Thursday, July 01, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #2

Captain's Log - T018

Mr Stamper had just completed his debrief to Mission Command on the exploration of HNP-B 1.

The team had been sent to investigate a psionic emanation from the planet, while the ship was conducting refueling mission at HNP-B 2. Upon arrival at the system, the team found remnants of a pre-hyperspace civilisation on the planet, but no sign of any organic life despite the presence of water and an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. They also discovered that the source of the psionic emanation was from the planet's only moon.

Mr Stamper ordered the pinnace to land on the moon, and a team comprising of Dr Tsoukalos, Dr Balilaika, Sergeant Ahab, three troopers, and Crewman Ajax were sent to investigate the source. They found a metal door built into the side of a rise, which opened automatically when they approached.

The door opened to a corridor shaped from the stone of the moon, which descended into the depths of the moon. The outer corridor was separated from the inner corridor by a set of airlock, which was still functional, which irradiated the occupants with ultra-violet light and cycled the air within.

The team passed through the airlock and reached the doors at the end of the corridor, which stretched close to a kilometer and descended close to 200 metres from the surface. Beyond the door they came into a round, domed chamber some 1400m in diameter. Within the chamber were four smaller, oval, transparent-walled domed enclosures, each measuring 600m x 400m and more than 100m in height - the precise measurements of the chamber and domes were not available at the surveying equipment brought by Dr Tsoukalos had to be abandoned due to subsequent events.

The team observed that the chamber was lit by a low green light on the floor. The smaller enclosures were lit from the top of the domes by some unknown source; within each enclosure were trees and other plants, and unidentified animals. In one of the enclosures the plants were thriving, but in two other they were in a stated of decay, and in the last they were all dead.

In the centre of the chamber was a plinth, upon which was a man-sized, transparent-walled chamber, within which was a sickly-looking Gren.

The Gren was able to communicate with Crewman Ajax telepathically, and after transferring a vast amount of information to him, warned him to flee the chamber. The team fled the chamber as they were urged to, and at the same time the floor of the chamber burst open with several plant-like tendrils emerging to try to seize them. As they entered the corridor leading to the surface, the walls of the smaller enclosures broke, and various creatures, with tentacled appendages and maws filled with sharp teeth, emerged from within and pursued them.

Sergeant Ahab and his troopers covered the retreat of the rest of the team, through a tactical use of grenades and blaster fire. He had the clarity of mind to collect a sample of the plant tendril which sought to seize him, but the sample disintegrated when exposed to the ultraviolet light in the airlock.

The creatures did not pursue the team beyond the airlock. The team made it safely to the pinnace, and during the return journey Crewman Ajax related what the Gren had "told" him.

The Gren, whose name was Tyovask, was a scientist on the planet that the moon orbited. Some 30,000 years ago, an asteroid bearing what the people later named the Entity landed on one of the smaller continents of that world. The Entity, a fungal-like organism, began consuming all organic matter it came into contact with, and when its spores infected the Grens, it took over their nervous system and were able to exercise a degree of control over them, until the bodies were eventually consumed too. While the Entity and its spores were susceptible to high temperature and ionising radiation, it proved impossible to eradicate once it has established itself on the continent. The Grens eventually made the decision to perform a thorough nuclear strike on the continent, and for a while it seemed that they succeeded - but it was later found that the Entity had infiltrated the seas around the continent.

Tyovask, a leading biologist, volunteered to study the Entity and the effect of its infection on Grens, and a laboratory was built on the moon, where the risk of a laboratory leak would be minimised, for this purpose. Tyovask had four bio-domes created, which he filled with plants and animals from their world. Then, he infected himself with the Entity, and sealed himself in, and waited for his people to come back for him. Unfortunately, the Grens lost their battle against the Entity, and all organic life on the planet were consumed, and the Entity, barring those on the moon, starved itself into extinction.

In his lab, Tyovask's mind merged with that of the remaining Entity, and he learned that while it was a fungal-like organism, when it has reached a certain size it attained a measure of intelligence and sentience. In their new form the symbiotic organism that was Tyovask and the Entity learned to control its instinct, and instead of consuming all of the organic life within the domes, practised a form of rationing that allowed it to survive for the millennia.

