Star*Drive 2525: Hunting for Fun and Profit

The Beginning
A Prologue

(GM Note: Keane’s PC is in here as just (Keane)…once I get a name, I’ll fix it, but I wanted to post this bastard finally!)

From the personal journal of Talon’s tech-medic, former Concord Marine Lt. Peter Benton—

Date: March 14, 2524

Location: A spacer’s bar inside the massive station, Regent’s Pride, orbiting Bluefall, capital planet of the Regency of Bluefall.
Bluefall.jpg
I think I’ve made it—working for a famous hunter, finally! After months and years of working on my own, for low-class hunters, or in “private security,” I’ve been hired on as part of the crew of the Talon, apprenticed, more or less, to one of the Ring’s more famous hunters—Mordechai Hawke. Hawke is my kind of hunter. He’s ruthlessly efficient, extremely skilled, and deadly when he needs to be. But Hawke is no murderer, he’s no sadist. He lives by a code and expects the same from his crew. He’s willing to teach and I’m more than willing to listen, same seems to be true of the rest of the new guys too.

Mordechai hasn’t said exactly why he needs a new crew. I’ve asked, and he’s said they’ve moved on, even admitted that some died on a recent hunt. He doesn’t talk more about it. If it’s a little odd that Hawke has started hiring more experienced professionals such as me and the rest, well, I don’t dwell on it. I’m sure he has his reasons. The way I see it, we’ve earned a chance to try out for the big leagues and working with a man like Hawke is one way to build up our reputation. He pays well—$6,000 per month!— and I expect we’ll earn every Concord dollar of it.

Gotta admit though, as I look around at my fellow crew members, it’s hard not to think of a clichéd Grid holo: there’s Gargoyle, an obviously ex-Voidcorp sesheyan—probably an assassin—(Amorphous Dude), a lackadaisical Starmech pilot, complete with hedonistic obsession, Seamus Something, a Thuldan mutant who does a good impression of a weren, Sinon Andalar, a fraal mindwalker scout, which I admit is a little unusual, and finally Aidan Kane an Austrin ex-officer, about as action hero-y as it gets. Everyone brings something to the table, of course—Hawke wouldn’t have bothered if that wasn’t the case. Me, I’m a technician and the medic—I did some digging, Hawke didn’t used to hire trained medics, which makes me proud and perhaps a bit curious as to his change in heart. Haven’t mentioned that to the others yet, I doubt they would care—automeds are fine, but stuck in one place, after all.

Anyway, Hawke told us all to meet at this bar for some reason, so there we went. He shows up and says how pleased he is to finally assemble such a good crew. It’s true, too. It’s taken a while to assemble everyone, but now that we’ve gotten to know each other, I figure we can handle anything the Verge, the Ring or any other area of space can throw at us. Maybe we’ll even get involved in events of galactic proportions, just like those guys who supposedly saved the universe from destruction at the hands of some ancient alien gods (who believes that crap anyway?). Hawke says the first task as a whole crew is a fairly straightforward hunt—a small group of criminal gridrunners hacked a government database on Alaundril and the ruling council hired Hawke (and therefore us) to bring them to justice. The group was traced to Acheron (talk about your quick transition from backwater to boomtown!) and we cornered them hiding in some abandoned buildings in an old, original settlement. On the way in, you can STILL see damage from the massive battle that occurred here 20 years ago. And while no one really believes the final battle for the fate of the universe took place here, there’s no question that the Externals caused a lot of damage here and elsewhere in the Verge. Things are looking up though, and I think we’ve all moved forward from those dark days. Amazingly, the actual capture went by the book, too, and was kind of a letdown. Fortunately, the glint in Mordechai’s eyes makes me wonder what’s coming next. With a satisfied grin on our faces, we finished up on Acheron and left for Aegis to get more contracts. The next few years should be quite the adventure…

[Many Skipped Entries]

Date: December 19, 2524

Location: A Loud Damn Nightclub, Port Royal, Lucullus system
Penates.jpg
Forget the next few years, the last 9 months alone have been insane! Working with Hawke has been everything I’d hoped—fast-paced, action-packed, dangerous as hell and very, very educational! Hawke hasn’t been crystal clear with what’s been happening, but everyone seems to think we’re on to something big—huge, even. It’s been months since the Talon has gone after any kind of common, posted bounty. It’s not even clear that Hawke’s been getting paid for these last few marks, but the salary hasn’t stopped and the ship still has supplies, though they do seem to be running low. Hawke asked us all to stay here and then ran off, not sure where. I was hoping he’d take his time too…the scenery in the club was excellent and we had Concord dollars to burn.

