I Love the Corps: Below (Part 2)

And now for the epic second half (and end) to my first backer game, Below (part 2).

PART 2

GMING NOTE: (The scene continues from last time, we just had an end game CUT, and a bit of time has passed. Still on Beat 1.)

There are the sounds of a tread-mounted vehicle rumbling away. A tracked, mobile laser drill is seen disappearing down the corridor

`A path between the rubble has been cut open by the laser drill, after a few minutes of work.

“Simply marvellous machine, notice how it uses the spin here to….” Able waffles on. Whilst the tunnels the squad came from were laser-carved into cylindrical shapes, the tunnel beyond is not so. The LT’s theory about natural tunnels is likely correct, at least at first glance. The tunnels they stand in are about 15 foot high, necessary to move vehicles down here easily, including those with large drills and lasers attached. The ceiling beyond is a little higher, and the tunnel is wide enough that around six people could walk abreast where they are, and though the tunnel beyond the breach thins and changes in width, it still looks like three or four people could walk side by side. However, the walls and ceiling constantly dip up and down and warp, with no regularity of sense of design.

“So from the doctor’s tracks, we have two armoured men. On top of which there may be a monster with claws that doesn’t leave tracks, which we know from…. how do we know that again?”

Freiberg looks to Fabron pointedly.

“From the deceased.”

“There are no deceased. Besides a foot”, Best says, hands on hips, looking sceptical at Fabron

“I assure you, they are deceased.”

“Well likely. My point is, there are bodies, to examine, to even remotely support your giant monster-claw…” she scoffs a little “hypothesis.”

“We shall see”

“Yes.” Best tuts. “Yes we shall.” Her now bright red visor turns to the breached tunnel. “Shall we?”

“Given your scepticism, I will let you go first”, says Fabron.

She grabs her pistol from her hip, raising it up. “Being that this is still my op until you decide to say otherwise… I’ll take that offer.” She bites her lip and mutters “thank you.” And heads into the breached tunnel.

Freiberg follows beside and slightly behind the LT. She pulls her EMP rifle from her back and aims it down the tunnel past her superior officer. Her eyepiece retracts, allowing her to keep both eyes on the real world.

Fabron follows, and then Able.

GMING NOTE: (Appropriately at this point, due to a new active ability, we go to beat 2. You can continue to use current totals, and means you have four ability totals left for the scene… what you use them for may dictate what happens next and how the scene resolves, so you choose wisely. I won’t be asking you for ability totals in the narrative scene, so let me know what you want to try and if you want new totals at any point. I can advice you privately as to when it may be sensible, if you wish. Totals will continue to provide you results to relevant tasks. This sometimes means I’ll give you more details, sometimes not until you do something relevant like examine a specific area. So the more you describe, better it will likely go for you, and make fuck-ups and surprises less likely.)

The LT doesn’t move with haste, she moves with practised care, gently nudging aside bits of rubble with the edge of her boots, and occasionally with the tap of her cane. She doesn’t appear to have trouble walking. A cane just gives an air of pretension.

Able covers the rear; he shines his finger-tip scanner back the way we came; his face tells you he has seen those sort of movies.

Fabron follows along with slow careful steps, fully aware of the risk of massive hungry aliens.

Freiberg continues to follow behind and slightly beside her lieutenant, covering the way ahead wit her EMP rifle.

Best clambers over the rocks, and carefully begins walking down the tunnel. “Able, I don’t see the tracks you mentioned on this side. Any luck on your end?”

“I don’t want to alarm you but no I have not been able track the foot prints. This could be due to many factors”

“There being none to track seems the most obvious”, Fabron says.

“That, or they covered them”, Able replies.

Best looks back to give Fabron a pointed look, and then grins at Able; “What I was thinking, doctor. They only had ten seconds to grab the ore, so they clearly had no time to clear the tracks inside. But they likely did once they triggered a small collapse behind them.”

“On the way back we should check the rubble on this side for how they triggered it”

“Well, they have a head start on us. We don’t lose anything if you think, as your professional opinion, it would be wise to investigate now?”

“Might be; in case it is mechanical and so used as the so called booby-trap.”

“Okay, we’ll stop and check then. Freiberg, keep an eye down that tunnel, in case the thieves decided they want to come back for more. Give it to them, if they do.”

“Yes ma’am. Also, I’m thinking if they bothered to cover their tracks there must be a junction up ahead – there’d be no point hiding which way you went in a linear tunnel. If that’s so, then once we pass the junction they may be able to circle round behind us and try to get out the way we came in. Might be worth asking the miners to set a guard there.”

“They had time. They were working to a schedule but couldn’t risk getting too close”, Fabron reveals.

“Fabron- I appreciate your here to help, but we prefer hard evidence to speculation… reasonable though it may be” says Best, as she begins examining the walls.

“Mr Fabron could you share your evidence with me. I think a group analysis of our shared data could yield a better result, Able asks.

“By all means, find the evidence.”

“We will” Best snorts derisively, as she begins checking the wall on her left as she turns, just beyond the remaining rubble, Able checking the other wall

Fabron carefully brushes a few specks of dust off his sleeve and leaves the children to their games

“Curious. I don’t see how they made it collapse…. I worry that this could mean they have a means of collapsing the tunnel in a controlled way that we can detect…..” He stops, as his eyes notice the grooves in the rock. Not in the ceiling, not in the floor, along the wall. Four grooves, each about a foot in width with a foot between them. “Oh… I am currently re-evaluating the claw monster theory.”

“Did I mention ‘ hungry’?” Fabron says.

“The hungry claw monster theory.” He gestures to Best to come see his grooves

Freiberg continues to cover the corridor with increased twitchy determination after the words ‘hungry claw monster.’

“I suggest we change this to a….is the term Bug Hunt? Yes?”

Best rubs her hand against the wall too. “There#re markings in the rock. Unusual yes, but lets not jump to giant monster until we find its giant piles of shit, shall we?”

