SEASON ONE -- "MIRRORS"
GM NOTES ARE IN ITALICS
SPOKEN DIALOGUE IS BOLDFACED

    The first season was especially long.  It was plagued by the same problem most games go through.  First of all, we went through two Players.  John McKay left the group as did two others who was the previous engineer and 1st Officer.  Those characters didn't last long and have been removed from this synopsis for convenience.  Because the story was trying to find its footing and because the story took a while to lock down, many adventures were somewhat unimportant.  I was also trying to do adventures which focused on each character.  Once the parameters of the PCs were formed, we could then move into the meat of the campaign.  As a result, I sliced this season into two.  The season ends unremarkably and moves right into Season Two.  My plan was for a simple 17 or 18 episodes, like a normal season for a TV show.

1.   “THE BARELESS CAGE”

    The Van meets with Sapphire and he asked them if they come across anything unusual, to inform him.  He gives them a lead as a gift.  The PCs arrive at the second planet in the Esque System.  They find on the surface, a pristine Cranefly.  However, as the Van ventures over the surface, it suffers a power drop and settles down near the Cranefly.  It is intact, fully powered, but its engines aree also down.  The bodies aree very old.  The crew seems to have lived in the ship and died of starvation.  Finland learns that some strange pollen in the atmosphere entered the engine intakes which open whenever a ship enters the atmosphere.  It clogged the atmospheric drive.  It got into the engine core and caused the reactor to automatically shut down.  He can clear it up, it just will just take a day or so.  Rio realizes that it would seem strange for a ship crew to not realize this.  As they transfer supplies from the Cranefly, Max walks over a pressure plate.  It is huge, they lift it up and find an old Tarantula.  It seems the whole field for kilometers is a huge Tarantula Minefield.  If they kept flying, they would have been destroyed.  If they took off and left, the Tarantula's would blow off and wipe them off the face of the planet.  Heather endorses the idea that if they use the Cranefly as cover, they can get the Tarantulas to go after the wrong target but it isn't enough.  They realize that if the SAPO generators on board can overreact, the entire field can self-destruct.  However, John McKay announces himself a better pilot, claiming Rio caused the initial crash.  Rio throws him the control and tell him to prove better.

      This was the beginning of the tension between John and the rest of the group.  Poor poor old John critically failed his piloting roll.

   The Van crashes while escaping, suffering major damage but it does manage to wipe out the field.  They also get part of a Tarantula for salvage.  Rio goes to John later and announces, "John, the day you pilot the Van again is the day my asshole learns to chew gum!"

2.  "MIRRORS AND SHADOWS"

    The Van buys a lead and barely three days later, lands on the second moon of the 1st planet of the Toledo System.  The lead was just a slight adverse radio reading.  The cause is unknown.  The moon in question has a thin atmosphere.  There, they find a strange craft floating in mid-air.  It emanates radio waves which disrupts their communications and sensors.   It never moves and seems actually semi translucent.  Objects seem to pass through the craft's hull with little effort, like a knife through molasses.  They assume the ship might by some new form of holographic projection.  A radical theory put forth is that it might be a ship from the future or another dimension but that it is not entirely in our universe.

      Rio critically succeeded his piloting roll and parked the ship with the grav pods less than a meter from the unknown craft.  He stroked his ego and John McKay was not pleased.  I used music from Alien as the ship was scanned and explored.  It took more than an hour to finish.

   The crew decides this warrants something strange and contacts Sapphire.  He says the object might be a random occurrence and his people will log in their roster for investigation.  He supports the holograph theory.  However, soon the entire system was placed under temporary quarantine under authorization from Consolidated Aerospace.  Three weeks later, the entire section of the planet has been excavated and the ship is missing.
        I
3.  "BIOHAZARD"
   The Fifth Episode "Union" started up and episodes Three and Four happen in between.

    Someone from the TMA contacts Bjorn.  He was one of Dekker's friends but can't get a hold of him.  He sends a quick transmission.  It contains a small pic of what appears to be large spacecraft stabilizer.  It only matches up to one ship.  A Manta.  The Van decides to head to the system ASAP but it is more than a month away.

    Rio awakens from cryosleep.  (The entire crew fails their health rolls)  The crew is awoken too early for reasons unknown.  He saunters over to a strange noise.  When he finally becomes conscious he finds himself staring at the Master Alarm.  Upon running to the Bridge, Rio realizes the nav-computer has gone off-line and the perimeter defense automatically woke up the crew.  However, before Rio can respond, the Van is hit by a meteor.  It suffers major damage and goes adrift.  They have minimum life support and almost no power.  In deep space, they search for a nearby port.  The closest base is the Alphatech Sungun (Promptly ripped off the Dark Horse Aliens comic).  However, as the ship crawls towards the deep outpost, the Alphatech Sungun picks up a waste disposal craft from Schiller Biological.  Originally designed to deposit biological waste to the sungun for disposal, the ship has been infected and the crew have mutated into monsters.  These "Fungus-men" quickly dispatched the populace and converted the survivors.
    By the time the Van arrives, the base is totally overrun.  The crew must fight their way back to their ship.  Max and Rio are captured but are rescued from the Schiller vessel before converted.  Jesse reveals her talent for weapons.  They escape and await arrival of Alphatech security, which nukes the station.

