Olympus RPG Blog

Olympus Role Playing Group Blog

Browsing Posts published by Gigermann

Duty Roster:

Edrasii “Eddy” Bkar’hen (Ronnke)
Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus (Gigermann)
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg

trav2-hangar

Rogue Planet

With all pirates dead, unconscious, or otherwise out of the fight, the Crew began sorting out the situation that remained. The “slaves” were held in jury-rigged cages in the hold of the hangar’s lone occupant, the far-trader, Jacob’s Apprentice, whose owner/captain, Jacob Bishop, was among those released. The pirates that still lived replaced the released hostages in the cells, and were questioned. What remained of Captain Bishop’s cargo, mixed in with other loot, was warehoused nearby; though they did not demand payment for the rescue, the Crew did agree to split the cargo with Bishop. Buck evaluated the condition of the ship and found it spaceworthy, though the jump-drive was a bit dodgy—might make a jump or two before it failed. It was decided that the Spinward Star would escort the Jacob’s Apprentice and Learned Lady back to Titleman Station (Fulacin Prime’s highport).

trav2-fulacin orbital

The nine-day trip went without incident. After disembarking, Professor Well gave them his sincere thanks for the rescue of his colleagues, and an official note from the University’s insurance company promising a 200k credit, standard “rescue fee,” which they could redeem at the nearest Rhylanor Imperial (Bank) branch on their way back to Regina; they decided Risek was their best option, only a little out of the way. With that, the Crew bid farewell to those they had rescued, and departed outsystem for Risek.

The Spinward Star entered jumpspace, and the Crew settled into their usual routines. Four days into the jump, while Haank was on watch in the middle of the “night,” the ship was suddenly pulled out of jumpspace. Haank immediately sounded the alarm and jumped into the pilot’s seat just in time to steer the ship out of the way of some debris. Before them was a massive, dark gas-giant, with several moons and lots of asteroids and planetary debris in its orbit, but no sun at all—a rogue planet. Sam was able to determine their position at around halfway between Fulacin and Risek. The ship’s comms began to pick up an automated distress call, which they triangulated, appearing to originate from a nearby moon. They approached the moon and began to scan the surface from orbit for the source of the signal, and found the wreck, a massive generation ship of a possibly Terran or very old Imperial make.

Gloriaexodus

The Crew cautiously entered the moon’s atmosphere and landed the ship on what solid ground they could find in the loose sand near the crash site, and disembarked in a wheeled rover (which was among their share of the Apprentice’s cargo); the air was full of radioactive dust, so they dosed themselves with anti-radiation meds before leaving, and remained in their vacc-suits for the duration. The drove the rover as close as the dunes would allow, within 10m or so, and continued on foot over the treacherous sand (Eddy was nearly swept under the ship), to find a place to enter the crash. Buck decided to force one of the cargo ramps; he used the rover to power the electronic locks, and rigged a bypass, but the door itself was stuck fast, so he ended up using the rover’s winch to pull the ramp down.

Inside the cargo bay, they found the wreck silent as the grave. They found a pile of discarded animal bones—cattle, from the look of it—years, maybe decades old. They also found electrical lines running fore and aft, powering a jury-rigged communications suite, apparently wired up to the ship’s antenna array. The Crew split up to follow the electrical lines and some weak hits on hand-held bioscanners that some had brought along. They discovered, in one cargo bay, a number of jury-rigged low-berth pods containing around thirty survivors in stasis; and in another bay, an old encampment, the condition of which suggested a multi-year occupation; and in another bay, what was left of the startup colony’s supplies, including some old ground vehicles; and in another bay, hundreds of the ship’s original low-berth pods in various states of repair, some still holding the dead, having been stripped of usable parts to serve the remaining survivors. It was decided to attempt to move the jury-rigged pods to the Spinward Star to be taken to Risek and awakened there, though it would take a bit of engineering to move them without endangering the occupants—some took the rover back to the ship to fetch the portable fusion reactor to keep the units powered during the move. Meanwhile, Eddy continued to explore, and found a portable computer terminal belonging to the captain, Elliot Vance; after managing to power it up, among other data, he found copies of the ship’s logs. He relayed to the rest of the Crew the fate of the generation ship, the “Gloria Exodus”: centuries back, it had crashed on a moon of this uncharted rogue-planet, and the survivors managed to survive for around three years sheltered within the ship from the harsh environment outside; after further deaths from sickness or accidents, the chief engineer, Alexander McGarren—a mechanical genius, by all accounts—managed to hobble together enough functional stasis pods to keep the survivors alive almost indefinitely, in the hopes that someone might eventually stumble across their signal.

The Crew took time and care, and using the colony vehicles in addition to their own, managed to move the pods to the Spinward Star without incident. They then departed the moon, skimmed the gas-giant for fuel, and jumped out for Risek as originally planned.


Notes

  • Commjunkee took over as GM for a one-shot run, of which this session was the second part; Eddy, the regular GM’s PC, continued with the Crew; Abe’s player was out this week as well for reasons.
  • Due to…circumstances, I took far too long to get around to writing up this report; as a result, my memory of the events is less than complete, and I had to abbreviate things a little more than the session probably deserved
  • In the 2.5 weeks out and back to Fulacin II, Salla had finally gotten his repairs done and left the station, I think
  • I don’t recall if the fate of the captured pirates was ever specified, but I assume they were turned over to local authorities—I think the one that cooperated was discreetly allowed to slip away
  • The captain of the Gloria Exodus is is named for two of the guest-GM’s children (Elliot, and Vance)
  • The chief engineer, Alexander McGarren, is an homage to MacGyver
  • I don’t think the rogue planet was ever referred to by name by the GM, but I have referred to it on our wiki as EV-001 (standard scientific naming convention is to name it for the discoverer—Elliot Vance—and in this case, it was his first such discovery), but it’s just as likely they called it “Bob” or something like that

Duty Roster:

Edrasii “Eddy” Bkar’hen (Ronnke)
Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus (Gigermann)
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg (Winston)

trav2-safariship

Pirate Activity

While Abe rendered medical aid to the three wounded pirates, the one that had surrendered was taken to the hold, and Eddy continued questioning him regarding his former company. The ex-pirate continued to be forthcoming, and Eddy offered him food and drink as he told his tale. He revealed the pirate company was 10-15 strong at the moment, based out of a partly-hidden hangar; their other ship/crew left a little over a week ago to do some trading in a neighboring system, and would not be expected to return for another few days at the very earliest; there were regular patrols of the surface near the base, with a few men at most, currently traveling back and forth to the scientists dig site to loot their supplies; captives were being held in a captured ship in the hangar, and were being readied for sale as slaves within the week; the base had a sensor suite that would be able to spot approaching craft. Meanwhile, Sam tried to narrow down the source of the ground-based comm signal he had picked up during the fighting, and to get a better view of the topography around the area, the details of which were corroborated by the surrendered ex-pirate, who also supplied a rough map of the hangar indicating likely encounters with its occupants. The planet was airless, .66 G, but inside the base would be normalized.

The Crew then gathered in the lounge to make their rescue plans. They studied the intel, and determined base’s sensors would be masked by the ridge the base was hidden under. They decided to go in fast, in a nap-of-the-earth approach in the sensors’ blind spot; the idea of using the launch or the safari ship as a distraction was discussed, but they decided against putting their crew in any further peril—speed and stealth should be enough. They geared up for a hard fight; for non-lethal options, they took along some tangler grenades they had purchased from Salla at Fulacin.

The approach went smoothly; no sign of detection. As they descended below the cloud of volcanic ash, they were able to pick up clearly the pirates’ comm signal; there was a bit of casual chatter between the base and a patrol at the research camp, and some wondering regarding the ambush team’s status. The Spinward Star swept up to the side of the ridge opposite the base, and barely touched down to let the assault team disembark, before backing off a safe distance to provide overwatch. The assault team scaled down the ridge-face to the half-buried hangar, and split into two teams, each stacking up on a different airlock. Access to the base was unlocked, but would make some noise as the locks cycled—their entrance would not go unnoticed—so they would be going in loud, vigilant for potential civilian bystanders.

trav2-hangar

  • 1shot5b-002The “A” team of Ella, Sae and Abe entered through the forward airlock, and as it cycled, they spotted a couple of pirates within the control room on the other side of the inner viewport, who reacted to their appearance by attempting to sound an alarm. Sae pressed in first and shot the operators down, killing one instantly. Abe followed behind and did what he could to keep the other alive, while Ella and Sae turned their attention to the airlock’s side exit, and a couple of pirates they had spotted taking up cover positions on the other side of the hangar, near the back of the Empress Marava-class far-trader therein. They took cover beside the opening airlock door and began to exchange long-range fire with the pirates. The pirate taking cover at the aft corner of the ship retreated out of sight, presumably to circle around, while his comrade remained behind cover and kept up pressure on the airlock.
  • 1shot5b-001The “B” team of Haank, Buck and Eddy entered through the side-tunnel airlock, and as it cycled, they spotted a couple of pirates in a barracks-room on the other side of the inner viewport, playing cards on one of the bunks. The team rushed in immediately as the door opened and surprised the guards, who couldn’t arm themselves quickly enough to put up a proper fight, and indicated their surrender. As Eddy approached to secure one of them, he caught his vacc-suit on a nearby wall-locker and pulled it down on top of himself, at which point one of the pirates attempted to seize the opportunity to attack Haank from behind, but was shot down. Eddy remained behind to secure the prisoners while Haank and Buck emerged through the secondary airlock exit into the hangar.
  • 1shot5b-003The pirate that had been exchanging fire with Ella and Sae walled them inside the airlock with a barrage of tangler grenades from an under-barrel launcher. Sae fell back into the control room, where Abe was still performing first aid, and began attempting to shoot through the thick glass with his magnum pistol, but failed to connect with his target beyond. The pirate changed to a fresh magazine of high-explosive grenades and fired on the airlock, which did little more than clear out the webbing, and decided instead to fall back behind the ship, pursued soon after by Ella, then Sae.
  • 1shot5b-004Haank and Buck rounded the corner to head for the ship’s lowered port cargo ramp when Haank was jumped by a cutlass-wielding pirate; Haank ducked out of the way, leaving his attacker open for a long burst from Buck’s gauss rifle. As Haank approached the ramp, someone inside tossed a grenade out, and Haank quickly kicked it back inside before it detonated, and then ducked under the ramp to crawl across to the other side, while Buck took cover at the airlock corner and exchanged fire with the pirates inside the ship. Haank reached the other side of the ramp and sneaked his gauss rifle low around the corner, viewing through the scope video link, sighted in on the heavily-armored pirate leader, and with a lucky “perfect” shot, fired a single APHD that blew a hole straight through his heart and out the other side of his armor. It so shocked the remaining couple of pirates nearby (the ones Ella and Sae were after, having just entered through the open starboard ramp) that they threw down their arms and surrendered, lest they suffer a similar fate.

