Nathan couldn’t make it to last Friday’s session of John H’s Legend of the Five Rings game, so I ran a one-shot of John Harper‘s Lasers & Feelings instead. And Wow! As usual, Mr Harper has packed an awesome amount of fun-filled goodness into less than a page of A4. I heartily recommend it!
Ben, Emma, John H and I had a blast and, though the rules are extremely compact, they were never found wanting. Everything we needed was right there on the sheet. Hats off to Mr Harper! He really knows what he’s doing.
The evening’s adventure went like this…
With Captain Nemo Darcy unconscious in medbay after an encounter with a psychic alien entity, it was up to savvy Chief Engineer James Malone, dangerous Science Officer Dr Ellen Strange and hot-shot Pilot Karl Gunderson, to take control when the SS Predator received orders to respond to an urgent distress call from the SS Marathon.
They quickly set course for the Marathon’s last known position and found it dead in space, slowly tumbling towards the edge of a partially sealed Quantum wormhole.
Acting-Captain Malone assembled an away-team consisting of himself, Gunderson, Strange and two red-shirts, Gibbs and Chilcott, and they took a shuttle and boarded.
At this point it was established that (in this universe) piloting was less about flying and more about negotiating with the ship’s AI to get it to do what you wanted. This led to a good deal of hilarious innuendo as Gunderson had to sweet-talk the somewhat sultry shuttlecraft AI into docking with the Marathon.
Once aboard, the away-team searched through the maze of dark corridors and soon came across the first bodies. A scan of the dead crewmen (with a ‘laser feelings’ result) picked up very faint traces of unknown energy lying dormant inside the bodies. Gunderson immediately pulled out his variable-beam phase pistol, flipped the dial from ‘Bit of a limp’ to ‘F*ck Sh*t up’ and splattered both corpses’ brains across the corridor. Chilcott threw up.
A second scan of the bodies showed the faint energy readings hadn’t changed, so Dr Strange began an ad-hoc autopsy. It was messy. She’s a ‘dangerous’ scientist, not a doctor. Chilcott threw up for the second time.
Gibbs looked at the junior crew-member. “Pull yourself together,” he chastised.
Discovering nothing obviously out of place within the butchered body, the away-team decided to head towards the bridge. When they arrived, they found the aftermath of a violent battle. Numerous laser burns scorched the walls and consoles, and a large number of bodies were scattered around.
Continuing as he had throughout their journey, Gunderson immediately set about shooting each of the bodies through the head. ZAP… ZAP ZAP… ZAAAAAAAAAAP… Meanwhile, Strange and Malone tried accessing the command consoles, hoping to find out something useful from the ship’s logs, but there was no power. All the systems were dead.
As he moved around, Gunderson suddenly noticed a crewman slumped in the command chair. Attached to the man’s head was something that looked like a stunted cuttlefish. Without warning the crewman lifted his head and fixed Gunderson with milky-white unseeing eyes.
Gunderson gulped and pointed his phase pistol at the figure’s head. “I’ve found something scary!” he declared to the others.
At that moment, one of the headless corpses started stirring. Around the room all the dead began coming to life. Gunderson fired. ZAP.
Some kind of energy shield shimmered in front of the figure and the beam from the phase pistol was dissipated.
Gunderson persisted… ZAP…ZAP… ZAP ZAP ZAPZAPZAPZAPZAPZAPZAP… but there was no effect.
He relented and instead tried hopefully, “We come in peace.”
Chilcott screamed,”Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! We’re all going to die!!!” He then turned and fled.
“Rookies,” Gibbs muttered exasperatedly.
A desperate struggle ensued. The zombies lumbered around, threatening to overwhelm the away-team with their numbers. Avoiding them wasn’t difficult, unless they cornered you, but whenever they got shot, they just got up and kept on coming.
After a while the never-ending onslaught forced the away-team to retreat. They exited the bridge and headed for the engine room; a small crowd of zombies following behind them.