It wasn’t to be though, Hawke returned in about an hour, only enough time for some drinking and general carousing. He said he’s got something and that we needed to follow it up as quickly as possible. “Everyone back to the ship, we leave this shithole of a planet in 3 hours,” he ordered in his typical to-the-point tone. That’s fine though, this place still bears the scars of External occupation, all that creepy biotech shit those bugs used can still be seen in certain sectors of the city and frankly, I don’t need to dwell on it. Lucullans paid a high price for betraying humanity and everyone seems content to let what happened here be the only punishment they get—it’s probably worse than what the Verge Alliance would have done anyway. It’s still the same old wretched hive of scum and villainy, but you gotta give ’em credit—they never surrendered, even after the double-cross from their supposed new allies—but I suppose when you are a double-crossers, you ought to expect getting backstabbed yourself!

Liftoff proved to be a bit more exciting than we were expecting. On the way back to Talon, we get ambushed by these guys, all hyped up on some of those crazy new brainbugs that are so popular right now. Whoever makes those things is raking in the cash, that’s for sure. I’ve looked at a few samples, can’t make heads or tails of them. Real advanced shit though. The bug addicts weren’t a real threat, but they slowed us down and we’re pretty sure that was the whole point because we soon walked into a much more lethal ambush. We made it out but Aidan was hit while in a pretty brave rear-guard action…I got him patched up though. Hawke isn’t talking about what happened either, says it was a random assault, but I don’t buy it. Neither does Seamus… says he can smell when something is wrong—I believe him too, those Thuldan Chronos parahumans have a sixth sense, I swear!

[Brief Entries follow on the following dates and locations:
February 6, 2525 — Bluefall, Aegis System
(caught a ride on a big liner)
February 11, 2525 — Spes, Hammer’s Star System
March 21, 2525 — Grith, Corrivale System

Date: April 8, 2525

Location: Duma, Phorcys, Thalassa System
Thalassa.jpg
We are definitely onto something big. Hawke hasn’t said exactly who we are after, but now we’re sure this is some kind of long term project of his. So far, we’ve captured and interrogated a customs official on Bluefall who Hawke told us was corrupt. That certainly wasn’t legal, and as much as some didn’t like it at first, once we got the guy to a dark place and Sinon got into his head, it was clear Hawke was right—the guy had been accepting money for years to not ask questions of certain shipments. Hawke says the guy was helping ship brainbugs around the Verge and even back into the Ring. The really weird thing was what happened right after Sinon got him talking a bit after threatening more deep probes—the guy starts choking and then keels over, dead. I didn’t bother with an autopsy, but he clearly had some kind of suicide programming and didn’t even know it—Sinon said it was probably telepathic suggestion and was triggered by his own probing. Hawke just frowned and we left.

Next thing we know, we’re on Spes, a planet still heavily scarred from the External War, and the site of the first major battles between Starforce and the klicks better than 20 years ago. Spes is a pretty nice place though, even with the damage. One of the few worlds where you can actually go out in some real wilderness (and good for the Borealins for heading off the climate change too!). Anyway, we tromp through said wilderness for a day or two and ambush some sesheyans from Grith loading, yep, more brainbugs, into some cargo pallets for distribution to who knows where. They didn’t want to surrender either, fighting back ferociously, almost possessed. We had to kill them all. Gargoyle didn’t much like that—tried to talk to them, but they wouldn’t listen—apparently he’s dead to them or something, nobody but sesheyans understands sesheyan culture…
HammersStar.jpg
So, off to Grith we went, of course, and had an audience with some Aanghel Empire leaders. They don’t deal in brainbugs, but said that some of their population has gotten horribly addicted to those things (I find this odd—a drug that can affect multiple species is waaaay beyond me). He was willing to identify the bodies as members of the Aanghel Empire that deserted some months back. That was good, actually, they’d been looking for those guys and they even paid us a small bounty for each of them—Hawke thanked them and we left. One of the sesheyans had a nanocomputer implant—normally that’s something that only Voidcorp slaves get, as the AE can’t really afford it. This thing was non-standard design though, some kind of biotech equivalent. I wasn’t sure if it needed a hacker or a doctor, but we hoped Hawke’s mechalus friend, Si Lotus, could help us out. We met him here and he did his tentacle-y thing and interfaced with the bionanocomputer. There was some heavy duty encryption, but he got through it. There was only one data file, and it contained coordinates in the Coulomb system.

