BACKGROUND: The Reaver ship that Captain Sarian had sought to lure away from Reaver space and capture has recovered from its initial beating and detached from "Hanna's Heaven". Unwittingly taking advantage of the drama unfolding on "Hampton's" bridge, it slips into the patrol boat's gravitic sensor blind spot and sluggishly maneuvers into position. While the crew of the Reaver ship roars with anticipation, it executes a half burn directly into the "Hampton" driving it's massive ramming bow through the ship's starboard hanger, neatly spearing the engine room and casting both ships into a uncontrolled spin. The Reaver crew then detonates the densely packed homemade explosives housed in the ram, neatly neutralizing the spin and obliterating everything in both areas of the ship in a hell storm of concussion, explosive decompression and fragmentation.
The Reaver raiders that survived the initial missile and cannon barrage only minutes ago quickly swarm out of the airlock and onto the hull of their ship. The Reaver pilot then detaches, maneuvers into position and fires grapplers broadside into the "Hampton's" hull. As the Reaver ship initiates a rough dock on the starboard airlock, the EVA raiding party launches itself for the port airlock while a small three Reaver team floats toward the gaping hole that was once the starboard hangar...
As the "Hampton" shakes violently from a series of explosions to the stern, the sensor operator at last runs a full scan of the area and detects the unidentified ship she assumed had rabbited away minutes ago is now detaching from the starboard underside of the ship after having rammed it. As the First Officer barks orders and crewmen rush to assess the damage she monitors and reports the enemy ship's movement to starboard, coming alongside.
Amazed that they have actually come under attack, the First Officer orders the "Hampton" to turn and engage the enemy with while the ASRV pilot rushes to the hangar to prepare to launch. At last damage reports come in and the First Officer discovers that the "Hampton" has lost her engines and can't even maneuver at all, her starboard hangar and missile battery have both been completely destroyed and the port hangar is too heavily damaged even to access. The "Hampton" is drifting and essentially defenseless.
Then the patrol boat shudders under dozens of penetrating impacts to starboard before lurching terribly as the enemy vessel initiates an insane attempt to force-dock at the starboard airlock.
Recognizing the imminent threat, the security chief springs into action and orders all security officers off the bridge and to secure arms. He assigns a random officer the job of escorting the PC's back to the brig and rushes to the airlocks to oversee preparations to repel boarders. Stunned at the audacity of the pirates who've engaged them, the personnel of the "Hampton" are nonetheless relatively well disciplined and rush to prepare for something they've drilled in hundreds of times...but never expected to actually do.
The PC's, meanwhile, are reluctant to return to the brig but don't wish to distract the Alliance officers from their preparations, either. They comply with the officer escorting them and allow him to lead them toward the brig. Though less than three minutes have passed since the unidentified ship rammed the "Hampton", the PC's pass the airlocks just as a dozen security officers with assault rifles and armored EVA suits begin taking position. As they pass by they glimpse movement within both airlocks and something dark and viscous exploding over their view ports from within.
Halfway down the crew quarters hallway, the PC's dither (over their warden's nervous objections) and observe for a moment. From the reaction of the security team at the junction the PC's discern that movement from the starboard airlock has attracted their attention. As bright flashes and acrid smoke begin to seep into the hall from that direction it's apparent that someone within the starboard airlock is attempting to cut through with a torch. With no activity in the port airlock, beyond the view port being blocked, most of the team turn their weapons and attention in that direction.
Almost instantly the guttural roaring of dozens of hoarse voices echoes down the hall and the PC's witness a veritable wave of hellish, vaguely human-shaped raiders descend on the security team from the port airlock behind them. In seconds cries of pain and horror from the security team vie with the triumphant howls of the Reaver raiding party slaughtering them.
The PC's, possessing a relatively healthy instinct for self-preservation, flee in the opposite direction toward the recovery ward. There Betty closes the bow-side door and locks it, already glimpsing several Reavers heading in their direction. Unwilling to waste time disabling the door locks; they flee through the recovery ward and out the back door. Sliding down the ladders to the medical ward they are startled to see Reavers in carrion-festooned EVA suits beyond the airtight double-doors to the evacuated engine room, working maniacally at its seal with crowbars.
Ignoring the medical staff, the wounded crewmen from the earlier mutiny and the three security officers stationed in the medical ward, they rush to check out the galley area. Spying no activity there yet, they run to the weapons lockers to secure arms, finding only one assault rifle and several handguns. They do find, however, a satchel containing three grenades and assorted other gear. Seizing these items they turn to run back to the medical ward and spy the indistinct shapes of Reavers coming up the stairwell from the cargo area below. They flee back to the medical ward before they are spotted, however.
