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Story 63

Did he survive?

Dr. Arken steps out of his bio lab looking exhausted while being escorted by two of his robot minions.

“So Doc, how did it go?”

“Your friend survived but to call it difficult would be an understatement. Your officer will likely be back to his pre-Volomin attitude in less than a stand. As soon as he wakes up in recovery my minions can help him board your ship.”

Gain 2 Fame Points for taking extreme measures to save one of your own crew members. You may take any actions you choose this round. 

If you borrowed money for this procedure, keep track of how much you borrowed and after this round you will have three rounds to pay Merv Arken back, or there will be a bounty equivalent to what you borrowed and the Rep Omen will also try to obtain the bounty.

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Story 62

Experimental Surgery

As you approach the space lab, you send Dr Arken a hail. When he accepts, you give him the rundown of what your comm officer’s situation is. He invites you to dock and lets you know that some of his robot minions will escort you to his bio lab.

After you dock and disembark from the ship, the crew, accompanied by Merv Arken’s robot minions, wend their way to the bio lab. The air nearly hums with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Dr. Arken stands at the entrance, wearing a white lab coat stained with unidentifiable substances. His third eye in the middle of his forehead is moving back and forth rapidly as if reading something, and the viscous liquid in the dome containing his electrobrain is churning more rapidly then even when you hailed him. He greets the crew with a crooked smile and gestures for them to enter.

The bio lab is a maze of advanced medical equipment, surrounded by screens displaying complex data and diagrams. Dr. Arken takes a seat at his workstation, typing furiously on the keyboard while muttering to himself.

“So let me get this straight. You want me to create a procedure for removing highly specialized nanobots that can regularly cross the blood brain barrier, and because there are no available animal subjects, the first time I attempt this will be on a sentient being.”

You blink a couple of times, “Well, when you put it like that, it does sound ridiculous, but,” you continue, “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“As long as you recognize this for the long shot that it is, then I’ll do it, but I’m asking for 10,000 credits, regardless of the final outcome.”

You long blink at him. There are space vessels that cost less, but you know this is the best course of action.

Dr Arken continues, “If you don’t have the full sum immediately available, I can give you three stands after the procedure to finish procuring the funds. If, however, you don’t manage to pay me back, I’ll put a bounty on your collective heads so large that even the bald man might set the Rep Omen on you.

What do you do?

  • Do you decide the cost is too great and just walk your comm officer out an airlock (Story 59)?
  • Do you try to get either black market drugs (Story 60) or counterfeit drugs (Story 61)?
  • Do you decide to follow through with this experimental procedure? , wait till the beginning of next round, then read/listen to Story 63?
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Story 58

Bankruptcy

In a move that has sent shock waves across the various stock markets throughout the Drift System, STARKe Pharmaceuticals has declared bankruptcy after numerous lawsuits were filed against them related to two drugs that they’ve been developing, Zylol and Volomin. 

Effective immediately, they are ceasing production of all their medications and laying off tens of thousands of employees.

As you read this article on your tablet, you suddenly realize the potentially catastrophic results this could have on your comm officer. You better talk to him about this and weigh what your options are.

Just as you are getting ready to set your tablet down, your comm officer comes strolling into the galley.

“Morning Captain, is there any coffee on?”

You look up from the article, still processing the dire news. You glance at your comm officer, noticing the carefree expression on his face, unaware of the impending crisis.

“Morning, Lieutenant,” you reply with a forced smile. “There’s coffee in the pot, help yourself.”

The comm officer pours himself a cup and joins the Captain at the table. Sensing something off in the Captain’s demeanor, he furrows his brow and asks, “Is everything alright? You seem a bit… preoccupied.”

You hesitate for a moment before deciding to share the news with your officer. You hand over your tablet, pointing to the article about STARKe Pharmaceuticals’ bankruptcy.

As he reads through the article, his eyes widen with realization. He sets down his coffee abruptly. “This is bad,” he mutters under his breath. “The craziest part is that the Volomin has been working so well for me, that even this doesn’t seem to get me down despite the dire implications.”