Date: May 16, 2525

Location: Drivespace, just out of the Coulomb System
Couloumb.jpg
Shit, Hawke’s dead! Aidan blames himself, but that’s insane, nobody could have stopped…whatever the hell it was! What the fuck are we supposed to do now?

We gotta think this through, what happened, how did it get this bad? We obviously went to the Coulomb system to check out those coordinates. I think we all wish we hadn’t. On the way here, Hawke lays it on us that he’s got us tracking this mega crime lord known as “Erebos, Lord of the Underworld.” Seems a little over-the-top if you ask me, but Hawke says that’s what others call him, and I don’t think this Erebos guy seems like the type to put out press releases. Hawke thinks…shit… thought …that Erebos is behind the brainbug business and was determined to make the capture and cement his reputation as the best hunter in the Verge…that’s not going to happen now, of course.

Nobody else is talking much yet, but I gotta get this down—it was balmy for Ohmel, mid-summer, which meant it couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3 degrees out. Nonetheless, this meant that areas that were often inaccessible to life were accessible for the short summer. That’s how we found ourselves out in the frozen wastes, approximately a thousand miles from anywhere, surrounding a small ceramacrete structure that had clearly been through a few Ohmel 3-year long winters. None of us have any idea why that place was built—it’d be nearly impossible to get to when the atmosphere literally falls out of the sky and sits on the ground! Anyway, there were no signs of anyone being there recently, so Hawke deployed us around the structure to watch for anyone trying to leave as he checked things out—all we had were the coordinates from the dead sesheyan’s creepy nanocomputer, but Hawke assumed this place was connected to the Lord of the Underworld anyway. He bypassed the outer locking mechanism on one of the airlock doors and in he went. The radio worked for a while, but it turns out the structure was just the top of a much larger underground building. Hawke called for backup, so Aidan and I went in, leaving the others to watch the other exits and to keep an eye out for approaching hostiles.

We found what we were looking for down two levels from the top—a microframe computer with a few terminals sitting in an empty room. The whole thing was odd, but in retrospect, that’s because it was a trap, pure and simple. Sensors picked up some air movement down the hall, so Aidan went to check it out…Hawke told me to back him up, so I left too. Next thing I know, Hawke triggers his comm, but he’s not speaking to us. I don’t think any of us will forget that gravelly voice, “You are meddling in affairs you don’t understand. We do not tolerate interference.” Hawke shot back with a, “Hey man, nothing personal” then sounds of Hawke diving away towards cover. Aidan and I started rushing back, Hawke started firing, but then we heard three sharp weapon discharges—sounded like some kind of quantum weapon. Aidan and I were just meters from the door. Peaking in, we can see Hawke slumped against an equipment crate for the computer systems. He waved us back just as three quantum discharges poured through the doorway, causing us to take cover quickly. Aidan threw caution to the wind and combat rolled inside, I quickly followed and tried to get to Hawke.

Except for Hawke, the room was empty! Somehow the guy who shot Hawke had gotten out—(Keane) checked every square centimeter of that room later and couldn’t find anything. Someone speculated that he must have been a mindwalker or something to get away like that. No matter, Hawke has hurt bad, he needed surgery and I couldn’t do it there. The shooter was deadly precise and using a very powerful weapon—we tried to move Hawke but he refused, said it wouldn’t be long.

By this time, the rest of the crew had charged in, weapons ready. Hawke wheezed for everyone to get close and gave his final orders—“Don’t stop the hunt. Get the ship…to…Aegis.” Then he died. That’s all he had time to say. Get to Aegis. We were all too shocked to speak, so we solemnly carried Hawke up to the Talon and laid him to rest in a cryochamber.

Now we have no captain, no leader, and the Talon seemed to know…I swear that machine sounded…mournful…when we ordered a jump to Aegis as Hawke’s last order. We followed our captain’s last order, so we’re on the way to Aegis. There’s discussion of what to do, but it’s clear nobody really knows what’s going to happen. Computer estimates starrise near Bluefall around the beginning of June…guess we’ll find out then.

