Alpha Dawn
Alpha Dawn

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Crash on Volturnus - Turn 1.7 - Touchdown on Volturnus

Ciara Anne
GeorgeSkeinsuit (35/50)
Jim Jitsu
Jim and Alzarix have spent a good deal of the lifeboat trip fixing systems and then patching up holes caused by the automatic weapons fire the lifeboat sustained just before departing the Serena Dawn. Carter has spent virtually the entire three and a half hour trip engrossed in the high end chronocom, attempting to defeat the security so that the group can make use of it. Gorman, after completing surgery on Alzarix, put away his medical tools and spent most of the rest of the trip studying some of his portable medical journals. The rest of the group talked about their impending landing and made contingency plans for various scenarios. The most hopeful scenario is that the lifeboat would land in the general vicinity of the UPF Outpost (which would hopefully be manned by loyal UPF personnel and not pirates). The worst case scenario is that the lifeboat will break up or otherwise crash land and everyone would perish. Every other scenario lies somewhere between those two extremes.
With the pilot console readout showing 45 minutes until landing, a warning voice comes over the hidden speakers of the lifeboat and orders everyone to be seated and fasten their safety harnesses. Ensign Fury and Jim remain in the pilot seats while everyone else finds seats. By this time, all gear is securely stowed.

Time passes as the lifeboat enters the atmosphere. They are looking down on the daylight side of the planet but can see nothing due to total cloud cover. After a bit, the lifeboat passes into the nighttime side of the planet as it continues to descend. As it gets into the upper atmosphere, some of the ship's electrical systems begin to flicker and dim and then brighten again. Fortunately the ship's engine is not affected by this phenomena. The intensity of the electrical interference becomes more severe as the ship gets closer to the ground. On the pilot console, some of the indicator lights flash and die. Popping can be heard from inside the console that Jim just spent much of his time repairing. Readouts show danger levels or nothing at all.

Then, as suddenly as it started, it ends. Those lights and readouts that were not damaged by the electrical interference go back to showing everything as normal. Unfortunately, the indicator that showed how long until landing was one of those damaged by the interference. A few minutes later however, the computer voice again comes over the speakers and says in a pleasant, calm voice, "prepare for crash landing" and goes on to suggest a closed up pose for humans to take in preparation. It gives no suggestions for the other three races.

A moment later, air brakes come on and the ship begins to slow. The braking factor becomes more and more pronounced and then there is a sudden but not particularly violent lurch as the ship touches, skids a few meters and then comes to a halt.

The group has arrived on the surface of Volturnus.

CIARA: The young scientist let out a long sigh of relief and unbuckled promptly. She went to the viewscreen to see what she could learn about where they landed.

CIARA (GM): Ciara is interested in knowing the coordinates, outside temperature, terrain type, and elevation of their landing spot.

GM: The only indicators that still seem to be functioning correctly are showing that the air is breathable.

ALYSON: She says,"Well any landing you can walk away from is a good one." She looks at the nearest people to make sure they made it.

MYKEL. “I’ll second that”. He unfastens the safety catches and stands up. “Anyone for taking a peek around outside? I’d like to get organized and away from the lifeboat. Of course, that assumes that the pirates are likely to find us first.” He pauses for a moment. “Did anyone get a chance to grab weapons from the last group of pirates?”

ENSIGN FURY: George unfastens his harness and stands up. "I'll go out with you. Since Ciara has skill and training in survival in hostile environments, I would suggest she go as well. We'll do a quick assessment of the surrounding area and come back, agreed?"

The two means of seeing outside are through the viewscreen in front of the pilot console, and a small porthole in the exit door at the rear. Both are showing a very dark night outside. You get a vague sense that you landed in a large open area.. Some of the dials and gauges that measure the external environment were fried by the electrical interference of the atmosphere but enough are active to show that the air is breathable - which is not a surprise and you knew this prior to departing on your trip.

CIARA: "Agreed, I'd want to make sure there aren't any toxins in the area before we expose the entire group. While we take a look, I'd suggest the other divvy up the gear and get ready to set out. Since it appears dark out there we'll need to have our lights at the ready." She slings her pack over her shoulders. Her envirokit is at her side, ready for easy access.

