Mass Effect: IC-342 (Ironsworn: Starforged) Session 12


MISO has already worked his way through the preflight checklist by the time I reach the docking bay. Instructions from Director Calderone get us priority clearance from Tower, and within fifteen minutes, we’re in the black, burning hard for Devil’s Rest. 

Move: Undertake an Expedition (Devil’s Rest Survey Mission - Outlands)

New track established. (Rating: Formidable)

Roll: Move At Speed (Edge) 3 + 2 (5) vs. 2 & 9 (Weak Hit)

Peril: Familiar Foe Sends a message.

Settling in, I spend the ten hours it takes to make a hard burn to the outer rim of the system looking through data from Nova Station until it puts me to sleep. I’m not sure how many hours pass while MISO guides the Ulysses toward Devil’s Rest, know only that it isn’t enough for me to feel anything but bitter and groggy when the interior klaxons go off.

Talk to me, MISO!” I shout, half awake, leaning out of the chair and staring bleary-eyed at data readouts projected over the nav computer.

Anomalous object detected. It is transmitting a signal, Commander.”

Pull it up,” I gesture, then listen as a bizarre sequence of machine noises fills the cockpit. It takes about two seconds for me to make the connection, and then I’m completely awake, completely aware, and everything short of terrified.

Geth,” I breathe, eyes flicking to the waveform data. “You said that it’s coming from an object?”

That is correct, commander. I am detecting a composite ferrous and carbon signature approximately seventy-thousand kilometers distant along our flight path.”

A ship?” I ask, shifting in the chair to lean forward, like I could see a ship that far away through the viewplate. “Can you translate that signal?”

Apologies, I lack the linguistic and heuristic knowledge to translate the message at this time.”

Begin an analysis, then,” I tell him. “See what you can string together. Anything is better than nothing.”

The signal repeats on fourteen-second intervals,” MISO says. “It is likely an automated beacon.”

Distress call?” I ask.

Unknown, Commander.” 

Can you show me a visual?”

MISO says nothing, just continues to parse data in the background while a frame of magnified stars appears in the center of the viewscreen. In the center of the frame, a vaguely cylindrical gray-white shape spins slowly, ominously.

Move: Reach a Milestone - Vow (+1 box on track [1 of 10] )

Mark Progress on Expedition (+1 box on track [1 of 10])

Space Sighting: Derelict

MISO,” I pause. My mouth is dry, fumbles with words. “Can you get an ID on that ship?”

Registration code CZ117, Forge Flier. Light helium harvester with Cerberus markings.” He pauses. “Commander, I am detecting unusual equipment and permit clearances for this classification of vessel.”

Tell me,” I say, watching the silent starship with wary eyes.

The Forge Flier is fitted and registered for storage and ferrying of quarantined materials.”

That’s enough to put a chill in my spine.

Should I open a priority channel to Director Calderone?” MISO asks me.

No,” I shake my head, leaning forward, trying to pick out details as the ship slowly grows in the viewscreen. “Not yet. Let’s get a better look at what we’re dealing with first.”

Instead of waiting while MISO gets us within docking range of the derelict ship, I run down to the airlock, tug on my vacuum suit and prep my gear for EVA. Pulling up a screen on the wall, I watch the ship get closer and closer, notice the cloud of glittering shapes around the massive rip in the portside hull.

Derelict: Deep space. Damaged or breached (vented) Frozen corpses all around it.

Vented. I realize, looking at the damage, the darkened interior. A moment later, it becomes clear that the shapes floating in the void around the ship were probably the crew. Corpses.

MISO,” I try to keep the nervousness out of my voice. “Bring us alongside. I’m going in.”

Affirmative, Commander.”

Move: Undertake an Expedition (Into the Forge Flier)

New track established. (Rating: Dangerous)

Roll: Stay Vigilant (Wits) 2 + 4 (6) vs. 1 & 5 (Strong Hit)

Reach a waypoint.

Mark Progress on Expedition (Forge Flier) (2 boxes [now 2])

Access: Corridor (Breach in wall of corridor.)

Feature: Desc: Secret / Focus: Grave

Interior: Ornate furnishings & Heavy steam / moisture

The hole in the hull of the Forge Flier is so massive that I can almost see clear through the ship. Triggering the airlock, I cross out to the hull of the Ulysses, engaging the magnetic soles of my vacc suit’s boots so I can walk across the fuselage. The void of stars is huge and open all around me, but I’ve learned not to focus on it, not to let it get to me. I focus on the details of the ship ahead of me instead, the gold-trimmed suitcases, the clouds of frozen steam, and all these bodies, so many bodies.

Move: Explore A Waypoint (Access Point)

Roll: (Wits) 2 + 2 (4) vs. 1 & 2 (Strong Hit)

Opportunity: Shortcut.

Shining my flashlight around, I let the beam pass alow across the slagged edges of the hole, let it light up the frozen faces of the corpses. No one I recognize, no one I know, but all human. Shivering, I turn the light back to the hole and cross into the ship, easily find the central corridor that leads to the Operations section. Maybe I can find more data there, I decide. Logs, charts, something that can tell me who these people are and why they’re all floating out here at the extreme edge of the Neoma system.

Move: Undertake an Expedition (Into the Forge Flier)

Roll: Move At Speed (Edge) 3 + 5 (8) vs. 1 & 7 (Strong Hit)

Reach a waypoint.

Mark Progress on Expedition (Forge Flier) (2 boxes [now 4])

Operations: Conference Room

Feature: Automated Warning

Feeble blue light flickers as I push past the half-open door between the ship’s central corridor and the Operations section. Blinking, I try to make sense of the light source, realize I’m looking at some kind of equipment, something Geth in design. Tapping the side of my helmet, I take a deep breath, call MISO 

Is this the source of the signal?”

