Dragonstar: The Serpent's Teardrop

Ghosts of the Past

Based on the adventure “Ghosts of the Past” from the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Roleplaying Game book, “Planetary Adventures: Volume 1, Federation Space” published by Last Unicorn Games © 1999.

Bureaucracy

The bridge of the Mithral Star resembles a vaulted cathedral, a wide central nave dominated by a three-dimensional tactical hologram of the space surrounding the ship. Balconies, bridges, and floating platforms give the crew unparalleled access to the construct, a clean efficient hierarchy of stations quelling any sense of chaos the scale may infer. Drones whip about in silent dances while the crew mutter calmly into personal datacoms. A hushed, temple-like atmosphere is maintained.

“Remember your place, Finch! I am still commander of this vessel and an admiral of the fleet!”

Alsir’s voice carries like thunder before a storm. The half-dragon strides to the edge of the command platform and glowers over the massive hologram, his usually supple stance rigid with suppressed frustration.

“Do not presume that I take my responsibilities to the Service lightly. In my estimation it is exactly that responsibility that demands we follow the journey of the Countess and ensure that Minos is found.”

At the rear of the command platform a small crowd is clustered at the heels of a well-dressed human, his tall collar and cloak trimmed in royal blue. A fine hand slowly raises itself to stroke back wiry salt and pepper hair as lips twist themselves in a barely contained sneer.

“Admiral,” sighs Eminicus Finch, “the Royal Exploratory Service shall indeed pursue the tantalizing…. clues discovered by Mr. Gims’ research. The wanderings of Countess Pix are indeed of great value to us.”

Finch begins to pace, the eyes of his entourage following him with practiced awe.

“However, the half-remembered and heavily redacted recollections of a three-thousand year old explorer are not the sort of evidence that the RES’ Golion flagship, this ship, should be chasing on a whim.”

Alsir grinds his teeth, eyes still on the hologram as if to center his mind.

“The legendary weapons of Minos are not trinkets to be handled by a solitary trailblazer or a legion platoon. The Mithral Star should be the ship to discover and control them, the Twelve forbid raiders or the Altaran’s stumbling across such a trove.”

“If this Minos is found under Altaran jurisdiction,” counters Finch, lazily, “then I at least hope their commander has the sense and capability to follow our Emperor’s will.”

“Mezzenbone be damned,” mutters Alsir, almost under his breath.

“Admrial!” snaps Finch, as if waiting for this moment to strike, “Need I remind you that your questionable loyalties are precisely the reason I have been assigned to this ship! The Mithral Star is a flagship of the Royal Exploratory Service and as such owes fealty to the Imperial throne! Our discoveries and efforts seek to strengthen and glorify your Dragon Empire. Understand?”

There is a breath, a beat, a moment of almost perfect reverential stillness on the bridge of the Mithral Star. Then with blinding speed Alsir turns and leaps at Finch, razor-edged teeth snapping in the human’s face. A clawed hand closes over Finch’s throat, one deathly sharp tip hovering over his suddenly pulsing jugular vein. The mind-numbing speed and violence of the attack causes a courtier to faint with a pathetic whimper.

“Don’t you ever forget which one of us has dragon blood!” roars Alsir.

He lets go and spins back to the edge of the platform, his brows knotted over the hologram again. Eminicus Finch, his suave bravado replaced with a pallid choking breath, stumbles to the exit.

“You… you know your orders… Alsir.”

As the mildly panicked train leaves with the bureaucrat Alsir heaves a sigh and shakes his head at the floor hundreds of feet below him.

And one stocky officer in a crisp gray and copper uniform frowns with thick eyebrows at the half-dragon’s back, then stomps off the bridge after the retreating Finch.

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This Little Piggy...
This Little Piggy…

Somewhere between the cold, hostile stars of the Serpent’s Teardrop, below the inky tentacles of the Dark Zone nebula, a behemoth slips silently through a ring of arcane fire and back into the vacuum of real space. Like burning spires of an ancient cathedral, its bristling bow reflects the glow of astral space for a few moments longer as radiation dissipates from the insulated hull in cooling plumes of gas. Behind these clouds arrives a tremendous asteroid fixated in the midst of the ship’s structure as if part of a patchwork automaton. More spires, flanges, and even towers scar the rock’s surface before the dark iron of the dreadnought’s stern and engines encapsulates the stone.

The astral burn subsides and the Royal Exploratory Service Ship “Mithral Star” engages it’s massive fusion engines to push itself across the gulf of darkness. In the noiseless radio waves and tight-beam transmissions that erupt after its arrival, codes and handshakes bleat themselves to attentive ears. From complete stillness a massive shadow detaches itself from between pinpricks of light and falls in to flank the city-ship. Far smaller than the “Mithral Star,” the Golion Destroyer “Absolution” is still a gargantuan vessel, it’s sleek hull occasionally glinting with inferred malice.

Below the starboard stone skin of the “Mithral Star’s” asteroid, the half-moon shaped City of the Rock bustles with business and banter, almost oblivious to the incredible change in dimensions that took place just beyond its walls. Cowled dwarves hurry about on furtive errands, disappearing into their sealed districts and mines when done. Disparate passengers wander the market perusing goods from hundreds of worlds under an artificial sky. Crew members spend hard-earned leave in the rambunctious bars or queuing up at the Siren’s brothel. And a select few answer a mysterious summons to a quiet establishment in the bowels of the rock, the Drop Bottom Inn.

-

The Drop Bottom Inn is a small establishment in the rougher neighborhood at the bottom of The Drop. The Drop is a large semicircular atrium near the center of the city next to the outer wall. It’s an open space that reaches all the way from the top residential neighborhoods of the city, down through the market and service districts, to the seedy workers’ quarters at the very bottom. Lined on each level by plazas, trendy restaurants, parks, pubs, or inns it is a virtual slice of the city (although it still excludes any access to dwarven quarters). More than this it is something of a highway. Most vehicular traffic is prohibited in the city, so the quickest direct route from one level to another (besides private elevators) is to step out into the Drop. Color coded disks whisk passengers to pre-programmed landing zones and make the Drop a dizzying rainbow of people during peak market hours.

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