On a cold runway in Christchurch, NZ, the new members of Strike Force Janus meet for the first time. Captain Pierre LeBlanc, a veteran of the Canadian army, is the first to arrive. He's joined by Dirk Smiel, a noted Australian archaeologist, explorer, and martial artist, and Jake Evans, a quirky American ex-spook and telepath. The final member of the team is Dr. Cornelius Black, a member of the Black family which has been associated with Janus for decades. Black is a potent telekinetic and electrokinetic.
The new team is flown to McMurdo, and then onto Mount Erebus, where they tour the Rift facility and meet various staff members, including their liaison, Jane Salis, chief researcher Cyprian Groon and base commander, Colonel Hoedecker. While they're still getting acquainted with the base, the Countdown alarm sounds. A potentially apocalyptic threat is coming, and the psychics observing the Rift have pinpointed it to a spot out in the middle of the Antarctic ocean.
The team return to McMurdo and fly out to the focal point. En route, they are fed more information over their headsets from base; the focal point seems to be the Grigor Akevy,, registered as belonging to the World Resource Study Group. The team paraglide down to the ship, and discover several corpses lying on the deck. Moments later, they are attacked by other crew members, all of whom appear to be controlled - or even animated - by strange silvery wires. They also find out that the silver wires are vulnerable to electricity, making the electrokinetic Black immune to them and the zombies they have animated. The zombies try to separate the team and capture Black, but the characters escape and hole up in the engine room.
Examination of the helicopter's logs and interrogating the only survivor reveals that the Grigor Akevy was conducting illegal surveys of possible oil deposits in Antarctica, when they discovered someone lying in the snow. The mysterious body was flown back to the ship... and some time after that, the crew tried to incinerate him. The silver wires seem to come from the stranger's body. Evans is able to use his psychic abilities to locate the burnt remains, which have somehow been moved to the bridge.
With time running out and the 'silver-wire zombies' at the door, the team sail the Grigor Akevy into a storm, and use a harpoon gun and a telekinetically lifted cable to channel a lightning strike right into the bridge of the ship, frying, well, pretty much everything. Kaboom!
Post-Game Analysis: It was always going to be a pain to cram the introduction of the four PCs, the four main NPCs, the basic background ideas and a fun first mission into a three-hour game. I was tempted to start off in media res, which would have avoided the other weakness of the plot (having to put the Countdown somewhere near Antarctica, so the PCs would be the ones who go and save the day), but chickened out and went for a more conventional introduction. (I need to shake off the travelogue habit I've picked up from running Blue Planet, where I spend way too much time describing A, and B, and how the PCs get from A to B without anything actually happening.)
On the upside, it was a fun game, zombies are always a good icebreaker, and the final scene with the lightning strike and the harpoon was nicely cinematic. There were some fun character moments in the first act, and there's an interesting tension between the two psionic characters (Evans and Black) and the other two (Smiel and LeBlanc).
Next week: Ninjas!