“Understood”

“The tracks didn’t go up to the body – so I’m wondering if one of the armoured guys has some sort of claw arm or mobile claw crane tool or something. Would explain the body being taken at range, and how they broke the wall, with the grooves”, Freiberg reasons.

“Yes indeed. Let’s go and catch those naughty ore-stealing murderers that definitely did this”, Fabron mocks.

“Would even explain the miner thinking he saw a claw monster.. .however Fabron knows what the miner was thinking”, Freiberg reasons.

Best turns on Fabron. “Okay Fabron… if you’re so certain this is a giant monster, please give me a bloody indication as to how you know that.” Her hands are on her on hips, a little passive aggressively. Able looks over to Fabron, eager for this intel. Freiberg keeps her eyes (and gun) on the tunnel, but is listening.

“That information is classified. But you already know that”, Fabron responses.

Able’s eyebrow raises. Best sighs deeply. “Fine. All right squad… I’ve done my fair amount of time hunting killers. That means I am good at reading people…” she locks eyes with Fabron. “And, well he doesn’t have any reason to lie… concealing information, yes. But… well, we have to trust his judgement. So… I am not willing to say there IS a giant monster but…” She sighs. “Well… just keep your wits about you. Clear?”

“I shall prepare for monster stool samples just in case”, Able says.

The tension breaks, as Best snorts in laughter. She walks over and claps him on the shoulder.

“I like you, Doc.”

“Thank you Lieutenant.” He gives her a large grin

“Fabron, if you could keep an eye on the civvie while you’re at the back… well, that’d be nice.” Best gives Fabron a sarcastic, sweet girl smile. “Freiberg, as you were, with me.”

MUSIC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlR4Z4AZ1ho

The camera cuts for a little montage as the marines walk their way down the winding tunnel, which mostly keeps level, but does occasionally get a little steeper as they progress. Its just one linear, yet windy tunnel, so far.

[21/10/

Freiberg is quiet, though gradually becoming less jittery.

“Mr Fabron, could you describe the monster to me so I can compare it against known creatures?” Able asks.

“No”

“It’s classified”, Bests adds derisively.

“Oh…” Able looks very disappointed

“I have not seen it to describe”, Fabron elaborates.

Best stops as they round a sharp corner, and have a straight line of about 100 foot ahead, where the tunnel finally forks left and right at the end. Best holds up her hand. “Something on the ceiling.” As Best draws attention to it, they see some kind of black cube up on the ceiling, embedded in the rock. It looks like it would fit in a pair of human hands. “Looks like tech. Valkyrie, any ideas?” Best flicks her wrist pad, her helmet visor turns white. “Reading strong EM frequency from it. Definitely active.”

GMIN NOTE: (We thusly and appropriately go to BEAT 3 of the scene. So if anYbody wishes to use any final new or improved ability totals, please let me know)

“I think it’s a jamming device… but I’m not certain. Placement is ideal for a trap, but its not like any trap I’ve seen. I’m going to shoot it with my EMP rifle. Should disable it safely at this distance, whatever it is.” Able stands behind Fabron. Best grips her cane tightly, magging her pistol. She rams the tip of the cane into the soft stone. “

“Okay do it”, Best orders. Freiberg takes aim and fires. The EMP rifle charges up with a WHRRRRRRRRRRR as a blue bar charges along it. And a precise, spheroid of energy flies from the barrel. It’s an amazing shot. It hits the cube precisely, with no splash against the rock. The energy flows across the surface of the device briefly.

Best relaxes. “Good shot. No cave-in. Good sign. All right… lets see if we can get you a close look at this thing.” Able slides back to make look like he never hid behind Fabron.

“Damn I’m good.” Freiberg recharges the EMP rifle and then advances with the others.

“Yes, that you are.” Best paces ahead of the others. Able covers the rear with his scanner. “So which are we following? The thieves or my made up creature that may or may not have eaten two miners?” Fabron asks.

“Didn’t they stay together?” Able asks.

“Apparently not”, says Best, thirty foot from the cube. As the cube begins to vibrate. “Oh hell. Must have been shielded…” And then the tunnel walls start to vibrate with the cube.

“You didn’t check the EM field had stopped?!”

“It had! It just kicked in!”

The tunnel vibrates, but not heavily enough to do more than just drop some sediment… so far at least “What? I don’t… I didn’t….. but it was such a good shot….” Freiberg stare disbelievingly at her rifle (rather than, say, doing anything helpful)

“It’s fine Freiberg… we just need to deactivate it before someone notices we’re coming. Can you hack it?”

Best is under the device, looking at it, gauging it. Best seems pretty collected

“Maybe its the induction coils – but I checked them… I always check them.” She seems to be talking about the emp rifle, not the device. She also seems to be entirely unaware Best said anything….

Best slaps her hands on Freiberg’s shoulders. “Freiberg! Listen! Can it be hacked!?” She leans right in, visor against visor.

Able jolts suddenly, then stops and takes in deep breaths. The vibrations continue at the same rate, they don’t increase, but continue to pulse. SLAM. The rock shakes a little more… some kind of distant impact pounds. SLAM. “Shit… ” Best curses. “Fabron! Since you know so much… I reckon left is death, what about right?” Best is holding onto Freiberg, but looking back at Fabron

Freiberg looks up at the vibrating thing, past Best as if she isn’t even there, and mutters “Shielded, then played dead, then barked…. good dog. Smarter than me. I guess I get eaten now…”

“We go right. Before my imaginary friend arrives”, Fabron says. ROAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. The roar echoes from afar and then echoes down the tunnel. SLAM. SLAM. SLAM, SLAM, SLAM.

“You heard the CCO! Off to the right!” Best wraps her arms around Freiberg. “FUCKING RUN!”

