Tuesday, March 22, 2022

No Place Like Home - Not Anymore At Least

After a bit of playing around, the portal was figured out - one location seemed to lead to the edge of the universe, and another... to Earth.

The plan was thus:

First, as quickly as possible, the portal would be opened, and as many ships as possible would move through the portal, to the edge of everywhere. The enemy ships would follow, then the civilian ships would circle back, leaving the Hephaestus behind to Jump. The rest of the ships would travel via the portal to Earth, and meet up with the Hephaestus.

It was an all-out battle. The Silver Surfer, the Hephaestus, Galactus, Elise's Stormfalcon, Rodney's Punch Ship, as well as an army of other ships fought the swarms of deader ships that arrived minutes before the last ship cleared the portal. Reggie, having damaged his main gun, lead the other through the portal; as it turned out, though, their tactics saved the day, and Rodney's ship tore through the enemy ships with ease. Still, the Forgotten ships were formidable, and one managed to break through their lines, heading for the portal. It went through; the other ships quickly zipped in behind it, leaving it behind with no targets. Before it could turn, the portal was closed, and it was cut off from everyone, forever. Reggie, meanwhile, lead the other ships through to Earth.

The few remaining ships saw a strange, wobbling, silver blob appear... and suddenly split apart, releasing clouds of gas. Or... not gas, but nanites! Chrome, still aboard the Haephestus, sees the gray blob, and recoils. "I've not seen that in thousands of years... but I'd know that shape anyway. Those are the destructive nanites that gave me life - and killed so many!"

The nanites make straight for the ships; any attempts to shoot them do nothing. They are too hard to hit, and much too tough to just burn with laser fire. The nanites split into pieces, and as they approach the ships... vanish. Then reappear inside.

Rodney tried ramming them, but found they teleported into his ship; a face suddenly appeared, then just as suddenly vanished. A whisper in his comms scratched out, "Survive..."

Elise, too, saw the same thing - a shifting form of life, a humanoid figure full of smoke and nothingness. Her comms picked up a simple, short-range signal that sounds like a scratchy recorded message. "Hear this, and tremble: we tear down gods to avenge our own. We have become Death, destroyer of worlds." With that, the nanite swarm gusts through her ship; all her beautiful robots suddenly glitched, shuddered, and fell silent as the swarm of nanites rips through the ship.

Nix, on the Hephaestus, also saw the shifting form appear - but Chrome make a sudden decision. Grabbing Silver, he threw her towards the swarm, then leaped after her. The nanites, interrupted, began attacking her, and Chrome; the scratchy recording plays, gradually getting fainter, as Silver twists and shudders. Chrome, too, is attacked; every time it seems Silver is about to be overcome, however, Chrome seems to somehow help her. Before anyone could react, the nanites swarmed Chrome and Silver. Chrome screamed a metallic roar, and dropped to one knee - or, rather, fell because his leg was been eaten entirely away. Silver writhed, her skin dancing like ripples in a pond, until suddenly... Chrome fell into a puddle of silver goo, and Silver... changed. Her form still had a feminine shape, but it was wildly different from how it used to be. Now, she looks like a cross between a frog and a turtle. She seems to still be functioning, however, and is holding her hands to her face, staring into nowhere.

Meanwhile, with the nanites gone, but Silver changed, she seemed confused and lost. Luckily, she could still remember how to translate the coordinates to set the portal, and eventually dials in Earth. She has a few faint "memories" from the nanites, and has held on to much of her past life, though without the special abilities.

The Earth that remains is, well... it's not in good shape. In fact... it's desolate. Not human being remains. The good news is that the crew still have the resources of the planets left behind - with the portal operational and the nanites and Forgotten gone, the stations, moons, and planets can be sourced for materials to rebuild Earth.

But what happened? Well, travel can be a tricky thing. According to the Hephaestus, the old galaxial maps should fairly easily match the stars - it's takes a little while, but it seems as they've arrived around five thousand years after they left!

A single signal blinks on from the Earth - "Earth has been located. Further orders required. Earth has been located. Further orders required..."

A group of robots, hidden in an underground bunker, give their last message: their planet had fallen, and they came to Earth to tell them, but found only destruction. They've been here for thousands of years, waiting to relay their final message. "As far as we can tell, Earth has been abandoned 4000 years ago...."

Reggie forms a mafia alliance; becomes significantly more powerful and sells museum tickets. Elise repairs, well, everything; she's set in charge of the portal, and commences detailed study of it.

The planets left behind are not all in bad shape; the people set up a federation, to assist with border disputes. For now, everyone needs to work together to rebuild Earth.

