Tonight we again played Lasers & Feelings as the crew of the Consortium ship Raptor in an encounter with the Hive Armada at the mouth to a quantum tunnel. With Captain Darcy once again confined to a medical pod after succumbing to a psychic entity, our crew consists of robotic scientist 32011J known as Jay, Kalista an alien seeking to explore new worlds, Sabik the ships erstwhile engineer returning after several years spent building xir social media presence, and the ship’s doctor Tase Duglas, who as ranking officer ends up serving as captain for the mission.
We begin with Sabik assembling our new science-bot and providing whatever upgrades xe can to the standard build-out while filming the whole thing for Rumblr. In the sick bay, Dr. Duglas consults with Kalista about the mysterious illness that has brought down the captain. In her travels, Kalista has seen the Void incapacitate people before but never heard of any effective treatment, and although some do recover, survivors usually lose a large portion of their memories. In a video for GalacticTube Sabik plays “who is more likely to” with Kalista. Although they agree that Kalista is more likely to steal the ship, get lost on the ship, get angry and punch a wall, or speak an alien language, they often both choose themselves. They agree, though, that Sabik is more likely to invent something useful. On the bridge, Dr. Duglas encounters the science-bot Jay for the first time, who informs him about finding a stable quantum tunnel through spacetime nearby. The robot points out that regulations require the Raptor to investigate, and that as the highest-ranking officer currently aboard, the Doctor must take command. Sabik offers to command the ship, but the conversation ends in a squabble between Sabik and Jay, so Dr. Duglas accepts his fate and orders the Raptor to make for the tunnel at best speed.
As we approach the quantum tunnel, we learn that a swarm of Hive ships are flying around the tunnel’s opening, and that on the other side of the tunnel lies a hitherto unknown planet. The Hive ships do not immediately respond to our hails, but finally convincing them to open a channel, they state their intention with the tunnel is “tear mending.” While we ponder what that might mean, we convene the officers to discuss our options. Jay and Kalista tell us of Hive legends involving a people known as the Irks who once conquered most of known space and were imprisoned on a far-off planet millennia ago after their final defeat. Scans indicate the mending the Hive wish to complete is collapsing the quantum tunnel entirely. As a unique natural phenomenon, Duglas decides that we must reach out to Consortium command for instructions and attempt to delay the Hive activity until command can assess their activity and determine if it’s allowed. We attempt to negotiate with the Hive, citing the terms of the Consortium-Hive treaty, but the Hive insist upon destroying the tunnel and huffily cut off all communication. In order to stop them, we have to place our ship between them and the tunnel entrance, raising our defensive screens to maximum power, even shutting down other systems, to withstand any Hive attacks. And attack they do. Our screens hold, but with the engines offline, one explosion knocks us backward into the tunnel, which sucks us through to the other side and sends the ship careening toward the unknown planet.
Sabik is able to restart the engines fast enough to prevent us from crashing uncontrolled into the planet, but not soon enough to keep us from being pulled down to the planet’s surface. As soon as we’re down, we’re contacted by Irk elders who offer whatever assistance they can and insist we accept their hospitality, which we gladly but warily accept as we’ll need more fuel to get back through the tunnel. The welcome we receive on this planet, which the Irks call Riciri, is friendly, and the Irks explain that no matter what may have been done by their people in the past, they’ve found peace on Riciri and wish only to know more of the galaxy beyond. While Kalista and Jay study their library and historical documents to learn what they can about the legendary Irks, Sabik spends the time interviewing as many Irks as xe can in order to make a documentary to tell their story. Now that we know the Irks are not a danger, we complete our refueling and fly back into the tunnel. Duglas orders Jay and Sabik to infiltrate the Hive network and bring their activity to a halt. In a cheeky bit of social media savvy, Sabik uploads the documentary xe made about the Irks into the Hive network, putting it on a loop so the Hive systems can’t do anything but play it on repeat, which brings the entire Hive armada to a complete halt.
With the time bought by our actions, the Consortium is able to stop the Hive’s tunnel deconstruction project through diplomatic channels, and the long negotiation to broker peace between the Hive and the Irks can begin.