Meanwhile, outside the base, the Spinward Star had been loitering, and had eventually picked up a heat-signature inbound from the research dig-site—the patrol, in a wheeled-vehicle. Sam maneuvered the ship to intercept, with Jones manning the laser-turret, and secured their surrender as well.


Notes

  • Commjunkee took over as GM for a one-shot run, of which this session was the second part; Eddy, the regular GM’s PC, continued with the Crew, while Sae was taken over by Sam’s player for the combat portion
  • This session was taken up almost entirely by a combination of mission-planning and executing a moderately-sized combat, the total of which took us far overtime for the night
  • With the barrage of tangler grenades fired at Team A’s airlock, we found ourselves needing to know what the DR of a “wall of goop” was, and what visibility, and the possibility of firing through open spots in said wall would be. We just improvised at the time; I’m not sure that information had been specified anywhere in the rules—we didn’t find it, at any rate
  • I don’t quite remember the specifics, but Haank was “forced” to resort to using his under-barrel gauss shotgun—I think it was just late, and we needed to end the fight quickly—which he had loaded (per SOP) with APHD rounds, which we discovered some time back can blow holes in ships (literally), 6d×3 (5) imp; the damage total rolled was 66. The leader of the pirates currently present was wearing space armor (DR100). I rolled a “1” on a d6 for the extra hit-location (MA137, “Torso”)—Vitals. Needless to say, it was insta-death. As Buck’s player said afterward: “You can’t just read a newspaper through that hole. You can deliver one”
  • Due to…circumstances, I took far too long to get around to writing up this report; as a result, my memory of the events is less than complete, and I had to abbreviate things a little more than I normally would have liked

Duty Roster:

Edrasii “Eddy” Bkar’hen (Ronnke)
Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus (Gigermann)
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg

trav2-fulacin orbital

Trojan Horse

trav2-zwell
Prof. Well

As the two containers were being hauled away, the Crew of the Spinward Star observed a neighboring ship, a Type R2 Class Subsidized Merchant, the lcarus in Decline, with her jump drive pulled out for service. As they began searching for outbound delivery opportunities, they found a number of freight lots and passengers held up on account of her situation. Almost immediately, the Crew was approached by a tall, thin man, a university professor by the name of Zinfield Well, who required insystem transport to Fulacin IV as soon as possible, to meet another charter in orbit there; he referred back to a gaggle of bored and frustrated young college students, wearing vacc suits, seated on their luggage and science gear on the wharf, saying he and a few of his astrogeology students were on a university-sponsored research trip. Eddy took the professor aside and presented the company’s “best offer” (without consulting the company)—double the going rate—and convinced him that he had no viable alternative. The exorbitant charge was reluctantly agreed to, though the professor could only pay a fraction up-front; the remainder would be covered by a bank-note on the university’s behalf. Abe decided to hang out with the science students and talk shop, to learn what they might know about botany, and be generally sociable; he brought Valerie along, who eventually seemed more at ease around others of similar age and background.

trav2-salla
Salla Altunizian

Meanwhile, Ella was approached at the ramp by a well-dressed man, who introduced himself as Salla Altunizian, captain of the lcarus in Decline. He revealed that Sae (who wasn’t in the area at the time) had been a trusted crewman aboard his vessel in the past. He then explained that his ship was stranded waiting for jump drive parts to be delivered, and he had a rush-shipment in his hold that he was unable to deliver on time as a result; he would be willing to sell off some or all of it at a much-reduced price—small arms and military equipment, obtained legally—to recover some of his loss. Ella discussed the offer with the other partners; together they decided it was a good opportunity—they had the funds, and could probably sell off whatever they purchased at Yori or Treece, on the way to Regina, for a decent profit.

Ella contacted Salla and informed him that she would be sending someone to inspect the cargo. Haank took Buck and Sae with him to the lcarus’ berth, scanners in hand, and were welcomed by Sae’s old crew-mates, who showed them the cargo and associated manifests. Sections of the ship were kept strictly off-limits to prying eyes—Buck tried to get a look, saying he was wondering how he might help with their jump-drive issue. They took their time and went over everything thoroughly, and no shenanigans were discovered. Haank cleared it with Ella, and purchased 5 tons, which were loaded aboard the Spinward Star within the hour. They would be keeping a case or two of tangler munitions, as they’d been discussing the need for some non-lethal combat options. Afterward, Salla contacted Ella and invited the Crew to dinner; she accepted. The whole Crew attended, as did Salla’s; the dress was casual, and the food and drink excellent, and they wrapped up their business with a toast to good fortune. They might have stayed longer into the evening, but they didn’t want to keep their passengers waiting much longer, so they made their farewells and returned to their berth to ready the ship for departure and get all aboard.

trav2-safariship

It was a 9 day, 8 hour trip to Fulacin IV, in which nothing much occurred. Abe spent most of his time keeping company with the science students; their discussions eventually drifted into his research into the anti-freeze plant samples—he showed them his research, and held nothing back, not thinking about patents, or any sort of “business” concerns. After a week-plus in the black, on schedule, they made contact with the 200-ton Safari ship, Learned Lady, in orbit around the rockball planet, and Sam docked the Spinward Star belly-up at her ventral airlock. Her launch was gone; as the passengers disembarked and the Crew was allowed to look around and talk to their counterparts aboard the Lady, they were told that the launch was at the research site, dirtside, and was expected to return shortly. Some time later, the launch was picked up on sensors on a routing intercept vector, though it would not respond to comms; the crew of the Learned Lady thought little of it, but the Crew of the Spinward Star were immediately suspicious. The launch continued its approach, and docked, as if nothing were amiss. The captain went to the airlock to meet the returning team, and as the port opened, he was immediately shot dead.

1shot5a

  • Haank, Sam, Sae and Jones were still aboard the Spinward Star, and at the sound of gauss fire, they scrambled to repel boarders. While fetching his rifle from the ship’s weapons locker, Haank directed Sam to cut the gravity and lock down the cockpit, while Sae and Jones bolted for the turrets. Then Haank floated gracefully through the hatches “down” to the other ship, followed shortly by Sam, after he had attempted to find the pirates’ comm frequency and failed, due to some kind of interference caused by volcanic activity on the ground.
  • Ella and Buck were in the common area adjacent to the launch airlock, and took cover behind some local furniture and exchanged fire with the pirates as they pressed in from the launch. A couple of pirates quickly entered, while another, guessed to be their team-leader, remained behind cover in the airlock—one of the pirates who entered was killed; the other returned ineffectual fire from cover behind other nearby furniture.
  • Eddy helped clear the civilians out of the line of fire to starboard and up to the level “above.” He heard some movement on the other side of a nearby iris, and being unarmed, grabbed a nearby trophy and readied it to strike.
  • As Haank and Sam passed through the Learned Lady’s cockpit area, Sam remained behind to help them get the gravity shut off and try to lock down the launch so it couldn’t leave, while Haank made for the nearby hatch to the upper deck to join the others.
  • Abe was in a lab room across from the airlock where he had been socializing with the research students. As the shooting started, he closed the door, and set the students about gathering some materials to improvise a smoke-bomb. When completed, and the students had taken cover within the lab, he opened the door and threw the device to the launch’s airlock, though it deflected when the gravity unexpectedly cut out. The area around the launch airlock was quickly filled with obscuring smoke.
  • Another pair of boarders entered through Eddy’s door, but his “weapon” broke up mid-swing, and he was forced to use bare hands. He fled “down” through the hatch and brawled with the pirates as they attempted to follow and get a clear shot at him. He managed to knock one’s weapon away before kicking him unconscious, and pursued the other as he attempted to flee back to the launch.
  • The living pirate still inside the ship surrendered, flanked by Abe, who had managed to grab the other’s lost weapon as it floated by, around the same time Haank floated down from the level above. The pirate-leader closed the airlock and retreated back into the launch; it sounded like he was trying to spin up and break it free, to escape. Ella and Buck rushed the airlock door, and tried to force the lock, but the ship’s safeties prevented it from opening.
  • Eddy swung from the ceiling hatch and booted the remaining boarder through the door into a far wall, and beat him unconscious, just as Haank caught up to him. The two followed around to the launch’s starboard cargo portal, and managed to force it open just before it was locked down. They entered cautiously through the airlock leading into the passenger/cockpit compartment—knowing the pirate will have heard it cycle and would be prepared—and Haank put his rifle around the low-corner of the now-open iris, and fired a quick burst at the enemy, dropping him before he could react.

