|Party PCs and NPCs
PC: Lt Commander Jürgen Davi … command
PC: Lieutenant Morgan Li … medic
PC: Lieutenant Sir David Tam
PC: Sublieutenant Dana Gray … pilot
PC: Senior Chief Petty Officer Andy Padalecki … eng'r
PC: Chief Petty Officer Whoohsh Hegeh … gunnery
PC: Petty Officer First Class Tgeath
PC: Petty Officer Second Class Rngoeuzl … sensors
PC: Petty Officer Second Class Abdul Hasaan
PC: Petty Officer Second Class Marc Malahyde
PC: Petty Officer Second Class Pale Coltan
PC: Petty Officer Third Class Smyuetx
PC: Petty Officer Third Class Daniel Kralik
PC: Able Spacehand Ghraangk
Other Major NPCs|
'Aykrusk' (Leader) Othix
The party (serving members of the Imperial Navy) are all assigned as part of the Frozen Watch on an AHL. Of course this means that (unless there was no adventure) the group will be awoken in a crisis. The nature of said crisis will be revealed later in case any of the players visit this page.
The characters have been crafted such that they would logically be part of a Frozen Watch (primarily damage control engineers and replacement gunners) but providing scope for player-to-player antagonisms.
The PCs (Jurgan Davi, Sir David Tam, Morgan Li, and Whoohsh Hegeh) plus four NPCs (Dana Grey, Andy Padalecki, Tgeath, and Rngoeuzl) awaken from cold berth. Hegeh is a large Zurph from Yori/Regina, Tgeath and Rngoeuzl are Vargr, everyone else is human.
You awaken lying on your back on what feels like a padded table, a pillow under your head. Your eyelids are gummed together, preventing you from seeing. Each breath you inhale has a freshness that is almost painfully intense. Your muscles feel heavy and weak, reminding you of the extreme exercise drills back in basic training. You can’t think straight … you’re not sure where you are, or even who you are, but there is a gentle, reassuring, hum of machinery all around you.
After a while you manage to rub your eyes enough to be able to open them (though it feels like someone’s thrown a bucket of sand in them). There is a white ceiling less than arm’s length above you. A white wall to your left contains pale diffuse lighting panels. To you right is a glass door, hinged at the top, and through the glass you see a number of cold berths … and you realise that’s what you are in.
The cold berths are in a smallish room with emergency lighting. On the opposite wall you can make out a stack of three and a stack of two (bunk bed style), the third unit in the second stack taken up with a storage bin.
You look down at yourself. You are in a uniform. An Imperial Navy undress uniform. Below the Imperial logo on the left breast is a name Your name. You struggle with the upside-down letters for a few moments before seeing that you are _________.
Your memory returns. You are on Frozen Watch assignment. Normally you’d expect it to be uneventful and you’d wake up in a naval base medical centre. This is not a naval base medical centre, this is a ship’s cold berth compartment. Therefore the ship is in trouble and needs emergency replacement crew ... i.e. you!
As you come to that realisation the cold berth doors open, each lifting up and sliding in (like a garage door).
They stumble around for a few moments in the dim emergency lighting feeling weak and groggy. Two of the cold berths have failed and contain corpses. Each cold berth has a small equipment locker. Inside is:
There are 2 storage bins (one on each side of the room) containing 5 general purpose vacc suits each:
There is also a long wooden pole, approx 2 meters in length, 5 cm diameter, a highly polished red hardwood showing a quite beautiful wood grain. It is attached to the wall with makeshift straps. It is Hegeh’s quarterstaff and he takes it ... it’s the groups only weapon so far. Eating the candy bar and drinking the water helps clear their head and dissipate their fatigue.
They open the hatch and move into the next room. The main area has a two doors opposite each other (each leading to a cold berth compartment), a double door exit, and a large display screen that should show the current status of the ship and list any and all emergencies going on. Except its blank and unresponsive.
