Friday, February 17, 2017

Mynock Squadron Recap # 22 [RPG]

Having narrowly escaped death from suffocation, the heroes of Gamma Flight find themselves trapped somewhere aboard a malfunctioning Verpine starship filled with dangerous hazards and crawling with radiation-scarred madmen.    With only fragmented memories of the recent past and makeshift weaponry, the pilots must somehow uncover the mystery of their presence here and save a rapidly-deteriorating vessel before it’s too late . . .

After freeing the members of Beta Flight from stasis cylinders, Kero tries to see if she can revive any of them.  Unfortunately, they are are all still heavily sedated and she concludes that they'll likely remain unconscious for 6 to 10 hours.  Seconds after she finishes her examination, the pilots of Gamma Flight realize that another problem has come their way: the ship's gravity generator is fluctuating and occasionally plunging portions of the ship into zero-g.  Kero and Warik together determine that the gravity generator must not be receiving steady power, but Warik says that if he can get his bearings, he should be able to find his way to the ship's engine compartment.

The cybernetically-repaired pilot heads out into the adjoining corridor and presses an ear against the opposite door.  His enhanced hearing picks up a strange smacking sound coming from inside, and the pilots fear the worst.  Taking up positions on either side of the door, they wait for Warik to use a live power cable from the emergency lights to cycle it open.  When it does, they're treated to a gruesome scene bathed in a red glow.  A row of stasis cylinders line the back wall,  and the access cover to the power diffusion tunnel in the room has been wrenched off from below.  Crouching on the floor, two men, radiation-scarred, with bony hands and pustules on their faces and  wearing the tatters of New Republic uniforms, have broken the cylinders, pulled out those inside, and are feasting on them while they’re still sedated! And even more ghastly, the horrified pilots realize that the victim the cannibals are chewing on now, perhaps still alive, is someone they know: Mynock's communications/logistics officer, Mikaela Sor!

One of the scarred madmen springs towards the open door, his bony hands clawing for Warik's face.  The pilot reacts instinctively, and thrusts the still-live power cable into the cannibal's chest!  The attacker is temporarily stunned, but the surge of power drains the emergency lights and bathes the entire area in utter darkness!  Worse, the periodic fluctuation in the ship's gravity generator leaves everyone floating in the air, blind and disoriented.  Max, who had taken up a position next to Warik, finds himself grappling with one of the cannibals, neither able to land a solid blow.  Keth tries to squeeze through the doorway, but suffers a vicious scar on his face and then unwittingly begins floating several meters away from the fracas.  Kero, meanwhile, has prepped a makeshift weapon gathered earlier from a storage cupboard: a defibrillator!  

The desperate fight continues.  Warik, operating purely by touch, spends several frantic seconds trying to restore the lights, and finally succeeds, only to be bitten for his troubles.  When the red emergency lights come back on, Kero dashes forward and jolts one of the madmen with the paddles, dropping him and clearing the way for Keth, who now has his bearings, to bounce off a wall at a perfect angle to to fly into the room and start dragging Mikaela to safety.  Max, Kero, and Warik surround the remaining cannibal and Max lands a stunning haymaker that staggers the unrelenting attacker.  The dashing pilot tries to finish the fight, but is slammed into the wall so hard that he only hears a loud ringing in his ears!  Kero, still locked in combat, shouts instructions to Keth on how to stem Mikaela's arterial bleeding.  The zabrak, who has no training in medicine, tries his best but ends up making things worse, and his patient stops breathing!  Kero disengages from the fight, and masterfully performs CPR and applies pressure cuffs to Mikaela's wounds, saving her life at the last possible second.  "Never tell me to do that again!" Keth shouts at Kero, and then, with the area still lacking gravity, hurtles himself into the air and punches the remaining cannibal square in the nose, dropping it to the floor and out of the fight.

The pilots carefully move Mikaela into the room with the other unconscious Mynocks, and the group make sure that the access tunnel below is securely barricaded.  Tazo-Rhi, who had avoided getting into the fight, is instructed to stay behind and keep watch in the room so that the others can explore the ship further.  She demurs, noting that she is the only member of Gamma Flight trained to operate in zero-g conditions.  Warik says that, nonetheless, she's the least useful in hand-to-hand combat and that someone has to stay behind.  Kero agrees, saying "listen to handsome."  Warik is infuriated by the remark, but Kero says "What?  You were shouting that on Naboo!"  Warik turns away, and focusses on re-calibrating a fusion cutter he had found into a dangerous, but effective, weapon.

With Warik and Keth scouting ahead, the group advance down another nearby corridor and soon hear the sound of blaster fire in the distance.  Moving carefully, Warik realizes that an electrical surge must have activated an intruder-defence system in a corridor intersection, because a retractable blaster mounted to the ceiling is firing at another group of radiation-scarred madmen far down the corridor.  Warik and Keth decide to run past the turret to continue their exploration along adjoining corridors, but are pinned down.  Warik decides to try to jump up and grab the blaster's barrel, and after a few failed attempts, finally succeeds but is then thrown off as the turret spins rapidly!  Trying one last time, the determined pilot runs and bounces off a wall, hurtling himself toward the ceiling and, this time, hanging on.  While the others continue exploring, he alters the turret's programming, planning to turn it to the group's advantage in the future.

Meanwhile, Max had dashed through the intersection and down another corridor.  His journey stops abruptly when the corridor leads to a deep trench, with another open doorway visible on the far side occupied by more radiation-scarred figures..  A nearby panel, inoperative, is obviously designed to extend a walkway to bridge the gap.  Max returns to the intersection and describes what he's found to Warik.  The latter's knowledge of verpine technology leads him to believe that such trenches are precautions used to separate reactors from crew quarters--thus, Warik says, the way to the engineering deck is across the trench.

Max rushes down a corridor in a different direction, and is startled to find himself shot at by a New Republic trooper in ill-fitting clothing.  "Don't come any closer!" the trooper shouts, obviously terrified.  Max backs off, and waits for Kero to arrive.  When she does, she orders the trooper to explain why he fired.  The trooper gives his name as Private First Class Rol Pibbins, and says he awoke in a stasis pod and found a storeroom where he obtained the uniform and sidearm before being chased by demented crewmen.  Trembling, he says that his escape won't make any difference, because there's no way to get to engineering and the ship is doomed.  He motions vaguely behind him, and then points the pistol at his own temple!  Kero skillfully snaps the young man to attention and orders him to turn the sidearm over to her, explaining that the situation cannot be as bad as he thinks.  Pibbins does as ordered.

Keth, however, has slipped past the young trooper to see what he was motioning towards.  Finding himself in a cabin along the ship's exterior, he looks out the viewport to see a disturbing sight: the ship has become caught up in the orbit of a small moon, and that orbit is deteriorating rapidly.  If power isn't restored from engineering and the ship's course altered from the bridge, the entire vessel will slam into the moon in approximately 12 hours, killing everyone aboard! 

 "We've got problems," Keth announces.
Director's Commentary (17/02/2017)

I loved the encounter where the PCs find themselves fighting the SF equivalent of "fast zombies" in total darkness and zero-g.  Zero-g combat is one of those things very few characters think to become good at, but when you need it, you really need it!

Mikaela Sor, who was the back-up/alternate character for the guy who ran Max, almost died after Keth rolled a natural 1 to stabilize her.  It was only because Kero had a special ability or made an incredibly high DC (I don't remember which) that she was able to be revived.

Of course, any scenario like this one needs constantly building tension, so I had to go with the classic cliffhangar: the whole ship's about to crash!  I know it's self-congratulatory, but I was proud of how this story arc turned out.

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