Latest ILTC Promo Games

So, this Monday, and Sunday last week, I ran some games at the local Manaleak shop. It’s a decent gaming space, with no need to pay or book to run games (though I came along for their Sunday Fun Day and RPG night, respectively, and made sure they knew I was coming). Whereas most gaming shops seem to struggle for space, and don’t seem particularly welcoming (especially if there is a game going on, and people stop to stare at you as you walk in) this was a much more open, welcoming environment, and both the staff and the gamer/customers there were very friendly. It was a relaxed atmosphere, and fun to run games in.

Since I had lots of unused character sheets printed off for the incredibly quiet Strategy, I decided to run some more Missions one-shots.

Game 1

For the Sunday game, I had three players, and two of them were not only new to role play, but also very much on the quiet and nervous side. The other players seemed to have some RP experience, but I think because the other two were new to it and a little awkward, none of them really leapt into it to begin with. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

The squad was Verdict (axe-wielding space barbarian), Inquisitor (charismatic mech pilot) and Arbiter (multi-discipline Sensitive), whilst I handled the Sarge. I used my usual tricks to establish the narrative and characters, but since no-one wanted to describe their own character, let alone do character dialogue, I decided to try and throw them into the action instead. This was a good choice. The player of Inquisitor helped when the rest of the squad jumped via drop-wire out of the dropship, whilst he ordered the pilot to land (for the safety of his charge, Arbiter)… on a collapsed jungle canopy. The joy of relying on Friendlies who do not have dice rolls! The players suddenly started to get into as soon as they nearly crashed and died. Two characters had to leap out of the ship, whilst the other had to avoid said crashing ship.

Now, originally, in this story, they have a Drogan escort to add some tension to the mission, whilst they explore a Drogan jungle or a crashed human spaceship for survivors. However, in this case, the Drogan became the direct antagonist of the piece, which worked, since I didn’t have time to do the full story (due to an impending Magic draft the others were playing in). Now, this Drogan was rather infuriated about one of the marines not only crashing their getaway, but also crashing ANOTHER human ship on Drogan territory. Suddenly, the players actually started role-playing once the alien started ranting, and Verdict decided to try and punch him. That didn’t work so well. Inquisitor and Verdict at least tried to deal with him non-lethally, but the humongous, encounter suited alien wasn’t going down in a fist-fight. However, though they couldn’t hurt them, there was a character with 5 Powerhouse and another with insanely high Grease Monkey for mech piloting. They used their success levels to disarm him of his plasma launcher (could choice), knock him backwards, smash him down through a tree trunk and then pin him under more trunks. Then Verdict dropped in an incendiary grenade. This hurt the Drogan, but also freed him from his prison… so Inquisitor used a Glory Point to disintegrate him with his own plasma launcher.

This was just a short taster session, but good enough that the two players new to role play immediately asked if they could play again (even though Arbiter didn’t get to a whole lot due to being grappled onto by Inquisitor for most of the action scene). Arbiter’s player, Keith, did return the following night, and got to shine as Verdict instead…

Game 2

For the Monday game, I had four players, plus a spectator for the end half. Though I had the Return of Keith, the other three players were experienced role players. Whereas I struggled to get people to get into the narrative and character moments to start with in the previous game, I had no problem with this group. They were very appreciative of the descriptive documentary style I used to speed events on, narrate events and give characters little character establishing asides as ‘interviews.’ I had Arbiter, Inquisitor and Verdict once again, joined by the first female version of Bailiff I have seen. (I write the characters as best as I can to be gender neutral when using pregenerated characters, so you can pick the gender you are either comfortable playing or you feel works for that character). Once again, I played the fruitloop Sarge, Hauser.

The game went down really well. Inquisitor and Arbiter had a fun, slightly crazy father-son relationship, Verdict praised the sun as much as possible, and Bailiff quipped at every possible opportunity. And there lots of suitably crazy antics for Jurisdiction squad.

Since I only had 2 hours to do a decent game, I was once again went for the simple but effective ‘Routine’ prison train scenario. Though nobody looked towards the front of the train, no-one was able to prevent the train crashing, and most marines received (non-lethal) injuries when the train derailed, Arbiter was aware of movement outside, and we had a perfectly horror movie moment when Inquisitor refused to acknowledge Arbiter’s concerns just before the train then derailed. Verdict ended up (due to dancing to music to pass the time, then the train crashing) with his axe through one of the stasis pods. Verdict detached a S.L.U.D.G.E machine (established by the narrative to be formerly attached to the wall), dragging it over to try and block the breached pod, whilst Inquisitor, Arbiter in tow, ended up in the mutant carriage, trying to fix the problem, whilst most of the characters were unable to see anyone outside, since only Arbiter saw any movement. But everyone’s attention was alerted when a sniper fired at Arbiter’s face, though the reinforced window saved him. Meanwhile, the Friendly Sarge was left dramatically alone in the Psychic carriage…

Arbiter empathically sensed two people outside heading for the Mutant carriage, and two heading for the Psychic carriage. The players started preparing abilities for the approaching Hostiles, then Bailiff opened the door out of the carriage, opening fire on the nearest two rebels with prepared Collateral Damage. Though Neutralised, being in ballistic resistant armour, they survived with severe injury and flattened against the side of the carriage for cover. Bailiff then got to carry on firing with new abilities, and though the cover protected the previous targets, the two rebels approaching the back door of the other carriage had no cover. She breached the helmet of one of them, exposing them to the vacuum and injured the other. The sniper shot at Bailiff, but was unable to make much of a dent against Bailiff’s armour with the Hardened Shell upgrade. She goes on a quest to safe the Sarge, after the remaining rebel in the second team staggers aboard his carriage, leaving the others to deal with the other two rebels and the sniper.

Verdict exits the train through the hole created by tearing the vending machine out of the wall, dragging the machine with him. He sets it up as cover, ducking down behind it when the rebels scouts and sniper inevitably attack him. Arbiter spends a lot of time trying to empathically pinpoint the sniper, but is struggling to do so. Inquisitor meanwhile is infuriated by the attacks on the life of his charge. He ends up using his AI controlled plasma launcher to blast through the wall at the rebels, but though their cover disintegrates, the blast doesn’t harm them, and they just move further down the train to avoid being struck. Arbiter uses his telekinesis to pin them down to the floor. Then Verdict uses the low gravity to toss the vending machine at them…

Bailiff goes on a solo mission to save the Sarge, opening up the door into the next carriage. The Sarge, despite being a Friendly with no dice rolls, is in a bitter firefight stalemate, since he has cover to protect him and the enemy has penalties from being Compromised and Neutralised. Bailiff decides to go into close combat… with no Powerhouse score. This means she only got the benefit of a dice roll… and rolled a 1. Even with a penalty, the Hostile had a high enough ability total to toss Bailiff out of the carriage, where they bounced away due to the low-g. The rebel closed the door again, and started to release the coolant pumping into the pods to awaken the psychics. Baliff redirected her momentum, bouncing back to the carriage, shooting the rebel dead. The Sarge however, was very much panicking that the rebels were about to be released.

Ridiculous spending of Glory Points occurred, for the shot-up S.L.U.D.G.E (Synthetic Liquid Universal Dietary Extract) machine to spew out S.LU.D.G.E into the vacuum as it tumbled through the air. These pieces of SLUDGE froze, freezing into spears (which I termed ‘sludgicles’, which riddled the two Hostiles, before the vending machine crushed them. Inquisitor picks up a sludgicle, impaling it through the visor of a rebel, before activating his Mech THRUSTERS (an upgrade) and launching off to aid the Sarge and Bailiff with their technical problem. Meanwhile, Verdict had just removed his only cover…

Bailiff Glory Points for a massive Collateral Damage total for as many Success Levels as possible to increase the Blast area of an EMP grenade to try and take out the stasis pods, in order to lock them. This takes out 6 of the 8 pods. The Sarge and Bailiff continue to panic, since the awakened psychics, even if locked in their pods, could still interfere with their minds. They are just about to knock each other unconscious (to give the psychics no conscious minds to detect) when Inquisitor flies in. He spends a Glory Point to find a convenient release for emergency coolant, to refreeze the psychics. Hooray! That just leaves the sniper…

Verdict is shot repeatedly. But due to being a sitting duck, takes the Shock and Awe Horror, and starts Losing It. He strides ahead at the sniper. Arbiter, having located the sniper empathically, uses his telekinesis to throw Verdict at the sniper. Verdict, unaware of what is about to happen, and Losing It, is readying his plasma grenade to throw, as the Sensitive throws HIM. He ends up punching his plasma grenade into the snipers mouth, as they are both disintegrated by glorious plasma fire.

The end.

 

 

 

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Strategy- the ILTC games

OVERVIEW

Now, to get into more detail of the three games I managed to get to run at the Strategy convention. These games were run using my Missions campaign as a basis, after I got permission from my players to use their characters as a basis for the pregens. I did have to tweak characters here and there so they were one-shot appropriate (Arbiter went from a psychic to a highly developed Sensitive in danger of becoming psychic, for example), but they worked well, as a team of gung-ho, unhinged action orientated characters with some very colourful and bizarre backgrounds.

I ran the first Mission of the campaign twice for games one and three, as it works a nice largely spoiler free into to I Love the Corps. The basic premise is that the Containment squad are doing a ‘routine mission’ guarding a train full of Mutants and Psychics, one carriage for each, taking them in stasis pods across a dead planet on a mag-train to a prison many hours travel from the tiny space-port. Rebels attack the train, and it turns out that they are essentially human rights activists trying to free enhanced humans that (at leas they believe) have simply been captured just for being what they are. This gets across the dark tone of I Love the Corps, and introduces the whole irony of the name and the fact that in some games, you may very well be working for the bad guys, whilst being light enough on the details to let people get sucked into it. This also gives the players a taste of human vs human combat in the game, showing how you can use tactical fire-fights, make use of cover, and shows how well armour works against guns and we even had some brutal, drawn-out close combat in game 3. Whilst games 1 and 3 showed the bleak and gory sides of the horror in the game, concentrating largely on the preparation and action side of things, game 2 showed the squad investing a crashed ship on an alien jungle planet, and went very, very Aliens as the squad got split up and picked off, and started going nuts and killing each other. Every game was a storm. If you want a bit more info and some of my favourite bits from each game, READ ON!

Game 1

So in this game, the playable characters were Bailiff (specialised in ranged fire and perception, as well as fast on his feet), Arbiter (possesses three of the four Sensitive disciplines, telekinesis, empathy and telepathy, at high levels) and Defendant (support role, with long range fire, engineering skills and a decked out railgun mounted Battle Drone called Josephine), and I used their Sarge, Judge, as a Friendly.

They used the narrative scene of sitting on the train to have some ace banter (Bailiff and Arbiter were in the psychic carriage, the other two were with the mutants) and mostly concentrated on Sentry Duty to look out for trouble, ability wise, and did so with passive abilities, since in-character, they were not expecting trouble. Unfortunately, since no-one decided to go and check out the driver and look out the front of the train, there was no-one to spot the contact mine on the track as the train derailed. The power of characters over Friendlies was shown, as Judge didn’t get any dice rolls for his ability totals and ended up with Josephine pinning him to a wall. Defendant spent most of the action scene frantically trying to free the Sarge; unfortunately, as Judge has so many negative Success Levels racked up, it was incredibly difficult to do so, between the mag-walls, mag-armour and the drone’s massive weight, and the fact that its underslung railgun was crushing the Sarge’s legs was slowly but surely increasing his lethal status.

Two players got Glory Points during the train crash since their descriptions of being thrown about managed to breach the door to the mutant carriage, and tore open part of the floor panels in the other carriage. Arbiter used her telekinesis to stop two of the rebels crawling under the train from getting in through that way, so they retreated back out into cover. The other two rebels breached the other carriage, coming past Defendant, who took lots of psych damage due to the harm to his beloved drone, the fact he was slowly killing the Sarge trying to free him, rebels shooting at the Sarge (using the drone as cover) and the rebels being right by him. Bailiff opened his own carriage door and gunned down the two rebels over two beats. Defendant tried to free the Sarge one more time… and got incredibly low on Brains to guide the drone. More Sergeant Hauser got his face melted off by the drone’s plasma engines. On top of this, a stasis pod had been breached, and a mutant escaped. Defendant suffered psychological trauma and became a shivering wreck in a corner. Bailiff went to check outside, got shot at, but the cover kept him safe, and he located the rebels. He opened a pressure window, and fired upon the scouts with his BLACK HOLE GUN! His total wasn’t high enough to drag them both in, but he completely removed their cover, sucking it into a big rocky mass. Arbiter then used her telekinesis to push them into said rocky mass. Cue horrifically gross descriptions from me as they die. Arbiter’s player had to leave, so decided she passed out from the mental strain of the act, leaving Bailiff to pursue the mutant, utterly blinding it with an impressive stun grenade throw. As the mutant begged for his life, saying how his GeneMods mutating was no crime, and he was no criminal, only to be knocked out as a rifle butt smashed him across the face. And that was the end of that.

This was extra fun as Defendant’s player was particularly interested in how GMing worked, so I kept giving him little asides on the mechanics and how I use Beat Sheets (that will be in the Classified Materials Appendices) to keep track of things, and he seemed impressed. Arbiter’s player was also new to the hobby; she enjoyed it and grasped the rules easily, and though she apologised for being shy, she picked a character that works for that, and she role-played it well.

Game 2

This was a very different experience, and not just because I chose a different mission. Four of the five players were all mates and new to the hobby, but they worked well together until things went out of their control… which is how the game is designed to work. The squad was Judge, Arbiter and Defendant, joined by sun-worshipping, space barbarian, close assault specialist Verdict and the mech-piloting engineer, Inquisitor. On this mission, a Drogan warrior (the one alien species that the Corps acknowledges, and who are considered ‘friendly’), Z4 is sent to observe the squad as they set foot on a jungle planet in Drogan space, where a human ship has crashed. They are told to recover their people and then destroy any ‘contamination’ left behind them.

Now, this was very different to the campaign game it was loosely based on, simply because the players focused on heading right to the vertical ship, trapped under layers of miles-high collapsed jungle trees, rather than checking out threats in the outlying jungle first. So instead of putting the surviving humans in the jungle, along with the Hostiles, I decided they were still in the ship. The players worked well together, trying to smash their way through the first piece of hull they could find. When this didn’t worked, they lasered their way through tree trunks using Verdict, under Sarge’s directions, referencing ship schematics found by the brainy Defendant. They found an airlock and made their way into the ship. Arbiter assured the team that three alien creatures, of an intelligent but bestials nature had entered the ship to feast, implying that there either were or had been crash survivors who would need help. But the cylindrical ship had smashed down point first, so what were horizontal corridors were not vertical, so the airlock tunnel you normally climb into became a walk-way. Verdict headed in first. He heard a bizarre clicking sound echoing around him. Visibility was hardly working for them, and they had no idea what was making the sound and what it was. Verdict gets to the end of a vertical drop that must be about a half a mile in length. In a moment that could not have been more horror movie, he turned round and started yelling at Z4, accusing the Drogan of sending them into a trap. Meanwhile, Inquisitor had used Grease Monkey to wire up infra-vision into his helmet. That was the only thing that allowed him to get an inkling that there was SOMETHING behind Verdict. But, with one Success Level, he only saw a red blur of heat briefly. Just as Verdict and Z4 had guns pointed at each other, Verdict was pulled upwards and disappeared into the darkness.

And then it was madness to the end. We leapt (not surprisingly) into an action scene. Verdict lasered the legs off the beast leaping upwards with him, its claws latching onto his shoulders. Then he fell. The Sarge tried to grab him. They both fell. Arbiter used telekinesis to slow their fall. Defendant was already moving down the ship, sitting atop his drone. As he avoided the falling marines, he decided to grab onto them… increasing their weight, and thus, the effective Target Number for Arbiter, as she lost control of them. Inquisitor decided to jump down after them in mech to heroically save them, the Mech’s finger sparking down the walls as he attempted to control his descent. Verdict ended up grabbing onto mag-rungs to stop his fall, but though the Sarge and descendant held on, Josie detached, and tumbled to her doom, slowly getting smashed upon the walls with her descent, which caused Defendant (vulnerable to the Tech Failure Horror) to start Losing It. The Sarge jammed a knife in the wall and climbed off of Verdict. Defendant slammed the hook for his drop-harness to the wall and decided to dive after Josie. Then Inquisitor, unable to slow his fall, deadly in his falling mech, came at the squad. The Sarge leapt down, grabbed onto a door control, opened the door and flung himself inside. Verdict leapt onto the back of the Mech as it fell past.

The Sarge looked up to find one of the aliens on the ceiling above him. (I won’t spoil their exact nature here; suffice to say, they are ‘agile and leapy’ with hooked talons and long limbs.) He filled the tiny room with fire, but the creature avoided it, leaping out into the corridor. Arbiter used a Glory Point to dramatically edit to appear ‘just in time’ to telekinetically throw the creature into the Sarge’s gunfire, which killed it. She then empathically located the survivors the Sarge, a few rooms below, who leapt out to save them.

Seeing Josie torn apart before him, Defendant tried to swing himself into an open room. He did so, smashing his visor and face into the door frame. He spent a Glory Point to get an incredibly high Drop and Give Me Fifty total to ignore being Compromised. He then saw Verdict and Inquisitor fall past. Losing It, he cut lose with his machine gun, seeing them as having destroyed his drone in a moment of insanity.

Verdict leapt off the mech to grab onto a door frame, but ended up tearing it from the wall (he had Powerhouse 5, which is slightly superhuman). Inquisitor managed to climbs out of his mech as he was in freefall. Jump in time to get repeatedly struck by bullets he was no longer resistant too, as he died horribly. Verdict used a Glory Point to turn the door frame into a ‘surfboard’ and escaped out of the bottom of the ship, onto the jungle floor, after the mech smashed into the bottom ahead of him and made him a hole.

