Star Key

Session 3

Trails of Blood

Star Key: Session 3

“The morning dawns with the launching of the ship. It lifts languidly from its berth and rises quickly through the air, getting to space in less than a minute. The Jump Drive can’t be used close to a strong gravity well however, so it takes a day of travel before the engines can transfer the ship into the ‘empty’ void of jump space. The ship itself glides through the nothingness effortlessly, like the birds of ancient Terra would glide on the breeze. While outside the ship nothing was happening, inside there was a bustling of activity during the week long voyage.

With so many new additions to the crew, there was a burst of exploration and training of new skills and ideas. The old crew helped as much as they could, explaining systems and concepts to bring Sir and Eveline up to speed and to further train Dilaziepr on the ships systems. The Attorney Protectorate of Operations of course spent his time haunting whichever parts of the ship struck his fancy, his manservant never to far away. They were slowly becoming true crewmen, though there was training still to do.

It wasn’t all work however. The crew was getting to know each other as well. Though most of the old crew were still cautious in manner, the newer crew members began to form various bonds of respect, understanding and friendship. The passengers too were interacting with the crew in various ways. While they soon learned that their client, a Mr. Woosillet and his two goons would talk little about who they were or who they worked for, on various other topics, finances, travel, even further job opportunities to some crew members, they seemed more at ease discussing. Sometimes the two goons would even join in some of the games of chance played around the mess tables at night. Of the other passenger, Gloxria, all of the crew soon came to know and appreciate. The first day after lift off the captain brought her to the mess to test her claimed skills at cooking and was not disappointed, after accidentally setting a pan of filled with eggs cascading down front of the stove she quickly found her rhythm in the small kitchen area. He immediately engaged her services in making meals in exchange for a hefty discount on her passage.

Eventually the ship reached it’s destination and transitioned back into normal space. The stars returned and the view outside was that of a large space devoid of stars, but rich in rocky debris. The question now was whether or not the salvage ship they had been hired to find was hiding somewhere amongst the rocks in the inky darkness.”

As ship exits jump space the crew is working around the ship. Ace and APO are both on the bridge. As normal space emerges Ace picks up the intercom to call the captain.

“Captain my captain, the little twinklies have returned. A big black void is out with no burning masses in sight. What’s our next move.”

The Attorney Protectorate of Operations hovers gently over the Raptor’s sensor controls. His bobbing shifts every slightly at Ace’s report, and although the body language of the Inyx was often lost on the uncultured aliens they found themselves amongst, anyone with even a passing familiarity would feel the contempt for the pilot almost rolling off the APO.

The captain responds that he’s on his way and that anyone else who wants to help should report to the bridge.

As Ace and the APO wait for the captain a small light starts blinking on the panel for sensors. Looking closely the APO sees that there is a signal being detected nearby.

Eveline stops at the captain’s interjection and begins to head to the bridge.

Sir was heading into his room just as the announcement comes over the speakers. He was really hoping to get a nap but just couldn’t go not knowing what was going on.

Pulling up the data the APO discovers that the signal is in fact an old fashioned distress signal, but it has been garbled so badly that it is almost unrecognizable. Someone with more skill than him is going to have to make some sense of the mess.

Hearing the captain’s summons to the bridge Thing 2 decides that she’s played with her newest experiment for long enough and needed to stretch her legs. She races down the corridor and begins moving up towards the bridge.

Captain Ern enters the bridge looking at the two already there. He can hear some others coming up the corridor behind him, but doesn’t turn around.

“Well fellows, what have we got, any sign of this lost ship we’re looking for?”

“We have a distress signal.” The girl’s voice is alert and matter-of-fact. “Older than what our target should be, however. In fact, it is so old the signal has degraded to the point where I cannot even tell if it was automated or not, let alone what language it was in. No other sign of activity outside the ship. Captain.” There is a small pause in the girl’s voice as her tone shifts to something sweeter, and far more peppy. “Dear, sweet, sir Captain.”

