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IE Journal 23

Page history last edited by Michael 8 years, 3 months ago

back to the Index, or Journal entry 22


140 Apex 599


... or 9 September 12606 AD; or 24 April 2012 AD (back in the Contemporary Juncture). The Terrans (Burns, McClellan, Black, O'Reilly and Macdougall) are in Rome, along with their five red-headed crewpersons (Helen, Harriet, Harmony, Hildegarde and Hortense Chan). They have just learned that Queen Ming, Monarch of the Darkness Pagoda, is now at Mars! Why Mars? What strange secrets could the Red Planet conceal to draw the undying, bloodthirsty Queen away from Hell and safety?



First of humanity's colonies


eight planets, of which one (Terra) is in the life zone, and one (Mars) is on the outer edge of the zone. An asteroid belt, four gas giants, and vast quantities of debris, satellites, minefields, and other hazards exist. The sun is a G2V, slightly yellowish in color.


0.37G surface gravity, very thin breathable atmosphere, 40% covered by oceans, small polar ice caps.


multiple orbital stations and spaceports; many orbital tethers, and remnants of other systems (many unique or undocumented). Only minor repairs can be performed. Boron is available, but imported from quite far away and therefore expensive. Both moons (Phobos and Deimos) are covered by extensive ruins, with a few dozen inhabitants.


All of the other planets and moons in the system have remnants of former bases, colonies, industrial centers, etc.; few if any people inhabit these other worlds.


the Darikahn Empire maintains system defense forces (several Hammer vessels of frigate size or less, and two squadrons of Hammer fighters) in the system, and a planetary aerospace defense (PAD) network on Terra. As of 120 Apex 599, enforcement of mandatory scans of inbound and outbound vessels for Vaylen, and searches for contraband, have stepped up.


Mars itself has a local Anvil battalion, and a couple of Hammer gunboats. There is an indifferently-maintained PAD network on the planet and in orbit.


 Index 1 balkanized world - population about 300,000 but no settlements of more than 10,000 persons. There is little to no trade or commerce except for salvage and antiquities. Fed is fairly well-known though not the first language of every settlement. There are scheduled commercial ships from New York City on Earth. The inhabitants are considered quite ruffianly and dangerous by the Darikahn Empire.


There was a comment by one of the Terrans about "checking into legends and history about Mars." Keep in mind that Iron Empire Mars has about 10,000 years of documented history ... far more than Earth does in 2012! 


Queen Ming arrived at Mars on 137 Apex, aboard her rented yacht. Note that since about 120 Apex the Imperial Navy and local customs organizations have become quite thorough about checking arriving and departing vessels and persons for Vaylen infestation.


  • Yacht "Dark Legacy":  4 crew, 4 to 8 passengers, some cargo. 12 points of armor. Fitted with a Model 1 bis computer, carries a Landing Boat; armed with a laser turret. Engines produce 3G propulsion, FTL speed is 18 light-years per week. Cost 1,250,000 Σ; cost to rent, about 5,000 Σ per month if nothing dangerous is contemplated.


We'll discuss how the Terrans travel to Mars at the game; the Darikahn Empire isn't gonna "lend you a frigate" however. I expect you will look over possible small craft or yachts to make the trip. Note that the Dark Legacy, rented by Queen Ming, is probably the best yacht available for rent in the solar system.


Remember, you were able to hire a mercenary Hammer fighter on a prior visit to Terra, at a cost of Σ1000 for a short mission. There's a broker in London who may be able to set you up with "Red Five" again, for example. You never knew his name; he was recommended to you by General Marx (the Staff Officer Without A Soul, from Belem).


During the trip they will be informed that the Dark Legacy never left orbit around Mars, and has been docked at the moon Deimos since it arrived at Mars.


library data for


     Deimos is the smaller of Mars' two moons. Its existence may have been known of by Terrans before the discovery of spaceflight; it has been continuously inhabited for about 10,000 years. Due to its fragile composition, with nearly 20% of its original mass being water or organic material, mining and tunneling has always been simple. Resource extraction is no longer economically viable on Deimos, but mining and development have reduced the moon's mass by over 50%.

     Irregularly shaped by nature, millennia of construction have completely hidden any natural surface. Nominally about 12 kilometers across at the widest, there are spars, antennae, radiators, docks, and other structures extending out for 10 kilometers from the surface. Natural material, when found, is normally at "room temperature".

     The rotational period of the moon is the same as its orbital period, 30.3 hours. Escape velocity is only 3.5 meters per second. As Deimos' orbit is within 1° of being equatorial, the construction of space elevators on Mars was impeded for many centuries.

     Collisions and impacts by orbital debris and derelict vessels are quite common; integrity of life support systems, especially near the surface, is marginal. Not more than two dozen persons live on Deimos; there is no local law enforcement or Imperial representative, unless a system defense vessel is summoned. The inhabitants should be considered dangerous; some are salvagers, but most are common criminals.

     Article continues with orbital and other technical information ...


MacDougall went to see the Tyrant, while the other Terrans visited the Republican Navy at the starport. The "navy" turned out to be entirely a mercenary unit, which also included the Anvil platoon employed by Rome. The Hammer pilots were not in Rome currently (they'd apparently offended the Tyrant in some way) but the ground staff seemed competent.


