Motes in the Serpent's Eye

Hinges of Destiny
Emergent Properties


“Choices are the hinges of Destiny” – Pythagoras

Parvan Star System; Malaval, Throneworld of House Esmer; South Eastern Continent; Whisper Green Provence; 5041.119 I.E.
With equal parts reverance and trepidation infusing his scaled breast, Lord Koldrynth Sonear Di’Shio entered the Nave of Withered Trees. The massive gilded doors of baroque carved darkwood and adamantine slid silently closed, sealing the vestibule behind him. The pathway beneath his talons, fashioned of loosely interlocking flagstones of green jasper and jade, was worn smooth by the passage of thousands of bare feet, and marked the aisle leading up into the Sanctuary. Koldrynth breathed in deeply and began making his way up the aisle, his steps deliberately measured and even, the silk of his robes whispering softly against the stones of the path and dried leaves that crunched quietly beneath his scaled feet. As he paced forward, he used the golden length of his staff of office to tap a rhythmic counterpoint to his steps, his entire approach formal and ritualized. The sharp taps echoed faintly through the vast space, largely swallowed by the arched ceiling dozens of yards overhead. A glorious starscape was projected on the roof interior far above, slowly swirling as if viewing the Serpent’s Eye from an observation point outside the galaxy, shining through the stone branches of the petrified trees that filled the Nave. As he wound his way steadily toward the Sanctuary, Lord Koldrynth strove to ignore the warnings streaming in from his implants, informing him of the dozens of infrared targeting lasers trained on his person, invisible armed drones tracking his progress. After several minutes of pacing, he came to a stop at the far edge of the stone forest, a bare mossy hill rising before him, simulated star field slowly turning above, the path ending at the base of the slope. Ahead of him knelt a score of artfully maimed fey dressed in the simple garb of servants. They faced the hill with heads bowed, and eyes averted, not acknowledging him. To be ignored by such anywhere else would have enraged him, but not here – in the Nave even he was nothing. Here, even Lord Koldrynth Sonear Di’Shio, Eater of All, carefully knelt and bowed his horned head in respect and waited patiently. After a time, a ridge of the hillock split open, revealing a yellow and amber eye the size of a serving platter. The eye blinked slowly then focused on him, gold highlights flashing as it’s huge iris spun and pulsed, fixing him with a gaze that was palpable. A voice filled the space, rich and huge, each syllable falling on its listeners like a blanket of earth on a grave. The fey servants flinched silently at its sound. Koldrynth did not, although his heart-rate sped up uncomfortably.

“Favored Koldrynth. You may speak.” Lord Koldrynth bowed deeply, pressing his ridged skull to the flagstone, then responding in respectful tones.

“Worshipful Duchess, True Blood of Esmer, we have lost contact with the agent placed to observe the Sathoni researcher.”

A low rumble filled the Nave as the ‘hill’ shifted, moving, revealing itself to be a moss covered green dragon of vast proportions, head lifting on it’s hugely muscled neck, swinging both huge eyes, now lit from within by amber fire, to pierce the abased speaker. Small dribbles of dirt and moss fell from the dragon’s head as its jaws opened, showing yellowed, curved teeth the length of swords. Wisps of poisonous fumes seeped from it’s maw, fouling the air. The servants fell on their faces, covering their heads with arms and hands if they still possessed them, silently wailing in fear.

“Explain.” Came the voice, the command cracking the air, sending ravens who had been roosting in the stone trees to cawing, frightened flight. Lord Koldrynth answered, striving to keep his voice calm and his words clear.

“His last communication indicated that the research vessel had been sabotaged. A virus had been placed in the starcaster astronav, causing a mis-jump. The ship survived, finding itself deep in Domain Osorus. They were enacting repairs and determining their next course of action. That was twelve days ago. We have not heard from the agent since.”

“Contact him via ansible immediately.”

“Worshipful Mother, we have attempted this already. His ansible no longer exists. Attempts to contact him directly have also failed. Divinations indicate that he has been terminated.”

A roar shook the Nave, startling drone and servant alike. Overhead, the projected starscape flickered as the colossal hall shuddered and hidden weapon emplacements whirred to action, ready to decimate all who had foolishly angered their draconic mistress. Even Lord Koldrynth’s heart skipped, for a brief moment the terror of his mother’s wrath gripping him. His voice shook as he strove to be heard over the ringing of his ears.

“Blessed Duchess, Chosen of the Reaper, please hear me. We know the vessel’s location as of a week ago. We can still re-acquire them.”

“Fool.” Came the angry reply, a clawed foot stamping in irritation on a slower moving servant, an elf whose eyes had been replaced with exquisitely carved emeralds. “The loss of that agent represents two years of careful planning for naught! We are hardly the only stalkers in this hunt! The sabotage of the starcaster proves this. This is a grievous setback.”

Lord Koldrynth attempted to press his head further into the flagstones. “What are your wishes, Revered Lady?”

The dragon chewed thoughtfully on the legs of the crushed servant for a moment, oblivious to its feeble flailing and ragged screams. “Gather your more competent siblings. Take a fast warship from our personal fleet and go with all speed to the research vessel’s last coordinates. Ascertain its current location. I will contact you with further instructions.” It tossed the remains of the servant to the floor of the Nave, where the survivors quickly gathered it up, dragging it off for delivery to the house necromancers.

“Do not fail me in this, Koldrynth. Do not force me to choose a new Favored.”

“N..No, Exalted Mother. I shall not fail you.”

“Go Now.”

