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.
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.