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!

 

 

ILTC Cold Frontier Episode 16

Episode 16: “Day 12 (Part 3)/Day 13.”

Featured characters: Snow Plough, Deputy Hayes, Dodd, Tweak, Nemo, Fa Tsu.

Prominent Friendies: Connor Bull, Carl Bull, Dr Ross, Dr Stapes, Amelia, Anatoli Demidov.

Pre-credits scene

Continuing from the last episode’s pre-credit’s scene, the Ice Miners are packing up their equipment as Mac booms at them to their gear in the trucks. One of the miners is either not listening or deliberately ignoring Mac as he continues to lase into the ice. “Come on, I said get a move on!” Mac yells at the miner, striding up to Dodd, just guard at the side of a lorry. Cracks starts to run through the ice under the miner’s feet, which no-one seems to have noticed. “Just gimme a sec, chief!” the miner calls back. The camera cuts inside the nearest lorry, as Carl Bull peers up behind the driver’s seat, watching events from outside. He hears Mac continue to bawl at the miner. Mac then turns away and starts yelling at the other miners. Carl sees cracks open up further in the ice. He moves back suddenly. The miner disappears under the ice. “Shiiiiiiiiit!” Carl push the door of the lorry open. Mac spins back to Carl: “What the hell are you…?” “Look out!” Carl screams as cracks run through the ice towards Mac. Mac turns. Dodd steps in the way, rifle out. A Blue Razor Ant smashes through the surface of the ice and leaps at Dodd, ramming its mandibles through her visor and right into her eyes. “Shit!” Mac calls as he grabs the creature, tears it from Dodd and tosses it back into the ice. He grabs Dodd’s now unconscious body and hauls it into the back of the lorry. Other people are screaming in the background. “Kid, you know how to drive a truck?” “I’m just a…” “DO YOU!!?” Carl gulps and nods. “Then get her out of here!” Mac runs for the big land train. Ahead of him, a miner runs as a White Ant comes out of the tunnel into the mountains, pierces his mandibles through the miner’s chest, turns and carries him off to the tunnel. The camera shows each legs striking the ice and cracking it like a series of picks. Other miners are being pulled through the ice. A van half collapses into the ice. Carl guns the engine and drives. “Shit, shit, shiiiiiiiiiit…” Mac throws himself into the front of the land train and slaps his seat-belt on. The ice bursts open in front of the vehicle. The back of the land train tilts backwards as it is slowly and partially put into the ice as Mac fails to get it moving. A Blue Ant hurls itself through the windscreen, punching a mandible into each shoulder. Screaming, Mac is torn out of the seat and vanishes under the glacier. There are two holes left punched into the leather seats, just as the marines found back in Episode 1. Carl meanwhile guns it for the lift out of the glacier, and Frost.

The opening credits roll…

Darkness. A gun-shot. A second gun-shot. Connor Bull staggers back, clutching a bullet wound in his shoulder as blood gushes from it. His eyes blink in disbelief. He looks over to Dodd who has her sniper rifle magged onto one shoulder and has her pistol in the other hand, barrel smoking, pointing at Connor. “It wasn’t me… I didn’t pull the trigger…” Dodd squints at him. She mags her pistol and then brings her rifle into both hands. He gestures over at Nemo. “It’s him! I told you! Carl told you! He’s the TK!” “Oh fuck off!” Nemo says. Dodd sweeps the rifle left and right towards Stapes, Nemo, Dr Ross and Mei all together, squinting her eyes, trying to determine culprit. In the background, Amelia has her shotgun out. Carl stands to the left of his father, watching everyone. Behind Carl, David lies unmoving on the floor, the only one who erected the barrier and got electrocuted and had armour on at the time. Dodd lowers a rifle a little, unable to determine who the culprit. Connor’s is still raised, however. He is furious. “Come on, own up!” The rifles fires. Nemo staggers back. “He shot me! He fucking shot me! He’s nuts” Connor blanches. “It wasn’t me! I didn’t fire the trigger! I’M TELLING YOU SOMEONE IS A TK!” Mya strides forward. “And you were sure it was Nemo. And clearly, it isn’t. Put the gun down.” Connor is clearly losing his mind. “Well, if it isn’t him, ITS’S ONE OF YOU!” “You can’t prove that. You’re losing it Connor jus-” “Maybe its you, Ross! WHY ELSE WOULD YOU BE TRYING TO STOP ME!?” He points his rifle at Ross. “Of course it isn’t me!” “YOU’RE FLYING!” His finger goes for the trigger.

“Dad no!” A shot fires. Ross is thrown onto the front of the jeep. “CARRRRRRL!” Carl Bull lies in front of his father. Shot through the neck. Dead. Ross watches in horror. “You’re fucking nuts!” There is another blast… one of a shotgun. Connor drops to his knees. Shotgun shell fragments are stuck in his back. He scoops up his dead son. “CARRRRRL!” Amelia steps forward, shotgun barrel smoking. “AW’ RIGHT, THAT’S IT, NAE MORE! THERE AIN’T NO TELEKINETIC! THIS IS INSANE! -WE’RE- KEEPING THE GUNS FROM NAE ON!” she says looking at Dodd, removing Connor’s guns from him, magging them to Dodd’s armour. Connor looks over to Dodd, telling her how he didn’t mean to do what he did, telling her the Psychic is real, that she needs to help. But Dodd responds with her usual stoic silence. “HE SAVED YOUR LIFE, DAMN IT” Connor screams. But no-one helps. Ross runs over to Stapes and helps him with Nemo. Connor sobs over his son’s dead body, whilst blood streams from his own wounds.

Snow Plough looks down at the Razor Ants now aflame, still alive. Then he looks to Yeti’s dead body. He drops the flame thrower, runs over to Yeti and shakes him “Come on, man!” But Yeti is clearly dead. Hayes just blinks in shock at the situation. Fa Tsu steps over the grate, looking down at the Ants climbing towards him and cuts loose with the laser, tearing the first two apart with mad glee, knocking the others down to the bottom, creating a flaming pile of living and dead razor ants. Tweak, having got all the workers safely into Waste Purification, runs over to help. Snow Plough is screaming incoherently, holding onto Yeti. Hayes is turned towards Fa Tsu, keeping his pistol ready, trying to concentrate on the threat. Snow Plough lunges at Hayes, continuing to scream. Hayes turns. He fires. Snow Plough falls back. Hayes looks at his gun in incomprehension. “Oh god… oh no…”

“You SHOT me!” Snow Plough screams. The shot has torn through his visor, and he has a bullet embedded in his forehead. “Ah’m… ah’m…” Hayes cannot give a logical response. Jeeves then flies over “MASTER ENDANGERED. DEFENDING!” The support drone wrestles the gun out of Hayes hands, sending it tumbling to the floor. Crusher rotates its barrels, pointing them at Hayes, but Snow Plough remotely deactivates it. “Good work, Jeeves!” Tweak is caught between utter horror and disbelief. “I can’t believe… you call yourselves marine corps! You’re a mess… a disgrace… I just can’t believe… we need to concentrate on the enemy, not fighting each other!” Jeeves is not lunging at Hayes with his cybernetic arm, trying to grab him. Tweak quickly disables the arm by removing some wires. Jeeves continues trying to attack Hayes however, bumping into Hayes, causing no harm. Tweak then passes Hayes his gun and then points his automatic shotgun down at the bugs. The living Ants tears they way through the corpses, but do little else other than flail wildly, as they are still aflame. Fa Tsu continues to grin manically, magging the flame thrower to one arm and then torching the chute. He then welds the grate shut with his cutting laser. Further sounds of bugs fighting can be heard, but they come no closer. Fa Tsu then calms, surveying the scene. “Hey Ross, we need your help in here!”

