The Mysterious Artifact of the Draco System

Dr Zahn studied the strange alien machinery beneath the ancient tower rebuilt by the Zenithians, his brilliant mind running through calculations of obscure mathematics faster than any computer less than 9 stories tall. He had to work quickly, the parylyso-gas would only last for a short while and Imperial reinforcements were sure to arrive soon. While the energy flow indicators meant this must be but one of numerous such devices with some distant control centre this one had been focussed on by the Saucermen for a reason. There it was! His keen eyes spotted where the careful application of an interference substance had been applied to some of the stone in order to deactivate part of the originally intended circuitry within the lattice matrix of the stone. The Zenithians had in effect reprogrammed the device. Probably it was a device intended to create some special form of stable wormhole, possibly in order to increase the effective lifespan of the ancient star. The Zenithians had changed it to turn it into something altogether more dangerous, at best a Weapon of Cosmic Destruction and at worst something altogether less imaginable. Just switching the device off would be no good if the singularity was already forming, it might slow the growth of the black hole but it wouldn’t stop it. Instead he calculated the best option would be to allow the ancient devices self-regulating stone circuitry programming into effect. He carefully mixed the chemical ingredients to dissolve the interference and set the chemical grenade on a medium fuse, just long enough to drag the paralysed guards to safety….

Mere minutes after the grenade had gone off spraying the chemical that dissolved the Zenithian sabotage away a great massive structure emerged from underneath a gigantic sand filled crater on the neighbouring sunward planet Parva Draco, a huge stone structure that defied all the known laws of physics as it swiftly flew into space leaving a trail of falling sand in an arc that fell all the way back to the planet. The machinery of the Ancients was now activated!

On Monday Brylan, one of Taphyl’s brothers, was back in town after spending some time overseas so I joined the guys to hang out for the afternoon. There had been talk of playing some Warhammer 40,000 but Brylan asked if we could play War Rocket instead. Luckily Taphyl had asked me to bring my stuff in case of such a possibility. Brylan had played the Space Pirates before but this time decided to try the Galacteers. Taphyl decided to again play the Zenithians and of course I played the Empire. I’d not brought my camera though so one of theirs was used.

We set the battlefield up together. The ice rings of Dormientes Draco have grown thicker, and Taphyl provided the strange ancient artefact. The perfect objective for the game. The goal: The Imperial patrol, having just finished guarding the ship collecting the survivors of the last battle before intending to head to investigate the damage done to the Watch Station by the Space Pirates (see last battle report) have been alerted to the massive strange stone structure now in a stable orbit near the planet Parva Draco and have delayed the mission to the watch-station to give the stone construct a quick flyby when astro-radar detects two incoming fleets both of whom need to be kicked out of Imperial-claimed territory! Meanwhile alerted to the Zenithian cause of the looming galactic disaster the Galacteers are trying to stop a Zenithian task force intent on boarding and destroying the giant artefact!

This time it's me in the background having just deployed the Imperial ships

This time it’s me in the background having just deployed the Imperial ships

The Imperial patrol completes it's flyby of the strange giant stone device

The Imperial patrol completes it’s flyby of the strange giant stone device

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The Missing Princess Part 14: A Desperate Cry in the Darkness

In the last heart-wrenching chapter Imperial Princess Taegan allowed herself to be captured by one of a gang of brutal Space Pirates who had boarded the desolate Imperial Watch Station in orbit around planet Eratus Est of the Draco star system, as she was carried off aboard a stolen Imperial Class II Scorpion rocket as gallant Galacteer Commander Lightyear of the Lightyear Brigade was forced to watch on along with the rest of the Space Pirates the treacherous four-armed Kutila named Xasaphrax tossed a live grenade into the docking port! Which terrible fate has befallen noble Commander Lightyear? To be marooned with murderous pirates or a swift explosive death?

“See you all in the afterlife you scudge swilling zwilniks”
With a cruel laugh the mottled reptiloid tossed the live grenade, slamming closed the aluminiglass and goldrantium hood down and pulled the rocket swiftly away.

