Blades in the Dark: Clockworkers. The Emperor of Goats

BitD Title_01 by James Dudli

  • Pledge. (Elizabeth) An Akorosizan Slide.
  • Deadlock. (Shaun) A Dagger Islander Lurk.
  • Echo. (Iris) An Akorosian Whisper.
  • Needles. (Matthew) An Iruvian Cutter.
  • Zero. (Simon) An Iruvian Hound.

Flush with Coin and low on stress, the Clockworkers were positioned to really DO something. They looked around their new turf and found out Madame Phylo of the Redbud in Shaver’s Row was annoyed with the Shaggy Six; a pack of Skovs who left their territory to come to Shaver’s Row to drink and party, then return home leaving unpaid bills, broken furniture, and savaged locals. Without much Crowfeather presence, they would likely get worse, as the bluecoats just surround the area and monitor the situation until the Six leave on their own.

Freeplay 1: The Shaggy Six

They acquired a mass of Nightwort, a cheap and nasty knockout drug. They deployed their gang of lookouts to keep an eye out for the Shaggy Six. When the Six showed up, headed for the Gecko (a popular Dagger Islands themed bar, which means Industrial Gothic Tiki) the Clockworkers got enough notice to get in position.

There were only four members in the Shaggy Six, but one of them had a pet landeel (like a shark, with legs instead of fins, about 5 feet long and an appendage-amputating bite.) They picked fights with some locals, but Pledge pulled the locals over to drink with her and Echo. Deadlock dosed the Skov drinks, and the Skovs (who didn’t START drinking here) didn’t detect the drugs. They were incapacitated, and Needles fired some sleepy darts from her cane into the landeel. The bluecoats picked them up (they were already wanted for plenty of stuff, no need to frame them) and carted them away.

Freeplay 2: Humphry and the Betting Cages

Looking around their territory, they decided they’d like to take over the betting cages of the hagfish arena (now that they had Shaver’s Row; they might take this thing over one piece at a time.) The betting cages were a well-established information drop and money laundromat.

The man in charge was not with the Crows. He was a big Tycherosian named Humphry, and he had Tycherosian help. He ran a side business of selling custom bred pets, focusing on dewlap hounds (lizards with bacteria-loaded bites that were ugly-cute, big dog sized, and scaled instead of furred.)

They contemplated kidnapping and relocating him, or selling him to his enemies, or killing him outright. They decided to hang on to that “savvy” reputation and offer him something else he wanted more. Zero was still keen to steal the most amazing stud goat in Doskvol, Sparticus. Maybe offer him that magnificent goat for his experiments in breeding monsters, in exchange for his spot at the hagfish arena? Better check and make sure he’s into it before going to all the effort of stealing one of the hardest-to-fence objects in the city.

Pledge and Needles worked through Klyra, who owned a tavern and bought a dewlap hound (named “Snippy Snippy”) who agreed to vouch for them and set up a meet with Humphry so they could buy a dewlap hound of their own.

Escorted back to his throne room, they saw the stylish and magnificently-horned Tycherosian vamping on his throne (it had human skulls bolted on the arms, with something tasty on them, so the dewlap hound would lick them, distressing some visitors.) They got a tour of the breeding facility (some of it anyway) and found out he also had gas-belching burricks he had recently refined in their bloodlines.

They bought a dewlap hound egg, and he painted a sigil for Needles’ name on the egg so the creature would enter the world through her name and imprint on her.

They also pitched the idea of trading Sparticus for his business here; they managed to paint a captivating picture of what could be possible with such strong genetics, and they successfully got him excited about the idea. Now all they had to do was steal Sparticus, the best-defended goat in Doskvol.

To Steal the Emperor Goat

They had to spread some Coin around to basically buy time to do this heist right. Zero dressed in a gilly suit to observe the defenses for a couple weeks. Sparticus was owned by Baron Launius Krek IV, and his estate was in southern Barrowcleft against the massive outer wall, with an interior wall and a moat. On one side, eeleries, dark paddies of knee-deep water twitching with weeds and eels. On the other, radiant fields with glowing willows and crops planted in circles around them. The inner wall was staffed with snipers, and there was practically no cover. The main gate was one way in, and there was a sally port out to a greenspace on the other side, and that was it.

They found out a caravan came and went every three days, led by Captain Veers. Chael, a vicious thug, also knew they were connected to the Hive; he went to find out more, but sort of started punching people and got arrested. Both Veers and the baron were known to like antiques.