“My help? MY HELP! You’re supposed to be the MARINES and you left us here with gun wielding MAD PEOPLE! Nemo’s been shot! Dodd just murdered a bunch of people and now has all the guns! The Deputy just killed his own DAMN SON and you want MY help?” Ross screams down the comms. “Okay, okay Ross, callllm dowwwwwn!” Fa Tsu says. “CALM… calm… FUCK OFF FA TSU!” she cuts off the comms. Fa Tsu looks over to the injured Snow Plough. “Looks like you’re on your own…” Snow Plough picks himself up and deliriously states he just needs to lie down, and goes to grab one of the technician’s bunks. Ross continues to rant and scream at pretty much everyone. She starts twitching, unable to coherently express her rage. “I can’t… just…” She vanishes out into the vehicle airlock. Nemo follows after her. Fa Tsu broadcasts “guuuuuuuuuuuuys, I have an idea!” to those who will listen over the comms. His idea is to breach some of the waste pipes into the heating pipes, to fill the bug tunnels with “steaming shit!” but Tweak is the only one really listening, and immediately questions the logic of his idea due to the planet’s freezing temperatures. Snow Plough collapses into bed, and at the news of hearing of Carl’s death at the hands of his own father, Hayes is in a near catatonic state. With no-one else willing to support him with his plan (after he goes into great enthusiastic length trying to sell it to people), Fa Tsu decides to get out of the Mech and rest, staying in the accommodation for heating and waste management workers, rather than going back outside.

Nemo and Ross come back into the maintenance building. Anatoli Demidov approaches the jeep, geared up in his environment suit, with his chainsaw and mining laser and other equipment, carrying his daughter, in a child-sized environment suit. “You’re all insane” he says, looking to Amelia, Connr and Dodd in particular. “I’d rather brave going out there than keeping my daughter here. There are others at the hydroelectric plant. I’ll take my chances at the plant.” He climbs into the jeep with his daughter. Nemo looks knowingly at Ross, then to the jeep. Demidov curses, as the engines fails to start. Nemo grins. “Looks like you are stuck with us.” Demidov grumbles, choosing to stay inside the jeep, nonetheless.

Time passes on. “Times Like These” (by the Foo Fighters) plays in the background (deliberately in an ironic sense) as Connor clings onto his dead hero of a son, bleeding to death himself, Ross stands over David, who is lying in bed, breathing, with some electric burns tracing his skin following where the segments of his armour presses down on the skin, the Mayor seems to have gone near-catatonic, sat on a mattress and Demidov and Stapes carry out the dead of Carl Bull, lying him next to Connor, who has also died from his wounds. Hayes sits, shaking and Fa Tsu strips off his clothes, and climbs into bed with the injured Snow Plough to give him warmth, wrapping his arms around him, whilst Snow Plough sleeps.

Events cut ahead to Day 13.

Nemo decides to head next door, after the others radio again for medical aid, and Ross lets them know how much she cares about their supposed guardians who have once again left people to die, (as far as she is concerned). He steps into the airlock. As the door raises, he checks outside. The snow is cascading down still, giving about 20ft of visibility. It seems quiet. He runs across the snow. As he runs, Blue Razor Ant Soldiers burst out of the snow behind him, one after the other. But he gets to the next airlock, slams the button and runs inside. There is a constant clanging on the airlock behind him. Tweak, Hayes, Fa Tsu and Snow Plough (all borrowing bunks from workers already presumably keeping machines maintained) awaken. “They’re coming”, says Snow Plough. Nemo manages to remove the bullet from Snow Plough’s head and spray the wound with flesh sealant. Snow Plough sets Jeeves to work on using the metal bunk frames to create a barricade by the wall next to and in front of the western airlock, which Hayes assists with. Snow Plough rigs the airlock door to turn it into a death-trap. Fa Tsu tells Dodd that more ants are on their way. When asked where they are coming from by Hayes, Fa Tsu shows him the motion tracker readings, saying “Everywhere!” Which seems accurate to the readings, as a mass of red blips covers the entire radius, indicating they are either in the air, underground or both, around the human-occupied buildings. Hayes blanches when he sees the truth and works more frantically to erect a barricade. Fa Tsu listens out to try and work out where they are coming from; hearing no sounds against the eastern airlock, he decides to stand guard there. Tweak takes the team of waste and heating technicians and they weld shut and barricade the door in between central water heating and waste purification, keeping everyone on the water heating side.

In the maintenance building, Amelia keeps her gun trained on the eastern airlock, whilst the bar’s chef Berthold, something of a bear of a man, helps Ross carry bunk frames to make a barricade in front of that airlock. Demidov sits up in the rail-gun seat of Maisy, but doesn’t touch the rail-gun. He takes out his laser, pointing it to the western vehicle airlock. Stapes meanwhile is working on the airlock’s wiring to create a similar trap to Snow Plough. Dodd grabs some maintenance equipment and starts welding the bed frames already ready half-fused to the floor over the bug tunnel. Then, they wait.

A Workers tears its way through the outer airlock door of Central Water Heating. Snow Plough, Hayes and Nemo clamber over the barricade. The inner door opens as the bug comes forward. It slams down, tearing off the mandibles. Snow Plough picks up a mandible. “Got one!” He waits for more to come, but nothing does. They hear the sound of the Ant corpse being dragged off. “Well, good show. Tea, anyone?”

Roll end credits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ILTC Cold Frontier Episode 15

Episode 15 “Day 12, Part Two.”

Featured characters: Snow Plough, Hayes, Fa Tsu, Dodd, Nemo.

Prominent Friendlies: Connor Bull, Carl Bull, Dr Mya Ross, Amelia

Pre-credits scene

The scene begins outside the Ice Miners. A team is prepping their vehicles outside. Equipment is being loaded onto the trucks. There are miners the viewer has not seen before. Among them, there is Mac, the foreman of this team; a massive man, both in terms of fat and muscle, with a bald hairless head and dark skin. He is whipping his team into shape verbally, whilst not lifting a finger himself. Dodd is there, visor up, still with human eyes, looking out across the glacier, rifle out.

