So, I'm going to run the prologue mission for Frontier War tomorrow, stealing Fragpuss' idea about the Two Divines terrorists hijacking a ship, and all that... I'm pretty much stealing it clean and coloring in the story to fit my own. Anyway, here's my write-up, just notes and half-arsed events, and such, and I haven't edited it for good English nor taken out the campaign specific stuff, but if y'all would like to comment and advise on it, that'd be great
Characters: I have two players and they decided to make pretty interesting, non-standard marines - they're a two-man squad composed of a Hospital Corpsman and a CBRN specialist, so they sort of hang back and let the gung-ho marines take care of the fighting, which is why the events below are written the way they are. Anyway... here goes.
Also note that there's a lot of weird imagery in this one. Basically, the Children of the Two Divines left their most bonkers members behind to run amok on the ship. The went all in, trying to emulate their gods (xenomorphs and engineers) while under the influence of psychedelics, using the poor crew as canvases. One tried to make himself resemble a xeno, while the others tried to make the crew into "space jockeys". (I here imagine them seeing Giger art in their madness somehow, and there's also some HoD-inspirations in there)
MISSION 0: A TASTE OF MADNESS
Kicking of the Campaign p190
Kroger 60 system p.139
“Attention. Leave this system at once!
“The Kruger 60 star system is under strict ICC (Interstellar Commerce Commission) quarantine protocols, enforced by the United Americas’ Outer Rim Defense Fleet.
“Leave this system at once!
“Any unauthorized ship refusing to comply will – regardless of their allegiance or their commanding officer’s rank and clearance – be fired upon.
“Leave this system at once!”
Soon, Tamb’itam’s sensors detects a Conestoga frigate coming their way, gun ports open and target systems locked on the Tamb’itam. MU/TH/ER identifies her as the USS Aposteirono (Greek “Sterilize”), a specialist CBRN rapid response craft.
Any CBRN marines on the Tamb’itam (along with Roy the synthetic), knows the Aposteirono to be an android-crewed frigate, with a small human elite CBRN team, trained for and equipped to deal with the worst kinds of the worst-case scenarios… They will NOT spare a random USCMC reserves craft like the USS Tamb’itam!
Commander Lt. Maria Casados orders MU/TH/ER to turn the Tamb’itam around and make ready for FTL, course: 70 Ophiuchi, Chinook 91 Station. Then, over the intercoms, Casados orders:
“All right, marines. This is not a drill – until further notice, we’re on war alert. Something big is going on and this is your chance to shine. Grab your meds and get to your stations for a complete shipwide checkup. I want by-the-books full systems report on my desk within 5 hours, to be followed by a briefing and breakfast.”
Sergeant King: “Attention! Commander on deck.”
Lt. Casados: “At ease, marines.
“MU/TH/ER is still collating data, but it appears that the recent border attacks against UA colonies have escalated from hit-and-run harassings to indiscriminate eradication efforts.
“First, LV-038 in the 61 Cygni system was taken – we sent two combat fleets to engage the enemy, both fleets were lost along with the colony. Then, whatever happened on Ariarcus, happened, and we have apparently lost another whole colony and defense fleet there, as well as our Rimwards foothold in the American Advance. As of yesterday, we are unofficially at war with the UPP as we head towards Chinook 91 Station to muster.
“Furthermore, the UPP have launched a monstrous bioweapon bombing campaign against frontier colonies. Some of them – like LV-038 and Fort Nebraska – were legitimate military targets, albeit with a significant civilian presence. Others have been non-military targets. In all cases, these colonies have been totally obliterated by a yet-to-be identified biological weapon… which explains the USS Aposteirono’s presence in the Kruger 60 system.
“Unsurprisingly, Secretary of Defense De La Cruz and the United Americas Allied Command are dragging their heels, refusing to declare all-out war on the UPP. Until that happens, this whole mess is the US Colonial Marine Corps problem alone, with our hands severely tied by all the political bullshit.