Zero smuggled Echo out to review the situation in the Ghost Field, and Echo saw that there was a reserve tank of electroplasm in a Ghost Field backup station. Even if something happened to the tanks on this side of the Mirror, the lightning wall would persist for a while. Also, that the design of the big electroplasmic fences was to pull in nearby ghosts, shred them, and use their energy for the fence; the harder they were hit, the more energy they drew from their attackers. More importantly, there was a ghost door between the outside of the inner wall by a water runoff, and the door to a tower to one of the lightning wall projectors inside the compound.

They studied an old diagram they found of making a harness that had syringes all slaved to a leather pull strap, so you put it on the goat and when you pulled the strap several syringes simultaneously injected to knock the goat out. After all, if Sparticus decided he didn’t want to be stolen, what would they do? He was stronger than all of them together, standing six foot at the shoulder. Deadlock cobbled together the harness and spent plenty of cash to get the best knockout drugs the crew could get their hands on.

Into the Compound

They borrowed an old goat, Minnie, and a wagon, and had their gang pull out any old furniture that looked like antiques, filling the wagon. They figured they’d fall in line with the caravan and get in; the baron liked a little mini market set up in his compound that he could visit without bothering to go into the city.

One bad engagement roll later, they were isolated in the murder hole between the gate into the tunnel through the wall and the gate out, portcullises down and arrow slits open. They presented the papers that Deadlock had forged (and spent a pretty penny on) and the papers were just good enough. They were escorted in to set up their wares, and it turns out after the urchins loaded the cart, they went out shopping for leviathan-hunter-related antiques and bought some actual pieces for their cover; fortunately, their wares stood up to cursory inspection.

While Pledge set up, the others slipped over to where some hats and coats of local servants were on a fencepost. There were pagodas for goats, with fresh fields for frolicking and grazing, and mangers. Then there was a palace, erected for Sparticus, the Emperor of Goats.

Getting to Sparticus

They surreptitiously sprinkled goat amp in the mangers of as many goats as they could, then blew the tiny horn summoning goats to supper. The goats were confused by the change of schedule, but obediently trotted out to their mangers, and moments later there was free-form pandemonium as goats were freaking out all over the place.

With the snipers busy trying to figure out what the hell was going on, the crew clambered up the back of the goat palace and through the vent, seeing the box seats overlooking the fresh grass and waterfall to care for Sparticus, Emperor of Goats. He was magnificent, almost glowing, with his recurve horns and double bar pupils in golden orbs. The goat ignored them, but his guardian did not.

A figure in lacquer armor with waterproofed fabrics and a mask drew a long sword and leaped into the rafters, ambushing them; they were all engaged with looking for the guardian, spotting him in time to cue Needles to fight him, and Needles dodged his savage attack. The four of them (plus Zero’s cat) kept the lone warrior busy, darting in strikes where they could, and put the guardian down. Needles knelt on his back and slit his throat, releasing black blood. Not wanting to think about that any further, they turned their attention to the goat, who seemed unbothered by the battle.

Deadlock figured out how to lower the elegant drawbridge, and Echo reached through the Ghost Field to touch the animal’s consciousness. She formed some kind of connection, so the goat would be patient and obedient–to a point. Deadlock and Zero managed to get the harness on the massive beast, and they led him out of his palace.

Getting Sparticus Out

All the snipers and servants and guards immediately oriented on Sparticus when the magnificent creature entered the open space. They acted fast, with Deadlock hurling a smokebomb in the air that detonated to cover a fairly large area, and they held on to Sparticus as Echo guided the giant goat towards the base of the lightning tower.

She used her spirit mask to unfold the ghost door, borrowing some of the incredible vitality of the Emperor of Goats, startled to feel a touch of the energy of the broken sun in his bones. The Ghost Door had been created by the Spirit Wardens, but there was some consonance between the beaks of the deathseeker crows and the horns of this gladiator goat, reducing the difficulty.

The door opened, and the four rogues plus the Emperor of Goats passed through. They found themselves in a chill space with black and blue-rimed stone breathing fog. They navigated quickly to the exit, but before they reached it, the goat’s guardian came for them, hurling a spear on a chain and nailing Needles in the back, ready to reel her back. The guardian’s slit throat was leaking black blood as though there was no gravity, and it formed a macabre cloak behind him.

Needles was not to be trifled with, and she dropped to her knees and resisted the tug, so the blade flipped free and twirled back towards the guardian that pursued them; they made the most of the moment and pushed through, exiting the Ghost Field and reaching the living side of the Mirror between the inner wall and the moat.

