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- 1 Pre-Game
- 2 On the Surface of Planet Gloom
- 2.1 2008.12.19 Game Recap
- 2.2 Plot Infliction I
- 2.3 2009.01.08 Game Recap
- 2.4 Plot Infliction II
- 2.5 2009.01.13 Game Recap
- 2.6 Plot Infliction III
- 2.7 2009.01.22 Game Recap
- 2.8 Plot Infliction IV
- 2.9 2009.02.10 Game Recap
- 2.10 Plot Infliction V
- 2.11 2009.02.24 Game Recap
- 2.12 Plot Infliction VI
- 2.13 2009.03.03 Game Recap
- 2.14 Plot Infliction VII
- 2.15 2009.03.10 Game Recap
- 2.16 Plot Infliction VIII
- 2.17 2009.03.17 Game Recap
- 2.18 Plot Infliction IX
- 3 In Space Above Planet Gloom
- 3.1 2009.03.24 Game Recap
- 3.2 Plot Infliction X
- 3.3 2009.03.31 Game Recap
- 3.4 Plot Infliction XI
- 3.5 2009.04.07 Game Recap
- 3.6 Plot Infliction XII
- 3.7 2009.04.16 Game Recap
- 3.8 Plot Infliction XIII
- 3.9 2009.04.21 Game Recap
- 3.10 Plot Infliction XIV
- 3.11 2009.04.28 Game Recap
- 3.12 Plot Infliction XV
- 3.13 2009.05.06 Game Recap
- 3.14 Plot Infliction XVI
- 3.15 2009.05.12 Game Recap
- 3.16 Plot Infliction XVII
- 4 Continued Adventures in the Podunk Scuffle game
A couple centuries ago, the planet Aparecido 2 was a boisterous and successful merchant planet located conveniently near a major spacelane in a utopian sector of the First Galaxy. Since the collapse of the Confederation, however, Aparecido 2 found itself in a bitter rivalry with the arrayed habitats of a nearby gas giant of the Aparecido system that called themselves Clarkeia. The respective governments tried to genuinely avoid hostilities, having been originally conceived in an era of Utopian ideals, but the efforts of individual citizens wrought widespread havoc for decades.
Eventually, the naturally greater need for space vessels in Clarkeia meant that conflicts were predominantly on or near Aparecido 2. So when the conflict went exponential, it was Aparecido 2 that suffered the most.
Lacking much in the way of conventional military hardware, the Twoians and the Clarkeians got creative. In addition to significant fusion and fission explosions that rendered much of Aparedico 2 a burnt cinder and set the eco system staggering, a horrific nano-tech weapon was employed. The entire atmosphere of Aparecido 2 was suffused with an agent similar to slave juice, that came to be referred to as Zombie Juice.
With limited exposure, zombie juice had no effect. But as the majority of resident Twoians had no isolated life support systems, many were subjected to the saturation level required to trigger the effects. The victims resident nanoscopic robots were overpowered, and the subject was forced through a kind of slavamization. As the zombie juice tore down the mind and will of each biological victim, it twisted each stage of occupation they had instead into a stage of lunatic. In addition to the multiple attacks and increased stamina (for nominal non-combatants), the zombies were also imbued with a frenetic rage against all non-zombies. High-stage accountants and computer programmers became especially fearsome, because their latent hatred of society was already considerable. The refugees able to keep themselves isolated from the zombie juice were too few and disconnected to be able to repulse the zombie hordes, and so most non-zombies were sniffed out and torn limb-from-limb by berzerkers.
Years have passed in a maelstrom of unrecognizeable seasons, and most of the zombies have grown catatonic due to lack of nutrition. Few of them are actually dead, due to the ability of the nanoscopic robots to keep infusing their bodies with energy due to microfusion nodes, but they are much less active than they once were. This has left what few refugees that still survive an opportunity to slink among the ruins to try to eke out their existence, or possibly to escape.
One such survivor was a biologist named Barreto. To help him survive, he created beings with vaunted healing powers to make them resistant to any concentration of foreign nanoscopic robots...
We'll be starting off with one player character and one NPC, both the created beings of Barreto. The primary feature of these beings is that they heal one point of stamina per stage per turn. After achieving this feat of bio-engineering, there are 22 points left to make the character stats in the custom being generator.
The player character will start off with 25 skill, the NPC will be at 15 skill.
Some strategic considerations are:
- Zombies are incapable of using weapons, and rarely duck, so range weapons can be very effective.
- Uses of high-output microfusion sources will tend to rouse torpid zombies, making energy weapons a bit of a risk.
- Survival is difficult for the remaining refugees, so they are often in direct competition for supplies.
- Mechanical combatants from Clarkeia that are designed to not trigger zombie aggression still prowl around Aparecido 2.
- If a character is to have any chance of escaping Aparecido 2, it probably needs to be able to contribute to ship combat. Cobbled-together craft are the primary means of escape as all ships that could leave did leave long ago. They face unknown difficulties after leaving the surface, and are unlikely to have spare room for non-crew.
And we end up with:
|Main Character - Pavel||Sibling Character - Sergei|
|Occupations: Technician(1), Sharpshooter(1)
The two foraging siblings are camped quietly in the ruin of a dead hopper, all their various pieces of equipment carefully de-powered so as to not cause cumulative agitation to the unknown number of zombies comatose nearby. Wind howls with a blinding sheet of dust and ice, but the siblings are silent. They have failed to find any of the medical cabinet components that their creator sent them in search of, and now they head back. They're tired of eating the remnants that they can forage, and would like some fresh food from the laboratory. But, mostly, they have run out of ideas of where to look, and need to ask their creator for ideas about where they should look next - even more far afield than they have been before.
They could push on through the storm, but it hides the sounds of zombies being awoken. Worse, it would obscure from them any shambling horde that cascaded into activity and started instinctively homing in on them. Also, they would like to think of some kind of better excuse.
No ideas present themselves, and instead they curl up inside the hopper, their hyperactive metabolisms oblivious to the cold. Until, simultaneously, a sickly tremble passes through both of them. They catch each other's eye, to confirm that the other has indeed had the same Bad Feeling. It is unlike any sensation that either has had before, and gives them both a strange unwillingness to emerge and a desperate urge to flee.
The older sibling carefully peers out one of the gaps in the hopper's twisted hull, and strains his senses to make out any sign of others. All the dancing shadows and moaning threats of the storm-cast dust seem vaguely threatening, but nothing specific resolves itself. Presently, the Bad Feeling slips from them like wet tarpaulin being pulled off, leaving mussed streaks of damp pressure.
Then, too, eventually the storm dies down and the siblings continue their trek home.
Another even eight hours of carefully picking their path through dead buildings, dead vehicles, and avoiding all the dead bodies, they reach the standing thoroughfare overpass that looks onto their home. Except, instead of seeing the carefully bland runoff area, they see the ground rent and torn up. Closer inspection shows the well-hidden external door ripped out, and the secret tunnel gaping open.
The siblings approach cautiously, but nothing stirs. The younger sibling keeps watch by the entrance while the older sibling creeps inside the bunker to see what happened. He finds little surviving of the laboratory. Of their creator, he can only assume that the red smears everywhere were him. He rejoins the younger sibling in the entrance. The younger sibling sees his brother's expression and understands.
Note: Older sibling (me) is herby named Pavel and the younger sibling is named Sergei. I've always liked Russian names.
Once I finish looking for scans or food (successfully or not), I head back out and meet up with Sergei. I think we should attempt to hide the remains of the entrance so random losers don't spot it. Then I'd like to see if there are any trails leading to or away from the entrance that we can follow.
I tell Sergei to keep watch for the moment. I'm going to head back to the lab and see if Barreto had any security cameras or computer systems I could access. I want to see if there was any recording of the attack. Next will be checking on the food stores. If there is any food, I look for a way to carry some, like a big sack of some sort. I have a feeling we shouldn't stick around here, so I'm going to be as quick as I can.
If the external door was well hidden, I'm guessing that this wasn't done by zombies. Assuming that whatever it was that gave us the Bad Feeling is the same something that attacked, it is quite possible that it knew we were in that hopper and decided not to bother with us. My gut says mentalist, but there really isn't enough to go on at this point. Could just be someone scary with high awareness.
There are no security cameras - the whole bunker used absolutely minimal power, and virtually everything was accomplished with biological creations (light, heat, ventilation). Before you get a chance to head to the hydroponics section where the food was grown, you hear Sergei's low whistle warning of incoming zombies...
On the Surface of Planet Gloom
2008.12.19 Game Recap
When Sergei summoned Pavel, it was to point out a pair of zombies making their way directly towards the bunker. The zombies were dispatched at long range with the projectile rifles, but before they died one of the zombies let out a reverberating, disquieting scream. Immediately thereafter, 16 more zombies emerged from hiding/torpor, and surged in to attack. After mowing down the first few, Pavel and Sergei were soon overrun by frantically flailing zombies, and the mayhem was pitched. With four zombies left, the siblings were brought down.
However, the zombies stopped attacking after Pavel and Sergei stopped moving. Instead, they vomited a concentrated mass of Zombie Juice onto each of them. Due to their advanced healing capabilities, neither Pavel nor Sergei are vulnerable to Zombie Juice. And, Pavel quickly regained consciousness, but continued to remain inert to allow himself time to heal. Unfortunately Sergei was less circumspect when he awoke a few moments later, and resumed the fray. With their weapons howling in full automatic mode, the brothers finished off the four zombies.
In the distance, yet more zombies could be heard approaching. Instead of being pinned down again, Pavel lead Sergei off to move stealthily to a different vantage point. Climbing to a high vantage point on a ruined building, they saw 6 more zombies sniffing around. This time, at extreme range, Pavel was able to land aimed shots on them to cause mortal wounds. The zombies charged, but bled to death before they could scale the building.
Pavel and Sergei stealthily returned to the bunker to gather some food. Again Sergei was left at the entrance and Pavel made his way to the hydroponics section. Slipping quietly into the mass of vines fed by piped-in light and nutrient, Pavel heard something masticating. Just to be on the safe side, Pavel crept back out to return with Sergei as backup. Together they searched out the source of the eating noises in the bay, to find their creator - Barreto - in zombie form. Fearing how powerful he might be as a zombie, they managed to slip out again.
The brothers began hunting zombies, but this time on their own terms. The first group the come across is what they tend to call "fast zombies" - ones that were probably professional, and had recently been involved in some action. Instead of attacking, Pavel decided to follow their tracks in reverse, to see where they had come from. They discovered another refugee hideout that had been uncovered and ripped apart. Upon closer inspection, they could see evidence of a massive number of zombies that came and went, and a subsequent ambush of zombies that killed some refugee leftovers.
This time, they started following the tracks of the zombie army, taking care to avoid the most obvious of the zombie ambushes that were laid out.
Unexpectedly, Pavel was assassinated from long range by a blaster weapon. Sergei quickly dragged Pavel behind cover, and let Pavel's healing ability revive him. They looked for the sniper, but determined that they were outclassed tactically. So they decided to try skirting the sniper and to resume following the trail of the zombie army. Despite this, the sniper still managed to get a line of sight on them a while later, and assassinated Sergei. Instead of dragging his brother behind cover, Pavel instead looked for the sniper, and spotted his hiding spot. Waiting for the sniper to peek back out, Pavel sprayed the assault weapon at him, slightly outside of accurate range, and scored a good hit that actually stalled the robot. Unable to reboot in time to scramble back behind cover, Pavel destroyed it with another blast. Sergei woke up a moment later.
Then they were hailed by an extremely stealthy Tuskat Trop that asked them what they knew of the zombie army, and told them more snippets about the zombie army. And the Tuskat told them that the army had most likely hit another refugee hideout only a few hours ago a few kilometers away.
Making their way carefully but directly to the next set of victims of the zombie army, Pavel and Sergei found themselves in somewhat familiar location - where some acquaintances of theirs had resided. It was indeed destroyed, but a zombie ambush was still lying in wait. Pavel and Sergei intentionally instigated a confrontation. This fight was not as difficult as the first ambush, because they were not as overwhelmed, but near the end the zombies scored some lucky hits by biting the brothers in the throat repeatedly. Nevertheless, the zombies were all dispatched with the assault rifles.
Before more zombies could arrive at the ambush, a lone surviving refugee emerged from hiding: a large but surprisingly quick herboven that they found vaguely familiar.
Plot Infliction I
"Paver! Surgee! Boy am I glad you dudes came by. There was, like, zombies hiding on top of my hiding spot. My trunk was starting to cramp up from keeping the same position for hours on end." The herboven trots quickly up and gestures to his med pack as he approaches. "Do either of you guys need a patch?"
Sergei casts over a raised eyebrow, then changes the subject. "We should get moving before more zombies home in."
"Agreed." I do a quick locate to make sure there are no zombies approaching and then we sneak off. To the Herboven: "We don't need any healing at the moment, but thanks for the offer. I forget, are you a medic?" Do I remember the Herboven's name?
To Sergei: "I think our short to medium term goal would be to follow the horde and pick off zombies as the oppurtunities present themselves. However, long term I'd really like to determine who is controlling the zombies and deal with them as well. The problem is that whoever he is, he's probably extremely sneaky, sort of like that Tuskat we met. Either we're going to have to recruit someone equally sneaky or one of us is going to have to focus on scout/infantry stages."
"So, I see two paths. One, we could focus on combat skills and become significant zombie killers. Two, one of us could focus more on stealth and perhaps the other could earn a stage of leader so that any survivors we find we could recruit into our ranks. Obviously we would still have to increase our combat skills, just at a bit lesser intensity."
Locating, you can hear the distant sounds of zombies rousing, drawn undoubtedly by the recent cacophony of assault weapon fire. They are still sufficiently distant to not be an immediate concern... unless you linger. You remember the Herboven's name about as well as it remembers yours; sounds like "Tetchy-O". The Herboven shakes its head, "Naw, I'm no medic, dude. Mostly just scout."
Sergei smirks, and signs to you in response. "Yeah, finding and dealing with the zombie herder sounds good to me. Should we rely on a one-tonne scout, or do you think one of us should work on stealth?"
I assume that you guys sneak away from the vicinity as you converse.
Yeah, we're sneaking away from the vicinity.
I sign to Sergei: "Let's see if the 'one-tonne scout' is interested in joining us. It could potentially be cool, as we could both ride on him while he is sneaking."
I fill in Tetchy-o about what we know so far about the zombie horde. "We're planning on trailing them to cull their numbers and hopefully find out who is leading them so we can exact some revenge. We think that someone with high awareness is leading them, so we could really use the help of a scout. What do you think about coming with us? We can offer you protection."
Tecchio (which even God can't pronounce correctly) appears quite conflicted at your suggestion. "Dude. You want to follow the motherzarkin' zombie horde?" His ears flap in discontent, while his muscular trunk writhes. "So, like, yeah, I Toh.Tal.Ly want to rain destruction down on the zarking zombie horde. But, I haven't got a whole lot of combat skill. As in, I'm workin' on a stage of infantry, right? But, like, I've got no bonuses yet. Mostly because I use stealth to stay the zark away from situations where I'm libel to get a pack of zombie beating down on me. Right?"
Sergei's stride momentarily takes a slightly more strutting demeanor, complete with wing pantomimes with his arms. Tecchio notices, but makes no direct comment.
"Seriously, though, dudes. What do you think our chances would be? Or, like, what would be my chances of survival?"
Sergei snorts. You know him well enough to guess that he's thinking that while you're stuck on Aparecido 2, everyone's chances are grim regardless.
"Dude, we're the two guys with assault weapons. What I'm looking for is a scout that will duck out of the way and hide when combat starts. What would be ideal would be for you to keep focused on infantry and scout while we focus on more offensive skills. You would be our eyes to tell us if we're walking into an ambush we can't handle. Eventually, when all three of us are more skilled, we'll go hunting for whatever is in charge of that horde."
"So, I think your chances of survival would be better than ours, and well, we're not going to walk into a situation where we think we're going to end up zombie food."
"And, you're huge, so my brother and I could potentially ride on you, utilizing your sneaking ability."
"OK, if you mean that we'll go hunting for the horde after I'm a bit more capable of ducking, count me in, dude." Tecchio gives you smile edged with tusk and a thumbs-up. "So, like, what do we do in the mean time?"
Sergei responds out loud, which is actually a bit odd for him. "Think Pavel means should track zombies still. Pick fights at fringe, for now. Hunt horde herder later, if think can kill." Articles? Pronouns? Sergei not need when speaking.
"Yeah, what he said."
2009.01.08 Game Recap
After coaxing Tecchio to act as transportation, the trio made their way back towards the path laid down by the departing zombie horde. Their intention was to practice on the remaining zombies that were typically left strewn behind the passing horde. Pavel switched to the laser rifle while Sergei kept his massive assault rifle ready, while both rode Tecchio with their knees and toes gripped to his back.
