Mission 1: Hiltorel Colony

Mission summary

After being roused from their cryosleep, the platoon is almost immediately thrust into action and sent out of the Nemesis to recover it's crashed nacelle and to raid a nearby Hiltorel colony for Stellaplex, an anomalous material needed for the ship to perform a successful takeoff. Despite stiff opposition and numerous casualties, the two squads manage to complete their objectives in the nick of time and the Nemesis makes a hasty retreat from the surface of the hostile planet.

Mission synopsis

In the brief planning phase before the mission, the platoon is divided up into two squads, Alpha and Beta, tasked with raiding the nearby colony of Huhoba Qitsit for Stellaplex and recovering the ship's lost nacelle, respectively. Immediately upon leaving the hangar bay of the Nemesis, both squads find themselves in the thick of combat and beset by enemy fighters. Both manage to escape towards their objectives while incurring only one casualty, with Miranda being felled by an elite Hiltorel fighter.

Alpha encounters a 4-ship strong reserve force guarding the skies of the city. After a brief, indecisive clash, the squad is beaten back, with both sides taking significant damage but neither being able to gain advantage over the other. Squad Beta abandons their skirmish with a Hiltorel force further south in order to go north and assist Alpha. Now facing a huge numerical disadvantage, the colony's defense force is rapidly overwhelmed and destroyed, opening the path for Alpha towards the gravplant. The two groups separate again, both quickly encountering ground-based resistance at their objectives.

Beta arrives at the nacelle only to run into an entrenched enemy watching over the colossal ship part. Meanwhile, Alpha is forced to deal with not only the gravplant's guard force, but their drakedog attack animals and additional fighters coming from the north. As the combat progresses, Miles and Lemons are killed in action.

Ultimately, Beta proves too much for the Hiltorel force to beat back, and they surrender after suffering grievous losses. Now in control of the nacelle, Beta tends to their wounded and explore the structure, encountering an unusual amount of explosives and a mysterious, apparently omniscient entity observing them. After an awkward exchange, the enigmatic figure disappears, but not before leaving the squad with a cryptic piece of advice: "the red path is the longest".
After attaching all the hooks to the nacelle, they find a group of Hiltorel scavengers inside, and Bob accidentally starts an unwanted firefight, while from outside two Hiltorel fighters attack. Ishmael manages to convince the Hiltorel to stand down and blow up the fighters, and eventually retrieve the box with mission orders after helping the Hiltorel save their trapped friend from inside.

Meanwhile, further north, Brom leads Alpha's charge towards the core of the gravplant, overcoming heavy resistance. The group attempts to increase the strength of the gravity in the colony in order to incapacitate their alien foes, but Buck's poorly thought-out hack not only manages to set the gravity to 0g, but also to put the entire city on lockdown as it detects the intrusion on it's systems. Now surrounded from all sides by Hiltorel and drakedogs, they are left with no option but to hunker down in the central room and begin extraction of the Stellaplex. As the battle begins to reach it's fever-pitch climax, Brom is incapacitated, leaving the squad functionally leaderless. To make matters worse, the remaining three combat-capable squadmates - Frank, Gene and Buck are now also beset by a monstrously large megadrake that reveals itself from the shadows. Now leaderless, bloodied and faced with almost no prospect of winning the battle, the three prepare for a brutal fight to the death. However, unbeknownst to them, Brom has managed to request the assistance of Beta just before being knocked out, who almost immediately set course for the gravplant to provide relief. Furthermore, the previously unconscious Vynkor is awoken by Mekkin behind the main battle and rejoins the fight, providing Alpha a much-needed morale boost. Finally, under the immense stress of the fight, Frank suffers a mental breakdown and goes berserk, charging the megadrake and engaging it in melee combat.

