Category Archives: Boondocks
It’s been a while since I worked on this campaign setting. Since I last uploaded it to the net, the webstorage account as vanished. Links to the PDF in previous posts are now invalid. Now that I’ve “jump-shipped” from Blogger to WordPress, I’ve now got a box.net account. The latest version of the setting can be downloaded from the box.net widget to the left or from http://www.box.net/shared/nj7ywcvsw0
I’ve also been toying with the idea of converting the setting to the Savage Worlds ruleset. The converted version would be set in a possible future of the setting, detailing the apocalyptic aftermath of a four-way war between the Darkers, the Colonial Alliance, the Western Union and the Pacific Accord. Tentative title would be Salvaged Worlds.
May 12th, 2603
Ubanto Prime, Ubanto System
In the shadow of the wrecked carrier, five starfighters hung motionless in the darkness as beneath them a destroyer with blackened and scorched hull plates moved between them and the planet below. The cockpit of each fighter was in darkness, the pilots illuminated only by glow sticks taped to the canopy roof. The blackout was a mixture of necessities. Partly to reduce their sensor signature and remain undetected. Partly to conserve power as the power cell readout in each of the cockpits hovered just above the zero mark.
Using a handheld communicator, one of the pilots addressed the remains of the squadron. “This is it, we’ve been playing cat and mouse with these fuckers for two days. We’re almost out of fuel, O2 and ammo. The nearest help is 12 light years away and between us and a working jump drive is about an entire armada of … Darkers. Any questions?”
There was no response.
“Ok our first target is that destroyer. If we can disable it, it should cause enough of a distraction. Maniac, since you are the only one with missiles left, that’ll be your job.”
Two fighters over, private Carl “Maniac” Tyler acknowledged the orders.
“Lock weapons and accelerate to attack speed. Good luck everyone.”
With a flare of engine thrust, the fighters rocketed out from under cover, zeroing in on the destroyer. In a classic diamond formation, they approached from behind as the enemy sensors picked them up. Weapon batteries opened fire but their fire arcs couldn’t target the fighters as they approached. Holding his breath, Maniac painted the rear of the ship with a targeting laser as the lead fighter pealed upwards to give him a clear shot.
“Red 5. Fox 3,” he called as he fired his last remaining missile. The squadron broke formation and Maniac sent his fighter into a steep spiraling dive. He glanced up just as his missile struck the rear of the ship and vanished into the hole its impact made. For a second he feared the missile may have been a dud and the whole attack had been in vain but then the back end of the ship bulged outward. The missile must have detonated inside the ship! A ripple of flame washed out of the hole and the entire rear half of the destroyer suddenly exploded into a cloud of superheated fragments as its reactor exploded. Maniac howled in joy. “Take that you…”
“EYES FRONT MARINE!” Screamed the voice of the lieutenant.
Maniacs eyes snapped forwarded and widened in panic as an entire squadron of enemy fighters ahead of him opened fire.
Somehow, even with his eyes closed and screaming in panic, he managed to avoid every single shot and wall of fighters swept by as he shot right through the heart of their formation. Within seconds, half of the enemy fighters had split off the main formation and turned to engage Maniac. He hit his boosters and began to make his way to the wreckage of a commercial transport.
The enemy fighters were faster and better armed but his Raptor was much more maneuverable. Weaving in and out of the chunks of debris Maniac was able to evade most of their fire.
“Maniac, whats your sitrep.”
“I’ve got 6 … no wait 8 fighters on my tail, I can’t seem to shake em.”
“Eight! Shit, you must’ve pissed em off…”
“… where are you.”
“By the wreckage of the Colonial Movers ship.”
“Crap, we’re on the other side of the battle from you. It’ll take time to get to you.”
“Oh, no hurry,” he said as piece of debris exploded showering his cockpit canopy with shrapnel.
“Just hang on.”
Finally free of the wreckage, Maniac had a clear view of the planet below. Not a single ship could be seen between him and the surface.
“I got an idea.”
“Don’t do nothing stupid kid.”
“You know me.”
“That’s what worries me.”
Maniac hit his thrusters once again and made a dash for the planet. He knew that his fighter was a transatmospheric. A type designed to operate equally well in space and in an atmosphere. The same could not be said for the enemy craft.
He hit the atmosphere with the enemy close on his tail. Wreathed in flames as he made atmospheric re-entry, all comms and sensors went down for nearly a minute. As the static and flames cleared he learned that three of the enemy fighters had burned up on reentry. Continuing the dive for as long as possible he pulled up just before impact and began to skim the surface at an insanely low altitude.
The enemy fighters began to fall behind and his flight took him towards the colonies spaceport. Once filled with commercial transports, private ships and government vessels, all that occupied it now were the landing craft of the enemy. The same enemy that had nearly wiped out the small defense force. The same enemy that had massacred the unarmed colonists. In rage he opened fire with his railguns stitching a path of destruction right through the heart of the enemy encampment. Men died, ships burned and fuel tanks exploded.
He was swinging around for another attack run when a high pitched tone alerted him to imminent danger. From the ruins of the city below a surface to air missile rocketed upwards and struck the rear of the fighter. The entire engine housing sheared off and the front of the fighter began to violently spiral to the ground below. Automatic systems kicked in and ejected the cockpit. Two explosions marked the impact points of the front of the fighter and the engine housing. The cockpit struck the ground before the retro thrusters could fire. It rolled over and over, crashing through several buildings before finally coming to a rest in a side street.
A few minutes passed and then a gunshot from inside the cockpit blew a hole in the canopy. A bloodied hand poked out and operated the manual release catch. The canopy came off with a crash and Maniac stumbled out. The air was filled with the crackling of still burning fires and the muffled whump of explosions. He reached back into the cockpit and pulled an SMG from a storage space and moved out.
The streets were a mess. Vehicles abandoned in the chaos of the evacuation blocked the roads and littered everywhere were the bodies of those that hadn’t made it out. Maniac carefully picked his way through the ruins, heading for the outskirts of town. A patrol would soon discover the wreckage of the fighter and it was in his best interest that he was as far away from …
Suddenly a sharp pain in his leg interrupted his train of thought. He fell to the ground in agony. Looking down, he saw the vice-like jaws of a man-trap clamped around his left leg. Blood dribbling from the wound. He tried to open the jaws but they were too strong and he couldn’t move them even an inch. A whoop from down the street caught his attention. Figures began to clamber over the debris towards him. Armed with clubs, knives, axes and a few nasty looking firearms they were definitely NOT friendlies. Maniac brought his weapon up and opened fire.
The mantra, “short controlled bursts. Short controlled bursts” ran through his head as his heart rate shot through the roof. One after another the figures fell in a spray of blood and a gurgled scream but for every one that fell two more took its place. Soon the SMG was out of ammunition and Maniac drew his sidearm. Round after round was fired but they kept coming. He had heard the stories. Everyone who lived in the Boondocks did. He would not be taken alive. Pointing the pistol at his own temple he closed his eyes and pulled the trigger.
Click. Out of ammunition. In disgust he threw the pistol at the nearest figure and pulled out his combat knife. From out of nowhere a shot rang out. The bullet struck the knife sending it flying to his left. It hit a wall and rebounded back towards him. It was just within reach. He stretched out as far as he could, straining against the chain of the man trap. He could feel the flesh on his leg tearing as his fingertips brushed against the hilt of the weapon.
Then they were on him. Someone sat on his back, its weight forcing the air out of his lungs. The person bent down to whisper into his ear.