“How dire are the implications?”, you ask.

“Did you see any of the commercials promoting this therapy?”

You simply nod in the affirmative.

“Well, at the end of all the commercials, they always have someone reading very rapidly all the potential side effects. The last thing it says is, ‘and in extremely rare cases… death.’ Apparently, this occurs when patients start skipping doses. The nanobots that have been injected can’t be removed and they are on the hunt for the nanoparticles contained in Volomin. In another three stands, when I run out of Volomin, the nanoparticles are going to start burrowing into various tissues and organs throughout my body trying to find those nanoparticles that are no longer there.”

“Let’s gather the rest of the crew and see what options we have.”

You and your comm officer quickly locate the rest of the crew and explain the situation to them. The atmosphere in the room becomes tense as everyone absorbs the magnitude of the crisis. Thoughts race through your mind as you try to consider what options are available.

Your comm officer speaks up, “If I die, you should probably just space me to ensure that the nanobots don’t try to find a new host.”

“I’m glad you want to protect the rest of us, but I want some options that don’t require you to end up on the wrong end of an air lock.”, is your response.

Your navigator speaks up, “Could the auto-doc remove the nanobots?”

Your comm officer responds, “Unfortunately, no. Even if we trusted the auto-doc for hemoperfusion, which I don’t, it wouldn’t be able to identify the nanobots.”

Your engineer speaks up, “So the auto-doc couldn’t do it, but how about a surgeon or a hematologist?”

You speak up, “These nanobots are going to be difficult to get at as they spend much of their time in the brain. A surgeon that would try this would also have to be a mad scientist to even attempt to pull this off.”

“So Merv Arken.”, is your engineer’s response.

“Maybe, what are some other options?”

Your navigator snaps his fingers, “When they shut down they must have had some Volomin in production, and I bet credits to croissants that those have made their way to Smuggler’s Den.”

This time your first officer speaks up, “Kei.”

“Go on.”

“The planet Kei is the largest source of counterfeit drugs in the Drift System. If they haven’t been making it already, they will be now.”

The comm officer speaks up, “I do like being on Volomin, but black market and counterfeit drugs sound expensive.”

Your engineer pipes up, “It probably will be expensive, but hiring a mad scientist to perform experimental surgery is probably the opposite of cheap.”

Your options seem to be:

  • Sending your comm officer on a space walk without an EV suit if you can’t help him before he runs out of Volomin. After three more rounds if there is no Volomin or surgeries performed, listen to/read Story 59.
  • Going to Smuggler’s Den to negotiate for some black market drugs. If you travel to Smuggler’s Den, listen to/read Story 60.
  • Visiting Kei to get some counterfeit Volomin, which is also likely a temporary fix, but is less likely to run out of supply compared to the black market. If you go to Kei, listen to/read Story 61.
  • Figuring out how to possibly come up with the necessary credits to see if Merv Arken will try and operate on your comm officer. If you go to Merv’s Missiles or Arken’s Arsenal, listen to/read Story 62.
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Story 40

Dock with the lab

When exiting your craft you find that the robots on board the lab have literally rolled out the red carpet for you. Strolling up the red carpet to meet you is the three-eyed self proclaimed genius from the commercial. 

“Hello and welcome. My name is Merv Arken, but you can just call me Merv. It’s great to have a few additional sentient beings aboard and I already know of you and your crew for your recent exploits in space. I know everyone is terribly busy, so let me start by showing you about. I know you and your crew are already familiar with the standard array of Blasters and Missiles along with Shield Piercer Mods all of which are available here, but I would like to introduce you to my more unique offerings.”

“Over here is my specially designed and heavily patented freeze ray. It takes the same amount of space as a Tier I (Nock) Blaster, but instead it does ice damage each time it is fired. This handy little tool could be yours for just 2,000 credits.”

