Content Warning: This entry contains depictions of graphic violence, including some mild body horror.
Flint's Edge Sector,
Cortez Creed, codename Omega, lay in a medical capsule inside the rundown building that served Vankas Outpost as a hospital. Monitors beeped, informing his nurse that he was still alive—for now.
Omega was certain he could feel the venom coursing through his veins, slowly making its way through his bloodstream. The doctor gave him maybe six days before the venom reached his heart. Once it did, even the antivenom would do him no good. His heart would dissolve like sugar in a pot of boiling water within hours. For now, however, he could do nothing but lay in the pod, unmoving. His body was completely numb and nonresponsive to his brain's commands, save for his roaming eyes. He was terrified. Bridger was his only hope, but he didn't know if she had received his message, or, even if she had, whether she'd go to Shiningstar. They hadn’t parted on good terms, afterall.
"Message for you, Omega," an orderly said from the direction of his feet.
A moment later, Talia's voice echoed in the room. "I received your message, Omega, and swear on this remnant of my ancestors' ship that I will go to Shiningstar and do what I can to get you the medicine."
She had sworn an oath to retrieve the antivenom. Omega knew that Talia was Ironsworn and would do everything in her power to fulfill that vow. His heart lightened a little with the knowledge, and he allowed his body to lapse into sleep.
Begin a Session
22, Influential character or faction is introduced or given new detail
Flint's Edge Sector,
Undertake an Expedition:
8 (+2 wits) vs…
The corridor stretched on for fifty feet before ending in a highly burnished elevator door. Blood streaked down one of the door panels in the shape of a horrifically lengthened hand. There was a copious amount of drying blood, but the body was gone. A trail of blood led back toward the hanger.
The elevator still worked, thankfully, and after a few seconds, dinged and opened. The inside was covered in both human and plant-like remains. Blood and green ichor ran in congealing runnels down the walls, pooling on the floor. I immediately pulled on my oxygen rebreather before stepping inside and pressing the button for level three.
Undertake an Expedition Result
8 (+2 wits) vs 1 | 5 = strong hit (+progress, +Waypoint)
Progress Track Updates
Journey (Through Shiningstar) progress: 3/10 (troublesome)
Vow (Retrieve the Antivenom) Progress: 4/10 (dangerous)
Discover a Waypoint
9; the damage gradually grew more extensive, power less reliable and the creatures thrived.
5, crematorium malfunction,
7, power outage.
As the lift made its cumbersome rise to the third floor, I spotted the glow of a screen shining through a shredded, blood-stained lab coat laying on the floor. On the screen was an unsaved video showing a man with salt-and-pepper hair in a white lab coat. When I pressed play, his resonant voice echoed off the walls.
“The fluctuations in power output after the initial testing of Project ALEX have grown increasingly worse. The crematorium on level six had to be shut down due to a malfunction—before the surviving Project failures were able to be disposed of. I am afraid they will escape the storage room if power fails again. I’m issuing a station wide evacu—what the hell!?”
The video ended with the sound of flesh being painfully sundered and the power in the elevator cutting out. The screen went black, then a dim, strobing red as the backup generators kicked on. Suddenly the scientist’s screams filled my ears, startling me. I dropped the data-tablet, cracking the screen.
“What the hell happened here?” I asked out loud. I had no idea what Project ALEX was or why it would have caused such fear. Clearly, though, something here had gone horribly wrong and many—most—of Shiningstar’s residents had paid dearly for it.
Undertake an Expedition
7 (+2 wits) vs 10 | 5 = weak hit (+progress, +peril at Waypoint)
Shiningstar Peril Table: 2, survivors
Progress Track Updates
Expedition (Through Shiningstar) Progress: 6/10 (troublesome)
The third level was much the same in appearance as the first, except for the number of corpses—both human and whatever those creatures were. The corridors were saturated in dried blood and the strange ichor the monsters bled.
I heard movement around a corner, and took a moment to check my pistol. These creatures didn’t die easily, so I flicked the selector to burst fire.
