Episode 10: Derelict of Death
After their return from Tatooine, the team had several uneventful weeks on Enteague Minor. But before long, Drew Greyhelm acquired a new recruit: the scout Akela T’sing. He wore a dusty camouflaged trench coat and a combat helmet with canvas weather flaps down the back and sides.
Plus, he was quite a laconic human being.
The Enteague Outpost base Commander Dominic informed Drew that they received a wide band Alliance distress call from the swamp world of Igmalar.
Drew assigned both Akela and pilot Viveede Briylle Collor to investigate.
Viveede piloted the small Corellian Turbocarrier freighter Fallen Angel into the thick, foggy atmosphere of Igmalar. Akela acquired permission to land from Igmalar City Traffic Control. The Angel settled gracefully onto a landing pad. Upon disembarking, Viveede found it strange that no port officers had come out to greet them.
The pilot and the scout headed towards Blixx Alley together, where their usual contact – the spy Ooogle Flutzgle – usually awaited for them with information. However, the Grenben spy was nowhere to be found. Perhaps, the signal did not come from Ooogle?
Suddenly, a squad of white-armoured Imperial stormtroopers burst onto the scene. Before a word could be spoken, they pelted the two rebels with stun bolts, dropping them like a sack of potatoes.
The rebels awakened in the expansive hangar bay of an Imperator-class Star Destroyer, which meant they were in big trouble. Surrounded by a platoon of stormtroopers, they found their hands cuffed by binders.
An Imperial officer strode out to meet them. Without introducing himself, he said, “Welcome aboard the Star Destroyer Detonator. We had thought to kill you while you were unconscious, but we found a use for you rebel scum.”
Akela and Viveede had been abducted to investigate the Quantum Leap, a Sullustan medium freighter that disappeared. It had been carrying Imperial weapons in the Outer Rim Territories. After listed as missing for several months, it reappeared in the high orbit of Iskalon and was not answering any hails.
There were two catches.
First of all, the Empire had attempted to board the ship twice in the last two days. Both groups were never heard from again. Sensor scans on the ship seemed to be useless.
Second of all, Imperial technicians fitted the Fallen Angel with a very well hidden remote explosive device. If they attempt to flee without finishing their task, they would be destroyed.
“Good luck,” smiled the officer, “for your sake.”
BOARDING THE QUANTUM LEAP
Akela and Viveede reluctantly boarded the Fallen Angel and departed from the Detonator. The scopes indicated that there was a medium freighter 200 klicks to the aft of the Star Destroyer. Viveede closed in on the Quantum Leap and docked with it. The derelict ship was at least three times the size of their freighter.
THE ENTRY CORRIDOR
They crossed the threshold into the Leap and beheld an absolute silence aboard the transport. The air was warm and humid, thus somewhat more uncomfortable than normal. As they both sweated profusely, they decided to make their way to the transport’s cockpit.
En route, they saw movement in the shadows. Leathery spider-like creatures were crawling towards them on the floors, walls and ceiling. Sensing trouble, they both hauled jets from there. The creatures scampered after them and tried to leap onto their heads. Akela and Viveede drew their blasters and shot the ones pouncing at them.
THE COMMON ROOM
They reached the transport’s sparsely-lit common room and sealed the door behind them. Even the roving scout Akela had never seen anything like this before. Turning around to look for a way to the cockpit, they faced an even greater horror.
There was piles of limp bodies on the common room deck and they seem to be consisting of the Quantum Leap and the Imperial boarding party crews. Despite their immobility, their eyes were wide open and they slowly breathed. More importantly, the spider-like creature was fastened onto the cranium of each person’s head.
Suddenly, a tentacle appeared from the shadows.
A single leathery tentacle coiled around one of the inert bodies and carried it to a gaping maw which was set on a hitherto unnoticed rock-like column growing out of the deck in the middle of the common room. The rock column creature then devoured the body along with the spider-like headgear.
The thing noticed them and tried to grab both rebels with more tentacles, eight of the ropey appendages flailing around in the common room. The duo fired their blasters at it ineffectively as they retreated towards another door which, to their dismay, was locked. A tentacle came dangerously close to Akela as he tried to hotwire the door controls, but he succeeded.
The door slid open and a spider creature leapt out of the cockpit towards Viveede. Thankfully, he blaster was readied and a single trigger pull vaporised half the thing’s body in mid-leap.
