Episode Two- The First Rule of Medicine
The Crew of the Hsigo meets Jersey Bob at the spacedocks. Jersey Bob, who is not one to see his gas wasted on a joy ride, has assembled close to 150 tons of lumber, construction tools, and cushioned opera house seats (!) into the hold, filling it with the rather odd assortment and telling you to drop it off at Lazarus. Lazarus is a small nearby planet with only a couple of cities large enough to have a spaceport. Jersey says drop off the shipment in the capital city of Novosibirski. You will be met there by his business associate, Mr. Reginald Haversham, who will receive the shipment and give you a much smaller shipment (about 25 tons of freeze dried tuna, according to Jersey) to bring back with you.
Jersey Bob offers Zach and Anders a little side work while the rest of the crew gets the ship ready- since their skill set is more of the ‘guns and violence’ type he figures they’d be more useful guarding a train shipment he has set up. They step out of this job. Each gets paid 20 credits for the uneventful guarding of the train, only Zach spends half that while on the train on rich food and stupid bets.
Normally Lazarus, which is in the same system, would only be an 8-10 hour burn away. But this is the ships maiden voyage and Lachlan and Jersey agree that the pilot and mechanic need time to get a feel for the ship, so the route Carmen has navved out will involve a quick circle around the outside of the entire Heinlein system. This will take about 2 days to get to the planet, but the return trip will be about ten hours.
The first day out is spent getting a feel for the ship and moving in. Carmen is mostly satisfied with the way the ship handles, though like all beetle class ships it is not particularly graceful in atmosphere, and she claims she needs a mechanics kit and electronics kit on the flight deck. Mycroft spends most of his time complaining about how the old mechanic put all the turbo routers in ass backwards and almost screwed the starboard secondary coupler by cramming the wrong sized spark inhibitor into it. He did a good job making the Hsigo more fuel efficient, Mycroft will give him that, but Mycroft can’t yet figure out HOW he did it, and it is driving him a little crazy . He quickly realizes that the Hsigo has truly seen better days, and the maintenance on this ship is going to run high unless it one day gets a full (and very expensive) overhaul. Doctor Spigel finds the infirmary sorely lacking . . . the last crew didn’t have anything but a very basic medic on board, and the state of supplies and equipment in the infirmary is deplorable. Spigel will have to work out of his own basic kit until the infirmary is properly stocked and brought up to date, which he estimates will cost between 500 and 1000 credits. Lachlan explores all the nooks and crannies of the ship. Much like serenity, this ship has been tailor made to have hidden storage all over it. He finds over a dozen small hidey holes riddled throughout the ship.
The first crew supper is pretty good- way better than most on your average transport. Jersey Bob provided actual pork chops for cooking and the soy ice cream is better than most. A couple of bottles of decent whiskey flavored spaceshine are passed around as well and folks go to sleep happy.
No rest for the wicked, says the ship’s beacon sensors, which wake up Santana and the Captain after only a few hours of shuteye. Gathering on the flight deck they see that the ship is picking up a very weak emergency beacon coming from a bumblebee class homesteader transport. The ship, named ‘The Doctor is in’, is registered to Doctor Tamara Maxim and her family of four. They were heading to Silverhold but obviously something went wrong. They were due to arrive several days ago. When the Hsigo gets within sensor range it is apparent that the ship is out of fuel, retros are on but life support is off, and the emergency beacon has been on for at least several days. One of the four emergency escape pods is also missing.
Mycroft and Spigel suit up and head into the black. (GM’s note- this game we found out how important the skill survival is to operating in the black . . . you might want to buy at least a little survival). Several mechanical and technical rolls later on the part of Santana and Mycroft and the two ship’s computers are attached. A fuel line is also connected and the Hsigo gives ‘The Doctor is In’ just enough gas to get her powered up and get some atmo in her.
While Santana and Lachlan maneuver the Hsigo into place to possibly dock Mycroft and Spigel enter the small transport through the air lock. In the common area they find a lot of medical supplies and a body strapped to a gurney. Spigel examines the body. It appears that the man’s abdomen has been cut into, his guts have been removed and then shoved back in. The two search the flight deck- no one there- and the docking port- no one there- and Mycroft puts things in place for the Hsigo to dock.
Spigel and Mycroft head up the ladder to the bedroom/common living area. There they find two more bodies- the Doctor and her 9 year old daughter- killed in the same manner as the man downstairs. They also find a holoprojector which was obviously used as a travel log. Fast-forwarding through the almost 2 months worth of tape on it, they see that the family makes several references to ‘teaching Arpa the trade’. Ten days ago they flew through a solar flare and Arpa ‘went wrong and was shut down’. Nine days ago is the last entry-
‘Obviously, someone knocked over the holo recorder and it inadvertently turned on. The entire scene is sideways at floor level. A man’s voice is screaming in pain and horror a womans voice is screaming ‘Jenny and James get in the fucking escape pods NOW!’ A little girls voice is yelling ‘Mommy, I’m scared’ and a little boys voice is screaming ‘Why does Arpa want my ‘pendix, momma? I want to keep my ‘pendix!’ There is the thud of a body hitting the floor and the whoosh of an escape pod being launched and then the screams of a woman. The last scene is simply a splash of blood splaying across the field of view of the screen. Then there is only silence.’
Santana comes on the comm links having looked up Arpa and found it stands for ‘Autonomous Robot Physician’s Assistant’. That is when Mycroft and Lachlan hear something coming up the ladder . . .
All hell breaks loose as the Mi Tian Gohn hits the oscillating device. Lachlan, who had just entered the ship, heads to the living quarters. Mycroft tries to short circuit the robot and does some damage but fails to shut her down. The robot gets a hold of Spigel and only his suit saves him from being injected with enough tranquilizer to knock a horse out. He disengages from the robot by targeting the robots wrist joint and breaking it, causing a little harm to himself in the process (GM note- that was a very cool move, Connor, meant to give you a plot point for that move and did not, so take one now)
Lachlan shows up and the Robot does not seem to pay any attention to him at all (later that was determined to be because the robot was in the market for appendixes and Lachlan had already had his removed). Lachlan manages to lose his gun once and jam his gun once in a series of really bad rolls (apparently that boy needs some zero G training) In the meantime Spigel is finding it very difficult to damage the robot with his barehands but the robot is not finding it that difficult to slash Spigel up a little at a time with his scalpel. Lachlan finally gets a good shot into the robots back, damaging some circuitry, and guided by Santana’s advice Mycrofy targets an electrical charge on the robots’ battery pack, shutting down the robot. The slight risk of a subsequent explosion of the robot is quickly shut down by Mycroft’s technical engineering skills. It seems likely, in retrospect, that the solar flare the ship sailed through did some kind of damage to the robot’s circuitry and the robot suddenly took up as it’s number one priority removing all appendixes from all crew members.
The crew salvages what they can from the ship and the robot. They go recover the one escape pod, containing the dead body of the 12 year old Maxim child. They return it to the ship and continue heading for Lazarus, intent on reporting the ships location anonymously to the local authorities.
Santana is a family person and insists that the crew holds a brief ceremony of goodbye for the slain family. According to her, you don’t gotta do any prayin’, but you better not make any smart remarks, dohn-luh-mah?
The ship lands on Lazarus, drops off the one cargo, picks up the other and sails back to Paquin without any more hitches. Local authorities are alerted to go get the ship.