"Shark! 90 metres and closing!" xZot yells and draws his Laser Pistol
"Crisbel, Shoot it!" Crisbel draws his Laser Pistol, flicks the setting to 5 and fires off two beams ae the creature bearing down on his raft. Searing it with his second shot (28 points) xZot takes one aimed and misses, striking the water, the Gloo empties his clip into the Jawfish as it leaps out of the water, savaging Crisbel at the front of the raft (19 points). The creature dives back under water and circles for 2 rounds then comes back for another pass. It leaps again and screaming, Crisbel empties his clip into the Jawfish and it's lifeless body crashing beneath the surface.
Both rafts make it to the opposite beach as team member's struggle ashore and collapse exhausted after their ordeal.
"OK let's make camp here. Set the sentries and get some shut eye"
Frontier Date 63.059Pf +41
You have just awakened. Apparently, you fell asleep after reaching this beach. You have no memory of anything after stepping onto this beach. Those of you who were wounded, Sp'ock, Gloo, Gleep, Boro, Jag, Raid and McK notice you have healed a great deal and the rest of the team are completely healed! You also notice two large, indistinct footprints leading off the beach and East down the corridor before they disappear.
Crisbel rises slowly, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and the stiffness from his neck. Already his body screamed from the tortures of the previous day and singes in his fur was putting him in a fowl mood indeed. Rising from his spot in the cavern, he spots the footprints and moves to investigate. Peering closely, he looks specifically to see how old these prints might be. Did they have a new visitor?
As Gloo wakes up, he notices immediately how good he feels. The aches and pains that were once very noticeable are now a dull memory.
"I feel better now, so much better now" sings Gloo as he does a happy dance. Checking his ammo supply, he moves over to Borovski and says, "Are you using the belt pack? If you aren't, can I requisition it for the laser pistol. If you are, I could suffice with a clip or two. Thanks dude."
Crisbel follows the prints out of the cave out to about fifty meters before returning, looking for any other clues as to their maker. After returning, he motions to the prints.
"Well, looks like the welcoming party isn't too friendly after all. Do we follow?"
xZot awakens and notices the general improvement in the group's health.
Crisbel looks to xZot and then back down to the footprints. He had been hovering over the prints now for the last few minutes while the team prepared for the journey, trying to decide on the owner's weight and race based on shape and deepness of the prints. Looking back to xZot he simply shrugs his shoulders and smiles.
"Ready to go?"
"Damn, I understood that some recreation leave to a seaside city was good for team harmonics, but camping overnight on the banks of an underground sea; this is a bit freaky. I guess this is part of the test, maybe we are close to the Path of True Warriors? Anyway, I agree with the groups' sentiments, we should camp here for a couple of days and rest up, I think things are going to get tougher from here on in. Hmmm, footprints hey Crisbel?!"
"The dilemma of our mysterious benefactor is one I feel no stress over. Their intent is obviously non-hostile. I feel an admiration for a culture that extends help, without inflicting themselves along with the gift." observes Sp'ock "xZot, a moment of your time. I would propose we camp here for a period of time to allow healing and recuperation. The past month has been hard on all of us, to just be still for a time would increase our chances, while doing no damage to our morale." Sp'ock picks a quiet spot to drop a crap.
"Damn that constipation. 35 days without a decent squat. Aaaaagh. Back to business. We are not in the clear yet. Borovski if there are any spare SEU packs, as I seem to have run out myself, and strangely unwilling to use the one in the torch?"
As he wakens on the beach Sni'ktl's notes the sudden improvements in health and psychological well being in the party. He scans everyone to try and determine what has happened. How long were we asleep? What kinds of drugs were used to heal people? Are there any signs of side effects?
"Damn technology - beyond normal parameters - well that's a lot of use." Sni'ktl stows his medscanner away after it has crashed for the third time. Apparently they had been asleep for 8 hours and there were no traces of any known Frontier drugs in their system or any obvious side effects.
"Sp'ock is quite right, we should take the opportunity to rest up. If there's any side effects of this healing they should become apparent within a day or two. Borovski and Raid should have complete rest since they are still looking a bit battered and we need to conserve biocort."
"The next step I suppose is to follow the footprints" says Gloo. "They should be able to lead us to someone who may be able to give us some guidance on the road ahead. Maybe even tell us what pitfalls are waiting for us" At the next opportunity for a group briefing xZot announces some restructuring of team assignments,
"I am changing the teams slightly. With little input from Raid in recent days, I have moved him out of the Scout Team and moved Crisbel up. We need someone in this role who is 'motivated', with Raid a bit quiet I'm hoping Crisbel will be better suited. Check the roster sheet I'm passing around, for your new assignments." Crisbel takes the news with little emotion, simply stepping forward and preparing for his new job. He didn't relish the idea of being the first guy through but had read stories of snipers letting the point man pass to attack the main group...maybe this would be a good position after all. Besides, it would give him a chance to be more pro active in reducing the risk to the team as a whole.