Approaching carefully the first mini-ambush of three zombies by the horde trail, Pavel was able to line up a shot on the first zombie from 100 meters distant. Unsatisfyingly, the zombie was already slipping into torpor, so not only was the shot rather easy, but also the inflicted mortal wound barely roused it enough to stumble about before it sprawled and bled to death. And it didn't lure any of the other zombies out. So they had to sneak 50 meters closer before they could get a line of sight on the second zombie. Upon being shot at, the second zombie revealed itself to be one of the rare kind that will actually try to duck. It dodged and weaved and slowly made its way towards the group, but after a few turns Pavel and Sergei managed to snap enough lasers into it and fling enough bullets into it to kill it. By the time it fell, the last zombie was roused. I huge Groten reared up, and instead of charging in typical zombie fashion, it began to fling the ruined cars it was using as cover. Tons of metal arced through the air, and three cars slammed down with terrifying thuds - all of which Tecchio managed to duck. Pavel leapt from Tecchio's back, afraid that the next volley might kill them all with one hit, and snapped a shot at the Groten. Remaining on Tecchio's shoulder, Sergei walked a fully-automatic stream of bullets into the Grotens vitals, and blew its head off.
There was some mild taunting between the siblings.
After gathering their wits, the trio resumed stalking the trail of the zombie horde. Before making much progress, they distinctly heard the unusual sound of rapid-fire energy weapons in the distance - something that was utterly foreign to Aparecido 2. As they would have expected, from all around zombies were rousing from torpor and heading towards the blaster fire. Their own curiosity roused, the siblings and their herboven steed started in the direction of the queer energy weapons too. Unfortunately, they attracted the attention of five newly-roused zombies, who started charging from all directions. With nowhere to run, the brothers dropped from Tecchio's back to increas the number of targets. Still just using the laser rifle, Pavel was unable to inflict sufficient harm on the charging zombies to drop any before they rushed in. Meanwhile, Sergei was unluckily only managing to land hits on the extremities of the zombies, which they ignored. Most horrifically, one zombie was of the "fast" category, and it homed in on the least combatant of the group: Tecchio. The fight grew desperate, and Pavel was dragged down first, Tecchio was barely standing, while Sergei was able to whittle the zombies only slightly. As the zombies shifted to Sergei, Pavel's healing power revived him and he resumed the battle - this time with his assault rifle. Pavel watched as a zombie managed to sink its teeth in Sergei's throat (twice) and bring him down, and the fast zombie left Tecchio inert and only a point away from irreparable harm. Hosing the zombies down with streams of bullets, Pavel managed to finish off the rest of the regular zombies. Sergei, due to benefit of his own healing power, struggled back to his feet only to face the onslaught of the fast zombie. Together, the brothers both drove streams of bullets into the fast zombie, but it still stood. Again, Sergei had to dance away from the four attacks of the fast zombie, and finally it was destroyed with a group of bullets to its vitals. Pavel rushed to Tecchio's aid, to try to prevent him from suffering permanent brain damage - with limited success.
The trio struggled to cover in order to hide and recover. Still they heard the sounds of distant energy weapons, and the curiosity of it was driving them mad. So Pavel cast about, and spotted the ruins of a comm tower leaning nearby that should be tall enough to get a vantage point suitable to see what was going on. He made his way gradually up the corroded and damaged skeleton, and managed to catch intriguing glimpses of... something. So he kept climbing. Unfortunately, Pavel is not very agile. A small section of strut came away in his hand, and the points his other hand and feet were attached to snapped away too with the added strain. Nearly 50 meters he fell. Tecchio tried to catch him, and both were badly hurt by the attempt - but both survived.
Feeling reticent, they all hunkered down to heal. Pavel and Sergei were, of course, fine almost immediately, but Tecchio needed more time. Pavel and Tecchio worked with the medical gear while Sergei kept watch. After an hour, Tecchio was in much better condition. Then, abruptly, he started complaining about a "sound" that was making his teeth ache. It abated shortly thereafter, leaving the group unsettled. Well, more unsettled. And the healing of Tecchio resumed. After a while, Sergei signalled that something was approaching, and the group hid.
It was then that a large, pink, hovering craft slid into view, with the bright sign painted on it, "ZACK's ZOMBIE ZAPPING TOURS". Sergei could only stare in disbelief. It was well-armed with assault energy weapons, and had a heavy shield, and was obviously laid out as a sightseeing platform. Pavel decided to hail the vessel. At first the respondent on the vessel thought that Pavel was "back at base", but when Pavel clarified that they were in fact non-zombie survivors he was asked for his position. This caused them some pause, because they found themselves questioning the motives of sightseers that go to shoot the helpless victims of a horrific bio-weapon. They decided not to respond, and stayed hidden. The vessel did a cursory search, then activated an "etheric irritator" - causing Tecchio's molars to hurt, and attracting a swarm of zombies. The vessel thereupon started picking off zombies, the people on the deck taking turns with the turrets obviously mostly unskilled. Eventually they tired of the horror, and the vessel departed. Pavel risked a brief climb a little way back up the comm tower to verify that the vessel was maintaining a constant heading - for purposes of possible future discovery. As he crept back down, he again lost hold, but was not so far up the structure that the fall was so daunting. However, it was sufficient distress to the tower that it finally collapsed, leaving the group blinking in the dust cloud it raised.
With the local population of zombies diminished, the group hoped to remain hidden to finish healing. Before they could bring Tecchio back up to full health, their passive etheric sensors screamed at them to DUCK! MOVE! SOMETHING! They reflexively scampered to different cover, which prevented them from being struck down by a falling piece of destroyed spacecraft. Looking up, they could see the sky full of falling contrails from the dying ship as it fell apart, and the sounds of overlapping hypersonic booms tumbled through the air. A fat contrail marked the passage of the largest portion of the ship, showing that it had impacted a couple kilometers away. Thoughts of potential salvage twinkled through everybody's mind, and so Pavel and Sergei hopped on Tecchio and they started sneaking quickly towards the main crash site.
As they made their way, they noticed a dust cloud was heading in their general direction. It seemed odd, and as the source of the dust cloud was over a kilometer away, they could not easily make out what was going on. Presently it became clear that whatever was creating the dust cloud would overtake them before they got to the crash site if they maintained their speed. So they stopped sneaking, and started running for it. As the race progressed, Sergei and Pavel managed to catch a glimpse of what was coming - and they saw thousands of zombies sprinting. The horde was coming.
Arriving at the crash site, they found a crater with a burning-hot ship section at the center. The ship was still so hot that it caused a point of damage per turn, but since this was less than the healing capability of Pavel and Sergei, they made their way inside to forage. Inside the tilted remains of a bay, they found a sprawled intermediate scale vessel, and access to some power systems. With some tampering, Pavel believed that his technical capability might allow them to drag the ship out. He also thought that he might be able to rig the power systems to overload and destroy the coming horde, except that he accidentally damaged them and they started to overload immediately. In a rush, then, Pavel tampered the small ships force drive to help lift it, and Sergei helped push it out of the bay. They struggled to get it out, and had to ask Tecchio to burn himself on the ship to wrench the exterior door sufficiently open, but managed to make sufficient distance from crashed main ship so that its power system overload didn't kill them. After cooling the small ship in a bank of frozen ash, they got Tecchio to carry it, and so they set off to escape the coming horde of oddly-driven purposeful zombies.
And so they flee...
Plot Infliction II
"Where are we going?"
"Just keep going."
"It's hard to see where I'm going while carrying this thing."
"Just keep going."
"It's hard to sneak while carrying this thing."
"Just keep going."
"OK, ok. You guys had better help me out when we get swarmed by zombies, though."
2009.01.13 Game Recap
Tecchio trudged as quickly as he could, carrying the intermediate scale flying saucer, which had on top of it perched the brothers Pavel and Sergei. Sergei wielded both his own and Pavel's assault rifles, thanks to his skill with paired weapons and his strength sufficient to use each single-handedly, while Pavel worked on the ship. Shortly, a small subset of the zombie horde was swarming in on them on an open dusty plain, and Sergei used the assault rifles to mow them down. But they came faster than they died, and a steadily-growing swarm of zombies closed with the retreating adventurers.
Prising open the ship, Pavel found a dead zombie impaled with a sentient, flying blade. Tossing aside the zombie corpse, Pavel briefly found the blade trying to wordlessly defend the ship, but it relented after he pointed out the zombie swarm closing in. Pavel found a way to activate the ship's gun, but discovered no way to aim it, and achieved only to send sizzling blaster fire into the air. Without a functioning control system for the drives, the flying saucer was of little immediate use to them, other than to slow them down in the face of the charging zombies. By then, the zombies numbers had swollen to undeniably undefeatable numbers, and when Sergei's guns needed reloading the swarm closed in quickly.
Pavel set the ships shields to activate, and discarded it before fleeing at full speed on Tecchio's back. Their hope that the intermediate-scale shields would both attract the zombie swarm and prove virtually impossible for the unarmed zombies to damage right away proved sufficiently successful, and the trio made good their escape. The sentient blade paused, but flew to follow them. When Pavel indicated that it could land on his shoulder, the stupid thing instead stabbed him in the shoulder. With physical contact, he found that he could communicate with it. Sort of.
They ran until they came to an edge of the plain, and then crept quickly through more ruined cityscape until they found a hiding spot to heal Tecchio some more. Climbing a tall (but sturdy) ruin, Pavel scanned their situation. He saw mostly the usual desolation throughout the ruins, and could see clear signs of the swarm following their trail in the distance. So they continued on their way. Pavel started working on making more bullets to refill their clips.
Their next encounter was to discover appeared to be a lone zombie standing in a clearing. The made to sneak around it, but before they could achieve any tactical advantage the being emitted an etheric communication signal and was teleported away. Reviewing their visual records, they saw that the being was actually a Vimren, and puzzled over the existence of a functioning teleporter on the planet.
There was more sneaking.
A while later, horror struck as an intermediate scale blast slammed suddenly into Tecchio's head. The brothers were forced into a lethal game of cat and mouse with the stealthy giant, and were unable to prevent Tecchio from dying from the head wound. At alternate times, each brother caught some of the huge blasts and was rendered unconscious, but they also scored telling hits on the huge, stealthy robot. Tiring of the dragging battle, and worried about the rousing of local zombies, Pavel led Sergei to charge the robot, finally killing it with repeated sprays of rapid-fire projectiles. Interested in the invisible-to-zombies weaponry, Pavel extracted the 1D/2 intermediate scale blaster from the ruined robot, along with the necessary controls and power systems.
Now the brothers are without a steed, Pavel has a large energy weapon that he has no room for, and still has the stupid blade stuck in his shoulder.
Plot Infliction III
Sergei looks over at Pavel, and shrugs. "OK, brother. Pick a direction."
"Let's continue along the path towards the 'base' that the morons in the hover platform were going. If we can lead the hoard there, maybe they'll destroy each other."
To the sword: "So sword, got a name? And what exactly is your function? If we run into any zombies, want to be involved in the fight?"
Sergei grunts and nods, and starts moving carefully in the best-guess direction.
The blade responds with: "Gladius. Will help if I can."
Can you describe your general mode of travel? How many dice for sneaking and moving, etcetera.
To sword: "Glad to meet you."
2D to sneak and 2D to move. One of us will stop every few turns to stop and locate.
2009.01.22 Game Recap
Pavel and Sergei moved as quickly as stealth would allow through the ruined cityscape. Day and night have blurred together due to need, and the siblings were heedless of the dark due to the light amplification ability of sensors embedded in their eyes. The boys are relatively big, but they are not fast, so they pushed their pace harder in order to keep ahead of the pursuing zombie horde.
After a while, they came to notice that the ruins are conveniently impassible in certain directions, tending to funnel most passers-by to some unseen major thoroughfare or pinch point ahead. Doubting the coincidence of it, Pavel and Sergei scaled a toppled skyscraper that made alternate progress slow, exposed, and difficult. They still did not see any other overt signs of ambush, but left the perceived trap anyway.
On the far side of the fallen building they saw an expanse of ruin with an arrangement of dusty columns that spread like a concealing forest. Once among the columns, they decided to hide, to give Pavel a chance to build the appropriated intermediate scale blaster into a weapon he could use. In the course of aligning the sights for accurate aiming, Pavel have the Clarkian weapon a test fire. It wasn't long after the thunder from the blast finished echoing that they heard other beings moving nearby. Pavel and Sergei took this as a sign that they should move on.
Due to the extremely poor visibility amongst the columns, the tall brothers neither saw nor were seen by the other beings as they all moved about. Pavel and Sergei made their way to the edge of the columns, and found that there was a cleared-away open zone extending about 70 meters. Deprived of cover, they made a run for it. They didn't get far before they noticed a sniper taking aim on them from amongst the columns.
They didn't like having a sniper taking aim on them.
Not at all.
Hosing down the sniper with Sergei using two assault weapons and Pavel's cannon, a further two Yiptak Trops with assault projectile rifles of their own and another medic Trop joined the fray from cover. The firefight was grisly, with all parties being badly wounded, but ended up with Pavel and Sergei being the least dead. Of the Trops, the assassin was still alive but with only one arm, and the medic surrendered.
Once again, Pavel and Sergei made to leave the area, but this time before they could even leave the protection of the columns they spotted seven more beings approaching from along the perimeter of the columns. A couple of them were armed with lesser assault projectile weapons, one with a proper X10 assault gun, and one human of menacing aspect was armed belligerently with paired 429NST blasters. The initial exchange left most of the reinforcements scrambling, but Pavel was clobbered by the 429's and sprawled unconscious. Sergei dropped one of his assault weapons so that he could snatch up Pavel and disappear into the columns.
It took a few turns before Pavel's healing factor restored him to health sufficient for consciousness. Following them the Trops and Humans were spread in a scrimmage line to find them. Additionally, a flying creature hove into view overhead. Thinking the worst of the flying creature, Pavel shot it in the face with his intermediate scale weapon, causing it great distress (and multiple landing sites). Then they readied themselves to face the oncoming onslaught.
It was messy. But after a long, gruelling battle, the brothers prevailed.
As Pavel and Sergei make to leave, they saw an array of de-torpified zombies shambling from all directions towards the area of columns. Waiting for a lull in the encroachment, they slunk away
Plot Infliction IV
After prowling for several kilometers, a more-dense section of city construction is revealed from atop a ridge line. The type of ruin up ahead transitions from the generalized construction that was mostly flattened in the war to older, hardier buildings like nothing they have seen before. The brothers pause to contemplate what to do next.
After a few minutes of quiet observation, Sergei breaks the silence. "You know, with buildings as intact as that, there's bound to have been way more survivors in this area. Which would probably be zombies now. Maybe we should skirt it, and hope that the 'base' for that floating platform is beyond this sector."
"Sure. How about we go perpendicular for a while and use Gladius to keep an eye on the zombie hoard? I'm curious to see how soon they change direction to follow us. It may let us know if they are just tracking us, or if they know where we are by some other means."
I take an abrupt right turn and head in that direction. I ask Gladius to occassionally fly up and check on the hoard.
Sergei agrees in his typical agreeable manner, and stalks with his brother perpendicular to their previous path. As they travel, they can make out how the main cluster of city buildings they're avoiding are separated from the rest of the ruin by a mostly-dry river moat. Gaunt wrecks of bridges remain. And it's deathly still, as is normal on Aparecido 2.
After moving laterally about a kilometer, Gladius is sent up to look back at the zombie horde. Unfortunately, though the flying blade can make out the approximate position of the horde, it cannot yet detect if they have changed heading. After travelling a further few kilometers, it seems as though the horde is veering slightly to intercept - they aren't just following tracks.
They push on to go around the city. After getting most of the way around, both brothers stiffen up - they get a bad feeling. They slink to cover and move in parallel to vantage points to better survey their vicinity. They spot a small troupe of long-eared Takolees making their way stealthily through the wasteland towards the city, in the approximate direction of the brothers. One somewhat rotund Takolee twitches its ears, and points towards Sergei and Pavel, but they perceive that it doesn't actually see them. The others flinch, likewise looking in the indicated direction, but fail to see the brothers. They clutch assault filament rifles tightly, and press on, wary.
How many make up a 'small troupe'? Do they all have assault rifles? Any other interesting gear of note?
There are 5 Takolees total: 4 with assault filament rifles, and the somewhat rotund Takolee has a pair of metal blades. They all are carrying cumbersome tool packs, but are too small to have a whole lot of gear overall.
Sergei sneers - well, as much as you can sneer with sign language - "There's something a bit off-seeming about that round one." You can almost see the wheels working inside Sergei's head. "Are they heading for us, or for the buildings?"
"Yeah, the off-seeming bit is probably that he seems well fed. Let's just watch for a bit to see where they're going." Any recently (or not so recently) applied patches obvious on any of the Takolees? I make sure that we're within a meter of cover.
You and Sergei are both peeking around opposite sides of a ruined bus hopper, which would be excellent cover from filaments. The current trajectory of the Takolees would appear that they will pass within a few meters of your current hiding spot, though. They're currently about 80 meters distant, and keeping themselves close to cover as well.
It is hard to tell conclusively from your vantage point and distance, but the majority of the Takolees seem to have relatively little recent damage, and no overt amount of patching. One, however, is sporting some recent wounds, but no patches have been applied to it. Only regular healing, and not enough of it, judging from the oozing blood.
An odd moment arises where you watch the round Takolee pick up a pinch of dirt, and rubs it between its fingers, letting it fall back to the ground. All the while, its oddly long ears twitch and pivot.
"What's our play here, brother? If we're going to talk to them, I'd rather do it at long range. If we're going to avoid them, let's get the zark out of here. There's something about that round rodent that makes me feel like he'd spot us."
"Yeah, let's chat with them. Stay hidden, and be ready to pull my filament ridden body behind cover so I can heal."
I sneak up to the top of the hopper, crouch there and wait until I'm spotted. I'm guessing the round one will see me quickly. I have the assault weapon out, but lowered to be as non-threatening as possible. Once they spot me, I call out "Hey little dudes, how's it going?"
