Lasers and Feelings: Pale Horse

Here is the theme song for the campaign, repeated here in case you need to get in the mood.

Our intrepid space explorers!

  • Captain Pera Dewitt. A changeling, curious, delighted by intrigue and espionage.
  • Chief Engineer Duruk. Lt. Commander, hard boiled and gruff about his paycheck.
  • Dr. Lonona London. Lt. Commander, both Security/Tactical and Counselor. And a Betazoid. Focused on regulations, but enticed by discovery of new worlds.

NPCs of note include:

  • Dr. Rezal, Chief Medical Dudebro.
  • Carol Garcia, First Officer and Communications.
  • Lt. Tinesonis, Engineering second in command.

871221-planet-wallpaper

Tactical Strategics

The four starship captains in the sector met at the Dyvarian IV system base on a volcanic planet with 1.5 Earth gravity. Really, they met to have a poker game where choice crew members were the stakes. Cpt. Dewitt turned out to be an excellent player, keeping her key personnel and picking up a few more expert transporter operators.

Meanwhile Chief Engineer Duruk watched some bloodsports and built a collapsible repulsor couch for Dr. London to carry to patient appointments. Dr. London got a serape of Daravian fabric, recently verified as non-sentient (even though it has cool shape memory and color shifting ability.) Cruelty-free fabrics!

The game broke up early when Cpt. Driller Corbett of the SFS Epoch took off in his big Mauler class starship, with a hot new secret mission. Meanwhile the Raptor was assigned to monitor the Everest XVI space lane. Ho hum.

The Beacon

Some distance into their monitoring mission, they got notice that a data beacon was launched by the the Epoch. Troubled, Cpt. Dewitt diverted course to go check it out. Before they arrived, it sent off a signal that it had been destroyed.

The beacon was dropped at the edge of Klinger space. (Klinger are a more aggressive variant of Klingons, with fancy head fins and bright pink skin.) Three Klinger ships menaced at the border, after blowing up the beacon and the data it promised.

Negotiations to get at the circumstances of the beacon or what it might have contained broke down quickly, but as one of the Klinger ships moved to open fire the other two destroyed it. Cpt. Fitzgerald, the Klinger captain of the Sparrowhawk, agreed to beam over to the Raptor for a discussion. Dr. London replicated some water and a fountain for him, as Klingers value water above all else.

He told them he believed the Epoch was already destroyed, and they should make peace with their gods and put their affairs in order. Their time was nearly done. While he and the Klingers would enjoy a nice war, this was something else. They let him go back to his ship, perplexed as to what to do next.

Now What?

Cpt. Dewitt sent a coded message to the other two captains that had been at the poker game; she did not want to report back to command, but she also did not want to be the only one knowing what was going down.

Cpt. Tenser of the SFS Singer responded to her message, warping to the edge of Klinger space with her to offer what support he could in the ambiguous situation.

After some difficulties using the experimental transporter, the Chief Engineer Duruk wanted to redeem himself. He got the captain’s permission to hack into the sensor net of the Klingers through the enemy ship’s array. He found that the secretive Klinger high command ordered a cleared corridor to an unspecified point in Klinger space. Duruk shared this with the captain, who formed a plan to have the two Space Federation ships warp as fast as they could to get past the border and into the zone of cleared space.

Multiple acts of war were involved in this approach, but the Klingers had already blown up an off-limits target (the beacon) and were clearly up to something shady. Investigation was imperative.

Wreck of the Epoch

They came out of warp at the Epoch’s distress beacon. It had been destroyed. There were only three survivors, from the astrogation lab. Lt. Cmdr. Newcastle was a friend of Dr. London. He reported that they had encountered a Peacekeeper shield ship, one of the vast ship of the line destroyers that had been at war with humanity seven centuries before. One had not been seen in over five hundred years, and the Peacekeepers (not the Farscape version, more like Protoss) had not been seen in centuries. They fell to genocide, and were believed extinct.

