Precious Bodily Fluids

Leaving behind the Luminous Church, the Deepnight Revelation continues heading down Brittia sector towards a region much denser in both star systems and civilisations. The next system along is a simple system with a gas giant and an outer asteroid belt. As has been usual recently, I didn’t have much prepped due to lack of time and energy. This meant I went into the session not really having anything to pad out the initial part of the journey with. So just as we were starting things I dug out my copy of Wonders of a Solar System: Gas Gaints, and I rolled a 64 to see what sort of interesting thing they would find at the first star system.

Fragments of a comet break up in the sky above the ship, leaving burning trails like shooting stars that stretch across the sky. If sensor checks are made, then unusual chemical signatures are picked up in the debris which imply that the comet wasn’t entirely natural.

Wonders of a Solar System: Gas Giants (64)

So the Deepnight came out of jump some distance from the jovian world, and the ship soon detected a large comet not far away that was on a collision course with the planet. There was about a day before it collided, and deeper scans detected some type of structure on the surface of the comet. Spectroscopy detected complex organic molecules, as well as mercury on the surface.

The plot that was coming to mind was I though based on ‘Vacuum Flowers‘ by Stephen Baxter, but it turns out someone else wrote that. The story I was thinking of was ‘Gossamer‘, which is in the anthology ‘Vacuum Diagrams‘ by Baxter. My vague ideas were followed up by some quick googling for what superconductors are made of, as well as the properties of mercury and whether it can solidify in a vacuum. When running Traveller I like to try and get the science vaguely in the right ballpark.

With the unusual chemicals and strange structures on the comet, the crew decided to send in a scout to examine the comet before it was destroyed. This whole adventure had been kicked off by finding strange stuff on a comet, so there was some concern about whether this was the fungus entity they were journeying to destroy. It didn’t match the chemistry, so they felt safe in getting in close to examine the comet close up. The structures on the surface were made up of web-like filaments which stretched out over the surface. They looked partially melted, and had threads of mercury wire running through them. However, the mercury was mostly boiled off.

Khadashi was sent down in a Hostile Environment Suit (the radiation around a gas giant makes it dangerous to do an EVA) to examine things more closely and take some samples. The physicists determined that the threads were superconducting wire, and the biologists determined that whatever it was seemed to be a type of lifeform. It wasn’t suited to this environment though – it was too warm, and the magnetosphere of the planet had burned through what was left of the ‘wires’.

A few hours later, they got to watch as the comet smashed into the upper atmosphere of the gas giant, eventually exploding deeper down and providing a large amount of scientific and photogenic data.

After refuelling, the Deepnight traced the comet back to the outer asteroid belt. Since the jump mask of the star stretched almost out that far (it was a small red dwarf system), they decided it would be worth going just that little bit further.

There were signs of mercury contamination in the belt, and it seemed to be coming from one of the two large planetoids. Several of the more icy bodies had similar web-like structures on them. The planetoid though was covered in large amounts of solid heavy metals, including mercury. The planetoid hasn’t formed with it, so the mercury and other metals must have arrived later. They never determined how it got there, but it must have been billions of years ago to give time for the ‘flowers’ to evolve.

The Deepnight continues on, coming across a world with large oceans and beautiful silvery fish with long trailing fins. The fish are also very tasty, so there are BBQs on the beach and time spent in R&R.

Soon it is New Year again, and celebrations are had aboard the ship on the 1st day of 1117. The fetus picked up from the Droyne stasis pods is ‘born’ on this day. A baby human girl, and nothing seems particularly strange about her. Obviously there will have to be something strange about her, but nothing obvious yet.

The players come up with a sweepstake of things that might happen in the following year:

  • We find an advanced shipyard where we can repair the deepnight – but (twist) it is already occupied by fungus;
  • Zenobia invents time travel and discovers that Dr Nekuna is her father;
  • We find a mirror world which has reversed versions of everyone;
  • We find a world inhabited entirely by clowns (possible typo here for clones);
  • Khadashi’s wife makes a guest appearance;
  • We invent a super jump drive and can go home and/or we find a wormhole that takes us home;
  • We find God or something approximating him/her/it;
  • Water tank 37 springs a leak and douses Kirk in cold water;
  • Someone has a baby by unnatural methods;
  • We find out the fungus is actually friendly;
  • We find some aliens but they are improbably only friendly to people wearing some specific colour.
  • There is a ship-wide shortage of tinfoil.

Then there is a world with lizard-like humanoids with large fangs and claws. The fact that they are less than a metre tall ruins their image somewhat, but they seem peaceful despite being carnivores. They have barely reached TL 0, so the world is simply used for resupply.

By now they are approaching the system of Lahosy. Radio signals from it suggest TL 7 or 8, but most of the TV broadcasts are bland to say the least. Much of the entertainment seems to consist of sitcoms, and there is little talk of anything exciting happening on the news.

The Deepnight comes out of jump in the outer system, and begins passively monitoring for anything interesting. There are comms satellites in orbit around the main world, but little elsewhere. No signs of planetary colonisation. There are some probes around the gas giants, but they look to have been dormant for decades.

World of Lahosy III

The Deepnight makes contact with the planet, but they are met with a degree of apathy. They’re not the first ‘aliens’ to arrive here, but even so there does seem to be an unusual lack of interest. Some of the communication satellites are higher tech than the others – maybe even TL 9 or 10. These seem to be part of some private communications network between several enclaves across the world.

Hacking into their computer systems isn’t too difficult, but despite the level of technology they seem capable of producing, there is a definite lack of mobile communications, personal computers and any source of non-passive information distribution. The various enclaves seem to be populated by oligarchs who have higher technology, but even they are limited in these areas. Automation seems heavily restricted as well, and there are still lots of manual labour and even manual office jobs.

Eventually someone contacts them, informing them that they can trade but they don’t want any contact that might disturb society. Apparently most visitors come from the ‘Tradeport Consortium’, which is to be found somewhere in Atlantis sector.

Scanning as much as they can, the Deepnight discovers that there are chemical factories often sited near water plants. Suspecting that something is being put into the water supply to control the population, they send down a probe to examine things more closely. However, the probe is shot down.

The government makes it quite clear that the Deepnight is not welcome. There is some concern amongst the crew that the population here is being heavily sedated and controlled, but they also seem happy – at least in a bland spending their time watching inane sitcoms sort of sense. In the end, there is no desire to interfere, so the Deepnight moves on.

Next session we should be moving into Atlantis sector, where there will probably be more complicated politics as they begin to encounter civilisations more comparable to the Imperium.

Samuel Penn

1 Response