A couple of the Takolees spot you almost immediately, and the whole troupe dove for cover in the next instant. You can also see them start looking around more pointedly, perhaps to spot signs of an ambush. One Takolee - not the round one - seems to be giving the majority of the command-gestures. Two of the Takolees dash over to cover a side exit route that will lead them entirely out of your line of sight. Then the leader Takolee pokes out more obviously, and semaphores at you with long-distance gestures that you can recognize most of.
"Hey big (gesture you think might mean "dude"). Seen any big (pink?) flying objects?"
I respond with similar gestures.
"You mean that stupid hover platform that was shooting up the zombies? Yeah, we saw it back that way." I point back in the direction we came from. "Though the last I saw of it, it was heading in this direction. At least somewhat in this direction, I bypassed the city over there cause I figured it's have a high population of zombies. Where'd you see it?"
The leader of the long-eared Takolees points, indicating the direction they saw the hover platform, from the way they came. It is, uncomfortably, almost exactly 90° from the direction you indicated. Intersecting on the skyscrapers.
You can see that this has a hardening effect on the Takolee leader. It is easy to imagine that it was contemplating going around the skyscrapers too. Keeping you in sight, it bounces over to a different piece of cover, and beckons. Partially exposing itself then is the somewhat rotund Takolee, ears all a-twitch.
In some sort of discrete conversation with the leader Takolee, it leans out even further and becomes still for a moment. Its ears freeze straight up, and its eyes are huge and black and staring. It stares at you, but mostly through you. Beyond you.
With a shudder of revulsion, it breaks the spell, and resumes its twitching - which is even more pronounced than for a regular Takolee. It finishes conversing with the leader, and retreats back behind cover completely.
The leader resumes regarding you more fully, and semaphores again. "We have very little that would be of value to you. We intend to pass by peaceably."
"I also intend to remain peaceful towards you. However, I'm interested in knowing your intent with the pink hover platform. If you are planning an attack, I'd like to participate." I glance back thoughtfully towards the skyscrapers. "It seems that an investigation of the skyscrapers is in order."
I try to guestimate how long it will be before the zombie hoard catches up with us if we don't continue moving away from them.
The Takolee leader sways with indecision. It throws up a semaphore gesture of "Please stand by", and consults back behind the cover with the rotund Takolee, along with another assault filament rifle rodent goon.
There's an shaky, wobbling minute that goes by, where the looming buildings start to look even more like tombstones, and you feel more than ever how much this whole place is a gigantic graveyard. A phantom prickling sensation grows around you, like an aura of uneasiness. And then it pulses and fades, and you're left with a foreboding after-sense of fatalism.
Hopping back into view, the leader semaphores you again. "We do not mean to attack the platform, because that would appear to be foolish. But there are clearly offworlders riding on it. If they can get here, they can leave here - and we want to determine how that works." It fusses, trying to pick the right gestures, and then says. "Sorry. We do not trust you. You are too dangerous; something about you is too dangerous. Too dangerous for us, at least. I'd like to ask that we just go our separate ways, for now."
Without further consultation, the Takolees move to withdraw out of your line of sight with rapid, well-practiced group movements. They'll be gone in a few moments.
The Zombie horde was about 5 hours behind you before. The detour might have let them close that gap slightly by cutting the corner.
Before they are out of site, I quickly guesture: "Before you go, I should warn you of another threat in the area. There are a large number of zombies back the way we came. They appear to be operating as a cohesive unit. They were able to find and destroy my hideout as well as the hideouts of various other people I knew. Once you are done your investigation of the hover platform, I'd recommend leaving the vicinity."
And then I watch them go. I wait until they are out of site and then I head back down to Sergei.
"Let's head into the city. I want to see if we can find that hover platform too. And if there is a base in there, the idea of introducing the zombie hoarde to them just makes me all giddy inside."
Sergei nods. "OK. I wonder what a the base would look like... Wait. Something doesn't add up, here. There's Clarkian robots sort of with the zombie horde - I assumed that they were guiding things. And who else could these hover platform assholes be besides Clarkians? Are we sure that they'd be natural enemies?"
It would be good to know your mode of travel: how sneaky, how fast.
2D to sneak, 2D to move. Hopefully we don't get sniped.
"I figured the Clarkian robot we saw was just being oppurtunistic... Though I guess they could have been working together. Seems odd that the Clarkians would bother getting a hoard of zombies together... I figured the robots were just left overs from the war. I agree that the hover platform assholes are likely Clarkians. Well, if we find a base and lure the hoarde, we'll figure out pretty quick if they are enemies or not."
2D to move mean that you outpace the Takolees, even with sneaking. With practiced ease, you flit through ruined building rubble while avoiding disturbing any of the corpses.
"OK, so we're possibly facing a new kind of zombie behaviour - horde swarming? And they have some sort of ability to home in on refugees? And to summon more zombies out of torpor nearby to build their numbers? Do you think it's something the Clarkians designed, or is it a surprise? Shit, bro, if there's intermediate scale power systems regularly operating near here, why aren't more of these corpses animated? And why isn't the horde homing in on this 'base' instead of following us?"
There has, in fact, been a few shamblors that you've easily avoided as you travelled, but no more than you've typically encountered in the past.
Which brings you to the edge of the (mostly) dry river moat around the city. Your options appear to be to schlepp across the muddy expanse without benefit of cover for about 250 meters, or to creep along one of the semi-destroyed wrecked bridges and risking falling.
2009.02.10 Game Recap
Sergei and Pavel decided to attempt crossing using one of the less-decayed bridges, but first they scavenged some climbing harnesses and chord so that they take turns clinging fast to solid features. In this manner they ensured a safe crossing, despite Sergei breaking grip three times to be sent dangling and having clamber back up.
Once across, they sensed that there were several possible combatants lurking nearby. The first one they encountered was a standard Clarkeian battle robot, which they dropped immediately. This attracted another intermediate scale Clarkeian battle robot with prodigious stamina. After they managed to fell it, they noticed that a distant Vega Lizard sniper had a line of sight on them, but was not terribly interested in them. Instead, it seemed intent on a different direction. That was about when sounds of a gunfight started reverberating through the buildings.
Interested in seeing some of the action for themselves, Pavel and Sergei chose to circle around the tower on the opposite side from the Vega Lizard. As they went, they came upon some more standard Clarkeian battle robots, and decided to engage them. Another short but vicious exchange finished off those robots as well. Finally getting around the building, they saw two tall robed humanoids engaging with a handful of Clarkeian battle robots. They were fighting oddly, however.
The humanoids were being somewhat defensive, overall, but seemed to give an impression of hotdogging - a bit. More oddly, the battle robots were only dedicating two or three of their number to engage the humanoids while the rest kept watch. The battle robots were entrenched in a cluster of large ship-scale blocks that had been deliberately arranged to provide cover.
Nevertheless, Pavel and Sergei are too bloodthirsty to let just sit back and let a fight with beings they hate proceed without them getting a few kicks in, so they advanced in order to contribute. Seeing their approach, the battle robots activated part of a large shield, stymieing the brothers. Still, if the humanoids represented a potential way off the planet, Pavel reasoned that it might be best to put on a good show, so they charged to see if they could get around the shield.
After they had managed to close the gap from over 100 meters to just 30, that was when the intermediate-scale energy signatures started blossoming. Pavel and Sergei dove for cover. From between the upper ramparts of the spires, a flying person streaked into view. Glowing about his head was a halo, and shooting from it were sizzling lethal blasts. The battle robots then all jumped up armed with arrays of missiles, and launched a large swarming volley at the flying person. The missiles streamed at the flying person, but with incredible swiftness it swooped and dove to avoid almost all of the missiles - leaving only tertiery explosions against what must have been a shield. Then the shield was fully erected, to protect the battle robots. In a token gesture, the flying person slammed some blasts into the shield, causing it to flicker with effort, and then flitted away between the buildings.
The battle robots looked as disappointed as is possible for mechanical beings to look. Then the seven remaining battle robots noticed the handy brothers nearby, as possible targets to vent on. They dropped the shield, and opened fire on the brothers. Pavel and Sergei dove for cover. Their usual tactic of sneaking out and attacking aggressively before leaping back behind cover worked at first, but then the robots rained blaster fire around their cover making it more difficult to sneak out. From there, the fight was a slug-fest. The brothers were nearly dead, but when there were only two robots left, they fled back inside the building.
Gasping from effort, the brothers were then confronted by the robed humanoids.
"Hi there. I'm Bill. And he's William."
And then a disco ball floated into view, and go-go dancers popped up out of secret enclosures, and they started to party like it was 1999.
Plot Infliction V
Bill and William, the offworlder humanoids tightbeam the Vega Lizard you saw earlier and another watcher so encrusted with mechanical componentry that you can't guess its species either. They converge, are introduced to you as Grax and Ophelia (respectively), and the group heads through the towering cityscape. It's obvious that there's some sort of meta-conversation being carried on by tightbeam that you're not privy to, but nobody is overtly hostile.
Bill (or William - it's hard to tell them apart) seems to have been assigned the role of striking up conversation with you. "So, it really appears that a lot of shit has happened to you guys. The projectile weapons and the re-purposed Clarkian artillery are a pretty clear sign that you've spent a lot of time having to worry about attracting zombies. And, your surprised expressions when the bar was mentioned means you probably didn't arrive from Dave's Dive. So..." Bill (or William) manages to make his wrinkly skin wrinkle even more as he makes an expression of somebody annoyed with themself for lacking tact.
Sergei affects a totally blank expression. Utterly deadpan. From you knowledge of him, this probably means that he's formulating a lie. But he doesn't fill the conversational pause, just like you don't.
Bill (or William) presses on. "So you guys are either castaways or you're natives. Right??
I smile grimly. So much for just tagging along and not answering any questions. Based on where we saw Grax, would he have been able to see our travel across the bridge?
"Does our answer affect whether you'll take us to Dave's Dive or not? By the way, that flying dude was awesome! Who was he?"
Without any outward sign that anybody else would understand, Sergei closes up such that you know he's not going to comment unless asked something directly. He might also be feigning to not be paying attention, but you know him too well to be able to objectively judge how convincing he is.
William (or Bill) joins in. "Yeah, no. Pretty much anybody is welcome at Dave's Dive, for the most part. You probably won't be able to come in past the antechamber with the assault weapons - not without special dispensation from one of the Bosses. And certainly not into the Main Bar, not without clearance. Or a pile of money, that I kind of doubt you have, judging from the way that god has been shitty to you." Bill nods knowingly at William, and William nods back. (Or whatever, it involves both of them.)
Grax hisses over top of the finely-robed humanoids. "Zhe flyink zdude: he'z zknown az Archangel. Zome peoplez getz to call himz 'Archie' - butz you'll knowz ifz your one of zoze peoplez. He'z the Bozz of zhe local limb of Dave'z Dive."
"Can we get decent food there????" I try to hide the drool.
"No, not really. Most limbs of Dave's Dive employ some culinary artist to provide local cuisine - but there isn't anything particularly edible here. So, we're stuck with standard stuff like burgers and salads and so forth from the Main Bar..." Bill (or William) trails off, and his eyes get big.
William (or Bill) laughs at him, with backup chuckling from Grax and Ophelia.
Sergei swallows. Probably suffering from the same overabundance of saliva as you.
Presently, the corpses start getting piled so high that the group start using some of the higher ramparts to traverse. The apparent damage to the gigantic buildings also increases, such that it becomes somewhat terrifying to consider how some of the kilometer-high structures are still standing. All the while, everybody is tense and alert, watching for movement. Primarily watching for Clarkeian battle robots.
Then you enter an area of utter devastation. Probably the scene of a large, ship-scale plasma explosion - a nearly spherical region is hollowed out of the ground and the structure of one of the buildings, hundreds of meters in diameter. Except for one conspicuous construct that juts into the volume from somewhere below, looking like some sort of masonry mushroom. The bottom of the bowl is filled with blackened corpses and blackened hulks of burned-out robots and blackened wrecks of seared ships.
"I really hate this part." Bill (or William) leads the group onto the gritty incline of death to make his way towards to mushroom. He also appears to be hailing it. A seam appears in the side of it, and streaming out is a painfully bright light. They lead you into the light.
It occurs to you that you've never used this level of filter on your sensors before, and your eyes are even able to become accustomed. Your whole life has been lived in nothing brighter than a very dim gloom, enhanced by tactical sensors. Now, in the bright lights of the entrance to the bar, you realize what horribly pale beings you are.
During the trek to the bar I hope I was able to remember the path to get here. :)
I gaze around the bar and look over its inhabitants. How are most people armed? Do we really stand out as natives? Where's the food?
To William (or Bill): "Here's the first in probably a slew of dumb questions... Where did this bar come from? You guys were right, we're natives. I never heard of a place like this."
The bar is pretty easy to find, now that the surrounding structures have been blasted away with plasma (presumably, the bar entrance structure was shielded or something during the blast). It was probably extremely well-hidden, back when the city was filled with living people.
The inhabitants are an odd mix well-dressed and well-equipped individuals, and filthy pale people in rags and clutching scavenged junk. Everybody is heavily armed. Though, it seems that it is the native-looking ones who are more likely to be sporting assault weapons - usually projectile or filament. So, you stand out as natives - but you're not alone.
Some people are eating and drinking, but it is not immediately obvious how they got it. You see no serving section, nor any wait staff. There is, however, an archway leading to a different section. It is at right angles from you, and you cannot tell what is beyond it.
William, Bill, Grax and Ophelia appear to be heading through the tables towards the archway. William (or Bill) talks to you over his shoulder. "Dave's Dives tend to be pretty exclusive on most planets, for the most part. But after a few years of keeping his head down here, Archangel decided to try reviving his limb of the bar and brought in some goons to help him kill off the local zombie hordes. Seems crazy, but it seems like somebody really wanted casual access to this planet. What's it called again - I keep forgetting... Percidio or something, right? It's part of the reason why we're here - we owe a favour to somebody who owes a favour to somebody connected with either Archangel or one of the other Bosses, or, well, you know. The Clarkeian robots started organizing and focussing on the region of the bar lately, so we're tasked with patrolling."
"And escorting natives" says the other humanoid.
"And escorting what native combatants we find that might be interested in food as payment for fighting."
"The planet's called Aparecido. Being paid with food to destroy the Clarkeian robots sounds good, especially since we like killn' em anyway. How do the non-natives get here? The only evidence of ships we've seen on this world is a crashing one a short time ago."
We eagerly follow them to the archway.
Standing in the archway is the single scariest being you have ever encountered up close. A six-armed blue human female with an aura of "Don't fuck with me" so blatant that you actually feel relieved when you notice how much everybody else defers to her. She tells you that you may not pass while armed with assault weapons, and she indicates your rapid-fire projectile weapons and the intermediate-scale blasters.
Behind her is just a blurry wall of darkness - some kind of dampening field. Grax and Ophelia slouch past the blue shiva meekly, and disappear. Bill and William pause for moral support. Or because they need to grow larger testicles before getting closer to the blue shiva, it's hard to tell.
"We came through the fold space. Dave's Dive is mostly on New Bronx, with dedicated fold spaces to a couple hundred limbs."
I stare at Bill & William, probably with a disbelieving look on my face. A dedicated fold space on Aparecido is, after all, in the realm of absurdity. Especially in a bar. But I go along with it for now. ;)
"Um, is there someplace we can store our weapons safely until we get back?" I'm talking to Bill/William. I meekly glance at the Bluman (Blue-Human, get it? hardy-har-har). What's she armed with?
"You can probably pile your crap on one of the empty tables." Sergei clutches his assault rifle protectively. Bill and William proceed through the dampening field and disappear.
The bluman shiva is armed with six force-hilts of an elaborate nature. You'd guess that three are large swords, and three are large spears. Her equipment also includes a significant shield, and move boots. A scar on her chest and throat appears to be from an intermediate scale blade, and her gear is arranged to show it off. Then there's an uncomfortable moment when you realize that you're staring, and she's watching you staring, and you feel yourself go a little more pale. So, when she gestures at you, you actually flinch.
"Where did you get that?" She points at Gladius.
I do a quick look around to see if anyone else has piled their 'crap' on an empty table. I also look around for any Orboduns.
To the bluman: "I found it a bunch of kilometers from here. Do you recognize it?"
Signing to Sergei: "I don't want to just leave my weapons either. What do you think about hiring someone here to hold on to them until we get back? I'm damed curious what's beyond this field."
There are indeed a few artifacts abandoned on some tables; none of it is particularly interesting. Orbodun count is exactly one - a native. Sergei shrugs and signs. "You know, bro, I could just hang back here with the gear while you check out the other side of the arch. I don't get the feeling that we're in any immediate peril here."
The bluman shiva gives you an unpleasant smile. "Yes, I recognize it. If you carry it through to the bar, you should hope that nobody else recognizes it."
I give my assault weapons and bullets to Sergei with a 'sounds good' sign. I give him Gladius too. So now all I'm armed with is my laser rifle. I give a nod to the bluman shiva and step through the arch.
Sergei backs away from the arch with all the gear, and sets himself up at a table against the wall.
Stepping through the dampening field you emerge into a much more boisterous chamber. The field was blocking light and sound one-way (you can still see Sergei slouched in a chair against a wall), and in here there's quite a din of activity. The proportion of beings is much more greatly skewed to being offworlders, and what natives you see are mostly just gorging themselves on food. Waitresses are everywhere, and two actual bars serve drinks as well. The chamber is deep, going down about a hundred meters, with wide stairs leading down to a series of balconies. It is also long, extending off to one side about 250 meters, though only about fifty meters across.
