The B and C teams move forward to the attack, led by Colonel Sands and Omega Project Commander Smith respectively. From the dark corners of the star-ship emerge familiar ‘lost tribes’: the fanatic Star Children, crafty Kruzomen and a 3rd tribe encountered by Commander Smith’s team on the way through the Daedalus: the ‘Advancers’. Smoke and fire pour into the corridors as fighting rages through the Crew Deck.
The Advancers wear every variety of ancient uniform including Daedalus ship crew, security teams, police, gray or green or red jumpsuits, sports teams, food service, custodial staff, even a few tuxedos and military dress uniforms. The attire is well-worn but lovingly patched with each button and bit of brass polished to a high shine. A few still wear the tattered tactical jumpsuit of their ancient forebears. These suits bear patches with the words ‘Advance Team 5’ with a shoulder patch depicting a man hold a flag planted on a green island amid a deep blue sea with the Daedalus floating high overhead. They worship a ‘Sky Captain’ who can only be the ship’s sentient AI, Star Mother.
Omega Commander Smith and his team from the 25th century manage to convince the tribal chieftain that they are sent by the Sky Captain to help fulfill the Advancers ancient oath. Part of tribal lore involves attempting to access the escape pods and eject into space whenever possible. Fortunately for the Advancers, the Daedalus escape pods are well-secured. As part of the deal to lead Smith’s team forward through the ship, the Advancers chieftain demands that they be given access to one of the secured escape pods. The Advancers assemble a 10-person ‘away-team’ and cheerfully launch themselves into space. By that time the Xarmids are pinned down by the remaining X-ray laser and energy screens projected by the EM-field dish and are unable to intercept the pod. Smith’s team watches from the observation port as the pod accelerates on a course for earth. What will become of the Advancers and how will they cope with 28th century earth?
Back in the alien-fortified Crew Deck, a fierce battle breaks out as the Terrans come to grips with the Xarmids and their security robots. Star Children suicide-bombers drop from ventilation shafts and maintenance ports to blast apart alien bots and fortifications with explosives accumulated over decades. Stealthy Kruzomen sneak up on unsuspecting Xarmids and drill them with recently-acquired alien energy pistols. The Advancers charge forward waving flags and are killed in large numbers, but draw a lot of fire. The B and C teams draw alien defenders away from an area identified by Star Mother.
The Ghost Bears take advantage of the melee to reach the Exoplanetary Operations deck without a fight. Sudomo accompanies the team, but Lexi and Titus are left behind in the safety of Star Mother’s sanctum at the AI deck. Titus was happy to be out of the line of fire for once. Lexi argues she should be with the assault team. With difficulty Sleestak convinces the 2-meter snake-woman to stay behind, as she’s the only one able to communicate with Slinky and Narvu at the hyperspace transmitter in Black Mountain.
The team begins exploring the seemingly-abandoned area. This deck has gravity, but is hard vacuum thanks to Strelok evacuating the alien atmosphere. The effects of this are apparent later: dead Xarmids who failed to get into their vac-suits in time. Much of the deck has been modified by the aliens for their own horrid purposes. Namely, experimentation on terrestrials acquired from the hypersleep decks of the Daedalus, the Ariadne Moon-base, or abducted from 28th century earth.
Grey brought along the protonic axe gifted to the team by Maggie and the survivors of the Skyship Exodus disaster. This mighty weapon turns out to be useful in quickly cutting through the sealed security doors found throughout the deck. This uses a lot of Grey’s power armor suit energy, but the team was able to bring along a few partially-depleted spares thanks to the cache of atomic cells provided by Star Mother. The mayhem of sparks and flying metal alerts a trio of Xarmid scientists and technicians at the first door. They escape before the team can break in and catch them. Later Grey figures out he can quickly chop a smaller hole and peek through.
Meanwhile Strelok is still stranded in the Comm Bunker of the Sensor Mast. The computer-savvy bot attempts to delay the alien scientists working to defeat Star Mother’s electronic defenses. Titus is able to assist from his location in the AI deck. Ten hours remain until the Xarmids will get through. Should the Xarmid hackers in the bridge manage to break into the AI sanctum, Star Mother will be disabled and disconnected, possibly destroyed, and the aliens will regain full control of the Daedalus.