Emboldened by Frank's valiant charge and Vynkor's return to the fight, the squad provides ferocious resistance to it's attackers and, in an incredible reversal of fortunes, begins salvaging their previously hopeless situation and beating back the assault. Victory is finally achieved when Beta arrives at the gravplant and eliminates the last remaining opposition and Saoirse lands the finishing blow to the now grievously wounded megadrake. In a very brief moment of respite, the two squads quickly patch up whatever wounds they can, bag up the Stellaplex and begin fleeing back towards the Nemesis. Just before leaving the gravplant, Buck drops a nuke with the intention of destroying the colony, but is covertly thwarted by Saoirse, who disables the bomb before leaving herself.

Briefing

The Conference Room is located just ahead of the battle bridge. Its walls are actually rather thick and well-insulated from the noise of the rest of the ship. Occasionally there's a slight vibration, but overall, it's peaceful. It feels almost serene. Moreover, since the crash landing, someone went through and set all the chairs back up in their proper order and position. There's enough places at this long, tastefully-carved mahogany table for up to twenty or so people - perfect for peace talks, briefings, or just chatting it up after hours. There's even a picture of SCAMPS in all his electrobiological glory hanging up on the wall - even though the paper appears to be torn.

You'd heard rumors back in the cells of Tartarus, however many years ago it was, that the briefing rooms aboard their titular ship were glorious, and fit to banquet kings. This is considerably less flashy - possibly because, after all, the Nemesis is a warship. There are no fancy trays of food. There is no lounge and bar with alcohol, or smooth jazz music playing in the background. There is a table, and there are chairs. There aren't even windows.

The rest of the Nemesis Ten are already seated at the long, rectangular table in the center of the room, and you realize you should join them. You walk over to the table and take a place in an empty seat, just as the lights dim, and a screen at the far side of the room lights up.

SCAMPS here. Let's run through the typical newbie crap to start with: I don't give a damn about who you are, what you did, or what you think you know how to do. My job right now is to teach you what we need to survive. With that in mind, I'm going to start off with a major breach of protocol: revealing Tartarus's best-kept secret. Our Acting Captain protested this, but I think it'll be beneficial for you titsuckers to see just how bad things are. Maybe you'll pull less of the retarded shit most first-timers do.

Tartarus Incorporated, ladies and gentlemen, is a company that incarcerates criminals… and one that is also run by criminals. We tell the greenhorns they'll go free after the "Big One-Oh", but that's a bedtime story. After the tenth, we stick some probes in your head and analyze whatever's there. The crazy ones get spaced, while the rest get some mental conditioning to keep the company's secrets, and a choice. Some of you get shipped back home under a new alias. Most, though, sign on for a permanent job with Tartarus. We pay well, and the rest of us are criminals too. Anyone that learns this secret early typically gets a surprise execution, but right now, we need cooperation. We can't afford segregation. You'll eat with the crew, you'll work with the crew, and you'll sleep with the crew. Hopefully Tartarus won't kill you or something when we get back, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Welcome to your new life, shitbags. I hope I don't come to regret this as much as you will.

Now, on to business. I'm glad all of you could make it - that's a few more corpses I won't have to ditch yet.

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In case you weren't paying attention, it's the year 3152, and the galaxy is just as toxic as it ever was. We're out beyond the edge of humanity's domain on a covert operation. Nobody except up-top even knows we're here. There's no hope of rescue. Our battlecruiser got shot down over Nanyej yesterday, which is alien-speak for "backwoods shithole nobody's ever heard of". Someone overrode our shields, and our starboard nacelle came off during atmospheric entry. I won't mince words: It's sabotage. Our engines are shot for now, but our engineers are giving it their all. In the meantime, we're faced with a bigger issue: The Nemesis does not - nor did it ever - have the power to leave a planet's surface. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a military base nearby, and we expect to see some overwhelming firepower coming from that direction in short order.

In summary, we're in deep shit and short on time. Fortunately, we have a plan, which I'll walk you through. First, a map of the surrounding area.

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((Map scale: 20km across))

The pitifully small "X" on the left side of the map? That's us. Up northeast at the "Z" is the hiltorel colony of Huhoba Qitsit. The nacelle crash-landed south of that at the "Y" - unexpectedly intact, thanks to the hiltorel. At this point, those few of you that graduated preschool ought to have realized that we're on a planet with near-Earth gravity, which hiltorel can't handle. This is where our plan comes together.