Lord Koldrynth Sonear Di’Shio, Eater of All, quickly rose to his feet, and retreated as fast as ritual permitted, never turning his back on his mother, not actually fleeing until she was no longer visible in the depths of the petrified forest. He did not wait for the vestibule doors to fully open before hurrying through them, as behind him in the Nave of Withered Trees, Hall of the Lady verus sanguis, Duchess Reythliivmaar of House Esmer, Chosen of the Reaper, machinery hummed into wakefulness and gigantic holographic computer displays began to flicker to life.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa,” Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, and Lady Kotonaru.
With Special Guest:
Reignbowinthedark as Ellywick K. Frothelthimble.
Unable to Attend:
Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, and RC-880 “Durendal”.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.118.0630 I.E.; Monscrome; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Crew was given shore leave while repairs were performed on the ship. The Political Officer returned to the ship too intoxicated to walk, and had to be put in bed. There was a small altercation, and some administrative action was required. End entry.

Personal Log, 5041.118.0630 I.E.

Today was a total clusterfuck. Every time I think I’ve got this gig figured out, the universe takes a giant crap, usually on my head. First of all, that insufferable prick Serpentce (if you’ve hacked my log, you utter bastard, just remember that a vasectomy means never having to say you’re sorry…) complained about Yevon and the Captain relieved her of duty, pending an investigation. That means Durendal and I have to pull double duty until this shit gets straightened out.

We stopped off at Persilom, which is supposed to be a shit-hole. However, now five million people live there, and there is a tremendous Mazorgrim presence. That was tricky. We managed to get out of there in one piece, and even bought some X-Crawl videos from the new season.

When we got to Monscrome, the Captain made arrangements for us to get the repairs we need. At least we managed to restock medical and our weapons supply from that destroyer. Plus the gym equipment. I don’t know what Yevon would have done wither her free time if I hadn’t grabbed the gym equipment. Anyway, the Captain told me to give the crew some shore leave. I made up a schedule and some folks headed out onto the strip to do some sightseeing. I thought that was the end of my responsibilities for the day, but NO!

I just happened to mention to Yevon that Samai, Ditak, Pei’Fa and Ellywick had gone out together, and she gave me to understand that this was possibly not a good decision. I decided to go after them, with Bishop-1 and Yevon as backup. When we got to the main concourse where the clubs were located, we saw one bar with a line, and there was clearly a riot going on inside. We figured that out from the arrival of the local constabulary, decked out in riot gear. As we prepared to dive in looking for our people, Pei’Fa made it out, carrying Samai, who was kicking and flailing. Ditak was passed out drunk and over his shoulder, and Ellywick trailed along behind. Samai and Elly knew they were in trouble when they saw Yevon and me standing in front of them.

Koto and Scrapnik showed up right about then, and we all made our way back to the Speaks Softly. Apparently, Ditak got toasted and bought drinks for the entire bar. Samai posed him for funny pictures with a variety of patrons. Eventually, someone said something insulting to Samai which started a fight. They are extremely lucky that Pei’Fa was there to extract them.

We managed to get everyone back to the Speaks, and Pei’Fa took responsibility for Ditak. The girls headed off to bed, and I went to check on Ereyie, Zanven and Nodagil. That’s when I found out the boys weren’t back yet. I tried calling them on their comms, but no answer. Fuck.

After some consideration, I rousted Elly out of bed and asked her if she could track their comm units. She said it was possible but difficult, so I went and asked Serpentce to help her. He was actually very pleasant about the whole thing. It’s possible he was on drugs, or a shapeshifter, but I was too concerned about my missing crew to fret too much about it.

Elly and Serpentce managed to track down Zanven’s comm unit. It was quite far away, so I asked Koto and Pei’Fa to go along. When I went to tell Yevon what we were doing, she volunteered to go as well. We traveled over an hour by rail, and our destination was a pretty run down part of the station. Eventually, we made our way to a small clinic/guard post. Zanven and Nodagil were there. Both had been robbed and badly beaten. Neither of them had any identification, and they were both still unconscious. Security was very glad to see us, since they now knew what ship to charge for the medical care.

We needed them awake so we could get them back to the Speaks. Once we got them up and moving, we asked when they last saw Ereyie. Zanven answered that he was with them the whole time. He and Nodagil recounted that they made a deal to trade some things for items that he thought would be more valuable to the ship in our travels. I suspect he wanted to unload the drugs and pick up something that would get him in less difficulty if someone (like myself) found it. They got to the meet, but the other party didn’t show up. Instead, they were jumped and beaten by a gang. Nodagil was particularly angered by the theft of his family pin.

After dropping them off at the Speaks, and ordering them to stay there, we headed back to the coordinates of the meet to see if we could find a trace of our wayward pilot. The coordinates were even further from the main concourse, and in an even worse part of town. We found the spot easily, but there was no sign of Ereyie. Frustrated, we got back on the rail, and a rough looking human man boarded the car with us. There was something about him that drew our attention. Suddenly, we realized that he was wearing Nodagil’s pin. Pei’Fa grabbed him and slammed him against the wall.

It didn’t take long for him to tell us what happened. He and his friends were hired to capture Ereyie. The kitty was to be turned over unharmed, but they had leeway regarding their treatment of his companions. It took slightly longer to convince him to tell us where to find the people who hired him. Once we had that information, we took the pin and left him on the train.