MYKEL: turns to Ensign Fury with a bit of a grin. "So, still feel you need to follow regs and not talk about the wildlife?"

ENSIGN FURY: George looks surprised that Mykel remembered that conversation. He replies, "No, now that we are on the surface with pirates chasing us, I will mention that there is at least one indigenous, intelligent race living on Volturnus. There may be more than one. Their tech level is low. I don't know anything else about them. I have training in xeno linguistics, which is why I was chosen for this posting."

JIM JITSU: Jim unfastens his restraints and leans close to the console sniffing for a smell that might indicate fire, with fried electronics and an uncertain amount of damage he worries there may still be a crisis with the boat.

JIM JITSU: Intuition Ability check to spot a problem before it becomes a problem: [rolled (60) Failure]

ENSIGN FURY: "Maybe you technician types should check over the lifeboat while we are out scouting."

S'LCH: The landing was better then he feared it would be. He had done what he could and he had his assignment of gear to carry out, now he simply waited for other to do what they were good at and hopefully give the all clear to move out.

Mykel, Ciara and George head to the aft end of the lifeboat. Ciara peers out through the small porthole in the hatch but it is pitch black outside and she can't see anything. She levers up the hatch handle to unseal the door, a function that would have been automatically overridden if the air pressure outside was substantially different from that inside. She heaves open the door - and as quickly as possible shuts it again. Although she did not see anything particularly alarming, Ciara, Mykel and George all felt the blast of intense cold that came in through the open door. The outside temperature is clearly well below zero. Even the rest of the members of the group, further up the central aisle of the lifeboat, felt the momentary chill.

"I was not expecting that," Ciara says. "Let's change into the thermal coveralls from the survival packs and layer on additional clothing. Just from the quick exposure we had, I make the temperature to be about minus 25 degrees give or take 5. If I am correct, let's plan for not more than 15 minutes or so outside on this excursion."

GM: Just for reference, I plan to always refer to temperature in Celsius. -25 C is -13 F.

As Ciara explains the new external reality to the rest of the group, she, Mykel and George quickly change into the thermal coveralls and then layer on additional clothing from their personal equipment. Once they are ready, they open the hatch and exit. Gorman is right there to make sure the door is fully shut after they depart. He shivers as the closes the hatch and then finds a pair of thermal coveralls for himself.

Jim and Alzarix look under the console and examine other parts of the lifeboat but find no immediate indicators that might threaten the lifeboat. Jim gets to work fixing some of the external gauges, particularly the thermometer, while Alzarix carries out a more in-depth examination of the lifeboat and her systems.

Using flashlights, Ciara, Mykel and George examine the exterior of the lifeboat and the area around it. The lifeboat seems to have landed on a cold, bleak, rocky plain. It is relatively flat and windy, with a brisk easterly wind blowing at about 30 kph. Tiny drifts of snow have collected in cracks and against small protrusions that have prevented the wind from blowing them further.

Ciara takes a reading on her compass and then the three describe a circular route around the lifeboat that ranges further with each pass. About a hundred yards south of the lifeboat, they come across a complex outcropping of rocks that range as high as 10 to 15 meters. Large drifts of snow are packed against the windward side of the outcropping. With the three approaching their self-imposed 15 minute limit, they don't take time to explore the extent of the outcropping but it seems to range to the south for at least a few dozen meters and possibly much further. If they had to abandon the lifeboat, they could find shelter from the wind among these rocks, as well as a ready supply of snow to provide for drinking needs. All three hope sincerely that it doesn't come to that as the outcropping would do little to help against the blistering cold.

JIM JITSU: Jim dutifully performs repairs on the gauges wondering if its really needed thinking of old man Jones in the arcology back on Gran Quivera with his balcony garden and "Weather Rock". [vroll-40]

JIM JITSU: Jim talks to S'lch and Carter (was Cater the other crew technician?) "We should consider what we can cannibalize from the boat to improvise for weapons and equipment. Fuel that might help as a fire starter or improvised molotov cocktail, Wire and a power source running the console for a security perimeter to deliver a shock or activate an alarm, light or buzzer, a sled from plating to drag excess equipment on, some improvised shovels might be of help too. Hell any compressed air cylinders might be handy."