Sir and Eveline enter the bridge a few moments after the captain, just in time to hear the APO’s response.
Eveline tries to repress a shudder at seeing the APO and hearing its voice. Her falcon reacts to the shudder and flaps a wing irritated and squawks loudly.

Sir stops taken aback for a moment looking confused, ‘That poor… thing has me mistaken for the captain,’ He thinks to himself, ‘No wonder with no eyes to see.’

The captain looks back at the squawk and shakes his head. He’s still not sure about that crazy bird, but Eveline was a likeable enough woman, if a bit eccentric. “Well, I’m sure we can get that cleared up, let me call one of the Thing…”

At that moment Thing 2 slunk into the bridge, panting slightly from her short run. “You called captain?” she said with a smile.

The captain looks at her and smiles to himself. “Yes, I was about to anyway. There’s some garbling going on with the signal we’re picking up could you… you know… fix that?”

Thing 2 looks over the data and begins typing rapidly. After a few moments she looks back to the captain. “Yes, yes I can. I can also tell you where the signal is coming from.” She reads off the coordinates to Ace and the Captain.

The captain asks Sir if he’d like to try and plot the ship, but seeing the confused expression on his face thinks better of it and let’s Ace put in the course.

A quick burn of the ships engines sends them moving towards a large cluster of rocky asteroids and what appears to be some sort of wreckage.

As they move closer towards the debris a large object begins to take shape in the distance. It looks like some sort of ship of unknown design.

Moving closer to the ship Eveline is able to identify it from records taken from some Ancient ruins and databases as a ship of Ancient design.

“That ship’s Ancient,” Eveline says, matter-of-factly. “Erm…of Ancient origin, I guess I should say.”

The captain looks a bit startled at that news. “Are you sure? This could be worth a fortune, I’m not sure any pieces of an Ancient ship as large as this has been recovered. Whatever wiped them out did a damn good job of it.”

As it rotates about it’s invisible axis the signal on the sensor board suddenly becomes stronger and the reason becomes clear after a moment, the salvage ship can be seen attached to the least damaged area of the hull.

“I’m positive its Ancient”, Eveline replies with confidence.

The alien ship, mostly destroyed, seemingly smashed by weapons of incalculable power, is scorched and pockmarked over most of it’s surface. The salvage ship clings to an area that looks untouched however. The salvage ship looks undamaged, though the signal is still relatively weak.

Captain Ern:“Well, it seems that we’ve found the ship, but the question is, what do we do now.”

As the sentence begins to leave the captain’s mouth Mr. Woosillet unobtrusively enters. Standing quietly in his finely tailored suit, he looks small, yet somehow very menacing. He listens to the conversation.

“Mission parameters would dictate that we dock with the salvage ship and ascertain the state of its cargo and of its crew, as was our original intention.” The girl says chirpily, as if reciting the lyrics to a schoolyard poem. “However, an Ancient vessel of this size and relative intactness could be reasonably said to represent an entirely new set of mission parameters all on its own. I would recommend we ask the corporate representative.” APO turns, unnecessarily, towards Mr. Woosillet.

Mr. Woosillet nods towards the APO with a slight smile. ”You must dock at once and find out what they’ve found on that ship.”

There is something ominous in the disregard of the salvage ships crew and lack of response from all forms of communication with the ship. Mr. Woosillet only seems to care about what they may have found on the ship.

Captain Ern looks coldly from Mr. Woosillet and the APO. ”You’ve heard our employer’s request, any ideas or suggestions from you (the crew)?”

Sir turns to the captain very intentionally, “Captain, wouldn’t the well being of those upon the salvage ship be priority number one?”

“From the looks of it…I don’t know that there would be many survivors?” Eveline asked.

“Even if there are,” the girl’s voice speaks up, “they are not part of the mission we were hired to undertake.”

The captain licks his lips slightly nervous. Nodding his head he says, “Normally, of course, lives would be our number one priority… but under these circumstances, it might be best to investigate the ship and see what happens. Let’s form a boarding party and go over to the ship, if we come across the crew we’ll do what we can.”

