Motes in the Serpent's Eye

Safe Haven (Part Six)
Gallows Humor


Wherein the crew confirm their suspicion that Cap’n Funny, Isn’t.

Ship’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, Date ? recording.
Blah. Blah. Blah. End entry.

Characters Attending:
Lord Rwvyan Nenoic and Lady Kotonaru Joined by Zanven Greensleeves and Yevon Si.

Session Summary: pending

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

We appeared in a corridor amidships, while alarms started going off. I checked the ship layout, and determined that we needed to move straight ahead down the corridor. As we prepared to move out, a mounted gun dropped down out of the ceiling at the end of the corridor. I ran forward, drawing Singularity from my back, and slashed the sword into the array, slicing off both barrels. Koto, Zanven and Yevon moved up to my position, and we turned a slight corner to find a blast door.

We heard a male voice over the intercom say “New playthings! It’s time to join the crew!” We assumed it was “Cap’n” Funny, trying to be funny.

Zanven asked me to slice the cover off the panel next to the door. He pulled out an electronics kit, and began hot wiring the controls, with Yevon’s assistance. Koto prepared herself for whatever might be on the other side of the door. When the door slid open, we saw another swarm of hands. The make voice came over the intercom again, saying “All hands on deck, tee hee.” I snarked, “That was…weak.” Koto used her wand, and the hands disintegrated to ash in a blast of fire. The other door warped slightly.

We were having trouble opening it, so Koto handed me her sword, VoidKiss and I used it to cut through the door. Once we were through, we saw a ramp leading up to the right. As we hit the top of the ramp, we saw six pirates. Three were kneeling and three were standing behind them. All were armed with laser rifles. From behind them, someone else tossed a grenade onto the ramp. I snatched it up and tossed it back to them. Always a classic. We heard a pirate start to yell “Aaargh…” just before it went off, knocking them all down and stunning them.

Koto used her wand again to devastating effect, killing all seven pirates. In the aftermath, we heard the sounds of shattering plasteel and shorting electronics. Lights along the upper part of the wall started flashing blue. Zanven took a look around and said, “Oh. Well.” In unison we all say, “Oh, well, what?” He replied, “Shields are down.”

Zanven started rifling through the pirates’ pockets, and grabbed a laser rifle for himself. He also found a keycard with the number 20 on it. Yevon also appropriated a laser rifle off the floor. Spying something small flying away down the hall, about to turn the corner, she took aim and shot it. It fell to the floor.

Over the intercom, we heard a scream, and then a voice said, “You killed Coco! I’m going to eat your guts, you bitch!” Yevon responded by unloading a couple of additional rounds into a little rotting winged monkey. She refrained from any verbal comment. We moved up the hallway to find another set of blast doors.

Within the mind link, Koto suggested that she teleport us to the other side of the next set of blast doors, rather than trying to cut through them again. We all agree. As Koto casts, a door on our right side opens and four pirates rush out and shoot at us. We can see at least four more in the room behind them. They first group missed me and Zanven, but hit Koto and Yevon. Then they dropped to their knees, and the second row fired, except for one pirate who fumbled his weapon. We could hear zombie noises from the room behind us, and we suspected that the shipboard necromancer raised the defeated pirates, planning to make us fight them a second time. Koto teleported to the other side of the blast doors.
We appeared in another long stretch of corridor ending in another blast door. I took the opportunity to seal the door behind us with quickcrete. We reviewed the schematics, and decided we were close enough for Koto to teleport us right outside the bridge. After a quick discussion, Koto picked a room just off the starboard side of the bridge. Just as we made the decision, Yevon dropped to the ground. She was still breathing, but it was shallow and fast. I picked her up, and Koto teleported us.

Koto had some difficulty getting through the enchantments near the bridge, but as a sorcerer, she was able to overpower the ward. The room where we appeared was clearly central life support, with large oxygen cannisters and control panels. There were three pirates in the room, but we had the drop on them. I carefully put Yevon down, and beheaded the closest one before he could sound an alarm. Koto killed the second one with a sonic bolt, and Zanven jammed his stun baton into the third pirate’s armpit, dropping him to his knees. I stepped over and killed him.

We had a quick discussion via mind link about what forces we might still encounter. Zanven suspected a minimum of 20-25 people would be needed to fly this battlecruiser, and we had already killed ten. However, there was no guarantee that Funny hadn’t stuffed in extra crew.

We needed to figure out how to prevent the necromancer from raising the dead pirates while we were fighting too, and we needed to get Yevon back on her feet. She was clearly poisoned, and none of us had a dermpatch that would cure poison. I looked around and found a medkit on the wall. We were really lucky, because it had one neutralize poison dermpatch. It also had two rebreather masks, and Koto put those in her bag, just in case. I slapped the dermpatch onto Yevon, who woke up pretty quickly. Koto and Zanven were freaking out about her mods. She’s going to be pissed if she finds out they know. Zanven found some additional keycards on the dead pirates in here, and pocketed all of them.
Once she woke up, she wanted to know where her new laser rifle was…apparently, I dropped it when I scooped her up in the hallway. I gave her mine to use by way of apology.

Koto pulled out her window chalk so we could see through the door into the next area, comparing it to the schematic. She saw two pirates run by carrying heavy weaponry, heading to our right. We decided to go left. I asked Zanven if he could get the door open. I didn’t see anywhere to use a keycard. He looked at me and reached over to push a green button next to the door. The door slid open. He pushed the red button. The door slid closed. The little smartass said, “Yes, I can.”

Then we heard a woman’s voice over the comm, “Attention all station, please report in. Please report in.” We were out of time. I passed the web grenades I took from the Armory to Yevon.

I carefully opened the door and stood just out of sight, listening. I could hear people typing around the corner to the left, along the wall. I heard a woman’s voice (not Sofia) say, “It sounds like they’re wiping Gracious’ ass.”

Funny said, “Good, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Now let’s give them a prize for their efforts, prep the nukes.”

Sofia said, “But sir, what about all that treasure that’s supposedly down there?”

He replied, “We’re not in this for the loot, target the RES ship.”

I tried to reach the Captain, but he wasn’t answering. Yves was always a damn liar, but I have to admit, the silence worried me. With no way to warn the rest of the crew, we knew we had to stop them from dropping any nukes.

Koto made sure Zanven had all the key cards we’ve collected. His job was to prevent the launch of any nukes. Yevon was going to continue to watch our backs while Koto and I engaged Funny.

I took out one of my own precious EMP grenades and tossed it right into the center of the bridge. We heard Sofia yell “Grenade!” and Funny cast two spells back to back. Then the grenade went off and all the lights went out. I slapped on a dermpatch of darksight and moved towards Funny, but Sofia blocked me. It turns out that Funny is the necromancer, not Sofia. She said, “You aren’t going to touch him.” I didn’t bother to reply, since I clearly intended to touch him. With my sword. On the kidney.

While Sofia and I tested each other’s martial skills, Koto also used a derm patch of darksight. Then, she used her breath weapon on the five pirates sitting at the panels to our left, killing them. She followed up by casting a rapid fire bolt at Sofia. Both Sofia and Funny had some sort of arcane protection. The first bolt got through the arcane protection but Sofia dodged it. The second one hit but she shook it off.

Meanwhile, Yevon kept her eyes and gun trained on the far end of the corridor, in case any pirates came our way. Zanven pushed the dead woman out of the closest chair so he could sit down as soon as the power came back on. He stood against the wall with his flashlight in his hand, but turned off.

Sofia tried to insult me, bless her black little heart. She said, “What are you supposed to be, some kind of mutated draconic afterbirth?” I replied, “I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.”

Sofia and I continued our frenzied swordplay, neither one gaining any real advantage over the other. Funny was casting spells at me and at Koto, and things were chaotic as hell. Two pirates came running back up the corridor, and both Yevon and Zanven shot at them with their laser rifles. Yevon killed one and Zanven hit the other but didn’t kill him.

Funny is casting spells around the corner, so we can’t clearly see him. Koto decided to cast a Dispel from the wand, and also cast a greater blast. The dispel did not take down either Sofia’s or Funny’s arcane protection as she had hoped. The greater blast didn’t do any real damage to Sofia or Funny, but she did manage to kill three more bridge crew, including a helmsman, who was ignoring the fight and throwing a fit, slamming his fists on the helm over and over again.

I could hear people yelling from the other side of the bridge, out of sight. I took an opportunity to glance around the corner, and I could see there was fire outside the main window, but I couldn’t see the cause.

I continued to fight with Sofia. I have to admit, she was good. Yevon killed the pirate Zanven had been targeting, clearing that end of the hall. Koto decided to try another dispel on Sofia and Funny, and this one worked. She followed that up with a blast of fire from her wand. Funny went up like a candle. He collapsed into the helm seat, dropping his staff onto the floor. Sofia, also badly burned, turns to see Funny fall and screamed out, “You killed him, you son of a bitch!” at Koto. Koto simply replied, “Daughter.”

Sofia decided to retreat, but we were determined not to let her. She used a dermpatch to make herself invisible, but Koto dispelled it. The fight continued but in the end we killed her. I scooped up her sword and plasma pistol, while Koto grabbed Funny’s staff. That’s when we noticed the pirates from the other side of the bridge were fleeing. Looking out the window, we could see flame.

Yevon said, “We’re in reentry, and our shields are down!”

At that point, discretion seemed the better part of valor. We saw shuttle pull out of the bay and whip around, slamming into the side of the ship and crashing.

We decided to follow the bridge crew, and left through the far doors. Rather than follow the crew’s example and try to take a shuttle, Koto teleported us back down to the starboard bay of the Speaks. We found Keystone there, manning the gatling gun. He didn’t shoot us with it, which we greatly appreciated. I asked after the Captain, and Keystone informed us that the bridge had been blown up by a “fake” Samai.

Safe Haven (Part Five)
The Doppelganger Dilemma


Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Ship’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, Date ? recording.
Blah. Blah. Blah. End entry.

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

Session Summary: pending

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

I went back down to engineering to meet the Captain, providing a status update. In order to reset the Omega, he needed RES officers, and he proceeded to swear in Bishop and myself. I’m feeling both nervous and proud when I stop to think about it, but there isn’t much time to worry about that. We cancelled the Omega setting, and then turned our attention to next steps.

The Captain decided we needed to clear the ship first. We hid our noncombatants (Underbough, Telliar, and Fig Bear) in the sensor bay with Ditak as guard. Koto stayed below to continue questioning Scurvy and capture her likeness and mannerisms. Brilletai was freaking out because he heard Scurvy say all the captives were dead, and we had to restrain him. Eventually, we stashed him in the brig for safekeeping. The rest of us made our way to the middle deck, where we picked up Durendal, clearing out pirates as we went.

