Moonbase Alpha

We land the ships in the shadow of a crater, docking in secret. Smythe appraises us that there are 47 souls here, comprising cut throats, murderers and thieves, but mostly a good lot. The Marquis’s whisky - the good stuff! - goes down well and we settle in to refuel.

Smythe is quite old but vigorous, dark skinned, with close cropped hair. He introduces us to Roy Livingstone, his Chief of Security and 2IC. Roy is slightly pudgy, also dark skinned, and jovial. He is toying with a combat knife, but puts it away and welcomes us. He offers us security for our stay, implying that he knows we need to be discrete. He also assures us that they are not totally defenceless with regard to detecting incoming threats.

Smythe starts saying we must be tired after our voyage, then realises The Salamander is luxurious. He takes us through the docking area, which is all carbon steel lined, but after a few airlocks, bare rock predominates.

“This is the middle section, with about 50 souls around.There are maybe another 50 scattered around the rock. We’ve mined out most of the easy to get stuff, and now act mostly as a conduit for other areas sending stuff on. The base is into our 9th decade, and I’ve been here for 40 years, it’s my home. Below here is the plant, with an O2 generator, backup scrubbers, fusion plant for power. We have grav plates everywhere, but maybe don’t leave too much lying around, some of them are a bit iffy. We have 1 licensed bar - it’s a bit grim, but provides entertainment of sorts. They workers are a rough lot, but if anyone steps out of line, we’ll sort them out. There’s a compact area upstairs we’ll put you in, it even has a little garden, a 2-300m by 50m rectangle”

We are about to turn a corner when hear a women’s voice ring out “Geroge Smythe I need a word with you”, and women with freshly scared right arm walks up and says

“This has to stop”

“Yes Mary. We have guests. This can wait”

“It can’t wait. You’re pushing us too hard, you have to tell the bosses, or they’ll be another accident”

Smythe introduces her as “Mary Tomlinson, Director of Engineering. She’s concerned about employees well being. Sorry about that. Let’s go on”

We come to a commissary “Ah, Mr Roland Lomax, please let me introduce you to our guests. Our quartermaster”

Lomax asks what he can do to help, and Armitage explains that he has a problem with fresh steak taking up freezer space…they agree to meet later.

We take a glass elevator up to topside. Smythe has most of his quarters here, plus part of the control room. There are 4 guards on duty at all time, 1 outside control at all times, 1 roaming on the middle deck, and 1 in the plant room, plus 1 shadowing the boss (Smythe). There are 12 guards total, on rotating 8 hours shifts, armed with stun batons and some form of sidearm. Smythe again reiterates that “it’s a rough crew here, they work hard, and don’t have a good relationship with alcohol. Whilst they’re mostly good sorts, they are occasionally not. It’s been a while since we’ve had to space anyone”. It almost feels like he’s priming us for some brutality that he is going to commit in the near future.

He asks us for the Names and Photos of everyone to circulate.

In the garden area, Smythe tells us about his other chiefs: The CTO, who keep the plant running, Jaffa O’Koye, and the Chief Medic, Su Yin Indrani, in surgery right now (another accident?!?), who would love to swap experiences with Dr Ntesh. There are intercoms all over the place, and “111” goes directly to Smythe’s earpiece.

Smythe will be in the control room for the next 4 hours. He suggests we go to the middle deck bar, owned by Marianne “Tough nut. No sense of humour. Guess she has to be”

Armitage unloads belongings to the quarters they’ve been provided with in Topside, including emergency vacc suits for everyone. The Marquis offers dinner to Smythe and his chiefs on board the salamander, arranged for in the middle of next shift. The guests will be the 6 top dogs:

Armitage meets Lomax, very discreetly in his office, for a drink

astrocola

He confirms the place is a powder keg, with Smythe pushing hard. Tomlinson had an accident, and Smythe won’t let her go to Karin for plastic surgery, making her complete her rotation. Bad for morale. Lomax thinks that Smythe might be on the take - shipments and inventory don’t seem to line up properly. He seems worried, and Armitage promises to see if he can get an anonymous tip off into the Baron’s network once he’s left the moon. They agree to trade the steaks for floorplans of the base, and Armitage gives Lomax a bottle of whisky to keep them informed if (when?) trouble is brewing.

