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)


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.


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.


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.

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.


  • 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