Amber Nebula Campaign Log

20. The Great Frog God

28 August, 2775. 16:16 UTC. Oceania Space Traffic Control Radio Record.

Captain Smith: This is the free trader Legacy calling Oceania Space Traffic Control. We have just skewed back from hyperspace, outbound from Arawne. We have a shipment of computers and parts for delivery under contract by Irrikhamm Shipping. Delivery location is Beldano. Please provide inbound flight path and planetary approach vector.

Oceania Space Traffic Control: Roger Legacy, this is traffic control. Standard navigation sub-channel will contain approach vector encoded for your ship. Welcome to Oceania.

18:37 UTC. Legacy internal recording log.

Serron: So do you think Irrikhamm will have our reward for capturing Baldomero Muehlegg?

Paris: Not yet, we've only just arrived. I don't think the news would have reached here yet.

Serron: In that case, why don't we contact the company here on Oceania, tell them what happened, and say that unless we receive our reward we're going to deliver their shipment of computers late.

Paris: I thought we decided blackmail was immoral!

Iki Piki: Like taking his money then turning him in wasn't immoral.

Serron: Hey! He was immoral first! Well, in that case I vote we just land, unload, and leave.

Paris: You know, Sparrials are rather cat-like.

Iki Piki: I thought Sparrials were more rat-like.

Lycroft: Watch it!

23:10 UTC. Log entry by Captain Paris Smith.

Aerobraking successfully completed, we are now in final approach to Beldano spaceport. We've learnt that the city of Beldano is built on the floor of a shallow sea. The spaceport floats on the surface of the sea and is connected by flexible elevator shafts. It should be interesting to see.

29 August, 2775. 01:23 UTC. Log entry by Serron.

We have landed on the floating Beldano spaceport and arranged for unloading of our cargo. The local Irrikhamm office has paid us the agreed shipping fee. Against my better judgement, the others have decided to go down to the city to see some of the sights. It seems all the cargo brokers are down there too, so I don't have much choice.

02:19 UTC. Beldano Spaceport elevator security log.

Paris: This is fascinating, an underwater city...

Serron: Yeah, great. We exchange one cramped environment for another cramped environment. In space, if we puncture the wall, the air rushes out and we die. Underwater, if we puncture the wall, the water rushes in and we die.

Iki Piki: A change is as good as a holiday.

Serron [reading safety information sign]: "In case of emergency, find a hatch and swim."

Paris: Why does this not fill me with confidence?

Serron: That's it! I want a cylinder of air or a self-inflating raft!

03:42 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

We have found a hotel and checked in for the night. It is late afternoon local time. We've learnt that we have arrived during a local moon festival, held for three days out of every 27-day tidal cycle, when the tide is lowest. What this means in practical terms is that nobody in the city, which is mostly populated by Larrokites, wants to do any work for the next couple of days. The main industry here is fishing, and the low tide means almost no catch, so it is virtually useless for most of the population to work. Since seafood is just about the only profitable export from Oceania, this also means there will be no cargo for us to transport offworld for approximately ten days. A cargo broker told us the quickest way to obtain a cargo would be to take an underwater tube train to another city and pick one up there.

Serron has bought himself a cylinder of compressed air and a self-inflating life raft, and Paris has bought herself some SCUBA gear. I'm not so concerned about the safety of the city, but I did notice the shopkeeper look concerned when I asked him how much force it would take to rupture the hull.

04:15 UTC. Legacy crew private communication log.

Serron: We could always just try to avoid trouble for ten days.

Spanners: Ho, ho, ho. And there was much merriment.

Iki Piki: The hotel clerk told me there's a Pachekki restaurant just round the block. Do you guys want to try some real food?

Spanners: I'll pass. I like live food, but... seafood? Urgh. The thought of seafood makes me what to throw up.

Serron: I'll try anything once.

04:41 UTC. Legacy crew private communication log.

Lycroft: Nice decor. Ooh, here comes the meal!

Iki Piki: Yum, tube worms. If you don't like them wriggling, bite them between the eyes first.

Paris: Oh no, I think I'm going to be... blerr gurgle hurblurrggg...

