(Sorry for the long delay)
“Here we are.”
Dexter wasn’t sure if one of the women said that or that was merely his own thoughts screaming loudly into his own consciousness. It was too big. Too round. Too alien. This – this had to be the thing to destroy mankind. And here they were, mere feet from it, flying alongside it like some harbinger, a lone horseman – Death in a shiny metal tube.
He looked again at the charts. They were too close. There was no mathematically possible way for them to provide enough thrust to move this thing before it gets too close to Earth, too close to home. It took too long to get here. All of their problems, all of their maneuvers, at these distances the smallest of variable can alter trajectories by thousands of miles, and now they were seeing the results of those variables. The results were death.
For the 100th time, Dexter flashed again to his own plans, the plans he had written up months (or was it years?) ago. It would have saved time. Would it have been enough? Probably. Why hadn’t they chosen to follow his plan? Instead of staring slack-jawed at their own demise, they would have already saved every living thing ever discovered by man.
When you roll 21 or higher towards the Black, like I did, the result is: “Absolute, utter, terrible failure.” In game terms, I lose access to all Assets (you can lose them in the story, or just not be able to tag them mechanically) AND all characters suffer 3 harm. Also, another Complication is added to the story…like that’s really necessary at this point.
For those really keeping track at this point: Dexter already has 1 point of Harm, so taking 3 means this will kill him! So I have to decide whether to cheat death or use this to claim a fitting death. I see “Fixing a mistake” as his death card. What a perfect time to claim a fitting death!
“There’s one way we can do this. It’s insane, but I think most of us crossed that threshold the moment we realized mankind was doomed.” He looked at the other two. “Which may have happened sooner for some of us than other.” He tried to smile. It appeared fake.
“If you have a plan, spit it out. Clearly we don’t have time for joking, or whatever you call that,” Alison growled, irritated.
“We can use the Armstrong’s engines to push The Orb. That plus the Nerva engines might be enough to get it out of the gravity well of Earth.”
“Um, how can we get those giant engines off of this ship and onto The Orb? We don’t have the tools for that! We would need an army of engineers!” wails Shirley, the panic on her face distorting her now gaunt features.
“We don’t have time to attach the engines securely, but there’s another way to get the engine’s energy into propelling The Orb.” The women stare at doctor’s aged face, seeing the grim determination on it.
Two astronauts, an Engineer and Medical Doctor find themselves anchoring themselves and the NERVA engines to The Orb itself. Using hammers and picks to embed themselves into the rock. Rope is being pulled tight across everything that can be tied down, finishing with the astronauts themselves.
“Ready?” Dexter’s voice comes over the radio.
“This is crazy and probably going to kill us all, right?” Alison says, though there is no real anger in it.
“Well, it’s either this or slamming into Earth. I’d rather die in space. It’s more exotic.” Dexter’s smile could be heard over the radio, a unique calmness in his voice that is betrayed only by the nervousness seen on the women’s faces through their faceplates. “Engines on full.”
The camera zooms out to show the Armstrong on the opposite side of The Orb, pointed directly at the object. The Engines flare up, a flash of astounding blue light. The ship then begins to move slowly, methodically towards the orb. An object that large doesn’t accelerate quickly, but the inertia equation involves mass and that is something this ship certainly has. Within moments, the ship hits The Orb with astounding force, crushing the front end of the ship like a soda can. The astronauts tied to The Orb feel it like an earthquake through their backs , and they begin to see cracks appear throughout the asteroid. The quaking begins to intensify as the Armstrong valiantly pushes against The Orb as more and more of the structure, clearly not designed for this kind of strain, crushes down on itself transferring the energy to The Orb itself.
“Dexter, did you make it out in time? Dexter?” Alison and Shirley’s radios only give static in response, though it is hard to concentrate as their bodies vibrate intensely from the “earth”quake that is threatening to turn them both into spacesuits filled with nothing but human liquid.
They never did get a response from Dexter, and judging from the debris from the Armstrong, they never will. The Orb is now rotating at a fairly high rate, forcing the astronauts to have to only look at their feet, lest they become dizzy from the whirling stars above. The Orb itself took a lot of damage from the impacts, causing mini meteors to break off , creating a bit of a cloud of sharp rocks to now orbit their parent asteroid. The NERVA rockets seemed to survive the crackpot plan, so our astronauts still have a mission to fulfill, but can two astronauts do quickly what 4 astronauts were to do slowly?
And just like that I get another 3 white dice for The Plan. But now I need these two to survive Act II. Oh wait, Alison already cheated death earlier, so she MUST die in Act II (unless I want to be penalized), so I really really really need Shirley to survive until the end.
The Crisis is a 10 die monster, but I have 9 white dice and 3 story points (and Shirley has 1 as well) to use. I’d love to keep all 9 white dice to possibly win the game, but I have to have 4 scenes and 4 threats…and these threats start with 5 dice! And let’s make that 8 dice because all our characters have 3 harm from Dexter’s plan (which I affectionatly call Dexter’s Midnight Ride). One threat is not going to be a problem since Alison will die, but the other 3? With no assets? It’s not looking good.