There’s an old joke that there are more planes at the bottom of the ocean than there are submarines in the sky and something tells me that’s going to hold true when we start dealing with deep space in Aliens & Asteroids as well. And tales of ghost ships, well those are a staple of any good story set on the open ocean.
This is the tale of the DCS Balantine, a deep space freighter used to taking cargo from Sol system to wherever their corporate masters directed. Before their sudden disappearance after the turn of the century in 2201. The ship was loaded with Plutonium from a cache deep in the Field and headed to a refining operation out of Proxima Centauri.
Of course, this was before the BANCE gates were built, so it traveled at roughly .25 light speed to get there. The trip was supposed to take roughly 20 years or so, but it never made it. But, because of the way liability insurance works, the company lost nothing even if the families of those lost everything.
Early this year (2229), our deep space monitoring network found a very radioactive blip on the proverbial radar. Traveling at .1 light speed, a huge freighter was on a direct course for Earth. Unmanned drones were sent to try and establish contact, but they returned with a ton of pictures of the vessel — heavily fortified with a coating of debris from what looks like another spaceworthy vessel or a collection of asteroid fragments. And it is leaving a trail of radioactivity that will take a long while for the solar winds to dissipate.
We have recruited your team, through DSF command, to investigate what happened to the ship we believe to be the Balantine. You will be granted new, top-of-the-line radiation protection and given explicit instructions on how to destroy the ship when your investigation is complete.
This ship must not get anywhere near civilized space. The lives of billions are at stake. Should it actually collide with anything substantial, it will explode with the power of a small sun, doing irreparable harm.
- Extreme Radiation Environment Suit – AR5/AP35. Bulky, unwieldy suits that reduce movement by half and any and all skills requiring fine manipulation are at a Disadvantage to complete. Characters with the Armor trait may reduce this to No Advantage. At the radiation levels noted on the Balantine, you have about 6 hours before the suits will no longer protect you.
- Antimatter Implosive – Causes a microscopic tear in the fabric of space-time, creating a momentary effect similar to a black hole. Anything within 5m is ripped to shreds in the transition and the hole seals itself. 10d6 x 1d6 and almost instant annihilation to the target. Marine sappers suspect it will require six or eight of these spread out through the interior of the ship at regular intervals to ensure that the cloud of radioactive debris never makes it onto a shipping lane or all the way to a station or settlement.
Good luck Marines. This may be a one way trip.
If you fail in your mission, we have a flight of a dozen heavy missiles ready to launch from Pluto’s orbit. We hope it won’t come to that.
Getting on board will require some ingenuity. The outer crust applied to the hull conceals any obvious entry points. A new “door” may need to be opened. And any shuttle unlucky enough to be flying the PCs to the site must keep a healthy distance or start to see radiation damage to ship systems.
Once inside, the PCs will encounter Echoes of the 100 men and women who were on the ship. These are essentially radioactive ghosts roaming the halls who will attack anyone or anything they see on sight. Their physical being is gone, leaving only a vague cloud of radioactive tissue behind that can slowly pass through even the additional protection the Dominion has passed along.
- Radioactive Echo – Attribute 8, Toughness 16; Speed: 20m; Traits: Insubstantial (physical attacks do half damage), Burning Hands (can push their way through points of armor at a rate of 1 AR per turn, but they must hold that position to melt away the armor a layer at a time — when no AR is left, this attack does 2d6 per action to AP and then HP), Rage against History (each of these can scream once per encounter creating a cone-shaped blast that will force any in its path to make a Save vs. Morale at a Disadvantage or flee in panic; Effective Range 3-40m; 10m cone at its widest)
These Echoes may be defeated by collecting them in vacuum containers. Though they appear to take the space of normal men and women, they are in fact just collections of dust and debris held together by strange radioactive forces. The party should be able to manufacture these on their own from the parts on board.
Setting charges will be the easiest part of the mission, with six to eight locations marked on the ship plans they will be given.
Keep track of the time on board and the numbers of the opposition.