We ended up at their ship, the Unspeakable Clarity of Purpose, and we knocked politely. There was some playful banter, and then Koto got serious about the negotiations. It turns out that Ereyie had a bounty out on him under another name. A gang known as the “Cold Roses” in Noros territory originated the bounty. The Cold Roses are part of the Black Hole Syndicate. Koto managed to strike a deal with the bounty hunters, offering 40,000 credits to let us take the kitty on the spot. She used her abilities to access Ditak’s credit chip, which was the only way we were coming up with that kind of cash right that moment. They brought Ereyie out, unconscious and wrapped in a containment cocoon.

We raised a few eyebrows on our way back to the Speaks, but we did get back safely. I didn’t have to wake the Captain, and we were all back in time for breakfast. The Captain stopped by the dining hall, and couldn’t help but notice some bumps and bruises. However, everyone, including Yevon, insisted that nothing happened, and he left it there.

Later I had a short meeting with the principal offenders. I reminded them that the order of the day had been discretion, and that someone was trying to kill us. Then I commented that they seemed to be confused about the concept, and put everyone at risk. They assured me that it wouldn’t happen again. Elly was, as usual, downright cheery. On the way out she said, ““Well, I guess the take-away here is that there’s no team building exercise like shared trauma!” I decided to leave it there, at least this time. I’m not sure why Pei’Fa put Ditak in Zanven’s bed, or dressed him in Zan’s clothes. There are some mysteries that are beyond me. I hope that I’ll be able to get some sleep now.

Shakedown Cruise (Finale)
Rules of Predation


The crew of the R.E.S. Speaks Softly attempts to lure Shadow Knife XIII into a trap.

Session picks up immediately after the events of Abiotic Factors

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Ereyie Wel, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal”.
Unable to Attend:
Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias

Session Summary:
Just before the end of third shift, Rwvyan enters the bridge, bringing Yevon and Samai their customary morning cups of coffee. After some cordial chatter, they go off shift, Yevon heading to medical to check on Ellywick, still unconscious from the prior day’s events. Samai stays on the bridge to talk with Rwvyan and Ereyie. She is just settling in for some serious banter when Yevon returns, asking the whereabouts of Serpentce, who is in engineering. She then instructs Ereyie to run diagnostics on all the shipboard security cameras. Once she is gone, Rwvyan reiterates her orders to turn off the cameras, but tells Ereyie to keep one camera up in engineering, but not to record. Yevon accuses Serpentce of setting the virus that attacked Ellywick. During the heated discussion, she threatens him at gunpoint. He vehemently denies all involvement. Unknown to Rwvyan, Ereyie did make a single recording of the altercation.

On the bridge, the command staff discusses their options. All come to an agreement that they need to recover the escape pods, which are coded with identification information regarding the Speaks Softly, and are broadcasting their locations throughout the system. Dr. Keystone bullies Keriwar into assisting with Ellywick’s surgery.

Dr. Rose, Dr. Nodagil and Pei’Fa visit with Dr. Caladriend after Dr. Keystone explains that she has a tattoo indicating her membership in the terrorist group The Green Cabal.

As the Speaks Softly begins to maneuver in pursuit of the first pod, the pod vanishes. It doesn’t take the crew long to realize that Shadowknife 13 has arrived. It continues to bring several of our expelled escape pods aboard as we maneuver. Captain Ni Shen enacts the battle plan, taunting the enemy vessel. Ereyie works his magic at the helm, while Rwvyan handles the weapons. The two ships exchange fire, and it becomes clear that Shadowknife 13 has greater speed, maneuverability and weapons. It shoots two of the escape pods back at the Speaks Softly. Ereyie manages to dodge them, but as they pass by, ghouls launch themselves out of the pods and towards the ship. Dr. Keystone and Keriwar are desperately trying to operate on Ellywick, while Ereyie is dodging the attacks coming from Shadowknife 13.

A landing party of ghouls blow the hatches on the top and bottom of the ship, and another group blows in the glass ceiling in the rec room. Rwvyan leaves the bridge to fight the ghouls coming in from the top hatch. Pei’Fa, Durendal, Kotonaru and Bishop-1 carry the fight on the lower decks and in the rec room. The ghouls are carrying low grade explosives and are blowing up various doors to vent the Speaks Softly to space. Ditak takes over the guns on the bridge.

The crew manages to eliminate the ghouls and close enough doors to prevent decompression. The Speaks Softly heads into the atmosphere of the gas giant, hoping to draw the Shadowknife 13 into its gravity well. During the ensuing chase, the ships attract the attention of a Gas Leviathan. Eventually, the S_hadowknife 13_ is devoured by the creature.

Licking their wounds, the crew of the Speaks Softly make their way back to the pocket destroyer and Shindra’s Station. The destruction of Shadowknife 13 means the ghouls are no longer intelligent, and can be easily avoided. Shindra’s Station is programmed to descend into the gas giant, and the crew decides to destroy the satellite as well. They then spend two days salvaging needed supplies and pulling the memory core from the pocket destroyer parked outside the station.

Ereyie comes across a survivor aboard the destroyer. He called for support from Rwvyan, who convinces the Sathoni scientist to set aside his weapons and board the Speaks Softly. He identifies himself as Dr. Wisp Luurden. After speaking with the Captain, Rwvyan takes Dr. Luurden to medical, where Dr. Keystone knocks him out. He is then placed in a containment cell in the brig, much to Dr. Rose’s chagrin.

The Speaks Softly crew decides to go to Monschrome for repairs.

Shakedown Cruise (Part Four)
Abiotic Factors


Our heroes begin to piece together what was being done at Shindra Station and what happened to her crew. A dismaying betrayal is exposed.

