Any Port in a Storm

This is a vignette I wrote to kick-off my Stars Without Number campaign. I’m thinking that starting off sessions with small little descriptive excerpts to help mark the beginning of the session and to drive everyone to getting in the proper mindset for the game. I got some good responses and I’m posting it here for kicks. I hope you enjoy. The track is a ambient album made by black metal outfit Wolves in the Throne Room. I hope it immerses you like it does me.

If you were somehow able to take a still image of a ship in drill space, you’d see that they seem to have a sort of glow to them. A faint multicolored outline on the edge of the ship, the thickness of which depends on the strength of the drive. The bigger drive, the faster the speed , the bigger the outline. The ship’s external cameras allows those on the inside to view this colorful array of inter-dimensional energy. Anyone who has spent enough time travelling has seen it. Spacers call it The Shimmer.

Some of them claim to have seen visions in the energy. Faces of loved ones, hated enemies, unknown worlds, places in their past, their future, their wildest dreams and unspeakable nightmares. They even claim these images to be prophetic, of one’s fate in particular or a disquieting possibility about humanity’s future in The Black Canvas. That’s what the Exchange calls it. It’s the negative space between the points of light in which all humanity lives. They say those points guide us, like in a children’s art book. Connecting the dots, piecing together the big picture, the grand truth of the universe. Why are we here? On some of those points of light however, the better question might be…Why -were- we here?

The Last Chance. Free Merchant class Frigate made by Admetus Astronautics Unlimited. Ship ID # AAU-FM-D-3210-004. It’s shape is that of most frigate merchant vessels in this sector, resembling a flying insect found on many life-bearing worlds. Aerodynamic at strategic points to aid in atmospheric re-entry, oblong and elliptic in the spaces between. Also like an insect, the outside is simply a shell, a form whose function is divorced from the interior. Inside are perpendicular rooms and rectangular hallways, comfortingly human geometry.

Within this geometry stands four humans of various complexions and builds, all staring through the Bridge view-port into The Shimmer. Spacers are a superstitious and sometimes romantic lot. Believing that watching the exit from drill space is good fortune and if you’re unlucky enough to jump into a star by accident, you should at least get to witness it first hand. However relief sets in as The Black Canvas returns while at the same time an echo can be heard throughout the ship. It’s the familiar whine of a spike drive that is descending out of drill space. Barely audible at first, the low baritone hum soon morphs into a deafening screech, forcing all but the most experienced Spacers to instinctively jam their fingers into their ears. Better models of ships can afford luxury outfitting, thick insulation on the inner wall of the engine room to block the noise. With a name like The Last Chance, luxury just wasn’t in the cards.

The screeching recedes as the spike drive comes to a full stop, the impulse engines resuming their normal duties of inter-system propulsion. One of the points of light on the canvas appears to grow over the course of a day, and as it does finer detail can be made out. The planet Thorfinna is almost completely covered in water, the only landmass being at the east and west poles. Between those poles is a vast expanse of turquoise water covered in large bodies of dark blue and purple. Traversing the expanse are large yellow clouds that fade to a burnt orange color nearer their cores, white light occasionally flickering through, storms. Unfortunately within this storm lies your destination, the Cornwall Seastead. Dr. Thaddeus Gordon, a liaison with Sigrid Advanced Genomics said to meet him there for a job. A female voice comes over the comms, stating permission for atmospheric entry is granted. For the first few moments, descent into Thorfinna’s atmosphere is relatively peaceful, the sky bright as any pandora-world. Rapidly the situation changes as the bright sky gives way to the thick-yellow orange clouds. The storm rocks the ship, sudden gusts of wind almost knocking you off course. Moments later a flash of lightning careens across the view-port, illuminating Cornwall.

It is unfathomably large, looking like hundreds of aircraft carriers were welded together into a massive cube. As you get closer to docking bay # 037 you notice that the seastead extends underwater as well, almost the same distance as it protrudes above ground. Large planetary defense batteries cover the surface of the structure almost completely, with small docking ports located between them. Despite the rocky entry, you land safely on the deck of the Seastead. The same voice over the comms says to wait patiently as your ship descends. Then it rattles off a series of relegations and restrictions on Offworlders, all mandated by the Coalition of Thorfinnian Seasteads. The turquoise horizon is replaced by the greymetal interior of the docking shaft. Minutes later you come to a stop and blast doors open in front of the viewport. You see what could only be described as..a city. From the outside the seastead appeared enormous, from the inside it seems endless.

Any Port in a Storm