The Telmek Company hired some spacers to go retrieve special samples from one of their scientific expeditions. Rather than pull the whole (expensive) expedition out, they’d grab the red-hot licensing discovery and fly it back safely.
Faden Ren (Simon) was a mutant telepath with a melee focus. Gunther Kline (Shawn) was a focused tech expert. Amaris Grayley (Elizabeth) was a fast-moving linguist with neural data storage. Emily Taylor (Iris) was a doctor with fast reflexes.
They headed to Zygaran Two, an icy moon off the shoulder of a gas giant. The ocean froze there, and the ship landed by the Mast Sea’s west coast, discovering a number of pre-fab building habitats built around the Cramlien research craft. They expected a team of 8 scientists and 3 crew, but it was too cold for a warm welcome.
Welcome to Base Camp
They were greeted by Donaldson, the comm officer, who took them into the habitat where they met Durham, the security officer. Dr. June Avila greeted them, somewhat disappointed they didn’t have a xenobiologist with them. They also met Dr. Vee Sularia, the lead researcher, and Burl Patterson, the ship captain.
Everyone was on edge, nervous, hiding something. They complained of not sleeping well, and they had irritated eyes. Dr. Sularia assured them they were preparing the samples for transport, and the spacers were escorted to an observation room so they could see the surface; once the magnalock snapped shut, they realized it was a handy holding cell too.
After searching the room they realized some components were damaged and replaced, and something in here had actually scratched metal. Gunther popped the magnalock with his multitool, and they cautiously ventured out without supervision.
They met the wild-eyed young woman, Helen Roth. She ushered them back in, and told them that the digging found a habitat structure in the frozen ocean with life forms that weren’t dead, only dormant. Also a signal that could be a Melestrian Era Scattering lost ship. Could these creatures be human? And the dreams intensified, and got worse. The hibernating things woke up and proved dangerous–then she got paranoid, looking around at something only she could see, whipping out a super-heated ice pick and trying to defend herself. She fell screaming, and her neck broke.
They ventured out again and ran into Donaldson, who told them he was opportunistic and wanted to get out of this and get some fat bonus money and put it all in the past. So, he wanted to get some data and samples maybe, then get off this moon while there was still time. Part of the problem was the proprietary information was all coded through the Cramlien research craft, and if it got a certain distance away it would auto-corrupt; the databank in Amaris’s head could prevent that.
They got across the bitter cold to the prefab building over the mine shaft, and found Donaldson’s code had been changed, he was locked out. Again they had to defeat the security, but this time the cold took a toll on their bodies. They eventually staggered in, and then took the lift down the endless 45 degree shaft cut through frozen ocean, glittering denizens of the deep looking through the ice at them as they descended, absorbing and reflecting light from their bioluminescence.
The hallucinations were getting worse for the crew, apparently. They found Dr. Avila’s lab, with frozen fish-people and also thawed fish people and one she was vivisecting that apparently was hard to kill. She thought they were hallucinations, then could not bear their noise, and came at them with a gun. They put her down, and put her corpse with another corpse she had shoved off to the side.
Rather than risk anything waking up (there was scattered gunfire, the captain and security officer were hunting something in the excavated habitat) they sawed off a head and put it in a specimen jar, then downloaded masses of the experimental data into Amaris’s head.
Some mutagenic force, possibly psychic in nature, had caused mutation on what were once humans into these hardy and immortal fish people. That was a massive find to the sponsoring corporation, and what they came to find. Now it was time to take the self-interested double agent Donaldson and get out.
Their ship was half-buried in ice, a storm was raging and they knew they wouldn’t be able to immediately leave. However, the Cramlien research craft was much bigger and stronger. The only one aboard was Dr. Sylaria, the leader of the expedition. She let them aboard, and took off, tearing loose of the ice and dragging their ship along with the tractor beam.
She was going to keep them off the bridge, but together they persuaded her to let them come up and help. She had the place set up with plants and incense and soft lighting, and she was meditating and preparing herself, resisting her dreams. They realized she was going to jump the research craft directly into the sun to cover up the event and hopefully discourage future expeditions. The dreaming force deep below that changed the fish people was at work on her and her crew, and what if its mutagenic force changed them too?
The spacers had a quiet desperate message sent to their bosses asking for the override codes for the ship, then negotiated with Sylaria. They appealed to her, and she agreed to let them escape in their ship (thinking the data would be wiped, when in fact it was protected.) They got down to their ship before they got the message from the corp with the override codes.
Returning to the ship, they took control and locked the doctor up, then took the research vessel and its prize data and even a sample back to the corp; the Telmek Company was overjoyed and paid them huge bonuses to keep their mouths shut.