Eveline scowls, a bit concerned over the captain’s nervousness. “A boarding party is a good idea…my falcon may be able to scout.”

A few minutes later the captain has gathered all of the crew except Ace, who is currently docking the ship, and Gloxria together in the cargo bay. Looking around at them all he says, “Alright, we’ll be docked in a moment with the salvage ship. It looks rather quiet, but we need to be cautious nonetheless. Anyone who wishes to come over to the ship grab your gear and meet back here in 5 minutes. Dismissed.”

Dilaziepr: Standing stiffly, Dilaziepr half-lifts a hand from her side before offering a nod toward the captain. “I would be honored, sir,” she says, before starting from the cargo room without looking to see whom else volunteers for the likely violent mission. She heads toward her quarters to gather the entirety of her possessions.

“We would be most eager to assist the mission.” There is a smile in the girl’s voice, though it sounds oddly tinish. “The IAP and I will, of course, do whatever we can to ensure our good friend Mr. Woosillet gets exactly what he and his corporate friends deserve.” The Inyx raises ever slightly higher in the air. “And the good, dear captain as well.”

Gloxria thinks to herself… this could be something of use.
During her homeschooling she recalls her fathers passion for history, including ancient ships.

Sir is a bit unsettled for the lack of concern of any passengers aboard the scavenger ship so he heads back to his room grapping his weapons and strapping the rapier to one side and the knife to the other, “Seems a bit contradictory to a rescue but might as well be on the safe side.” he says to an empty room. He also grabs his first aid kit as well as a couple antibiotics incase any of them are wounded or sick.

Eveline grabbed her necessary things and prepared to go over to the ship. Seeing that the ship was of Ancient origin had piqued her interest, and she couldn’t NOT go over. It may lead to some clues….

With a small shudder the ship docks with the salvage ship and the airlock cycles through it’s check. The seal holds and the doors open. The captain looks back at the reassembled boarding party, he nods to Chel who moves forward into the ship first. Ace and the two Aslan sisters will remain on board to keep an eye on Mr. Woosillet and his two goons, while everyone else boards the salvage ship.

The captain follows Chel onto the ship and signals the rest to move in behind him.

As you exit the docking port into the salvage ship you see what seems to be, in simplest terms, a complete mess. There are containers everywhere, contents dumped on the ground and odds and ends strewn about messily. The lights flicker strangely, but you can make out a door straight ahead of you that would seem to lead onto the ancient ship and another door to the right that leads towards the forward end of the smaller ship.

D: Dilaziepr’s features are completely obscured by the armored suit she is wearing, very obviously of Zhodani design. A heavy pistol rests at her hip, which she draws and holds in a ready position as she steps into the foreign ship. Her face may be hidden, but her body looks as a coiled spring, tense and watching the entire area with a carefully honed caution.

APO floats into the room behind the two armed security soldiers, its Indentured Assistant Protectorate walking carefully by its side, cybernetic eyes scanning over the interior of the salvage ship for any out of place thermal readings. He appears to be unarmed, as does the Inyx he leads.

Chel looks back at the captain as the rest of the party enters the cargo bay of the smaller ship. “It’s a mess sir, but it looks clear, I haven’t checked out the doors yet though.”

Eveline puts her hand on the pistol holstered at her hip. Her falcon’s eyes dart around, taking in the surroundings. Eveline looks around as well, trying to see if anything seems out of place or unusual.

Sir starts to move towards the door to the right currently more concerned about the crew of the salvage ship than that of an Ancient ruin.

Gloxria scanned the area – with a photographic memory in tow this was an easy task to see if there were any signs or anything of use. There wasn’t, at least not on the surface. She tried to figure out where the place would be to make her mark, somewhere in plain sight without being obvious.

The APO’s thermal scan reveals nothing within the room of the salvage ship, however a slight reading is indicated when facing the slightly ajar door leading into the Ancient ship.

Eveline notices that there is a trail through the trash on the ground leading from the door on the right into the ancient ship. It looks like it was probably made by dragging something across the floor. A closer inspection of the path might reveal more.