The grenade bounced and skittered across the docking bay right into the corridor where Commander Lightyear and the Pirates had watched the departure of the treacherous Xasaphrax coming to rest right at Lightyear’s feet! As the pirates stared in stunned and fatal shock Lightyear, with his superior strength from years spent as a child growing acclimatised on a high-gravity world; the superior reflexes of Galacteer training and the skills of split-second decision-making that comes from mastering the break-neck speed of the Galacteer Class 1 Comet Rocket leapt into instant action!

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The Missing Princess Part 13: Misfortune is Written In The Stars!

In the last chapter Princess Taegan and Commander Lightyear, marooned on an Imperial watch-station with the remains of the slaughtered crew fought the mentalist illusions of an extraordinarily deadly menace of space: an Adult Brain Parasite, using an old folk-tale of the Empire about Emperor Marduk as a shield and a weapon but even as the tendriled malevolent brain’s reign of terror was ended they discovered the space outside was filled with battle and the station about to be boarded by Space Pirates! Now let us uncover their fate..

Princess Taegan looked down at the astro-radar screen then up to Commander Lightyear, “The Pirates are coming closer! They must mean to plunder the station!”

“How big a rocket?”

“Probably a Class 2 Stiletto by the rad leakage.”

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3 Sided Battle in the Draco System!

“Blue Devils to Imperial Fleet, Blue Devils to Imperial Fleet. Over”

“What is it Galacteers?” growled Imperial Commander Kurigalzu. Things were not good. Captain Shulme had discovered more strange devices on Iratus Est Draco and had nearly lost his life battling the Valkeeri for it. Then that damned Dr Axon, more robot than man, had sent him off dangerously close to the sun to get more readings pulling the fleet every which way leaving all manner of vital assets vulnerable or tied up and then the Watch Station in orbit around Iratus Est draco had gone silent but for a momentary static signal. Now as his fleet was heading to the watch-station Ace McGuire’s fleet had turned up to really ruin his day.

“This systems sun is in terrible danger, something is using the MacGuffinite of Dormientes Draco to turn it into a Black Hole! You must allow our scientists access to the ruined towers of Dormientes, the entire Galaxy is in peril.”

“This is an internal Imperial matter. Imperial science will resolve this. You have no jurisdiction, this system is now part of the Empire of Marduk. Leave now or you will be destroyed!”

Ace McGuire slammed the bottom of his fist against the wall.
“The idiotic fools! This is no time for pride or nationalism or other such petty squabbles. This black hole would threaten all of us!”

“So what do we do now Ace?” asked Commander Jason.

“There’s only one option. If we can’t get the scientists there with permission then we will do so without it! All ships, prepare to punch through the Imperial fleet!”

But out in the depths of space another force had heard the static-like signal. Sleek rockets slid through the void like hungry sharks ready to descend on the Imperial Watch-station in a feeding frenzy….

As Jason hadn’t been able to play in the saturday game at the Sleeping Dragon game store and had gone a couple weeks without a game of War Rocket and was super-keen to play we played at Taphyls shed on a sunday.

Taphyl had to feed some animals first, but wanted to see our class 3 and 4 rockets in action so i quickly devised a scenario to cover that. There were several objectives. The Galacteers were firstly trying to get scientists, carried on the class 2, 3 and 4 rockets, to the Zenithian towers on planet Dormientes and the Empire wanted to stop any Galacteer interference. There was also the matter of the Watch Station and it’s ‘secret’. The players hadn’t yet seen much of The Missing Princess serial story so didn’t know the Princess was on the station and that this game could direct the story! I told them every faction could gain from that secret and the station was a valuable asset to hold. The Galacteers and Imperial fleet would start at the opposite end of the large table from the Watch Station and Taphyl would get to bring on his force once the game was underway from any table edge once he was able to join in.

