Goblin Court Jukebox

Tonight we played Goblin Court by BESW, a drift of Lasers & Feelings that imagines the group as fae goblin visitors at a human court. The castle of his court has lots of secret passages and a mage’s tower that adds intrigue, but the court suspects that a spy has infiltrated their number. We are Rhea an inquisitive artistic goblin who hopes to get kissed, Aglet a gregarious animal loving goblin seeking to make friends, Enki an inventive goblin tailor who also wants friends, and Finster a blunt goblin mechanic who hopes to share secrets. The Queen has commanded us to use our magic to secretly deliver a message to a powerful but tiny dragon named Amethyst who lives far from the court. She hopes that this will impress her lover, Count Deere, but unbeknownst to us, a mechanical bard opposes our mission.

We learn of our mission when Aglet returns to the goblin quarters with our instructions from the Queen. Finster begins to collect maps and plan their route, while Aglet recommends which of her equestrian friends might accompany us. The group decides that each of us should present the dragon with a gift. Next the Queen asks Rhea to paint her lover without being noticed before our departure. Working incognito, Rhea manages to pull off a quick watercolor sketch of Count Deere, but the likeness isn’t very true; in fact, in the painting he strongly resembles another lord of the court…. While we have time, Enki delivers a new dress to Princess Anna and her lady-in-waiting. While they like the dress, they ask Enki to festoon it with more froufrou spangles so it draws more attention when the Princess enters a room.

We finally get out on the road toward the dragon’s lair. On the first night camping, we’re awoken by a loud noise and see a large metal box rolling into our campsite on large treads with a grill in the front. We don’t initially react, but then the sounds coming from the box change and we’re writhing in pain as it becomes a piercing scream that cuts into our brains. After briefly trying to bury our heads, we use our magical pebbles to communicate a plan to retreat and regroup, which we do with only a few tumbles and falls along the way. We decide we must disable the weapon, so we return to our camp and while Aglet, Enki, and Rhea distract the mechanical box, Finster, whose ears have been sewn shut, opens up the box and gums up the works, so the piercing sound stops. In the silence, the box began to speak, explaining that he is a cursed bard, transformed into this mechanical monster and that if they deliver the message to Amethyst, the dragon will destroy his village to please Count Deere, who holds a grudge against his people. We promise not to deliver the message, but how do we make the Queen believe that we have?

Unfinished Fiasco

Tonight we played, or started to, a session of Fiasco by Jason Morningstar using the “Saturday Night ’78” playset by Will Hindmarch, Wil Wheaton, and Jason Morningstar. Our big crew consists of former child star and world traveller Daisy and her sister Cassiel, who resents her sisters fame and now holds incriminating surveillance footage of her; Peter a poor and disillusioned bartender at Studio 54 who is secretly pining for small-time hood and completely oblivious motor-mouth Billy the Kid; Billy’s partner in crime and muscle is Tony, who desperately wants out of this life of crime and believes that he can find it by dancing with Penny, an incredible dancer who used to be appear on Daisy’s show back in the day but has never gotten much direct attention or respect her talent deserves.

Fiasco - A game about powerful ambition and poor impulse control from Bully Pulpit Games
Fiasco poster from Bully Pulpit Games.

Our story begins with Peter and Cassiel in Studio 54 complaining about Billy and Daisy and how they keep getting ignored. They’re ready to run away together to San Francisco to start over. Tony convinces Penny to enter an upcoming dance contest after they come off the dance floor. Later, Daisy approaches Penny about dancing with her in a publicity stunt that could get Daisy another shot at a show. Daisy suggests that the relationship with Tony is holding Penny back. That same night, Billy takes Tony with him to the docks to shakes down a security guard to find out when the big shipment is coming in, and while Tony uses his fists as requested, Billy never cottons to how easy it would be to bribe the guard for the info. A day or two later, Cassiel accosts Penny coming out of Daisy’s place and tries to convince her that Daisy is bad news and that Penny should stop letting the little twerp walk all over her. Penny doesn’t know what Cassiel’s game is, but agrees to make a visit to Medallions one night alone to see if “people recognize her.”