"Also, I feel that the holoscreen is best utilised by the scouts, and therefore ask Raid to loan it to Crisbel for the duration of his stint as Scout. Borovski, looks like you're packin' all the ammo? Can you make sure Crisbel is kitted out for the role as a priority? I think he needs the power beltpack for the holoscreen and he'll need a fresh SEU clip as well. After a couple of days rest we should pack up and head East in the direction the footprints disappear." Crisbel accepts the item with a nod, securing it on his belt for later use. He had never owned one before but was familiar with their operation thankfully. Crisbel approaches Borovski and smiles, baring his fangs in the process.
"Keep real close to me...got it! I don't want to get killed on account of being out of ammo." Crisbel takes what ammo he can, stuffing a clip from Jaguar in a cargo pocket on his vest. Crisbel nods and makes one last check of his gear, assuring everything was secure. Once the team is ready, he will set out at a comfortable pace.
"Did anyone get the number plate of that space bus? I feel as though I've been run over but luckily it missed on the reversing 2nd pass, will greatly appreciate any additional period of rest. I'm not overly chuffed with suggestion to relinquish my power pack to a NEW BOY, however in the interest of party harmony I will do so but at the same time demanding that the next unit that we come across must be considered mine. As for those footprints, stay a safe distance but we must follow I'd imagine."
GleepGlooup wakes up and surveys the situation feeling better than he has almost since arriving on Volturnus and wonders what the owner of the footprints has done to them.
"We should send the scout to look." He turns to Sp'ock "Two days R & R on a beach without sun and sharks!" Then he turns to fire up the billy on the fire and have a cuppa.
After two days of uninterrupted R & R on the beach, Crisbel has scouted a short section of the tunnel down which the footprints disappear finding a northern and southern branch.
Sni'ktl scratches and wonders about getting the local equivalent of flea powder then Gloo asks him
"Where is everybody?"
"Crisbel just got back from scouting. He appears to be having a nap right now."
"Where's Boro? I wanted to requisition the belt pack."
"Have you seen xZot's new operating teams? I think Crisbel got the beltpack for the holo screen"
"Bugger, I'll have to go for some clips then"
"Gloo's laser pistol can survive on SEU clips, Holoscreen & Shock Gloves require belt pack though" Boro informs the team
"Worth a try" smirks Gloo. Sni'ktl says discretely to Gloo
"How do you feel about the fact that Crisbel is in the Scout team and you're in Strike Team 1?"
"Let him be a hero, I just want to stay alive to spend my pay."
"Excellent Gloo, you seem to be immune to the testosterone afflictions suffered by other Dral and Yazirians. I hope xZot is immune too."
"I think they are called cannon fodder" Sni'ktl clicks open a channel in his chrono-medi-log
"Despite the psychological calm that this beach has seduced our psyches with, I remain somewhat concerned about the ambient levels of testosterone amongst the Yazirians and the Dral's. I'm convinced they have a racial propensity to testosterone addiction that manifests under stressful alien circumstances. What with Jaguar and GleepGlooup's heroics in the lake of fire I think that Raid soon overcame his initial reticence to show who could leap furthest. I'm sure the Yazirians will set him straight if we ever get to a high G world. Now Borovski and Crisbel are having a "how much can we kill" competition. Still xZot seems to be channelling their mental energies quite effectively and Gloo is fairly sane. The new team restructures look positive, however I have a suggestion for xZot" Sni'ktl approaches xZot discretely
"xZot, I have concerns about Data. He has seemed distracted of late. If he, or indeed any of the scouts do not show more alertness to their task, perhaps you should call for volunteers. Now that Borovski has had two days' rest I can recommend him for this role. He seems very keen and probably needs the testosterone rush. Gloo is also fighting fit but I think he is comfortable away from the front line. I seem to recall him requesting a good chance to prove his manhood at the next opportunity. This Ul-Mor primal nonsense really is effective at infesting the psyche" xZot thinks for a moment
"Snik, I have modelled the teams with Borovski and Gloo at Strike Leaders of their teams. I am hoping that Crisbel can whip his team into line now that he has stepped up to the Scout role.
