This week, we played the original Lasers & Feelings by John Harper as the crew of the Consortium starship The Raptor. With our captain incapacitated and recovering in a medical pod, the crew must do our best in difficult circumstances. We are Zadoc, the savvy envoy who’s infinitely curious about alien cultures, Tameka, the (overly) confident and competitive pilot, and Divi, our xenobiologist who’s more interested in animals than people.
Our story begins when our ship encounters a strange vessel and its sole occupant comes aboard. He is Mori, an alien scientist always up for a space mystery. His ship has been damaged, so Zadoc invites him to magnetically attach it to our hull for transport. Mori lets slip that the ship is stolen, and Zadoc becomes concerned. Before they can discuss it, Temeka calls from the bridge because two incoming ships refuse to identify themselves and may be hostile. Zadoc joins Temeka on the bridge and attempts diplomacy after making contact, but the pirates on board are not interested in talking and move to board the ship. Temeka engages the cloak and slips away, but not before our ship is damaged; our cloak won’t protect us on our next engagement.
After we’re safely away, Zadoc asks Mori if these people are after the ship he stole. Mori answers no, but suggests they might be interested in the powerful fuel crystals he’s carrying. As we’re contemplating the pirate’s intentions, Divi reminds us of recent scientific reports of alternate realities and the possibilities of travel between them. One such reality is supposed to be full of precious elements that would make quite a haul for a pirate crew. We decide to lay a trap for the pirates, using Mori’s ship as bait, while Temeka deploys the Raptor’s fighters in a pincer maneuver if diplomacy should fail. But diplomacy does not fail, at least not exactly. While parleying with the pirates who’ve boarded Mori’s vessel demanding our valuables, Zadoc sings a song of friendship and sharing, which miraculously convinces the pirates to invite the to join their pirate crew and share in their fate.
We take back some trinkets to make them think we’re cooperating in looting Mori’s ship. On board the pirate vessel, Zadoc begins teaching the pirates how to play a universal game he’s made to help create bonds between strangers. This distraction allows Mori to steal the circuits and equipment he needs to repair his ship. Meanwhile, Divi is saving all the animals the pirates have on board, and Mori finishes by setting the pirate ship’s engines to overload and explode. The three of them slip back to Mori’s ship while the pirates play Zadoc’s game, and fly away as the pirate ship explodes in a flash of light.
This week, we played Lasers & Feelings by John Harper as the crew of the small Consortium scout ship, Raptor. With our Captain incapacitated by an unknown psychic entity, the crew are on our own. Our cast includes: Ensign Zul, a genderless alien explorer from a water planet who looks like an ambulatory sea monster; the android diplomacy envoy P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. (Prediction And Calculation Intelligence For Initiating Conflict Avoidance), designed to use logic to negotiate an end to conflicts; Troy McVenture, well-known star of Intrepid Love and Adventure Forever, who has come aboard to audition for a role in a series about the adventures of a starship; Dr. Aak the bipedal cat and medical officer, out to prove what an orange cat can do on a starship; ship’s engineer Lt. Cmdr. Leah Brahms, who just love tinkering with Consortium toys; and the most senior crew member still conscious and security officer, Cmdr. Kaz Ardor, who just wants to keep everyone safe until the captain can be revived.
Our mission begins with Brahms greeting Troy McVenture when his shuttle docs with the ship and, misunderstanding when he starts talking about his vid-series pilot, escorting him to his station at navigation as the ship’s new pilot. In the med bay, Ardor is working with PACIFICA and Dr. Aak to attempt to communicate with the entity possessing Captain Darcy, since Dr. Aak has not found any way to remove the entity without harming the captain. PACIFICA is able to make rudimentary contact with the entity, learns to refer to it as Monsieur, and suggests they might be able to convince Monsieur to move to a new host under the right circumstances. Ensign Zul receives a distress call from the starship of the Queen of the space pirate brigade, and we plan how to approach the touchy and dangerous pirates; Troy pilots the ship for the first time on this trip.