Back to Town

Echo managed to persuade Sparticus to swim the moat with them holding on, and Sparticus’ patience was just about exhausted. They headed back to the road, trusting that the shenanigans inside would keep the snipers busy, and putting a camo tarp over the Emperor of Goats to hide his glory.

They reached the road, where the urchin gang brought a heavy wagon intended for moving stone from the quarry through town. Coaxing Sparticus on it, Deadlock then pulled the leather strap and fired the injectors, knocking the noble beast out cold (and cementing its dislike of him for all time.)

The crew headed back to Crow’s Foot, using some gondoliers who owed them a favor and sneaking through back routes to get home without revealing their intensely valuable, illegal, and deadly cargo.

Meanwhile, Pledge was left on her own. She had prepared for this by purchasing an antique spyglass enchanted to color demonic energies yellow, and she offered it to Captain Veers if he would vouch for her; she became his niece, and six hours later they were allowed to return to the city.

Wrap Up

All the money they would make from this through side channels was choked off by either the need for absolute secrecy or the costs of restraints and care for the monster. They got a 3 Rep boost; it wasn’t clear what they had to do with it, but they were near it, and it was the most audacious theft in years. Deadlock’s work with harnesses and syringes paid off, and they got lots of tips and tricks for carrying stuff subtly.

The Hive was furious, and loomed large to make their lives miserable for the foreseeable future; they sent a diplomatic envoy to the Hive, targeting Captain Veers as he might be somewhat sympathetic, and offered to do a heist for them (now they proved they are capable) as a symbolic offering to make peace. The Hive reluctantly accepted their counter proposal.

They cleared off stress and Heat. Needles finished cementing her friendship with Madame Phylo of the Redbud on behalf of the crew. Echo finished decoding one of the two ledgers stolen from the Crowfeathers and sold it to Lyssa for 4 Coin, helping the somewhat depleted coffers of the crew.

As they settled in to taking over the betting cages as well as Shaver’s Row it was time to get ready for whatever the Hive might want next.

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Drink Spin Run: Investigative Games

I’m a guest on a podcast, talking about investigative games!

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Black Space: Lost Guardian 4. Monsters

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  • Smitty. (Brian) Captain. A focused spacer with a remote built in so he could control drones, gifted with sharp senses. He had a salvage kit and a drone named Jethro.
  • Gasper. (Jesse) Disfigured ship’s medic.
  • Jan Klaya. (Jeremy) Charismatic sword mystic.

Clyde Bruskin was so skilled with tech that he could put in twice the effective tech hours, better than other spacers, so they left him to get the parts put in. It would take the tireless spacer 13 hours to install the burner and the scrubber, so they were on the clock to get the administrative permission to take off.

They asked Jack who else could grant permission to take off, and he told them Lt. Commander 1st Class Anna Graymalkin could do it. She was logged in to the Belarra Preserve.

Three spacers armored up and headed through the Fringe all over Telmar Bay to go check out the entrance.

They found the entry, but it had a “stay out” pole with various heads and masks on it, and a rusted bulkhead that Smitty’s drone buzzed to find out the other side was a deep pit, and beyond that a door guarded by the purple tough guys.

Reexamining their map, they saw the Tarmaxians were adjacent, and connected; maybe they would help.

Doctor Duke

They approached the Tarmaxian entrance, a spare staircase leading up to a bulkhead, flanked by autogun turrets tuned to a sensor fence. Smitty stepped out to parlay, and a Tarmaxian came down the stairs to chat with him.

He explained the Tarmaxians were mercenary bounty hunter doctors with high tech, distant from various factions in an attempt to stay neutral. Their connection to the Belarra Preserve (or The Garden as the Gardeners call it) was sealed by mutual agreement, except in case of emergency.

Rather than offering errands, Duke discouraged them from working with him, as it carried a price too high because he had to assure their trustworthiness. On the other hand, he encouraged them to escape Telmar Bay, so he told them about how the Gardeners had their own Garden of Eden and would see spacers as “Softies” who were mythical deity figures to them. Smitty thanked Doctor Duke for his time, and they headed back to the Garden.