The battlefield covered the stretch of space from planet Parva Draco past Dormientes Draco to Iratus Est Draco

The battlefield covered the stretch of space from planet Parva Draco past Dormientes Draco to Iratus Est Draco

Notice the awesome new asteroids! Well these were a gift from Jason! I’m downright spoiled!
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Battle Report: The Valkeeri Skirmishes

Captain Shulme ran his fingers through his beard as he scanned the rocky landscape and the ruined ancient buildings of the world Iratus Est Draco below, looking for any sign of the missing Princess Taegan. Even if they find her there was evidence from the Valkeeri that there was a chance a pod-person clone had replaced the real Princess, but Emperor Marduk is all-seeing and a counterfeit would not fool the Princesses’ father. The orders were to scour every mile of the surface of the worlds in this system, find the Princess and take her to her father. The Valkeeri had struck the watchstation orbiting Iratus Est draco in force and so it wasn’t surprising when Kurush called from the radarscope of clear readings of Valkeeri rocket-pulses. They were headed towards one of the ruined cities, like all those in this system it was smashed with what seemed to be atomic warfare and abandoned so many millenia ago that not a trace of radioactivity remained, there must be something there of value.

“Hassimir, send a message to Fleet central: Have sighted Valkeeri task force. Destroying and Investigating.”  Standard Imperial policy, shoot first, ask questions of the survivors after.

What were the Alien women up to? And did it have anything to do with the Zenithian towers, the weakening sun or the missing Princess? He would wring the information from the survivors!

“All rockets: Intercept and attack!”

I got a call from Taphyl during the week asking if I was up for another game of War Rocket and for showing our friend Mirium how to play. So I quickly gathered my  things together, remembering my camera this time, and went round for an afternoon/evening of gaming socialising and a very nice dinner. Mirium had some job applications to do first so we started with a small game between Taphyl and I.

The two small fleets, perfect for a quick game

The two small fleets, perfect for a quick game, or two!

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Sleeping Dragon and the Battle for Science!

Captain Atrius fumed quietly as he sat in the command chair of the Class II Imperial Raptor Rocket The Shahin. It was difficult enough sitting in the position normally taken by the Princess instead of his usual position to her right. Especially as he couldn’t go anywhere without the Princesses pet Vyper-bat Atalleph left in his care coiled around his arm or hanging on his shoulder, though it did help him keep the Princess in mind. It was worse that helping the Magi, the scientists of the Empire, determine the secret central hub of the strange tower ruins the Zenithians had activated and their dangerous effects upon the star Draco meant that he and much of the Princesses’ fleet had been taken off the search for their missing leader. Worse yet was that the mastermind behind the Magi’s operations Magi Lord Dr Axon had implied that the search for the Princess should be abandoned altogether… but the most infuriating of all was that the very same Dr Axon had insisted on being on board the very same Rocket as Atrius!

Normally he got on well with battle-magi, those soldiers of the empire most entrusted with the powerful secrets of the Empires advanced science and engineering. That Dr Axon was more machine than man, after a grievous wounding in battle his vast swathe of knowledge resulted in him determined too valuable to the Empire to be allowed to die. His brain having been transferred into a translucent jar atop a life-sustaining mechanical apperatus, a humanoid body all too reminiscent of the Robot Legions for anyone’s comfort, was disturbing in itself, but it was the attitude that seemed so incompatible with the honourable noble demeanour of the warriors of the Emperors rocket fleet that was worst. This was the first citizen of the Empire Atrius felt he could not and should not trust. And right now he had hooked his mysterious devices to the rockets engines doing who knows what as they scanned, like the rest of the class 2 Imperial rockets on Dormientes Draco, along a grid search pattern measuring the strange energies at work. At least, thought the Captain, the Magi are staying in the engine access compartment…. and that’s when the saucers attacked!

Once again it’s time for another exciting battle report from a saturday morning game of War Rocket down at my local game store The Sleeping Dragon. Alas due to a late night Jason wasn’t able to join in (but hopefully will be in the next report) so Taphyl and I battled it out. This time Taphyl wanted to try the Zenithians rather than the Valkeeri so i let him try with my currently-small Zenithian force.

We started setting up the table with the familiar belt-of-orion placement of strange towers, then Taphyl placed some other ruined buildings from the ancient past of Dormientes Draco along with the floating Ice-teroids created by the towers drawing the indescribably rare mineral MacGuffinite in prodigious quantities from deep in the ground as Taphyl asked “What will the objective be?”

