Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Turn 9: The Garden of Death

Tense moments pass on the shuttle. As Dr. Mors prepares a tranquilizer hypo from his med-kit, Harv scrutinizes the sensor readings on the holographic instrument display before him.  The two life-forms, a Pé Chói and a human, are still moving slowing toward the ship, now just over 400 feet away.  Little data concerning the station is clear. Fragments of duranium are littered across the crater, apparently the remnants of the base.
Perhaps with an alien look of frustration, Harv turns from the display and attempts to open his mind to the psionic vibrations inherent in all life, focusing on the image of two beings on the cold blasted plain.
The image quickly fades and other scenes fill his mind’s eye.  Darkness, a distant blue star, ice crystals exploding, primeval forest, the Garden…The Pe Choi Garden of Death.
Disoriented, Harv stumbles, gripping an acceleration couch for support.  Although he cannot reach the minds of the beings on the ice, Harv knows with absolute certainty that the female Pé Chói researcher is dead.  Her atoms are scattered across the wastes, her consciousness dissolved.
On the shuttle intercom, Commander Nek reports that the warbots are prepared.

Meanwhile, back on the starship orbiting the icy world… Falyai’s fingers dance across the controls at her station.  Two words appear on the screen.
Flashing, text and images flow, in rapid succession, across the display; library data pages on the identified species…
the Mihálli of Dorsum.


  1. [As near as I can tell, almost everyone is in the landing party. For PC's, it is myself, Lil Chompy and Lt. Falyai hiSsanmiren on board. Some number of the warbots are gone, perhaps all. We may have a few first level security personnel or warbots. If I have any extra security, I'd like to leave one or two on the bridge.]


    At the mention of the Mihálli, an image of his mother's death sear's Malakal's mind. Gripping the rail tightly to steady himself, Malakal recovers and springs into action.

    "Deeds, give us a best estimate of the intruder's path and destination. Keep the intercept teams apprised of movements and updated projections. Also, see if you can determine how that beast got here."

    "Lt. hiSsanmiren, you wanted action - you've got it! Take half of our remaining security detail and flank the intruder. I'll take the other half and try to meet it head on. We'll seal checkpoints as we pass as you suggest. The objective is to try to catch the beast in a corridor between two teams and the hull and pin it down. The primary goal is to capture the thing for interrogation but you are authorized to use all necessary force."

    Malakal contacts engineering on the intercom: "NCO Una, take all engineering personnel and seal engineering. I don't want that thing getting anywhere near the drive."

    "Lil Chompy - you have the bridge. Seal the door as we leave. The password for opening the doors is Kaika. Keep the Captain and the away party informed."

    "Lieutenant, let's move! We'll stay in one party until we execute the flanking maneuver." Malakal grabs his x-ray pistol, and moves in pursuit.

  2. 'I wanted action?' Falyai mutters to herself... 'Which way of the gun is the business end, again?'

    Falyai says, "Of course, sir!" and heads to join Malakal. She fumbles her hold out laser pistol into what she (perhaps vainly) hopes is a useful state of readiness, and also (perhaps vainly) hopes the team will be passing by an armoury so she can avail herself with something with perhaps a /wee/ bit more kick than a "mk1 holdout laser pistol" (which I imagine looks something like an elegant lady, such as Falyai, might keep in a purse during a dinner party).

  3. As we progress, Falyai attempts to get Deeds and/or Lil Chompy to relay information to the security team about the Mihálli that might be of tactical utility.

    [With some background expertise in 'Alien Contact', Falyai might very know some basic information about this race of creatures the details on the Tékumel site seem pertinent and some might be known by Falyai. The bit about shape-shifting, and phasing, and general quixotic lack of interest in human affairs seem interesting. It might be useful not to fire on this creature until it makes some sort of overtly aggressive act: so far, it's done nothing more than show up, correct?]

  4. [My bad - I reversed the parties in the exchange on Turn 5 . At least Falyai's 'Alien Contact' skill will be useful to the intercept team.

    Boarding a warship without first making contact would generally be viewed as an aggressive act, but truly information is the premium here, not kills.].

  5. "Mr. Harv!" exclaims, Dr. Mors, reaching out to steady his alien comrade, "What do you sense?"

  6. [@RobL -- that's OK; I'm generally in favour of "you get fun for characters by putting them in trouble!" 8/

    And I agree that we would find that an aggressive act, but a mysterious plane-shifting, shape-shifting alien presence might just perceive it as a walk in their garden and "oh, look, ants!" in which case biting as first response might be the wrong way to go... running around the descending foot might be a lot better... from a survival POV anyway...]

  7. "I cannot reach the Pei Choi researcher - my life sense indicates she has passed on. This appears to be a ruse of some kind. I advise extreme caution."
    Harv checks the seals on his skin suit and prepares his personal weapon - a tangler.
    "I suggest we deploy an eye spy for a closer look at the false life forms. It is possible they too are Mihalli."

  8. Lalei grimaced at their predicament. What in the name of the Lady of Ecstasy do the Mihalli want here? She thumbed the bridge channel switch.

    "XO, this is the Captain," she said."Contain the intruders, but do not--I repeat--do not engage unless attacked first or hostile intent is verified. The Mihalli do not think as we do, so don't expect them to operate on anything approaching human rationality."

    She then turned to the Pe Choi. "In the meantime, excellent work Mr. Harv, We will to assume that the incoming creature are possibly hostile unless we can determine otherwise. What is their current range?"

  9. Payákár looks across at Harv preparing the tangler and thinks again what a useful device it is, especially at a time like this, with a rarely met lifeform before them. The weapon avoids loss of life, allows time for study, negotiation - and right now might prevent interstellar war. [Interplanar maybe...]

    The Páchi Léi looks down at the Z-ray rifle gripped tightly by the upper pair of hands. An advanced weapon, powerful, but suprisingly limiting in options. Payákár wonders what drove the choice. That slow thinking, a thinking that hindered at times like these? Fear? A nature less compassionate than believed? What if the all of the creatures... What if their feeding, training, is having an influence? What if while they gain, Payákár loses, becoming more bestial, moving slowly back to the old ways of the Páchi Léi?

    Then Payákár remembers it was not the first choice, but a recommendation, a suggestion. It. It again. It suggested the weapon to the Páchi Léi... Then it must be for the best. Surely?

    The engineer looks back up, puts the worry out of mind. There is a job to do. How to help? The others are dealing with the situation. They need support and the Páchi Léi has skills to apply, years of learning and overcoming that slowness. But where to apply them?

    Ah, of course. What could that duranium reveal?