“Why are you so eager to leave us flyboy?” He felt the Darkers fingers lift his hair back exposing he MindJack socket. “We have such wonders to show you.” A plug was inserted into the socket and white hot blade of pain shot straight into his cerebral cortex.
Three Years Later…
February 14th, 2606
New Port Dillion, Agamemnon System
Tyler woke up sitting bolt upright, drenched sweat. The cabin was empty and Samson’s bed was already made. He stumbled towards the wash room, rinsed his face in cold water and looked at his reflection in the mirror. His hand unconsciously went to the socket at the base of his neck.
When Wiles checked in, a message from McCavity Thorn was waiting for him. It had been received A few hours ago and had come in on a mail ship direct from the Core. Along with the usual banter, Thorn indicated that a major event would be taking place soon, and was sorry he was going to miss it.
The crew spent the rest of the day patching up the ship and restocking the supplies. Ford began the process of requisitioning a new doctor from HR and Wiles removed the bomb racks from the hull. Early the next morning he was called into a briefing. A ship who’s drive signature matched that of the pirates from Halcyon system had been spotted in a nearby system. Since the Star’s crew was familiar with their tactics they were being sent to apprehend them.
After informing the crew the Star made the jump to NSC-1778. Officially the system had no installations or colonies. However unofficially, 1778 was a Shadow System. Shadow Systems were star systems that contained Unlicensed Colonies that were heavily involved with smuggling, piracy, black markets or other criminal enterprises. In 1778’s case, it contained a number of orbital platforms where the authorities tended to turn a blind eye to what goes on as long as it doesn’t endanger the station.
Their quarry had been sighted near an orbital platform circling one of the systems inner planets. As soon as they were in sensor range, it was immediately apparent that something had gone wrong. The ring-type station had broken up into a cloud of debris. They immediately began scanning for survivors and on the largest chunks of debris they picked up power signatures. Maneuvering into the range of personal communicator, they attempted to raise any survivors.
24 people had survived the disaster. As the new doctor treated those with the most serious injuries, Wiles interviewed those able to talk. They reported that a ship had approached the station seeking permission to dock. However, before it could do so, the fuel storage tanks on the station suddenly detonated precipitating a chain reaction of explosion which blasted the station apart. Wiles sent Ford to check on the stations computer to see if the sensor data had been logged. He returned with proof that the mystery ship had been the pirates they were looking for. Furthermore, a datalink signal had been detected a fraction of a second prior to the supposed accident coming from the ship. It now appeared that this disaster had been engineered by the pirates.
Using wideband passive scanning, they were able to locate the ship in the system approaching one of the outer planets. Since under conventional thrust it would take days, if not weeks to get to the position, the decision was made to wait until the Jump Drive was recharged. This gave the crew enough time to transfer life support supplies from the damaged section in order to support the extra number of people on board the ship.
The reverted to Underspace with a few thousand kilometers of their target. The pirates had docked at a station orbiting the systems primary gas giant. According to the survivors, the station was a deuterium mining facility that used atmospheric skimmers to collect hydrogen from the gas giant for refining.
Wiles commed ahead and apprised the station commander of the situation. Despite not being a member of the Alliance, he agreed to recognize Wiles’s legal authority and offered his complete and unconditional support. Station security began to search for the pirates as the Star approached.
Once docked, Ford and Wiles boarded the station and met up with the commander. Meanwhile, Tyler launched the microfighter and, using thrusters, stationed it just a meter from the cockpit window of the pirate vessel surprising a very shocked pirate who’d had his feet up on a console reading a comic book. Station security had apprehended most of the pirates but a small number were unaccounted for.
As Wiles discussing how to find the missing pirates, Tyler (who had been listening in over an open comm) suggested that they could try bringing the pirates to them. If they stationed guards at every airlock and escape pod and then triggered an appropriate evacuation alert they could filter the people trying to get away.
With the guards in position, the station commander triggered a fake emergency alert. As the miners and other occupants of the station, security picked up all but a handful of the missing pirates. With only three left, security began a room by room, deck by deck search starting on deck 1 and working their way down. According to the already incarcerated pirates all that remained was a hacker and his two bodyguards.
They finally caught up with one of them on deck 13. Unfortunately he was already dead. He was identified as one of the bodyguards. A scream alerted Ford and Wiles to an altercation down the corridor. The two ran down the corridor and were confronted by a chilling scene.
A female bodyguard was lying at the feet of the hacker. He had a fireaxe raised above his head in preparation for a killing strike. His eyes were wide in terror, his body movements jerky and a bank of LED’s in his wireless mind jack were blinking furiously. Both Wiles and Ford came to the same conclusion, someone has hacking into the hackers brain and using it like an organic remote. Ford raised his hand blaster shot the hacker, its electrical energy sparking throughout his cybernetically enhanced nervous system. The hacker dropped like a rock.
As security rushed in to secure the two pirates and see to their injuries. Wiles spotted a figure in the darkness. A bank of LED’s on his head indicated the presence of a wireless mindjack. Ford raised his weapon to fire but a series of sparks and cackles indicated that something had fried its electronic circuits. He threw the now useless weapon at the figure as he drew his sidearm. Wiles opened fire with is peacemaker shooting the figure through the shoulder.
They began chasing the figure down a series of corridors but suddenly an announcement came over the PA system warning of a reactor shield malfunction. According to the station commander this was real. Someone had hacked into the system remotely and shutdown the safety systems and the containment field. They literally had minutes before it blew.
Wiles and Ford raced to the Star and detached from the docking arm. Tyler swung his fighter round and hit his boosters, moving away from the station at rapid speed. Thankfully, due to the earlier security operation, evacuation of the station was completed and all personnel escaped to minimum safe distance.
Once the crew had reunited, they made their way back to New Vegas. The pirates were arrested once they landed and formally charged with piracy. They pleaded innocent to the destruction of the orbital platforms in NSC 1778.
Soon after, Wiles was notified of a possible complication to their next mission. A major media corp from the Core had shown interest in the Colonial Alliance and the rise in unsanctioned military action in the Boondocks. In order to get their story across accurately, the Alliance had invited the company to send a number of film teams to shadow Alliance crews in their operations. The Shooting Star was one of the ships chosen to participate in this PR exercise.
Blogged with Flock
With Alliance Command still evaluating their options Tyler and Wiles decided to let off some steam. By shear coincidence they both chose the same bar. Still fired up from the mission it wasn’t long until Wiles got into an argument with one of the barflys. Pretty soon it degenerated in a brawl that spilled out across the bar. Punches were thrown and chairs sailed through the air. They both got a few good hits in before the police finally arrived to break up the fracas.
The next morning Ford and Wiles, who was sporting an impressive looking black eye, met with the duty officer for a strategy meeting. There was the general feeling that was far as then enemy was concerned, they were shooting blind. Even after three centuries almost nothing was known of their abilities, organisation, disposition, technological capabilities or society. Wiles was convinced they were missing something. Using Fords bureaucratic kung-fu he managed to wrangle permission to go over the derelict from NSC-13356.
After the quarantine, the ship had been towed through Underspace to a position just inside New Vegas’s heliopause some 80 AUs away (12,000,000,000 km). Out here it was safe from prying eyes as the Alliance studied it for any clues as to the meaning of the graffiti and why it had been abandoned. The only way that someone would come across it would be if they knew exactly where it was.