We finish up for the night with the story unresolved after Bill overhears Peter talking on the phone about a big shipment coming in for the club next Wednesday. Peter gets very confused after Billy says he and Tony are partners, but Tony acts like he doesn’t like Billy at all. Billy offers to let Peter join their crew, but Peter just walks away shaking his head.

Microscope on Zodiac Gods

Tonight we played Microscope by Ben Robbins exploring the history of a universe populated by the gods of the Zodiac. We start with the Ascension of the Gods when the gods coalesced from the porto-matter of the Big Bang into their canonical forms. Then each god creates the heavenly bodies associated with each sign, and the group combine their power to create the Earth. The next period is when humanity and the gods come together. The god Keron manifests as a king in order to sire progeny among humanity, and at one of his weddings, his bride’s sister creates controversy as she fails to recognize the gods for what they are, but humans are but a blink of the eye to immortal gods. Keron’s bride and her sister are long estranged until eventually the sister tries to kill the wife, so Keron transforms the sister into a particular species of snail. Later Capricorn and Sagittarius appear at a festival and convince many attendees to become worshippers, and Cancer bestows the power of light upon a the pearl in the clam idol created in her honor. Trying to compete, Pisces and Aquarius create an amazing water and air show that threatens to bring the heavens down to Earth, which threatens to destroy the balance of the universe until Capricorn stops them.

Concentric circles create the illusion of a tunnel and below it says Microscope.
Microscope badge courtesy of Lame Mage.

This is the beginning of the period when the gods are directly competing for control of humanity. A human war is stopped when Leo and Cancer become annoyed and descend upon the battlefield in their canonical forms and routed both armies. Virgo and Gemini have an argument about who will gain the dedication of a library built by a group of Mercury worshippers, with Gemini as the patron of words winning the dedication. One of the bystanders, a fruit seller, who helped adjudicate the argument has a daughter named Petra who creates a diorama out of cherry and peach pits of the library that is displayed in honor of Gemini in the library itself. Mysteriously, the gods ability to manifest on Earth wanes, and when the gods meet their conclave devolves into open warfare between them. The war eventually ends with the gods agreeing to leave the human realm, but some continue to manipulate the world by manipulating the natural world directly.

This leads to the Nature Wars when the ability to manifest is quite limited. Taurus manifests as an indestructible vine that threatens to overrun the world and disrupt the ecosystem. Aries and Cancer manifest as wolves to teach wild wolves how to protect nature from the vine expansion and gives them elevated intelligence, which leads them to using the illuminated pearl to signal and communicate with each other over vast distances. Finally, we come to the Death of the Universe and the end of our history. During this period, Virgo, Capricorn, and Taurus hit the ancient diorama of the library, causing the pits to erupt into a massive tree that bear a combined fruit with beautiful blossoms. This brief moment of beauty before precedes the gods working together to destroy the universe in order to reform it anew in a different schema.

The Love Balloon

Tonight we played The Love Balloon by Ray Chou & Vincenzo Ferriero of Mythopoeia Games. We are the guests and a crew member of the majestic airship Cloud 9 on a peripatetic voyage through the Caribbean to Paris. The ship’s Gopher is Percy Winthrope, a young man with more energy than time determined to make everyone else happy. Staying in the Presidential Suite are George Dogwood, an elderly widower who lost his passion for life when his wife Becky passed away, and his caretaker Beatrice Clover, an aging divorcee who is tired of caring for others and needs time for herself. Henley Howard, a young, inveterate salesman running away and on the lam, has a room with a balcony view. In the Bachelor Suite is John Smith, a gorgeous hunk of man trying to travel incognito for a change. Dwight Forte is a middle-aged detective of paranormal activity determined to find romance, so he’s booked the Single Ensuite.

The Love Balloon, a story game of ... hijinks, humor & romance is printed on the left-hand side with two dancers doing the charleston to the right.
The Love Balloon logo and art from Mythopoeia games on Itch.io.