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Session .5--A New Start
Which Might Be Hopeful!

(This was a half session, at best. We started only after the players finished building PCs and equipping them.)

We pick up where the prologue ends. We’ve been making jumps through drivespace for a few weeks now on our way to Aegis. It’s June 2nd, 2525. We’ve just made starrise in the Aegis system; our navigator Blake has not failed his astrogation roll we come out a reasonable distance from the colony. He also fails to fail his navigation roll and manages to locate the colony, about three days out from the planet. However now that we’re at Aegis we begin to consider what we’re supposed to be doing here or who we should try and locate. Taking the logical course we begin moving towards the planet. We realize that with a vague idea of the ship’s cost for basic operations we’ll need to raise some money to continue operations. We decide to look on the local grid for records of Mordechai’s last visit or perhaps any holdings on the planet.

About an hour into our trip to the planet all power suddenly goes out in the ship; we’re coasting along completely blindly – no lights or anything else. We shout for Peter Benton, the doctor/engineer/computer hacker, to find out what happened. Unfortunately Peter can’t immediately see the cause; he begins investigating. As soon as he begins checking into it however the reactor spontaneously starts up and power begins to restore to the ship. Blake is able to quickly find that the ship’s mass transceiver just downloaded a packet of information of unusual size; a big file structure of some kind. Then something actually unusual (hah) happens. Next to Aiden’s captain’s chair a piece of flooring begins retracting and a small pedestal rises with a holoprojector attached. It hums to life, displaying a small image of Mordechai.

Holo-Mordechai looks around and states that he must be dead. He asks for the entire crew to be assembled, which we do. The projection states that he’s a recording of the personality matrix of the original Mordechai, updated every time he visits Aegis. He states that the ship now belongs to all of us, each with a 1/6 ownership stake, and that he requests his death be avenged, that we must “set things right.” Holo-chai states that he’ll record voice authorization codes for each of us and that a majority of the crew must authorize for the stardrive to be activated on the ship. He expresses various confidences in all of our various abilities to successfully “set things right.” We ask how he’d like his body disposed of; Holo-chai indicates that he’d prefer that his body be shot into drivespace, with his armor. He states that he’s currently looking for good bounty hunting jobs within the system for us to pick up. Gargoyle asks what he knows about Airibos, the lord of the underdark or whatever. Holo-chai is only willing to state that we’re not nearly ready to take him on at this point. Blake also asks whether we have any resources available for maintenance/refueling of the ship. Holo-chai states that he has an account on-planet that we can use to refuel the ship.

Holo-chai turns on a display console on the ship, bringing up the image of a caucasian male, Tag Morris. He’s a former engineer at Ion Productions, who apparently stole IP and sold them to a competing shipyard, Thorn shipyards. There’s a 100,000 bounty on his head, placed by Scott Williamson. Williamson wants Morris brought back alive. Holo-chai reminds us that Williamson has also applied criminal charges in the Alundral system, which should give us the go-ahead. He fled Aulandril via a liner as soon as he realized they were after him and should have arrived on Aegis about seven days ago. How convenient! We happen to have 2.8 days of transit time until we arrive.

With that we end for the night.

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Session 1 -- A Mexican Standoff...in Spaaace
Or "But we were here first!"

We still have a few days to burn so we continue to question Holo-chai about his past and available memories. He begins talking to us about how one of his crewmen was killed by a brainbug and be began hunting down the supplier, eventually locating a group referring to itself as “the Underworld.” As it turns out they’re a pretty large organization. Holo-chai eventually killed some more lieutenants and was able to figure out that there’s just one person at the head of the organization, Eribos the Head of the Underworld. At that point the organization attacked him and killed most of his remaining crew, at which point he went to hire us. Much of our first assignments were while he was gathering information about the Underworld and its dealings. It was that trail that Holo-chai recounts until it brings us up to events shortly before Hawke’s death.

Holo-chai indicates that it doesn’t sound like we’re on the “bad list” of the underworld, more that it was just him. However it sounds like the Underworld knows about our ship.

Hawke indicates that it could be a service to the Rim and the Concord for us to work against the Underworld, not to mention a number of their figures would be worth very large bounties, so it may be in our best interests to help take them down.

As we approach the planet we’re directed to a docking/parking orbit. Sinon sits on the bridge and focuses intently, spending about half an hour concentrating. He’s able to tell with his psionic abilities that the target person is nowhere on the planet.

