Monday, June 10, 2019

Nukes, Bugs, and a CRAAAZY Escape!

Two of the members of the party awoke in darkness. Quickly, they lit their flashlights (and in the case of the guy afraid of the dark (nyctophobia), lit two lighters and an extra flashing, too), and took a look around. Each was in a small, cave-like area, barely six feet wide and 12 feet long. Tentacles wrapped around the room, and a leathery skin-like covering that seemed to be some sort of doorway. A thick, slimy, mucus-like, grey sludge covered the room - as well as their sidearms, supplies, and armor. wiping everything off as best as they could, they realized their rifles were missing, as were their flamethrowers, grenades, and other high-powered weapons. They were left with their sidearm, some ammo, their (de-powered) melee weapons, and most of their gear.

After cutting and/or pushing their way past the leathery door-flap, the two upright members of the party met each other in a narrow hall, filled with more leathery doorways. The nyctophobe found one of the party's ghosts, and kicked him awake; startled, he vanished in a blink. Freaking out a little, the nyctophobe started muttering to himself about ghosts - more so when he heard footsteps behind him, and saw no one there!

After a little trial and error (and successful fear checks), the party was reunited. Listening carefully, they heard wind from one direction, and headed that way. Everyone was present except the Ghost; she wasn't in any of the rooms, and even her gear was nowhere to be found.

Outside, they found a ruined city, obviously having been attacked by the Kchurg; after a short discussion, they returned to the cave, and explored the other direction. At the end of the tunnel, they found a hollowed-out room filled with leathery eggs. Correctly surmising that they have been left there as food for the soon-to-hatch brood, they carefully crept out again.

Those with ghost abilities were sent into the city; they found a ruined office building, which was bereft of unspoiled food, but had running water. Sending for the others - and fighting a razerdog on the way - they made it to the building and got cleaned up. Once reorganized and with working sidearms, they set out to find somewhere a little less damaged, in hopes of finding some decent food. The area looked as if it had been attacked about three weeks prior, so a lot of food was spoiled; no fresh fruit, for sure.

Heading for a stronger looking structure, they ran into a strange man who introduced himself as Crazy Jimmy. Professing to be a drifting engineer, he managed to avoid answering a single question they asked. He did, however, suggest that he had a way to escape the city.

One of the more hardy-looking buildings had some minor damage, but enough hardening to look like a decent place for supplies. Inside, they found bloodstains and shells - or rather, not shells, but rocket-gun casings. Hoping to find the owners, they searched the second floor (the first floor was a huge lobby), and uncovered a break room, with a working beverage and snack dispenser! They quickly smashed it open and pulled out any unspoiled food. Next door was a security office; there were obvious signs of a struggle, and a bloody smear of a handprint on the pad. Unfortunately, using tape to press it didn't open the door. Down a long hallway was another security door, this one with a pair of cameras guarding it.

Checking the fire escape, they found a perfect handprint; ever-so-carefully peeling it up with tape, they managed to transfer it to the hand scanner in front of the security office! The door only opened a little way - too little to enter the room in armor - and after a short discussion, "DASH" was picked to enter the room. Gagging on the smell of death, he found half of a security officer in the door, and another dead officer sitting in a chair, his oxygen tank long since run out. Luckily, he found a security swipe card on the man, and was able to pull some nice weapons from the gun safe. They headed back down the long hallway, and swiped into the room. After a tiny lobby, complete with secretary desk (empty), the room continued up some glass stairs, ending at a massive pair of wooden doors. In fact, black walnut - wood not found on Quern, as it was native to Earth. Whoever owned this place was loaded.

Inside the doors, they found an opulent home - and better yet, food! Steaks in a curing chamber, cheese, wine, alcohol (including some insanely expensive Snakebite Whiskey and some very expensive Black Label brandy), and even weapons. They also found the owner, hidden behind a secret door, having shot himself while listening to Bolero, the classical piece by Ravel. The music was playing on a loud loop.

Settling in and looting the place, everyone enjoyed a lovely meal and a good rest on the various beds (one huge "for show" bed, one comfortable king-size bed, and one rather strange round bed, that was inexplicably pink, and had fluffy handcuffs dangling off of it). In the morning, they awoke to Crazy Jimmy making breakfast: beans and sausages. They didn't complain much. Afterwards, they asked Jimmy what his plan was.

"Aha! Well, you see, here's the deal, now: before we can get off this rock, we gotta nuke something! Oh yeah, nuke it REAL good!"

The immediate response, of course, was, "Uh... wait. A nuke?"

"Well, yeah! Y'see... a bullet has a name on it, right. A grenade is more of a 'Dear Sir or Madam'. A bomb is addressed, 'To Whom It May Concern'. But a nuke? A nuke is more of a PSA."