When the Star docked with it later that morning, Alliance Sci-Ops ad finished their investigation and turning up nothing unusual. They were only too happy hand over to the crew of the Star. Samson obtained the biological scan data from the departing science team and remained aboard the Star to study it while the rest of the crew boarded the derelict. Ford headed to the bridge while Wiles went to the engine room. Tyler, convinced that after spending several hours the previous day searching the ship top to bottom that this was a waste of time, went to get a coffee from the machine.
Sometime later, he was still in the crew lounge of the derelict when Wiles came to get some liquid sustenance. Tyler was leaning against the bulkhead sipping idly at another cup of superheated caffeine. The two were chatting about nothing in particular when Tyler’s face suddenly went blank. In his mind’s eye, he was standing in front of the machine alone when a young women walked by. As she passed by, he felt his skin crawling and he realised that he’d been gritting his teeth.
He snapped back to reality as Wiles waved in his hand front of Tyler’s face. For a brief moment neither spoke then Tyler descried what he had seen. After discounting the possibility of ghosts, Tyler decided, on a whim, to go through the footage from the security camera’s. His hunch paid off as he found a sequence that depicted the scene exactly has he had seen it. Wiles, who seemed more comfortable with the whole thing decided to use Tyler as a psychic tricorder. As the vision seemed to have been triggered by physical contact with the bulkhead, the Captain ordered Tyler to walk the corridors with his fingers brushing the walls.
Tyler was assaulted by a confusing montage of images. Few of which made in any sense but one thing was evident. No impressions were received from the girls point of view.
Realising that there was little more that could be learned, they returned back to base. Once safely back on New Vegas, Wiles requested a meeting with the Alliance’s expert on psychic phenomena. They explained what had happened on the derelict and what they had discovered. In the specialists opinion, Tyler was beginning to develop psionic powers. At the moment they seemed to happen involuntarily and without conscious control. A fact that did not exactly comfort Tyler. With time and practice he would eventually learn to control them. As to the girl, the specialist described some research that been done some years on the concept of the Psink. According to the theory, everyone possessed a low-level psionic ability. This was responsible for hunches, “bad feelings” and feelings of being watched. This sixth sense was also part of basic non-verbal communication. However, some individuals did not possess this ability and some even suppressed psionic abilities in others. These individuals would not only be immune to psionic manipulation but would also dampen the psionic abilities of those around them. Such people would make excellent security guards for high-security facilities. Hypothetically such individuals would also suppress the basic empathy of all humans and as such would make those around them uncomfortable for no apparent reason. However, this was all theory as no such person had been found as finding them among the billions of people across settled space is next to impossible.
Later that day, Tyler and Wiles were in a strategy meeting. They voiced the concern that even after 300 years, next to nothing was known about Darker psychology, tactics, culture and origins. Both of them suggested that an attempt should be made to capture a live Darker for research. They were surprised when the brass they were meeting with vetoed their suggestion. Tyler sighed and suggested they call it a day. As soon as they left the office he asked Wiles if they would being going on the Darker hunt anyway. Wiles nodded and the two went to prepare for their mission. Wiles spent the night with Captain McWarren while Tyler made sure the ship was stocked with provisions and supplies for their unauthorised safari.
The next morning, everything was ready for their unofficial mission. The only snag was the presence of a large spaceship parked in the next bay with its weapons trained on the Star. It was the Horizon under the command of Mcavity Thorn. Somehow Alliance Command had gotten wind of their plan. There was a tense stand-off between the two ships until an EMP device fried the Star’s engines grounding the ship until repairs could be made. Thorn apologised for the drastic measures but assured them that everything would be explained in a few hours.
True enough, a few hours later a general meeting was called and the captains of the various ships at New Vegas met in the briefing room. At the same time SAV Rorke’s Drift jumped into the system with its small escort fleet. With the Colonial Alliance fleet split into a number taskforces, they would strike simultaneously at a number of Darker held worlds. This was precisely what the crew of the Star had been waiting for.
Over the next 4 hours, the Star underwent preparation for their strike. Their role would be in ground attack. Along with a number of other small ships their job would be to conduct low-level bombing runs on the planetary defence batteries and space port of their target. The larger cruisers would remain in orbit providing covering fire until planetary defences were destroyed at which point they would come in closer for orbital bombardment. In order to facilitate this, the Star was fitted with external bomb racks containing several 500Ib high explosive bombs. Along with their new weaponry, they were supplied with a temporary gunner. However, in a surprising turn of events, Doc Samson revealed that he could not in good conscience go on the mission with them as it would violate the pacifistic tenets of his religion. With Samson off the ship (he would later be fired), they would be without a medic. Unfortunately there was no time to find a replacement.
With everything in place, the taskforce assembled in orbit and jumped to Underspace. Time to realspace reversion was several hours and everyone spent the time preparing in their own way.
On cue, the fleet reverted and the ground assault squadron entered the atmosphere and dropped down to low level flight. Flying as low as humanely possible, they were only picked up on radar at the last minute. As the Star and the rest of the squadron came in visual range of the Darker colony, the air defences finally activated sending surface to air missiles streaking up to meet the oncoming ships.
Jinking left to right, skimming the tree tops, Tyler evaded the missiles and sent the Star speeding towards their first target. The new gunner released a bomb directly on target and the radar station erupted into flames.
As the Star climbed out of its run in preparation for its next attack, Darker fighters arrived on the scene, two of which latched on to the Stars tail. Living up to his callsign of “Maniac”, Tyler dropped into evasive mode. The ship raced only few feet above the ground down a crowded street. All guns blazing burning a path ahead of them.
Over the next twenty minutes the Darker colony died in flames as the Alliance fleet pounded it with bombs, bullets, missiles and laser blasts. Two cruisers attempted to escape the conflagration but were destroyed after several direct hits from Alliance vessels.
Towards the tail end of the attack. One of the few surviving Darker fighters began a tail chase with the Star. Wiles had something up his sleeve. Assembling a strange contraption in the port cargo bay, he opened the rear door. On is command, Tyler cut thrust as Wiles fired his makeshift EMP generator. The Darkers engines died and it shot into the open cargo bay. With the Ford’s help, Wiles subdued the Darker pilot as Tyler broke orbit and regrouped with the Alliance fleet waiting to jump back to Homebase 2.
Behind them, the Darker colony burned.
Blogged with Flock
Prior to the Battle of Thermoplye, Wiles had been in command of the independent freighter, the Shooting Star. His crew had consisted of Mcavity Thorn (first mate), and Roger Talbot (assistant mechanic and systems engineer). Later on Harold Wong (doctor), Janu Kei (public relations and security) and John McLow (co-pilot) joined to replaced departed, incarcerated or killed crew members. It had been discovered that their prior doctor had been a Darker infiltrator when a datapad of Darker origin was found in his personal effects. The pad contained detailed biographical information on Wiles and Talbot. Of the original crew only Thorn was not covered. That was a mystery for another day as according to the data, Talbot was a former engineer that worked on several classified weapons research projects for the Western Union. The Darker infiltrator had been tasked with telepathically scanning Talbot’s mind for data on the projects he had worked on. One of which was a hypothetical study on potential WPDs (Weapons of Planetary Destruction).
News continued to to arrive regarding the events that had taken place in the Zeus system. With over 7 million dead, it would be difficult for the Core to ignore or dismiss. It could take days for news to reach the Accord and no one really knew what their response would be.