We complete docking at Nectara station and consider our next move. It’s possible that he’s headed to Thorn Shipyards, the company he allegedly sold the secrets to. Aiden manages not to break the computer as he attempts to use it, beginning to look for whether there were any recent postings to charter a ship to Thorn. He hunts and pecks away over an extended period.

Blake, Gargoyle and Seamus go out to carouse in a local bar while we wait on Aiden’s hunting and pecking. He finds the station to be rather tightly controlled, without many opportunities to really get into trouble. In any case the bar at this space station is still a rather large and nice one with a semi-circular room, dance floor, restaurant and other things you’d expect in a dance bar. To Blake’s trained eye he notes a number of security guards who are trying to blend into the crowd but not doing a good enough job of it. He gets the feeling that the bar is fairly heavily secured.

While they’re drinking and dancing Aiden accidentally presses a sequence of buttons and manages to turn up some useful information. He locates a flight plan filed by a ship called the Star Mule headed for the McCoa star system, which happens to be en-route to Talbot where Thorn is located. Only one passenger, using a male name, was onboard. Very little traffic goes in that direction normally so he feels that it’s likely a significant lead. Additionally it’s of interest that there’s a small Borealan research station on that planet. The Star Mule made starrise three days ago. The ship is a bit older with about a 5.7 Ly range so we anticipate it will take them two jumps to arrive. Conversely we would arrive in just one jump so we would expect that we could arrive ahead of him if we leave within about a day.

Sinon notes the pseudonym we’re assuming this passenger used to book passage to Talbot and is able to confirm that it was the same one that was present on the ship that brought our target here.

Given that we have no further work to do on this planet and we have about a day until our stardrive has recharged we elect to go down to the beach and drink cocktails for the day. Aiden realizes, while on the planet, that we didn’t have too hard of a time picking up the trail of this guy and likely there are a number of other bounty hunters probably after the guy.

Afterwards we shake the sand out of our shorts and return to our ship and depart. A few days after we make starfall to McCoa. During the interval in drivespace Holo-chai offers to be a teacher to us on some of his areas of expertise. Some of us elect to learn Law skill while others choose to learn Research. We each spend about 20 hours a day as there’s nothing else to do while in drivespace.

A short time prior to starrise Holo-chai calls us back to the bridge. Shortly thereafter in a burst of red light we emerge from drivespace. Thanks to Blake’s expert navigation we emerge only .1 au from the planet. Talbot is a dusty world with ammonia lakes and an inert, non-breathable atmosphere of argon and lots of CO2. Sokara station is a domed research station about 15 years old and funded by the Borealans. Only about 200 people are present in the system. As we begin moving towards the planet (about an 11hr journey) we get in touch with the local communications net. A few other ships are present in-system; we don’t locate the Star Mule yet so likely we’ve beat them here. We do locate another ship inbound, several days away; likely they made starrise very far from the planet. We know that our target was bringing supplies to the planet so we anticipate landing there to pick the guy up upon his arrival.

As we near the planet a pale-faced and nervous scientist gets on the com to us by the name of McDermott. He wants to know why we’re visiting the system. We explain we’re bounty hunters, which doesn’t really calm his nerves. We explain the situation and ask to land to apprehend the criminal when he arrives. The scientist becomes extremely concerned that we’re somehow going to disrupt the peace of his station with our activities. We reason with him as to the problems that might be caused by letting the guy not land. The guy goes off-camera to talk with his security chief; they speak off-camera. The boffin comes back and indicates that we would be allowed to apprehend the guy if we can do it without using weapons that might damage the dome and without using any excessive violence. We explain that some other bounty hunters might not be quite as nice as us and try to argue that their own security arrangements will not be sufficient against a single group of bounty hunters, much less the multiple groups that will be coming, not to mention the criminal that is heading this way. He doesn’t like the sound of that and hangs up on us.

Shortly thereafter the guy calls us back and says he may have been a bit too hasty. They’ve decided that standard personal arms should not damage their dome. We take a look at the layout of the spaceport from our position in space and begin to formulate a plan to land ahead of time and wait at the spaceport for his transport to land.