S'LCH: The vursk nods in agreement. "Given what they are reporting about the weather heat and power sources seem like a priority"

JIM JITSU: Jim, "You're right Slich, a heater or stove should be the priority. The thing is I'm not sure if this boat has power packs embedded in the consoles or just a parabattery that powers all the electronics on the boat.We should investigate that because a parabattery is too heavy to carry and will require a sled."

JIM JITSU OOC: Not sure what subskill to roll on so I'll go with my best because this is just Jim poking his nose to look around and see what can be cannibalized so Detecting Alarms/Defense looking for the power sources on the boat, equipment that might be re-purposed, fuel for fires, etc. More or less the cannibalization of the balloon gondola in Mutiny on the Eleanor Mores at the beginning of that adventure. [rolled (65) Failure]

ALZARIX: He gets ready to go out into the cold temperature outside. When he is finished dressing, 'Jim, I am going to go get a look at the outside of the craft to see if I can find any access maintenance access panels. The should be some outside.' With that he will go outside a walk around the craft marveling at harsh environment that they have landed

ALZARIX: (GM) fyi reminder.... He has low light vision. What does he see around the craft? Environment and structure wise.

JIM JITSU: Jim is still considering how to cannibalize the boat for their needs when Alzarix makes noise about examining the outside of the craft. Dutifully he dons the thermal outfit that Ciara set aside for him and the nylon bag of equipment and readies the flash light from the nylon bag and he joins Alzarix outside.

JIM JITSU: Irony strikes him, he's back to being the work-a-day technician on the Seara Dawn that had been boring him so much. The excitement of the pirate attack and imagining himself as some sort of galactic hero had been thrilling but now it seemed the excitement was over and Jim would be back to the grind same as on the ship. He'd love to go back to the excitement of conning marks and sneaking into places to steal but he had promised his dralasite cell mate in prison he'd go straight and the things Dulous had taught him, like martial arts had not only saved him in prison but had given him a new start and new career till he messed it up on Clarion station. One thing Jim never betrayed was a promise and he couldn't break the promise to Dulous, besides in this wilderness what business was he going to rob?

JIM JITSU: Outside the craft the air stings his lungs and bites at exposed flesh so he buttons up the hood and mittens and commences to examine the craft with Alzarix.

JIM JITSU: [rolled (41) Success] operate machinery subskill or Detect Alarms/ defenses subskill [rolled (89) Failure]

ALYSON: She asks,"Do we have enough suits?" She could not recall if they did or did not.

CIARA (GM): Does Ciara have any sense where they are on the planet? Maybe once the sun rises between its position in the sky and her compass she could determine rough latitude? Did she have enough data from the research team to know what the current season is? Also, do we have a way to tell what time is it?

CIARA: Ciara will update the group on their findings once they return to the lifeboat.

Ciara, George and Mykel return to the lifeboat and report their findings. Ciara recalls someone on the research team mentioning that it was currently summer at the location where they would be landing which makes her wonder if they are in opposite hemisphere. Or they could be in the same hemisphere but much closer to the pole. In any event, it would seem that they are likely a very long ways from the UPF outpost. Ciara hopes that when daylight comes, she can get a better sense of where they are on the planet.

By this time, Jim and Alzarix have completed the interior repairs and feel assured that the lifeboat is not likely to explode on them. The sewage system is working fine and Jim was able to fix the temperature gauge on the console. The two decide to head outside to see what they can see. Once outside, barely protected from the bitter cold by the inadequate thermal suits, they poke around. They find access panels but find it difficult to operate their tools in the extreme cold. They manage to remove three of eight bolts from one of the access panels before the bitter cold drives them inside. They rest for a bit and restore circulation before heading back out for another go at it. It takes the better part of an hour and a half before they finally remove the access panel. There they find that the lifeboat is powered by a big (type IV) parabattery. The indicator is showing at 60% power. Most of the power usage so far was likely from the trip from the Serena Dawn. Now that the lifeboat is on the ground, they expect that power usage will drop off sharply. Both expect that the parabattery will likely be able to power the lifeboat, including heaters, for at least 5 to 6 days of nominal power usage and maybe longer.