The teams arrival and its telepathic communications with Crewman Ajax allowed Tyovask to learn of what happened to his home planet, and in its grief Tyovask's control over the Entity was weakened, and the Entity, sensing a chance to leave the confines of the moon, consumed the last of tis food source and tried to seize and infect our crew.

After conference with the Mission Command Team, I made the decision to bring the ship to the moon and launch a nuclear strike on the laboratory from orbit. Our sensors confirmed that there were no remnant psionic emanations from the moon after the strike.

Based on the information we have learned, I have ordered a revision of the decontamination protocol for away teams. Further, I have instructed Lieutenant Slater to come up with operating procedures for the tactical teams in future scenarios where an encounter with the Entity would be likely. Chief Medical Officer Cho had also been tasked to set up an isolation facility where samples of the Entity, when we are able to obtain some, may be studied in relative safety.

While the origins of the Grens and their relationship with the fungal Entity are now known, Mission Command Team resolved to continue the mission to seek the source of this Entity and determine if it still poses a threat to our galaxy.

Our next waypoint is a cluster of seven stars some 5000 parsecs away, which Astrography has named Point Grainger. We will however make a pit-stop at a nearby gravitational anomaly at the request of Space Sciences Department before proceeding to Point Grainger.

Supplemental: At Dr Tsoukalos' recommendation, I have offered Crew Ajax a transfer to Social Sciences Department, with the designation of Social Scientist.

Captain's Log - T020

The gravitational anomaly, which Astrography named DSA-1, turned out to be a "frozen star" with impossibly low surface temperature. A closer survey of the frozen star revealed surface fluctuations in temperature and gravitation.

The source of these fluctuations were soon revealed when a large shape some 300 metres in length detached itself from the surface and approached us at high acceleration. We initially identified the shape as a Gren bioship based on its size, shape, and high acceleration and I placed the ship on red alert as we prepared for battle - it being impossible to outrun the bioship. Mr Stamper and Mr Ka'an, however, observed that while the creature approaching us bore some similarities to Gren bioships, it had a number of features that were different. Dr Tsoukalos was consulted, and his opinion was that the creature likely considered our ship either food, or a mate; and there being no discernable mouth or alimentary canal on the creature, it more likely considered us a mate on account of our size, shape, and our propulsion ability. I ordered the ship to reverse course, but the creature increased its acceleration to match, and two more of the creatures, smaller at around 50 metres each, detached themselves from the star and joined in.

The three creatures eventually caught up with us. The larger creature seemed to regard us with some interest, while the smaller ones seemed to invite us to play in a game of chase. As we did not indulge them, they all lost interest after a while, and returned to the surface of the sun.

I have instructed Life Sciences Department to study the sensor data on the creatures, and determine if they are the same creatures which were infected by the Entity and turned into bioships for the Grens. If indeed this is the case, then it proves that the Entity has the ability to construct complex plans, and may prove a far deadlier opponent that we have so far imagined.

Prepping and Running the Game

The encounters in this session came from books 1 and 3 of the campaign series. As with the previous session, there was little action, and a lot of lore dump.

The action, however, was interesting. I decided to use the chase rules from Savage Worlds to run the, well, chase. I have deliberately given the monsters relatively weak stats because I did not want a TPK, but when the players saw the sheer number of models I placed on the map, they decided to run even before they have found out how deadly the monsters were.

The chase would have been relatively boring had not Dr Balilaika's player forgotten (?) about the airlock and rushed in before the rest of the crew had caught up - he ran into the airlock first, which closed and began its two-minute cycle, leaving the rest of the crew stuck on the side with all the monsters.

While the action scene was straightforward, I think the players enjoyed making up plans and protocols for future encounters. This will certainly work to my advantage, as it aids immersion, and takes a lot of work off me.

The second encounter was taken from book 3. I placed it here, early in the campaign, as I wanted to complete the lore dump and solve the mystery of the origin of the Grens and their bioships - I worry that if I left it to a later session the players may not connect the dots. It also allows me to throw in a new element to the campaign: some of the crew may consider the mission accomplished now that the origin of the Grens had been discovered and that they are no longer a threat. These crew members may later become disgruntled as the voyage drags on, and agitate for return to our own galaxy.

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