The core surplus heroes – Widow the medic and comms specialist who is generally boss in ground actions, Pip the air raft pilot and backup engineer, Iceman the gunner with his Gauss rifle, and BJ the engineer with his retractable mono-blade – have successfully opened Platform 68 in company with a small squad of local militia commanded by Capitano Zaier. Outside the plant are found the thoroughly-decayed remains of revolutionaries, and inside, four equally decayed corpses found so far. There is no power at all, and at least one airlock-size hole in the platform’s shell.
Mission: get the biochem plant known as Platform 68 back on stream
Finishing the sweeps
I allow as how we secured the living and command quarters and el Capitano comes back there with us to see the lay of the land. We ain’t none of us comfy in the dry-suits, but with the atmo open it’s over to the engineers what’s the next step.
Zaier: So, over to ze brains trust
Iceman: If that’s the brains trust…
Widow: Shoot me now, just shoot me now!
BJ’s starting to note down some need-be’s but Pip allows as how we ain’t finished the sweep outside let alone an inside circuit, so that’s what we do, right after BJ and me switch our loadout out to a lighter one. Seems to me it’s dead here, and I ain’t no kind of hand with a Gauss pistol, so I hide it back away on the raft and strap with my SMG. BJ does likewise.
Once we made an end of the outside circuit – and I got to tell you about these here drones – BJ gives us some engineer jaw about how the pressure valve is bleeding off from the biochem tanks. I see some petrochem residue on the ground is what.
Then we get the corpses bagged – finding the fourth corpse was likely Gordon himself – then we’re good to go for the inside circuit.
Circuit one: living quarters – passage 1 – refinery loop – power plant – life support – power plant – refinery loop – emergency override shed – passage 2 – biochem tanks – check up atop – passage 2 – passage 3 – living quarters again.
On this first sweep we find the life support unit and the power plant are good to go as soon as we can jump the juice. There’s another old corpse in the power plant and another in the emergency shed. Both look as how they might have been cut down by a beam weapon whilst trying to shut things down. Almost all the switching is pushed off in the shed. The wall there been lasered open, about the size of an airlock, as we figured in our ground sweep. It fell in, so I figure the cutter was outside, up in an air raft or some such.
On out to the chem tanks there’s another corpse, Goossen. BJ clambers up through an access hatch and checks the bleed-off valve, and allows it’s OK.
Circuit two: a short one – just along passage 4, around to the original entry point at the transport loader unit, then returning to living quarters. With seven corpses already accounted for and bagged up.
We also tally three defense drones all up, though I’m a mite ahead of myself saying that. Two, we find set down on charge hot points, though out of juice now of course. The third we find back when we sweep the outside, lying in the mud under the entry stair. BJ and Pip make sure the two on hot points ain’t left on them – we been burned before. And shot, in my case.
Time for me to set back, and let BJ have his head.
Getting on line
BJ is told off to inventory; in the emergency shed he assesses the power breakers then begins worrying – nothing is identifiable any longer. He throws any remaining ‘on’ switches off. He and Pip hit the stores (ground level, accessed from outside) pick a spare starter block and holler for some militia to fetch and carry metal plates for the repair work needed in the shed.
With help from Pip and the Zykocans, BJ [Engineering+7] gets the power plant going – at min output since he’s not planning on refining chem yet! Lights are now working on the emergency setting, and hatches are now annoyingly flashing with chem warnings. The coffee machine in the living quarters is on, a small step towards making Widow happy. He calls for another circuit, just to be sure nothing is running that ought not to be, and we do his bidding though Widow [-3] probably wouldn’t notice either way.
Back at the now corpse-free override shed, with emergency lighting working, BJ notices the third drone mentioned above, and hauls that off its hot point. Now to work out what can be risked! [Another +5 on Engineering]
Much time passes.
Eventually BJ works his way through the smaller circuits. Widow is able to boot Comms. The hole in the shed is welded shut, and BJ powers up Life Support.
Later, Pip finds or entry hatch is still open and closes it. Atmo is still thick, and doing some calculations, BJ estimates a full eight hours for Life Support to make it breathable.
A good host
I aim to be hospitable to our militia friends, and Capitano Zaier ain’t bad looking. But I ain’t shy of taking measures neither. I invite el Capitano to stand his men down in here two at a time, and he’s glad of my company his ownself.