Armitage warns the Marquis that the place seems to be a powder keg waiting to blow, and the dinner on the Salamander will have all the key Company chiefs in one place, away from the control room - it would be the perfect time to start a riot. The presence of the Marquis also gives the workforce an excellent opportunity to embarrass the Baron - if anything were to happen to him or whilst he were here, it could be socially awkward

topside

Before dinner, Dt N’tesh, accompanied by Corto, meets Su Yin Indrani, who has just finished setting a broken arm. She is small, dark haired, and bit of a character. She also runs the “Clouds and Rain”, the Station’s Brothel, and thus has a particular interest in health and well being of all individuals. The brothel contributes more than her salary.

Most of the mines are remote mining, but there are some smaller left on some drifts accessed from the facility. The base mostly supplies belters mining other asteroids and bits of rocks. There is a shuttle once a week from Karin, and maybe once a week a mining operation ship comes in to have repairs done or stock up or drop of miscreants. The facility is on its last legs, with lots of cost cutting and eking last few credits. Dr Indrani encourages Dr N’tesh to visit “Clouds and Rain” - she has a delightful young man called Randal, if she were so inclined. She also encourages Corto to stop by, and he promises that if the Marquis grant shim furlough, he will swing by.

Armitage works the middle deck, trying to get a feel for the place. They are a bunch of tough nuts, and there seems to be some separation between the branches - cargo loaders and handlers and logistics working from Lomax seem quite taciturn. Armitage talks to them, they seem quite reticent, but in the end he turns a corner, which ends in a dead end. There are lots of crates stacked up, he pushes round some pallets and see a guys cursing about wedging a piece of machinery. He helps the man, who introduces himself as Gendich, out and he opines “The big Boss is alright, but can’t say the same of my immediate superior. Guy is a complete and utter asshole - I’ve worked for some shitty bosses, but Lomax, he’s bad to the core”. He realises he’s said too much, but asks for a job anyway, to get off this rock.

There is a clique amongst the technicians as well - can’t get a handle on it.The mining guys are lots more vociferous - they insist that Armirage comes down to “Midnight Sun”, owned by “Marianne, she’s a good sort. Tell us what’s going on in the real world”. A good third of the people turns taciturn when they talk about Smythe, and don’t like him.

Apparently, the CTO is obsessed with a gigalo at the Clouds and Rain, spends a lot of time in the garden. She’s a good boss but distracted with her infatuation.

Armitage picks up the plans from Lomax, which once loaded on a isolated terminal on the Salamander show there are some areas unaccounted for on topside - there is also a plant area up there of 3 rooms, that it’s not clear what it’s for, adjacent to the area with no info. There are 2 doors into that area, from a small set of stairs in the storage room and from the control room. Corto thinks that he could get through most doors in this place with his box of tricks, given time, but can’t vouch for the control area ones.

topsiderevealed

The Marquis meets O’Koye in the garden, and senses she is distracted, the garden being the only thing she really seems to care about.

At the dinner on the Salamander, The Marquis, Sir Arthur, Dr N’tesh, Lt Col Corto and Dr Benison entertain the guests, whilst Bart and George tend to them. Benison goes on about D’Jil, and in response, Smythe tells us that there are rumours that Pirates found things of interest inside asteroids in this area. It has been mined since the 1st imperium, and these are only rumours from pirates who tried to buy their lives with valuable info though.

At one point, Bart comes forward, and catches the Marquis’s attention. There is a station man there “Excuse me, sorry to disturb, been an accident, problem with the machinery. Could Dr Indrani and O’kaye come with me?”

Dr Ntesh offers to accompany her, and Sir Arthur goes along. Bart fills some glasses, comes to the Marquis and whispers “Machinery malfunction on lower decks, 2 individuals injured, some damage to machinery, but not serious”. Smythe looks a little less at ease, ties to be a little more jovial, a little embarrassed.

