(The last few sessions have been leading up to this session, which is the end of the current campaign).
After securing the Sathar scout ship, the group spend a couple of days on the planet. This allows Doc to fully heal Drive. It also gives Pilot, Sergei and Ash time to familiarise themselves with the Sathar vessel and its controls. Pilot also rigs up a miPad to remotely control the CSV Harrier. He can initiate micro-jumps and some basic piloting remotely, now.
Once Drive (and Sergei) are healed, Doc announces the group are ready to lift off to try to capture the other Sathar ship.
Their take-off and jump to the co-ordinates of the other Sathar ship is uneventful. They drop out of jump in deep space some distance from the Sathar ship so as not to be detected. They put the Harrier into silent running mode and all board the Sathar scout ship and head towards the larger Sathar vessel…
As they approach they are able to passively scan the vessel. It’s large; easily twice the size of the Captain Flak, but narrow. It’s not a dedicated freighter. It has two atomic engines on pylons, and sensors pick up a number of missile and gun batteries. It’s not a dedicated warship, but it’s well-armed. Suddenly Pilot loses control of the scout ship, and it begins to maneauver towards the underside of the mothership. His concern is only momentary, however, as he realises some sort of auto-pilot from the mothership has assumed control. Free to leave the bridge, he and Sergei join the others in the cargo compartment and check their weapons prior to boarding. Due to their being an insufficient number of space suits, only the Corporal, Pilot, and Drive have elected to wear them.
Outside, clamshell bay doors open and two pairs of mechanical arms reach out and grip the scout ship, guiding it inside. The Marines hear the clang of the doors closing and the hiss as the docking bay is pressurised. Doc is first out of the scout ship. He finds himself falling gently from the ship’s hatch through the open bowels of the docking bay towards an airlock. It seems the Sathar have only a quarter gravity here to assist the crews move about. Next to the airlock that Doc is floating towards is a large observation window. As he’s about halfway towards the airlock a Sathar technician appears in the window. It stares at Doc for a second before fleeing out of sight. Doc brings up his M41A1 Pulse Rifle and fires a burst at the window, thoroughly shattering it. Doc attempts to adjust his trajectory to aim for the window instead.
In the meantime, Guns is next out of the hatch. He’s barely left the ship when the Sathar appeared at the window. Doc ‘falls’ through the window and easily checks his fall, landing in the control room. The room is roughly triangular, with various consoles and terminals. Only one door leads out, and it’s closed. Guns lands behind him, so they signal their intention to each other to go through the door. Doc opens it. Beyond, the sathar is at a computer terminal. He slaps a button and reaches for his pistol, spraying a burst as both Doc and Guns fire their weapons (Guns is using his pump-action shotgun). Their shots hit the Sathar and he’s instantly killed. However, some of his shots also hit Doc, dropping him with serious damage.
By now, all the others have piled out of the Sathar scout ship and have floated through the shattered window into the control room. Sergei goes to attend Doc’s injuries whilst the others secure the immediate area. This room has another door leading to the other side of the airlock they saw in the docking bay, and two elevators; opposite each other across the room. There is no gravity within the control room, either.
The Corporal assumes command and breaks the team into two groups; Ash, Sergei, Doc and Drive are to descend to the engine room once Doc is fit enough to move, whilst the Corporal, Combat Engineer, Pilot and Guns will ascend and try to capture the bridge.
(The GM didn’t expect the group to split up (should have, really, they do it all the time!) or for them to bypass decks. He needs a way to slow them down, as there’s important clues on various decks they need to discover).
The elevators are not enclosed car-type conveyances traditionally favoured by mankind, but floating anti-grav discs. The Corporal’s squad quickly figure out how to operate the elevator disc and begin to ascend, bypassing two doorways to other decks without slowing… Suddenly, a blue light starts to flash; an alarm has been triggered. This brings the elevator to a rapid halt. As there is no gravity, the squad begin to try to continue ascending to the next deck…
Meanwhile, Sergei has pumped Doc full of steroids and they have boarded the other elevator and descended towards, they assume, the engine room. The elevator stops and the doors open onto an open deck with a large central work hub in a chevron shape, with four computer terminals/workstations on it. Two Sathar are working on it, with a third off to one side. Sergei and Drive are first out of the doors and firing at the Sathar. Sergei’s opponent goes down, but Drive misses, the Sathar firing back and hitting Ash, who is still in the elevator. Drive fires again, killing the Sathar, whilst Sergei fires at the final one, killing him, too. Doc treats Ash, who has been hurt badly (almost a TPK) and is unconscious. (The running joke through this campaign is that Ash is secretly really an android; he’s referred to be a couple of players as AI – Artificial Intelligence. They start telling Doc’s player to “just rip his head off, he can still talk and we can plug him straight into the ship’s computer.”)
