Behind The Scenes

Mr. Universe's Base

My first big question was where did Mr. Universe's hideout on Dante come from? It's frickin' huge! The main base sets on an artificial raised plateau at least 1,000 feet wide and 2,000 feet long with an airstrip down the middle. The facility has dozens of dish antennae of various sizes. No hacker, no matter how wealthy, could have put something like this together without the Alliance knowing. And, his computer area is distinctly slapped together, with monitors hanging in a random profusion.

So, my decision was that the base was an abandoned observatory. I decided that it was a radio and gravity wave observatory, built to listen for signals from Earth-that-Was. Possibly it was also meant to listen for signs of alien intelligence. Dante was in the process of being terraformed, and had a breathable atmosphere, when something went wrong. Some terraforming or natural event (don't ask me what) caused the formation of the ion cloud in Dante's magnetic field, a disaster that would take centuries to dissipate. So the Alliance mothballed the facility and closed it down. Possibly, there was a secret political decision to do so, perhaps the observatory discovered something, like a message from Earth, and the Alliance deliberately created the ion cloud to explain closing the facility. Dante was declared off limits due to the dangers of the ion cloud.

Mr. Universe discovered it in old files and hired a small team of engineers to restart the power generator and he moved in as a squatter, using the powerful gravity wave instruments to tap the Cortex. Smugglers in Blue Sun make regular deliveries, bring him food, parts and other items, like his Lovebot. (I had made up an NPC in case Drew's wife Julie played, she was going to be the smuggler who knew the secret to getting there.)

Another one of my questions is "Why didn't the Operative destroy the whole facility after he killed Mr. Universe?" Because the facility is Alliance property. You don't burn down a vacant building just because it has rats (well, Lennon might), you kill the rats.

The Battle of Dante's Aftermath

The Battle of Dante was a terrible surprise for the Alliance fleet. They did not expect that massive Reaver fleet. Which brings up another question, where did the Reaver fleet come from? My answer is that those massive ships are part of the colonial transport fleet that brought the colonists to Miranda. Thirty million people, remember? And their furniture, cows, chickens, building supplies, etc, etc, etc. When the PAX effect happened, many of those crews would have been planetside. Other ships arrived just after and fell into Reaver hands. Still others are prizes captured by raiding parties and brought back to Miranda.

What about the battle itself? Well, the Alliance won. Not without cost, but they won. If they hadn't, there wouldn't have been any ships to send down troops to rescue the Operative. Watching the battle (over, and over, and over), the Reaver ships are not well armed at all for ship to ship combat. A few ships had weapons, but very few. Most of the Alliance ship damage was caused by collisions with suicidal Reavers or accidents. So, it was mostly a turkey-shoot against kamikazes at point blank range. The Operative's corvette was trashed, the carrier Oahu took heavy damage, and I'm sure other vessels took damage to lesser degrees.

Now, somehow, the Serenity ends up in a spaceport under repair. At the end, Mal credits the Operative for taking care of their repairs. Some websites state that the repairs took place on Persephone and that is where their dead friends are buried. So how did the Serenity get there?

My answer is that the ships in orbit sent down a couple of landing ships carrying tank recovery or engineering vehicles. They brought the Serenity out of the hangar to where salvage tugs could grapple her and carry her to orbit. From there, the Operative commandeered a ship to take him back to Londinium to report to Parliament and they took the Serenity with them and dropped her off on Persephone. The Operative ordered her repair from Alliance funds and stopped by after his report to Parliament.

What the characters find

So, one of my first thoughts was that when the crew arrived, they would find a fresh nuclear crater where the base had been. I dropped that for two reasons. One, it provides less opportunity for adventure, and two, if the Operative didn't destroy the base the first time because it was Alliance property, he's not going to order it destroyed now after it's too late. The same goes for the datapack for the Miranda Broadwave, it's too late to suppress it, so the Operative just left it behind.
When the characters arrived, we did a walk through of what they found: scorch marks from the landing craft; gouges, debris and an engine pod from Serenity's crash; the blood and bullet spattered room; an elevator with blood on the button for the power level (from Mal touching Mr. Universe's body); and a destroyed computer center with a blood trail from the chair to the couch. The reaver bodies from the fight with the Serenity's crew had been dumped in a pile and burned.

To give some excitement, there were Reavers in the complex, they were ones who escaped the battle, but didn't have a ship to get away in. They were hiding in the station, living off Mr. Universe's food supplies, waiting for victims with a ship. Like our heroes.

Timeline

These dates are for my campaign purposes only, I have no idea what dates the movie covered.

9/26/2518 Mal calls Mr. Universe, not knowing the Operative is there. The Operative kills Mr. Universe and calls in reinforcements.

9/29/2518 The Serenity reaches Dante, runs the Alliance blockade and crashes on Dante. Mal sends the signal.

9/30 to 10/5/2518 Alliance forces conduct Search and Rescue operations, the Serenity is recovered.

10/6/2518 Alliance forces drop off casualties on Meridian

10/20/2518 The Operative drops off Serenity for repairs on Persephone.

10/21/2518 The Operative reports to Parliament

11/4/2518 Senator von Alksburg contacts Captain Sata

11/17/2518 The crew of the Yellow Submarine meet with von Alksburg. The Operative returns to Persephone to say goodbye to Mal.

12/6/2518 The crew of the Yellow Submarine land on Dante and recover the Miranda Broadwave datapack.