Armitage has snuck off, and figures out the disturbance is coming from the bar on the middle level. He informs Morle, who joins him, and seems quite jovial about the prospect of a bar brawl. They head on down, Morle instructing Armitage on how not to kill people in a fight, in time to see a big miner throw a guard out of the bar, pummel him into unconsciousness, look at them, shake his head, and head back in. The duo shrug and head on in, as 3 other security guards run past (out of the 12, 1 is now unconscious, 1 in sick bay, 1 always outside control room, 1 with Smythe waiting outside Salamander).

Seem to be about 12 miners and 3 security guards fighting. About 5 miners are in a group fighting against about 5 technicians, and a group of about 5 fighting security guards - who are hard pressed. Morle and Arbitrage stay on the periphery and head towards the guards, where Armitage tries to convince the miners facing off against the guards its a bad idea to push the guys with weapons too far. In response, one of the miners thumps him, and battle is joined. Morle and Armitage turn the tide quickly, especially with the blackjacks, but Morle is bloodied by a chair and a security guard goes down. There is a pause, and Armitage senses attention focusing on them, so he drops a smoke bomb and cries “Fire!”…to no effect. He scoops up the guards stun baton, and goes to work.

brawl

At the end, another 2 guards are down, and several civilians are badly hurt. Armitage staggers over and puts 500 CR behind the bar, calls the Doctors, and chats to Marianne. She thought this was just a usual Saturday night fight, but when Armitage asks about tensions on the base, she agrees it might be more serious. She agrees to give him a nod if she hears anything.

Back on The Salamander, dinner resumes a more relaxed vibe. The officers finish with the fine Brandy, and return to the base. Dr N’Tesh patches up Armitage and Morle, and the Marquis receives a message from Smythe, asking them to join him in control. When they arrive, he explains that with the latest events, Livingstone is running short handed on guards, and asks if the Marquis could supplement them with ex-military types on a standby basis. The Marquis of course agrees, and Sir Arthur, Morle and Corto agree to act as Minute Man. Armitage demurs, citing his lack of military background, but proposes to Livingstone he’ll be out and about on call to jump in from the sidelines where most effective.

That night, Armitage sleeps soundly, but just before he wakes up he has quite a vivid dream, that seems more loaded than a casual dream. he sees a tall blond womean in a flowing robe that is beckoning hom towards her, and then turns away as Armitage comes to him trailing a hand, as she turns away he catches a glimpse of a n embroidered symbol on her gown, but when he wakes he cant for the life of him definetly remember what the symbol was, he had the feeling she wanted his help. Concerned, he goes to see the Doc for a checkup, and when he mentions the dream, she pauses, and asks him to elaborate. Having done so, she confesses she also had a dream, with the feeling of being told to watch out, that danger was coming, and the purple was safety. Armitage in his usual paranoia asks about the existence of psychic phenomena, and to his surprise, the Doctor explains several theories. In particular, psychic or psionics have often been reported in conjunction with mined out asteroids…like the one they are on. There are theories that they could have been used as long range communication networks. Armitage postulates that the hidden area behind the control room could have something to do with i. Maybe the women is a captive psionic, and the machinery is used to boost her output? Whatever it is, they agree to bring it to the Marquis’s attention. Dr N’Tesh asks that Armitage explain it as part of the crew, and he agrees, as long as she backs up the science. The Marquis is intrigued, despite Armitage’s apologies for another paranoid conspiracy theory of the day.

Whilst discussing, they receive a call from Smythe, asking them to join him, as something has occurred. Not immediately dangerous, but need some help. It turns out that the tunnel network has alarms in, and one has tripped. Nothing further has happened, and the choke point has not been breached, but its unusual and needs investigating. Morle, Sir Arthur and Armitage head out, and the rest of the crew retire to the Salamander, apart from Corto who stays with Livingstone on topside. Livingstone sends Hershel Wise, one of the guards who has been on the rock the longest, to navigate the maze of tunnels.