“Everythin’ clear, Dodd?” says Mac in an outrageously booming voice. Dodd doesn’t respond. Meanwhile, the camera cuts to the back of one of the trucks, where Carl Bull sneaks over, whilst one of the workers loading equipment inside has their back turned to him. Carl clambers into the truck with a cheeky grin, and hides. “Hey Dodd, anyone there? Ready to go?” Mac bellows whilst waving his hand in front of the sniper’s face. She simply nods and climbs into a passenger seat at the front of the truck. The camera pans above, as the fleet of vehicles drives off for the mountains. Events cut ahead to the miners cutting the ice with their laser drills. One of the miners exposes the rock of the mountain and a tunnel leading inside. Mac stands there, scratching his head.

“Hey Dodd, do ya think there is anything living in there?” As is usually her way, Dodd makes a noncommittal shrug. “Well, maybe we’ll mention it back at base. Ain’t for us to worry about. Come on everyone back to work!” The camera view change to inside the tunnel as “work!” echoes through it. There is a scurrying sound.

Roll opening credits.

The episode opens where the last left off, as the three soldier Razor Ants lunge at Connor and Amelia… and then the weakened ground underneath them, as they fall through the slippery rubble. Connor breaths a sigh of relief… and then his face whitens again as he sees the Worker, having tore out Gerda’s tongue and ripped her mouth open. Anyu is cowering underneath the creature clutching onto Gerda’s body and sobbing. Dodd sighs, and mags her sniper rifle to her left shoulder, pulling out the pistol with her right hand. She drops to one knee, sighting at the exposed underside of the creature as it rears over its next intended victim, and fires. She fires a few shots, aiming for the slit in the carapace, and manages to fire a few holes into it, as blue liquid drops from it. It staggers, though it is still alive. Connor, Amelia and Dodd all move back to get distance from the creature. Connor and Amelia keep fire on it to keep it pinned against the wall. Anyu crawls away from the creature, dragging Gerda with her, as the Worker has definitely set its sight on new prey.

After having struck his head on a pipe, Snow Plough sets off more slowly after the rest of his impromptu squad. Fa Tsu is still stood back on his own contemplating whether to join the fight or not, and in the end, decides to choose “the blade” and charges ahead of Snow Plough. Meanwhile, Hayes and Yeti head outside. There are three Soldiers and one Worker outside. The Worker is attempting to chew its way through the thick outer door of the vehicle airlock, and doesn’t appear to be having much luck. The metal is simply scratched. The three soldiers turn and hiss at the two humans as soon as the airlock door opens.

“Come on Hayes, lets take ’em!” Yeti yells, about to run. He pauses and squints through the snow. There is a haft sticking out of the back of the Worker and an axe blade. “Hey, its got my axe!” Yeti speeds forward. “Give that back!” He leaps onto the back of the Worker, maintaining balance and wrapping his massive hands around the haft. Hayes fires a few sprays of his machine pistol; he didn’t harm them, but manages to drive them back a little.  Yeti pushes all of his might against the axe and partially dislodges it, as blue liquid starts to spray from it. “These things bleed, Hayes!” Yeti roars in exultation.”Ain’t that nice…” says Hayes drolly.

Dodd approaches the broken part of the maintenance bay wall where the railgun first fired. She looks back at it; it is motionless, put pointed right at her. She turns back to the worker and dives backwards through the hole whilst firing her pistol repeatedly. She punches several more holes into the underside of the Worker. It flips over, unmoving. Then the three temporarily buried Soldiers burst out of the rubble. The railgun fires. It hits the head of the first, exploding it, and continues through the bodies of the other, blowing them apart as the shell continues, most of its momentum reduced, as it cracks the door of the eastern airlock, though it doesn’t break it.

Yeti tears the axe out of the Worker as it collapses to the snowy ground. The three Soldiers move in. He tears the axe out, drenched in blue blood, as he brings the axe around in a sweep at the three soldiers. His swing is halted as one bites into a hand and the other two tear into his right arm and shoulder. “A little help here, Hayes!”

“Uh, that’s what ah’m trying” Hayes fires more shots, but they seem to do little.  Then Fa Tsu steps out of the airlock and charges the beasts. He blasts them apart with his cutting laser. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” says Yeti to Fa Tsu. “No thanks to you!” he says to Hayes, who seems to lack the enthusiasm to defend himself. Snow Plough exits the building with Jeeves to find the combat done with. “Oh, looks like we’re not needed. Jeeves, go and find Crusher.” The support drones flies off, as ordered.

With the fight done, Connor Bull snaps at Dodd. “What the hell were you doing, firing an explosive round in here, you could have killed us? And WHO THE HELL fired the railgun?” He continues to rant and yell whilst the Razor Ant Queen screams nearby; Dood does her usual, barely saying a thing, responding mostly with shrugs, which makes Bull even crazier. Amelia approaches him, places her hands on his shoulders and calmly points out that as the Queen is still roaring, she may not have found them yet, and him making more noise won’t help. She encourages him to quieten down, though he is still fuming. He radios Hayes, asking if he was remotely firing the gun, a comment that confuses him, since it doesn’t remotely fire at all. Hayes also gets annoyed that anyone is firing his railgun indoors, and heads inside to get to the bottom of the issue. Hayes and Bull seem united on the issue of the railgun, agreeing that the only way to remotely control it would have been telekinesis, and since they didn’t know they had one, that would mean someone is illegally concealing their Sensitive capabilities. But no-one owns up. Carl Bull then speaks up and points at Nemo. “It was him!” Nemo refutes the idea as ridiculous. Carl explains that he saw Nemo approach and examine the railgun before the fight, and was watching it the entire time, but Nemo continues to dismiss that idea and rightly points out they have no evidence, and that the kid is a liar. But Connor doesn’t take kindly to his son being accused of being a liar and leans in to him, quietly but firmly telling Nemo that he is keeping an eye on him. He also lets the crowd that have gathered to watch know that concealing Sensitive nature is against the late, and all because things have gone to hell, it doesn’t mean he won’t maintain the law, a statement to which Hayes agrees.

Jeeves finds Crusher, half buried in the snow, motionless and frozen and drags the fellow drone inside into the Central Water Heating building which Fa Tsu, Snow Plough and Yeti have returned to. Tweak immediately starts trying to restore Crusher’s systems to functionality. Snow Plough starts talking about continuing Fa Tsu’s plan to heat the food warehouse. The maintenance workers point out that to do so, they’ll need to fix the damaged pipe using the underground maintenance shafts. Snow Plough tries to encourage Fa Tsu to come with him, but the Mech pilot refuses to go underground ‘with them.’ Snow Plough tries to order him down until he is reminded that the Mech is too big to fit in the maintenance shaft anyway… which also includes Yeti. Snow Plough activates his comm. “Hayes, get in here!” Hayes obliges, only to be told they he is heading underground with Snow Plough and the drones; Hayes doesn’t resist the notion, but doesn’t exactly seem happy about it either. Tweak re-activates Crusher, though his vocal functions seem mostly scrambled. Tweak suggests sending the two drones into the shaft since one can do the repairs and one fire by itself, but Snow Plough screeches at him “They’re part of the squad, we can’t send them alone, man!” which makes Tweak move back a little from the slightly screw-loose Sergeant. In the maintenance building, Dodd and Connor keep their rifles aimed at the collapse bug-hole through the hole in the wall, Amelia watching over them from the opposite side, whilst several of the Food Warehouse workers and one of the remaining maintenance workers stacks the metal frames of several bunk beds around and above the hole in an attempt to trap the next Ant that bursts through. Meanwhile, Snow Plough and his drones, followed by Hayes and Tweak head into the maintenance tunnel.