Affirmative, Commander,” MISO responds. “It appears to be a radio beacon.”

Any luck on that translation yet?” I ask.

Negative, Commander.”

Nodding silently to myself, I take a step toward the beacon, cast my eyes around the room.

Move: Explore A Waypoint (Operations)

Roll: (Wits) 2 + 5 (7) vs. 7 & 9 (Miss)

Create an opportunity for the enemy.

Peril: Automated defenses target you.

The geth turret spots me before I even know it's there, fires and lights up the whole room. I have half a second to react, to fling myself out of harm’s way or take the bolt of electrostatic energy full in the face. 

Move: Clash (Geth Turret)

Roll: Ranged (Edge) 3 + 5 (8) vs. 7 & 7 (Strong Hit)

Mark progress twice (Troublesome - 6 of 10)

Thank god for combat reflexes. I’m on the floor and behind the cover of a turned-over table before the turret’s payload even scorches the wall. Pulling my rifle, I wait for the space of a breath, hold it. I’ve faced Geth turrets before, faced situations like this before. Serenity comes, and then I’m on my feet, rising smoothly, fluidly. Crosshairs are on the turret before it can even react, and it only takes one volley of fire from my M-76 Revenant to put it down. 

Move: Take Decisive Action.

Roll: 6 Progress v.s. 4 & 10. (Weak Hit)

Objective achieved, but make a suffer move.

Move: Endure Harm (-2 Health - Now 3)

Roll: 5 (health) + 4 vs. 3 & 10 (Weak Hit)

-1 momentum (now 4) to prevent 1 health loss. (Health is now 4)

That’s when I feel it. The shock from the turret came closer than I thought, scrambled some of the electrics on my vacc suit. Nervous, uncertain, I test the air, check to make sure the scrubbers are still generating enough oxygen to keep me breathing. I cast a glance back at the Ulysses, and briefly I wonder if it’s a good idea to keep pushing into the derelict. Hesitation passes slowly, and as I pull in a deep breath, I find enough iron in my heart to push deeper into the ship’s Operations section.

Move: Undertake an Expedition (Into the Forge Flier)

Roll: Move At Speed (Edge) 3 + 5 (8) vs. 3 & 8 (Weak Hit)

Reach a waypoint, face a peril.

Peril: Hostile AI

Mark Progress on Expedition (Forge Flier) (2 boxes [now 6])

Operations: Brig

Feature: Recorded Message

Again, I hear the burst of machine noise. It’s louder here, comes through the static building and washing through the comms. Stepping over cables, I see something that makes me hesitate, makes me raise my gun and drop into a firing stance. Just beyond the door to the conference room, I spot a security station with a corpse wired into it, thick cables dropping from a twisted face to trace across the room to another corpse, this one locked up, holding a screen.

And on the screen, a face made of neon green glyphs and sigils screams Geth noises at me.

MISO!” I shout, but there is no answer. The static is overwhelming, makes it hard to concentrate, but I keep the gun on the screaming digital face as I move, try to seek out any threats lurking in the shadows.

Move: Explore A Waypoint (Operations)

Roll: (Wits) 2 + 6 (8) vs. 6 & 9 (Weak Hit)

Opportunity: Keycard or Access Code

Peril: Hostile AI

The corpse in the cell suddenly jerks upright like a puppet on strings. Backing off, I keep my rifle on it, try to get into the corner of the room where I can watch everything wired into that screaming screen. Lights in the ship flicker, and then the corpse that isn’t locked up starts to jerk to life, starts to reach for me.

Move: Battle (AI Corpse Thing)

Roll: Ranged (Edge) 3 + 5 (8) vs. 3 & 6 (Strong Hit)

Objective Achieved, +2 Momentum (now 6)

Three quick bursts of the Revenant and the corpse reaching for me breaks apart into shards, scattering through the freefall void. The corpse in the cell throws itself against the bars, but I don’t put it down, just watch it, trying to understand what I’m dealing with. AI wired into meat, into bodies, but none of it makes sense. Looking back to the horror I just dispatched, I notice the keycard on a lanyard hanging from one of its broken hands and I grab it, stash it.

Move: Undertake an Expedition (Into the Forge Flier)

Roll: Move At Speed (Edge) 3 + 3 (6) vs. 5 & 8 (Weak Hit)

Reach a waypoint, face a peril.

Peril: Sensors indicate arrival of external threat.

Mark Progress on Expedition (Forge Flier) (2 boxes [now 8])

Operations: Computer Core

Feature: Recorded Message

Following the cables, I move deeper into Operations, but instead of a cockpit or a flight chair, I find myself in a dead end room dominated by the massive horseshoe of a computer core. Lights flicker here and there on the server racks, and as I step into the room, I hear the geth noises again, the digital screams of the damned, and I feel like I’m finally starting to put the pieces together now. The bodies, the cables, these husk-like shapes, and the geth– it all reeks of experimentation, of some group of researchers playing god with digital sentience way out here on the frontier of colonized human space.

Looking around, I notice a console embedded into the core, activate it by pressing the lanyard ID against it. The cold screen flickers and pops to life, shows me a simple, three word prompt:

Abort, Retry, Fail?

The keyboard is icy. Uncertain, I type in the word Abort and the core hums in response, processing. The static stops, the screaming stops, and as I back away from the core, a tiny drive door opens beside the keyboard, ejects a tray with a tiny diskette in it.

Proximity alert!” MISO’s voice hits the comms suddenly. “Commander, do you read? Please confirm.”


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