   This is the first episode that introduced Alphatech to the story.  I did not intent them to be as important as they turned out to be.  Early on, I realized a major problem with the set-up with the game.  Bjorn and John were packing tech level 9 weaponry but everyone else was was carrying tech level 7.  This put a major skewer in firepower.  The enemy had to be equipped with TL9 and TL7 weapons.  Course, they also had TL9 armor as well and I had to make sure the TL9 guys went up against the TL9 guys.  Anything else was either a slaughter or a...well... slaughter.  The group realized at this point, that the PC playing John was a gun-totting screwball.  Rio wouldn't take up that position for almost a year :)  Schiller would be the galactic whipping boy for most of the game.

4.  "ROAMING THE HALLS"

    While John McKay is imprisoned (See "Union").  The crew picks up a radio signal and homes in on a dead gunship.  Adrift and powerless, the vessel seems abandoned and pristine.  The ship is also haunted by the dead captain who blames himself for the death of the crew.  After some from quick soul-searching, the ship is left to drift into the sun.

   Yikes...I am not doing this again.  My attempt for a standard ghost story lost all forms of tension right at a pivotal point.  One crew member announces like some great revelation, "Guys...I think its the Captain..." and then Heather blurts out, "Well of COURSE its the CAPTAIN!"  And all mood is flushed down the proverbial toilet.  At that point, the game was a crawl that was only saved by the overlying plot of the adventure around it.  Ghosts never popped up again.  Thank goodness.

5.      "UNION"

     So the Van is in a race to make it to Manta.  Unknown to them, John McKay starts his plan to notify his superiors.  In a really braniac thing to do, he attempts to send a coded transmission to the TMA intelligence bureau.  Of course, the moment the transmission breaks the Van tracking net, Bjorn catches to signal and jams it.  Suspicions rise.  The Van contacts Sapphire who insists that the Manta belongs only in the hands of the Shop and will pay handsomely for its retrieval.  However, upon contacting the Deaths Head, Bjorn attempts to convince the crew that only the Deaths' Head should retrieve such a deadly piece of technology.  The Van finds itself torn between their new employers and their friends.  However, because they are related (and because they are played by the same PC) Heather decides to secretly cut a deal with the Head.

    Upon going into cryosleep again, Bjorn, Heather, Rio, and John stay up.  When John attempts another transmission, Bjorn succeeds again and jams it.  His suspects are cut down and Bjorn discovers him in his Shark, the only other source of such a powerful transmission.  John is subdued and the crew is awoken.  Not being very intelligent, John fails miserably to express his resolve.
        "I could destroy you with a single thought."
        "You know, John, that's not exactly winning us over."
    He attempts to convince the crew that the Shop is not as pure as they seem and that another group, much larger, is the true power.  He answers to them, as do many people, not to their knowledge.

    A good chunk of good dialogue came from this session.  Very little GM involvement was necessary.  In fact, there was a section where I didn't talk for almost three full hours.  John was not a good speaker and every hour that passed, worsened his chances of redemption.

        "The only time he opens his mouth is to change feet."
    The Van is getting more and more annoyed.
        Hour 1:  "I think we should take him out."
        Hour 2:  "Guys, I want him dead...I want him on a platter."
        Hour 3:  "ARRGH!! I'm going to kill him. GRRRR!! Kill!!"
        Hour 4:  "AAAHH!!!  MMM!!! GRRR!!! ARRRGHH!!! MMEEE KILLL!!! AARRRGGH!!!
    John claims to have top secret information only for Bjorn's ears, being from the TMA.  In the Shark, John admits that the Shop is a flip side of a coin.  The other side is group called The "Union".  He doesn't know who they are but they do have their fingers in the TMA and the Bloc Militia.  During the conversation, John attempts to send another coded transmission.  Because Bjorn was with him, he doesn't notice and Rio is unable to block it from the bridge.  He looses his temper and proceeds to the docking bay, armed.  Bjorn, unknown to the transmission, leaves the Shark with John.  When Jesse arrives (first on the scene), a fight ensues.  John kicks Jesse across her bum leg and she goes down, screaming.  Bjorn and John fight it out.  John has his armored vacc suit on so the fight is long and dragged out.  Even when Bjorn has John pinned, he doesn't stop struggling, so he blows a hole through John's arm with an X-Ray laser.  John passes out.

   Now it gets funny.  John is tied up in the medbay as doctor heals his arm.  The PC is understandably angry.  The crew takes no chances.  John discloses to me all the little things he has secretly done to the ship.  He has his ship booby trapped.  All the cases in his room are locked and armed with flash grenades.  However, the crew were a tad too fast for him...

    While John's out, the crew search his room and ship.  Heather and Rio, both side on caution and don't bother opening John's locked boxes or even his Shark.  They assume he would be too smart to leave documents about.  So, they toss it...all of it.  They shred his space suit because they couldn't open it.  The deliver it to him with a broken helmet and a box of iron fillings.  They eject the Shark into deep space.  When John wakes, he discovers his entire manifest is floating in cold space.
    They later allow the Shark back in the bay but lock John in the meat locker.  The greatest fear is not him, though, but the possible force this Union may throw their way.  The Van arrives at the Manta and discover it is a Buster -- equipped with a full payload of Fusion and Nuclear warheads.  The Death's Head arrives and is grateful.  The Death's Head numbers sixteen ships, six of them Buster Mantas.  Before the team can evacuate, a fleet of TMA fighters and a Behemoth battlecruiser arrive.  The Head fights off the fleet and gives time for the Van to escape.  When The Van hears from them again, the fleet is destroyed, and the Mantas don't suffer a single loss.
    Sapphire is not really angry...especially since they said the Head arrived without their knowledge.  He also acknowledged the arrival of the TMA ships as bad odds.  Just as long as the TMA didn't get their hands on it, he is happy.  He is also scared...
        "Someone is out there.  I don't know who it is...and that is the most scariest and most disturbing information I have ever given you.   We don't know who they are...but they can form a Hunter Killer fleet in under 48 hours in the middle of dead space..."