06:04 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

We have returned to the hotel after a disastrous dinner. First Paris vomited. Lycroft tried some of the tube worms but spat them out into Paris' pocket. Serron actually drew his laser pistol and used it to kill and cook his food! Only Tepi seemed to enjoy them.

There was some sort of ruckus in the kitchen after Serron went to the bathroom. I think he threw some catalyst crystals into the tube worm tank, boiling them all! Thankfully I managed to pay and we got out before they made any connection to us. Serron was still hungry and has bought some food from a street vendor.

09:47 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

We are currently out partying with the populace. Paris has found a collection of humans who are celebrating the festival in a human style, as opposed to the Larrokites who seem to prefer simply relaxing and sleeping. I'm not very familiar with human dance styles, but Lycroft certainly seems to be bouncing around energectically.

10:03 UTC. Legacy crew private communication log.

Paris: I'm going to try to meet someone.

Serron: Again?

Paris: Not like that!

Spanners: Well, it has been a while.

Paris: Hey! You guys...

Lycroft: How often do humans breed?

Serron: It's all they think of.

Iki Piki: Serron... Where are you anyway?

Serron: I'm a few blocks down the street from you. I found a private party and made myself welcome.

Tepi: You mean you crashed it?

Serron: They have great food here...

20:35 UTC. Field log entry by Serron.

We've had some sleep and it is now morning local time. If we want to get a cargo any time soon, we're going to have to take a train to another city. I've made some calls and arranged a cargo of live seafood. We need to travel to the city of Flargess, which is 3264 kilometres away and takes just over 10 hours on the train, to sign for the cargo and pick it up.

20:40 UTC. Legacy crew private communication log.

Spanners: So how do we carry this cargo of live fish?

Serron: We have a big tank of water on board already.

Paris: That's for reaction mass. And drinking.

Serron: Hmm, no, fish breed in water, don't they? Urgh...

Lycroft: Flowers breed in air.

Spanners: Good comeback. But seriously, we'll need to hire some powered water tanks to fit in the Legacy's cargo bay.

Serron: I'm going to buy a jetski and a speargun before we get on this train.

Iki Piki: The chances of there being two bombs on a train are small, so I'm going to take one.

Paris: O-kaaay. Who else is coming on the train to Flargess?

Tepi: I will.

Paris: Spanners?

Spanners: Against my better judgement.

Paris: Livestock?

Lycroft: Only if you stop calling me that.

Spanners: Light Rock.

Lycroft: That's better.

23:09 UTC. Field log entry by Captain Paris Smith.

Prior to boarding the train to Flargess, Iki, Serron and I have bought ourselves spearguns, and I've bought one for Tepi as well. This is because our blasters and lasers are virtually useless underwater, and it pays to be prepared. Serron has also hired a jetski and spent the past couple of hours zooming around up on the surface while we wait for our train. He's said he wants to catch the train behind us, for his own safety. I think if he's on another train, all the rest of us are somewhat safer.

30 August, 2775. 10:26 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

We have just arrived at Flargess and are waiting for the next train to arrive with Serron. It should be about half an hour behind us. We had a relaxing trip, and caught a bit of sleep.

11:05 UTC. Legacy crew private communication log.

Spanners: There he is.

Serron: Hey guys. Have a good trip? I don't think they had enough food on my train...

Lycroft: Uncle! Good news! I just checked in with the local office of ISN and they've authorised a big payment for my last report, the interview with Queen Natasha.

Spanners: The continuing story of Serron the Magnificent and his bumbling side kick...

Serron: Hmmm. Well, I've been doing something useful with my time. I've decided we should pick up a cargo for Badlands. It's a lawless frontier world.

All: Hmm...

Serron: Or Rubilith...

All: No!

11:52 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

After some discussion at the cargo brokerage office we have agreed to take a cargo of seafood to Vallauris. The cargo comes packed in aquatic life-support modules, which we can simply load into the Legacy's cargo bay and plug into the ship's power to keep the animals alive for the trip. Our problem now is that we have to transport the modules back to Beldano. The tube trains we took here don't accept bulk freight, so we are going to have to obtain passage on a sea-going ship. The cargo broker has suggested a few, the cheapest being a vessel named the Sirius, commanded by a Captain Stecker.

12:21 UTC. Video report by Lycroft.