Narrativized memory extract from unit RC-880, personal designation, “Durendal”; Timestamp: 5041.113:1830 I.E., approximate; Internal Engram Label: Food for Thought.
Durendal finishes his report to the captain, then returns to the flight deck. Everyone present seems ill at ease and understandably so. As if to punctuate that thought, a tiny speck streaks passed the observation window, too distant to properly identify. One of the undead? Hmm.

Reflecting back upon the earlier frantic encounter, it was remarkable how well things went. For not picking up a weapon in 20 years, Durendal was rather pleased with his own performance. As a team, things were….a bit less impressive. Several issues would need to be addressed, starting with the combat ability of all on board. “It is time to put away the dossiers and start showing our cards.”

Zanven blinked and looked at Durendal. “What was that?”

Realizing he had vocalized that last bit, Durendal focused back upon the present. “Keep your mind on your work, helmsman.”

“Yes, sir. But, umm…..”

If Durendal had eyes, they’d be rolling at that moment. “Something to add to the present situation, helmsman Greensleeves? Consider your words carefully. I’ve not the patience for foolery today.”

“It’s just that….well WHY aren’t we getting the hell out of here? You SAW what they did to that combat vessel! And you SHOULD’VE seen how many of those…..things…were crawling on the station skin before you all squeaked out.”

“That be the captain’s choice, helmsman. Your concern has been logged and will be addressed at the next…”

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY, THEY WON’T BE EATING YOU.” Greensleeves’ normally semi-disinterested facade seemed to crack and his eyes were wide.

Durendal resisted the urge to threaten the half-elf for interrupting him, galling as it was. Instead, his voice was even and measured.

“Aye, that I don’t. Being all polymer, plate and synthetics makes for a poor meal to the ravenous dead. I certainly can’t pilot this ship by myself though, now can I? And the dead aren’t likely to taxi me to the nearest hospitable locale were I to ask for a lift. Thus, the danger for me is just as real, simply different in nature. Ipso facto, I’ll not be allowing the ship personnel to suffer casualties that would put it below acceptable staffing levels. It’s not in my best interest.”

“W-well that’s not PARTICULARLY reassuring, OC.”

Durendal, now fully annoyed, turned on the half-elf and failed his massive arms in an exaggerated fashion.

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY, THEY WON’T BE EATING YOU.” He squealed in his best ‘whiny bitch voice.’ Returning to his normal tone, he added: “Now shut up and helm the damn ship.”

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal”.
Unable to Attend:
Dr. Nodagil Maaran

Session Summary:
Captain Ni Shen speaks privately with Rwvyan, advising him that Ellywick has discovered several taps on the various communications channels. Rwvyan agrees to investigate, and immediately heads to engineering, where Bishop-1 admits to placing a tap designed to identify any external communications made from the ship after the near disastrous starcast. Rwvyan then discovers graffiti in the kitchen, naming the appliances Charlie 1, Charlie-2 and so on.

In the interim, Captain Ni Shen authorizes Ellywick to continue her investigations. In addition to the taps, Ellywick discovers a program influencing all the repair bots on board. Her examinations trigger a type of booby trap called “Black Ice”, which attacks her jack and does significant injury to her neural pathways. Unconscious, she is immediately rushed to medical, where Dr. Keystone declares that surgery will be required to prevent permanent damage. He plans to begin the surgery the following morning.

Meanwhile, Durendal and Bishop-1, concerned by Charlie-12’s behavior, and discovery of a personal history that includes a loss of memory, approach him with a suggestion that the three soulmechs examine each other’s internal systems, looking for signs of tampering. He agrees and they begin the process.

Partway through, they discover an anomaly within Charlie-12. His response is immediate and violent, stunning both Durendal and Bishop-1. He runs, setting off another program installed in the ship’s systems. This program begins shutting off the ship’s power core, while simultaneously firing all the escape pods. It also begins prepping the shuttle and decompresses the shuttle bay by opening the doors. Then a backup program begins running, wiping all the data from Dr. Rose’s computers.

Serpentce is able to prevent the virus from wiping out the science team’s data. Engineering works furiously to keep all the power running properly. Meanwhile, Durendal and Bishop-1 are fighting Charlie-12, who is desperately trying to make it to the shuttle bay. Durendal chases him to the upper deck, where he is joined by Rwvyan. Kotanaru, notified of the attack by her brother, chooses to teleport into the shuttle to surprise Charlie-12. Ditak has the same idea, and the two surprise each other there. Durendal manages to disable Charlie-12, effectively cutting him in half. Charlie-12’s halves float through the open bay doors into space.

The crew decides to try to retrieve Charlie-12 to see if any data can be mined from his chassis. They manage to recover his top half, but lose the bottom half. It becomes clear that Charlie-12 was an impostor. This version was loaded with chips to simulate his academic knowledge, but was clearly built for assassination. The science team decides it was likely that he was replaced long before the team left to board the Speaks Softly. They also have reason to believe that Charlie-12 may have been transmitting information to an unknown enemy.

Sobered by the profound loss of the likeable Charlie-12, and desperately in need of a new cook, the crew gathers in the lounge for a few stiff drinks before the end of the day. It quickly becomes clear that Ditak cannot hold his liquor, as he spills top secret ISPD information at some length. He also shares some personal details that make it seem unlikely that he is working against the survival of the crew. His background seems to indicate that he was given the assignment because he is considered a disposable asset.