   A good adventure played fantastically by the PCs.  I only needed to sit back and watch the Players go at it.  It allowed a good conspiracy to blossom.  The only bad point was that it took so long.  I randomly threw in two supplementary adventure to spice it up and throw in a sense of chaos.  John was convinced that the haunted Gunship was a sign from his superiors.  When they called his bluff, he looked very stupid.

    John is placed on probation but when the crew left him alone on Esque, he went of to meet his contact.  When they discover his absence, they ask him about it.  When he refuses to talk, they kick him out of the ship and tell him to buy fuel for the Shark and find his own way.  Unknown to the Van, the Ship orders his execution and he is shot in the back.  Course...he didn't die...

6.      "SITTING DUCKS"

    The Van, at Breaker's Yard, is hired by a private collector to a location just outside the Tower system.  The collector believes the ship there is a rare TMA assault craft.  He would pay big bucks for retrieval and the Van could use the money for their repairs.  The ship seems to be about 150 years old by the sensor pass.  It could be a Kobyashi or maybe even a Cyclops.   They arrive and at exactly the coordinates he specified, the crew locates a perfectly preserved Cyclops.  Nobody is on board.  The escape pod is gone.  The fuel tank is full.  The primary computer is off-line.  Most startling, however, is the fact that the Cyclops is still armed with a Vulcan-Hammer, Multi-Warhwead "Scatterpack" Thermonuclear Space-to-Surface Missile (approx. 1000 megaton tactical delivery system).
    The moment the Cyclops's navigation system goes on line, it goes on autopilot and continues on its mission to Tower.  It pulls away with most of the crew on board.  Boothe and Jesse try to catch up but the speedy Cyclops heads off.  Heather discloses that the Cyclops was prone to not getting out of the blast in time and a malfunctioning HT drive would cause it to get caught in the explosion.  Many crews got scared and abandoned their mission.  Obviously this one set their ship on auto to fulfill the mission.  This ship must have powered down.  Now, their target is the Cowley Spaceport with a 50 million people capacity.  The Van crew can't just abandon the Cyclops since one missile could wipe out that section of the planet.

   What turned out to be a great gaming idea,  I gave the PCs a 40 minute real time limit on the adventure.  They had 40 minutes to solve their problem.  So even when the PCs were running around blabbing, they were using up their characters time.  This made sure they would concentrate.

   As time ran out, the crew tried to find a way to stop the destruction.  Eventually, they couldn't hack into the flight systems or the launch codes, so they removed the detonator on the warhead so when it launched, it would shatter harmlessly upon impact.  They cut the right wire barely ten seconds before the missile fired.  They returned to the collector and got their money.

7.     "I, MAJOR"

    The Group stumbles upon a weak signal, very garbled.  It takes the crew several hours to make out.  The lead points them 20 parsecs away in the middle of dead space.  As they approach, Max deciphers the transmission.   It's a warning to keep away .  Upon arrival, the crew finds a small cylidrical object they identify as a Sentinel Major.  The ship tumbles end over end, no fuel in its cells.  Life Support is off-line.  Of course, SMs were automated so the crew approaches slowly...but are promptly fired upon.  The crew decides to approach via spacesuits and are not attacked.  They enter without problems but the SM computer then tries to get them off by blowing airlocks and closing doors on them.  They find the seven crew members were killed by an accident.

    As it turns out, the massive computer on this Sentinel has gained sentience and was perfectly happy floating through the cosmos, listening.  It doesn't fire on anybody unless it fears its life but now it fears that if it goes back to port, it will be deactivated.  The crew died when it achieved consciousness because the Major didn't know what it was doing.  Heather promises not, opting instead to take it back to the Mars War Museum where it will be restored and kept intact...save for weapon systems, of course.  It decides to trust them.  The only down side was that the War Museum can't pay very much.

   I tried to do the adventure differently than "Roaming the Halls"  by not keeping the computer a secret but hinting at it by using the same clichés from the previous adventure.  The Major contacted each of the crew members privately, almost like a dream, the computer was so subtle, some PCs thought they were dreaming.-- like voices in their heads...

8.     "STANDING IN THE SUN"

   Bjorn gets a communique from Duncan Wallace, and old war buddy, asking him to come to Stasco.  This message also details him to meet his old commander at the Crisius Tower.  The Van, knowing this might be important, heads for Stasco.  There, they meet under one of the main cooling pumps, still a hundred stories from the surface but far from the top level.
    Duncan reveals that his squad found vital information about the Home Base of the Death's head.  This information was found by their ex-commander, Thomas Newman, who is the only other member of Bjorn's old squad still alive besides Miles Dekker.   Thomas hid it in a computer disk encrypted and no one knows how to open it.  Thomas is missing in action.  Newman did tell Duncan where the disk is hidden so Thomas could bring it to Bjorn for safe keeping.  The disk is almost in the base level of the Crisium tower, in the Machine Section.
    As it turns out, Thomas is working for the Union and needs Bjorn's access code to see the info.  Its a trap and weapons are drawn.  Newman gets reinforcements.  However the machines are loud.  Pistons rise and fall, controlling the gigantic rail city.  When one of these pistons rises, the diversion gives Bjorn and the rest of the Van crew take the opportunity to strike fast.  One of the villains preps and explosive but it goes off prematurely, taking out half the bad guys and shutting down one of the main cooling stations.  The explosive also knocks everyone out cold.