The Garden

They asked nicely, and the Gardner guard extended the ramp and ushered them into the Garden, taking them to meet the Floating King on the Drifting Throne. In a hollow flanked by cliffs, they saw the King, on a throne flanked by seats and supplies, mounted on the stripped foundation of a hover bus, a meter above the ground. His throne had a killer bird skull on a stick to control its drift, which was slowly to starboard most of the time. King Driftsless welcomed them as Softies and ordered a Righteous Party, where they arranged boulders for the Softies to sit on, and entertained them with various meat and plants. Klaya sat on the Drifting Throne by the King.

Gasper was impressing the Gardeners with his ability to eat anything, and he got chummy with Shaman Nobelt (who had a pot belly.) He casually asked after Graymalkin’s login, and Nobelt freaked out and accused them of being monsters. It was up to the spacers to prove they were Softies, not monsters, or they faced death!

Klaya appealed to the King that surely they were not monsters, calming things down some. The King set a challenge that only Softies (not monsters) could do; fix the drift of his throne. They lacked the proper tools to do so, but he pointed out there were tools in a nearby cave, only a family of 3 deathbirds were living there. They had an egg, though, and if they were defeated there would be another Righteous Party and this time they’d eat the deathbird egg too. They had one hour.


The shaman led them to the cave; it was a garage. Smitty and Gasper took cover, and Klaya climbed up on top of the entry. Smitty shot at the birds, and they came out in a rush of fury; Klaya leaped down to ride one, missed, and ended up flat on her back with a deathbird stamping on her. It managed to wipe out her belt shield as she cut it badly.

The birds were gunned down by the spacers, and they checked out the garage, finding the big egg and also a back room with the necessary tools.

The Righteous Party

Returning to the King, Klaya took time to wash up while Smitty and Gasper worked on the throne; it was a puzzling design, and they were having trouble until they realized the stabilizing matrices were based on theremin technology, and they had to put their hands into the fields and do it manually. They fixed the throne.

The King declared himself anointed by the Softies as King Nodrift, and they had a righteous party that outshone the previous party. The spacers and the King also partook of the hardboiled deathbird egg, which was like rock candy mixed with teriyaki jerky (as close as their senses could interpret the new flavor and texture.) It was oddly affecting.

Shaman Nobelt took them to the Glowing Altar, hidden in a cliff. Graymalkin had been logged in for 425 years, and the Gardners prevented linguistic drift by watching her entertainment list, which included a lot of surfer shows and movies.

Feeling a strange reverence, the spacers enlisted Jack’s help to use Graymalkin’s credentials to authorize their escape. Then they looked deeper into the history of the ship.

Lost Guardian

The ship launched about 825 years ago, sister to the Colony Ship, aimed at a colony 2,000 years away. About 200 years out, they were hit by a cosmic mutagenic wave that killed or changed most of those on board; some made it to vaults built into the superstructure. Some engines exploded. Some engines ran on dimensional folding technology, so some parts of the ship were moved beyond detection or communication with the rest of the ship. Survivors mutated.

That was 625 years ago now. The vast self-replenishing ship could perhaps go on forever. It was over 100 miles long, some of that now in other dimensions. It was a mass of life and death dragged through the void that rivaled the density of some colonies on planets.

Downloading as much as they could into a data cube that they would have to build new technology to read, the spacers took what records they could and left the Glowing Altar as they found it. As the shaman said, push no red Xs, never turn it off. A snapshot to an ancient past.


King Nodrift was so impressed with them he let them ride his giant red triceratops back to their ship. They were mounted on a howdah on its back, and they saw some of the chasekin who were after them run afoul of some of the teksuppar who were after them. But they made it back safe, boarding the ship, putting in the last few hours of work, and blasting out into space.

As they parted ways, they saw the ship from space. In the void, its viewports and energy leaks and damage and displays formed their own constellations against the cosmic background. Then the spacers turned their backs on the spectacle and resumed their journey in Medusa’s Scow, back to the world they knew.

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Blades in the Dark: Clockworkers. Shaver’s Row

BitD Title_01 by James Dudli

  • Pledge. (Elizabeth) An Akorosizan Slide.
  • Deadlock. (Shaun) A Dagger Islander Lurk.
  • Echo. (Iris) An Akorosian Whisper.
  • Needles. (Matthew) An Iruvian Cutter.
  • Zero. (Simon) An Iruvian Hound.

Ashes was out, but Echo, Needles, and Zero came back. Zero was musing about getting in to the goat trading industry, possibly stealing Sparticus, a handsome stud goat who was well protected and valuable.

