Campaign of the Month: May 2014
Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
This past Saturday’s session was hosted by Isaac at his house and we got off to a pretty timely start. The weather was gorgeous and we ended up gaming outside for the early part of the afternoon. We had left JFC camped out in a little nook behind a mountainous finger that provided a little shelter off of Marie Byrd Land having moved from the Getz Ice Shelf. In pre-RIFTS time this might have taken a week or longer but because these areas are merely “points of reference” the journey from this nook to the transcontinental mountain range was accomplished over the course of a day — merely 500 miles. The continent of Antarctica is not only laid out differently POST-Apocalypse but it’s also considerably SMALLER.
JFC did some scouting and found a cave that harbored a bunch of “blips” that were giving off alarming amounts of radiation and heat. Bex, monitoring the sensors with Bastion in the Snow Lion APC, announced that they appeared to be congregating in the cave; she also informed the group that the temperature had been dropping about one degree every half hour and that the wind was picking up. It looked like JFC would be in for a brief but furious summer low-pressure storm. During the downtime the winds howled and rocked the APC and folks just kind of hunkered down for the long haul. Zander used this time to strip to buck-nekkid and bust out “Sherlock” for an African Divination ritual. He used three pots of water — each with a stone in it — and asked three questions. The visions he received were cryptic but also somewhat revealing. In one pot, in answer to the question, “are the beings in the cave wishing us harm or do they have evil intent?” he received the answer as a viscous pool of blood. In another pot, in answer to the question, “will we surpass the mountains?” he received the answer in a mysterious vision of a light at the end of the tunnel. And in the last pot, in answer to the question, “Where can we find McGreggor?” he received a vision of a dinosaur head silhouetted by green light with the backdrop of electronics. All in all it was a pretty entertaining way to pass the time and the perfect excuse to get naked. Hawk morphed into his true were-bat form and realized afterwards that he didn’t need to in order to contribute his P.P.E. to Zander to perform the ceremony. Maybe that was his shameless ploy to display asexuality to Zander’s phenomenal Animal Husbandry (a roll that gave the D-Shifter incredible insight into the behaviors of the RELIC-Beasts).
JFC did a brief spate of investigation and reconnaissance through the efforts of the resident ENERGY BOY Zander who got a brief glimpse into the RELIC-beasts taking refuge in the cave / lair. The extent of the cave network was…extensive. Zander got 3 of the SUV-sized creatures to follow him but once he left their cave they stopped pursuit. Bex was very concerned about the levels of radiation and Sakura / Raiko confirmed that, while they were high, they weren’t high enough to breach the insulation of the environmental power-armor suits. JFC avoided unnecessary violence by skirting the cave and exploring further the antartcitc continent.
At this point I think folks were frustrated and decided not to go further into the cave. I was actually told, “if you wanted us to go through the cave, just say so.” To which I responded, “Uhhh…I don’t want you guys to do anything. This is just the world I’ve designed.” Ahhh…felt good to get that out into the open.
JFC determined to look for an alternate plan of action in crossing the mountain range. They traveled about 7 hours up to a continental shift / divide where the elevation of one glacier was approximately 1000ft of sheer vertical drop ABOVE the next adjoining glacier. Uh oh! JFC tried some creative plans — including Hawk’s Dukes of Hazard suggestion — but eventually decided to turn back and return to the cave.
Hawk took it upon himself to be the live bait. He was supported by Sakura and Raiko invisibly hanging out at the cave entrance. Rather than continue doing more reconnaissance JFC decided that “live bait” would lure the beasts out of their lair. Hawk invoked the Nightbringer Talent and created 30ft of unnatural darkness, morphed himself into bat form and reconnoitered the cave. He found multiple niches with branching tunnels adjoining and managed to get himself VERY lost for a brief time. This began to eat into his 20 minute limitation for his supernatural endurance with regard to being in the extreme temperatures. He found one branch of the cave that had a glowing green light and some crystals. He found another one that appeared to actually lead outside the cave. And he took some time to suffocate a few of the creatures with blood and spray blood all over the place to keep them distracted. If that’s not avoiding unnecessary violence then I don’t know what is! It was a pretty impressive display of bloodletting. While on the other side of the cave Hawk decided NOT to risk braving the cave system a second time and, fearing the worst, he attempted to fly OVER the mountains and back to the APC using Zander as a guiding lighthouse beacon. Upon returning to the APC Bex scanned him with the Geiger Counter and immediately told him to suit up and quarantine himself — he was DEEPLY IRRADIATED!