Freiberg does stumble into a run, probably more motivated by the roaring than her commanding officer. She still keeps looking bad at the vibrating object though, so she’ll be going slower than everyone else. Able will run and try and push ‘Daddy’s Princess’ forward. Best helps able, hooking an arm under Freiberg’s right and tugging her along. Fabron just runs for it. Able has a good pace, and Best has a good grip on Freiberg, almost dragged along by Able’s frantic run. Freiberg falls to her knees, almost pulling Best onto her. Best jams her cane into the stone and holds herself up. However, Freiberg is a gibbering wreck. Best hauls Freiberg to her feet and then hauls her over a shoulder. Able runs alongside Best, though Best is hardly going at speed, not being exactly big and muscular. Freiberg is still holding onto her EMP rifle, with as much determination as if it were her own child (rather than magging it to her armour again, which would be safer and more sensible). Fabron, knowing where he’s going, propels ahead. SLAM, SLAM, SLAM. Fabron propels to the end of the corridor, whilst Best can barely walk with Frieberg’s even petit weight on her shoulders

“Able, I told you to fucking RUN! That’s a god-damned order!”

“Civilian consultant” he helps Best…. to the best he is able (Ben wrote this… I am keeping it in.

“Fuck you and your fucking HEROISM…” SLAMSLAMSLAMSLAMSLAMROAAAAAAAAAR. Fabron runs to the end of the tunnel, off to the right. The pounding against the rock getting louder and quicker on his left. “That’s OUR FUCKING JOB!” Best can be heard yelling whilst the camera focusses on Fabron, who turns right… into a dead end. Looks at the wall. Inside the helmet there is a moment of confusion and a hint of fear in his usually dead eyes. He turns drawing his weapon, his eyes returning to their usually steely stare…

Fabron notices that the wall ahead slopes. Up towards a hole… just begin enough to crawl through…

SLAMSLAMSLAMSLAM. The camera cuts between Fabron and the others, Best, barely able to walk, staggering forward. Raises the gun, hesitates, looks at the hole. The camera flicks between the tiny escape hole and the cavern with its echoing slamming. Fabron’s eyes shift barely perceptibly to his team mates…. who are still about 40ft from Fabron

“Why is no-one fucking RUNNNING!?” Best screams… in a very angry manner. Slung over Best’s shoulder, Freiberg has her head facing back behind the others. One hand still clutches the EMP rifle as she gazes into the tunnel behind you, shuddering.

“Oh dear….this is a conundrum”, Able says. And with that, Fabron turns back again. As a gigantic claw comes round the corner, digging into the wall, about 20ft down from Fabron. A clawed hand as big as the front of a semi truck. With a seemingly never-ending arm behind it, with four claws.

MUSIC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXPCDiE7Mrs

Freiberg gives a scream of terror, but possible also mixed with defiance. With her free right hand, she grabs the flare pistol from her hip, and fires at the creature wildly… and surprisingly accurately. The Doctor quickly draws and throws test tubes from his belt and drops a few things inside from his little finger tip hole. They start fizzing as he throws all three as he yells “Apologies!” And then the camera goes into slow motion. As the flare flies through the air, bright blue, flying right at the audience.

The three bottles of fizzing, sparking, chemical follow behind, blobs of liquid slowly flying into the camera lens from all directions.

“Fuccccccccccckinggggggggggg hellllll!”Best yells, as she fires her his pistol.

Fabron raises his gun, his expression emotionless as always. He waits until he sights the beast. His eyes flick to his escape route again as his inner conflict shifts again. He lines up a shot on the beast….

And then raises the weapon firing

As the slow motion slug flies through the air, the Monster’s head comes round the corner. Almost entirely filling the tunnel. Fabron sees it from the front, the others see the head from the side.As one claw holds it in the wall, and the other claw lunges for Fabron. Its scales are red, its head is a massive circle of yellow, blinking, reptilian eyes and within the circle of eyes is a circular maw, each fang twice as tall as Fabron, its claws, about twice his length. Repeated bullets hit the ceiling above the head. The flare goes towards an eye, but as the head moves towards, it sticks in the scales at the side of the head instead. Whilst the chemicals arc off to the right. As the rubble starts to fall, the bottles are smashed apart, releasing corrosive and explosive chemicals onto the beast’s face. It roars out as a claw sparks against Fabron’s armour. The eyelids instinctively close off as the chemicals splash. Fabron doesn’t do as much as flinch back. And the rubble collapses The tunnel fills with dust

GMING NOTES: new narrative scene! This’ll likely be a hasty one…)

Best lies on the floor, Freiberg splayed next to her, flare gun lying on the ground. Able, however, is on his feet as the dust clears and he can see a massive pile of rock ahead of them. And no sign of Fabron

“S-so everyone else saw the giant monster, right?” Freiberg says, seemingly back to sanity

“Yes. Yes we did”, Best replies.

“…..next time I should really add 1.75% more zinc”, Able muses the turns to the others. “I do hope enough survived for an autopsy.”

The intersection is gone, just covered by rubble. Rubble that is shaking

The film then cuts to the surface of Mars. There is a three foot diameter hole in the ground; There is a SLAM SLAM SLAM sound from below. A hand grabs the edge of the hole and Fabron pulls himself out. He stands and catches his breath. He looks down critically and dusts himself off before going in search of the others, unsure if they got out, and not much caring at this point. We then cut down into the tunnel, as the rock shakes. SLAM, SLAM, SLAM.

“Its still alive. We need to retreat. Now” says Best. “If it lives in these tunnels, I doubt rock will hold it for long.”

“I have an idea….” Freiberg says.

“Blow the roof?”

Freiberg’s eyepiece is down again – must have happened sometime in her crazy-carried-time. “Something like that.”

The hole has no Fabron by it any more. The camera zooms out. There is nothing but barren red rock. And a figure in Corps armour, running. And then a massive shadow passes over, a boxy shape with two wings, each with flickering to the edge of their shadow. The shadows hovers in place. SMASH, SMASH, SMASH.

MUSIC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7oMBq1vkCM

Fabron, is fortunately running like Usain Bolt.

