Eclipse Phase – All Alone in the Night

I got another chance to run an Eclipse Phase game this past weekend. We had gotten together to play Traveller but about half the players had played my first Eclipse Phase last year and wanted to try it again. A few of the players kept their characters from A Tale of the Fall while the others created new ones using the new Transhuman rules while I quickly threw a scenario together.

All of the players find themselves waking up in a sleeving facility after having been in cold storage for some time. They soon learn that they are on Paris dans le Ciel, a bernal sphere habitat orbiting at the Earth-Luna L4 point and part of the LLA. They aren’t sure how they got there and the staff at the sleeving facility seems a bit surprised at their confusion but they are given some basic clothing and credits and sent on their way.

They wander the station for a bit while getting background on the setting and on current events. All of them find out they have been in storage for months or years; some since the Fall 10 years ago. Then they suddenly find themselves surrounded by security and taken into custody.

They are taken to a government complex where they meet Emily Montangue, one of the directors for the station. She tells them that they have been resleeved by mistake. There was another group that had been scheduled to be reinstantiated and who had been prepped in simulspace but the ego bridge had gotten connected to the wrong server, resulting in their revival. Officially they should be taken back to the sleeving facility so the correct egos could be put in their morphs (effectively “killing” the players, though Montangue uses the phrase “reverted to backup”).

However, Montangue has an offer for them. A brinker ship called the Lost at the Five and Dime has drifted near the edge of the L4 point. The ship is not maneuvering and is not transmitting or responding to communications.

Montangue is not sure about the ship. It is drifting and may be eligible for salvage. Or, it may be a threat. It has been some time since anyone has had any contact with the ship (as far as she has been able to determine) but as a brinker ship that isn’t necessarily unusual. Either way she has no resources with which to investigate but also doesn’t want to lose any potential salvage or fail to respond to a threat.

She makes the players an offer. She will allow them to keep their morphs and sponsor them within the LLA if they will go investigate the ship and either bring it back to the station for salvage or deal with any threat it represents. Of course, if they don’t take the offer they will simply be “reverted to backup”. The players of course agree.

The players are given basic salvage equipment and weaponry and the use of an OTV (orbital transfer vehicle; a small spacecraft used for moving between stations at the Lagrange points) and sent on their way.

The players get to the L5D without incident. The ship is a modular design that is about 40 years old. It primarily consists of a long “spine” with a command module at one end and a fusion drive at the other. A cluster of air and fuel tanks and docking ports ring the middle.

The majority of the ship would be taken up by six “modules”; three forward and three aft. There are a wide variety of modules available that allow ships of this design to be easily customized and re-customized for a variety of tasks. In this particular case one of the modules was a mining array, one was a refinery complex, one was a crew module and the other three were cargo.

The players research and determine that the L5D was an asteroid miner. For most cases the L5D would not attempt to actually “mine” the asteroid on location. Instead, for “bulk” resources like iron, nickel, ice or whatever they would simply attach small fusion drives to an appropriate asteroid and then send it off to its destination. They would only process an asteroid “in the field” if it had rare or valuable deposits like heavy metals, radioactives or precious metals.

As the players approach the L5D they see that it is tumbling slowly and apparently on emergency power. There is no communication and the local mesh seems to be off-line. One of the forward modules is missing and the external loading hatches on one of the cargo modules are open. There is a shuttle attached to one of the docking ports. The players circle the ship but see nothing else unusual. They eventually decide not to dock and instead stop relative to the ship and spacewalk across to the open cargo module.

Inside they find the bay empty, it’s contents probably lost through the open hatch due to the tumble of the ship. There is a space-suited figure tethered near the hatch to the spine. The suit’s helmet is shattered. The players examine the suit and find a body inside. A shotgun is attached to the suit by a tether and it appears the occupant shot themselves in the face with it. This disturbs the players. They cannot determine what happened beyond that. One of them takes the stack from the body but they have no way to access it.