   This was all a really big set-up.  When I saw and read the description from the Chris Foss painting this planet was based on, I thought up two really good stories involving the moving city blocks of Stasco.  This was one of them.  The only real downside with the episode was that most of the players couldn't attend that day.  I went forward anyway because it wasn't a really important adventure.

    When they awaken, some time has passed.  The absence of noise leads to a horryfying conclusion.  The Crisium Tower has stalled on the tracks.  Two hours behind, the Phalzone Block is two hours behind.  A massive evacuation is in progress but it can't be completed in time.  The Union men are still committed to gathering the disk and its info, now in the Van's possession.  During the firefight, Heather stumbles across one of the explosive packages that will soon blow the city off the tracks.  Ten massive batteries run a series of conventional pistons that once were used for internal combustion (before they adapted to Solar power).  All ten are needed to start up the system but only seven are needed to maintain.  Two were punctured in the explosion.

   I used the real-time limit again but most of the time was taken up with the firefights.  The tension was as good.

    Eventually, the bad guys are all killed.  Some even get thrown outside the bulding, to eventually die of explosion.  It is already getting hot in the city since the suns are passing and the power inside is dropping.  Heather gets the idea of using of the explosive packs to jump start one of the pistons.  Hopefully, the others will follow up.  With only seconds to spare, the city starts up and pulls away before the inevitable.  They have the disk, but it doesn't contain the location of the Death's Head.  it contains the plans for the Manta.  Bjorn decides not to tell anyone.

9. "NO  ACCESS"
    While on a lead in the Crimmon system, the Van encounters an old Jade Medium-Freighter.  The ship is in good condition.  Apparently the crew escaped in one of the escape pods.  The PCs get worried because of their reputation of always finding something wrong with a ship.  Something must have caused the crew to abandon ship.  However, the cargo bay is empty; the fuel supply is good.  Max extracts and attempts to access the log.  What they discover is that the crew lost control of the ship.  They passed by the system and was scanned.  Some strange computer program took over.  They shut the entire works down.  The same program is now on board the Van.  It seems to only effect the guidance system.  It keeps wanting to send the ship flying into the sun.  However, Rio pulls the plug and shuts down the ship...but not before the Van goes on a rampage, including plowing through the Jade's cargo hold.
    As the ship gets cold, Max continues to decipher the program.  It makes no sense but he cannot believe that it would send them into he sun.  He calculates the course would make them just miss the photosphere and go in orbit around the third planet.  The crew decides to re-activate the computer and sees where it takes them.  It sends them around the third planet to rendezvous with a large spacecraft which swallows the Van whole.  The ship is sent down a huge tunnel and sets down in the middle of the spacecraft.  The crew exits the Van in hopes of finding a way of opening the colossus doors sealing them in.  The crew is separated by doors.  Rio and Jesse are chased by a gigantic robotic spider.
    Max and Heather find the control center.  There is a huge conversation that goes about as to whether this ship is of alien origin.  The ship is weird, but that's not enough.  Max is adamant that the ship is of Terran origin, just automated and even manages to figure out a distress call he thinks).
    "There are no aliens are on this ship...in fact, there are no aliens, PERIOD.  And you know why...because we haven't met any."
    At that point, an even larger ship starts to move swallow up the smaller one.  The Van decides to take a hasty retreat.  They manage to open the bay doors and escape before they are captured again.  The even larger vessel zips away at amazing speed into deep space.  the virus is gone.  The crew had assumed this was some way for the small craft to pick up samples of spacecraft.  When it was full, it called for a pickup.  They will never know now.  The virus erased itself.

   Even though this adventure was a blatant rip-off of "Explorers" it still worked surprisingly well.  My group didn't make the connection.  This was the first adventure which first introduced the real possibility of aliens.  The PCs have assumed the ship was of alien origin.  Even the robot worked well.   There was some good tension and some paranoia but one of the PCs was getting stressed that no ship they ever find is ever a clean operation.  Something always has to happen.  Another bit of humor was after this adventure.  Christmas rolles around for the crew and they woke up from cryo to celebrate.  Heather had recently found in a crawlspace, an old brick of Heroine concentrate 46, from the previous owners.  Rio and Jesse took this advantage to have some fun...

10. "SPLINTER"

    Upon returning from the last mission, The Van gets an urgent SOS from an Interstellar Queen "Demimonde" which has been struck by a rock and has crashed on the Lew Ocean on the planet Suffolk in the Baha system, a mere 2 parsecs from the Van.  The ship is sinking, with its nose in the air.  The flight crew is trapped on the bridge, connected to the rest of the ship buy its neck, stretching vertically now, almost 500 feet from the ground.

   This was a good old rescue adventure with crisises popping up from the PCs to solve.  I used music from the Leviathan soundtrack and it worked beautifully.  Especially one great action scene where the Van was floating near the head of the Queen and Bjorn was trying to get people off before the neck broke off and crash below.  This included poor old Bjorn loosing his footing and falling between to the two ships.