Needles countered with a proposal to start aggression against the cult of the Dreaming God; her family had been burning tentacles for religious reasons, hoping to sour the dreams of cultists, and the crew could steal gems and pressed gold and other valuables from the cult.

Ultimately they decided they wanted to get some more turf. They evaluated two options.

Feathers and Lies is a group of runners and information brokers, young people generally, often connected to Strathmill’s orphan work mill. They could look into taking over management of that network.

Instead they targeted Shaver’s Row, the outdoor bazaar of booths and tents wrapped around the flank of the hagfish arena. Its transient low-paperwork environment made it ideal for fencing goods at a healthy profit, and the Clockworkers wanted to control it.

Scoping Out Shaver’s Row

They discovered that Captain Dimsworth was the bluecoat assigned to Shaver’s Row. He had a watch tower at the end of the Row, but also spent quite a bit of time in the Redbud, a tea house with a brothel as an open secret. The attractive building rising above the tents and shoddy booths was crowned with a radiant redbud growing on a glass dome on the roof, so it was very fancy. However, his investigations of the place got Zero banned.

On the Crow’s side, Marsden was the leader of the Crowfeathers, a big and violent gang that kept the crime in Shaver’s Row organized. Marsden had a rep for being volatile and unpredictable; he might laugh off bad news, or kill the messenger. His people were paranoid and alert. They also wore black and gray serapes and puttees on the legs, usually fighting with long paired knives tucked out of sight until it was killing time.

There were rumors that Marsden might be blackmailing Lyssa, the leader of the Crows, and that’s how he kept his spot in spite of being erratic and arrogant. Pledge checked with Baz to see if there was any secret dirt. Turns out Roric, the previous leader of the Crows, was safe from murder because his mother was a witch who swore to take revenge on the murderer.

But Lyssa may have worked something out to capture Roric’s spirit in a spirit jar of some kind, so his mother could have him with her all the time, and Lyssa could get away with murder. Still, the mother witch died a few months later, and then Marsden rose to power; Baz suspects Marsden has Roric’s spirit and is blackmailing Lyssa, threatening to have the dead leader identify her as his killer, putting her in a very difficult position.

Deadlock worked with Petra, the city clerk with access to restricted building permits. She knew that the plans to the tunnels under Shaver’s Row were risky to share, so she asked Deadlock to kill someone for her. He agreed he would, and she showed him the plans from before the new plumbing went in 30 years ago. The old ineffecient drains for emptying the hagfish arena and dealing with heavy rains were under the Redbud and parts of Shaver’s Row, providing the secret bases the Crowfeathers needed.


They decided to sneak into the secured Crowfeathers underground beneath the Redbud to steal Roric’s spirit jar. As they started up the tunnel, dozens of bluecoats assembled outside, shouting that the place was surrounded; they even brought an electroplasmic light and shined it up the big drain, almost catching the crew before they ducked around the corner.

In ducking around the corner, they came face to face with two Crowfeather guards. While some of the crew swooned and faked surprise and babbling explanations, that was a cover as the others jumped and slew one guard. The other tried to get away, but didn’t get far before hurled weapons and needles from a trick cane killed him. The crew finished lowering the gate into Crowfeather territory, and hid the bodies while Pledge dressed up like a Crowfeather in case further deception was needed.

Echo had difficulty locking on to the signal of a spirit jar, with the death all around and the black emptiness of hagfish nearby. They continued to explore, hearing sounds of battle upstairs, noting that the Crowfeathers had an “all hands on deck” situation upstairs.

They found two more doorguards, a clear sign they were close to something important. They faked the “guard and prisoner” act and got close enough to murder both guards, then they opened the door and found themselves face to face with a hull guarding the hallway.

The crew convinced the hull that it had forgotten the password, and they had said the password and it was right but the hull forgot, and that there was a new password anyway so the old one didn’t matter; the brow-beaten and confused hull let them through.

They found an underground lounge. It had a heavily protected double door, a well protected door with the Crowfeather sigil on it, and a relatively unprotected locked door. They used Deadlock’s expertise to break into the Crowfeather’s vault room.

All the Loot

They found piles of treasure, and chose to take a selection.

  • A skull with crystal lenses over the eye holes that held Roric’s furious spirit. 1 load.
  • 2 big ledger books with coded entries. 1 load each.
  • Small ingots of Skovlander silver with the Skov mint printed on them; 6 bricks, 1 load/Coin each.
  • A lockbox. 3 loads.
  • The Mantle of Feathers, a rare treasure made of Deathseeker Crow feathers and parts (2 loads)

Loaded down some, but not too much, they crossed the lounge to the poorly protected door. The north-facing arches under this area all had a star, to help navigate; Deadlock discovered that much in his work with Petra. And to the south there were sluiceways in parallel, with too many entries to be guarded or sealed, so if they could go south they’d get out.