But whilst out of earshot of Zaier, I detail Iceman off to mount atop using the chem tank hatch, and check LUPs and ZOFs.
[Iceman’s little mission turns into quite a long spell away, because once he’s up there sighting in on militia he doesn’t want to leave! He makes a couple of good Athletics check, as the top has several different levels and clambering in damp, in an unwieldy dry-suit and with a Gauss rifle, is no easy task.]
Around about then, with me fretting to peel off the damn suit, BJ works out he can shut pressure doors and get the living quarters and comms bay atmo-fresh in an hour.
I been locked out of comms since I moved off boot to respond, and nothing easy comes to mind for a password.
Widow: Say Jorgé, you any good with computers?
Jorgé 1: Uh… yeah… sure, I can use a computer
Jorgé 2: Yeah, me too
Widow (skeptically): OK… so what would you use for a password?
Jorgé 1: I use ‘boobies’
Jorgé 2: Yeah, boobies
Widow: Hmmm… (types ‘b88bies’) Hey, whaddya know, I guess one of the locals was on comms
With air pumping and scrubbing I finally get to peel the goggles and face-mask off, and peel right down to the waist as soon as I can. I work through the daily log looking for any record of trouble, but other than the occasional drill and such there ain’t nothing there until day zero, the day we had to flee Zykoca. And that’s blank.
I don’t find no record other than that, so anyone’s guess who or what took a beam weapon to the crew and the revolutionaries.
About then, Zaier decides his boys are looking too happy, and details the first two, the ones I call the Jorges, off to re-patrol the circuits. I figure it’s just officer make-work and besides, aim to keep him happy, so don’t offer no advice.
Zaier: Now, is ze engineer giving estimate on full refine mode?
Widow: Say, we only aim to get this place functional, ain’t planning no shipment
Zaier: Oh, but you are paid by the day, it makes no difference whether you work here or not, no?
Widow: Paid by the day… (open comms) ola Pip, do you recollect us having a daily rate on this job gata?
Pip: We on some kind charter no?
Iceman (still up top): We get paid?
BJ: I take what Bex says I get paid and that’s monthly but I can get this bitch up and running
Widow: OK Capitano I read you, we see what BJ says. Have some more Café-blast? It ain’t coffee… but it’s OK
Pip: The sales slogan for eternity
Working on schematics now the computer controls are accessible, BJ works out the key elements to activate. It will take a full team – probably including militia – to supervise the refinery loop as it powers up.
Iceman: Pip you there?
Pip: Pip here over?
Iceman: I need (chokes, grits teeth) to be picked up
Pip: Yeah? Where are you?
Iceman: Up top just below the chem tanks, I can’t get back up to the hatch
While Pip is away getting her air raft up to Iceman [no rolls required, luckily for both] BJ locates the defense protocol in the computer menus. Widow manages the password – it seems clear that Gordon, the platform chief, operated the protocol, so the password relates to Mrs Gordon.
The defense log says it has been up and down sporadically. Its system is referred to as ‘V3-i’. And on the final day concerned, it has been left on.
Pip and Iceman arrive back in the living quarters about this time. They join four militia (the two Jorgés and two freshly-relieved ones) there. Widow, Capitano Zaier and BJ are in or near the control bay nearby, slurping down Café-blast.
After some thought, BJ heads out from the control bay, back to the drone he left unplugged at our original entrance, the loader bay. He plans to check if it has the system mark ‘V3-i’. It is now on the hot point and charging! He attempts to unplug it but a small probe shoots out of it and jacks him.
[BJ has the result ‘floored’ and will not know what his real condition is until he can be checked.]
At Widow’s suggestion, while Pip and Iceman are checking loads and readying Gauss weapons, Zaier details the two fresh militia off to evac BJ back to the living quarters. Widow opens her medic kit and goes to work, finding the big guy has an electrical burn across his chest.
[His wound now rolls out at ‘Moderate’ and Widow’s medic check lifts his condition to ‘battered’ which is reasonably mobile.]
Widow: How the hell did that drone get back on charge?