The only way the hiltorel could live here is if they're using grav-tech - anomalous materials. Specifically, AM-0025, better known to you highschool dropouts as "stellaplex". Our engineers have rigged up a temporary grav-gen system to make the Nemesis - yes, the whole ship - lightweight enough to take off and reach escape velocity, but we can't do it without Huhoba's stellaplex. This is the primary objective: steal it and get back home. Five of your CASKETs will be equipped with harnesses and gear with which you can rip open their reactor, pull it out, and attach it to a CASKET. Pissing yourself is optional but not recommended. Our veteran REKT squads will back you up, led by Sergeant Anabais. Half of them will be heading out to attack Huhoba's meager spaceport as a distraction to draw their defensive fire.

I'm not deaf, by the way. I do in fact hear your idiotic sighs of relief. "Oh, thank FSM! An easy first mission! This isn't nearly as bad as I thought!" Tough luck, kiddos, there's more to it than that. I'll be splitting you into two squads: Alpha and Beta. You can divide yourselves up, but we have to hit both objectives at the same time. When the squids spot you, they'll realize that we in fact have more than ten functional fighters, and they'll ignore Anabais's diversion to wipe out Squad Alpha before they can acquire the stellaplex.

Beta will head east toward our old nacelle. We expect the hiltorel sent up ships equipped with harpoons to slow its descent. The desperate calamari bastards are probably looking for scraps, and they've almost certainly raided it by now. We would've left it alone, but our engineers suggested a plan to recover it. Acting Captain Retard made it an order, so now we're bringing it with us. Squad Beta will be equipped with a set of large hooks you'll affix firmly to the inner hull, spaced well apart, right where the nacelle was ripped from the Nemesis. Get the scavengers to scram, and get to work. And, finally, as a side objective: we need a local to interrogate so we can feel out the political situation in the area. Try to get one home unharmed.

Sort yourselves out and get down to the hangar within thirty minutes, or we'll string you to the hull.

The lights brighten again to a comfortable glow. The screen at the end of the room still holds SCAMPS' last image, and the holocomputers in the center of the table hold several 3D models of the Nemesis, the nacelle, and the hiltorel colony.

The job begins.

Introduction

The hangar is abuzz with activity. Engineers swarm around a set of ten CASKETs in the back half of the hangar. A man, waving his arms at you to get your attention, calls you over - you head in his direction, into the swarm of engineers. As you approach the man, you notice that your name has been spray-painted onto the floor in front of your CASKET. "I'm Hale," he shouts over the roar of the hangar, and then points at a wadded-up suit on a little cart beside you. "Suit up! You guys need to be out of here in three!" He holds up 3 fingers and taps his wrist, to make sure he got his point across. "When you're done, get in the cockpit and strap in!" Without waiting to answer questions, he turns and jogs toward the next CASKET, waving another inmate over.

You pick up the suit and look around. The engineers don't even look at you as they weld a few final parts to your soon-to-be ship. Clearly, modesty isn't appreciated here. You'll have to change right where you are.

A few minutes later, you're sitting in your cockpit, suited and ready for combat. The weapons you've purchased are already strapped to your suit in their appropriate holsters. As the canopy closes, the din of the hangar dies down, muffled. Engineers outside make hand motions at you to start up your CASKET, and you do, pressing the appropriate buttons. You've never done this in your life, but somehow, it feels like you've done it a thousand times before. The screens about you flash and light up, the engines sputter and hum behind you, and the comms crackle to life.

It's SCAMPS, of course. "All right, assholes," he says, "I'm transferring you to lieutenant Cho Dyoun. After a few minutes with her, you'll probably want to start begging for me to come back. Don't. I'm too busy, and you're not important enough. Don't forget: You are all expendable. We've got close to a hundred of you popsicles out back still. This is an experiment to find out what our 'secret cryo program' did to your skulls. Don't come back until the mission is complete. If you fail, we'll let you die, and Anabais's platoon can scavenge our shit from the spaceport. She's an interesting one, and only mildly better than Cho. SCAMPS out."