The (literal) smoke cleared. The launch was shut down, the dead placed in low-berth, and the prisoners secured. The surrendered pirate was questioned; he had been forced by circumstance into the pirates’ service, and told all he knew of their operation—the science team below had been captured and would be sold into slavery. Though Sam had been unable to pinpoint the source of the comm signal below, they had a pretty good idea where the pirate base would be, and would have to move quickly before the rest of the pirates began to suspect their ambush had gone awry. To be continued…


Notes

  • Commjunkee took over as GM for a one-shot run; Sae was therefore demoted to NPC status and generally kept clear of the action, while Eddy, the regular GM’s PC, continued with the Crew
  • The guest-GM took advantage of the opportunity to introduce Salla, Sae’s “arms-dealer” Contact, an old shipmate and captain of his, who had not made an appearance in the campaign as yet
  • Abe’s as yet unnamed “anti-freeze plant” goes back to the Crew’s shore-leave on La’Belle in Session 2.5, and has become a sort of side-goal for that character to turn it into something marketable, though the character, himself, is not so business-savvy to capitalize on the discovery. As a budding scientist, he was very proud of himself for having “scienced the shit out of” the pirate action, as were the students for their participation in repelling boarders
  • With the pirate’s attempt to flee with the launch, we found ourselves having to answer the question of how such a thing is secured to the mother-ship when so docked; we didn’t find any sort of reference at the time, though we presumed there should be some sort of safety measure to prevent the inner doors from being open when the launch was away, and that having the ability to programmatically prevent its leaving (by the ship’s computer) would be problematic in an emergency situation, and so disallowed

Duty Roster:

Edrasii “Eddy” Bkar’hen (Ronnke)
Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg (Ronnke)

trav2-Porozlo downs

Rush Job, Part III

Continued… It was around 08:00 IST and everyone was now awake in the crew’s lounge, sorting out what to do about Eddy’s capture. Buck pulled a radio-source detector out of his tool-pocket and synced it to his comm, and placed a call to Eddy; he could only narrow down his location to a residential quarter of the startown, moving generally toward the starport. Then Ella arrived, rather irritated at having to tear away from her “private business” so suddenly, having been alerted by a missed-call notice on her comm that contained a recording of the conversation with the bounty-hunter. Though his attempt to communicate had been cut off, Eddy had managed to pass on the words “broker” and “meeting”; Jones had been keeping tabs on the TrampNet feed for incoming deliveries (another now arriving) and found that there was a face-to-face meeting scheduled for an hour hence. Resigned to having to rush to this meeting she previously knew nothing about, Ella took a few minutes to put herself together and got under way, taking Abe along in Eddy’s place; there would be just enough time to get through security, navigate the startown, and make the schedule. Buck, Sam and Sae were left to plan Eddy’s rescue, also on an unknown, but believed short, timetable.

Sae took charge of the rescue mission planning. They had the advantage of knowing the bounty-hunter was taking Eddy to the Hellhound, his ship berthed on the other side of the starport; Buck’s comm signal trace gave a rough starting location, giving them a fair idea how long it would probably take for him to reach the ship—depending on how much grief the security personnel would give him at the entry checkpoint. Getting the bounty hunter in legal trouble would be difficult if his paperwork were in order, and they presumed it was. An open assault would give the Crew their own legal problems, aside from the potential difficulties inherent in the combat itself. In the end, they decided to have Buck booby-trap the ship’s access hatch with a simple electrical discharge that would, hopefully, stun the very large man. As backup, Sam and Sae would be at the Crew’s air/raft across the wharf, pretending to work on a smoking engine, with Buck in the open back seat hidden under a tarp, aiming Sae’s gauss shotgun loaded with stinger rounds. Once the bounty-hunter was stunned or unconscious, they could sweep in to “help” and spirit Eddy away in the confusion. They left immediately to see it done; the air/raft was positioned, smoke generated, and tarp readied. (Before leaving, Sae made a quick stop to “check the cargo” at the wharf, and dropped off Abe’s blood sample in the specified drainage grate.) Buck made his way separately along the busy docks to the Hellhound bearing a toolbox and clipboard; he was stopped on the way by a neighboring ship’s crewman, complaining that the repairs he was waiting for were long overdue—Buck promised he’d look into it ASAP. At the target, he made sure nobody was looking, rigged the booby-trap and disabled the remote-opening receiver, and returned to the air/raft the long way around, to take up his sniper’s position. Then, they waited…

Meanwhile, Ella and Abe had to call ahead to the broker to let him know they would be a bit late, as there was a lot of foot traffic at the security checkpoint—he didn’t make a fuss. They arrived around at the small, somewhat disorganized office around 09:30, and were greeted by a middle-aged fellow, the broker, who seemed like he was trying just a little too hard to be “hip,” coming across a little awkward, but otherwise harmless. He said it was customary for him, and company policy, to meet with new clients and shippers directly, to look them in the eye and see what sort of cloth they’re cut from. He offered them both a drink, and made some small talk about their company and its dealings, and cleared up a couple of minor paperwork and licensing questions. Afterward, they all shook hands and parted, satisfied that both sides were trustworthy.

trav2-checkpoint

As Ella and Abe were most of the way back through the still-crowded security checkpoint, Ella happened to look back and saw Maaq Mountain in the back of the queue, along with apparently-handcuffed Eddy. They decided to avoid drawing any attention right away, but find a waiting-room seat on the other side of the checkpoint, to observe the bounty-hunter as he passed through—they commed the rescue team to inform them. Eddy was taking every opportunity to cause the bounty-hunter trouble; security personnel were observed ushering them both to a side office to be interviewed. After a long wait, they finally re-emerged, with a more-compliant Eddy, and were ushered through the rest of the checkpoint. On the other side, Eddy spotted Ella and Abe at the waiting room; when Maaq wasn’t looking, he mouthed, “Help me,” as they passed, before the bounty-hunter flagged down a starport tram headed in the direction of his ship.

trav2-MMountain
Maaq Mountain

The rescue team got a second comm from Ella informing them that the bounty-hunter was on his way to the ship, and some fifteen minutes later, they emerged from the terminal and walked over toward the ship. Eddy stopped momentarily to ask the bounty-hunter to check his comm, which was beeping an alert (the bidding on the last freight lot had closed; the Spinward Star had the low bid); Maaq reluctantly obliged, expecting Eddy’s shenanigans to resume at any moment. They then continued to the ship and Maaq triggered the remote, cursing when it failed to respond. Then the rescue team held their collective breath as the bounty-hunter reached for the door handle.

There was a loud electric crack, and the large man collapsed to the ground on top of Eddy.

Sae rushed over to “help” as a crowd began to gather. He checked the fallen giant’s vital signs and declared him to be “just fine” (Sae’s medical training didn’t include Humaniti, exactly). Buck then came over as well, and could find no pulse or respiration at all. Being untrained in medical matters, they called out to the gathering onlookers for skilled assistance; one of the crowd happened to be a medical student, who determined the bounty-hunter had suffered a full cardiac arrest, and started trying to revive him, while waiting for the starport paramedics to arrive. As the crowd was focused on the lifesaving efforts, Buck discreetly removed his booby-trap from the door and made a quick exit from the scene, while Sae collected up Eddy and did the same. Sam piloted the air/raft away with all aboard, leaving the bounty-hunter to his fate, in more-or-less capable hands.

An hour or so later, as the Porozlo suns had set for the first of two times for the day, to be replaced by the gathering clouds, the last of the freight arrived at the wharf, and Customs was called to perform their outbound inspection. The customs official arrived on time, and complained of a bad hangover from a night of partying; he curtly refused Eddy’s “sympathetic” offer of a drink—he really didn’t want any extra paperwork over the scuffed RFID tags on the containers, so he admonished Eddy to keep them sealed, and cleared everything for departure. Haank and Valerie returned around that time as well; Haank had a good day on the course, got some good tips from some famous golfers, and admitted he “may have used Valerie as a distraction”; Valerie seemed to be feeling a bit better as well for it.

Now with nothing remaining to be done, the Crew set about clearing up their business and readying to leave: Sam submitted the flight plan (he didn’t bother Ella, who usually handles this; she had gone immediately to sleep after returning) and he and Buck worked through the pre-flight checks; Haank and Sae got the cargo loaded and secured; Eddy paid the starport “tab,” and at the starport authority office, attempted to delay the departure of the Jesse Belle as payback for their under-bidding on freight—which ended up costing him a large chunk of what little cash he possessed to bribe the officer. Then, as the rain began to fall across the docks, roughly 21 hours after arrival, the Spinward Star lifted off once more, with all souls aboard. As the ship was vectored around the edge of the incoming weather, a bit of turbulence woke Ella, and she immediately commed Truman to apologize for not returning to him before the ship departed as she had promised, but promised instead to find him again sometime.

trav2-fulacin orbital

Forty-four hours later, the Spinward Star reached the outbound jump point and entered jumpspace for Fulacin. Eight days later, she broke out of jumpspace in the Fulacin system, around six hours out from the mainworld. Orbital traffic was light, no significant delays, and she berthed at the highport, a day and a bit before the rush-deadline—the Crew had succeeded. The cargo was unloaded at the wharf, and their respective buyers signed off; the sealed containers (which Haank had no reason to suspect were illegally-obtained) were paid for in cash in full at the wharf. Then the Crew began the cycle anew, bound for their next stop on the way to Regina.


Notes

  • I took over as GM for this one-shot run; as a result, Haank was demoted to NPC status and “written out” of the event, while Eddy was “written in” for the regular GM, Ronnke. See my GM’s behind-the-scenes insights on my blog
  • Sae’s player couldn’t make this session; Eddy’s player took over Sae for the duration, as Eddy was expected to be “tied up” ( 😉 ) for most of it
  • Buck’s tracking device (his use of Gizmo) actually occurred on the previous session, but fit the narrative a little better here
  • Eddy’s player specified that Eddy would be making a scene at every opportunity, delaying the bounty-hunter’s progress as much as possible. Once they ended up in the security waiting room, he mostly figured it was over without outside intervention and offered to behave himself from there on in exchange for a bit more understanding—Maaq agreed, “Don’t start none, won’t be none.” Of course, Eddy still intended to contact the rest of the Crew if he could.
  • Sae critically failed his First-Aid diagnosis check to decide what was wrong with the bounty-hunter after the booby-trap went off; this usually means “misinformation,” the most logical interpretation and worst potential outcome in this case would be to say, “there’s nothing wrong”
  • After the success of the mission, I had Haank take the broker/acquaintance at Rhylanor as a proper Contact, as part of my recent improvement strategy of developing his local networking capabilities. Ella also would end up taking Truman as a Contact, and Eddy a two-sided Reputation as “the one who took down the Mountain.”

