Ares 3 Distress signal


To investigate the Combine Survey Facility on Ares 3 in the ruins of the former capital city of Khalopolis. The facility had been broadcasting a distress signal for 36 hours prior to accepting contract. The last communication between the Combine and the facility was a standard status report transmitted 3 days before the distress signal was broadcast.

The facility itself is a common Combine prefabricated shelter that protects the inhabitants from the toxic atmosphere and the worst of the elements. The local scavengers are warded off by a force field that surrounds the facility. In addition to the survey equipment the facility is equipped with an all-terrain truck.

The facility has been in operation for 3 months of its 6 month mission, which is to establish whether re-colonisation of Ares 3 is viable.

The facility has a staff of 8, comprised of:

  • The team leader, a former Captain in the Combine Navy.
  • A medical officer, also ex-Combine armed forces.
  • A technical officer, who served in a non-Combine military unit.
  • Two survey technicians.
  • A radiation analyst.
  • An atmospheric analyst.
  • A toxic materials analyst.

Mission Log

After accepting the mission a secondary courier contract to the same system was agreed. So far both contracts remain unrelated.

The Tasman arrived in orbit of the planet 47 hours after the signal began broadcasting. No communications were picked up. All hails to the facility remained unanswered. The reason for this became apparent when The Tasman picked up a planted wide communications jam. The Tasman ran a scan for lifeforms and discovered tens of thousands of sentient humans grouping around the old cities, probably scavengers.

During the analysis of the planet another hauler, The Quirauk, came out of warp close to The Tasman. With no prior commands from any of the crew, The Tasman began to set in an engagement course and charge weapons. The crew only just managed to prevent the attack, discovering some form of virus had been transmitted to the ship. In response the crew purged The Tasman’s computers and blocked all incoming signals. Due to the background radiation on the planet the crew where unable to pinpoint the virus’ origin any more then somewhere in Khalopolis.
The Tasman’s shuttle was prepped and the crew headed down to the planet, however extreme turbulence caused the shuttle to crash just outside the facility. The shuttle was too badly damaged to take flight again, the crew where stranded on Ares 3 until they could find the parts they needed to repair her.

The investigation of the facility found that the force field’s password had been changed. The force field was successfully hacked, and it was discovered that the force field had a lethal setting. Thankfully this was currently switched off. A quick look found that the facility’s all-terrain truck was present, its door was still open, and that someone had seemed to have left it in a hurry.

Turning their attention to the facility’s main door, the crew prepared to enter. They detected that an improvised bomb had been rigged on the other side of the door, which would be activated if the door was opened. They managed to do a controlled detonation of the bomb without causing major injury to anyone. Within the facility, the team discovered that all eight personnel were dead, and the interior of the base was heavily damaged by disruption fire. A chair in one of the bunk rooms looks like someone had been tied to it. Another improvised bomb is attached to the rear emergency exit from the base. The communication hardware for the facility went offline just after the distress signal was communicated. It has been damaged, but it is unclear what caused the damage.

Base personnel records allowed the identification of the bodies, and forensic investigations revealed the causes of death to be as follows:

  • Nolan Honor (team leader)
    • Location: team leader’s office.
    • Cause of death: blunt force trauma from claw hammer.
  • Letha Osborn (medical officer)
    • Location: 5m down main corridor, left-hand side.
    • Cause of death: blunt force trauma from claw hammer.
  • Carlo Patrick (technical officer)
    • Location: just inside main door.
    • Cause of death: blunt force trauma from claw hammer.
  • Harland Maske (survey technician)
    • Location: 10m down main corridor, right-hand side.
    • Cause of death: lethal disruption fire.
  • Jaca Matt (survey technician)
    • Location: 10m down main corridor, right-hand side.
    • Cause of death: lethal disruption fire.
  • Zach McClung (radiation analyst)
    • Location: bunk room.
    • Cause of death: poisoned by concentrated anti-radiation drug, administered by a standard osmotic puncher (usually used to administer viroware treatments and similar drugs).
  • Dani Crowder (atmospheric analyst)
    • Location: 2m down main corridor, right-hand side.
    • Cause of death: lethal disruption fire.
  • Kendra Michie (toxic materials analyst)
    • Location: 3m down main corridor, right-hand side.
    • Cause of death: lethal disruption fire.

All the personnel were human (although Maske had enough cyberware to qualify as a Cybe). All the personnel died 3 days ago (when the distress signal was sent) except McClung, who died a day later than the others.

Kinetics analysis revealed that the following sequence of events was consistent with the damage to the facility and the personnel:

  • Maske, Matt and McClung left the truck and entered the base, carrying disruption pistols set to lethal.
  • They turned right, down the main corridor, encounter Crowder, who is unarmed, and shoot her.
  • They then encounter Michie, also unarmed, and shoot her.
  • Alerted by the noise of the fight, Honor and Patrick (who are experienced combatants) arm themselves with disruption pistols and go to intercept the intruders.
  • A shoot-out ensues 10m down the corridor. Honor and Patrick kill Maske and Matt, and stun McClung.
  • They take McClung to his bunk room and tie him to a chair.
  • Honor goes to his office and transmits the distress signal.
  • Patrick returns to his workshop.
  • McClung manages to break free from his bonds. He finds a hammer, and goes to find Nolan.
  • Taking Nolan by surprise, McClung kills him with the hammer.
  • In the medical bay, Osborn hears the fight, and improvises a weapon by loading her osmotic puncher with a concentrated anti-radiation drug, which she knows is toxic. She may not have realised the toxin would not have any effect for several hours.
  • In the workshop, Patrick hears the fight, and quickly assembles two bombs to prevent McClung from leaving the facility.
  • Patrick rigs a bomb on the emergency exit (which is nearest to the workshop), then heads.
  • McClung goes in search of remaining personnel.
  • Patrick rigs a bomb on the main exit. As he finishes the task, he is attacked by McClung.
  • While McClung and Patrick scuffle, Osborn injects McClung with the toxin.
  • McClung kills Patrick with the hammer.
  • Osborn realised the toxin has not had any effect and tries to flee down the left-hand coridor. She is caught by McClung and killed with the hammer.
  • McClung is trapped inside the base. He returns to his bunk room to rest. The toxin eventually takes effect, and he dies the next day.

(to be continued…)

Ares 3 Distress signal

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