Angry Bruce appointed five of his militia to go and find out who had stolen the bodies from deep freeze. The move to bring in something resembling actual organised law enforcement sits very badly with the convict section of society. The colonists were not overly supportive of a criminal police force either. Still, it was just five men and one crime. Weapons in hand, they set off into the seedy underbelly of the seediest of the six (eight?) colony pods to find out who would be so low as to steal from respectable criminals.
Outside, work busily resumed now that the storm had gone. A receiver dish was mounted on the top of Pod Six, hopefully the fungus would quickly cover it as right now it was something of a beacon for anybody searching for hidden criminal colonies. Elsewhere, thick cables were laid across the sandy floor towards the site chosen for a new farm. The rest, when not being interviewed by the Space Australia Investigatory Taskforce, were clearing the land to the east and assembling some of the last prefab structures into a second processing plant. The lack of transport was becoming a real problem, men were dragging the huge insulated panels across the ground like teams of horses with only a few hastily improvised dollies to help them.
The second Xenofarm was a bit better looking than the first. The colonists were learning the finer points of construction on alien worlds and it was showing. Hooked up to the reactor back in the crashed pod, the plant would double their food production. Hope returned that one day people might be served a full helping of nutrient slurry - or even that they'd get around to setting up a hydroponics lab to grow some of the foods that were starting to become only distant memories. The new processing centre for the farm even sported it's own receiver dish. Now, when the explorers returned to solve the mysteries of Pod Eight, they'd be able to send reports back to the colony.
Not far from the deep freeze where the bodies were taken, the taskforce had drawn quite a crowd. After a few rounds of "questioning" "suspects" their investigation was over. All five of the men were suspended by their feet and hanged upside down. Bloody pools had accumulated underneath each of the officers, their heads removed (and nowhere to be seen). On the wall opposite the graffiti had been painted over so that it could clearly hold a single fresh message - "Who watches the watchmen?". Some of the crowd exchanged ration tokens, more than one of the gangs had apparently been running a book on just how long the taskforce would survive and how they'd eventually end up being dealt with. The sensible money had been on "tossed out of an airlock" or "eaten". "Beheading" had been an outside chance, and it had paid off for the few.
[Roll for police action - difficulty 14. You get a 7. Failure]
With the people having spoken, the investigation was officially closed. Now there was another issue at hand, the new farm had no protection and while the only dangerous entity on the planet appeared to be Space Australia itself, there were concerns of hidden giant sand worms, fungal dragons or even space ghosts.
[Population growth roll 1d6(-2) - 1d6. 2(-2) - 6. No growth]
Depressperado's Badass Great Aunt wrote:
"there's sin enough without treating love like a sin"
Considering we have already used a prime ore site as farmland, I'd rather make the most of what we already have before expanding further out into unknown territory.
Because I am already Australian, and thus have a unique insight into the world of Space AustraliaCase closed.
A nuclear reactor, even a small one like those powering the six colony pods (and hopefully the two or more secret ones), put out a lot of radiation. Enough to cook a man within a minute or so of direct exposure. Back on earth the solution would have been to use robots, controlling them from a distance and hoping that their electronics were sufficiently radiation hardened. If you had to send in a man then there were certain materials that displayed useful properties in the face of radiation, crystal structures that were very stubborn about allowing incident radiation to rearrange their atoms. Both of those were pipe dreams though. Here, on the planet and with the available resources, there was only one real solution: Heavy metals. Taking advantage of the slightly lower gravity (g was ~0.95m/s^2 compared to the 0.98m/s^2 back on earth. It wasn't much, but it let every man and woman lift a little more than they otherwise would be able (the downside being that the lower gravity also reduced bone density and muscle mass slightly).
In the end, the Sparkies had put together ten suits. Big bulky things that fit over the slimmer overalls the colonists were used to wearing outside, each was lined with lead. On top of that came an extra lead apron. Each was also fitted with a small Geiger-counter and a second meter detailing the total exposure. The suits were heavy, but finding ten muscle-bound convicts was not so difficult at all. The other explorers would carry the suits out, dress the radiation team as close to the site as possible and then hope for the best. It was far from ideal, any precision work would be severely more difficult, but they should prevent the worst of the effects. More suits could be made in the future fairly easily, but the problem was that their massive weight made transporting them a nightmare. Right now, there was no way these suits could be included in the standard exploration package (unlike the comms laser), they would only be brought along when found absolutely necessary. The team who designed the suits speculate about possible advancements if they had better facilities: Some kind of powered skeleton within to make them easier to move in or replacing the lead with more sophisticated radiation absorbing materials
[Population growth roll 1d6(-2) - 1d6. 1(-2) - 5. No growth]
The militia were split now between guarding the core of Space Australia and the outlying farm. The food supply from the new farm was steady, but the militia were feeding back some strange reports. On several occasions they ask whether another exploration team was in the area. A blurry photo even begins to circulate showing a vaguely man-shaped shadow in a dust cloud. It might be nothing, or it might be a joke. It doesn't help the sullen mood of the colony though.
One more turn to prepare before going to pod 8, rovers should let us haul all the cool crap back for us instead of wasting a turn walking back and forth.