The Freeze Ray can be fired up to twice in a turn causing 1d6 ice damage each time it is fired and the ice spreads orthogonally at the end of the turn for the player’s turn for the ship that was damaged. If an NPC is shot by the Freeze Ray, the NPC will gain 1d4 additional ice damage at the end of its turn.

“I once heard someone say that ‘The best defense is a good offense.’ To test this theory I have developed the Arken Auto Armament. It allows your computer to automatically retaliate when your ship is shot.”

The Arken Auto Armament is a Mod that allows your ship to use one of your armed markers to retaliate with one shot from any of your weapons against an attacking vessel. Unlike your shields, you do not get to re-arm that marker till your next Status Phase.

Your first officer speaks up, “The name of your Mod reminds me. I’ve been wondering since we first saw your transponder ID about the long name that is registered for your lab.”

“Merv’s Missiles or Arken’s Arsenal were two different names that I was considering. I tried asking the opinion of an old woman at the Department of Space Vehicles and without responding she keyed in my query as the lab’s name.”

“One thing I’ve always found consistent on every planet is the general ineptitude of the DSV.”

“Behind those doors is my BioLab. Most of the projects in there are attempts to enhance my own life, but I have some projects that may eventually have some applications against an enemy as well, or maybe even a particular old woman that works for the DSV.”

“Over here are some of my specialized missiles. I have a ranged missile to be able to hit your targets from further out, a programmable drone missile to hit targets that you might not have a direct line of sight on, and an armored missile that can be shot either into or out of a debris field or asteroid cluster.”

Ranged Missiles require a line of sight and is a single-use missile shot by your ship’s missile outfit. The damage is determined by your outfit, but it can fire at a range of 7-9 spaces away and costs 1,000 credits.

Drone Missiles do not require a line of sight and can travel 2-6 spaces before exploding. You can set it to maneuver complex paths . This is a single use missile launched by your missile outfit. The damage it causes is also determined by your missile outfit. The Drone Missiles cost 1,000 credits each.

Armored Missiles are capable of being launched into, or out of debris fields, asteroids, and even ice asteroids. Armored missiles have the traditional range of 2-6 spaces and require a missile outfit to already be installed. This is a single-use weapon and its damage is determined by the missile outfit. Armored Missiles are 1,000 credits each.

Your first officer speaks up again in an attempt to better understand your host, “Do you worry about your safety, being out here all by yourself?”.

“No, I’m not worried. Between being an arms dealer with lots of missiles, a number of robot minions, my own cloaking technology, and the fact that you’re actually talking to a 3 dimensional holographic projection of myself. If you had pulled a weapon on me I would have sealed the doors, gassed everyone present, and then revived you in order to use you for testing a biological weapon I’m developing. Nope, I’m not worried at all. Oh look, here’s the next weapon I want to show you, Merv’s MIRVed Missile. It allows your missile to split up its payload and hit multiple targets. The MIRVed part of the name stands for Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicles. I love this missile so much I named it after myself.”

Merv’s MIRVed Missiles are single use missiles launched by your ship’s missile outfit. This missile has the capacity to hit multiple targets within a 2-6 space radius provided you have line sight. Merv’s MIRVed Missiles cost $2,000 credits each. The damage for each type of missile outfit varies as follows:

Tier I – can hit up to two targets doing 1d4 damage to each ship hit this way (you may choose to hit one target multiple times causing 2d4 damage).

Tier II – can hit up to 3 targets doing 1d4 damage to each (you may choose to hit one of the target multiple times causing 2d4 or even 3d4 damage to it).

Tier III – can hit up to 5 targets doing 1d4 damage to each (you may choose to hit some of the targets multiple times).

“Also, I know that there is a lot of deep space travel going through this sector. If someone needs energy rods I have my robotic minions fill them from my fusion reactor at the going rate of 1,000 credits per energy rod.”

If you ever need anything, you know where to find my lab.