On New Port Dillion, the Alliance was still collating and analysing the incoming data. A message buoy had been discovered in orbit around Zeus Beta. It did not match anything that had orbited the planet prior to its immolation and when accessed, it was discovered to be encoded with only a single four letter word repeated over and over. Burn. Various theories were also being floated as to how you ignite a planets atmosphere and how long it would remain burning.
With nearly all Alliance operations currently suspended the crew was left to their own devices. Samson meditated in his quarters, Ford traversed the intricate maze of Alliance bureaucracy in attempt to secure an extra Gunner for the star, Tyler crashed in his bunk waiting for the inevitable call and Wiles puttered around the Star mumbling something about a mono-filament turbo-strimmer sword. With his manic chuckling the crew were avoiding eye contact.
A comm call from his former first mate, Thorn, interrupted his train of thought. Certain aspects of the Darker’s attack reminded Thorn of something Talbot had once said. The Darker Datapad was still in Wile’s possession but after the excitement its existence had been forgotten. Cursing, Wiles cut the connection and began to root through his little-used cabin. He found it in the place most lost items mystically gravitate too, the sock drawer.
At first glance the unit appeared to be a standard generic model found in tens-of-thousands of electronics stores across settled space. However, the back of the unit concealed a hidden touch screen interface which accessed the secure section of the units programming. Although he could take the unit apart and put it back together again in under 15 seconds without having parts left over, using them was another matter entirely. Thankfully Ford was available.
Ford was able to access the device and download the data. The data itself contained no useful information. However, Darker computer systems use a unique language and operating system and so far they had resisted any attempt to crack their security. With the data Ford had downloaded, the Alliance would be able to decode the security software on the Darker ship they had been recovered from the crew of the Drake (See Episode One). After a couple of hours, they were able to extract some incredibly valuable data from the ship. Firstly they had underestimated the numbers of Darkers. Drastically underestimated. Secondly they had uncovered what they hoped was a complete map of Darker controlled planets.
Soon after this revelation the Star, along with all the Alliance ships at New Port Dillon were ordered to proceed immediately to Homebase 2 on New Vegas. En masse the slowly growing fleet left Dillon behind and jumped as soon as they left the atmosphere. Despite having a busy year-round tourist injury, New Vegas’s starport was hard pressed to handle the sudden influx of traffic. As soon as all the ships were on the ground, assignments were handed out. The Star, along with three other ships were tasked with investigating NSC-13356. An isolated star-system containing one of the nearest planets identified as a Darker colony. Wiles would be in charge of the mission and their orders were simple. Get in, get as much info as possible and get out.
Wiles again requested a gunner to supplement his crew. Captain McWarren realised that getting one through normal channels in time would be impossible an she wanted to make sure that Wiles had every chance of completing his mission successfully. She decided to loan her gunner, Takashi to Wiles for the duration of the mission.
After completing a final check on fuel, supplies and ammunition the Star lead the group into orbit and together they made the jump to Underspace. As the timer hit five minutes to realspace the crew assumed their positions and the Stars weapons were powered up.
Reversion was a little anti-climatic. Preliminary scans indicated the group were the only ships in the system. Uttering a small prayer of thanks, they proceeded on mission. According to their intelligence, the Darkers were only present on one planet in the system. Using passive scans only, and running silent, they performed discrete scans of the planets surface and detected a settlement. There was a limit to what they could using just passive sensors. Going to active sensors would tip the Darkers off to their presence. A plan was formulated. When all the ship’s Jump Drives had recharged, they would execute a burn dive into the atmosphere and perform a low-level flyby scan of the settlement before breaking atmosphere and jumping to a safe system.
In the meantime, Tyler suggested that they use the recharge time to perform a cursory survey of the other planetary bodies to make sure there was no other Darker presence. They split up to widen their survey area and not long after they had begun, the Star received a message. One of the ships had discovered a derelict floating in the systems asteroid belt. They piped a video signal back to the Star and they saw the disturbing sight of the hull of the derelict daubed in graffiti in several dozen languages. Including a few which appeared to be entirely unique. In the few they understood, it appeared someone had scrawled “Abomination” across the hull.
Fifteen minutes later the Star was alongside the derelict. The decision was made to board and investigate but there was concern about possible contamination. No one knows what happens to someone to become a Darker. Considering the condition of the hull, it was possible that this ship had either been exposed to that process or those who had. The other ships were ordered to proceed on mission and perform the flyby and jump back to New Vegas as soon as their Jump Drives recharged.
Tyler worked with Samson to seal the port cargo bay, workshop and med-bay and transform them into a quarantine section. Of the crew only Wiles, Tyler and Ford would board the derelict. Samson would remain onboard the Star with Takeshi who would act as pilot in case something happened. Dressed in armoured e-suits, the boarding party sealed the airlock and stepped onto the ship.
Ford ran an atmospheric analysis and confirmed that the air was breathable with all the gases in the right combination. No biological or chemical toxins were detected although the Personal Analysis Device was only capable of detecting known contaminants. The only thing wrong with the ships environment was a lack of gravity and deep cold.
The boarding party split up with Wiles heading towards the engine room, Ford to the ships mainframe and Tyler to the bridge. Wiles worked to get main power back up and was able to bring the reactor on-line pretty quickly. With power restored, Ford began to being up the ships logs and Tyler ran through the flight check-list. Apart from a few hull breaches the ship was completely space worthy. The breaches were obviously isolated and the ship still had its atmosphere. A few quick patches would have sealed them. The hull might not have passed a check for atmospheric re-entry but there were plenty of space stations where the necessary repair work could have been completed. There was absolutely no reason why the ship had been abandoned. Even the Darkers wouldn’t discard a perfectly good starship, would they?
After reviewing the logs they determined the ship was a cargo ship that was being used as a supply ship back in the Inner Sphere. It was far off course. The only oddity in the logs were a reference to one of the crew that had signed on shortly before the final entry. A young women that for some reason had caused other crewmembers to be uncomfortable around her. No specific reason was given beyond descriptions of “spooky” and “disturbing”.
The three of them performed a deck-by-deck search and discovered that most of the cargo had been removed. They only exception being the ships own food stores. Most of the crew’s personal effects were still aboard. Except the spooky girl’s, her quarters had been stripped.
Wiles decided to bring the ship back to settled space. After Tyler retrieved some extra life support packs for their suits, the Star jumped back to New Vegas using coordinates Ford had preprogrammed. Still concerned about possible contamination, Wiles ordered Ford to program a jump for the Colorado system. Uninhabited since a super-volcanic eruption a year ago had rendered the planet of New Denver uninhabitable and forced the evacuation of the Port Dillon colony. It was a perfect system to jump into. The derelict’s Jump Engines were charged and programmed with the jump.
After reverting to realspace, they only had to wait 30 minutes before a Colonial Alliance medical ship jumped in and came alongside. Ford, Tyler and Wiles transferred over to the quarantine facility and underwent a barrage of tests before being pronounced clean.
When they returned to New Vegas analysis was already being preformed on the flyby scans. Analysis of camera footage confirmed the presence of graffiti in a language now confirmed to be unique to Darkers. The settlement had a decentralised, cluster layout in a natural depression. The only anomaly was a small building some way distant from the settlement. This building had Abomination daubed on its side. During a discussion on the sensor readings, Tyler voiced the opinion that a 4.5 megaton nuclear warhead detonated at an altitude of 150 meters would pretty much vaporise the entire settlement.