"Flargess - Hotbed of Crime"
An exclusive report
By: Lycroft the Intrepid for ISN

Lycroft: So, what Mafia connections do you have, Captain Stecker?

Stecker: What the hell... get off my ship!

Lycroft: Hmm, so not going to answer my questions about your Mafia connection, eh?

Stecker [beckoning to crew members]: Throw this kid off the ship!

Lycroft: Hey! [video image shakes wildly as Lycroft is escorted off ship] In a clear case of unprovoked assault, alleged crime boss Captain Stecker orders intrepid reporter Lycroft from his ship of iniquity...

Stecker: And stay off!

Lycroft [whispering, pointing camera at own face]: Ever resourceful, your investigative reporter stows away on board the Sirius...

12:43 UTC. Legacy crew private communication log.

Paris: Good. I've spoken with Captain Stecker and he's agreed to let us travel with the ship.

Spanners: A cargo-boat named Desire... STECKER!

Paris: Tepi, you're with me. What about the rest of you, are you coming on the Sirius?

Iki Piki: Yeah.

Paris: Spanners?

Spanners: Against my better judgement.

Paris: Livestock... hey? Where's Livestock?

Spanners: Don't know.

Serron: He'll show up.

Iki Piki: At the worst possible moment.

Paris: If worst comes to worst he'll catch a train...

Spanners: You mean if best comes to best.

Serron: I'm making my own way to Beldano. I'm going to hire a ship to follow you. Just in case. The local news has reports about pirate attacks in the Arras islands region, which is where the Sirius will be sailing.

Iki Piki: Why would pirates steal fish?

Spanners: Because we're pirates that's why. My father was a pirate, my grandfather was a pirate, that's just the way we are, arrr, arrrrrrr!

Paris: Well I'm not letting them steal our cargo.

15:39 UTC. Field log entry by Serron.

The Sirius has been loaded with our cargo and is preparing to sail. She'll take some 58 hours to reach Beldano. I've hired a fast catamaran, the Kamana, to follow them in and make sure they don't get into any trouble.

31 August, 2775. 17:50 UTC. Field log entry by Captain Paris Smith.

We've had a relaxing first day on board. Iki has transmuted overnight into his active female phase. Serron reports no problems from his ship, which is tailing us a few kilometres back, except a lack of variety in the galley menu.

19:24 UTC. Video report by Lycroft.

"Slave-Trading Pirates of the Arras Islands"
An exclusive in-depth coverage
By: Lycroft the Intrepid for ISN

Lycroft: Your intrepid reporter has risked life and limb to bring you this report. Here we see the alleged Mafia-boss Captain Stecker surveying the dangerous Arras Islands...

Paris: What's wrong?

Stecker: There's a ship approaching. It's not answering our hails. [hands Paris binoculars]

Paris [looking through binoculars]: It looks a bit run-down.

Iki Piki: Ram it!

Lycroft [zooming in on approaching vessel]: I see it!

Paris: Lycroft! Where did you come from? I can't believe I called you Lycroft.

Lycroft [videoing her]: So, Paris. Are you looking forward to being a slave?

Stecker: Hey! Didn't I throw you off my ship?

[Gatling laser fire from the approaching ship hits the water at the bow of the Sirius.]

Lycroft: Woah! Cool!

Stecker: Crew! Battlestations!

Crew member: Boarders!

Stecker: What?! They're not close enough yet!

Crew member: Larrokites! Climbing over the gunwales!

[Video swings around to show Larrokites climbing aboard. Paris and Spanners fire stunners and lasers at them. Crew and boarders fight. A gas grenade is thrown near Iki Piki, who jumps overboard carrying SCUBA gear.]

Serron [over radio]: The sonar over here shows the presence of an underwater city.

Stecker: There shouldn't be any city here. The charts...

[Lycroft videos him close up, then swivels back to the action on deck. Paris is speared in the side by a speargun, fired by a Larrokite. She pulls a blaster and incinerates a Larrokite. Tepi is netted and pulled off his feet. Larrokites are dragging two netted crewmen across the deck. Paris collapses. Spanners uses his blaster, is almost netted but escapes.]

Serron: I'm activating our ship's distress signal. I suggest you do the same.

