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Albedo The Role Playing Game: The Catapult

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Monday, April 2, 2007

(After play-testing Albedo (1st ED) in Bryan Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. with Steve and Scott Allen.)

The three EDF enlisted men had been sent up in a military aerodyne to get some training in zero-g and low-g operations on the only moon of the planet Tlakatan: Tindo.

Squad Leader Boadsun was a bear. He was a bit vulgar and burped and farted repeatedly. A Spec 2 mechanic, he was great with tools. Squad Leader Jastar was a gray fox and an excellent aerodyne pilot in his own right though he had not made officer or even come very close. Monitor T’Kinnari was a large black dog and more at ease with diplomats and officers than he was with enlisted men. He was responsible and polite though it hadn’t gotten him very far in the EDF.

Their commanding officer, Lt. Aldrik, a brush tailed possum, was piloting the aerodyne between Tlakatan and Tindo. He was alone in the cockpit while the other three were in the crew cabin in the center of the aerodyne, strapped in due to the zero gravity.

Some two hours into the trip, the inter-ship intercom cracked.

“I need some help up here!” Lt. Aldrik called.

Jastar and T’Kinnari were quick to unbuckle themselves from their seats and head forward against the low force created by the thrust of the aerodyne. Boadsun took his time, not particularly liking officers.

“Probably drank too much last night,” the great grizzly bear growled as he followed the other two towards the nose of the ship.

They found Aldrik slumped over the controls, clutching at his right side and groaning in pain. In the cockpit window, Tindo was large and gray.

Jastar eased Aldrik back and a short examination proved that he had collapsed from appendicitis. Jastar feared that the possum would die within the hour if he didn’t receive medical attention.

“He’s just an officer,” Boadsun grunted.

Jastar gave him a dirty look.

“Take him aft and strap him in,” he said. “We can take him to the mining base on Tindo.”

He unstrapped Aldrik and handed him off to T’Kinnari, who eased the possum back to the aft cabin.

“Strap in,” Jastar said to Boadsun.

“I don’t know anything about flying,” the bear replied.

“Doesn’t matter,” Jastar said. “Just strap in.”

Boadsun shrugged and strapped himself into the co-pilot seat. It was a tight fit at the very least.

Jastar turned to the radio.

“This is Training Flight T7,” he called. “We’re in trouble.”

He got nothing but static in return.

He tried to contact the Tlakatan and the moon base on Tindo but in each case, the interference was too great. He guessed the solar noise in the region of Tindo’s daylight side was interfering.

Jastar brought the aerodyne down in the final approach to the moon moments later. They could both clearly make out the rails of a huge linear accelerator near the small domes and cubes of the base. Jastar remembered being told by Lt. Aldrik that the moon base was only used by a few private mining concerns still looking for fresh ore deposits. The linear accelerator wasn’t even used any more.

As he set the aerodyne down on the wide landing field not far from the base, he could see that Tlakatan was just rising over the horizon. He and Boadsun noticed the large slag heap between the landing field and the base, and saw a commercial freighter also parked on the field.

He landed the aerodyne like a pro and while he completed the post flight shut down, Boadsun went into the cabin. T’Kinnari told him the Lieutenant seemed to be doing worse and the bear simply nodded. When Jastar had the ship shut down, they put their helmets on and depressurized the cabin.

Boadsun and Jastar left T’Kinnari in the ship with Aldrik. The two headed across the landing field, Boadsun taking point. Jastar noticed some cables coming from the freighter and going around the slag heap, so he reported it to Boadsun and followed them. He reached the edge of the slag heap and saw that the cables went to the linear accelerator. That puzzled him.

When Boadsun reached the freighter, he saw what looked like a body sprawled at the bottom of the cargo ramp.

“We’ve got a body!” he called into the radio.

He drew his sidearm, a machine pistol of light and handy design. He felt on the outside of his vacc suit for the ceremonial axe of his clan that he always kept with him.

