Tuesday, August 23, 2011

AP: Suspended Animation by Ross Cowman. Chapter 1

Suspended Animation AP
By Orion Canning
Chapter 1
(Suspended Animation Beta ver 1.43 by Ross Cowman)

Suspended Animation is a story game you play alone by yourself, before and after going to sleep. The rules are simple and allow for a lot of interpretation in translating  them into a story. You create a deck of cards based on prompts, starting with 2 cards for each of four categories. For each category you write something different on the card,  for example on earth cards you write something you brought with you from earth, and on humanity cards you write something you left behind.
Each night before bed you shuffle the cards and draw four, but you don’t look at them until you wake up in the morning. You record how long you slept, and for each hour you record a year passing in your ship log. I regularly sleep 8 to 9 hours and played the game over the course of several weeks, skipping days here and there when I was too busy to commit to the writing. One innovation I made was calculating how many days had passed by using the minutes passed as a fraction and multiplying that fraction by the number of days in a year. I also used the calendar on my computer to calculate the specific day of the week on that date and that year.
When you wake up you look at the cards you drew, and for each category you deal with a threat that is more severe the more cards you got from that category. Then you write a ships log based on those prompts, as if you were a person on a long space voyage, spending years in suspended animation between each log. So my play ended up being fairly epic and is 24 pages long. Thus I’ll slowly be releasing it in chapters. Enjoy!
Ship Computer
Starting cards: 
Ø     Star – Mine fuel along the way. AND Displace or eradicate any life already living there.
Ø     Earth – Video Camera AND Game Boy
Ø     Humanity - Warcraft, world of. AND My loyal black lab Sadie
Ø     Void – If there is intelligent life on the planet, will they have more military might than me? AND What if the ship is attack or damaged while I’m sleeping?
Departure Date – Thursday, July 14th, 2:49 Hours, 2011
Ship Log – (9 years, 111 days later) Monday, November 2nd, 12:15 Hours, 2020 (Calculated the date by dividing the minutes by 60 and multiplying that fraction by 265 to see how many days had passed in addition to each hour being a year.)
DOR woke me up with some deep throated Barry Manilow or Sinatra or something like that but I couldn’t stand it and now it’s switched to some soft voiced kitten purr electro pop, mellow but upbeat, something modern I guess. It’s nice to hear a female crooner out here, the lounge singer made me feel like I was at my own 10 year reunion, or maybe the company Christmas party. It’s also a lot easier on the ears then DOR’s synthetic monotone.
-13:31 Hours- DOR had woken me because it picked up a distress beacon from an orbital planetoid. Long distance scans showed signs of fuel sources close to the surface so it was possible I could check it out and refuel in the process and not need to be woken again for a good long time. The problem was the distress beacon was alien in origin. I could tell from the look of the wreck once we got closer, but even further away I could tell that it wasn’t one of our distress signals. I can’t imagine what caused it to crash, but it looked like everything was probably dead or gone. I’d been trained for alien contact, hostile or friendly, but I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Still, computer scans showed no signs of life or electrical readings so I decided to check it out.
-17:18 Hours- The ship was a shaped like a sowing needle, a long pointed tube with an oval hoop at one end. Something was suspended in the middle of the hoop by some kind of high tension cables, which I took to mean it was very dangerous or very valuable. The way the ship had crashed left the hoop sticking up in the air like a skyscraper, about 1,500 feet up from the surface. The planetoid, needless to say, had no atmosphere and was lifeless. I set the drones to mining and sent some probes to investigate the suspended thing.
It was shaped like a cube and looked like it was made of dark reflective glass. It reminded me of the Borg ship from Star Trek, about 100 feet on a side. The probes found an opening and I sent them inside. As far as I could tell at first the place seemed like a prison, but I realized from the remains inside some of the cells that it was actually more of a zoo, or an ark. There were thousands of species kept inside and I had the probes take constant footage to be sent back to earth. Some of the creatures were remarkably well preserved.
One of them was a four legged thing, which seemed to be covered in a black moss, which could have been from it’s state of decay or just how it looked naturally. Nevertheless it reminded me of a dream I had of Sadie. In the dream I had taken her with me on the spaceship. Instead of sleeping for the whole journey I spent most of the time playing with Sadie. The living quarters were much bigger and there was actually a giant park built under a large glass dome that the sun shone in through. I remember playing fetch with Sadie in the park. I was also running a lot of weird tests on Sadie, putting stuff in her food that made her smarter, or at least made it somehow possible to translate her brainwaves into thought. I attached electrodes to her head and the computer would spit out her thoughts in an electronic voice like Mr Spell. Except what she said is “I’m afraid you’ll never love me like I love you.” She had those raised worried eyebrows dogs get, and it made me feel kind of awful, but I gave her a hug and everything was all right, and then somehow we ended up back on earth, and then I was driving somewhere with my old physics teacher, and that’s all I could remember.
I had the probes search the rest of the cube but never found anything alive. What did worry me though is that some of the cells were empty and seemed like they shouldn’t be, and DOR couldn’t account for where they had gone.
-17:53 Hours- I sent the probes to the main ship next but they couldn’t find any way in. The ship was still perfectly sealed, even where it had snapped in the middle. Some sort of self sealing mechanism had closed off the open end. I tried communicating again but could get no response at all, so I told the probes to try to cut through the self sealing stuff. The lasers were able to slice through the ship but some sort of liquid black goo pushed out from the gash and quickly solidified, turning a light silvery grey as it dried. The stuff seemed endless, I told the probes to keep cutting but they got nowhere.
-22:06 Hours- I started to worry that the ship was still active because we showed some minor electrical activity whenever the ship created the black sealant, and I didn’t want to set off any other defenses. I wrote up a report and left one of our own beacons, and once the mining was finished we took off. After about an hour, once we were getting back on course, DOR told me there was an energy signature following 10 parsecs behind us and matching our speed. We couldn’t get a visual that wasn’t blurred by the heat of our boosters, the thing was right in my blind spot. So all we could make out was a distant blip of light. I tried contacting it and couldn’t get any response. My best assumption was that it was the survivors of the alien craft who either were too scared to make contact but were hoping I would lead them to help, were hoping to steal my ship, or were hoping I would lead them to something else they could steal or attack or… god knows what. They were a threat, whatever the case.
-Saturday, November 7th, 10:18 Hours, 2020- I waited a few days and the ship always stayed at the exact same distance from us. At one point I told DOR to slow down and the other ship slowed down too. I was itchy to blow the thing out of the sky but some part of me held back, even though it would be well within protocol. I was getting more and more stressed out about it. It was like a pinprick in the back of my skull. DOR eventually suggested I go back into Cryo and that she would wake me if anything changed. It took me another 2 days to agree with her, but I set instructions for her to engage the alien craft if it came within one parsec of our ship before I was fully revived and ready.
God damn aliens. I feel like a kid with a monster under my bed. Signing out.
Cards and Crisis:
Ø     2 star: Distress Beacon (Mine Fuel along the way, Displace or eradicate any life already living there.)
o      Response: Investigate the ancient signal. Discover earth (A disintegrator energy rifle), discover void (What caused the alien ship to crash and killed all the animals in the ark?)
Ø     1 humanity: Dreams of Earth (My loyal black lab, Sadie)
o      Response: Discover humanity (My internet lover, Isadora)
Ø     1 void: Sensor readings (What if the ship is attacked or damaged while I am sleeping?)
o      Response: New danger presents itself, Discover void (Is the alien ship following me friendly or hostile?)

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