After tending to Anyu, Stapes and Ross give her some space, as they drag the dead Worker into a corner, helped by Nemo. Ross gets out a hacksaw. “Finally, I actually get to do my job. And hack one of these bastards up!” Nemo grins; “You’re my kind of ctazy Ross? How do you do it?” She smiles and starts hacking into the corpse. “Vitamins!”

There is a hatch next to the east wall of Central Water Heating, leading to a ladder that leads 20ft underground. The tunnels are only big enough to crawl in, made with metal grating. There is a quickly cooling pipe on the left hand side of them. Snow Plough hears the sounds of Ants ahead but out of sight. It sounds like they are crossing the tunnel presumably from there own earthen tunnels. Snow Plough is ahead and listening out, but as the sound gets louder, his burst of courage finally fades. He then orders Hayes to go on and ahead of him, which Hayes does begrudgingly. Hayes hears, amongst the sounds of Ants scrabbling along, a bizarre metal scraping. He sights a cross-roads and sees a bizarre sight: Blinky, the long-lost recon drone, is partially attached to the mandibles of a BLUE Razor Ant. (Fa Tsu, monitoring over the comms, directing Hayes with a tunnel map and monitoring them with a motion tracker, was unaware of the Blue colony’s existence, and seems especially shocked by that development.) Wires seem to be entangled with mandibles having pierced the drones camera, resulting in it taking minimal damage and being dragged along. The Ant then goes out of sight to the right, followed by others. Hayes hears what sounds like fighting. Blinky is detached and rolls a little towards Hayes, though it is still closer to the bugs than Hayes. Then more and more Blues pile across the tunnel. They seem to defeat whatever they are fighting, and disappear out of sight. Hayes is urged to carry on. “Uh guys”, Fa Tsu pipes in over the comms “You might not want to go that way. There are a LOAD of blips coming your way… and I can’t see anything on the camera… which means they’re either in the sky… orr….” “Coming right at us”, Hayes finishes for him. More Blues appear along with a massive swarm of Whites from the eastern buildings; the bugs are going for each other, and don’t seem to have spotted the survivors. Snow Plough orders Jeeves to ‘save Blinky!’ The support drone does so, dragging the recon drone down the tunnel with great rapidity, due to its lifting-based enhancements. Snow Plough heads after Jeeves, ordering Hayes back to. As soon as Hayes moves out of Crusher’s line of sight, the battle drone intones “Way clear. Hostiles zzzzt-tected. Opening BZZZ fire!” The drone rakes the bug horde with fire. Most of the Blues die, and the Whites finish off the remaining ones. “Move!” yells Snow Plough, as they all head down the tunnel as quickly as they can, the battle drone being recalled. The Whites, with no Blue prey, head after the squad. Tweak, Hayes and Snow Plough all get out incredibly quickly, beaten to it by Jeeves. Yeti is waiting by the grate, battle-axe out. There is a maintenance worker holding onto the open grate. As Hayes climbs out, Yeti tells the worker to “Close it!” but Snow Plough says “No! Crusher is still down there!” Yeti sighs, and tells the worker to hold the grate open, keeping his axe ready. Fa Tsu and Hayes stand near the grate, ready to fire. Snow Plough attempts to detach the flame-thrower from Blinky, and is partially successful, getting it into his hands, but not removing it entirely. He starts to drag Blinky over to the grate, with little success. Crusher flies out of the grate… with Soldiers just behind. The worker slams the great down on the closest Ant head. Yeti then jumps onto the grate, pushing it down. “Got it held Sarge… for now!” Tweak takes the maintenance workers next door into Waste Purification for their own safety. Crusher hovers above the grate ready to fire and Fa Tsu and Hayes maintain their positions. Snow Plough removes the fuel canisters from Blinky, mags them to himself and then fully detaches the flame thrower, approaching the grate. Four Ant heads start to lift the grate up and bite through the bars, as the mandibles push through it into Yeti’s legs, tearing away some of the protective foam from where larvae had eaten parts of his skin days ago. This triggers near paralysing pain in the giant Aug. Flesh falls away in chunks and blood flows over the grate. Fa Tsu tries to save Yeti, reaching forward with one hand, trying to pry a mandible free, only for the Mech hand to get bitten, causing Fa Tsu pain through the nerve sensors. He then activates the cutting laser and removes half of the mandible. Snow Plough points his flame thrower at the heads and down into the grate, setting the ants alight. It doesn’t seem to kill them, though they set ablaze. They go into a maddened frenzy. Yeti embeds his axe in the wall and pulls… he tears himself free, but as he does so, the very flesh is torn from his legs, leaving exposed muscle and bone. He screams out again. He collapses. He looks to Snow Plough. and says “You gotta… stop ’em… Sarge…” and dies.

Dodd watches as the barricade is piled high. She feels them coming through the ground. She looks up at the ceiling, noting the strip lights, then looks back to the barricade. A Blue Worker bursts through the floor. Connor says “One, two…” as he takes aim. The barricade is lifted, with three workers clinging or snagged onto it. A fourth is balancing on top of it as it rises in the air. Dodd looks to the ceiling and fires an explosive round. The strip light falls, slamming into the barricade. The skin of those holding onto it, snagged and the man stood on it, fry and smoke horrifically. The electricity passes through the Worker too, as it ceases moving, having half emerged through the floor. Four people collapse dead. Bull spins on Dodd, rifle pointed at her, point blank. “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST DO?” The camera cuts to Nemo. Then to the rifle trigger. It fires. But Bull’s finger does not press it.

End of part two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ILTC Cold Frontier Episode 14

COLD FRONTIER, EPISODE 14 (DAY 12)

Featured Player Characters: Sergeant “Snow Plough” Fentington, Deputy Hayes, Nemo, Fa Tsu, Dodd (the glorious return!), Tweak (new character/player)

Prominent Friendlies: Dr Mya Ross, Connor Bull, Amelia

Pre-credits scene…

The episode opens with the same planet seen in the previous episode. There is a burnt wreck of the building.

Jim-Bob and the young Gerry Hayes, both a few years older than the previous episode, in their early teens stand with a girl of similar age who is tall, skinny, has slick-back hair tied into a pony-tail and far too much make-up.