At the bottom, on the opposite end, is a ten-meter diameter ring with gigantic shield generators flanking it. Hovering above it, gesticulating wildly, is the being previously identified as archangel. You'd think that a flying dude with intermediate scale weapons would be scarier than a six-armed blue human, but he's just not. It's a visceral thing.
It takes a moment or two, but you start to clue in that the loud talking and animated gestures might not be the norm here. These people are upset about something. You see Bill and William gaping dumbfounded at Grax talking excitedly one balcony down.
I quickly head down to Bill, William and Grax. Is Ophelia still there? If I pass by a waitress on the way I order a burger. As I approach Grax I brace myself to hear something about a hoarde of zombies heading this way. There's probably some dumbfounded staring at the foldspace too.
Ophelia is there, but not saying anything. A passing waitress that you accost for food promises to find you with a burger. As you get close enough to sift Grax's voice out from the background din, you hear him talking about pooling their finances. "I realize it zarkz withz one of uz, but I thinkz we all agreez that it iz better than all of uz being trappedz here."
"This zarking rock, and its zarking background disruption that couldn't let them zarking tell us while we were on patrol! We could have totally tried to bag ten or eleven more robots to get enough bounty to buy ourselves zarking passage!"
"I would likez to remindz you zthat I gavez up my zhare one timez to helpz you getz a replazement turbanz; I do not thinkz it zshould be me thiz time."
"Stop saying that."
"Alzo, if onez of you twoz diez, you blowz up and killz a whole bunch of zem."
"I don't zarking want to zarking explode!"
"This IS pretty shitty, you have to admit."
They all nod.
"I'll stay." They all stop, and gape at Ophelia. "I'll lend you guys my credits to get through the foldspace. I'll stay."
That's when your burger shows up. It is the most beautiful thing in the entire universe.
"I'm sensing some concern about being trapped here. Does it have something to do with a hoarde of zombies heading this way?" I scarf down the burger as I wait for their reactions. Between bites - "You explode?"
Bill (Or William) regards you oddly. "A what of zombies?"
William (Or Bill - the other one) follows up: "No, the mentalist that helps keep these places secret says that some powerful mentalist here on Bantha Poodoo has somehow managed to pierce the veil of anti-prescience. So they're probably going to shut the fold space down to protect the main bar."
"Yeah, and we don't zarking want to be stuck here with a zarking mentalist and a planet full of ghouls."
"What the zark EVER. They're ghoulish zarking victims of a ghoulish zarking mess. Robots I don't mind blasting, but the zombies are just zarking ghoulish."
Grax leans over to you. "Ya, zey exzplodez. When zey die, zheir nanozcopic robotz are primed for an intermediate zcale exzplozion. Zey're Zen Pezzimiztz. You can tell by zey're ridgzed zkin and zey're turbanz." Pause. "Zo. Zere's a HORDE of zombiez heading zhiz way? How many iz a horde?"
"If they are going to shut down the fold space, wouldn't they evacuate non-natives first? Or would that be reading too much benevolence into the owners of Dave's Dive? The reason I mention a horde of zombies is because there are over a 1000 zombies from the direction we came that are headed this way. My brother and I were actually thinking they might be controlled by a mentalist considering that they are moving in a coordinated effort. They were also able to find a lot of well hidden native hideouts in the area we're from."
"By the way, ever hear of a blade named Gladius?"
I try to wave a waitress over and order another ten burgers.
They all laugh. "Dave's Dive, benevolent? It's a secret underground network of fold spaces that bypasses local governments, dealing primarily with rich criminals. Yeah, no. We're mostly hoping that they don't raise the access fee to cash in on local demand."
"We're contractors, though. The return fee rate was written into the contract. It can't change."
"Whatz would youz do if Archangel zchanged ze termz?"
"You think there's a mentalist controlling a thousand zombies? Where the zark would a mentalist come from?"
"Doesn't matter. We should tell Archangel." William and Bill disengage themselves and head down to the floor and towards the fold space at the far end of the bar.
"Gladiuz? Izn't that ze ancient human name for a kind of zword?" Ophelia looks at Grax, then looks at you. Deadpan.
The waitress double checks. "You look pretty big, but ten burgers is a lot. Are you sure you can eat that many?" You probably can't; three is likely your limit. But it's not like that matters, not when you have access to the most wonderful things in the universe.
"Make it six. I'll save a few for my brother when I leave."
I look at Ophelia with a raised eyebrow waiting to see if she contributes to the Gladius conversation.
Ophelia's face is mostly robotic. She's not going to lose any staring contests.
Your hackles suddenly stand on end. Looking up, you see Archangel and a group of seasoned combatants staring at you. You get tightbeamed from his halo. "Come here."
I work my way down to the group of combatants that could each royally kick my ass. I try to appear not nervous. When I arrive I give a nod and say "Hello", primarially addressing Archangel.
Maintaining a demeanour of calm control is not difficult for you. You've spent your whole life in a nightmare where you could be overwhelmed and destroyed by monsters, and lately you've been chased by a terrifying swarm of unescapable awfulness. You've been using x10 assault weapons since you had 4 stamina. Your nervous-meter has been broken for a long time. The high-skill combatants are intruiging, and you are instinctively wary of how easily you could die, but you're no more necessarily worried than a pedestrian on the side of a highway. Also, the bluman shiva was way more scary than this whole crowd combined - you're not sure why, but it's true.
"Tell us what you know about this mentalist."
Well, in that case...
"I would be happy to tell you everything I know about the recent chaos in my life, including what we think is a powerful mentalist... in exchange for safe passage through the fold space to New Bronx for me and my brother."
The majority of the combatants make grim faces, and you detect an element of horror in Bill and William's expressions. Clearly, they regarded Archangel as somebody not to be haggled with. Corroborating this is the fact that the lines on Archangel's face formed from what could very well be centuries of not smiling. People clear away from behind you.
Nevertheless, after a pregnant pause, Archangel starts to cackle. "Hunh, hunh, hunh, huuhh. This bounty hunter is my kind of scum: fearless and inventive."
Everybody looks are Archangel incredulously.
"How about this:" He then addresses the whole bar. "The information that this being has," he says clearly indicating you, "might be worth one passage through the fold space." He pauses for effect, and looks directly at you. "But I don't care who gives it to me."
There is a satisfied feeling about the bar, like this is a more familiar mode for the Boss to be. Plus, of course, you feel hundreds of eyes sizing you up. You, your rags, and your puny laser rifle.
"In that case, I'll give the passage through the fold space to the group that brought me in." I nod to Bill and William to make sure Archangel knows who I'm talking about. "I believe they are short one fare to get them all back, and I won't leave without my brother." I pause, gathering my thoughts for a moment.
"A number of days ago, my family's hide-out was attacked by a hoarde of zombies. My brother and I were not there, but our father was attacked and turned into a zombie. Our hide-out was extremely well hidden and had been unmolested for years, so we quickly guessed this was the work of something other than a run-of-the-mill zombie or Clarkean robot. Shortly after, we were attacked by a dozen or so zombies that were hidden near our hideout. We were able to fight them off and travelled to see if we could figure out what was going on. We discovered that all the native hide-outs in there area were destroyed and many more zombies were active than usual."
"During our search we encountered an extrememly sneaky Tuskat Trop. At first we thought there was a chance he was involved because he would have been aware enough to locate the hide-outs, but I doubt it now. We also joined up with another survivor for a while...
[will continue later...]
[ASSUME WHOLE SPIEL IS TOLD]
Archangel confirms the particulars of the direction of the zombie horde, then starts flying upward. An armoured bulkhead door overhead opens revealing a giant airlock, which he floats up into, and the door closes behind him again.
Speculation erupts in the bar, and everybody's attention splinters off into fractal subsets in the room. Bill and William both clasp your shoulders with admiration and appreciation. "What an incredibly kind thing to offer! I don't see how we can really accept it, though - you barely know us. You should let your brother escape with us; we'll take care of him. Or you could sell it for a serious heap of money - the going rate for non-contractor passage is usually 10,000 credits, depending on background. Not sure what you could buy with it right away, though..."
Six burgers arrive.
[ASSUME you feed Sergei and fill him in on what's going on.]
After about 20 minutes, Archangel returns. He announces to the bar, "It's confirmed: thousands of zombies are swarming this way, and somewhere in the mess is someone or something with significant mentalist powers. We'll be shutting this fold space down in one hour."
Did anyone comment on the Gladius part of the speil?
To William/Bill: "I guess 10,000 credits is a lot... not much use for credits around here. I was thinking you could bring some gear for us back with you the next time you came through, but I have a feeling that might take a while."
I go and grab Gladius: "Ok buddy, we need to chat. The zombie hoarde seems to be focused on us and I'm guessing it has something to do with you. The scary blue bouncer over there recognized you and suggested that people inside the bar would recognize you too. It was also suggested you wouldn't be well liked. Who the zark are you? Tell me why you'd be recognized and disliked and why that zarking hoard of undead seems intent on us."
There is no overt reaction to the mention of Gladius, either by name or description. That doesn't mean there isn't recognition, though.
Gladius entire response is, "Stab you. I'm a knife."
Sergei expresses indescribable joy over the burgers, once he stops trying to choke himself with them.
2009.02.24 Game Recap
Some last minute fact-finding at the bar, including reducing Pavel's paranoia about Gladius, finding out who and what are staying on this side of the fold space, and getting a better idea of their strategic circumstances. And, quite importantly, trading their one free pass through the foldspace for Bill/William/Graz/Ophelia to obtain for them some heavy-duty gear - assault lasers and shields.
Then the brothers flee the bar, not wanting to be trapped. In order to have a better view of what happens next, they climb up to the higher ramparts of the city and make their way to the edge so they can watch the horde crossing the moat-like muddy river.
We leave the brothers at a pause of fighting their way through randomly arrayed Clarkeian battle robots...
Plot Infliction VI
Sergei looks over at Pavel and asks, "Hey, bro, weird time to ask, but do you think father created us all by himself, or perhaps was there somebody acting as an axlotl tank?"
"Uh, never mind. Maybe it's the sort of thing I don't want to know."
"So, how about this weather?"
2009.03.03 Game Recap
Pushing on in their fight to the edge of the high-rise section, Pavel and Sergei shift their weaponry from the assault lasers to the intermediate scale blasters. Ostensibly, to make it harder for themselves so that they benefit more from the fighting as training.
100 meters up, moving along a system of ramparts between the incredibly tall buildings, they face an array of 9 Clarkeian battle robots who assembled while the brothers paused behind cover. The fight is long, and gruelling, and Pavel is for some reason their preferred target. Before the end, Pavel is left slumped behind cover, and Sergei reverts back to his assault lasers to finish off the last couple robots.
After scurrying along the rampart, again they pause to heal back up. Then they peek around cover to review what the next section exposes them to. This time they play hide-and-seek with a sniper. While the sniper does manage to drop Sergei temporarily, the brothers easily manage to track its movement and blast it to burning tumbling slag.
Another section, and they come across just two robots perched on the side of a different building. One is armed with an assault blaster rifle, and the other is seemingly unarmed but a different type of intermediate scale battle robot. And neither seems to take much significant interest in the brothers. Instead, their attention seems to be primarily focussed on yet another section beyond the sight of the brothers. When the brothers initiate the engagement, the large robot turns out to be a flying type, and brings the assault-weapon-bearing robot right to Pavel and Sergei. The smaller robot is very good at ducking, and both have significant shields. In the pitched battle, the large battle robot manages to connect a hand-to-hand attack on Sergei, smashing his leg to pulp and rendering him temporarily unconscious. It is actually fortunate, because if the blow had struck something other than a limb, it would have been lethal. Pavel keeps on fighting while Sergei is down, and is nearly slain as the robots pressed their attack. When Sergei regains consciousness, the brothers make a desperate aggresive attack and manage to finish off the robots. In his enthusiasm, Sergei actually inflicts too much harm on the large robot, triggering a secondary explosion. Damage from this explosion knocks both Pavel and Sergei unconscious... for a moment.
Plot Infliction VII
Sergei tapers off apologizing for causing the explosion, and starts screaming as his shattered leg starts regenerating around its current twisted shape.
I pull out my med kit and tool kit (going to play it by ear as to which works better for me). I'll try to move the various remains of muscles to approximately the right place and hope that the regeneration will take care of the rest.
Are the bones salvagable? If not, I'll grab chunks of material from the dead robot that had the assault weapon (if he didn't fall). Otherwise, I could probably just get material from the structure we're walking across. The goal is to recreate parts of his leg bones that got crushed and allow his leg to regenerate around it.
"Just call me Pavel Frankenstein." I mutter as I work.
The main problem is the speed at which Sergei heals. The leg solidifies from shattered formless puddle of gore into a full-stamina appendage in 75 seconds flat. By the time you can even hazard a guess about the structural nature of the bones, they've already finished knitting solid with his knee pointing sideways and his foot canted off in a ridiculous angle. His body knows that's not right, but it lacks the ability to alter the orientation on a macroscopic scale. So it sends constant feedback about the not-rightness of it - in the form of pain.
"ZARK, bro." Sergei is pale and sweating with distress before he has a chance to dial down his pain responses for the leg.
From a hundred meters below you, bits of the intermediate scale flying monster Clarkeian robot finish falling, and clatter loudly. It jolts your nerves a bit, knowing that there's a lot more robots lurking out there. And there's not a lot of options about where to move up here on this high causeway rampart. The everpresent gloom of Aparecido 2 seems as appropriate as ever.
2009.03.10 Game Recap
Well, we managed to somewhat fix Sergei's leg. It involved rebreaking the bones and repositioning them so that they heal correctly. He's uglier than before and his movement is diminished, but otherwise the leg is usable. We continued on to the next rampart.
We paused and looked down the next rampart, but didn't see anyone at first. We moved out and eventually spotted a lone robot watching us. We also were in a position to spot the leading edge of the zombie hoarde heading our way. The robot let us know that the zombies were indeed looking for us and that he had let some robots among them know we were here. That annoyed us.
He was a hand to hand combatant with move boots. It was a tough fight and if we didn't have immense assault weapons, I doubt we would have prevailed. But as it was, he lay in a heap of molten robot bits and we quickly healed back up.
We continued to the end of the rampart and got a good look at what we were facing. There were thousands of them. I had a brief conversation with one of the robots that were tagging along with them. He didn't offer much information. Sergei noticed a cluster of zombies that seemed to be different - clustered and the rest of the zombies were giving them space. We couldn't really see into them so I took a shot at one of them to see if we could scatter them somewhat.
It worked. A flying Hylosis came into view and looked at us. I also got shot from a bunch of robots, but luckily survived.
Things got really weird after that. I talked with him and the gist of it is - he's insane. And apparently Sergei and I were created by his old lab assistant who 'stole' some healing ability for us. He wanted us dead so he could take it back. He picked up two zombie Herboven and flew towards us. I aimed and blew his head off - and it promptly grew back. He dropped one of the Herboven's when he was attacked (it fell to it's death) and we quickly killed the other one when he landed near us. We again shot the Hylosus, blowing off it's head and one arm while it cackled at us. He then burst like a ripe zit and sprayed us with goo, which quickly absorbed into our skin.
Stunned and confused by the turn of events, we decided to flee. I quickly noticed that I wasn't healing as fast as I should be and Sergei found he wasn't healing at all. We ran back the way we came. We came across some losers from the bar and helped them survive a robot attack. We got them to tag along as additional targets. We also met up with the Takolees we met previously and they are paralleling us as well.
And we run... My goal is to keep running to see if we can circumnavigate the planet.
Plot Infliction VIII
The losers from the local branch of Dave's Dive are 5 nondescript humanoids wearing red shirts and an amazing inability to sneak, mostly due to their squeamishness regarding the omnipresent corpses. They stumble along after you like a crimson flag of fluttering failure. They have the reek of discarded underlings, and they are armed with 1D+2 blast rifles, complete with zombie-attracting microfusion.
Meanwhile, the Takolees with long pointy ears keep pace with you in a parallel course. You can see that they are now just 4 in total - 3 assault filament goons, and the round sword goon mentalist. They all sport new blaster burn wounds of varying degrees of crispiness, but are in basically OK condition.
Sergei is holding things up, somewhat. He compensates with dice, but his efforts are noticeable. One of the Takolees hails and asks if it would be worthwhile to let him use his medical skills to de-gimpify Sergei's battered leg.
To Sergei: "The Takolee's may be able to do a better job than I did with your leg. And with your healing ability disabled for the moment, they might be able to actually work on it effectively. I say we let them try."
Then I pick up a smallish corpse and throw it at the red shirts. "You guys might be here for a very long time. If you want to survive, you better damn well get used to this quick. Sneak better!"
The red shirts recoil from the corpse as it ragdolls past them. One of them actually shrieks, then clasps a hand over its mouth. They spend more dice to sneak and move in order to not incur any more cadaver dodgeball.
Sergei agrees to the rodent doctoring. A sign-language conversation ensues where the Takolees ask for Sergei to leave the vicinity of the red shirts. Sergei heads over, and a Takolee hitches a ride on him, examining him while he walks. The Takolee's ears go all straight, like fuzzy exclamation points, and he gestures for the husky Takolee to come over as well. Sergei's face is an expression of extreme displeasure, not unlike someone discovering that they have parasites living in their crotch.