Our story starts at the Embarkment as we all board the ship. As Percy shows Henley around the ship to help orient him, the salesman refuses to take no for an answer and sells him a variety of trinkets and tchotchkes. After Beatrice gets George settled in his room, the old man heads for the bar, but she keeps reminding him to only have one before dinner. Dwight goes to the gym shortly after boarding asks John how to operate the treadmill, hoping to strike up a conversation and perhaps more, but his hopes for an accountability partner are not met tonight.

Our first Day in the Clouds aboard ship Henley meets George at the bar and guesses his initials, while George buys him a drink and a bottle of memories (lily perfume) from the salesman. Dwight meets Beatrice at the Buffet where they discuss their work woes, so after asking for relationship advice, Dwight agrees to take George to the casino so Beatrice can get some time to herself. Percy crashes into Dwight coming from the buffet and the passenger complains about the lack of service and cleanliness of his room. Dwight tries to get a free pass for the buffet, but Percy personally escorts him back to the buffet to restore his plate of shrimp.

At our first Port of Call in Antigua, Beatrice, John, and George ride into the Cavern of Reflection. John stories of his youth on the island, and convinces the two to splash themselves with water from the cave to rejuvenate themselves. In the Sky Tower, Henley offers Dwight a wool scarf but Dwight is disappointed that he isn’t offering anything more personal than various items stolen from his employers stock. They take in the sites and discuss visiting Paris until Dwight asks for a kiss, to which Henley replies he’ll put together a Paris date package for Dwight to purchase. John Smith lounges at the beach and Percy assists him by putting sunscreen on the bombshell’s back, gaining his attention and approval.

Line drawing of the dirigible air cruise ship the Cloud Nine with it's deck and pool visible on top of the air hold, the conning tower toward the rear of the ship, and gangplanks leading up inside the main body of the ship.
Image of airship Cloud 9 courtesy of Mythopoeia games.

During Night with the Stars the group walks together along the top desk and realize they have become friends during the voyage. Under the Moonlight has Dwight finally getting his kiss from Henley, though still only on the cheek. George tells Beatrice that he’s ready to get on with living now they’ve finished the trip, and offers to give her some money when they get back home to try something new in her life, since she’s grown tired of always being at someone else’s beck and call. John Smith asks Percy if there is anything he can do for the Gopher, and they go walking off together, hand in hand.

During Disembarkment, George and Beatrice thank Percy for all the help and George asks Percy to tell the Captain that his dad enjoyed the cruise. Henley and Dwight depart together talking about their forthcoming adventure in Paris, and Henley gives Percy a black silk rose to woo John with, free of charge. John departs the ship, looking back at Percy holding the rose.

Truth & Daring & Meteorites

Tonight we played Truth & Daring, Tim & Kristin Devine’s hack of Lasers & Feelings as a group of nerds and geeks called the Gravity Gang. We are the adventurous new-kid-in-school Juliet; trouble-making, brainy science kid, Mack; cautious geologist rock collector, Brian; daredevil inventor, Jet; straight-A theater kid, Steve; and serious, ambitious team-leader, Ines. We each wear a pocket protector with the atomic symbol on it and meet in a treehouse in the woods behind the school outfitted with all manner of tools and a special puzzle box to keep our secrets safe.

Sale flyer for Truth and Daring game stating its for fans of Goonies, E.T. & Stranger Things. Made with love and laser feelings by Tim & Kristin Devine.
Image courtesy of DiceUp games via DriveThruRPG

Our story begins the week before school starts back when we’re hanging out in the treehouse discussing Jet’s recent findings when a loud thunk sounds and the tree begins to sway. A meteorite has struck it, but Jet soaks it with his super-soaker putting out any possibility of fire. Juliet touches it and declares it ice-cold, but there seems to be no way to get it unstuck from the tree. Next week, in gym class, Mack excitedly tells us about overhearing Vice Principal Smith discussing the meteorite falling to someone in conspiratorial tones and their plan to retrieve it later today. We decide to hide the gem as best we can and create a fake crater to fool the VP. Juliet, Mack, Brian, and Jet skip their next class to complete the trap but run into VP Smith when returning to school. He challenges us about being absent, but we bluff our way back to class.

