Nor Gloom of Night

Our game this week is Nor Gloom of Night by Emily Cambias, a postal hack of the 24XXsystem from Jason Tocci. In Nor Gloom of Night, we play the crew of a cargo ship making interplanetary deliveries for the postal service of the crumbling Earth empire. Our crew consists of Kwyn, the pacifist pilot; Hengin, the mail guard; Mario, the ship’s mechanic; Tobias Flint, a researcher and medic; Cara, a letter whisperer who hears voices from the packages; and our postmaster, Otar.

Our story begins with the ship backed up to the central Postal Depot orbiting Earth. Hengin is bringing a sled of packages aboard, so Otar asks Cara to listen to them. She says that she gets a bad feeling about one package in particular, an unmarked case that we’re supposed to delivery to coordinates in empty space near Mercury. Otar says it’ll be okay and directs us to the bridge for departure. As Kwyn fires up the engines, the computer offers to take us out on autopilot, but Kwyn rejects the offer and stays on manual, which triggers an unexpected advert protocol across the ship. Mario attempts to address the problem, but can’t get the ads to stop interrupting our trip. Unfortunately, the engines pause while the ads play, but thankfully, they’re almost all short 15-second spots.

Drawings of characters from the story: Cinder, Kwyn, and Otar in his postal cap.

Cara goes to the med-bay to see Tobias because her encounter with the package has left her feeling unwell. She tries to tell him how the other packages keep screaming that they’re in danger, but Tobias is more interested in his research. He gives her headache meds and goes back to his work. As we’re approaching Venus, Kwyn reports the engines are overheating. Mario begins shutting down nonessential systems to reduce the strain on the engines, and digs into the cooling system to see what he can do. Using the newly available power from the diverted systems, he manages to improve the cooling efficiency and end the threat of overheating. All this work has Kwyn tuckered out, so we stop at a station orbiting Venus to rest. On board, Otar uses his contacts to get us a decent lunch at the station cafeteria, but he gets a notification from Post Central that pay cuts are coming. Tobias spends his time sending messages back to Earth and succeeds at delaying any pay cuts for the moment, using his own contacts in the Postal hierarchy.

Back en route to our delivery coordinates, Kwyn sounds the alarm when several ships move into intercept courses. Our life scans indicate we’re outnumbered in personnel as well as ships, so Otar decides we’d better negotiate rather than fight. He and Hengin meet with the captain of the opposition. This other captain, Cinder, says we have to surrender the package because it’s a danger to the whole system. Otar’s sense of responsibility won’t let him relinquish, but Hengin suggests we could give it to them if they signed for it at the delivery address. With all parties agreed, we attach a tow cable between our ships and let them fly us to the coordinates. En route, Captain Cinder tries to convince Cara of the malevolence of the software inside the box, but she is already inclined to believe it.

When we arrive at the delivery point, we see a perfectly cylindrical object floating in space. There are no obvious doors, but Hengin suits up and escorts the package and Captain Cinder to the surface of the cylinder and gets Cinder to sign for the package. When Cinder tries to get back on our ship, Kwyn releases the tow cable and pulls away from the cylinder with the pair still below. Leaving Cinder behind, Hengin uses his spacewalking skills and maneuvering jetpack to rendezvous with the ship and crawls inside. We fly off and escape while Cinder’s crew is busy retrieving their captain.

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