The PC's dash into the medical ward, hastily close and lock the double doors, then dive behind the cover of the medical ward counter and prepare to defend the position. They load weapons and divide the handguns between one another, dumping the satchel out on the floor. They ignore the security officers who move to cover them and the medical staff who strenuously object to their diving about the place while there are wounded officers being treated.
Seconds later the Reavers who've come up from the cargo hold slam wailing against the doors to the ward and begin to attack the locking mechanism. It only takes moments for the security officers to realize the immediate threat and take positions next to the PC's, though they scoff at their assertion that the mad pirates at the door are actual "Reavers".
Seeing that they have a few moments before the Reavers breach the doors, Marlin and Rooster spring up to hastily barricade them, piling everything they can lay a hand to in front of the doors. The security officers soon join them. Meanwhile the ship's physician attempts to contact the bridge via intercom to report the prisoners in his ward wielding weapons. At first he receives no response, but after he turns away the intercom suddenly activates and the ward is flooded with the tortured, terrified screams of the bridge crew.
Lily and Betty suddenly remember the EVA suited Reavers in the engine room and peek out the stern-ward doors to find them still hard at work beyond the doors at the far end. Casting about for something to reinforce the doors on their end, Betty finds only a low-grade laser saw which she attempts to use to weld the doors shut. Lily pulls Marlin and Rooster from tossing every available bit of refuse in front of the bow-side doors and sets them to pushing and pulling the sabretooth tiger's cage behind the med-station counter. If their position becomes untenable, she reasons, they can always free the tiger and fall back into the treatment area.
Having made all the preparations they have time for and Betty still hard at work welding the rear doors, the PC's and security officers take cover again behind the counter. The sabretooth's cage, meanwhile, requires a wide berth as all the excitement has her a bit riled up. As the Reavers come closer to breaching the door, Betty abandons her attempt to reinforce the engine room doors and takes position.
Moments later the bow-side doors to the medical ward whine and slide open, spilling the refuse of the hasty barricade out into the walkway. Marlin, having already pulled the pin on a grenade, immediately lobs it through the doorway among the Reavers. It detonates, knocking them all to their feet, but killing none of them. Bloodied and enraged, they are on their feet again instantly and roaring through the door. Rooster and Lily take shots as they enter the room, dropping three of them while Marlin, now wielding the assault rifle, opens up with auto-fire on the remaining two. He drops one, but the other raider is still coming. In an instant he is through the door, across the room and hacking at one of the security officers who, unprepared for the ferocity of the attack, can only defend himself. A machete slash to the face seems to snap him out of his shock and he steps back to blast a burst at point blank into his attacker, dropping him as well.
While the threat from that direction has seemingly been eliminated only Betty, Rooster and two of the security officers hear that the Reavers who've chased them from the recovery ward earlier are now spilling through the doors to the stern. Turning to face them, Betty and Rooster each take shots at the lead Reaver as they sprint toward them from the treatment area. The two security officers, finally getting with the program after the initial attack, open up with blasts of full auto fire into the Reavers. They are badly bloodied but are still coming. Lily makes an incredibly lucky shot and drops the lead Reaver while Betty snatches up one of the two remaining grenades, pulls the pin and lobs it directly behind the raiders. The fragmentation and blast slice and dice the Reavers and they fall just outside the entrance the medical ward. Lily suffers a minor flesh wound from the fragmentation, but Betty is badly peppered and bleeding.
Doubting they've managed to kill all the Reavers on board and figuring that the weapons fire and explosions have certainly alerted all the others, the PC's leap up immediately to reload and prepare for another attack. Betty and Rooster rush to the recently barricaded bow-ward door and attempt to close the outer doors again. They succeed easily but can't lock them after all the damage the Reavers have done to the mechanism. Lily has Marlin and the two security officers reposition the sabretooth's cage (taking care to steer clear of her paws) at the bow-ward doors while she digs around hastily among the medical ward's medicine supplies. Searching from something to use in formulating a crude chemical weapon or explosive, she is surprised to find several vials of amphetamine hydrochlorate. Quickly preparing it for injection she has Marlin distract the tiger by jabbing at the front of the cage with the butt of his assault rifle while she injects a massive dose into the sabretooth from the rear.
Betty and Rooster meanwhile have no better luck securing the stern-ward doors of the treatment area and are disturbed to note that the three EVA Reavers in the engine room are close to breaking through. Lily, Marlin and the security officers push the sabretooth's cage into the bow-ward doorway just as sounds of a large pack of Reavers are heard from that direction. Betty and Rooster then drop back and close the inner doors to the engine room to preserve environmental integrity, hoping the EVA Reavers aren't intent on simply evacuating the whole area into space.