"Sounds very strategic I'm sure. I'd have thought most of the races would have evolved past that by now" Boro overhears the conversation and interjects with
"Who the fuck made you 2 IC Snik? Perhaps I could be productive at point but I sure as hell know the party is safe with my pseudo ass at their rear making sure there is no surprise rear end attacks!" xZot continues
"The active people are spread across the teams to ensure overall direction and continuity of the group."
"Sounds good to me. Forgive my lack of strategic military knowledge. Not my forte"
"You're not writing something in your Log are you?"
"So which way we going?" Boro responds
"I'm a military man through and through, and a military man will always obey the chain of command, so is it North or South?" Sni'ktl continues taking notes in medical log
"The team dynamics are improving on this healing beach. Borovski, Gloo and xZot are showing excellent presence of mind" then Gloo pipes up
"If I am needed up at the front line, then that is where I must go but am happy where I am" Sni'ktl turns to Sp'ock and says
"Aah Sp'ock too seems afflicted by some malaise. I think he is pining for the nest"
"Might have been that crap he had..." Sni'ktl giggles
"If only you knew how a crap feels for a vrusk"
"Enough of this idle banter, which way we going? Left or right?"
"Continue South I guess"
"So xZot, are you saying that whoever is scout gets to use the holo screen?"
"I understand that they are the most likely to have a reason to use this sort of item."
"Sounds good to me"
"At least at the moment anyway"
"Likely to save on the biocort too. Do you think we should keep sending out the same person to scout? Or should the task be spread around depending on who is in best shape for the job at the time?"
After almost a full days march, the corridor loops around in a curve heading back to the north. Along your journey you find the remains of a Human skeleton. You also find a laser pistol with an empty clip near the skeleton.
"Boro, grab the pistol as a spare. Does it look in working order?" asks xZot. Boro tosses the Laser Pistol to Gloo along with a spare SEU clip.
"Here, you check it out Gloo" Who quickly checks and confirms that the pistol is still in working order. He loads the spare clip and holsters the weapon. Sni'ktl attempts to determine cause of death but without time and resources it is impossible although it is clear that the body has been disturbed by the local fauna at some stage.
Near the end of the 'day' you hear many crashes in the room ahead, as if several objects of various sizes are being tossed about a small room. A deranged maintenance robot brought into the caverns is cleaning the cavern room. The robot lost its broom and mop some time ago and has become deranged. It throws the rocks, boulders, and gravel from one section of the floor to another and attempts to sweep the dirt with its metallic hands. It will continue sweeping until the rock floor is bare and smooth, then move to another section and repeat the process.
"xZot, didn't you say you knew something about computers?"
"I think Data is the Robotics Man, but this is something I want to learn as well. Can we subdue it? Does Data know how to turn it off?"
"Time to start learning I guess" then Sni'ktl asks
"Did anyone bring the mop and bucket?" Data ducks into the room heading toward the robots access panel in an attempt to deactivate it. Whilst working on the panel with his electrodriver the malfunctioning robot clubs him slightly (1 point) before he slips the panel off and quickly deactivates the 'bot.
"Looks like a standard level one maintenance 'bot. Hang on a minute, I'll just list it's mission and functions. Yep just as I suspected, they are corrupted. I think I can get it moving, but that's about all for now"
"I suppose someone is going to come up with a name for it" states Sni'ktl "So xZot what's your new baby called? xZot 'bot?""
"Well Snik, What would that say about me?"
The team travels further north before camping that night.
Frontier Date 63.058Pf +42
The next morning you continue north,
"I think that Crisbel or Raid should Name the 'bot, they have the skill"
"Only for natural phenomena, if you reprogram it I think you get to name it"
"Naturally, it's a robot!"
"If we find another would that be "B Robot"?"
From the gloomy passage ahead, you hear a Human voice singing,
"Oh, we hijacked the ship and we took us guns, Li-dee-di-dee, li-dee-di-dee day-o.
Came to Volturnus and drank some rum, Li-dee-di-dee, li-dee-di-dee day-o.
Now I'm lost in the caverns, no place to run, Li-dee-di-dee, li-dee-di-dee day-o.
Anything moves, I shoots it with me gun, Li-dee-di-dee, li-dee-di-dee day-o."
You see a lone Human figure about 30 meters ahead, squatting next to a small fire in the centre of the room. He appears to be roasting a skinned rat, though you can't be certain since he is turned sideways to you and his body hides part of the fire. A red splotch on his left arm barely shows through his tattered shirt. A laser rifle attached to a power pack lies on the cavern floor next to him. The floor is littered with rats bones, a large pile of moss, and a pile of rats furs the man uses as a bed.