The Sarge got into the room with the terrified civvies behind a barricade, where the last alien was ready to bounce. An epic close combat began, as the Sarge couldn’t hit it with a rifle shot in close quarters. He repeatedly stabbed it, but the creature’s high Hardass was significant against the knife, and yet Sarge’s only armour and its resistant plus the Sarge’s equally high Hardass meant he could hold his own. Arbiter tried to use her telekinesis to tear its head off, but did not have enough SL (not being a standard use of Low Grade Telekinesis), but I described scales peeling away of their own accord. The Sarge tried to bring his rifle to bear again, but couldn’t hit the creature. So Arbiter used her psychic powers to direct the rifle and shoot it dead. The civilians were freed. Arbiter came into the room. Sarge told her she had broken the rules (by using telekinesis for attempting lethal force, which would make her Psychic level) and shot her point blank.

Verdict picked himself to his feet. A giant tongue came from nowhere, dragging him off to the jungle.  Z4 decided the humans could not be trusted to remove the contamination of the ship. So he went to engines and shot at them with his plasma launcher, with the other three remaining marines still inside.

The end credits rolled! (Technically, only one marine died, but I just went with the player’s playstyle, and since it was a one-shot, decided to go for the horror movie end of ‘hang on, are they all dead?’ But no other definitive deaths were described).

The players seemed to really enjoy it, despite four of the five being new to role-play (which I was not told till later, and could not tell) and apparently were at the stall later, telling people how much they enjoyed the game. Win!

Game 3

This game featured Judge (played by a 12 year old kid), Verdict (played by the Dad, who didn’t want to or really understand RP, but did tell the character’s actions when given choices), Inquisitor and Defendant as characters. Bailiff was a Friendly.

I did the train scenario again, since I was asked for a shorter game. I shrunk it down to one carriage, full of the same kind of mutant, for added ease. They only did one beat of the narrative scene, since the Sarge decided to walk into the front of the train, and though he didn’t see the contact mine on the tracks, I decided that he saw the rebel’s ship far in the distance. Only enough to see some kind of object, but since the planet is supposed to be empty, he decided to stop the train and get the squad to look around.

We then went into a BIG action scene. Not cos the rules slowed it down or anything, but simply an involved scene with lots of situational changes based on the player’s actions. Whereas Game 1 had some quick and brutal takedowns, because the marine’s stopped the train, the rebels were able to prepare for them a little and try to take the train without damaging it, so we got into some very drawn out firefights.

Because none of the players decided to use active Sentry Duty, their passive totals weren’t enough to beat my high rolls plus decent Freakin’ Ninja scores for the rebel scouts. Bailiff was sent first out and got shot, so the Sarge barrelled past him, and he and Inquisitor went out to deal with the enemy, backed up by Josie. But they had couldn’t spot the enemy, and when they stopped firing, had no idea if they were going to attack, were moving, hiding or had fled, since Inquisitor was trying to intimidate them with his Chutzpah. Whilst those had their backs turned, two of the other scouts got into the rear of the train. Several beats opened out of Verdict and Defendant firing at them, and due to the rebel’s increased Target Numbers from using stasis pods the marines didn’t want to hit as cover, we had a proper fire-fight situation of bullets and lasers flying back and forth with nothing but aesthetic harm. Josie came in behind the rebels to shoot at them,  but they shut the airlock behind them, and one of them held the handle pushed themselves against it to stop the marines getting in. They disintegrated a pod and freed a mutant with a plasma charge. Meanwhile, the other rebels came in the other entrance, sneaking behind Inquisitor. He saw them exiting cover, so used his mech thrusters to fly at them, swinging at them, but missing them. They used his negative success levels as positive success levels to run into the train. Defendant fired at them, missed as ruptured another stasis pod, as the train filled with two clouds of cryo-gas. However, this meant nothing against Defendant’s infravision, as he shot at them. Their armour protected them… until cut both their heads off with Powerhouse and his axe. The freed mutants attacked, but had no chance against his high Powerhouse total, getting negative success levels, which got them horribly killed.

Two rebels left.  The Sarge decided to kick at the door, using a Glory Point, sending the one rebel flying backwards and breaking a mag-bench in half. The other rebel was gunned down horribly after repeated shots from Defendant. Inquisitor’s AI controlled plasma launcher fired at the rebel, but he used his Powerhouse to oppose, wielding the piece of mag-bench as a shield, which was disintegrated. Then the remaining rebel leapt at the Sarge. The other marines decided to let him have his kill. The rebel tried to smack the Sarge in the face with the butt of his rifle. The rifle was caught in one hand by the Sarge, who proceeded to use it smash the rebels’ visor open. He then slammed his knife into the rebel’s helmet. He then used the rifle to hammer the knife into the rebel’s brain.

And that was that! Again, the player’s really enjoyed it, and the kid went back to Joe to tell him about the game.

All in all, three very different games and success all round.

Chris, out.

 

Strategy Con- Convention Rundown

Warning: this a big one.

You may hear a lot of terrible things about this con (if you hear of it all). Yes, a lot of things went very wrong in the running of it, but before I continue, I would like to say that Joe (my very close friend and stall volunteer) and I managed to have a good time, regardless, and we managed to spread interest in I Love the Corps, despite the otherwise infamous rep the event will now have forever. So it was at least a minor success on a personal level.

Originally, we were told the event would be Thursday-Sunday. The impression was also given that it was going to have a massive turnout. I was sceptical of how big a first time con could be, when Expo is the only real big one to start with, and has taken a long time to get to its size, but with the MCM name behind the con, it seemed sensible to think that they had decent contacts and publicity. I wasn’t expecting a massive con, but I was at least expecting a decent chance to promote  and a professional event.

I was directly asked to come a few months back, and was flattered by that… and well, any publicity, right? So I came along with great enthusiasm. I had originally asked to just run games to get the game out there, and was pleased to have been booked in for a ton of four hour game slots, though did think the 9 games I was down for may kill me. But plenty of chance for exposure, so this was good. Joe offered to come with me and help me attract people to the game by running a stall with promo materials, so I paid for a stall. I was kindly offered a discount for being new to the industry, which was another gratifying sign.

I started to get very worried when I still didn’t know when the trade floor opened, when we were expected to set up on Thursday etc on the week of the event, and I had e-mailed a lot of questions with little answers, and still didn’t know a whole lot till the week of the event. The original pack I was sent mentioned being able to camp, so I was set on that, and yet no details appeared. I e-mailed if and how that was happening… there was nothing. (When I got there, there was also nowhere you could camp AT ALL, so who knows where that nation came from.) So I had to book a very last minute hotel (two weeks before is last minute, by my terms) for the Thursday-Sunday. And then on the week itself, after I had asked for times, they THEN sent an event pack, apologising for reducing the event time to Friday afternoon to Sunday. Now, we didn’t have a huge stall to set-up, but we had to turn up on Thursday anyway, cos I had already booked everything. On the plus side, my game slots went down to a slightly more sane 7, and it seemed weird to start a con on Thursday anyway, so wasn’t too bothered.

We turned up on Thursday at the Telford International Centre. Security were friendly, volunteers were friendly, and the organiser personally showed us around and took us to our stall spot. He then said he’d sort our wristbands, but disappeared with being very busy. We got our wristbands sorted quickly by asking security, so no problem there. Admittedly, nobody wanted to see my ID or sheets for stall ownership I had signed and was told to bring, which was weird (and they were never asked for). We noticed that the trade floor seemed very bare, but assumed more would be setting up in the morning, so we didn’t worry. We headed to the local Spoons, had some food and stayed there till midnight, chatting and drinking, so the forced early arrival was not really a problem, though it obviously cost me more for the extra hotel night. But we made a good time of it.

FRIDAY

Since the con didn’t start till the afternoon on Friday, this was actually better for us, giving us a pleasant morning to lie in, get a massive breakfast and acquire lunch materials, breakfast, water and snacks to power us for the next few days. We’d also had plenty of time to wander about the weirdly laid out but easy enough to navigate centre of Telford. So we started the day in a good mood. This lowered a little bit, when there was absolutely no-one queuing a half hour before opening.

On the trade floor, more space was filled… mostly by empty tables, rather than stalls, though a few more had arrived. It still didn’t look exactly enticing. 1’0 clock came… and a depressingly small amount of people slowly trickled in. You could feel the tension from the traders. They were open till 5.3o, and everyone made horrible losses cos there was barely anyone to sell anything too. Fortunately, we weren’t there to sell so we were not going to make a profit anyway. Though there wasn’t exactly a lot of visitors, we still had a fair amount of role-players come over, and they were very interested in the game. Joe being in costume, and having some of the phenomenal art I paid for on display did wonders in bringing people over. Joe and I both basically spent the first hour in excited conversation, since there weren’t many things for people to do, so it was at least a positive for us. After an hour I went for my FIRST GAME SLOT!

… there was no game slot. There were four GMs, myself included in the GM room most of the time, and there was never enough people for more than two games at once (which were mostly about 3-4 players, usually bulked out by at least one GM). The GMs were all wonderful people, however, and when I had nothing to do, Simon Burley (aka Uncle Simon), a veteran solo game designer called me over to play a small supers game whilst we were waiting for people. It was a fun game with three of us playing… two of us were GMs. Still, I had an awesome time playing with fellow GM, ‘Uncle Steve’, trading super hero one-liners and being well meaning, but utterly catastrophic super heroes. The game was designed to be a short intro, so we waited for other players. People came in ones and twos and didn’t play, but we did have plenty of chats with people. Uncle Simon was particularly ace at designating himself as meet and greet for the room, and introduced people to all the GMs and the games, and was very gracious in encouraging people to try games other than his own. Robin, the other GM, was also a lovely guy, and we had a great camaraderie in the room. He was at least locked down running an intense game for most of the afternoon.

Joe came to the room after the trade floor closed, and told me had only seen about a dozen new people to talk to in the three and a half hours since I had last seen him. Still, he had made friends and contacts with nearly all the traders nearby, and has got me some new contacts and found many potential backers. We went to grab some quick food before my next potential game slot, and very much struggled to find anywhere, as the food stall in the centre was in the closed trade area. The centre of Telford had a complete lack of open fast food shops (being in the closing shopping centre) and chip shops so we ended up back at Wetherspoons. When we returned, no people turned up for a game bar a guy waiting to play D&D, so we and the other GMs jumped in on that. A few more people turned up, so two of the GMs split off to game with them, whilst four of us had an AMAZING D&D game run by Uncle Steve. We played till 2.00.am and had a storm.

SATURDAY

As Joe and I approached the centre, just before nine, we were glad to see a giant crowd. In the hour I was in the trade hall to start with, it was still near dead. Apparently, most of the giant crowd never got further than the tournaments they had come for, leaving straight after (and apparently some weren’t let into the rest of the event when they tried!) Still, though the trade floor was pretty quiet, when I went to GM, there was actually a fair amount of people in the open gaming area. I went to the Role Play Room and almost immediately had a lovely guy who had come to my table and had booked to play. Admittedly, he was the only person I ever saw who had booked to play, but he had looked up the Kickstarter, and his enthusiasm was clear. We sat nattering for half an hour as he dove into mechanical questions. Very few people came into the room again, but when they did, Simon showed them all the games, and encouraged two other people to play ILTC with me. All three of them really enjoyed it, and the two who joined in apparently went back to the floor to grab fliers later (and one of them is on the Facebook group). So that was a success. I learned that the game slot times were not going to work, but did my best to encourage people who wandered in to come back, and eventually got a second game with four mates Joe had sent my way, and another guy who had checked in a few times to see if there was enough for a game group. Game 2 went down a STORM (I will go into these games more in a second blog). I found out from Joe that the initial four had never role-played, which astounded me, cos they really got into it, so another success there. My third game didn’t happen; the group I had expecting played in another game when Ed of ‘Shades of Vengeance’ turned up to showcase his own games- he ended up pledging to my Kickstarter just from a brief 30 second chat, so thumbs up to him for doing it. One of those players, a lovely guy called Andre came back to play, even when his friends were too knackered. I only had him and Joe, so decided it wasn’t enough for ILTC, so instead I decided to invent a nonsensical role-playing game off of the top of my head. Hilarity ensued as they played ‘Bionic Superhuman Caterers Division.’ Andre’s friends turned up just as we were finishing, but it was approaching midnight, and I wasn’t up for running another game. But still, it was a pretty successful day.

SUNDAY

It seemed even more dead than the Friday, but Joe still managed to find the odd interested party. Meanwhile, I killed the morning following Uncle Simon’s advice, and wrote down the core ideas for the game I had invented the previous night (now dubbed ‘ANOTHER EXCITING EPISODE OF…’), so it can be referred to later. A kid (probably about 12) and his Dad that Joe had sent my way came around about midday. The Dad didn’t get RP at all or really want to learn, but his son was an RPer, and Dad was very gracious in sitting in with him to play. Simon joined in at the start so we could play. And then Andre returned with one of the friends who had wanted to play, so Simon pulled out to entertain some other people, and we had a phenomenally fun game. (Kids play AMAZING Sergeants.) I might have gone slightly over the 1 hour game Simon promised the Dad… but he didn’t seem bothered, since his son had a storm. I finished that game at 3. My last 3-7 slot was clearly not going to happen, so after I gave Joe a late break, I stayed in the room for an hour before I decided to pack up and we went home early, but on a high.

So, hardly the perfect con, but I ran three games which seemed universally enjoyed, and got to introduce a majority of them to the hobby, and for that, though the convention seems to have been a big failure, it was for me, a personal success, and all the role-play GMs also had a good time in a similar way. Got to make many new friends and contacts. (I will go more into the games for those that care in another blog.)

 

UK Games Expo: Demo Rundown

So at the UK Games Expo the weekend before last, I had the privilege of running three (more or less) back to back game demos. This was a great opportunity for me to show the breadth of I Love the Corps in its running styles, despite the very niche genre it sits in. (Its kind of like the vast difference between Alien and Aliens in style, despite their shared universe, backstory and main character.) I had spent a lot of time telling people how the game can be very much tailored to its players by the GM, and with three very different groups and playing styles, I feel the point was proven.

I thought, mostly for fun, and to show the variety, I would break down these games a little from what I can remember. It is also worthy noting that each group played part of the same Story (game scenario), which was an hour to an hour and a half demo of the Story that will be available with ze Quickstart.

Demo 1: I had five players who I decided to showcase a Narrative Scene with. They had to get through a mostly pitch black training simulator to get to their Gear, and this was a good way to showcase various Abilities and Aspects, as well how to use Ability Types, when and where it is best to roll a dice, and how single totals can be used for a multitude of actions. Infra-vision was used to great effect to scout the lay of the land, and there was a lot of leaping and climbing onto walls and taking advantage of the telekinetic’s capabilities to get the marines to their location safely. Cue the effective but slow dragging of a grapple gun to the scout, which made some of the marines get bored waiting, as two when charging across the floor of the chamber…. and one went falling down a pit trap, but managed to grab onto the edge. As they were told to get themselves prepped and ready with gear, and a had warning of incoming Hostiles, I ended the demo there…

Demo 2:… and carried on with the next group of six players, a very rowdy group, who were definitely appropriate to test out an Action Scene with. Quote of the game? “I shoot him in the dick.” And not just single shot… it was full-auto. And *that* was the squad medic. Continue the scenario with a bunch of crazies obsessed with crotch attacks (all male players), charging through hails of gunfire to punch people in the face, a player who chose to run into a wall as the result of a low total and a marine who ran at the enemy, detonated his incendiary grenade in his hand, and then spent the rest of the game on fire. Utter madness… but then it kinda suited.

Demo 3: I have the last group the choice of Narrative or Action scene, and they lumped for Action Scene (the ‘most crunch’ option). For this one, I had three players, and though one player was appropriately psychotic for the character, the other two were of the saner variety, and so we had a much more atmospheric, tense and strategic firefight, which due to timing constraints, ended on an ace cliffhanger.

 

ILTC Missions- The New Squad

And now to introduce the array of fresh, new (and messed up) characters for my new Missions campaign.

Introducing… JURISDICTION SQUAD (and their accompanying documentary crew).

The Player Characters

Lance Corporal Helgreth “Bailiff.” Role- Infantry scout. Skill-set- focussed on shooting and perceptive ability, with a bit of athleticism thrown in. He is good at tracking and can oppose any Hazard with Sentry Duty. He is a specialist with a battle rifle and at defensive fire. He also has a Black Hole Gun… y’know, just in case. Background- a war orphan. Literally raised by the Corps (he even has UCMC tattooed onto his forehead.So far, he seems to be very much the squad joker.

Private Red Thornton “Jury.” Role- Medic. Skill-set- his main thing is Brains, otherwise, he is a bit of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ (he has scores in 6 of the 8 abilities). He has three different medic based aspects that make him something of an amazing field surgeon. He can also lower psych statuses during an action scene. Plus, he has got a cybernetic leg. Background- he is one of a medical team tasked with trying to stop a flesh-eating virus. The team failed. The virus consumed his entire colony. Red serves as the marine who has ‘seen too much’. His principle weapon is an automatic shotgun. The overly serious type, and understandably so.

Private Achilles “Prosecution.” Role- Close combat specialist. Skill-set- largely based around physical abilities. He is a fully augmented Feral (human with some scorpion-spliced GeneMods) with a small degree of Hellworlder modification. He is particularly skilled at grappling and feats of might, and he can use Powerhouse for all kinds of movement, making him something of a battering ram. He can crush bones with his hands, and also has a significant array of melee weapons. Background- he was captured as a child and illegally GeneModded and forced into pit fights. A rival gang attacked and fighters got free; Achilles enlisted in the Corps. Not too surprisingly, Achilles is focussed very much on a combat mentality and seems to be always looking for action, and is highly competitive.