Sakura and Raiko were frustrated at Hawk’s inability to perform so they took it upon themselves, using arts of stealth and invisibility and sign language to spelunk the caves. They prowled successfully and witnessed, first-hand, the trail of gore Hawk used creatively as a distraction — but in other areas it appeared to have worn off or elapsed. Perhaps it had already been “lapped up.” Regardless, upon seeing the green glowing crystal Sakura broke a piece off and, while she had a whole crystal piece intact the fragmented ends liquified and melded back into the piece right there in the palm of her hand — almost like liquid mercury or a “quicksilver” effect; the radiation here seemed to be “strongest.” Down one of the next tunnels Sakura saw an allosauroid skull shadow and told Raiko to go back to the APC. She was determined to investigate what was possibly her main reason for coming to Antarctica.
About 1000ft down she saw water running to what she assumed was sea level. Oddly, the allosauroid body was partially obscured. She climbed down and the feet of her suit clanked on metal. Was this a stealthed hull? Was it camouflaged? The ship must have crashed right into the polar ice cap and embedded DEEP within the gelid ice floes and glaciers. The mountains and ice insulated the ship from more piercing readings by Bex or the APC but Sakura was able to confirm that at least one of the points of entry was VERY STRONGLY irradiated.
Raiko returned to the APC who, at that point, was already begun to move through the caves after quarantining the returning bat-boy. Hawk left his suit on and endured the radiation sickness outside the APC before RAD-X could be procured. They continued onward with Wibbley in command until the tunnel grew too narrow to fit through. Zander opened up a trusty Mystic Portal and the JFC team sans Sakura was on the opposite side of the cave in no time. H u z z a h ! ! ! The APC Snow Lion made it through the tunnels unmolested by the resident RELIC-BEASTS and out onto a plateau that was long and flat and open on the tundra. They decided to wait for Sakura to return before going any further.
Sakura, on the other hand, confronted MacGreggor and he immediately slipped back into his wartime subordinate role and deferred to Sakura as an Atorian female commanding officer. She played the part convincingly. Together they entered the space craft and quickly deduced that this ship had been built, not for Atorians, but for a species with an average height of 30 to 40ft. Uh oh! Once inside the “chute” portal all traces of radiation completely disappeared. MacGreggor was completely under the impression this was a new prototype or experimental model of Atorian ship but Sakura wasn’t convinced. When they encountered a room full of 30ft tall cylinder tanks filled with viscous liquid McGreggor noticed that one of the tanks was still occupied. It housed a gigantic 30ft tall naked humanoid form with its eyes closed in some kind of hibernation coma. McGreggor wasted no time talking to Sakura (his commanding officer) and instead pressed the buttons on the keypad which began draining the liquid in the tube. In a few moments the giant man’s eyes began fluttering as if ready to open.
“WHO DARES AWAKEN ARCHAEDAS?!?!” he bellowed. The goo had gone and the tank door opened. Archaedas stepped out and immediately began to arm himself. He wore a skin-tight jumpsuit with electrodes and all kinds of nodes on it which, when hooked into plugs on his flesh and beneath his skin immediately interfaced with his body and sprouted “holographic” projections of virtual displays and equipment. This technology was clearly alien and incredibly advanced. Neither Sakura nor McGreggor had ever seen anything like it. Archaedas told them they were good servants and that they would be rewarded. Looking around the spacecraft he scowled and asked McG and Sakura, “Where are the others?” to which they responded that he was the only one left; Archaedas seemed pleased. He armed himself with a Starsplitter mono-filament axe, a pistol, and his bubble-gun blower and trundled off to the engineering department. They must have walked a good 20 minutes or a half an hour before making it there. Archaedas’s strides were very long but they had no problem keeping up.