As they retreated, they heard exasperated Crowfeathers yelling the password “brisket” to the hull, who furiously insisted it had been changed, and was bawling them out and angry all around.

On the way out they passed a vampire in a Crowfeather outfit just laying on the ground out beyond the secured tunnels, so they yelled that the way was open if he wanted to go in, and kept running, hoping he wasn’t interested in them. (Turns out he wasn’t.)

They made a clean getaway.


They found out a whisper named Eightydeath stormed the Redbud and slew a number of Crowfeathers over some personal issue, that’s why the bluecoats were trying to isolate the establishment.

In digging around the clocktower lair, they found an old lockbox area for valuables and tools, and converted it seamlessly to serve them as a vault.

Petra was swept up by the bluecoats for questioning, as there were irregularities in the records of who accessed the tunnel schematics. Deadlock worked through his bluecoat friend Darmot to pay off the right people and get her released before there was any real pressure.

They set up backchannel diplomacy to arrange a meeting with Lyssa, in the hagfish arena. There they gave her the Mantle of Feathers and Roric’s skull, and in exchange she gave them stewardship over Shaver’s Row on behalf of the Crows. (More or less.) They parted ways amicably.

For the rest of the downtime they dealt with stress issues, cleared off the substantial heat from the operation, and started breaking the code on the ledger books. They also started striking up a relationship with Madame Phylo, the madame of Redbud, to get her as an NPC contact. Meanwhile Zero was caught padding around underground, and that’s his second strike; the Redbud staff will want to kill him next time he’s caught on their property (though the change in circumstances may change that result.)

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Black Space: Guardian Ship 3. Permissions

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There is our new logo by Vandel Arden! Back to the adventure in progress:

  • Smitty. (Brian) Captain. A focused spacer with a remote built in so he could control drones, gifted with sharp senses. He had a salvage kit and a drone named Jethro.
  • Clyde Bruskin. (Mr. S) Tech and all around tough guy.
  • Jan Klaya. (Jeremy) Charismatic sword mystic.

Smitty released the drone to inform the Bounders that they had Scratched Skull’s cybernetic skull to trade, and they headed back to the safety of the ship. They took Dollface, the tall and muscular teenage mutant, and the small mushroom creature, Gnobbly. They got back to their crashed ship, Medusa’s Scow, and found that the archaic work of the repair drones on the hull damaged some internal systems. Gasper would need to stay behind and monitor the life support systems to make sure everything remained stable.

Waiting to Trade

They offered Dollface some food, and she rejected their processed space rations and took a stick out to hunt for local plants and animals. She told them about the Fringe, genetically altered bioweaponry that they encountered before; dangerous plants that threatened the Garden where she lived. She brought back food that looked unappetizing (to the point where Smitty ate space rations, thank you very much) but everyone else tried the local food.

Gnobbly wanted to talk to Klaya, and spritzed her with telepathic spores, so they entered the same consciousness and Gnobbly told her a little about his people, and how they lived under the deck plating of Telmar Bay (as well as many other places) and lived in circles that were telepathically tight with each other. She learned about their antipathy with the Teksuppar, who were apparently people where when the Event happened and everyone was dying, the Simulated Intelligence forcibly took over a medical ship and forced it to try and save the dying even without the guidance of doctors. A series of regrettable decisions led to these insane screaming hive mind cannibal cyborgs. Teksuppar and shroomvolk kill each other on sight. (Klaya and Gnobbly got quite chummy.)

Bruskin tried to log in to the Simulated Intelligence system and use the bracelet they acquired from the corpse of Captain Joseph to grant permission for Medusa’s Scow to take off whenever they were ready. That way they could carry the bracelet around to deal with local permissions as needed, and still have a safe take-off arranged. An unexpected surge of security invalidated the bracelet. Now they would have to find another way to get permission to leave the Guardian Ship.

Eventually the bounders showed up, and transmitted to Jack’s datapad where they hid the scrubber, then they took the skull and left. The crew retrieved the scrubber and took it back to the ship to be installed.