Rodney, meanwhile, doesn't want a lot. He only requires a handful of things. He wants a military title of "Rodney"; three suits of power armor (one for Rodney, one for Lins, one for his chicken), and his ship to be rebuilt; and wants to rule over Texas and northern Mexico. He finds a couple rounded rocks, punches holes through them, and gathers his crew. "Captain, show Lins the ancient Earth custom of marriage."

Reggie wants to commission an "In Honor Of" statue for Chrome - without him, Silver would still be an weird non-sentient construct. He doesn't need a country; he just floats around in his, er, mafia space museum.

Elise, of course, sets up production; Nix works overtime to jumpstart the government.

Hoping to discover what became of humanity, they send out exploration missions...

And then, a small, boxy ship comes out of Jumpspace. "Who are you? And what happened to Earth?"

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Last One Out Turns The Lights Off

Stepping outside, the party suddenly found themselves standing in a circle of red light - and while the shadow is directly below you, there is nothing above you. A deep, echoing voice boomed out, loudly... "This is the voice... of... GOD. We have come to bring judgement upon this planet... and you... shall be... its messengers."

Another voice cut in. "No, no, I've told you before - the communication laser is not a toy. Look, just - no - let go!" and then, "Sorry about that, this is the Goliath Omni-Discovery, we've been sent by the Fairy Princess with a message. By this time, the Outer Colonies, Border Colonies, and Expansion worlds have been cleared and relocated to gate. There are skirmishes in nearby systems, and heavy fighting here and there, but as yet no feral deaders have broken through to the gate. We've brought the fastest emissary ships, as well as some rather reluctant scientists from the Caedfell Moons, and some transport ships we, uh, liberated from Cinq. We need some direction, however, on where to focus to get the people out of here."

About the time the communication laser turned off, a group of agents in suits showed up to arrest them (for destruction of government property, among other things). However, they were hardly prepared for Reginald Bridges "Consortment for Allegiance of Truth and Anti-Zombie Space Bees" - he has a plan to save YOU from the zombie space bees! Come with us to our portal! Also endorsed by Rodney, winner of the ChupaQueso Ultimate Chomp Challenge award! Think Chupa™!

The agents were suitably impressed, of course. "It is an honor, you are a true inspiration, sir."

They convinced the agents to take them to see the acting president - and immediately intimidated him, bombed the senate, and convinced the now all-powerful president to not only enforce an evacuation, but to step down after he was done. Which he did, with only a little whining.

The next step was to find someone powerful in the Accoar Empire - they headed to the richest looking place they could find, a resort casino, and Reggie stepped up for a game of cards. Bets got a little out of hand when Reggie bet the ship against the proprietor's ship, but it all worked out in the end - they caught a cheater, won the last hand of cards, and walked out with $336.75 million. Oh, and the assistance of a mob boss. That pretty much finished up convincing the Inner Planets, especially once they had a long chat with the Caedfell Moons, and revealed they had helped out their scientists.

With their newfound wealth, they purchased (and retrofitted) a ship - a giant ramming ship, so Reggie could "punch things in space", and the Silver Surfer, Reggie's pleasure yacht. They also built, bought, or swindled all the transport ships they could, to get the three Inner Systems evacuated. Some people stayed behind, but that was on them - there was enough time to load everyone. It was time to head back to the portal.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Get Chromed

At Happy Landings, a sleek JumpPod arrives - a fancy, albeit very expensive, email. It relays the placement of ships near Angmar Research Station, and the fact that the first deaders to hit the outer colonies have arrived. From there, it's a race against time. Finally, they arrive with the SunSport, in time to fight off another swarm ship - this one bigger than the others. Most of their allies were destroyed, but they managed to sneak up to it with the Galactus and destroy it.

The party regrouped, sending the SunSport on, but stuffing their own ship full of crew - a lot of crew, so much so that it's not a very comfortable trip anywhere. Nix, Elise, Rodney, Reggie, Lins, Reggie 2.0 the Chicken, Silver, Li'l Rodney (the clone), Dr. Arnold Gunderson, Li'l Elise (the other clone), and Terminus, Elise's assassin robot, all packed in a ship designed to comfortably hold five.

The trip is not only cramped, but lengthy - eventually, though, they show up in Betel Republic space. There is a very, very officious landing area, docking procedure, and complex array of docking fees, fines, and read-the-fine-print-or-get-screwed documents. Eventually, the crew elects to install the government-required tracking beacon themselves (for a $50 self-install fee, naturally), and find their way off the ship and onto firm ground again. For the first time in a long time, they were in a truly civilized world.

