Tuesday, February 25, 2014

[Actual Play] DWAiTAS - The Exiles of Time 1.06: 'The Legacy of A'Kraitha'

Took me a while to get this write-up done for last season's finale for our Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space campaign. There are almost certainly aspects of the play session I have forgotten (for example, I know Malik manages to talk himself out of the tight spot he winds up in later on in the session, but I forget how), and some embellishments. As for the session itself - and, in all honesty, the season as a whole - it is very Anith-centred, which is a bad thing because Anith is an NPC. Happily though, that becomes much less of a problem after this session, for reasons which will become apparent by the end...

THE CAST
Robyn Dalton (played by Heather W): A UNIT researcher for the top-secret Project Broadsword, Robyn is haunted by a shameful past, but her history gives her knowledge and expertise that make her a valuable asset to UNIT. She is dark eyed and has dark hair cut in a bob style with green or blue highlights depending on her mood. (Kinda like Claudia from Warehouse 13.)
Howard Phillips (played by Alex H): A fiercely loyal, by-the-book agent for the Temporal Security Agency.
Malik (played by Luke): A Silurian from a time when his species' reign on Earth, displaced in time by the Cardiff Rift, Malik has been living in a TMNT-style pad in the sewers of the Welsh capital, feeding on criminals and becoming the subject of urban legend, the 'Lizard Man of Cardiff'. He wears a hessian cloak and cowl to hide his features when he walks among the apes that have taken over his homeworld.
Pan (played by Maggie): A student of Archimedes, and the real inventor of Archimedes' screw and the fabled 'heat ray'. Possesses technological knowledge beyond his time, owing to his precognitive abilities. Pan is tall and has messy 'mad scientist' hair, dressed in a Grecian tunic and sandals.
Sister Ian (played by Heather W, standing in for Nikki): A former Sister of Plenitude who has joined the Temporal Security Agency as their chief medical officer in order to atone for her part in the Flesh/New Human experiments on New Earth.

Guest Starring
Anith - Mysterious woman who can fly the TARDIS. Regular since episode one.
Captain Jack Harkness - Nanite-cloned imposter.
Prince Adar - Commander of the White Star of A'Kraitha.

EPISODE 1.06: 'The Legacy of A'Kraitha'

As the research station begins to tear apart all around them, due to distortions caused by the object coming through the black hole, the Exiles hurriedly evacuate everyone still on board the station into the TARDIS, while Robyn uses Howard's vortex manipulator to track the co-ordinates Captain Harkness teleported to. She cuts things a bit close, being the last person left on board, and almost doesn't make it out in time. Luckily, the TARDIS gang have her back. The TARDIS materialises in front of her as the artificial gravity starts to go a bit weird, and she jumps off the wall - which has become the 'floor' - and in through the TARDIS doors. They briefly materialize at the Temporal Security Agency to drop off the rescued researchers, and Robyn tells them that the co-ordinates Harkness teleported to lead to whatever is coming out of the black hole of Tartarus...

ROLL TITLES!

The Exiles debate whether they should bother going after Harkness, but Anith insists that they must retrieve the staff. She reveals that the staff is a part of a key to a powerful artefact, known as the Key to Infinity. This Key would grant terrible power over reality to whoever assembles it, so the pieces of it were scattered throughout the multiverse and assigned guardians. According to legend, the A'Kraithan royal family were entrusted with the Staff by the goddess C'Toni, hence its name: the Staff of C'Toni. Even on its own, the Staff is a dangerously powerful artifact that can not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

Reluctantly, our heroes set off in the TARDIS and take a bumpy trip through the black hole as they trace Harkness' coordinates, materialising inside what appears to be a starship of enormous size. The interior walls are crafted from a metal not unlike gold in appearance, and bear signs in strange script which the TARDIS struggles to translate. However, Anith recognises it as the language of her own people, and from the signs she realises that it is the Royal Fleet's flagship, the White Star of A'Kraitha. The ship was presumed destroyed with all hands lost, including her brother, Prince Adar.

Malik grows impatient with all this chatter, and seems more irritable than usual. With Anith still wounded from the gunshot, they find an old wheelchair - the very same one used by the Fifth Doctor during his post-regenerative phase - and seat her in it before setting off to explore the ship.

