The Tech Mark company hired three spacers to handle a little job for them.
- Whiteout. Cyborg bounty hunter and scholar. (Jonathan)
- Karnak. Armored regenerating mutant with blue skin and melee weapons. (Simon)
- Vance Cross. Vampiric mutant gunslinger. (Vandel)
Director Phillip Chalmer told them they were to go to Argus 9 to find the Deva, a Tallymarker freighter captained by Jack Wentzler, with first mate Solomon Keller and mine expert Laura Smithson. They were to retrieve any survivors, find out what went wrong there, and if possible bring back the cargo module or the whole ship.
Karnak was a little distressing on the week long trip out, as he was incessantly moving and refused to take off his heavy armor, and he muttered to the voices in his head that were bloody gods of some kind.
Upon the approach, they got the transponder signal from the Deva, but no distress signal and no response to their hailing calls. A huge sandstorm was scouring the surface, and the Deva was parked in a crevasse. Whiteout modulated the shields to reduce wind interference, and Cross set the ship down neatly 30 meters from the Deva.
Karnak trotted off the ship as soon as they landed. The toxicity in the air negated his regeneration, but he could function fine. As the other two scanned the atmosphere, donned light armor, and installed rebreathers, Karnak strode towards the Deva, then veered off course when a boulder cracked apart to reveal a camouflaged monster.
Cross hastily manned the ship’s nose gun from the cockpit as Whiteout rushed out to help. Between a blast from the ship gun and Karnak’s sword, the big monster went down fast. They redirected their attention to the Deva as Cross recalibrated the life scanner to look for the concealed crab things; he revealed dozens of them! One was near Whiteout, about to jump him. He rushed towards Karnak, who slew four or five of them in a hurricane of roaring violence. Cross used the nose gun to fry a few more, and the survivors took defensive positions away from the spacers.
Karnak was headed for the Deva again, as was Whiteout, when Whiteout noticed pustules on the slain rock creatures. Examining one, he found a chunk of green rock that faded to black when removed. He headed back to the ship to get a limb kit, used to store severed body parts until they could be microsutured back on, to get the rocks in isolation so they didn’t lose the green and fade to black when removed from the corpse.
Inspired by this discovery, Karnak stomped over to the huge critter he killed first, and tore a volley-ball sized chunk of the green stone out of it. It replaced the voices of the mad gods in his head and energized his blood, and whispered to him that a false champion was below and he must slay it to take its place. He stamped over to the mining shaft alone, the rock tucked under his arm.
Whiteout climbed up the ruptured hull around the landing gear, thinking the crab things forced their way in. He saw a bloody human handprint, and as he got into the ship he realized based on the clues left behind that a humanoid climbed up in here, shrugged off blaster fire, tore someone apart, and chased someone else into the panic room, also ripping out part of the console so the ship couldn’t issue a distress beacon or call for help or respond to calls. Then the gangplank was left open, but the crab things didn’t come aboard.
Concerned about Karnak’s lone quest, the other two tried to fix the ship, with Whiteout under the console finding it was tragically shorted out and probably unfixable. So, Whiteout would have to fly the Persephone (the same kind of freighter, the ship they arrived in) and connect to the cargo module and at least fly that home.
While Whiteout busied himself with that, Cross grimly followed Karnak, wondering what he would find as he pursued the obsessed and insane warrior underground.
Karnak found a mass of black stone, boiling from the earth and frozen in position, sliding down into a green bioluminescent lake where a woman sat in the foul waters. She rose to the presence of a challenger, spines as weapons sliding out of her forearms and into her grip. They slashed at each other, and Karnak slew her, then his stone demanded he crush her bones with it. He did so. The stone wanted to replace his weak heart of meat with itself, and it bled off some size and mass with liquid mutagen into his gauntlets, pleased with his sacrifice. Karnak managed to tear open his own chest, rip out his heart, and stuff the stone in its place. He survived.
At that moment the sandstorm abruptly stopped, as though a door had closed.
Meanwhile Whiteout had gotten to the Persephone’s controls and tried to maneuver it into position, but he bent the docking pylons, and would not be able to haul the module out. He saw Karnak’s self-surgery on the tactical helmet cam and relayed events to Cross, who was climbing down the elevator shaft. Cross reversed direction, climbing back out; clearly Karnak needed no help, and they might want to escape him.
However, Karnak caught up, and bragged that he slew a false champion and became one himself, and did not immediately act towards them. They worked to fix the bent pylons as seismic activity stepped up. They succeeded heroically and pulled out with the module, and the triggering event of the takeoff provoked the shudder that closed the ground as though the crevasse had never been.
They flew home and got 800 credits and leveled up.