Sioux “Arbiter”. Role- Psychic Arsenal. Skill-set- she is mainly focussed on being smart and perceptive, with a little bit of sneaking. Most importantly, she is fully fledged in three of the four Sensitive disciplines, and is highly trained. Several of her Sensitive powers are boosted to psychic levels… she has a handler to keep her under control. Sioux will be electrically shocked if any of her actions are deemed dangerous by her handler, or if her handler dies. The only weapons she has are three blades. Background- her family hates psychics. She was removed from them at a young age, and taken and ‘contained’ by the Corps, trained as a weapon, without rank. She doesn’t see herself as anything more than a weapon, and is incredibly quiet and mostly isolated from the rest of her squad.

Annie Hund. Role- Intern/researcher for the documentary screw. Skill-set-another Brains specialist, in this case, she is highly skilled at studying situations and foes to gain advantages and is also a computer specialist. She is also very fast on her feet, and has some Feral augmentation, that is quite subtle. Background- I’ll get back to you on that one! She seems to be mostly ignored, shy and quiet, and yet has also revealed a more confident, physical side.

(There is still one more character to be made/introduced.)

Friendlies- The Squad

Sergeant Hans Hauser “Judge.” Role- squad leader, ranged combat. Skill-set- uses the stand “Sarge” stats that will be in the Classified Materials book, which has decent shooting, close combat and inspirational capabilities, in particular. Background- little is known thus far. He seems to be unusually cheery for a Sarge, yet is also clearly a little unhinged, and maybe not as cheery as he seems. He also seems to have an array of prejudices that he (badly) tries to cover over.

Corporal Dubaku Tinibu “Warden.” Role- specialist sniper/Sioux’s ‘handler.’ Skill-set- so far left unclear beyond the fact she has a railgun with a scope and lock-on system, and a helmet with alternative vision modes that she uses to keep track of Sioux. She is also incredibly tall by both male and female standards. She never leaves Sioux. Background- currently a mystery.

Friendlies- The Documentary Crew

Dirk Keen (aka ‘Space Ross Kemp’, as the players have taken to calling  him.) Role- war reporter/documentary maker/project leader. Skill-set- he has an acting background, and though he claims to have some experience with guns, it has been implied that he isn’t perhaps quite the ass-kicker he thinks he is. He is covered in synthetic skin plating. Background- in his late teens, he starred in a pro-Corps fictional war film, where the premier was bombed. He survived… barely. His rich family paid for his cybernetic enhancement. He became a war reporter, and now a documentary maker, trying to learn why rebels would choose to end innocent lives to stand against the Corps. Now he wants to know more about what it is really like on the other side of things, for the marines.

Laura Foss. Role- nature documentary maker/explorer/xeno-biologist. Skill-set- she seems confident armed with only just a knife, and is experienced surviving in various hostile environments. She is also an Underworlder, and only four foot high. Background- unknown. She seems to be the continually cheery one in the group.

Joe Worth. Role- camera man/drone operator. Skill-set- the resident sneak and smooth-talker. He has three remote controlled drones that he uses to get a variety of camera shots. Background- an award winning gossip/scandal/celebrity photographer and camera-man. He seems to be the resident sarcastic, arrogant, ass-hole of the group.

 

 

 

 

ILTC and Role Play Campaigns- Making them Care

So last night, the new I Love the Corps campaign began.

MISSIONS!

Once again, this is presented as a sci-fi/horror TV series, but one that is represented in the style of a found footage documentary series. I very much wanted to show how I could set this campaign apart from the previous weekly campaign, despite having a majority of the same players and one new players, so the documentary style is a significant part of that. It is very much the kind of concept I probably wouldn’t have done with a fresh new group; the very particular style requires a group of players that really dive into the role play and love to do non-typical games, which definitely covers my current Thursday group. In retrospect, it is the kind of game that is PERFECT for a new group, because the particular concept is so familiar to people, they can throw themselves right in. I find the most unusual role playing game premises are the most memorable.

Horror with Humour, and no actual horror… 

This game was definitely a lot more light-hearted in its opening episode than the previous campaign (though Cold Frontier had plenty of comedy moments). I think a lot of people think you can’t have comedy with horror, and I think is especially applies to horror role-playing games. I very much disagree with that. I always try and start one-shots with a bit of light-heartedness, as it derails the players perceptions, allowing you to catch the players off-guard more when the actual horror comes.

Yesterday’s game didn’t feature any horror at all. Yes, there were certainly some odd moments and teases for weirder stuff to come, but nothing horrific. In a horror game. But, I Love the Corps is a military action sci-fi horror game, and all the other elements were in there. I don’t think horror can be rushed. The advantage of a campaign, is you can have games entirely without horror if you want to, and that is fine. Last night’s game was the first game, the means of introducing a new host of characters. I have started campaigns with the shit hitting the fan almost instantly,  and I find it is much harder to get established characters that way, and therefore to get your players vested in the game. So, in last night’s game, there was no horror, and no action other than a brief obstacle course (a two Beat Action Scene) at the end. And the players got a massive kick out of it. (And it wasn’t long either, just an hour and a half). They already seem to love each others characters, and the Friendlies they are saddled with.

“You see, Chris, what makes you evil is you give us hope.” 

I now know, if any of them get dragged off into the darkness or suddenly decapitated, that horror will have such a greater effect… you see, nearly all RPGs are horribly violent. Players are usually no stranger to death, and character death in particular. Yet seeing someone die SHOULD be a moment of horror. But, in any other game, it is hard to make players other than the owner of a character truly feel a death. The key, is to make the players fall in love with the character’s first. I feel in Cold Frontier, I did this pretty well, but, not necessarily with the player characters. And though there were many Friendlies the players were fond of that were brutally dispatched, there was such a huge cast, so it was difficult to create a universal love. So this time, there is a smaller cast of principle Friendlies (5, which was going to be 3, but I needed to make 2 marines due to squad requirements that need filling, ie: a handler for one character, and a squad leader), and 3 of those are (largely) non-combat documentary crew, so HOPEFULLY there will be much more of a focus on player characters and how other players connect to them.

Highlighting Character Development and Background

I think a lot of role playing games get lost in hack and slash or their setting equivalent, or being all about mystery solving/social politics or just having “HERE IS A SANDBOX, GO!” and can often lose all sense of story. Meanwhile, I Love the Corps has story, scene and beat as rules terms. There is no escaping that. But, you could still get lost in action and plot and yet lose the most important part of any story; the principle characters. ESPECIALLY when what you’re doing is at least partially horror, where you don’t want any character to feel entirely safe. So, you need to make sure, as a GM, that each of your characters seems fleshed out and important, so if they DO go, that loss is felt. That doesn’t mean the character needs to be likeable in character… but you’ll find the assholes are beloved out of character, if you help that player get it right. So how do you make players not just feel vested in their characters, but each other?

In Cold Frontier, I made sure each player, if not each character, had at least one ‘pre-credit scene’, and made sure each of them had a secret to their background. This made players genuinely excited when someone got a pre-credit scene, as they were about to learn something exciting or horrible. This then allowed me to ensure that that episode had some degree of focus on that character. It gave that player a feeling of importance… and also some fear, once of the players worked out that characters often died after having one of these scenes (which wasn’t consistent or by design, but I let them have the fear, regardless).

I still felt, however, that players weren’t always taking advantage of situations that could have advanced their characters and the story more. What was the problem? Each character was shining in isolation, but they didn’t really gel together. Out of character, the group really bonded, but in character… well the game started with a Sergeant who was loved OOC for his ill thought idiocy, and a pariah IC, and two of the first six characters weren’t even marines. And the most beloved marine died early. And soon enough, I ran out of actual marines. So, despite the player’s love of the game, there is still a lot of improvement to be made. But then, this was my first long-form campaign to be completed with the system, so there is no knocking myself here. Just a constant quest of self-improvement.

The Solution?

  • Firstly, as already discussed, amping up of ‘the fun’ to make people fall in love with each others characters. The documentary approached has helped with that in a ton of ways. It is something exciting and new, an unusual approach, and the players dig that. In a world where it is still acceptable to start your D&D game in a tavern and go to a dungeon to simply kill and steal, a wholly different feel that goes beyond system and genre is always appreciated.
  • The documentary style allows for personal interviews. This means players get their equivalent of ‘pre-credits scenes’, but these scenes are a lot smaller, give less away (more about implication), but a lot more constant (dotted throughout the game) and give so much more about a character in a continual way… whilst also making the players laugh. “I’m have nothing against cyborgs… some of my best friends are cyborgs.”
  • Giving power to the players: it wouldn’t be a military documentary of there wasn’t a guided tour of the base, right? This could have been tricky, as I was playing the Sarge. That’s a lot of the GM talking at the players. Screw that! The Sarge did what a Sarge might do… passed the menial job to his Corporal. This caught the player off-guard a little… being asked to show characters under the control of the GM a base that the GM hasn’t described… but he dove into it, and loved every moment. He thought of all the generic stuff the base would have, made it fun in the way he showed people round, and then paused to allow me to add in the specifics. It had everyone in stitches, made the players feel empowered and made sure each other character had their moment during the tour. I then had the Sarge takeover to fill in some specifics I needed to lay down. Success.
  • Action at the end: everybody had already a good feel of their characters… and then, a chance to show what they might be like when the bullets fly. A non-lethal, competitive situation… and increased bonding! Next episode, they launch into some proper action, with me feeling confident that if something horrible is even implied, the players will get much more of a damn.

We’ll see how it goes.

ILTC Cold Frontier Episode 20

(This is it people… the finale of Season 1. It was… quite memorable.)

Characters: Snow Plough, Fa Tsu, Mei Tsu, Tweak, Nemo

Friendlies: assorted heating and waste workers (9 in total), Amelia, Dr Mya Ross, Dr Stapes, Fredrik, Berthold, Lucy, Anyu, Nick Ryan, Phil, Kaleigh, Gottlieb, Dean and Cara

PRE-CREDITS SCENE

The scene begins in pitch black. There is the sound of an alarm klaxon. Yells of “he’s gone that way! After him!” There is the sound of heavy breathing. Then the light kicks in. The intro is shown from first person perspective. Hands are shown, tugging themselves along mag-rails, as the person flings themselves down the corridor in zero-g. Steam sprays out from various vents as they fly past. “There he is!” The camera rotates, as it shows none other than Nemo hastily making his way along the ship, pursued by two men in blue security, full combat armour, each with a mag-shield and a stun baton. Their armoured boots are magging to the floor as they pursue the psychic at great speed. They are right behind Nemo. “Get back here murderer!” one guard yells. “I didn’t do anything!” Nemo screams back… it seems in all honesty. He looks frantic, afraid, but not guilty. “Give it up, you filthy Psychic!” the other guard yells. “I’m telling you, I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!” Nemo hits a dead end. An airlock. As he screams, the corridor shudders, and cracks run along the floors and ceiling. The two armoured guards approach. “Tell that to all the people you killed”, one of the guards retorts. “I didn’t mean to do anything. I was trying to save her!” More cracks continue to form in the metal around them. “That’s why you blew out the cargo bay, eh?” one of the guards scoffs. Then they charge Nemo, ramming the stun baton towards him, as the end of the weapon charges with electricity. Nemo reaches out a hand. The end of the stun baton explodes, blasting electrified fragments into the chest of its wielder, sending him pin-wheeling down the corridor, accelerated by the zero g. Massive chunks are torn out of the wall, and decompression begins to suck the air out. The other guard is sucked towards the cracks, plugging the leak. “You bastard!” he screams, as an incredibly frightened Nemo climbs into the only safe place… the airlock.

ROLL OPENING CREDITS

“Day 20.”

The episode opens with the motion tracker beeping wildly. The camera cuts to Fa Tsu’s panicked face.

“Uhhhhhhhh everybody GET UP GET GET UP!” He frantically shouts.

Snow Plough, already awake, and surrounded by his drones (as usual) yells back “What is it, Fa Tsu? What is it? Are they coming? ARE THEY COMING!?”

Fa Tsu confirms “They’re coming! Everybody get ready!”

“Where? WHERE!?” Snow Plough says, entering Panic Mode (as usual).

“That way!” Fa Tsu says, pointing towards the south wall.

“All right. All right.” He surveys his drones. “Ready, boys?”

“Crusher: weapons engaged.”

“Blinky: ready.”

“Jeeves, ready to lend a HAND!” Jeeves, says, flexing his cybernetic hand.

“Oh COME ON Jeeves! You’ve said that one… honestly, I need to program you with more lines”, Snow Plough says, mostly to himself. He turns to survey the amazing survivors. “All right people, they’re coming. Get ready! If you’ve got weapons, then, uh, good! Get ready! If you haven’t got weapons… what are you doing here? Get out of the way!”

“Okay, ye heard him people!”Amelia says, trying to fit on Haye’s shell armour; the helmet is of no use, but the mag-plating of the armour allows her to refit it to fit her shorter, bustier size. She cocks her pump-action shotgun as she surveys the rag-tag, and mostly incredibly ill, heating and waste workers. “What ye standin’ there for! There’s a big, empty vehicle airlock behind ye, why don’t you get yerselves inside tha’! Stay quiet, an’ ye won’t get eaten!” The workers follow the ex-landlady’s instructions and head into the vehicle airlock. Berthold hefts his meat cleaver looks to Amelia and says “I got your back.” Fredrik, still practically shivering, says “Screw this!” and heads to the vehicle airlock. Then he looks back; “Ah, crap… can’t l-leave Berthold!” Then he heads back, hovering behind his two fellow ex-bar staff. Amelia turns round and glares at Fredrik.

“What are  ye doin’, Fredrik?”

“Um… ah… staying with y-ou…”

“With what!?” Amelia looks beyond fed up with the young man. “Ye ain’t got nae weapons, and I wouldnae give yer one if ah had one to give, cos yer shiverin’ like a leaf! Go, ye idiot!”

“Uh, yeah… o-okay.” Fredrik heads to the vehicle airlock. without further fuss.

Fa Tsu urges Mei Tsu to head into the airlock. “Go on, Mei. I’ll be okay.”

All Mei has is a kitchen knife. But she has a look of frightening resolve. “No Fa Tsu. I will stay with you. I’ll help.”

Amelia strides over to Mei, and proffers Hayes’ machine pistol. “Want a gun?”

Mei is incredibly unsure. “I.. uh… well.. I don’t how to use…”

“Come on Mei, it’s just point and click”, Fa Tsu encourages.

“But… where I do shoot!” Mei starts to panic at the very notion.

“Well, as long as ye’re pointing at them, that’s a start”, Amelia adds.

“But where do I aim for?”

“Look, I think that’s not worth worryin’ about. As long as you hit them, you’re helping.”

“Okay, fine.” She takes the machine pistol from Amelia.

Anyu asks if she and Lucy can be of help to anyone, despite the lack of weapons, but when no-one gives them a definitive answer, they head into the vehicle airlock with the majority of the others.

 

Tweak opens his eyes. Dr Ross and Stapes are stood over him. “Where… where the hell am I?”

“Safe, behind a barricade, unlike them. The bugs are coming. You need to get on your feet.”

Without any encouragement needed, Tweak leaps to his feet and gets his automatic shotgun ready, loading the explosive rounds. “Where are the others? We need to get to them.”

Ross doesn’t seem convinced by the need to help the others. “They’re just going to get themselves killed. The safe place is in here. “She points at the small air-lock behind her. “As long you stay quiet.”

“No. I need to help the others”, Tweak resolves.

“All right then. Good luck.” Ross turns to the airlock, and pauses. “Snow Plough’s program isn’t running is it?” she asks Stapes.

“Not yet. Once we’re in the airlock, I’ll be able to activate the program. That should keep us safe.” Ross nods. The two get into the airlock.

 

Tweak heads into Central Water Heating, loading his explosive rounds into his automatic shotgun when he finds out that the bugs are on their way. He positions himself behind a boiler pipe a few feet from the south wall, keeping an eye on the closed door into the room, in order to put his allies out of potential blast range. Amelia and Berthold position themselves at the other end of the same boiler, not far from the northern wall of the room. Nemo is not far behind them, against the wall. Fa Tsu stands in between the two boilers, with the damaged, permanently open door into Waste Purification not far behind him. Mei Tsu and Snow Plough take cover behind the pipes of the boiler on the west side of the room. The three drones hover in front of and above Snow Plough. Crusher hovers near the top of the east boiler, Blinky near the west, and Jeeves is between the two, hovering above the main firing zone. Those with guns ready them towards the firing zone. Nemo has guns, but he gets a cryo-grenade in hand and waits. Berthold is also lacking a firearm, so keeps out of sight (as much as he can with his considerable bulk), and hefts his meat clever, kneeling down right by Amelia, ready to back her up if she needs it.

Tweak jerks back in surprise. He hears blasting sounds, explosives, hammering the other side of the wall. Or perhaps not explosives. He is the only one who notices that the wall starts to smoke. He can smell the chemical burns. He decides to abandon his position, and runs to the other side of the north end of the eastern boiler, on the opposite side but the same end as Amelia and Berthold. Tweak, knowing that the enemy are hammering against the walls themselves, ducks under a pipe and aims right at the wall itself, and waits. And then the first Worker bursts through the south wall, right in Tweak’s sights. There is a straight line in between him and the hole, as there is a slim gap between the east boiler and the east wall, though there are several pipes in the way. Soldiers climb over the Worker and storm forward. Tweak opens fire, blasting away soldier after soldier, and tears his small-scale explosive munitions through the worker before it can enter room. Within seconds, he has already eliminated nine of them. Another worker breaks the corner between the west and south walls, where the ants climb over a pipe that leads into the wall, and climb over the pipe onto the western wall. Mei Tsu looks up at the first two crawl into sight above her. She lobs the kitchen knife in her right hand. The knife tears through one of the first soldier’s many eyes and splits it down the side of the the head. The knife continues to fly and spin, planting in the head of the second soldier, as it dies. A completely uncharacteristic look of utter murder crosses Mei’s face. She screams as more bugs come, but not a scream of fire. She cuts loose with the machine pistol and kills at least three more. Fa Tsu is shivering, despite the successful fight so far, and being the most well-protected by far. His AI controlled, shoulder-mounted mining laser fires, nonetheless, blasting two of the top of the boiler. The first wave is repelled.