A shadow strides in front of them. The camera shows thigh-high black leather boots as a thickly accented voice of an adult male addresses the three youths, demanding to know who is responsible for the burnt-out house. All of them deny knowledge, and the man says he will have to ‘take them in’ and see who confesses during a one-on-one interview.

The scene cuts to a police station interview room. Hayes seems to be in tears. The officer repeatedly asks him who did it, but Gerry insists he doesn’t know and doesn’t change his stance. The officer reminds him that the kids he is sticking up for used to beat him up… and probably still do, as he brushes back Hayes long hair to look at a large bruise on the right side of his face. But Hayes still insists, tearfully, that he knows nothing.

Events cut ahead, as Hayes is back outside, strolling past Jim-Bob and Jenny-May leaning against a wall, drinking beers. Jim-Bob calls to to Gerry, who stops and turns. Jim-Bob thanks Gerry and Gerry says ‘why?’

‘Fer not sayin’ nothin.’” He tosses Gerry a can of beer, which he catches.

“Ain’t nothin’. Just know when to turn a blind eye.”

“Haha! That’s what they all gonna say; Gerry Hayes, he knows when to turn a blind eye.”

Roll opening credits!

The episode opens with Hayes, cleaning Maisy (his jeep). And as he cleans the jeep he talks to it, telling Maisy how, despite the temporary fix to the windscreen, he is probably going to have to ask some other people to ‘take a look at you.’ Yeti sits up, where he appears to have been sleeping along the back row of seats of the jeep and mocks Hayes for talking to the jeep, but it doesn’t seem to bother or stop Hayes at all. Jeeves then floats over and says hello to Maisy, admonishing Yeti, since Jeeves is a machine, and yet they all talk to him, which makes Hayes grin. Jeeves continues to try to gesture with his new cybernetic arm, and the fingers continue to move in random, unnatural directions.

Snow Plough, looking very grumpy indeed to be awoken by the conversation says “Sounds like its time for tea then”and starts to climb out of the jeep. As he walks over to the kitchen, he is approached by one of the survivors not yet personally encountered, one of the maintenance workers, who is a large man with a wild mess of hair cascading down from his head, with a beard to match.

He introduces himself as “Tweak” and takes immediate interest in Jeeves, approaching the drone, rather than anyone else, as he asks it if he can examine its arm and the continues to jerk in a bizarre manner. Jeeves informs the man that he is not authorised. Snow Plough, surprisingly, tells Jeeves to let the man take a look. Jeeves obliges and floats to the floor, as Tweak partially removes the arm and inspects the wiring whilst Snow Plough takes in tea orders as the others slowly awaken.

As the remains of the militia get together (with Dodd, Tweak, Ross and Nemo nearby listening in and chipping in their opinions). The Mayor is not present; as Snow Plough walks past the office with the teas, he can hear the Mayor sniffling behind the door. The others continue to discuss their next course of action without him. Snow Plough seems to be of the opinion that staying put and keeping quiet as possible is their best course of action.

Fa Tsu is using his com-pad, and grinning from ear to ear, and Hayes takes the bait and asks what he is grinning about. Fa Tsu shows him the com-pad screen and explains what Hayes is being shown to everyone present. He explains that he is analysing temperature read-outs from the opposite buildings that have been taken over by the razor ants. Whilst there are no reading from a majority of the building, presumably due to the cold exposure destroying the equipment, indicating they are uninhabitable, that is not the case for the food warehouse. The temperature is incredibly low, yes, but the fact that there are still readings means that the temperature controls are still operational. He starts laughing almost maniacally as he explains that he could burn them in their nest, and then they could recover the warehouse. Ross says what nearly everyone else is thinking as he points out that taking the warehouse would then be pointless, as they would destroy the remaining food stored there. Unless they want to start eating razor ants. Which she then adds is perhaps not a bad idea as a continual food source. Everyone goes silent, looking at her with some horror. Then Fa Tsu laughs; “I like you Ross. You’re brutal.”

She shrugs. “Just thinking scientifically.”

“So. Thinking scientifically. How would you go about this? I mean, we know they don’t like fire.”

“As is the case for most living things. But if they respond negatively to heat, we don’t need to burn the place down. Just increase the temperature in the warehouse to room temperature and see if they respond. If they don’t like it, it should make them vacate.”

“Excellent! Sounds like a good plan!”

“If the ants are still there, of course.”

Fa Tsu decides to hack into the cameras to check and then suddenly passes the com-pad over to Snow Plough, who raises one eyebrow. Fa Tsu explains that if they are there, he doesn’t want to see them. Snow Plough takes the com-pad… there is barely anything on the cam-feed, the lens seems to have taken damage, but he can see some shadowy forms moving about.

“All right then!” says Fa Tsu as he takes the pad back. He then tries to remotely increase the heat, but realises he can only monitor the temperatures and cannot remotely alter the buildings heating, due to the primitive tech (in 2450 terms) used on the frontier colony. In order to try out Fa Tsu’s plan, they will need to go next door to the Central Water Heating Building, which involves going outside (though very briefly). Tweak volunteers to go with the group, since he knows all about systems maintenance, and reckons he can carry out Fa Tsu’s plan when they get to the equipment needed for the job. Tweak finishes his maintenance on Jeeves who can now clench and unclench his fist… though it is not clear he can do anything else with it, as of yet.

Hayes points out that before they go anywhere, Maisy is their only remaining form of transport if anything goes wrong. If anything happens to him, he needs to know that someone else can take over control of Maisy for him; Tweak volunteers to take a look. (A montage occurs as Hayes shows Tweak the working of Maisy, as the song ‘Silver Machine’ plays.)

As some of the militia get ready to head out, Dodd points out that some people competent with weapons should stay behind, just in case, so Amelia and David from the conscripts stay behind, and there is also Connor Bull and Gerda to help defend the place (though Gerda is not involved with any discussions and continues to be withdrawn, sat near the east airlock with Anyu). David goes over to Tweak and slaps him affectionately on the shoulder. He tells him that he has some spare gear he requisitioned from the warehouse that Tweak might like. David proffers him an automatic shotgun.

“Know how to use one of these?” Tweak reminds David that he used to be in the Corps too, and seems eager to take the weapon. David gives him a fist bump for joining the team.

Fa Tsu, Snow Plough, Hayes, Yeti and Tweak (in old Corps issue battle armour, also with the shotgun, Greyjoy’s remaining machine pistol and McClusky’s enhanced engineering tools) head into the vehicle airlock at the west of the building (though they leave Maisy inside). Dodd waits on the other side of the airlock as they head out. She closes her eyes in concentration.

Though she cannot see outside, her empathic senses stretch outside instead, seeing colours in her mind’s eye which give her impressions of the emotions of the others. Tweak doesn’t seem to be lying about his prior experience; she gets the feeling of ice cold calm from him. From the others, they seem largely calm, but there is either anger or fear mixing in with that calm. She senses something else… a feeling of watchfulness, but she is not sure from where. She radios the others and tells them to keep an eye out.