Duty Roster:

Edrasii “Eddy” Bkar’hen (Ronnke)
Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg (CommJunkee)

trav2-Porozlo downs

Rush Job, Part II

trav2-MMountain
Maaq Mountain

Continued… The hour approached midnight as Sae continued to observe the very-large bounty hunter’s progress canvassing berth-to-berth in the direction of the Spinward Star, and tensed up as he finally reached the next berth over. The tension was shattered by an unexpected comm-call, a wrong number Sae recognized as a code—the Agency was calling him in; the call-back address was a meet-up. The bounty hunter was pointed into the starport by the next-berth neighbor, and he strode away, resolute. After updating the Crew by comm, Sae woke up Sam and had him cover his guard shift so he could “go OTG and get some real food.”

Meanwhile, Ella and Abe were wrapping up their banking business, and were on their way out of the robo-teller booth when the guy that Ella had spotted earlier approached her for some help with his new comm OS, as he had seen her using the same a moment before when she took a call (from Sae, regarding the bounty hunter). He was very polite, clearly intelligent, and perhaps, even genuine—maybe too good to be true. As compensation for her “tech-support services,” he offered to take Ella for a cup of coffee at a corner shop after he got done with his banking, and she accepted, in spite of her maybe-paranoid suspicions, and waited outside the bank for him, while Abe parted ways and returned to the ship to get some sleep, still a bit paranoid himself after the earlier “psychic incident.”

Around that same time, Buck and Eddy had arrived at an office complex in the startown to meet with the shadow broker. Eddy flirted with the secretary a bit before she announced them and pointed them to the broker’s office. The broker was cold and methodical, only glancing up to study the two briefly before looking back down at his computer displays, and rattled off the terms of shipment as if it were a pre-written script, covering every potential question before it need be asked: two 8-ton containers under seal, obtained on the black market, to be shipped to Fulacin Orbital unmolested, seals unbroken, for the standard rate plus fifty percent, half now, half by the buyer on delivery. He declared that taking the stack of cash he then slid across the desk toward them would be considered an agreement to the terms. Buck asked to make a call, and cleared the shipment with Ella, admitting it was less-than-legal (she was too distracted to make a fuss at the moment), and with permission so granted, Eddy took the cash. With a curt, “Good day,” the business was concluded, and the two left the office complex to return to the ship, but not before Eddy had secured a date with the secretary after she got off work in a few hours. Eddy noticed some nearby casinos on the way back, and Buck had to talk him out of an attempt to increase their profit-margin. Frequently checking the TrampNet for bidding activity, Eddy noticed they were being under-bid at every turn by another ship—the Jesse Belle—and he and Buck briefly discussed some sort of reprisal, but for fear of escalation, decided to let it go until later.

trav2-Alley

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Gerhard Kansii

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Katelyn

Sae waited in the indicated alley and stood, checking his comm twice in a certain way, to indicate his readiness to talk. Out of the shadows, two humans emerged: a man in a suit, and a red-haired woman, neither of which he recognized. The suited-man asked for a SITREP on Operation Red Wombat, Sae’s “favor” to the Agency, to gather information about the Crew’s possible contact with a lost Zhodani vessel; Sae held nothing back, telling them what he knew of the story—the suited-man tensed up when informed what had happened to the other crew that attempted to claim the prize. He looked to the woman, and she nodded affirmatively. Satisfied with the mission update, the man informed Sae of a new side mission he had for him, to discreetly obtain a blood sample from his fellow crewman, Ibrahim, using a small extraction device (which he then handed over), to be dead-dropped in a specific drainage grate near their berth. Sae agreed, though he intended to tell Abe the truth; the woman shook her head at the suited-man, and he again admonished Sae to keep the attempt covert. Sae agreed again, and this time, the woman nodded affirmatively to the suited-man. The suited-man told Sae, “The Agency, and the Emperor, thanks you for your service,” before the two disappeared back into the shadows. After making certain he wasn’t being followed, Sae stopped for a quick bite to eat and returned to the ship.


Some hours passed, and the first of Porozlo’s twin suns began to rise for the first of two times for the day.

While the other Crew aboard the ship slept, Sae searched the med bay for blood samples that might have been taken previously, but found none, and resigned himself to the dirty task of getting Abe’s sample the hard way. He grabbed a marker-pen, and crept into the four-bunk cabin where Abe and Sam were currently asleep; with one hand, he positioned the sampling device at Abe’s arm and triggered it, while with the other hand, he poised himself as if to write something nefarious across Abe’s forehead. The fine needle woke Abe, but only just, and in the sleep-addled haze, Sae’s apology and explanation that he was getting revenge for Abe’s constant “dog references” toward him seemed legitimate; he dismissed the interruption and went back to sleep, none the wiser. Sae retreated back to his guard duty, mission complete.

Meanwhile, Buck was outside the ship to meet the incoming delivery of the shadow-broker’s containers at the wharf, and found them as described, under a legitimate-looking monowire customs seal, with a manifest that indicated nothing special within. Just in case, falling back on old smuggling tricks (the origins of which were still unknown to the others), Buck scuffed the RFID tags, and altered the “8” digit to bear more resemblance to a “3.”

trav2-tpark
Truman Park

Ella’s coffee-date with the spacer from the bank failed to reveal the “catch”—Truman Park was a recently-promoted 1st Mate for the Oberlindes freight lines, currently serving aboard the 20,000 ton container-ship, Boston, and was a genuinely decent guy, a perfect gentleman, as far as she could tell. They talked for hours about life on the space-lanes, eventually relocating to overlook the docks as the suns rose. Truman offered Ella a tour of the Boston, and eventually, Ella asked to see his cabin…


Eddy woke from his power-nap to the alarm he’d set to remind him of his date with the shadow-broker’s secretary, made himself presentable, and left the starport for the agreed-upon startown diner. On the way, Eddy got a call from one of the legitimate brokers whose cargo he had placed bids on; the broker wanted a face-to-face meeting with the captain and the ship’s agent, and they agreed to do so at 09:00 local time. At the diner, the date seemed to be going well until, out of the side window, Eddy locked eyes with Maaq Mountain himself. After a few tense seconds of staring that seemed an eternity, with a quick “Sorry” to his date, Eddy bolted back into the diner’s kitchen, followed closely by the bounty hunter. The two crashed through the kitchen to the back door, vaulted clumsily over a fence at the end of the back alley, and hastily weaved at full speed through the foot traffic on the boardwalk leading up to the monorail station, where the train was just leaving. Eddy jumped headlong for the narrow landing between the monorail cars, but missed his mark, and ended up caught by the foot and dragged along beside the train; he was barely able to duck out of the way of the partition as the monorail left the station, leaving him hanging precariously over the traffic below. The bounty hunter, however, had managed to get aboard, and finding Eddy hanging outside, pulled him inside the train, and handcuffed him. When asked, the famed bounty-hunter revealed what Eddy already suspected, that he had been hired by “Crazy Ivan” to bring Eddy in over some delinquent debt payments. A short, awkward ride later, the two exited the monorail and began to walk back toward the starport, when Eddy demanded to be allowed to comm someone; the bounty-hunter sarcastically agreed, and called the Spinward Star on his own comm on Eddy’s behalf, and asked for the captain.

Buck was making coffee in the crew lounge when he spotted a flashing light on the cockpit console indicating an incoming call, and answered. Ella’s location was unknown to the others, so Buck fetched Sam out of bed—the second-in-command. While suppressing Eddy’s attempts to inform his crewmates of the upcoming face-to-face meeting with the broker by smashing him into the wall, Maaq Mountain informed Sam, as acting captain, that Eddy would not be making their departure.

To be continued…


Notes

  • I took over as GM for this one-shot run; as a result, Haank was demoted to NPC status and “written out” of the event, while Eddy was “written in” for the regular GM, Ronnke. See my GM’s behind-the-scenes insights on my blog
  • The break between sessions allowed me to get caught up on the date-time, and it turned out they had gotten in late in the day, and ended almost at midnight; fortunately, space-travelers come and go at all hours, 24/7, so business around the starport doesn’t normally close up for the night
  • Sae’s meeting with the Agents actually played out first, as some of the players were going to be late; Sae’s dilemma—to “betray” his fellow crewman or not—was well reflected by the player’s; he really struggled with it
  • The man-in-a-suit was Gerhard Kansii, and the red-haired woman, Katelyn, both from the Crew’s previous outing to Porozlo; Katelyn was psi-scanning Sae to keep him honest
  • When Sae woke Abe during his attempt to get the blood sample, he nearly failed to disguise it, but for a +2 for his Sense of Duty to the Crew—Abe believed it, because why would Sae be up to something nefarious?

