MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE SHIP...
This is a story summary for new recruits to the aethership HMAS Mad Badger
who have just joined us for Chapter 2 of Red Sands and Red Swords: The Moons of Mars!
(beginning at Post #209)
THE TIME: 1899
THE PLACE: The inner planets of the Solar system. Earth
is as expected (steampunked, of course), but the Lunar and Martian worlds are inhabited by both native species and terran colonists from the various European powers. Moon Base Victoria
is the oldest off-world colony and the most developed, surrounded by oceans of fine white silica sand cut by crystal-clear streams, with vegetation confined to the upper plateaus. The colonial city of Syrtis Major
is only a decade or so old, in addition to a number of independent human colonies named for their sponsors on Earth (i.e., New Khathmandu) located in the dry, red deserts of that world, the only water and vegetation confined to the polar regions; Mars' moons, Deimos
, just barely support life and are home to mining operations and aethership docking stations. Whether there are inhabitants on Mercury
or the outer planets is unknown, although telescopic observations indicate Venus
is covered by steaming swamps and jungles (think Dagoba). The Asteroid Belt
is home to numerous independent mining operations, and the pirates that prey on them.
THE STEAMPUNK: Aetherships
ply the trade routes and patrol the military outposts maintained by the Great Powers, with lift provided by a Cavorite
core and thrust by special Aetherscrews
, maximum speed relative to the number and size of the unique propellers versus the mass of the ship. Atmospheric maneuvering is by mach-pressure fans, driven by steam power (of course), fueled by a simple decay reactor (think Nautilus
) that also provides electrical power, and balanced by a compressed-helium ballast system. Breathing air is stored in compressed form, and gravity is provided either by the acceleration/deceleration of the vessel (as for most military vessels), the rotation of decks about the long axis of the ship (as for new ships such as the Badger
), or not at all (as for most small freetraders and other private vessels). Vacuum Suits
are made of vulcanized rubber, with armored aluminium joints and 'diving helm', and are equipped with personal shortwave radios with limited range; emergency air onboard is provided by Breathing Masks
with compressed gas cylinders and built-in goggles. Tesla Cannons
are the standard energy weapons, ranging in size from squad-manned field guns to ship's guns, and are adjustable for width of field, intensity, and range, all dependent on the amount of power available; these are also used as 'deflectors' to clear asteroids and other debris from the path of the ship. Vilhaus Guns
are a secret invention introduced by one of our RP'ers, and are rapidly earning a favored place in the Badger
's arsenal. The Radiograph
acts as a primitive sonar, using UHF signals generated by the ships's Aethergraph
antenna to capture bounce-back from objects within a fixed distance from the ship, positions and courses being plotted in a three-dimensional sphere using the Aethercompass
are six-wheeled steam-driven hacks, and Flyers
are low-flying, open-deck Martian 'landspeeders'. While there are some new German-engineered Blasters
being seen, conventional guns, swords, and similar arms are still the primary hand weapons.
THE PEOPLE: Please review the main characters' backstory posts above for details.
(BTW, no disrespect meant to others who have posted only once or twice on the main thread, please provide me with a backstory and your character's intentions if you'd like to be included here.)Captain T.M. Grey
, Commanding the commercial aetherliner HMAS Badger
in place of its builder (and founder of this thread) Major Dan Badger, and for whose later descent into insanity the refitted warship was renamed the Mad Badger
. Expert with the sabre, and a 3rd Degree Master Mason.Mr. Cornelius Nightshade
, a representative of New Lloyd's of London, the ships' backers, traveling to Mars with a mysterious 'artifact' in a plot somehow connected with the Bank of England and the British Foreign Office. A cunning villain and manipulator, it is unclear how much he really knows of the ultimate plan.RSM M.W. Bailey
, highly decorated ex-Royal Marine and professional soldier, serving as the Badger
's Senior Security Officer; a combat zealot and expert with the khukri knife.Miss Zuttle D. Curious
, agent of an unnamed 'company'; an accomplished spy and expert in hand-to-hand combat, she was sent to retrieve the stolen artifact for clients unknown.Mr. Frank Vilhaus
, botanist for the Royal Botanical Society, originally stationed in Victoria; an expert naturalist, bearer of the prototype resonance rifle and a daring sniper.Miss Iphigenia B. Askew
, passenger searching for her missing brother, who may have unwittingly learned of the Martian plot while serving aboard an airship in London; having been raised on an aetherliner, she is expert at ship's operations.Dr. Malcolm Moriarty
, professor, physician, scientist, and mysticist, having just joined the crew as Chief Surgeon in the service of the Crown for the war on Mars.Mr. E.V. Kettell
, a well-traveled young cartographer and the Badger
's new navigator.