Later, we meet at Brian’s house to discuss the tests he’s been doing on a small sample of the rock he took and learn that when electrified it phases through the table, but Brian warns that too much energy causes it to explode. While some of us return to the woods, Brian and Steve stay behind to create a model of the tree for further testing in how to extract it. Back in the woods, Jet, Ines, and Juliet aren’t sure if we’ve found the fake crater but think it must have worked since the false meteorite is gone. Checking out the tree, the poster we hid it behind is torn, but there is no sign behind it that the rock was ever there. Ines feels the tree is cold, so we attempt to open the tree using Jet’s screwdriver set. The screwdriver gets stuck and the tree grows around the pocket knife we try extracting it with, so it seems the rock has given the tree self-healing powers.

After further testing, we decide to shock the rock out of the tree using a chemical bath and the knife and screwdriver as conductors to get the electricity inside the tree. With Jet and Ines helping, Brian successfully electrifies the rock, which shoots out of the tree at an angle and embeds itself into another tree. Ines extracts it before it can burrow inside again, ruining her sweater. After much debate, the group breaks off a chip from the rock for each of us to keep safe and put the main body into our locked puzzle box. Fade to black.

Until We Sink into the Sea

Tonight we played Until We Sink by Magnus Jakobsson in which we play the natives running a hotel on a small island slowly sinking into the sea and the guests who visit the hotel. We are Martin the hotel caretaker, Belinda the hotel’s owner, Gordon a retiree and guest, Dwyane Stone a geologist guest, and Orana the sun worshipping guest.

Our story begins when Josh the sport fisherman guest is found dead below the cliffs. Martin and Stone suspect foul play immediately while Belinda and Orana think it an accident, but Gordon insists they recover the body for a proper burial. The next day, after they’ve put his body out to sea, the small cross put up in his memory has the word “SWINE” painted across it. To many, this suggests that the death was murder, but it leads them to search his room and find a map with an X marked on a small, nearby island labeled Atlantis. That island is visible from the cliffs above where Josh’s body was found. The next day, we discover, carved on a tree, “Orana, we meet again.” She insists that she’s never been here before but consults an astrological chart to see how the moon may be connected. Belinda explains from her previous travels, how spirits have visited the island. No one takes Orana up on the suggestion that we should all stay in one room tonight for protection.

More mysterious notes appear the next day, when an envelope is found in Josh’s room that contains his tickets to the island, reservations for the hotel, and a note telling him to enjoy the vacation, write something great afterwards, and is signed “A fan.” Josh, it turns out, was Josh Carpenter, the famous horror writer. On the envelope itself is scribbled, “Looking forward to meeting you.” That night, Stone sees a figure in the storm near the cliffs. Gordon had walked the perimeter of the hotel to assuage Belinda and Orana’s fears, but had returned indoors when the storm came. After much speculation about ghosts, screams, and what’s reality, the group agrees they should stick together and prepare to sleep on the porch tonight and will investigate the cliffs in the morning. The next day, while Martin discovers an ancient fishing rod on the cliffs, a pair of drunken teenagers greet Orana on the docks and disturb the group for most of the day before sailing away on their power boat. Orana notes a tag on the rod that is a Shinto symbol for warding off evil spirits.

The next day, a cataclysm, as the island finally sinks into the sea. Orana believes the sea has come for her and all the happenings on the island are about her. But Martin reveals that he had invited Josh Carpenter to the island because, as the only one who’d lived here his entire life, he knew the island took people, that its spirit would appear and take people to sustain it against the sea. But Josh wasn’t enough spirit for the island to hold off the sea, not with the sea’s avatar, Orana, on it. Orana feels that she must give herself to the sea to prevent this from happening again, but Belinda convinces her to join her in opening a new hotel on another island, perhaps the Atlantis marked out by Josh on his map. Martin and Gordon agree to accompany them, at least for a time.