Duty Roster:

Edrasii “Eddy” Bkar’hen (Ronnke)
Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg (CommJunkee)

309_max

Rush Job, Part I

During the eleven days before the Adric Mason’s arraignment hearing the Crew had to spend sequestered on the sector-capitol mainworld of Rhylanor, Haank took the opportunity to complete his final testing for his Basic Hazardous Materials Handler Endorsement. He passed without incident; and while at the testing facility, he ran into an old acquaintance from his brokering days, who offered a rush job: 10dT of reactor fuel rods to be delivered to Fulacin in 20 days—a tight schedule for two jumps—for near-Express rates if delivered on time. Haank accepted the offer on behalf of the Crew, and afterward easily filled the rest of the hold with freight, and secured a full manifest of passengers bound for Porozlo, the best intermediate port-of-call on the run to Fulacin. With the courts’ permission, Valerie Vaskor would go with them as a pro bono passenger to her family home on Regina to wait for the trial. It was decided to remain on Rhylanor after the hearing for a couple more days, leaving the day after Holiday.

trav2-eddy
“Eddy”

The day after the hearing, the Crew was approached by an old friend of theirs from their days working for Neverfail Freight out of Bevey, Edrasii “Eddy” Bkar’hen; he had spotted them on video coverage of the hearing. He solicited an invitation to dinner, and after some catching up, he revealed what they suspected all along, that he needed passage off Rhylanor ASAP and had no cash to pay for it. Ella knew he was a hard worker, at least, and offered working passage; Eddy accepted, having brought what little he possessed with him to the restaurant, clearly expecting (hoping for?) an affirmative response. The day after Holiday, with Eddy as their new, temporary crewman, the Spinward Star left Rhylanor Downs again for Porozlo, wary of every wasted minute in their effort to beat their deadline.

Once under way, the trip outsystem was fairly uneventful, save for a brief outage of the ship’s artificial gravity, due to a bad relay, that resulted in one of the passengers vomiting profusely, unprepared for the sudden freefall conditions. Due to the proximity of the system’s main star, it would take around twenty-four hours to reach the jump point. A few hours in, Haank got a comm from the mainworld, and afterward called everyone to a company meeting to give them the news that he had been invited to attend a celebrity golf outing on Porozlo, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that he would not pass up, and would take the better part of the twenty-four-hour layover they had planned for—so he would be unavailable to see to the usual ship’s business while ashore. The Crew were confident they could make up for his temporary loss; Sae would take over as loadmaster, and Eddy would find freight contracts as the de facto ship’s agent, while Abe would see to the acquisition of new passengers. About an hour out from the jump point, Sam received a routine traffic notice, and recognized the identity of the approaching ship as the CV Hellhound, which belonged to well-known local bounty hunter, Maaq Mountain (he had seen a segment on the Big Shot Bounty Hunter Show at a local bar). Eddy was eventually confronted with the news and reluctantly admitted to being the target, having indebted himself enough to justify a multi-system pursuit, though he swore he had done nothing “technically” wrong. Those that knew Eddy weren’t exactly surprised; they promised to not give him up at the first opportunity. The ship jumped out for Porozlo without further incident, and seven days later, broke out of jumpspace. The jump point was masked here as well, a 44 hour delay. Halfway there, the Crew detected the Hellhound breaking out of jumpspace and accelerating quickly along a similar vector; Sam calculated its arrival to be only a few hours after their own. In Porozlo’s orbital traffic, the Spinward Star was given new vectors by OTC to avoid collision debris over the downport control zone; Buck stepped in and talked the operator into letting them continue without the resulting delay at their own acknowledged risk.

trav2-Porozlo downs

It was evening when the Spinward Star set down at the downport, and once the customs official finally showed up to do his inspection, they were released to offload their passengers and freight. Haank immediately left and grabbed a taxi, bound for the hotel in Geeka where he would be staying for the tournament, taking Valerie with him so she could stretch her legs and get a bit of fresh air. During the unloading process, the Crew spotted a familiar ship some berths down from theirs, the CV Jesse Belle, which they knew to be captained by Ulysses Pitt, a former coworker at Neverfail Freight that Buck managed to get fired long ago, resulting in Pitt’s tireless, neverending mission to make Buck’s life miserable. Afterward:

  • Sam headed to the local Brubek’s for a pint and some food
  • Abe started checking TrampNet for passengers to Fulacin
  • Eddy started checking for freight lots bound for the same, knowing they would have about half the usual time to find any
  • Buck, knowing there wouldn’t be much commerce here bound for Fulacin, made some discreet inquiries regarding possible less-than-legal deliveries
  • Sae and Jones took turns watching the docks for threats

A bit later, it was decided to get permission to fly the ship out to deliver the last freight consignment to its designated locale in a nearby town, and Ella decided to fly it herself, rather than trouble Sam to come back. The trip went without incident, and upon their return, they saw the Hellhound landing on the other side of the starport from their berth. Meanwhile, Sam had returned to the berth from his drinking, still a bit tipsy, to find the ship gone, briefly causing him to panic before it returned. Later:

trav2-UPitt
Ulysses Pitt
  • Buck grabbed Eddy and headed out to meet with a shadow broker out in the star-town. On their way to the outbound checkpoint, Buck heard a familiar, almost-mocking voice exclaim, “BUUUUCKYYYY! My man!…,” and winced before turning to meet Captain Pitt’s feigned amity. Buck’s half-hearted attempt to smooth things over by offering to let his rival share in his criminal enterprise was rewarded only with Pitt’s assurance that Buck’s “debt” would be collected in due time, and went on his way, with a clap on the shoulder and a knowing wink.
  • Ella took Abe with her to the starport’s Imperial Astro-Commerce Bank branch to cash in their now-completed freight contracts. It was busy, crowded, the wait long but not-quite excessive. As they waited, Abe felt a familiar presence in his mind—had to be Katelyn—and snapped about to find its source, though he could not; he began to recite nursery-rhymes in his head, and then sensed “amusement” as the presence disappeared; he did not share this experience with Ella. Meanwhile, Ella spotted an attractive spacer in the queue behind, and tried to dismiss her compulsion to approach him, before their turn at the robo-teller was announced.
  • Sae was on guard at the ship, scanning the docks, when he noticed probably the largest human he had encountered—Maaq Mountain, the bounty-hunter—several berths down the way, asking questions of other ships’ crew and showing pictures, no doubt canvassing for Eddy’s whereabouts; Sae commed the rest of the Crew a warning.

To be continued…


Notes

  • I took over as GM for this one-shot run; as a result, Haank was demoted to NPC status and “written out” of the event, while Eddy was “written in” for the regular GM, Ronnke. See my GM’s behind-the-scenes insights on my blog
  • The bounty-hunter, Maaq Mountain, was to be a mix of Dwayne Johnson’s character in The Rundown and Fast and Furious; as I wrote him, he was pretty well-known in the Rhylanor sector, and had gotten special dispensation from the Imperial authorities to use a non-standard transponder identity code, 666D0G, for his ship, the Hellhound, a Florian-class 100dT scout vessel
  • During the two-week run-up to the start of the game, Abe made an attempt or two to get Valerie to help with his research, to help her move forward—she didn’t really respond, still shell-shocked after her ordeal (that is, the Reaction roll didn’t favor the crew with her trust)
  • There was a bit of confusion about the timetable, how long Haank was to be staying at the tournament and whether or not he should be dropped off and the ship continue on to Fulacin—that confusion carried over a bit into the next session
  • We envisioned the scene as Sam returned from the bar, drunk(ish), to find the ship gone, as him falling to his knees on the empty tarmac with hands thrown wide, screaming “Whyyyyyy!,” and collapsing, just before the ship’s landing lights appeared over the starport; everyone dismounted and found him there in a heap and collected him 😛
  • This is the first appearance of Buck’s rival—I think he just slipped the regular GM’s notice until now; he will probably be seen again

Duty Roster:

Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus (Gigermann)
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg (CommJunkee)

309_max

Murder Boat

Knowing their quarry, the Black Star, was, perhaps literally, within sight, only four hours since its departure from Equus Downs, the Crew set about frantically getting the Spinward Star readied for her own departure, to give chase. The arrival/departure boards listed the Black Star’s destination as Rhylanor, a 3-parsec jump for a Jump-1 ship, which meant she had to be using a high-liner or jump-tug. Buck’s back-door into the SPA network was still in place, and he confirmed the flight plan to Rhylanor aboard the Tukera Expanse high-liner, which was still in low orbit waiting for departure about an hour and a half hence; Buck also downloaded her comm frequencies, which Sam used to place a call to her captain, Adric Mason. The call was picked up by an automated system, and eventually handed over to Mason after a long pause; he sounded confused, clearly not expecting to be contacted. The Crew inquired after the location and status of Valerie Vaskor; after a brief pause, the captain admitted he sadly had to let her go back on Tureded, as he could no longer afford her salary. After the call, Haank recalled their recent travels, did some quick math in his head, and declared Mason’s story to be impossible. They would have to get on that high-liner to find out—going the long way around would leave them months behind. The reactor had to be powered down for the trip; locally-provided ground-power only.

The Crew contacted the liner’s local booking offices; they indeed had a slot open, but it would cost a little over 400k credits for a 200-ton ship, and they had to get aboard within the next hour. The Crew quickly conferred, and decided they could suffer the price-tag if it meant wrapping up the pursuit of Valerie—and they expected they could make up for some of it selling their full load of grain on Rhylanor. So, the Spinward Star departed Equus Downport for low orbit, to dock with the Expanse, with minutes to spare before it set out for the Rhylanor jump point, and settled in for a week or so of little but spy-work to do.

trav2-highliner

trav2-amason
Adric Mason

The Crew looked around, but couldn’t see much of their neighboring vessels from the ship, so they exited, and found a steward. The Black Star was berthed some distance forward of them, and they walked leisurely over to her; Sae discreetly placed a button-cam under a panel, providing a view of the concourse to the Black Star. They figured Captain Mason would visit a nearby bar at some point, so Sae took up a booth at the most-likely candidate; some hours later, their patience was rewarded. On the spy-cam, Mason was observed locking the ship’s access behind him and checking it twice for security, before leaving. Shortly he arrived alone and took up a booth in the corner of the bar, wearing gloves as expected, wiping down the seat and table and arranging things just so, displaying a bit of OCD; he sipped his drink and watched the patrons come and go, for an hour or so, before cleaning up his area and returning to the ship. Meanwhile, Buck found a wireless hotspot far from the ship and set up his portable computer, and began hacking his way into the high-liner’s network; some time later, he had managed to get a look at the Black Star’s manifests—two passengers in stasis, and only two crew listed. This led him to look over their local power usage monitoring, and found it to support what had been reported on the manifest, but he also noticed some odd, regular spikes in power usage that he eventually deduced to be robot recharging stations—which would explain the lack of crew aboard.