Back underground, Freiberg has her wrist-pad open. Best is backing off a little, cane in one hand, pistol in the other “Convenient surface hole – ooh, and is that Fabron on the surface? Hold onto your butts….” Freiberg warns. In her eyepiece you can see her purple cheek illuminated by the glow of red lettering. ‘TARGET’, then ‘FIRE’, as she presses a wrist-pad button. As we cut to the dropship cam, as the hole cracks and a massive red-brown lizard claw bursts out of the ground, followed by the whole forearm, the height of a semi-detached house

As a rocket fires from the dropship. The claw slams into the ground and pulls its upper body out of the ground. Fabron, running, can’t help but look back. The massive form screeches as all of its twenty eyes lock on the rocket, which blasts it in the face. Four of its eyes are horribly burned as it screeches, scoops up a rock and throws it as the dropship

The dropships dodges… barely…

GMING NOTES: (ACTION SCENE! The action scene begins with the most appropriate character… no time wasted rolling on it… we shall therefore go with Freiberg, what with attacking, then Fabron, Able, Best, The Monster of Mars. You take both your abilities in turn, taking a whole beat at a time. You use the action scene passive total for passives… which is lower…)

Freiberg’s voice is heard, but the camera remains focussed on the surface and the dropship cam view. “Well it’s wounded… and on the surface….. and angry.” Brinhilda’s engines rotate so she half hovers, half dances in the air, opening fire with her mounted assault rifle in bursts. As the assault rifle rattles away, the creature blinks all its eyes and heads back down the tunnel as the tracer fire rattles away. The bullets tears through two more eyes before it heads underground. “Okay, NOW we run!” says Best. Freiberg is already slinking off down the tunnel, but not exactly running. As instructed, Able runs this time, at a fare pelt. Best runs with Able, cane in one hand, pistol in the other, as usual. Freiberg, slower, partially controlling the ship, is behind them as the Monster of Mars bursts through the rubble. Looking for safety… looking for the marines.. it hardly matters…

It shoots down the tunnel at the marines, it’s sinious, serpentine body, shimmering down the tunnel, anchoring and dragging its bulk with its two forelimbs, mouth wide open, as it comes right at the camera. And at Freiberg. She screams like a girl (because she is one). A claw slams into the wall around Freiberg and closes around her. The closed fist, oddly almost humanoid looking, rears back to the mouth and opens as Freiberg is tossed towards the mouth. The camera slows as Freiberg is tossed through the air, about 15ft from the mouth.

The second claw lashes out. It slams into Best as three of the four claws on the hand go straight through Best’s body. Best explodes into pieces, blood spraying over Able. Able continues to power on even faster

Flying towards the mouth in midair, Freiberg has nothing to grab onto or push off, and no way to avert her fate. but she does still have the eyepiece and the wristcomm.

“Tell Daddy I went out like a Viking!” she screams. Brunhilda swoops down the enormous tunnel left by the thing where it fled. Its bulk blocks any chance of the dropship getting to Freiberg, even if she had time to. We cut inside the cockpit, the bulk of the Monster of Mars filling the glass. On the control screen, the words ‘remote running’ are illuminated, and below them, ‘combat speed’ suddenly changing to ‘escape velocity’ as the engines roar. At the rear of the creature is a long whipping serpentine tail. There are no forelegs. The ship zeros in and flies down the tail all the way up the back, as Freiberg falls into the mouth, just as the dropship smashes it in the back of the head.

Able looks back as a dropship smashes out through the ruin of the Monster’s head, caked in bright yellow blood, as the dropship wings strike the walls

Able glimpses Freiberg on the front of the dropship, clinging onto it, as the windscreen cracks. her blood streaked across it. Her body already broken by the impact, Freiburg simply murmurs “like a valkyrie”, almost like a child lost in the joy of flying.

“Spectacular……..” Able struggles to say anything else. The right plasma engine smashes into the tunnel wall and explodes, engulfing the dropship in blue plasma fire. The ship spins towards Able. The remaining engine strikes the floor and blasts a plasma wave towards Able. He looks to the wave and throws his body with all he has screaming to the heavens ” ooooooohhhhh sssssshhhhiiii…” he flies forward and the world slows down to a snails crawl, as the scene cuts to black.

We cut to a steel walled office. A black gloved hand, in a very old school fashion, writes with a fountain pen. “It is hard to ascertain if the descent of the drop ship was deliberate or a malfunction.” The scene cuts to show the ruins of the dropship, scattered across the tunnel, as miners in orange suits search through the wreckage.

Fabron replaces the lid on the pen and places it carefully on the desk. He gets up. Checks his mirror. Neatens his hair. Reties his shoes. And then he heads to his next briefing as if nothing happened

Then we cut to Miss Chi, looking over a com-pad.

Miss Chi reads from the com-pad. “… after the unfortunate demise of the military police investigators, I returned with my report to the Corps. They were able to trace the two thieves back to a thought abandoned complex… I believe you are familiar. A part of the old corporation that ran the government. RedPLanet. Of course, the Corps cannot intervene in local disputes on an independent planet. And the evidence we have of the theft is circumstantial at best. However, the mining machine RedPlanet were using… not intended to kill your miners, an unintended side-effect… has been destroyed. You understand such technology had to be destroyed. We suggest, now you know Redplanet still exists, and are stealing ore to make weapons, that perhaps you give your government these grid coordinates. Mars are important trade partners. Should Mars be embroiled in civil war… we will of course be able to help.

“Corps Command Operative 5409.”

The camera cuts back down to the tunnel where workers search through the wreck. with no sign of the Monster’s body except for a tiny, gobbet of sizzling melting red flesh… which dissolves away

“Hey, we found a survivor!”The camera cuts. As several men lift up a broken wing.

“Shittttttttt…”

“Did any of you manage to secure a sample?” The camera cuts to Able; half of his face is missing, one arm is gone and both of his legs are stumps. Where half of his face is missing, is part of a metal skull. The eyes, bright blue. And where the stumps of the limbs are, pieces of metal protrude and spark. His chest armour has been opened, and some of the synthetic flesh as well. “Sample of what?”

