Hendra Carpentar (Kathy) - Belt miner
Malina Arkestro (Angela) - Bodyguard
Zera Chirinos (Ellison) - Technician
Grigor Morgant (David) - Archaeologist (Absent)
Sandar Kelemon (Mark) - Explorer
March 16th, 2701 AD
Sandar Kelemon and the rest of the crew of the Blue Daphne are somewhat aghast at the state of the Mackenzie Heron, but the captain's cooler head prevails and he orders the AI, Fritz, and his relevant people to do a proper scan of the derelict ship. Hendra Carpentar is surprised to learn from the sensor sweep that there may be survivors aboard, but the AI says that this is blatantly impossible. Sandar says they need to send a group over to the other ship, to check things out, and the player characters make their preparations.
It's decided that Sandar, Hendra, Malina Arkestro, and Zera Chirinos will go over to the other ship, but Grigor Morgant will stay aboard the Blue Daphne [as his player was absent for the week]. The player characters make their preparations, and board the Blue Daphne's shuttle, Wanda1, for the trip. Hendra tells the others to buckle in tight, and Wanda1 departs for the derelict ship. As they near the debris cloud near the vessel, Zera tells the others that the sensors indicate the materiel is actually nano particles of some sort, but Hendra re-checks the information and confirms that they are indeed nano particles, but of a type that Fritz identifies as coming from some element of an AI, likely from the Mackenzie Heron's. Hendra eases the Wanda1 into a docking position with the derelict with ease, and the others prepare to board the Mackenzie Heron.
Easing their way onto the vacuum-filled shipwreck, the characters split up into pairs, Sandar and Zera working together, and Hendra and Malina partnering up. Wreckage fills the interior of the vessel, and Malina notes that there are places where scorch marks on the interior of the hull indicate firefights of some sort took place. It is Zera who cracks first, screaming out loud as she stumbles over the first body, but Sandar calms her down and the two of them proceed to the ship's bridge - or what's left of it. Several of the bridge crew are present, with scorch marks on the hulls, and their innards seemingly fried. Telling him that she's fine, Zera heads for the engineering deck of the ship, leaving Sandar on the bridge. Sandar is unable to get any of the bridge systems operational, and he informs Zera of that fact.
Heading for the medical facility, Hendra and Malina discuss what might have occurred aboard ship, and the two women are so engrossed that they fail to spot an active robot. The secbot almost gets the drop on them, but it is Malina's quick reflexes that save them both from being severely injured or worse, and Hendra's stunner and Malina's slug rifle are more than up to taking out the secbot. The two women can't do anything with the secbot, as neither has a decent level of skill in that area, but bring this to Sandar's attention. Malina notes that Hendra took somewhat of a wound, but the former belt miner says it's nothing serious; she's had worse working in an asteroid field. In the medical facility, the two women find several other crewmembers, and the doctor, all dead.
Arriving in the engineering section, Zera finds several of the crew also dead, and two dead soldier types, one male and one female, wearing reddish armour with strange drawings on them. [These are Tafuri raiders, as she realises.] Alarmed, she informs the others of what she's found, and also tells Sandar that she can try and juryrig something to bring some of the power back on-line. After some effort, Zera manages to do so...
...just in time for Sandar on the bridge to see that there's another ship less than 1/2 an AU distant from the derelict Mackenzie Heron! Even as he watches, the other vessel starts moving towards the derelict ship, and in horror Sandar realises it's a Tafuri vessel! He immediately contacts the Blue Daphne, and orders Fritz to get the ship out of the reach of the Tafur weapons. Fritz obeys, reluctantly, and the player characters find themselves stranded aboard the derelict ship to face the dreaded Star Devils.
Back on the Mackenzie Heron, Zera reports that there are some strange energy readings in Engineering, and they seem to be emanating from the cargo section. From the bridge, Sandar tells her it's more important for them to determine if there's any way they can power up the weapon systems of the derelict. Zera tells him that the ship had a railgun, but that must have been destroyed during the Tafuri attack on the ship. Sandar informs the others that the Tafuri ship will arrive in the next three hours, so they need to plan out what to do. He tells the others to meet him with Zera in the Engineering section.
Once the other player characters arrive, Sandar looks at them, explains the situation, and asks for their suggestions. Malina says that there's nothing to fight the Tafuri with, and she's not all that intent on being taken captive by them; the group discusses the rumours they've heard about them, but Sandor says that's not a fruitful path of examination for them. When Sandor asks why the Tafuri have remained in the area, Zera suggests perhaps it has something to do with the energy readings from the cargo bay. Sandar shrugs, and says that's the next avenue of pursuit they should undertake. The characters make their way to the cargo bay, and in the darkness of the hold make out the various bodies sprawled about. Several of them appear to be Tafuri, and it appears their bodies have been shredded. Even as the characters debate what caused that, Zera points in the direction of the bright green light that is approaching them. And Malina shouts out a warning - they're swarmbots!
This was a wonderful session of the River of Heaven RPG campaign, as the players commented afterwards. There was a somewhat creepy feeling to it as the player characters wandered the derelict ship, and both Kathy and Angela loved their "fight" with the secbot. When the characters realised what might be happening, it was priceless to see their faces! David was missed, to be sure, since he was sick and couldn't make it out, so his character, Grigor Morgant, was left aboard the Blue Daphne, but the rest of the players managed without him.
I'm quite looking forward to the next session of River of Heaven, and there should definitely be some sparks flying.