"This looks like a good time for the holoscreen I'm thinking" says xZot
"Someone could sneak up and drop some of those mushroom samples in his food" replies Sni'ktl
"You medics always want to do it the hard way"
"I have the drugs and the hypnosis if you want to interrogate him. Maybe we should just stroll up and say hello nicely"
"Oh I can see that, "Hi we're from that ship your singing about" I'd bet he's already tried to kill us once!
"How will he know we're from the ship and not a rescue party?"
"I'm not sure he will make any distinction anyway"
"Some people could wear gas masks and approach singing bawdy pirates ballads. Although I'm sure your other advisers have more military options. Sni'ktl says "at least we should try and take him alive to pump him for information"
"Your position in this is duly noted. We definitely need him alive. Maybe we can use the robot?"
"All we need to do is secure his weapon, then he's ours to do with what you please" Boro says "someone distract him so we can grab it off floor"
"One or two people could wrestle him, anyone with martial arts could try nerve attacks and others could disarm him" Sni'ktl suggests "Maybe the Robot can run distraction while Crisbel or someone with the holoscreen slips past" thinks xZot
"Send Crisbel or Boro in with the holoscreen to wrestle him. The robot might cause him to pick up his laser rifle. I wonder if he killed all these rasties himself?" Sni'ktl says as Boro volunteers to accompany someone of authority in conversing with the stranger, perhaps the holder of the holoscreen can procure the weapon
"I'm happy to chat with the bloke"
"Perhaps he will respond better to authority, perhaps he abhors it" thinks Boro. Sni'ktl attempts empathy skill to assess the pirates current state
"I couldn't answer that Boro" Sni'ktl says "I think the person with the holoscreen should be set up first. If he's a decent shot he could take us out before we get half way to blaster range with that rifle. Any tanglers left? I still like the mushrooms in the dinner idea"
"Looks like Con has a spare Grenade" observes xZot
"Someone could sneak up with a holoscreen and a tangler and embrace him with sticky webs"
"OK - who?"
"Crisbel I reckon, he's a melee man," xZot turns to the rest of the team "We need input, any suggestions?"
"I would suggest a couple of alternatives we could use with this scruffy troubadour. If you wish the time spent to modify the robot to repeat a greeting message." Sp'ock Scritches twice and sneezes. "Sorry 'bout that xZot." Pulls reasonably clean rag from belt and wipes xZot down. "Tried one of those mushroom things back on the beach, it's been playing havoc with the breathing orifices." Scritches again. "Any way we could use the robot playing...Oh something. We come in peace. Take me to your leader. Pardon me buddy can you spare a rat?" Laughs at own joke. "My other suggestion is more practical and direct. The use of the holo should be saved for emergency use. One lone raider on his own is no threat. We should call for him to identify himself, lay down his arms and surrender to the local feds." Draws his laser pistol and spins the weapon by the trigger guard. On the second pass Sp'ock sneezes again dropping his pistol. "I must chat with Sni'ktl about possible long term affects of mushroom spores. Okay, as we are the local feds duly appointed and all that. We must present a strong presence to the pirates we encounter. Any other course of action is, I fear, going to lead to bloodshed." Sp'ock turns to Gloo. "You should appreciate that. What is the surest way of convincing an enemy to not fight? Remove the will to fight. If we take up positions to defilade the pirate we stand a chance to force his surrender without using up munitions." Gives a Vrusk shrug "And of course if he is not hostile we may be able to convince him of our non violent intent without risking a laser rifle at close range." He casts a significant look at Crisbel.
A new voice. A real person. Finding the robot is one thing but finding a real person, even one of the pirate scum that wrecked the "Serena Dawn", is a sign of real hope. Sni'ktl says
"OK he doesn't look like the friendly type, but maybe he can help us get out of here. If he doesn't co-operate, Telol is one drug we aren't short of. We can make him talk. Just make sure we take him alive". Noting that the pirate is already injured, Sni'ktl has his med-kit ready to offer assistance.
"Non conformist pirate scum, nothing worse than a deserter or someone who fails to recognise the primary importance of militarian style conditioning, instead preying on all and sundry for benefit of their own individual agendas." Opines Boro I think we need to consider our party objectives, decide and then keep on keepin on. This guy serves no real purpose, is of no benefit to take with us and more than likely to attempt to steal any supplies or ammo he sees (I'm not sharing my rations with him, will you guys?) Forget using holoscreens etc, I reckon have a Vrusk member of party use their superior speed to position themselves between asshole pirate and his immediate path of retreat through the East passage and as a party of 13 confront him. If he resists our approach, quite simply blast him out of existence. He's got a weapon which may be loaded, it may not but all the same it would look a lot better as part of our inventory." Just a quiet word to Crisbel:
"How the fuck am I goin' to stay close to you when I'm down the ass end of the party and your at the pointy end? As for running out of ammo; aim carefully and don't waste any shots cause supplies are numbered".
