Down the Hole

In the last session, the Travellers had found a ‘treasure map’ which led to some sort of base in a large asteroid orbiting close to the two stars of the Berlichingen system. There was evidence that the base had been built by Aslan a long time ago, which was surprising since Aslan have never been recorded as having come to the Islands so far back.

Having finished exploring the storage room, the Travellers headed further down the hole. It was a further 2km to the bottom, where it opened out into a 100m wide area flattened to make for a landing area. Some machinery had been left laying around, and a single airlock led into the side of the rock.

The outer airlock door was already partly open, so Khadashi used the manual override to open the inner door. As he was part way through opening it, he realised there was an IED on the other side of the door which was probably going to go off if he moved. Despite not having an Explosives skill it was a very crude trap (the person setting them up hadn’t had an Explosives skill either), and he was able to disarm it.

The explosives weren’t meant to be deadly, just adding a little bit of danger to the experience . They did 4d6 damage each, and since the PCs were wearing Vacc Suits with protection 10, they were unlikely to take much damage. Even on a maximum roll they weren’t going to get killed.

For the first time in a while I’d drawn a tactical map for the situation, which allowed me to use the new Roll20 lighting system for exploring it.

Tactical map of the base

The base empty, and had been for some time. Looking at the exterior machinery, Zanobia estimated that it dated back to between 1,000 and 1,500 years ago, which potentially placed it to before human colonisation of the Islands. Someone had been here recently though – within the last few weeks, disturbing the ground and apparently being quite aggressive in their investigation attempts.

Two more IEDs were discovered in the exploration of the base, one of which went off when Khadashi stumbled into it, and one went off when it was discovered and they failed to disarm it. Vacc Suits are quite tough, but Khadashi is probably going to need his repairing.

It looked like whoever had been here recently had tried to dismantle some old computers, but some parts had been left. There were also some broken mousebots and some maps up on the wall, faded to almost the point of illegibility but Zanobia’s Archaeology meant she knew how to make it readable.

Apparent map found in the base

Throughout this process the journalist Clara Lang was having an awesome time, filming the crew as they made their discoveries, and making sure that they had slow motion full-3D footage of Khadashi setting off the explosives. I think the PCs are going to become quite famous.

She also had translation gear, so was able to translate the maps found (which is why I drew them up in ‘English’ – also because I wasn’t able to find any Aslan fonts). The above map fitted quite closely over the top of the Islands map, which made ‘First Base’ to be New Colchis and ‘Camp’ to be where they were at Berlichingen.

There was a second map which after some effort they figured out was a map of the local system, showing the jump limit and something happening around the 9th planet.

Some bodies were found – 3 females. They were skeletal, which implied that they’d died whilst there had been an atmosphere here. Later examination of the bones showed they’d been suffering from malnutrition before they’d died. They also found a box of what looked like pine cones, and genetic analysis of them identified them as being from New Colchis, specifically a species of tree that was only commonly found on one island.

From one of the bodies they also found some folded up ‘paper’, which was too fragile to open up. Some work was going to be needed to get information off it.

The last rooms were kitchens and a room full of animal bones. They too had evidence of malnutrition. There were broken food processors, and some medicines, including empty boxes of medicines Aslan use to eat Terran food (the sort found on the Islands).

The base itself had been hollowed out of the rock, reinforced with bits of a dismantled starship. It had been in vacuum for hundreds of years, and had been dead for at least a thousand.

The PCs had some ideas about what had happened, but didn’t have a definite story. It was enough to feel confident to report the finding to the Berlichingen government, and for Clara Lang to put out a trailer for her new Holovid documenting the discovering.

The scout pilot who had been here first had obviously wanted to keep it to himself, and had tried to ensure that anyone who did come looking was killed. The scout is probably going to be very upset that the PCs have announced the finding, but that’s okay, because they are very upset with the scout for having tried (badly) to kill them. I think the moral of the story is, if you’re going to try and set traps for someone at least be competent about it, because otherwise you’re just going to make enemies.

They’ve collected up what bones and information they could, and are now ready to head out and take their passengers to where they’re meant to be going. They did warn the passengers that there would be a couple of days delay, but they’re about at that limit now.

Samuel Penn