Part Three: The Belly of the Whale
After the tug brings them inside, it deposits them on the hangar floor. As soon as the ship touches down the floor “flows” like it’s made out of liquid and “grabs” the ship. The tug then goes back outside.
After a brief period of time, the tug returns, and the doors close. The tug lands and opens her hull. A that point a cadre of robots come out of a structure near the back of the hangar. They offload dozens of large chunks of ice out of the tug and cart it back to their “shed”.
At the same time, a few small “janitor” bots come out and clean up the area around the ship. Two even go inside the tug briefly, presumably cleaning up in there as well. One of the members of the party decides to try throwing a fish-stick out the airlock near the cleaning bot. It notices the mess, and cleans it up. No other response.
After a brief interview with the scientists it is discovered they have no real sense of self preservation, and were picked for this mission more on their ability to be quiet and follow orders than any particular brilliance. No real surprises there. It is also decided that a field trip to examine those ships is in order.
Before their outing, the crew decides to try and communicate to see if any one can hear them and or will talk back. After transmitting a “Hello world” message, the K’kree ship responds with a recorded message. One that basically says "be careful, you’ll get shot at’. Well, they are not wrong…. Just after the receipt of that message the reactor on board the ship (which has identified itself as the Reliant) starts to power up its reactor.
Upon boarding the Reliant they are met with a ship unlike anything they have ever seen before. For starters it is big! 2000 tonnes displacement (20x the size of the Q.I.) It is so large the Q.I. could be modified to dock in the launch bay on the ship. (The one that the “shuttle” found on Avalon traveled in.)
The ship plays a recorded message from her captain. The long and short of it is the ship was on a mission to scout this system. They strayed too close to the asteroid, which seemed “off” to them and were attacked. The captain launched the “shuttle” with one member of his crew and told them to run in hopes they would survive and at least get a message out.
The asteroid fired on them and crippled their ship. The tug brought them in as well and their ship is being held the same way as the Q.I.
Knowing he and his crew were dead, the ship was not holding atmosphere, the captain left his message and put the ship in “salvage” mode. This is basically purging all sensitive data from the computer and putting the ships systems in a mode that would allow any one discovering the ship to enter and salvage the vessel. The crew has managed to use this feature and take over command of the shiop. Over the years, the ship has slowly been able to mostly repair itself. While it currently has no jump fuel, there is enough reactor fuel to “live” on the ship for several months.
The Reliant is a 2000 tonne K’kree scout / explorer. Her minimum crew was 8, the computer said she had a complement of 11. The entire ship consists of one massive room made to look like a savannah, with rocks, pools, waterfalls, and a gigantic 20m tall tree in the center. She sports 4, dual beam / pulse laser pods, A sandcaster array, and Maneuver 4 and jump 2 capabilities. The ship also has at least one combat robot.
Part Two: The Battle
After the Questionable Intensions (QI) caught up to the Curie, Dr. Green decided to send a probe toward the asteroid.
The probe was fired upon and destroyed.
By a railgun.
A Mother Trucking Railgun.
This would seem to indicate that, if nothing else the characters are in the right place, but there was a problem. The Curie was moving very fast and trying to stop but it was calculated that she would not be able to do so before she was in the kill zone of said railgun
In a move that was equal parts testosterone poisoning, desperation and quick thinking, Cap. Volkier realized he could use the QI’s asteroid handling waldos to “grab” the Curie and help them veer out of the line of fire. This worked, but doing so damaged one of the waldos.
At this point, Green tried to send another probe. Deciding that the captain did not possess the common sense gifted to the average moron, The XO of the ship, the horribly named Joe Smith, relieved him of command, put Green and all his people in the brig, and decided it was time for a parlay with the members of the QI.
During this parlay, The QI’s engineer, Molly Fisher, and Adm. Freeman suited up and went out thru the airlock to repair the waldo and check for any other damage.
Dr. Green decided that since everyone was talking and no one was paying attention to him, managed to open the brig (Hey it’s his ship, don’t think he would not have a back door just in case), snuck into the air raft locker, and suited up and launched the raft with the intention of heading toward the asteroid himself.
In a move worthy of James Bond, Freeman gave chase. Being the ship’s EVA specialist, and having both A) money and B) a love of gadgets, he had tricked out his EVA suit with a full MMU unit. MMUs don’t have a lot of fuel, but they can go like a bat out of hell for short periods of time. He was able to easily catch the air raft and lower himself into the rear seat without Green even noticing. He DID notice however when Freeman tapped him on the shoulder with the barrel of a firearm. They came back at a much more sedate pace…
After Green’s little expedition, the two crews in a combined bit of flagrant disregard for personal privacy, searched his room and his computer files. They managed to find evidence that the whole spiel he gave them was bogus. He had hired art students to paint the walls.