Stecker [firing at boarders, who are now jumping overboard]: Already done.

[Tepi and the netted crewmen are dragged overboard by the Larrokites, leaving the deck empty except for wounded crew.]

19:28 UTC. Beldano Ocean Navigational Authority radio log.

Serron: Beldano City, this is the Kamana, are you reading us?

Beldano: This is the Ocean Navigational Authority in Beldano. Go ahead.

Serron: We are under attack. Larrokites swarming the decks of the Sirius. And there is an uncharted underwater city right beneath us, at this location.

Beldano: Stand by. That doesn't look right...

Serron: You're telling us it doesn't look right?

19:34 UTC. Legacy crew private communication log.

Paris: They've got Tepi! What are we going to do?

Spanners: Relax for a second while I get these bandages on. You're lucky that spear didn't hit any vital organs.

Iki Piki: I've made it to the other ship. Lots of bodies on deck. Most are human, some are Larrokite. Looks like they were boarded too.

Serron: Beldano is sending help, but it will take a few hours to get here. I'm going to take my ship's minisub down to investigate this underwater city.

Iki Piki: The crew here who are still alive say they were trying to warn us. Their radio was smashed so they couldn't call for help or warn us by radio. They were firing at the boarders.

20:42 UTC. Field log entry by Serron.

I've just returned to the surface after surveying the underwater city in the minisub. There is a large central dome down there, with access tubes extending outwards in five radial arms, branching off to smaller habitat domes. There's also an access tube ring around the outer perimeter and another halfway in to the main dome. The big dome looks like it has a town square area, and centrally is a large building which looks like a temple. I tried ramming the main done, but was repelled by Larrokites who swam out with underwater laser weapons.

20:49 UTC. Legacy crew private communication log.

Serron: I say we destroy the underwater temple.

Spanners: Strange, Larrokites aren't normally religious.

Lycroft: Maybe they're religious zealots.

Paris: But Tepi's down there. And the two crew members. They might still be alive.

Spanners: We need someone to SCUBA down there. Iki?

Iki Piki: But that's suicidal.

Spanners: Defusing a nuclear bomb with plastic cutlery was suicidal.

Iki Piki: Not as suicidal as not defusing the bomb.

Serron: Well I'm going back down in the sub to have another look.

Paris: Let's wake up one of these stunned Larrokites and interrogate him.

Stecker: I got one... Hey! Wake up!

Paris: What have your friends done with the captives? Have they taken them alive down to that dome?

Larrokite: The god will come.

Lycroft: Great, it's a doomsday cult.

Spanners: Or should that be a "domesday" cult?

Larrokite: Sacrifices will be made.

Lycroft [videoing him]: Sacrifices to who?

Larrokite: The god Rugooblipp demands blood...

Lycroft: Cool! We have to go down there!

Paris: And your plan is?

Iki Piki: Go down there and video everything?

Lycroft: Well... basically, yeah. Bit sketchy on the details... but that's my plan. Are you coming?

Paris: Okay, that's good enough for me.

Spanners: We won't be able to communicate with you underwater. Our radio communicators won't transmit far through water. What we need is a really long aerial.

Lycroft: I'm sure Serron has a really long aerial stashed somewhere.

Spanners: No, a really long aerial. Thirty-four metres at least.

Lycroft: Maybe if we looked in his jacket...

Spanners: Um, no.

21:11 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

The Kamana's minisub has returned to the surface. The crew member who was piloting it said Serron directed him to a small habitat dome at the edge of the city, where he exited the sub through the airlock and gained entry to the city. The pilot saw him wave him back to the surface from inside, so we know he got in okay, but we can't communicate with him because of the sea-water blocking our radio signals. Paris, Iki and Lycroft are going down in the sub to see if they can help Serron rescue Tepi and the two Sirius crew members. With the pilot, there isn't enough room for anyone else to go down in the minisub. I suppose if they find them they'll have to come back up in two trips.

21:23 UTC. Video report by Lycroft.

"Underwater Zealots from Planet Oceania"
An exclusive live exposé
By: Lycroft the Intrepid for ISN

Lycroft [to video]: Here we are, Paris Smith, Iki Piki, Lycroft the Intrepid and our trusty pilot. Laser, stunner, video camera. We're all set to take on the underwater zealots from planet Oceania.