The comms fall silent - but just for a moment. It's not long before you hear the energetic voice of a young woman. "Hellloooooo! I'm Lt. Cho Dyoun! You can call me Cho, okay? I'll be your Flight Tactics Officer for this mission, because SCAMPS is too busy. He said you people were in cryo!! It must've been so exciting - I can't wait to ask you guys more about it when you get back! …But we should probably focus on the mission for now. You're going to have so much fun today! I wish I was still going on missions, and this place looks like it would be wonderful to explore! You're so lucky."

This is not what you expected, but you can certainly understand SCAMPS' hatred for her.

"I wish I had time to get to know all of you personally," Cho continues, "but SCAMPS said I have to get you out of here ASAP, so… I guess that means introductions will need to wait until later!" She laughs. "Now remember, everyone, I'll only be able to give you assistance within ten kilometers of the Nemesis. Our comms are in bad shape, and Huhoba Qitsit is interfering with our transmissions. We'll get that sorted soon enough, don't worry. Communicating is important! I'm going to pester our engineers until they fix it, but for now, let's get moving! Does everyone have their engines idling?" There's a pause as she checks her instruments. "Okay, good! Look at the numbers on the deck and lift off in that order. Lemons and Caleb, you're up first, followed by Buck and Frank, Brom and Bob…"

As your turn comes to take off, you apply power to the thrusters and your CASKET lifts up from the surface of the hangar, hovering effortlessly. As far as cheap fighters go, it's quite agile. You turn toward the launch tube at the front of the hangar and apply power to the engines; your ship responds accordingly. You glide carefully around the battle bridge, where it protrudes from the hangar ceiling. As you pass, you spot a young woman with dark pigtails waving enthusiastically at you. You realize it's probably Cho, but she and the bridge rapidly fall behind. It's not much longer until you're out of the hangar, accelerating down the launch tube beside one of the people from the other squad - and then you're out into the harsh, bright light of Nanyej's sun.

"Try to gain some altitude as you head northeast," Cho advises everyone. "You want to make sure you have clearance from the ground in case something happens! And… Uh oh - Reyha?"

Your FTO falls silent for a moment, seemingly talking to someone else on the battle bridge. You take your CASKET upwards while you wait, and the Nemesis falls away in the valley behind you.

Laughing nervously, Cho apologizes: "Okay, sorry guys, but there's been a slight change of plans! I was hoping to put everyone through a few quick exercises to help you get adjusted, but… well, our other FTO had one of our surviving REKT squads keeping the Huhoba fighters at bay, but they…" She pauses, trying to word it properly. You notice that her voice gets a lot higher pitched when she's nervous. When she finally speaks again, it comes out in a rush: "Well, they've seen you and they're coming down over the ridge to the north and you've got to get out of here! They weren't supposed to know you were coming, but it's too late for that now. Leave the fighters to Kendall and his group and try to evade - split up if you need to, and get to your objectives. If you can't shake them off, fly back to the Nemesis and we'll try to have our AA take them down - that's not ideal, though, because it would give them time to prepare. … What are you waiting for?? Go! Hurry!!"

Just then, a bright streak flashes past ahead of you; a plasma barrage narrowly misses one of your squadmates. You're already in trouble, and the mission has hardly even started.