Unsurprisingly some voiced their opposition to a nuclear strike. Several buildings in settlement had features that indicated that they were actually partially buried spacecraft. Others suggested that such a provocative move could be disastrous. With their suspected forces greatly outnumbering the Alliance it was possible that until now the Darkers had just been toying with the Boondocks. If they went on the offensive then the Darkers could attack in force any wipe out the Boondocks all the way to the Inner Sphere.
However, the fact was inescapable. Ubanto, Thermoplyae and now Zeus Beta. The Boondocks were already at war and it was time to start fighting back. If the Union or the Accord were not going to do it, then it would be up to the Colonial Alliance.
The MV Shooting Star 2 was equipped with a single orbit-to-ground nuclear weapon and Commodore Wiles was given the necessary launch codes. After jumping into the outskirts of NSC-13356, they waited until their jump drive had fully charged. Pushing their engines to maximum they dived into the systems gravity well and headed for their target. As they approached the planet they lit up their active sensors to obtain a firing solution and as they scanned the planet’s surface the determined that the Darker settlement had been abandoned. The buried ships appeared to have departed taking the Darkers with them. This didn’t change their mission. As soon as they were in range, they launched the missile watched as the settlement was consumed by nuclear fire.
The first shot in the Darker War had been fired.
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He cut suddenly cut the main drive and threw the grav-drive into full reverse, his fighter doing a good impression of screeching to halt despite the lack of brakes, wheels, road or air. The girl was not so easily fooled however and likewise hit the retros but a miscalculation sent her craft careening towards a boulder. Rapid firing RCS thrusters violently twisted her fighter and she almost avoided collision. Unfortunately for Tyler she only suffered superficial damage. She positioned he fighter after rebounding off the rock directly underneath Tyler’s and opened fire. Lances of coherent light strafed across his engine pods and the starboard engine blew. Tyler hit the burners and accelerated away. As he ducked under and around a dense cloud of boulders he span the ship on its axis and sprayed them with a bust of rail gun fire.
The asteroids exploded into a rapidly expanding cloud of shrapnel and debris. Momentarily hidden by the cloud, he slotted his fighter in a natural depression on one of the asteroids and powered down. The girls gingerly moved through the cloud and passed directly over Tyler’s hiding spot.
Using manual targeting, he fired a brace of missiles at the girls fighter and began the power-up sequence. The flare of the launch and the burst of power as he started the ship back up pinged on her sensors. But it was too late, the missiles had locked on and no amount of evasive action would save her now. With lightning reflexes she flipped her ship 180 degrees and fired her lasers. He lasers struck his remaining engines and they died with a spluttering last gasp of thrust exhaust. His missile impacted at the same time and the rear half her ship exploded. With both ships crippled and drifting it looked like it was all over. In Tyler’s heads up display a cartoon kitten face poked its tongue out at him. “It’s not over till the little girl cries.” Using his RCS thrusters, he rotated the ship and fired his rail guns. The recoil of the guns provided just enough kinetic energy to get the fighter moving in the right direction. Spinning the ship again he targeted the crippled and drifting fighter and opened fire. A hail of bullets sped on their way to their terminal engagement with the target. Suddenly a brace of missiles erupted from the girls fighter and Tyler could only watch helplessly as they closed in.
Both fighters exploded simultaneously.
RESULT – TIE
The canopy on the two simulators opened and Tyler and Tabitha Thorn stepped out onto the floor the New Port Dillian Flight Training Center. Tabitha was the sister of Mcavity Thorn, Captain Wile’s former second in command of the first Shooting Star. He’d gone one to captain his own ship from the Alliance and the to had recently gone drinking and wagered a bet on who had the best pilot.
The two pilots looked at each other a newly found respect.
“Nice trick with using the guns as thrusters.”
“Well, you gotta love Newton’s third law. So … you doing anything later?”
After settling the wager, the two crews went their separate ways. Thorns crew shipping out to places unknown, Wiles and Tyler to report to a new mission briefing.
It appeared that they had earned some R & R as their next mission was one of a diplomatic nature. New Babwe, one of ISAR’s main colonies in the region. Had requested the presence of representatives of the Colonial Alliance at a diplomatic function coinciding with the unveiling of a new class of starship. As a hero of the Battle of New Thermopylae it was only to be expected that he would be one of the representatives.
Wiles gathered his crew and they departed for New Babwe. Upon arrival they were met at the spaceport by a representative from the ISARDF (Independent South African Republic Defence Force) and a waiting limousine whisked them to a hotel suite in the heart of town. An entire floor of the Hilton had been reserved for the Alliance representatives and their crews. Wiles was delighted to learn that Captain McWarren was one of the other two representatives.
One of the hosts for the event was General Schaffer, Wiles former commanding officer during his tour of duty with the ISARDF several years ago. The two old friends chatted amiably for several minutes until Captain McWarren walked in. She was wearing a formal dress that made Wiles heart forget to beat for several seconds before remembering its vital life giving function. Mustering all his rusty charm he made his excused to the general and moved over to McWarren.
The next morning, Wiles was woken by the shrill beeping of his communicator. Glancing over at the brunette haired, sleeping form of Captain McWarren, he answered his comm. Sometime during the night, it appeared the good doctor had been arrested by the local police. For piracy. A little stunned, he collected Ford and Tyler from their suite and paid a visit to precinct 31 where Doc Samson was being held.
The pacifistic bhuddist doctor was meditating in his cell when they arrived. He proceeded to tell them the story of his misanthropic past under captain Thorn’s command. Although, as he put it, he never actually engaged in piracy. He just patched up the rest of the crew after they had done the dirty deeds. Immediately Wiles went on a rant regarding the fact the last doctor on his ship had been arrested for drug smuggling and had later turned out to be a Darker and Thorn really should’ve warned him about Samsons history before recommending him. Eventually he calmed down and ordered Ford to deal with the problem. He had an appointment at the ship yards to inspect the new ships.
While Ford wrestled with the legal codes and diplomatic statutes, Tyler decided to continue this paid vacation by spending the day at a local sports bar watching the game and throwing back a few cold beers. Life was good.
General Schaffer was Wiles’s guide around the ship yards and gave him a tour of the new ships being built. One of them designed to supersede the model of ship the Shooting Star 2 was based on. Wiles gave a few helpful pieces of advice on the new design. The presence of a Neural Interface Control Systems (or NICS) on the ship surprised Wiles. NICS are expensive and difficult to maintain. Because of this their usage has until now been relatively limited and are mainly limited to small craft like fighters or shuttles. The General explained that as the technology matured and costs dropped, it was starting to see deployment on other platforms but he admitted that this was the first time it had been used on a ship of this size. Wiles expressed interest in obtaining plans for a NICS for use on the Shooting Star. A piece of news which would later fill Tyler with a small degree of trepidation as he recalls the copious amounts of duct tape that seems to hold the Star together.
By the time evening arrived, the doctor had been released from custody. A combination of Ford’s legal prowess at asserting the doctors diplomatic immunity and pressure from the Alliance resulted in the warrant for Mcavity Thorn and his crew being rescinded.
With the captain required to attend a formal dinner, the rest of the crew decided enjoy the evening in their own manner. The doctor went back into town while Ford and Tyler ordered room service and settled down to an action movie marathon on the hotel’s pay-per-view movie channel.
Two movies into the marathon, a crash o breaking glass came from one of the rooms in the suite. Ford muted the TV while Tyler looked out of the window. An armed vehicle hovered a few rooms to the left as a group of men jumped out of its side door into the room. With hotel security a few minutes away, they decided to handle this themselves.