ROLL END CREDITS (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v–IqqusnNQ)

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I Love the Corps: Below (Part 1)

INTRO

So, below is a transcript of the first part of one of the backer-owed games from the £80 Kickstarter pledge. Now, these are meant to be exclusive games, designed for that backer and only played for the specific one-shot. However, in this case, the backer (Alan) had asked for a game with very short notice (due to being unable to run his own online game, due to not having all his usual players, I believe), and had kindly said that he’d play one of my tried and tested scenarios. In this case, I chose a game I tested about three times before running at ConPulsion earlier in the year. I know that Alan loves his cerebral games and mysteries, so I chose to run Below, as its something of a murder mystery in space.

Now, my original Kickstarter offer was for a one-shot game run online. I ended up running two games, due to time constraints and the limitations of the game format. We did it text-based on Skype. I used to run entire campaigns in this format, but had forgotten how slow it could be compared to being able to describe and react to things in person, so it became necessary to split the game into two. Suffice to say, Alan, and the other two players, seemed to be highly satisfied with the results.

I have tried to stick to the original Skype transcript as much as possible, leaving descriptions and actions of players in tact, and just occasionally moved around the order of details where necessary to assure that it reads as logically as possibly in this format. I’ve taken out all usernames etc too, so it reads like a story. When running in this manner, I ask that players write their actions same as a novel, rather than usual online play style, so actions are just written normally (not with asterisks) and dialogue is quotation marks. A majority of all the rules were kept to private channels for full immersion and to not clutter the game window and obscure descriptions and role play, so rules are largely not included here. I have, however, included general rules related info relevant to all players that I gave as GMING NOTES, just to give you an idea of how the Scene and Beat system directs the role play. (Only one note in PART 1, more in PART 2.)

Here is part 1/game 1 for your viewing pleasure. Alan played Freiberg, whilst the other two players took on the roles of Able and Fabron. I controlled Best as a Friendly (so no dice rolls for her). As with all my pregens, they were not designed with specified gender. In the end, we had a guy playing a girl and a girl playing a guy.

Now, enjoy!

PART ONE

The film opens with a grey, dank room. The floor is metal is gridded, the ceiling is decaying plaster

A blue strip light sits upon the ceiling. The room has a silver metallic table in the centre of it,

On one side of the table sits a woman in her mid 50’s, hair dyed white-blonde. She is attractive for her age, but austere and without a smile. Her black gloved fingers tap on the table.

Tap.

She is wearing an officer’s uniform

Tap.

Her rank is indicated as General. There is a loud knocking.

“Enter.”

The door swings open. The camera zooms in on a fine, long, black leather boot.

“Ah, Lieutenant Best. Corporal Freiberg. Please, sit.”

The camera rotates. First in through the door into the room is a a woman of average height, red hair, tied up into a bun. The LT is in her own officer’s uniform.

She looks like she attends the gym occasionally, if not regularly. She holds herself with confidence, though there is something of a weariness to her eyes. She stops, salutes, and sits.

A short, thin woman, Freiburg looks like she’d blow away in a strong wind. Her most striking feature is her skin, which is pale purple. Her thin face has dark expressive eyes, and while her dark hair has a regulation buzz-cut, she makes occasional hand and head movements as if she is used to having long hair to play around with.

“Welcome, marines. Please be seated.”

As a mere corporal, Freiberg is wearing a standard marine uniform, just with the corporal badge of rank on one shoulder, and the Teutonia colony badge on the other. She salutes and then sits down. Her manner seems curious, but reserved

“Thank you for joining me. I have an unusual mission for you today, marines, so I before I begin, I have drafted in some additional support to aid you. One Doctor Able, and Corps Command Operative Fabron. Enter!”

Another door opens. In walks a man in his 50’s, his well trimmed beard is almost entirely grey leaving a few patches of brown here and there. He has a warm smile hidden beneath the beard, on top his hair is equally as short and maintained. He seems dressed in what can only be called casual scholar, his jacket even has leather patches on the elbows. He gives them all a small nod of respect, “Dr Able at your service,”

“Welcome doctor. Please take a seat.”

He does so

A tall slender man follows quietly. Everything about him is neat. The perfectly combed hair, the lint free jacket, the impossibly clean shaven face, right now to the mirror shine on his shoes. His skin is deathly pale and his piercing ice blue eyes seem to hold no human emotion.

There is the slightest hint of movement at the corner of his lips, probably all the smile he is capable of

“Fabron.” He speaks the single word with a heavy French accent. “Welcome, CCO. Please join us.”

Fabron pulls out a chair seeming to mentally calculate its perfect alignment to the room before sitting. As the chair is drawn back the camera draws focus to his hands. The black leather gloves clearly tailored as the viewer counts not five but six digits on each.

Lieutenant Best, silent up until this point, is sat upright, but and looks a little ill at ease as her eyes dart to the newcomers.

“So, the Lieutenant and Corporal usually operate, as military police, within the confines of legal situations and possible crime within Corps ranks”, the commander explains.”However, this mission will be different. We have a tricky political situation that cannot be dealt with by local colonial police. That’s because the particular colony in this case is not Dominion territory. You will be sent to Independant territory, where the Dominion part owns mining rights, for trade purposes. We’ll be sending you to Mars.”

Freiberg’s eyes widen, a her expression a mixture of surprised and intrigued. However she remains silent.

The camera zooms in on Able’s face. A small hidden smile grows breaking the beard apart. “As you know, the Martians give us valuable trade in both ore and occasional Warrior tributes for Corps services. We have part ownership in some of the mining operations, for ore used in weapons and gears. One of these companies is known as the Chi-Un Mining Corporation, where there have been two recent murders. Normally this would be dealt by local police… but, as you may understand, we don’t have control of the local police… so we are sending you in. As for details of the double murder, you will have to find out the specifics from the mine administrator, Miss Chi, when you arrive on Mars. A cruiser is being prepared for you as we speak. I must remind you that you are representatives of the Corps… which is why CCO Fabron has been attached to you for this operation. We must ensure there are no…” she pauses for a moment, clasping her hands in front of her. “… diplomatic incidents.”

“Whilst Lieutenant Best is a skilled crime investigator, since there will be no local police on hand, we are lending you the skills of talented forensic specialist, Dr Able.” She gestures at the Doc.