During Ditak’s inebriated monologue, Dr. Caladriend’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Zanven, who has been spending his off-duty time with Caladriend, signals Rwvyan in some alarm. Rwvyan quickly ascertains that medical attention is necessary, and brings Dr. Rose and Dr. Keystone into the discussion. Dr. Keystone removes Dr. Caladriend to the medical unit, as she has overdosed on various painkillers. Dr. Rose, Rwvyan and Kotonaru investigate her quarters and her lab space, looking for her stash of drugs. They find a beautiful and elaborate box in the lab, filled with pills. Rwvyan questions Zanven privately about his relationship with Dr. Caladriend, and he explains that she approached him after boarding, as some of her luggage was left behind, offering to sleep with him if he could deliver a substitute supply. He had been providing her derm patches with a less powerful drug, while they were “partying together”. He insists that he is trying to help her reduce her extreme chemical dependence on the painkillers, and had no idea that she was taking them together. He provides Rwvyan with a sample to give to Dr. Keystone. After a short conference, Rwvyan instructs Dr. Keystone to move Dr. Caladriend to the brig and restrain her.

Shakedown Cruise (Part Three)
Closed Ecosystems


Sabotage!! Having survived a Starcaster mis-jump and their ship’s resultant random emergence into a stellar corona, our heroes deal with the consequences of the vandalism that has been done to the Speaks Softly and come to terms with being nearly a thousand light years off course.

Excerpted from the personal logs of Samai “Sam” Victore Wolff, Sensors Calibration & Flight Command Systems Technician, RES Speaks Softly:
“…was able to spend the extra week of leave free-climbing on the southern continent of Aleding with Rahvi – Glorious! Breathtaking vistas! I was lucky to get cleared for travel there. I’ll leave a bit of my heart behind in those mountains with him. Such a sweet man, but we put the extra time to good use. It was a bittersweet goodbye for a lot of reasons. Then to come home to find the Speaks turned upside down! Half the crew is GONE, reassigned! At least my besties, Elly and the Kitty are still here. Scrappy as well. And the Cap’s still in charge, which makes things seen a little more normal, although he’s in a mood, all sour-faced like he’s found a dead mouse at the bottom of his coffee. Can’t say I blame him, what with all the scaleys and ‘mechs filling out the compliment now – it’s like a impy ship! What the Void is going on? They even pulled the Exploration Team and replaced them with a bunch of, well, to be frank, a bunch of uptight research types who treat us like taxi drivers. Yevon is still here and still Flight Officer – wtf is up with that? Yeah, stick is still firmly up her arse (still say she needs a good shag), but they passed her over for XO? And with a Noros mutt who pretty obviously has no command experience? Yeah, he’s nice and not as uptight as most scaleys, but Come On!…”

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal”.

Session Summary:
The crew of the RES Speaks Softly spend the third shift gathering data on the cause and damages triggered by the software virus in the Starcaster AstroNav. The XO, Lord Rwvyan, and the Second Officer, Durendal, call an early morning staff meeting, to plan for the desperately needed repairs. Lord Serpentce agrees to work on the removal of the virus from the Starcaster AstroNav and life support, with assistance from Ellywick and Kotonaru. Dr. Rose and Dr. Maaran cast cure poison and restoration on Telliar, Keriwar and the Captain, removing the lingering effects of the poison ivy. Bishop-1 goes EV with two repair bots to start working on the damage to the hull of the ship, while Samai works internally to repair the sensors. Her efforts are delayed due to Ditak’s attempted assistance. Keriwar repairs the starboard engine damage and Atmospheric Control, and Zanven begins working on one of the hull thrusters, with Scrapnik assisting through a video feed from sick bay. Durendal repairs the other hull thruster. Bishop-1 repairs the starboard cargo bay doors. During the repairs to life support, Lord Serpentce finds a hacker tag “4RCH4N63LV01D” (Archangel Void) in the virus, indicating a freelancer linked to the Guild of Tinkers, and known to do work for Asamet and House Noros. He believes the coding style is similar to hackers working for House Noros. Meanwhile, on the bridge, Telliar is able to identify a nearby red dwarf as 9473 Shindra’s Fang, deep in the Domain of House Osorus. The crew pinpoints two nearby potential destinations in-system; a tundra planet with no evident technological advancement, and a gas giant with a station in orbit around it. Captain Ni Shen discusses options with his command staff and Dr. Rose, ultimately deciding to orbit the tundra planet, and observe the station around the gas giant. The ship takes three days to arrive at the planet, Shindra’s Fang III. There does appear to be a native population of humanoid sentients, numbering between 17 and 18 million. There is a beacon tracking traffic to Shindra’s Fang III, which sends an IFF (identify friend or foe) query to the Speaks Softly and logs our presence. Hacking into the beacon reveals that an unknown party was tracking the population growth, and possibly landing on the planet and removing a selection of humanoids from the indigenous population on a regular basis. The most recent ships logged in the area were the House Esmer Navy pocket warship “How Do You Like Me Now?” and another ship identifying itself only as ShadowKnife XIII. Based on the data, the Captain and crew decide to attempt a refueling at the gas giant. They take an additional two days traveling to Shindra Station, and upon arrival the station appears to be abandoned. A boarding party, led by Rwvyan, and including Ereyie, Ditak, Durendal, Lady Kotonaru Bishop-1, and Lord Pei’Fa traveled to the station using their shuttle, The Cudgel, to investigate further. Luck led them to an administrative office, where they managed to reboot many of the station’s systems and bring the security cameras online. Very quickly, they become aware of movement in other parts of the station. They immediately begin downloading as many records as possible, while planning to hold off the ghoulish undead that are coming for them. They hold off their attackers with a combination of grenades and office furniture, and make their harrowing escape. Upon their return to the Cudgel, they see that more undead are launching themselves from the outer shell of the station towards the Speaks Softly. They avoid the floating creatures, and return to the ship, where the science team digs into the recovered records from Shindra Station, which include project files, medical records and video logs. Review of the Project Razor files in conjunction with the other videos and records, reveals the station’s primary objective, to use genetic splicing to combine material from trolls and a space insect known as a Spectre Beetle with an elven lifeship seed, in order to create a living warship. The first viable ship was called ShadowKnife XIII. They were trying to perfect healing/stasis pods for crew when the experiment went badly wrong. They placed a subject from the planet into one of the pods. However, he had clearly been infected by some kind of undead creature, and came out of the pod altered into one of the horrors encountered by the boarding party. Its release and subsequent slaughter of the medical personnel demonstrated the viability of the contagion. Within a few hours, the station had been overrun. In their final moments, station crew from House Esmer and House Osorus blew up their remaining starcaster, and only hope of escape, to prevent it falling into the hands of ShadowKnife XIII, which they believed had become infected as well. The crew of the Speaks Softly now is forced to make a decision – to flee the system carrying word of the terrifying ship lying in wait in 8473 Shindra’s Fang, or to attempt to deal with the vessel themselves.

