After-Action Report: The Screaming on the Alexis

30 October 2019 ☼ MothershipAAR

The Screaming on the Alexis, with

Corvus-Argyle Development Corporation contracted the Taurus Company mercenary group for a basic search and rescue op: their mining and prospecting frigate, the Alexis, was three weeks overdue. A squad of Taurus Company marines, headed by Operations Leader Kilfoil (NPC), would take the troop transport Romulus to the Alexis’s last known location and secure and recover the company’s personnel and property. Shizuka and Crisp would accompany the group as representatives of Corvus-Argyle.

The ship arrived at the coordinates and unthawed Kilfoil, the pilot Hickey (NPC) and Operator Jones after an emergency stop. Checking the forward view screen and seeing a small black planet surrounded by countless derelict vessels of varying makes and ages, Kilfoil got very uneasy and decided to defrost Shizuka and Crisp. Crisp immediately took control of the situation, locating the Alexis with Shizuka’s help and ordering Hickey to take the Romulus toward it. Kilfoil is spooked and doesn’t challenge Crisp’s command. Upon determining that the Alexis had atmosphere and limited power, but no overt damage, the Romulus docked with it and a group consisting of Crisp, Shizuka, and Jones’ fireteam (Roseland, Carlisle and Haller (NPCs)) headed over. Finding that the ship’s interior was bathed in green emergency lighting, they slowly pieced through the bottom deck of the ship, discovering a number of crew members dead by their own hands, and the appearance of a struggle in the science lab. Shizuka managed to get a couple airlocks open using her laser cutter, but when Crisp decided to beeline up to the command deck, the thicker doors proved resistant to both the cutter and the marines’ brute force.

Crisp ordered the group to start picking through the habitat deck instead, leaving Roseland and Haller to guard the ladder between decks. While the rest of the group is searching the captain’s quarters, a terrible scream echoed through the ship and something big scrambled up the ladder, killing Haller and panicking Roseland. Roseland fled back to the Romulus, while the rest of the group hid in the captain’s quarters. Whatever attacked the marines ignored them and began tearing a hole through the deck in a nearby room. Jones quickly got tired of hiding and decided to ambush the interloper. Peeking around the corner into the room, he briefly got a glimpse of an onyx humanoid monster with a giant mouth of writhing spiked tentacles, before it disappeared downward through the hole it had gouged in the deck.

Kilfoil and Hickey witnessed this on Jones’ headcam footage and Kilfoil broke, ordering everyone back to the Romulus for immediate evac. Shizuka agreed and headed over to the Romulus, but Crisp argued with Kilfoil over the comms, insisting they stay until the job is done. Jones and Carlisle agreed. Kilfoil gave the stragglers a deadline after which they would be left behind, but the airlock ended up being jammed somehow so that Hickey couldn’t safely disengage from the Alexis. Crisp’s team went back to trying to gain entry to the command room, while Shizuka pleaded with Kilfoil to defrost the rest of the marine squad for extra protection. Kilfoil refused to lose any more soldiers and threatened her with his sidearm until she gave up.

Meanwhile, Crisp dosed Jones with a stim and he managed to pry open the airlock to the nav computer. While searching it for information, Crisp alerted Pander (NPC), an android barricaded in the command deck. After identifying himself as a Corvus-Argyle employee, Pander opened the airlock to the command deck and explained that the crew had located an artifact on the planet’s surface and were heading back to headquarters when both he and the ship began to have mechanical issues. Crisp got the location of the artifact (the cargo hold) and had Pander open the airlock there.

Shizuka rejoined the group and they entered the cargo hold, finding a grotesque metallic statue surrounded by bodies. Crisp ordered the group to crate it up and transfer it to the Romulus. Shizuka did so, using one of the exosuits in the hold. When the group reached the airlock back to the Romulus, Kilfoil was there, pointing his sidearm at them and forbidding them from boarding the Romulus with the artifact. Crisp tried to tranq dart him, and Kilfoil returned fire, hitting Shizuka’s exosuit. A brief firefight ensued, and Kilfoil was gunned down by his own marines. Crisp collected Kilfoil’s revolver and the group stowed the artifact on the Romulus for the trip home. Crisp radioed Pander and ordered him to self-destruct the Alexis in 10 minutes, and the Romulus pulled away with the crew preparing to go back into cryo.

Everything immediately went wrong. Hickey attempted to jump the ship and something blew up in engineering, starting a fire [83 on ship critical table]. Meanwhile, the artifact exploded out of its crate and the monster escaped into the vents. The explosion sent a power spike through the ship and trapped Shizuka in her cryopod before it activated, giving her claustrophobia [failed Panic Check, 17 on the Panic Effect Table]. Jones, Rosalind and Carlisle, unarmed, attempted to get out of the cryochamber room and head for the armory, but the monster cut them off. They retreated, and Crisp managed to quickly vent the ship’s hallway and engine room, putting out the fire and evacuating the monster into space. It drifted for a few minutes and was then caught up and destroyed in the explosion of the Alexis.

The group freed Shizuka from her pod and had her check the jump drive. She determined she could re-route power from the rest of the ship’s systems to give the drive enough juice to break free of whatever was pinning them to this system. Everyone but Shizuka and Hickey went into cryo and the two gave the drive another try. Several conduits on the starboard side of the ship blew, breaching the hull in the captain’s quarters and the cargo hold [38 and 7 on ship critical table]. Hickey quickly sealed the airlocks to both rooms, saving the ship and sending it into a jump, but the artifact was lost, ejected back into space.

GM Notes

At the start of the game, I passed Crisp’s player a note saying that their directive from Corvus-Argyle was that the Alexis was secretly a research/archeological vessel, and that they were to recover anything that the Alexis had found, even if it were to cost the marines their lives. Crisp ended up secretly jamming the airlock, keeping the Romulus from leaving without them, and was pretty pivotal in turning the marine group against Operations Leader Kilfoil (RIP).

Other thoughts…

  1. First, the notation of +10%” on the skills section made them think skills literally raised your stat by 10% of its value, rather than a full +10.
  2. They were continually confused by stress and Panic Checks because they weren’t d100-based like most of the other rolls. The next time I run something, I might try to hack things to use a 0-100 Stress scale?