Squads

Maps

Turns and highlights

Turn # System events Player actions
Briefing SCAMPS briefs the Nemesis Ten about the mission; discussions start
Turn 0 The REKT members launch out of the hangar and immediately get told to move it by FTO Cho because dangerous enemy fighters are approaching
Turn 1 Squad alpha and beta flee towards their targets, except Miranda who chooses to argue instead and gets blown up
Turn 2 Seven fighters appear in two groups. Squad alpha reaches the ridge in front of the colony, peeks over and gets spotted by 4 fighters, Squad beta gets close to the nacelle and is spotted by three scavenger crafts
Turn 3 A freighter takes off from the nacelle. Squad alpha is in deep shit. Squad beta manages to kill one scavenger and scare off the other two. Player 11 (Vynkor) enters the game.
Turn 4 Squad Beta turns north and attacks the high-level enemy approaching Alpha, assisted by Meseilke, a higher-level REKT pilot. Lemons flees for his life. Squad Beta attempts to retreat and regroup, while Vynkor joins them.
Turn 5 The squads regroup. Alpha leads the remaining enemies into an ambush laid by Beta, who manage to kill two. Gearhead starts repairs on Buck's ship.
Turn 6 Brom, Frank, Bob and Vynkor take out the final ship harassing Miles. Miles escapes and Vynkor checks his CASKET out. Gearhead and Caleb work on repairs, and Saoirse and Brom group up and check out a downed hiltorel fighter.
Turn 7 Saoirse and Brom loot the Hiltorel fighter, Gearhead tries to fix Lemon's ship, Lemons is an ass, the rest twiddles thumbs
Turn 8 Everyone splits. Squad Alpha flies toward their objective. Squad Beta tries to attack the enemy at the nacelle but forget that AA is a thing. Hilarity ensues. Caleb and Bob both get their ships shot down.
Turn 9 Four fighters approach Alpha from the north Alpha makes contact with Anabais's squad and sets down near the Grav Plant. Beta comes under heavy PSI attack by the hiltorel as they attempt to figure out the situation, and Lemons, after landing atop the nacelle, falls to his death
Turn 10 Alpha bravely lets Vynkor fight off most of the guards by herself and she gets shot, Beta continues to engage the Hiltorel near the nacelle, Caleb nearly gets blown up and is not happy, blinksquid attacks Gearhead suddenly
Turn 11 Hiltorel fighters attack Alpha Alpha fends off an attack by Hiltorel ships, Miles dies and goes to burrito heaven, Ishmael joins Beta, Beta starts to get the upper hand, Saoirse learns to fly
Turn 12 Hiltorel commander Lysoda bravely flees from Beta Alpha takes down all but one fighter, Beta takes down all but two Hiltorel (one surrenders, one flees)
Turn 13 Alpha takes down the last hiltorel fighter and gets back to the gravplant, Beta gets patched up and interrogate the prisoner
Turn 14 Alpha enters the grav plant, Beta applies 1 hook, enters the nacelle, meets a mysterious figure, and fails at tying up a prisoner
Turn 15 Alpha proceeds into the grav plant, Frank puts a spoon in the microwave, Beta ties up their prisoner and enters the nacelle, encountering the mystery figure again
Turn 16 Alpha fixes Franks mess and gets attacked by alien stuff, Beta talks to the mysterious figure, Bob hurts himself, Gearhead tries to attach hooks
Turn 17 Alpha shoots mostly each other and some weird dragon things, Beta watches the mysterious figure vanish mysteriously and patches up Bob
Turn 18 Alpha comes up with a cunning plan which everyone abandons to send Brom in alone; Frank tranquilizes a drakedog. Beta affixes three different hooks to the nacelle, while also uncovering some new enemies
Turn 19 After some consideration while Brom is nearly being eaten by drakedogs, Alpha decides to work together and manages to send them fleeing after a good gravgun shot; Beta attaches the last hooks and tries to convince the Hiltorel to leave without battle
Turn 20 2 Hiltorel fighters approach Beta, REKT veterans are pissed at Alpha Alpha diplomatically murders Hiltorel guards, Beta gets in an unintended firefight and is almost attacked by 2 fighters
Turn 21 Alpha gets hit by a flash grenade, but Buck steps up to save the day; Beta immobilizes the squids in their firefight (and Bob), while Gearhead shoots down one of the fighters. Caleb fumbles uselessly with controls.
Turn 22 Buck saves the day (or at least a minute of it) for Alpha, Vynkor faints; Bob regains sweet freedom, the squids surrender, Caleb gets partly blown up, Saoirse and Gearhead blow up the last fighter
Turn 23 Alpha gets locked in the grav plant while Hiltorel look at their fancy caskets; Bob and Ishmael help the Hiltorel save their friend and get the box, Gearhead patches up Caleb, Saoirse wonders if the Nemesis has an HR department
Turn 24 Vet squad stops being decoys Alpha manages to set the gravity for the entire colony to 0g, and begin the extraction process. Beta putters around doing things, Caleb wakes up, and Gearhead gets shouted at by squids because he sucks at being friendly.
Turn 25 Alpha defends themselves and tries to negotiate with the squids; Beta puts Caleb in a ship, contact is re-established between Alpha and Beta
Turn 26 Alpha tries to fend off an attack, drakes try to eat Brom; Beta flies north to go and save Alpha's ass again
Turn 27 Frank goes wild, Vynkor becomes one with the shadows until Saoirse blows bubbles, Anabais fends off ships with the help of Gearhead's laserpointer
Turn 28 Autohack completes, stellaplex ready for stealing With joint forces, the grav plant crew defeats the last enemies inside and the megadrake, while Ishmael and Gearhead do the logical thing and attack ships with no ship weapons, and Caleb chills and has sophisticated chats; Gearhead dies
Turn 29 Mission end Brom and Bob load up the stellaplex, everyone gets in their ship and leaves, Buck tries to nuke the colony but Saoirse sneakily interferes, everyone reaches the Nemesis after an intense chase, Nemesis takes off without needing the stellaplex (?), everyone gets patched up insofar possible