As we approach the pirate starship Archipelago, the first minister of the pirate brigade denies sending any distress beacon, but after muting himself and crying out to his crew, the beacon stops. The minister admits they had been attacked by a Consortium ship before a fleet of pirate vessels surround us, forcing us to activate the Raptor’s cloaking device to escape without damage. Cmdr. Ardor orders Zul to escort Troy to the med bay for a psych evaluation since he keeps insisting that we’re on a television set. After Dr. Aak examines him, he’s confined to quarters with a security detail stationed at his door. In engineering, Ardor has Brahms boost the range of the ship’s sensors to search for the Consortium ship the pirates claimed had attacked them. After some technical wizardry, Brahms reports there is a Consortium ship stalking the pirate vessel, a ship that matches the markings of the USS Saber, commanded by Captain Clarke.
Putting the ship on alert status, we intercept the Saber when PACIFICA and Ardor begin parleying with Capt. Clarke, who is unrepentant about his attempts to attach the pirate Queen and start a war. As we continue verbal jousting, Troy appears on the bridge of the Saber and lunges for Capt. Clarke. We attempt to teleport the two of them back to the Raptor but somehow we get Clarke and strand Troy on the other ship. While the crew and Troy keep the crew of the Saber occupied, PACIFICA and Ardor take Clarke to the med bay where PACIFICA convinces the entity Monsieur to leave Capt. Darcy and possess Clarke instead. Monsieur can now communicate clearly through Clarke’s voice and takes command of the Saber to end the pirate war crisis. Darcy returns to the bridge as we escort the Saber back to Consortium Command for debriefing.
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.
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.
Tonight we gathered for a session of Lasers & Feelings by John Harper to form the crew of the Consortium star cruiser Raptor, equipped both with fighter craft and a cloaking device, but seriously understaffed and whose grim-faced Captain Darcy is now confined to a medical pod. We remaining crew are intrepid soldier Lt. Dag Lively, the wily pilot Haley S. Comet, a savvy explorer named Derek Everstar, the ship’s dangerous staff scientist Hex Berillium, android doctor still seeking a medical degree Qx4G76, and hot-shot stowaway Xandus Max.
We start on a mission to the void to gather void crystals and study the strange energy they emit. While Hex, Derek, and Haley discuss how best to harvest crystals without endangering the ship, a sleek, swift vessel swoops through the void field and sucks up a hoard of void crystals in its tractor beam before heading out of the sector. As Haley tries to pursue, the Raptor is caught up in a swirl of void crystals, which clog the ships engines requiring the ship to be cleared before we can pursue. Meanwhile, the evasive maneuvers dislodges stowaway Xandus from his hiding place in the ship’s ventilation tubes, dropping his directly at the feet of security officer Dag Lively, who refuses to be bought off and escorts the scofflaw to Qx4 for examination and decontamination.
Once Derek and Hex have successfully cleaned the ship of any lingering void crystals and brought their booty aboard, Haley takes off after the pirates guessing their heading based on their last known trajectory. After landing us on Acaridiun 4, Dag, Derek, Haley, and Xandus head into the local drinking establishment looking for signs of the pirates who raided the crystal fields. At the bar is pirate queen Zor raising a toast to her crew and disparaging the name of the Consortium. After Dag announces our presence and is forced to back down when the entire bar turns out to be pirates, Xandus has a heart-to-heart with Zor, who used to be his lover, and manages to pick her pocket to secure the security beacon to her ship. As the crew fly back in their shuttle, Xandus whizzes by in the Zormobile and waves before landing with them on the deck of the Raptor.
Hex comes rushing out saying they have discovered that when a critical mass of the void crystals occupy enough space together, they can warp spacetime. As the group discusses what to do with this information and their very large concentration of crystals they now possess, the warping of spacetime begins and we find ourselves in new circumstances. Each of us finds ourselves as the opposite of what we were before and aboard a large pirate vessel bearing down on the Raptor, where we can see ourselves still standing and talking on the deck! Dag is now an unattractive quartermaster, Haley the ships lunch lady, Derek a museum curator, Hex an accountant, Xandus a stay-at-home dad, and Qx4 is the ships weapons array AI. We try a number of things to undo this madness and return things to normal, including trying to destroy the Zormobile, but Qx4’s programming won’t let him hit his target. Hex tries to buy us time by inciting dissension among the pirates by pointing out errors in the divvying of previous loot, but these pirates have discipline. Back on the Raptor, our old selves scramble to action stations and launch her drone fighters while Xandus boards the Zormobile and flies directly at the pirate ship. Qx4 fires another missile volley in an artistic arrangement, leading Xandus to realize that he doesn’t have to sacrifice himself and instead drops the cargo of crystals into the explosions from the missiles. Once the crystals are destroyed, the vortex collapses and the pirate ship disappears as we snap back into our old selves about the Raptor at our action stations.