“So he can provide whatever expertise you would normally be lent, Lieutenant.”

The LT smiles an almost business-like smile. She looks to the Doc, inclines her head and says “Charmed.”

“As am I,” nods his head to the lady

The LT then looks over at the CCO. “And charmed to have you along… shall I refer to you as sir, CCO or Fabron?”

Blinks slowly. “Fabron will be sufficient”

“General Ma’am, may I ask a question?”

“Of course, Freiberg. Proceed.”

“What is the legal situation? Do we have jurisdiction, or are we sharing jurisdiction with the Mars authorities? Also if the perpetrator is outside the company, do we have arrest authorisation?”

“Sound questions.” She nods. “The site of the mine is on Martian soil, but technically classed as Dominion soil, due to agreed-upon ownership rights. So, within the mine itself, you have authority. Outside of it… well the mine is many miles from any Martian settlements. So if you act with discretion, you should be able to act as authorised. Should you overstep your bounds…” she gestures to Fabron. “Fabron is responsible for informing you.”

“Understood, Ma’am.”

“Excuse me General, am I understand that there won’t be any labs for analysis of chemical compounds, to whit I should endeavour to secure as much mobile equipment as is allowed to ensure our success yes?” Able asks.

“Indeed. Make sure you have the correct installed equipment from the armoury. I have informed them you’ll be coming.”

“Thank you.”

“Any other questions, marines?”

“No Ma’am”, Freiberg responds.

“No Sir “, Fabron responds. The General doesn’t seem to react differently to being referred to a sir or ma’am… she seems almost robotic in her nature.

“Then please head to the armoury to suit up. Freiberg, I have ensured Brunhilde is fuelled and ready to fly. The comm coordinates for your cruiser for transport to Mars have been loaded in by our techs already.” Freiberg acknowledges witha smile, as well as a salute

Fabron stands and returns the chair very neatly

Best stands, prim and proper, stomps a boot and salutes. “Commander.”

“Lieutenant. Dismissed.”

Best nods and lowers the arm. “All right…” the camera cuts to each character one by one.

Best pauses. “… squad. Let’s go solve a mystery, and hunt some bad guys, shall we?”

“Mysteries are always so much fun, I can’t think or something I would rather do Lieutenant.” Able stands up in a dramatic fashion as the camera follows him up.

“Doc, I think we’re going to get on well”, Best says, clapping the doc on the shoulder.

A cold stare and a slight nod entirely devoid of enthusiasm is the limit of Fabron’s response

Best blanches a little at Fabron, and heads for the door. She opens it, smiles and gestures for the team to exit.

The marines exit. The camera zooms in on the other side of the door. There is a cane with battered, steel sphere at the top. A hand scoops it up. The camera then zooms in on Best.

“Here we go…”

The camera cuts to the darkness of space, as the music kicks in.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbSxzqA8QrA)

A slow, spinning cylinder slides into view. It is several miles along, with three cylinders rotating around its mid-section. Along the side are big white letters:

U

C

M

C

The camera zooms out, showing the name, UCMC Possibilities. The camera follows the interstellar cruiser, as it approaches the planet Mars. The bottom of the cruiser slowly opens. Out of it, a tiny speck exits, alone. Lit by two bright blue lights. As the lights fly towards Mars, ahead of the cruiser, which slows. Mars swings into full view as the camera zooms in. The dropship flies into frame from the foreground. A boxy shape, with two wings flanking on either side, each wing bearing a rotating plasma engine at the centre of it, currently pointed to the rear.

As Iron Maiden fades out and Wagner fades in… (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRU1AJsXN1g)

On the front of the dropship is painted the name Brunhilda, while on either side are painted Valkyries, classical, not sexualised images.

The dropship dives down through the clouds. Gunshots sounds fire, as the I LOVE THE CORPS logo is shot in bullet holes

As the dropship heads down, and you can see the Martian landscape as the word BELOW appears.

Written and Directed by Christopher Dean

Six fingers tighten slightly on arm rests, as we cut inside the dropship.

Freiberg is now wearing contact armour, which bulks her out a little so she looks less fragile, or at least less likely to blow away in a stiff breeze. The armour is light and thin but covers every inch of her body, the joints airtight. The helmet has a couple of extra aerials on top beyond the standard comms and uplink, and this combined with the all-encompassing armour gives an almost insectoid look. Her face is visible through the transparent faceplate. If you hadn’t seen her out of her armour earlier, you might assume the faceplate was tinted purple, rather than her skin colour being so unusual. She is lightly armed, carrying only an emp rifle (which is normally on her back on her back but currently stored in the gun rack beside her, since her back is resting on the pilot chair) and a flaregun at her hip. She has a couple of small cases magnetised to her other hip and her stomach, their inventory stamps suggesting they are tools rather than weapons.

A couple of cheap civilian laptop devices have been attached to the cockpit walls beside the actual flight computers. One of these is running a program giving the direction and distance to Jupiter and the orbiting Teutonia colony in real time, the other seems to be displaying a newsfeed of the Teutonia stock market, streamed over the PlaNET network.

Fabron looks exactly as he did when he first entered the room for their briefing. Even sitting seems to barely crumple the neatness. Fabron’s equipment, contact armour, some mag-cuffs, a machine pistol and a stun baton, are magged to the wall behind him.

“… and so you see Lieutenant the enzyme he used to dissolve the tissue sample in fact implicated him, since I was able to isolate the possible locations and more importantly who could acquire it, I find it most hilarious, for you see he..” Able drones on and on at Best, his love of his work pouring into ever word. Sitting in his battle armour, standard issue; as a consultant, he has had no time to customise it. He carries no weapons.

Best, like Freiberg, is dressed in bulky but lightweight contact armour, usually recommended for lack of atmosphere. However, Able’s armour will lend the civilian more protection in a combat situation. Best is sat in the co-pilot seat, but span round, listening to Able, who sits in the carrier section with Fabron.