The team worked their way back along the length of the ship, down corridors and through ventilation ducts. When Malone’s scanner picked up a life-sign, Gibbs volunteered to go and check it out.
“I’ll go sir. It could be Chilcott”
There was discussion about how bad an idea this was, but nobody else was willing to separate, so Gibbs went alone.
When Malone, Strange and Gunderson eventually arrived in engineering, they discovered McKecknie, a badly wounded engineer, lying in a pool of blood behind some consoles. He looked in a pretty bad way.
With McKecknie advising them, Malone, Gunderson and Strange managed to re-route auxiliary power to the computer core so they could reboot the AI. Cue more innuendo as Gunderson went down an access shaft to turn on the AI (did you see what I did there?). There were complications, as the AI didn’t recognise Gunderson as a member of the Marathon crew, “Please identify?” But they managed to patch comms through from ‘acting-captain’ McKecknie (as Malone pointed out, he was the only one still alive) and the AI was convinced to update its database to give Gunderson command authority.
Having sorted out the power, they then turned their attention to McKecknie, who was fading fast. Gunderson found a first aid kit and started paging through the instructions, while Strange looked through her holdall of interesting chemicals for something useful.
“Look, this one’s an anti-coagulant.”
“I don’t think that’s going to help him,” Gunderson observed.
“This one glows,” she tried.
Gunderson considered for a moment. “OK. What have we got to lose? Let’s try it.”
Combining ad-hoc surgery with a cocktail of various chemicals, Strange and Gunderson did what they could for McKecknie. Eventually the crewman passed out but when they had finished he was miraculously both still alive and semi-stable.
While this was going on, Malone was sifting through the ship’s log trying to piece together what had happened. Apparently an away-team had brought something on board. It had attached itself to the 1st Officer and taken control of him and anyone who died. The surviving crew members had believed that the cuttlefish creature was drawing energy from the wormhole and that with the shields up it would block the signal and either disable or seriously weaken its powers.
“We need to get the shields up,” Malone declared.
After performing some diagnostics, Malone and Gunderson suited up and did an EVA to fix the shield projector array, which was out of alignment.
Meanwhile Strange scavenged parts and built a Particle-Proton-Portable-Shield-Disruptor-Device, which she mounted on a squeaky trolley.
“It’s only got a small range. We’ll have to get pretty close,” she advised.
Electing to leave the shields down in order to maintain the element of surprise, they took the PPPSDD and headed back towards the bridge. SQUEAK… SQUEAK… SQUEAK
During the return trip they discovered that the PPPSDD conveniently interfered with whatever was controlling the zombies and caused them to wander around aimlessly with no direction. Thanks to this (and the impending end of the evening) the intrepid trio reached the bridge with little difficulty.
And so it came to the final showdown… With everyone pushing the trolley (like a bobsleigh team), they took a run at the doorway. Momentum built up and at the very last moment, Strange flipped the On-switch on the PPPSDD and Gunderson leapt aboard, a phase pistol in each hand. The trolley clattered through the doorway and hurtled towards the figure in the command chair.
“Put the ship’s shields up now!” Gunderson yelled as he took aim.
“Marathon AI, engage shields now,” Malone instructed over the communicator they had patched into the AI.
“Unrecognized user. Please identify?” the AI responded impassively.
“Oh Sh*t! I don’t have command authority!” Malone exclaimed, sprinting after the trolley with his communicator held out.
The trolley bore down on the command chair. With increasing desperation, Gunderson yelled, “Shields up. Shields up now!”
Eventually the AI responded, “User identified. Gunderson, Karl. Command authorisation confirmed. Engaging shields.”
The hum of energy around the command chair immediately subsided and Gunderson let rip with his phase pistols. ZAPZAPZAPZAPZAPZAP ZAPZAPZAPZAP. He frantically blasted the figure and its cuttlefish hat, until the trolley crashed unceremoniously into the command chair. Thankfully, by then the alien creature and its host were both dead.
In the aftermath, the three heroes were reunited with Gibbs and McKecknie and everyone returned to the Predator. Commendations all round.
End Mission Log.