They return to the interior of the lifeboat.

There is little else to be done until daybreak so most of the group spends time resting. Two hours later, the first vestiges of light can be seen in the eastern sky. It is still heavily overcast so daylight comes hesitantly. By and by however, full daylight finally dawns revealing a cold, barren landscape of cracked rock and occasional outcroppings. The westerly wind has died somewhat but is still a factor. The external temperature is showing minus 23 degrees. Snow swirls in the air, carried along by the stiff wind until it hits an outcropping of rock, where it piles up.

As the unseen sun rises higher behind the thick layer of clouds, the temperature finally starts to improve.

Carter, who has not slept at all since he started working on the Bittole Chronocom (Bittole is the brand name of the device and they are known for making upmarket devices - not quite the Rolex of chronocoms but much better than typical chronocoms). He finally succeeds in cracking the code and resetting the encryption so that he can make use of it. As expected, he finds that the device is capable of encrypted communications though that doesn't do the group much good since two such devices would be necessary for long range encrypted communications. He also finds that the previous owner was a music connoisseur and has an extensive library of music on the device.

He also finds a couple of interesting data files.
  • DF - Serena Dawn - This data file has the Serena Dawn's itinerary. It also has the names of passengers and crew together with additional information about each such as contact information, age, gender, net worth, extended family and their likely net worth, etc. It also has a cargo manifest and shows a large amount of military hardware in the holds of the Serena Dawn, destined for the UPF Outpost. The holds also contained several prefabricated buildings broken down to component parts.
  • DF - Serena Dawn Attack Plan - This file has a general overview of the attack plan for the Serena Dawn. The plan was to surprise the ship as it approached Volturnus. Certain members of the crew would ensure that no alarm was raised as the pirate ship approached and boarded the Serena Dawn. One thing that this file makes clear is that all passengers and crew must be captured or killed. Capture is preferable to killing but those who resist should be killed. The file also mentions that some passengers and crew might be able to escape in lifeboats in which case the pirates will find and capture them later. The lifeboats are preprogrammed to seek a landing on Volturnus. The programming has been modified to ensure that the lifeboats seek a landing in some of the more inhospitable regions of the planet that are still with a few hundred kilometers of the pirate base. The lifeboats will be located by triangulating on EPIRB signals.

GM: Let me know what you want to do on your first day on Volturnus.

CIARA (GM): Can you update the Equipment Gained doc with the supplies from the survival kits from the lifeboat?

GM: Done. Each person should add the following to their equipment list in their online character sheet:
  • Nylon kit bag (also functions as a simple backpack
  • Thermal coverall
  • Survival belt
  • Survival tent
  • All weather blanket
  • Everflame
  • Concentrated rations (10 person days)
  • Emergency radio
  • Multi-tool
  • Water purification tablets (container of 25)
  • Compass
  • Inflatable life jacket
  • Flashlight
  • 15m nylon cord
  • Goggles

CIARA: As Carter reports on his findings on the encrypted Chronocom, Ciara mutters under her breath, "those evil bastards".

CIARA: "Well, it looks like we probably don't have much time before the pirates find us even with the EPIRB turned off. It seems like we'll need to get away from the lifeboat as soon as it's safe to do so. That will depend on how well we can survive the area's extreme conditions."

CIARA (GM): Before I start throwing out ideas, Ciara needs to check on the viability of certain actions.

1) Given the supplies we have, how easily could we make shelter for the nighttime temps once we leave the lifeboat?

2) How much better are the temps during the day for travel? Will the thermal coveralls be good enough? How good is our footwear? Do we need to fashion some pullover shoe coverings?

3) Can we use the extra survival tents and extra all weather blankets to make a winter 'poncho' that can give the group better protection against the cold?

4) Do we have enough supplies to make a sled to put extra equipment and gear from the lifeboat to take with us?

5) Given what Ciara has witnessed so far, how easily will the weather disguise our tracks once we leave the lifeboat?

6) Can Ciara determine our relative position on the planet? Given the compass readings and the position of the sun, is that enough to get a rough sense of what latitude we're at? My goal is to identify a direction we'll want to head in.