Relieved that we’re out of danger and no longer possess enough crystals to set off another time warp, the crew relaxes, but Hex muses that all good experiments have to be repeatable, and Qx4 hovers ominously toward the Captain’s medical pod.
Tonight we played our GM-less version of Lasers & Feelings by John Harper with a crew more concerned with using its newfound freedom from Captain Darcy (held in stasis in a medical pod after succumbing to the mysterious psychic entity Something Else) than strictly following orders.
Our nimble, well-armed Raptor is crewed by savvy pilot and intergalactic party-maven Veronica Carl, sexy Z-Tube star turned self-trained doctor Dirk Dorian, support android and chief engineer Mech 226, maverick scientist with a degree in general science Dr. Nick, and strait-laced and order-maintaining alien soldier Athaar. We each had our personal goals, but word came from Consortium Command that we needed to investigate the recent behavior of the Hive Armada. Given the inefficiencies introduced in the Raptor’s systems by Veronica’s extensive modifications when entering the ship into Pimp-My-Ride competitions, we had to refuel before we could make for Hive space, so headed for the planet Gondola-on-Fire in the Nebula E67 system.
When we land at Gondola-on-Fire, we’re confronted by a humanitarian crisis as planet-wide volcanic activity has left the population devastated and in desperate need of medical attention. We send a recovery team out to secure two things: the quantum plasma we need to fuel the ship and the alcohol that Dr. Dorian has requested (for medicinal purposes). Mech, Veronica, and Dr. Nick take the shuttle Talon and follow the signals for plasma toward a warehouse in the ruins of a village near a volcano where they encounter a hoard of fire zombies and decide to capture one to determine if they are a native or invasive species. Dr. Nick tries to hook one with a rope, but the hook gets caught at ground level and three zombies begin scrambling up the rope. Mech quickly rebuilds Veronica’s damaged Zombie Gun but the first shot just spins the zombie on top of Dr. Nick. Mech extinguishes the flames spreading across Dr. Nick’s uniform while Dr. Nick stuffs the zombie into the fireproof refrigerated box, and then, reluctantly, cuts the rope before the other zombies enter the shuttle.
Meanwhile back at the Raptor, Dr. Dorian has been seeing patients. Those he’s put into the spare medpods are healing nicely, but since so many people need attention, he is also treating patients directly and testing the nature of their injuries by setting them on fire, killing four. Aathar tries to organize the crowd outside the ship and calm them as they learn that the treatments are not always successful, but 5 more enter the ship seeking help, two into the medpods and three injected with something by Dorian. The recovery team flies back to drop the now-frozen fire zombie at the Raptor before returning to collect the plasma and alcohol they found at the village. Mech builds a device for tapping the plasma from the earth and they plant the tap into the volcano’s side while Veronica and Dr. Nick gather up copious amounts of alcohol from the warehouse and plan their next party. When the away team returns to the ship, Dorian has successfully concocted a salve to treat his patients’ burns rather than kill them, and we trade the salve for more refined plasma to power the ship.
Our next stop is renowned vacation spot Party Station Alpha where Veronica throws an elaborate party built around six centerpieces: an alcohol-powered model of the tricked-out Raptor, a display of the frozen fire zombie, a room of disembodied kidneys, the medpod containing still-comatose Captain Darcy, a supply of premium narcotics, and an experiment on the efficacy of burn salve on partygoers of multifarious species. This party resulted in only a small number of patrons infected by a mostly defrosted zombie and a quarantine of part of the station, little new information about the efficacy of the salve, the Raptor being encouraged to disembark by station security, and an alien guest staying aboard, mostly holed-up in Veronica’s room.