During our planning Holo-chai informs us that about an hour and a half ago he detected a starrise of an unknown craft. It’s too early to be the Star Mule so we must assume it’s more bounty hunters. We revise our plans a bit, especially considering the volume of ships that will likely be arriving. We check in on the other two ships in the area; one of them, the No Equal, are rather arrogant and don’t often follow the conventions of other bounty hunters. The other ship, the Red Hook, isn’t one that’s known to us.

We elect to head down to the planet to prepare for their arrival and talk with the staff on-planet, electing to take a number of stutter weapons with us as well as bladed weapons. We land and mate airlocks with the station, although the airlock doesn’t immediately open. The security officer for the station greets us, requesting us to transmit our bounty hunter licenses to him, which we do. He questions us as to whether we have any heavy weapons on us. Gargoyle tries to be diplomatic and does a reasonable job of convincing him that we wouldn’t dream of bringing dangerous weapons inside. The airlock opens finally and welcomes us to the station. He indicates that we’ll need to stay on our ship as they don’t have guest accommodations. We proceed down the jetway towards the dome, walking through (and setting off) a single security checkpoint. We head to a tram that takes us a few kilometers from the spaceport to the dome – a large, transparent structure that appears to be quite solidly built. Inside is a single large building with what looks like a verdant park area surrounding it.

The security guy explains that they generally will not prevent those who can do damage to the dome from landing, mainly because they have no capacity to stop them. That’s of course not good news to us. They apparently have all of four security officers. We get some information about the docking area and the lower cargo delivery area that the freighter would likely use.

While looking over the place Hole-chai buzzes us that the No Equal wants to talk with us; he forwards us the call so we can all listen in but Gargoyle ends up speaking for us by default because he’s the only one who can be diplomatic (or at least he thinks he can). A face appears from the incoming call – a Solar wearing a fedora and sporting large wire-frame spectacles. He introduces himself as captain Thaddeus Burns introduces himself and indicates he’d like to speak with Mordecai; Gargoyle indicates that he’s indisposed. Burns states that he wants to negotiate with us to leave the bounty to him. He offers 25% of the bounty in exchange for our cooperation. We politely indicate we’ll bring the offer to him and end the conversation. None of us think that offer is worth a second thought.

The Red Hook then comms us; Gargoyle again takes the call. A scarred, grizzled guy named Captain Rackam comes on the line. He indicates that that the No Equal has offered them 25% to displace us; he instead offers to split the bounty to turn on the No Equal. We say we’ll think about it and end the conversation. We have about the same interest in their offer as the other.

Burns from the No Equal calls us back; Gargoyle takes the call. Gargoyle again tells him that we’ll consider it and signs off.

We consider the situation as a group and decide not to ally with either group, not wanting to split the bounty. We offer to give $10k to Rackham upon capture of the bounty to thank him for giving us the info about Burns. After a couple of hours no further contact is received. Both ships continue their courses towards the planet.

With that we end for the night. We all receive two character points.

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Session 2 -- Of Space Cowboys and Telepathy

The other ships in-system continue to move towards the planet still about two days out. About a half-day later Holo-chai informs us that the Star Mule looks to have made starrise and will arrive in about three days to the planet. We all retcon ourselves some stutter pistols. Blake works with some of the locals to acquire a significant supply of starshine. Gargoyle spends some time getting the lay of the land, of which he discovers there’s isn’t a ton to look over. We also spend quite a bit of time carousing with the locals and getting to know them. Over a few drinks Blake gets to be friends with some of them.

The Borealan administrator contacts Blake regarding landing pad space. His concern is that there are two other ships in addition to the Star Mule that are inbound to the planet and there will not be enough landing pad space available if all three ships land. Blake let’s them know we’ll think about it and informs the rest of us for discussion. We elect to – upon the arrival of the Star Mule – to take off but leave our own personnel in place to intercept any arrivals. We also realize that likely our mark isn’t going to leave the ship willingly and we aren’t just going to be let onto the ship easily. We begin to consider ways that we might be able to get onto the ship.

We decide to use the friends that Blake has made to try and get a good introduction to the crew of the Star Mule and maybe get on good enough terms to be let onto the ship – maybe by way of wanting in on the captain’s supply of quality booze. They agree reluctantly, so long as we don’t damage the relationships between them and the Star Mule’s captain.