1) Assuming the night time temperatures are about the same as they were the previous night, you should be okay. You have plenty of tents and all weather blankets and can bundle together for warmth. You won't be comfortable but will be able to survive.

2) You have not yet seen the day time temperatures. Do you want me to fast forward through the first day? The coverall can be worn under clothing and includes "booties" over which shoes or boots can be worn. With the extra blankets, you can also fashion ponchos so, if the temperatures climb at least 10 degrees during the day, you should be okay for travel. Again, you won't be comfortable but shouldn't freeze to death either.

3) Yes

4) Good idea. You have 2 technicians with techkits who can probably fashion some sort of sled.

5) The wind keeps the snow from sticking to the rocky ground. Tracks should not be an issue. To Ciara, this appears to be a desert and the snow is probably old and has been blowing around for a long time. She gets the feeling the new snow is rare.

6) Go ahead and make a Finding Directions roll.

CIARA: Once there is sufficient light, Ciara will attempt to determine the best direction for the group to take in fleeing the lifeboat.

CIARA TECH: Find Direction [rolled (24) Success]

S'LCH: The vrusk took some of the down time to rest. He also took the vrusk thermal coveralls that they had and got dressed the best set they had. While his body made him more stable when the ground shook it also had more exposed surface area and more parts in direct contact with the ground. He did not want to lose any parts because he failed properly cover himself.

S'LCH: Hearing the report from Carter about the data files he replied, "Sounds like the pirate have set this trap up pretty well." He wasn't a tactician but hopefully others were. "Is there any way we can turn this around on them?"

ALYSON: She throws this out there,"Anyone skilled in survival? Just asking."

CIARA: "Yes, I've been trained in survival. My education has been focused on planetary sciences so I can analyze aspects of the environment as well. Luckily, I was carrying one of the research team's Envirokits," she says patting the bag by her side, "so I have the basic equipment as well."

CIARA: "Adding to that, I can help the group move stealthily away from here and attempt to conceal our presence. I'm not terribly seasoned at all this but I do have the training and some field experience."

ALYSON: She smiles and says,"Well you got the job. Lucky you. Could we call our hunters? They would need to come down here to attack us? Shuttle themselves down here. We could ambush them and take their shuttle?"

ALZARIX: The Escape Shuttle/Pod was automated to land here. But could we lift off and fly it to another location?

GM: The lifeboat is intended to be a one time emergency use vehicle. Once it lands, it is done. It would require significant modifications to both the electrical/mechanical systems as well as the computer programming for that to be able to occur. You would have to build an operating console since the "pilot" console on the lifeboat has no controls. Either that or change the programming to allow someone to punch in a destination that would cause the lifeboat to lift up, fly to the new destination and safely land. Based on your current skills and the facilities you have available, it does not seem likely to work. Good idea though.

GM: I will time flow through the first day with the assumption that everyone is preparing to depart the lifeboat and scavenging for useful parts, such as components to build a sled or, better yet, a wheeled hand cart of some sort.

CIARA: "I've looked over our survival kits and we can do this. I do see an issue with how much we can collectively carry but I wonder if we can make a sled from parts of the lifeboat that can allow us to carry more. I can fashion some additional protection against the elements to help us keep from freezing if we travel during the days and we can make a shelter to survive the nighttime temperatures."

CIARA: "I don't know how much time we have until the pirates come looking for us but I don't dare stay here any longer than we have to and I certainly don't want to risk staying another night in the lifeboat. With these winds, I'm not concerned that they'll be able to follow our tracks. I did wonder if we should make the lifeboat explode or catch fire to raise doubt that we survived."

CIARA: "I have no knowledge of military tactics so I'm looking to those of you with that expertise to guide us but I don't like our chances of waiting for armed pirates to zero in on us."