“But don’t take my word for it. Let’s hear it from Assistant Commandant of the United States Colonial Marine Corp, General Delyla S. Vaughn. She has transmitted the following appeal to us, personally. That’s right, General Vaughn herself has taken an interest in Tamb’itam and all us dumbass reservists – congratulations.”
Lt. Casados steps aside as a sophisticated holographic recording – depicting a black woman, tired-looking but straight-backed and sharp-eyed, dressed in a 4-star general’s uniform – flicker to life on the podium.
“Fort Nebraska orphans – you are not alone. I am here before you because I too lost friends and family on Ariarcus. Like you, I want payback. I want the heads of the bastards who took out our home. And to get them, I need you.
“I need your guns, your fists, and your brains.
“When you are out there, find me evidence that the UPP is responsible for these Border Bombings. You see something that don’t look quite right, bring it home to me. Find me anything we can use to get Secretary Cruz to say yes to kicking Union asses way back over the Borderline.
“Resources are tight, but I’ll try to send some cool toys and corporate sponsors your way, and to find you some missions that really matter.
“Orphans,” General Vaughn nods respectfully. “Honor the memory of Ariarcus and make me proud.”
With that, the hologram fades and Lt. Casados takes the stage again: “These are early days and the situation is obscure, but we expect to learn more once we reach Chinook; we’ll be there in a little over seven days. In the meantime, you have one shift of R&R – to write your letters and hype yourselves up on old war movies – before its back in the freezer for everyone. Dismissed.”
At Chinook, things moved very fast. The Kilo Company personnel were out of cryo for barely two shifts before Tambi’tam was tanked-up and on the move with new orders:
Tamb’Itam is to regroup with the remnants of the 33rd MAU, (i.e., the rest of the Gunslingers) at Tithonus Mountain US Aerospace Force & Colonial Marine Corps military base, on the planet of Bernice 378 in the Mu Herculis A system.
Situated right on the border with the UPP, Bernice 378 has seen several invasions over the decades, but the huge, heavy metals mountain, crisscrossed with vast networks of lava-tube tunnels, have stood fast. While it hasn’t come to that yet, the Tithonus base is expected to be able to survive even a high-yield nuke or two.
In its cavernous halls, the ASF and CMC service their ships and prepare for war. Normally, three Conestoga Assault Frigates will be stationed here on rotation, parked on the tarmac at Tithonus. Now, it is soon-to-be home to the entire 33rd Marine Assault Unit, with its six Conestogas and three Bougainvilles.
While parked at Chinook, Tamb’Itam was restocked with provisions, technical parts, and munitions, including two Ridgeway tanks, a Pauling Medpod for the Med Lab, several Heat and Hard Radiation Suits [HHRAD Suit, Armor 2, Air 2, 10 base dice vs. Rad (one success negates all Rad), Weight 3], and experimental M316 Motion Trackers for every pulse rifle on the ship [Fast Action to use, instead of Slow, but RNG only Long outdoors/Short indoors and Power Supply 3], compliments of General Vaughn.
Mt. Tithonus ASF Base in the Mu Herculis A systems, approximately 11 parsecs from Chinook through friendly space, and it will take Tamb’Itam a good three weeks FTL flight to reach it.
THE DISTRESS CALL
Four parsecs into their journey, from Chinook 91 to Mt. Tithonus, MU/TH/ER receives a distress call from DP-27, a prison colony moon in the Requist system [See Alien RPG rulebook p260].
Home to 60,000 colonists, (20,000 of which are convicts), Requist is defenseless and destitute, with no ships of their own (to hinder prisoner escape). Seegson used to operate a variety of prison labor factories here, producing mass-produced gyrocars, but these all went belly-up when Weyland Corp developed better technologies at affordable prices. Since then, the USCMC has opened their largest recruitment center in the Outer Rim here, offering desperate colonists the chance to see the galaxy.