The Red Hook lands, a couple days later. Four crewmen arrive and immediately seek us out after arriving at the station. Arden Rackham. introduces himself, a gruff and grizzled person with appearance of about 40 years old. He’s dressed in similar gear to us, also sporting an armored clamshell over his own tacsuit. A T’sa with a very large head-crest accompanies him; he speaks very quickly and then runs off. Arden introduces him as Yelk, their pilot/tech. He also introduces Gorbrog, a Weren with a large scarred patch of face, tusks, and seven feet of muscle and fur. He’s dressed in Weren-sized combat armor of Orlamu design. Rounding them out is a 5’8 130lb human woman who is strikingly beautiful and sports unnatural purple eyes; she introduces herself as Shanna. She’s wearing some sort of form-fitting bodysuit that looks to provide mild protection. She stays close to Rackham’s side in a platonic sort of way.

Rackham indicates that their drive has to recharge anyway and so since we’re here first they won’t interfere with us and will be on their way. He states that he’s going to head to the cafeteria. Blake offers to share some of our starshine with the guy. The Weren grunts in a friendly sort of way.

Half a day later the No Equal shows up and lands on the planet. They haul a portable bar into the station cafeteria and set up shop. Thaddeus Burns tips his hat. He and his crew all dress in an old west “cowboy” manner; all of them are humans. They cast suspicious glances towards the crew of the Red Hook. Aiden notices their captain making a gesture towards him suggesting he wants to chat outside the cafeteria. They go out to speak. Aiden comes back to the group reporting via a text message that Rackham apparently may have forces outside the settlement that may still act. He was trying to keep us all in the cafeteria for a time, for an unknown reason. Also they mentioned something about the No Equal being very eager to betray us. Aiden gets the feeling that Rackham was lying quite a bit.

The captain’s buddies have somehow already started gambling using some kind of paper cards and small chips. Blake is immediately drawn in to their activity; they send him the rules to a game of chance called “poker.” Blake acquits himself well and somehow manages to win the first hand, spending some time socializing with the crew as well. The Weren comes over Seamus and looks at him oddly, muttering something about him not quite being human. They discuss Seamus’ genetic heritage and the Weren is rather amused by his shark DNA and finds Seamus’ fangs an improvement over the standard human canines.

Meanwhile Gargoyle notices that in his movements around the dome the Tsa is following him. He heads out of the bar area towards the trees, noticing that he’s still being followed. Eventually Gargoyle hides in the trees and the two meet, allowing them to converse. Gargoyle mentions something about it being good that their crew is not interfering with our hunt. The Tsa just nods and changes the subject to talk about nothing.

Shanna the chick comes over to talk with Sinon a bit. As it turns out she has a thing for Fraal and telepathy and asks Sinon to talk into her mind. He even gets into reading some of her surface thoughts, for which she projects some very naughty images to him. A bit disgusted by this, Sinon drops a comment about their two crews seeming to cooperate after theirs gave up the bounty they were after, trying to get her to leak out some revealing thoughts as to their true motives. She seems relatively controlled of mind, though, and doesn’t give up anything. She eventually bores and goes over to hit on the space cowboys.

Later in the evening suddenly the floor of the facility begins shaking from a minor earthquake of about ten seconds; we manage to avoid losing our feet, as do most of the others in the bar. The techs and scientists look completely unfazed. We question one of the local techs who indicates that seems to be a weekly or bi-weekly thing around here.

Everyone begins packing up and heading back; we end up heading back first. Sinon plants a bug at the end of the tramway so he can monitor when the other crews begin returning. When the Red Hook arrives he is able to use his psionic abilities to look inside the other ship and hear their conversation, of which there is nothing remarkable; it sounds like some routine conversation. Unfortunately when he tries with the No Equal he isn’t able to see/hear inside it.

After talking about it to the crew Sinon and Gargoyle go outside their ship for the rest of the night to keep watch for any foul play, appropriately camouflaged. As the surrounding terrain is fairly rough Gargoyle takes his rifle with him. Sinon also makes like a rock and hides, along with his rifle.

In the middle of the night the No Equal takes off from its landing platform. Gargoyle peeks in a porthole to the landing area to see if any of the crew remained behind. As it turns out yes, three figures are walking down the jetway. The bug left earlier by Sinon notes three Stetson-bearing figures walking by with some kind of elongated rectangular case and wearing clamshell armor. They seem to be hanging out in the terminal area. In the morning Gargoyle returns to the ship while Sinon remains outside, still hidden. We wake the crew to alert them to the development. Sinon psionically shifts his point of view and hearing inside. He looks all over the inside but cannot locate them; he does report hearing a hissing sound coming from the area that he can’t locate.