They pretty much had sacked our rooms, but several of us stopped off to grab personal gear as we could find it. Captain authorized me to open the Armory, and we geared up. Once the ship was clear, at least temporarily, we picked up the rest of the crew from the sensor bay. Samai tucked herself into a corner. She still wasn’t letting anyone touch her. The Captain went to his quarters and got his gear, while we packed into the bridge, and did some healing on Ereyie and Caladriend.

I have to admit, Caladriend didn’t abandon Ereyie, and she fought like a dragon. Color me impressed. I like her a little better. Marginally better. Let’s see if she stays off the drugs.

We decided that in order to get Elly back, we needed three approaches. The challenge was going to be communicating without the pirates overhearing us. Pei’Fa suggested using a mental power called Mind Link to let us communicate. We split into four groups. The Captain would remain on the bridge with the noncombatants, as well as Ereyie and Samai, while Scrapnik and Keriwar worked on necessary repairs. He would be connected directly to the leader of each team so he could coordinate. The team leaders would be connected to everyone in their group.

First was my team, which would include Koto, Yevon, and Zanven. Koto would impersonate Scruvy and try to talk her way onto the Happy Insanity. She would start rumors about treasure on the Speaks, to try to discourage random fire from above. We would try to take over the gunship, preventing it from bombing the civilians and the Speaks.

Second was Dr. Rose’s team, including Pei’Fa and Nodagil, and Doc Keystone. They would patrol the Speaks, keeping it clear of pirates.

Third was Durendal’s team, including Bishop, Serpentce, and Ditak. They would make their way overland to Therapist, and rescue Samai, hopefully taking or disabling Therapist in the process. Killing Gracious would be a nice bonus.

Durendal’s team started for Therapist and ran into a patrol. I wasn’t present so I only have the barest of facts. They fought and killed the patrol, took their APC, and made their way to the target. Some pirates ran from them back toward the Speaks, getting killed by Pei’Fa. The team discovered that someone, probably Elly, had set a very familiar virus lose on Therapist, disabling all ship systems. Serpentce recognized the virus as a modification of the same one that had been released on the Speaks. Sir Gracious geared up in his legionnaire’s armor with a plasma cannon. They killed Sir Gracious and took Therapist. Elly is no longer on board, if she ever was.

My team took the shuttle and bluffed their way aboard the Happy Insanity. We killed an animated skull-hand. Apparently, we were supposed to “feed it”. Yuck. We got swarmed by animated disembodied hands. Koto did a blast to destroy them, while I downloaded a basic layout of the ship from a nearby console. First Mate Sofia Bones gave the order to vent our section of the ship, so Koto teleported us to an inner corridor. The screams of dying pirates were music to my ears.

Yves contacted me over comms, claiming that all our crew on the Speaks was dead, and that if I surrendered he would release Samai and Elly. I asked for proof of life, and he agreed. I could hear them both yelling, and cursing the pirates, so it seems he really did have them on the Quim. That means whoever our “Samai” was on the Speaks, it wasn’t the real one. I tried to reach the Captain, but he wasn’t answering.

Dr. Rose’s crew was wildly successful at their mission, although I don’t have all the details. Pei’Fa and Nodagil killed pirates and kept the decks clear. Keystone got the gatling gun and set it up in the port bay, eventually moving to starboard. Pei’Fa led a bunch of pirates into the fire of the gatling gun. Then he killed pirates with pieces of other pirates. He mounted dead pirates in front of the docking bays and on the hull. They also destroyed some drones.

Dr. Rose was helping out on the bridge. Samai was apparently an imposter, and knocked her out. She set a bomb up on the bridge and disappeared, as did Fig Bear. Koto got some information from Scurvy that Yves’s secret weapon is a woman called “Slither”. Probably a shifter or illusionist of some kind. The explosion went off and nearly killed everyone, except that Nodagil showed up and healed them all with a powerful spell.

Safe Haven (Part Four)
Under a Black Flag We shall Sail

In which some of the luster of the pirate mystique begins to tarnish.

Excerpted from the personal logs of Keriwar Zanogg, Ship’s Chaplain and Third Engineer, RES Speaks Softly; Timestamp: 5041.155:0700 I.E.
“I realized last night that with everything that’s gone on in the last two months, I completely forgot my birthday. Not that it’s really all that much to celebrate. I turned twenty-four fifty-one days ago, but we were all scrambling to repair the ship after the misjump that stuck us out here in the middle of nowhere. The people of Haven seem nice and they’ve invited the crew to a big welcome breakfast. Maybe I’ll be allowed to attend. If so, I can pretend to myself that its a belated birthday celebration.”

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

Unable to Attend: n/a

PCs on LOA: (Run as NPCs)
Ditak Kirrin, and Ereyie Wel.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Durendal made it down to engineering, and was able to linger outside listening to the two pirates talking inside. He entered, pretending to be a robot rather than a soul mech. He uttered statements such as “Anomoly identified in engineering bay.” One of them asked him if he was there to fix the ship and he replied, “Affirmative.” He was able to bluff them until he was in what he calls “grabby range”, and then he killed them both.

Triumphantly covered in the blood of our enemies, he started inspecting engineering and discovered that the EMP blast put the Speaks into Omega Mode, which means that the ship will scuttle itself 24 hours after it entered that mode. Only RES command staff can countermand this setting, and Durendal quickly learned that only Captain Ni Shen and Yevon had the necessary credentials. The best he or I could do was reset the timer, since we are not officially enlisted RES. The timer was set at 22 hours and 45 minutes, so he shelved that concern for later. As he continued his analysis of the damage to the ship’s systems, there was a hideous noise like something snapping or caving in.

His next stop was Medbay, where he found three pirates looting the medical supplies. True to form, he killed them and moved to the starboard cargo bay. The pirates had cut the struts that operate the starboard door, which explained the noise, as the cargo bay doors weigh a couple of tons. Inside the bay, he could see a couple of dozen pirates digging through the crates. They found the haul we collected on Chadra, and they were exclaiming excitedly about the treasure as well as the trade goods.

As he was deciding what to do next, he noticed a commotion out on the platform, where two small figures were running for the nearby woods. The figures bore more than a passing resemblance to Serpentce and Keriwar, whom he had expected to find in engineering.

As he considered his options, Ereyie called him over his personal comm, saying “Durendal, are you online? Can you hear me? They’ve got a matter cutter up here, and they’re trying to force their way onto the bridge.” Durendal closed the door to the cargo bay and locked it, in hopes of delaying the pirates. Then he headed for the bridge.

In the meantime, Serpentce and Keriwar had been taken to a landing pad. Serpentce explained to the pirates how much his ransom would be worth and went along without argument. In light of his cooperation, the pirates were being more polite than normal.

The pirate officer, Jagged, apparently named after his facial scar, called up for instructions, and was told to send each of them to different ships. Serpentce surmised he was an officer based on his equipment and jewelry, which was a higher quality than what the other pirates were using. Serpentce stressed his status as a Lord, and Jagged got really excited about the ransom that they could get from the Augenmanthias clan, due to the wealth and power House Mazorgrim holds in the Asamet kingdoms.

Jagged called up for instructions, and was told to send Serpentce to one vessel and Keriwar to another. When the shuttles landed and Serpentce realized the two would be separated, he acted. He cast a spell to unlock their manacles, and the two ran for the woods. Keriwar cast Sanctuary, making them harder to hit, but one of the pirates still managed to hit her with blaster fire. Serpentce looked back and realized that Keriwar had fallen. In an uncharacteristic display of solidarity, he circled back for her, staunching her wounds.

As he was helping her to her feet, Jagged caught up to them raising his sword and yelling, “Don’t let them get away, Gracious will eat you for fucking breakfast!” Before he could strike either of them, his head exploded.

At the tree line, they could see a humanoid figure waving an arm and calling to them. They didn’t waste any time running towards him, while he used a hunting rifle to provide covering fire. From the brush, they could see the pirates moving a heavy cannon in the direction of the forest, so Serpentce cast an EMP blast to disable it.

The centaur quickly introduced himself as Buck Colethorn, and suggested that they get out of there. Serpentce indicated a desire to go back to the Speaks. Buck argued, pointing out that that harder they fight, the more Sir Gracious will take it out on the natives. Serpentce said, “Leave Gracious to us!”

Buck replied, “Us? What – you and her?”

Serpentce continued to argue, “Did you think we were the only people on that ship?”

“The pirates already pulled the rest of your crew in that honey trap. I never thought an RES ship would fall for that.”

Serpentce continued to push Buck, asking for his help. “If you don’t help and that guy comes back its on you.” Buck was finally ashamed and agreed to help them.

Meanwhile the rest of the crew, sans Samai and Elly, were huddled at a 20’ door with a keycard access pad underneath the spaceport. Their gnomish captive, Brilletai, was trying to convince them to surrender. During the pause, the crew members with any knowledge of healing took a moment to patch up Keystone, Scrapnik, and Underbough. We needed everyone to be able to move under their own power, since we didn’t know what we were going to be facing once we opened the door. The Captain was still struggling with the after-effects of being poisoned, but was starting to track his surroundings, and understood enough about the situation to start giving orders again.

Finally, out of frustration, Pei’Fa smacked Brilletai in the mouth and took his keycard. Bishop then used the keycard to open the door, and we entered the building. Pei’Fa tore off a hunk of the tram and used telekinesis to make a screen in front of us as we went into the building.

The doors opened on a large reception area, with a set of stairs and two elevators, one a large freight elevator. The Captain ordered Pei’Fa and me to watch the stairs, and demanded contact with the Speaks. Ditak gently explained to the Captain that the Speaks was EMP’d, and wouldn’t be able to answer unless someone got the power back online.

Bishop decided to try personal comm channels, and called Durendal. He asked Durendal for the ship status, Durendal replied, “In Omega mode and lousy with pirates.”

After hearing that information, the Captain asked, “What is the status of the staff on the ship?”

Durendal responded, “I don’t know. I am making my way to the bridge where Ereyie and Dr Caladriend are preparing to make a last stand.”

The Captain said fiercely, “Durendal, secure the ship.”

Durendal kept moving towards the bridge, when he heard blaster fire. Over the open comms, we were all able to hear the pirates yelling, “Fuck! They’re armed in there! Gracious, there are still crew and the door is partially opened, we need some reinforcements…arrrgh!”

Then a different voice cried out, “Fuck, they have a sword in there! We need backup!”

The reply was merely, “The Happy Insanity is now in geo-synchronous orbit.” Durendal clearly heard one of the pirates say, “Fuck, Cap’n Funny is on his way.”

Durendal hesitated out of sight, watching the pirates. One had pulled out a grenade. The other was using the matter cutter,

The Captain said to Durendal “Sir, I said SECURE THE SHIP!”