Fa Tsu nervously checks his motion tracker. He gets movement in the building they are heading to, but assumes they are the survivors. He doesn’t get any other blips out in the snow.

The blizzard has receded, and though snow still falls, they have visibility of about 20ft ahead of them. Despite his tracker readings, Fa Tsu keeps an eye out ahead of him too. Snow Plough is also being more alert than usual. Fa Tsu holds a hand up. He looks to the roof, then down at the ground, where Snow Plough is also looking. There are shadows stretched across the snow. Fa Tsu and Snow Plough look at each other. The shadows flicker slightly and then remain still.

“Uhhhhhhhh guys, we’ve got company above… so everybody just keep quiet and head into the airlock, okay?” He dashes for the airlock and opens it as everyone piles inside. The airlock swishes shut and locks behind them. They hear a small, brief shriek outside. Dodd feels the feeling of watchfulness become disturbed, a slight tinge of anger… hunger. She tells the group to get inside, but they already have. Dodd feels three different minds, yet all tied by the same emotions, as three Ants fly down to the snow. They shriek briefly again. Irritation, curiosity. They then quickly disappear from the range of her empathy.

The others head through the airlock into Central Water Heating. The accommodation area is dark and silent, empty of people. Fa Tsu checks his motion tracker. Blips are moving intermittently on the other side of the door, in the work area. Light shines through the crack in the door. He breathes a sigh of relief as he hears human voices. Fa Tsu swings the large doors open. People dart out of sight. Someone shouts in panic.

“It’s okay guys, it’s me, Fa Tsu!” The six workers emerge from their hiding places, briefing a collective sigh of relief to see of all the people to survive is the Mech pilot. The others follow him inside. Tweak heads over to the workers and explains Fa Tsu’s plan and helps them get it into play. Another montage occurs as Fa Tsu plays “The Heat is On!” as he watches the temperature readings for the food warehouse start to increase.

“It’s working! Hahahaha!” He takes his com-pad out to check… and then quickly passes it to Snow Plough.

“They seem to be moving”, the Sergeant confirms.

“Yes!”

And then a few minutes pass, and the temperature readings start rapidly dropping. Tweaks confers with the other workers, who confirm that one of the underground heating pipes may have been ruptured. And then the lights go out (though the other equipment is still working). One of the workers screams. Tweak forcefully addresses the workers and everyone else, telling to keep quiet and keep calm. They all back into a corner behind Tweak, who stands ready with his shotgun.

Snow Plough dives in the nearest corner, by the door, rifle out, Jeeves hovering above him. He starts checking over the pipes and valves near him frantically. Yeti gets on the other side of the door, machete out, whilst Hayes is behind him. Fa Tsu in the middle of the large chamber, in between the largest pipes, and his breathing starts to increase rapidly and he refuses to step forward.

Dodd radios the group, telling them she can sense Razor Ants coming; a group are heading for where the marines were spotted outside, but another group seem to be heading for the office where an Ant got through the previous day.

“All right marines, let’s go!” Courage suddenly takes over Snow Plough, as he orders his squaddies ahead. Hayes and Yeti both charge for the airlock outside. Snow Plough suddenly rises his declaration… only to bash his helmet and get knocked back onto the floor. Tweak remains guarding the civvies. Fa Tsu stays put. “No… not going out there… they’re gonna kill us all!”

Dodd grabs Deputy Bull and Amelia (with her pump action shotgun ready) and the three of them head for the office. The Mayor can still be heard sniffling. Dodd shoves the door open without ceremony and asks the Mayor to get out of there. He refuses to move, until Dodd explains more bugs are coming, and the Mayor moves pretty quickly then. She loads her rifle, standing in front of the office door as she watches the area of floor where Snow Plough collapsed the tunnel.

“They’re coming. Everybody ready.” Amelia stands on Dodd’s left, Bull is on the right, assault rifle ready. Gerda and Anyu remain where they are on the right of the three, behind the right-hand wall of the office. Seeing commotion by the office, Nemo sneaks behind the three defenders and makes his way over to Maisy. He climbs up onto the front, examining the railgun mounted over the top of it. He then climbs down and moves behind and to the left of the defenders, trying to keep an eye on them, whilst also still being able to see the railgun.

Mandibles burst out of the floor. Dodd fires. The round hits… and explodes. The office is engulfed in a blast of fire. The blast wave misses the three by inches.

“What the… WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?” Connor screams, half in fury and half in panic at Dodd.

“How it’s done” says Dodd. And then the smoke clears. As the hole in the floor has been blasted open, and out of it climbs a smoking, but very much alive bug. A round impacted in its face, smoking as well. “What the hell?”

Amelia and Bull fire their weapons, but the shots bounce off of its chitinous armour, as it is only half emerged from the floor, its legs bent so its underside is close to the floor, and no-one can get a shot at its weak point.

Nemo looks at the railgun. His fingers twitch. The railgun moves slightly. It fires. The slug hits the left hand wall of the office and punches right through it. It hits the Razor Ant Worker in the left side, which tears it from the floor and hurls it through the air. The shell and Ant go through the right-hand wall, Anyu and Gerda are knocked to the ground as the Ant practically lands on them.

Hayes radios through “Who the hell is firing Maisy inside? That ain’t a good idea!”

“I’ve no idea; I haven’t got a visual!” Bull screams back over the radio as dust billows around him.

Gerda looks up at the exposed underside of the creature, bares her claws and fangs, leaps, and grapples onto the underside of the Ant. The Ant dips its head under it. It opens its mandibles wide and rasps. Gerda opens her mouth to snarl… and the mandibles lock around her mouth.

Powerless underneath it, Anyu screams “Gerda!” and watches as the mandibles pull off part of Gerda’s mouth and tear out her tongue with it as she falls dead to the floor. “Gerrrrrrda!”

And then three more Razor Ants, the sleeker, faster Soldiers, clamber out of the hole in what was the office. Connor and Amelia fire again, more shots ricocheting, as the creatures lunge in…

as everything goes black.

End of part one.

Roll end credits.

ILTC Cold Frontier, Episode 13

COLD FRONTIER, EPISODE 13 (DAY 11)

Featured Player Characters: Sergeant “Snow Plough” Fentington, Deputy Hayes, Nemo (new character)

Prominent Friendlies: Irene Winkleman, Mayor Ted Winkleman, Dr Mya Ross, Gottlieb Auttenberg.

The pre-credits scene begins with a planet with two white-hot suns blazing in the sky. The camera sweeps across a settlement of mostly wooden shacks, spread across a flat, dusty plain. A dog scampers in front of the camera, sniffing at the ground, as some kind red, spiky mobile plant resembling a tumbleweed rolls into view. It then fires a barb, which causes the dog to leap into the air and run away. The plant rolls away.

The sound of jeering children can be heard as the camera pans away.