There is a tiny airlock connecting the cargo module to the main part of the ship but it is only large enough for a single person. They decide not to enter the ship that way and make their way up to the docking ring. They check the shuttle docked there and find that it belongs to the ship Lady Godiva’s Horse. No one recognizes the name and they decide against reporting back to Paris dans le Ciel for info. One of them looks through the cockpit and sees the bridge is blackened and charred; either from a fire or from plasma weapon fire. It looks like someone had been rewiring the controls there but because of the damage (and the fact that they are looking in from the outside) they cannot determine what was being done or why.

They decide against doing anything with the shuttle and go in through one of the other docking ports. (There are three ports with the shuttle occupying one.) All of the ports lead to a circular ring that acts as a common airlock. They go inside and cycle the airlock.

The chamber they are in is a circular ring that surrounds the “spine”. Three hatches on the outer wall mark the three docking ports while a single hatch leads into the spine. There are also maintenance panels for access to the air and fuel tanks and lockers for various tools and equipment. Several of the equipment lockers are open and the hatch where the shuttle is docked has been welded shut.

The ship is on emergency power so only dim emergency lights are showing. The air shows as breathable but extremely cold. There are also traces of radioactivity. The players elect to stay in their suits.

The welder used to seal the shuttle’s hatch is still floating in the airlock and the players briefly consider cutting it open. In the end one of them takes the welder with them and they continue on into the ship.

Inside the spine is a single long tube stretching the length of the ship. Bulkheads divide the spine into thirds and the hatches in the bulkheads are closed. The players are in the middle third. The only openings are the hatch they just passed through and the ones on each end. There is some debris floating in the tube and what looks to be a body at the aft end, indistinct in the dim light. Damage to the sides of the tube show evidence of a firefight.

The players are discussing which way to go when the body at the end of the tube suddenly moves and launches itself at them. I describe it as long and lizard-like, with thin legs and a tail that it uses to direct itself while lunging for them in zero gee.

Everyone opens fire and they manage to kill the thing before it gets to them. The walls of the tube get punctured but automatic systems release some sticky balls which burst and seal the leaks.

They examine the thing they killed and determine that it is actually a mammal of some kind, though one with a thickened skin, claws and a narrow head with long teeth. Then one of them discovers that it has a cortical stack. It is, or was, human.

At this the players retreat back into the airlock ring and consider simply blowing the ship up and leaving. They decide to head down to engineering and see if they can overload the engines.

They return to the spine and head aft. Near the hatch, where the thing that attacked them came from, they find a spacesuit that has been ripped open. They ignore it after briefly examining it and open the hatch.

They are immediately attacked by another of the things. They manage to kill it too but one of the players gets their suit ripped. Their entropics and medichines immediatly report that they are being attacked by a nanophage that is starting to alter their cellular structure. They debate killing the character but eventually determine that the change will take days, not hours, and so have time to get to engineering and then go back to the station for help. The suit is repaired and they continue.

They continue down the aft portion of the spine. Halfway down are the access hatches for the three aft modules. Two are open while the third (the one leading to the open cargo module) is closed. They look in the other two modules briefly and find them to be about half full of containers; most secured but a few drifting around loose. They check one and find one of the small fusion drives used for manuvering asteroids. They decline to search the two modules and just close and brace shut the hatches.

They reach the hatch to engineering and find that it is welded shut. Using the welder they found earlier they cut the hatch open. Radiation levels immediately jump to dangerous levels (though they are safe for a short time in their suits) and it is obvious that engineering is contaminated. They consider their options then send the infected character into the room to investigate.

He finds two bodies in the room, both strapped into seats at the controls and both dead of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. One of them is misshapen, their limbs and head elongated and a vestigial tail starting to form; apparently they were changing into one of the things that attacked the players. The character checks the controls (with remote help from the other players who have retreated up the spine) and finds that someone jettisoned the thorium cores (used to trigger the fusion reactor) then dumped the coolant system. The engines have been deliberately disabled.

The player looks around and finds a log file on a local computer. They review the log and get a brief overview of what happened.