Once in the engineering area things got a little hairy. Archaedas paid them no mind and went immediately to a control panel nearly 25ft in the air and began inputting a sequence of buttons. Neither Sakura nor McG could read the ancient script on the ship and on the signs and the panels but they HAD been able to UNDERSTAND the Dominator’s speech. He was using an ancient dialect of Dragonese (which was actually VERY similar to Trade 0, one of the original Techno-Can Trade Speeches made available to the Elder Races by the Prometheans nearly a million years ago). Later, when Bex analyzes the tape she can make that connection.
Engrossed in his work Archaedas all but ignored Sakura and McGreggor but the two heroes got the distinct impression that he was re-starting the “arc reactor” which held an imprisoned Boiaw Elder Being. Sakura was recording the whole thing and, even though she couldn’t transmit it back to the APC because of the walls of the ship and the cave, she got it on video. She recognized the manta-ray-looking alien from reading the Codex of Souls and from reading the Ley of Treenen. McGreggor heroically offered to stay behind and distract the giant thing that Sakura now recognized as one of “those who would dominate” while she returned to the group to escape. She said she wouldn’t leave him but thought they should go together. McG’s response was to wield the giant hammer to great effect against the giant being’s foot. “Ouch! That smarts!” That got Archaedas’s attention. The dominator, momentarily distracted, began shooting glowing energy bubbles at both combatants as they entered the fray. Sakura jumped up and began pressing a bunch of buttons on the key pad — buttons that were almost half the size of her body — and rolling a DOUBLE ZERO — ONE-HUNDRED — she somehow started up the self-destruction sequence! Holy shit! Archaedas’s eyes went wide and he paused a moment as if he had somehow underestimated the insignificant little gnats he was swatting. He turned on them with his free hand (while the other continued to work the panel to STOP the self-destruction command) with renewed vigor and began pelting more energy bubbles in the hopes to contain the annoying little insects.
Archaedas was unsuccessful in his strike rolls on the energy bubble but, before he knew it, half of his hand was covered in SILVER! What the hell? POW!!! Right in the kisser! McGreggor jumped up and swung the hammer into his mouth! OUCH!!! Next, before he knew it, two double-daggers were thrown, silver-style into his eyes and he screamed out with surprise and rage! OKAY! That had gotten his attention! McGreggor timed his bull-rush perfectly and flung himself bodily into the giant’s mouth while he screamed! He then proceeded to fire the Mark 2 Angrar Power Armor’s rail gun into the back of Archaedas’s throat. Holy shit! Sakura urged McGreggor to leave with her, once again, but he declined — telling her heroically that he would stay behind to distract the beast while she made good her escape. Sakura, frustrated, leaped up to the control panel and began pressing buttons once again. Her PPE language translator told her that the countdown had started at 10 minutes but as she “experimented” with more button pressing it did nothing but make the timer speed down even faster! First it went to eight minutes, then it sped up to 6 and then 5 minutes! Oh shit! Only 15 seconds had passed in the first melee round! Archaedas’s eyes went WIDE with urgency!
And that’s when Sakura threw double knives into them! Archaedas coughed and spat and tried to chomp down but he couldn’t seem to work McGreggor loose! Sakura used the momentary distraction to spray more silver over Archaedas’s hands so that he could do nothing but “flex attack” to break loose. It didn’t take long for his massive supernatural strength to break free but he still wasted two valuable actions doing so. During that time, however, Sakura made 5 more sheets of pure metallic blockage over the panel to try and delay the giant from being able to reprogram the self-destruction sequence.