The husky Takolee does an acrobatic flip to land lightly on Sergei's shoulder, and settles down into a meditative semi-trance. You have reason to suspect that Sergei will aggressively shoot dual assault lasers at the next being that touches him.
I wander over and sign to the first Takolee while carefully watching the husky one.
"So, I'm guessing you discovered that Sergei is, well, different. How about you fill me in on what you found out while you were examining him. Our origin has come into question as of late, so a third party's take on the situation may prove helpful."
I then glare just a bit at the husky one. "And I'm assuming that Yoda there isn't doing anything hostile. Right?"
One of the Takolees signs furiously at you. "Unclezarking... you're leading the zarkwits right to us! Keep some distance, zark it!"
The medic Takolee makes a placating gesture, and hops off of Sergei and scurries unthreateningly towards you, to prevent you from merging your floundering followers with the main Takolee troupe. "If by 'different' you mean that the native exotic-looking nanoscopic robots are being counteracted by a modified form of the zombie juice - yeah, I noticed that. Your brother is a seething mass of microscopic warfare. Without the native nanoscopic robots available, fixing your brothers leg will take surgery, which will take longer than I'd like. So, what Yoda... How did you know his nickname was Yoda? Never mind. What Yoda's doing is helping me cheat a deslavamization - he psychically marks the zombie juice, and we key a dedicated flush of nanoscopic phage serum to that distributed mark. Then we can fix the leg in about ten minutes - while he walks. Sound good, Sir?"
The red shirts start whispering amongst each other. "What they hell are they saying?"
"I don't know, man."
"Are they talking about us?"
"I don't think they like us, man. Their wee beady eyes get all flashy when we get near."
"Them and their assault weapons?"
"You make a good point, and you make it well."
"Right, man, don't piss off the battle bunnies."
"I think that there's something wrong with the limpy guy."
"Well, he's fuckin' limping, isn't he? Idiot."
"No, I mean, he's all, you know, pissy looking."
"Dude, look how big that guy is. Look at the firepower he's packing. Look at how motherfucking tough he looks. Now imagine what the hell it must have been that fucked his leg up like that. I think, and I'm just guessing here, that whatever it was, was the kind of thing that makes big motherfuckers fucking pissy."
"Chill, man. Chill."
"Chill? It's fucking freezing! I don't know how the big pale guys manage in this freezing darkness, and I'm thinking the little fucking rabbits are running on pure metabolism, but I'm going to be fucking corpsicle in a few more hours."
"That is an excellent point. However, I think that our first order of concern is getting out of this locale. Hopefully they will lead us to some shelter thereafter."
"Yeah, man. But then what?"
"Fuckin' aye. The motherfucking fold space was IT, man. Whole reason to try reopening the branch of The Dive was because nobody has heard from ships that have come near this fucking system."
"Shut up! The battle bunnies are glaring at us again. And the mean guy looks like he's thinking about throwing another dead dude at us."
"Well, that explains things a bit. The seething mass of microscopic warfare is probably going on in my body as well, so if it works on Sergei it would be great if you could work your magic on me too. This won't damage the native nanoscopic robots, right?"
To the red-shirts I snicker. "'Shelter'? That's a good one. Usually we just bury ourselves in corpses when we want to sleep. The zombies haven't figured that one out yet. I gotta ask though, why the hell did you guys come here? Was the thought of coming to this zarking place really that appealing to you?"
"You too? Where did the modified zombie juice come from? I've never seen it before, and it's kind of frightening to think that there's still a source for this kind of evil about." You note, with a professional appreciation, that the Takolee carries on the conversation while still being quite stealthy, and managing to keep scanning the vicinity. "If the same thing is happening to you, then we'll have to do a similar deslavamization before we can heal any future damage you might take. But, for right now, you appear to be in perfect health so it's not too pressing." You can almost see the words 'perfect health' rattling around inside the Takolee's head as he focuses more of his attention on you.
"Bury ourselves in corpses! Aw, man, that's just fuckin' bent."
"I'm not sure that I'd be very successful at hiding in such a circumstance - I fear that I might suffer from symptoms that might give away my location."
"Like, I'd be puking, man."
"Weak, dude. If the man says playing dead is the best way to stay alive, might as well have some experts around to mimic."
"That's just fucking gross. There's still fluids that can leak out of these fucking things."
"Yeah, dude, but it's better than if they were all decomposing for decades. Then playing dead wouldn't even be an option."
"Man, if they were all decomposing, there wouldn't be any zombies, right?"
"Gentlemen, I can't help but point out another aspect that we appear to have missed due to our disgust. There is no shelter in our immediate future; no place to warm up. And I fear it might be even worse than that."
"Worse? How could it be fucking worse?"
"What's the one thing we always made fun of about the natives when they came into the bar?"
"Their fashion sense?"
"No - their proclivity for the burgers."
"What, man? Them's some pretty good burgers."
"No, fuckface. The burgers were the best food they've ever had - the fuckers are half-starved most of the time."
"I'm afraid that there's no food. Cannibalism might be the only option."
"What? Man, I don't want to eat any of you guys!"
A hand smacks a forehead, and muttered swearing comes from another.
What the hell... I position myself such that the red shirts can't see what I'm about to do. Then I sign to the Takolee.
"If you are able to remove the offensive nanoscopic robots from Sergei, he'll be able to do this:" I take Gladius and, as sneakily as I can, give myself a cut along my chest. I let the Takolee watch me heal. "Will that affect your ability to fix his leg? It was quite destroyed a short time ago and the only way I was able to piece it together was by bashing it with my force beam and trying to put it together correctly before it healed. Regardless, the priority for us is getting the invading zombie juice out."
At mention of 'cannibalism' I slowly look back towards the red shirts with a hungry look.
There is a physical limit on how much wee beady rodent eyes can goggle with disbelief, but the medic Takolee tests that limit. Until it trips over a dead baby, and clonks its head on a piece of rubble. Then it snaps back onto its feet, looks around, and asks you, "Can I take a closer look at that?"
The red shirts are all completely silent and all staring with horrified discomfiture when you look at them like that.
To the Takolee: "Sure, have a look. Thinking about the invading nanoscopic robots, if you guys are able to analyse them, perhaps you can think of a weapon to defeat them. We've encountered a being that I'm guessing is made up of them entirely." I let him get as close as he wants and then give myself another small cut.
The Takolee extracts an instrument from his med pack and uses it to track the telemetry of the nanoscopic robots that knit your wound together. He's riding on your shoulder, watching. "Ay-yi-yi - the nanos are fighting their way between twice as many other nanos that are being piggy-backed and neutralized by the slave-zombie-slave-juice. This wound would heal three times faster if we could phage away the parasitic elements. And the detail on these things - incredible. It's like watching Michaelangelo's David and the Venus de-Milo being wrapped up by wads of Picassos and Dalis."
After he's able to tear himself away from watching your microscopic passengers, he says, "Unfortunately, there's no defense against this stuff. Other than to not make contact with it, obviously. All we can do is undo the effects, with this level of infection. If there were more super-zombie-juice, it might take repeated purges. If it didn't kill you already. Actually, I think that it would mostly just turn you into a statue..."
He looks you directly in the eye - from mere centimeters away. "You said that you met a being that was made up of them entirely? I'm not sure that makes sense. While it is probably possible with some types of highly-advanced nanoscopic robots, these particular beasties are just not made for that. The most they could do is hold a rough shape and obey some simple inputs - they're far too specialized to do much else."
The chattering teeth of a red shirt pisses off the Takolee enough for him to yell over, "Crank up your metabolism, moron."
"Dude, how common do you think those intermediate scale asshole robots are?"
"I don't know, man. All I know is that if there's another one, I'm totally hiding behind one of the big guys."
"You're fucking genius! Hang out where the robots are most likely to concentrate their attacks AND fucking piss off the big guys - at the same fucking time. Fucktard."
"Indeed, I dare say that none of us are particularly all that ingratiated with these locals yet. If we're going to survive, we should follow their lead and try to be as useful as possible."
"Man, if creeping around on fields of corpses in the freezing cold while trying not to be killed by unstoppable robots and zombie hordes so that I can starve to death instead... I'm not sure that survival is all that groovy."
"Great, so you're a whiner in addition to being a fucktard."
"Dude, you're so not helping."
"You mean I'm not helping the great cause of making him feel better? Boo fuckin' hoo. If he seriously is wanting to end his life, that's the easiest fuckin' thing on this shithole."
"You are such an asshole, man."
"At least I'm not talking about fucking things up one moment because I'm scared to get killed, then suggesting that I want to fucking die."
"Man, you really don't get it. I am afraid of dying painfully, right? But, man, seriously, isn't the thought of living painfully possibly worse?"
"No, I fucking get it. Now listen to me, you simpering fuck, none of us have the luxury of trying to imagine a better life any more. Look at these fucking guys." He points at you. "Look at all of them. We can try to live, and do whatever it takes, and maybe, just fucking maybe, we might last for a while. Or we fucking die."
"You know, it might not necessarily be so. There's a lot of equipment that can be scavenged; it might be feasible to build a ship. I seem to recall that Archangel would keep careful watch on the skies whenever he let the pink barge transit, because there's a bit of ship activity buzzing around. And I think he flew up past orbit once to look around, and said that there were a bunch of home-build ships trying to fight their way out."
"If there's fucking ships somewhere, count me the fuck in."
"Man, is that where we're going? Are they taking us towards some ships?"
"Who the fuck knows? Wanna fucking ask them?"
They're all quiet for a while.
"Maybe we don't want to know."
To the Takolee: "The thing that infected us looked like a Hylosus. It landed near us and, well, popped. It got all this gooey shit on us which got into our skin."
"A Hylosus... landed? And then it... popped? Have you got some sensor data you could show me?"
(Let's assume that you do share a visual snippet with him.)
"Zark me sideways - a flying Hylosus made of a big bubble of nanoscopic robots. I'm currently at a complete loss as to how to categorize what the hell was going on there. Other than to say that may be the single weirdest thing I've ever seen or heard of. And that's saying a lot coming from a guy trapped on a planet of zombies." The Takolee twists around to look in the direction of Sergei and Yoda. "Looks like we're about ready to try purging your brother. We'll have to stop for about 60 seconds." He elegantly falls off your shoulder and turns the momentum into a stealthy run over to Sergei. The other Takolee array themselves behind cover to watch in a perimeter.
The red shirts cluster near each other, clutching their arms to themselves in a vain effort to stay warm.
I turn and glare at the red shirts: "Find a place to hide and stay low for a minute." Then I sneakily head over to Sergei. I do a couple of locates for any robots in the area and if all is clear I watch and wait to see what Yoda and Sergei do.
The red shirts hide, but mostly they're hiding from your glower.
The coast appears to be clear - clearer than you would have suspected. It may be that the robots clustered around the southwest edge of the city center to stare at the incoming horde. Or it's some sort of conniving ruse to try to lure you into a false sense of complacency.
Yoda is still balanced on Sergei's shoulder, with his eyelids fluttering. Watson, the medic, hops lightly up beside Yoda and asks Sergei to allow an altered patch to be applied. It gets applied to the side of your brother's throat, but it isn't until the medic manipulates some controls on his med pack that it ripples into activity and disgorges its load of nanoscopic robots into Sergei. Watson's brow furrows with concentration, and Yoda trembles. After about 10 turns, Yoda relaxes and opens his eyes. Watson continues reviewing his gear for a moment or two longer and seems satisfied.
"That worked better than I anticipated. I'm guessing that these slave-zombie juice bots were designed to be extracted, probably to harvest your nanoscopic robots. I'm not sure exactly how it would have happened, but I'm guessing that you wouldn't have liked it." He flashes a couple shorthand gestures to Yoda and indicates you. Yoda nods and stealthily waddles towards you. Watson signs to you, "You're next."
Sergei cracks his neck bones left and right, and flashes you a glance that you understand to mean, "I'm good."
To Sergei: "Try your healing. I can shoot you if you want. :)"
Sergei smiles a that's-not-funny smile, pulls out his dining knife and makes a shallow cut in his arm - it seals up almost as fast as he slices. Pretty much back to normal.
Yoda looks at you warily, then leaps up in a single bound to land lightly on your shoulder. He settles down into a meditative pose, and you start to feel your awareness tingling with not-quite-sensation. The Takolee leader, Grimm, signs that the group should get moving again. The other Takolees resume moving forward stealthily, with Sergei near them. Watson joins you and Yoda, to keep the red shirts separate a bit.
2009.03.17 Game Recap
Pavel also gets his immune system cleared with the help of the Takolee medic's technical assistance, and there is much rejoicing.
To establish the tactical situation a bit more clearly, Pavel sends Gladius to fly up and take a look. Gladius flys up, and has to go quite high to be able to see much past the gigantic spires. After a long minute, the sentient blade flies back down and reports: the horde is partially piling across the moat into the city center, but there are also flanks of zombies sprinting to encircle the island. In order to not be trapped, the group has to run full out.
Dumping all 4 dice to movement, the group is unable to watch carefully, or to duck if attacked. Luckily, the encounter no adversaries. Being somewhat faster, the Takolees outdistance the brothers, but the red shirts slow to keep pace with the brothers (better the protectors you can keep up with than the ones you can't). Emerging from the edge of the city, they see that they are ahead of the zombies, but looming before them is another crumbling bridge. Pavel and Sergei's relative clumsiness means that they have will have to slow down and move more carefully. The brothers break out their harnesses from before, just to be safe.
The Takolees finish crossing in plenty of time, and take up positions to hold back the column of sprinting zombies until the others can finish crossing. This works at first, but then a trio of intermediate scale robots open fire from a kilometer away and drive the Takolees behind cover. This allows the zombies to get much closer, but the Takolees can still keep them at 20 meters bay. Then the intermediate scale fire turns on the brothers and the red shirts. Three of the red shirts get hit, as do the brothers, but nobody is killed.
Finally the rest of the group get to cover, but now they're pinned down. Using their own intermediate scale blasters, Pavel and Sergei trade fire with the robots. The red shirts stare in perplexed awe as Pavel and Sergei survive repeated hits from the monstrous weapons. By the time the intermediate scale robots are finished off, the opposite column of zombies has circumnavigated the city from the other direction and the group starts to be overrun.
Pavel and Sergei switch to their assault lasers, and working with the Takloees they manage to hose away the waves of zombies long enough for the group to make a break for it. They run as fast as they can, spraying the pursuing zombies as they go. Every zombie they cut down, another is sprinting behind it to take its place. Nevertheless, the group makes some headway, and manages to open up a gap.
Then a pair of large zombies come into view, and they start throwing other zombies at the group. This has enormous effect, and Pavel is taken down by multiple flung zombies and the Takolee medic is pinned under another zombie projectile. The Takolee is freed by the red shirts, but when Pavel manages to struggle to his feet he gets hit by a 600kg hurled Hylosus. This again knocks Pavel down, and he is beset upon by the leading edge of the advancing horde.
Sergei turns back, and fries the Hylosus threatening Pavel. Pavel scrambles, blazing at the zombies with two attacks and not bothering to take aim. Sergei sears swaths of them with his paired assault lasers. The Takolees hose rapid-fire filaments into the advancing horde. Even the Red Shirts give up dice from fleeing to help drop the injured but still progressing zombies. The large flinger zombies are eventually cut down, and once again the group manages to run and fight off a breathing gap between them and the unending column of advancing zombie...
Plot Infliction IX
Run run run run.
Shoot shoot shoot.
Pavel and Sergei get evil gleams in their eyes...
In Space Above Planet Gloom
2009.03.24 Game Recap
With Sergei having two attacks with his dual assault lasers, it becomes much easier for the fleeing group to hold the pursuing zombies at bay. And, as they continue to run further from the city, it appears as though the drive to chase instead of following the orders to encircle the city diminishes. So after they slaughter a few scores of prone zombies, they start to find that the remainder that are pursuing them are somewhat more distant, and spending less effort to chase them. They flee and manage to get some distance.
After earning the brief respite of distance from the horde, the group is hailed by tightbeam - from above.
A person calling himself "Abdul" observed some of the conflict with the horde and escape from the inner city, and recruits everybody to help crew a tiny fleet of ramshackle intermediate scale vessels. They turn out to be converted city buses, but they are armed with turrets and basically ready for combat.
It is learned from Abdul that a vast, sprawling horde of ships infused with Clarkeian zombie linkers prowl Aparacedio space. They are the lingering victims of the other side of the monumental betrayal, who thought that they were being inured against the horrific zombie juice weapon. Instead, they were manipulated into becoming an alternate kind of zombie, and were left to hunt the empty spaces in a similar manner that the zombies on the surface haunt the biosphere. It is additionally pointed out that a fold space was used in a hideous manner to drop a black hole in close orbit to the Aparacedio system's star, shredding the space-time ether in a manner that denies superluminal travel (and, apparently, etheric communication, etheric scanning - as well as turning the star into a dim cinder).
Abdul hopes to create a fleet sufficient to fight through the shroud of zombie craft and try to see if there are resources on Clarkeia that might allow an attempt at sub-luminal interstellar travel.
An accord emerges, and the brothers, the Takolees, and the Red Shirts crew the megahoppers.