Jorgé 1: El Capitano, he say to stay busy, we put him back
Jorgé 2: Yeah, put him back
Widow: Temè! Konno yarrraa! You want me pull you’ stupid head off an’ ram it up you’ ass?
[The Jorgés go for their SMGs and Widow head-butts one, very violently, flooring him]
Guns are drawn all round!
Zaier: Hola! Hola! Stand down! Stand down! Order on deck!
Drone hunt 1
While Widow sets Jorgé’s nose, and BJ rests, Pip and Iceman seal up and go hunting the drone. The passages are wide and offer little cover. They track round from passage 4, hoping to surprise the drone, but Iceman’s gear is too heavy to allow silent movement. In the initial flurry of fire, the drone clips Iceman with its laser, though his armor stops any damage. In the second flurry of fire Pip is hit squarely as the drone is put down by Gauss rounds.
By this time Widow is suited up again and rushes the med kit out to Pip. Pip’s wound is ‘serious’; Widow moves her condition to ‘beat up’ which does not allow much activity. Leaving the drone lying shot through, Iceman and Widow move Pip back to living quarters.
Drone hunt 2 – incoming!
Widow: You boys happen to put any other drone back on charge?
Jorgé: Yeah, the other one
Widow: Well Capitano, seems to me as how you boys mess up, they the ones to fix it
Over the next few minutes Zaier dispatches all four of his team to locate and unplug the remaining known live drone, and the living quarters echoes with distant nervous SMG fire, and screaming.
Pip: Sounds like we needed… Watch out!
Pip draws and fires as a battered, barely-mobile drone cycles in through the hatch to passage 4! BJ jumps the drone after her Gauss pistol hits it with a burst of rounds, and punctures his dry-suit popping his blade out.
After a couple more rounds the drone is definitely inactive.
BJ sets to work repairing his dry-suit.
Drone hunt 3
Reluctantly Widow decides the militia are not going to get the job done. She’s also worried that the drone last seen in the mud could remote-charge off the charged two, and be patrolling outside. So she borrows Pip’s Gauss pistol and she and Iceman head out to reinforce the militia in the refinery loop. They have taken a casualty and claim the drone is using autofire. This sounds a lot like blue-on-blue. Widow orders everyone to pull back, so that armor plates can be organized.
Widow: we do a sweep outside, if other drone be down we armor up from stores, crowd in that one holed up inside an’ finish her
The entire expedition limps out via the main access stair, Pip supported by Widow and BJ limping under his own steam. He decides he needs a full-size laser rifle from the air raft, parked a short distance off. Meanwhile Widow has located the outside drone, still safely prone in the mud. She shoots it with the pistol. Iceman follows up and puts an entire burst through it.
Surprise round: Meanwhile as BJ locates his laser, the second drone cycles out from inside, sights BJ and opens up with laser! He is ‘floored’ as he drops behind cover.
Round 1: Widow encourages the militia to avenge their comrade, drops Pip (into the mud apparently) and gets to cover behind the stair. Iceman scuttles to get a good line of sight.
The militia open up, with no appreciable effect. The drone returns fire.
Round 2: Widow (to her surprise) and Iceman both hit the drone, but to no effect other than to put it off its own shot. Widow’s pistol is now empty.
Round 3: Ignoring the militia the drone targets Iceman, but misses. Iceman gets a solid hit, putting it down. Widow heads for BJ.
Round 4: Iceman closes on drone and puts another burst through it.
BJ’s wound proves to be a near miss, perhaps cutting some webbing on his back. Widow scolds him and goes back to pick up the loudly complaining Pip out of the mud.
Our investigations will reveal that the V3-i system has the tiny defect that when real hostilities eventuate the drones read everyone as a threat. So having taken care of attacking revolutionaries, they dealt with the crew, one burning its way into the emergency override as a crewman threw the power off.
We receive a personal bonus of 1k each.
Armor repairs are free, since both Iceman and Widow have enough skill as personal weapon armorer to effect combat suit repair.
Stoll sums up his own mission, saying all has gone well. He wants to extend the charter, to travel the Arramanx-Lewis hops. Widow bargains for a return to access to the regular Lewis route. Stoll indicates – verbally – that he can influence this, and Bex seems perfectly happy with this level of surety.
So all is agreed, and the Bad’n’Ruin will depart for Arramanx.