The astrogation lab more or less survived because it was drained of data. Now the shield ship was likely to fall back, parse out a detailed route at warp speed, and drop back into subspace close enough to Earth that it could ram the planet, potentially an extinction level event. This was deeply chilling to the crew of the Raptor.

Boarding the Pale Horse

The specialized long-range sensors on the Singer found the shield ship. The intrepid explorers decided to mount two boarding parties, one for the bridge and one for engineering, to try and take control of the threat. The ships could not stand in a space battle, the shield ship was far too much for them. In the Academy, they ran simulations of the fleet against one shield ship, and the best scores were between 10-15% survival of the fleet. Here, they only had two Cutlass class ships.

The sneak attack commenced, finding the shield ship operating at about a quarter power. The Raptor beamed aboard a massive boarding party of over 40 security officers, all they could manage. The captain went along, as well as Dr. London and CE Duruk.

As soon as they arrived, they saw globes of energy with incandescent tendrils; an alien race known as the Drivers, who implant cyber control modules in corpses and inanimate material to control them remotely. That explained why scanning for life signs only revealed 12, and lots of interference; the drivers and their controlled devices or corpses!

The Drivers went incorporeal and dropped through the deck, so Duruk ordered the transporter crew to beam him and 10 security officers down a deck to give chase. He was then menaced by two robots designed to add implants so the Drivers could control the subject. He burned one down with his phaser as the security officers burned down the other. He chased the Drivers, adjusting a setting on his phaser to destroy them even if they were in phase. Threatened by Peacekeeper corpses shuffling along motivated by Driver tech, he led his team down to a lower deck, chasing the Drivers as they drifted through walls and floors.

Meanwhile, Dr. London directed her team as they cut through the bulkheads to get to the bridge, using their phasers. Once on the bridge they confronted a dozen or so Peacekeeper corpses, and blazed through them with a phaser display that looked like a Pink Floyd concert.

Once they had control of the bridge, the captain plunged her hands into the control matrix system of the ship, her hands reshaping to Peacekeeper hands as the system expected. The ship had a basic intelligence she could connect to, and she learned the name of the ship was Pale Horse. It was now a tomb ship, and it was deeply creeped out by the dead hands of its former crew trying to direct it; it felt the spark of life in her and found her interesting.

Dr. London reached out empathically and found the cold and knitted minds of the Driver collective. She dumped powerful emotion into the mind, and they were ill-equipped to cope; she began to hunt their minds and incapacitate them with emotional loads while the boarding party stood guard.

Cpt. Tenser and his team fought their way to Engineering and reported that they were in, and could possibly destroy the ship from there. Security officers relayed this to Dr. London, who roused from her trance. She noticed that Cpt. Dewitt’s face was bleeding, and attempted to empathically connect with her while she was connected to the ship.

CE Duruk found his party hemmed in by Peacekeeper corpses, and he directed their defense, cutting down the dead. They pursued the Drivers into a tomb chamber where the slain officers of the ship were embedded in crystal, pulsing with light. He squared off with a couple Drivers who now sported energy shields, as they mustered their forces to crush the intruders.

He also realized that there was a toxic residue on the ship. It was possible they had been hit by a human chemical weapon that killed them at their stations, centuries ago.

Meanwhile the captain connected with the anti-boarding protocols of the Pale Horse, scanning for the energy signature of the Drivers nervous systems and sending out a pulse that destroyed them and dropped the corpses, their controlling strings cut. Dr. London joined the two of them in psychic connection.

The ship wanted to be a tomb ship once more. Dewitt pointed out others would come, and suggested the ship come with them. The ship could not bear the prospect of dealing with humans, death was better, and counter-offered a trip into the sun. Dewitt wanted to learn from the ship, and it agreed to offer something for them if it was allowed to sun-dive in peace. Dewitt agreed, and the ship released a homing beacon style module with enough alien riddles to keep a xenomorphic studies department busy for decades.

It’s a Wrap

The Star Federation boarding teams returned to their ships. The Raptor snagged the information module. But a small fleet of Klinger ships were inbound, so the SF ships raced across the border as the shield ship ponderously wheeled and targeted a nearby sun, its threat to life on Earth averted.

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