Best has mag-cuffs magged to her waist, a heavy-duty looking, futuristic pistol magged to a hip, and has a gauntlet around her cane. She looks enamoured with the doctor.

Freiberg peers up through the cockpit glass for a moment at the cruiser, now just a twinkling speck. “Wow, a whole cruiser waiting just for us. If we solve this case quick enough, maybe I’ll have time to make a call to daddy on Teutonia before we leave.” Her statement seems directed to Best as a question, yet its vague enough she could deny it was more than an idle thought if it was objected to.

For Fabron, there is a tiny flicker of a sideways glance at the “daddy” comment.

Best spins the chair, looks to Freiberg, rolls her eyes and snorts in amusement. “You and your daddy.” Best’s accent is very Queen’s English. “However DO you cope being in other systems, Freiberg?”

Able also turns to look at Freiberg.

Freiberg’s accent has a hint, but only a hint, of German. Like a third generation immigrant who not only learned English, but took elocution classes afterwards. “I console myself with the letters and occasional presents he sends. But now we’re in the same system we can do face-time, lag is only a couple of light-minutes. I’m sure if we did he’d send my whole squad a keg of something. Stock in his biggest companies are up three points, so he’ll be in a good mood.” She gestures to the stock market feed.

Able looks to the stock market feed. “Which one is Daddy, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Well Sleipnir Zero-G Construction is his most valuable holding, even though he’s only got 12%, its just so huge. The companies he actually owns are minnows really, but profitable minnows…. mostly”

“Speaking of minnows, let’s see what we can catch today… approaching landing coordinates now, oh mighty Valykrie”, Best declares.

“I know… Ma’am.” Freiberg turns back to the controls, muttering. “I can fly her through the helmet cam you know, I don’t have to be looking out the window…”

Best just smirks, as she spins back to the carrier section. “Hey, Fabron. You best put some armour on.. unless you breathe Martian atmosphere, of course.”

Fabron gets up and methodically puts his armour on. In the exact order they were instructed to in training

Best spins back round and whispers to Freiberg “Not sure he breathes at all…”

Freiberg stifles a giggle. Fabron doesn’t react. Maybe he didn’t hear.

The camera cuts to outside the dropship, as it approaches a landing pad. Near the landing pad, is a long, oblong, concrete building, relatively nondescript, except for CHI-UN MINING in white letters below the roof. It has massive, heavy duty airlock doors. Stood on the landing pad, are several people in civilian issue contact suits, bright orange, clearly used for mining and necessary surface visits. Five figures are on the landing pad. The figure stood at the front is diminutive and unarmed. The four behind the first are of various builds, all taller than the first, but still quite short in stature, and they’re armed, but weapons are magged to their backs.

“Here’s the welcome wagon.” Best says.The camera cuts back in the ship. “All right squad, lets get ready to meet the locals.” The camera cuts as the dropship side-ramp lowers

Cane pounding on the Martian rock, Best if first out of the ship, closely followed by Able.

Freiberg stays at the back, which due to her small stature makes her nearly invisible (though also unable to see) behind the others. She’s retrieved her emp rifle but keeps it magged to her back rather than in her hands

Fabron goes second. He’s pretty important and knows it

The small individual, who is a female with chinese features dimly noticeable beneath her orange visor, bows

Best and Able return the bow.

“Greetings. I am Miss Chi. Welcome to the Chi-Un Mining facility. I am the administrator of this facility.”

“Charmed. I’m Lieutenant Best, UCMC Military Police. This is Doctor Able, civilian forensics. In the absence of local forensic help, he’ll be filling in that duty.” She then gestures to Fabron “This is Corps Command Operative Fabron. He’ll be ensuring that my associates and I are acting in accordance with local and Dominion jurisdiction in this operation. And behind us is the lovely Valkyrie, aka Corporal Freiberg, my pilot and technical specialist. If there is any electronic footage to be looked over, she’ll be the one looking it over.” Miss Chi nods and Best continues.

“Now, I’m told there’s been not one, but two murders?”

It’s at this point that the camera cuts, as Miss Chi narrates over the footage shown. “Yes, it was just yesterday.” Darkness. “An ordinary day. Two of our miners…” the camera cuts to show a rather tall man, by Japanese standards, putting on the helm of his mining suit “Mumasa” and then the camera cuts to a sneering, bald little man doing the same “And Cho.They were in a relatively new section of the mine, recently dug, mining for metal ore…” The two miners are seen on camera, applying laser cutters to an area of rock in a duck out corridor, mining at a bend in the tunnel, one at the left of the bend, the other a few feet on the right. The corridor winds round like a snake towards them and then back on itself in the other direction. “At 2.04pm, Dominion Standard Time, the section of wall in between the two miners…. well…” The camera shows the two from the security cam feed from above, slightly grainy. “It exploded..” The wall explodes, not a fiery explosion, but rock flies outward from the wall. Mumasa is immediately consumed by dust. Cho runs. The dust cloud consumes him. The timer on the camera continues, as the dust cloud billows out, and then starts to settle. “The blast must have come from the other side of the wall. The dust cloud covered sight of what happened but…. there was nothing left of Mumasa.” In real time, the dust cloud settles. After ten seconds, it is gone. There is a bloodied streak where Mumasa was, in front of what was a section of curving wall, now a pile of rubble. “And of Cho… just his foot. But most curious of all… the ore they were mining was gone.”

“So, not just a murder, but a theft?” says Best’s voice. The camera footage continues as armoured guards run in and start shouting.

“Yes, lieutenant.”

“Forgive my complete ignorance of mining, but just to be clear -I assume the ore isn’t itself explosive under any circumstances? Nor likely to burn or vaporise in an explosion?” Freiberg adds.

“Its possible. But the entire cart was gone. No trace of it, even fragments.”

“Did they disturb the crime scene in their discovery of said theft and murder?”Able asks.

“We have left the… crime scene, in tact.”

“Then let’s not waste any time. Send the footage to Freiberg here, and take us to where we need to go.” She looks at Doctor Able and smiles. “Looks like the game is afoot.”