Suddenly, Samai broke into the conversation, “Can anyone hear me? Oh gods, is anyone there?”

I replied swiftly, “I hear you Samai.”

She was breathing heavily, almost crying. “Where are you guys? I got away, I escaped, but they’ve still got Elly.”

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m hiding behind some crates near the spaceport, on the north side of the building.”

“Don’t move, we’ll come and get you. We’re coming, Samai.”

Durendal tiptoed up behind the pirates, killing the first one instantly. Unfortunately, he had already pulled the pin on his grenade, which he then dropped on the deck. Durendal saw this, and quickly snatched up the second pirate, using him to smother the grenade when it exploded. He passed the matter cutter through the hole in the door to Dr. Caladriend, and turned towards the captain’s office.

He entered the office with extreme prejudice and dispatched the two pirates before they could finish breaking into the safe. He actually impaled the second pirate with the head of the first pirate. Then he grabbed a bottle of the Captain’s whiskey and took it to Ereyie and Dr. Caladriend, passing it to them through the hole. Ereyie snatched it from him, and then wiped his hand off. “Ewww!”

Durendal responded, “No worries, it’s just pirate blood.” Then he turned and went down the ladder to the upper deck to look for more pirates.

While all that was going on, Pei’Fa and I were looking up the stairs, watching for any movement above us. I was still wearing Lassiter’s earpiece and was tracking pirate chatter for anything useful. Then suddenly, a voice I recognized came over the comm.

“This is Captain Yves Dyn’eldi of the Quim Full of Teeth. We know you have Zed’s comm, and we know you’re listening. Who is in command down there? I’ll give you to the count of 5 to answer, and then I’ll unleash the other ships on the town. 5…4…3…2…”
I responded before he could reach the number 1. I didn’t have time to pass the comm to the Captain. The conversation went more or less like this.

“Yves, you black-hearted son of a bitch!”

“Who is this?”


“Rwvyan? Oh, what a wonderful surprise!”

“Come down here and face me.”

“Oh, don’t worry. You set off an alarm. We know where you are and are sending forces unlike anything you’ve ever seen to your location. Give up or…I’ll bomb the civilians.”

“You’ll do that anyway.”

“I also have two of your crew members and we’ll be…entertaining…them until you surrender.”

“Get ready, Yves, I’m coming for you.”

I dropped the commlink on the ground and stepped on it, filling Yves comm with feedback. It was better if he didn’t think he could talk to us. I looked over and both Pei’Fa and Koto were looking at me with concern.

Before they could ask me any questions, Keriwar checked in, having heard the conversation with Samai. She explained that she and Serpentce escaped with the help of a local, and were trying to figure out a good way to attack the pirates.

“Keriwar, can you get eyes on Samai?” I asked. I wanted to be certain that she really had escaped, since Yves was claiming to have two of the crew. I also wanted to be certain that she wasn’t contacting us under duress. It hadn’t escaped me that both Samai and Elly had commlinks, and someone could be listening in, but they would have to be close enough for the comms to work without the ship’s systems to augment the distance.

“Where is she?” I gave Keriwar directions, and she confirmed that she could see Samai, and she was alone.

“Can you get to her? Get her into to woods with you?”

“I can’t run,” Samai interjected. “They…hurt us. They hurt Elly, oh gods they shot Elly.” She sounded like she was about to have a breakdown. I clenched my fists. I was all too able to imagine what had been done to them and was probably still being done to Elly.

“Use us as a distraction,” I said grimly. We’ll make some noise.”

Then the ground shook. The pirates had started bombing the town.

“We need to move,” declared the Captain, nodding at Pei’Fa and me. Nodagil cast Sanctuary on the crew, hoping to make us harder to shoot. Koto cast Warrior’s Gift on the two of us, and I cast Protection on myself. Other crew members did whatever they could and prepared to move.

“I’m going to the roof,” Ditak declared. “I’ll be more use up there.”

“Scrapnik, go with him and support him,” the Captain ordered.

As Pei’Fa and I started up the stairs, with Bishop moving up between us, I subvocalized and opened a private channel to the Captain.

“Captain, I know once of the pirate Captains, it’s a long story. But these guys are seriously bad news, even among pirates. He hates me, so I think I can draw him away from the crew, so I may split off from the group once we get up there…” The Captain interrupted me before I could finish.

“You will do no such thing. You will not go off on your own, you will stay with the crew and get everyone to the Speaks. That is an order XO!” He was practically yelling in my ear.

I ground my teeth, but eventually acknowledged, “Yes, sir.”

As we reached the top of the first flight of stairs, we saw an open lobby with multiple glass doors heading out to the landing area. The stairs continued to go up on our right. Pei’Fa looked down, and threw out an arm, preventing Bishop and me from leaving the stairwell. He had spotted an explosive trap with a laser trip stretching across the stairs.

As we tried to determine how to get past the trap without setting it off, we noticed a drop ship land outside the lobby, and pirates started pouring out onto the pad. We could clearly see a couple of Oruks pushing a portable artillery platform. We needed to get out of there fast.

Koto spoke up, “I think I have a solution. Everyone step back.” We all stepped back and she moved to the front, where she started casting. Moments later, a magical arch appeared in front of us, and on the other side, we could see the port side cargo bay on the Speaks.

Meanwhile, using the arrival of the drop ship as a distraction, Samai started to make a run for the forest. She was hobbling, and wouldn’t have made it except that Keriwar ran out of the woods to meet her, supporting her and leading her back into the brush, and away from the pirates. Buck, the helpful native, laid down suppressive fire with his rifle until they were safely concealed.

Serpentce took the opportunity to invisibly make his way to the disabled ship next to the Speaks, and hacked into it’s systems. He quickly discovered that the ship was gutted, with only the exterior intact, and was really only a support for the anti-ship weapons that had been mounted inside it. He took control of the primitive system inside, and redirected one of the weapons towards the oruks with the weapons platform, and shot at them.

Since he was firing an anti-ship weapon, the weapons platform and surrounding troops exploded. The force of the explosion took out the glass doors of the starport lobby, and the debris triggered the explosive trap that we avoided on the stairwell. The tower took structural damage, and the entire building collapsed.

The crew inside the starport walked through Koto’s gate onto the Speaks. She closed it behind us as the starport collapsed, distracting the dozen or so pirates in the bay. Bishop stepped in and shot a pirate in the head, dropping him immediately.

As this was happening, Yves broke in on our internal comm channel, saying, “This is Captain Yves Dyn’eldi of the Quim Full of Teeth. I’d like to speak to whomever is in charge of the RES ship. No, not you Rwvyan.” We were too busy to reply.

Since Bishop, Pei’Fa and I were in front, I immediately used my breath weapon, which set about half of the remaining pirates retching. Pei’Fa shoved a cargo container into a bunch of them, killing another four pirates. Bishop then moved into the bay, and killed two more.
Nodagil cast a quick spell and put any surviving pirates to sleep. Koto killed them all, except for one we kept alive to answer questions. I grabbed her commlink and stuck it in my ear, listening to pirate chatter again, in the hopes of overhearing something useful.

The Captain said sharply, “Comms on silent people, we are running radio silent from now on.”

At the same time, we hear Samai over the comms, “Guys, are you there? Guys? Please tell me you weren’t still inside!” We could hear her crying, but the Captain gestured again, and none of us replied.

“Team, we’ll head for engineering,” said the Captain, “Yevon and I need access to the ship’s systems. We’ll hide the non-combatants in the Sensor bay.”

Koto carefully woke up the prisoner, who looked around and agreed to cooperate.

“How many ships are there, and where are they?” She asked.

“There are five, and most are in orbit. They were hiding on the far side of the moon when you got here, except for Sir Gracious on Therapist_.” The pirate looked around. “_Therapist, get it?” She grinned at us, inviting us to share the joke. It took us all a minute.

“The Rapist? Really?” muttered Bishop.

“Where’s Therapist?” Koto asked patiently.

“In the scrapyard about 10 clicks to the west.” She answered promptly.

“Where are the prisoners being held?” I asked quickly.

“What prisoners?” she asked.

“The ones you took from the colony.” Fig Bear leaned forward eagerly.

“Oh them? They’re dead. We haven’t needed to do that for a while, all you need to do is count fingers and toes.” She nodded at Brilletai. We all looked and realized that he was missing a pinky finger on his right hand.

“This little farm colony is a jewel,” she continued. “We get tribute from all the different communities, but we’re mainly based out of Haven Prime.”

“Tell us about the different ships, and the Captains.” Koto went on.

“Sir Gracious on Therapist is a junior captain, just like Captain “Mad Eye” Ironbraid on Hades Secret Love Child. Sir Gracious killed his Captain (Scorch) a couple of years ago. Therapist used to be a private merchant ship. Love Child is a converted police yacht. They’d like to be senior captains, but they don’t have the clout on the Captains’ Council that the Senior Captains have.”

“What about the other three ships?”

“Well, there’s Captain Dyn’eldi on the Quim Full of Teeth, and Cap’n Funny on the gunboat Happy Insanity. Funny came with Dyn’eldi before Funny had his own ship. He’s a wacko but Dyn’eldi has him on a leash. Quim is a decommissioned military ship. Then there’s Captain Blackhate on Deceit. The Deceit is a modified freighter, and that’s where most prisoners are kept. It’s got six shuttles and a drop ship.

“Where would they have taken Elly?”

“Who’s Elly?”

“A member of our crew they captured.”

“Either Therapist, Deceit, or Love Child. Is she pretty?”

“Yes,” I said, through a clenched jaw.

“Then she’s probably on Therapist.” Scrapnik pushed up to her and started kicking at her. The Captain quickly pulled him away, saying, “Steady, easy now.”

“What’s your name?”

“I’m Jeanette Smythe, but everyone calls me Scurvy.”

“How long have you been with these pirates?”

“You mean the Black Hydra Pirates? They picked me up a couple of years ago.”

“What ship are you on, Scurvy?”

“I started out on the Love Child, but I’ve been crew on Deceit and Happy Insanity. I’m on Therapist now.”

“Have you taken any recent prisoners?”

“We have maybe 20 left alive from the last merchant vessel. They came about a month ago.”

I took the opportunity to step away saying, “I’m going to try to connect with Durendal and the crew on the bridge.” The Captain nodded, and I took off up one of the ladders.

I reached the upper deck without running into anyone. Once I got there, I heard noise coming from the armory, so I made my way there, just in time to meet Durendal. He killed a couple of pirates who were trying to break into the armory, and was now heading towards the galley. I told him we were radio silent, and to meet the Captain and crew in engineering when he was done. Then I crept up the ladder to the Command Deck towards the bridge. Before I exited onto the deck, I could hear pirates trying to get into the bridge.

Safe Haven (Part Three)
WTF is a Clump Badger?

