For the combat, I’ve opted to remove all the mechanical rolls that pertain to combat because I felt it would drag the action down a bit too much. And…oh d’ast it, also to cover the fact that I rolled HORRIBLY during the first few rounds of combat. I was legitimately in fear for Keith’s life. But that’s the fun of Solo RPGs – even you don’t know what’s going to happen next! Let me know if you want to see all the rolls, good and bad, that I made – I still keep a record of them.
As Keith starts firing, he notices something going on at the platform. To his horror they’re raising an elevator; he can’t make it to them now. His distraction is all his opponents needed; Keith curses as the sand around him erupts in missed blaster fire. He’s in a Bad Spot. He opts to try and find cover – a piece of wreckage, or even just a d’ast rock will do.
As he runs, a shot grazes his leg and Keith falls the the ground gritting his teeth. So much for that d’ast idea. He gets up into a kneeling position and decides to try and take some of the gunners out and make his life a hell of a lot easier.
As he does so, the creature’s head turns downward and it dives down into the ground as if it were a fish diving into water. Keith notices the men jumping off from it as it does so, and tries to maneuver himself into a better position to pick them off.
The ground explodes. Keith tries to Loop back a few seconds out of reflex, but unfortunately the result is the same. The creature has Keith in its maw, its sharp mandibles tearing through his suit and his body as well. He screams and fires a few shots into its body but they go wild. Luckily, they spook the beast enough to drop him onto the ground, and he lands with a loud thump.
Now the cultists are firing at him, and the creature is bearing down on him. This might actually be the end for Ironsworn Keith Vanadu. Well, he’s not going down without a fight. First things first; the big mother in front of him. Keith raises his gun and fires, hoping to either wound or kill the d’ast thing. (Latter is less likely, but we can hope.)
Keith aims expertly at the joints, the segments between the creature’s carapace. He fires – and almost has to cover his ears as the creature’s roars begin to deafen him. Black sludge flies out from where he hit it, raining down into the sand. Keith takes this chance to get into cover and away from the giant thing, and maneuver himself into position.
Keith manages to hide behind a piece of wreckage. He’s shielded himself from the guns of the cultists, who he realises are now under suppressive fire from the men on the platform. Good. He can try and take the giant overgrown bug out of the picture. Groaning, trying his best to ignore the bleeding, Keith waits for the thing to make its way toward him…and with a shout, leaps onto its head, screaming, firing his blaster into it indiscriminately.
The creature slumps to the ground, dead, but in its thrashing to get Keith off of it and its dying death throes, Keith was forced back out into the open, where the cultists can easily get a shot at him. Keith helps suppress the cultists with fire from his own blaster while trying to maneuver back into position.
Why am I moving here? Keith notices himself putting the cultists in between himself and the platform. He realises, too late, that they’ve outmaneuvered him, not the other way around. They’ve begun assaulting the platform, he realises. No way out now. Keith presses forward, trying to prevent the cultists from making it onto the platform proper.
One of the cultists manage a shot on him but Keith shrugs it off. His assault manages to help buy the men on the platform some time, but they’re still crowding it and trying to lower the elevator. He continues to press his assault.
The cultists start to falter. Keith waves at the men on the platform and shouts at them to keep the pressure on. Hoping they heard him, Keith himself continues to fire shot after shot at the cultists.
Finally, the rest of the cultists flee into the desert. Keith collapses where he stands, blood pooling in the bottom of his suit and under him. Checking the integrity of the suit, and his remaining ammo, he realises his suit is completely ripped apart by the d’ast creature, and he blew through a hell of a lot of ammo in the fight.
A Brief Respite
In the distance he sees the elevator to the platform lowering, and some of the men – including the mutant he saw earlier – making their way quickly towards him. Keith tries to stand to meet them and manages, wobbly as he might be. The mutant seems to be leader of the group, as he quickly barks orders for Keith to be taken up to the platform quick. There they bring him to one of their huts, and lay him down on a small cot after taking off his exosuit.
“Thank you for your help,” the mutant said, sitting down on a chair next to Keith. “I am Xang Toi, from Burrow Station. No, don’t speak. We will provide what treatment we can.” Xang barks more orders, and soon a small aid kit is brought to him. Keith marvels at the delicate movements of the mutant’s chitinous fingers, even as he grunts at the pain from the sutures and needles. At the end, though the wounds linger, Keith feels almost brand new.