There are 2 large trunk sized equipment bins in the middle of the room. Secured on top of these is a deflated portable airlock (6kg). (deflated = 1.5m x 0.2m x 2m, inflated = 1.5m x 1.5m x 2m)
The first bin has 20 backpacks (3kg each), each containing:
The second bin contains:
So now the group have their first gun. Tam professes to be the best shot and takes the snub pistol.
They try the second cold berth compartment and revive six more NPCs (4 humans, another Vargr, and a Droyne).
Exiting the ready room through the main doors they enter a large completely unlit area. Their flashlights can’t even pick up all the opposite wall. They spread out to explore in standard two-by-two formation. As they move they can detect variations in the gravity … confirming they are in an artificial gravity environment, probably a ship or space station. As they find the main lift shaft this is confirmed as a ship (deck 19 of the Bard Refuge, an Azhanti High Lightning class frontier cruiser).
The group splits into two parties. One party (led by Davi) heads up to the main bridge on deck 17, the other party (led by Tam) heads down to the power plant on decks 41-46. Progress for both groups is slow: each deck is either without power or has only partial emergency power. Hatches have to be manually opened (and closed behind them).
Having the shorter distance to travel Davi’s party reaches their destination first. The main bridge is smashed. The bulk of the deck is un-pressurised and there is a large rent in the outer hull. They are unable to let Tam’s party know this as, with the ship’s systems not working, they only have their suit communicators to communicate with and the ship’s hull effectively limit these to line of sight only. They explore.
The security section is still pressurised and contains the corpse of a Marine with an empty SMG. There are marks of small arms fire on the wall.
The primary computer is on but the screens show an omega sign (the omega program has been). IMTU the running programs of a ship computer are contained on hardwired cartridges but library data, logs, and so on, are stored in more conventional volatile memory. Imperial Navy ships have a secure wipe program called Omega that erases all volatile memory. It can be used when abandoning a ship to prevent intelligence falling into enemy hands, etc.
The ward room reveals some kind of massacre: a large bloody mess on the floor is all that remains of several crewmen (officers?). The mass is so entangled it is hard to tell how many bodies there are or how they died. However, in the muck is found a gauss pistol with 10 rounds plus 2 additional full magazines.
Davi decides that the state of the engines are his next objective and so leads his party to the back of the ship. Rather than traverse through the ship (with its myriad of hatches to be opened and closed) they exit the hull through the breach and walk down the outside. Whilst walking they notice they don’t recognise any constellations but the stars seem inordinately bright and numerous. They also notice the fuel shuttles are missing.
Reaching the fighter decks Davi and his group find all the fighters are gone … bar one partially disassembled Rampart.
They re-establish communications with Tam’s group, who by now have reached the power plant deck. Tam reports both the power plants are (not surprisingly) offline. As near as the engineers can tell there is at least some basic hydrogen fuel and maybe even some deuterium. But there is insufficient change in the batteries to restart the power plants.
Andy hits upon the idea that, if the disassembled fighter’s power plant can be started, it could provide the energy needed to change the main ship’s power plant ignition capacitors. The engineers split into two groups: one readies the port power plant for restart and jury rigs a line from one of the ship’s main power conduits to the ignition capacitors, the other joins Davi on the fighter decks to jury rig a line from the disassembled fighter to the same power conduit (thus channelling the power from the flight deck to the power plant deck).
Once set up it takes 3 hours to trickle feed enough power through to try a main power plant start. During that time Tam and the engineers on the power plant deck observe a strange alien presence: a “shambling mass” over 2 meters tall. The creature does not see them but seems to make a half-hearted effort to vandalise part of the power plant machinery before heading away. Tam asks if he can engage the ‘hostile’ but Davi orders not to. After this incident the port power plant is successfully restarted.
With the restoration of power the group starts checking over the computer and flight systems (rerouting command functions from the bridge to engineering). All they can get from the ship’s computer is “Program OMEGA completed.” – which means someone wiped the computer’s volatile memory (a standard security precaution when abandoning a ship). However the ship’s core systems (life support, manoeuvre drive, sensors, and even weapons) appear operational. (There is some question about this as over half the internal sensors are offline.)