The PCs awake abruptly from cryosleep, klaxons wailing and red lights flashing; time to get up! Roy stands ready with plate of paper cups, one for each awaking marine, brimming with hydr8ation cocktails, stirred with vitamins and pick-me-ups (Neversleep = +1 Stress Level and no need to sleep today! Oh, and you cannot relieve Stress today, neither).
“Drink up and get dressed for combat,” the synth says. “We’ve received a distress call and you heroes get to intercept a drifting commercial freighter to save her crew. You’ll get briefed underway. Oh, and don’t forget to bring the hazmat suits MU/TH/ER have dispensed for you” [Military Grade Hazmat Suit, Armor 1, Air 2, 6 base dice vs. Rad (one success negates all Rad), Weight 2]. “Schultz & Murphy, you get to go in with H-H Rad-Suits instead, so pack lightly.”
On the dropship flight over, the team is given more information:
USCSS Talaria (=Hermes’ winged sandals) is a Weyland-Yutani-owned, CM-88G Bison cargo hauler bound for Requist; her cargo (belonging to WY Company) is unspecified, but listed as highly toxic.
The distress call came not from Talaria, but instead from the Requist colony, towards which the hauler is heading at speed. Actually, Talaria is unresponsive; nobody answers its hails, and Tamb’Itam is not able to reach the hauler’s own MU/TH/ER AI. Someone is in control onboard the Talaria, however, as the ship makes regular course corrections to maintain a vector straight for the Requist colony.
Murphy is ordered to secure the unspecified, highly toxic cargo on C Deck, with Schultz to assist. Once the fire-team marines have secured the USCSS Talaria, Schultz will offer medical assistance where needed.
EVENT – MAN IN THE WINDOW
: The fire-teams disembark the dropship, moving carefully along the Bison ship’s hull, in the direction of the B-2 Airlock/EVA lift. Then they spot a blinking light from the portside starcub shuttle, which sits nearby. It is Maitland, the synthetic assistant of the two Geholgod Institute scientists, Dr.s Liu and Chalwa (see CMCM p.215 & Mission 4: Operation Go Fish p. 281-296).
The man in the window (no indication he’s a synthetic) holds up a piece of paper on which he has scribbled: “Bad people onboard! They have control of ship!” The man quickly crosses out “bad people” and above it adds, “MONSTERS”. The man dares not use coms, in case the “monsters” will discover he’s there, but he’ll communicate any of the following should the marines stick around.
--“I’m assistant to cryosleep VIPs on shuttle.”
--“Hijackers doesn’t know we’re here.”
--“Quarantined from rest of ship due to dangerous cargo.”
--“I think crew all dead.”
--“Shuttle sabotaged. Can’t leave.”
Eventually, the marines should concentrate on getting onboard.
EVENT – INTRUSION
: Fireteams force entry into Airlock B and start securing corners, hallways, and junctions. Murphy and Schultz are escorted to Junction B-3 and down to C-Deck. Motion detectors pings movement to the fore (bridge) but none below, so M&S are sent down on their own while the gun-nuts secures the rest of the ship.
EVENT – SLEEPING DOCTORS
: Eventually, someone will rescue Maitland and the two doctors, Liu & Chalwa. Maitland corroborates much of what MU/TH/ER will say (see the Some Questions Answered event below), but he can also shed some light from his own perspective. Basically, the hijackers sabotaged the shuttles, presumably to prevent anyone from escaping in the case something went wrong for them; in short, the doors and clamps holding the shuttles were welded down.
Maitland believes (correctly) that the terrorists never realized there were people in this shuttle. Basically, the doctors hitched a ride with the USCSS Talaria, but since she was hauling dangerous cargo, they stayed on the shuttle throughout the journey.