“Oh god, they’re coming, they’re coming! We’ve gotta get out of here!” Fa Tsu yells, panicking as he looks into the room to the south through the ruined walls. The walls from maintenance are already open enough to let bugs in, and there are more and more holes appearing in the floor, where soldier after soldier are appearing. And at the rear of the force are the slow and steady Spitters, slower than the soldiers but larger, and making their way towards the holes leading into Central Water Heating. Fa Tsu retreats into Waste Purification, taking cover partially behind the opening, but with enough room for others to retreat and for him to see into the other room. Tweak holds fire, waiting for more Hostiles to cluster together near the hole into the room before he fires again. He shouts back to Fa Tsu. “Fa Tsu, come back! Your dynasty needs your protection!” Fa Tsu is… unconvinced. “Fuck that! I’m EMPEROR. My dynasty is supposed to protect ME!” He yells back from his hiding place.

Nemo decides to see if he can freeze part of the wall with his cryo-grenade and slow the enemy down. He throws the grenade, and concentrates on it, hurling it further forward. But the grenade catches the top of the boiler he has to hurl it over. The grenade detonates. The entire boiler freezes over. And Crusher is caught in the edge of the blast and entirely frozen. With its plasma engines non-functional, the battle drone falls to the floor and smashes to pieces.

“NOOOO! CRUUUUUSHERRRR!” Snow Plough, assault rifle ready, but still having not fired a single shot, spins about. “WHO DID THAT? WHO DID THAT!?” Mei Tsu immediately turns and points at Nemo. “He did!”

“You? YOU!!? Fa Tsu was right about you you BASTARD PSYCHIC! HE WAS ONE OF MY ONLY FRIENDS! JUST LIKE YETI! YOU WON’T TAKE MY FRIENDS!” Snow Plough, who seems to have completely lost it, turns away from the encroaching bugs as he yells at Nemo. “Uh-oh”, Nemo mutters and runs. He slides under Fa Tsu’s legs, getting into Waste Purification, attempting to keep out of the firing line. Snow Plough moves a few feet to his right, so he can see Nemo. “Blinky, get him!” Snow Plough activates the remote control. The recon drones hurtles at Nemo and blasts him in the face with red hot steam. Nemo screams as his hair melts and his face crisps. He roars in both agony and rage, pushing out an open palm at the drone. The drone pin-wheels back towards its operator, carried by telekinetic force. Blinky collides with Snow Plough’s chest, driving the breath out of him and cracking his armour, possibly cracking a few ribs too. But Snow Plough is not down yet, and neither is Nemo, despite hideous burns. Their eyes lock. The rest of the fight is forgotten to them.

The next wave comes. Tweak’s shotgun rapid fires, tearing down another torrent of bugs, blown to pieces which each blast.But there are far more in the second wave. And they are not slowed or deterred by the frozen boiler. Tweak keeps down, blasting the ones in front of him with efficiency, but more keeping coming and leap off the boiler to try and get behind him, Amelia and Berthold. As two leap through the air, Berthold tosses his meat cleaver, which decapitates one and slams into the face of the other, as their bodies fly into the east wall. Soldiers start to sweep in between the boilers, straight up the middle of the room, where Amelia has covered. She fires the pump-action shotgun with as much rapidity keep, killing nine of the creatures. She steps back a few feet, ending up back to back with Snow Plough and reloads her shotgun. More stream over the western boiler leaping through the air, one and after the other. Mei fires over and over. Due to her lack of training and the rapidity of the weapon, quickly runs out of ammunition, but kills three more. Then another three follow, leaping behind her, landing right in front of the gaze of the injured Snow Plough and the damaged Blinky. “Leave Blinky ALONE!” Snow Plough screams. He fires his assault rifle as the creatures snap at him. One shot. Two. Three. They die. The second wave is defeated.

“Come on, is that the best you have?” Berthold screams. He uses his brutish strength, his Iceworlder genetic heritage allowing him to ignore the cold metal and climb without slipping as he climbs to the top of the boiler, looking for where his cleaver few. And then two of the four Spitters in the Accommodation rooms spit out chemical globs that ignite as soon as tget meet the air. The two fireballs hit Berthold. One strikes his chest, the other his stomach. He is hurled from the top of the boiler. There are smoking holes where his chest and stomach once were. “BERTHOLD! YOU BASTARDS!” Amelia screams towards them. Two more spitters open fire towards Mei and Snow Plough, but they don’t manage to score any hits due to the cover, though this does scorch the metalwork of the boiler they hide behind. Tweak sights the spitters in the other room, switches to Burst Fire mode and blasts each of them apart with ease, catching other soldiers and workers in the blasts. But yet more Soldiers are coming. And with that, he runs out of ammo. Nemo pushes out his hands towards Snow Plough. Snow Plough starts to slide backwards, in the direction of the encroaching bugs. “NO YOU DON’T, YOU DAMN PSYCHIC!” He takes control of Jeeves. “JEEVES, SAVE ME!” The support drone flies at Nemo. Ramirez’s old cybernetic arm unfolds from underneath the drone, open palm aiming for Nemo’s throat. And then a blade pops out of it. Jeeves repeatedly stabs Nemo in the throat. Nemo pushes Jeeves out of his way, and runs back into Central Water Heating, blood leaking out of him. He runs into the frozen boiler at sprinting speed. Then it shatters. Freezing water pours over Nemo as his blackened skin steams, cracks and falls away. He collapses to the floor as the water freezes around him, his face now a frozen mess of muscle and sinew. As the boiler cracks apart, Tweak is doused in the tide of frozen water. The metal of his armour freezes over. His movements are limited by the freezing of the mag-plates, and he grimaces as the cold burns his skin. The water makes a pool where the boiler was once was, as Tweak’s cover falls apart. The water doesn’t spread very far as it freezes to the floor, but makes an island of ice around Tweak. Fa Tsu stomps back into the room, taking up position behind his cousin, Mei. He lifts up his arm with the flame-thrower attached, ready for the next wave. As they come, Fa Tsu spreads the reach of his flames as far as possible, roasting the first ten or so of the next attack, as he expends a napalm canister, defending those who’ve already run out of ammo and not yet had the time to reload. Amelia fires over and over, tearing down the bugs that come across the centre of the room, running out of more ammunition. But it is not enough, despite Fa Tsu keeping the west side clear (where that boiler is now glowing red-hot). As they snap at her, she swats the nearest with her shotgun and keeps them back from her, Mei and Snow Plough. Tweak is surrounded, with no chance to reload as they rush him, and no-one else to defend his side of the room as Berthold and Nemo lie dead and frozen at his feet. The ice does not slow creatures designed to live beneath it. Easily, they skate across it. Five surround Tweak, and there are more behind them, surrounding him in a circle. “Fall back!” Tweak yells as a set of mandibles punches into his chest plating, tearing through, ripping into the flesh. “Fall back!” Mandibles lock around his right arm and tear it off. “Fall back!” A third set punches through lower torso plating, and pulls out his intestines in a long rope. “FALLLLLL BACCCKKKK!” A fourth set tears off his left leg as he falls to the ground. He is swarmed as blood and flesh fly.

“You heard him! We need to get the hell out of here!” calls Fa Tsu. With a few feet between them and the encroaching horde, Fa Tsu, Amelia, Mei, Snow Plough (finally come to his senses with Nemo’s bizarre suicide) and Blinky flee into Waste Management. As they look back in at the dozens of bugs not far behind, the remaining boiler explodes, showering the bugs near to it in boiling water, causing them to flail and squeal, buying the survivors a few moments. “What do we do now!?” Amelia yells, as, Tweak is so thoroughly torn to pieces that a mandible pierces one of his many incendiary grenades. The feeding frenzy of bugs around him is caught in the blast which melts the frozen floor, causing the entirety of it to collapse, as the boiling water from the other boiler and the now-exposed pipes pumps into the room. Where the chamber and the bugs once was is now a steaming pile of rubble. And then there is a tremendous explosion beneath the ground that rocks the entire building, as the piles of excrement dumped into the maintenance shafts explode, filling the shafts and the bug tunnels cut into them with a torrent of fire. Outside, the very snow in between the two buildings is blasted into the air, kicking up earth, as the tunnels leading up to the surface are burst apart by the shockwave in the maintenance shafts. The back-up generator explodes,  cutting off the remaining power in the buildings. For now, Fa Tsu’s motion tracker is silent, except for the motions of his fellow survivors.

Snow Plough fully seems to snap back to his senses. “We need to get everyone the hell out of here. Jeeves, Blinky, find Dr Ross and Snapes… Stapes… and bring them back here!” The drones fly over the ruined room into the Accommodation area. The drones report that they cannot find them, so Snow Plough contacts Ross over the comms. Ross gets Stapes to disengage the trap protocols wired into the airlock and the two exit the airlock. Jeeves carries them one by one over the remains of Central Water Heating. Amelia reminds Snow Plough of the other survivors in the vehicle airlock and he has Jeeves carry them one by one to safety. Lucy busts open a crate containing spare environment suits kept in waste management that Mei directs her to and they get the unequipped survivors ready to go out into the cold. They all agree that they can’t stay where they are, and there is only one habitable place left: the hydroelectric plant. Fa Tsu radios through to Ryan at the plant. They mock each other in the customary fashion, especially due to all the recent explosions and the fact that Fa Tsu is somehow still alive, in defiance of all odds. Ryan makes it pretty clear that there is no room for anyone else, so Snow Plough cuts in, and tells Ryan to empty out anything they don’t need: the ship should be coming to rescue them the following day, so they should be able to survive one night together with minimal room and supplies. Ryan reluctantly agrees, radioing Gottlieb to organise the others into emptying out the plant. Gottlieb doesn’t like the idea of being ordered by Ryan, until Ryan reminds him that he is the one with  the gun. Gottlieb then manages to avoid any work as he orders the others to empty out equipment. When Phil criticises him for not helping, Gottlieb reminds him that they need someone to organise them, to ensure they don’t remove the wrong thing. Phil grumbles, but carries on working with the others. Meanwhile, the remaining survivors of Frost make their way across the snowy ground to the hydroelectric plant.

“Day 21.”

As the sun rises in the sky, Fa Tsu’s hulking Mech stands atop the hydroelectric plant roof, watching the ruins of Frost and for signs of activity. Nothing. Ryan lies on the roof as normal, assault rifle out. Amelia stands with them, one of the last few survivors with a gun. Inside the plant, the illness from the settlement has continued to spread with everyone closely packed together. Many are unconscious, those who’re awake are largely incredibly feverish, and there is a lot of vomiting. Mei is not looking well, but is conscious. Stapes and Amelia are not particularly ill. The previous inhabitants of the plant are well enough, having only just been introduced to the sickness spread amongst the others. Dr Ross is tending to the injured Snow Plough who is unconscious, eyes flickering. Fa Tsu sees the two blue-bright glows of the plasma engines of a drop-ship. It is heading straight down towards the colony, not towards the plant where the distress call was sent…

The marines in the dropship are incredibly surprised by the devastation of Frost as it comes into their view.

“What the hell happened here?”

“Maybe the ‘Emperor of Frost’ was right, and there ARE aliens, here.”

“Yeah fucking right. Probably just a nutter who killed everyone himself.”

“Hey what’s that?”

Meanwhile, Fa Tsu is watching the ship in confusion. “What the hell are they doing? Didn’t they get my message?” An explosive blast hits the side of the ship. Spitters start emerging from the snow. “This is Emperor Fa Tsu! Pull up! Get some distance! PULL UP!” More explosive blasts barrage the ship.

“What the fuck are th-”

“There ARE aliens!”

“They can’t hit us from h-”

The dropship crashes into the ground in between the ruins of the two main buildings that made Frost. Fa Tsu slaps a metallic gauntlet across his face-plate in disbelief.

The dropship doors open as two bleeding marines stumble out. They are pulled under the snow. There are two more dead marines in the carrier section of the dropship. The remaining marine in that section hefts a minigun and opens fire, raking it across the snow. The noise causes the creatures to burst out of the snow, allowing the marine to start taking them down. The pilot is dead but the co-pilot is still alive. “We’re under attack! By some kind of giant alien… insects! One other marine still alive… no sign of survivors…Frost is dead… we need back u-” A razor ant smashes through the windscreen and rams its mandibles through the pilot’s neck, dragging him into the ground. The minigun wielding marine is blasted repeatedly by spitters and is blasted to the ground.

“Awwwwwww, screw it, we’re dead” says Fa Tsu as he hears the sounds of destruction and death. He radios into the plant and asks connects into the comm array, boosting his signal to reach the cruiser. “This is Emperor Fa Tsu of Fr-”

“Who the hell is this?” comes a deep rumbling voice.

“I told you, this is Emperor-”

“There are no DAMN EMPERORS on Frost!” the voice booms back. The camera cuts to the bridge of the approaching ship to show that the admiral is both hulking and massively obese. He has jowls upon his jowls.

“Uh, didn’t you get my distress signal?” Fa Tsu responds.

The admiral turns and glowers at his comm officer. “WHAT bloody distress signal?”

The comm officer looks somewhat embarrassed. “He announced himself Emperor, sir. Like you said, there isn’t one. Figured it was just a prank, sir. Especially when he mentioned aliens. That’s why I didn’t report it.”

The admiral turns back, looking down at the planet as the cruiser hovers above it. “You hear that, man? If you want to send out a GOD-DAMNED DISTRESS SIGNAL, you use proper procedure! You just got a bunch of my men killed, because they weren’t prepared for what was coming!”

“Well, I did warn y-” The Admiral cuts off Fa Tsu’s call.

“What do we do, sir?” the comms officer asks the Admiral.

“We turn round. I’ve no idea where this idiot is, but he is likely the only one left. The marines said the town was dead, and now we’ve lost them. I’m not losing any more squads to find this moron.”

Fa Tsu, very much aware that his actions have likely resolved in them all being left to die, decides to hack through the communications. “Hi, I just needed to clarify that I have people down here-”

“What the hell? WE blocked you! How did you get through our comms system!”

“Look we really need your hel-”

“HELP!? Because of your lack of procedure, you got an entire squad marines killed! Why should I risk more for you?”

“Look, I’m just doing my best because most of the marines YOU sent to help us are dead. But, the Sergeant… Fentington… might be awake now. He was injured. Can I see if I can patch him through?”

The Admiral looks through to the comms officer. She says “There is a marine of that name who was sent to the colony, sir.” The Admiral nods. “All right, patch him through, see if you can convince me I am not just risking my men for a mad-man.”

Fa patches through to Dr Ross. “Is Snow Plough up and around… cos if not, we’re all going to be left behind. I need him to tell the Admiral not to leave us behind.”

“He’s on his feet”, Ross responds. She looks to Snow Plough, just pulling himself to his feet. “Its Fa Tsu. I think he pissed off the Admiral. Apparently he’s going to leave us all to die. He needs you to talk to him.”

“This is Sergeant Fentington calling from the hydro-electric plant 2 miles north of the Frost colony. I have approximately thirty people in need of rescue. We need you now. We’re dealing with giant insects… and they’re likely coming.”

“All right… I’ll take your word for it, Fentington. Next time, don’t let idiots have control of your comms. I nearly left you behind. What can you tell me about these aliens?”

Snow Plough looks to Ross. “Uh…”

Ross grins and patches into the comm feed. “This is Dr Mya Ross, I’m the GeneTech biologist here. Let me tell you, I’ve done some studying of these creatures. If you want to kill them… well they really don’t like fire. Most of them won’t hurt your ships if you bombard them. But some of them have explosive spit… I don’t know the maximum range of it, but if you keep at least 500ft above them.. you should be able to bombard them.”

“All right then… this is what I will do…” As the Admiral explains what he intends to do, there is a montage of images showing what he describes. “I’ll send a majority of my dropships, those equipped with rocket launchers, down to Frost.” The dropships are shown, around thirty of them, dropping through the clouds. “They’ll remain around 500ft above the settlement of Frost and bombard it.” Droves of bugs are blown to pieces along with the last remnants of Frost. “Hopefully that’ll keep the enemy distracted if not exterminated. Meanwhile, I’ll have five dropships sent to your position to collect your survivors. I’ll have them approach from over the Frozen Sea to attract minimal attention whilst they reach the hydroelectric plant.” The wedge of dropships flies over the sea with engines on low burn, only a few feet above the ice, as it partially melts over where the dropships pass. “Then, we’ll get everyone off that planet.” Fa Tsu climbs into the first dropship from the roof, followed by Amelia and Nick Ryan. Snow Plough directs the remaining survivors who aren’t too ill, using Jeeves to carry the sick onto the ships. Dr Ross comes out of the plant with an unconscious person slung over each shoulder, quite easily. Snow Plough looks gobsmacked. “So yeah, we need to talk. I’m a Dupe.” She shrugs and gives a nervous smile. Snow Plough’s own open mouth turns into a smile, though a shocked one.

Four of the five dropships depart. The last one hovers above the roof of the plant. Ross and Stapes have climbed into the ship. Snow Plough is the last on the ground. There is a horrifying shriek. Out of the crack in the ice over the sea, a newly seen species of razor ant emerges, covered in spiked quills, a shining blue, all with elongated mouths and short, spiked mandibles. As they scream, the sea before them begins to crack. The dropship starts to take off. Snow Plough runs and leaps. He falls short. A hand catches his. A metallic hand. Jeeves carries Snow Plough. “Never leave a marine behind”, the drones says, and hauls Snow Plough into the dropship. It takes off.

“3 weeks Later: Planet Avalon.”