THE STORY: Eons ago, the Martian people were much more human in appearance and enjoyed a high level of civilization and technology. In an arrogant attempt to claim ultimate power from the magnetic energy of the planet itself, their ancient "GodKings" literally created a monster, a "Beast" of pure energy that would consume all living things in its path until sated, then disappear for a period of years before hungering again. Some Martians escaped offworld to the inner planets, fostering new races there (including Earth), while most remained to witness milennia of decay of their great race and beautiful blue planet, reduced to warring tribes eking out an existence in a harsh, red desert world. Later, the discovery that a special metal from a long-revered "Gift from the Sky" (meteorite) would diminish and repulse the Beast when it appeared, led to the creature being entombed with it under three of the four Great Keys, the remaining pieces of Martian technology that had been used to create it, the Fourth Key having been sent off-world with the first exodus to prevent them from ever coming together again.
Jump to present day. Certain secret societies, including Freemasons and the Illuminati, and scholars of the Cthulhu Mythos are aware of humanity's true origins on Mars, differences in current appearance explained by milennia of evolution in very different environments. Such legends as Atlantis, Hyperboria, and others could be attributed to civilizations built by descendants of the Martian diaspora, pre-dating recorded human history. In a repeat of the all-too 'human' arrogance that created the Beast, those in the know and desirous of all-encompassing power over the known worlds believed that the creature could be harnessed and used. Arranging for the recently-discovered Fourth Key (having been identified as an 'Aegyptian' artifact in a Cairo museum) to be quietly removed under cover of a purposefully blatant theft of other items of greater perceived value, they were determined that it be returned to Mars towards that end. Lower agents of those ultimately behind this plot (whoever they may REALLY be...
) were told only that the artifact was of 'cultural significance' to the Martians, and could be used to seize political power over them during an upcoming festival, giving them access to the vast mineral resources and wealth of the Red Planet; only a few knew the real agenda, and we're not entirely sure that they're all accounted for...
Jump to the HMAS Badger
. After a rushed launch from London without the captain (Major Dan Badger) yet aboard at Nightshade's insistence, the navigator and third officer Lt. Grey is in nominal command. Mr. Bailey joins us late from a motor launch, and takes up his Security duties. Miss Curious infiltrates as a cook's assistant, which goes unquestioned due to the shortage of crew resulting from the unexpected launch, and begins to stalk Nightshade to recover her 'package'. Miss Askew had boarded as a passenger, the trail for her missing brother having led her to the Badger
. On the way to the Moon, we are introduced to Nightshade's abhorant personality, Curious's judo skills, Bailey's by-the-book color-sargeant manner, Askew's unselfishness in aiding others, and Grey's suspicions that "something bigger than ourselves is involved here." Surviving a mysteriously uncharted meteor shower from the direction of Deimos, the Badger sets down safely at Moon Base Victoria. While ashore to pursue Nightshade, who had slipped from his confinement-to-quarters under Grey's orders, Bailey is attacked by a German agent of old acquaintance, giving him reason to believe that his prior encounters with certain unsavory persons might have some bearing on their current situation. Following his own suspicions, Grey visits the local Masonic Temple, and barely escapes after witnessing the assassination of the temple's Master by a representative of the Bank of England, apparently spurred by his questioning of Nightshade's activities; leaving a mysterious package with a brother Freemason he has reason to trust, we learn for the first time of the Illuminati and their connection with Earth's true origins. After conducting a brilliant PR campaign to have himself declared a hero for (no particular) actions during the meteor swarm, Nightshade is freed from confinement by order of the colony's Governor General, and makes a devil's pact with Miss Curious to cooperate in their own best interests. Preparing to leave for Mars, the young Mr. Vilhaus boards by the request of both the Royal Botanical Society and the Governor General, though he can't imagine why he is being singled out. Under way, Grey proposes they all put their cards on the table, but is interrupted by a bow shot and boarding party from an Imperial German cruiser, apparently after whatever Nightshade is concealing. Before their parlay time is up, Grey confronts the man with the possible ramifications of his actions, causing him to jump ship via escape pod to the Germans with Miss Curious just as the Badger
is about to be fired upon; it is in the company of their 'new hosts' that Nightshade reveals to Curious that the highly-publicized 'stolen relic' the Germans are now in possession of was only a ruse, and that the real artifact is still safely hidden aboard the Badger
. Making repairs with the aid of a nearby Royal Aether Navy ship, the Badger
limps to Mars, only to have Curious sneak aboard and recover the artifact that they thought had already been taken away by Nightshade. Determining that he has already turned over the real object to a European with contacts to the 'next Martian Emperor', forces from the Badger
join with the colonial British forces to converge upon his conspiratorial party among the huge throng of Martians gathered for the expected festival, only to encounter the Germans doing the same and the Martians defending their own. Mass bloodshed from the three-way conflict being averted by the Martian's taking possession of the real artifact as well as Nightshade himself, Grey and Bailey lead a two-pronged assault on the Martian temple where he believes a secret ceremony will be taking place to release the Beast. While successful in thwarting what turned out to be the High Priest's plan to become the next GodKing, the result of their assault was the declaration of war by the Martians on all offworlders, under the banner of the New Seldon Empire. Retreating to Deimos to regroup, the Mad Badger
results from the refit of the liner for military purposes, and she takes on new recruits for the coming war...
