On the Verge

The Last Warhulk, Part 1
Bluefall and Beyond!

Our Heroes were relaxing on Hughes Island, on Bluefall in the Aegis system, when Saya, a mechalus diplomatic intern waiting for her new assignment to the Lighthouse, got summoned to Regency Isle.

She hitched a yacht ride from Jackson Alexander, a Rigunmor merchant and gambler who also owns a trading ship, the Deuces Wild. Also accompanying them were Gerrunt, Jackson’s weren bodyguard and a demolitions expert, and mindwalking ninja Gareth Smith.

Arriving at Regency Island, Saya met with Ambassador Rondall Clarke, the Rigunmor ambassador to the Bluefall Regency. Clarke’s usual aide was out of the system, and he required Saya to stand in for her during a top priority meeting with the other diplomats on the island.

“That’s a warhulk,” explained Denora Barad, a major in StarMech Intelligence, as she briefed the assembled ambassadors. “A robotic warship, controlled by a highly sophisticated AI. StarMech built dozens of them near the end of the Second Galactic War. All of these things were supposed to have been deactivated and scrapped at the end of the war. But Ares 22 seems to have rebuilt itself, and it’s assigned itself the mission of destroying the Thuldan colony on Alitar in the Algemron system.”

Barad laid out a plan by which a simple trading vessel would be equipped with a StarMech identity transponder and send out to intercept Ares 22. The program “Peace,” when transmitted to the warhulk, would cause it to power down; hopefully, the combined Regency and Concord task force to be assembled at Alitar would not be needed. But where to find such a vessel with a stardrive that’s ready to go?

“Oh! I know where to get one!” exclaimed Saya, causing Ambassador Clarke to scowl, but Major Barad asked her to continue. She volunteered Jackson’s Deuces Wild; Barad called him in and negotiated a payment of $2000 plus $100 per crewmember per day. With arrangements made and little time to waste, the Deuces Wild was outfitted with the necessary transponder equipment.

Denora Barad would accompany this mission, as would Mikos Akelon, a lieutenant commander in the Regency Navy, and lieutenant Nava Geitar, an astrogator. Once the course was laid in, the ship launched into drivespace.

On the trip to Red 72, a simple waypoint before the planned intercept location of Terivine, the crew of the Deuces Wild spent the 5 days in drivespace doing research and studies. Denora Barad concentrated on the technical details of the Warhulk, while Mikos Akelon fussed with his transponders and transmitters.

At one point, Barad called Gerrunt aside and informed him of a fallback plan: “If ‘Peace’ doesn’t work, we’v egot another option. This is a 40-kilo charge of detonex, the most powerful conventional explosive around. If we have to use this, we’ll need to get very close to the AI; the ship’s internal armor will contain any blast that’s not right next to the main processor.”

After another 5-day journey through drivespace, the Deuces Wild arrived in Terivine, a twin star system, and began a search for the warhulk. They found it: “Deuces Wild, this is StarMech cruiser Ares 22. You are in an exclusion zone projected by a belligerent warship and may be subject to destruction if you fail to comply with my instructions. Please reply, over.”

Thinking quickly, Jackson explained to the AI that they were here to “upgrade its RAM” and provided a StarMech security verification code supplied by Major Barad. The AI accepted this and began to receive the transmission—but then cut it short after only 15% of “Peace” was transmitted: “I’ve reclassified you as a Type 5 threat. Exit the exclusion zone immediately, or you will be destroyed.”

However, despite politely asking how Jackson would prefer to be blown up, Ares 22 did not fire upon the Deuces Wild—apparently enough of the “Peace” program got through to disable its ship-to-ship weaponry. Instead it launched a trio of robot fighters that opened fire on the Deuces Wild, while the warhulk flew toward one of the two stars in the system.

With some skillful flying by Jackson and a lucky shot or two by lieutenant Geitar, the Deuces Wild managed to hold off the fighters, but then Ares 22 jumped into drivespace—apparently on a random course, and untrackable.

“It’s loose,” said Barad, slumping back in her seat, her face blank with astonishment.

Questions for next game:

  1. Why Ares 22 terminate the transmission?
  2. Was there something wrong with “Peace”? According to StarMech’s simulations, it should have worked.
  3. Where did Ares 22 jump to, and is there a way to intercept it before it reaches Alitar?

Next session: Friday, November 6

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