“Gerry! Gerry!” A circle of children are surrounding a skinny little boy with long blonde hair that is mostly covering his face. There is a particularly large, chubby boy with ginger hair and lots of noticeable freckles and pimples, pushing at the blonde child.

The children continue to mock the child for having a girl’s name.

“Maybe he is a girl, Jim-Bob, you should check!” calls out one of the children, with a very strong redneck accent.

“Yeah, maybe I should” says Jim-Bob, the ginger child. “Hold ’em still!”

The children grab Gerry and try and lift him up as Jim-Bob goes to pull his trousers. All the while, Gerry is kicking and struggling, saying “No, no, no!”

The camera then cuts to show Deputy Hayes, asleep, rolling back and forth muttering, “no, no, no…” His eyes then shoot open.

Opening credits roll!

The “Frost Marine Corps” (Snow Plough, Yeti, Hayes, the Mayor and their conscripts) are assembled for meeting in the maintenance bay. All of the other settlers aren’t present this time, as the Mayor talks with his conscripts and the two bona fide marines about their next course of action. However, the meeting is made more difficult by the echoing sounds of Irene Winkleman.

“Where is my baby! Bring my baby back to me!” and similar rants, punctuated by repeated slamming on a door, echo in the background.

Ted Winkleman, the Mayor, is trying to massage away a head-ache. “Dr Ross, could you try and, uh… calm down my wife, please!?” He turns and calls to Dr Ross, sat with Stapes in the background.

Ross sighs and gets up giving her usual mutter about being a “biologist, not a doctor.”

The camera cuts to the office where Irene was in the last episode. The door is shut. Her hysterical and delusional screaming (about the baby, as if it were still alive) can be heard behind the door, and occasionally, it shakes as she slams against it. A few faces are looking out from the bunk room, as the screaming is rather noticeable. In the bunk room, it is mostly frightened silence. Anatoli Demidov clings onto his six year old daughter, trying to keep her safe.

The camera turns to a a particularly tall, gaunt man with particularly pallid skin. He sits on his bunk, staring in the direction of the sound. His fingers tighten around the bed sheets, squeezing them. He slowly, rises from his bunk, and exits the room. He stares across at the office door. The camera switches to his view, as he sees a bright yellow haze around the door, intermixed with deep red. And then the view returns to normal view as Ross approaches and looks over at gaunt man briefly, before looking to the door.

“Damn, no way I’m getting in there… need to give her some meds.”

“You need someone to open the door, and then two to grab her.”

“Good idea. I’ll go and get your help N… sorry, what was your name?”

“Nemo”, he says, looking more then slightly perturbed.

“Right, better get some ‘marines’ to help.”

Ross walks over to the marines and asks for two people to come and help her. Snow Plough immediately volunteers Hayes for the job, which prompts to try and encourage Snow Plough to join them.

“Oh Hayes, has got it. Why don’t use a grenade, Hayes?” Snow Plough, blurts out with his growing inability to control his tongue.

“That’s my WIFE in there!” Winkleman yells at him.

“Just a joke”, Snow Plough says quickly.

“A joke.” Connor Bull stomps over. “My wife died to one of his grenades.” He leans in very close. Uncomfortably close. “You think that is a joke?”

“Ummm Yeti… he’s threatening your commanding officer”, says Snow Plough in his sudden panic.

“Ohhhh you got yourself into this one Sarge”, says Yeti. “Sure you can get yourself out.”

“I SAID do you think my wife being dead is a joke?” Bull continues.

“No. No, no, no. No.”

Bull grabs him by the shoulders. “Then why don’t you learn to shut your mouth?”

“Jeeves… remove him please.”

“Oh, I see. Always getting your drones to do your dirty work. What kind of marine are you? I used to be a marine. You make me feel ashamed for even being associated with you.”

“Look, now see here…”

“You haven’t even used that rifle. You’re pathetic.” He lets go of Snow Plough. “Why don’t you go and deal with something yourself, for once.” He gestures towards the screaming of Irene.

“Ross… I’m coming!” says Snow Plough.

Hayes, Ross and Snow Plough approach the office. Nemo is opposite the door, leaning against the wall. Nemo explains that one of them should probably open the door and the other two grab and restrain Irene. Snow Plough immediately responds with “I can open a door!”

Ross starts to count down for Snow Plough to open the door, whilst Irene continues to scream, causing Snow Plough to panic and open the door to early. Ross curses as the door swings open unexpectedly. But Hayes is ready, and as a screaming Irene comes at them, he rushes her, pushing her back into the room.

The camera then cuts to Nemo, who is staring at Irene. The fingers on his right hand tighten, as if squeezing something.

Irene staggers back, continuing to shriek at them… and her screaming stops as she splutters, losing control of her tongue. Irene’s right hand spasms, her right eye closes and the right side of her face starts to fall.

“Oh my god, she’s having a stroke!” Dr Ross runs over and grabs her as she falls to the floor, unmoving. “Oh god… she’s dead.”

“What?” says Snow Plough, hanging at the door, refusing to go in. “She can’t be! She was fine.”

“Must have been the stress… the shock… triggered it…”

Snow Plough almost completely shuts down about the situation. When they are discussing how to tell the Mayor (already suffering from the shock of his baby) the Sergeant completely loses it, fully in favour of just closing the door and not tell him about it. Hayes manages to get Snow Plough to see reason and calms him down and Nemo urges them not to ignore Irene’s body (whilst they are all panicking), and Nemo enters the room, closing Irene’s her eyes, and lays her down respectfully.

Ross and Nemo remain with the body, as Hayes and Snow Plough return to Mayor Winkleman and the conscript marines.

The Mayor seems relieved of the quiet, asking if Ross has given Irene more meds. Snow Plough tries to respond with what has happening, but is reduced to a stuttering mess, so Hayes manages to tell him is wife is dead. The Mayor, understandably, blanches and is very much in denial and ends up running to his wife. Nemo leaves the office and shuts it behind him, leaving Ross with the Mayor, as he cries over his wife’s dead body.

Snow Plough and Hayes attempt to discuss the next course of action with the conscripts. They agree that they need to secure the maintenance of the hydro-electric power plant, as they only have roughly two days on the back-up generator. When Snow Plough asks ‘who that guy in charge of the power is again’ and Hayes reminds him of Gottlieb’s name, Snow Plough remembers their last experience together, and does his usual ‘delegation’ and sends Hayes to speak with him about reinstating the plan of sending him and some others to keep the plant maintained. Hayes does so.

Gottlieb is not the warmest person in general, and when he realises that Hayes wants something that relates to the marines, he becomes positively (or rather negatively) icy. He sits writing notes, and doesn’t look up and make eye contact with Hayes even once. He explains how Snow Plough ‘went mad’, ‘tried to kill everyone’ by trying to get him to help blow up the Jeep and then ‘forced him’ to flee him in the blizzard, where he could have died. He also explains how the previous Sergeant wanted him to stay at the plant with only one person capable of using a gun, and tried to lump him with the ‘savage with the sword’, and makes it clear he is not going near the plant with Snow Plough or Yeti.