He radioed to T’Kinnari to open up the weapon locker and ready the few weapons they had on board. T’Kinnari reminded him they would have to explain any such actions and he grunted he would take full responsibility. The dog told him he’d get the weapons out and loaded.

Jastar bounded up to the bear in the low gravity a moment later, his own machine pistol in his hand. Boadsun examined the body and found that it was a dead penguin in a vacc suit with two bullets in his back. He carefully headed up the ramp to the cargo hold and found an unsuited cat and mouse at the back of the cargo bay.

They did a very quick search of the ship and found little or nothing. It didn’t look like any of the cabins or gear was stolen or missing. Boadsun sent Jastar back to the aerodyne to get the two assault rifles there and the fox headed out of the freighter. While he was gone, Boadsun examined the ships logs. From the newest logs, he found that the ship had landed only a short while before they did.

When he got back outside of the freighter, he found Jastar there with the two assault rifles that had been in the weapon’s locker and an extra clip for each. He nodded at the fox and then headed around the slag heap the opposite way the cables ran from the freighter.

The moon base looked fine. It consisted of three structures: a large dome, a wide, low building, and a building with a second level that appeared to be some kind of observation area. They saw no sign of trouble or habitation so bounded across the light gravity of the lunar surface until they reached the nearest of the three structures of the base: the greenhouse. A quick reconnaissance showed them there was an electric airlock and a manual airlock on the exterior. Boadsun, cautious as ever, advised they use the manual airlock.

It took them a few minutes to cycle themselves through the airlock and when they opened the door to the greenhouse within, they noticed fog starting to cover their visors. They pulled off their helmets and started to move through the place.

They soon found three bodies in the building. One was a beaver who showed signs of being shot while he was running away. The other two were a squirrel and a cat, both of whom had been killed by one bullet to the neck. Each of them had powder burns on their necks as well, as if the weapon had been fired at close range, execution-style.

A couple of burst tell-tales were on the wall. Tell-tales were small, gas-filled spheres with adhesive coated interiors. They were often set loose if a vacuum leak was feared. They would float to the leak and get sucked up against it, whereupon they broke and the adhesive plugged the holes. These seemed to be covering bullet holes.

They also found a smashed and broken robot in one corner of the room. Boadsun examined it and found that it was deactivated due to small arms damage to the power pack. Jastar quickly found a power source and they hooked the robot up to that and rebooted his central AI.

Once the robot was sure that the two were not the ones that had attacked it and were, in fact, EDF personnel, it was willing to cooperate with them. It suggested they net it into the base’s computer system. Once they had done so, it was able to provide them with maps of the base and locations of the five people in the command center building. It also told them it was picking up a power and oxygen drain in the living quarters though that building was exposed to vacuum.

They asked if it could do anything about the people in the command center but the robot noted that all of the computer systems there were under manual control and if it tried to do anything, it would be noticed.

After finding out they were out of communications with the aerodyne and T’Kinnari, they decided to investigate the power drain in the living quarters.

The living quarters building was connected to the greenhouse via a transparent tube. They made their way through the airlock in the greenhouse, through the tube, and through the airlock in the living quarters.

The entire building was in a shambles. Bunk compartments and the common room were splattered with the remains of over 30 individuals. A little radio coordination with the robot allowed them to find the energy and oxygen drain was in the common room. Jastar found an access panel that looked like it had been removed and replaced. He pulled it open while Boadsun covered him, revealing a small dog and a penguin within.

“Hands up!” the bear growled.

They both raised their hands and the two could see they were only wearing helmets and vacc suit liners. It only took them a few moments to learn that the two were inhabitants of the base who had hid themselves during the terrorist attack. They were unsure why the terrorists had taken over the base. They were also very uncomfortable in just the vacc suit liners and suffering the discomfort of improper preparation for vacuum.

They learned that the dog was the station’s janitor and the penguin was a medical orderly. The penguin told them there was a medical center in the command center building.