For starters, the Crew needed to get eyes inside the Black Star to see if Valerie was in there—they suspected she might be in one of the low-berths—getting her out of the ship would come later. They had plenty of time to come up with a plan, and over the first couple of days, many ideas were discussed, weighed and measured. The plan they settled on: Buck would use his network-hack to cut off ground-power to the Black Star, and fake a work order to check things inside for the fault. As Buck would be occupied, Sae and Haank volunteered to go aboard, both having enough technical knowledge to pass as maintenance crew—they would need uniforms. They preferred that Mason not be aboard during the deception, and would wait to execute the plan until he left to go to the bar again, where Ella would be waiting to hold him up, however she could, for as long as she could—she planned to lure him into an attempt to recruit her for his crew, so she would need to doll herself up.

Sam volunteered to acquire the maintenance uniforms. On the evening of the third day in jumpspace, he spent some time at one of the pubs aboard, where liner crewmen were known to hang out, and partied with them; after a few hours, he ended up sneaking back to the off-limits crews’ quarters with one of the female staff members. In the early-morning, as his companion slept, Sam sneaked amongst the other bunks and lockers nearby, in naught but his skivvies, and snagged a couple of appropriately-sized work uniforms, before creeping back out to safety, and then back to the Spinward Star.

trav2-corridor

In the evening of the fifth day in jumpspace, Captain Mason finally returned to the bar; the Crew, having been loitering in position, watching and waiting for a couple of days now, sprang into action.

  • At the bar, Mason went through a similar routine as was observed before. Ella was seated nearby, waiting for an opportunity to strike.
  • Buck activated his trojan-horse which disabled ground-power to the Black Star and released the work-order to have the matter looked at, which included the names of two crewmen assigned to do the work. Sae and Haank, in uniform, approached the ship’s locked hatch and requested entry. The door was eventually answered by a robot, which opened and informed the maintenance crew that they would have to wait for the captain to return, whom it then called over comms to respond. Meanwhile, Buck closed the access bulkhead behind them and disabled external access, so they would not be interrupted—but they would also be effectively “cornered” should the worst occur.
  • Mason got the call from his robotic crewman and immediately got up to leave. Ella quickly stumbled over to him and spilled her drink all over his suit. Mason was at once overcome with horror at the possibility of infection, worsened by Ella’s attempt to “help” by dabbing his suit with a probably-used handkerchief from her purse. His angry/frustrated demands to be left alone were met by feigned indignation at his “insulting language,” and Ella complained loudly, counter-insulted, and threatened legal action, backing him up against a wall and jabbing an accusatory finger into his chest—more physical contact. The bouncers had to break them up; Ella, “distraught,” left with a sympathetic female liner crewman, while Mason escaped back down the corridor to return to his ship to respond to the maintenance situation and detox.
  • With one other “conscious” crewman presumed aboard, Haank demanded to speak to the second-in-command; the robot “engineer” indicated that the second-in-command was unable to come to the hatch, but that he would go speak to him; Sae and Haank bullied their way inside after him, halting at the common-room to “wait” there, now watched over by a second robot “cargo loader.” After a few moments, the two continued to bully through, casually chattering about “maintenance-related things”; Sae lagged behind to get in the way of the cargo-loaderbot, as Haank pressed in after the engineerbot. There in the first starboard crew cabin, Haank was able to see a bedridden old man, barely capable of speaking or moving—before the engineerbot commanded Haank to leave and seized him. Haank struggled in vain against the strong engineerbot, calling out to the bedridden man to order his robot-crew to stand down; the robot attacked with the welding torch on its third arm, and burned Haank’s shoulder. Sae had finally had enough chasing about the common-room table, and shot the loaderbot with his magnum pistol, previously hidden in his tool-bag, then turned down the hall and shot the engineerbot wrestling with Haank. As Sae caught up, he smelled a faint hint of perfume in the old man’s cabin amidst the usual smells of sickness.
  • Abe was watching Haank’s glasses-video-feed, and paused the feed to study the bedridden man’s medical readouts, and commed back that he appeared to be paralyzed, the result of some past trauma—indicating, in all likelihood, this was Adric Mason’s father, the previous owner of this vessel.
  • Captain Mason arrived at the concourse to his ship and found access closed off and locked down, with a “closed for maintenance” graphic almost mocking his attempts to pry open the door with his fingers. As there was no response from his robotic crewmen, he stormed back down the corridor to fetch liner security. He rounded a bend, and to his horror, there was the mad woman from the bar (Ella), who upon seeing him, tore herself away from the sympathetic female crewman to badger him some more. Ella so infuriated him with her accusations, and finger-poking, and purse-swatting that he lost all self-control, horror giving way to violent rage, and he struck Ella. As he continued to assault her, Ella held off his wild attacks long enough for liner security to show up, and they tased him into a quivering, slobbering, angry heap on the floor.
  • Haank and Sae were in a hurry, expecting Mason to return at any moment with a security team. They quickly cleared all the crew quarters on mid-deck—Sae shot down the securitybot in its recharging station and removed its sword-weapon—and then split off, Sae going above-decks to go through the passenger cabins, while Haank went below to check the hold. Sae had to bypass the electronic locks on the staterooms, and found them all eccentrically decorated, clean and cared for, with a faint odor of embalming fluid on the beds. Buck was watching Haank’s video-feed and spotted something odd in the otherwise-empty hold below, a fuel-refiner that didn’t make sense in that location, and informed Haank; after a bit of poking, he found it to be “hollow,” with a key-locked access panel, and called Sae down to the hold to bypass it. Once open, to their horror, they found a half-dozen dead women, all embalmed, and Valerie Vaskor, alive and nearly catatonic, resting atop the pile.

trav2-vvaskor
Valerie Vaskor

Haank helped Valerie out of the cell, speaking calmly—a familiar voice—ensuring her the ordeal was over, while Sae informed the rest of the Crew. As they passed the old man’s cabin, they could see he was weeping, imploring them not to hurt his son; they made no promises, just moved on. Captain Mason would no longer be an issue, but security would still show up at the ship; Haank and Sae spirited Valerie out of the ship, and down the corridor to the Spinward Star, leaving the ship open behind them. Once Valerie was safely aboard, they informed liner security of their “discovery,” hoping the ghoulish scene aboard might distract the authorities from the manner in which it had been uncovered. When questioned, the Crew held nothing back.

The Expanse broke out of jumpspace a day later, and the Spinward Star parted ways and landed on Rhylanor, where they would await Mason’s arraignment hearing, twelve days hence, before being released to move on. The trial was as somber as expected, Valerie barely able to answer the magistrates’ questions; Mason’s official trial for a dozen or more charges of murder, involuntary enslavement, and kidnapping, was scheduled to occur in fifteen months, when the Crew and Valerie would be called in to testify to what they had witnessed.


Notes

  • The search for Valerie Vaskor began here
  • The GM had cast Steve Buscemi for the Adric Mason role, but had forgotten he had already been used (as Captain Stannis). I suggested Mads Mikkelsen as sorta what I had in mind, forgetting at the time that he had played the part of a serial-killer before—perfect match
  • Sam continued in his capacity as ship’s tomcat; his private encounter involved some “pirate” costumed role-play; after the mess with the murder-boat was over, and his companion found out she had been used to gain access to the maintenance uniforms, she punished him with more “hard labor” 😉
  • It was decided that the name tags on the maintenance uniforms were Leeroy & Jenkins
  • Haank has the Honesty Disadvantage, which he was forced to choke back once again in the course of duty—breaking and entering (which given astronautical (~maritime) law, amounted to an act of piracy), computer intrusion, and theft…but it was for a very good cause
  • Sae got some exceptional rolls, including a Crit, on smell, when inside the murder-boat, continuing our string of ridiculous sense rolls
  • Ella (and her player) gave a grand performance in the bar and the corridor, that would have, doubtless, broken down any man unfortunate enough to be targeted; when Mason stormed off to get security, Ella’s player asked to be in the corridor when he walked past, just so she could beat him down some more 😛
  • The plan at the end was—with legal permission granted—to take Valerie back home to her family on Regina, where she would recover while waiting for the trial; the Crew would likely not stay, but get back to business, to return for the trial later
  • This is the end of the pursuit of Valerie Vaskor arc, but not the last we’ll see of her, or her former captor

Duty Roster:

Ella Stanbridge
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus (Gigermann)
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg (CommJunkee)

trav2-equusplantation

Loose Ends

…Continued Abe rejoined the rest of the Crew as they arrived at the Dowe estate, a sprawling plantation on the outskirts of the small town, and crept amongst the trees onto the property. There at some distance, at the manor house, they witnessed the arrival of a well-dressed, very angry gentleman they presumed (and later, confirmed) to be Colby Dowe. The man appeared to yell at his servants, and later an unknown clipboard-toting employee; then a woman, presumably his young wife, he back-handed, sending her away crying—she then re-appeared on the manor balcony, alone. There were a handful of guards patrolling the property, but they did not seem to favor any of the outbuildings in particular, which might have suggested a holding place for the expected hostages. Fearing discovery by the patrols, the Crew retreated from the property after 15 minutes or so.

