|The USS Raptor, Leonidas Class by EllPro.|
Image used without permission.
Strengths: Nimble, Superior Sensors.
Problem: Grim Reputation.
The crew of the Raptor are left leaderless after their captain is overcome by a strange psychic entity. By outfitting a space lab rat with a cybernetic interface they are able to relay telepathic signals from the entity, which seem to be a set of stellar co-ordinates. As his crew-mates are unwilling to act without orders, DOC 4 attempts to extract and contain the entity with a psychic vacuum, constructed by Foley. The operation is successful, however the captain is too disoriented and drained from the experience to be of much use. All he is able to do is utter a few words before passing out: 'The coordinates...artifact...danger to...galaxy...'
After briefly discussing their next move, the crew reluctantly decide not to attempt to flee the galaxy and instead fly the ship within sensor range of the mysterious co-ordinates, located in an uncharted sector of space. Scanning the region, they are able to detect a giant ring-shaped ancient structure floating in space. They also detect a ship orbiting it, which they identify as belonging to the Ascended Combine, a race of cybernetically enhanced humanoids they recently encountered, who seek to 'ascend' all organic life in the galaxy through cybernetics. They appear to be attempting to find a way inside the ring structure and the crew determines that, whatever it is, it probably shouldn't be allowed to fall into their hands.
Foley is able to construct a device to emit a pulse that will temporarily deactivate the Combine ship's systems (and the Combine themselves), but they'll have to get it right into the ship's core and detonate it from the inside to have the desired effect. He's able to rig one of the ship's torpedos with the device, but they still have to get within range to fire it...which means getting within firing range of the Combine's own weapons.
After ordering the ship's pilot, Ensign Jenkins, to fly them into range, the crew are getting ready to launch their weapon when they are hailed by the Combine. The voice contacting them - and demanding they surrender to be upgraded - is that of their own former second-in-command, Lieutenant Lisa Ferrari, who was abducted by the Combine during the Raptor crew's most recent encounter with them.
While DOC 4 attempts to stall the Combine on comms, the Raptor continues her approach towards the vessel. The Combine are not easy to distract, however, and they order the Raptor crew to cease their approach or they will be fired upon. Realising they won't have enough time to get into range before the Combine's superior weapons systems can launch an attack against them, the crew are forced to perform a risky manoeuvre. Doctor Frenzy and Foley work together to prepare a warp jump that will bring them right up close to the enemy ship; too close for the Combine's fire arcs to reach them, but close enough to fire their torpedo right into its hull.
The manoeuvre works a little too well. They find themselves close to the enemy ship's hull and moving too fast to avoid ramming into it. The Raptor crashes through the Combine ship's hull, and its own engines are damaged in the collision. The Raptor lets loose with its customised torpedo and fires it right into the heart of the Combine ship. As the energy wave rips through it, the Combine ship starts to slowly disintegrate from the inside out.
Doctor Frenzy releases the psychic entity to do whatever it wants regarding the ring structure, in the hopes that this will create a problem for the Combine once their ship recovers, distracting them long enough for Foley to repair the Raptor so it can escape. They try to get a reluctant Ensign Jenkins to lead an away mission aboard the Combine ship to rescue Lieutenant Ferrari from the Combine before they leave. He points out that he doesn't have seniority to do so, so they 'promote' him to acting Captain for an hour, but this backfires when he orders one of them to go instead, since regulations clearly state that the commanding officer should not recklessly endanger themselves by participating in away missions.
Frenzy then bravely agrees to lead the away team himself. With DOC 4 providing directions via sensor data back on the Raptor, Frenzy navigates the corridors of the slowly disintegrating ship towards the last known source of Ferrari’s transmission as the Combine's emissary. After briefly grappling with a barely-functioning Combine drone, he is able to find Ferrari and sedates her. However, the section of the ship he is in starts to disintegrate, and he and Ferrari are left adrift in open space. Luckily, both are wearing standard-issue uniforms with built-in vacc-suits which automatically seal to protect them from vacuum, and DOC 4 is able to pilot the Raptor through the cast-off debris of the disintegrating ship to pick them up. Frenzy sustains a fracture to his arm as robo-arms grab him to pull him and Ferrari back aboard the Raptor, but otherwise they get in safely.
As the Raptor pulls away from the Combine ship, it starts to recover and slowly rebuild itself. At the same time, the psychic entity has vacated the Raptor and entered the ring structure, which has now become active. Foley works frantically to repair the engines so they can get away. He gets cross with Jenkins who - in his role as acting captain - calls for Foley to give him full power to the engines. Foley declares that he's getting above his station and promptly revokes his command privileges. Jenkins makes a pouty face at this, but doesn't argue.
As Foley restores the Raptor's engines, the Combine ship is almost fully reassembled, and catches them in a tractor beam as they attempt to flee. At the same time, the giant ring structure is swiftly spinning around to 'center' itself on both ships.
In medbay, DOC 4 helps Ferrari recover from her conversion into a Combine drone. With his help, Foley is able to use the cyber-enhanced space lab rat as a relay between Ferrari and the Combine ship, to send it a self-destruct command. The Combine ship disintegrates once again, and this time it keeps going until all that's left of it is a cloud of space dust.
As the ring structure focuses its 'gaze' on the Raptor, Foley engages the engines and they beat a retreat from the sector at best possible speed. The ring enters warp behind them and gives chase, slowly gaining on them...
Unfortunately, after this episode, BOX Television Network cancelled the show after a short run, due to poor ratings. Fans of the show spoke out against the show's cancellation and petitioned for its revival, but the network wasn't interested. Who knows though, maybe they'll be able to bring it back as a movie through another company?
Lasers and Feelings was a lot of fun to run and, the players assure me, to play too. We did feel that the system could have done with just a little bit something more. Specifically, I wasn't sure how to handle 'harm', since there's no health tracking system and inflicting dice penalties per wound seemed a bit harsh, considering how few dice they get to roll normally. That said, I don't think the system really needs too much extra. It's supposed to provide a quick, fun space adventure game and that's exactly what we got. I'd definitely run it again, or even play it myself with someone else as the GM.