The L5D picked up a distress signal and found the Godiva’s Horse‘s shuttle. Docking with it, they were startled when they opened the hatch and were attacked, apparently by the same things the players have encountered.

They managed to kill the things but several of the crew were injured and infected. They confined the infected crew to the infirmary and attempted to dump the shuttle but it had somehow attached itself to the L5D. There was something else on the shuttle that the writer of the log only called “that bio thing” that they “burned out”. Unable to get rid of the shuttle they welded the hatch shut and decided to go back to the nearest major habitat (Ceres in their case) for help.

Something happened. Either the infected crew members changed faster than they expected or there were other things on board that they didn’t know about. Either way there was another attack that caught them by surprise. “One of those things” apparently did something to the command crew and changed the ship’s course and did something with the asteroids they had been harvesting.

The uninfected crew attempted to escape by getting in the habitat module and jettisoning it. There is no information on what happened to it.

The engineering crew realized they were infected as well and disabled the engines “to keep us from doing any more damage”. They then killed themselves “before we become one of them”.

The character in engineering collects the stacks from the two bodies there and rejoins the rest of the group. They decide they need to determine what was going on before they destroy the ship and decide to head to command.

They pass back through the middle section of the spine and attempt to enter the forward section only to find that it is in vacuum. There are no airlocks between sections so they depressurize the middle section and open the hatch. Another thing attacks them but they are expecting it by this point and they kill it easily. (They had let the infected character open the hatch while the others waited some distance back down the tube with weapons ready.)

The section is in vacuum because the hatch where the habitat module had been attached is open. Other hatches lead to the refinery and mining modules but they decide not to enter them either and just seal their hatches as well. They consider closing the open hatch and repressurizing the section but decide against it since the things can apparently survive in vacuum anyway and since the open hatch gives them a quick way out.

They open the hatch to the command module and again get attacked, this time not just by two of the things but by a long tentacle that comes out of the hatch and grabs for the characters down the spine. The previously-injured character gets severely hurt while a second character gets injured (and infected).

Firefight over, they are unable to completely treat the two injured characters since they are in vacuum. (They do seal their suits.) The group then moves on into the command module.

There they find that the two command seats are occupied but the occupants have changed. Ropes and tentacles of tissue stretch from the barely recognizable bodies and connect to various consoles and controls. A quick search shows that tendrils stretch into conduits leading deeper into the ship. There is no clue as to how much of the ship is “infected”.

The players quickly dump what they can from the ship’s computer as more tentacles start forming and reaching for them. They then toss explosives into what is left of the two command seats and quickly evacuate.

Back outside the ship they see the mining unit has activated. It can’t get to their OTV since the ship is unable to maneuver but as they watch tentacles start forming from the grapple and slowly reaching for them. The players retreat to the midsection of the ship and arrange to flood the central part of the ship with fuel from the tanks and detonate it. They retreat to a safe distance and destroy the ship.

They return to Paris dans le Ciel and make their report. The two injured and infected characters are treated and recover (and the LLA scientists are extremely interested in the nanophage). They turn the stacks and computer records they recovered over as well. It is learned that one of the last transmissions from the ship redirected all of the asteroids that had put drive units on (mostly iceteroids heading for the Solar colonies) onto collision courses with various habitats, mostly on Mars and around Earth and Venus. With the codes from the ship they are able to redirect them back to their original course (or onto a course more useful to the LLA).

Of the recovered stacks most were completely insane except for the two engineers and the one from the cargo bay. Those three were reportedly grateful for being rescued but could not add anything more than was already known. Because of the limited supply of morphs on the station the three were put into cold storage after being interviewed in simulspace.

Emily Montangue keeps her promise and sponsors the players within the LLA, allowing them to keep their morphs. She also gives them a small reward and basic living space on the station. They also get some rep with both the LLA and the brinkers.

A few days later, as the characters get together again to decide what to do next they are approached by a woman named Sonya Greene who offers to hire them for another mission. She tells them she works for an organization called “Firewall”.

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