The Final Girl Makes a Call

Tonight we played The Final Girl by Bret Gillan in a secluded research facility that receives a genetically perfected humanoid subject for testing. Our story begins with Walden the lazy office administrator, Tracey the focused project lead, Edgar the traitorous supervisor, and Carson the talkative assistant receiving the experiment on the loading dock, which they transfer to the observation room. In the observation room, Krysten the unscrupulous researcher, Tilda the aggressive researcher, Troy the nervous biologist, and Leopold the naive intern discover the creature is genderless and extremely powerful when it destroys a box to get a food. Leopold suggests talking to it more, but the group decides to replace the simple box with an indestructible puzzle box for the next experiment to test its thinking ability. At the pool, Marie the athletics researcher runs the experiment through a battery of swimming tests against a couple of human volunteers: always-angry Stacy and always-jovial Verona while Neil the buff janitor cleans some vomit in the corner from an earlier test run. The volunteers get freaked out when the experiment swims at them aggressively and at tremendous speed. Later, Neil and Richard are killed at the water cooler when the experiment breaks loose and attacks.

In the offices, Walden, Edgar and Krysten are discussing a possible food shortage for the test subjects, but Krysten suggests lowering their expected intake to match the food stores. The experiment arrives in all its shining glory, a perfect human specimen, grabs Walden and snaps their neck. In one of the labs, Tracey and Carson are interviewing Verona about her experiences in the tests when the experiment bursts in and throws the lab door at Tracey but it flies over her head. It then picks up an entire lab bench to throw at them all, which again misses, then it grabs Carson and throws him into the ceiling, snapping his spine. Tilda, Stacy, and Leopold are arguing about whether to continue the tests in light of the attacks when the experiment leaps in baring its fangs at Leopold before grabbing Stacy, this time anticipating the dodges that she would make. Back on the loading dock, Edgar is preparing to leave but being confronted by Marie about why he’s bugging out early when Leopold runs in hysterical from the last attack. The experiment arrives and simply grabs Edgar and crushes his skull, the rips the fork off a nearby lift and impales Marie upon its tines.

Watching from above, Krysten, Tilda, and Tracey are very excitedly taking notes and discussing the next steps they should take with the experiment until it comes crashing through the windows of their observation deck and tosses both Krysten and Tilda behind it to their deaths. Tracey runs for the exit, joined by Leopold and Verona at the front door. But the experiment is too fast by this point and before they can unlock the facility to escape, it arrives and smashes the electronic keypad. It grabs the exposed wires and Tracey at the same time, shocking her to death, then brings the ceiling down on Leopold and Verona. It walks out into the woods that surround the secluded facility. Moments later, Leopold manages to pull himself from the rubble, pulls out a phone, dials, and reports: “It’s done.”

Quiet Year at the Bottom of the Sea

Tonight we played Quiet Year by Avery Alder where we explore the life of the community at Research Station 59 at the bottom of the sea after a nuclear apocalypse ends civilization on the surface. Early after the apocalypse, a typhoon destroys one of the station’s two water intake engines, so engineer W begins and completes repairs in a few weeks. Drs. Sanders and Xu continue, even after the apocalypse, to fight between themselves over their competing theories regarding the purpose of whale song. Research intern Varick spots the elusive sea butterflies migrating, and takes that as a good sign, but then Dr. Sparks confesses that his early sonar research was responsible for the mass death of whale populations years ago. We successfully harvest the algae nodules that grow nearby and bring them inside, but will putting them in our greenhouse contaminate the indoor plants? We discover an unexploded nuclear missile loose on the sea floor, so disarm it and dump it into the nearby sea trench to keep it from drifting too close to the station. Despite all the turmoil, we stick to our morning ritual of sharing coffee and pastries (as long as they last) to keep the group together.

Triplets are born on the station to Quinn, wife of research scientist Donatella. An audit of Dr. Sparks sonar data shows that, whatever he may have done in the past, his current work is reliable science. Whale pods are spotted south of the station and the most beautiful thing nearby is the bioluminescent valley filled with multicolored fish. The sudden encroaching of the algae fields spark panic and conspiracy as people worry that it could overtake and disable the station. Furthering the panic, Dr. Xu disappears when returning from a mission outside the dome to study the whale movements. Not long after that, three survivors from an underwater luxury condo project arrive at the station in a caviar submarine. We discover that a stone with the astrological sign for pisces on it provides people with the ability to see from another’s point-of-view, and Dr. Sparks leaves the community to live in the luxury condos alone. By rotating the station, we’re able to change the light dynamics and halt the advance of the algae, quieting the mass sense of panic.