Nothing seem out of the ordinary in the tunnels, and the team make good speed. Once they reach a point they calculate could be coming up on an intruder, they slow down, and Armitage scouts ahead. There is a long stretch on front of an airlock that Hershel confirms is the single point of entry. Armitage hangs back, as he has a bad feeling about the door…he notices that it has 2 security cameras above it, and informs the Away Team on the closed channel to get out of there discretely. As they do so, an explosion rocks the tunnel, and Armitage is thrown towards the door. The way back has been collapsed completely behind them.

collapse

In topside, alarms go off. The base has been taken over by men wielding shotguns, pinning the officers in their officers. Smythe calls them all, and all answer, appearing unharmed but shaken - apart from Lomax. Smythe begins to think their disagreements may have been more serious than he thought. Livingstone curses, and tells Corto the mutineers have control of the bases systems, including the elevator to Topside. They’ve going to have company. Corto goes into commanding officer mode, setting up fields of fire and laying charges, but Livingstone advises him they cannot fire until fired upon. Cursing, Corto runs for the elevator, and with his box of tricks, manages to lock it on the middle level. However, the doors are open, and there is a ladder.

Corto presses Smythe and Livingstone for info, and they reluctantly admit there are other tunnels that predate the mine, that Smythe has a plan to. It turns out the Baron made a lot of his “scientific discoveries” from scavenging here. It is possible to take a spiral down that starts from behind the control room, to the plant level and regain control of systems there. Corto heads that way, and Livingstone insists on accompanying him.

shotgun

In the tunnels, Hershell thinks he knows of a route to get to the surface from here, where they can then get to topside in Vacc suits, but it won’t be easy. The tunnel crew head to the large room he knows, and find some very old vacc suits and rebreathers. They find some barely serviceable and patched suits, but the rebreathers are problematic - they will probably only give about half the usual time, and the margin for error on an EVA is below the recommended safety margin. Racking his brains, Hershell asks Sir Arhtur if he has the plans that Smythe gave the Marquis. He’s always known of the rumours of “old tunnels” that predate the mine, and on looking at the plans, they do indeed locate a decommissioned airlock. Hershell reckons nothing is ever really decommissioned, and that there must be something behind it. The shorter EVA would be a good option. Sir Arthur agrees, and we find the egress. There is no lock in sight, but Hershell reckons it’s just beyond the ridge. Sir Arthur bravely volunteers to go out in his combat armour, and despite several nerve racking attempts, manages to get over the ridge without kicking off into space, and finds an old lock. It only has very faint power, and he cannot open it, so he brings his team over. Armitage attempts to short the lock using Sir Arthurs heating power source from the Armour, and manages it after a few false starts and draining half the battery. The team enter into the old tunnels, and get back online with the Salamander

Meanwhile, Corto, Smythe and Livingstone enter the old cooling shafts, dragging vac leak breach foam, and descend to where they calculate the plant room wall is, moving through offset baffles every so often. Corto sets the charges, and the others prep a shelter behind the next baffle. Corto dives in, the charges go off, and they move forward. The breach is into the nuclear reactor room, but nothing is showing damage and no alarms are going off. The three quickly move up to the door, and Livingstone gives clear instructions “We order them to drop weapons. If they do, we take them in. If they don’t drop but don’t shoot, we carry on trying to take control. Only if they shoot on us do we open fire. Clear, Lt-Col?” Corto gives the affirmative, Smythe kills the lights, and we open the door…

plantcontrolroom

One is by the control panel, another is at the observation port, and one is at the door…he turns and with an evil grin raises his shotgun. Livingstone barks “Drop it!” but the punk opens fire, his shots impacting on Livingstone and Corto’s body armour to no effect. They return fire, and the combined blast reduces his head to a bloody pulp. The guy by the observation deck drops his gun, and the unarmed one at the control desk wets himself.

As the adrenaline drops, Corto remarks that he had this funny deja vu feeling as he burst into the room, almost as if he burst in, saw the three, but then saw that unfold a second time when it continued on to the point you are now.

Having regained control of critical systems, Smythe contacts his officers again, and lets them know of the tactical situation. O’Kayo waivers, and then confirms she was abetting the mutineers. She will see what she can do to bring some men back over to our side, and manages to get 3 or the 12 to come in from the cold, on condition of no criminal repercussions - Smythe seems reluctant to agree to this, but Corto advises him things are still on a knife’s edge, and a 25% reduction in enemy force is worth it.

