In the previous instalment, Oberth got infected with the Symbiont while exploring the laboratory on BIG-16. Liam rushed him to an operating table to help him fend off the Symbiont, while Byzi stood guard...
Read the first part of this campaign log here.
In a little over an hour, Liam completes the medical procedure on Oberth. He believes he has removed all traces of Symbiont infection, and the scanner confirms that there are no anomalies in Oberth’s system. Our heroes heave a collective sigh of relief.
They decide not to tarry; they have been here long enough. Besides, Oberth has received a few new notifications on his computer: an evacuation protocol of the facility has been initiated. Within 24 hours, the facility must be cleared. There are classified military components to the protocol that Oberth cannot access and--since a few military cruisers are underway--our heroes expect that an assault or even a complete wipe-out of the facility may be part of this protocol.
In other words, it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge.
Our heroes decide to go down the ladder that runs down the laboratory’s cargo elevator shaft. Liam finds a simple desk light to aid in their descent (complete darkness shrouds the shaft). Before they venture down, they drop a piece of metal into the shaft to try to fathom how deep it is. They wait for a few seconds, but do not hear it drop. They decide to descend anyway.
It’s a long climb down, but our heroes eventually find the elevator cab. It stopped somewhere near the bottom; Oberth deduces the emergency brakes brought it to a stop. Since our heroes find no way into the cab, they decide to leave it for now and proceed farther down the shaft.
The bottom of the elevator shaft is not far below, and in the dim light of Liam’s desk light, our heroes see it is littered with severed limbs, gore, and blood. The players assume these casualties were infected, and that the elevator somehow hit them... good riddance.
At the bottom of the shaft, our heroes find a secure door that they can open with an emergency release catch. Behind the door is an airlock. Oberth accesses the network and finds out that beyond the airlock is a large storage area right underneath a landing platform for shuttles. He fails in recovering an inventory list of what they might find in the warehouse, but he does find out that there are ground vehicles in the warehouse. Unfortunately, the landing platform itself is unoccupied. At the far side of the warehouse should be another larger airlock, which should lead to the surface of the asteroid.
Our heroes debate what to do next. A consult of BIG-16’s map (see this campaign log) reveals that there is a landing platform similar to this one at the far side along the z-axis of the asteroid, but there doesn’t seem to be a shuttle docked there either. The only option to get to a ship is to drive to the main spaceport facility on the far side along the asteroid’s y-azis--a surface drive that should take an hour. Walking it would be a day’s march, perhaps longer, considering the rough terrain.
Byzi, Liam, and Oberth decide to commandeer a vehicle. There are armored telekinetic vehicles (‘ATVs’) here (vehicles that use telekinetic magic to hover), which have a mounted blastergun, solid armor, and can brave the asteroid’s rough terrain.
However, before they go for it, our heroes open a few storage crates in the warehouse to see what’s stored here. Among other things, they find a crate with batteries for their autoblasters, a shoulder-fired RPG launcher and a supply of RPGs, unmarked civilian clothing, sets of liquid armor (a mesh of liquid synthetic material that hardens when impacted), computer parts, food, and fresh water. They decide to load up their ATV with supplies before they set out. Who knows what they’ll need?
Finally, our heroes start up the ATV and prepare to leave the warehouse. They immediately receive a transmission on a military channel that demands their ID and authorization code. Byzi tries to bluff a way through, but the person on the other side of the line remotely disables the ATV despite his efforts.
Protocol, protocol, protocol
Unbeknownst to our heroes, military procedure on BIG-16 is that everyone authorized to operate an ATV is issued an authorization code. This code must be transmitted before starting the vehicle. Starting a vehicle without this prior transmission already makes the operator of the vehicle suspect. In that case, protocol requires that the control center contacts the driver and verifies ID and authorization code. If not satisfactory, the control center must shut the vehicle down remotely and send a security detail.
While Byzi had a high enough result on his Manipulation (lie) skill check to beat the control center’s operator, the operator still had to follow protocol.
Of course, in retrospect, one must wonder why a spacefaring civilization as advanced as the Monarchy would even bother doing all of this manually and with actual phone operators. Even with present-day technology (I refer to the profane magical device vernacularly known as a ‘car key’) it should already be possible to limit access to vehicles. I didn’t think of that at the time of preparing this session. We’ll spot a few more of these little irregularities along the way, I’m sure...
Despite the operator’s efforts, Oberth manages to reactivate the ATV and shut the operator in the control center out, giving our heroes free rein over the vehicle. They depart the warehouse and head for the spaceport by following the route the computer plots out for them. Before they go, they try to damage and destroy the airlock to prevent it from opening again, but the blastergun mounted on the ATV is not strong enough to seriously damage the thick blast doors.