EVENT – THE CHAPEL
: Cargo Bay 1 is a nightmare scene or… art. A human body hangs mauled and bloody on one of the back wall, displayed in a crucifix form. He (a machinist) hangs bolt-gunned to the wall, with intestines sprouting from his center and chains hooked to his flesh with staples, a pool of blood and viscera below him. The chest is cut open, the heart removed (eaten), sort of resembling a chestburster wound. The head has been chopped off and placed upside-down on the neck, nailed to the back wall with boltgun bolts through each eye. The mouth has been stapled shut, and a new mouth cut in the forehead, skin hanging down in a pouty frown, the cut-out tongue stapled back into this new mouth. There’s a foldout chair positioned before the body, as if someone sat there viewing their work; the chair’s seat and backrest is smeared with a thick, black liquid that appears to be (and actually is) engine oil.
EVENT – DANGEROUS CARGO
: Cargo Bay 2 shows signs of a hasty emptying of several pallets of… something. A few containers still lies scattered around, the content easily identified as CN-20 Nerve Agent (CMOM p.74-75). Cut tethers and “handle with care” posters lay everywhere, and in one corner stands a F903WE assault rifle that someone evidently left behind by mistake.
EVENT – IT’S JUST DOWN THERE, IN THE BASEMENT
: There’s a hijacker down here, a Child of the Two Divines who has totally lost his mind. In an attempt to transform into a Destroying Angel, he has duct taped scalpels to his fingers (not thumb) and blackened his naked body in thick, tarry oil. He stalks in the shadows (ventilation ducts?), imagining himself a holy, apex predator, and will attack the PCs at a dramatic moment.
Investigating his body later, a prisoner barcode is found tattooed to the back of his head and a nude woman in an explicit pose on his left arm; on his back is tattooed a large elephantine-looking face (Engineer?). A blood test positive for hallucinogens (Arcturian Sweet Dreams CMOC p.203) and dangerous doses of Neversleep, and he has been castrated a while ago.
EVENT – MEDLAB MESS
: Someone has been rummaging around here, throwing medicines and equipment on the floor. Neversleeps are all missing, as are scalpels and scalpel blades, curiously.
EVENT – HELL ON THE BRIDGE
: (At an appropriate time, Schultz is called to the bridge – “Get here now, medic!”). By the time Schultz & Murphy gets there, the action has ended. There were three terrorists here, all now dead (blood full of drugs and all castrated). Also here, are two Talaria crew members, tortured and maimed and strapped to flight chairs, and only one still alive (barely and in shock). Both of their eyes have been stapled open, starring at the viewport (although one is dead and the other unconscious), as if they were to witness the ships crash.
The live one has a power cable (not live) in his mouth and protective goggles over his eyes (Engineer?), duct tape holding it in place. His left hand has been cut off and the skin and muscles of his arm pealed back. The ulna and radius bones have been forced apart and tied to wires insides of an open control panel. His right hand has been skinned as well, the finger-bones glued to random buttons on the control panel before him.
The woman has died from shock, not too long ago, and she’s in an even worse shape than the man. Someone has attempted to skin her alive and stapling the stretched out skin to the chair she sits in; especially her back-skin wraps over much of her chair’s back (naked flesh against the chair). The skin on her arms and legs stretch over the armrest and footrest, making it appear as if she has grown out of the upholstering. Furthermore, she sits disemboweled, with intestines pulled up and stuffed down her throat (Engineer?).
EVENT – SOME QUESTIONS ANSWERED
--Won’t reveal their port of call or destination. Top Secret.
--Infiltrator in the crew sabotaged the ship, disconnecting MU/TH/ER (not easy to do).
--Next, another ship appeared – a Model CM.90S Corvus named the SS Penitent Man – and docked with the Talaria. Hijackers came onboard and took over Talaria and robbing her cargo (MU/TH/ER won’t disclose what the cargo was) setting her on a course for Requist.
--After that, most hijackers left, but 4 remained. They awoke the crew, one by one, and tortured, mutilated, and eventually murdered them all.
In the end, it is impossible to really discern the terrorists’ motivations or goals.
Once the marines have control of the USCSS Talaria, it’s easy enough to get MU/TH/ER back online and take control of the ship, averting disaster.