Our heroes politely decline an offer to ‘come along quietly.’ As a result, someone gets hurt.

On the bridge of the Happy Insanity, in geostationary orbit over Haven Prime; 5041.155:1110
Sofia Bones danced and hummed as she monitored comms. An RES starship and it’s crew was one hell of a score and Sofia’s crew mates had already begun partying. The trap that was Haven had sprung perfectly, even drawing the RES command staff out of their vessel to a ‘welcome breakfast’! Haha! The colonists had behaved like the perfect little chattel they were – maybe the Captains would give them extra rations for their performance. But probably not. A communication caught Sofia’s attention. It was Sir Gracious trying to reach Zed Lassiter, the capture team leader. No reply seemed forthcoming. “Initiate Protocol 7” radioed Gracious. Oh boy! The RES rats were putting up a fight! Now the fun would really kick off – Sir Gracious was a vicious SOB and he loved violently thrashing anyone who dared defy him. Sofia Bones took a seat and began to listen more carefully, a big grin spreading on her face…

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

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

After successfully liberating the skimmer that the pirates were using, we loaded aboard our wounded (Captain Ni Shen, Keystone) along with those among the crew who were the most vulnerable to attack (Bishop, Scrapnik, Nodagil, Underbough, Telliar) so we could try to get back to the Speaks. The Mayor’s nephew, Fig Bear, told me there is a secret underground transport that goes from the Civic Hall to the spaceport. With the Captain still out of commission, I made the decision to use the underground train system. Samai and Elly were still missing.

Pei’Fa and Koto were monitoring communications, and overheard one of the leaders, Sir Gracious, asking Zed for an update. When he failed to get a reply, he initiated something called Protocol 7. We finished stripping the pirates of their weapons, ammo and communications gear, and left for the Civic Hall.

When we were about halfway to the Hall, we got cut off by a grav bike. The operator opened fire on us, and I climbed onto the skimmer to return the favor using the mounted gun. Pei’Fa used some sort of psionic scream to kill the driver, and the grav bike almost hit us. Scrapnik saved us from that collision with some truly inspired driving.

That’s when one of the pirate shuttles started a strafing run. Luckily for us, that shuttle happened to be the one with Kirran secretly aboard. He heard the pilot on the radio, and quickly realized they were talking about us, and telling all their forces that we had taken one of their skimmers. He quickly killed the co-pilot, and ordered the pilot to stop his strafing run. The pirate was so surprised that he turned to look at Kirran, instead of paying attention to flying the shuttle.

Koto saw the shuttle first, and called out a warning. However, we realized quickly that rather than a strafing run, the shuttle was going to crash into us. Kirran used a spell to pull up the nose of the shuttle enough that Scrapnik was able to drive the skimmer right under it, narrowly avoiding being destroyed. The shuttle slammed into the nearest building and flipped over, crashing behind us, but sending the front of the building collapsing down onto the street. None of us were killed, but Zed Lassiter was hit by debris.

Kirran teleported out of the shuttle and used a feather fall to land safely. His invisibility ended, and we saw him appear on the ground. He traded places with me, manning the gun on the skimmer until we get to the Civic Hall safely. First, we got our wounded into the Hall. Then we split up. Koto and Scrapnik left to hide the skimmer in the parking garage, in order to conceal our location. I led the rest into the Hall. Fig Bear explained that the entrance to the secret tram station was in the basement, but we would need access.

Koto decided that instead of hiding the skimmer next to the Civic Hall, they should let it travel down the street and crash further along as misdirection. As it crossed a major road, it was spotted and blown up by an anti-grav tank. Realizing she and Scrapnik had been spotted, she teleported on top of the tank, using her magic to force it to power down temporarily. Then, she dropped a fireball through the hatch, killing the pirates inside.

While all that was going on, Fig Bear introduced me to one of the community leaders, Brilletai. I politely asked him to borrow his citizen card to access the tram. Instead of calmly discussing the situation, he screamed and ran into a conference room. We gave chase, and when we entered, I heard him begging the pirate leader to come and save him from us. As I came into the room, I saw that Brilletai called Sir Gracious on video, and he and I had one long moment to stare at each other. Sir Gracious is a green half-dragon. I grabbed a chair and threw it at the screen, breaking it and ending the call.

I grabbed Brilletai, and carried him out, since we need him to access the tram. Fig Bear and I ran into Koto and Scapnik coming into the Hall, and I brought them up to speed quickly. I expect that now that Brilletai has let the pirates know where we are, they’ll be attacking from the air, so I asked Fig Bear to get the rest of the civilians to evacuate.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team was busily trying to access the tram. Brilletai was gibbering in fear, and essentially useless, but Nodagil, Bishop and Dr. Rose had located the entrance. Now that we had his access card, we were ready to leave. Nodagil closed the door behind us and we boarded the tram. I hauled Brilletai along because despite his treachery, he was a civilian and I couldn’t leave him there to die.

After a few minutes, we heard hear a boom from the Hall, and the power failed. The tram came to a sudden stop, throwing Dr Underbough and Scrapnik from the vehicle. Bishop and I immediately jumped out after them. They were thrown about 20 feet in front of the tram, and were both severely injured. We called for a medic when suddenly Dr. Rose yelled, “There are animals in here!” Fig Bear yelled “Clump Badgers” and rolled under one of the seats, while Brilletai helpfully screamed and fainted. Bishop and I carried our injured companions back to the tram as fast as we could. Kirran hopped out and slapped a healing patch on each of them, and we carefully carried them up the ladder and back to the relative safety of the tram. Nodagil immediately started to use his healing magic on them, saving their lives in the process.

Then the clump badgers attacked the tram, and Bishop, who was still down below. We fought them off, and really, the less said about clump badgers the better. They’re giant badgers with eight legs, and they’re almost as pleasant as normal badgers…but not quite.

With the tram out, we had to make our way to the secret door leading into the spaceport on foot, carrying our wounded, while being tracked by murderous giant badgers. We made it to the entrance, and paused to plan our next steps.

On the Speaks, Ereyie got Durendal booted back up and online. He explained to the Second Officer about the EMP and the pirates. They could hear someone using a matter cutter to try to access the bridge. Durendal opened the door, surprising the man, and neatly cut him in half. One of the three remaining pirates crapped himself. The other two tried to get out the door to the airlock at the same time, and one stabbed the other in the eye. That pirate then escaped through the door, closing it behind himself. Durendal slammed the pirate with the eye wound into a wall, crushing his chest. He forced open the door to chase after the other pirate.

Ereyie knocked out the remaining pirate on the upper deck, and restrained him. Wrinkling his nose at the smell, he locked him in one of the closets.

Durendal chased the fleeing pirate down the ladder to the middle deck, where he was attacked from the shadows. He seized his assailant, and quickly realized it was Dr. Caladriend, who let herself out of the medical bay. After a quick consult, she went to the bridge to help Ereyie, and Durendal continued down to engineering to look for Seprentce and Keriwar.

Safe Haven (Part Two)
A pirate's life for me!

The crew of the Speaks Softly discovers that Haven is indeed a true haven – just not for them…

In the back corridors of the Haven Prime town hall; 5041.155:0940~

Elly: “I thought he said the restroom was this way?”
Samai: “It’s gotta be just down there. Quite the breakfast spread, eh?”
Elly: “Eh.. Everything tasted like mushrooms. I mean it was okay, but I really need to find the little engineer’s room.”
Samai: “Why does that guy have a gun?”

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

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, RC-880 “Durendal”

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~; Haven Prime; Supplemental; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

While the Captain and other officers were meeting with the citizens of Haven Prime, our Political Officer, Ditak Kirran, and our Second Officer, Durendal, remained behind on the Speaks, along with First Helmsman Ereyie Wel, and Third Engineer Keriwar Zanogg. Also remaining behind were two members of the Science team, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias and Dr. Nil Galadren Caladriend.

Kirran first became aware of trouble when the power went out. The pirates used an EMP warhead to disable the Speaks, which also incapacitated Second Officer Durendal. Kirran swiftly took command, ordering Ereyie to guard the bridge. He sent Keriwar to engineering to try to get the ship back online, while he attempted to locate and repel the intruders.

Luckily, Kirran was perfectly equipped for sneaking through the dark ship, and he was armed. He crept down to the lower deck, where pirates had already boarded the ship using the ramp. He paused to listen, trying to identify where the enemy was. He didn’t have to listen for long before hearing a fight in engineering.

He crept through the cargo bay towards engineering. When he arrived, four pirates had captured Keriwar. Fortunately, the pirates were questioning Keriwar about who else was aboard, and were not prepared for an attack. Kirran got into position and used his rifle to devastating effect, taking out two of the pirates before they became aware of him. They returned fire, but without success. Once Keriwar was no longer captive, she was able to assist in the fight, and they killed the two remaining pirates.

Engineering was secured for the time being, and Keriwar explained to Kirran that without power she was unable to close the entrance ramp and lock down the ship. Since communications were also out, they were unable to contact the rest of the crew. Kirran told her to lock herself in engineering, since there was no way of knowing how many other pirates were onboard, and get the Speaks’ systems back online.

On the upper deck, Kirran found three more dead pirates. They boarded from the top airlock, and tried to take the bridge after he left. Ereyie repelled them and holed up on the bridge. After some discussion, the two men decided that Ereyie would try to revive Durendal while Kirran went outside for reconnaissance. Kirran exited the ship to find two mages waiting for a report. Fortunately, they didn’t see him. He quickly hid on board their shuttle, in the hopes of finding either useful information, or an opportunity to attack them.

Safe Haven (Part One)
Gimme Shelter

Wherein our explorers minimize their risks and visit a nice, safe farming colony.

Collated from the notes of Dr. Fastolph Underbough, Science Team Biologist, RES Speaks Softly; Timestamp: 5041.153~ I.E.

Chadra is a gold mine – not just to The Project – by the Mother’s hairy toes, in only three weeks I’ve discovered seventy-two new plant species! Imagine what a real expedition could uncover! It could take a lifetime to catalog the potential uses. Fasty, ole boy, your luck really has turned! I’m already compiling notes for a paper I’m going to publish. That’ll show Doctor High & Mighty Nil Galadren Looks Down Her Nose! I’ll bet I can broker this into an expedition sponsored by Meneer University with yours truly in charge!

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

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, RC-880 “Durendal”

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.155~ I.E.; Supplemental; Haven Prime; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

After finishing our business on Monschrome, we decided to go to Almer Station. Pei’Fa obtained some coordinates and we set out for the Tarnahan System. Our arrival caused a stir, and several vessels decided to leave immediately. After some debate regarding our welcome, we decided to leave and go to Haven instead. Haven, officially called Jaeger172 in Imperial records, is a forest moon settled by a colony of agrarian gnomes.