Eveline points out the trash to her companions. “That might be worth investigating…” she says, trying to draw their attention. She looks more closely at the trail and begins to follow it, slowly.

Dila faces the door to the right first and, concentrating sends her sight into the forward area of the ship. Her vision reveals a very short hall with several doors. Three doors line the wall to the right, probably crew quarters, and another door to the left. One more door leads straight ahead to the front of the ship. A trail is visible through the trash down the middle of the hall leading from the front door towards the cargo bay. After a moment of viewing she returns to her normal sight and begins again focusing on the far door straight ahead. This time her vision is less helpful though as her sight simply reveals a room completely dark, though a sense of some space exists around her.

Sir reaches the door to the right and the captain yells out to him, “What do you think you’re doing? Wait for everyone else, you just can’t go running off on strange ships. Didn’t your mother teach you anything?”

The Indentured Protectorate reaches towards the APO and begins pressing his pale, bony fingers against the Inyx’s skin at various pressures and intervals, a language closer to the Inyx’s own tongue than any verbal communication could ever be. Several brief, static jolts signal the APO’s acknowledgement. “There is someone beyond the airlock door.” The girl’s voice echoes through the disarray. “Or something, anyway. A monster, perhaps. Or a hot lamp.”

Dilaziepr glances toward the others, her voice muffled by the armored suit. “Someone has carried something into the bridge through there,” she notes flatly, gesturing to the door, “while the lights appear to be out through that doorway.” She moves toward the first door, carefully picking her path through the garbage before pressing herself against the wall next to the door. “It would appear we know where our target resides.”

Sir stops, “Yes, but… of course Captain.” He thought the salvage ship was still the priority if not the crew and had figured everyone else would be right behind him but the presence of the Ancient ship seems to have changes the plans a bit. After a second he decides it best to fall into the group and instead see where the captain directs.

Eveline gets a closer look at the trail and notices a strange smeared discoloration on the floor in the middle of the trail, but she has no idea what to make of it. The other crew members make their way to the door on the right and once more Chel leads the way, opening the door and stepping quickly through.

The other side reveals the sights seen already by Dila’s psychic vision. 3 doors to the right and one to the left with another straight ahead, the trail is still visible between the forward door and down the hall.

Eveline notices that no one has taken note of her comment. Not wanting to engage a potential hostile entirely on her own, she makes her way back to the group. “Hopefully that wasn’t something important…”

Dilaziepr glances over the hallway, gesturing the sidedoors for someone to open them while she prepares outside of each. As each door opens, she lifts her weapon to clear the rooms quickly, proceeding down the hallway silently. She begins with the smaller bedrooms, before proceeding to the recreational room, leaving the bridge to be last.

APO and IAP remain in the cargo hold, hovering literally and figuratively near the airlock that leads to the ancient door.

Sir begins to feel a bit uneazy as Dilazeipr heads down the hall weapon drawn. Not wanting to be caught off guard he draws his own two, “Is there any sign as to what became of everyone?”

The doors to the right reveal small disorganized bedrooms, about 3×3 meters square. A squat ugly bed and table are the only recognizable features as the rest of the rooms seem to be trashed. The rec room reveals a similar mess with food packages torn apart and thrown everywhere.

Chel calls back to Sir as they look briefly into each room. “No sign of crew yet, but they certainly were messy.”

All the doors except the bridge have now been opened, revealing the empty chambers within.

Looking into the rec room Sir can see that along with the scattered food packages there are also several broken pieces of exercise equipment and a small box of overturned entertainment discs, which can’t be seen clearly from where he stands. He also see several undisturbed shelves with food packages.

“None that I can see,” Dilaziepr notes softly, only quickly sweeping the rooms for signs of life before standing before the door to the bridge. She notes that Sir has wandered off, keeping her weapon at a steady ready position. Once he has rejoined her, she prepares to breach the room and clear it. “Whatever happened must be in there,” she comments flatly.

Safely out of sight of everyone for the moment, IAP accesses the airlock control panel, checking to see both if the airlock has been locked and if there’s a breathable environment on the other side.