They rise up out of the atmosphere, and skip over the idea of practice sparring, moving directly to hunting out a lone zombie ship. It quickly becomes apparent that the megahoppers are desperately underequipped overall. But the zombie ship is managed to be disabled - mostly by virtue of the superior weapons and range of Abdul's ship. To Pavel and Sergei's dismay, instead of assuming the use of the superior hull, Abdul insists on chopping it up for components. He cites vague and unconvincing reasons involving the risks of the zombie linkers.
Plot Infliction X
Sergei (and Afrepipona, the Silent Red Shirt) tight beam over. "Bro, I still think that ship would have been more valuable as a hull than as parts. Couldn't we have just purged all the suspect components?"
"Yeah, I'm not too pleased about what happened either. It will be interesting to see what Abdul does with the salvaged parts. And did you notice that the range on his guns is much longer than ours. If he wanted to, he could easily stay out of our range and blast us with his sharp shooter.
For the moment, I'm content to play along. He did get us away from the hoard and I'm somewhat grateful for that. I think we should be on watch for opportunities to get aboard his ship though."
I hail Abdul: "Were the sensors on the zombie ship salvagable? It would be nice to be able to see a bit further than we can now."
Abdul replies, "It looks like we've got a better drive, a 2D blaster with 25km range, and 25km range sensors. Plus we've got plenty of parts for repairing our damage. We'll keep the blaster and the sensor together on one ship - probably with the Takolees. Installing the drive upgrade is going to be tricky, because it'll mean compromising the life support of one ship. The easiest thing is probably to force the two loners into one ship while we upgrade the other one."
He seems quite eager.
"Ok. Let's party. I'm eager to get back up there and bag another one."
"Indeed. As am I. I realize that you gentlemen are taking much more of a risk than we are, and I'm not going to lie to you about the gravity of the risks we're taking by being out here. Still, anything is better than being stuck on the surface." There's an interruption in the communication, but only a short pause - probably communicating with somebody else. "Right, since your ship is not one of the ones we'll be working on, and you claim to have some technical ability, I suggest spending the next three hours making pressure suits and intermediate scale mechanical patches. Abdul out."
The Smart Red Shirt (your proto-pilot, whatever his name is) starts knitting himself a space suit.
Sergei hails a short while later. "Hey brother. Abdul is still not really telling me why we pulled apart that hull. Did you get anything out of him? Besides instructions to make patches - which we can't because neither me nor talk-a-matic here are techies."
The actual ship alteration work happens sub-orbitally - in enough atmosphere to require drives to prevent plummeting into the ground, and to make any vacuum-combat speeds (km/s scale) obvious. This is accomplished using a somewhat-impressive array of force beams on Abdul's ship; partly to suspend the bus during the drivectomy, and party to perform most of the construction. There is still a number of techies that scramble out in space in unique-looking space suits.
Simultaneously, the Takolees get the sensor and blaster, but they manage to refit that themselves. They go slowly at first, but after a while several of them emerge in newly-constructed space suits to speed up the process. After two hours, both sets of ship upgrades are complete. The Takolees and see and fight up to 25km, and the Surfer Red Shirt's bus has a movement of 3km/turn².
The team is ready to resume the hunt. Assuming you don't intend to insert some actions before the two hours are up that will instigate a bloody coup. Or something.
I spend my time making pressure suits for myself, Sergei and the red suits. I'll dock briefly with Sergei's bus to transfer his over, ditto for the other red suits.
To Abdul: "So, what would happen if we did board that ship after the fight?"
Space suits distributed. Techie Red Shirt manages to knit together a handful of intermediate scale patches.
When Abdul says "Abdul out", Abdul means Abdul out. Abdul not like having to Abdul in after Abdul out. Or something like that, because he doesn't respond right away. Eventually he sends back a message saying, "All sorts of horrible things. The ship would try to turn you into zombies, and if it couldn't it would try to kill you. Even if it couldn't kill you or zombify you, you would still have to systematically purge the control systems and replace them with something else."
2009.03.31 Game Recap
The fleet of flying fighting busses led from behind by Abdul's war sloop returned to the fringes of the orbital zone haunted by the zombie ships for the purposes of hunting down another lone victim. As before, the formation of busses was guided by the longer-range sensors of Abdul, and used as bait to lure in a zombie ship. They flirted in the view of a lone fighter, and it swooped in at extreme speed to attack. So aggressive was it that it managed to inflict considerable harm on the busses before it was pummeled down and then finished off by the sharp shooter on Abdul's sloop.
Before the team could settle in to claim the spoils of combat, Abdul sent out a frantic message "FLEE!" and sped away. Not sure of what exactly was wrong, the buses peeled away to follow Abdul - though none could keep up. It soon became obvious, however, as a very large intermediate scale ship chased them down. Luckily, it looked much more fearsome than it actually was, due to two of its three turrets being out of commission. Nevertheless, it managed to blast the buses until most were scrap and two were temporarily disabled. The bus flown by the Surfer Red Shirt managed to restart, and he rammed his bus into the drives of the large zombie ship, stalling it.
This gave Pavel and the Smart Red Shirt enough reprieve to restart their bus (thanks to some frantically-applied patches) and deliver Pavel over to the ship to board it.
Arriving at the flank of the zombie ship, Pavel found that not only was the outer air lock open, so was the inner one - exposing the interior to hard vacuum. Moving inside, the heavy outer door snapped at him, trying to close on him. Likewise, all the other inner doors tried to take a bite at him as he passed. Inside the ship were the grisly husks of people who had partially dissolved into the walls of the ship as their bodies were disassembled at a cellular level and merged to link with the body of the ship. He found himself in the hold, and the interior force beam emitter tried to grab him and crush him, so he shot it with the assault laser. Once at one of the engine controls, the ship then tried arcing its reserve power through him as an impromptu electric stream weapon. After he tampered the reactor power to shut down, Pavel realized that he really needed to shut down the overall systems from the control deck. Heading up into the control deck, there were three main nodes that were controlling the ship, with zombie husks clustered by each, with pulsing brains linked directly to the nodes. Pavel disconnected them sequentially, enduring the continued electrocution (mostly absorbed by his shield) as the zombie control system tried to fend him off.
Eventually, the nodes were disconnected from active zombie control, and Pavel connected up Gladius instead to act as the nexus for the ships control systems.
The Smart Red Shirt returned from his sweep to rescue the others from their ruined buses, and they were loaded aboard the newly-won ship along with the two most-intact buses into the 20-ton main hold.
Plot Infliction XI
First thing we do once everyone is aboard the new ship is to zoom back to where we had the fight with that fighter. We look through the debris of the destroyed bus and see if anyone survived. Then we grab the fighter with the force beams and flee. I aim to put a few hundred kilometers between us and the battle zone. We keep lower to the ground to avoid any detection from zombies further up. Also, we head in roughly the opposite direction from which Abdul went.
First things first - the ship is still currently disabled. You need to effect some pretty major repairs. There's still a bus-shaped dent in the drives.
Details, details. I think we're out of patches too. Is the external force beam on the ship functional? If so, could we grab on to a bus with it and have the bus tow us away?
The external force array on the ship can be made to work pretty quickly. However, at full thrust, the best the bus will be able to manage in terms of delta-V is 0.035 km/turn². Which, in terms of ship movement, is the equivalent of chopping the legs and arms off of a Tuskat Trop and expecting it to drag itself along with its chin and eyestalks. On the other hand, you can probably get the ship to restart its drives in about 36 turns.
Reviewing the ship without the panic of immediate battle intensity, the thing is a bit of a freak.
|Size||200 tons displacement|
|Stamina||100 intermediate scale|
25 combat shields +5 buffer
|Maneouverability||6 (+2 duck)|
|Weaponry||3x 3D turrets|
Nominally the configuration of a shuttle, the ship is mostly drives and stabilizers. Its considerable speed and maneouverability is possible in no small part to the lightweight, intermediate scale construction. Full ship scale construction of the same proportions would be much, much more sluggish. Conversely, the ship is clearly much more fragile than other ships of similar proportion. As is made plain by the disabled drives, two of the three turrets destroyed, and the shields inability to recharge at a normal rate.
Cool... What range sensors does it have and what is the range of the 3D turret?
I'd still like to check to see if there were any survivors from that down battle-bus. And to see if that fighter is still drifting there.
Right - EM sensor active range is 75km, and the working blaster has a 50km accurate range.
With passive sensors, which is all you have until power is restored or you tamper an alternative power supply to the sensor array, you can see that the fighter is still where you last saw it and you can make out the smudge of where you think the bus debris is. You cannot, however, distinguish any Red-Shirt-shaped specks necessarily to indicate the status of the Hippie Red Shirt.
Let's first try to tamper a power supply to the sensors. Can we use existing power on the ship?
OK, you can tamper the emergency power to shunt to the sensors by yourself. Sergei joins you on the command deck, he appears to be surveying the ship, and checking up on you. From elsewhere on the ship, you hear the sounds of Takolees starting repairs. And, at the edge of your hearing, you can hear the Red Shirts muttering complaints to each other.
BzwoooooOOP - main display starts showing the enhanced sensor readings as you shine the active sensors on the fighter and the spreading debris of the battle bus. And you spot the writhing form of the Hippie Red Shirt. He appears to be drifting slowly toward the fighter.
A large rectilinear spacecraft drops out of transwarp, completely lack aplomb and clearly in need of a decorator. Eerie green beams sweep the vicinity, followed immediately by some more purpleish ones. Thereupon, it initiates communication broadcasting. "RESISTANCE IS USELESS."
The explanation of this becomes somewhat less clear when it then ejects a couple of human-like entities out of an air lock. It looks fairly certain that the poor schmucks are going to die of asphyxiation. That is, until a ship of gleaming white and bearing more than a little resemblance to a tennis shoe pops by and snatches them up in a manner most decidedly improbable - if not actually completely impossible.
I start moving the ship in the direction of Hippie Red Shirt. I also do a locate with the passive sensors to see if any other ships are heading in our direction. (Aside from the cube and shoe of course)
To Sergei: "There's still zombies here, though I don't know if they are capable of anything. They don't have any control of the ship any more, but one did try to infect me. You may want to go tell the Takolee's and Red Shirts to keep their distance from the bodies.
Just for giggles, I ran a quick check to see how long it would take for double-ones to appear and thus allow the fast shuttle to restart - and it wasn't a good number. I stopped at a hundred rolls, because I'm lazy. This means that the (allegedly) fast shuttle is in fact still drifting dead when a few more plot twists reveal themselves.
The first minor twist is when a loud KaZAPPP! can be heard followed by a squeak of pain from a Takolee somewhere in the guts of the fast shuttle. This results in some related scurrying, and some more sounds of electrical discharge. It is, however, brief enough that you don't really have time to explain anything to anyone before Sergei is heading back into the control module.
"Ship tried to fry one of the rodents. He'll be OK. They asked me to check to see if there's something up here that can be done about that. Also, checked the rest of the zombie remains - none of them are capable of moving."
Gladius tells you both, via a comm link on the command module, "I can keep the doors from biting people, or from venting to space. But the power surges are too variable. All the bits of this ship are cranky and mean."
This prompts a brief and illuminating conversation wherein the fact that the ship tends to try to kill people working on it is something that Sergei quite likes about it. This conversation is interrupted when the medic Takolee shows up abruptly in the doorway of the command module wearing his space suit. His eyes flash around, and he quickly gets the door closed and sealed. "The ship's microscopic robots are programmed to scavenge biological material, and everybody that comes in contact with an engineering component starts to get eaten! Then we noticed that some of the microscopic robots are airborne - and they seem to be coming from this room!" He then starts searching the room around you, and quickly becomes dismayed. "It's because there's so much engineering gear in here." He looks at you and Sergei. "Are you guys OK? Yeah, the point-per-turn of flesh-stripping isn't enough to hurt you two." He does a double-check on his suit, to make sure it's still sealed.
Abdul returns, but appears to overlook the fast shuttle. Probably because of its de-powered state. His battle sloop is heading towards the drifting fighter.
I hail Abdul. "Hey Abdul! Pavel here. We managed to take control of this shuttle. As soon as we can make some minor repairs, we're going to take it down to the surface and fix it up. Could you go pick up the hippie red shirt by the fighter? He's drifting there."
I ask the medic Takolee if any of the other Takolees are above first stage technician. Based on my one stage, are we going to be capable of purging the ship of these flesh eating nanoscopic robots?
The Takolee shakes his head tersely. Only first-stage techies among you currently. Based on your first-stage technological understanding of the microscopic robots (they're bigger for ships than biologicals), you should be able to reset the default type but the overall population will change over slowly. Half-life dependent on the amount of healing the ship has to do.
Abdul's response has the tone of an apple of incredulousness dipped in horror sauce. "You're ON BOARD that thing? What the hell are you thinking?! Get the hell out of there!!!" The 30-ton sloop stops abruptly, lights up both its combat shields and a defensive shell shield, and casts an active sensor beam to illuminate the swift boat.
With impeccable timing, main power is restored, and a Takolee yells up that he's also got the shield recharging again.
2009.04.07 Game Recap
Probably the riskiest element at the start of the gaming session was Abdul's twitchiness with respect to the Freaky Zombie Ship that the brothers had claimed - an achievement that Abdul had deep doubts about. It is clear that he finds the 200-ton ship threatening.
Squatting in suborbital exosphere, repairs and modifications to the swift boat proceed. Not only is the general damage repaired, but the spare weapons from the destroyed battle buses are fitted to the empty turrets, the control system is rewired so that Gladius is no longer needed, and a piloting capsule is constructed to keep regular people safe from the flesh-eating microscopic robots concentrated by the control systems. Well, one person at a time, connected to one of the three control nodes in the command module.
Before this work is complete, and before Abdul's possibility of snapping fades, a ship thrusts up from the surface. Perhaps the term "ship" is a bit too splendid for the 100 tonnes of cars and improvisation. The 4 occupants are at first delighted to find other people with ships, then have their hopes dashed when they find out that they cannot possibly hope to proceed any further due to the cordon of zombie ships further out.
Repair work is also carried out on the battle busses, and they are crewed now exclusively by Red Shirts. The Takolees decided to all remain as crew aboard the swift boat along with Pavel and Sergei, and the Silent Red Shirt also stayed in order to train as the pilot.
Then the hunting resumed.
Technically following a similar modus operandi as before, Sergei and Pavel locate a likely-looking opportunity with their long-ish range sensors but wait for Abdul to notice it. When Abdul makes no comment, the brothers send attack vectors to the battle buses. This enraged Abdul (even more), and he spent no little time scolding them over technicalities and paranoias, and badgered them into having the battle buses turn back. ...Until he determined that the target was indeed suitable, and the hunt was re-engaged.
As the battle buses were on their outbound leg to act as bait, the target started an intercept vector. Pavel warned the buses of the incoming hostile, and gave them the relevant vector. The buses impulsively used this information to turn towards the attack, which in turn startled the target into re-thinking its attack and it pulled at U-turn. Not wanting it to get away and warn others, Abdul declared open game on the ship for those with longer-range guns, and it was chased down and blasted to inertness.
But not before another ship took interest. It raced towards the group, and as it did so, four other zombie ships followed it vaguely. The situation looked to cascade into untenable proportions, so the group tried to disengage. As they withdrew, the 30-ton fighter-like zombie ship pressed closer, and they allowed it to approach to within short range (about 20 km). There was a brief but violent battle wherein the 30-ton ship was disabled, and the other four were homing in on the fighting.
Before the next wave could attract even more ships, they used force beams to yank the disabled ship into a rapidly-decaying orbit, then fled before the other ships could come within range.
Plot Infliction XII
Due to the lack of industry, there's no light that radiates from the surface of Aparacedo II, and there's relatively little light from the Aparacedo star to reflect off of the surface. It makes it look like you're in close orbit around Planet Gloom while you wait for the 30-ton fighter-hopper's orbit to decay down to a comfortable altitude.
I hail Abdul while we're waiting. "Hey Abdul. Have you ever done much exporing of the planet? Any oceans or anything? I once heard of this thing called a fish that you could eat and they live in large bodies of water."
I also ask the Takolee's if they are interested in a ship of their own or if they just want to stay aboard this one. We could probably modify the ship to have more turrets eventually, or they could just focus on being technicians. It would be cool to eventually have higher stage technicians.
I also ask the medic and mentalist Takolee's what they think would happen if we transplanted some of our nanoscopic robots into a zombie. Any chance of fighting off the zombie juice and restoring the person underneath?
Abdul responds, "The planet is all ice. If there's fish, they're frozen."
The Takolees are creeped out by the fast boat, and aren't super happy about being on it. But they don't seem to think that being on a different zombie ship would be a whole lot happier. Their final proclivity is towards whatever makes the odds best for getting away from Aparacedo.
The medic and mentalist say that your nanoscopic robots aren't useful away from you, as far as they know. And that once the zombification process is complete, there is no undoing the insanity. Zombification is not like milder slavamization.
Ah well, I guess we just wait until the fighter/hopper comes down. I spend my time trying to find a way to purge the flesh eating microscopic robots from the ship. If it becomes apparent I don't have the skill to do that, I'll work on making patches.
To the medic: "Ok, forget about undoing the zombification. Any ideas on how to make the zombies not taste so horrible? There's a plentiful food source down there if we could figure that one out. I could go for a Groten burger right about now. :)"
According to the computer, it should be about two hours for the fighter-hopper's decaying orbit to bring it down to a relatively safe altitude. You start in on reprogramming the microscopic robots back to their standard format, and its a tedious task configuring them to pass on the new defaults for propagation. Shortly thereafter, you notice something troubling: the little bastards acknowledge the reprogramming, and scuttle off as expected, but instead of resuming regular maintenance they start hunting non-zombie microscopic robots. Not that there's much in the way of non-zombie microscopic robots around.