Shortly after arriving in-system, we were hailed by an operator from Haven’s largest colony. After a short conversation with the night shift manager, a gnome called Galvemore Deg, she went to awaken the mayor and we continued our approach. We attempted a scan, and determined that we were on course to land at the largest of fourteen settlements on the moon. The total population seemed to be around 250,000 humanoids, which was much larger than expected. We picked up electrical power, and some fairly modern technology. They had an older satellite network, and quite a bit of debris, possibly from a collision.

When we were still about 90 minutes out, we received a call from The Right Honorable Tras Jievrarnfor, the Mayor of Haven Prime. He expressed concern that we could be pirates, so we both agreed to turn on our video feed. The mayor was in a crowded room, filled with gnomes, halflings, and half elves. We eventually reached an accommodation. We would be allowed to land, and they would offer us breakfast in the morning, based on their local time.

Once we hit orbit, we tried another scan. This one revealed that the colony is having maintenance issues. There was only one manufacturing facility, and it was not in operation. Their only defenses were old anti-ship batteries which were also not operational. They did have a good sensor array.

We decided that they had been attacked by pirates, and were struggling, so planned to be generous with our trade goods. Once the agreed upon time arrived, we exited the ship with a care package filled with a variety of treats, including Scotch, coffee, strawberry jam, pershalan cloth, and mustard. The mayor rode up on a trike. He greeted us and escorted us down the main avenue from the starport to the town, where we entered the town hall. They had a band to welcome us, and cooked an elaborate breakfast. However, we did notice that no one was out of their homes to gawk at us, and that was unusual for a remote colony.

After our meal, Samai and Elly left to go to the ladies’ room, and their Chief of Security, a consultant named Zed Lassiter also left. A troop of children entered the hall and prepared to sing for us, just as Zed returned. His arrival was evidently a signal, because some of the servers pulled guns from under their robes and turned them on the children. More men crashed into the hall, shooting at us. Immediately, the mayor and Keystone were hit by multiple projectiles. They both went down, and the Captain collapsed from poison.
The crew managed to overcome the attackers in the room, and prevent harm from coming to the children. Zanven Greensleeves, in particular, acted courageously in defense of the youngsters, and should receive a commendation. The science team busied themselves with healing those injured in the initial attack, while the rest continued to fend off new attackers entering the hall.

Lady Kotonaru was able to dominate the weaker minded Zed Lassiter, and ordered him to tell his men to surrender. She discovered while quickly questioning him, that the greater force was attacking the Speaks Softly. A group of pirates, banded together for mutual profit, had taken Haven as their base. There were at least 400 troops on the moon, with two cloaked ships. Three (four?) additional ships were in orbit above the planet, ready to offer support. In command on the ground is a half-dragon calling himself Sir Gracious. In command of the pirate fleet were three Captains: Funny, Blackhate and Dyn’eldi. Pei’Fa and I held the doors while the crew cleared the room, and were able to spot the transport the troops we were fighting used to deploy here in town.

Meanwhile, on the Speaks, the pirates used an EMP warhead from a missile to disable the ship systems. This had the unfortunate side effect of disabling Durendal as well. Kirran went to fight off intruders who were trying to force their way into the ship, while Ereyie guarded the bridge. Keriwar went to engineering to try to get the ship back online.

To Be Continued…

Personal Log, Rwvyan Nenoic; Supplimental.

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

Well, I fucked up. I misread the situation completely. There’s no excuse…I should have seen the signs and recognized them. I would have if I hadn’t been trying so hard to impress the Captain. That just goes to show, the minute you think you might want something,
everything goes to shit. We should’ve just gone to Almer Station after all. Yeah, yeah, they might have blown us into the void, but they might’ve let us dock.

Instead, we decided that discretion being the better part of valor, we’d sod off and visit the farmer gnomes instead. What could go wrong there, we said? It’ll be fun, we said. Famous last fucking words.

We got to the system and the moon was just where it was supposed to be. That moon had fourteen settlements, and about 250,000 people living on it. We got a hail from Galvemore Deg, the night manager for the port. He was freaking out, and obviously scared. The Captain was reading a novel on the bridge (in other words, listening closely to how I handled the situation while pretending to ignore me) and left everything to me to arrange. It made me nervous as hell. It would have been better if he’d loomed behind me. At least then I could have been offended.

I decided something about the scene made me nervous, so Ereyie did a scan. There was a satellite, and a lot of debris, almost like there’d been a collision. Then we got a call from The Right Honorable Tras Jievrarnfor, the Mayor of Haven Prime. We were only ninety minutes out, and he was completely panicking. He accused us of being pirates, so we turned on our video feed, and so did they. They didn’t seem any calmer after seeing we weren’t pirates. I tried to make them feel better, but I don’t think it worked. I got Dr. Rose on the line too, and she tried to calm them down. We agreed that we would land, and wait until first light. Then they would serve us breakfast as a welcome.

The Captain asked me my take on the situation, and dammit, I ignored my gut. Something wasn’t right, and we all knew it, but we thought they had been hit by pirates before and were scared. Plus, I saw some symbols of the Creator when they turned on the video. We speculated that they were victims of religious persecution. The Captain ordered us to take the worst end of any trade, since they were clearly struggling.

When we got into orbit, we did another scan and found the colony was having maintenance problems. The only thing obviously working was the sensor array. Again, this all made sense based on the evidence we had. I’m not trying to justify my lack of judgement, but explaining why no one else caught on.

The mayor rode his trike out to greet us. He came alone, which was odd, and led us back to the town hall. We saw people peeking out of windows as we passed, but no one was on the streets. When we got to the hall, they brought out a band and played a song for us. The mayor introduced me to his security consultant, a Mr. Zed Lassiter. Fucking prick.

Then they served breakfast, and it was awesome. We brought two-thirds of the crew, and everyone was really happy about it, because the food was excellent. When Samai and Elly went to the ladies’ room, it all went to shit. A bunch of kids came in to sing for us, and that’s when a bunch of the servers pulled guns from their robes. Pirates came smashing into the room. The Captain keeled over in his seat. That fucking yellow-bellied mayor poisoned him! Zed started yelling commands, and someone shot Doc Keystone.

Zanven turned invisible, and used that to take out the servers who had trained their weapons on the kids. Scrapnik started leading them out of the room and hopefully to safety. Koto used her domination spell to get control of Zed, but unfortunately he was only in command of the attackers in the room with us. Pei’Fa and I took the front door. There were a couple of ranks of pirates coming through the door. Pei’Fa used his freaky mental powers, and I used my breath weapon. It’s a nasty way to die but these assholes had it coming. It’s called “karma”, and it’s pronounced, “ha ha, fuck you”. Next the guy in the transport started firing a Gatling gun at us. So that was a thing that happened.

He missed by a mile, scaring the shit out of his own guys. Pei’Fa and I ducked back out of sight. Koto had been questioning Zed, and found out that the main part of their forces was attacking the Speaks! Their ground commander is a half-dragon calling himself Sir Gracious. He’s got two cloaked ships and 400 troops. There are another three ships in orbit around the planet. There are three captains in charge of this fleet: Funny, Blackhate and Dyn’eldi! By the Egg, the “L” in my luck’s been replaced with an “F”!

We had no idea what was happening back at the Speaks, the Captain and the Doc were out of the fight, although the science team kept them both alive, and Samai and Elly are missing. This whole planet is playing host to a pirate fleet. Because we’ve never seen this before…no idea what that looks like. This is a shitshow. Pei’Fa and I are taking that damn transport. We need an edge against 400 pirates.

To Be Continued…

Captain's Log III
Adventure Recap

Captain’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, 5041.147:0930 I.E; Ipsis Minor ‘Monscrome’; Captain Ni Shen Xau recording.
The Speaks Softly has landed at Montscroll Station on Monscrome for resupply and light repairs related to our time at Chadra. A rugged terrestrial world covered in jungles and swamps, Chadra’s inhabitants appear to be descendants of a older, vanished civilization, living in the remnants of their past glories. Would Dr Nodagil Maaran, our science team’s archaeologist, have his way, we’d be exploring this world for the next several years, however, having completed Dr. Eon Rose’s agenda here, we are obliged to move on to our next destination. For now, Chadra will keep her mysteries largely intact, save for the ongoing exploitation by the regional noble Merchant House Gevise, who have been unabashedly looting the planet’s resources for several decades. During our stay, we became embroiled in conflict with the MHT-Gevise Paramour and her captain, Nadira Torell-Gevise, who made several attempts to destroy or subvert the Speaks. Fortunately, my crew proved to be up to the challenge and we gently rebuked Captain Torell-Gevise for her hubris. Full details of the engagements have been submitted to the ship’s logs. We also provided aid to a stranded civilian exploratory vessel and it’s crew, who have been returned to Monscrome. While we resupply, the science team is collating their new data and reviewing options for our next stop. End entry.

Personal Log; 5041.147:1045 I.E.
I find myself growing increasingly disturbed by the subterfuge and circumstances surrounding this mission. The sophisticated sabotage of my ship, the discovery of a spy of still unknown origins embedded within the science team, the ominous warning from Telzron Kimmuren via ansible – all contribute to my growing unease as we continue to execute our assignment. Amid all of this background of veiled stratagem and ploy, however, I find myself deeply troubled by what we discovered on Chadra. The RES mission statement is to Seek. Discover. Understand. We are explorers, diplomats, researchers, and when necessary, steadfast defenders of those in need. It is only a matter of time before the dragons of the Imperial Court take note of Chadra and it’s history. And then, it is all over for the descendants of whatever once great culture ruled that world. The Dragon Empire will not tolerate the existence of a planet full of dragon slayers – even if they are deep in their decline. Their history will be wiped. Their potentially dangerous (to our draconic leaders) artifacts and magic will be collected and destroyed. Their treasures gathered and subsumed into the hoards of the Great Houses. Not even the noble Lords of Qesemet will raise a talon to stop it. I give the natives of Chadra a generation at most before the Empire comes calling. And what can I do? I’m only one man. I’ve downplayed all of these details in my official reports, seeking to buy Chadra a few more years without the tread of Legion boots, but I know that in the end it’s ultimately a futile effort. The words of Rear Admiral Kimmuren echo in my heart. “Do what is right, not what you think the high command wants or what you think will make you look good.” They will have to be my touchstone in this matter. I cannot save Chadra, but I can gift her some time and save a few of her children. So damned few. I’ve made a deal with Ria Starr and the survivors of the Khanniption Fit. We’ve repaired her ship, clarified her crew’s claim on the vessel and allowed them to keep the booty they’d gathered already. In exchange, they will transport the entire tribe of native pershala with whom we have established friendly relations to a new world. Somewhere they can survive the inevitable apocalypse that is coming for their home. I’ve engaged in some small subterfuge of my own and managed to keep my own crew largely in the dark and thus out of danger of being knowingly complicit. I will be the only one to face court marshal when my actions come to light. Assuming any of us survive this insane errand.