The UCMC cruiser approaches the snowy, but beautiful, advanced and heavily populated planet Avalon, surrounded by ships and orbital habitats. The camera cuts inside the ship, to a room full of stasis pods and lab techs. The first pod opens, and Snow Plough rises out of it. “Welcome back to Avalon, Sergeant Fentington”, a lab tech says to him. Snow Plough says very little. He sees Amelia rise out of the pod, clearly a little too busty for the white medical garment she was frozen in. “Ken someone get me somethin’ that fits a little better!” she shouts, as her clothes and other belongings are passed to her. Fa Tsu and Mei rises out of pods, followed by Dean and Cara, Gottlieb and others. Stapes is demanding a cup of tea. “What do you mean, you don’t have any tea? This is Avalon, for christ sakes! We need a good cup of tea, isn’t that right, Fentington?” Snow Plough still fails to muster a response. Mya Ross enters the room, followed by several orange jump-suited engineers. The back of her head is open, show a several blue glowing power cores, as one of the engineers shuts the hatch and pulls her wig over it (which none of the survivors see). “Ah you’re all awake” she asks. “Lets go for a walk.”

The small group of survivors (Snow Plough, Mei, Fa, Mya, Stapes, Amelia, Fredrik, Gottlieb, Dean, Cara, Anyu and Nick Ryan) are lead through the ship, past a laboratory where other survivors remain in stasis. “The other survivors are suffering from the kind of sickness you’d expect from medieval times. They were on death’s door, but we’ll be able to make them better. They need to remain frozen for now” says a female doctor guiding them through the ship. “I’m taking the rest of you to a shuttle down to the planet. The Corps want to speak to you about what happened on the planet, of course.” Mei scowls. The innocent young woman seems to have changed vastly from her hard experience. “Oh, of course they’ll want to know. And we’ll tell them. But they won’t like what we have to say. Oh no.”

The camera cuts to show three cruisers approaching the planet where Frost once stood. Hundreds of dropships leave for the planet. “What the hell, the wind is going crazy, can’t see a thi-” One dropship is mashed into another. The others disappear from sight, consumed by the storm. The camera cuts to the surface of the planet, shaking intensely. Cracks run across the glacier. The Moss Mountains begin to collapse as it appears the entire planet is shaking…

A shuttle flies over New London on Avalon. A high-tech city of skyscrapers and spires, buildings connected by tubes connected between them at various heights, trains travelling up the tallest building on vertical mag-rails. But the shuttle passes over the metropolis, over a beautiful, wintry countryside. The shuttle flies over the forest, reaching a landing pad near a set of laboratory buildings.

“UCMC Avalon Science Division.”

The Frost survivors well enough to make the trip step out of the shuttle. And then the ground begins to shake. Violently.

“Earthquake!” someone yells.

“But we don’t get quakes on Avalon…”

“Quickly, to the bunker!” Marines from the ship and nearby science staff run with the colonists into the aforementioned bunker. Fa Tsu looks back to New London in the distance, where some of the tallest towers start to collapse…

The Frost survivors sit together. “What the hell is going out there?”

“I dinnae know” says Amelia. “But whatever it is, ah feel whatever it is, is gonna make our time ohn Frost look like-a piece’ a cake.”

The camera cuts back to Frost, where the land that once was had been torn apart. The camera zooms underground, to show the tunnels deep beneath the earth where Bones met his maker have been destroyed, as molten lava bursts through the rock…

ROLL CLOSING CREDITS.

(Mid-credit scene.)

One of the marines breaks off from the group at the rear of the bunker. Some of them are in black armour with red visors. The marine is particularly huge. “Don’t worry. We’ll get you through this.” He raises his visor to show a scarred, middle aged face. “Lieutenant Jonathan Greyjoy, at your service.”

END OF SEASON. (A different campaign will follow this, but I hope to return with Season 2 in the future.)

NOTES

  • The waves of bugs had a lot more due to arrive (the first attack was going to be 140 total, but they managed to get out of there before they had to kill or be killed by that many. They got through around 60 in three beats though). The players managed to stop further death (beyond that of Nemo, Tweak and Berthold) through using two Glory Points. One player spent a GP to allow to move the players out of reach of the razor ants and then to have a boiler burst to slow them down, and after Tweak died, his player spent  posthumous Glory Point to have his incendiary grenades explode which ended the scene by dropping the ant through the floor. Their fight with them was even closer than the write-up may even indicate.
  • Due to the incendiary explosions, I decided not to bring on any more bugs in a later scene due to the events of previous episodes. The shit packed into the maintenance shafts gave a decent narrative reason to assume that hundreds of bugs would have been killed.
  • Mei’s player spent a GP to save a load of Friendlies from death with MORE dramatic editing, in this case, ensuring that the Friendlies had gear to get through the cold without more death, and that there was room for them at the plant… Ryan nearly opened fire on them to keep them back, but the GP changed events.
  • The characters nearly all died, due to the distress call malarkey. Snow Plough was not revived to the third and final beat of that scene, allowing him to (barely) convince the admiral not to turn around with a high Chutzpah roll. Had he failed, they would have ALL died in the episode’s final moments (despite my season 3 plans).
  • It was a good thing Snow Plough ensured he saved Ross, for there would have been no-one to bring him to consciousness to convince the Admiral to not leave them all to die.
  • Snow Plough only had a passive ability left for the scene to get into the ship, and would have failed to get in, had his drone not saved him. He very nearly got left behind to die, even after getting everyone else off.
  • When the game ended, each remaining player decided to give me a massive hug…

 

 

ILTC Cold Frontier Episode 19

Episode 19 “Days 18 Part Two, Day 19.”

Featured Survivors

Characters: Snow Plough, Fa Tsu, Bones, Mei (played the former player of Hayes)

Friendlies: Nemo and assorted heating and waste workers (9 in total), Alyona, Dr Mya Ross, Dr Stapes, Mei Tsu, Abigail, Fredrik, Berthold, Lucy, Anyu, Nick Ryan.

PRE-CREDITS SCENE

The episode opens with the same jungle planet seen in the last few episodes. The camera casts above the civilian raid on the landing pad. The sentry on the right is being a little over-enthusiastic as he guns down poorly armed civilians. Tweak is just quivering, unable to fire. Despite their almost total lack of equipment, with sheer numbers, the civvies are overpowering the marines. The camera cuts to the jungle where the marines have been completely broken and the military being surrounded and beaten to the floor. “We’re being overrun!” crackles across the comms.  The camera cuts to a treetop overlooking the settlement of huts and rope bridges, cutting to the perspective of a helmet’s HUD. The heart rate of the helmet wearer is hammering. In the top right corner of the HUD, it says ‘Bones.’ “You have the go!” blurts from his comms system. He leaps from the tree, looking straight down as the first person perspective follows his boots. “We’re under att-” the nearest civilian tries to yell before instantly gunned down by a silenced shot. More people come running to investigate the shout, crude weapons in hand. One person goes down. Then another person. And another. He climbs up a ladder. “Someone’s coming! Get the Mayor out of here!” Bones sees a man waving two people on as they run across another bridge. The man charges bones with a crowbar and is blasted off the bridge. Bones charges on, seeing the two other people. One turns and is shot. The other man, completely unarmed, stops running and raises up his hands. “Don’t kill me pl-” Bones shoots him in the chest.

OPENING CREDITS ROLL

“Day 18, Part Two.”

The roar of the Queen echoes in the darkness. Bones turns his helmet-light up to full magnitude. The Queen’s body quivers as his roars. It starts to turn round. He turns and runs. Hisses, shrieks and clattering sounds echo around him. He glances up and catches shapes moving on the ceiling. And then they start to drop all around him. He looks to his left and sees the Mayor, covered in blue liquid, stuck to the floor, with larvae chewing on his torso. His legs, however, are stuck to the wall, with their own nest of larvae. He carries on running, seeing the lumbering forms of workers closing him, and more of the smaller, leaping, dropping creatures coming for him. He comes to a halt before a vertical ice tunnel. He turns back. The Queen opens up her six, curved, serrated mandibles and lets rip another screech as it stomps forward. Shrapnel fragments are embedded in her mandibles and around her head. Bones stick up his middle finger and jumps, feet first, down the hole.

Amelia and Abigail bounce Alyona up and down as she continues to scream her lungs out. Fredik looks at the cracks in the floor underneath them, and mumbles in stupefaction and terror. Berthold is holding the barricaded door. Then he turns to Fredik. “Fredrik will y-” then the burly Iceworlder notices the cracks. “Damn you Fredrik, why didn’t yo- AMELIA, THE FLOOR!” Amelia looks down. “Ah, hell! Sis, move!” Abi scoops up Alyona, and she and her sister move towards the door. “We need to get the barricade down!” she yells at Berthold.

“But if we go out there, they could kill us!” Berthold tries to argue.

“And if we stay in here, the bugs’ll come through thae floor! And besides… we don’t go out through thae door, then Fa Tsu’s comin’ through tha’ wall! Come on!” Berthold nods, and with feisty ex-landladies help, they quickly take down the barricade. Meanwhile, Fredrik is watching the floor. No more cracks have appeared. Nothing has burst through the floor. “They’re not coming… why are they not coming?” With that, the song “Trapped Under Ice” begins to play. The camera heads into the tunnel below, as Soldier ants race towards the sound of the Queen’s echoing roar. The camera whizzes through tunnel after, as legions of bugs head downward. Bones has a maddened grin on his face as he drops down a seemingly endless shaft. He tries to dig his gauntleted fingers into the walls of the shaft to slow himself, but he continues to plummet into darkness nonetheless. Ice becomes rock. And then the chute curves and he flies out of the end of it. He is spun round and one ankle cracks against a wall. He grunts in agony, maintaining consciousness, as with difficult, he pulls himself to his feet. He hears the Queen’s roar; more distant now, but still audible. More pressingly, he hears the echo of skittering legs, coming down towards him. He looks ahead. He has left the ice, and is surrounded by rock. Tunnels veer off into walls, ceiling and floor at various angles, but otherwise, he seems to be in an open cavern. Looking up to where the noises emanate one more time, he heads off into the darkness.

The maintenance cupboard door opens and Amelia strides through, closely followed by Abi and Alyona, Berthold and a quivering Fredrik. Fa Tsu, with Snow Plough stood at his side, smiles warmly at the sight of Aloyna, despite the fact that she is still screaming. He opens up the front of his Mech and Abi passes the child over. “Fa Tsu, help me find Mummy!” she wails as she clings onto her guardian. He just lets her cry, as he turns the Mech round. “Where d’we go now?” Amelia asks. “Back to the others”, Snow Plough says, this way. They go through the broken wall from Maintenance into the Heating and Waste workers accommodation, where Doctors Ross and Stapes are behind the barricade by the western airlock, with Tweak, unconscious, up against a wall. Ross points her pistol at Snow Plough and then says “Oh, its you.” Snow Plough and the others continue on through the door into central water heating. Snow Plough asks Ross and Stapes if they are joining them, but Ross makes it clear they are taking their chances where they are. Snow Plough instructs the others to grab mattresses (as all the bunk frames are being used for barricades) and they haul the mattresses into Central Water Heating, and close the door behind them. When asked about a barricade, Snow Plough declines. “They come through the floor, anyway.” As Fa Tsu walks in, Mei runs over to him, tears streaking down her face as all of the events of the last few weeks coming rushing upon her. She embraces her cousin, still with Alyona clinging onto him.

“Day 19.”

Bones HUD shows his heart-beat is racing. The camera moves behind him, to show that his limping gait remains ever-present. He stops and sits down against a wall. He grabs his ankle and twists. There is a snap. His face shows absolute agony, but he grimaces in place of a scream. Things fade to black. There is still the echo of scuttling and shrieks. He gets to his feet. And does his best to run.

None of the survivors above has slept, between the noises of the pipes, boilers and water purifiers all around them. Steam emits from pipes. The room is intensely hot. It is a factory area, not designed for habitation. Various people lie on mattresses, but those who are unconscious are not so due to sleep. Everyone’s faces are slick with sweat. Some are utterly pale and clammy. The sickness from a few days ago has spread among nearly everyone. There is constant coughing and the sounds of people throwing up in the background. There has been no drinkable water for days, and nothing but plants to chew on. The doors to Waste Purification were destroyed, and so a stench, though less of one, still hangs in the air, including from the excrement piled into the maintenance shafts. Most people are semi-conscious at best, and at least half of the number of remaining survivors are unconscious. There are twenty people crammed into a building where five people work at any one time, and most of the floor space is taken up by piping, three large ice grinding units and the two massive water boilers (one with five sizeable curving pipes that lead into the floor and another with four that do the same and three more leading along the floor to the ice grinders). The nine workers are sat in almost a pile of people right near the opening into Waste Management; most of them are unconscious and most of the waking ones are either throwing up or in a dazed fever. Anyu sits with Lucy, last of the Food Storage workers other than Tweak and Nemo (and Bones, but everyone thinks he is dead). Lucy is unconscious and Anyu is cradling her. “Come on, don’t die… why it is every time I reach out to someone, they die?” she whispers to no-one in particular. Nemo is sat in the north-east corner by the airlock, and Fa Tsu is sat near him, watching him like an eagle. Mei sits next to Fa Tsu, cradling Alyona. She sings softly and quietly to the child, in a beautiful voice, singling in Chinese. Alyona is unmoving in her arms, face pale, beaded with cold sweat. The four bar staff cluster along the eastern wall. Fredrik is still pale and shivering. Abigail is unconscious, lying against her big sister Amelia’s shoulder. Snow Plough, meanwhile, is in the centre of the chamber, in between the two boilers, with a halo of drones around him. He has fitted the ‘steam gun’ he created onto Blinky, the recon drone; the gun looks similar to an old school flame thrower in design, with large water canisters at the rear, an internal boiler system with a series of tubing at several places and the ‘barrel’ to release the steam.

Amelia tries to wake Abigail, but she isn’t responding. Amelia checks Abi’s pulse at the side of her neck. “She ain’t breathin’, someone help me!” Nemo comes over, but cannot revive her. Amelia holds back her tears and sits next to her sister, holding her dead body in a constant embrace. Nemo returns to his corner.

Bones continues moving. An hour has passed. There are no more sounds of pursuit. Its just him. From his HUD readings, the external temperature is far higher than it was, extremely in fact, on a tropical level. He raises his visor, gags at the close, humid air, and lowers it again. Time passes on another hour. As he continues to explore, there are tunnels everywhere at various angles, some straight down, some straight up, some on the horizontal, tunnels straight and curved. He draws his grapple gun, his only weapon other than some grenades and a garotte wire. He fires the grapple gun up a vertical shaft. The grapple easily sets into the soft stone. He fires it to its full length, but there is no ledge: he rappels up 100ft, but the tunnel continues on. He has his head-light on full intensity, giving him 50ft visibility, and he is unable to see where the tunnel ends. He drops back down to the bottom of the shaft, eyes his various routes, sighs, and continues on.

Fredrik approaches Fa Tsu, still sat next to his cousin, with Alyona. “Hey Fa Tsu, I was wondering if you could, you know… if you knew where uh… Chang kept any of his stuff…”

Fa Tsu does not seem happy about that question. “I know he had some… and…” Fredik stops when he sees Fa Tsu’s withering glare.

Fa Tsu clears his throat, keeping his voice low, but intimidating. “Fredrik; who is here?” Fredrik is very flustered.

“What? The kid? She’s asleep, and I just said ‘stuff’ I didn’t say…”

Berthold stomps over and grabs Fredrik. “What the hell are you doing, kid?”

“Well… uh… since you weren’t tell me… where the stash is…”

“What are you even talking about?” the large chef roars.

“You know! Stop lying… I know you and Chang were…”

“Fredrik” says Fa Tsu, icily. “Go away.” Fredrik complies… looking even more terrified than before.

Snow Plough looks around at the spreading sickness and decides to go and get medical help. He exits Central Water Heating and goes into the accommodation area. He passes from extreme heat to incredibly cold, due to the hole in the wall leading to the compromised Maintenance building with several holes in the floor. Stapes and Ross are both heavily wrapped up in clothing as they sit behind their barricade. Tweak is unconscious, with his armour removed, and yet still sweating profusely, despite the intense cold.

“Hello Ross! How are you?” Snow Plough’s hello is as nervously over-enthusiastic as standard.

“Oh just fine, Snow Plough, as you can see.” Ross doesn’t seem exactly pleased to him.

“Well, at least its cooler in here!” Snow Plough is still trying to be pleasant, but it is clearly forced.

“Well yes, thanks to all the holes in the floors and the wall.” Her tone is dripping with icy sarcasm, as usual. “What do you want, Snow Plough?”

“Well, um, would you mind coming and… doing some doctoring?”

“I’ve TOLD YOU I’m a god-damned biologist.”

“Yes, I know but… uh… we need your help. People are getting sick.”

“People are getting sick because some genius decided to blow up the walls and floors and, when people were already getting ill from lack of sanitation, that genius then decided to put everyone in the same room which definitely isn’t designed for human habitation. The illness is already spreading, and there isn’t much I can do on my own. So fuck off, Snow Plough.”

“Don’t be a coward, Ross!” Snow Ploughs yells.

“Hah! That’s rich, coming from the man who gets his drones to do all his dirty work. Oh that reminds me… how -is- your ammo count?” She leans over, and sees the computer display says ‘200’. Full ammo. “Still not a shot. Thought so.”

“Fine! Fine, I’ll just have to sort it MYSELF!” and he storms off back where he came.

Stapes puts a hand on Ross’s shoulder. “Look, you can’t leave those people to die in there.”

“Leave them to… look, I’m not a medical doctor, and you know it!”

“You’re a BIOLOGIST! They’re sick. People with BIOLOGIES. Its exactly your field, certainly when compared to me. I’m the one whose not a doctor. And you’re the one who can’t get sick. So don’t let me have to go in there instead.”

“Fine!” Ross is not remotely happy, but does as encouraged. Snow Plough turns, and looks genuinely shocked to see Ross enter. She doesn’t say a word to him, and immediately goes to help Anyu with Lucy.