They returned to town and secured lodgings for the night, while doing what they could to keep out of sight of the local police, having been warned of their persons-of-interest status by Ella. As they settled in, they scoured the planetary network for information on Colby Dowe and the local situation, confirming what they had been told by Arden and his wife; it appeared that Mr. Dowe had been helping the offworld corporation strong-arm local property owners into selling in exchange for a prominent role in whatever was to follow, and was therefore under pressure to convince the Torelles to capitulate, which could be motive enough to kidnap them, if not kill them. Sae went to a local store that sold hunting supplies and returned with a few ghillie-type camouflage capes and some “super-spy” toy-sets that included cheap parabolic microphones. Sae and Buck volunteered to return to the Dowe estate after dark with the new gear and conduct further surveillance, with some rough satellite maps of the town to guide them—the rest of the Crew would listen in on comms at a diner a couple of miles down the road. Toward evening, light rain started moving into the area, heralding a proper storm.

trav2-cdowe
Colby Dowe

trav2-mrsdowe
Mrs. Dowe

trav2-corpliaison
Lii Ezon

Maintaining radio contact, Buck and Sae crept back onto the Dowe estate from different directions and hid themselves in the trees, suffering the rain as they surveilled the manor house. They observed Mr. Dowe, Mrs. Dowe, and a third individual they identified as the liaison for the company, all relaxing with drinks out on the balcony. Buck managed to get the toy microphone working well enough to overhear some of their conversation, including Mr. Dowe telling the liaison not to worry, because the Torelles were “being handled.” Some time later, as the wind and rain picked up, the trio went back inside, and Buck and Sae turned their attention to the guards on patrol, and the outbuildings. As they looked to start searching the outbuildings, one of the guards went to the side of the manor house to interact with someone in the cellar there, another guard by the look of him—Buck and Sae figured this to be the Torelles’ location, and after relaying their intentions to the rest of the Crew, started creeping in closer to converge on the cellar door.

Then Buck stepped in a puddle, and tripped.

Buck lay absolutely still. The guards had heard him fall, and one in particular was sure it was an intruder, but due to Buck’s camouflage, he couldn’t make him out in the darkness. The guards cautiously swept the area, closing in on Buck’s position; figuring he would be caught, Buck let out a groan, as if he were hurt. The nearest guard—the one that outed him—quickly approached and demanded Buck identify himself and his business on the property. Buck pretended to be drunk, indicating he was going hunting, and had stumbled onto the wrong property; the guard pulled him to his feet and brought him to the front door, and called for Mr. Dowe. Colby answered the door, and again Buck was asked to explain himself; when he couldn’t recall the name of the owner of the neighboring property he claimed he had come from, Buck had to think quickly…

He raised his pistol in Colby’s direction, and said, “Now I’ve found what I was looking for.”

121Colby kept his cool, and ordered his guards to lower their weapons at Buck’s demand, then politely invited his captor inside to talk the matter over. Buck accepted his host’s offer, and a seat, and a drink (though only for decorum), and eventually even laid his pistol on the end-table, while he explained the situation. He was open and honest, saying that all the Crew wanted was to deliver Old Man Torelle’s remains and be on their way. Colby twitched a bit when Buck mentioned the shooting of his men, but he accepted the “deal,” to allow the Crew to finish their business with the Torelles and be on their way, and stood to shake hands on it. When Buck offered his hand in return, Colby took it, threw his drink in Buck’s face, and went immediately berserk, trying to wrestle him down and strangle the life out of him. Buck quickly got the upper hand, though, and, having suffered enough indignity for one day, was busy snapping Colby’s neck before Mrs. Dowe entered the room brandishing a small pistol and commanded Buck to let him go.

Meanwhile, Sae had himself frozen in place when Buck tripped, but upon hearing the scuffle between him and Mr. Dowe, both on comms and otherwise, he immediately started out of hiding and rounded the corner of the manor, unexpectedly coming face-to-face with one of the guards. Sae disarmed the guard of his gauss rifle, and the two traded punches, until Sae managed to land one and activate his stinger-implant, though it took some moments before the venom kicked in to knock the guard out.

Also just after Buck tripped, at the diner up the road, Haank turned to an adjacent patron and paid him 50 credits to immediately drive the three of them a couple of miles down the road. Once dropped off at the end of Colby’s drive, Haank, Sam and Abe jogged forward toward the manor, some hundred yards distant through the darkness and rain, and were stopped halfway by a pair of guards. Haank waved in a friendly manner, and said they had heard a friend of theirs had gotten lost and wandered onto the property. The guards escorted them to the manor house without a fuss, but were surprised to find Sae standing over the unconscious body of one of their fellows, but too late… they turned to find Haank, Sam and Abe’s sidearms pointed at them. Abe, a bit excited, fired his stunner at one, dropping him immediately to the ground, unconscious. The other surrendered his rifle to Haank. Now joined up with Sae, they and the guards entered the manor, emerging just behind the pistol-wielding Mrs. Dowe.

By this time, Colby had partially recovered himself, and was yelling at his wife to shoot Buck; the Crew calmly encouraged her not to, but to lay down the pistol. After some tense moments, Abe had enough of Colby’s belligerence and shot him; Colby slumped unconscious to the floor, and his wife rushed over to catch him, in tears at the horror of it all.

During this, Sae had circled back outside to the cellar, and as expected, found the Torelles inside, bound to chairs and gagged, clearly having been beaten and otherwise mistreated. Sae informed the others by radio and unbound the hostages, and helped them out of the cellar.

In the house, the corporate liaison entered the room, very cool and calm, and informed the Crew that the damage had been done, and that they should leave immediately—about the time police sirens could be heard approaching the property—and then he left the premises. When asked, the Torelles had said that the local sheriff was on-the-take for the corporation, and not to be trusted, so as the police were approaching the manor, Haank called planetary law enforcement and asked for their assistance, keeping them on comms to listen in. Then, prepared for a confrontation, the Crew met the police outside the manor, unarmed, hands raised in surrender. To their surprise, however, sheriff’s men moved right past the Crew and seized Colby Dowe, hauling him out to their cruiser in cuff-tape. As the Crew gave their official statements regarding the goings on at the plantation, the discovery and rescue of the kidnapped Torelles, they could see the corporate liaison further up the drive, who after a brief look back, got into the sheriff’s personal transport, which then departed. The Crew was informed that they were free to go, but advised to remain in town for a few days until they could sort this mess out. Colby would doubtless be blamed for all of it, and was probably not long for this world.

The Crew took their ease at the local hotel for six more days after the events at Colby’s estate. They met with Anthony Torelle many times during their stay, taking dinner at his house. Old Man Torelle’s case was handed over to his son, who received it with misty eyes, as he had the news of his father’s death. Anthony offered to fill the hold of the Spinward Star with local produce for half the usual rate, and the Crew accepted, Haank seeing to the details—Haank spent many hours discussing business in the region, and developing a professional rapport with Mr. Torelle, who offered his services any time the company returned to Equus. Then, as soon as the local police finally gave their blessing, the Crew got on the next train back to Equus Downport.

As they returned to their ship, they chanced a look at the arrival/departure boards at the concourse, and were surprised to find that the Black Star had been in port during their stay in town, and had departed only four hours ago.


Notes

  • Ella’s player was out for this session, as declared last time
  • Keeping up with the tradition of late, for this adventure at least, someone (Buck) rolled a Critical Success to overhear the conversation on the balcony
  • Buck’s fall was the result of a Critical Failure on his Stealth check, followed by a Critical Success on the guard’s Perception contest. Buck didn’t have Acting (or any alcoholic beverages to enhance his performance), so he was defaulting it—the GM did not say whether or not it had worked. After that was pure emergency improvisation
  • Haank has taken Anthony Torelle as a low-level Patron; part of a new strategy for him of business-networking
  • The GM described a cut-scene afterward where a large, intimidating fellow, with a blade, entered Colby’s cell, standing between Colby and the “camera”—of course, we presumed the worst, but the GM never said specifically what had occurred

Duty Roster:

Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus (Gigermann)
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg (CommJunkee)


trav2-equusboathouse

Boat House

trav2-equuslighthouse…Continued. As the Crew sped across the wetlands on Arden’s air/raft, armed only with their sidearms, they kept a sharp eye to the horizon for trouble, and they spotted another air/raft trailing them a couple of miles back; with his image-enhanced glasses, Haank was able to make out four rifle-armed men, likely the same ones that Arden’s wife shooed away earlier. The Crew arrived at Lighthouse Point and disembarked, and started looking for a way in. Haank took the path leading about a hundred yards further up the point to the lighthouse, intending to climb up and keep lookout for their shadows; he commed back that the door was locked, and Sae quickly followed to pick the lock, before he rejoined the others. The others had slipped into the boathouse under the boat-door, and found the place in a strange state: it was deserted, the doors obviously having been kicked in but replaced (barely), and otherwise looked like the place had been “tossed” but cleaned up afterward; the Torelles’ boat was also still present, and as they searched it also, found it in a similar state. Haank soon alerted the others to his having spotted the yokels a few hundred yards back, their air/raft stashed in the tall-grass out of the way, creeping up on foot through the marsh, rifles at the ready.

Sae left the boat-house and hid himself in ambush nearby. Buck also tried to sneak in a wide circle around the yokels’ approach to steal their air/raft, but Haank alerted him that one of the enemy had heard him pass, and had split off from the group to close with him; Buck briefly braced himself for a fight, but instead decided to walk back to the house, daring his pursuer to act. As such, the local fellow sprang out from the tall grass, rifle pointed at Buck, and demanded his surrender; Buck declared the Crew’s honest intentions, but the man was determined to expel the intruders on his supposed territory. As his would-be captor called out to his fellows, Buck made “finger guns” with both hands, and mimed a trigger-pull—Haank had been taking careful aim with his ETC slug-pistol from 150 yards distance atop the lighthouse, and at that signal, he fired, ruining the man’s gauss rifle. Buck then drew his own pistol and took the now-disarmed yokel into his custody and returned with him to the boathouse. The other three yokels, having heard the gunshot, picked up their pace toward the boathouse.