After working many weeks, construction of a parabolic mirror to gather and redirect sunlight from the surface down to the station is completed, bringing us much needed light for growing plants and for mental and physical health. Our efforts to fish using the algae as bait are successful and a crew of full-time fishers is established. Dr. Sander’s whale study reveals that the sea trench is actually a whale graveyard, and after much discussion, the community eventually begins a project to dismantle the missile and remove it piecemeal until the whale’s sacred land is clear of contamination. Before that project gets underway, Dr. Sparks dies trying to remove the missile on his own. Just as rumors begin to swirl suspecting Sanders of causing Xu’s death, Dr. Xu reappears, having gotten lost in the algae fields while carrying out new studies on the plants.

The triplets begin to cry constantly causing serious consternation in the community until the observation deck is transformed into a nursery where the babies can get more light and see the beauties of the sea. Water temperature readings reveal a new deep sea vent opening, and after Dr. Xu’s studies reveal additional uses for algae when subjected to heat, we move algae containers near the vents. A refugee from the condo settlement arrives begging to join the community and brings a cache of paper as a bribe to be let inside. Then the sea butterflies return, we complete the dismantling of the rocket, and we organize a community event to celebrate our survival for almost a year. The arrival of the Frost Shepherds signals the end of the game.

Aliens and Science on the Selene

This week we played The Final Voyage of The Selene by James Mullen. We learn how each of our characters originally boarded the Selene: A suspicious figure hands Courier Kerenski a briefcase as he hurries towards the passenger boarding line for the Selene… where his briefcase is immediately confiscated by security. Dr. Tsien, ten years after escaping the virus-ridden Station Rona and signing up to be a ship’s doctor, is assigned to the Selene. Artiste Bahk has been here for years, attempting to improve ship-board morale with his comedy routine. Professor Ursel Carris watches the Earth stock market crash, taking her research funding with it, and moves all her lab equipment onto the Selene as a last resort to continue her work.

In Act One, our characters settle in and get to know each other. Everyone meets up at the holo-pub to enjoy a synth-ale, but Bahk’s best efforts are unable to cheer up a gloomy Professor Carris. Later, Dr. Tsien flags down Kerenski to ask what exactly it is a Courier does, and gets some euphemistic answers. Bahk joins Kerenski for a game of racquetball, where the courier grills him on the ship’s security protocols. At the swimming pool, Professor Carris and Dr. Tsien discuss the struggles of a career in science.

In Act Two, some suspicious things start happening. Dr. Tsien catches Kerenski trying to break into the secure storage area at night, looking for his briefcase, and promises to try and get it released for him. On the observation deck, while viewing an interstellar anomaly, Professor Carris is concerned with eye protection, but Dr. Tsien begins acting very strange. Professor Carris has a private conversation with Bahk, where she urges him not to waste his life as one of the last of his species, and offers him some dangerous dust to use in self defense. This feeds Bahk’s suspicion that he’s being watched, and he asks Kerenski for advice about protecting himself by non-lethal means.

In Act Three, everything comes to a head. Professor Carris confronts Dr. Tsien in medbay and accuses him of exploiting Bahk’s species for medical experiments. The doctor accuses her of raving wildly, and has her confined to a quarantine cell before paging Kerenski to report to the medbay. When Kerenski arrives, Dr. Tsien says he can have his briefcase, and in exchange the doctor wants to hand off something he’s been carrying for too long. It turns out he’s referring to the alien symbiote living in his body, which transfers into Kerenski before he can object. Bahk, passing by in the hall, sees Kerenski leaving medbay with Dr. Tsien’s lifeless corpse behind him. Panicking, Bahk steals the doctor’s keys and tries to take off from the shuttle bay, even though the Selene is still in interstitial space. Meanwhile, Kerenski tries to deliver the contents of the briefcase to Professor Carris, but opening the briefcase in the quarantine area causes some kind of explosive reaction that leads to the Selene’s destruction.