Fa Tsu gets one of the conscious heating workers to show him how to deactivate the heated pipes to cool the building down, and asks how ice and snow are converted into water. He then checks his motion tracker. There are no blips on it other than those in the building. All seems to be clear. He grabs a piece of sheet metal and bends it into shape. He then opens the airlock and heads inside. He opens the outer door. The sun is out, the day is crisp and clear. And quiet. Without leaving the airlock, he scoops snow with the metal, and starts bringing it inside in shifts. Under instruction, he pours the snow into the machines that usually convert ice into purified drinking water and gets the process under way. Mei continues to sit with Alyona, singing away, seeming bolstered by it. Snow Plough feeling accomplished, approaches Nemo, and asks if he can help out tending to the sick. “You did such a good job with my head, old chap, I wondered if you could do the same for these good people.” Nemo says “I’ll see what I can do”, and sets off checking over the ill. Fa Tsu, during his snow shifts, notices the conversation and continues to eyeball Nemo. This prompts him to contact Snow Plough on a private comms channel. He tells Snow Plough straight out that Nemo has ‘mind-shit.’ Snow Plough seems unconcerned, pointing out that that isn’t ‘that bad’, too which Fa Tsu responds “It is when you use your powers to give someone a stroke.” Snow Plough laughs off the notion of Nemo being a Psychic, pointing out how he has been such a nice chap and is helping people out even as they speak.

“Yeahhhhh, that’s just what he wants you to think. Oh look at me, I’m helping you, I wouldn’t possibly kill anybody. Look Hayes, warned me about him.” Fa Tsu continues to try to get Snow Plough onside.

“Oh PAH! Hayes! The same Hayes who SHOT ME IN THE HEAD, may I remind you!” Snow Plough tersely points out.

“Hayes might have been an idiot, but he was right on something. Look, he sent me this message secretly, so there must have been a reason.”

“Have you got any evidence? HARD evidence.”

“Well no…”

“Well, unless you have evidence he is a Psychic, there is nothing I can do.”

“We both keep an eye on him, that’s all I am asking”, Fa Tsu responds.

“Finnnne” Snow Plough sighs. “I’ll have Jeeves keep an eye on him.” Snow Plough privately messages Jeeves to watch Nemo. Not being remotely programmed or designed for stealth, Jeeves is hardly subtle about it. The drone floats over to Nemo. “Hello Nemo, do you need a HAND?” Jeeves flexes his cybernetic hand, as he does. Nemo chuckles and declines the offer. “Tools?” Jeeves extracts the engineering tools. Nemo informs the drone that those aren’t medical tools. The drone hovers upwards, and continues to watch Nemo as he makes his rounds, giving people anti-sickness meds. There doesn’t seem anything sinister about it at all.

The heat outside Bones’s suit continues to increase as he heads on. He decides in a change of direction, now his pursuers are entirely gone (presumably dissuaded by the heat). He decides to take one of the ceiling tunnels that arcs round, rather than a straight chute. He manages to easily climb the wall, as the stone is relatively soft and proceeds to crawl through the tunnel. After some time, he finds some tracks. But these are not bug tracks, or at least, not matching the form of any of the bugs he has seen, though the tracks still seem to indicate six legs, so possibly indicates a different species. There appear to be four fore-limbs, each with four digits, and two long rear-limbs, with a three digit arrangement. He looks over the tracks with interest. He tries to place his hands over the forelimb prints. The shape seems similar to hand prints, with one less digit, but the digits seem much longer and wider apart than his, and the spacing indicates either longer limbs or broader soldiers than him, as well as a greater length or height. He starts musing to himself out loud. “Its a different species” he says in awe. He looks back behind him, and then ahead. The tracks are going in the direction he was going, where the heat increases. “They must be enemies… perhaps. If I can just convince them we’re on the same side. Maybe if I get back to the Queen’s chamber… kill one of them, bringing them back. They’ll see we’re on the same side.” He decides to go back the way he came.

Snow Plough, still not convinced that Nemo is remotely untrustworthy, approaches the man once he has finished giving someone medical attention. Nemo happily gives him some meds to help with his slight nausea and fever. Snow Plough decides to try and drum up some conversation to try and gauge any specifics about him.

“So, Nemo, where were you before you came to Frost?” Snow Plough asks.

“Oh, here and there.”

“Ohhhh, here and there. Where were you last?”

“Travelled around a lot. Didn’t stay in the same place for long.” As Nemo explains, Snow Plough’s eyebrows raise, but Nemo continues. “You know, a lot of ship-work. Loading and unloading deliveries to different planets.” Nemo then zips off to help the sick, leaving Snow Plough feeling a little suspicion. He then notices the other medic, Ross. There isn’t a person in the room who doesn’t at least look a little sick… except for Ross. But then she has been outside of the room with Stapes, who also seemed fine. He decides to get to the bottom of this, and heads out to talk to Stapes.

“Hello Snapes.”

“Its Stapes. There is a T in it.”

“Of course Snapes… oh damn, why do I keep saying that!”

“For goodness sake, just call me Eric” says the Doctor, looking already like he has had enough of Snow Plough.

“Tea, Snapes?” Plough asks cheerfully.

“We have no tea, Snow Plough” Stapes say, in a tone that implies that Snow Plough should really know that.

“Ah. Well, never mind. So, Sn- Stapes, what -is- a man with your particular skill-set doing on a planet like this? With your skills with cybernetics, it seems a little… unusual.”

“Not really. Max had a cybernetic hand, McClusky, a cybernetic arm. They need maintenance.”

“Well yes, but it seems like… aren’t their better places a man with your skills could go?”

Stapes sniggers. “Better? Fentington, this is a colony for ICE MINING. That means a lot of lost body parts to need replacing. What better place could there be for me?”

“Yes, I suppose but, surely there are nicer, better paid places.” Snow Plough insists on pressing the issue.

“What? Between picking a boiling hot jungle planet, or a Deathworld or another ice-ball you mean?” Stapes, as sarcastic as his fellow doctor, continues in form.

“What about the Corps! Surely you’d be better placed in a science division. Perhaps when we get off-world, you should join me in the Corps.”

“Hah? Me? The Corps. I’m afraid not. I can find my own employment.”

Snow Plough looks entirely frustrated. “Look, Stapes, I know something is going on between you and Ross, so just tell me what is going on!”

“Oh, you want secrets. Well, there’s plenty of those around here, I’m sure everyone has them. Well, except you. Your… unusual… feelings towards your machines are more than obvious”, Stapes mocks. Snow Plough twitches awkwardly at that. “But secrets yes, I know a few. OH, of course, did you know your very own former Sergeant was a Corps Command Operative, that’s a fun one!” Snow Plough blanches. “Of course, that could mean many things. Maybe he was sent to make sure one of you got bumped off. Since one of you died before he did, and you’re the last one left, I’d say he did pretty well at that. Of course there’s many other things they might send one of their inquisitors, or interrogators or what have you to deal with.”

“Are you saying he was sent to kill me!?”

“Oh no, there are many other reasons he could have been here… which means, if anybody comes for us, I wouldn’t expect a welcome reception”, Stapes continues on in some delight, having the upper hand. “No, if you’re worried about people trying to kill you, I’d worry about Nemo. Oh, did you know he’s Psychic?”

After this, Snow Plough starts to demand evidence from Stapes, but he cannot give it, though he says he trusts the information given, though he won’t reveal who gave it. “Want to know more secrets?” Stapes continues on. “I don’t know for sure, for due to his behaviour and symptoms, I think Takala (Fredik) is suffering from drug withdrawal…” with that, Snow Plough can bear no more, and leaves more frustrated than before.  Just as Snow Plough is opening the door back to the other, Stapes calls to him. “Oh Snow Plough, little tip! Maybe going around demanding to know people’s secrets is not the best idea. I mean, everyone has them. I mean you love for exhaust ports is more obvious, but some people don’t like you poking around. And with so many people dead, you need all the friends you can get. And that isn’t a threat!” He holds his hands up. “I couldn’t hurt you. But other people can… bear that in mind.” Snow Ploughs the door. Stapes grins.

Bones returns to the curving tunnel and the single trail of tracks. He follows the tunnel to the end of its arc, and comes across an intersection of multiple (mostly horizontal routes). There are more of the tracks, going down each of the tunnels, both across the floor and walls. However, there are far too many tracks for anybody but a skilled tracker to see a pattern. So Bones decides to go for a tunnel on the right.

Mei Tsu sees various people getting medical help and decides to get some herself. Nemo complies, giving her and injection. Mei then lifts up Alyona for the same treatment. Nemo raises an eyebrow, seeing the child is still unmoving. He presses a hand against her neck. Mei eyes widen in shock at the action. He retracts his hand and looks at Mei and shakes his head. “I am sorry.” Mei starts to cry, but she manages to keep under control. She goes to Fa Tsu, and struggles to tell him that Alyona has died from the fever spread amongst the survivors. He blinks in shock. Saying no words, he opens up his armour, takes Alyona into his arms and sits against the wall, holding onto her.

Bones is utterly lost. The temperature seems to be cooling, however, so he continues in the same direction for some time. More time passes and he becomes angry. It is still absolutely silent, and he has no idea where he is. He rubs fingers down a wall, seeing that it easily crumbles. “These tunnels are freshly dug…” he notes out loud and then grins. He plunges a gauntlet into the wall and tears out a chunk. “I’ll bring them to me..” He grabs a piece of rock at the ceiling. “I’m here!” he yells out as his voice echoes. There is silence no more. Now he hears movement… impossible to tell from where, but something is tearing some of the nearby tunnels towards him. Bones continues to grin like a maniac.

After some time sat in silence, Fa Tsu stands up, seals his Mech suit and carries Alyona towards the airlock. Amelia sees this, and scoops up her sister’s body, and follows after him. Mei is right behind her cousin and Berthold strides after Amelia, yanking Fredrik by the arm, which prompts to follow.

Fa Tsu lays Alyona’s body down in the snow. Amelia does the same with Abigail. The sun is setting in the background. It is still quiet outside, and the motion tracker is still except for the movement in the building. Fa Tsu and Mei both sing a soft, sonorous song of mourning in Chinese. And then Fa Tsu points his flame thrower at the bodies, setting them alight.

“What are you-” Amelia lunges towards Fa Tsu, but is stopped by a firm hand on her shoulder.

“Think of it like cremation”, Berthold says, holding onto his boss.

“-for chrissakes Fa Tsu, a little warning, next time”, Amelia says.

“I’m sorry. I couldn’t leave them out here to freeze”, Fa Tsu explains.

“They would just get e-eaten by the -b-bugs anyway”, Fredrik says.

Fa Tsu turns and gives Fredrik the coldest stare. “Fredik. Please. Shut up.”

Fredrik looks down at the snow in fear. Berthold slaps him round the back of the head. “Have some respect, you idiot!” Fredrik whimpers his apology.

Fa Tsu looks back to Amelia. “Unfortunately, they won’t be the last of the deaths. We need to deal with Nemo.”

“Nemo!? Wha’… why!!?”

“He’s a Psychic. He’s been killing people!”

“Oh, nae this again! I thought there were nae psychic. Connor was accusin’ Nemo o’ bein’ controlled by a psychic, and then Nemo was tha’ one who gort shot. Doesn’t make it very likely he’s a Psychic now does it!”

“Or maybe it does! He’s a genius! He shot himself! Its the perfect cover!”

Amelia shakes her head in dismay. “Look. We’ve lost enough people already, had enough people killin’ e’other. I’m nort gonna be helpin’ you kill someone else, psychic or no’.”

“Fine” says Fa Tsu. “Just as long as when I deal with him, you don’t stand in my way.”

“I ain’t tha’ stupid.”

Fredrik steps forward. “So, Fa Tsu, d-d you know where Chang keeps his st-”

“Enough with this already!” Berthold roars at Fredrik.

“Seriously, I cannae believe ye’re a druggie”, Amelia adds in disgust. Fa Tsu strides off, leaving the other two to deal with Fredrik.

“I AM not a druggie!”

“Then why d’ye keep askin’ about ’em?”

“BECAUSE I was c-c-clean when I came to this p-planet, but with all this stress… wi-withdrawal n-need to calm down… anyway, I w-wouldn’t be asking… its Berthold’s fault, he and Chang were smuggling t-them onto the-the pla-”

“YOU’RE A LIAR!” Berthold roars.

“Fredrik. Shut it. Or I’ll shoot ye”, Amelia says matter-of-factedly.

“YOU CAN’T! You were saying about not hurting other people.”

“Didn’t say I’d kill ye…” That shuts up Fredrik, and they all head inside.

Bones stand in an intersection of five tunnels. It sounds like something is coming towards him from each tunnel. He holds out his grapple gun with one hand, and starts to loosen his armour plating with his other. “Commme onnn…”

The camera flits through Central Water Heating, as Dr Ross and Nemo continues going about the crowd of survivors. Many people are incredibly ill, but it looks like no more deaths today.

Snow Plough and Fa Tsu discuss what to do next. Fa Tsu, realising that the rescue ship should be in-system, decides that it would be a good idea to send a distress call, and the hydro-electric plant should have a functioning PLANet (Planetary Access Network) communicator-mast to broadcast with. Snow Plough contacts Nick Ryan at the Hydro-electric Plant via comms.

“Hi Ryan!”

“Fa Tsu.”

“How are things going over there?”

“Fine. Nobody’s dead. You?”

“Well… we’ve had a few problems over here.”

“Maisy still functioning?” Ryan says, referring to the jeep.

“No, well… there was an incident. So… no.”

“Well enjoy the 2 mile walk up here. Isn’t far, without the bugs. Its been quiet. They gone?”

“Noooo. No. No.”

“Then have fun. Its pretty safe up here. Looks like coming here wasn’t so bad after all.”

“Good. Good. Well, you have fun!” Plough cuts out of the comms conversation.

Fa Tsu, who’d been listening in says “You know you’re an asshole, Ryan?”

“Yup.”

“Could you do me a favour… we need you to send the message to the approaching ship. Ready?”

“Yup.”

“Attention Corps vessel, this is Emperor Fa Tsu of the Frost colony… we uh… we really need your help down here. People are dying, we’ve got sickness… and there are indigenous life-forms killing people, so if… so if you could get here really quick… that’d be great!”

“Got it. I’ll transmit when I get inside. Ryan out.”

The camera pans above Bones. He lies on the floor. His armour is in detached segments, lying around him. He holds onto the grapple gun. The line and grapple are embedded in his armour’s detached chest plate. There is a smoking hole in his stomach. His dead eyes stare at the ceiling.

ROLL END CREDITS!

NOTE: there was a private scene which took several minutes where Bones’ fate was decided by his actions. For plot reasons, this was kept secret from the players, and thus, has been recapped much in the way the players encountered the events. What the hell lurks down towards the core of the planet? Well, that is an answer for another time in the future… maybe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ILTC Cold Frontier Episode 18

Episode 18 “Days 18, Part One.”

Featured Survivors

(Group 1: Central Water Heating Building)

Characters: Snow Plough, Deputy Hayes, Tweak, Fa Tsu

Friendlies: Nemo and assorted heating and waste workers (9 in total).

(Group 2: Maintenance Building)

Characters: Dodd, David/Bones

Friendlies: (Group 2.1) Anatoli, Alyona, Dr Mya Ross, Dr Stapes, Mei Tsu.  (Group 2.2) Amelia, Abigail, Fredrik, Berthold. (The Loners) Mayor Winkleman, Lucy and Anyu.

PRE-CREDITS SCENE (continuing from the last episode’s pre-credits scene)

The camera focusses on the landing pad with makeshift perimeter wall and towers, as marines off-load crates from a dropship into a warehouse. Other marines are taking other crates and loading them into trucks. The camera pans around behind the landing pad, where a dirt-track roads leads up to some white stone houses up on a rise above the jungle, where a truck is already travelling. The camera then focusses on Tweak, stood in the sentry tower on the left. He can hear the “We want food!” chant coming from the jungle treeline. The guard in the opposite tower radios Tweak; it is clear that the guard has total distaste for the locals and looks eager for a fight, whilst Tweak most certainly doesn’t want to shoot anybody, which he tells the other guard, who responds “And yet you joined the Corps… good work, genius” and then cuts off the comm chatter. Tweak then hears the projected voice of the LT in the jungle trying to calm the crowd (and failing). The people in the crowd continue to demand food, whilst the LT explains that the food has intended recipients, and they will have to wait their turn. The locals make it clear that the food leftovers won’t be enough to feed them. Someone in the crowd yells “Fuck the Corps!” and others reciprocate, creating a new chant…

Tweak looks in a degree of shock as a swarm of people burst through the trees. “We’ve been overrun!” comes repeated through the comms. A different voice comes through the comms. “What’s going out there?” Tweak stutters, explaining that there are dozens of people approaching. He is then ordered to open fire. Tweak tries to explain they’re barely armed and not dangerous, and he is right, as bricks and sticks seem to be the most dangerous weapons among them. “You have been ordered to open fire, marine!” is the response he gets. The other sentry is opening fire with no encouragement needed. “Better get firing Tweak, before you get a brick to the face!” mocks the other sentry. A brick bounces off of Tweak’s visor. “Told you!” He fires. Tweaks looks on in shock as a teenage boy collapses to the floor with a hole in his chest.

ROLL OPENING CREDITS

The episode opens with Anatoli Demidov and his daughter, Alyona. She is stood by a row of buckets, arms folded, lips formed in an angry pout. “No, I WON’T GO!” she screams at her father. He calmly, at first, explains how there is no toilet, and she needs to go in the bucket like everybody else. She continues to refuse to poop where everybody else has. Anatoli then raises his voice which only causes her to scream more and more. Anatoli gets on the info-link, furiously requesting someone from next door bring one of the many engineers or maintenance workers they are hoarding to fix the toilet problem. Alyona to scream “I don’t want to go! I DON’T WANT TO GO!” In the background.

