Sabotage!! Having survived a Starcaster mis-jump and their ship’s resultant random emergence into a stellar corona, our heroes deal with the consequences of the vandalism that has been done to the Speaks Softly and come to terms with being nearly a thousand light years off course.
Excerpted from the personal logs of Samai “Sam” Victore Wolff, Sensors Calibration & Flight Command Systems Technician, RES Speaks Softly:
“…was able to spend the extra week of leave free-climbing on the southern continent of Aleding with Rahvi – Glorious! Breathtaking vistas! I was lucky to get cleared for travel there. I’ll leave a bit of my heart behind in those mountains with him. Such a sweet man, but we put the extra time to good use. It was a bittersweet goodbye for a lot of reasons. Then to come home to find the Speaks turned upside down! Half the crew is GONE, reassigned! At least my besties, Elly and the Kitty are still here. Scrappy as well. And the Cap’s still in charge, which makes things seen a little more normal, although he’s in a mood, all sour-faced like he’s found a dead mouse at the bottom of his coffee. Can’t say I blame him, what with all the scaleys and ‘mechs filling out the compliment now – it’s like a impy ship! What the Void is going on? They even pulled the Exploration Team and replaced them with a bunch of, well, to be frank, a bunch of uptight research types who treat us like taxi drivers. Yevon is still here and still Flight Officer – wtf is up with that? Yeah, stick is still firmly up her arse (still say she needs a good shag), but they passed her over for XO? And with a Noros mutt who pretty obviously has no command experience? Yeah, he’s nice and not as uptight as most scaleys, but Come On!…”
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal”.
The crew of the RES Speaks Softly spend the third shift gathering data on the cause and damages triggered by the software virus in the Starcaster AstroNav. The XO, Lord Rwvyan, and the Second Officer, Durendal, call an early morning staff meeting, to plan for the desperately needed repairs. Lord Serpentce agrees to work on the removal of the virus from the Starcaster AstroNav and life support, with assistance from Ellywick and Kotonaru. Dr. Rose and Dr. Maaran cast cure poison and restoration on Telliar, Keriwar and the Captain, removing the lingering effects of the poison ivy. Bishop-1 goes EV with two repair bots to start working on the damage to the hull of the ship, while Samai works internally to repair the sensors. Her efforts are delayed due to Ditak’s attempted assistance. Keriwar repairs the starboard engine damage and Atmospheric Control, and Zanven begins working on one of the hull thrusters, with Scrapnik assisting through a video feed from sick bay. Durendal repairs the other hull thruster. Bishop-1 repairs the starboard cargo bay doors. During the repairs to life support, Lord Serpentce finds a hacker tag “4RCH4N63LV01D” (Archangel Void) in the virus, indicating a freelancer linked to the Guild of Tinkers, and known to do work for Asamet and House Noros. He believes the coding style is similar to hackers working for House Noros. Meanwhile, on the bridge, Telliar is able to identify a nearby red dwarf as 9473 Shindra’s Fang, deep in the Domain of House Osorus. The crew pinpoints two nearby potential destinations in-system; a tundra planet with no evident technological advancement, and a gas giant with a station in orbit around it. Captain Ni Shen discusses options with his command staff and Dr. Rose, ultimately deciding to orbit the tundra planet, and observe the station around the gas giant. The ship takes three days to arrive at the planet, Shindra’s Fang III. There does appear to be a native population of humanoid sentients, numbering between 17 and 18 million. There is a beacon tracking traffic to Shindra’s Fang III, which sends an IFF (identify friend or foe) query to the Speaks Softly and logs our presence. Hacking into the beacon reveals that an unknown party was tracking the population growth, and possibly landing on the planet and removing a selection of humanoids from the indigenous population on a regular basis. The most recent ships logged in the area were the House Esmer Navy pocket warship “How Do You Like Me Now?” and another ship identifying itself only as ShadowKnife XIII. Based on the data, the Captain and crew decide to attempt a refueling at the gas giant. They take an additional two days traveling to Shindra Station, and upon arrival the station appears to be abandoned. A boarding party, led by Rwvyan, and including Ereyie, Ditak, Durendal, Lady Kotonaru Bishop-1, and Lord Pei’Fa traveled to the station using their shuttle, The Cudgel, to investigate further. Luck led them to an administrative office, where they managed to reboot many of the station’s systems and bring the security cameras online. Very quickly, they become aware of movement in other parts of the station. They immediately begin downloading as many records as possible, while planning to hold off the ghoulish undead that are coming for them. They hold off their attackers with a combination of grenades and office furniture, and make their harrowing escape. Upon their return to the Cudgel, they see that more undead are launching themselves from the outer shell of the station towards the Speaks Softly. They avoid the floating creatures, and return to the ship, where the science team digs into the recovered records from Shindra Station, which include project files, medical records and video logs. Review of the Project Razor files in conjunction with the other videos and records, reveals the station’s primary objective, to use genetic splicing to combine material from trolls and a space insect known as a Spectre Beetle with an elven lifeship seed, in order to create a living warship. The first viable ship was called ShadowKnife XIII. They were trying to perfect healing/stasis pods for crew when the experiment went badly wrong. They placed a subject from the planet into one of the pods. However, he had clearly been infected by some kind of undead creature, and came out of the pod altered into one of the horrors encountered by the boarding party. Its release and subsequent slaughter of the medical personnel demonstrated the viability of the contagion. Within a few hours, the station had been overrun. In their final moments, station crew from House Esmer and House Osorus blew up their remaining starcaster, and only hope of escape, to prevent it falling into the hands of ShadowKnife XIII, which they believed had become infected as well. The crew of the Speaks Softly now is forced to make a decision – to flee the system carrying word of the terrifying ship lying in wait in 8473 Shindra’s Fang, or to attempt to deal with the vessel themselves.