    Everyone pulls together to rescue the people from drowning, being crushed, or being electrocuted.  When everything seemed okay, Pirates arrive.  They shoot down another rescue ship and try to raid the Queen.  The Van shoots down the ship but some of the pirates get on board.  The craft crashes on the Queen causing more problems.  Rio and Max get trapped in a flooding room.  The doctor has to rescue a drowned boy.  A fire breaks out in a sealed room.  Then the Queen reactor goes critical but Boothe manages to bring it down.   More rescue ships arrive and help the final evacuation.  TGS hails the Van crew as heroes and put them on the Interstellar News.  The crew also get free flights for life on any TGS flight.

   Boy does the crew milk that reward!! :)

1l. "LALANDE"

    Sapphire leads the Van to the center of the Territory, very close to Earth.  The system is over 6500 parsecs away.  Not a short trip, but only eight light years from Earth.  The Van is confused why.  Sapphire explains that whenever something is weird, the Shop likes using the Van because then they are not exposed.
    The Van goes to Lalande 21185, a small barren, bleak planet.  Two small gas moons, no colonies.  All the Van has to investigate is a massive detection in radioactivity.   Twice the amount that was detected at Oberon when it was nuked.  It cannot be natural and cannot be the result of a Nuclear detonation.  The storm on the surface will clear up in a hour so they can land.  The atmosphere is extremily toxic with only a microscopic amount of oxygen present.  In a pool of pure mercury, they discover an ancient spacecraft rotting in radiation.  The Van crew has only about five hours before the radiation overcomes the protection in their suits.  Max investigates the crash and determines the occupants were probably trying to land when their reactor sprung a leak.  Heather thinks the fact that there is no crater, so the ship probably had a disaster while it was settled.
    In a cave, less than a kilometer away, they find and old makeshift radiation shield and several unrecognizable artifacts, now old and destroyed.  The ship is very fragile and Rio, at one point, goes right through one of the deck plates.  Max determines that the ship must be over 1000 years old.  Despite the minimal amount of oxygen in the thin atmosphere, the ferrous alloy of which the hull was made was badly corroded.  The nature of the wreck suggests that an explosion took place, almost certainly in the reactor room or its equivelant, as the extremities of the craft were virtually intact.
    Some equipment in the forward section is still in good order as a number of lights are functioning, probably drawing power from solar converters the Van crew couldn't locate.  The stern portion of the ship had broken off entirely and probably contained the drive units.  It is composed of Ceramic material and had not deteriorated like the rest of the hull.  However, it emanated too much radiation for the team to enter.
    The crew left the ship intact.  For reasons purely personal, the van crew decided not to report the wreck.

    "It is perhaps fitting that it remains undisturbed as a gaunt epitaph to the beings who lay dying of radiation sickness among the rocks of a strange and empty world."

   A purely mood adventure with very little substance, it all revolved around the picture.  The images were paramount but luckily, I had a very imaginative group.  Max had a field day, being able to use his scientific skills.  This was the first real solid proof that another race exsisted on the worlds where man walked millennia before humanity even knew how to fly.  Where are they now?

12. "MISDIRECTED VALUES"

     The Van arrives at Skybase Alpha 110.  Well, not really.  They arrive to find it missing with no wreckage.  The Skybase was stolen.  The group follows an ion trail they identify as a Scavengers.  The PCs, decide to follow instead of the 500 parsec trip to the next base.  The Van comes across a Military Patrol ship, "Zapapadre", investigating the disappearance and they come to the same conclusion about Scavengers.  It refuels the Van and heads back to the TMA.  It is a safe assumption that the TMA will send a HK battalion to eliminate the Scavenger's central society.
    Heather refuses to believe the Scavengers would hit such a large target and commits the Van to contacting them before its too late.  The Hunter-Killer fleet is quickly formed. Word from the grapevine shows that the fleet is heading for the Cameron System (1500 parsecs away).  Heather seeks out Sapphire who tells him the Zapapadre does not exist.  He also adds that the Scavengers are considered a threat because they are the last rogue element in the territory.  They are too independent for their own good.  The Shop does not consider them a problem but the Union might think otherwise.  Heather knows of the Cameron system.  There is a small band of Scavengers but The Van decides to go to a nearby system to meet with Jack Devlin.  There, Jack insists that his people weren't involved.  The band at Cameron can't defend themselves.  They have no weaponry and are a simple group of four vessels.  Soon, the small band is destroyed by the roaming HK fleet.
      Devlin must warn his people in Osborne, the location of most of the Scavengers.  An evacuation will begin then.    An HK fleet is destroying all Scavengers it sees.  It consists of 20 Warhawks, 15 Stingrays, 3 Behemoths, 1 Smilgasig and 45 Minnows.  Osborne is where the Adipose Scavenger Flagship waits.  A massive town meeting is held and the Van convinces the Scavengers that in order to clear their name, they have to find the missing Skybase.
    The Van, retracing its steps, stumbles across the broken hull of the Zapapadre.  It has almost been completely gutted.  From the log, they gather their flightpath and track 95 parsecs to the Kao system where the Skybase has been parked.  After a fight with the Outrigger's that dragged it there, the Van intercepts the HK fleet all alone to convince them.  The HK fleet doesn't want to believe but when the Scavengers arrive...all 650 ships, the fight was quickly taken out of them and the Fleet turns back.
       The Van
    The Van was damaged so much in this battle, the crew ended up having to dismantle their Crawler to fix the damage..