Alerted by 7th-dimensional sensors to the scanning taking place by Imperial rockets around the world of planet Dormientes Draco the Zenithians have been tasked with capturing some Imperial scientists to find out how much the Empire knows about what is happening and see if the Empire is a threat to the Saucer-men’s terrible plans for our 4 dimensions of the universe! While on the Raptor…

“All Hands, battle stations!” Called Captain Atrius as the Zenithians swarmed in to the attack.
“Which foe Captain?” demanded the authoritative mechanical voice of Magi Dr Axon, sounding much more acceptably Imperial for a moment.
“Zenithians closing fast, a class 2 and 3 class 1’s”
“Capture the Class 2 Beta-Z saucer at all costs captain, interrogating their crew could give us the vital information we seek, help us save the galaxy and get you back to searching for your Princess!”
“Raptor to all Scorpions, Raptor to all Scorpions, class 2 saucer to be boarded, repeat: class 2 saucer not to be destroyed!”

Taphyl scrutinizes the Zenithian stats before we start (and misses something which we discover much later)

Taphyl scrutinizes the Zenithian stats before we start (and unfortunately misses something important which we discover much later)

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The Missing Princess Part 10: Under the Shadow of a Dark Star


In the last chapter Imperial Princess Taegan, Galacteer Commander Lightyear and Space Pirate Captain Woz were heading for the Imperial Watchstation orbiting the planet Iratus Est Draco in a damaged Zenithian saucer, while back on the planet Dormientes Draco the loyal Captain Atrius had been left guarding the strange engines beneath the ancient ruined tower rebuilt by the Zenithians and the Princesses beloved pet Vyper-bat Atalleph was left guarding Captain Atrius. While Emperor Marduk the all-seeing Man-God sees all….

Dr Axon entered the command room of the mighty Manticore Class Imperial war rocket The Sirrush, flanked as always by a coterie of assistant Magi and several slaves.

The Magi were robed in lavish black and gold, the mark of the Lords of Knowledge in the Empire. In a state where knowledge was power and all power was held in the tight fist of Marduk the Man-God a Magi’s loyalty was absolute. None outside the Magi knew how Marduk ensured that loyalty, what extra pains or threats or measures were taken to do so, but none of the Magi would ever even hint at it. It was rumoured that sometimes a low ranking Magi might occasionally keel over dead with not a mark upon them but none who wanted to live for long, or live happily, ever spoke of it.

The slaves were learned too, the captured scientists of other civilisations, their lack of trustworthiness clearly marked by their white coats and the ornate and decorative collar about their necks.. from which horrible electric shocks or even fatal injury could be given by the electronic wands that were every Magi’s seal of office.

Dr Axon was the 2nd most senior of the known public officials of the Ministry of Magi. When he had been injured in a battle between the Fangs of Tiamat and Ace McGuire’s Blue Devils he had been deemed too useful to be allowed to die and now was a disembodied brain in a Jar of sustaining fluids often set within all manner of interchangeable mechanical bodies. This transformation proved useful to the Empire, but did nothing to soothe the doctor’s infamous temperament.

Commander Kurigalzu’s trigger finger kept twitching where he held it hidden behind his back as he looked at the large metal humanoid body the brain-jar was attached to, looking all too much like a Robot Legionnaire for his combat reflexes from his time in the Infantry to not kick in and require constant irritating repression. He snapped his feet as he stood to attention before the high-ranking Magi lords.

“These delays are unacceptable!” growled the mechanical voice of Dr Axon, though if anything the clear tone of angry emotion in the voice broke some of the illusion of similarity to the Robot Legion whose voices, on the rare occasions Kurigalzu had heard them speak, were monotone and emotionless.

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Satellites Spy on Sleeping Dragon!