They crept into the next room and stationed themselves either side of the doorway. There were four men in black combat amour. One was standing guard while the other three ransacked the room apparently looking for something. In no mood for negotiation, Tyler thew an aerosol can into the room and Ford fired at it. With a satisfying thump it exploded into a small, short-lived ball of flame and acted as a makeshift flash bang. Using it as a distraction they kicked over a table to use as cover and took aim. One of the men had already been taken out by shrapnel from the exploding can and when another popped his head out from cover, Tyler made sure he joined him by shooting him between the eyes with his pistol.
Meanwhile, Ford spotted the hover vehicle changing position to hover outside the room they were in and target them with its machine gun. Not giving either the pilot or the gunner time to make a move, he opened fire. His weapon bucked in his hands and three 9mm charge rounds blasted threw the hotel window and through the vehicles windscreen. Hitting the pilot in the arm, the vehicle dropped back and to the side as the pilot thought better of their position.
Having lost the element of surprise, Tyler decided to repeat the earlier tactic but with something bigger this time. He rolled a fire extinguisher into the room and shot it. The bullet passed straight through and pressurized fire retardant foam sprayed everywhere. Leaping into the room as the men ducked to avoid the foam spray, Tyler’s pistol fired twice hitting both men in the chest knocking both of them to the floor.
At that moment hotel security finally showed up and arrested the surviving members of the gang. After explaining the sequence of events, Ford and Tyler went back to watching TV.
After hearing about the incident, Wiles decided to stay the night again with McWarren.
The next day, the captain ordered the crew to be armed at all times. Ford left to follow up the police reports on the break in, taking the doctor with him. Tyler spend a the morning in the gym before leaving to check on the ship.
Today was also the day of the official unveiling of the new battle group. The naming ceremony went without a hitch, the champagne bottle breaking first time as each ship was christened. After exchanging pleasantries, with the rest of the dignitaries, General Schaffer and Captains Mcwarren and Wiles shared a limo back to the hotel. About ten minutes into the journey, from out of nowhere a utility truck slammed into the side of the limo shunting it off the road.
5 heavily armed and armored men stormed the vehicle. One of them ripped of the side door and part of the roof and tossed if to the size. All the occupants had suffered minor superficial injuries. The men grabbed General Schaffer and there was an exchange of gunfire. Captain McWarren was hit and the rest of the gang made for their getaway vehicle. Wiles managed to kill one of the, but his peacemaker rounds were unable to get through the armour of the others.A high pitched beeping noise alerted him to a new danger. An explosive device attached to the underside of the limo. Grabbing the unconscious McWarren he dove out of the car and covered her with his body as it exploded.
Wiles was incensed, he summoned the emergency services and paged his crew. After ensuring that McWarren was stable and on the way to hospital he briefed his crew. Calling the other Alliance personnel to an emergency meeting. He used his status and reputation to organize a makeshift taskforce to recover the General. Partly to proove the ISAR that the Colonial Alliance takes care of its members and partly because the general was an old friend.
Realizing the General was in charge of a number of sensitive research projects, Wiles had the ISAR base on New Babwe locked down and all the Generals access codes and passwords revoked. The bases computers were physically separated from the grid to prevent a hacking attempt and all the research projects were shut down for the duration. Despite the seriousness of the situation, he was unable to get a halt on all ships entering or leaving orbit.
After double checking transmission and network logs to ensure that nothing had been downloaded or transmitted outside the base before the lockdown, they got their first lead. Like most colonies sponsored by one of the three Terran governments, New Babwe had an extensive and well integrated CCTV network. Using imagery from traffic camera’s, private security systems and police surveillance networks they were able to track the route of the getaway van to a multistory car park. No footage was available of the exact parking spot but no suspicious vehicles or individuals had been spotted leaving.
Ford notified the police while Tyler prepped the skiff for separation. Once everyone was aboard, the command pod of the Shooting Star slid upwards out of its mount and detached becoming an independent vehicle. Using the skiff was quicker than using ground vehicles and they arrived at the parking structure ahead of the police. Not waiting for back up, Ford, Wiles and Tyler approached the van cautiously with their weapons drawn. It was soon apparent that the van had been abandoned and after confirming that it was not booby trapped the CSI team was given access.
A few pieces of forensic evidence were but the DNA did not match anything in the colonies databases and due to the lack of FTL communications technology, it could take weeks to search the central databases by courier ship. However they did manage to recover the generals comm.
A stray thought popped into Tyler’s head. They knew the route taken by the kidnappers from the crash site to the car park by the second thanks to the CCTV imagry. If they obtained the logs for the local grid providers, they might be able to find a set of comms whose movements from cell to cell will have matched that route. If they got lucky then they could isolate those comms and determine their current location. After a moment of stunned silence, it was realized that this could actually work. They subpoenaed the records of the seven grid providers and found what they were looking for. The comms were currently located in a residential area on the other side of town.
A SWAT team was assembled to meet them there and they quickly made their way across town. With the SWAT team positioned to storm the building from the front and back entrances, Wiles and his crew positioned themselves on the roof. Using a liquid explosive they created a ring of explosive on the roof that when triggered would blow a circler shaped slab free of the roof material dropping into the room below. As soon as the SWAT team signaled ready, both groups entered simultaneously.
The three of them dropped into the room and Ford and Wiles fired their weapons. Both had equipped their guns with armour piercing bullets and this time they proved more effective. Tyler on the other hand had decided to rely on the hand blaster and with a pleasing “thwackoom” two bolts of lightning stunned one of the gang while a second had his cyberware shut down on him. In a few seconds it was all over. The general was safe and the gang were either dead or in custody.
After some preliminary interrogation it was learned that the cyberenhanced individual was a mercenary contracted to kidnap the general and hand him over to a third party in an uninhabited star system. He had hired the other man to assist. Unfortunately he was unable or unwilling to divulge the identity of his employers.
As the local security forces mopped up and everyone returned to the hotel, a courier ship from New Port Dillion arrived in system. The Shooting Star 2 was to report back to base for an emergency briefing.
After saying goodbye to the general and McWarren Wiles gathered his crew and they returned back to base.
Back at New Port Dillion something was obviously up. Practically every available ship had been recalled and the briefing room was full for the first time. Over a dozen ships crews were present. Along with the admiralty. Tyler made a crack about “Where’s the fire?” as Thorn took the stage.
He activated a hologram which should the orbital schematic of system he identified as Zeus. Thorn explained that the system had two inhabited planets. Zeus Beta and Zeus Delta. They were both colonies of the Pan Pacific Accord. The holo focused in on the second planet of the system, Zeus Beta. It had a population of approximately 500’000. Of which, 7 were registered telepaths. When he visited the system a few days ago, all he found were 499’993 bodies. The implication that the telepaths were not among them didn’t need to stated. There was gasp as the shocked audience digested that fact. There was more. The holo shifted to the Zeus Delta, the fourth planet. Instead of the blue and green surface with white clouds, the planet was wreathed pole-to-pole in flames. Somehow, he explained, someone had found a way to ignite the entire atmosphere. Delta had a population of 7 million.
All of a sudden, Tyler regretted asking where the fire was.
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The Boondocks PDF has been updated. There’s been a few typo errors fixed, a cover added and the nearly complete spacecraft rules added. It contains 29 pages and is 694kb in size and can be downloaded here. Feedback on the spacecraft rules would be greatly appreciated.