“Thank you,” Keith nods. “And I’m…sorry for bringing whatever that was to your doorstep. I hope I haven’t caused you too much trouble.”
The mutant shrugged, looking like a man in shoulder pads doing so. “You did bring the Sandstalker to us, yes, but you killed it. And those d’ast Dreadspire cultists. Don’t worry about us. You don’t get to be a spacer on Sanadris and not face danger all your life.”
“What is this place? What are you building here?”
“I am, first and foremost, a scholar. My appearance,” he waved at his own body, “Was due to the effects of The Sundering. Yes, I was with the original colonists from Sol, and yes, Colonel, I know who you are. Otherwise we wouldn’t have tried to help you.”
Keith nodded. “Thanks for that. But I’m sorry, I don’t remember you.”
Xang waved it aside. “We never met face to face, sir. Any command from you was Word from On High, so to speak.” He gestured outside. “We are here to try and recover as much of old Sol’s tech as we can. We’ve lost much, too much. We have to try and get it back.”
“That’s kind of why I’m here, actually. I’m here on behalf of the Dust Runners from Paragon Stand. The Dreadspire cultists have infiltrated the place. We need to weed them out, but to do that we need weapons. I was told this was where we could find them. Do you know where they are? Could you help me locate them?”
Xang frowns at that. “That…is disturbing news, colonel. Burrow Station is no ally to Paragon Stand…but for Dreadspire to make such a move would threaten us as well.” He sighs, and exits the hut. Keith hears him bark some orders, and the mutant returns with some papers, showing them to Keith, who realises they’re a detailed schematic of The Synergy.
“As you probably know, we’ve been looting this wreck for weapons since we established these colonies. The bulk of the ship’s weapon cache is gone, but according to the ship’s manifest, there is a stash hidden here, in the rear hold. You might be able to gain your weapons there.”
Keith pockets the map. “Thanks, Xang. I owe you and Burrow Station one. When I’m done with this whole business, I’ll see to it that I help your settlement with whatever it needs.”
Xang laughs. “Good luck, colonel. Burrow Station is fiercely independent. We have no wish to bow to the Iron Banner.”
“What part of ‘I owe you’ don’t you understand? Don’t worry about joining. Worry about what an Ironsworn can do for you. It’s all in the future, anyway. Don’t worry about it.”
Having rested and healed up, Keith thanks Xang and the rest of the Burrow Stationers and makes his way inside the wreck of the Synergy to find the cache of weapons.
Finally: The Synergy
Keith thought it would be nostalgic, pleasant even, to stand inside an old ship from Sol. Not so. The place has been stripped, corroded, and worst of all modified from what he remembers of old Sol designs. That makes him uneasy, but he realises he should have seen it coming. Xang and his team have been trying to modify the wreck to their benefit, it makes sense that others would have tried the same.
He makes it to the rear hold as Xang’s map had indicated, but again something was off. The place seems to have been modified, but in what capacity he can’t tell. Looking around, Keith finds himself in what must have been a break lounge for the hold crew. Sofas and settees, lockers and tables have been thrown about the room as if some giant had picked it up and shaken it. The only thing different was the control terminal in the center of the room, untouched. Keith realises that was what was different.
He approaches it, and tries to see if he can’t figure out what modifications were made.
Keith sighs in relief. What he’s discovered is the reason these guns haven’t been looted yet: some spacer managed to rig the equipment in the hold, all the cranes and pulleys and what have you, into an elaborate death trap. If he had just rushed in, he would have been turned into something with the constituency of chunky salsa. Keith bypasses the codes and turns the traps off before heading down into the hold, admiring just how complex and deadly those traps would have been to him. Once he reached the container, he opens it, nods when he sees it full of guns and ammo, and closes it, changing the access codes. Hijacking a nearby floating carrier, he brings his loot back up to where Xang was.
“Place was a deathtrap,” he told Xang as he arrived back at the platform. “But don’t worry, I’ve disarmed it.”
Xang nods. “I hope those guns help Paragon Stand against the cult.”
“You and me both.”
Let’s end here.