Even without computer records they ascertain the ship is the Bard Refuge (an Imperial AHL class frontier cruiser), and though they have no star charts they appear to be near the galactic core.
Checking over the ship’s weapon systems they conclude that
Sensors reveal (a) there is an unknown craft (40,000 dtons) closing on their position, and (b) there are signals emanating from a nearby planet. Feeling somewhat cautious under the circumstances Davi wants to avoid contact with the unknown vessel and heads towards the planet. The skeleton crew are unable to decipher the signals coming from it.
As the unknown craft draws near Davi tries to warn it off with both audio and pictorial warnings. No response. The crew cut engines and flip the ship over, bringing the spinal mount to bear. The unknown craft responds by launching 16 sub-craft (1200 dtons each) which adopt what appears to be an attack formation. Worse, a missile salvo is detected launching from the nearby planet (now behind them). Devi orders the sandcasters to be used (countermeasures against the planet-launched missiles) and the spinal mount to fire on the unknown ship. The unknown ship explodes and the planet-launched missiles fly past the Bard Refuge and destroy the unknown ship’s sub-craft.
Relieved but puzzled, the crew of the Bard Refuge place their ship into orbit around the planet.
A 100 dton saucer-shaped small craft leaves the planet and docks with the Bard Refuge. Four Droyne disembark! Unfortunately, not only do they not speak Galanglic, but they also don’t speak Oynprith (the standard Droyne language) either. However, after some time and much hand gesturing it is agreed that Lieutenant Tam and Petty Officer Smyuetx (herself a Droyne) will go down to the planet with 2 of the new Droyne whilst the other 2 Droyne remain aboard.
“My title is Othix. My job is Hive Leader. The hive is now poor of Droyne. To leave is good but cannot.
The enemy is chaos. The enemy makes the others and the mechanicals. The others eat us. The mechanicals hunt us.
You leave is good but cannot. We leave is good but cannot. You leave with us leave with you … we can.”
Was this an offer? After consulting with acting-Captain Davi, Tam and Smyuetx continue to talk to Othix (the Aykrusk) ...
Tam brokers a deal whereby in return for evacuation of the Droyne colony the party would gain enough people to properly crew the Bard Refuge plus all the missile reloads they want. Further, Othix has something he calls “the Heart of the Machine” which is possibly the power plant from a ‘mechanical’ ship and is now used to power the Droyne colony. To resolve the question of the Droynes' status aboard ship Davi decides to declare the Droyne colony as now Imperial, and its members are all 'drafted' into the Imperial Navy!
The exodus begins. The Droyne have 10 saucer ships and these immediately start shuttling Droyne and equipment up from the planet’s surface. Davi decides to assign the empty fighter decks for the Droyne’s use. Tam and Smyuetx return to the Bard Refuge and from the rear flight deck Tam starts to coordinate the incoming shipments as best he can.
Meanwhile, Chief Petty Officer Whoohsh Hegeh is concerned that they should not rely on the “Heart of the Machine” and looks at the fuel situation. He finds that there is enough conventional fuel to run the power plant for a few weeks but nowhere near enough for a jump. Without fuel shuttles the ship would have to skim for fuel … but while technically feasible, no one likes to risk that in an AHL cruiser. Hegeh rides an empty Droyne shuttle to the planet supposedly to coordinate planetside activities.
Back onboard, and Petty Officer Abdul Hasaan goes missing … refusing to answer calls. Davi, Doctor Li, and Petty Officer Rngoeuzl begin searching from his last known position. They quickly find him hiding in one of the old crew staterooms and discover his entire left arm has transformed into a gray amorphous lump reminiscent of the shambling mass. A brawl breaks out to subdue Hasaan as he seemed to have lost all reason. Afterwards Davi calls Tam for a contingent of Droyne to help carry the unconscious Hasaan to sick bay. But when the Droyne turn up with improvised flame-throwers Davi instead decides to confine Hasaan to the fighter recovery airlock for security. The Droyne remove Hasaan and sterilise the area with fire!