Welcome to the Jungle (Finale)
The Maxx


The captain of the MHT Paramour plays a final card.

Excerpted from the personal logs of Dr. Völund Keystone, Chief Medical Officer, RES Speaks Softly; Timestamp: 5041.145:2123 I.E.

“Xau is playing it fast and loose out here in the Outlands. I suppose he has to, given this soap sandwich of a mission, but it makes me worry. This entire game he’s playing with Chadra and the Khanniption Fit is going to end with him in a brig if plays his cards as rubbish as he does at the rec table. But I think that I understand where he’s coming from, and I suppose I should cut him some slack. He’s not the snot-nosed legionnaire junior lieutenant I first knew thirty years ago anymore. He did hand those House Gevise grubs their backsides soundly. Smug assholes. <sigh> I’m still trying to figure out what that funky bone tree did to Dr. Caladriend – that new eye is clearly made from some kind of magical wood and all of her vitals are trending towards norm now. While she’s withdrawn and introspective, she is no longer displaying any signs of addiction. Tomorrow I’ll bring in Keriwar to consult. Note to self. Need to stop riding that kid so hard. I know a lot of my issues with her are old dwarf-orc bigotry and I need to keep that in check. Now that we’re headed back to Monscrome – what a pit! – I can already hear the debates starting of where to head next. Glad I’m along on this one just to back Xau and patch crew, even if Mal arm twisted me out of retirement."

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

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.146:0830 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Almost as soon as we connected to The Khanniption Fit, the mercenary vessel The Maxx attacked both ships. Thanks to Bishop’s quick thinking, he managed to get the two ships apart so we could both attempt to avoid their torpedoes. Yevon managed to maneuver the Fit away from the Speaks, keeping it between them and the Maxx. Eyerie and Yevon both succeeded in avoiding the torpedoes, and Ereyie stayed between the Maxx and the Fit, which had no shields. In the meantime, Kirrin took over the shipboard weapons and returned fire. He knocked out their shields with the lasers, and then disabled them with four missiles. The Maxx promptly surrendered, since one of their engines was completely destroyed.

We boarded and took the surviving crew prisoner. There was some debate with the Paramour, who initially denied all connection to the mercenaries, but withdrew their objection once we supplied them with communication logs between their captains. Eventually, they agreed to take responsibility for the crew of the Maxx, and we delivered them to the House Gevise camp on Chadra.

We then took the Speaks and the Maxx, and escorted the Fit to Monschrome. The Maxx arrived six days after the Speaks and the Fit, but finally arrived safely. We turned the Maxx in to the Monschrome government in return for prize money awarded for stopping a ship engaged in piracy. The prize money will be divided among the crew, as normal.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.146:0900 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

I need to remember to give some kind of extra rewards to Bishop, Ereyie and Yevon. If it wasn’t for their mad skills in a fight, I probably wouldn’t be writing this entry right now. Bishop managed to disconnect the Speaks and the Fit, preventing us from getting torpedoed. Then, between Ereyie and Yevon, they piloted both ships out of harm’s way. I suppose Kirrin deserves something too. He pretty much lost it on the bridge though when his lasers didn’t disable the Maxx. I guess he’s not used to missing.

It was a real pleasure watching the Captain press the issue of the Maxx’s crew with the Paramour. What a bunch of assholes. The prize money from turning in the Maxx is going to bolster the crew’s attitude, and I’m glad because everyone is pissed we aren’t letting them have any shore leave on Monschrome, but I remember what happened last time. This is for the best. Scorch it, I can’t believe I just said that. I guess I’m a little jumpy after having to buy Ereyie back from bounty hunters.

I keep thinking about what the Captain didn’t actually say to me about joining the RES. I’ve been reading some of the things he gave me. The engineering texts are really interesting. I wonder why I never noticed that before. Maybe it was my tutors. Maybe it’s because this ship and crew are growing on me. It would be nice to have somewhere to belong that’s ours and not something Mother gave us. I’d have to be responsible though, and that sucks. It’s just…I like it here. I can hear Koto now saying “You always say that, but it never lasts.” Maybe she’s right.

When we docked, we got a call from the station about Pei’Fa from a soulmech called Plank Kore 37. Pei’Fa left the ship to go talk with him, and Dr. Rose almost immediately started wilting. I tried to get her to send me after him, but she said she had promised him that when the time came, she wouldn’t interfere. Fuck that! I was trying to figure out a way to go after him that wouldn’t drag the RES into a fight with the Noetic Order, when the Captain asked what was wrong. When I told him, he strapped on a weapon and the two of us went for a walk. We found Pei’Fa right away, and thankfully he was fine. Apparently, his crazy laser sword had “called for a ride home”. He’s back on the Speaks and Dr. Rose is on the mend. Now that the Maxx is here, maybe we can get everyone back on board and get the hell out here before the entire galaxy comes calling.

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Seven)
Fallen Titans


The crew of the Speaks Softly finally meet the former masters of Chadra.

Ship’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, 5041.136:0800 I.E.; Chadra; Second Helmsman Zanven Greensleeves recording.
We are currently maintaining a shifting elliptical low orbit around Chadra at 500 miles altitude and 5.1 miles per second, giving us an orbital period of 109 minutes. Rotating sensor probes in geostationary orbit continue to allow us to monitor the Paramour and her activities. All systems are nominal, we have a green board. I am covering for Helmsman Wel, who is piloting the Cudgel on an Away Team mission for Dr. Rose on the planet below. Dr. Rose’s team plans interact with a friendly tribe of native pershalan with whom we have had previous successful contact. She hopes to have assistance with healing Gala Dr. Caladriend, thinking that their skill with alchemy and what passes local medicine might prevail where Dr. Keystone has failed. End Entry.

Personal Log; 5041.136:0830 I.E.
I’ve got a real bad feeling about this…

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

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.140:0700 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Captain Ni Shen has issued a general order: Anyone receiving a direct telepathic communication is not to respond to it, and is to report it immediately. Additionally, I received a personal order not to leave anyone on the planet’s surface again, as we did the First Helmsman and Dr. Caladriend.

There was some moderate discussion regarding the drow’s attack on us. We believe that they intended to kidnap Dr. Nodagil for some unknown purpose. While there is risk in Nodagil returning to the planet’s surface, it was decided that he needs to be able to go there in order to do his job.

Scans of the ruins indicated clearly that the giants are living in them, and they are growing crops and keeping domesticated animals there as well. We found no large calcium deposits.

At 5041.127.0930, the team, consisting of Dr. Rose, Dr. Nodagil, Pei’Fa, Durendal, Kirrin, Yevon, and myself arrived at the ruins, intending to make peaceful contact with the giants. We were immediately fired upon, and were forced to land in the fields to the east of the ruins. While we were assessing the damage, we were attacked by a small detachment of giants. Regrettably, we were forced to kill them to prevent additional damage to the Cudgel or ourselves. Luckily, after their advance scouts were killed, they proved willing to enter into trade negotiations.

We traded the jelly cloths that the science team created, along with some glowing beads, for arrow heads. The science team was able to get the samples required from the used cloth. We repaired the Cudgel and returned to the Speaks without further incident.

Bishop and his team were able to make the necessary repairs to the Fit, and some lucky piloting got her back up into orbit. Our navigator is currently plotting a course for the Fit and her surviving crew to follow in order to get back to civilization.

Ereyie and Dr. Caladriend returned to the Speaks. We’ve completed our mission on Chadra.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.140:0800 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Life is weird. I could not make this shit up if I tried.

Dr. Rose was in command of the mission to try to get a “cure” for the drug addled Dr. Caladriend. Even so, the Captain calls me on the carpet to tell me not to leave anyone on the surface again. Apparently, I should have tossed Dr. Rose and Ereyie over my shoulder this time. Then he tells me to issue a new general order to everyone on the ship: Anyone who receives a direct telepathic communication is not to respond to it, and is to report it immediately. What the literal fuck? No explanation though, just the order.

Dr. Rose had a little hissy fit about Dr. Nodagil not being allowed down to the surface. I don’t want to interfere in how she runs her staff, but…oh who am I kidding, I totally want to interfere. He can’t do his job hidden away in his cabin. In the end, we all agreed to try to find a way to keep the drow from locating him. I swear, that woman would wrap her whole team in cotton gauze and stuff them into little boxes. Field work is dangerous.

Then the Captain asked me if I had a datapad with me, which if course I did. He proceeded to send me a copy of the RES regs, ship to ship procedures and some engineering texts, as well as a sample of the RES entrance exam. He does this without a word, and then just tells me to “do with them what I will”. It sure sounded like a job offer. When I mentioned it to Koto, she had a little fit at me. I don’t know why she would object. This isn’t such a bad gig, all in all. We get to be out here in space, and go exploring. That’s kind of fun really. I might just check it out. It doesn’t hurt to do the reading and try the exam, does it?

Koto managed to borrow an amulet from someone anonymous (Zanven) in order to allow Nodagil to use it, so that solved that staffing issue. We loaded up the Cudgel with the recommended trade goods. Dr. Rose wanted Yevon as pilot, and Durendal wasn’t letting Nodagil out of his sight, so this trip we had seven going down once you added in myself, Pei’fa and Kirrin.

Around 1800, Bishop did a sensor check on the ruins to look for the giants habitation and the calcium deposits, and just to see if we can gather more info in general. He found the ruins easily, and it was clear the giants are living in them. They’ve cleared a grassy area around the ruins that they seem to be using for farming and livestock. There are worn paths in the grassy area, which we might be able to use to approach.

We left at 0700 and took the usual two hours or so to get to the planet. Once there, Dr. Rose ordered Yevon to circle the ruins and broadcast a message in giantish, “Greetings, we have come to peacefully trade with you.” So that went about as well as one would expect. They immediately started firing arrows at us. Giant sized arrows. One hit us and went straight through the outer armor on the Cudgel. Yevon did a good job of landing without crashing outright, but we had several hours of repairs ahead of us.

At that point, we had four giants charging at us. Dr. Rose was still broadcasting at them, but they didn’t seem impressed. Durendal exited the shuttle and laid down some suppressive fire. That should have impressed them, but it didn’t. Kirren got out too and started shooting. He really is a good shot, but they still weren’t slowing down. Pei’Fa hopped out and pulled his sword, and I moved into the doorway with my rifle.