This was all to hide the fact that he had actually found a crashed ship. Well, crashed is not the right word. It was minorly damaged, but seemed perfectly intact. Inside were the bones and leftover bits of a single K’kree. K’kree are herd animals. They don’t do well alone at all. This was highly suspect. The K’kree are also a VERY old race, not the oldest known, but they have been spacefaring for almost 4,000 years. So their technology is very advanced. (At least TL 14, but some rumors put it even higher).
The body was hard to date, but was figured to be at least 300 years old, and could be as old as 500. K’kree can not stand to be alone. Also, being from the vast plains they don’t do well in enclosed spaces. Because of this their ships tend to be large, and the travel in small herds of no less than 7-8 and often many many more. The QI is what humans call a light mining / survey vessel. To the K’kree it would be a lifeboat or shuttle, fit only for very short trips.
During all this information gathering, it was noticed that the ship is sending out signals. A quick inspection found a device wired into both the internal and external comms array. It was successfully removed, but in doing so, the comm array was slightly damaged and it will require a couple of hours to repair.
At this point, the ship that had been following you (The Dreadnaught) decides it’s time to come and play. It alters its course and is heading for you.
It was decided to move everyone into the QI short term, and program the Curie for a single maneuver to bring her into a parking orbit near the asteroid. This was to see if the probe was shot down because it was going hell bent for leather, or just because it got too close.
The Curie was shot multiple times by the railgun, after which it stopped shooting and sensors showed a temperature spike near the center of the asteroid. The prevailing wisdom was it has overheated or broken down.
Captain Volker decided at that point to try and get as close to the rock as possible AND stay out of the line of fire of the railgun ports. No one died, so it seems to have worked…
While setting down far too close to that gun for Lt. Sokolov’s peace of mind, the front of the rock slowly started to open. Over the course of several minutes, two great doors, over 100m on a side, open showing a huge interior landing bay of some kind. A small ship, massing something on the order of 40-50 tonnes and made up entirely of curves flies out. It almost looked like it was made out of spray foam that did not have anywhere near enough internal bracing. Still it moved up on QI, grabbed it using some method that is not readily visible, and towed it into the hanger bay.
The bay is enormous, being almost a half kilometer wide, somewhat deeper and several hundred meters tall. The walls are all smooth and resemble either very well worked concrete or some kind of plastic. The entire roof gives off light as if the whole thing was one great LED, though the light is not overly bright. As you are towed in, you see that there are 5 other ships lying near the center of the bay. You have never seen anything like any of them. However one catches your eye. It vaguely looks like a flying saucer, but on the top there is an indentation where another ship must have been docked. It is the same shape as the “crashed” ship Dr. Green found and, based on its size, you would guess it is a K’kree light transport (Somewhere between 1500, and 2,000 tonnes).
There is gravity here. About .6 Earth G. This is in keeping with what is believed the The Ancients would have had.
Part One: The Patron
Through various and sundry sources, the group is informed that there will be a meeting on board Nomad Station regarding a “good paying, long term gig”. They opt to arrive and hear it out.
They are informed by Dr. Thaddius R. Green that evidence has been found that indicates there may be an artefact of The Ancients located somewhere in orbit around the gas giant Colossus. As crew, you will be paid the sum of 3k credits per month, full room and board to act as survey aid, guards and defense of the scientists and their ship The Curie
Cpt Volkier will receive the same, as well as full upkeep for his ship (a value of about 5k per month) plus fuel and any and all repairs required due to the mission covered. Also provisions were negotiated for 6 months. The first month’s pay was paid before departure.
To sweeten the pot, the Dr. says they will be travelling under a letter of marque meaning any ship that attempt to stop them or impede the group can be considered pirates, and the crew can take whatever steps required. They may also seize the ship if they can manage it
The Curie is an old ship, she is nuclear fission powered and a bit under-powered. While on paper she can attain 2g maneuver, the ship is old and the Dr. never runs her above one. Becuause of this, it will take nearly 4 days to reach the orbit of Colossus.
About 3 days into this trip Lt. Yeager detected a ship following at long range.
The Captain opted to send the Curie ahead and turn around and make for the ship at a 5g burn. This got their attention and the ship turned broadside before Adm. Freeman) contacted them via long range laser comms.
The ship was commanded by Captain Lucius Thomas, a man with known dillusions of adequacy. Threats were made, chests were thumped and testosterone was displayed. The result being the ship (HMS) Dreadnaught turning around and leaving. It was later detected that the Dreadnaught was in comms with someone else, probably another ship very far away.