The ramifications of this are, well, troubling. It means that, until you can work on the fast boat in some sort of sealed bay with enough microscopic robots to completely purge the ship, you're stuck with it being not entirely hospitable to anyone besides zombies or freaks with supernormal healing powers.
The vegetarian Takolee just stares at you blankly regarding making meat taste good.
Much patch-knitting goes on for the next couple hours until the fighter-hopper comes within safe snatching altitude.
The fighter-hopper has:
- 30 tons
- 45 stamina
- 30 stamina shield shell, +5 duck buffer for up to 30 tons
- 5 km/turn² combat speed
- 7 maneouverability (+2 duck)
- 5 durability
- 2D blaster, 20km range
- EM sensors 50km range
- 2 tons cargo/occupants.
2009.04.16 Game Recap
Eager to claim some more booty, and to vent some more fury, the small Twoian fleet went back up hunting after completing repairs and stocking up on patches. Using the same format as earlier forays, except now more familiar with the tactic, the bait buses are sent out ahead while the ships with longer-range ships wait to pounce until the victim is lured far enough away.
The first vessel to wander into contention was a rarely-seen ship-scale craft. The fleet tried to look non-chalant as they tried not to attract its attention. Pavel, ever the opportunist cast a quick inquiry to Abdul about his thoughts on the possibility - to which Abdul managed to convey his opinion and terror of the idea in his two-byte reply. NO.
Later, they spotted a pair of smaller vessels tracking somewhat low, so they sent out the bait buses. At about 100km range, the two zombie ships reacted to the bait, but in divergent ways: one charged closer while the other merely modified course to maintain distance. Watching at the edges of their sensor perception, Pavel and Sergei saw the charging ship close to 25km while the further ship hovered at around 85km. Then both ships attacked simultaneously, one with a large bundle of short-range blasters and the other with a long-range laser. One bait bus was disabled immediately, and the other was sent scrambling back towards the main ships.
The swift boat charged towards the fray. Soon the second bus was disabled, but the fighting immediately shifted to be primarily between the swift boat and the fighter-hopper zombie ships. The long-range fighter-hopper tried to give cover to the short-range so that the latter could charge within range. However, once the short-range fighter got to shooting distance, it discovered the similarly-ranged turrets controlled by Sergei. Sergei and Pavel worked on grinding down the close and distant fighters respectively. In a seemingly-random and somewhat suicidal shift in tactics, the closer fighter turned and attacked the swift boat aggressively. It was shrugged off, and all the swift boats turrets targeted it and blasted it into a messy smear. Then the swift boat played the range-game with the distant fighter-hopper, chasing it while it tried to dance away so it could use its longer-range weapon with impunity. Eventually, verging on stalling, the fighter-hopper just tried to flee. The swift boat gave chase and managed to deliver a final crippling blast.
Pavel wanted to retrieve the fighter hopper in order to claim its long-range laser, but they were already at a worrisome distance from safe altitude and would have to forge 75km further out to capture it. They decided to risk it. They sprinted out, pulled the fighter-hopper into their bay, and made to return. Unfortunately large 120-ton gunship had slipped in around them to hem them in.
The gunship pounded the swift boat with three turrets with three attacks each; a storm of medium range blaster fire. The two ships writhed in a brutal firefight, with the gunship delivering much more damage but the swift boat crewed with three technicians constantly repairing. When the gunship was eventually worn down such that it could not be as aggressive, the battle shifted in favour of the swift boat. They subdued it, then yanked it with force beams into a decaying orbit.
As a final moment of drama, while the swift boat retreated back down to an empty altitude, a kamikaze unarmed zombie ship tried a ramming run. The acrobatic swift boat managed to veer around the attack, and then pummeled the zombie ship into scrap.
Abdul never made an appearance in any of the combat.
Plot Infliction XIII
Sergei leans back from his control interface and cranes his head around to give you one of his "so what crazy shit are you going to propose next" looks. You guess that he's probably referring to the arrayed zombie ships in your control, and how you were going to talk the red shirts, Takolees, and Abdul into agreeing.
The Silent Red Shirt now has +3 to duck, +3 to parry, and +1 awareness (for a new total of 7).
I sign to Sergei the equivalent of an evil laugh.
Regarding the booty, I'd like to do a few things initially: On the captured craft in our bay I'd like to extract it's long range weapon and replace the 1D weapon on our ship. I'd also like to extract the largest weapon on the gunship and replace our 2D weapon.
That leaves us with two smaller craft and a large craft. I set up the comm so that all the Takolee's, Sergei, myself and Abdul (assuming he's returned) can pow wow. "If I can disable the zombie bits of the two smaller craft, I'd like to figure out a way to replace the busses with them. We need to be able to completely purge the microscopic systems and replace them. Can we create a self contained space within our bay that can be made free of this ships microscopic systems, similar to the pilots capsule I made? We could then put one of the smaller craft in there and purge it's systems and replace them... in theory anyway. What do you guys thing? It would be nice if the redshirts could be in something a bit more durable."
I also do a quick scan to see if anything is salvagable from the short range fighter we pasted.
The gunship has three 2D blaster turrets with 75km range. The fighter in your hold is armed with a 1D laser with 90km range. The first thing the Takolees do, though, is expel the fighter from the hold. It was growing external electrodes.
Abdul reappears, as is his way.
"We'll have to find a sufficient supply of microscopic robots. Or make it." "Are we sure the microscopic robots aren't affecting the pilot capsule?" "We just got that damn creepy fighter out of this damn creepy ship; do we really want any of it back in here?" "Yeah! Let's build a water slide instead." "Shut up." "We could tweak the gravity to create an infinite slide!" "We've never seen liquid water more than a mouthful - we don't even know if we like to get wet."
"Damn but you Takolees like to talk a lot." Abdul sounds weary and nervous at the same time. "If it doesn't work, it'll be suicide for anyone who tries to crew one of those ships - aside from the immortals, that is."
I check out the pilot capsule to see if it is still intact and if there is any evidence that the microscopic robots have been trying to get in.
"I'm guessing we'll have to make the microscopic robots. Obviously we'll have to be extremely thorough with our purging and test it thoroughly afterward before we put anyone in it."
First things first though. Let's put the 90km 1D laser and a 75km 2D blaster on our ship.
"Thinking about water, this planet may have had oceans at one point. We might be able to dig up enough ice for melting."
To Sergei only: "Y'know bro, if there are ship scale ships up there, I think our odds of escaping this planet are still quite slim. At least any time soon. But we've got ships now. We could eventually make a trip back to the old homestead and grab all of the hydroponics gear and food and relocate to the other side of the planet. That way we'd be as far away from that zombie hoard we encountered as possible. We could expand the hydroponics to feed more people and start ourselves a little colony of survivors."
The Takolees are already fitting the upgraded weapons systems to your swift boat.
There is some degradation of the pilot capsule from attacks microscopic zombots, but it is extremely minor. What might be a problem, though, is if the response of the microscopic zombots is proportional to the degree that they are disturbed - a possible result of your earlier tampering. Because you recall there being no problems grafting zombot-impregnated equipment installed directly with regular gear.
Sergei thinks for a moment. "Personally, I'm more inclined to die trying to get out of here than to survive on this shithole. But I can drop you off, if you'd like. I'd appreciate it if you made another control-pod for up here first, though - so that one of the turrets wasn't going unused in a difficult fight." An unusual whimsical expression crosses his face before being replaced with his usual mask of grim humour. "I mean to have me another burger, bro."
Interesting... So if we try to purge them completely, they may put up quite the fight. I guess we'll have to see when the time comes.
"Well, I'm all for trying to get off this shithole... just not sure about the die trying part." I pause, wiping the drool from my mouth. "And I didn't really need to be reminded about those burgers you bastard. Now I'm all drooly."
Sergei shrugs to bring his shoulder into dabbing position of the corner of his mouth, and his mouth makes a wet slobbery sound as he swallows. "Dude. Seriously, though, I'm betting that Abdul knows a shitload more about what's out there. And if he didn't intend on upgrading his little fleet in his plan, I don't see why he should have more potential to escape than us."
The weapon installs are complete. The time has arrived to decide what to do with the junkyard. Refit the buses with upgrades, or try to expunge the zombie ships? And what to do with the gunship?
Here's an off the wall question - we've got 5 first stage technicians, an intermediate scale force beam, tools and lots of raw materials. What is our capability for making ships from scratch? Could we build something better than the buses ourselves? I was checking the ship generator we had for that factory game and it looks like 1st stage technicnans could put a ship together. The durability would still suck though.
Let's try expunging the zombie ships. Even if we can't make them completely benign, we can make more pilot capsules to keep our guys safe. Let's start with the fighter hopper that's been sitting there since before our last fight. Can we configure the force beams to keep it's airlocks open so that it can't try to crush me when I enter?
Building a ship with just techies would appear to be totally feasible. The technical constraints that you can think of having no physicists are:
- max combat speed = 1 km/turn²
- max superluminal speed = 0.01 P/h
- max maneouverability = 3
- durability = 0
- sensor and comm capacity would be restricted to scavenged gear
- ...and god would have to invent some ship weapon creation rules...
There's literally millions of tons of derelict ship material on the surface of the planet that you could use in lieu of the zombot-infested scraps you've gathered in orbit. It's just a matter of time...
The 30-ton fighter hopper from the previous hunt is too large to fit inside the swift boat's hold, so you have to create an ad-hoc containment with force beams and shields. One airlock is dismantled to prevent it biting you as you enter.
Well, I could see just using scavenged weapons at this point along with the comm and sensors. But if we could build the rest, that would be cool. I send a quick query to Abdul before I head aboard the fighter hopper: "Hey Abdul, just curious, have you ever tried to get someone to train as a physicist so you could make better ships? If you've been doing this for ten years, you could have had a half descent physicist by now."
Then I board the hopper. I'm going to try to find where the zombies are connected to the control systems and work on severing them.
Abdul is blunt. "As soon as someone gains a stage of physicist, the zombie ships swarm in and destroy everything nearby. Same with ships that are too big. I'm not sure what the trigger point is, but I stay well away from it."
Sergei signs to you. "What a pussy."
Heading out an airlock to the 30-ton zombie ship, you see it enveloped in overlapping webs of force and with its port jammed open. The Takolees convey you over to the victim vessel with a force beam. Once inside, the ship tries to kill you with the typical arcs of auxiliary power. There are two zombies inside: one linker brain and one shamblor. The shamblor explodes in an infectious cloud of nanoscopic zombie juice, which you can ignore, and proceed to suffer minor electrical burns as you carve out the brain.
I relay Abdul's message to the mentalist Takolee. "Could you use prescience to determine if he is telling the truth?"
Once I have control of the ship, I start construction of new control systems as well as two capsules, one for a pilot and one for a turret gunner.
The rounded long-eared Takolee eventually responds, "It's almost right. There's a loose web of prescience all around us, that we're trapped in, and too big of a jiggle along whatever those lines of thought are will be noticed by whatever is at the center of the web. That's what probably could draw the swarm."
To have control of the ship requires shunting Gladius as a stand-in hub. Something about the zombification causes the control systems to be eaten and replaced with the biological zombie brains. You've got a couple hours of work ahead of you. It should be pointed out that the 30-ton ship only has a big enough turret for a 2D weapon, but instead currently has 4D worth of blasters mounted fixed and nothing in the turret.
Is an either/or thing? Either the 4D fixed weapons OR the 2D turret, or could we put the 2D turret on it and configure it so that it's fixed with the other weapons making it 6D fixed?
They are mutually exclusive - the current cluster of blasters encrusts the turret like an overgrowth of deadly eyebrows blocking off a deadly squinty eyeball. In order to make the turret fully function would require removing the fixed weapons.
The Takolees ask if they can borrow one bus to fetch a ton or two of water...
I ask the redshirts how they want to proceed. They could split one team up and fly both the bus and the fighter-hopper, making more targets, or they could temporarially abandon a bus and have a pilot/gunner configuration in the fighter-hopper. If we get the other fighter up and running we could abandon the busses altogether. Could even fly them remotely as bait if we wanted.
I think we should all stay together and I'm itching to some exploring as well. Let's stay here until we can get the other two ships up and running and then all go find some ice we can extract some water from.
After the fighter-hopper has some control systems, I ask the Takolees to ready the other small ship for me to enter.
The redshirts unanimously agree that they would all like to operate 10D ship assault cutting lasers on a battleship. However, when forced to consider something more realistic they seem to prefer the idea of the most guns possible since nobody is good enough to take advantage of extra turret dice.
The Takolees grumble something about have the water slide all ready... Nevertheless, they lace up the 16-ton fighter in force beams and start disassembling the main hatch.
You've got a rudimentary control system going in the 30-ton hopper. Do you make one or two control pods in it?
And are there any plans for the 120-ton gunship?
Ok, just one pod in the 30-ton hopper and we leave the quad-lasers on it. I'm thinking for the gun ship we'd de-zombify it, make one pilot's capsule and then leave it in low orbit for now. Could be a backup ship in case we lose the fast-boat or too many of our smaller craft. That is unless anyone else has any ideas what to do with it. I'd like to try completely purging the 16-ton fighter of microscopic robots to see what happens. If we can figure out a way to do that we could try it with a larger craft.
Alrightythen... work on the 16-ton fighter goes as follows:
While you scrape together spare bus parts for a pilot pod in the 30-ton fighter, all the other techies start knitting the estimated 70 patch-sized bundles of microscopic robots required for the purge. An estimated 6 hours later (after you get in on the microbot production action), things are ready for the attempted dezombification. You board the 16-ton fighter, and brave its writhing internal minor electrocutions to scoop out the linker zombie brain. So far so good. Finally, the purge is attempted, and so all techies use force beams to start applying the purge-programmed microbots all over the ship simultaneously.
At first, the purge seems to go slowly while the purgebots wrangle with the zombots. The ship shimmers and twinkles with the microscopic warfare that they were never fundamentally meant to do. Then, abruptly, things happen quickly as the zombots change tactics. They eat the ship. Hull temperature spikes as all the vital equipment disintigrates violently, then even the hull itself cascades into little useless briquettes dusted with ash.
The ship, and everything on it, is toast. Let's assume that you weren't - escaping as needed out the gaping hatch.
"Well, I guess I had better get used to building pilot capsules."
I work on disabling the zombies in the gunship and building one pilot capsule for it. We'll leave it in orbit for now. I ask which one of the red shirts wants to fly the 30 tonne ship. Whichever bus they leave we'll set it's turret as a fixed weapon so that the pilot can use it.
I guess the plan is to keep baiting and taking out zombie ships while we earn skill. I'd like to get myself that 2nd stage of sharp shooter, Sergei a second stage of something, and the quiet red suit a second stage of infantry so that we can use the turrets more effectivly. Getting the other red suits more skilled would be good too. Are any of the Takolee's close to a second stage of technician at all?
I hail Abdul: "So, how skilled do you think we're going to need to be before we can make an attempt at getting out of here? Could you fill me in on, say the closest you came to breaking through? Obviously we'll have to be more capable than that attempt, whatever it was."
Breaching the seals on the gunship reveals hundreds of zombies. They're packed inside like pomegranite seeds, ready to scramble forth and spew zombie juices. Of course, since you're not actually docked with the zarking thing, they've got nowhere to scramble. So they just sit there, looking nasty. You basically have to burrow your way through them with the assault laser.
It's not pretty.
A few hours later, you emerge from the gunship victorious: zombies neutralized, linker zombie brains splutted, control system rebuilt, and a piloting pod fabricated at the nexus. Only, nobody really wants to ever set foot in the charnel ship. It's pretty disturbing - or so you're told. You hadn't actually noticed, not really. Maybe a change in fortunes will cause them to re-evaluate their squeamishness.
ASIDE: Strictly speaking, as soon as Pavel gets another stage of anything he'll get the extra turret die for anything: it's one of the benefits of being seasoned. The pilots don't need to be anything for the extra turret die to be available.
Abdul is his typical evasive self at first, but after seeing you emerge from the gory hatch of the gunship he is more forthcoming.
"Back in the beginning, the zombie ships were so aggressive that most everybody with ships who tried to leave the atmosphere was set upon and turned into more zombies. I honestly don't know if anybody ever made it out then. Lots tried. I've seen many old friends since in zombie form, though. Too many.
"After about a year, of laying low, it became obvious that the surface of the planet was doomed too. After all the effects of the nuclear detonations fizzled away, it was teeming with zombies but there was some significant resistance of survivors. But most of them were gone in that year, and all that was left were the cowards. Present company excluded, obviously.
"So a bunch of us started trying to leave instead of wait things out. We went out on sorties, to probe the zombie ships swarm, and to gain skill. That's also when we discovered that zombie ships were traps, and that we could only use them in parts. We weren't organized, though. We had been surviving on our own ships for so long that we tended to just think of every vessel for itself. Then one captain started recruiting ships that would follow his orders - I was one of his lieutenants. Captain Verne developed and drilled us on a tactic he called 'bullfrogging': the fleet would try to move quickly through the zombie ship swarm, focussing our attacks on the nearest zombie ship in order to silence it, and then move on. It seemed to work, somewhat, during our low-altitude training runs. When he was satisfied of our ability, we embarked on an attempt to push our way out. We slithered through the lower altitudes by bullfrogging, but as we got higher the zombie ships started being more coordinated and our tactics mostly just served to draw in all the local ships...