Among the four of us, we managed to kill all four giants, which served to impress the others enough that Dr. Rose was able to get them to talk. She told them we wanted to trade glowing marbles and “jelly cloths” for arrow heads. The “jelly cloths” were the latest invention of the science team to get genetic material from the target population. They took some sort of cheesecloth, cut them into large squares, and spread jelly onto them. They were sticky and disgusting enough before giants took them and sucked the jelly off, before handing them back. Guess how I know. Go ahead, guess. Yep, I got to pass them out and collect the “used” ones, sealing them into individual baggies.

The giant leader told us to come get the arrow heads, so Dr. Rose, Pei’Fa, and Nodagil headed off to the ruins. I trailed along behind them with the jelly cloths, hoping to lead the giants away from the shuttle, which was being hastily repaired by Durendal, Yevon and Kirrin. Apparently Dr. Rose almost caused another fight, but Pei’Fa managed to bluff his way out of the confrontation, which was really lucky since there’s no way we could have fought off fifty or more of these big bastards. He used his telekinesis ability to carry the arrow heads back to the Cudgel. By the time I got all the way up to the top step, they were ready to leave, so I missed the ass-puckering excitement. Is that a real word – ass-puckering? Well, it is now.

When we got back to the Cudgel, Durendal told us they still needed another half hour for the repairs. In order to distract the giants and keep them from attacking us, we started up some music and tossed glowing beads at them, like it was Parade Night at the Celebration of Falling Stars. The giants were quick to fight each other over the baubles, and between that and Pei’Fa doing acrobatics, they were occupied until we were able to take off.

Once we got back to the Speaks, Bishop was on hand to see what repairs would be needed now. He seemed slightly peeved with us, but I’m not sure why. It’s not as though we asked them to damage the Cudgel. It took Bishop a few hours to repair the repairs we did and get the Cudgel back in order again. Then, Yevon flew Bishop, Keriwar, Ria Starr and the rest of the Fit crew down to the planet to start on the Fit’s repairs. That took them a full day, and they didn’t get back until 139:0930. Finally, Ereyie told us he and Caladriend were ready to come back, so Yevon flew down to pick them up that night. They got back around 139:2100.

At 140:0700, Yevon flew the Fit crew back down in the Cudgel. Ereyie and Bishop went along to help get her up off the planet. That was some tricky flying, but our boy was up to the task, and they got her into space. We attached the Speaks to the Fit, so that key personnel can come and go. The plan is to have Telliar plot a course for them, so they can hire on more crew, fuel up and make more permanent repairs.

In other news, I managed to gently suggest to Dr. Rose that she resume her breakfasts with the Captain. I told her I thought they were valuable for getting everyone on the crew and the science team on the same page.

Last, but definitely not least, my sister has a date. A date! Apparently, when she borrowed the amulet from Zanven, it was in exchange for a favor…that is taking the form of a real date, at the earliest opportunity. As far as I know, this will be her first date ever. He’d better not screw this up. She’s going to regret making that stupid song and those posters. This is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Six)
Rumble in the Jungle


Wherein Dr. Rose decides that the alleviation of boredom overrides concepts of personal safety.

Aboard the Speaks Softly; 5041.135:0440 (Third Shift)
Xau made his way down to the galley for an early cup of coffee, mildly annoyed that his normal morning workout and run continued to be interrupted by the presence of the Khanniption Fit survivors bunked in the rec room. It was still a few hours before first shift and the majority of the crew was asleep so he indulged in casual clothing and slippers, prepared to defy any crewman he met to say anything about it. He entered the galley and was mildly surprised to discover his XO seated at the table with a mug and a data pad.
He moved to the counter to check the coffee maker. “Mister Nenoic,” he said by way of greeting, using the half-dragon’s name rather than rank to indicate this was not an official meeting as he poured a steaming mug for himself.
“Good morning, sir,” Rwvyan said heavily. He continued to tap on his pad, and then in clear frustration started deleting whatever he had entered.
Xau checked the chronometer and took a sip of his coffee. He leaned against the counter and gave himself a moment to savor that first rush of caffeine. “You’re up early. Or late.” He observed, taking care to sound casual.
Rwvyan opened his mouth and then sighed, closing it again. He set the datapad down carefully and banged his head on the table. More than once.
When he finished, he looked up and said calmly, “I’m having some difficulty with this report, Captain.”
Rather than answering directly, Captain Ni Shen Xau sipped some more of his coffee and raised an eyebrow. He made a non-committal grunt that might have meant “go on,” or just as easily “good coffee.”
Rwvyan accepted the grunt and raised him a yawn, which probably meant “I’m up late, not early” but could also have meant, “good coffee”, and replied “How exactly does one document a total clusterfuck?”
Xau put on a friendly scowl and ruminated over another sip. “I suppose that depends on the type of clusterfuck that we’re dealing with.” He pulled out a chair next to the young executive officer and leaned back into it. “Report writing is a fine art, XO. On one hand, those reading it need to be able to glean the important bits without too much wading through the muck. On the other hand, you don’t want to skip over something that may be important to the reader.” He paused and drank, choosing his next words with care. “Mistakes – honest mistakes – where no one winds up in Medical, no important equipment is lost or damaged, or that didn’t prevent the mission from getting done can be … de-emphasized. If any minor discipline is necessary to remind personnel to refrain from being sloppy, then deal with it yourself. Bring it to me if it’s a big fuck-up. That’s my job to deal with. Does that help?”
Rwvyan replied, "I suppose if you look at it that way, its maybe not that bad. We got the samples. Noone died. Sam…eone got drunk, leaned on the holy tree, and took off their shoes in front of the natives. This person then proceeded to dance, and grab my ass. In front of the natives.” He paused. “In front of the entire ship, as far as I can tell. My sister is busy making posters. It doesn’t exactly feel like a win.”
Xau chuckled. “The little wins never do. But they’re just as important as the big wins.” He sloshed his coffee around and sipped some more, and frowned. “Personally I’ll take any wins right now.”
“I guess the science team is happy. They have some data to play around with finally.”
Xau nodded. “And that is definitely a win,” he said, emphasizing each word with his mug.
“We may have…accidentally…given one of the native pershalans a ride in The Cudgel…” Rwvyan blurted.
The Captain sat forward and rested his arms on the table, hands folded around his mug. “Ah. I see.” He studied the dark liquid quietly for a moment. “And you’re worried about contamination?” He gave his head a little shake, “of course you are, you’ve been reading the first contact protocol.” Xau gave a heavy sigh. “In the end, it’s not going to matter, Rwvyan.”
“First of all, House Gevise and the other looters have been pissing in that oatmeal for nearly a century.”
“What do you mean, it’s not going to matter? You don’t think these pershalans are going to try to make their own ships?”
He shook his head and gave a helpless shrug. “They’re not going to get the chance.”
“Why not?” Rwvyan looked confused.
“Think about it.” Xau spread his hands. “Chadra is a world chock full of treasures – cultural, biological, magical, precious metals and gems. Gevise and the rest have been dipping into that for decades now. But most importantly – its home to an ancient civilization of dragon-slayers.” The captain caught his XO’s eyes. “What do YOU think is going to happen once word of that gets back to the Dragon Court? What is the current Emperor going to do?”
“Dragon slayers? They’re not…” Rwvyan stopped, and his eyes widened as he took in the implications of that phrase. “Oh. Oh! But that’s not…” He trailed off again, and met the Xau’s gaze directly. “Fair,” he finished softly, the word a whisper on his lips.
Xau leaned forward and put a gentle hand on the half-dragon’s shoulder. “This is the last generation for them, Rwvyan. All of them. The Empire won’t leave a tree standing. It doesn’t matter if we file a report or not – word is on its way back to the core. It has been for years. Eventually the Court is going to pay attention to the rumors, so the clock is running out for the natives of Chadra. When the Empire comes it’s going to make House Gevise’s exploitation look like a carnival.” The Captain leans back into his chair and finishes his coffee. “On some level, pretty much everyone on this ship knows what this planet’s future is going to be. Let them blow off some steam, XO.”
“There’s nothing we can do?” Rwvyan asked, and then answered his own question. “There’s nothing we can do. Fuck.” He pushed his coffee cup away. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Exactly, XO. Fuck.” Captain Ni Shen Xau frowns at his mug and rises with a heavy sigh. He refills it and moves to the door, but pauses a moment. “Go ahead and be sick. It helps some – I know. Try to get a shower before shift starts.” Xau leaves his first officer with his revelations.

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

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.136:2130 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

At 5041.135.1600, Bishop-1 took a small group down to the planet in the Cudgel to assess the damage to The Khanniption Fit. They determined the following issues exist: main computer core fried, fusion reactor fried, two major hull breaches, Nacelle pylon is twisted, and work needs to be done on the starcaster. Bishop-1 thinks this will take about 80-90 hours of our time to repair. The Captain would like to do this, since it will be easier to do the repairs while we pursue our mission than divert the Speaks to take the survivors back to civilization. After reading the report, he authorized the crew to pursue the repairs.

At 5041.136.0700, Dr. Rose commanded a mission to the surface to meet with the pershalan tribe. Dr. Caladriend continues to suffer from her illness, and Dr. Rose hopes that the locals may have some curative that hasn’t been tried before. The pershalans have agreed to treat the elf, and she will remain in their village for several days while we continue operations.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.136:1900 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

After my last entry, I spent some time screwing with Serpy, courtesy of the Captain’s request for info on The Khanniption Fit. It was hilarious. In spite of himself, I think he actually enjoyed it too. I mean, he got to be as much of an asshole as he wanted and I didn’t get pissy and offended. Elly thinks the guy is lonely and afraid to interact with people. What, fear of ridicule? I doubt that. He thinks his shit smells like roses. Even so, he’s probably a little lonely and doesn’t know it. I was actually doing him a favor, if you look at it like that. What can I say, I’m a stand-up guy.

I have to say, I’m surprised that he provided access to the info so easily. In the end Elly got it for me, but I don’t really care. If he’d been less of a dick, and just said it was available, the whole night might have been less amusing. I gave Elly an extra ration of jam for her trouble, dealing with Serpy. What she found confirmed the info I already had, and I was able to provide it to the Captain without a huge delay.

We spent most of yesterday morning getting things caught up and making plans. Dr. Rose originally wanted to visit the giants next, but she’s hatched a plan to take Caladriend to the pershalan village to see if primitive shamanism can fix what thousands of years of the best medical and arcane masters the Empire has to offer haven’t been able to solve…drug addiction. She seems to want to think that if she can fix the pain in Caladriend’s false eye, that she’ll stop taking drugs and be a normal contributing member of society again.

We had a lovely conversation in which I told her that was cute, but idealistic. I also reminded her that we found that mark on Caladriend’s skin. She still wants to try, even if we have to lock the silly bint up after she’s miraculously “cured”. We clarified that she doesn’t expect me to risk my crew going after her if she runs off into the jungle or whatever stupid thing Caladriend comes up with next. As long as she understands that, I told her I would withdraw my objections to the plan. I think I pissed her off a little, but we reached an understanding.