JIM JITSU: "So we know the pirates have an outpost near to here and they will come looking; lets give them something find. Perhaps we can make some fake graves and have someone leave a video message here in the life boat taking about burying the rest and striking out on their own. I have a lot of experience at, oh call it bluffing, I'm sure I could sell the fiction. When the pirates find the lifeboat and they think that most of us are dead and that one or two of us wandered off to freeze they might stop looking for us. If we spray a little plasti-flesh from a med kit on my face and put my arm in a sling, they'll assume that I'm wounded and may assume that a wounded man wandering in the cold is probably dead. We can short out the parabattery and I make some noise in the video that without power and the prospect of freezing here I decided to head south if I could figure which way was south. Give them a plausible story to believe. And if they dont fully believe it or just want to make sure we can leave an arrow made from chairs and hull plates or whatever pointing south-ish but not in the southerly direction we're headed.

JIM JITSU: I just dont see rank and file criminal types wanting to be too vigorous about looking for us if they think we're dead."

CARTER: I agree with making the fake graves (quickly) and an arrow, but I think creating a video/radio message might be pushing our luck. But whatever we decide to do I think we need to do rapidly and leave the area before the pirates are able to find the shuttle. EPIRB off or not, it is only a matter of time before they do that.

ALYSON: She says,"I agree. Just put up the graves and bug out. Not sure what we have for weapons. We got a bit lucky the ones on ship. They did not think people would fight. Now if a single was sent they know they have people on the ground. Willing to fight. If I was them a would open up the weapon lockers and come at us with everything they had."

GORMAN: "If multiple lifeboats got away, then the pirates will probably go after the easy ones to find first, giving us more time. The easy ones to find will be the ones that didn't turn off the transponder and EPIRB. With luck, they might never come after us. They might find all the ones that have the EPIRB's turned on and then assume that there are no more. My only point is that we probably have some time and if we want to be able to survive the really cold nights, let's take the time to properly equip ourselves."

CIARA: "Good point. We don't have to rush off before we're prepared but I bet we can pack up and be ready within the day. I guess let's see if we can depart today or if we need another night in the lifeboat. I'd prefer to move out before nightfall just to be safe."

As the day warms up, the group prepares to move out. Alzarix and Jim consider Ciara's idea of building some sort of carrying device.

GM: I added a new subskill under Technician called Gadgetry. Think of it as a MacGyver type skill. You will need to edit your online character sheet and hit Refresh Task List to see it. Once you have done so, Alzarix and Jim can send Gadgetry rolls. Remember to use the vroll keyword (ex: for a bonus of 38, you would use vroll-38 in square brackets). Also feel free to describe what you want to try to build. Be as elaborate or simple as you desire. The more elaborate the design, the better the roll you will need.

While the technicians work on a sled of some sort, others bundle up and head out to dig fake graves. They run into problems right away as the ground is hard, frozen rock all around the lifeboat. The best they can do is head over to the rocky outcropping, gather up rocks and haul them back to build cairns. It is backbreaking work to haul enough to build just a single cairn that is big enough to look like there is a body underneath it.

The good news is that the daytime temperature does climb all the way up to -8 degrees C by mid afternoon.

GM: Here is the current weapons situation:
  • Alyson - Martial arts
  • Alzarix - Vibroknife with 19 charges remaining and a bullwhip
  • Carter - Nightstick engraved with skulls and knives
  • Ciara - Laser Pistol with 2 charges remaining
  • George - Martial arts
  • Gorman - Mk VII Sonic Stunner with 16 charges remaining
  • Jim - Martial arts
  • Mykel - Nightstick engraved with skulls and knives
  • S'lch - Autopistol with 14 rounds remaining, laser pistol with 14 charges remaining, and a heavy spanner to use as a club

GM: Let me know if you want to shift things around at all.

CIARA: When the topic of weapons come up, Ciara explains that she has very little experience with weapons and would need some training to be effective. She is not particularly taken with any type of weapon but she's lean towards either a beam weapon or projectile weapon.

MYKEL: Mykel will mention that he has some skill with laser weapons, and if S'lch is willing, Mykel will take the laser pistol in addition to the nightstick.

S'LCH: The vrusk has skill with automatics so he will keep the auto-pistol unless someone has a better skill then him with it (he is not a fighter so that would not be hard to do) He is not skilled with laser or with the spanner and his is more then happy to pass them to people who would have better use with them.

S'LCH: OCC Mykel gets the laser unless someone else wants to try for it.

What's New
Date ModifiedSubject
04/21/2018Equipment Gained