Pilot: Okay, there's the dome Serron went into.

Paris: So, just out through the airlock, and into that door over there?

Pilot: That's what he did, and he got inside okay.

Iki Piki: All right. Let's do it. And let's hope he's still in there and hasn't gone wandering.

Lycroft: Oh, I'm sure Serron the Magnificent will have found the prisoners already by now!

[Video of climbing into airlock, compartment flooding and exterior hatch opening. Lycroft, Paris and Iki swim to the habitat dome door and press the open button. Door opens. They enter and the close the door. Compartment drains and interior hatch opens. Video pans around room, which is a living quarters, and is empty.]

Paris: Damn. He's gone. Serron! Where are you?

Iki Piki: There's a computer terminal switched on here, showing a map of the city. It's showing spots where people are. Looks like there's a big gathering in the main temple dome.

Paris: He's not answering on radio. We're going to have to find him as well as the others.

Lycroft [narrating for video]: The brave and resourceful Serron has led the way before us.

Iki Piki [pointing at computer map]: That's probably him there. Look, this passage is clear. We can make our way to the temple dome. That'll be where the prisoners are.

Paris: All right, let's go.

[Video of a dash down a long passageway, with short side passages leading off it. It stops at a door. The camera is pushed up to a small porthole in the door, showing a large habitat dome with several small buildings around the outside and a large temple in the centre. A few Larrokites are seen walking around.]

Paris: There's the temple... Look, we can run over there and get close without being seen.

Iki Piki: Let's go!

[Video of frenzied run across the open square to the temple. View sweeps upwards and pans around to show the whole temple, then zooms out dramatically.]

Lycroft: Here in the stronghold of the sacrifical cult, your intrepid reporter brings you coverage of horrible practices...

[Video zooms in to show temple interior through doorway, where a large group of Larrokites is massing. Zoom to altar at the centre of the temple, with Tepi and the two captured crew are standing, tied with ropes.]

Lycroft: You can see our companions, about to sacrificed to the bloodthirsty gods of this murderous alien sect.

Paris: You can see them?

Lycroft: Power zoom with low-light enhancement. They're near the altar.

Iki Piki: There's hundreds of them! Shall I set off an explosion?

Paris: You can't kill them!

Iki Piki: They're a doomsday cult!

Paris: Just because they want to die doesn't give us the right to kill them! Wait, I have an idea. [Walks forward into the temple. Video zooms in on Paris.] Faithful worshippers! Take us to the sacrifices! I have come to bring you Armageddon!

Iki Piki: Arm a geddin out of here...

[Video shows stunned faces of Larrokites, watching Paris as she walks forward towards the altar.]

Serron: Hey guys, I'm at the main power plant. I'm going to cut the power to the whole city.

Iki Piki: Serron! Wait a minute...

Paris: I have come for the sacrifices! [She reaches Tepi and pulls out a knife to cut his bonds.]

Larrokite High Priest: Sieze her!!!

Iki Piki: Serron! Now!

[Lights suddenly go out and video is black for a second, then returns in infra-red mode. Tumult of voices and running feet. Larrokites running everywhere.]

Paris: I've got them! Iki, where are you?!

Iki Piki: Paris! Over here!

Paris [approaching, with released captives]: How are we going to get out of here?

Iki Piki: There's a hatch near where we entered this dome. I think we're going to have to swim for it. Just exhale all the way up so your lungs don't burst.

Lycroft [running to hatch]: Heroic action by Serron the Magnificent, timing the decommissioning of the power plant to perfection, once again saves the day! Worshippers of Rugooblipp. Dangerous apocalyptic cult, or simply misunderstood? This is Lycroft the Intrepid, for ISN.

23:09 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

We are underway back to Beldano after rescuing Tepi and the two Sirius crew members from the Larrokite cult. Helicopters from Beldano will be here soon to take injured crew from our ship and the Anaconda, the other ship we came across, back for medical attention. They're also sending out some military ships and submarines to investigate the mysterious underwater city.

Serron also made it back to the surface after he cut several power cables in the main generator plant of the city. Thankfully we're all in one piece, and hopefully the rest of our trip will be less eventful.

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