Sunday night’s gaming session was somewhat sparsely attended…infants, illnesses, and summer in general are taking its toll on the group. But with new members now, we have enough that we can muster a game even without a full complement. This week’s game was something of a sequel to a session from April, 2006 (wow, that was a long time ago), a space-themed horror story, also known as “the one that turned out not to be Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls.” However, only one member of Sunday’s group was around for that earlier session….
Captain Erika Merril (Wendy) awoke in her metal coffin, covered in Goo™, and thought, “Oh no, not again.” She climbed out of the Bod-E-Grow chamber into a cold room filled with several other metal coffins and lit by flashing alert beacons. It was a larger room than she remembered from last time, because this ship was the Serendipity, not the Farseeker. Evidently, she was a different Erika Merril, who had received a memory download from the unfortunate captain of the Farseeker. On the one hand, that meant she didn’t have any zombies to deal with immediately. On the other, it meant she had a new and different problem.
After a quick shower, she used the ship’s computers to assess the situation: somethin’ done broke in the engines. They only had a few hours of light-speed propulsion left before they’d be stranded. The only colony nearby was Ophiuchi 5, a Third-Empire biological research station. (For those keeping track of the backstory of this one-shot, the current empire is the Fourth, and the Ship of Zombies encountered in the last story was from the Second.) The station was listed as abandoned 1,000 years ago, but their ID beacon was still functional, and they might just have the needed parts.
Captain Merril now had to choose her three crew members for this mission, and reconstitute them from Goo™. Her selections indicated her depth of experience, and her insight as to how this mission was likely to go. First up: Kurt Bellagio (Dan), Engineer (and, in the previous story, part-time zombie). Next, Pradesh Sarkari (Elyssa), Combat Specialist and Demolitionist, because they always come in handy. Finally, Dr. Josie Wu (Brian), Xenobiologist, because if you’re going into John Carpenter’s Ophiuchi 5, you should at least know what’s eating you.
Kurt immediately set to grumbling about the engine problem, Pradesh set to grumbling about the location of the weapons locker, and Josie set to grumbling that she was a biologist, not a doctor, although she insisted on giving everybody a quick evaluation before they left the room (Goo™ has a small failure rate). Kurt quickly determined that the hyperdrive had a crack in the flux capacitor, and that there were indeed no spare ones on board. With nothing to do but wait until they got to Ophiuchi, Kurt gathered tools, Josie gathered a medkit, Pradesh gathered lots and lots of grenades, and Captain Merril gathered wool, presumably.
After arriving in orbit, the crew took a shuttle down to the planet surface. They observed that most of the planet was covered with jungle, almost all of it poisonous, both flora and fauna. They also quickly observed that the base was about the size of a town, with many more buildings than necessary for the biological research station it claimed to be. Strangely, none of the players were surprised by this dramatic turn.
The party was able to set the shuttle down on a relatively clear landing pad, and although Josie determined that the air was breathable, Captain Merril still insisted on enviro-suits for everyone. Pradesh went out first, and quickly spotted a couple of well-camouflaged man-sized lizards watching from the trees, but they didn’t seem to be doing anything else, so she motioned the rest of the crew out. After a quick survey of the nearby buildings, Kurt determined that the large hangar-shaped building was most likely to hold spare ship parts (no getting anything by him), so he jury-rigged a small access door, and the party went inside.
The group found themselves in a corridor lined with lockers, with a door that presumably led into the main hangar space. The lockers weren’t useful, so Kurt jury-rigged the hangar door, and it slid open smoothly. Immediately, a green tentacle whipped out of the space beyond and grabbed at Kurt. The rest of the party managed to blast the tentacle off, Pradesh tossed an explosive grenade through the door, and Kurt got it shut again before the explosion. As the crew caught their breath, Josie decided to try to be useful by employing her xenobiology skills on the bits of tentacle in the hallway. As it turned out, the tentacle wasn’t xeno at all…it was Goo™.
Unfortunately, with Goo™ being such a flexible life-form, there wasn’t much more they could tell from the tentacle bits. However, most of the party concluded that they were standing in some kind of Third Empire bio-weapons lab. Still, the best course of action still seemed to be to grab the spare flux capacitor, and get out. With nobody willing to brave the hangar again, they wandered down the corridor and up the stairs. At the top, they found another corridor, which seemed to cross over the top of the hangar to the other side. Halfway down that corridor, they found a junction, which led to a bank of elevators at one end, and a control room on the other.
In the control room were a number of seats, many with small piles of dusty ash in them. After a quick scan, Josie determined that they were human remains. (Kurt immediately felt bad about the pile he’d brushed onto the floor so he could sit.) It’s tough to determine the cause of death of a pile of dust, so they turned their attention to the base’s systems, which were still operational. They found a large monitor screen, and turned it to the interior of the hangar, to discover that the room was nearly filled with undifferentiated Goo™. There seemed to be some shuttles and gear submerged in the Goo™, but there was no way of telling what condition they were in.
In the absence of a nice big “Drain Goo™” button on the panel, the crew tried to figure out how to remove the Goo™ without destroying the parts they needed, or the hangar itself. Burning it up was suggested, but sadly rejected. Josie hoped that they might be able to program it into a bunch of fluffy bunnies, but Goo™ is such old technology that it’s a matter for Goo™ programmers, not biologists. Besides, if the stuff was a bioweapon, it might have properties entirely different than standard Fourth Empire Goo™. The crew figured that the best thing to do was to look for the research labs to find out more about it.
The control room provided a nice map to the secure labs, but when the party got there, they were greeted by a flashing red light, accompanied by a warning in a language they didn’t speak. Thinking rationally (who are these people?) they decided to back off and try to find a more central control room, from which they might get more information, and be able to shut off the alarms.
As they wandered through the corridors, Josie’s
tricorder scanner picked up some signs of life, rat-sized, but not anyplace that could be seen. The party figured there must be a breach in the walls someplace, and soon enough, they found it–an area where the roof had caved in, letting in all sorts of creepers. Even though they were in their enviro-suits, Josie checked anyway, and determined that touching the creepers would cause a rather unpleasant rash. As they started to traverse the collapsed area, a number of sticky threads descended from the hole and snatched up Kurt!
Captain Merril and Pradesh quickly spotted a giant spider-thing in the jungle canopy, and managed to dispatch it with a few quick shots. Kurt’s suit was undamaged, and the others were able to pull the webbing off of him by using leaves from the creepers. Moving along, the party came to the control center at last. The door opened easily enough, but five rat-sized bugs swarmed out, directly at the party. Fortunately, Pradesh was ready with a tangle grenade that snared them all, and the other party members gleefully shot the bugs in the head. Josie’s post-mortem examination revealed that the bugs were natives, and that the spines on their heads would have been quite deadly. Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be any more in the control room. After examining the walls, the party determined that the bugs had likely been moving through the ventilation system, and could be just about anywhere in the base.
And with that, we broke. With schedules so uncertain, who knows when we’ll find out of Our Heroes will ever find the flux capacitor they need, or if they’ll just keep walking further into Ophiuchi’s biological house of horror?