13. "FLOWER TIME"
    This episode has a side point when the Van recovers a futuristic boat.  Called the Skipray, it uses a unique propulsion system where the entire bottom of the boat propels the craft past the sound barrier.  It was just a cool drawing I made and wanted to include it in the game.  It does not do much in the game and the vessel does not really do anything until the adventures in Finnegan's Folly.  It is based on the same technology as Gabriel's Raven, which appears soon..

    The Van comes across a derelict ship purely in passing, totally by random.  An intact Cobb with a full fuel tank.  It suffered no damage.  The Van crew decides to enter in full Bio-Gear.  The crew is dead, killed by some foreign agent.  When Jesse's suit is punctured, all hell breaks loose, but no known viruses can be found.  She  is cleared.  Soon, she collapses.  Placed in quarantine, the doctor searches or a cause and cure.  Bjorn discovers that the Cobb was transporting biological canisters but the contents are unlabelled.  They were discovered drifting in the Ardell system.  The Cobb crew discovered on their own that the samples were simply flora.  Perhaps when they cracked open one container, it killed them.
    The pressure is on.  The doctor cannot seem to find the cause.  He can't even find the virus if there is one.  The doctor then discovers talking to Jesse that her husband was killed by an unknown virus years ago.  He died of the Rosie-Proto Virus.  The doctor then cuts all research into curing Jesse.  He is afraid.  Rio and Heather face the doctor and the Willas reveals he made a mistake years ago which resulted in the death of Jesse's husband.  His ego got ahead of him and her husband and many others were killed.  The Doctor can't believe he has been forced into he same situation...and now must face the woman whose husband he killed.  He joined the Van because he didn't want to be responsible for another life again.
    The doctor, eventually gets his act together and saves Jessica's life.  She always knew about him but never told him.  She forgives him.  The Cobb is destroyed.

    No fighting, no space battles.  Instead we have a total experimental episode that dealt with people's reactions rather than the rolls of the die.  What remains was a very short and effective adventure that delved into lesser characters instead of the primary ones.    The key to the adventure was the climax.  I used music I recorded from the TV Movie "...And The Band Played On."  It was an amazingly effective climax because of the mood and buildup.

14. "BROKEN ARROW"

    Don't even think about it.  This episode came about it months before the movie came about.  Nobody ever heard about.  I heard about the terminology in an issue of a GI Joe comic years earlier.  This would not be the last I have brought up an idea that would later be copied by Hollywood.  Those basterds :)

    The Van intercepts a Brilliant Pebble transmission, coded.  Max breaks the encryption.

   "SYSTEM ACCESS GRANTED--BREAK
   TMA CODED 13567--BREAK
   ION CONTACT MATCHES KNOWN BLOC MODEL 26689--BREAK
   FASTCORE INFORMED, GRANTED RETRIEVAL--BREAK
   MATCH CONFIRMED WITH MODEL 26689--BREAK
   CLASSIFIED MATCH:  BROKEN ARROW--BREAK
   HIGHEST PRIORITY FOR RETRIEVAL--BREAK
   ACCESS NAME:  SHARK--BREAK
   COORDINATES 211, SECTOR 35--STOP"

    The Transmission was pointed towards Earth.  Bjorn knows that a Broken Arrow is a misplaced Nuclear Weapon.  He, however, has no idea what a Model 16689 is.  The Coordinates are outside the Bloc, 500 parsecs from the Van's current position.  En-Route, about 150 parsecs later, they receive a transmission for the Van crew to meet someone incognito at Skybase Gamma 678, barely 5 parsecs away.  They meet, in a similar meeting to Sapphire's initial meeting, a new figure.  He identifies himself simply as "Face"
    He remains in the shadows.  Face tells the Van that going to Sector 35 is a bad idea and getting instructions from Sapphire is even worse.  The conversation was very cordial.  Face adds that what happens around the Van is greater than they can imagine and that they are inconsequential and should not get involved.  As an incentive for turning their back on the Sapphire and The Shop, Face offers the Van crew 5 million credits.  Just do their job but cut Sapphire off.  Face warns that if they stay on course, they might meet again, and this time, it might not be so friendly.
    The Van crew refuses.  When they walk out, Face pick up a cell phone and says, "Get me Joseph"

    This meeting would prove more important that the crew would know.  Face would appear many times through the game.  In a little teaser, the character "Joseph" would not come about for some time.  He would later be known as "The Cleaner"

    The Van is later attacked but survives the assault of a TMA Cutlass.  The TMA ships damaged only the systems required to slow the Van down.  It takes longer to reach the coordinates and  when the Van arrives, they find a deactivated Moray Eel, the most powerful weapon of mass destruction ever conceived by man.  A black Shark escapes but not before plucking off some shots at the Van, delaying it further and escaping.  The Eel activates and fires away.  These automated missiles detonate if fired upon and the blast would take the van up with it...even at the longest range.
    The Eel is going to hit anything.  It is rendezvousing with a Fastcore Smilgasig.  Moving at an amazing speed, the Van can hardly keep up.  Rio boards the vessel via an EVA but can't find a way to stop the vessel.  He, however, remembers the long old defect in the guidance system and uses a rad burst from the Van's own reactor into the Eel's guidance computer.  The Van breaks off and moves away.
    Instead of docking with the Smilgasig, the Eel slams into it and detonating the warhead.  Everything in 5 000 kilometers radius is vaporized without a trace.  Face, after seeing the result, talks to a man we cannot see and says, "The Van is no longer nuisance."