Also, some new images have been uploaded to the Space Pron archive. It now contains 522 images.
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Halcyon, a small system a few light years away was experiancing a problem with pirates. The assignment was to travel to the system and “deal with the problem”. The Shooting Star departed immediatly, having already been restocked back on the Drift, and made the jump to Underspace as soon as they were clear of the atmosphere.
While waiting to revert back to realspace, the crew read up on their destination. The Halcyon system was a recent addition to the Alliance and was unusual in the fact that the system contained two inhabitable planets. The first, Halcyon Prime was a terraformed world with most of its surface covered in oceans. Because of it climate and topography, the planets had a large tourist industry. It boasted many beach resorts catering to the discerning traveller. The second habitable planet was currently uninhabited. A naturally lifebearing world, it had an earth-like environment and possessed complex organic life. A younger planet than Earth, its native life could be described as “prehistoric” as many of its larger animals resembled terran dinosaurs.
As soon as the Star reverted back to realspace, Captain Wiles contacted the planets starport and obtained landing permission. The Star was directed to small landing pad on the outskirts of the port and the Sgt Tyler performed a precision “text-book” landing. Leaving Ford and Samson in charge of the ship, Wiles and Tyler disembarked and headed to the governers office to report in.
After learning that the governer was in a meeting and would not be free for an hour, the two split up. Capt Wiles visited one of the casinos and choose to spread the wealth in the hope that it would loosen a few lips. He learnt that the pirates had been attacking outgoing ships, mainly the cruise liners but there did not seem to be a pattern to the timing of the attacks. On the other side of town, Tyler paid vists to the colonial record offices and the starport controller. After greasing a few palms, he obtained sensor records from security patrols isolating their engine signitures. The visit to the Starport threw up a possible lead. A month earlier, one liner had failed to arrive in the system after departing its port of departure. No sighting of the liner had been made in any system along its intended route. The dissapearance had been hushed up by the governer. There did not seem to be any motive for the cover up other than an attempt to protect the planets tourist trade.
The two met up just before heading off to see the governer and exchanged information. They speculated on a number of topics including the fate of the liner. After comparing information, the earliest attacks seemed to coincide with the disapearance of the liner. This lead to speculation that its disapearance may have had something to do with the origin of the pirate attacks.
Eventually they got to meet the governer. Capt Wiles outlined his assignment brief and was assured that he would recieve the full cooperation of the colonial adminisitration. This was to be expected of course but other than that there was not much more that he could tell them.
After leaving his office, Tyler retired to the ship while Wiles, Ford and Samson hit the bars and casinos. Captain Wiles made a big splash with local media, winning big at the slots and throwing his money around. Making the most of his war hero status that he had garnered after the events at the Battle of Thermopolye a year earlier. With a girl on each arm he got himself invited to exclusive parties and liberally tested the local beverages.
48 hours later, a rather inebriated Wiles returned to the ship. As soon as the airlock sealed behind him, he stood up straight and ceased slurring his words. The plan had gone off without a hitch. By spreading his money around liberally he had created a buzz loud enough for the pirates to hear even if they were in a different star system. Pretending to be drunk, Wiles had let it be known that they were going to be spending a few days on Halcyon B playing “hunt the T-Rex”.
The Star leisurely broke orbit and began to travel on sublight drive to their destination a few hours away. Using only passive sensors, they picked up the engine signiture of a suspected pirate in the vicinity one of the planets’s moons as they approached. Playing dumb, they entered orbit over Halcyon B and focused their active sensors downwards as if searching for a landing spot. And they waited.
Suddenly two ships reverted to realspace either side of the Star in a terrifying display of precision jumping. The plan suddenly started to backfire. They opened fire with EMP weapons and took out the Star’s weapon systems before she could even fire a shot in defence. Despite performing evasive maneuvers, it was only a matter of time before they got a lucky shot on the engines.
With a splutter, the engines died the Star began to drift. By now Wiles had sealed himself in the engineering bay while the rest of the crew had retreated to the Command Pod. Both areas could be sealed off the rest of the ship by internal airlocks. Wiles armed the internal security systems while Tyler decompressed the rest of the ship by blowing the exernal airlocks before the two pirate vessels could dock.
The pirates boarded in armoured spacesuits and began to explore the ship. They were confronted by pop-out guns, gas jets and pressure cannons (airtight spaces pressurised well above norm and filled with flechettes, when opened compressed air propelled the flechettes like a shotgun blast). The pirates took several casualties and after as few minutes there were only two survivors.
Incensed the undocked and gently knudged the crippled star into a decaying orbit. The ship began to fall into the atmosphere in an uncontrolled descent. Ion drives, Grav-Drives, Jump-Drive, RCS thrusters all were inoperable and the pirates were following them down in the dive to make sure they impacted. Wiles struggled valiently with the engines and with less than 30 seconds before impact managed to coax them back into life.
Tyler pulled up on his controls, stating over and over that his long term goal was to die of old age and not become a blackened crater on some wilderness planet. The Star pulled out of its dive sending up clouds of dust as it swept along the ground at a ludicrously low altitude. One of the pirate vessels was not so lucky and it impacted belly first. The second ship was quickly on the Stars tail. For several minutes they played cat and mouse and exchanged fire at supersonic speeds. Ford scored a significant hit on the enemy ship with the dorsal rail gun crippling its engines as it scored a direct hit on the rear of the Star with its EMP cannon. Both ships careened into the ground, thanks to its pilot, the Star only suffered superficial damage.
While the captain worked on the engines, Tyler and Ford manned he guns. Ford had switched places to the ventral rail gun and used it to create a security cordon around the ship, defending it against any wayward wildlife should they stray to close. Tyler manned the dorsal gun, training it on the enemy ship just across the plain.
After an hour the shuttlebay doors on the enemy ship opened. Tyler immediately opened fire, spraying the opening with a hail of fire. Suddenly a shuttle broke through and accelerated away. Tyler unbuckled and raced towards the port cargo bay. The little used bay had been converted into a launch bay for a microfighter. With a blast of thrust exhaust, the craft rocketed skyward.
Locking on to its exhaust, Tyler tracked the shuttle down and slotted his fighter in behind. In a display of acrobatics the shuttle span 360 degrees on its axis and fired on Tyler. The laser blasts were easily evaded and Tyler pressed his attack. As they passed over a canyon, he fired over the shuttles roof forcing it down into the canyon, hoping that the reduced room to maneuver would force them to make a mistake. It wasn’t so easy, the pirates had a good pilot at the controls. They were briefly able to get behind Tyler, but only for a few seconds. By now, Tyler was running out of patience. When the shuttle made a break for it by pulling into a vertical climb, Tyler piloted his craft into a suicidal maneuver. Literally missing the shuttles nose by a few centimeters, he cut across the shuttle’s climb forcing it to fly through his turbulent engine wake. The shuttle lost control and slammed into the ground creating a huge ball of fire. After confirming the crash, he decided to check out the wreck of the other pirate ship to determine if there were any survivors.
Meanwhile, back at the Star Wiles had finished repairs on the ships engines. He discovered that the ships sensors were completely fried and would need to be replaced. With nothing else to do, he turned his attention to the two captured pirates the doc had secured in the captains quarters. Interrogation did not go well. Even after shooting off both kneecaps off one of he pirates, he learned little. Things went from bad to worse when one of the pirates decided to commit suicide by trigging an internal cybernetic bomb. With a flash and a cloud of expanding gore, his head erupted into an expanding cloud of lethal flechettes.
