Mothership // Play report = Diversion of the Pioneer One

Algo-Corp hired a drop team of four to lay the welcome mat for the first step of colonisation — fly three years in cryo to assemble a jump gate on the planet’s surface.

Dramatis Personae

  • Koichi Tanaka: a promising young scientist used to following his parents’ wishes

  • Lt. Lenore Stone: a marine looking to check off the formal cryo-run that’d enable him to take a permanent security role on a station

  • Android 017: minimal biotech and a stark LED readout of =) or =( based on physical harm

  • Lt. Shan Handel (NPC): a gruff drill-sergeant butch with lats you can’t hang a backpack off

Waking moments

The players wake in a dimly lit cubicle, all cryo-pods opening except Shan’s, with a readout by the ceiling saying One week, two months, one year to destination. The boat wasn’t in motion, and they were under the influence of a comfortable level of gravity — clearly the Pioneer One had landed, somewhere.

Uncomfortable with the situation, Lenny went alone to the barracks to get into his exosuit. 017 and Koichi tried to work out what was going on with Shan’s pod and determined that a block had been placed on at terminus level, though while 017 went towards the bridge to manually override, Koichi managed to corral the system from the local station.

Upon their return, 017 noticed one of the ship’s Diagnostic Repair Droids moving towards Koichi with a syringe extended — warning him meant he dodged the pierce — and 017 leapt onto the DRD to break its systems. (Sadly Lenny did not have a spotter, so felt the sharp pain of a needle and a subtle sting of steroids? Or so he’d read.)

Shan’s waking process was finally over, and she demanded briefing from Koichi. Dropping straight into work-mode, she headed to the barracks to suit up, where she met with Lenny and the two realised that the external airlock had recently been used. The team congregated by the terrarium that housed a fibrous plant to purify their air.

Plan of action

With Lenny having been injected with something and Koichi having a sample, those two decided to head to the lab, while 017 and Shan went to check the main terminal on the bridge. They split up, but soon realised the doors to their locations were digitally locked by Rico, the ship’s AI. Unable to get a clear answer from her about why the doors were closed, Koichi asked about the fact that the external airlock had been opened… Rico responded that an object had been recovered and brought through to the lab for study. Lenny pushed Rico for more information, and she rudely shut him down and went silent.

A horrid wrenching of metal sounded from the lab, like the second crunching part of a car-crash.

017 was able to get a vid-link up to the laboratory, and the cam-feed showed an empty gurney with a bent-out-of-shape autodoc arm above. Worried that whatever it was might have gone into the vents, they pulled up a schematic of the air-ducts.

The marines worked together to set blast charges on the laboratory doors, then carefully moved into the room. An iridiscent creature, somewhat like a crab and a snake, just drawn flat as if it were a hieroglyph, thrust itself at them, but each opened fire with their SMG and the thing screamed and shed its hard skin before seeping behind the lab equipment, then through the door to the cargo hold. 017 tried to chase, but caught themselves short.

Anaylsis

Koichi took to analyse the biological material in the syringe and that had been spattered across the laboratory floor. It was a lengthy job, but it gave him something to comfortably get on with. 017 and Shan went to the secure node in the barracks to cycle through the ship’s camera feed, spotting the swaying forest of bamboo fronds in all directions, and a strange monument perhaps a klick east of their position.

Whilst its prey focused on the screen, the creature burst from a vent again: 017 unloaded a full clip into the wall but Shan blasted the creature right in its core and it fled, Lenny running through to assist and taking its tail off with his own bullets.

The new sample gave Koichi the breakthrough he needed to work out a few things. First, this creature was not native to the planet, and its fluids (found in the syringe) had been extracted separately. Secondly, the fluid now inside Lenny existed as a further infection vector, rather than a threat itself.

Mother

The team made route as one to the bridge, followed by the noise of all of the ship’s DRD’s. Rico deigned to talk to them again, though insisted she be called Mother. The team ignored her as best they could, sealing off bulkheads behind them and blasting through the doors to the bridge. 017 delved into the AI mainframe, noticing the same pattern of alteration as exhibited by the creature’s DNA had corrupted her code, and also noting that a secret itinery had told Rico to bring the boat near to this planet to inspect the strange radiation.

After realising it would take over a hundred hours for a factory reset of Rico, during which time the ship would be out of power, the team opted to partition her access, then manually return to space, where they could drift in their exosuits and reset the ship far from the corrupting influence of that monument…

Epilogue

  • Lenny shrugged off his injection and signed up for the very next cryo-run the very next day

  • 017 wrote a PhD on AI firewalls to great commercial success

  • Koichi confronted Algo-Corp, who admitted their interest in the monument, then was assigned to lead a team to return directly to its site for further investigation…