Mission 1: Hiltorel Colony

Mission summary

Mission synopsis

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 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.

Mission Debrief

Surviving player characters.

Surviving NPCs.

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.

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