Hayes asks who Fa Tsu was talking to on the comms and Fa Tsu explains the situation. He points out that going outside is asking for death and makes it clear ‘making a hole’ to go next door is their only option, but no-one else seems particularly keen. This doesn’t seem to stop Fa Tsu’s determination, however. Hayes goes off to the workers to get them to confirm Fa Tsu’s idea is madness to try and stop him making a hole through the wall. Nemo stands over Tweak, sat on his bed, as Nemo gives him an injection. “There you go. Anti-sickness meds, should help you out a little.” Tweak is pale, clammy and sweating. “Have fun” Nemo strides off, with a slight smirk on his face.

Bones approaches Anatoli and his daughter. He grins and says “I can shut up her if you like.” With tempers already high, Anatoli throws a punch at Bones. Bones steps back, catching Anatoli’s wrist.

“Hey, hey, I was just joking!”

“Joking. Joking!!? You threaten to hurt my daughter and you call that JOKING!?” Anatoli screams.

“All right. Okay. I’m sorry”, David responds, releasing the Russian’s arm.

Dodd is sat at the opposite end of the maintenance bay, polishing her pistol. Without looking up from her work she says. “You better shut her up, or I’ll do it for you.”

Anatoli stomps over. “What is it… with you people… threatening to HURT MY DAUGHTER!!? First he threatens to hit her, and YOU threaten to SHOOT her!?”

“Shut up her up. We need to be quiet. Or I will.  Same for you.”

“You’re like a pathetic little brat, sat in your lonely little corner. You don’t know what to do unless you have something ease your itchy little trigger finger!”

Dodd stares up at him. Bones, seeing what is about to happen, moves up behind Anatoli. “I’ll shoot you. Be quiet.”

“If you shoot me, I’ll make sure you die too.”

“Be quiet.”

“You wouldn’t-”

Dodd fires. Bones leaps forward, but is too late. Anatoli collapses against the front of the jeep, looking at the bullet-hole in his chest in disbelief. Then his face turns back to anger. He staggers to his feet.

“I said I’d kill you f-” Dodd fires again. Anatoli collapses. Very dead. Alyona’s screams are far louder now. Dodd goes back to cleaning her guns. Dr Ross, sat in the back of jeep stands up. “Oh my god, are you fucking MAD, Dodd!?” Dodd just looks at her and says ‘sssssh!’ as if nothing untoward has happened. Bones backs away, going over to the vehicle airlock, turning towards it.

Ross radios Bones, talking hushed. “What the hell are you doing, she just murdered somebody else! And you just WALK AWAY!”

Bones says “Don’t worry. Got something in mind.”

“You better have. Since you wanted to prove yourself to Demidov… well, he’s gone, but maybe you can still prove yourself.”

Tweak, having heard the shots, and now able to hear the screams, radios Dr Ross. “Ross, what the hell is going on over there?”

“Dodd just shot dead Demidov, in front of his kid.”

“WHAT?”

“You heard me. Alyona was screaming the place down, Dodd threatened to shoot the kid, so Demidov confronted her… now he’s dead.”

“Ah hell!” Tweak looks at Hayes, Snow Plough and Fa Tsu. “We need to get over there. Now.”

Fa Tsu looks to Snow Plough. “We’re making a hole.” Snow Plough nods.

Amelia, shotgun out, but lowered, approaches Dodd. “What the hell are ye doin’? Ye got most of the guns… I didn’t give them tae yer fae THIS! Ye’re supposed to be one of the sane ones!”

“She needs to be quiet. Or they’ll come” says Dodd, staring at the screaming kid.

“How is firing yer gun, and SHOOTING HER DA, gonna make ANYTHIN’ quiet!?”

“Just… just shut her up”, Dodd insists.

“Ye’re mad. Alla ye” says Amelia, scooping up the screaming child, trying to calm her. She goes to the equipment cupboard, where Berthold, Abi and Fredik are, and shuts the door. Quietly, she tries to sing to the screaming child to keep her quiet.

Mayor stalks into the maintenance bay. He is shaking. He is swinging a kitchen knife back and forward. He looks over at Demidov’s body, and then to Dodd. Crazed fury is sprawled across his face. “You! WHY DO YOU KEEP SHOOTING PEOPLE!? Didn’t you listen to ANYTHING I said!?”

Dodd says “Shhhhhhh! You need to be quiet.”

“Quiet!? QUIET! YOU’RE THE ONE SHOOTIN’ EVERYBODY!” He points his knife in Dodd’s face. She doesn’t seem intimidated. “Weren’t you listening TO WHAT I SAID  A FEW DAYS AGO!? You want to start killin’ people, then you can go OUTSIDE, and die out there!”

She shrugs, looking all to coy. “I’m an Iceworlder. I won’t die out there.”

“Is that what you think? Well how about you go OUT THERE and we’ll see what THEY think about that!” Winkleman storms off, whilst Dodd continues to look unbearably smug. Winkleman climbs into a bed, looking at Lucy and Anyu, who both look at him, mortified. “Just get back into bed girls. And be quiet. Then they won’t come to get you…” Lucy and Anyu look to each other and start to finally come to their senses and get out of bed whilst the mad Mayor hugs the handle of the knife.

Fa Tsu and Snow Plough are working on the south wall, and Tweak joins them, as between the cutting laser, engineering tools and Tweak’s vibro-tools, they are quickly able to cut a hole. Due to his objections from before, Hayes seems entirely unsure and is hanging back, whilst Jeeves comes to help bust open the wall, and Crusher takes up the rear. Snow Plough looks back to Hayes. “Come on Hayes, time for some police work!” Hayes is suddenly buoyed by Snow Plough’s enthusiasm, and prepares him, stood just behind and to the right of Fa Tsu. They bring down the wall. With three of them working on it, the hole is about thirty across. Dodd looks up; a tiny piece of wall with the rail-gun hole running through it is all that stands between her and the hole her former comrades just made as dust billows around her, and the four men step through, with the drones flying above them. Hayes is immediately on the other side of the partially damaged wall, and even with the dust, able to see Dodd as she only five foot from him. Pistol in hand, she looks up. Hayes points his machine pistol. There is a single shot. Fa Tsu looks down as Hayes spins. His visor has been punched through. There is a gaping, bleeding hole where Hayes’s left eye once was. “Ah’m, sorry… sir” he says and collapses. Fa Tsu’s throws up inside his Mech. Bones spins and fires at Dodd, who despite the dust cloud, and Bones’s silenced rifle, fires off into the dust nonetheless. The shot harmlessly pings off of Bones’s battle armour as he fires as well, causing Dodd to drop her pistol at her feet. Tweak hears the shot, but with the size and bulk of the Mech and the dust cloud, has no idea what just happened. He sees a the door of the wall with the small rail-gun hole in it, leading into the maintenance bay, and rushes it. He boots open the door, turns to his right, sights Dodd, and fires the automatic shotgun. Dodd’s empathic instincts continue to aid her and she rolls just as Tweak fires, rolling behind the jeep for cover. Snow Plough steps forward, assault rifle pointed at Dodd. He orders the drones forward on “crowd control mode”, as Crusher loudly intones for Dodd to drop her weapons, whilst whirring the minigun barrels, and Jeeves flexes Ramirez’s former cybernetic arm, popping the blade out, retracting and repeats the process.

Dodd puts her hands up in the air. “Look I didn’t want this. I didn’t mean to.” She looks to the drones, then to Snow Plough. “You need to tell them to be quiet. They’ll come.”

Snow Plough mutes the drones. “Now I want to start dropping your weapons and sliding them across the floor towards me”, he instructs.

Dodd looks at her pistol. “I did.”

“The OTHER weapons.” Before Dodd can respond, Fa Tsu comes charging past. and barges the floating drones aside. Dodd quickly draws her dart rifle and fires… but it’s jammed. Fa Tsu wraps a metallic gauntlet around Dodd’s head, palm resting against the face. He then squeezes. He smashes the back of her head into the nearest wall, lifts her in the air and tosses her against the vehicle airlock shutter. She drops down to the floor, face heavily bruised, nose crushed, still alive, but with a ruined face. Bones drops onto the floor, looking under the jeep… he has a direct shot to Dodd.

“I can make the shot! Sergeant, do I make the shot?”

“Uh… uh…” Snow Plough has no idea what to do or say.

“DO I MAKE THE SHOT!!?” Bones screams down the comms.

Tweak takes the initiative. “She’s surrendered! Do not take the shot, Bones, I repeat do not make the sh-”

Bones fires “RAAAAARGH! That’s for Demidov!” BANG. Dodd looks in distant shock at the bullet hole in her chest. “This is for Hayes!” BANG. He fires again. The second shot kills her.

Tweak barks commands. “Bones, stop, she’s down, I repeat, BONES-”

He fires again. “This is from me!” He shoots Dodd’s corpse. Then he clambers across the back of the jeep.

Tweak continues to yell. “BONES! SHE’S ALREADY DEAD!”

Bones doesn’t listen. He lifts up Dodd’s corpse. “And this….” he slams her already ruined face into the floor “IS FOR ALYONA!” As Dodd’s face strikes the floor, it collapses and Dodd’s body disappears. A pair of mandibles lock around David’s right ankle. “Shi-” his face hits the edge of the tunnel, cutting off his speech, as he is dragged under the broken floor. The jeep starts to tip backwards towards the tunnel. Ross clambers out of the jeep, pulling Stapes with her. “They’re all going to get us killed! We need to get out of here!” She runs with Stapes, as they go for the hole the others created, leading them towards the accommodation next door. Mei scrambles out of the jeep, but falls right next to it. The Mayor comes running out of the bunk room, through the door into the maintenance bay, right next to Tweak. “What’s goin’ on? They’re comin’ aren’t they!” He continues to wave his knife around. And then the floor breaks under him. “THERE YOU ARE!” The worker bites his leg off, and grapples on the stump. “You took my wife! YOU TOOK HER!” he screams as if not noticing that he just lost a leg. He is dragged under the floor, futilely stabbing the creature as he goes. “GIVE ME BACK MY WIFE! WHERE IS SH-” And his screams are cut off. Tweak points his automatic shotgun down the hole, firing repeatedly until all sound from inside the hole stops. Fa Tsu runs to the other hole, releasing a massive gout of fire with the flame thrower. He then climbs over the jeep to get to Mei. “Mei!” Mei looks truly relieved and hugs the leg of the Mech. “I thought you weren’t coming.” “I’m going to get you out of this, Mei.”

Snow Plough climbs up onto the front of the jeep rather pathetically. “They’re coming under the floor get to safety!” He then calms, sat on the front of the jeep away from the floor where they can come through. And the child, in the cupboard, has stopped screaming. Berthold is barricading the door with Abi whilst Amelia keeps Alyona relatively quiet. Fredik is just sat on the floor, shivering uselessly. Tweak keeps his eye on his bug-hole, whilst the jeep in the background continues to tilt backwards. “On second thoughts”, says Snow Plough “Maybe the high ground isn’t the best idea.” He drops off the rising front of the jeep, collapsing onto the floor, as the jeep groans ominously, and the hole under the rear left wheel grows in size.. Jeeves floats down to Plough. “Need a… hand, sir?” it messages to him through his helmet, flexing the fingers. “Quiet, Jeeves!” Snow Plough yells, despite no actual noise being made, and takes the hand anyway, getting to his feet. Fa Tsu clambers onto the back of the jeep and removes the railgun. Ross urges Lucy and Anyu to run to her and Stapes, which they do, as they get into the heating worker’s accommodation, and then argue about what to do next, as escape options seem quite limited. The jeep goes almost entirely vertical as the tunnel continues to expand. Snow Plough runs to the jeep, and cuts open the fuel lines, as fuel starts to pour down the tunnel. “Come on, Jeeves!” He turns to run. Tweak has his back turned however, and has no idea the jeep is about to explode…

Mei climbs onto Fa Tsu’s shoulder after he mags the rail-gun to his back. They watch the jeep disappear down the tunnel. “Time to go” says Fa Tsu, charging past Tweak and Snow Plough, as they get through into the next building, where Ross and the others are debating what to do next. Fa Tsu puts Mei down. “Everybody, keep running!”

“Where?” says Ross. “Nemo isn’t here, which means he’s that way, and near him, we won’t be any safer. But here is hardly…”

Lucy looks at her quizzically. “What does this have to do with Nemo?”

“He’s the Psychic, he’s as likely to kill us as the bugs!”

Lucy is unconvinced. “I thought nobody was the Psychic!”

“Connor wasn’t mad he was right!”

“How do you know that?”Anyu asks.

“He TOLD me!”

“But why would he…?”

Fa Tsu yells “Ross! It’s being handled! Now stop talking, and move!”

“I can’t stop talking, its what I do what I’m nervous…”

Stapes quips “And the rest of the time!”

“MOVE!” Fa Tsu yells. Mei, Lucy and Anyu run on into Central Water Heating. All the other workers have fled into cover in Waste Purification… except for Nemo, who hides in a corner in Central Water Heating. He watches the heating pipes, grinning, eyes occasionally wandering to the bullet in his hand. Ross insists they aren’t going in Nemo’s direction, though Stapes doesn’t seem convinced of her suggestion to use the barricade by the rigged western airlock.

“What if they come in through the airlock behind us?” Stapes complains.

“That’s the white ones… I don’t think we have to worry about those ones any more. And the blue ones come through the floor, so where is good to hide? At least there we have a barricade to hide behind, somewhere solid in front, and behind”, Ross explains. Stapes gives in, and they run for the barricade. And then the entire building shakes, as the explosion detonates underground.  And there is silence. Tweak looks down his hole and listens. There are no more bugs coming… for now…

Bones opens his eyes. Everything is pitch black. He is being dragged along. The sound of ant legs sound like a series of slow methodical picks against the ice. Ice? It is cold. Very cold. Other sounds, some as slow, some faster, echo around him. Bugs skitter past and over him. The odd leg knocks into him. He remains limp as he is dragged along. He carefully and slowly takes a frag grenade and puts it in his mouth, holding onto it. After a few minutes of being dragged, the sound of the ant dragging him sound… below? He is flung downwards as the creature dragging him climbs down a vertical shaft. He slams into its carapace. He feels its spikes press into his armour, but the armour holds. The grenade does not fall, and he manages not to disturb the detonator. He goes purposefully limp, as the creature climbs down the tunnel.

Tweak approaches Ross and Stapes. “Hey Ross, I think we all really fucked up here.”

“We? Whose we? Those marines were the ones who were supposed to protect us… fine job they did. You seem to be the only same one, and you shouldn’t even be doing the job.”

“Well, uh… thanks I guess. What’d do we do now?”

“No idea.” And then Tweak collapses. “Oh great”, says Ross. “At least he’s one we like.” Stapes and Ross grab Tweak’s unconscious body, and haul him over the barricade.

Bones is being carried across a mostly horizontal surface. As he remains limp, he is no longer being dragged along the floor. There are more sounds around him now, the echoes greater in volume, indicating a larger chamber, with a LOT more ants in it. He is dumped down against a wall and then the worker scuttles away. Bones deliberately slumps down against the floor, as he realises the wall behind him isn’t ice or earth, but feels likely, stone, perhaps? As he lies head against the floor, he turns the light onto dim illumination, mostly at the floor. The floor is not ice, earth or stone either… it looks like frozen tarmac. The wall.. the wall is frozen brickwork. And makes out the silhouette of a wrecked, frozen vehicle. He turns his head and sees a human body frozen in ice. He tries to make out more details about the sounds around him, listening carefully to the various creatures skittering around him. Among the sounds, he hears a much heavier picking sound against the tarmac. The sound approaches him. He turns his head, again keeping the light mostly pointed at the floor, to mostly avoid attention. He sees blue legs, about as thick as the width of two relatively slim humans go parallel to him, and stop. A green liquid sprays over Bones’s legs. He spits the grenade into a hand, raising it above the slime as it coats his torso. The massive creature then continues on ahead of him.He turns his head again, watching the twenty foot long creature walk ahead of him. He rolls the grenade towards where its head must be. And then he sees the egg sac at the rear, as it pulsates, releasing larvae into the slime coating him. As the grenade rolls on, it starts beeping. The humongous creature stops. The grenades continues to roll. Bones tears free. He punches a larvae as it snaps him, and runs. The grenade stops rolling. It beeps again. The Queen’s head looks down at it.

Fa Tsu walks over to the equipment cupboard. Snow Plough seems content, despite all the death and madness, after checking that his drones are fine and wanders over to Fa Tsu to see what he is doing. It is pretty quiet in the cupboard. Inside, Berhold has wedged a broom from the door handle, and then he and Abi have moved shelving in front of the door. Fredrik looks up to Berthold. He is still clammy and shivering immensely. “Berthold… I need a fix man… ”

“Shut up, already!” Berthold hisses at him. Abi and Amelia are softly singing to Alyona, who is quietly sobbing, clinging onto Amelia. And then Fa Tsu knocks on the wall. “FA TSU!” she calls to him, immediately.

“Oh nice one, Fa Tsu! We had ‘er quiet!”Amelia yells through the wall.

“I was just checking if she was okay!” Fa Tsu call backs.

“She WAS, and now ye gone and set ‘er off again! Go away!”

“No, I’m not leaving without her!” Fa calls back.

“Fa Tsu, Daddy’s dead. I WANT MOMMY!” Alyona screams.

“GO!” Amelia calls, and Alyona screams even louder. Fa Tsu tries to calm her, and Alyona just gets more hysterical, asking him to get her Mommy.

Berthold gets angry. “Fa Tsu, get the hell away from the door! You aren’t coming in!”

“Oh really? Because the big Mech I’m in says otherwise!”

Amelia gets cross herself. “Fa Tsu! If ye go bustin’ through tha door, ye’re only gonna make muir noise, and her muir scared!”

Fa Tsu tries to calm himself, and makes more attempts to calm Alyona, but nothing he says works. She screams louder and louder. Amelia and Abigail hold her together, bouncing her up and down trying to calm her. She continues to scream. Fredik watches on in terror, as cracks starts to form under the two women and the six year old. “Oh, god,  I need my juice… I need my juice!” The camera zooms in, showing his arms, where there track marks. The cracks grow in size and number. “I need my juice!”

