Continuing the series of session reports for the Last Fleet campaign; previous entry here.
Last session saw the group finishing off an advance party from their current adversary, the Stone Queen. What they thought would be a quick fight turned into a more protracted struggle. With those scouts dealt with, the group turned their attention back to the situation at hand. The immediate problem lay in rescuing the Dwarven ship from the Queen's grip.
Nursing their wounds, the group spoke with Gavesk Sundering. He explained how their ship had come to be there hundreds of years ago. The Dwarves had been caught by the chains of the Stone Queen- forcing them to use a magical force field to hold her back. That field had been intended as a device to get their vessel back through the Stormwall to safety. Held in place, the Dwarves had settled in for a siege. Over the years, many had stealthed out in an attempt to gather information or carry out escape plans. None had survived, but some had managed to get messages and information back to Gavesk. From that he'd devised a plan should rescue ever come.
That plan had two parts. On the one hand, dropping the force field would allow the ship to maneuver, but not before the chains could contract and lock it in place. To stop that, a locking device further down the enormous chain would have to be disabled. On the other hand, the ship needed a recharge of its magical engines. Doing that would require stealing a power source from one of the Stone Queen's flight engines or driving the ship close by to scoop up some of the energy. The trick lay in deciding which to deal with first- success would alert the Queen's forces who might be able to intercept the second operation. The group had some time to think since the enemy forces were trying to determine the source of the magical fluctuations the group had caused earlier.
After some intense debate, the group settled on a daring plan that combined stealth and speed. The chain holding the Dwarven ship in the void stretched nearly two miles long, attached to the enormous statue which was the massive golem body of the Queen. In this space, small things fell towards her. However, the chains also had their own "attraction"- meaning that people could walk upon them. The group would launch themselves, with Dweena the Goblin in the lead. Her Sky-squid would allow her some control over flight. When they reached close to the lock box on the chain- a structure the size of a building- they would grapple on. Those who followed would then catch lines and swing in. They would disable the device, have Lira's ship fly in to grab them up and then fly over to one of the engines, power the Dwarven ship and fly away at top speed.
Ideally that's how it would work.
NO PLAN SURVIVES CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY
The first part of this went well- with each party member showing off their exceptional skills. Once on the surface of the metal lock box, the situation became more difficult. They located an old access door and attempted to pry it open. However the rusty hatch resisted their best efforts. The redoubled and still met with failure. Only by finally finding a wedge for a pry-bar were they able to tear it open with a hideous scream of metal. That effort cost them time they didn't have and they now found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. A large clutch of the Queen's war-gargoyles, now alerted to their presence began winging their way towards them. They also realized that the inner workings of the lock mechanism were guarded- protected by petrified Dwarven warriors subject to the Queen's will. Reluctantly, the group split- Lira, Whet and Dweena would drop inside to fight the guards and disable the device. Chain and Marreg would remain outside and hold off the attackers.
Inside the enormous mechanism, the group discovered an additional complication- gravity shifted and changed between areas. Whet launched towards one of the defenders, only to come crashing down as he shifted from one gravity space to another. Lira followed him down, making sure to draw attention. Between them, they pulled off most of the guards- leaving Dweena a more open path. She took advantage of this- first gluing down some of the opposition and then using a swing line to get to the main control section.
Meanwhile up top, Chain the Scalebound warrior and Marreg the Orcish Hunter face a growing onslaught. The first wave hit them- putting each against a group of four. Even as they whittled those numbers down, a second group of four followed up. Too caught up in the fighting, Chain opted not to signal the ship. Marreg desperately tried to push back and knock down his opponents. Just as the heroes managed to gain some breathing room, another wave arrived, this one accompanied by larger and more deadly adversaries, massive gargoyles instead of lesser ones. Marreg and Chain found themselves in desperate straits- and then the whole surface of the device shook: the Stone Queen's Dragon had arrived.
The shaking alerted Lira and Whet to problems above. They dispatched the last defenders as quickly as they could. Dweena sent them on- she would stay behind to disable the lock- a process which might take some time. Lira and Whet exited out into the middle of the battle above- the metal slick with the blood of the friends and enemies. Lira engaged one of the larger gargoyles, combining her efforts with Marreg. Whet, however, tried to gauge the Dragon's actions. Rather than attacking, the beast seemed puzzled by Chain. Clearly he'd never seen a Scalebound. Chain, on the other hand, pushed himself further. He desperately wanted to finish off his enemies so that he could engage and kill the dragon- ancient adversaries of his people.
The group coordinated- managing to bring down some of their foes- but the situation still looked desperate. Whet tried to communicate with the Dragon- convincing it that they could perhaps help it, find a way to revert it back to a non-stone state. The Dragon agreed and joined with their side. An enraged Chain refused to give up and lunged forward at the Dragon, but fell to the ground exhausted from his wounds. At that moment, Dweena released the last control mechanism- detaching the chain and sending everyone flying. Whet grabbed up the unconscious Chain and leaped on the Dragon's back, along with Marreg and Lira. Dweena launched a line and sky-skitched behind them as they raced back to the ship. The Dwarven vessel shot out of the chains-blasting toward one of the magical engines. It caught some of that fire and used that power to kick in the thrusters, sending the Dwarven ship, Lira's attached ship and the PCs racing away from the Stone Queen.
ESCAPE AND A NEW CRISIS
Out of the storm clouds, they flew back to the fleet. After passing through the forward patrols, they arrived at the flagship. They quick passed on the most important news- that the Dwarven vessel possessed a force field which might allow the fleet to pass through the Stormwall. They also told the Admiral to shift course away from the Stone Queen's location. Reluctantly, Chain agreed to the presence of the Dragon. Dweena asked the mages to see what they could do about reversing the Dragon's petrified condition.
In the midst of this celebration, however, Captain Brozne took them aside to give them some grave news. Their suspicions had been confirmed. The blast which had rocked the main ship and destroyed the magical labs had been an act of sabotage. Somewhere aboard the fleet there were agents working to stop them.