Spinward Star, LLP

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Into the Outback…

Surrounded by armed and ready thugs, Eddy and Haank wisely refrain from going for their own weapons and instead hold up their hands to indicate that they are willing to cooperate. The woman, who will later identify herself as Bren, offers them a warning: drop this entire expedition for the Lost City of Tlaynsilak or things will go ill for them. Eddy makes a half-hearted attempt to bribe her, in the process learning that she works for a Mister Kalamanaru that Eddy has had some vague shady dealings with in the past. Rather than get gunned down by these people, the two – well, Eddy, really – promptly agree to pass this on to Lorain. They are allowed to back out of the alley without being harmed and, while doing so, called back to the crew, requesting some drone coverage from Aris.

Back at the hotel, the crew discuss this turn of events. Eddy reveals his knowledge about Mister Kalamanaru and Lorain grudgingly admits that her father once sought out the wannabe crimelord for assistance; knowing that he’s involved makes matters more complicated. While wealthy, Kalamanaru’s real danger lies in his more unofficial but lucrative role as a purveyor of antiquities that he sells on the black market. None of the crew especially like backing down even in the face of a threat like this, so they instead decide to simply just ramp up their level of paranoia.

With just a single day remaining before departure, the crew split up to accomplish various tasks. Acting on an offhand comment by Haank about Bren’s team likely being able to track them, Buck heads to the motor pool where their three rented hover vehicles are stored and, upon looking over one of them, discovers a tracking device of some sort. Although he initially intends to keep this entirely to himself, Kelso’s chief mechanic, Ross Carnam, approaches him and reveals that he also found a bug on another of the vehicles. They decide to hold off completely disabling them for now on the presumption that, if Bren’s crew note that their devices suddenly fail, they’ll seek alternate methods to track. He also has the unfortunate task of informing Kelso about Kalamanaru’s involvement; Kelso does not take this revelation well at all and instead throws something of a tantrum. Evidently, he’s had some less than positive interactions with the wealthy (and corrupt) merchant. Haank returns to the alley and uses his hand-held biosniffer to sweep for DNA traces of Bren’s crew with an eye toward programming sensors to try and detect them later.

Aris spends some time with his drone in an sweep the area where Eddy and Haank were accosted in the hopes of locating Bren’s team, but is unsuccessful. Unbeknownst to the rest of the crew, Ibrahim discreetly forwards a copy of Haank’s data to his contacts with the Agency using dead drop accounts; he does not expect them to actually act against Bren or Kalamanaru, but figures it cannot hurt. Finally, Eddy takes a cropped image of Bren obtained from Haank’s vid-stream and seeks out the Imperial checkpoint exiting the city; there he does that thing he does and effectively bribes a couple of the guards to delay Bren and Company should they pass through here.

The following morning, the crew assemble and head out. There is a brief moment of concern at the exit point when Kelso’s credentials cause an issue with the guards’ computers, but they’re passed out without any further issue. Eddy is given a knowing nod by one of the guards with regards to his earlier bribe and informed that there’s been no sign of his “friends” yet. Everyone heaves a soft sigh of relief once they’re on the go, although alertness levels are still high.

Many, many long and boring hours later, the caravan stops and camp is assembled. By this point, everyone is exhausted – strangely, sitting in a vehicle for a long trip is really, really tiring – and watch schedules are set. After eating, everyone retires to their respective tents except whomever is on guard. The evening seems to be going fine … until midway through Eddy’s guard rotation, when the portable fusion generator that the crew brought along suddenly flickers and dies, pitching the entire site into darkness. Eddy promptly goes to wake Buck, and the two begin to investigate and discover the generator is being swarmed by insects, massive metal-eating termite-like creatures! Lur Kalendrin, one of Kelso’s guides who was on watch with Eddy, exclaims that they must be stopped before they eat everything metal in the camp.