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Story 14

Merv’s Missiles

As you enter the sector, a space lab uncloaks and the transponder ID pings with the lab’s name, ‘Merv’s Missiles or Arken’s Arsenal’. 

“Captain, we’re being hailed by an automated message”

You nod and your comm officer puts it on.

Your view screen changes to what looks like a commercial. A spiraling camera view of the labs which then fades to an interior shot with a man in a lab coat with a clear dome covering his brain and a third eye in the center of his forehead. “Welcome to Merv’s Missiles or Arken’s Arsenal, your new favorite place to buy weapons of destruction. Between my brain power, and the tireless work of my robotic workforce I can make more and better weapons than anyone else. Need to shoot people that are trying to hide around corners? Want to hit multiple targets at once? Just want to send a message with a freeze ray? I am here to help for a reasonable price. I am transmitting my product catalog now. If you dock, I’ll make sure the red carpet is rolled out.”

“That was unusual.”, are the first words out of your mouth.

“Sir, the catalog is coming over now.”

“Let’s see what they have.”

The first thing you notice is that the catalog is titled, The Book of Armaments. A quick skim through this catalog shows all the common missiles, blasters, and the shield piercer mod, but there are also a few new things. A freeze ray, which is a type of blaster that does ice damage instead. An auto armament triggering system to automatically return fire on anyone that shoots you. Long range missiles which can be launched from further out. A drone missile that can be programmed to travel around corners. Armored missiles that can travel through debris and asteroid fields. Then there is his high end missile, Merv’s MIRVed Missile. MIRVed stands for Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicles. Apparently it can hit multiple targets at once. As a convenience, it says that they also sell energy rods. The catalog says they are actively developing other new weapons as well.

Do you choose to dock with the lab to learn more about their inventory, or just keep on flying.

Dock with the lab, read/listen to Story 40.

Just keep flying and continue with the rest of your turn, but the first ship that does dock with the lab should read/listen to Story 40.

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Story 13

SARS-CoV-39

Place a virus token on the mission point of each of the following planets: Azure, Doravin V, Kemplar II, Loath, and New Strayos (if it exists). If for any reason one of those planets is not currently out or has been destroyed you do not need to place a virus on it.

While watching a Super Class Glocken match between your favorite team and one of their rivals a news anchor suddenly cuts in, “BREAKING NEWS: A new variant of the coronavirus, which has been named SARS-39, has broken out. It appears to be particularly virulent and there are concerns that this virus has been engineered. The following planets suddenly have an outbreak of SARS-39:

  • Azure
  • Doravin V
  • Kemplar II
  • Loath
  • New Strayos (if it exists)

The rapid widespread nature of this new strain has caused a lot of speculation as to who might be responsible for engineering and releasing this virus. Some are accusing the Ilex, theorizing that this is somehow part of their expansionist plan. Others are accusing the doomsday cult on Zhian Prime known as the First Order of the Zholar Temple. Still others are accusing the various political factions that have been fighting each other for over a century (sometimes with great violence). Regardless of rhetoric, the interplanetary governments are willing to allow ships to transport samples of the virus to their lead virologists in each coalition. The most renowned virologists from each of the coalitions are located at:

  • Lunari
  • Neo Damascus
  • Smuggler’s Den
  • Ularos IX
  • Zhian Prime

People are dying across the Drift System as a result of this virus. Speed is absolutely necessary for creating either a vaccine or a treatment. This interplanetary coalition recognizes the need for someone with the necessary computational power and the ability to create a viable delivery method for an actionable treatment or vaccine. With those requirements in mind they have agreed to allow Merv Arken’s lab to be the destination for all the research to be gathered. Hopefully Dr. Arken and his robotic minions are up to the task of formulating a vaccine or RNA based treatment along with an actionable delivery method…”

As the news continues to drone on, you already recognize that the broadcast has shared as much pertinent information as it is likely to yield. A text only missive comes in from this temporary coalition of interplanetary governments, and you give it a quick read through. 