The away team make contact with the Marquis, who is relieved but had faith in his nephew. Armitage patches through on the base comms to O’Kaye, and thanks her for getting some men to safety. She tells him that there are still 9 out there - 4 by the elevator to topside, attempting to get up there, 1 in the bar, 1 in medical, 2 in the loading bay covering the Salamander and 1 acting as liaison. She has seen no sign of Lomax and any escort he might have. Armitage emphasises to her the importance of not attempting to take the Salamander, as whilst the Marquis is holding back at the moment, it would be a terrifyingly bloody massacre for all concerned if he thought he needed to act. Likewise, the black ops guys roaming around the base, playing at being guards, who’ve taken back the plant room are not really under Smythe’s authority, so taking them on would be a bad idea. As the guys in the plant control room found out. Basic psychological warfare….

Corto, Smythe and Livingstone take stock - Corto gets them to lock all access points down and notify if anyone breaches them, and get surveillance back on line. The cameras in the cargo bay and the junction back are offline, a choke point. The 2 squads agree to converge on the junction area, with Sir Arthur’s squad coming back in through the main drift lock.

In the long run up through the drift to the door, Armitage sacrifices stealth for speed, and pays for it with a sniper bullet to the gut. The return fire causes the sniper to go to ground, through a locker with a secret passage out the back of it - this has been some time in the planning. Armitage booby traps it, and the team continue to the lock

On the way to the main junction, Corto and co take out another mutineer at the bar (not fatally). They chat to Marianne, who says she saw Lomax going further away from the centre, and he hasn’t come back, with 2 goons. She thinks he’s an opportunist, and has been paid to orchestrate this. The hairs on Corto’s neck start to prickle….

Corto intimidates another goon into dropping his gun at medical, and we get Su Yin out. She’s happy we have control back, but sad someone dies. Corto seems pretty gung ho about it.

The two squads converge on the cargo bay, and take down another 2 rebels. From the original 17 plus Lomax, the team have taken down:

The teams share info, and realise this could just be a diversion for an incursion, as there are some spots it’s possible to land elsewhere on the rock. Smythe and Livingstone check the surveillance and logs, and see that a main bulkhead has been opened, meaning Lomax or someone has military grade hack capabilities. The Marquis takes the Salamander into orbit, and begins tracking any traffic in vicinity that could approach to the rock. There are several possibles, none on a definite vector yet, and we would have 10-15 minutes warning if they came in.

There are some locations in the excavations it might be possible to land a drop ship and gain entrance through old locks or workings, albeit with loss of pressure. The away team plus Smythe, Livingstone and Hershell, rush off to the biggest of these, but Armitage is suffering from blood loss and can’t keep up. He goes back to the ship, and tools up with EVERYTHING including the gauss rifle, and finds a hide.

The others head into the old tunnels, towards the site of a possible incursion. They come through the open lock, into a straight run of corridor down to a T-junction. They see Lomax and 2 goons talking to a man in combat armour!

bounty_hunter

Sir Arthur charges down the corridor, whilst Corto and Morle advance whilst blasting the group. The armoured figure returns fire fast and accurately, injuring Sir Arthur badly despite his armour, and Morle grievously. One of the goons goes down, the others are injured and ineffective. The armoured figure disappears round the corner, as the combined shotgun fire kills the other goon, and Lomax’s head explodes - probably from the armoured figure departing? Sir Arthur thinks, Screw this!, and tosses a grenade down the corridor - however, with the blood loss and combat armors lightly assisted joints he throws it way too hard (2 on the 2d6) - the grenade bounces off the far wall and looks set to exploded between Morle and Sir Arthur, probably ending their lives in the process….. They try to knock it away to no avail through their injuries, but Corto steps up, flipping his shotgun round to hold by the barrel and bats the grenade far down the corridor where it explodes harmlessly. But the armoured figure is gone…..

With Lomax and the 2 goons gone, it’s down to about 5 hostiles. Smythe patches Ucas into the engineering feed to try and find where the hostiles could be, whilst Sir Arthur and Morle head back to medical. Smythe patches the video feed and tells everyone else to surrender, with footage of Lomax’s head pulp. It has the desired effect.