Meanwhile, getting with Lily's plan, Marlin, Betty and the security officers herd the hysterical medical staff through the port door to the hanger deck while Rooster reaches over to open the tiger's cage. From their position beyond the port doorway, the PC's can clearly hear a large Reaver horde charging and howling through the galley toward the medical ward. With the cage door open Rooster jumps off the cage, dives and rolls clumsily through the door with Betty closing and locking it once he's through.
Unfortunately the Reavers completely ignore the tiger's cage, leaping and clawing over it and spill into the medical ward. The PC's can clearly see well over a dozen Reavers spill into the room through the view port with more likely still to come. Betty and Rooster hastily crack open the door's lock and attempt to disconnect it from their end before the Reavers can override it. They soon realize that the Reavers at the door are intent on simply forcing the door open, however. Marlin readies the last grenade and the group falls back down the hall to double-doors of the port hanger deck.
The PC's groan as they reach enter the double-doors and find the hanger-side door indicator shows the hanger beyond has been breached and it's atmosphere evacuated. Through the view port they can see the shuttle has suffered no apparent damage and the hanger doors seem to be intact, but a large hole in the starboard clearly shows the ship's main thrusters and the open vacuum of space. After ushering the medical staff into the minimal safety of the airtight walkway between the double-doors, Betty and Rooster lock the doors and the PC's and security officers prepare to make their stand.
After several minutes the Reavers still haven't charged down the hall and slaughtered them as expected, though their howls and commotion can still be heard. After another couple of minutes, with the Reavers still not breaking through the door, the sounds begin to die off and suddenly fade out of hearing. Perplexed, the PC's send Marlin to carefully scope out the situation. He does so and returns quickly, gesturing frantically. The PC's move forward to peer through the view port to find no mutilated Reavers faces at the view port of the opposite door and no sound at all from the medical ward.
Though they fear a trap, but figure they are already trapped anyway, Marlin opens the outer door of the medical ward, readied grenade in hand, to peer through the inner door's view port. When the others come up to look as well they see the medical ward splattered with blood and gore, and littered with the bodies of not only the Reavers they killed earlier but at least eight others as well.
Entering the medical ward and stepping carefully through the mess inside, they hear the sounds of Reavers active in the galley area...as well as a newer, even more bestial roaring. Peering carefully around the corner they witness the sabretooth tiger, bloodied, enraged and hyped up on amphetamines, gutting and tossing Reavers about the galley like rag dolls.
Desiring to watch the sabretooth in action, but fearing they might become next on her list if she spies them, they carefully creep back to the port doors of the medical ward to hunker down and wait a bit. After waiting for approximately twenty minutes, roughly the time Lily estimates it will take for the massive amphetamine dosage to completely wear off, they creep back again. In the medical ward they are greeted with silence from the galley area. In short order, with Marlin's grenade and everyone else's weapons ready, they creep through the ship toward the bow. Along the way, still detecting no activity with range of their hearing, they step over and around body after body of eviscerated and violently amputated Reavers (and a few crewmen).
Reaching the lounge, the foremost point of the ship, they find the last of the bodies and spy the badly wounded and utterly exhausted sabretooth tiger sprawled among a pile of Reaver corpses.
Lily quickly moves to secure sedatives from the medical ward as well as the equipment she needs to properly examine and, hopefully, treat the sabretooth. Though she's a bit out of her depth treating the animal, she manages to tentatively conclude that her wounds can be treated and she can be sedated with relative safety.
The PC's and the security officers hastily bind the tiger and return her to her cage while Lily treats Betty's fragmentation wounds. To their surprise they find the wounded officers in the treatment area are completely unharmed, as the violence never apparently made it that far into the ward. The EVA Reavers in the engine room seem to be gone as well. The PC's usher the medical team back into the ward, leaving one of the security officers with them and proceed toward the bridge to secure the ship. On the way they pass dozens of bodies of Alliance crewmen, many of them quite literally butchered. They do find several who are badly wounded and bound, apparently being made ready for transport back to the Reaver ship or secured for later sport.
Reaching the bridge at last they find the only living Reavers remaining on the "Hampton" busily engaged in savaging two of the bridge crew, only one of which is apparently still alive. The quickly engage, dropping the one munching on the First Officer quickly. They take advantage of the other two's hasty scramble off their victim, dropping one with a nice head shot by Betty.