Two Components Left

They needed to get a multiphasic burner catalyst, and it was mounted at the top of the shaft by the Teksuppar base in Lift Control Substation 86. And, they also needed to get permission from the Simulated Intelligence for take-off, since the Captain’s authorization credentials were scrubbed.

The Ambush

They decided to lure some teksuppar in for an ambush, to look over their cybers and corpses to make convincing disguises so they could infiltrate the base with a minimum of violence. They had Jack put in a tech support ticket, then they picked a spot between the Teksuppar base and their ship. They tore up some deck plating and rearranged the greenery to make an arc of pit trap, then set up the ambush.

Klaya’s danger sense sent them scurrying; she hid in the door of the hull of a hill/ship, and Smitty took up a sniping position on top. Clyde was going to head to a shooting position, but Dollface slowed him down, flirting with him, until it was too late. (Her affection for his sturdy, fuzzy frame was growing at an alarming rate.)

The teksuppar agents included a gimp hound in the lead, followed by a deer/centaur lightning-armed leader, flanked by cyber-minotaur muscle agents. The scout was shot immediately, and one of the minotaurs chased Klaya into the ship, blasting steam and slinging an axe, until they made it to the bridge area which was overrun with Fringe growths. Klaya put him down, but it was a terrifying solo battle in close quarters.

Outside, the other minotaur charged Dollface and Bruskin, and fell through the deck plating trap, never to be heard from again. Bruskin leaped over the gap with an assist from Dollface, charging into hand to hand with the centaur deer borg as Smitty kept his guns firing; together they brought it down.

The Other Ambush

They retreated with the needed parts, components, and outfits of the fallen teksuppar to make their disguises. Dollface was finally so enamored of Bruskin that she tried to have her way with him, and he rebuffed her and held her off at gunpoint; sullen and angry, she ran off.

Gnobbly showed up with grav belts to help them with their venture, and wished them luck (though there was no way he’d go on such a dangerous mission.) Klaya expressed their thanks by giving Gnobbly a psychic impression of meditation in the deep void of space, for him to share with this circle.

Klaya’s “allclear trigger” was calibrated to teksuppar communications frequencies, apologetically reporting to the hive mind that they were rebooting their drivers and would be available for wireless connection shortly. It would have to do. They dressed as industrial-techno-goth as they could, and headed for the ship elevator.


They passed the spider-like teksuppar guarding the elevator and service shafts, and reactivated a guide chain so they could connect to it and be slowly dragged to the top of the shaft. The allclear responded to a number of queries, its battery starting to go.

They reached the top of the shaft and saw a massive area full of ruined trash, biological and technical. Then they reached the multiphasic burner catalyst at the top of the shaft. They climbed out, disconnecting it, just as the last allclear trigger activated; they were on the edge of being discovered, when catastrophic bad luck bent one of the housings holding the burner, and it tilted over, peeling metal as it began falling down the shaft, banging so both Klaya and Bruskin fell off.

Smitty managed to throw them a gravity belt, and they caught it to slow their fall. He also managed to pivot the burner so it pointed up; a dozen teksuppar leaped down the shaft to kill them, but were microwave burned to the point of disintegration. The hurtling burner caught all 3 of the spacers, and they managed to turn the unmoored engine of destruction and fire it to slow their descent. At the bottom of the shaft, they fired it again so it went out, and then used it as a wingless rocket to escape the converging mass of teksuppar. A short distance away, after landing, they redistributed the grav belts and quickly dragged the burner home to the ship.

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Black Space Interview on the Gauntlet!

I was invited to be interviewed on the Gauntlet with Jason Cordova for Black Space!

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Black Space: Guardian Ship 2. Exchanges

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  • Smitty. (Brian) Captain. A focused spacer with a remote built in so he could control drones, gifted with sharp senses. He had a salvage kit and a drone named Jethro.
  • Gasper. (Jesse) Disfigured ship’s medic.
  • Clyde Bruskin. (Mr. S) Tech and all around tough guy.
  • Jan Klaya. (Jeremy) Charismatic sword mystic.

Wake Up, Sleepyhead

Klaya was thawed out on the ship; the bridge officer had been gone more than 4 hours, so protocol woke up someone else. Suffering from hibernation sickness, she was spotted through the cockpit window by a droid on the ship, and it scanned her; she used her allclear trigger so it registered her as authorized.

She got to a com unit and put in a call to the crew, who were drinking with the chasekin. They promised to return immediately. Gnawdit would escort them. The next day they would come by at the beginning of the sunup cycle to pick up Rabadab, then they’d take him to the exchange point and get 600 feet of coaxial cable in exchange.