It isn't long before they run afoul of a guard patrol accompanied by Harkness, who is no longer carrying the staff. Harkness tells the guards his work here is done, and he'll leave the rest to them, before teleporting out with his vortex manipulator. Anith attempts to use her status to talk them down, but when it becomes clear they will not follow her orders and are preparing to fire on the Exiles, the others must come up with a means of escape. Luckily, Howard is able to use his sonic blaster to make a hole in the floor, which they all retreat through. Mal lands less than gracefully and doesn't get out the way before Anith rolls her wheelchair over the hole, landing on top of him.

This does little to improve his increasingly volatile temper, even less so when she seems to have mysteriously recovered from the gunshot wound and therefore no longer needs the wheelchair. When questioned as to how she healed herself, she says she doesn't know. Unlike the Time Lords, her race has no regenerative capabilites to explain this sudden recovery. They are interrupted by an announcement broadcast over the ship's communications network, from Anith's brother, Prince Adar. He orders Anith and her companions to surrender peacefully and promises no harm will come to them. Anith is adamant that this cannot be her brother, he is either an imposter or possessed, but one way or the other she is certain he has become a pawn of the Archivists.

The Archivists are a swarm of intelligent machines that consume - or 'archive' - entire civilisations and replicate them as soldiers to further their expansion. The Archivists claim to seek the preservation of all that is precious in reality, but their method for doing so leaves something to be desired.

The Exiles make their way back to the TARDIS, evading guard patrols along the way, and once inside they decide to confront Adar head on. They materialize on the bridge and attempt to negotiate with Prince Adar, but Adar is not open to negotiation. He has the Staff in hand, and soon his ship will exit the black hole and he will begin his conquest of this universe in the Archivists' name. He would like Anith to join him. She seems conflicted for a moment, but refuses. Malik taunts Adar, who decides to teach the lizard some manners. He slams the staff into the floor. In an instant he is in front of Malik and the two of them fight. Malik gains the upper hand and is consumed with bloodlust as cracks appear on his neck and face. Before anyone can stop him, he stabs Adar through the chest. The fallen prince bleeds silver from his wound. The crew, busy flying the ship out of the black hole, are unable to assist.

Pan faces off against Malik, who seems beyond reason and ready to kill them all, starting with him. Pan readies Greek fire as Mal raises his sword. But at the last moment, Malik pulls himself together and stops, confused as to what is going on. They grab the staff and flee the bridge before the remaining crew can stop them, dematerialising.

As they are leaving, Anith clutches her head. She's hearing voices; the voices of the Archivist collective. Robyn determines that the bullet Harkness shot her with must have been composed of nanites, which repaired the wound and then went on to infiltrate her body. They are wondering how much damage the nanites can repair when the TARDIS is caught in a tractor beam while making its escape from the White Star, which is now poking through the black hole, debris from the station falling into the black hole around it. Adar appears on their viewscreen, ordering them to return the staff or be destroyed.

Meanwhile, both Anith and Malik are taken to the Zero Room where they are tied up to keep them from harming the rest of the crew. Anith pleads with them to let her do one last thing: send the Staff away so that Adar can't get his hands on it. They're sceptical, but eventually Anith convinces them to untie her and hand her the staff. She has a battle of wills, encouraged by the Exiles, and just manages to reset the staff's security settings and sets it to teleport away to an unknown location in space and time. Then she succumbs to the nanites, and is possessed by the Archivist collective. The Exiles tie her up and leave her locked in the Zero Room along with Malik.

Adar is infuriated when he learns that the Staff has been sent away, but is determined to capture the Exiles and 'archive' them all the same. Robyn and Pan work together with Howard to break the TARDIS free of the White Star's tractor beam and escape into the vortex, leaving the White Star to slowly drag itself out of the black hole...

TO BE CONTINUED...

The Exiles Of Time will return in 'The Retcon Protocol' 

Note: Although I am writing them as I go, I'll be holding off on posting the actual play reports for season two until the season is over, since there is some stuff included from certain PCs' POV which is not known to all the other PCs or their players yet.

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