Eveline casually walks up to the Bridge door. “We should go in HERE.”

Gloxria looks at everyone that has been standing around looking perplexed. Wondering what we are really even doing here she moves with the group, maybe something useful will come about, or something unexpected.

The captain nods towards Chel and he moves to the bridge door, pushing it open a crack to look within. Though the lights are low something has clearly happened in this room. What can be seen looks like a battle took place on the bridge, scorch marks and burns are seen everywhere and control panels seem to be completely ruined.

While the APO hovers besides the IAP who is checking the control panel for the airlock he notices that the door isn’t even sealed all the way. In fact, it seems to be slightly warped and in all honesty, won’t ever close properly again. Either way, the panel reveals the atmosphere to be intact on the other side of the door and inside the ancient ship.

Dilaziepr moves slowly into the room, lifting her weapon slowly to scan the room. She quickly looks for any operating terminals or evidence of what had occured once she is sure that there is nothing moving within the room. Once she is sure that the room is safe, she lowers her weapon slowly. “Must have gone into the other ship,” she notes flatly.

Looking about the room both Chel and Dila can see that a battle took place here. The control panels all seem to be completely ruined, the signal they received being some kind of automated distress beacon activated when the controls were destroyed.

IAP attempts to electronically open the airlock the rest of the way and, if that fails, or would be disastrously loud, APO will attempt to pry it apart as quietly as they can.

Looking Gloxria notices that the APO and his assistant haven’t followed the rest of the crew. They’ve gone someplace else in the ship. She wonders if she should point this out to anyone.

Eveline follows the others onto the bridge.

The airlock door leading to the ancient ship whirs halfway open from the panel, leaving enough room for them to squeeze through.

Eveline, stepping onto the bridge notices the strange substance on the floor at the beginning of the trail and a splash on one of the panels and now recognizes it for blood.

“There’s blood on the floor…” Eveline points out. She points to it in case the rest of them miss it.

IAP stands, checking behind them as the eyes sunken into his gaunt face suddenly ignite in a cool blue light as he slips through the airlock door into the entry room of the ancients, searching the area and the item he noticed earlier in infrared. APO slowly hovers away from the airlock door, floating towards the salvage ship’s crew quarters and hallway and a very, very relaxed pace.

D: “It looks like they were wounded,” the Zhodani comments as Eveline points out the stains, “so they must have gone into the other ship to seek medical aid.” She pauses for a beat. “Or they were dragged into there by their assailants. Either way, it appears we shall have to investigate further.” She turns from the room to start back toward the cargo bay.

“Perhaps there is still someone alive. Unless we can salvage some sort of log from the control system we need to move on and get to the source of this… disaster.” Sir crouches down examining the blood to see if it gave any hint as to the species of origin or length its been there.

Sir isn’t able to determine anything from the blood to ascertain it’s origin. However, it is completely dry and starting to discolor, so it is at least a few weeks old at this point.

The Captain gets on the intercom back to the ship, “It looks like at least one member of the crew was injured or killed. Their bridge is a mess. I don’t even think the ship can be repaired, a salvage crew will have to come for it. Irony huh? We’re moving on to the ancient ship now to look for more clues. Ern out.”

Chel and the captain both move out to the cargo bay to see the APO hovering there as nonchalantly as a giant floating squid creature can be.

The IAP steps into the room beyond the lock onto the alien ship. The first room on the alien ship is filled with different debris and litter from the ship and salvage crew. It seems that a lot of the garbage has been brought from other rooms on the ship and examined here, most of it tossed aside as worthless. The floor is some type of rubber substance that is covered in a light coat of grime. The walls are a strange metal that seems to glow slightly, dimly illuminating the interior of the ship, not enough to examine in detail, but enough to make out outlines. One door is seen on the opposite side of the room, it is slightly ajar, and a hallway made of the slightly luminous metal can be seen through it.