He leaned forward and grinned toothily, while attempting a subtle wink. "Gotta nuke 'em all!"

By bits and pieces, the party unraveled his plan. He had, it seems, found an unexploded nuclear bomb, hanging in some webbing. When throwing rocks at it had failed to cause it to explode, he decided to enlist the assistance of the marines. He took them there, and after a brief fight with a detonating infested marine, managed to rig up enough flame thrower ammunition to burn the webbing and drop the nuke into the pit below it. Crazy Jimmy "borrowed" one of the nyctophobe's lighters, and handed over a box of parts, wired together. He tried to explain how it all worked, but only got as far as "the basics of radiofrequency cavities and klystron-based electron beams," before everyone was well and truly lost. He rephrased it.

"The pointy tube in the box makes the tiny lightning balls in the air all sing together so loud it makes the big dumb space-bag go quietly insane because it can't hear the voices in its giant head, and that lets you yell at it, an' hopefully it'll listen better'n you dumb lot. Here, this button makes it go whoosh. Now git, I gotta warm myself up for my PSA."

Hurrying to another tall building (this one with four of the fleshy, floating creatures hanging in the air above it), they managed to toss a rope up and climb inside. It was a rather unenjoyable experience. Inside, they pushed the button, and the creature shook and moaned; it called for a pilot. The pilot stepped up and found that the "controls" were, in some way, familiar, as long as he closed his eyes and pretended he was wearing meat gloves.

Up they went! After a few minutes, the nuke dropped, and the city and surrounding hills were blasted sky-high. The creature they were riding in rocked, but they managed to gain altitude and head into space. Once there, they were fired upon by another ship - a friendly one! They managed to contact it, and left their rather disgusting transport behind.

Once aboard the damaged battle-cruiser, they introduced themselves, and learned that they were on fairly equal footing with the crew - after a battle with space-borne Kchurg, the ship was damaged, and the entire bridge was destroyed. They had been keeping the ship and minimal power levels, as the creatures seemed to sense energy.

Alarm bells sounded! From below, a shuttlecraft rocketed towards them, pursued by the ramming Kchurg; some quick firing managed to blow them out of the sky, and allowed the shuttlecraft to land. Inside were the Lt. Commander, and Ghost, as well as a few other survivors! They had used the distraction of the nuke to flee the planet, promising to return for the others once it was safe to do so.

The ship, however, was in no state to fly down, and the other battlecruiser - and its captain, General Acetus - were destroyed. They decided to flee into jump space, to give them time for repairs...

Unfortunately, they had forgotten about the Duul'Tlak blockade! Dash was quite surprised - "What, what? Who are these guys?! I thought the Duul'Tlak were those bugs we were fighting!"

The blockade immediately opened fire, as the navigator, with the assistance of the aces, dodged as best as they were able. After only a single barrage, however, the firing shifted to new targets - the Kchurg! As if the battlecruiser were dragging them from the planet below, huge creatures sped towards the stationary Duul'Tlak. Most of the creatures were shot down, but the few that made it through tore through the Duul'Tlak ships.

The battlecruiser, with only a lone Duul'Tlak still focused on it, sped beyond the gravity well of the planet and made the jump into jumpspace. Once again, the party got a bit of a break. There weren't steaks, but at least they didn't have to worry about anything eating them or burning holes in their brains.

Finally, the ship dropped out of jumpspace. The navigator began taking bearings to determine where they were, but none of the star charts were lining up; puzzled, he started doing calculations. They ended up in a solar system, with at least one habitable planet... And judging by the absolutely massive ship that approached the battlecruiser, the system had a pretty good amount of tech, too! The navigator took that moment to inform the crew of their current location: Omega Parada.

The other ship hailed them, and nervously, the comms officer opened the channel, filling the secondary bridge's screen with... bugs! Multi-eyed, carapaced, bugs! Though... not like the Kchurg. Oddly, the bugs were wearing... uniforms?

Through their translation software, the crew were greeted by Lord Dappled Sunlight of the Kchk'Trrs, who welcomes you to the Omega Parada system, his home. After some back-and-forth with the Lt. Cmdr, the lights suddenly dropped to red alert! Multiple targeting systems locked onto the battlecruiser, and the other ship immediately fired, blasting the rear engines!

After a few tense moments, the comms pinged again. It seems that a Kchurg had stuck on and made the jump. Obviously upset, Lord Dappled Sunlight immediately took the entire ship hostage - for their safety, as much as anything. The party received a hurried advancement, becoming officers, just so they would get better quarters. Which were actually really nice, even if they were bug-shaped. The Kchk'Trrs had obvious high-tech laser weapons and stung guns, far outstripping the tech of Earth, which provided quite a bit of diplomatic encouragement not to die like an idiot by trying to fight them.

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