The Crew still inside the boathouse questioned their prisoner, who, after confirming his unbroken kneecaps were not preventing him from speaking freely, confessed that they were hired by Colby Dowe to discourage the Crew’s curiosity, though he claimed they only meant to scare them off—which was not believed. The interrogation was interrupted by automatic gauss fire on the lighthouse, and Haank’s calm-but-urgent information that a couple of the yokels had broken off and passed up the boathouse. With Sae also reporting another was sneaking around to the boathouse door, Buck forced their prisoner to call out to his fellows to encourage them to abandon their mission—the one near the door responded that they would not. Sae came out of hiding and shot the one at the door dead with his magnum, and continued on to the lighthouse, where he shot another as he entered the lighthouse—the third was already inside, making his way up the stairs to Haank. In the boathouse, the prisoner took advantage of the momentary ruckus to flee to the water, but Buck gunned him down without hesitation, to Ella’s later irritation; meanwhile, Sam climbed atop the boat and hotwired it, revved the engines, and beckoned the others to board. The last of the yokels traded quips with Haank from either side of the partition below the lighthouse windows, shooting out the glass to rain shards down on Haank; he brashly popped up with his rifle over the low wall, but Haank reacted more quickly, and put three rounds through the yokel’s chest, killing him. Sam was just easing the boat out of the dock when the all-clear was called.

No longer in immediate danger, the Crew moved on to search the residence adjoining the boathouse, and again, found it ransacked-but-cleaned-up; however, Abe noticed some small spots of dried blood, which according to his analysis, were perhaps a couple of weeks old—not enough there to indicate a murder, but perhaps a struggle. They all agreed that, most likely, the Torelles had been kidnapped by this Colby Dowe. As the Crew had already gone beyond the call of duty in their investigation, they did briefly discuss the idea of leaving the matter undone. Instead they decided that the surviving gunman should be taken to the town’s hospital—Ella and Abe would accompany the wounded in Arden’s air/raft, and Arden would safely part ways with the Crew there—while the rest would make their way on foot to Colby’s estate to spy him out, and see if there might be sign of the Torelles there.

trav2-cdowe
Colby Dowe

At the town hospital, the wounded man was seen to by the available physicians, who, as expected, reported the shooting-injury to the local police. Ella took Abe aside and told him to leave her and rejoin the others before the police arrived; he attempted to refuse, but Ella would have none of it. The sheriff arrived some minutes later and took Ella and Arden back to the station to record their official statements; they told the truth, though perhaps not all of it. While taking Ella’s statement, the sheriff was interrupted by a well-dressed and exceptionally angry man, complaining loudly about one of his men who wound up in the hospital, while three others were missing—the sheriff called him Mr. Dowe, and was visibly cowed by him. Some time later, Arden was released, as was Ella, though her Imperial identification card was taken; she was instructed not to leave town until the matter of the shooting had been resolved, and to gather up the rest of her crew as well. As Ella left the station to go about her business in town, unsurprisingly, she spotted one of the deputies attempting to look like he wasn’t following her. To be continued…


Notes

  • There were some exceptional rolls to spot things early on, including a Critical Success by Haank to get the details on the air/raft that was following them
  • There was a bit of map-related confusion regarding the position of the lighthouse in relation to the boathouse; the players were under the impression it was a handful of yards away, but when the shooting started, it turned out to be more like 100—the GM did say so, we just didn’t quite register it
  • The finger-guns, in our heads, at least—turned out fairly similar in the end 😛
  • Sae’s ETC Magnum Pistol was shown to be the monster it truly was here; he took one of the men down to -5×HT in one shot to the Vitals
  • Ella’s player knew she was going to be absent for the next session, so she intentionally isolated herself from the others, to make it a little easier next time

Duty Roster:

Ella Stanbridge (Melissa)
Ertrane “Buck” Buckner (Herodian)
Henri Haank Makruus (Gigermann)
Ibrahim “Abe” Nouri-Abbood (Rigil Kent)
Sam Turner (Winston)
Sae Rraetheg (CommJunkee)


Last Request

trav2-oldtorelle
Old Man Torelle

As the Crew put the Spinward Star through her final pre-flight checks, Haank heard a rapping on the port-side airlock door, and checked the viewport for the source of the sound. He opened the airlock door for the lone old man outside it, and asked his business. The old man introduced himself as Torelle, and was going door-to-door looking for passage to Equus. Haank cleared the late notice with Captain Stanbridge and accepted the not-quite-full amount the old man was able to pay—he was uncomfortable with low-berth travel—and sent Sae to assist the old man with his luggage. The friendly old man chattered away with Sae as they went, telling stories of days gone by, and upon their return, Abe took him to his stateroom and got him settled in. The old man showed Abe a medium-sized case and asked if they had somewhere it could be secured; Abe offered to lock it in the ship’s locker for the trip, and the old man agreed—he said he was returning after many decades to Equus to give the contents to his estranged son there.

With no further surprises, the ship put out to the Black once more, and some hours later, entered jumpspace for Equus. That evening, the old man insisted on cooking dinner for the gracious Crew; he showed a gift for making more with less—the meal was excellent—and he accompanied the meal with a bottle of very old, very fine wine, from Terra herself, and more entertaining stories of his many travels. On the following morning, Abe went to wake Torelle for breakfast, but there was no answer; when he didn’t respond for lunch either, the stateroom was unlocked, and they sadly found that the old man had passed away in his sleep—Abe determined his death to be of “natural causes.” Beside him, they found an old undelivered letter, begging forgiveness of his son for the grievances that had resulted in their separation—which included his son Anthony’s address on Equus. The death was logged, and the body placed in low-berth stasis, to be delivered to his next-of-kin on arrival at port.

The Spinward Star exited jumpspace and entered Equus’ orbital traffic, and was directed to its downport, a bubble of glass and steel in the middle of an ocean that covered most of the planet’s surface. Once landed and settled in, and fees paid, the Crew immediately set about researching the possible comings and goings of the Black Star; their search of public records revealed little, so Buck resorted to less-reputable means, and hacked into the SPA network—his digging led him to a local police blotter detailing a violent incident between Adric Mason and one of his crew, a woman he had recently hired, with whom, according to her official statement, he would not willingly part ways. In the meantime, the rest of the Crew attempted to locate and contact Anthony Torelle, with no real success save to confirm the address on the old man’s letter, a well-to-do plantation in a small farming town of around a thousand souls in one of the many swamplands on the surface. After twenty-four Imperial-standard hours with no response, the Crew decided to take to the field, and took a scenic underwater train to this town to see if they could catch him up in person. They took the old man’s case along, just in…case; they were only lightly armed, not expecting a fuss.

In town, the Crew started asking around after Anthony Torelle, but everyone they spoke to seemed to shrink away at the mention of him, denying any knowledge of a man by that name. They went to the local constabulary’s office to inquire after him there; the sheriff claimed ignorance of the Torelles’ whereabouts, though at the mention of important items to be delivered, offered to take those things and hold them on the Torelles’ behalf, should they turn up. The Crew weren’t buying his story. They had about four hours before the last train back to the downport arrived in town, so they wandered around town “seeing the sights” while they searched the local network for more information—Anthony had a long-time wife, no children, and was a pillar of the local community. His parents were both dead, his mother more recently, and the Crew found her memorial in the square, with flowers no more than a week or two old—someone had been here.

The Crew decided to “wander” down the road a mile or two to the Torelles’ estate, and peeked through the windows, to find it vacant—the state of the house suggested it was lived-in, but the piled-up hardcopy mail indicated there had been no one home for a couple of weeks. The Crew noticed a neighbor down the road had been observing them, and started toward the property to see if they might be willing to shed some light on the Torelles’ whereabouts, when an open-bed air/raft sped down the road toward them, full of armed yokels, intercepting them at the end of the neighbors’ drive. The yokels disembarked, brandishing their weapons, and demanded the Crew leave, “or else,” but the little-old-lady neighbor emerged from her home, brandishing her own gauss shotgun, and scolded them, shooing them away. Once the yokels had left, the lady invited the Crew into her home, where they asked her what all this was about over tea. She revealed the little that she had seen, saying that an offworld mega-corporation had been buying out all the landowners in town for some unknown purpose, and the Torelles’ had refused to sell out to them, then two weeks ago, they disappeared; knowing much of the town was in the corporations’ pocket, likely including the sheriff, she had no one to turn to for help. The Crew asked if the Torelles’ owned any other properties in the area they might retreat to and hide out, and she mentioned they had a boat-house out on the lighthouse point; her husband, Arden, offered to take them to it, took up his gauss rifle, and showed them to the garage, where his air/raft waited. To be continued…


Notes

  • The GM never described what was in the old man’s case; we imagined when he showed it to Abe, it went something like this
  • Buck has been settling in, more and more, as the group’s designated h4xx0r; but making use of that presents a problem for Haank, who has the Honesty Disadvantage—he can’t legitimately ask for it, or tolerate it if he knows it’s going on, so the hacking has to be done without his knowledge
  • It was at this point that the players started to realize that the information we were finding regarding the activities of the Black Star isn’t exactly “linear”; we had to start organizing our notes, which took a bit of time to sort out
  • Sae’s player was asked to describe the underwater train ride; he did a really nice improvisation, including annoying kids and chatty old ladies—unfortunately it wasn’t recorded, so I can’t reproduce it here
  • The GM originally only mentioned a boat-house, but the players immediately associated the situation with a Scooby Doo episode, including the typical creepy lighthouse, and the GM just rolled with it
  • The GM included a stinger at the end of the session, a cutscene where, as the crew sped across the wetlands in Arden’s air/raft, another air/raft was seen following them unseen at a distance