It’s at this point that the blue lights start flashing. Sergei tries the computer consoles, but they all seem to have been locked out…
The Corporal and his squad have made it to the next door in the elevator shaft. (The Corporal is just walking up the wall, as his space suit has magnetic soles). It takes a bit of effort, but they open the doors manually… and find they are looking at a row of six “cryogenic berths, not too dissimilar to the damaged ones you found in the abandoned Sathar installation. They all appear to be empty.” As Guns and the Corporal venture out of the shaft onto the deck, Guns notices an empty gun rack next the the elevator shaft doors. He also realises that there are several rows of these cryogenic berths! He hears a noise and turns to see two Narn (bio-engineered bipedal lizard humanoids – a more successful experiment than the lizardmen they encountered in the sewers under the research building) looking at him and raising their assault rifles! As luck would have it, Guns rolled a higher initiative than the Narns, so got to fire his shotgun first, hurting one, but not killing it. The Corporal also got to shoot, but only managed to hurt his target as well. Both Narns fired but missed their targets. Another burst from both the Corporal and Guns (and also maybe Pilot – I forget) sees the Narns killed. There is little of interest on this deck so they elect to travel up to the next one…
Ash is still being worked on by Doc, and Sergei is pulling apart a console and trying to jury-rig it to bypass the console lock-out. (The GM points out that he’s trying to disassemble and then re-assemble alien tech. Whilst there would undoubtedly be some comparisons, there would be little recognisable hardware for him to do this successfully on the fly. Sergei considers this for a bit and then states that he will remove and bag up anything that looks like hard-drives or data storage). Doc breaks radio silence to politely ask for a live Sathar prisoner, if possible.
The next door the Corporal and his squad reach is already open. Opposite it is a blank grey metallic wall. Pilot recognises it as the end panel of a computer bank. This means they must turn immediately right when exiting the elevator shaft. The Corporal pokes his head out to look around the corner, and sees that the deck is teeming with Sathar! He counts eight crouched over computer consoles or in front of screens, plus at least two Narn guards. The Narns are armed with assault rifles, whilst most of the Sathar have those viscious little assault pistols. Not one for subtlety, the Corporal quickly maps out an attack plan with Guns and Pilot (Combat Engineer keeps failing his Free Fall rolls and can’t get into position in time) to shoot at as many of the enemy as they can and try to draw them into the confines of the elevator entranceway. So the three of them all float out of the shaft, shoot at whatever targets they see first, and then propel themselves back into the cover of the elevator shaft before the Sathar can return fire. However, the Sathar aren’t as accomodating as the Corporal had hoped, and instead a concussion grenade is lobbed into the doorway of the shaft! Thankfully, it causes minimal damage. But the flashing blue alarm has turned into a solid blue one.
At the same time, Drive, who is kicking about the engineering deck, notices a strange symbol on a screen. After a few seconds the symbol changes for another symbol, which changes again after a few seconds. He calls Sergei’s and Doc’s attention to it. Doc realises that this a A Bad Sign! He points out over the radio net that the Sathar always self destruct if they feel they are losing a fight and are about to be captured or boarded. He orders both squads to get back to the Sathar scout ship immediately! (It had been noted previously that there was a boarding hatch on the engineering deck. Pilot suggests using his MiPad to bring in the Harrier as a back-up. He easily succeeds on his astrogation roll and the Harrier micro-jumps to a position very close to the Sathar vessel).
(The GM would like to point out that if the Corporal and his squad pushed their attack and secured the battle deck (and not the Bridge as the Corporal had assumed), they would have had time to discover the Big Secret and still make good their escape. However…)
Doc tells everyone to make for the engineering deck instead and to get aboard the Harrier. Most people comply, except for Combat Engineer, Drive and Sergei, who all want to save the Sathar scout ship. However, it is firmly locked in the grip of the mechanical arms. Combat Engineer realises that his hand-held plasma torch will never cut through the arms in time, and as there’s no other obvious way to release the ship, he heads for the engineering deck and the CSV Harrier. Segei and Drive board the scout ship.
With Pilot behind the controls, the Harrier begins to race away from the Sathar ship. Sensors show the atomic engines as white-hot on the screens, when there’s a massive white flash and a shock wave rushes out towards the Harrier. Pilot can’t dodge or outrun it, and the shock wave (complete with debris) hits the ship, knocking it out of control and tumbling through space. The controls become alive with flashing or solid red and orange lights as the ship takes damage and various systems go offline. There’s a faint high-pitched whistling sound – the hull has been ruptured! Pilot (rather calmly, it has to be said) orders abandon ship and the team all pile towards to access hatch in the engine bay that leads down to the escape pod.
The escape pod is a nine-man vessel, where the occupants go into cryogenic suspension whilst it micro-jumps its way to a known ICC planet. Space is at a premium and the berths are barely large enough for the party members to get in; they need to shed their armour and dump all their weapons and kit on the floor outside of the cryogenic pods. Pilot is the last to enter the escape pod, and no sooner than locking the hatch closed, the pod automatically ejects itself from the stricken Harrier, which explodes seconds later…
[And that is where we leave the Colonial Marines and their Navy colleagues for this campaign. Obviously, Drive and Sergei are dead; killed when the Sather mothership exploded.
A new campaign is planned for April/May next year. Tune in then to see what trouble they have gotten themselves into this time!]