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Traveller: Session 16

 


This session was run on January 19, 2023.

This session marked the start of the Far Horizon portion of our campaign. This portion of the campaign takes place in 2100 AD. It is set in a pre-interstellar Sol system. The Far Horizon is a deep space research vessel (DRV) built to facilitate humanity’s first manned mission to Pluto. Like the Mars section of our campaign, this section takes place at a lower tech level than the Traveller norm. The Far Horizon uses a nuclear thermal rocket and relies on rotating spin sections for internal gravity. The DRV’s crew of twelve had a planned mission consisting of a two year trip to Pluto in cryo sleep, a month on Pluto, and a two year return trip. The Far Horizon launched as planned and the crew entered cryo sleep a few weeks after departing. CASS, the ship’s AI, woke the crew up 18 months later to tell them that the mission had been changed. The Earth Space Development Agency (ESDA) had redirected them to Tartarus, a rogue planet, rocky and roughly the size of Mars, passing through the Kuiper Belt. The crew were to be the first humans to land on a planet from outside the solar system.

The mission to Tartarus would have a tight schedule. The diversion would require an extra six months outgoing and retrograde, adding a year to the mission. The crew would be far beyond any help that Earth could offer should something go wrong. Further, Tartarus was not in orbit around the sun, and its trajectory meant that the crew would only be able to spend four days in orbit and on the surface of the planet. Failure to initiate a de-orbit burn within 96 hours of rendezvous with Tartarus could result in the Far Horizon being unable to return to Earth. They were also warned that Tartarus had been exhibiting strange behavior, with small, almost imperceptible, changes to its velocity and heading. These changes seemed to happen on a random basis. The crew agreed to the mission change and reentered cryo sleep.

Hour 1

CASS woke the crew up 48 hours out from Tartarus to give them time to adjust and prepare before beginning the exploration mission. The roundtrip communications time of 10 hours meant that the Far Horizon would have few chances to communicate with Earth during the mission; they would be largely on their own.

They started their exploration from orbit, by conducting a series of scans and drone flights to establish sites of interest for when they dropped down to the surface. This was an all hands on deck effort with everyone either conducting a scan or drone flight, or analyzing the data collected. After 18 hours, they had narrowed their points of interest to five:

1.     Site 23: Scans indicated that this area was radioactive. While the radiation levels were not high enough to pose a risk to humans in suits, they were enough to stand out as unusual. Drone flights revealed that the radiation was coming from a collapsed cliff face.

2.     Site 24: Infrared scans revealed that this area was warmer than others. Radar showed what appeared to be 100 foot tall towers in the area as well.

3.     Site 25: Radar scans of the surface revealed rectangular shapes below ice from the frozen atmosphere. Rectangular objects rarely occurred naturally on any of the planets in the solar system.

4.     Site 56: A large crevasse, more than 1000 km in length, where they spotted a strange green coloration during a drone flight.

5.     Site 58: A thin area in the sea ice where it might be possible to insert a submersible probe.

After discussion, they decided to prioritize Site 25 and then Site 24 with the possibility of visiting other sites if schedule permits. The ground team was to be led by Katiya, with Sarah piloting the shuttle, and include Vic, Shireen, Helen, and Kurt.

Hour 24

After a six hour rest, the ground team prepared to drop to the surface.

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