End of episode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ILTC Cold Frontier Episode 17

Episode 17 “Days 14 to 17.”

Featured Remaining Survivors (thought it was time for a breakdown of who is left as we approach the end of the campaign… four more days left.)

(Group 1: Central Water Heating Building)

Characters: Snow Plough, Deputy Hayes, Tweak, Fa Tsu

Friendlies: Nemo (his player is not present for three weeks, I have been told to ‘be reckless’ with him, however) and assorted heating and waste workers (9 in total.)

(Group 2: Maintenance Building)

Characters: Dodd, David/Bones

Friendlies: (Group 2.1) Anatoli, Alyona, Dr Mya Ross, Dr Stapes, Mei Tsu.  (Group 2.2) Amelia, Abigail, Fredrik, Berthold. (The Loners) Mayor Winkleman. Lucy and Anyu.

(Group 3: Hydro-electric plant.)

Friendlies: Gottlieb, Nick Ryan, Cara, Dean, Phil, Kayleigh, Darla

Total Survivors: 34 locals, 1 off-world marine (started with 58 locals and four off-world marines)

PRE-CREDITS SCENE

A jungle planet is shown. Three suns are in the sky, one massive and red, another small and orange and another a distant white speck in the sky. A wedge of Corps dropships plunges through the clouds, flying over the jungle. A shanty-town exists in the jungle; rickety drawbridges extend between treetops. People live in huts made from wood and thatch. The ground is pounded into mud, and most people walk on bare foot. And despite what stereotypes you might expect, the people living here are as Caucasian as they come. There is a constant, loud chant, that of thousands of people. “We want food! We want food!” There are lines of marines stood in the way of a far larger number of protesters, continuing their chant. “Deploy mag-shields!” a marine calls out, as the front punch their fists onto circular devices on their wrists, they deploy the reinforced riot shields, as objects are hurled at then. A Lieutenant attempts to address the crowd, but his speech is thrown off as he is struck by a rock; many in the crowd laugh. They stop laughing when a huge Mech lifts the LT above the crowd. He addresses them telling them to turn away, before they are fired upon for criminal actions. Someone in the crowd responds with “We’re not criminals! That’s our food!”

“This food is property of the Colonial Dominion, and we, the United Colonial Marine Corps, serve the Dominion. If you oppose us, you oppose the Dominion, which makes this protest Rebel action. Proceed, and we will be made to use force!” But the warning does not stop the protesters as they continue to chant. The camera moves away from the protesters to a hearing behind the marine’s line of defence, as large crates are being moved off a shuttle. The shuttle is on a landing pad in a makeshift base surrounded by a pre-fab wall. The camera zooms in to one of the towers so a sentry with an automatic shotgun and pristine battle armour. It says “Private H. Hermann” on the right shoulder pad, and below that… “Tweak.”

ROLL OPENING CREDITS

“Day 14.”

The episode opens with Nemo stood over Snow Plough, injecting him with something. Snow Plough is very, very unconscious. Nemo unclenches one fist. There is the bullet he extracted from Snow Plough’s head. The fist closes again. The waste workers, no longer able to get into Waste Purification due to the barricade are sat around on mattresses or in the lounge area, talking amongst themselves whilst the Central Heating workers carry on their work with head-lights, as the lights are out in the main work area. Tweak inspects the barricade by the western barricade. There are parts of the mandibles and carapaces of several Razor Ants littered around the airlock. He inspects the rigging Snow Plough has done to the western airlock and then goes to the eastern airlock to attempt to replicate Snow Plough’s procedure. Tweak walks past Hayes who is sat alone on the floor, stripping apart his machine pistol and checking all the component parts. He lines up the ammunition clips he has remaining, and seems to be running low. Tweak walks past the lounge area where some of the furniture has been moved aside. Fa Tsu has climbed up onto the right shoulder of his Mech and is welding the flame-thrower that once belonged to Blinky to the right arm. Tweak begins taking apart the wiring of the eastern airlock. Next door in maintenance, Dodd is sat to the right of the jeep by herself, cleaning her sniper rifle. Anatoli and Alyona are sat in the front of the jeep, as Anatoli is trying to keep his six year old daughter happy, singing songs in Russian with her and clapping. Dr Stapes sits against the south wall, alone. Mei sits in the corner near to them, looking terrified and alone. Amelia strides back and forth, in front of the equipment cupboard, pump-action shotgun at the ready, with the welded barricade over the bug tunnel to the left of her. Fredrik, Berthold and Abigail sit inside the large cupboard, talking quietly. In the bunk room, the Food Storage admin sits on a bunk, alone. Anyu is curled under her sheets, looking terrified. Mayor Ted Winkleman sits on the edge of his head, slightly rocking, staring into space… catatonic. The camera then cuts to the perspective of a pair of opening eyes. They look up at Dr Ross, arms folded, grinning. “Where am I?” asks a gruff voice. David’s. “In bed” Ross responds. “What happened?” “You got electrocuted”, Ross responds. David sits up, confused. “What how?” Ross smirks; “Dodd decided to shoot an explosive round at the ceiling, which brought down an electrical light, electrocuting the barricade.” David is furious and leaps out of bed. “Be thankful you’re not dead. The other four were not so lucky. Your armour saved you; what with the metal plating, its got to be well insulated on the inside, otherwise, you’d be easy to kill.” David doesn’t listen any further and storms out of the room. Ross follows behind him, a grin still on her face; “This should be good.”

Tweaks takes a break from his engineering work. He activates his helmet comm. “Dodd, you there?”

“Yup”, she responds nonchalantly. footsteps stomp towards her. “Everything good over there?” says Tweak. “Yup.”

“DODD!” David screams. “Or maybe not”, Dodd radios back to Tweak. David lunges right at Dodd, and grabs her by the collar. She tears off her scarf and tries to wrap it around his arm. He lifts her up… not off the ground, but enough to be looking eyes despite the height difference. He grabs the scarf with his free arm and throws it to the floor. “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do! Do you KNOW why they call me Bones!!?”

“HEY!” Anatoli climbs onto the front of the jeep. “I am trying to teach daughter here, you understand, and here you are, shouting like children.” With that, David drops Dodd to the floor. “You want to go shout and fight and kill each other, you go, elsewhere, da?” David nods and says “Da.” Dodd mutters something sarcastic under her breath. “Oh, you not understand that? ‘Da’… means, yes, DA?’ She rolls her eyes. “I’m sorry, ME NO SPEAK ENGLISH GOOD!” he continues, matching her tirade with his own, which goes on for a minute or so of back and forth between him and Dodd. Dodd and David can’t help but smirk. “See, Anatoli has a sense of humour! You be nice, you get FUNNY Anatoli.” His face then darkens. “You don’t want to screw with serious Anatoli. We clear?” “Da” they both respond. “Good. I have daughter to teach. She needs education.” He climbs back into the jeep. Tweak blanches, able to hear all of this. “What the hell was that?” Dodd gives a typical overly casual response: “Oh nothing”, and carries on cleaning her guns, her many, many guns. Tweak gives up trying to communicate with her and goes back to her work.

A few hours pass; Snow Plough is awake and drinking tea. He has Jeeves continue repair work on the deactivated recon drone, Blinky. He decides to count out the food that they have. Since all of the waste and heating workers are all still alive, and running on stores from the previous delivery before the marines came, so, five weeks without new food, they are on the last. With rationing, he reckons they can stretch the ‘actual’ food to two more days before they need to start chewing on plant matter. He gets into a discussion with the others in his building over what to do next. Tweak and Fa Tsu both seem eager to get to the food warehouse and to see what they can recover. They check the Food Warehouses camera… but the feed is entirely cut out, likely frozen over. It is quiet outside; nothing but snow. Tweak insists that a mission can be made… so Fa Tsu shows the motion tracker readings in the HUDs of those with helmets. Tweak looks more than a little shocked, whilst the others seem to have adjusted to the sight, as there are red flashing blips EVERYWHERE within the 100ft radius. After that, even Tweak has to admit that the warehouse is off-limits. They radio Ross, asking her what to do about the food crisis, and what the food levels are like in maintenance. “We’ve still got a few days left. As for you… you’d better get used to the taste of bug.” She says this whilst she seems to be calmly, too calmly, eviscerating the Worker corpse into its component parts. None of the others seem happy at her suggestion. “Well, if you go outside, you’ll only get yourselves killed. And we aren’t going outside to bring you food… how about you get Fa Tsu to roast you some bug?” Since she is cutting up the bug, she carries on talking about them. “The internal organs roast well.” She holds up a piece of blue internal organs and uses a lighter, which immediately ignites it. “They must have a lot flammable gases. But if you’re going to set them on fire… be accurate.” She holds up a piece of carapace and lights it. It remains on fire, but doesn’t disintegrate or show damage. “They aren’t entirely vulnerable to the fire; the carapace is practically indestructible. Remember to shoot the underside. I think the slit on the underneath is for passing foecal matter. You might be able to shoot the eyes… but their lids are armoured, so you have to be a good shot. Plus, there’s the mouth. But don’t put your hand in their mouths unless you want to go the way of the previous Sergeant.” Tweaks pipes in: “Will armour piercing rounds work?” “I don’t think so; those are designed to penetrate anywhere in armour, and this stuff is practically indestructible. You need to go for the weak spots.” Hayes, seeming rather disturbed by the whole thing, says “Thanks Dodd!” and ends the communication. Snow Plough’s eyes brighten. “All right, who wants to try some Ant?” Hayes sighs and volunteers.

The day passes as Fa Tsu attempts to cook the pieces of Ant they have, but alas, they only have carapace pieces and Hayes breaks a tooth trying to eat it. “Well, that’s that.” Tweak continues his maintenance work on the airlock. Snow Plough works with Jeeves and they restore both Blinky and Jeeves to full functionality. Meanwhile, Dodd sticks with her weapons and David strides back and forth, patrolling… not that it does much good.

“Day 15.”

The Queen can be heard be shrieking, it is a staccato, stuttered scream, not the focussed roar of previous days. Fa Tsu checks the motion tracker, but other than the movement below and aboveground going mental as usual, he can’t make much sense of it. Snow Plough borrows Fa Tsu’s com-pad and checks outside the warehouse; it seems quiet outside, except for the constant shadows flicking over the ground… and then something blue bursts out of it. A bug. It spits… there is a bright flash. A White Screamer falls from the sky. As soon as it hits the snow, the snow practically explodes outwards… and then the screamer is gone. “Oh. So not going outside then.” They radio Ross about this. Ross is sat, still examining bug parts, covered in bright blue liquid. “It makes sense. These are carnivorous creatures we are talking about, and they need to eat. They have a colony or hive culture, so clearly they can’t eat other. So they eat other colonies. From what I have seen, the Blues and Whites could be different species, similar yet, but different. Just let them fight. This is just nature going on around us. Until we came and fucked it up by shooting at ice and blowing things up and drawing them here. Let’s just not cause any more damage, shall we?” As the comm conversation is broadcast to all listening, Hayes asks Ross what the screaming could be about. She recounts the first time they heard it, going into the White colonies caves and finding the Queen; she screamed, and they came from everywhere and then pursued them to the colony. According to Hayes, when he was out there, and it last screamed, Whites came from all around, descending on Frost. “So the roar is clearly some kind of all call to arms… but it sounds different now. Panicked, maybe? But it isn’t about us, or we’d be dead already. Leave them to fight.” Nobody can really disagree with that sentiment.

Snow Plough decides to see how things are going at the hydro-electric plant by contacting Nick Ryan.

Ryan: “Wow, you’re alive. I’m impressed. The last time we heard so those screams, swarms of those things came. Figured you were dead by now.”

Snow Plough: “Well, thanks Ryan! Can you see them now?”

Ryan: “Nope. Fucks know what they’re up to.”

Snow Plough: “Well thanks again… so how are things over there? Warm and cosy?”

Ryan: “Yup. Anything else?”

Snow Plough: “… well, no not really-” CLICK. The comm chat ends. “What a dick! Ryan is a dick!”

Hayes: “How are things at the plant?”

Snow Plough: “I don’t know!”

Hayes: “The plant will have comms. Let me try.” He contacts Gottlieb, who sounds surprisingly chirpy.

Gottlieb: “You know, I’ve got to admit, Sergeant Greyjoy was onto something, it’s not so bad here!” He sounds a little too cheerful. “But zen he is dead. Can’t have been that smart. Plus, I actually have people vith weapons. Not some oath with a sword. He dead yet?”

Hayes groans. “Yes actually.”

Gottlieb: “Told you! So, vat did you want?”

Hayes: “Just wanted to see everything was okay over there.”

Gottlieb: “Oh yes, fine. From vat Ryan tells me, you have been attracting all ze attention from us, so thanks for that.”

Hayes: “Where IS Ryan?”

Gottlieb: “Oh, he spends most of his time on ze roof. Anything else?”

Hayes: “Well, ah guess not. Oh hang o-” the communication cuts off. “Damn.” Hayes texts a message: “Remember: shoot them on the underside of the carapace.” A response of “Noted” flashes on his visor.

As the day passes on, Snow Plough collects as many spare parts as he can, mostly pipes and tubing and starts building what he intends to be a ‘steam gun.’ Tweak sits with the idle maintenance workers, telling them stories, raising their spirits and his own. Fa Tsu keeps giving Nemo accusing stares and accusing him of strange powers from nowhere. Nemo reiterates that Connor shooting him proves that he isn’t the so-called Psychic he was raving about. Fa Tsu throws a spanner at Nemo; Nemo moves out of the way of it. “Ha! Did you see that!?” Fa Tsu calls, as if he has proof. “What? Those are called reflexes?” Fa muses on that; “Reflexes… rigggggggggght…” He then proceeds on his next construction project, as he welds his linked weapons to his suit with extra reinforcement to prevent their removal with reinforcement. When he job is finished, he continues to hear the Queen’s screams, checked his readings to try and find a pattern to the bug movements… but it only gets him over-excited at the prospect of killing them. Once again, he starts making plans to destroy them… until Hayes walks over, places calming hands on Fa Tsu and manages to calm him the hell down.

Fa Tsu decides to get in touch with his cousin Mei, by getting Ross to loan her her info-link. Mei goes from quiet and despondent to overjoyed in a few moments; she explained how she is alone, with only a knife to defend her. She explains how the Demidovs sit in the jeep and won’t let anyone else in, how Ross just sits cutting up an Ant into tiny pieces and Stapes does little else than watch her. Dodd sits on her own and David is creepy, the bar staff keep to themselves and the other three don’t interact with anyone. Fa Tsu says he will help and calls his former boss, Anatoli. He manages to convince Anatoli to look after Mei, and since Stapes and Ross still seem to be relatively sane or at least not trying to kill anyone, he lets them into the jeep as well. Alyona then excitedly talks to Fa Tsu, and after she tells him about how she wants all the bugs to die because they are making people angry and kill each other, Fa Tsu agrees to kill them all himself and be a hero.

David spends most of the day in the vehicle airlock. He sets up a series of cans, shooting them down with his silenced assault rifle. Once he has finished shooting them, he then starts shooting the multitude of corpses. Since he makes no noise, and creeps everyone out, no-one comes to check on him. Dodd decides to take a look at Fa Tsu’s motion tracker readings. She sees a pattern he did not… the vast amount of blips beneath them are moving east, to the sound of where the Queen can be heard, and the blips in the way are slowly disappearing….

“Day 16.”

Both buildings stink. The toilets are not draining and are filled with faecal matter. When asked why, the survivors explain that since Tweak had them barricade the way into Waste Purification, the drains have become clogged and their is no way to drain the waste. People are starting to get sick, as both buildings have more people living in them than intended, without going outside, and they are running out of actual food and drinkable water… and the stench alone is making people ill. Tweak sets the waste workers to task on bringing down his barricade whilst he gives occasional advice, whilst he and Hayes stand by with guns ready, watching over them. Their barricading was complex work, so they take most of the day working on it.

Fa Tsu and Snow Plough work on another project. Fa Tsu decides to go looking for the ready roasted corpses to eat, so decides to take out the grate he had previously welded, to the top of the maintenance shaft. Snow Plough tears off the legs from bed frames, sharpening them into stakes and making a trap over the shaft entrance. Fa Tsu removes the grate, only to discover the corpses he burned our gone. He sighs, rather than fully reattach the grate, he and Snow Plough create a system to they can retract the grate to slam down the spikes onto whatever comes up the shaft. Then the waste workers, finishing their work on the barricade for the day (the barricade is down, but the doors are still welded shut) remove the waste from the toilet and dump the poo down the maintenance shaft. Fa Tsu watches closely to see what happens; the faecal matter doesn’t instantly freeze, but it doesn’t take long to do so. “Ahhhhhhh!”

David speaks to Anatoli, trying to get onside with the man, and more importantly, into the additional protection of the stationary but otherwise intact jeep.

“You need me. We need each other. At the end of the day, you need to decide, who you need, and who can be sacrificed”, David explains.

“No!” Anatoli slams his hands on the bonnet of the jeep. “There has been too much death already. I will not sacrifice. We are not the same you and I; protect yourself, I do not need you.” He climbs back in the jeep. David does not take a no for an answer, and stays by the jeep, near to Dodd, standing guard. As the day passes on, however, David falls asleep against the wall.

Meanwhile, all is quiet outside.

“Day 17.”

Tweak works alone on the door he ordered closed, alone at the work. Hayes watches over him, pistol at the ready. Such a thorough work has been done on the doors, he cannot free them and leave them intact. In the end, he has to tear them off their hinges as they reach the end of the day. As he removes them, the immense reek of weeks worth of solid faecal matter that the workers have been unable to dispose of blasts out. Tweak collapses, throwing up everywhere. Nemo peeks round, drawn by the sound. “Well… this is proving interesting.” He opens his clenched fist where the mangled bullet lies. He throws it up. It pauses in mid-air, spins around, then lands back in his hand.

End of episode!