In the epilogue, we see Artiste Bahk, alone in Dr. Tsien’s shuttlecraft, emerge from interstitial space into an unexplored part of the galaxy. Courier Kerenski, walking into a meeting on Earth, tells his contact he’s got something new to deliver.

Lasers & Feelings & Smoke Brandy

This week we played Lasers & Feelings by John Harper as the erstwhile crew of the interstellar scout ship Raptor while our Captain is incapacitated in the ship’s medpod. Our crew includes Frostbyte, an android scientist who simply wants to know how things work; Ensign Chrissy Lewis, a hot-shot pilot whose mostly wants to keep flying awesome; Ambassador Sparrow, a savvy envoy out to learn about alien cultures; Sabik, an alien engineer more concerned with getting footage of xirself fixing things for xir social media channels than solving problems; and Mimosa Stardust, an intrepid explorer out to find (and punch in the face) new worlds.

Drawing of an alien with purple hair, the handwitten name Sabik and social media platforms to follow.

Our story begins with Sparrow sharing drinks with Mimosa in the ship’s lounge and discussing the upcoming treaty negotiation at their destination, Zaxtor, until Mimosa passes out on the table. Elsewhere, Sabik convinces Frostbyte to allow xir to dissect the android’s arm on a livestream. Later on the bridge, Chrissy asks Sabik about the strange behavior of Lt. Hastings when the Captain was placed in the medpod after succumbing to a strange psychic entity. Sabik decides to film Hastings to investigate. In engineering, Frostbyte asks Sabik and Sparrow about the fabled Star Dreadnought in the Lambda quadrant and learns about the sensitivity of the Quarg Empire on the subject, how travel near it is forbidden, and the wild rumors that it can affect the fabric of spacetime. Despite Sparrow’s many warnings, Frostbyte remains curious and Sabik is convinced that a trip to the Dreadnought would go viral. Mimosa, having overheard the conversation about the Star Dreadnought, convinces Chrissy to take a shortcut through Hive space to get to Zaxtor quicker in light of the happenings on the ship.

But the Raptor doesn’t make it through Hive space undetected and, in fact, is attacked by Hive ships, who, according to messages intercepted by Sabik, believe our ship is overrun by brain worms. Making the connection to the entity that incapacitated the Captain, Mimosa and Frostbite go to the medbay to investigate, and Chrissy keeps the ship and everyone safe with remarkable evasive maneuvers. In the medbay, Mimosa detects a strong, unfamiliar scent while Frostbyte sees Hastings acting strangely on the security footage but also confirms the footage has been tampered with and is missing key moments. When the ship refuses to slow and drop into orbit around Zaxtor, Chrissy realizes the ship is now controlled from the auxiliary bridge near engineering, and the group decides to rush auxiliary control. Mimosa’s attempt to shoot the door open fails and unleashes a charge of ionized smoke throughout the corridor. Sabik modifies her blaster to get us into control where we find Hastings in a trance-like state at the controls. We pull him away to discover the control interface destroyed with the ship locked into a collision course with the fabled location of the Star Dreadnought. Sabik backs up Frostbyte as best he can and hooks his systems up to the controls directly.

After wresting back control of the ship and restoring bridge functions, Frostbyte uses the Raptor’s superior sensors, once Mimosa has space-walked out to adjust the sensor array, to scan the ship’s interior for the brain worm infestation the Hive warned about. The worms, almost microscopic in size, are everywhere, including in us, but their concentration is lightest in the smoke-filled corridor where Mimosa had blasted us into auxiliary control. Surmising that smoke killed them as it would any brain cells, parasitic or otherwise, we realize we need to kill some brain cells of our own and fill the ship with smoke. Frostbyte uses his complete control of the ships ventilation systems to create a reverse pressure system to get to the holding bay before succumbing to the worms. In the cargo hold, Sparrow has secured an entire case of Arcturian smoke brandy, which we consume in great quantities until our brains are sloshed but clear of the brain worm infestation.