So, of course, the first thing they did was find a fast food establishment. Rodney happily purchased the |8|™ flavored Chupaqueso®, making it a "full meal deal" with a 512 oz drink. A crowd gathered as he munched on the tube of fried cheese and suspicious meat product, until he was finally finished. The employee was amazed, and Rodney was an instant celebrity - one of only five folks in that restaurant that managed to eat a whole Regret™ sized Chupaqueso®. Rodney was offered (and accepted) a t-shirt that read, "I can't Believe I Ate The Whole Chupaqueso® Brand Fried Cheese Meat* Tube *(unverified)", in 8XL, which fit nicely over his power armor. The free t-shirt was part of a $24 deal, which put his total spending at $119.

While they waited, a man came up and asked for their support in the upcoming election - he was running as the Elm St. Sweeper, the person who would be paid to clean that street. He was very happy to have their support, hoping to drum up enough in the local neighborhood before taking his campaign national, so he would be seen to have grassroot support. It seems every government job, no matter how small, is put to a national vote; the voting process (which takes place twice a year) takes an individual hours to fill in the various blanks and cast their vote. Most people don't vote.

Eventually, they used the information they had gathered previously to locate the neighborhood of the fellow they were here to meet - Chrome. After beating up a police robot, they kicked in a door, were attacked by two very nasty droids... and split up. Reggie headed back the way they came, towards the front door, and was discovered by a hooded man, who forced him to go along with him. The others moved through the house, eventually finding themselves in a large room, deep underground, and surrounded by death traps - which were quickly shut down, because this was indeed Chrome's house, and Reggie shared enough information to get him on their side.

Chrome was, like his name suggested, a being of shiny metal. He looked a lot like Silver, apart from his big cloak and more masculine form. He first came to these worlds long, long ago - 2,500 years ago, 500 before any people showed up, in fact. He drifted for years, until encountering a cloud of dangerous nanites - thankfully, his unique form caused the nanites to merge with him, resulting in a loss of many of his abilities, but gaining consciousness, a sense of self; he became sentient, and sapient.

He also talked about a super smart android he met, long ago, that seemed suspiciously like the one they had met all that time ago, before they even came to this world. He also encountered creatures from the Entity's race.

He also knows that the silver ships of the Forgotten will likely begin attacking soon; they have been planting seeds for ages, and are harvesting the bounty of zombies, as well as starting wars between factions.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Swarm Logic

The crew headed on to Cloury Loch, where they did a little shopping - as it turned out, the parts for disintegrator pistols or rifles were, well, expensive. $7,500 and $10,000, respectively. Expensive!

Continuing their quest, the crew headed to the police station, and talked with one Captain Marvin Gansworth about Jarrod Scarbow. The fellow was serving 10 consecutive two year sentences, for piracy. The crew manage to talk their way into visiting Jarrod by posing as his lawyers. Of course.

Jarrod himself was a white trash pirate, sporting a handlebar mustache, a mullet, an eyepatch, and a pirate hat. He started out on the defensive, suggesting that they were sent by his ex-wife to strong-arm him. The crew quietly discussed how to get him out of prison - clone him? Poison him? Taunt him until he gets mad enough they "have to" kill him in self defense? They went with the least violent idea first - trying to get the Captain to transfer the prisoner to them. "Ah, yes, we would like to transfer the prisoner to our... to us."

The captain isn't... entirely unwilling, but says that they have to promise him that they won't kill or torture the prisoner, which as I'm sure you've discovered at this point means that they were at a stalemate. They left in peace, discussing another way to get the jetpack they were searching for - picking up some freight from a warehouse on Ellipsis.

Ellipsis has already been razed by the deader swarms, and while there is no life left, there are plenty of deaders... Landing outside the city, they traipsed in to the dome-covered area. they managed to avoid the deaders for the most part - until they hit five near the warehouse they were heading towards. After killing four, they managed to bring down the last one only barely - not enough to shock its system, it seems, and after a moment, the corpse started "smoking" - or rather, the nanites inhabiting it began leaking out. The crew quickly grabbed the equipment, managing to lift the half ton of parts with a pallet jack. After some quick shoving and tinkering, they managed to break the gears in it, allowing it to be shoved faster than a snail's pace.

The nanite swarm, meanwhile, was proving to be troublesome - as a cloud of microscopic points, it was almost immune to laser fire, plasma fire, even Rodney's hammers! Realizing the only way was to flee, they shoved the equipment ahead of them, heading back the way they came - until they found an EMP grenade that they landed on the nanite swarm. They managed to get away clean, without taking damage, but left a few good holes in the deaders that started to come after them.

Reggie received an update on his search for "RK" - Daft Marvin uncovered the last name "Krockenhouse", and said that RK had been in the area recently.