Able smiles back. “That’s a Watson/Holmes reference, isn’t it?”

Best slaps him on the shoulder. “Classic British history, my friend.”

The camera cuts to the actual murder scene as it flanks behind the four marines in a line, as the emergency bulkhead shuts behind them/ And they walk down the curving corridor, until they reach the pile of rubble/ The blood splatter of Mumasa is clear on the left side of the rubble and in front of it. The rubble reaches to the ceiling, but little gaps can be seen. Cho’s foot lies about ten foot from the pile of rubble. There is a camera, still functional, opposite the pile of rubble, dangling from the ceiling before the opposite wall

GMING NOTE: This is what is immediately obvious. Further details will be given where people Look. I’ll tell you what is easy to see, and otherwise, Sentry Duty can give you further details.

Freiberg approaches the camera. She detaches the case magged to her stomach armour and opens it, revealing it to be a toolkit, and she starts work on the camera, first with ranged scanning instruments before looking at direct linkage.

He moves to the foot, and bends down holds a hand over the foot. His index, middle and ring finger tips on his armour slide apart and small tools come out, one is clearly a needle, the other looks like a small, teeny, tiny vacuum cleaner nozzle and lastly a small red pointer light that seems to shift the red light around the foot. As the needle stabs into the foot he starts muttering to himself

“…Blunt trauma?…laceration?….” He turns to the rubble, then looks back. “Interesting….”

Fabron watches the doctor a while before looking at each of his new colleagues in turn. His gaze returns to the doctor.

“The footage we saw seems genuine, nothing extra of use from the camera. Only interesting thing is Cho looked back at the exploded wall before he ran. Could be just slow reactions and fleeing a rockslide, but could be the wall exploding was someone or something coming out. The dust cloud would hide it, and that might explain how the ore vanished”, Freiberg explains. At Freiberg’s words, Best is musing, hand on chin, inspecting the rubble, as Freiberg continues. “Breaching charge, murder a guy, drag the ore back into the secret tunnel and block off before the dust clears. Worth a look, anyway.”

“Sensible theory.” Best picks up a chunk of rock in the palm of one hand. “However, this rock isn’t scorched at all.”

“Dunno then. Can’t think a guy would be strong enough to bring down a wall by force, even a burly miner type with a big hammer, Power-tools would make noise you’d expect the victims to have reacted to on the cam, so those are out.”

“Hmmmmm true… even then, if that was the case, the rocks would be scattered around. Even more so with an explosion… seems rather… neat, wouldn’t you say?” Best begins pacing.

“This foot was removed with a lot of force, but if they took the rest of the body… why was the foot left behind?” Able asks.

“Well it was out of the dust, but if they intended it to look like an accident they made too many other mistakes for such a detail, as not disturbing the camera footage”, Best adds.

“Better to just leave the whole body and the ore if you wanted it to look like a mining accident”, Freiberg concludes

“Definitely not a bite. Saliva of the beast is not found and yet the wound is jagged. Could the cloud of hidden a creature that just bit straight thought his leg? But then what kind of creature would take the ore?” Able is muttering to himself

“They don’t have mining robots here do they? something with big metal claws for cutting rocks?” Freiber hypothesizes.

“A robot harming a human?….perhaps we should look at the programming and physical structure of the machines to be safe/”

“We’ve only seen men working on the footage, so there probably aren’t robots. But would be worth asking., I just wondered, with you talking about jagged wounds and with ore and people both gone.”

“A labour suit mech could possibly wreak this kind of damage, with the right gauntlet upgrades”, Best adds. “I’ll get on the comms to Chi”, Best walks off into the background.

“You might want to ask for some mining gear too. All our current theories involve something going back into the collapsed wall, so digging seems sensible”, Freiberg calls over, and the LT gives the Corporal a grin and mock salute

The camera focuses on Able’s fingertips closing, “this is a most curious mystery indeed.”

Best walks back into shot. “No mining drones, no mechs. Apparently its all vehicle-based. Mobile drills and mining lasers, hence the tunnel size. I suppose a drill from the other side could have caused such a need collapse, but it doesn’t explain the other discrepancies.”

Able cracks his knuckles, then opens his ring finger tip again to reveal the light point and begins scanning the floor as he walks slowly and carefully towards the rubble

“Lieutenant, did your helmet X-ray mode give you anything on the wall?” Freiberg asks.

“Hmm. Good question.” She taps her wrist-pad on her armour. Her visor glows a soft green.

“There’s a tunnel on the other side. Rough hewn. Doesn’t look precisely mined… if mined at all. Could be natural. Or hastily dug.”

“Well that explains how it got in and out undetected… whatever it is”

“A drill is being sent on its way to us now. Dropped in a nice request and a flattering smile.” Best cracks her knuckles. “Whatever they’re using, they’re not getting away that easily.”

Able says as he scans the floor “please use it after I’ve finished…”

“You’ve got time, Doc. What’d you up to?”

Fabron stands very still in the hallway and closes his eyes taking slow and measured breaths akin to someone meditating.

“Ads the chemical analysis of the victims remains yield no results, I have moved on to trying to assemble data on positioning, and also analysis on the footprints of the victims and attacker. Given time I should be able to tell the attack pattern……” Able stops talking and looks back to the floor then back up.

Fabron furrows his brow with concentration

“Curious. Armoured footprints leave the tunnel, and several individuals pushed the cart away but they didn’t reach Cho…and it seems like he was dragged…but they never reached him… I estimate two attackers…or at least two were here for the ore.”

“There was a claw. He was dragged by it” Fabron says.

“Ah…”

“Like a robot claw for the armoured men at range? Or like a….. scary monster claw?” Valkyrie looks nervously round the tunnels, though camera footage still plays on her helmet eyepiece.

Fabron opens his eyes and straightens his armour. “Big scary monster….at least to a terrified miner fleeing for his life that only saw a glimpse of his doom.” Is that the hint of a smile on Fabrons lips?

“Serial killers… I do serial killers… not monsters… oh fucking great” says Best.

END OF PART ONE