Captain's Log II
Adventure Recap

Captain’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, 5041.107:0730 I.E; Captain Ni Shen Xau recording.
The Speaks Softly has been the target of a murderous sabotage attempt. One of her repair bots was modified to insert a computer virus into the Starcaster AstroNav, designed to scramble coordinate calculations and thereby forcing a teleport mishap. It seems likely that this was done sometime during the refit at Andrin Station, but we can only conjecture at this time. A second virus was placed in the life support system, its purpose to cause a CO2 scrubber failure within hours after a mis-jump. This makes it pretty clear that the intent was to destroy the ship and crew. Only chance, the quick reactions of my crew and a little blessing from the Twelve prevented the saboteur’s complete success. We emerged from our teleport in an unknown system, at the fringe of a stellar corona, sustaining heavy damage from the solar radiation. The Speaks Softly is currently safe and relatively intact, but lost and temporarily stranded until repairs can be affected. We have multiple minor casualties, but no fatalities, thank The Mother. Second Engineer Scrapnik Fritzwhindle suffered serious injuries, however, and is not currently fit for duty. Special commendations to Chief Engineer Bishop-1, First Helmsman Ereyie Wel, Dr. Nodagil Maaran of the Science Team, Quarter Master Lady Kotonaru and Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias for their actions during the critical minutes after the mishap. Without their quick thinking the Speaks Softly could easily have been lost with all hands or at the very least casualties would have been more serious. The crew have worked through the night shift to assess the full extent of our damage. A full damage report has been filed. Navigator Telliar Killaen has reported that after searching all night she has finally located a recognized navigational marker star and should have our exact location shortly. The marker is a pulsar designated Manticore N-273, which likely puts us in the outer portion of Domain Osorus, possibly as far out as the Coreward Reach. With our sensors impaired, we are currently only able to get incomplete information on the system, but we have identified a tundra class habitable world. There are no signs of a technically advanced civilization present. We have also picked up an unidentified radio beacon originating from a gas giant in far solar obit, Flight Officer Yevon Si and Sensors Tech Samai Wolff both concur that the origin is likely a station in orbit around the gas giant. We are running silent until we have more information regarding to who or what the station may belong. For all we know, it may be an illegal gas mining operation, or a pirate or smuggler base of operations. I’ll not put the ship and crew in further peril until we are in better shape for a possible fight. I’ve ordered mandatory sack time for the majority of the crew so we all have clear heads to focus on getting the Speaks Softly back on her feet. End entry.

Personal Log; 5041.107:0740 I.E
Someone tried to kill my ship and crew. And they came damned close. This wasn’t a fight, it was an out and out assassination attempt. I. Am. Seriously. Pissed. Off. The potential fallout from Dr. Rose’s little expedition far exceeds what I originally supposed – someone out there is determined that her research does not reach completion. And you can be damn well certain that their next shot at us will be even nastier. We’ve got some breathing room though – whoever they are, they have no way of knowing that we survived – for now. It was sheer dumb luck we didn’t wind up inside a star or a million light years in the void instead of just on the other side of the Empire, gasping out our last on carbon dioxide. Still, there are enough indications that this entire mission was put together by a coalition of factions, which means they might not all be entirely on board with the mission. Baronet Gemshadow is Rose’s sponsor, so its likely that anything from him is on our side – he could have just had her research suppressed long ago if he were set against it. But the other Qesemet Houses that are involved might just be playing a long game. And with all the other potential players entangled in this I think it safe to consider any data security out the airlock, so we might have Asamet or an aristocorp involved as well. The ship’s company was already looking at each other sideways before the mis-jump, now I can see them beginning to eye one another with a glint of suspicion. The old crew is solid, I’d bet my life on it – Hell, I have a few times already. But what about the new crew? Durendal is straight from Gemshadow, so I think I can trust him. My gut tells me Nenoic is trustworthy even if my head says not, so that means Kotonaru is probably clean as well. Bishop, Zanogg, Greensleeves and Telliar are the potential weak spots, if I was going to insert someone on the crew, it’d be one of them. The drow is way too obvious – I think he’s here to distract from the real spy, if there is one, or to be the potential fall guy if it all hits the fan. The clown car of a science team is way too screwed up for me to tell yet. The only one I can be sure of there is Dr. Rose herself, which I find immensely irritating. Maybe her bodyguard, but he’s another whole bundle of badly packed explosives. I’m going to have to keep my eyes open and my cards close – like I’m playing Doc Keystone for stakes.