Mission Debrief

Surviving player characters.

Bob

  • Credits earned: 6450
  • Promotion points earned: 0
  • Medical status: Left hand mauled beyond current ability to fix; will be wrapped in bandages and mostly unusuable as a main hand for two weeks. Once healed, will find grasping with that hand difficult unless arm is replaced

Brom

  • Credits earned: 9400
  • Promotion points earned: 1210
  • Promoted to Airman 1st Class
  • Medical status: Right arm amputated, replaced with robotic prosthetic. Chest treated and bandaged. Blood supply replenished. Some damage to lungs; running ill-advised until they heal (one month)

Buck Roberts

  • Credits earned: 8950
  • Promotion points earned: 1060
  • Promoted to Airman 1st Class
  • Medical status: Leg injuries treated and bandaged. May have a permanent limp; running ill-advised. Will require crutches until injuries heal (one week) and then needs to avoid running for one month

Caleb Moore

  • Credits earned: 5600 (+3000 from completing his side mission; total of 8600)
  • Promotion points earned: 700
  • Medical status: Both legs amputated, replaced with robotic prosthetics. Other injuries bandaged.

Frank Foster

  • Credits earned: 7850
  • Promotion points earned: 130
  • Medical status: Severe wounds to torso have been treated and bandaged. Blood supply replenished. May cough during physical exertion until chest heals (one month)

Gene Weber

  • Credits earned: 5000
  • Promotion points earned: 570
  • Medical status: Leg bandaged, chest bandaged; crutch required until wound behind knee heals enough (one week)

Ishmael

  • Credits earned: 8350
  • Promotion points earned: 930
  • Medical status: Much surgery and reconstruction on face; bandaged; must eat only special liquid rations for next week; scarring is permanent until better facilities are available

Saoirse

  • Credits earned: 10000
  • Promotion points earned: 1340
  • Promoted to Airman 1st Class
  • Medical status: Some surgery on leg; leg treated and bandaged, crutch required until it heals enough (one week)

Vynkor

  • Credits earned: 7350
  • Promotion points earned: 310
  • Medical status: Left arm amputated; replaced with robotic prosthetic. Blood supply replenished. Chest treated and bandaged

Temporarily deceased characters

These players must choose whether to resurrect their character or create a new one. Credits from this character will be lost if a new character is created, and inventory will go to whomever brought the items back.

During this mission, the Nemesis was not equipped to resurrect characters. If a character died in-mission, they stayed dead without exception.

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