Several hundred miles away, Tyler approached the downed vessel cautiously. Despite impacting hard it could still prove to be a threat. As he zeroed in on the crash site, he was surprised to see a vapour trail reaching up into the sky. The vessel was not as damaged as previously thought and had already taken off. Kicking in the main drive, he gave chase and thirty seconds later he broke atmosphere just behind the pirate vessel.
Despite being outgunned by the enemy, Tyler was not ready to give up. They had already made him look bad by disabling the Star twice while he had been at the helm. Now it was time for payback. Ignoring a warning to back off he gunned his engines and accelerated to attack speed. Several panels opened up on the rear of the enemy ship revealing a plethora of weapon systems. Without any preamble they opened fire. As the hail of bullets and missiles streaked towards him, Tyler grinned. Who were these guys trying to kid. This is what he trained for. With a whoop of exhilaration he expertly threaded his way through the storm evading every single shot. Energy readings began to build up as the enemy ship pulled away. Despite being more maneuverable, the microfighter could not hope to keep up with the enemy ship it went to full thrust. It didn’t help that the microfighter did not possess a jump drive. Using the energy build up as a target, Tyler locked onto the enemies power plant and fired. Direct Hit! Immediately the engines and weapon systems shut down as main power died.
Almost immediately a section of the ships hull blew out and a small ship shot out of the hole. Tyler called on it to surrender but twas frustrated when it umped to underspace leaving him gripping the controls with white knuckles. At that moment Captain Wiles opened a comm channel and ordered Tyler to return to the ship. Tyler complied but not before blasting the remains of the pirate ship to atoms in the name of “removing space debris from a shipping lane.”
Back at the Star, Doc Samson was treating Wiles for minor injuries while Ford cleaned up the remains. Tyler made his report and took the ship into orbit. Using the sensors from the microfighter, Wiles was able to jury rig a temporary replacement for the Stars destroyed sensors. Using them, they performed a planet by planet sweep of the system and found no sign of the pirates of a base.
They returned to New Vegas and made their report. A follow up team searched the wreckage of the downed pirate ship and using its computer systems were able to confirm that the pirates were not based in the Halcyon system. The Star went into drydock for repairs and the crew was given a few days leave.
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Their destination was a isolated system home to an unlicensed colony that was a member of the Alliance. It possessed little in the way of industrial infrastructure and had no military capabilities whatsoever. Primarily an agricultural planet, it supplied many of the smaller colonies in the region with food making it an important system in the local economy and a valuable member of the Alliance. Upon arrival in the system, the Star made planetfall at the sole spaceport. Captain Jonah Wiles and Sergeant Carl “Maniac” Tyler journeyed into town to make some inquiries while Lieutenant Ford (CA Liaison Officer and Navigator) and Dr Samson (Ship’s Medic) stayed behind on board the ship.
First port of call was the mayor’s office. The man was quite willing to help and drove the two out to the site of the first attack. A small villiage some 30 minutes drive outside of town. Damage was relatively light and the reported number of fatalities (4, although one was due to a heart attack and not violence) was low for a Darker attack. This was the first sign that everything was not as it seemed. The mayor was able to provide police statements and coroners reports on the attacks. Nothing had been reported stolen and no one had been reported missing. Coupled with the relatively light damage and casualties, this was atypical behaviour for Darkers.
At that point Tyler and Wiles split up. Tyler headed to the spaceport to requisition traffic logs of the time of the attacks to determine if any unidentified ships had been in the vicinity. He could pretty chatty with the controller and she reviewed the logs and discovered that shortly before the attacks, a gravitic anomaly was detected in the system. Thanking her, Tyler took the data back to ship and ran it past Ford and Samson. Between the three of them, they determined that the anomaly was produced by an attempt to fake a ship reverting to real-space. It appeared that someone was trying to make it appear that the Darkers were coming from outside the system. Wiles meanwhile had gone over to the bar to see what rumours he could pick up on the grapevine. After sometime he picked up rumours of a possible protection racket being ran by the crew of Drake. Putting these two pieces of information together, they discovered that on both occasions the Drake had not been in system during the Darker attack. The crew began to suspect the Drake may have accomplices.
After a brief word with the port controller, it was learnt that the Drake was due back at noon the next day. After putting in a request to be notified the moment the Drake entered the system, the crew began to formulate a plan of attack. Since the Star was waterproof, it would be hidden in a lake a few miles outside of town. Doc Samson would be given the task of minding the ship while Tyler, Ford and Wiles stayed in town. Once the Drake had landed and the majority of its crew had gone into town, the three of them would assault the Drake using hand-blasters (non-lethal stun weapons) incapacitating the crew. Wiles would go aft to disable the ship while Tyler and Ford would go and secure the cockpit. They would then lay in wait for the remaineder of the Drake’s crew and ambush them as they returned to the ship.
The plan was pulled off like a hitch and the crew operated like a well-oiled machine. Within a few minutes, the ship was secured and its crew was in custody. Captain Wile’s took over interrogation and discovered the existence of a second ship based at an abandoned mining outpost on the outskirts of the system. This was the ship used for the fake Darker attacks. After obtaining the security codes, Wiles, Tyler and the unusually competent Ford commandeered the Drake’s shuttle to infiltrate the base.
Again using hand-blasters, the team incapacitated most of the personnel at the base whilst only suffering a minor injuries to themselves. Unfortunately they were unable to prevent the straggles from reaching the ship and attempting to escape. Catching up with them at the docking bay, they were surprised to discoverer that the second ship was in actual fact a captured Darker vessel.
After shaking off the surprise, the team sealed the hanger bay doors from the control room. The pirates overrode the control room and activated the doors by remote. Switching to their firearms, the team opened fire through the control room window at the ships cockpit in a vain attempt to hit the pilot or at least pierce the canopy. Their weapons were only able to shatter the control room window which began to decompress as the hanger bay doors opened. They had one chance left to prevent the ship from leaving. With the hanger doors opened, the base would begin to decompress. Automatic safety systems should kick in and seal the doors but the control room had sustained enemy fire. Wiles vaulted down into the bay and reached one of the access doors. With some creative engineering he managed to jam the door open which triggered the safety system.
While Ford gave covering fire, Tyler clambered onto the gantries along the ceiling and began to make his way to above the ship, dropping down just behind a secondary gun turret. Wiles took a running leap of some crates and clambered onto the wing. He began to use a microtorch to cut his way through the hull while Tyler scrambled into an emergency escape hatch. They both met up in the main access corridor and incapacitated two guards with their blasters. Running low on charges they switched to firearms and stormed the bridge. After dispatching two more pirates, the pilot as forced at gunpoint to land the ship.
The prisoners were transferred to the shuttle and ferried back to the Star. After a bit of patching up and recuperation, the Star concluded its mission and returned to HomeBase 3 with their prisoners. They were taken to the Roarke’s brig to await a very public trial. Their actions threatened to bring the nascent Colonial Alliance into disrepute. This was not to sort of PR the Alliance needed. A technical team was dispatched back to the outpost to recover the Darker ship for analysis and a recovery team was sent to retrieve the Drake so that it could be assigned to a new crew.
The crew of the Shooting Star were ready for their next mission.
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The Gear chapters are still being added to and the Spaceships chapter is in the process of being completely rewritten. We plan on adding a Gazetteer section with information on planets and locations at some point in the future.
I expect there will be more changes after the game continues next Wednesday.
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