    The tension was bulding, Rio was getting aggravated.  Max and Heather kept arguing about what to do to stop the Union from getting a super weapon.  Rio, in the end, just solved their problem without even asking.  In the end, he was right.

15. "THE INSPECTION"

    Outside the Hutz system, an Interstellar Queen prepares for travel.  It receives a transmission on many frequencies.  The captain thinks it is a late transmission from the Spaceport.  Then they see a wreck in their flight path.   The Captain recommends that a team come to inspect it and the flight moves on as planned.  Four Piranhas arrive to inspect the wreck from the TMA.  The Captain of the Queen flight is free to go but before he goes, he notifies his superiors at TGS
    The Van is contacted by TGS and is asked to head to the Hutz system.  They require the Van's services.  They consider the Van an asset ever since their flight was rescued by them.  They are the closest people they trust and technically, the wreck belongs to them.  They will pay them $250 000 for their services.  They also need the Van to tow the wreck to their headquarters.  Hutz is only 35 parsecs away.  When they arrive, they find the TMA ships orbiting five fatboys which are orbiting the wreck.  The wreck does not fully register on radar.  The Fatboys are owned by TGS and they won't permit the TMA ships from accessing the wreck.  The Van is the only Rigger group TGS trusts.  TGS has salvage rights but if any TMA weaponry in on board, TMA can claim jurisdiction.
    The wreck is unrecognizable and the radiation is fairly low.  TGS would first like to find a way to stop the transmission which is interfering with vessels' guidance systems.  The Van crew explore the airless craft (no gravity).  Outside, the TMA ships circle like buzzards.  In one of the larger cargo bays intact in the vessel is a small craft.  At the same time, a Snark arrives.  It makes a third orbit around the other two groups of craft.  This is Joanna Erickson, a cub reporter from ITNN - Interstellar Terran News Network.  The signal is coming from the smaller ship.  The PCs explore and discover the a symbol on the side.  They see the words USAF and a red, white, and blue flag.  The vessel in a Baker F332 Banshee--A 21st century jet-turbine powered military aircraft from an American Manufacturer.  They checked the serial numbers and the Mars War Museum comes up with an identification.  Apparently, this specific craft disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle centuries ago.
    When the TMA sips get desperate to conviscate the craft, they move in but are dis-illusioned under the camera of the Snark.

16. "BRACKEN'S TERROR"
   This episode had taken a lot of its composition from Issues 4, 5, and 6 of Aliens: Colonial Marines.  My PCs never knew.  The adventure was designed as an "action interlude" from plot-based character stories.  Its impact was much more severe than I would realize.

    The Van passes by Bracken's World and picks up an anomalous surface signal.  It seems to have a military callsign.   Bjorn is curious as to why a civilian planet would have a military signal.  He convinces the others to investigate.  A short hop and that's it.  Bracken's World is an agri-colony covered in a concrete lattice of Kelp beds.  The base is about the size of a large house connected to a frabricated road leading to a landing pad.  It is almost like the entire base was dropped onto the concrete lattice.  The Van lands and they wheel their crawler to the base.  Inside, Max sees the signal, and when he activates the comm line, he comes face to face with the Cleaner.
    Cleaner:  Who are you?
    Rio:  Who are You?
    Max:  My God.
    The Cleaner ends the transmission and soldiers outside attack the base.  A firefight begins.  Jesse, in the Crawler speeds in through the entrance to save the day.  The crew boards and escapes onto the road.  They fight off the soldiers to get back to the Van.  However, the mass of the Van proves to great and the landing pad buckles.  It slides from the pad and breaks through the Kelp netting and sinks underwater.  Needing a quick solution, Jesse drives off the road, into the kelp beds.  The nets supports the Crawler as it drives over the beds.  When it reaches a concrete seam, in bounces over it.  After doing that three or four or five times, the axle breaks and Crawler comes to rest on one of the seams, out of commission. (That's two now in case you were wondering....there will be more). Night falls

    "The Abyss" proved the best source for music through a lot of these scenes.  Especially the night scene where Rio is trying to find the source of a strange noise outside.  Very suspenseful.  It featured one of the best lines Rio would utter that week.  They had purchased a new Crawler recently and when they did an inventory when broken up on the seam, Rio uttered, "All we have is three weeks of rations and new Crawler smell."  Outland was the other good soundtrack but it would be used more later.

    A side scene shows a kelp miner doing his rounds when he hears a sound from outside and is then ripped to shreds by an unknown force.  The next day, Finland has patched the Crawler but it won't last long.  They decide to head to a nearby farming Atoll.  However, before they can start their engines up, the group is ambushed by a handful of gigantic blue lobsters.
 STATS:  LOBSTERS
  ST:  20  DX:  14  IQ:  3  HT:  30          SPEED:  3
  HEIGHT:   15 ft WT:  650 lbs  ARMOR:   PD:  6    DR:  25
  SKILLS:  Athletics (17), Brawling (18)
  DAMAGE:   TEETH:  1d6
  CLAW:  2d6
    The group arrives at the Atoll and learns that the populace is under siege by these monsters.  They arrived a few months ago. and have been killing farming machines periodically.  Their attacks are getting closer.  When another attack occurs just a mile from the base, everyone worries.  the Base Controllers admit desperation.  They will help the PCs recovers their ship.  Being waterproof, the Van is still intact.  However, evidence reveals the Atoll might not survive that long.  The PCs don't want to stay, but soon learn they must help the populace fortify themselves from an attack.  One Controller admits that TMA constructors dropped the military base there six months ago but no activity was seen there...only a sensor relay was dropped.  Then two months ago, a Laing Biological transport requested an emergency landing but was refused.  It crashed five miles from the base.  It doesn't take long for the PCs to fill in the missing bits of information.