The last Reaver instantly leaps on Rooster, wounding him badly and the PC's attempt to pull him off. After everyone fails to disengage the Rooster from the Reaver, who's gnawing furiously on his face, Marlin cuts loose with two bursts at point blank range, killing the beast.
Rooster, however, is unconscious and bleeding from the throat. Lily's efforts to treat him fail and Rooster slips away. She is unable to resuscitate him (and lacks the Plot Points to intercede as well). Rooster dies.
As the PC's grieve the loss of their friend, the security officers confer quietly and conclude that they are more or less now in command of the ship. Sensing their position may soon become untenable again, Lily quickly intercedes. She fast-talks them into splitting off and searching the ship for other survivors before they can remember that she and the others should be in the brig. The PC's, meanwhile, hoist up Rooster's body and make for the medical ward again. There, ignoring the medical team hard at work and swamped with casualties, they deposit him near the port hanger door. Marlin and Betty break off to quickly scour the ship for arms, body armor and anything portable of any worth. Lily rushes to help the medical team triage and treat the dozens of wounded officers.
After nearly two hours Lily and the medical team have managed to deal with the more life-threatening injuries (and lost several officers in the meantime) and the three surviving security officers have a managed to get communications up and running again. They've also successfully engaged and killed several individual Reavers who've wandered in the airlocks from outside. They report the Alliance cruiser is still on intercept but won't arrive for several more hours. Betty and Marlin, however, have managed to casually gather an impressive pile of salvageable gear from the ship, including weapons and body armor, and piled it at the port hanger door out of sight. Giving Lily the nod, they quietly transfer armored Alliance EVA suits they filched from dead security officers there bundle and strap their salvaged gear (and Rooster's remains) onto a gurney.
In short order Lily breaks away from the medical team, quietly snags the tiger (still sedated and crudely strapped to a gurney) and heads for the port airlock. Spending her last two Plot Points, she manages to reach it without encountering the security officers or anyone else. At the port hanger door Betty and Marlin don EVA suits and enter the hanger to secure the shuttle. Betty works EVA to hotwire the hanger doors, returns to the shuttle and is soon flying free of the "Hampton" without apparently being detected. She rendezvous’ with Lily and the sabretooth at the port airlock, gathers them on board and makes for the damaged civilian transport well ahead of the patrol boat.
Flying clear of the "Hampton" the PC's are amused to note there are still several Reavers in EVA suits attacking various points on the hull of the boat. From their vantage they can inspect the damage on all three vessels and note that the large Reaver ship seems to be the most intact. Changing plans they make for the starboard port of the Reaver vessel and dock there.
Once on board the Reaver ship, the PC's make their way carefully (on the lookout for booby traps and any other hazards) to the port airlock. There they secure the airlock and head for the bridge. After securing it as well and encountering no Reavers at all, they quickly disengage from the "Hampton" and loose the grapples. After a quick diagnostic Betty pronounces the ship more or less space worthy and probably still capable of reentry, though maneuvering and even a forward thrust are sluggish. Also, the diagnostic sweep reminds Betty and the others of what they have forgotten. The ship is running without core containment.
After a hasty conference the PC's decide to take their chances as the navigation station shows they're relatively close to Whitefall. Less than five hours even at the ship's current reduced capabilities. Betty plots the course then goes with Marlin to move the shuttle off the starboard airlock and into the small shuttle hanger. Lily nervously guards the bridge in their absence.
After docking Marlin and Betty decide it best not to bother checking the vessel for any remaining Reavers, reasoning that if they're around they'll make themselves known soon enough. They make straight for the bridge to link up with Lily. Once there Betty executes a full burn straight for Whitefall. The PC's watch as the half dozen Reavers who've become aware that their ship has been taken are thrown from the hull and incinerated in the ship's wake.
After an uneventful five hours of flight, the PC's arrive at Whitefall. Without preamble they quickly enter atmo, hoping to touch down and get clear of the ship before any sneaky Reaver plots erupt. Though the reentry is incredibly difficult with the structural damage the ship has taken, Betty manages it with an impressive display of her piloting skills. The PC's touch down near Red Rock, nearly crashing the ship in the haste to be rid of it, and crack the airlock to spring free of the vessel.
Before they can sprint to the hanger airlock and unload the tiger, their gear and Rooster's corpse they are confronted by several dozen anxious Red Rock denizens. From the multitude of rifles and shotguns pointed their way, they clearly expected a Reaver raiding party to emerge from the vessel.
As everyone spends a moment recovering from their mutual shock, a hoarse cackle suddenly rings out from inside the crowd of armed and twitchy Red Rock townsfolk. As the crowd parts the PC's see Patience Payne steps forward to greet them, grinning with obvious malice.
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