Shouts ring out in the camp, waking anyone who isn’t already up, and everyone rushes out of their tents to investigate. Haank, upon seeing the “ants,” promptly returns for his augment-glasses to bring up his survival tutor program, then seeks out an extinguisher, especially when Eddy’s attempt to stomp some of the metal ants into paste unluckily results in the creatures swarming him instead! Buck, armed with a cutting torch, burns away some of the huge termite-like critters and does his best to break their line leading back into the jungle. Upon being advised about the nature of the threat, Ibrahim takes Lorain with him and they check out the parked vehicles in case the metal ants have discovered them (which would be all bad). Eddy finds himself coated in fire retardant foam thanks to Haank, which does not amuse him at all, especially when Lur yanks Eddy’s jacket free and stomps it into the mud and dirt. Though it takes some time, the expedition is able to successfully drive off the metal ants. Unfortunately, the fusion generator is now slag and, given that it belonged to crew of the Spinward Star, Haank is more than a little upset.

The following morning, as the expedition resumes its trip, Aris puts the three of Bren’s trackers on Jim the Drone and then sends the device far in the opposite direction with instructions to find something strange to drop them into before returning. Thankfully, the next leg of the trip is uneventful and the expedition camps on a beach. The following morning, they continue, flying over the huge lake, which takes long enough that they end up stopping for a scenic lunch (while Kelso’s team check over the hovercraft to ensure nothing broke down.) It is at this moment that two huge water snakes lunge out of the river to snap at Eddy who screams out an alarm … though Ibrahim, who is standing a dozen meters or so away, is already reacting to the danger, even though he was facing away. The entire expedition charge toward the threat, but it is Jim the Drone who does the most damage as it unloads a burst of fire from its small rotary mini-gun that chews up one of the snakes. It takes only moments for the second to also be killed and Kelso loudly (and happily) exclaims that snake is for dinner tonight! Ibrahim, who did not actually fire his weapon, takes a sample or three of the water snake venom just to be safe. In an uncharacteristic breach of his usual composure, Haank reacted to the snakes’ presence by frantically emptying an entire gauss magazine into the creatures during the fight, and afterward, refused to even look in the direction of their remains until they were no longer recognizable as snakes—he had never spoken of his phobia before, but then, no one had ever asked.

Without further ado, the expedition continues on its way, reaching the outskirts of the native settlement, Adlanayra, two days later, where Kelso informs them that they will camp here overnight and then meet with the locals in the morning. Hopefully, this particular settlement, which has a reputation for being the least hostile of the bunch, will be feeling friendly. Kelso is hoping that the natives will be able to confirm whether Lorain’s father passed through here. Buck and Ibrahim both eagerly ask to be part of the team that meets with the locals, displaying their xenophilia.

The contact with the locals takes place the following morning and goes by without any hitch. Ibrahim is utterly fascinated by the creatures, especially when filtered through the lens of medicine, but Buck is less impressed. Kelso appears to speak a pidgin version of the local language and greetings are exchanged, as well as certain gifts including a finely crafted metal knife that Buck offered. Information is exchanged, confirming that Lorain’s father did in fact pass this way, heading west. During this brief cultural exchange, Lorain joins them but basically hides behind Ibrahim, using him as a shield from the bizarre-looking creatures. There is a strange reference Kelso does not quite understand, specifically a ‘stone path’ that several of the expedition theorize means a road or even a landing strip when they see the native’s hand gestures. This ‘stone path’ is deep in the swamp area to the west in the territory of a rival tribe and Kelso translates this as ‘path of gods.’ Having related their information and been paid with a metal knife, the locals withdraw.

Kelso turns to the crew: next stop … the path of gods.

Player Notes:

  • Mel was out for this session.
  • This is the first session in ~50 that Haank’s snake phobia has actually come up—and it wasn’t entirely deliberate on the GM’s part.
  • As stated above, we’ve started livestreaming our games. We play on Saturdays at 6:00PM Eastern and the live stream can be found at Ronnke’s Twitch channel. He’s also setup a YouTube Channel.