Dark Matters

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This was the last session spent exploring the comet in the Anundarluu nebula. We were expecting to be down a player but I hadn’t wanted to delay things again, but in the end she turned up and another player didn’t.

Dr Nekuna

Whilst they had been nosing around the scout ship, Dr Nekuna had been working on putting together a mesh network of transmitters which the remote probe could drop behind it to keep a connection back to the crew when it next when exploring into the alien ship. They are able to bring the probe back up to the scout ship I Mean It This Time and pass over the transmitters without risking infection.

Dr Rusasa

Dr Rusasa had also been busy monitoring the sensor scans of the comet, and had confirmed that there was definitely a large amount of organic material on the surface around the ‘fingers’, and that it was definitely infected by the entity. However, it is dormant, if not dead, and rapid heating would definitely destroy any infection.

She also picked up some objects beneath the surface around the alien ship – three objects about a metre beneath the surface and five more deeper down. They were each about 2m long and half a metre in diameter and noticeably warmer than the background temperature. They are also showing signs of radioactivity.

They send the probe into the alien ship, exploring the middle section of it. There are web-like strands of material, which snaps at the first touch of pressure. Pods of six sleeping cubicles are surrounded by a mix of living areas and electronic stations. There were canisters of flammable chemicals piled up in places, as well as what looked like the corpse of a long dead infected droyne.

There are hatches through to the rear and front of the ship, but the drone is unable to get through itself, and the crew aren’t willing of going down themselves. There is a discussion about the risks involved, and I point out that they have pretty good decontamination processes in place now, but the final decision is to leave it alone. They do pull out the droyne corpse though, and take it up to the ship to keep as a sample.

The drone uses its flamer to boil off the ice around one of the ‘hot’ spots, which reveals an old nuclear warhead, mostly now consisting of U235 but with some traces of Pu239 – proportions about what would be expected about 300,000 years. This is a group where I can work out things such as the half life of a radioactive material, and how much of it would be left after a given period of time, and I’ll actually be asked about it in the game.

Over the next few days they perform deep scans of the comet, building up a detailed map of the entire object. There is a large dent on the far side, which shows signs of having suffered extreme heating as well as being slightly radioactive – possibly it was hit by nukes a long time ago. Once again, having a 3D model of the comet allowed me to display it to the players and rotate it around so they could get a good idea of what it looked like. Unlike most of my other renders, the comet had been really easy to sculpt in Blender, so it was definitely time well spent.

Viewing the comet model in blender


By now they have decided not to nuke either the alien ship or the crashed scout, but to detonate a nuke above the surface to see how the entity reacts (if at all) over the next few days. They also take samples from across the comet, blowing off bits with their lasers and measuring the spectrography.

From a safe distance they detonate a nuke, vapourising a small part of the surface. After a few hours, part of the comet begins to react to the heat – ripples forming in the icy surface long after the shock waves have finished.

It’s around this time that Dr Nekuna spots some gravitational anomalies far from the comet – about 10 million kilometres distant. It’s seemingly come out of nowhere, but it doesn’t seem to have been a jump disturbance. According to the I Mean It This Time’s gravitational sensors though there is about 1012 kg of matter present where there wasn’t before, and absolutely nothing showing on the electromagnetic sensors. It’s also beginning to slowly accelerate towards the rough vicinity of the coment.

Alfred also asks Zanobia for some headache pills, since he’s beginning to get a headache.

The crews decide to start moving away from the comet, accelerating away at an angle to see if the object is heading towards them or towards the comet. The object accelerates up to approximately 1g and changes course to intercept with them.

The object is not a point source – more like a stretched out object, like a wing, and it seems indeterminate in shape and size, but maybe 100,000km across. The exact composition is difficult to determine since it only has mass, but it’s possibly dark matter of some form.

By now Madeleine mentions that she’s hearing whale song again, and the crew of the two ships begin calculating jump navigation. As the object accelerates again, up to maybe 7g, the crew decide that they really want to get out of there rather than trying to determine exactly what it is, and eventually finish their astrogration checks and active their jump drives to take them into jump space.

The Its A Sex Thing makes it safely into Jump space, though they won’t know whether the I Mean It This Time has also succeeded until after they get to their destination.

I hadn’t managed to get them to explore either of the ships in person, but I’m happy with the way things ended – with the players highly concerned about whatever it was that was showing an interest in them and wanting to get out as quickly as they could. They didn’t stay around for long enough to find out what it was, so it can remain as a mystery for now. Maybe I’ll come back to it in a later campaign.

Samuel Penn

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