Our heroes have ambushed the First Horizon attack fleet and destroyed it, and now head into the First Horizon base, a ruined troop carrier called Zarra’s End. The roster for this mission[1]:

  • Adam, gunner and acting captain
  • Oliver Greenstar, colonist
  • Reiko Ando, deckhand and swordwoman
  • Siladan Hatshepsut, archaeologist and data djinn
  • Saqr, pilot and mystic
  • Al Hamra, captain and droid (with mystic powers)
  • Dr. Banu Delecta, medic
  • Kaarlina, mystic

They flew to the Zarra’s End on a stolen spaceship, finding themselves drifting towards a poorly-lit, badly scarred 300m long block of grey steel, unattractive and undecorated with none of the commitment to aesthetics and iconic devotion beloved of starship designers in the Third Horizon, a simple streak of grey metal hanging in the darkness. It was so old, battered and poorly lit that from a distance it could almost appear to be a derelict, only a few faint winking lights visible from afar, but as they drew closer they realized that this was because the ship had almost no windows except for a few public viewing galleries, and these were poorly lit. They drifted into the ship’s hangar, faking loss of communications as they approached, and once they were in the ship they executed a very simple plan: they walked out of the loading bay doors and started shooting everyone they saw.

In the hangar this turned out to be two teams of four soldiers, led by hardened men in strong First Horizon armour. These men attacked them from two positions, and somehow during the fight Kaarlina and Dr. Delecta found themselves trapped in the hangar control room, fighting an automated defense system that Kaarlina somehow accidentally activated. They cleaned this fight up reasonably quickly, but not before Reiko Ando was seriously injured and the entire ship alerted to their presence.

Once they had killed those men they thought to activate their proximity sensor, and identified the rest of their enemies: 9 more men clustered around a stairwell a deck below, and 5 men in the bridge ahead of them. They decided to lay a trap for the 5 men on the bridge, embedding a breaching charge on the door to the hangar bay, and then to go down and kill the 9 downstairs, but unfortunately as they were preparing the booby trap the 9 men downstairs came up to get them. The ensuing battle was a hot-fought and vicious affair, which looked at one point as if it was slipping away from the PCs when the 5 men from the bridge slipped past the breaching charge trap and joined the fray, making the odds very uneven. They prevailed with heavy application of Adam’s machine gun, and judicious use of Kaarlina’s mystic powers to deactivate the soldiers’ cybergoggles and reduce them to blubbering piles of panic. However, as they were killing off the last few soldiers a single injured captain managed to slip away into the bridge and open the hangar bay door, ejecting everyone who wasn’t tied down into space…

… Somehow they all survived this catastrophe[2], except Reiko Ando, who was struck in the head by flying debris and blown out into space with a crushed skull. They all managed to somehow regather in decompression shelters or their spaceship’s raiding bay until it was safe to emerge, killed the last resister and set about exploring the ship. Reiko Ando was lost to the dark between the stars, spinning out of control into the vast emptiness of Rigel system, her life valiantly spent saving the captives and slaves of the Zarra’s End.

On the ship they captured the doctors who installed cybergoggles, and learnt much about the ship’s operation. Investigating one of the soldiers, they also discovered – through a combination of Saqr’s Mystical powers and Dr. Delecta’s medical skill – that the disease which rendered the occupants of the Zarra’s End blind was a strange mystic power drawn from the Dark between the stars and present throughout the system. This disease rendered people blind, but it also infected their soul with mystical poison, rendering them docile and terrified. However, if the blindness effect were countered by installing cybergoggles, this docility and terror was reveresed and became irrational, often uncontrollable rage. This explained the strange behavior they had seen on the videos of the Donald J Trump Jr 3rd, and also the behavior of their captives and the way soldiers collapsed into terrified foetal lumps when their goggles were rendered inactive by Kaarlina’s mystic powers. It seemed that undoubtedly the First Horizon was just as bad as they had always been taught to believe, but that this crew was even worse under the influence of this strange disease.

They also learnt from their captives the history of the Zarra’s End. During the final battles of the portal war there was a small engagement in the Rigel system, where a fleet of First Horizon ships heading to Dabaran to escape the Horizon were ambushed by a larger fleet. During the battle the remaining First Horizon ships fled through the portals to Dabaran and were chased by their attackers, but the Zarra’s End was hit by heavy fire and had her main reactors and drives blown out. She and all the ships that lacked portal transit capacity were left stranded in the system, unnoticed in the heat of battle and left to drift. In a heroic effort of engineering they managed to seal off the damaged and leaking areas, regain power in the emergency reactor, and establish the Zarra’s End as a base for all the survivors of the battle. But with their drives and stasis pods destroyed, and lacking the materials or technology to build more stasis pods, they were trapped in the system. Expecting to be hunted down they hid and turned to piracy for the first few years, stealing material from passing ships to restore parts of their ship and feed themselves. However after a few years they all began to go blind and, lacking any knowledge of the reason, the doctors on the Zarra’s End started building cybergoggles, starting of course with the leadership and the soldiers. This sealed their fate, since they began to become rage-filled violent thugs, and any chance of surrender or peace was lost. Over the ensuing centuries a new society grew, based on capturing prisoners from passing ships, using them for slavery and breeding, and raising the children in a violent society of blindness, rage and authoritarian piracy.

From the belowdecks of the Zarra’s End the PCs rescued a number of blind women; some captives from passing ships who, though traumatized, were still alive and still not completely affected by the disease; and some technicians and support staff with poor-quality goggles. Now they hung in space, proud possessors of a shattered and useless troop carrier and a large number of irrational, blind captives. What would they do? And how many of them must they space?

fn1: Now the whole world is in lockdown no one has any reason not to play, and al Hamra’s player is currently locked down in some plague-infested foreign shore so able to join remotely, and a colleague of Saqr’s player was asked to join to relieve her boredom. So beyond a full house! And hard to manage on roll20, which is where these two sessions were conducted …

fn2: Second use of the Survivor group talent!

Image note: the headline picture was taken from the deviantart page of a person called Synthesys.