“No bodies on the ship, alive or otherwise, I hear?” The young girl says, an unmistakably disappointed note in her voice. “Awful luck. Truly awful. I assume we’re to check the Ancient vessel now?” The Inyx says as the IAP slips out behind him. “The airlock has, upon examination, suffered severe damage. The metal framing appears to have been battered, either out, or in, and the electronic controls are also malfunctioning.”

“I could send my falcon here onto the Ancient ship to investigate things. That way if there’s anything….questionable, we won’t be in immediate danger.”

The captain looked at Eveline questioningly. “You want to send Eustace ahead to scout?” He rubs his chin for a moment. “I suppose that would be ok, Chel?” He looks to the security officer who shrugs. The captain nods to Eveline who releases her falcon into the air. With a strange whirring the falcon heads through the door into the ancient ship.

As Eustace wings through the door into the dark room beyond the IAP spins around at the rustling noise of wings but recognizes just in time what the flapping must be coming from the salvage ship. The Falcon passes close over his head and out into the hallway beyond through another door. The IAP shrugs and passes out behind the falcon who is nowhere to be seen. He comes upon a long hallway that stretches both left and right. At the end of the hall to the left a lamp is burning illuminating three doors, to the right in the dim light several more can be seen, though emergency bulkheads seem to have sealed off the section of the ship beyond in either direction.

The captain shoulders past the floating Inyx towards the ancient ship’s entrance. “Where’s your assistant gone APO? Did you already send him ahead? Alone? That’s dangerous you know.”

“After the airlock malfunction, we determined it was prudent to ensure there was no hostile boarding activity from the Ancient ship.” The girl says, positively bubbly. “As the IAP’s place is to die in my stead, it was decided he would guard, or possibly hold off, the entryway of the ship while we, the humble Attorney Protectorate of Operations went to warn you, our lovely Captain.”

The Captain ignores the APO’s explanation and heads towards the door. “Ok, let’s check it out, we’ll wait in the next room for Eustace to return. The party follows Chel and the captain into airlock and the first room of the ancient ship beyond.

The first room on the alien ship is filled with different debris and litter from the ship and salvage crew. It seems that a lot of the garbage has been brought from other rooms on the ship and examined here, most of it tossed aside as worthless. The floor is some type of rubber substance that is covered in a light coat of grime. The walls are a strange metal that seems to glow slightly, dimly illuminating the interior of the ship, not enough to examine in detail, but enough to make out outlines. One door is seen on the opposite side of the room, it is slightly ajar, and a hallway made of the slightly luminous metal can be seen through it. The IAP stands in this doorway looking out into the hall, but looks back as they enter the room. Over his head Eustace comes flying back towards Eveline to land on her arm.

Without a word Sir walks toward the entrance to the nearest room across the hall slightly to the right, sticking his head in and calls out, “Hello? Is anyone here?”

Eveline removes her computer from her bag and starts it up in order to download Eustace’s most recent video file. “I really need to get a better computer next time I’m in a major city so we can have a wireless link….” She mutters to herself as she prepares the download.

As Eveline opens the video file both the captain and the remaining crew gather around to see what the Falcon was able to find. The view moves rapidly as the falcon flies, beginning with the darting into the ship and over the head of the suddenly startled IAP. Out into the corridor the Falcon banks sharply left in the narrow hall beyond and down the way. There is a lantern on the floor at the end of the hall that illuminates the doors there. There are 3 of them to the left of the entry room, though one seems to be damaged. The Falcon’s vision stops for a moment as it lands near the lantern and hops in a circle to turn around, then, with a flap of it’s wings takes off in the other direction passing 6 doors, a few damaged like the other, and one with some equipment attached to the door. The last door in the hall however is partially barricaded behind a mountain of trash. The Falcon turns around and comes back down the hall through the door and over the IAP’s head to land on Eveline’s arm and the video cuts off again.

As Sir calls out his voice echoes down the hall. The IAP stands behind him shaking his head at the strange man but stops suddenly when a call answers Sir. However, the answer is not in any language used by man. Instead it is a scream of pure madness. A second later it is echoed by another inarticulate yell and a shuffling can be heard down the hall to the right as two somethings begin to move towards the hallway from one of the rooms.


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