Meanwhile, in the Palace, Macdougall had breakfast with the Tyrant, the Secretary for War, and a Sub-Prefect from the Università di Roma. Macdougall presented his plan to prevent a Deimotic strike at Rome. He impressed the Tyrant, who appointed him to lead the expedition and promoted him to colonel of the First Legion. There would be a parade in two hours, and the invasion would depart three hours after that!


Mildred, maid to the Secretary of War, turned out to be fairly competent, and began arranging for transport. She managed to rent a yacht with crew within 30 minutes. MacDougall went to the barracks of the First Legion, which turned out to be several dozen officers and their orderlies. After Macdougall shot a cadet, the officers fled along with most of the orderlies. He managed to round up half-a-dozen orderlies, appointed one to be the clerk, and looked into the legion's armory. The armory had lots of old-fashioned and odd weapons and armor; Macdougall had the orderlies pack up some interesting items, including half-a-dozen laser halberds.


Roman Laser Halberd

As a halberd, it uses the 2H Axe skill, and does 3d6 damage. It's not really made to be used by Iron however, and may break if more than 5d6 total damage is employed. As a laser, it's equivalent to a jack laser (2d8 damage, penetration 12, etc.). It is 1.8 meters long, of which 1.5 meters is the plastic shaft. 


After lots of running around and organizing, the Terrans found themselves in full dress uniforms on the starport landing ground, watching the glory of a virtual military parade. The invasion force eventually consisted of the Terrans, the Chan sisters, and two orderlies from the First Legion, along with the two-man crew of the rented yacht Ibex. The yacht was unarmed, but did at least carry a landing craft. The Tyrant gave a vainglorious speech to the departing troops; an hour or so later, the expedition departed.


An hour or so after leaving Terra, the yacht and fighters were intercepted by a Darikahn frigate, and a through search and scan was made for Vaylen.


141 Apex 599


The Ibex and the four fighters were bound for Mars when they received word that the maid to the Secretary of War had found an armed mercator  to carry the Tyrant and his Anvil platoon to Mars. The mercator, named Crescent Moon, would be arriving at Mars about 12 hours after the invasion force.


Near the end of the day, the Glorious Roman Punitive Expedition arrived in Martian orbital space. They had a brief conversation with the Darikahn Imperial gunboat which monitors the planet.


The yacht Dark Legacy was observed to be orbiting Mars a good distance away from Deimos. The crew of that yacht weren't too forthcoming, but did admit that Queen Ming had been on Deimos for several days, and they were waiting for her orders. A few radioed threats and pleas didn't impress the rather piratical inhabitants of Deimos; their response was along the lines of, "Come and take it if you want it."


The Hammer fighters swooped in and suppressed the defenses; Fleet Admiral Burns sustained serious damage to his fighter and had to land on a random docking spar. Colonel MacDougall's fighter was lightly damaged. One the Ibex could approach safely, the Terrans regrouped, put the Chan sisters aboard the three working fighters, and donned their Iron for the actual assault.


Choosing an airlock near one of the huge ship-docking hatches, the Terrans busted inside. There were some defenses to overcome, including a rather surprising set of robotic anti-Iron mines. Having gotten past that, the Terrans made their way inwards.


142 Apex 599


After traversing kilometers of corridors, compartments and ducts (and meeting a dozen or so random inhabitants) the Terrans reached an ancient control room with large windows looking out into the Repair Core.


The Core was a roughly spherical space, about 3 kilometers in diameter. Ancient gantries, cranes, and service structures were extended out from the sides, towards three spacecraft near the center. Two of the vessels were in the 100-200 ton range, and clearly incomplete and powered down; the third vessel, about 200 tons total, was "hot" both thermally and radioactively. It was an old fission-powered craft, in the process of being fueled and prepared for flight.


Many of the inhabitants of Deimos were scattered around the Repair Core, with a variety of improvised or antique weapons. The Terrans arranged for a couple of distractions (a remote-controlled bomb, and a barrage of plasma fire at the ship hatches of the Core) to cover their final assault. The "buccaneer shipwrights" were picked off one-by-one as the Terrans moved (mostly by long, scary jumps) towards the fission ship.


Once on, or at least near, the Queen's ship, the Terrans busted in through the cargo hold. Within the hold was a 2.5 meter diameter sphere, strapped down for transport. The sphere looked ... odd ... somehow, apparently made of marble with dozens of pieces of yellow paper glued to it. The yellow papers were magical talismans, with Chinese writing and stamps on them, in red ink.


Moving forward to the bridge, the Terrans kicked open doors and blasted one of the Queen's minions; a couple of spacers were captured and restrained. On the bridge itself were Queen Ming and two of her bodyguards; the Queen was wearing heavy armor, but her Black Arm was exposed and being used aggressively! The bodyguards had heavy guns, also, but the Terrans were luckily able to kill them all before any serious damage was done.


By the time the Terrans had made sure no buccaneer shipwrights or their booby-traps remained in the Repair Core, the time until the arrival of the Crescent Moon at Mars orbit was only 5 hours. The sphere aboard the fission-powered ship was a chunk of Hell, prepared for transport by the Darkness Queen to ensure portals would continue to open.


on to Journal entry 24

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