Last Friday, we continued the scenario but did not get far. As it was a holiday here in Germany, we took our time for a little hotdog feast (yep, we like them here, too) and spend some more chatting about different things. In addition, one of my players has plans on taken up a game of „Das schwarze Auge“ (known as „The dark eye“ aboard) using the rules of „Savage Worlds(tm)“, so we took had been discussing some game rules, too. And I have to say, I am looking forward to be a player in his games again, he is doing a GREAT job as a GM. Anyway…
Clearing and leaving the research base took a lot longer than I had expected. I had Silicia (Mechincus Explicatoress and Assassina) check for Security before they turned out their signal jammer and as she scored quiet some DoS, I told the player about the possibility of the Magos having an implanted signal emitter. What followed was a discussion about how to deal with the situation. Their original plan was to call in their (servitor operated) Arvus Lighter to get away, but for that they would need to deactivate the vox jammer which in turn meant that IF there is a signal emitter, anybody in reach would detect the distress signal.
As there was one VTOL/hover aircraft still at the base, their next plan was about leaving with this one, but I explained to them that the clearing they had used as a landing spot was not large enough for a second vehicle to land safely. They had the idea of hovering over the Arvus with their VTOL and leave it via “abseiling”, but I made it clear to them this was a delicate operation if they would want to make sure that the VTOL-mode engines of the aircraft would not damage the close-by Arvus (stretching that if they damage their Arvus, they might not be able to leave. Dice can be bad). Next plan: hovering just high enough so that this would not happen. “Fine with me, but then I would like to see Athletic tests for abseiling” sums up my reaction quiet fine. It followed a brief argument about the actual height which I shut down quickly using GM-viat (“it is the tests I said, I am not going to discuss heights”]
[I HATE doing this. But as I am not well versed in the ways of the worlds and even less so when fictional technology and a non-simulative game systems comes into the mix, I sometimes feel like I have to be like that]
Next plan: landing the VTOL/hoverer on the canopy (using more than one tree as support). I first explained to them that the aircraft could turn and tumble until it is up-side down when branches or trees give. This was discussed as well, I agreed that it could not turn 180 degree around its axis while falling but still could slide to its side if the canopy gives. “Nothing you should overly fear”, I tried to explain “so it WILL leave you in a bad shape”. All the discussions were later cut short by one of the players (the one behind Silicia) who noted a detail even I had forgotten about: the tactical nuke they brought about to clear all evidence (dubbed “little boy”) was inside the Arvus, and they did not wanted to invest the extra time flying back. So, they ended up deactivate the jammer just long enough to call in the Arvus before turning it on again. And of course, this was without further consequences to them.
[Note to myself: describe landing places much better, get more familiar with airborne landing operation OR don´t hand them aircrafts]
As the Arvus Lighter came to their position about 20 minutes later, they did not only brought the Magos onboard but a cleaning servitor as well (that was although good for sterilizing operation theaters). Once in space (were the Arvus was flying much more smoothly) the Mechanica started to de-mechandrize the Magos. She was sad about having to do this, but went through it effectively and even disabled his kybernetic limbs. A further check for implants did not revealed the emitter, but they already knew it was there (the Mechanica had used her Augur array while the jammer had been off briefly) so they guessed (correctly) that it was far deeper inside the body or next to the Potentia coil, which meant removing it would take a full blown operation. They decided against it, as the range of the emitter would be 5km to 10km at best, and they already had left orbit without anybody hot on their trail (well, people down on Saliwaan had been busy due the tactical nuclear explosion in the forest. The logistic hub of the Mechanicus was under the impression of an attack and drew their meager forces IN in order to defend the main installations). Checks for “altered biological systems” revealed different modifications of the Magos, but none seemed like a direct weapon.
There was some inner-party roleplaying about how to further handle the prisoner, and it was the Mechanica (who was the prima inter parsis for this mission) that made sure that the Magos was treated “with as much honor as possible”. As the captive woke up from drug induced sleep, I narrated a brief scene of him trying to move, still disorientated, helpless and completely astranged by the fact that his limbs were not responding. I guess the Mechanica REALLY felt bad by now. About an hour later, as his mind had cleared, the conversation was very formal, very un-informative but as civil as the circumstances allowed. The Magos went into the equivalent to a shut-down (well, as much as a still biological person can do this) while they travelled to the far moon of the system, where they were meant to be picked up. The flight took about two days, and I did my best to make sure they understood what this means in a craft without facilities (like a washroom) and no place to sleep but the chair of the pilot and that of the vox-operator. They were wise enough to get out of their armor and to make use of the cleaning servitor to make sure that their “waste products” are taken care off and that the Arvus and themselves stayed clean as much as possible.
Once they reached the outer moon, they were hailed via vox with a code they were familiar with (from the Inquisitorial training). After they answered and identified themselves, a viper scout sloop powered up enough systems that the Arvus lighter´s sensors where finally able to note it. They were ordered to fly to an opening hanger bay. No further identification, no further communication. I described the size of the ship to them and told them that, while it was bigger than any system-ship they knew, it was about ¼ or 1/3 of the size of any voidship they had ever seen. This fact left them puzzled for a moment, and they were not sure if this might be a secret “special ship” or perhaps a spacemarine cruiser. The marine fanboy in my group denounced this quickly and I just smiled to myself. After all, none of their characters are from a background that would give them any detailed knowledge about the vessels of the imperial navy, so there was no need to give them any further insight…
As the hangar was filled up with air again, a troop of 20 armored soldiers with las carbines came in, taking up formation around the Arvus (without pointing guns) and only one of them stood apart. This one demanded them to identify, and quiet harshly so (although they had already been given identification codes via vox contact). The prima inter parsis decided to step outside, showing their symbol of authority while inside the Arvus, the SoB and the Arbitrator made themselves ready for battle.But as the sign was shown, the other troopers left the hangar upon an unheard (vox) command while the remaining trooper moved up and handed Silicia a coded mini-dataslate. It contained further instructions from their Inquisitor (put short: “travel with this ship till their next stop, leave the ship there with the craft you came in with, fly to those coordinates (giving in relation to the star of the system), hand over your captive and stay there till a familiar face picks you up”).
My players can be paranoid as hell, and being confronted with unknown threats and unknown allies (and me as a GM) always is a good reason for such. After all, so they reason, this is the 40k-universe and really strange and bizarre events take place here. So, they put up a list with supplies and equipment they
demanded requested (including some kind of impromptu toilet, field beds and a way to clean themselves) and handed it to the (waiting) trooper (who took it with him without a word). They plan to stay on board of their lighter and keep their captive with them. Supplies were provided to them (rations for a month, water for a week) without entering their Arvus (the goods just got pilled up in front of it) and the ship spend about 5 days travel in real space (as Arbitrator Eisenstein noted, as he was not throwing up…the player later “confessed” to me that choosing to grow sick EVERYTIME there is a warp transit was not purely…RP-based…) before it finally transfered into the warp. The characters set up quarter in the cargo bay of the Arvus, on their way to an unknown destination….