   This is when the Outland music came to bear.  The tension mounted.  The Harvesters are being pulled back and everyone is preparing makeshift weapons.  Of course, being the average Players of a Sci-Fi game, the Van crew are armed better than a New York SWAT team.  I awarded extra Experience Points for those who had inventive action scenes.  So, Players toss themselves onto the backs of these Monsters, throw grenades down their throats.  There was even a great shot where Max and one of the Lobsters were fighting underwater.  Rio rode the back of one.  YEEEHAAAAA!!!!

    Dawn rises and the Harvesters are coming back.  A fortress is being readied.  There is a great piece of suspense where the Players keep the doors open just long enough for the last ship to make it into the Atoll...but too long.  The lobsters rise up and fight inside the walls.  People and vehicles are tossed backwards and forwards.  The creatures are too powerful and more are trying to get in from outside.  The walls are reinforced polycarbon resin sunk into solid bedrock.  Twenty of them are inside the gate.  Boats capsize and people get trapped underneath them.  Two PCs jump off a section of the wall before it falls.  Another PC gets trapped under a crate but is rescued.  The fight goes badly until Rio finally loses it and decides to torch the highly oxygenated kelp bed.  This wipes out the rest of the lobsters and totally wipes out Bracken's World's economy.      The PC retrieve their ship and leave the planet.  Most of the kelp beds are destroyed and they see the devastation.

   It was an act of desperation...then I kick in the music from Alien 3 and the scene is set.  Of course, the marines in the comic did it as well but Rio came to it to his own conclusion.

17. "FLYING BLIND"

    "THis is Claire Robbers, ITNS News.  The Territory was rocked today by the destruction of the Fastcore Patrol Cruiser Schieffer by Apparent TMA forces in the Quiver system.  All that is known at this time is that the Warhawk was destroyed by an Avery Penatrator.  Now the Penatrators have not been in active service for over fifty years but some might be in use bu the military.  It is assume this ship is being used by the TMA since it is illegal for their possession outside the TMA and no known pirate groups employ the craft.  It is not know whether this was an authorized or unauthorized action by the TMA.  We'll keep you posted."

    Another attack occurs near the Van's position and the TMA reveals that the craft is not being used by them even though the ship is using a TMA IFF code.  The Bjorn knows the Penatrators are tough vessels.  When the Van can't find a single survivor among the Partisans left in the ship's wake.  He is proven correct.  A bounty of $5 million is brought for the destruction of the craft.

    Oh well, most of this adventure lacked most of the players.  Check that.  Only one was present for the bulk of this adventure.  Even though it seemed long, it only took one session.  However, it did introduce one important NPC.

    The Ship is securing a squad to go after the ship.  It is assumed the Union will as well.  The Van, in deep space, gets an encrypted message from an unknown source to meet at specific coordinates in the Sendai system.  Upon arrival, the Van sees a super modified Vandal bristling with Heavy armaments.  The ship seems deserted.  There is one occupant.  He called himself Preacher.

    I duplicated his character from Blue Thunder even to the point of checking his sanity with a stopwatch.  It is said you will start to loose your mind if you can't tell 30 seconds with your eyes closed.

    Preacher claims that he was once in the same position with the Union that the Van is currently in with the Shop.  He says that neither side of the same coin is good.  It is just the same coin.  There is no dark or light sides.  Just heads or tails.    He adds that the Shop and the Union won't directly fight so they employ people like himself and the Van.  However, he was part of the Union for a lot longer and knows many secrets.  When he found too many, he discovered neither side was better, so he left...he is now considered a risk.  He has friends and enemies in high places but the enemies got the friends outnumbered.  He doesn't stay in one place for long.  He warns the PCs to re-think their relationship with the Shop.  He reveals that his old employers are very committed to finding this Penatrator--dead, not alive.  Preacher picked up a transmission from the Penatrator but it was on an 85 year old carrier frequency.  They were trying to contact TMA central saying they had awakened in Bloc Space and were running home.  Preacher gives the PC his coded channel in case they want to contact him again.

   Yeah, I admit, it was very similar to an episode of Star Trek:  The Next Generation where a bunch of Klingons wake up and think the war is still going on.  However, mine doesn't end so nicely.

    The PCs realize the Penatrator crew were in crysosleep for so long, the think the war is still going on.  It is heading for the Earth but it won't make it there in time.  But why would the TMA secretly want the ship dead since the ship itself is very valuable.  The Van decides to find out what they know.  It finds a distress beacon from a TMA squad of Cutlasses (Gamme 97) under attack.  When the Van finally arrives, only one Cutlass is left, about to be destroyed.  The Van bears weapons on the Penatrator and tries everything it can to convince Captain Nash of the Penatrator is not convinced.  Like a Mexican standoff, the three ships bear weapons.  The Cutlass is more or less disabled but without any weapons on the Van, the Pcs have a clean shot of taking the Penatrator out.  The PCs beg and plead with the Penatrator that the war is over.  However, they are not convinced and fire on the Cutlass, destroying, the Van has no choice and takes the Penatrator out.  Reinforcements arrive soon later and PCs discover then that Gamma 97 Cutlass squad was the squad that just arrived so the identity of the destroyed squad remains a mystery.  Soon later, the bounty deposited is the PC's account.