Hello everyone welcome. Today I am going to be continuing my account of our Starship Troopers RPG. As this is part 2 of the series, if you haven’t read part 1 you can do so HERE. Once you have done that, by all means, read on.
The Military Intelligence Officer, only identified as “The Major”, debriefed our squad and then we were put to work repairing the Marty Robbins. As a Marauder Pilot, I had mechanical and electrical engineering and repair knowledge, so I was put to work with Fleet Engineers on the superstructure of the ship. The other surviving squad members lent their skills in various departments to varying degrees of success. Within only a little time, the Marty Robbins looked like a respectable ship again. One that had been through the wars, but one that looked liked it didn’t belong in a scrapyard. Though we still lacked long range comms and FTL, so we couldn’t leave nor could we tell anyone we were still alive. Our time on the repair detail complete, we were summoned by the Major to one of the Hangar Bays. There were 4 large equipment pods behind him.
“Lady and Gentlemen, we need to put you in the field again. This time on one of the Moons of Durabo.”
“What’s on the Moon?” I asked.
“We have picked up a Federation Signal from the surface. It appears to be coming from a recon corvette, the Jon Bon Jovi. Curiously, that ship was supposed to leave this system three weeks ago.”
“What’s the mission?” asked Echo.
“Standard S.A.R. Get down there and look for any survivors. Also, retrieve the ship’s black box and any information you can that might indicate why the ship did not leave system, and what caused it to crash.”
“Our gear’s a bit beat up, Sir,” said Coward.
“That is not an issue.” The Major clicked a button on his belt and gestured to the cargo pods behind him, which were now opening. The first two were laden with every type of personal and infantry portable firearm imaginable. The third had a sealed container embedded within, cloudy glass covering the front. A creature padded inside. And in the final pod, a fully equipped and armed Marauder suit with spare parts and ammunition.
The Major continued. “I understand some of you have aptitudes outwith standard warfare. Sadly there will be no time to train and prepare you before going into the field, this time. However you will find all the weapons you need including weapons you have specialised in provided. Mr Jester, I understand you can drive a Marauder?”
“Oh yes, most definitely,” I said, not taking my eyes of the shiny new hardware.
“Excellent. We don’t have reinforcements, so someone who can pilot one of those things into battle and bring all their weapons to bear will be useful.” He glanced at the rest of the squad. “For those of you with…aptitudes, We will arrange what we can upon your return. Any questions?”
“What is the surface like?” asked Deadeye. He was already tooling up with a sniper rifle.
“Like the Terran Moon. Less than one standard Earth Gravity, Dusty and no atmosphere. Your suits have 12 hours life support. I expect you to be back in 4. You can consider that an order.”
There were no other questions, so we quickly grabbed as much gear as we could carry, meanwhile I jumped into the cockpit of my new steed. A dropship was supplied for our use and we boarded, me enjoying the feel of sitting inside a full fledged battle mech just a little bit too much. And then we dropped towards the moon.
Our Pilot took us towards the crash site, approaching from the rear at our order. (He was fleet and us MI, which meant we couldn’t technically order him. But the Major could order anyone and we were working for him, so we were afforded a certain level of obedience)
The ship had plowed into the ground as we expected. It had also broken apart. The main command and bridge section lay slightly ahead of the main body of the ship, where we would find things like engineering and cargo storage, as well as crew quarters and medical. We figured the Bridge would be a good place to start as we might be able to find ship’s or officer logs. My Marauder was too big to enter the broken prow of the ship so maintained perimeter patrol whilst the squad leaped or roped into the command module. I should point out for clarity, the command module had broken away from the main body of the ship and various corridors were exposed to space allowing the rest of the team to gain entry that way. The bridge being a bit higher up in the command module meant that some folks would have to climb or leap to the correct corridor and then they could affix ropes for climbing (we were informed a roll of a 1 on the jump jets might launch us into orbit…)
The squad advanced through the eerily quiet and dark corridors, the only light coming from Powered Armour cameras. The squad found evidence of a firefight in the corridors and before they got to the bridge they found several dead fleet crew drifting. A cursory examination revealed that they had some form of growth on the back of their necks. Deadeye took a knife to one of the growths and tried to slice it free. Yellow liquid poured out. We all got to see this as he was recording with suit cam and transmitting (which proved to be very important later. Upon my circuit of the prow I found several other bodies, some with similar lumps.
The squad inside was able to further examine the body and determined the crew they found appeared to have been shot with standard rifle rounds. It looked like the crew had turned on one another. The squad made it to the bridge with little difficulty and prepared to enter. I climbed the hull outside and brought my weapons to bear from the outside to give them cover. The bridge was a tomb. What appeared to be two pilots lay slumped at their stations.
“Your clear to enter. Two dead crew, think they’re the pilots. No officers or anyone else.”
The squad acknowleged and entered the bridge finding the deceased pilots as I had noted. A quick inspection revealed that they also had growths on the back of their neck.
“Parasites?” suggested Echo.
None of the rest of us were qualified to say yay or nay, so we agreed parasites were likely what we were seeing and quite possibly parasites that gained some form of control over the host.
“Maybe the uninfected crew caused the ship to crash here rather than risk spreading the parasites?” I suggested.
“Could be. We need to check the rest of the ship. Suggest the hold and engineering next,” said Echo.
“There was a major hole in the side of Engineering, I can get in that way if you guys go through the main door to the hold,”I said.
