blasting it with a grenade. He still put up a fight while asking her how she could work for such scum. Her response was to cut off his head.

Dragging the power armor behind them, they boarded Stormbringer and close the air lock behind them. As they prepared to flee the battle station, Oa-La discovered a personal data device on the remains of the human. It appeared to be displaying a map of the periphery with a plan for invasion, including the Dray manor world of Hudson.

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