Shakedown Cruise (Part Two)
Limiting Factors


Wherein our intrepid adventurers begin to realize just how many crocodiles there are in the tub…

Ship’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, 5041.106:0756 I.E. Flight Officer Yevon Si recording.
We are currently still in the Casenore system, outbound from Andrin Station, 1.2 AUs out from Aelding. Our current heading is 182.3 mark 340 @ 1/4 impulse. Captain Ni Shen has us in a low use outbound traffic lane while final system checks and calibrations are completed. Nearest sensor contact is four light minutes aft, an OX30 freighter. Engineering reports that they have successfully compensated for the new environmental …challenges of the Biology Lab and have installed filters and an ‘air wall’ to deal with airborne contaminants. First shift should be coming on duty in a few minutes. End entry.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal”.

Session Summary:
After spending two days taking a leisurely heading away from Andrin Station and Aelding, the crew of the RES Speaks Softly is now confident in the upgrades and alterations made to the ship. Before they can starcast out of the Casenore system however, they are overtaken by a high speed personnel shuttle under hard acceleration. This proves to be the enigmatic and up until now noticeably absent ‘Political Officer’. The crew picks up Ditak Kirrin, Commander, ISPD, a drow with a chip on his shoulder and grudgingly settles the new officer on board. The integration of the science team and new crew members continues with a few bumps, while the Captain and Dr. Rose work on ironing out the cooperative kinks between the two teams. With starcaster and sensor calibration completed, the Speaks Softly makes the first jump of its new mission, beginning a series of three relatively short teleports heading towards their first destination, Aranal in the Gulinar system, ancient home of the pre-imperial Forongorn Confederation, 138 light years from Casenore. However, the starcaster teleport experiences a catastrophic mishap and the Speaks Softly emerges from jump within a star’s corona! Only the skill of the crew and a certain amount of luck manage to save the ship from being reduced to a smoldering ember of molten debris. Second Engineer Scrapnik Fritzwhindle was severely injured when Chief Bishop-1 was forced to flood the starboard engineering compartment with reactor coolant in an effort to prevent an explosion of the hydrogen fuel cell, but Lady Kotonaru was able to rescue him in time for clerical resuscitation to be effective. Once the ship is a relatively safe distance from the stellar primary and is no longer in immediate peril, the crew begins to assess the damage and attempt to determine their location. Working with the engineering staff, Lord Serpentce discovers a software virus planted within the Starcaster AstroNav, meant to scramble any teleport coordinates. Navigator Telliar Killaen, visibly shaken by the teleport mishap, frantically struggles to identify the region of space they now find themselves in while the rest of the crew begins to compile a damage report and take stock of their surroundings.

Shakedown Cruise (Part One)
Unnatural Selection


Wherein our rather unusual group of heroes congregate for the first time.

…Casenore Star System
…Aelding, the Throneworld of House Sarava
…Mount Rimidil Skyhook Station
…5041.104 (local equivalent of Friday)

Excerpt from Andrin Station Shipyard records:
“… Refit of R.E.S. Speaks Softy complete. Shipyard personnel are finishing final checks and disembarking. Captain Ni Shen Xau assumed command at 06:30 hrs. Crew loading expected to be completed by 13:00 hrs with Speaks Softly clearing dock by 18:30 hrs. Moorings clean-up and maintenance scheduled to follow…<rem> Glad this one’s off the docket, Jim, now let’s get it the hell out of here and grab some ale! <rem>"

You arrive on the throneworld of House Sarava via the Long Road, most of you traveling on public transports from other throneworlds. The skyscape of changes abruptly, giving way to the brilliant night sky of Aelding as the vehicle passes through one of the Road’s portals, and the dark silhouettes of tall mountains, brightly lit eyries at their peaks, replace your view out the window. You leave the transport at the next stop and catch a public rail to Mount Rimidil Skyhook Station, on the equator. Mt. Rimidil is the highest peak at that latitude, reaching upwards to the bright moving lights in the dark field above. From its summit, a thin thread of gleaming black shoots straight into the sky, hundreds of tiny lights crawling up and down its length until it pierces the shining oval of the cloud city of Vespar, miles above. As the train climbs up the mountain the far off aircraft and gleaming silver hides that surround the city like a cloud of sparkling midges flash pink and red as they catch the first rays of a sunrise that is still hours away for the ground-bound in the valleys below. The dark thread continues on, rising from the top of the suspended metropolis, still crawling with tiny lights, up and up into the lightening blackness above, where it finally disappears into a tiny bright point from which a glittering filigree extends in all directions, as if to mark your destination – Andrin Station. As the train nears the summit of the mountain, the sprawling ground station of the Skyhook grows, as does the black ‘thread’ rising to infinity, finally revealing itself as a huge, one-hundred foot thick cable of bundled nano-carbon fiber, every single inch covered with gleaming, faintly luminescent runic etchings. The tiny crawling lights now resolve into massive, thirty-ton elevators, screaming up and down the length of the impossibly massive column, rocketing upwards at perhaps four or five gees. Following one up with your eyes as it launches, it seems to slow and shrink as it’s bulk and speed is diminished, made inconsequential by the sheer size of the towering, insane black rope to the sky that it dares to climb. Every citizen of the empire knows that the silver dragons of House Sarava possess immense wealth and power, but this entire construct – the mountain, the skyhook, the floating capital city, the sprawling, gigantic shipyards in geosynchronous orbit above – all of it is just one poignant, and very pointed statement as to the phenomenal scale of that wealth and power. It says, with magnificent eloquence, “Don’t fuck with us.”

