This post is the narrative from our earlier one-off SF game that I introduced in an earlier article. The text was written by one of the player's, Pete, to whom I am immensely grateful. Enjoy!
Part of the Gateway Program, 1 year into Tau Ceti colony’s life.
Lorne Haringey is attached to the xenobiology department, leading the likes of Nathan Gehart on expeditions out through the planet’s wilderness jungles to the foot of the mountains to the NW of the colony.
Tau Ceti is a very Earth-like planet, but with a distinctly hot and generally drier climate, the similar gravity allows it to support the human colony.
Lorne serves as the colony’s expedition leader, a wilderness, survival and exploration expert; his skills honed through many years in military service on Earth. Nathan is at the colony as the premier Xenobiologist, using his exemplary academic background and Mars labs experience to bag a place in the First One Hundred at the colony.
On this day, 1 year since the colony was founded, the residents of Tau Ceti expect to receive the second batch of 100 colonists. But, as Lorne and Nathan trek back through the sweltering heat to the colony in the plains area, the status quo is suddenly broken just 300 yards short of the compound. Their light conversation is suddenly shattered by the roar of the reactor building exploding ahead of them. Lorne guides Nathan to crouch down in the tall grasses, immediately alert to potential threats; they hear a shriek from above, quickly followed by further explosions as the shuttle and livestock facilities are destroyed leaving cratered wreckage all along the Northern edge of the colony structures.
Crouching still, they spot what appears to be a large alien craft flying in from the South and landing by the SW corner of the colony structures.
After a moment to gather their thoughts they to decide to run in for whatever supplies and records they can before extracting back into the wilderness. Lorne races to the northern warehouse facility and begins collecting rations and first aid kits to store in his pack. As he does this he hears a strange whirring of servo noises from the southern warehouse (adjoined by a large shutter door). He can’t recognise the sound and assumes that aliens must have penetrated the southern warehouse. Aware of the danger he hunkers down waiting to see it they come his way.
Meanwhile, Nathan leaves his kit in the grasses and sprints to the northern science block; desperate to download his research files he enters and begins firing up the computer and transferring data into temporary storage. While doing this Nathan realises he need to get a message out to the Earth ship in orbit via his satellite phone. The line is dead!
Lorne hears what he can only assume to be some form of computerised voices move past his location outside the warehouse to the space between the warehouses and science block. Very carefully opening the slide door a crack he spots 5 tall android figures. Four seem to be of a limited build, forming an area defence pattern out from the warehouse block, while the fifth stood in the centre; taller, heavier and with a more organic movement. All were carrying alien rifles and scanning the area, spreading out.... heading toward Nathan’s location. There was no way to warn him as one of the droids approached the door to the very block Nathan should be in!
Desperate to cause a distraction from Nathan, Lorne made his way to the southern warehouse door and fired his rifle at an approaching droid, only to watch it ping off the thing’s armour plating! Quickly shifting to his knife, as it began opening the door where he was hiding, he leapt at the thing, attempting to strike at weak spots in its armour.
Nathan has finally downloaded the files he needs and now begins sprinting through the science labs desperately trying to escape the implacable droid as it decodes the access point and makes its way toward him.
Lorne continues to struggle with the droid, but damn those things are strong! Before long he is pinned to the ground and the leader droid has shot him. Nathan manages to escape out through the southern science lab before he too is shot by another droid. The hot ray damage knocks them both out and before long they find themselves in a corner of the south warehouse, their weapons removed.
As they look around in the low light, they can just make out through the door portal behind them one droid, apparently on guard just outside the warehouse. There’s another stood inside blocking the door to the northern warehouse. The area has numerous low stacks of equipment and serves as a garage for two large transports with a large shutter door at the far end for their access/egress. Finally the two might find a way to make progress again.
Nathan gets an idea into his head about using the vehicles to crush the droid through a wall; though possible he begins to doubt himself even as he starts off creeping through the dark behind the southernmost transport. Lorne meanwhile, spots his knife just a yard away under the edge of a crate. Reaching carefully across he collects the weapon unnoticed and emboldened begins creeping through the dark to the north, the left side of the droid, hoping their peripheral vision isn’t too great.
Lorne tries to get closer as Nathan somewhere in the far west of the garage creeps around the transports to the right of the droid. Evidently quiet tactics leave communication at a loss... for just as Nathan is about to climb into the cab of the northernmost transport, Lorne goes back to basics on the guarding droid, launching himself at it and attempting to slash at its neck and gouge eyes with his knife. The struggle takes longer than desired yet, somehow, the other droids appear unaware of the crashing combat within. Eventually Lorne manages to pin the droid to the ground having caused no damage beyond a few scratches. While pinned, Nathan remembers his taser... he misses with the shot but, thankfully, instead of re-loading it he spots the dropped alien rifle. Between Lorne going a little bestial and striking repeatedly at it vitals with his knife, Nathan manages to get a clean shot off on the droid and takes it out of action.
Collecting their thoughts Lorne collects his backpack, and rifle which had foolishly been left in the same building some yards away, takes a look out of the door portal. The big alien ship is still there and it is clear that the other droids have moved out into the other colony blocks and habitation structures.
Upon Lorne’s insistence, desperate to spot a weak point that they can use in future, they pry open the droid’s torso. When it dawns on them that neither is wise to robotics, Nathan thoughtfully takes a photo so they can inspect further at a safer distance.
They consider the options of escape. It’s very tempting to make a run for it in a transport but as the enemy have flyers and having seen how fast they can move on the ground, they decide the best plan is to grab what they can and sneak off into the long grasses. They collect Nathan’s kit and move off.
A couple hours into their journey back north, the sound of engines alerts them to the droid departure as the alien ship takes off.
What will Nathan and Lorne do next?
What has become of the next 100 colonists or the orbiting earth ship?
Will Nathan and Lorne ever see another human?
Tune in for further Tau Ceti adventures.