Black Ships

In our previous session, the crew of the Deepnight Revelation had found evidence of a space faring race that was kidnapping whole worlds. They’d also picked up radio signals from a nearby world that was at least TL 8 (mid-21st century Earth technology). It had been decided to investigate the world, to see if they were responsible or knew anything about what had happened.

The Deepnight came out of jump around one of the gas giants, and one of the first things that they noticed was that they were no longer picking up radio transmissions. The civilisation had gone quiet. With their passive scans, they did notice that there was a lot of debris in orbit around the second world.

As they prepared to skim the gas world’s atmosphere for fuel, they picked up an artificial satellite in orbit. It wasn’t broadcasting anything, but it seemed still to be active. Shortly thereafter, scouts reported seeing a robot of some kind on the surface of one of the moons.

Both probes are investigated and taken apart. They are powered by plutonium RTG, and still ‘alive’, but seem to have paused their activility. There was a gold plate on the rover which showed a couple of human-like people, as well as details of where they came from.

By this point further careful scanning of the system had picked up a few radio transmissions from the second world. There was also a heightened level of radioactivity, which seemed to be coming from a few hot spots. Night side light levels were low, but there did seem to have been a high level of urban development on the world at some point. There were also disturbances in the orbital debris, which seemed to be caused by large objects.

Ajum Minor II

Eventually the Opportunities Multiply, a modified ship’s boat, was sent in to take a look, since this was the fastest ship that they had. The objects in orbit were kilometres across but millimetres thick – huge sheets of material on small thrusters which were being used to clear up the debris.

There was an active civilisation on the world, but it was keeping quiet. The radiation activity was coming from some damaged nuclear plants. What communication could be picked up was quickly translated, and it turned out to be typical of worlds of this tech level. Most communication traffic though had been moved to wires, and the majority of radio broadcasts were designed to not leave the atmosphere. There was mention of ‘Black Ships’, and a massive rebuilding project.

It was decided to make contact with the least black ship they had – the very pink It’s A Sex Thing. Lord Leon Sivas, their Imperium diplomat, made a very carefully worded introduction speech, which was well received by the world leaders, and a meeting was planned.

The Sex Thing landed on the southern continent, and met with a delegation from the United Federation. Several ornithopters hovered overhead, and the diplomats were flanked by guards carrying laser rifles. Apart from the guards in armour, they were all dressed in kilts and little else.

The initial meeting went well, and the locals spoke of having been attacked by alien starships some years back. They backed off when the people started fighting back, though none of the attackers were destroyed. Lord Sivas spoke of the Third Imperium, and showed holographic maps of where they had come from. Once everyone all around and decided that things seemed to be friendly, the crew were invited for sex followed by dinner.

After some discussions, most of the crew politely declined, but enough people were found to keep up diplomatic relations. Social customs here seemed to be a lot more intimate than was the Imperium norm.

Afterwards, meetings were had, and agreements were made to provide the world with information that would eventually get them to TL 12. Even with this though, it would take them many decades to improve their defences in case the Black Ships ever returned.

In regards to the Black Ships, little was known. They had been large kilometre long ellipsoids that had initially tried to take people who were in orbit. The Ships had been detected, and an attempt was made to fight back. Though the attacks were mostly ineffective, the Ships obviously weren’t willing to stay and fight, and had quickly left. They just suddenly vanished. The concept of Jump space then had to be explained to the world’s scientists.

Over the course of the following days there was time for R&R for a lot of the crew of the Deepnight. The Deepnight itself made itself known, and several of the locals volunteered to join the crew. In exchange, a number of the crew decided that they wanted to stay. There would be plenty of opportunity for anyone with knowledge of high technology and science. The people here were also hominids, with a good enough technological base that Imperials wouldn’t feel too out of place.

Shandra and Miyek, along with their newly born daughter, were amongst those that decided to stay behind. Jason Moss, the system technician that had tried to break the jump computers also stayed. The family of scavengers that had been picked up many sectors back stayed as well, apart from their daughter Len Henga who wanted to remain aboard the Deepnight.

In order to help them in the first stages of their technological acceleration, they were given one of the Deepnight’s boats.

The encounter on this world took the entire session, and went quite well. There was a lot more roleplaying around the capture and examination of the probes around the gas giant than was alluded to above, as well as much biological investigation of the inhabitants of the planet.

The Black Ships was an idea I took from Agent of the Imperium. Whether they are the same or not I haven’t decided. They are a mystery in the official sources, and they remain so here.

The Deepnight is close to the edge of Pytheas sector, and there’s only a few sectors to go before they reach the edge of the Great Rift and a likely crossing point. This will bring the campaign to the end of the second chapter of the campaign extension books – The Near Side of Nowhere. There is a big event described at the end of that adventure book, and I need to decide how I’m going to approach that. I think we’re only a few weeks away from that at most.

Until then, there’s still a lot of worlds to visit. The way I normally approach this is to plan out the ship’s route over the next couple of sectors, and sketch out what interesting things are likely to be discovered at each star system. This can range from a sentence to a paragraph or two. When the players get to that point, I can decide how important I want to make it. A lot of that is up to the players though. A simple description may get stretched out to a whole session if the players find it interesting and what to investigate more.

The original route

Next up is Sisyphus Citerior, followed by No Prospect and then Best Prospect, where they are hoping to find a crossing point. The route has diverged a little from what was originally expected back at the Near Side of Yonder, but only a little. This new route gives them a better opportunity to scan for crossing points.

The exchange of crew at Ajum Minor gives an opportunity to get rid of some troublesome crew members, but also a chance to inject some new crew to spice things up. I’ll need to flesh them out a bit before next session.

Samuel Penn

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