Traveller SD2018 Session14Plot
Session 14: In which our heroes rescue the surviving crew of the Mare Vitae
The party continued their exploration of the Mare Vitae. They tried to use drones, but with the heavy shielding of the Mare Vitae, they quickly lost contact with the first drone and decided to explore in person. The party descended from the first lift to a second and then a third. The second had the recordings of the crew, and the third had the remains of one of the crew whose leg had been bitten off by a large creature. Careful study revealed that the crew member was the engineer Jenker, that the lift had been partially flooded for some period of time, that Jenker had been wearing an oxygen tank but only used one of eight hours of the supply.
Descending to the body of the main ship, they found a cable box and two large pools of water full of plants and fish. The whole area had, at some point been submerged. In the cable box, the power cable had been disconnected. The others provide connections to various jump and manoeuvre drives, the power plant, an alpha computer, life support, and internal communications. The party established that the alpha computer could connect to the other systems, reconnected it, the life support, and the communications. Using the connection to the alpha computer, they found a schematic for the ship and discovered that there was a third, larger pool, and a shark.
They followed an unflooded tunnel to the location of the alpha computer, which also housed a super advanced sensor suite. They saw that in most of the flooded, internal observation stations the windows had fallen out, so that pumps could not remove the water. Although the alpha computer was in the middle of the C compartment, the party realised that there was no apparent route from it to the rest of the compartment, and that any apparent route would involve opening a door which would flood a previously unflooded room and risk flooding the power plant. The party then decided to take an unapparent route by smashing down in internal, TL 12, transparent wall. It took Davon several careful swings against the wall to break it, but eventually he did, allowing the party access to an open pool. Davon and Artesia dived into the water, descended lower into the ship, traversed flooded corridors, and eventually reached the door to the cryoberths. Here, the shark prepared to ambush them. However, with his military tactics, Davon allowed the party to act before the shark swam in through the observation room window, and immediately obliterated the shark with a barrage of fragmentation grenades. Protected from the flechettes by heavy armour and some distance of water, Davon and Artesia shrugged off the effects of the grenade.
At this point, the M-drives sprang to life. Feidlimid went to investigate the junction box, Artesia went back to watch the M-drive, and Davon prepared to enter the cryoberths and revive any survivors. Feidlimid found that the Mare Vitae was plunging towards gas giant, despite Bravo's denials. The main lift rose and then descended again, and Bravo failed to explain this convincingly, causing Feidlimid to fear an ambush. When the lift doors opened, Feidlimid obliterated the probe drone within with his Gauss rifle, but was then immediately knocked unconscious, when Bravo stepped round from the concealed corner of the lift and fired with his stunner. Artesia and Davon were isolated from this, but able to contact each other directly with comms signals passing through an internal wall. Artesia went up to the bridge to investigate and was also ambushed and stunned. Bravo put Feidlimid in a vacc suit and then jettisoned each character into space.
Davon revived the two other crew members, led them up to the bridge, and was also attacked by Bravo. Bravo's armour allowed it to shrug off Davon's Gauss pistol shots, and Davon's battle dress allowed him to shrug off Bravo's stunner shots. Davon drew his broad sword and cut Bravo's robotic body down with a few quick blows. The rescued crew were able to shut down the computer running Bravo, regained control of the ship, and were able to scoop up Feidlimid and Artesia.
The Mare Vitae was intended both to research jump scars and to investigate long-term self-sufficiency for a ship. General construction had made at least two major errors in the construction of the experimental ship, the Mare Vitae. First, a flaw in the hull caused it eventually to leak. Although the water only jetted out briefly before it froze, the jet of water shook the ship violently, causing various parts to become flooded. Second, water pressure was used to keep the observation windows in place, so that once the observation rooms flooded, the windows fell out, and it was no longer possible for the pumps to remove the water. Once large parts of the ship were flooded, the shark was able to eat several of the crew members. In addition, Bravo, although programmed not to harm the crew, was programmed to try to destroy the evidence of a potential failure of the ship and thwarted the surviving crew in their attempts to do anything else. While the ship was still flooded and water was moving around erratically, the engineer Jenker went to the lifts and disconnected Bravo from the rest of the ship but was attacked by the shark after doing so and fled to the lift. The surviving crew managed to get from the sensors, through the engine room, a passage, and a flooded observation room to the cryoberths. In doing so, they flooded the corridor and the cryoberth room. With no windows, the cryoberth room could be pumped in a few minutes, allowing the survivors to freeze themselves. Unable to communicate with the main part of the ship, Bravo created the recording to mislead anyone else investigating, to warn itself not to descend further into the ship, and to alert itself that something had gone badly wrong but that the crew had not been enthusiastic about scuttling the ship; it then destoyed its long-term memory to conceal much of the evidence of what had happened.
The biologist Toy Hia had been particularly committed to investigating the possibility of maintaining a long-term, self-sufficient life support. She had refused to leave the ship and insisted the other crew carefully recorded what they eat and drank off the ship. General construction both had their experimental ships designed to conceal failings and hired private investigators generally to cause trouble for anyone investigating their ships. One of the party's many enemies, Guy Castle, was such an investigator and particularly committed to persuading thugs of the potential profit to be made in attacking the party.