They both hurried inside and closed the door behind them.
There is a motionless figure seated at the pilot’s station, which was a marble-eyed, jowl-faced, big-eared Sullustan in a blue & gray jumpsuit and a dark grey skullcap. From the ID on his jumpsuit, they discovered that this was Noar Niix, the captain of the Quantum Leap. He seemed alive, but brain dead. It appeared that a spider creature tried to grab his head but he successfully fought it. But the neural shock broke his brain.
Akela searched his body and found a jury-rigged ultrasonic transmitter the size of a datacard in Captain Niix’s chest pocket.
Viveede pulled the ship’s log and read it.
The Quantum Leap went off course in hyperspace and ended up lost in the Unknown Regions. They landed on a nearby planet which appeared to be a tropical paradise, so the crew named the planet Utopia. Before they lifted off, they had unknowingly picked up hostile life forms from the planet which acted like an infestation. The crew had named the spider-creatures psych parasites and the rock tentacle column an octolith which had started out as a marble-like spore pod. Additionally, there were also invisible bipedal phantombeasts and the savage six-limbed targash.
THE COMMON ROOM
Akela and Viveede intended to inspect the weapons in the cargo hold but the octolith are the psych parasites were outside in the common room waiting for them. They then opened the door and stormed out while firing their blasters at the octolith and anything that moved. Their blaster bolts were ineffective against the creature’s rocky hide while its tentacles flailed their way towards them.
Viveede had a sudden idea and then pointed the ultrasonic emitter at the octolith but nothing happened. Suddenly one of Akela’s blaster bolts struck the creature’s hide and ruptured it, making Viveede deduce that Niix had made the emitter to be able to soften its skin with ultrasonic waves.
While still pointing the device at the octolith, Viveede and Akela poured their fire into the creature incessantly, and after several seconds it roared in pain and exploded into thick, black goo.
THE CARGO HOLD
Opening the door to the outer corridor, they discovered that the parasites have vanished. Quickly making their way to the elevator that led to the cargo hold, they could not help but feel dozens of inhuman eyes – or analogous visual sensor organs – were on them.
The duo reached the lower level without any trouble, but when they entered the hold they beheld a horrific sight. Not only were there dozens upon dozens of psych parasites waiting for them there, but another octolith had taken root and grown at the far wall of the hold. The parasites swarmed towards them both. As Viveede blasted at them with futility, Akela quickly shut the blast doors.
They decided that enough was enough. This was too much for them and headed back towards the Fallen Angel. They had to find the remote bomb, disable it and escape the Imperials before it was too late.
THE FALLEN ANGEL
As they rushed for the airlock at the top deck, unseen talons slashed at them, drawing blood but caused no serious injury. During their retreat, they fired blindly and in vain at their silent and translucent attackers.
Ultimately, they reached their ship and sealed the airlock behind them. It would not be long before the Detonator‘s scopes register their return to their ship so they searched quickly for the bomb. Akela’s keen eyes spotted the explosive device near in the engineering compartment, hidden among the gear there. He carefully but swiftly disabled it.
Viveede then disengaged the Angel from the Quantum Leap, thrusted away from the infernal vessel, and soon fired the sublight drives.
The Detonator kept hailing them and warning them that their ship will be destroyed, but no explosion came for obvious reasons.
As far as the rebels were concerned, the Imperials were welcome to have the alien creatures.
Before the Detonator could fire at them with their turbolasers, the Viveede pulled the hyperdrive lever and the Fallen Angel made the jump into hyperspace.
Next: A rescue mission.
Alternately: A tangential interlude with other characters before the rescue mission.
- This was run some time during 1989 and everything written here are from notes I made some time in the mid-90s.
- I cringe now when I read the name “Utopia” in Star Wars.
- First appearance of Laconic Scout Akela T’sing.
- Yes, I created mutant headcrabs before there were mutant headcrabs.
- Fallen Angel was another ship that was available for the player characters to use in the Strikeforce Enteague, but they flew it so rarely that I have now forgotten what it looked like. I know I drew it somewhere and I also gave it stats.
- If I recall correctly, the adventure was engineered to be a dungeon crawl in a spaceship, with monsters in every room.
- Finally, looking at how the action was framed and the scenes executed, it is obvious that I was going for an Aliens pastiche.