“You can give zis message to ze ‘Sergeant’…” he then slowly raised his middle finger. “You have a camera, right? You can record ze message if you like.”

“No, no… that’ll do. I think he’ll get the idea.”

Hayes relays Gottlieb’s message in a slightly more diplomatic manner to Snow Plough. Snow Plough confirms if Gottlieb will still have Ryan with him, and Hayes thinks that will probably be fine, and then Hayes suggests he can at the plant himself. Snow Plough agrees with this, and Hayes goes back to Gottlieb to further discuss terms. Gottlieb agrees, saying he will bring Kaleigh, the remaining plant worker with him, and asks to make sure they are given a decent amount of food and supplies for the ten days they will have at the plant. Hayes agrees… though Kaleigh doesn’t seem too happy about being dumped with Gottlieb for ten days.

Demidov, however, seems quite happy to see Gottlieb go, and silently mouths ‘thank you’ to Hayes.

Times passes as Hayes gets the jeep prepped and ready, and Ryan waits outside the bunk room for Gottlieb and Kaleigh to back their things, whilst others load the jeep with supplies.

There is a rumbling sound. A tearing. The floor vibrates.

The Mayor screams out “IREEEENNE!” Ross follows, yelling “HAYES, SNOW PLOUGH, GET IN HERE!”

They burst through the door, as they see Irene disappear through the floor. There is a hole, as if something tore up through the concrete.

“GIVE ME BACK MY WIFE!” Ted screams, diving at the hole. Dr Ross leaps, colliding with him in mid-air, pushing him against a wall.

“She’s dead already! There is nothing you can do for her!” She screams at Ted, holding him down, as he still tries to go for the hole.

Demidov, a respected figure among the survivors, manages to urge everyone into the maintenance bay, to try and get away from where Razor Ants will likely come through, whilst Hayes, Snow Plough and Nemo hover at the office door.

Snow Plough sends Jeeves into the office. The drone shines his torch down into the hole and Snow Plough looks through the cam. The tunnel burrows through the floor, into the ground, through the soil. He can’t see anything, but he can see a flickering shadow, and hear something down there.

“Something is coming. Oh god… we can’t leave here, we’ve not nowhere else to go!”

“I’ve got a cryo-grenade. Could freeze the hole over”, Nemo offers.

Snow Plough turns to him, incredulous. “Why do you have a cryo-grenade? What even is that?”

“If we freeze it, they’ll just burrow through. The only way is to stop them burrowing up here”, Ross reasons.

Snow Plough turns to Hayes. “Hayes, you’ve got grenades.”

“So have you.”

“Oh yeah. Okay, I’ve got this.” In a rare moment of courage, Snow Plough steps into the office and looks down the tunnel as he bounces an incendiary grenade down it. The camera shows the grenade tumbling down the tunnel, which leads into the underground vehicle storage bay. Dozens of shadows, maybe more, clutter around it. It explodes above one of the heating grills. The wave of fire passes under each vehicle, blowing the storage bay to hell. The fire doesn’t travel up the tunnel, as the ceiling collapses over the storage bay and the tunnel collapses, filling the office with dust.

Panic and tension once again runs rife through the survivors. An engineer, Phil, a bald headed and bearded chap, decides to get into the jeep, along with Darla, in addition to Ryan, Gottlieb and Kaleigh. Dean and Cara offer to go too as extra physical back-up; Hayes agrees to this, as it means he can drive back to the other survivors and help support them, whilst Gottlieb’s group stay at the plant. Snow Plough doesn’t seem to have a problem with having less people to worry about.

However, the panic increases among those left behind the building that has already been breached once. Hayes addresses everyone, reminding them that they need people to go the plant, otherwise, everyone else won’t have power, and without it, they’ll all freeze. So they need plenty of support at the plant. Then he reminds them that those that stay have the protection of Fa Tsu. Fa Tsu climbs into his Mech, to give them all some confidence.

“We’re going to get through this. Because we’re all going to be… what?”

A few mumbles come from the crowd.

“We’re going to be WHAT!!?”

“Awesome!”

“That’s more like it.”

Hayes drives out into the snow. The blizzard is still blowing, and visibility is still minimal. Once again, the jeep gets stuck in the snow and Gottlieb criticises him for not having a better prepared vehicle on an Iceworld. He says he will go out and make sure the jeep gets started. Dean and Cara go with him.

Hayes sits and waits with bated breath.

Cara knocks on the window, a few minutes later. She mimes at him. He nods and starts the engine.

The three survivors get back in.

Using a GPS, Hayes makes his way to the hydro-electric plant. He waits and watches as the group take the supplies into the plant and go inside. Ryan gives him a thumbs-up.

Hayes sets off into the snow. Alone.

The snowfall seems to be lessening a little, but Hayes still cannot see far. He ducks as something swoops overhead. There is a shriek. He increases speed as he shoots across the glacier.

Something leaps at him from the left. He swerves past it. He has to keep swerving, as more shadows come running at him out of the snow. Pursuing. The camera cuts above. The glacier is swarming with small Ant groups, as Hayes swerves past them.

And then he hears a shrieking roar. The Queen. Near, but he doesn’t know where. He considers going straight ahead at Frost, but sees reason, and veers round it.

Hayes radios through to Snow Plough.

The roar can be heard from inside too. Snow Plough is staring at the walls where the sound is coming from, telling Hayes he can hear it, and reckons it is why in Chang’s old warehouse.

Hayes suggests taking it down with his railgun, suggesting that cutting the head from the Razor Ants may be what they need. Snow Plough agrees, the two of them overtaken with destroying the thing. Snow Plough assumes Fa Tsu will be happy to come and kill the Queen, but he just stands staring at the noise, shaking. “No… we’ll die… it’ll kill us all… we need to stay here…”

Yeti, however, is more than up for the idea of killing the Queen. He nearly charges out there by himself. Hayes then comes inside with the jeep, and some of the others start to get ready for war.

But Ross makes them see reason. “We don’t know enough about those things or how many there are. If you go out there, you’ll die, and then alert them to us. We don’t know why it is roaring like that. There could be many biological reasons. Either way, there is too much we don’t know. We should stay here.” The bloodlust calms in all except Yeti, but he has to follow Snow Plough’s orders, regardless.

“Right then. We’ve some time to kill”, says Snow Plough, as the Queen’s roaring continues outside.

The camera cuts above to show swarms of white Razor Ants moving in around Frost.

“Tea, anyone?”

Roll end credits.

Post credits scene: The camera cuts underground. Part of a blue mandible is protruding, lifeless, from underneath rubble. White mandibles pull it out. Teams of white colony Razor Ants are dragging out and up the tunnel blue colony dead…

The Queen roars, as her more and more dead are gathered around her, and her colony gathers to feast…