While Doctor Li studies poor Hasaan, Davi goes to the secondary Bridge. There he finds Othix sitting in the Captain’s chair. This is mitigated by the fact that Davi realises that while he has basic security permissions programmed into his ident chip, Othix doesn’t even have this. So there is a limit as to what Othix can do. Nevertheless, Davi still tries to convince Othix to give up the chair but Othix responds “Your tribe is now our tribe, we are all ‘Imperial’. You are leader of this ship, I am leader of this tribe.”
Davi relents for the time being, withdraws to computer room 2, and with the help of Sublieutenant Dana Gray (technically the pilot but proficient with computers) sets about assigning himself a full set of security permissions.
Under Lieutenant Tam’s guidance, new arrivals not actively involved in moving materials are assigned to work groups: each Imperial engineer gets 2 to 4 technician Droynes and 2 to 4 warrior Droynes as escort, and are tasked with conducting a thorough survey of the ship and its systems.
Davi reviews the doctor’s findings todate regarding Petty Officer Abdul Hasaan. Although Doctor Li has the full use of the ship’s med bay, his inexperience as a research scientist, the lack of the computer library records, and the absence of staff, frustrate him in analysing the condition. Concerned with the wellbeing of the crew Davi decides to space poor Abdul. (See medical report.)
Meanwhile, one of the engineering work parties has apparently encountered another intruder in one of the weapon decks and a fire fight starts. Outnumbered, the intruder is soon overwhelmed and captured (but with severe injuries). A brief interrogation (before he looses consciousness) reveals that he is an Imperial Marine. He, and a companion Marine had awoken from another Frozen Watch chamber and, seeing alien ships docked, had decided to scuttle the ship. He had started to jury-rig a nuclear warhead on each of the weapon decks for a simultaneous detonation when his companion had started acting strangely and run off. (Could this have been the first shambling mass the party had encountered?)
The other warheads were quickly located and soon disabled. But in one case the ‘chief engineer’, Petty Officer Padalecki, all but passes out trying to get a blast door open: its been 72 hours since they all awoke from low berth and sleep deprivation is starting to take its toll.
As the exodus comes to a close a delegation of Droyne warriors talk to Lieutenant Tam: Is it Tam or Lieutenant Commander Davi who is in charge of the ship? Tam has more of the way of the warrior about him.
Meanwhile, in his personal quest to regain his “comfy chair” on the Bridge (the Secondary Bridge as the Main Bridge is damaged), Davi (the acting Captain) hits upon the idea of awarding the Running Bridge at the very front of the ship to Othix as his “throne room”. This arrangement gets Othix out of Davi’s hair while still allowing Othix to monitor the situation. Othix agrees and assigns his 4 largest warriors to Davi as personal bodyguard.
Shuddering, Padalecki then visits the other hanger decks where the “Heart of the Machine” was installed. Here he finds a large dark blue irregular crystal structure. It appears to be a single seamless piece that fills roughly half the available space, yet it must have been brought up in pieces to have got it in. Nor is it attached to the power grid yet the ship’s power levels are at full. He finds an old Droyne monitoring the crystal. The old Droyne is vague to the point of senility but Padalecki determines he was a farmer of some sort.
After some hints from Coltan the group of engineers take the old Droyne and visit the environment recycle systems. While some food stocks have been found they wont last long without the recycle system. However, the algae tanks at the heart of the system are ruined and need regrowing. Padalecki asks the old Droyne to try and do this, and assigns Malahyde to help.
Padalecki and Coltan now travel up to the Main Bridge to inspect the repair work carried out on the jump grid at the hull breach. There they find very shoddy work which is unlikely to hold against the rigours of jump. The Droyne have only used cabling (held in place by clips) to connect the broken parts of the hull grid. Padalecki replaces the clip joins with welds, and then sandwiches this with metal panels (cut from internal partitions by Coltan) for a more robust structure (albeit not air tight).