Secure an Advantage
4 (+2 wits) vs 1 | 6 = weak hit (+1 to next move)
Peeking my head around the corner, I spotted two survivors. One was a young man wearing an armored vest, coated in blood and green gore. The other was an older woman, probably in her middle years, wearing what was once a white lab coat.
"You two alright?" I asked, leaning around the corner.
The woman looked up quickly, with surprise on her face. "Who are you?"
"Apparently your hero." I scrutinized the man as I walked closer. "What's wrong with your friend? Can he walk?"
The woman looked at the man, who was shivering violently.
"We were attacked by those things! Bradley fought them off, but he was wounded in the process."
As the woman turned to help her companion, his head shot up. His eyes were no longer human, having turned a vibrant shade of green. The pupils vanished, and green veins began to spread from his eyes down his face and neck. The woman scrambled back toward me as an ankle thick vine slithered out of the man's open mouth and lashed the air in front of him.
Ask the Oracle
Is the man infected? 11+, 14, yes.
Enter the Fray
9 (+3 edge, +1 secure advantage) vs 9 | 3 = weak hit (in control)
The creature leapt at the woman, the vine flicking the air like one of the crawling reptiles on Demeter. I grabbed the woman’s arm and jerked, pulling her around the corner and putting myself between her and the creature. The monster stumbled as its prey slipped out of its grasp, but recovered inhumanly fast.
5 (+3 edge) vs…
I fired off three shots as the creature recovered, hitting it square in the chest with each bullet. They seemed to not phase it at all. It barreled toward me, the vine slashing the air as it came.
5 (+3 edge) vs 2 | 9 = weak hit (mark progress 2x, in a bad spot)
Combat Progress Update
Transformed Man Progress: 6/10 (troublesome)
8 (+3 edge) vs…
I fired two more shots as the creature advanced. The first connected, blowing open a hole in its chest, and greenish black ichor splattered the walls. The second burst ricocheted as a viney tongue lashed out, catching the barrel of my gun. The pistol spiraled out of my hand and landed behind the creature.
8 (+3 edge) vs 2 | 8 = weak hit (+progress, Pay the Price) Pay the Price: disarmed
React Under Fire
5 (+3 edge) vs…
I managed to roll under its next blow, landing toward my weapon.But the vine wrapped around my ankle and tugged me back. I bounced on the deck and came to rest at the creature's feet, its tattered chest leaking ichor onto my legs.
React Under Fire Results
5 (+3 edge) vs 5 | 10 = miss (Pay the Price = Endure Stress -1 Spirit) Endure Stress: 10 (+4 spirit) vs 1 | 5 = strong hit (+1 Spirit)
Spirit = +5/5
2 (+1 iron) vs…
I tried to kick the monster's knee, but it was too fast and slammed its vine into my leg, knocking me over onto my belly. I yelped in pain. My mind raced, and my heart thudded against the metallic floor. Panic nearly overwhelmed me, but I shoved it down and steeled myself for the unavoidable fight.
2 (+1 iron) vs 7 | 8 = miss (Pay the Price = Endure Harm, -1 health) Endure Harm: 6 (+4 health) vs 10 | 4 = weak hit (press on)
Health = +4/5
React Under Fire
5 (+3 edge) vs…
The monster launched itself on top of me, pinning my arms to the ground. The vine lashed against my neck, and I got the sense that it was tasting me. I felt suddenly weak, as if my energy was being drained. With a last, desperate surge of strength, I managed to heave the beast off of me and roll to my feet. I dove for my pistol and came up on my knees. This thing needed to die, and soon, or I was a goner.
React Under Fire
5 (+3 edge) vs 5 | 3 = weak hit (endure stress, -1 spirit) Endure Stress: 9 (+4 spirit) vs 9 | 10 = miss (-1 spirit)
Spirit = +3/5
6 (+3 edge) vs…
The report of my pistol echoed off the walls as I emptied the clip into the vine-monster. A wave of relief flooded over me as it staggered, but it was quickly replaced by a surge of fear as the creature let out a shrill scream of rage and charged toward me. I leapt out of the way, narrowly avoiding the snaking vine. Its momentum carried it into the bulkhead with a squelching thud.