Finally prepared to investigate the Hive Armada, we take-off for Hive space and welcome our guest Alganon to dinner, where the conversation turns from his cowboy hat to his glowing backpack and what might be inside. After refusing to sign a release form that would have allowed Dr. Dorian to examine the backpack himself, Alganon agrees to show us what’s he’s carrying if we stop at Jupiter Prime. So, we change course and notice that the Hive Armada seems to be following us. Jupiter Prime is a binary planet surrounded by giant rings of debris with a bright sun we can see from our observation deck. Alganon pulls an ancient ornate box that glows faintly from his pack, and as the light of the sun shines between the twin planets and strikes it, a burst of light and radiation engulfs the ship. When the light fades and our vision returns, we see a Hive capital ship blocking our view through the observation windows. We immediately flee, and thanks to Mech’s boosting of the engines and evasive flying by Veronica, we escape. In the lab, Drs. Nick and Dorian discover a new person onboard ship, the now-cured zombie Jessica, who cites consortium law to protect herself from Dorian restoring her to the zombie state.
The Hive catches up to us and Dorian tries to parley but manages to insult rather than calm the Hive who immediately send a swarm of assault pods that latch onto the ship and begin to bore through the hull to release the Hive boarding party. Thankfully, when Veronica activates the Raptor’s showtime sound-activated dance mode, Mech beat boxes the ship into a series of moves that shake the invaders off before they can board us. The Hive demand we turn over the time displacer and Veronica agrees, thinking we can warp away before they realize we’ve left them holding an empty cargo container, but the Hive fleet is deployed to prevent us from warping. Mech remembers a file entry about the Hive’s intention to reverse history by merging their Queen with an unknown artifact, and we realize that Alganon’s box can reverse time, as it did in turning Jessica back from zombie to human. With Mech’s beat boxing putting Dr. Nick “into the zone”, he figures out how to activate the device and sends our ship back in time to escape the threat. We all find ourselves younger than we started, then a revived and refreshed Captain Darcy strides onto the bridge demanding to know “What have you all done now?!”
Tonight, courtesy of Lasers & Feelings by John Harper, we form the intrepid crew of the Raptor, sent to Epsilon 5 to investigate an incursion by Cyber Zombies. Before we set off, Mayre, our sexy engineer intent on meeting equally sexy aliens, has to temporarily repair the thingamajig using bobby pins until we could get to a Market World to purchase a new one. On Epsilon 5, Dr. Worm, PhD, a bemused alien explorer hoping to see something truly new, encounters a local farmer who claims they’d held off the Zombies by building a makeshift wall, but learn that the Zombies are working down inside the mines. Ship’s doctor Olivia Price, showing off, captures a Zombie, names it Aaaaagatha Aaaanderson, cuts it open, and then works together with Mayre to rewire Agatha’s brain. Mayre’s succeeds so wildly that not only is Agatha’s desire for brains gone but she was also no longer contagious and in love with the engineer.
Dr. Worm and Doc Price interrogate the awakened Agatha and discover her obsession with Mayre and continued hunger for cybernetics, like those Mayre has otherwise kept secret. Agatha leads dangerous soldier Major Talon Rune and Miku the android pilot who wants to replace incapacitated Captain Darcy, deep into the mine tunnels to where the Zombies are working. When they turn to attack, Talon collapses the tunnel on the Zombies without cutting the team off from the deeper tunnels or the surface.
In a flashback, the team visits the Market on Epsilon 5 in search of a new thingamajig. Instead, the meet the Bobby Brothers who are profiteering in their sale of bobby pins. The threats and counter-threats between the two sides eventually lead to promises for leniency and a search for their missing child, a picture of whom shows a much younger Agatha, in exchange for all the bobby pins Mayre may need to keep the Raptor flying.
Back in the tunnels, they find a strange creature as reality begins to warp and change as they discover a quantum anomaly at the center of the Zombie horde. Talon drops a grenade on the creature and the crew all find themselves together on the bridge of the Raptor with Captain Darcy awakened, but Dr. Worm quickly realizes that this is the creature taking the Captain’s form. Darcy admits that his psychic infection has allowed him to create the Zombies, which he wanted to unleash on Epsilon 5 as revenge for having his criminal empire there taken from him. The crew realizes they must destroy Darcy’s body, and when they do, the tunnel collapses, the quantum anomaly collapses, and the Zombies are restored to their former selves. In the epilogue, however, the Bobby Family swear vengeance on the crew of the Raptor.
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