THE RULES: Standard RP protocols apply, specifically:
1. Mind your manners and your language.
2. Give others time to post in response before getting too far along in the story.
3. Avoid irrevocable changes in the storyline, especially as they affect other player's characters.
4. Remember that this is a shared-story project, and everyone will be writing from their own point of view, which may not agree with yours; be flexible and patient.
5. Post OOC comments on this thread, not the storyboard.
Taking a clue from a Martian shaman's prophetic rantings, Frank Vilhaus gains some insight into the true functions of the ancient Keys, three now in existence since the destruction of the one from Earth at the Temple of the Blood Red Moon, as well as the fact that the Beast is not truly gone for good. As the New Seldon Emperor slips into madness due to the creature's presence, the British Foreign Office renews its attempts to place a puppet ruler on the throne, and Nightshade continues his nefarious deeds by arranging for a pirate fleet from the Asteroid Belt to defend Mars against the incoming aetherfleet from Britain and it's European allies. Aided by the
's new chief surgeon, a Dr. Moriarty from Arkham University, Grey learns that the Beast is in fact one of the Old Ones of the Cthulhu mythos, and a greater threat than even he had guessed. Mr. Bailey, having taken charge of training for the new recruits from Earth for the coming war, partners with Frank in creating the Dragon Corps, a pairing of humans and moondragons sharing a telepathic bond, who prove invaluable in the eventual assault on the Temple. While working with the dragons, Frank and Bailey uncover a relationship between Professor Loftis and a renegade cell of moondragons with a long history of treachery and murder among their own kind, as well as men. Zuttle is made the ship's Intelligence Officer, and succeeds in intercepting coded messages from a spy onboard just prior to the battle, as well as arranging for a rival Martian leader to supplant the current emperor. While the battle at the Temple rages, Grey takes the new packetlaunch
to the south polar region of the Red Planet, and manages to recover the last of the Great Keys; with this symbol and the death of the reigning emperor at the hands of the Beast as it is finally banished, the rival House takes the throne and re-opens Mars to colonization. We close with the
following her newfound mining partners into the Void in pursuit of what we now know to be Chthuga, the Blood-Red God.
Catching up to the miners and Mr. Bailey's troops at an asteroidal colony known as IceBerg Station, the Beast is pursued through the station's winding, frozen passages until finally cornered but not killed after many losses. Signs of ritualistic writings and mysterious chanting seem to re-enervating the creature even as it is repeatedly wounded. The sudden appearance of a certain Tiberious Montgomery Pratt with a complex Heterodyne-like device results in the expulsion of the Beast to it's dimension of origin, from whence it had entered ours eons ago 'when the stars were right'. Warning Bailey and Frank that the
was under imminent attack by pirates, he whisks off to mysteriously re-appear aboard the ship, leaving them to make their way back to the station's landing bays on their own. After successfully repelling the foretold attack, Grey learns that the man is an acquaintance of Dr. Moriarty and a fellow Freemason, also on a mission related to Loftis and his ambitious Illuminati masters.
Having related his incredible tale of a race of ancient 'founders' seeding the solar system before the destruction of their dark homeworld (resulting in the asteroids of the Outer Rim), Pratt includes the Doctor, Bailey and the dragons in the difficult translation of an artifact, only one of many said to have been left behind among the distant asteroids. Among these asteroids is also the greater part of the Freemason's reputed treasure, containing secrets of the founders too dire for man to know, or misuse, sent there decades before on a one-way mission by the earliest form of spacecraft possible to keep it out of the hands of the Illuminati and their current pawn, a power-hungry German who sees himself as the next Kaiser. Contemplating the long night of the Void, Grey agrees that the Badger will aid Mr. Pratt in his quest, and thwart the Illuminati again.
THREAD IN PROGRESS.