At this point, Archaedas focused ALL his attention on the panel — near frantic, but outwardly calm. Sakura again pleaded with MacGreggor to leave as the threat this thing posed required ALL of JFC to handle (she believed). When they made it all the way back to the entrance portal they realized that the self-destruct alarms had stopped reporting. It was even more important, now, to get back to JFC, rally the troops, and return to kill this fucker! McGreggor begged off and promised to wreak more destructive havoc by going to the hangar bay and cargo areas and looking for ammunition to detonate. He didn’t find any but he got a big tour of part of the ship and finally got a decent idea of just how big it is — easily a fifth the size of the actual continent. The ship was literally MASSIVE — about the size of the state of Pre-Rifts Texas.
When Sakura returned to the Snow Lion APC JFC had a meeting of the minds with the Pyrewood crew. They all sat around and watched the video and Zander had a brief conversation with both Sherlock and Nirvana. The shit was LITERALLY hitting the motherfucking fan. Sherlock helped Zander remember that one of the ways one of the Earth’s died in one of his visions from a LONG LONG LONG time ago (way back in Russia during a Sherlock-induced acid trip) was in a black-hole vortex of some kind. Nirvana then confirmed that Dominator Starships (known was “World Eaters”) were usually piloted by single Dominators — they being a solitary race. They had their own directives and agendas and missions. To find a ship here that housed…multitudes of them in some kind of stasis hibernation. This was very peculiar. There wasn’t much time to discuss all the particulars and peculiarities. People were tired and Nirvana was AGHAST when he saw an imprisoned Boiaw — a member of his own race — subjugated and tied inextricably to the arc reactor. Nirvana then launched into a dissertation about how the dominator ships actually function. He explained that they use gravitonic fields and wave generators to agitate the dimensional harmonic frequency. The World Eater ships can shift phase as well as shift dimensional aspects. Their biggest threat was the Star Elves leading United Worlds of Warlock, Elder / True 3rd Stage Prometheans, and the Cosmic Forge’s own Cosmo-Knights. These defenses were specifically designed to stymie dimensional / temporal / spatial breaches — when they are operational. Nirvana told JFC that it didn’t look like the ship was entirely functional. It had probably been damaged in the crash. Enough of the systems were still online that it might be able to function at a reduced capacity. Bex confirmed this with her Telemechanics when the expedition returned to the trash “chute” entrance.
JFC expressed concern for the imprisoned Boiaw on behalf of Nirvana and he cried — alas, there wasn’t much they could do for the imprisoned Space Ray. Once imprisoned their life force is literally kept on life-support so their powers may be used and exploited. The Boiaw is a mere shade of its former self and has probably been reduced to a vegetative state. Freeing it is a noble cause and a valiant effort and Nirvana thanked JFC but he thought the effort might be in vain. He did, however, think that there was an active World Eater black hole generator aboard that ship and that without a safe vantage the black hole could reverse polarity and actually become a “white hole” so close to such a star as Earth’s sun. Nirvana could never see a dominator willingly committing such suicide without an extremely good reason; they do not procreate and their guard their magitechnology so closely that self-destruct sequences are built-into all of their equipment — and even their physical persons so they cannot be studied or kept alive or subjected to torture. But they do value their lives and this one appeared to be on a mission. Their lifespan, like the Boiaw, is effectively indefinite so there was no telling how long the thing had been in hibernation. It could still be acting under orders or pretenses from a million years ago.
During the interim it was suggested that Bex and Wibbley accompany JFC and both of them looked at the footage of the Dominator and agreed that it might be more advantageous if they wait it out. Bastion wouldn’t take no for an answer and bade them go.
Nirvana advised that he and Gazi could determine that their brother Ancient Rune Artifact was definitely not in the vicinity — meaning it probably wasn’t on the ship. He also warned the group to proceed with caution. The Dominators took on the three galaxies — ALL OF IT — and nearly won. They returned to the ship and Zander opened a Mystic Portal which showed them some weird properties of bending light and liquefying matter. Looks like Nirvana was right and something dimensional was amiss.
See you guys next time!