The Squad acknowledged and we made our way aft. I ran into no problems outside; the moon was desolate. The squad moving through the interior found the main hangar door shut. Inspection revealed it was sealed from the other side, and they could hear movement within. Surmising there might be survivors inside, the squad tapped on the door in time to tune from one of the Federation’s Morale Building songs. Inside they heard groaning, and then lots of shambling movement and then gunfire. Unfortunately they couldn’t open the door as it would expose the hold to space and likely kill any survivors. So they needed to find another way in. They began looking for access to the Ship’s main dorsal corridor that connects all the various parts of the ship. Meanwhile I made my way into engineering where I found further evidence of weapons fire and some dead fleet crew with the growths. Unfortunately for me, I had to get out of my Marauder to proceed as the access to the rest of the ship was not as accommodating as the gaping hole in the hull. So, out I popped and began looking for any clues and survivors.
The rest of my squad, by this time, had found the dorsal corridor and began proceeding. They found access to crew quarters, and listening at the doors revealed movement inside. Not knowing if there were injured crew with access to life support, the squad moved on past several other crew quarters with similar circumstances. Borrowing a page from disaster management organisations, doors were marked to signify that something was alive inside in a possibly pressurised atmosphere. (the corridor was the vacuum of space). After passing several such doors, the squad found the main elevator to the hold, and opened it. It was pressurised too – but only the shaft so there was a slight backdraft and then they were able to enter and seal the door behind them, descending to Hold level where they found the bottom door shut as well. Secure in the knowledge that the lift shaft was pressurised and opening it wouldn’t kill any survivors, the squad opened the door.
The hold was indeed pressurised. And there were about 20 fleet crew shambling about trying to get over a makeshift barricade. A stocky man defended the barricade with a rifle. The Squad opened fired on the shambling crew.
Meanwhile, back at me, I had made my way into the other end of the Dorsal corridor and found the other main access lift to the Hold. It brought me down at the other end of the ship, behind the barricade and behind the stocky man. I was aware of the firefight as helmet cams were still transmitting and I immediately climbed the barricade beside the other man, a short man, bulky individual in a fleet uniform, with red hair and a red beard. He was the ship’s engineer, named Fighty McDwarf.
I’m not actually kidding. The GM likes Dwarves. So we got a Dwarf.
“Mobile Infantry,” I said to him, “We’re here to get you out!”
“Took your bloody time, I’ve been stuck down here with those shamblers for near three weeks. Then you have to go and bloody wake them up!”
“Fight now, Fleet. Talk later. Agreed?”
He nodded and we opened fire on the shamblers. Caught in a crossfire, the 20 odd zombified fleet crew were no match for us and were cut down in moments. When the dust settled the squad remained entirely unharmed as did our new companion.
“Thanks. Those things were really starting to bug me.” He laughed at his own joke.
“No problem,” said Echo, not laughing. “Now explain what’s going on here?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know much, but I’ll tell you what I can. We were ordered to leave the system, what 3 weeks ago now. And then we picked up a beacon, A Terran Beacon, though not a Federation beacon. There was some strange organic stuff in it, turned out to be an egg. It hatched into some new kind of bug and then everything went to shit.”
“We still need to get the black box. It’ll have all that data.” said Echo. “Do you know if there are any uninfected crew other than yourself?”
McDwarf shook his head. “I don’t think so. Black Box is in the comms blister, beneath the bridge. I can take you there.”
The Squad and McDwarf headed back towards the front of the ship, whilst I quickly moved through the rear of the ship to collect my Marauder. In it I easily caught up with them just as they were returning to the bridge. There was a hatch from the bridge into the blister below. I remained outside on watch, whilst recieving all the video feeds. Coward was first into the Blister. His camera was on and he scanned the room. I was able to observe this way. There were some dead crew on the floor, including a couple in armour. One of them turned out to be the Captain. He then had a look around for the Black Box. Echo, Deadeye and Rope Boy (who was actually absent from this session, and this is how he got the name) entered the blister next. And they began searching for the Black Box too. That was when I noticed something lurking in the shadows at the far end of the blister.
“What is that?” I asked.
“What is what?” replied Deadeye.
“Something in the shadows, end of the BLister. Directly opposite you.”
Deadeye looked where I was directing and for a moment I saw a shape, however his camera continued wandering along the wall. “Where am I supposed to be looking?”
“You just passed it a second ago. Go back.”
Deadeye began scanning back and the thing came into view. “Stop. Right there.”
He stopped for a second and then his camera drifted to the right. “There is nothing there.”
I repeated the exercise with the other squad members much to their annoyance. It was the same every time. None of them could see what I was seeing on the monitor. Then it occurred to me that the proximity was probably responsible. Something was fooling their senses but I was not close enough. Or perhaps the micro delay on the camera was helping. Either way, there was something the blister with them. And it looked suspiciously like a bug.
“Guys, I need you to trust me. Close your eyes and move your heads as I direct.”
Reluctantly my squadmates obeyed and I was able to have their cameras focus on the shape. It was definitely a bug. So, I did two things. Bouncing the signal off our orbiting dropship I relayed the feed back to the Major explaining what I was seeing. I then guided my squadmates to raise their weapons and point them in the right general direction. Fun fact, with all the tech in our powered armour I was able to have the entire squad line up perfect shots on the shape, and then I ordered them to open fire, still with eyes closed. Every one of them hit, inflicting terminal injury on the bug bringing it down and breaking whatever hold it had on my squad.
We retrived the Black Box and some of the Bug remains and returned to the Marty Robbins for debrief. We still had about 30 minutes to spare before our deadline.