Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Entity 2

It's been a few weeks since we last met, so we began with a bit of review. That done, the crew headed over to L20 to pick up their freshly minted fleet. Suitably impressed with their new battlegroup, they quickly advanced their ranks: Capt. Julian became Admiral Julian, Commander Julian became Captain Julian, Commander Kiri was reinstated as Captain Kiri, and everyone else was upgraded to Commander if they weren't there already. Expecting to come out of their encounter alive, the group also discussed their future plans - namely, begining a new empire. A few names were bandied about; Gus attempted to make the initials spell "ISIS", but for some reason, no one seemed to think that was a good plan.

Ships were to be captained as follows:
Shifting Horizon - Adm. Julian
Megabattleship: Dawnstone - Capt. Julian
Planet Pounders: Ravager - Capt. Alexy Bogomolov; Raider - Capt. Yazhu Tang
Carriers: Godspeed - Capt. Jenny Ovesen; Shadowfax - Capt. D’argo (previously head of the Duul'Tlak marines)
Swarm carrier: The Shadowstorm - Benjamin Vance
Fighter: Astral Lens - Capt. Kiri (a custom ship designed especially for her)

Other PCs were put in charge of weapons. Bookkeeping complete, the party returned to the Bardron system and their investigation.

As covered in the review, the last known communication was sent to the surface of a rocky planet in the system; scanning the area revealed... corpses. Lots of them. Millions, if not billions, scattered across the planet. Oddly, the bodies were arranged in a close approximation to that of Earth's landmasses. Further investigation revealed the truth - the bodies, or at least most of them, were those of the missing people of Earth. They were arranged more specifically to match population centers, for no reason other than nearly half the population of earth were somehow teleported to the rocky planet. There were fresher bodies, too - including a group teleported in as they watched! The victims quickly suffocated, but their death was not entirely in vain - the signal was traced to the Tallus Nebula, which also happened to be the source of the ongoing piracy problems the APF had been having.

Their arrival surprised a fleet of ships, and battle was joined! The two fleets were matched fairly equally; though the enemy fleet hit a bit harder, their ships were somewhat more delicate. Probably because they were "cheater ships," using guns that were a little too large for their size.

The first round was slightly in favor of the enemy - they took advantage of the party's advance and attacked, making a decent dent in the party's shields. The fighters on both sides began dogfighting; the players lost several fighters before they managed to fight to a draw. Meanwhile, the larger ships of the enemy fleet joined the battle. While their attacks did little damage the first round, their sneaky, speedy swarm ships were revealed, and obliterated the players' Dawnstone's shields!

The strange ship hiding behind the enemy megabattleship was revealed as well - little more than a giant dual railgun! Though one shot missed, the other landed, blasting through the players' second planet-pounder's remaining shields, and inflicting two wounds! Ouch!

As the big ships duked it out, the fighters fought to the death - the enemy fighters were outnumbered, and dropped like flies. The fighters dealt with, the enemy swarm ship carriers were next, taken out in a withering hail of gunfire, and disabling the swarm ships.

The big ships slugged it out; the Raider, captained by Yaxhu Tang, was destroyed, though the captain and most of the crew escaped unharmed. Directed fire wore down the enemy fleet, first destroying one of the planet-pounders, then the weird railgun, and finally the tough junk-ship. Their own megabattleship heavily damaged, and few ships with any remaining shields, the players poured on the sustained fire. Neither side seemed to be able to land any missiles, but the Shifting Horizon finally managed to take out the enemy's remaining planet-pounder with an EMP. Grimly, the enemy megabattleship fired everything it had, but it just wasn't enough. A lucky shot with an ion cannon (essentially EMP laser) ended its progress, and a hail from Julian resulted in the surrender of the enemy forces. They were able to salvage the enemy's megabattleship, planet-pounder, and carrier; though they had lost about half their fighters, they gained three squadrons of swarm ships. Replacing the fighters will entail only a few months work for the factory ships.

They loaded up the prisoners into one of their empty carriers, and set about nuking the planet's shields. It took a while, but they made good use of the time, repairing their fleet and refueling. Once the planet was accessible, they pinpointed the few military installations and obliterated them with extreme prejudice.

Finally, Capt. Julian and Gus gained access to a rather overbuilt bunker (as Kiri flew recon overhead), and greeted the Entity face to face. After some "pleasantries," Julian attempted to shoot the Entity in the face; the blast from his disrupter stopped within feet of the creature and hung in the air, immobile! (I'd like to point out that I wrote that encounter long before the most recent Star Wars movie, thank you very much!) Irritated at the manipulation of the creature, Julian finally marched over and grabbed him around the neck. Surprisingly, it worked! The creature gasped, choked, and passed out! It seems that while the Entity had near-perfect control over high-energy matter, it had little to no control over slow-moving brute force; one good strangulation later, and it was down for the count. And a good thing, too; the Entity's banter was a cover for a warming-up teleporter. A few minutes more, and the Entity would have left for who knows where.

Suddenly, Not-Grainer, the odd space-police creature they had met earlier, appeared; he offered to take the Entity somewhere it would never harm anyone again (the holographic planet, actually - Not-Grainer transported the current residents to Earth, and with a few modifications, had a perfect prison). Julian agreed, provided he remove the jumpspace barriers, and find a nice system for the extended crew of the Shifting Horizon to form their own empire. Not-Grainer agreed, and was gone.

Soon, the crew had settled into their system, tentatively named the Imperial State of Utopia. Captain Julian married Jenny Ovesen; Admiral Julian, now Emperor Julian (the promotions come fast around here!), settled down to command his empire, with the AI Eliza at his right hand. The factory ships were tasked with building infrastructure, and Gus was put in charge of overseeing the hordes of new robots building the empire.

We will meet once more before my new campaign begins; tune in for a final episode, where all will be revealed! Or some, anyway. There's a lot of stuff I didn't actually use, so it wouldn't make sense to reveal it. Tune in next week, where some will be revealed! No, that just sounds corny... whatever.

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