During this time Sleestak gets the word from Titus that Lexi has left the AI deck without explanation. She’s turned off her communicator as well. Since the hisser telepath left with her vac-suit helmet and weapons, it can only be assumed that Sleestak’s assurances were ineffective and she’s run off to help in the assault. If Lexi is killed and the team is unable to capture another alien spacecraft, there may be no way to communicate with Black Mountain and notify the Continuum agent (Narvu) when the Daedalus is secured and underway (short of returning to earth via the dubious mechanism of an escape pod).
A large lab is discovered featuring an observation bubble providing a view of the earth and moon partially obscured by the deployed EM-projector dish. Suspended above the plasteel bubble is a 360-degree rotating control console. A Xarmid tech, dead from explosive decompression, lies slumped in a seat designed for humans. Initial investigation by Grek reveals this is likely the control mechanism for an array of connected devices. More secret weapons, or something else? The console is original equipment, not installed by the aliens, but they seem to have made use of it. Grek has difficulty understanding and manipulating the controls, so switches seats with Gooptaz who everyone admits is the smartest 3-eyed humanoid they know.
Blocking access to another large research chamber is a series of enticingly open security doors filled with a softly glowing greenish-blue haze. Undoubtedly a booby trap. The team attempts various stratagems such as pushing dead Xarmids into the gap, but nothing happens. Grey chops through a security door to another chamber. This one is filled with robotic arms and tentacles suspended from the ceiling on a network of tracks. A control console is nearby, but no one left on the team has computing skill. Inside is a large gel-filled tube in which is suspended an unconscious humanoid figure wearing a medical skin-suit. Sure enough, the arms and tentacles go berserk when Grey steps inside. Each wields duralloy saws, force-blades or plasma torches. Grey jumps back through the ragged gap in the security door…perhaps another time!
Gooptaz is seriously wounded in the leg when Grey finally trips one of the booby traps with his protonic axe. The massive jolt of energy is blocked by Grey’s massive armor. Luckily the energy-axe survives intact. Goop is standing nearby and gets tossed 10 meters. The team medic wakes up with a singed and fractured leg. He’s able to use one of the medi-kits to get himself into walking shape again, but it’s a close call. Sleestak rotates out the medi-kits to keep them all at about the same power-level so if some are lost the team won’t be entirely without medi-kits.
Finally someone suggests cutting around the periphery of the energized openings with the protonic axe. After a few minutes of flying sparks and metal, the glow disappears. Grey is able to step through and observe another large laboratory. Two large transparent oval tanks filled with clear liquid stand in the center, apparently containment chambers for dozens of sparkling blobs floating within. More ‘psychocites’ like the one retrieved from the anti-matter core control console in the engineering decks. Bannstone and Sudomo step into the lab and watch with weapons ready.
Sleestak and Grey walk the perimeter of the lab beyond the energy-cloud booby traps, keeping a wary eye on the psychocite tanks. An extra-heavy security door and two standard security doors block access to other areas. Grey hacks peepholes in the two standard doors and peeks through to see two dimly lit corridors. One ends in another security door, the other curves out of sight after 15 meters, back toward the room filled with robotic-terror-arms. The corpse of an unprepared Xarmid scientist lies halfway down the hall. Grey hacks through this door and squeezes through.
Just then the row of heavy security doors between the two labs slam shut. A Xarmid corpse positioned in one of the openings is crushed flat, splattering Bannstone and Sudomo with green and orange goo. Grek and Gooptaz are trapped on the other side. At the same time, gravity fails inside the lab and attached corridor. Both containment chambers open and dozens of sparkling fist-sized blobs float free. Bannstone and Sudomo are already flying toward Grey, Stak and the hacked-open security door. The nasty little psychocites prove quite mobile in zero-g and float quickly after the interlopers. Just as Bannstone and Sudomo squeeze through the ragged opening in the security door, Stak and Grey toss grenades. A number of flying blobs are fragged. Five make it through the storm of shrapnel to pursue Grey and Sleestak Into the corridor.
Bann and Sudomo continue drifting toward the bend in the hallway. A previously-unseen security door slides open to reveal a small circular room. The Xarmids that fled the team an hour before are ready and waiting. Two Xarmid technicians and one small silverfish-shaped ‘thinker’ open fire with energy pistols as the pair float past.