xZot contemplates what Sp'ock has said
"I understand what you are saying Sp'ock but I don't want this fellow escaping before we can run him down. I mean, we outnumber this guy 13 to 1! I don't think we need to talk him out, let's just rush him! One look at us and he'd realise that he's out numbered and out gunned." xZot pauses to look around the group then continues in a hushed voice "I still think we should use the holoscreen to get in there and attempt to disarm this fellow, then we have nothing to fear from him if he decides to go down guns blazing. While I understand we need to conserve our SEU packs, we also need to conserve our biocort, and we have more ammo than healing at the moment."
"I'm thinking that one person goes in using the holoscreen with the intention of getting the laser rifle before he grabs it, and after a suitable delay, the Strike Teams begin moving down the passage on the left and right, lead by their Environmental skilled members using stealth. Either he will be disarmed and we can storm in or he will know something is wrong; in which case our cover is blown and we just storm in, overpower him or run him down if he flees. If he flees, you Vrusks are going to have to chase him down." Turning to Crisbel "Since you now carry the holoscreen, I'll give you first right of refusal. Do you want to go in and disarm this fellow? If successful, I don't object to the person taking the risk, keeping the rifle. If not, I'm sure Gloo, Sp'ock or Con would consider it as I know you all like your Beam weapons."
"Lets sneak up doze him and whack the fucker, if he doesn't doze and runs out, frag him" OMAC exclaims. "Kill 'em all let God sort it out."
xZot notices the way Crisbel looks at him when asked to go in and disarm this fellow.
"All right. I can see some reluctance Crisbel, how about you Raid? You are much better skilled for this task? Excellent! Now grab that holoscreen and fire it up, when you get in the room if there is any sign that this fellow is aware of you, just yell out. Either way, on your signal the Strike Teams will charge in and overpower our unsuspecting friend. Remember, you job is just to stop this guy grabbing that rifle, let the big guys bring him down." Turning to the two teams' Strike Leaders "Gloo, Borovski, remember have your teams bring this guy down quickly; alive and relatively unharmed. Relatively."
Raid powers up the holoscreen and heads cautiously down the passageway disappearing from sight and sound. The rest of the team deploys in the tunnel a strike team hugging each wall, the scout team crawling slowly up the centre of the passageway until they can see reasonably clearly in the firelight 30 metres away. Raid lunges at the laser rifle lying at the pirate's foot and misses his mark. His holoscreen shimmers in the firelight and the pirate yelps as he turns and punches Raid (3 points). Raid screams for help as both strike teams open fire. Gloo and McKilin both shoot high but GleepGlooup hits squarely with his last round of tangler ammo. Boro also hit with his laser pistol (11 points), then the scout team opens fire and Crisbel also hits (14 points). The wounded pirate screams maniacally and falls to the ground, enmeshed in Gleep's tangler shot and bleeding from his laser wounds as Raid stands up clutching the laser rifle and waving in the rest of the team. Once the pirate is subdued xZot turns to the team
"Sni'ktl, can you interrogate this fellow and see what he knows that might help us? Now while you organise that, I think I might have a bit of a look at the Robot with Sp'ock and see what we can find out about it."
A short time later...
"Oooooo?!. What does this button do?" Zzzzztt! "Oops, sorry about that Sp'ock...."
Sni'ktl's examination is quickly stymied, the subject is obviously suffering from several severe mental conditions including, Paranoia, Multiple Personalities, Manic Depression and of course, Homicidal Mania. Phalen will reveal only his name and that the maintenance robot was brought into the cavern by him, Phalen is now slightly deranged, and anything else he says will be gibberish. From time to time he will whisper that he is greatly afraid of turning into a fungus. Careful inspection of Phalen's arm will show that the red blotch is a tattoo of a red devil surrounded by white stars. Phalen will try to escape as soon as he can, that's obvious.
As you stumble along the passageway, you see a beam of light far ahead. The air is warm and fresh, almost overwhelming after the days of breathing the dank cavern air. This is the exit from the caverns. As the team stumbles out into the daylight, you find you are once again in the desert. A large party of Ul-Mor are camped not more than 250 meters away, and, as the characters come out of the cavern, Athru will ride up to them on his loper. After greeting them, Athru will explain that after the cave- in, the Ul-Mor continued through the safe caverns and camped here, hoping the characters could find a way through the Forbidden Caverns. He is very glad to see them, and, after they have rested, he will take the characters to the Place of True Warriors...
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