Using their bracelets, they bypassed the robots that Jack had called up to guard their ship. (They gave Klaya a bracelet.) After Gasper checked Klaya over somewhat brusquely and determined she was okay, Bruskin went into the ship software and disabled the “wake up other passenger” protocols (somewhat optimistically.) The captain broke out some liquor to give everyone but Gasper a pleasant buzz, and they passed the night in relative peace.

Climbing to the Exchange

The next morning they reviewed the security footage of what the bots shot at in the night; an emu like bird, some chasekin, whatever. They asked Jack of the bots could stand guard and repair the hull breaches, and Jack agreeably issued new orders.

They met up with Gnawdit, who was annoyed that he had to pull back. They pretended to try to get the bots to not shoot the chasekin, but without ident badges it wasn’t possible (fortunately.)

Klaya used her image enhancer to look bigger and stronger, to intimidate the chasekin (who really liked the effect.) They continued on to the base of the service lift up to the chasekin lair, and picked up Rabadab, who was in bad shape; dehydrated with blood loss, broken leg, cuts all over. Gasper patched him up and gave him some painkillers, and they hauled the battered rabbitman with them. Jack marked the rendezvous point on their datapad maps. The chasekin stayed behind to await their return.

They headed to the elevator leading up, finding it overgrown. Clyde used his energy prybar to cut the greenery off the door, but when they opened it there was a pulsing heart-like meat/plant wad suspended by vine cables. They shot it to pieces, then pulled back as the walls trembled with the thrashing of vines and branches grown up behind them.

They decided to take the stairs.

Up and up and up, finally they were lit up by little laser sight dots, and they spotted the rabbitish snipers with cyber-limbs and platforms. They reached the rendezvous spot to parley with an armored rabbit cyborg, who claimed Rabadab and hooked him to a crawler bot that carried him up the wall (but not before Smitty flicked a tracer onto the bot.)

The attached office had the 600 feet of coaxial cable, draped over Clyde and Smitty.

The rabbit person in armor told them the bounders put a tracer in Scratched Skull’s head cyber, and if he ever got in an exposed position, they’d be ready with sniper rifles. Now he hides in his office, out of range. The spacers asked about the supplies they need, and the armored bouncer offered them an atmospheric scrubber if they brought Scratched Skull’s head on a plate. The armored bounder put a mod in Smitty’s drone, and said they could use the drone to notify the bounders if they wanted to take them up on the deal.

Back Down to the Chasekin

As they headed down the branching gantries and stairs, they disrupted a massive wasp nest infestation. Klaya leaped off the stairs onto the vines, sliding down out of range and swinging back onto the stairs, as Gasper sprinted down the stairs. Smitty and Clyde couldn’t move fast enough. As they fended off the mass of huge stinging wasps, Smitty got out his sticky demolition charge and was smearing it around the wasp nests when he fell off, banging his knees and head and jerked to a halt by the coaxial cable connecting him to Clyde (who took a beating, dragged to the railing and covered in wasps.)

Clyde swung Smitty back onto the steps, cut the cable, and raced down the stairs. They outran the wasps, and headed to the bottom of the stairs, on the ground, where they rested and regained their breath (and hit points.)

Walking back to the chasekin territory, they had earnest conversation about what to do. They also passed some repair bots cutting plants back and fixing a ship that was well beyond repair. They didn’t interfere.


They headed up the slow lift, and Scratched Skull was delighted to see them. As the chasekin pulled out a drink for everyone to share, Jan distracted them with a show of martial prowess of the Grass Mantis type, sparring with Gnawdit. Gaspar measured out a huge dose of sedatives, and Smitty tipped it into the drink without the chasekin noticing.

Relaxed and safe at home, the chasekin drank to their success. About the time everyone got woozy, the spacers shot the runt of the chasekin (who didn’t get a drink) and Klaya struck Gnawdit’s head from his shoulders with her vibroblade.

Moving fast, the spacers stuffed Scratched Skull’s severed head in a bag, slew the drugged chasekin, retrieved Captain Josephe’s identity bracelet from the mummy hanging on the wall, and freed the little mushroom person and buxom mutant teenager from the chasekin cages.

The freed prisoners asked for asylum before making their way home, and the spacers agreed. No one wanted to use the slow lift, so they used a ladder arrangement instead. It still took a while to get all the way down to the bottom, but they faced no guards, and made a clean getaway back to the ship.

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