6 (+3 edge) vs 5 | 6 = weak hit (victory, Pay the Price: Endure Stress, -1 Stress)
Endure Stress: 7 (+4 spirit) vs 4 | 3 = strong hit (shake it off = +1 Spirit)
Spirit = +3/5
Vow Progress Update
Vow (Find the Medicine) Progress: 6/10 (dangerous)
I stood over the creature and pulled the trigger, blasting the vine and what remained of the man's head. It burst like an overripe melon, splashing my boots and the walls with green ichor and bits of bone.
My breath rattled out in a long sigh. I was grateful to be alive, and my body shook from the exertion of the fight. The female survivor peered around the corner, her face frozen in terror. I approached cautiously, my pistol still at the ready.
"Thank you," she said, her voice shaky.
"Didn't have much choice, did I? I'm looking for something called the “Antivenom Blanket.” Know anything about that?"
"Yes,” the woman whispered, “I worked on the project. It's stored on this floor, room three-J. I would take you to it, but those creatures are everywhere."
"Is there a code or a lock?"
"The door code is zero-eighty-seven. The Blanket is on the table, assuming nothing has happened to it."
"Good. What the hell happened here?”
“Do you know Ash Durant?”
“The Ash Durant? Head of the Founder’s Council?”
“The same. They funded all of Shiningstar’s projects but funneled most of the money to Project ALEX.”
“What is Project ALEX?” I asked.
“Durant wanted our scientists to discover how to defeat death.”
“They wanted you to do what?”
“Immortality. Durant’s father, partner, and children were killed by a viral disease. He’s obsessed with destroying death itself.”
“Clearly you failed.”
“Doctor Hendrix, the lead scientist on Project ALEX received a shipment of a new form of plant life from Founder Durant. Hendrix and his team experimented on several people in the bowels of the station. Prisoners sent from the Founder’s max-sec facility on Abaddon, mostly. We never saw them again.”
“Doctor Hendrix. Did he have salt-and-pepper hair?”
“Yes. How did you know that?”
“He is? I’d say it only serves him right. Experimenting on other people is unethical, but he might have been the only person who could have fixed this.”
“I guess you shouldn’t mess with death, huh?” I quipped. “You should get to the hangar. One of your colleagues is already on my ship. Be as quiet as you can, but go quickly. I killed one of these things down there, but there might be more.”
The woman nodded and fled toward the elevator. I hoped she was wrong and there were no more of those things between me and the Antivenom Blanket.
Note: These Waypoint rolls are from the last Undertake an Expedition. I put them at the end because we needed to deal with the peril from the weak hit first.
1, Ash Durant paid for Shiningstar to work on a project for immortality.
2, plant life from a previously unknown planet was used as part of Project ALEX.
Note: These rolls were to give me an idea of who Ash Durant was.
Character Goal: 15, to cure an ill (Ash Durant wants to cure the illness of death) Character Aspects: 83, stoic; 26, cruel; 93, vengeful (Durant appears to be a stoic person, but cares nothing for anyone who gets in the way of his goals [cruel]. Death took their beloved father, partner, and child. They swore vengeance against Death itself. Character Background (Action + Theme): Action = 85, Secure; Theme = 24, Destiny (Durant is one of the leaders of the Founder’s Council).
Note: I needed a planet to put the Founder Council's maximum security prison. So I rolled up a planet.
Planet Type: 05, Desert world Planet Name: Abaddon Settlements: 61, Planetside settlement (maximum security prison + Founder’s Police barracks) Atmosphere: 39, corrosive Life: 17, none Observed from Space: 04, dry seabeds; 33, massive canyons, Planetside Features: 49, scorched grass plains; 29, petrified forests Location (Ask the Oracle): Is Abaddon in the Terminus? (50/50; >50 = yes), 27 yes Is Abaddon in Flint’s Edge? (Small Chance; >10 = yes), 81 no
Will Talia find the Antivenom Blanket, or have the strange plant zombie creatures already destroyed it? Find out in the final entry in the Rise & Shiningstar arc of my Starforged adventures.