They took the two back to the greenhouse where they would be more comfortable. Boadsun realized they would have to assault the command center if they wanted to stop the five that had caused all the carnage. He sent Jastar back to the aerodyne with the two and waited until the fox had returned with T’Kinnari. He filled in the black dog on what was going on and told him they were going to try to take the command center.

The robot was able to tell them that one of the terrorists was guarding each airlock and the other two were in the nearby computer center. They examined the areas on the computer screen in the greenhouse and then headed into the connecting tunnel.

They cycled the airlock at the other end, Boadsun warning them to keep as quiet as they could and drawing his ceremonial axe, and then flung open the door that opened into a storage room of the command center. The rhino on the other side was completely taken by surprise and Boadsun laid into him with the axe, cutting his head, arm and chest while Jastar slipped into the room and put his rifle to his head. T’Kinnari stood near Boadsun, aiming at the rhino.

The creature collapsed and they tied him up. He was wearing a vacc suit without a helmet and a flak jacket. He also had a radio on his shoulder that they quickly took.

“T’Kinnari, the door!” Boadsun said.

The dog moved to one side of the storage shelves and aimed his machine pistol at the door, watching it very closely.

The other two interrogated the rhino and learned that the terrorists were going to use the linear accelerator to lob huge, eight-ton metal slugs at the planet to cause as much devastation as they could.

“They’ll start any minute,” the rhino said with a grin. “You can’t stop us. Power to the people!”

They quickly prepared themselves, Boadsun arming himself with his assault rifle and giving the oversized assault rifle of the rhino to T’Kinnari. Then Jastar flung open the door and got the drop on the raven standing guard at the airlock. He blasted the raven in the wing and it fell with a cry. He’d fired a short burst and several of his bullets struck the wall. A moment later, Boadsun stepped through the door and fired down at the raven, putting two more bullets into the creature. He shrieked in pain and jerked back and forth.

T’Kinnari and Jastar moved to the door that led to the command center’s central room and Jastar nodded at the dog. The fox pressed the button to open the door and as T’Kinnari rushed through, he was struck in the abdomen by a bullet fired from the raccoon who stood ready behind one of the consoles in the main room. Several others bullets from the raccoon’s assault rifle struck the wall. T’Kinnari fell to the ground with a grunt.

Jastar ran out of the room, hoping to get to the nearby machine benches. The raccoon was incredibly fast, however, and fired another burst of machine-gun fire. One of the bullets struck Jastar in the arm and he slammed into the ground behind one of the benches. There was a sound like “pock-pock” and then a hissing as two more bullets pierced the outer shell of the building.

Boadsun lumbered out of the room, spun around the side of the console hiding the raccoon, and let loose a long burst from his assault rifle. The bullets crashed into the raccoon, striking him in the arm, chest, and abdomen. He collapsed with a shriek.

A moment later, the lion and the bear hiding behind the console on the far side of the room stood up and opened fire on Boadsun, striking him with several bullets. He fell to the ground near the raccoon, unconscious.

T’Kinnari was delirious but Jastar was still alert, hiding on the far side of one of the machine benches. He pulled himself to his knees and waited. A moment later, the bear came down from the computer center and into his sights. The terrorist tried to shoot him but Jastar was faster and blasted the bear twice.

He went down but Jastar heard more of his bullets piercing the exterior of the building. He ducked down again and could see the shadow of the lion under another of the wheeled benches nearby. He stayed as perfectly still as he could and a moment later, saw the lion’s shadow start to creep to one side. As the terrorist peeked around the side of the bench, Jastar put a bullet into his head, killing him instantly.

He stopped his own bleeding and then tended to Boadsun and T’Kinnari. They managed to get some more tell-tales in the room activated and stopped the loss of pressure before they patched up Jastar’s suit and sent him back to the aerodyne to retrieve the moon base crewmen and Lt. Aldrik.

The penguin orderly was able to operate on Aldrik and save his life. Boadsun was in bad shape but they were soon able to get a message to Tlakatan and call for help and medical evac.

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