Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:57 am
We'll pick up where I left off last: halfway through Mission 5.
You're aboard a Quantum ship traveling at Warp 18. And just how fast is Warp 18? Fukcing fast. It's over 3 million times the speed of light - that's fast enough to cross the entire galaxy in two weeks, or get from here to Alpha Centauri in forty seconds (which, traveling at today's velocities, would take ten thousand years). If you could cross the galaxy at walking speed, and only walked 12 hours a day for two weeks, that would make the galaxy 840km across. That's roughly how far it is from the southern tip of England to the northern border. Coincidentally, if you converted 840km to 840km2, that's less than half the size of London. London is six letters long, which is as long as the word "galaxy", and only two letters longer than four. Know what else has four letters? "Tiny". Moving at Warp 18 makes the galaxy feel fukcing tiny. That's all you need to know.
The Quantum you've met, Zo'qiir, says that time is short, but he'll quickly tell you what he can. He tells you about the history of the Quantums - what they are, where they came from, how they fell - and then says that in return, he wants you to help him. His race is dying in The Nexus - only very small collections of hosts still exist, scattered across the galaxy in hiding from the Darkspace. If the Darkspace consumes the ship, he explains, it will stretch between all the universes it covers and consume all versions of his ship - and all versions of the hosts. If a Quantum's host is consumed by the Darkspace, he explains, it will also kill the Quantums that used to use them as hosts, even if they're disconnected. ((I'll explain this in greater detail later.)) Zo'qiir asks you - begs you - to reach the bridge no matter what the cost, and rescue his children. You explain to him that you're trying to help him escape the Darkspace. He uses the Quantum Orb to search your mind and finds your plans, and says that you should split up - part of you going to install the boosters to the engines, part of you going to find his children - just in case. With that, Zo'qiir disappears, stepping through a rift in space he creates before him.
And so, those aboard the Qcruiser split up - part going to the bridge, and part heading to the engines.
Meanwhile, outside on the hull, the remnant of the Platoon 56 fighters are rapidly falling. The Darkspace Drones aren't coming anymore - now it's larger, more agile mechanical contraptions easily capable of taking on your CASKETs one on one. You fall back to the Qcruiser and concentrate on just keeping the Qcruiser's defensive systems up and running, but even that begins to look bleak, and it's hardly any time (a turn, maybe two) before you decide that (after a couple more deaths) your only option is to board the ship and try to defend the engines themselves. But as you begin to dock your ship to board, one of the NPCs (Clara if she survived) notes that she's noticed a shift in the stars - the Qcruiser abruptly altered direction, and, if her galactic geography is any good, she thinks you're headed towards the galactic center (and Mimir territory).
Your time is almost up, and you know it. Some of you work with Zo'qiir on the primary engines, some of you work together on the secondary engines. Those on the secondary engines get loot, those with Zo'qiir get knowledge and potentially upgraded skills - and those who go to the bridge have the toughest fight of all, because that's where the Darkspace Spiders swarm the thickest. ((There's a reason for this, but you won't understand it until later in the campaign.)) I expect Dino and Foreigner - the "Action Squads" - to be headed in that direction. Hopefully at least one of the Marked Ones will be in that direction too. If not, I still have ways to make things work. It'll be a desperate fight, and you're not even sure if you'll have enough time.
You're not just fighting for Tartarus anymore. Now you're fighting for your own survival.
... Funny how often that happens.
The "most important" part of the mission, plotwise, is going to take place on the bridge. When the action squads arrive, blasting spiders as they go, they realize the bridge is completely devoid of people, despite there being an orb there. They plant their "orb dimmer" next to it (probably after getting pulled in and touching it), and start looking for Zo'qiir's children... and one of you gets the idea that they may not be in that particular universe. Using your quantum abilities, one of you opens up a rift to a series of alternate universes and "shines it" across the room until you find Zo'qiir's "children" huddled in a corner - apparently a male and a female, with the same shiftiness of appearance common to Quantums. As you see them, they see you - the girl points, the guy looks suspicious - and as the first of you keeps the rift open, another (with the ability to take things back) steps through. They speak Quantum - they don't understand you, nor do you understand them, but they learn unnaturally quickly and rapidly pick up on some of the words you're saying. The male (24ish) feels your mind and realizes that you don't have the ability to take both of them, and relates that to you (one of those with the ability to translate Quantum relays this to the others) - and he sends you back with his sister (19ish) to your own universe as she cries and begs him to come too. Her rescuer pulls her through the rift, and promptly collapses from exhaustion from the intensity of the effort required to transfer an entire person... and the rift slams shut. The girl, on the other hand, is sobbing, tears streaming from her three eyes - which are no longer shifting. You've broken her link to The Nexus by pulling her through the rift between the universes. Her brother is lost beyond hope.
But she isn't down long, and neither are you. Zo'qiir senses his daughter is there, and urges you to quit the engine repairs - to install the Catapult and fire it off, even if the engines themselves are unstable. It's a good call, too, because the Darkspace will be on you in mere moments.
Your engineers rapidly install the remaining bits and everyone fights their way to their CASKETs. Zo'qiir goes down fighting. I'd expect at least one other sacrifice ("I'll hold them off - just try to escape!") while you all battle your way past the spiders, drones, and other darkspace stuff, all the way back to your ships. It would be rough. Fortunately, escorting the girl (who has identified herself as Lin'shih) wouldn't be as annoying as the typical dreaded escort mission - her clothing would be particularly resilient (it's advanced alien stuff, come on), she's agile, and she's an okay fighter as well (I mean, she did spend her whole life on the run).
As you get back to your CASKETs and detach from the Qcruiser, you fire off the Catapult boosters. The engines blaze up with a near-blinding fiery light as you suddenly find yourselves three warp levels above the theoretical safe maximum. Remember how fast I said you were going before? Now you're going about 4.7 times that fast. Everything shakes - time and space seem distorted - you can barely comprehend what's going on.
...And just as suddenly, you find yourself ripped out to a non-warp velocity, with the rear of the Tartarus (the REKT levels) looming before you. The warp web worked. The jolt of leaving warp is horribly disorienting (and tosses you about a bit, kind of like being in a car accident).
"Well done!" SCAMPS exults. If Lin'shih (the Quantum girl) is visible, he'll congratulate you on bringing her back. A few other REKT platoons will rapidly close in on the Quantum ship to cleanse the vessel of Darkspace tech. SCAMPS will order you all to the landing bay for your floor (which is one of the ones at the far rear of the vessel), and you'll get moving.
The mission is over. It's hard to wrap your minds around. You still have full control of your ships - what? Why isn't the GM taking control and ending the mission? You'll just begin to ask yourselves this question, when it happens.
Amidst frantic shouts from SCAMPS, the Darkspace drops out of warp and, flying at an incredible velocity, consumes the Qcruiser, you, and the rear section of Tartarus, slicing it clean as it passes through.
Everything goes dark.
Thread lock, curtains close.
...but it's not over yet.