Note: Keen eyed viewers may notice that the script for this chapter was clearly intended to be broadcast before the proceeding piece, but we retain it here in original broadcast order

Galacteers! We have deployed a series of spy satellites to monitor both enemy activity and strange radiations in the system of Dormientes Draco. Alas it seems the Imperial fleet there doesn’t like us looking at the mess that macguffinite engine thing they took off the Zenithians is cooking up and especially that it will give us solid warning of any more imperial activity in the region, now they are on an intercept course.  It’s your job to stop them. The data from these satellites is crucial. Protect Those Satellites!

Alas Saturday I didn’t end up playing War Rocket so Jason and in organised for a Tuesday game. So once again the wargame room of my local gamestore would be filled with the roar of atomic motors and the pew-pew of raygun beams.

I was especially excited to show off my solution for all the scratched paintwork my imperial rockets got from transport:

Dun-Dun-DAAAAH!

Imperial Agent's case carrying secret documents? No! Just my War Rocket fleet!

Imperial Agent’s case carrying secret documents? No! Just my War Rocket fleet!

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The Missing Princess Part 5: The Deadly Escape

In the last chapter, Princess Taegan escaped from the Dino-Men and sent Captain Atrius and her surviving warriors to secure and study the strange devices under the Zenithian Towers, then allowed herself to be captured by Zenithian troops in order to discover their plans. Finding that several key commanders from Galacteer and Space Pirate Fleets had been replaced by Pod People clones, she and the original commander prisoners plan to escape the Zenithian imprisonment. Can they get word to their fleets? Will traditional animosity turn them against one another? Let’s watch on and find out!

In a darkened room, a silhouetted figure upon a grand art-deco throne watches an image with a faintly luminous single open eye ripple to life on an ornate screen of polished obsidian held aloft by stylised golden Sirrush. The on-screen image seems to be as if through the very eyes of someone holding aloft an earring as a door beside them opens…

Everyone shielded their eyes as the cell door opened and Princess Taegan threw the ruby earring through the door to the floor as a flash grenade. With a burst of light, the Zenithian clones were blinded! Not even waiting to open her eyes, Princess Taegan whirled through the guards with her Goldrantium and Tling-steel stiletto. It wasn’t just the beloved pet Vyper-Bat she had brought back from the ever-nighted forest moon of Eth, but also years of training in fighting in low-light and total darkness thanks to the tutorship of the witch-women of the temple of Ishtanna with which they bought a peaceful transition to Imperial protection and more flexibility to the usual Imperial vassal rule, becoming personal subjects of the Princess.

By the time Commander Jason of the Star Command; Commander Lightyear of the Lightyear Brigade and Pirate Captain Woz of the Draco Raiders had uncovered their eyes – prepared to fight – the four clones were already on the floor!
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The Missing Princess Part 4: The Tower of Treachery

Chapter 4: The Tower of Treachery!
Where we left our heroic Imperial Forces, Captain Atrius had just rescued Princess Taegan from the Temple of the Dino Men and we follow them now as they flee from stone-age reptile pursuers into the tunnels beneath The Tower of Treachery!

Princess Taegan and Captain Atrius ran at full speed down the corridor of the secret stone Labyrinth, behind the strange reptilian Idol of the troglodytic dino-men to catch up with the two other Imperial survivors of the disastrous battle with the Zenithians.

“Atrius” Princess Taegan panted as she ran, used to having given commands in combat situations, she timed her words with the breathing required to keep her muscles powered for distance running.

“Yes my Princess?” Atrius responded, his deep voice showing none of the exertion of the activity.

“Should I be offended or take as a compliment that both of the two tribes of Dino-men on this forsaken world have tried to sacrifice me to their stone gods?”

“Clearly, my Princess, it is a sign they recognise enough of your greatness and beauty as to see you as the most valuable and worthy of us to give to their god and a sign of their blindness that they don’t covet your beauty enough to defy their god and don’t see enough of your strength and cunning and wisdom to just fall at your feet and worship you in its stead.”

Princess Taegan thought of two different reprimands for Atrius’s excessive flattery but discarded each, then decided too much time had passed for her to bother. Though she couldn’t help but smile both at the compliment and at the recent memory of the furious face of the dino-man high priest as his stone god’s decapitated head crushed the thin bridge he was standing on plunging him into the lava below.

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