Characters Attending:
Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, and Lady Kotonaru.

Session Summary:
Pressed by a brisk and seemingly overly eager Port Authority, the crew, both new and old, of the RES Speaks Softly board and take possession of the vessel. Working together, they are able to meet the ambitious loading and departure schedule imposed upon them with only a few issues. The captain tests his new executive officer and puts the screws to his team, and the ship detaches from dock on time. Because of the extensive upgrades and changes to the Speaks Softly, he chooses to set a leisurely course to the edge of the Casenore system so that the crew has time to settle in, calibrate systems and shake out any bugs. The crew and some of the science team meet and mix that evening in the lounge to mingle and bond over the latest regional X-Crawl competition. Quarters are assigned and after a bout of poison ivy passes through some of the personnel, adjustments to the biology lab are made. The ship is performing well and system checks are nearly complete – but still no sign of the mysterious ‘Political Officer’ The command staff appear less than heart broken by this.

Independence Day Weekend
Finishing Character Creation


Wherein we gather to eat, drink, complete character creation and generally be merry! (Did I mention eating & drinking?). If we make some progress on characters, I’d like to do some RP as well!

Captain's Log I
Campaign Prologue

Captain’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, 5041.97:1920 I.E.; Captain Ni Shen Xau recording.
The Speaks Softly is now in her third week of a scheduled month long maintenance and refit layover at the Aelding Shipyards, her crew on extended leave for the time. While still swarming with engineers and technomancers, today I was finally able to take a brief tour and walk her decks for the first time in nearly two weeks. To my eye, there appears to be some deviation from the planned upgrades, but as my Chief Engineer isn’t due back until the day after tomorrow, I have put in a formal request to the yard management for updated specs. The new Starcaster and its linked astronav computer are in place and technicians are completing the final installation tomorrow. My inspection has been cut short, however, as I have finally received word from RESHQ in response to my queries regarding my crew disposition. I am to report to Headquarters on Meneer directly and in person. My maglev train on the Long Road departs within the hour, so I must exit with haste and leave the Speaks Softly in the capable hands of the shipyard once more. End entry.

Personal Log; 5041.98:0230 I.E.
I should have known something was up when they quartered me in the cloud city of Vespar for the duration of the refit rather than in Andrin Station. Rear Admiral Telzron Kimmuren met me himself at train station once I was on Meneer, escorting me to an RES flyer. The old bastard didn’t give up a hint the entire flight out to RESHQ, just chatted me up with small talk. At least he fed me before dropping the ball. Having been on four different throneworlds, experiencing as many different time zones, gravities and weather systems in less than three hours, my internal clock was completely baffled, communicating that confusion angrily to my stomach. Been a while since I’ve experienced Road Lag. After a surprisingly pleasant but uninformative meal he sequestered me in his office along with a very well dressed copper half-dragon, who, of course, got my name wrong. I like to think there was the ghost of a smile on the Rear Admiral’s face as I gently corrected the noble. Only after very politely inquiring after my health and the agree-ability of my abrupt trip from Aelding did Lord Angkar Quirin proceed to explain that the Speaks Softly has been ‘requisitioned’ for a special mission on behalf of his patron, a Lord verus sanguis of House Golion. My vessel and crew were to be at House Golion’s disposal rather than returning to normal RES service. Lord Quirin politely expressed his remorse over the inconvenience and assured me that the cooperation of the Royal Exploratory Service and myself would be noted and favorably weighed for future consideration. He then, again politely, excused himself and left the Rear Admiral to relate details and my orders. Telzron may be an old bastard with a reputation for unyielding propriety – but I have to admit his command of invectives is impressive. After he fumed a bit, not-so-candidly echoing my own feelings, he then laid it all out for me in as much detail as to which he’d been made privy. Basically, we’ve recruited to be a taxi. My Explorer Team – along with a sizable portion of my crew! – had been reassigned. They have been replaced with a purely civilian Science Team from the University of Meneer and ‘specially selected’ officers and crew. At least the Rear Admiral had put up enough of a fight that I have been permitted to retain a few officers and crew. I am grateful to him for that. I departed Meneer only a few hours after arriving with my encrypted orders on a datachip and only my pique for company on the long trip back to Aelding. I think that I’m going to crack open the minibar once I’m back at my aggravatingly opulent suite on Vespar. If I’m going to have to play errand boy for the scaly bastards, I’m going to run up their damned tab. They sure as Hell can afford it.

Personal Log; Supplemental.
I have a Gods-Damned Political Officer.

First Playtest
Character Creation & Rules Test


Okay, Amy, Joe & I sat down for a little play testing today and discovered a few things. Some questions arose regarding racial Hindrances & Edges, but they should be able to be resolved by some re-writing of the How to Build a Character page. A larger, more glaring issue was revealed when it came time to gear up the created characters. Character funds, available gear, and character wealth issues came out of the discussion that followed. We’ve decided that the I’d buy that for a dollar rule supplement handles all the funding and purchasing power questions that came up. I’ve added that supplement to the campaign dropbox. Joe & I are going to work on a more comprehensive equipment listing while Amy focuses on website legibility, clarity and layout.


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