One Little Problem
Given that the next two Fridays are Christmas and New Years, I decided that this will be the last Traveller session of the year, so thought it might be nice to see how far we could get towards resolving the adventure. As always complications arose which meant we didn’t quite resolve things, but we ended the session with the players having a firm plan about how to resolve things – with one minor complication. There are spoilers for the Deepnight Endeavour adventure ahead.
The previous session had ended with Khadashi and Shinzaro having successfully obtained some samples from the cluster that was residing in the aft science lab, though they’d failed to clear the space out.
Zanobia had been trying to contact the rest of the ship’s crew over comms, but hadn’t been able to get through the jamming that was being put out by “Guns”. However, to speed things along a bit I decided that she’s been successful in one direction – the engineering crew had received the broadcasts, but hadn’t been able to respond.
So the next day she was woken by a banging on the hull. Checking the external cameras rather than simply thrusting away, she saw three suited figures outside the airlock, hammering on the hull in a “is there anyone inside?” sort of way, rather than a “we’re coming in whether you like it or not” sort of way.
The three were members of the engineering crew, and had a reasonable conversation with Zanobia. They were obviously keen on being rescued, and mentioned that they only had a few months before the ship ran out of power so the sooner it happened the better. Eventually they agreed to meet at a safe location about the Deepnight.
Obviously, Zanobia didn’t want to do the meeting, so Khadashi and Shinzaro went. They didn’t tell the science crew where they were going, just mentioning ‘some job to do’.
So they went to one of the shuttle airlocks on the starboard side of the ship, where they met three people, one of which was wearing a Vargr shaped suit. The engineers took off their helmets, as did Shinzaro, though Khadashi refused to.
Their leader was Chief Engineer Dakh Moralder, a Vargr who was pleased to meet new people, especially a Vargr, and it was mostly Shinzaro she spoke to.
Some of the extra information they gained was that the Bridge crew had wanted to just accelerate towards the nearest civilised system, and use time dilation to make it in a reasonable ship time (just over 3 years – my Roll20 scripts are good for calculating that). Engineering had refused because they’d probably hit something small and destroy the ship at that velocity, plus they probably didn’t have enough fuel. As it was, they only had about 5 months of fuel left now, even though they’d switched off as many systems as they could.
Engineering’s own plan was to build a big transmitter and send out a distress signal. It wouldn’t reach civilisation in time, but hopefully somebody would come to investigate the (now destroyed) fuel depot at some point and pick up the signal from there.
Engineering were willing to help as best they could to get home, they just had concerns whether the Bridge crew would be willing to work with everyone else.
After the meeting, there was some discussion back at the Sex Thing with Zanobia, Laura, Shinzaro and Khadashi about what to do next. They talked about squeezing everyone into the ship and shuttle them back to civilisation, but even just the engineering crew would seriously strain life support.
As the representative of Deepnight Exploration, Laura suggested going to Neubayern and persuading them to send some rescue ships. With a big belt community, they probably have lots of safe places they could stick people without risk of any infection spreading. With the possibility of war brewing in the Islands, they also figured that Neubayern might also like the chance of getting in the good graces of the Imperium by taking part in a rescue attempt of an Imperium ship.
Dr Kleine, head of the science team, had also mentioned that there was a company called Intuitive Biomedics who would be good at helping to find a cure, though the PCs were suspicious of both her and the company, believing that it was possible a bio-weapons site.
Anyway, they decide to arrange a meeting between Science and Engineering, which needed someone with a Diplomacy skill – the only person was Zanobia who had so far refused to leave the Sex Thing. She decides though to finally head over to the Deepnight and chair a meeting.
Both Dakh and Dr Kleine are there, and progress is good, with both teams pretty much agreeing to work together now that there was a plan to rescue the crew. The Sex Thing would probably head back and get some help, and engineering would help clear out some of the dangerous sections. There was a little bit of disagreement on exactly what to prioritise, but that could be resolved later.
There was also discussion about how the infection spread in the first place. Apparently the infected crew members had been put in isolation, but they’d refused to stay there and had left lock-down to go out and mingle. Their biological containment procedures had been fine, it was just the ‘stupid human’ procedures that had failed. It was possible however that the infection had caused the infected to do this, in order to try and deliberately spread itself.
However, there was a small wrinkle. Now that Zanobia had been face to face with Dr Kleine, she had got to make a Medic check. The others had got checks whilst they’d been with the Doctor, but not having good Medic skills they hadn’t succeeded.
Dr Kleine seemed to be suffering from hand tremors. Subtle, but Zanobia noticed and diagnosed possible nerve damage. This was of course one of the first stages of infection, though Dr Kleine had obviously lasted a lot longer than anyone else. When it is later mentioned to Khadashi, he remembers seeing evidence of Dr Kleine being ‘clumsy’ several times over the last few days.
The science crew do regular testing of themselves, but it’s probably Dr Kleine that does the testing. During the meeting, she also seemed to notice Zanobia’s attention, and deliberately tried to hide her affliction.
Getting back to the Sex Thing to check the medical notes, it’s clear that the medical records for Dr Kleine seem to be a copy of another crew member. So the PCs are certain that Dr Kleine is infected and trying to hide it, though is possibly an asymptotic carrier. How she hasn’t infected everyone else isn’t clear though.
So the plan is to get the Sex Thing to Neubayern and seek help, whilst the Deepnight crew continue to work on a cure. They’ll take a sample of both the infection and the possible cure samples back with them (doubly locked and protected, not trusting Dr Kleine’s containment box) and return with bigger ships to offload people. When Trennance Zedehlale heard of the plan, he volunteers to go back with them, to act as a witness of what had happened aboard the ship. He really just wants to save his own skin, but the PCs agree to put him in cold sleep.
The wrinkle is what to do with Dr Kleine. She is almost definitely infected, but she seems to be working on finding a cure. Has she deliberately slowed those efforts? Would confronting her force her hand and cause something bad to happen? If she’s being controlled and wants to get the infection to another world, is it safer to leave her here, take her back, or kill her?
The PCs don’t come up with answers to these questions, so we decide to leave it for the session in the New Year.