Shortly after that, Bishop asked to talk with me down in engineering. The Captain has asked him to fix the Fit and make it space worthy again. We talked for a while, and then Ditak joined us. The Rook was starting to get mad about having someone in his engineering area, so I distractedTic Tac and we left. We eventually made arrangements for Ereyie to fly the Cudgel down to the Fit. He took The Rook and Keriwar, Tic Tac and Durendal. Ereyie managed to land close to the Fit. The team had to climb up to the other ship, so Durendal had to stay behind. Climbing isn’t really his thing. I heard that Keriwar fell, but Tic Tac caught her, and Ereyie helped her the rest of the way up.

They took a look at the Fit and determined that we’ll have to fix several things if we’re going to get her into space. The main computer core is fried, as is the fusion reactor. There are two major hull breaches that need to be patched. The Nacelle pylon is twisted, and of course we’ll need to reinstall the starcaster. That’s a lot of work, maybe 80 to 90 hours. Depending on how many people we can get down there, and keep safe, we can condense it, but it’s risky. The Rook made enough basic repairs to keep critters out and they headed back to the barn. That’s when they saw the explosion.

It was one of the Paramour’s shuttles. It was tumbling and expelling atmosphere through a hull breach. Ereyie scanned it and found two human life forms (as in still living) and one unidentified life form. One of the humans was fading fast. Then they have to get into a pissing contest with the Paramour, who was trying to order them to stand down and let the Paramour handle the situation. The problem was, the Paramour’s nearest shuttle was several minutes further out than the Cudgel. There was no way they could get there in time for there to be survivors, unless those survivors were suited up.

Bishop and Ereyie made the call and they diverted, turning off their radio. Ereyie caught up to the vessel and matched its velocity while Durendal and Ditak came up with a plan. Ereyie got out in front of the tumbling ship, and Durendal jumped out, landing on the other ship and activating his magnetic implants. He then used a bottle of one of those magical mending oils to close the hull breach. By then one of the humans was dead, but the other two lives were saved. Ereyie drops back behind the ship and Durendal is able to jump back and board the Cudgel safely. During this crazy piloting and heroic maneuvering, the Paramour is locking on weapons and unlocking them. When Ereyie turned the radio back on, someone was screaming at them to stand down.

Of course Durendal recorded everything he saw through the breach while he was fixing it. We had a lot of conversation about the identity of the non-human, but we landed on a native of Chadra, from a race called the Yuan-Ti. Apparently, they worship some sort of snake god, and turn themselves partially into snakes. I’ve heard of one of these guys when we were on Mourngond. Rumor has it that Lord Shul, the leader of the Adamantine Order, is one of them. At least, half of one of them. Not someone to fuck with, not even me.

With that victory under their belts, they came home. Tic Tac wasted no time in creating a video of their masterful save of the ship, and setting it to music. He was kind enough to not only let Scrapnik show it to the crew during dinner, but he showed it to the Captain privately. Then he sent a complimentary copy to the Paramour. I can’t help but think that the Captain authorized it, unofficially. It seems like a lot gets done around here, unofficially. It was definitely a win though. Morale took a big jump after watching that video. Of course, it’s Zanven afterwards who has to ask why we’re fixing up the Fit at all.

After dinner, the Captain came down and took Ria Star back to his office? Quarters? Durendal reported it to me and wanted me to intervene. Uncomfortably aware that Xao might be, ahem, getting to know a reasonably attractive human woman who isn’t actually under his command, I decided to comm him instead of barging in like a waiter when you have a mouthful of food. I told him some crew had seen him walking with her and were concerned for his safety. He was irritated and basically told me to mind my own business, so I was none the wiser. An hour later, he called to ask me to escort her back to the rec room.

On our way down, she said he was a crazy motherfucker, and asked me if I was “in on it”. I didn’t have to pretend not to know what she was talking about, but I told her in my experience, whatever the Captain said, he meant it. She grumbled a bit and went into the rec room. I admit, I totally misused my authority, and used the comms to listen in on their conversation.

Essentially, the Captain told Ria that the ship was paid for, and that the original owners, left it to any surviving crew members, in equal shares. No insurance policy. He then offered to get the Fit space worthy for them, and he would let them keep all that treasure in the hold. In exchange for which, they would need to transport 200 plus pershalans to an uninhabited jungle world, the coordinates to which he would provide. He also told her he had ways of knowing if she spaced the pershalans, and if she didn’t fulfill the contract, he would hunt her down and kill them all. I left them arguing about whether or not to take the deal.

At first I was pissed that he was keeping all this secret, but after sleeping on it, I think I know why. He’s protecting the rest of us. I looked at the regs again last night, and he could be court martialed for this. He’s breaking about an entire section of the manual. He’s going to go out on a limb for a bunch of people he never met, and risk his career, his entire life, just to save 200 people. I’ve never met anyone who would do that before, without taking any credit.

The next morning, we were in the galley for breakfast before taking Dr Rose and her entourage down to meet the pershalans, and Ereyie asked me to come and talk to him. He wanted advice, because the Captain asked him to convince the tribe to board a ship and leave their home planet. Surprise, surprise. He wanted to know how he was supposed to convince them. I said, “What made you leave your home?” and left him to ponder while I got a coffee. Once I was suitably caffeinated, and wandered back to his table and sat down. He replied, “I left for…space.” My response to that was, “Then you need to show the Elders and the Shaman what you showed Mowanaway. Take them into space, and…go fast.

“But they’re just going to end up on another planet.” Eeyie said thoughtfully.

“Come on, man,” I replied. “They’ve got a whole voyage to see the ship, learn how to fly it, and learn about the Empire. Do you really think they’ll stay put?” Before Ereyie could answer, we were interrupted by a rant from Zanven. He was bitching about fixing the Fit.

“Why are we even doing this?” he complained. Several people responded with, “Captain’s orders!” but that just set him off more. Finally, I squared off with him. He pointed out that I was just as new as he was, and asked why I was going along with this. I told him the Captain is playing the long game. This way we don’t have to take them somewhere and show back up on the radar. He was still skeptical, but we got derailed from the conversation when Serpy and Tic Tac showed up. Serpy told him he should “cower”. At that point, I left to board the Cudgel.

We left around 0700. Ereyie flew down, and landed in the same spot. He took Dr Rose, Nodagil, Caladriend and Pei’Fa. I asked Dr. Rose if she wanted me to go or stay, and she said she didn’t want to leave Yevon alone. Yevon said that she likes being alone. Ouch! Then she said it was a joke and she just wasn’t very good at them. I was perfectly happy to get to spend some time alone with Yevon, so I kicked back and let the others go on the nature walk this time.

I did have to carp at them a little bit about getting separated, but they got to the tree without incident. A pershalan came out and talked with Ereyie and then went to get Mowanaway. We listened to them talk, and Ereyie translate for a bit. I tried a couple of time to get Yevon to chat with me, but she can be difficult to get going. Just as I felt her relax, Pei’Fa said, “Guys, I just heard something.” We started scanning and picked up a number of large life form moving towards the tree. We could see through the cameras that everyone had backed up into the roots of the tree, and some kind of 4-legged dinosaurs stampeded into the clearing.

One of them stepped on one of the pershalan guards, and Pei’Fa pulled him to safety, where Mowanaway was able to heal him. Then the predator entered the clearing behind them, and we saw why they were running. It was a huge bipedal carnivore with a massive skull balanced by a long, heavy tail. Just as the dinosaur saw the small, soft edible bits under the tree, and changed course, Pei”Fa charged it. He dodged left and ducked under its legs, confusing it, while he cut into one leg with his sword. Yevon turned to me and said, “Forty credits on Pei’Fa.” My response was, “I’d be a fool to take that bet, but what the hell…” Forty credits is cheap if it keeps Yevon happy with me. I’m just glad she doesn’t seem to be pissed at me over the debacle with Samai. Although it would be nice if she was a little jealous about it. But I digress…

We watched the dinosaur grab Pei’Fa and try to swallow him. As we jokingly cheered for Pei’Fa (and the dinosaur…because come on, forty credits…) suddenly a gigantic drow/scorpion thing teleported right into the fucking ship with us. I’d just muted us, so at least we didn’t distract the rest of the group while we were yelling “What the FUCK?” as it attacked me with its giant front pincers. It also escaped our notice that three more of the things had attacked Dr. Rose and the others. Pei’Fa didn’t notice because his head was still stuck down a dinosaur throat. His hands were a little full.

Yevon and I both twisted around and crouched behind our chairs, trying to get some cover. At least it couldn’t use its stinger in the confines of the Cudgel. Remembering earlier fights with Koto, I barked “Go low!” to Yevon and I drew Singularity. It was difficult swinging her in the cabin, but mostly everything I wanted to hit was above the seats, and the controls were all behind me. I swung once and managed to cleave right through its pincer and chest. It gurgled and turned into gelatinous goo covering the floor, some of the seats, and our boots.

“You didn’t leave any for me?” snarked Yevon in surprise. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I thought it was going to be a lot harder to kill.” Damn, I wanted to impress her, but I didn’t mean to steal her fun. I promised her the next one. Then I said, “That was a summoned creature. Where’s the fucking summoner?” We looked but couldn’t find anything on the scanner. Then we both turned to see what was happening in the clearing.

One of the pershalans was dead, clearly from a scorpion stinger. They were still all fighting their opponents. Pei’Fa had wriggled free when Ereyie shot the dinosaur in the head. He did a crazy backflip and landed on the dinosaur’s head. From that vantage, he was able to stab down through its skull and brain, effectively killing it. Mowanaway summoned a treant from the holy tree, and it was fighting one of the scorpion demons… drorpians…scrow. Yeah, scrow will do. The treant was fighting one of the scrow. Dr. Rose had turned herself into some kind of plant and was attacking a scrow who had been chasing Nodagil. With Pei’Fa, Ereyie, Dr. Rose, and the treant attacking, they managed to destroy the other three scrow.

After that fight, the treant reached down, picked up the dead pershalan and, I shit you not, melded back into the tree with him. A moment later, there were new bones hanging from the tree. That was some of the creepiest shit I have ever seen, and I spent most of my life in Asamet. Apparently, the pershalans agreed to treat Caladriend, and she and Ereyie are going to spend a few days in the village. Ereyie arranged to call when they’re ready for a pickup. I’m SUPER happy that one is Dr. Rose’s responsibility. The Captain is not going to be happy. Speaking of the Captain, I’m supposed to find some way to casually mention to Dr. Rose that he wants to continue their breakfasts together, without telling her he told me to say it. Seriously. I mean, what the hell is that? And why am I in the middle of it?