Apparently there is a request that the various spacers try to work together to gather samples of the virus from the infected planets and get them to these virologists, where they will, in turn, share data and genetic materials that may aid Dr Arken. Each planet is willing to pay 5,000 credits for delivery of a treatment which should more than offset any fees that Dr Arken is likely to charge for his delivery method. The general action plan is as follows:

STEP 1: Gather samples of the virus.

Travel to one of the infected planets to pick up a sample at the mission point. Currently, nothing else can be done at an infected mission point with respect to missions and you can not take your business/starport phase on a space with a virus. Store a sample of the virus in your cargo hold (the containment system for it makes it take up space). You may store up to five samples, but they each require a separate space in your ship’s cargo hold. Collecting a sample DOES NOT remove the virus from your current location.

STEP 2: Deliver the virus to the virologists.

Deliver virus samples to each of the virologists at the appropriate mission points in any order. Data is needed from each one.

If for any reason any of the aforementioned mission points have been destroyed, as a group determine an acceptable alternative point to use as a proxy.

STEP 3: Deliver the data and biological materials to Dr. Arken.

The data and biological materials collected from the various virologists need to be delivered to Merv’s Missiles or Arken’s Arsenal in order for Dr Arken to create a treatment or cure for this disease along with a delivery mechanism. Each piece of data delivered earns 1 fame point. Once the last piece of data is delivered to Dr. Arken, read/listen to Story 48.

STEP 4: Gather the necessary resources to deliver the treatment.

The mechanism for this will be revealed at the end of STEP 3.

STEP 5: Treat each of the planets.

The mechanism for this will be revealed at the end of STEP 3. Also, additional monetary and fame rewards will be given for this.

Until a treatment/cure is created and implemented the disease will continue to spread. Roll a d8 after each player’s turn and add disease tokens as follows:

  1. Add 1 disease token to Azure.
  2. Add 1 disease token to Doravin V.
  3. Add 1 disease token to Kemplar II.
  4. Add 1 disease token to Loath.
  5. Add 1 disease token to New Strayos (if it exists). If new Strayos is currently not in play, nothing happens.
  6. This spot is reserved for an additional infected planet, once added it would gain a disease token on a roll of ‘6’, until then nothing happens when ‘6’ is rolled.
  7. This spot is reserved for an additional infected planet, once added it would gain a disease token on a roll of ‘7’, until then nothing happens when ‘7’ is rolled.
  8. When an ‘8’ is rolled and no planets have yet to be assigned to positions ‘6’ or ‘7’ on this list, roll a d20 till a living planet is assigned to position ‘6’. The second time an ‘8’ is rolled do the same to assign a living planet to position ‘7’. Once position ‘7’ is assigned an additional roll of an ‘8’ means nothing happens.

If a planet receives an additional disease token after it is completely covered, it becomes a dead planet and ALL PLAYERS lose 1 fame point. If a planet is already dead for any reason, or has not yet been discovered nothing happens when its number is rolled. Also, if a planet has been treated once a cure is discovered and its number is rolled, nothing happens.

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Story 5

Cloaking device

Your comm crackles to life, ‘I have a unique offer for you.’ 

You accept the comm and your view screen comes on showing someone that is probably technically still human, kind of. He is clearly older, but his nose is either extremely up turned or partially missing with larger than usual nostrils. He has a third eye grafted into the middle of his forehead that seems to move independently of his other two eyes, but most striking is his brain covered by a clear dome. It appears to be an amalgamation of organic bits and technology. You can see his gray matter with lots of filaments and pulsing lights throughout it. There is also some sort of semi-viscous fluid inside the dome that appears to be slowly swirling. Despite the slack jawed response from everyone, this bizarre visage continues on with his spiel. ‘With my vast intellect I have created an advanced piece of cloaking technology, but it’s gonna cost you 1,000 cr. Are you interested?’

No: Then this card goes back in the deck for someone else to possibly gain it later.

Yes: Proceed to Story 37.