"Captain Verne used the distraction to skirt the melee, and snuck up and away. Meanwhile the rest of us were too busy ducking to make much progress. The zombie ships seemed to focus mostly on the ships that were furthest out, which tended to drive us back. Eventually we gave up, and about a quarter of us managed to escape back down to the thermosphere.
"Since then, I've tried in several forms or another to build ships powerful enough to fight our way out. This is when we found out that the zombie swarm will drop down into the atmosphere to destroy larger ships and physicists. We still kept trying a couple times. Eventually, though, the numbers just would always overwhelmed us. So we stopped trying for a while."
"Then, a week or so ago, this little tiny intermediate scale ship comes flying up from the planet. Never seen anything like it - just a force construct around an ugly human. He looks around, asks some questions, then flies straight up. Through the fucking zombie swarm. There were sparkles and flashes and all sorts of crazy action, but I couldn't keep sight. Eventually he came back down. It was the damnedest thing. Said he made it all the way through, just to see how far the swarm went. Then headed back down to the planet.
"It sort of restarted everyones drive to try to get out. People trying different methods. I have my own opinion though: pure skill is what got him through. Not ship technology. So I started thinking about what would be the best way to work up to that kind of skill. And here we are.
"Basically, I don't know what it will take. But I intend to find out."
2009.04.21 Game Recap
The remaining active ships are consolidated and repaired up to maximum strength, plus a hefty stockpile of intermediate scale mechanical patches are knitted in preparation for the hunt...
But this takes a while, and during this time Sergei has relatively little to do. So he finds himself catching a ride on one of the buses over to the low-orbit refuge bar to help quality-test their new beer-brewing operation. While there, he happens to let slip that he knows where some more hydroponics gear is. This information spreads like wildfire because of the possibility of non-necrotic food production. A full-scale rebellion is at hand unless the brothers avail themselves to produce whatever plants they might have access to.
So the fleet heads down, carefully, to retrace the brother's path back to their home. Once there, they are surprised to find that the destruction of the entryway has been hidden beneath unremarkable-looking dirt. They start shovelling, finding that the dirt is relatively light and uncompressed, and reveal the gaping door as they remembered. Except that the entrance is now plugged by solid concrete. Blasting through that revealed some internal signs of activity.
Being uncharacteristically caring, Pavel called in, "Hellooo? Any body there?"
To which a weak but familiar voice said, "No. Go away." A 2-ton guard beast emphasized the statement.
The brothers discovered that their creator, Barreto, had inoculated himself with a progressive remedy to the zombiejuice, which revived him after a period he guessed that the Zombie Master Hylosus would be satisfied about his fate. Unfortunately, Barreto was his stubborn and annoying self, and told the brothers that he was profoundly marked with mentalist abilities so could not possibly escape the planet with them. The brothers did manage, however, to wheedle a 5D medical cabinet plus an array of plants and seeds. Pavel and Sergei lugged out the prizes, but kept secret the existence of their creator.
After depositing the plants and seeds with the LARB, the fleet resumed the hunt.
Lurking at the fringe of the exosphere, just into the realm frequented by the zombie ships, the Twoian fleet located two potential victims - one smaller hopper-type craft, and a more threatening 80-ton vessel. They elected to be cautious, and sent the bait buses towards the zombie hopper. The small hopper turned out to be near-sighted, and so the bait buses were left to dispatch the zombie by themselves as a training exercise. Limping back, the buses were patch back up and then sent as bait towards the 80-ton zombie, this time with the 30-ton fighter-hopper piloted by the mouthy Red Shirt as wingman.
At long range, the 80-ton craft heeled to, and let lose with a widestroke energy weapon: a small energy grone. This vastly outgunned the trio, so the swift boat leapt toward the fray to assist. Seeing the swift boat approaching, the energy grone zombie started retreating - in order to keep the swift boat at long range. The energy grone lashed at twice more, due to the slow recharge time, but the swift boat managed to charge within range of its own guns and battered the target mercilessly.
The fight had lured the sift boat out considerably, well into the zone of zombie ships. So when the energy grone zombie shrieked a broadband EM communication, then detonated its drives in a brilliant fusion explosion, the swift boat found itself dangerously exposed and illuminated. They immediately turned to retreat, but a dozen zombie ships streaked in at relativistic accelerations to intercept, heedless of how it made them prone. During the moment of zombie defenselessness, the swift boat destroyed two of the aggressors. From there, it was an ongoing slug match against the aggressive swarm of zombies as the swift boat fought its way back. Again, the tireless work of the Takolee technicians adding patches were all that kept the ship functioning in fighting form.
When the swift boat managed to finish off the ten swarming zombies, they saw that the rest of the fleet - both buses, the fighter-hoper, and even Abdul's battle sloop - were all engaged with holding off other zombies bent on intercepting. The fleet then disengaged and fled with the swift boat down to safe(r) altitude.
Plot Infliction XIV
Sergei notices that the command module has a glove box, which he foolishly opens. Inside is a furry object, which coos. Then it leaps out (quite a feat for something with no limbs) and starts tearing open Sergei's throat. More follow immediately out of the seemingly bottomless glovebox and set upon poor, doomed Sergei.
"ZOMBIE TRIBBLES!!! AIIIEEEEEE!!!!"
OK, so there's no zombie tribbles. But there are a gaggle of newly-formed infantry: Smart, Surfer, and Mouthy all got a stage relevant to maneuverability. Hippie hasn't quite earned enough skill to get his second stage of weapon specialist, mostly because the buses spend most of their time ducking...
Sergei wants beer. He doesn't say it, but he has an unmistakable "needs beer" aura about him. Which is odd to notice, considering that you've never actually had access to beer until recently.
With a lack of specific direction from the perceived pack leader - Pavel - the fleet saunters quietly down to the LARB to dock and help filter the next generation of beer with their kidneys. Leaving Pavel to do whatever the hell he's doing in the control module of the swift boat, everybody else sits down for some rare camaraderie.
The Takolees knit furiously some more intermediate scale patches, along with the Smart Red Shirt. Sergei presides silently over the congregation, with people watching to see who he is paying attention and making sure they don't interfere with the threads of discussion. Weak smiles are being practiced by people who have little experience with levity, following the lead of the Red Shirts who are feeling their first reprieve from overwhelming doom.
A stir distracts the group as they watch Abdul's battle sloop soundlessly slide up to the LARB and dock. The airlock cycles and the ferret-form of Abdul steps in nervously, followed by a clumsy, tentacled robot of unfamiliar form. The room is quiet, with everyone feeling uneasy in the presence of Abdul.
Except for Sergei. "Hey Abdul. Sit down, have a beer."
Abdul's whiskers twitch, and he lets out a long breath. "Thank you." He slinks over to a pressure bypass valve to sit on, and accepts a metal bowl of something frothy. After tilting back a swallow, he draws a robed forearm across his mouth to wipe away some foam. "Ahh. I'm pretty sure I remember beer tasting different, and I suspect that I would have thought this was vile... but right this instant, this stuff is fantastic." This puts a twinkle in the eye of the bartenders, and Abdul lifts to the bowl in silent salute to them. A notch of tension is lowered.
"Pavel is not here?"
Sergei shakes his head. "Still working on something. Probably just wants to be alone."
Abdul nods his head appreciatively.
Mouthy Red Shirt finds this pause an opportunity to vent. "You know, those buses fucking suck. I can see how they're great training - but only because they're a fucking death wish. They can't run, they can't see, and they can't fight worth a damn."
Abdul shrugs. "We made them as tough as we could. Pretty good for not having access to real ships, I think."
"Yeah, well, we've got access to real fucking ships now."
"Sort of." Smart Red Shirt looks less convinced. "You're about the only one really eager to be on one of those haunted things." He glances suddenly at Sergei. "Aside from the obvious, unspoken mystery zombie ship tamers." He averts his gaze when Sergei looks back at him.
The Takolees make chirped mutterings about myriad electrical burns.
Abdul makes a placating gesture. "I think you all know how fearful I was of this use of zombie ships myself. But I recognize what a great opportunity this could be. That's why I've brought Ceph8 here." He pats one gangling tentacle of the robot behind him. "He's a technician, and can help work on a ship in combat. Even a zombie ship. I leave it up to you to decide where he would be of most use."
The Takolees seem distracted to Sergei - less interested in the possible use of the technician robot. The round Takolee, turns to look at your brother with a terrified expression in his eyes. He signs, "Something is coming."
The sudden realization that he's missing out on beer smacks Pavel in the face and he heads down to the bar, but not before doing one really good locate to make sure everything is ok outside.
The good locate lets you spot a distant zig-zagging contrail of something approaching (approximately) at combat speed with regular dips into the mesosphere.
I hail the bar: "Everyone back to your ships! There's a ship coming!" About how far away?
Currently about 900 km.
2009.04.28 Game Recap
The fleet crept away from the LARB, so as to not leave any conspicuous contrails leading from it, and watched the ship veer to continue heading generally towards them. As it got closer, they could see that it was a ship scale medium range fighter. A craft that vastly outclassed every member of the fleet.
Realizing that the ship was somehow homing in on them telepathically, and that they could not outrun it, they faced the beast. The battle was joined, and it was terrible. Every vessel in the fleet was crippled for some span of time, staved in by the magnitude of the enemy's weapons. The reconstituted fighter had its weapons blown off, and shortly thereafter was reduced to wreckage burning up as it fell down through the upper atmosphere. The fight raged on and on, with the swift boat and Abdul's battle sloop ducking desperately to avoid suffering too much from the tremendous blows, and trying to pick away slowly at the ghoulish fighter.
At the climax of the fight, all three of the main combatants were no longer capable of surviving a single hit, and all their patches were spent. Finally, at this penultimate stage, the fleet managed to take advantage of their superior numbers and went on the offensive. Pavel's skill as a sharp shooter ensured the doom of the ghoul. Displaying confirmation of its intelligence beyond that of a simple zombie, it transmitted a bleak warning "I will be avenged by my brothers" and triggered its powerful drives to explode. The force of which caused both the swift boat and the battle sloop to stall and start falling, and obliterated one of the lurking ineffectual buses. The remaining bus chased after the swift boat to apply patches, enabling it to restart and tow the disabled battle sloop.
The remains of the fleet made their way back to the LARB, which in turn slowly moved to a new region of low sub-orbit.
Plot Infliction XV
"A moment of silence for our fallen comrade."
Did anyone survive from the zombie fighter or the bus that went boom? The robot was on the zombie fighter wasn't it?
Once everyone is docked with the LARB I suggest that every technician start knitting patches (at least after a beer to toast our lost bus). I'd like Sergei to keep watch for any more craft. I think the LARB (which stands for?) should be continuously moving. I'd like to leave this area of the planet if at all possible. I'm not sure if the zombies can sense us whereever we are or if it's just this local batch that sent the fighter. If we're just in a 'hot spot', we should leave.
Mouthy and the Ceph8 tech robot were both badly hurt, but survived when their fighter was destroyed. Smart Red Shirt, however, was not as fortunate when his bus took damage equivalent to triple its stamina. They couldn't even find any remains.
(LARB stands for Low Altitude Refugee Bar. See previous Plot Infliction.)
Beers are consumed. Patches are being knitted. All vessels are creeping through the mesosphere to a different region.
I ask mentalist Takolee if he can gleen if there has been any activity at the fold space bar since the fold space was shut down. The only reason I can think of staying in this region is the possibility of that puppy opening up again. That is, if the zombies didn't rip it apart. Got an urge to go check it out.
Also, I ask if anyone wants to pilot the zombie gunship that's currently just floating there.
The mentalist Takolee says he'll try to glean something.
Running the gunship makes sense, but it will take some convincing. Also, there's a question of available firepower. The swift boat has an empty turret, and the gunship only has two working turrets left.
Once we're in fighting shape again, perhaps we should go visit the wreckage of that fight before the ship scale fighter - I think there were 10 or so ships we took out. There might be some weapons there. I get on the sensors and see if I can spot any ships floating thereabouts. They may have burned up in the atmosphere already.
Hmmm... given the techie abilities we have, it is feasable to build some battle suits for a voyage back into that city? It would make facing those robots much easier.
Combat speeds are such that the disabled ships would have had enough time to fling themselves in distant directions by now. Unless you had specifically tagged the vector of a ship (and, in this low of orbit, had a mathematician handy) you don't have much hope of finding any of them again without extensive searching. New victims are likely to be required.
Battle suits are somewhat outside of your technical capabilities. The best you can realistically do is some small intermediate scale walkers.
Ok, we fix / drink / fix / make patches / drink / drink / make patchs / fix until everything is fixed, we have a healthy supply of patches or until mentalist Takolee is able to glean anything. I'm going to head over to the gunship and make sure the pilots capsule is in working order and make a capsule for a gunner. I bring the gunship down to the bar as well.
How close is our pilot to second stage Infantry? I think one more good fight will bring me to the 50 skill mark. I think it might make more sense to go up in Mercenary than Sharp Shooter...
The mentalist Takolee comes back to you pretty quickly. "The best read that I can get on the foldspace is that it's a big, life-giving piece of cheese. Sorry."
Let's assume that fixing the ships is first priority, so that gets done pretty quickly. Gunship is brought into formation with the rest of the fleet. All its systems are nominal.
The Silent Red Shirt is indeed pretty damn close to another stage of infantry.
For Pavel, though, I would have thought that the most useful next stage would be weapon specialist.
Good point... I think I was stuck on the whole needing two of the same stage to get the turret bonuses. Still, there is an appeal to potentially having two mercenary and two sharp shooter. Aim-Aim-Shoot in one attack would be cool. I'd have to get up to 6th stage though. Could you imagine snapping off an all agressive attack like that? 12D+2 to attack.
I have to say, that would be impressive. Dice tripling would be scary. Although, Pavel would still suck massively whenever he resorted to all-defensive.
2009.05.06 Game Recap
After a 2D turret from the uninhabited gunship is installed on the swift boat, the swift boat, battle sloop and remaining bus return skyward for more hunting.
Yadda yadda yadda sneak sneak sneak fight fight fight run run run
- NOTE: The details regarding the space immediately surrounding Aparecido 2 are classified.
Plot Infliction XVI
As we exit the gravity well of Aparecido 2 I watch the space ahead of us to see if anything else is in our way. I ask Sergei to keep looking back to see if we're being followed. I ask the Takolees to figure out what this ship has for superluminal drives and how long it will take to get them functional.
"So Abdul, do you know how to get to Clarkia?"
Ahead of you appears to be nothing but empty space.
Behind you, Sergei reports that you are being chased by the Nazgul - but that they are not closing.
The Takolees report that the swift boat is probably capable of 1.1 P/h. Any time... as soon as you escape the ether-warping effects of the black hole.
Abdul pulls up a passive scan of the system, and points at a bright spot. "That's Clarkeia."
So, I guess we have two options:
- See what's up at Clarkeia. I'm worried that there will be zombies there too. If so, we could be in trouble if we get too close.
- Forget about Clarkeia and spend however long it takes to get out of the black hole's influence.
I vote we cautiously approach Clarkeia. It's possible that the zombie juice wasn't used on them. We might find an actual population there. Obviously we should keep a very close eye out for any ships just floating around. Also, want to see how long it takes for the ships behind us to give up, if they do at all.
On to Clarkeia!
Space and time can be seen to wobble and bulge as god decides what is there.
In the mean time... occupational stats. Sergei is going up in weapon specialist. And Pavel...
BAM! Goes for it. Nice.
- +2 to hit
- +2 damage
- +1 duck
- +13 stamina
- option of Switch
- +1 attack
- +12 stamina
I have an odd urge to have Clarkeia populated with Romulans...
2009.05.12 Game Recap
Arcing past Clarkeia, all that could be distinguished were cold wrecks of ships and stations. Nothing at all.
Except for a feeble hail from frightened hermit, which mostly served to spur them on to flee.
Heading for interstellar space, the swift boat fled at high acceleration, but nine of the ghoul ships could out-accelerate. Could catch up.
And they did. One by one.
Plot Infliction XVII
So, where's the bathroom on this thing?
Uh oh... sometimes recycling sucks.
We zoom on towards.... well, whatever. As soon as we're out of range of the black hole's infulence, we put the superluminal drives to the test.
How, exactly, do you determine that you're out of range of the black hole's influence?
Anybody have any idea what would happen if we tried to engage the superluminal drives while still in the black hole's influence?
Best guess of the brains available: the hyperspatial fold would destabilize and the ship would spontaneously burst into a very pretty spray of quarks and tachyons.
Ooooo pretty... Does the black hole interfere with our ethiric communication too?
Etheric communication is indeed also affected by the black hole. Though not necessarily to the same degree.
We keep travelling sublight until it seems like etheric communication is working fine. While we wait, can we build a superluminal drive on a small ship? I'm thinking a remote control ship, as small as possible - more or less a probe. We'd use it for testing once the comm clears up.
It takes 14 months.
Well, I assume no-one has gone insane... Anyone feel the need to earn any scientist stages in that time? I guess once we're superluminal we slowly head for the nearest star (aside from the one we just came from obviously).
Got more planned for this game? It'd be cool to get Pavel & Sergei more skilled and into more combat, but ending the game at the escape from Aparecido would be ok too.