While all this was going on Davi hears that an arms locker has been located that is not empty. As he feels naked without a laser pistol he travels to the locker in question but too late: the Droyne have modified the laser pistols they found into some sort of small fusion gun. Upon inspection Davi guesses that after initiation by the laser itself, the new weapon then draws greater power from an induction field that the “Heart of the Machine” has enveloped the whole ship in. He even has an opportunity to see its effectiveness when two nearby Droyne suddenly merge and metamorphose into a shambling mass. As the creature staggers off down a corridor Davi quickly orders the remaining Droyne in his vicinity to attack using a two-by-two formation. The Droyne don’t understand and instead attack with wild recklessness (killing the creature which is subsequently ejected into space).
The evacuation of the planet complete, Petty Officer Hegeh returns to the ship. He is a little surprised to find he has attracted some followers of his own: several Droyne seem to view him as having more in common with them than the humans, and the quiz him on his religious beliefs.
With Hegeh’s return, and after further testing of the ship’s energy levels now the “Heart of the Machine” is installed, Davi orders the ship to make way. The refuelling bucket trips are cancelled, the Droyne saucers are attached to the outside hull of the ship (their jump grids integrated into that of the Bard Refuge), and the ship breaks orbit for minimum safe jumping distance. With the latest sensor data, and input from Othix as to what surrounding systems his people had encountered “mechanicals”, Davi picks a system just 2 parsecs away for their first jump. Crucially, his questions to Othix are general and Othix is left feeling he did not have a say in the final decision.
Reaching minimum safe distance the Bard Refuge is finally ready for jump. Looking round engineering Padalecki notices that Coltan (whom he felt he was bonding with) is nowhere to be seen. He quickly locates her in her stateroom. Talking through the door she tells him she is exhausted and needed urgently to rest. Padalecki is concerned, telling her she should see the doctor. Coltan refuses. He reminds her that since poor Abdule changed into a shambling mass it is essential that even minor symptoms be checked. Coltan reminds him that if she were changing into a shambling mass then Davi would have her thrown out the airlock. He is about to relent but Doctor Li, who was monitoring the situation, insists (making it an official medical order). As Coltan is led off to med bay the ship jumps.
The ship is in jump, all systems green by the board, and life continues.
Doctor Li, examining Coltan, diagnoses a simple case of extreme fatigue. She’s given a good night’s sleep and returned to duty. Later, Padalecki tries to make up with Coltan but she remains cold, telling him she feels betrayed: he didn’t trust her. He returns to repairing the ship, working through a long list of checks and minor repairs.
Tam decides enough is enough as far as the Droynes’ military prowess is concerned. He asks for 20 warriors to be assigned to him for training (hoping that what they learn they’ll pass on to the others). Finding some spare room he starts with basic drills. He tries marching them round and around, then tries getting them to just stand at parade rest for a prolonged period of time. But things don’t go quite as Tam expects … at first other Droyne stop by to ‘help’ (bringing food or offering to take turns with the 20 when they get tired). Tam tries to stop this by banning the visitors but somehow the Droyne still sneak in food.
Hegeh’s time during jump is taken up either assisting with minor repairs, or teaching some of the Droyne about Wakshe (his religion). He doesn’t want to do this, he’s not very evangelical, but they pester him with questions and he relents. At night he is plagued by a nightmare … always the same:
Hegeh is in a daugu, a communal farm house common in some of the more remote rural parts of his homeworld Yori. Creatures, half seen but hostile, circle outside looking for a way in. His offworld friends grab weapons from the wall just as the creatures attack but in the fight they are overwhelmed. Somehow the daugu catches fire and is burnt to the ground.
Despite the apparent improvement in performance of the laser weapon modification, Davi orders that the weapons be returned to their former specification. This his Droyne do, and to make amends, one day in jump they bring him breakfast in bed: a bowl of walnuts and dried prunes from the ships stores (thinking that this was a traditional meal from his homeworld of Yori). The effect was lost, however, when Davi realised the rest of the human crew had to ‘make do’ with beacon and eggs.
To be continued …