The pilots of Gamma Flight have overcome many challenges during their short stint in Mynock Squadron. But now, they face their greatest challenge yet aboard a mysterious verpine vessel. With few weapons, little information, and wandering bands of flesh-hungry madmen in their way, they must somehow restore power to the engines and reach the ship’s bridge. Because in a scant few hours, the entire vessel will crash into a small moon . . .
The pilots of Mynock Squadron’s Gamma Flight find their situation deteriorating rapidly. Just as everyone hears the news that the ship has only hours left before it crashes into a small moon, they feel the wind start to whistle by and hear a rapidly approaching slamming sound in the distance. Warik quickly realizes that somewhere on the ship, there’s been an explosive decompression and that emergency bulkheads are sealing off sections of the ship. Although the lure of finding the storeroom that PFC Pibbins mentioned is tempting, the risk of being trapped is deemed too great. Instead, the pilots decide to head straight for engineering to try to stabilize the reactor and restore full power to the engines and to the bridge’s control surfaces.
The pilots hurry to the deep abyss that Max had found earlier. Spotting two shadowy figures lurking menacingly on the far side, Kero snaps off some shots with the blaster pistol she commandeered from PFC Pibbins. She hits both of the figures, and they move away. Warik examines the verpine mechanism to extend a bridge over the abyss, and although recognizing there’s a risk it won’t move the entire way, he manages to reroute enough emergency power to cover the wide gap. Kero covers him as he starts across, and she drops one of the radiation-scarred madmen that charges out. Warik finishes off the second one with a fusion-cutter he’s improvised into a flamethrower!
Once everyone crosses the bridge, Warik’s recollection of having studied the ship’s plan serves him well, as he leads everyone through labyrinthine corridors with only a few mistakes. The engine room is filled with vast, incomprehensible verpine machinery, but the reactor chamber is easy to spot. Flashing lights warn of danger in both verpine and broken Basic: “CAUTIOUSNESS! SEARING GASEOSITY RUPTURES LAY FORWARD!” It becomes apparent that ducts carrying special gases needed to stabilize the reactor core have jarred loose and need to be fixed, but they periodically spray the room with highly caustic gases. In addition, a new subroutine needs to be added to the main computer system overseeing the reactor to divert enough power from every other system to the ship’s engines. The risk is great, as a safety decontamination chamber prevents entry to the reactor core until a full minute has passed by—anyone who collapses inside would likely die before help could arrive!
After a determined search, a verpine-sized radiation suit is found in a disused storage locker. Although too small and wrongly-tailored to provide full protection, the pilots alter it into a serviceable cloak and attach a respirator found earlier. Kero enters the chamber first and heads straight for the computer terminal. The makeshift containment suit helps her resist the acidic gases just long enough to finish the new subroutine, and she escapes, hurt but still strong. The cloak, however, now has large holes in it and will provide less protection for the next wearer. Warik and Keth, each of whom have expertise in mechanics, have both been severely wounded since their awakening on aboard the vessel. They decide to trade off the work of repairing the ducts. Warik bravely enters first, and makes excellent progress but soon collapses! He barely manages to crawl out, severely burned. Keth takes his turn and completes the work.
Emergency power has been made available to the engines, but one last task remains: someone has to reach the bridge and pilot the vessel out of harm’s way! Warik presents three options for getting to the bridge: travelling through regular corridors and dealing with emergency bulkheads on the way; using the power diffusion tunnels, which are still dangerous but less so now that power has been partially stabilized; or climbing through turbolift shafts and risking a power-surge that would send a car slamming into them. The power diffusion tunnels are selected as the best route, but Warik and Keth are too injured to make the journey. Instead, it’s decided that they’ll stay behind and man consoles to try to redirect any surges that would fry their teammates.
As Max and Kero prepare to depart on their final, risky journey through the verpine vessel, Kero tells Max to take the fusion-cutter flamethrower from Warik. He declines, saying that he’s much better in hand-to-hand combat using his fists. Kero is undeterred, however, and tells Max again to take the flamethrower, adding “that’s an order.” He again refuses, and tries to walk on, but Kero grabs him by the shoulder, obviously getting angry. When Max refuses a third time to take the flamethrower, Kero draws her sidearm and points it at him! “This isn’t a frakking democracy!” she shouts. She warns him that mutiny or insubordination won’t be tolerated. Max says that when lives are at stake, he'll do what he thinks is right. Warik intervenes in the heated scene, saying that both need to put their egos aside and focus on their ultimate goal of saving the ship. He tells Kero that she shouldn’t run roughshod over her men and undermine their esprit d’corp. She replies that with the squad so badly decimated, she won’t tolerate slackers and disobedient subordinates.
When Kero and Max take to the power diffusion tunnels, they make relatively quick progress and are only lightly singed by a minor surge. The two emerge in a corridor adjacent to the bridge, and Max successfully slices through the security door to gain entry. The bridge is empty, and seeing the vacant helmsman’s chair, Max eagerly rubs his hands together. “I’ve got this!” he says with a smile. Kero is annoyed that he pushes past her to grab the seat, but she decides to serve as his co-pilot. The operation of piloting the ship into a stable orbit still carries risk, as the verpine ship could prove unwieldy in the wrong hands and one false step would plunge it straight towards the moon. However, Max is a natural at flying and has no difficulty at the controls.
Director's Commentary (3/03/2017)
I liked the idea of having a deep chasm spanned by narrow bridges, as (for whatever reason) they always seem to be a big part of the ships in the Star Wars movies.
This session featured a ton of skill challenges, each with some major risks, but once again the PCs did a surprisingly great job at solving them. There was some excellent teamwork and role-playing, with the most dramatic incident being Max's disobedience of a direct order. That's a big no-no in a military-themed campaign, and will have repercussions later in the campaign.