With that we end for the evening. We all receive three character points.

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Session 3 -- Monday Night Massacre
With limb chopping!

The scouting party wakes up the crew, and they ready themselves for dealing with the crew of the No Equal.

Sinon tries to get in touch with security regarding the content of his clairvoyance. It’s the “middle of the night” and nobody is currently on duty or responding to calls.

Sinon hears a hissing sound, which he attempts to track down with his clairvoyance / clairaudience. He tries switching his perspectives but while doing so the sound stops. Simon reports this via comms and moves towards the same terminal as the group.

Meanwhile everyone else gears up in combat loads which takes only a short time. While Aiden, Benton and Gargoyle take the main entrance Seamus, Sinon and Blake come in a side entrance at one end of the terminal in what looks like a cargo loading area with a large cargo elevator and a stairway. The three of them sneak up the stairways, ghosting in and managing to find their way up to the main level of the terminal. Meanwhile Aiden, Benton and Gargoyle open the main door. Aiden is able to use a small fiber optic cable to peek around the corner, not seeing anything out there as of yet. Aiden then peeks his head around, as does Gargoyle. They notice that the locking mechanism on the gate doors for a couple of food stands across from their exit look to have been sliced open. Aiden and Gargoyle cautiously move forward as does Benton, who takes a bit more cover. Aiden directs Gargoyle to look in the entrance chamber behind them to make sure it’s clear before proceeding towards the second group.

Meanwhile the stealthy group exits the stairwell and clears the immediate area around them. Sinton checks the far corner on his side and then takes the corner of their area, covering their advance, while Seamus checks on a cargo storage area on the opposite side and Blake comes up behind the two of them, also taking cover.

Suddenly we hear the door to another of the landing platforms (the one with the Red Hook at it) opens and their crew jumps out of the entrance, loaded for bear. They hop out, a bit surprised. Rackham sees us sneaking around and holds up his rifle, gesturing to Aiden as to whether it’s all clear or not. Aiden gestures back that he’s unsure and points towards the area we suspect. Their people take up covered positions. Aiden hops onto an encrypted radio channel with him. Rackham indicates that they noticed a disturbance in the terminal and offers his assistance. Aiden lets him know that’s not necessary but Rackham indicates that he’ll stick around to make sure his ship is protected. Aiden isn’t entirely convinced by his assumed motives and gets the feeling that they’re holding something back but doesn’t have further proof at this time.

Their T’sa skitters up next to Aiden as he works on directing Rackham’s crew along with ours into positions to breach. We count down and, at the signal, throw back the doors to the concession stands. Our breaching effort indicates they’re empty; we all mill out of the two rooms. At one of the concessions areas we note that a lock to the rear area of the room has been broken. Gargoyle is also able to make out some chipping to the paint; he concludes that there was a scramble up the wall with gecko pads. Indeed part of the ceiling seems to have been removed and then replaced poorly. Gargoyle comms this to the group. Gorblog can’t make out the same seam in the ceiling tiles that Gargoyle can make out; Gargoyle points it out to him.

Everyone begins to look upwards, moving out a bit from the concessions stand area. Sinon decides to forego further investigation and uses his psionic powers to locate the exact direction of their targets; he first asks Seamus, who he is next to, to cover him. After locating their target he points out the direction, giving exact coordinates and relaying them to the two groups. He then begins to move across the room towards Aiden to get a second reading to triangulate exact distance. On his way over, however, Gargoyle is able to just make out that Gorblog is about to try to chop off Sinon’s leg with his axe, which he easily succeeds in doing. At the same time the T’sa also opens fire on Gargoyle who takes a painful hit to the chest. At the same time psi-chick stares intently at Aiden’s crotch, who feels as though something is squeezing his nuts fiercely; unfortunately it never gets bad enough to cause much pain; he gets the sense that the attempt failed. Rackham then pulls out a grenade and lobs it over in between Blake and Sinon’s prone form. He stares dumbly at it for a second.

Gargoyle flies up a bit higher and takes aim with his weapon. Aiden aims down his sight, his cybernetic enhanced eyes locking onto the form of the T’sa, and looses a vicious burst at the creature’s face. The T’sa flings himself to the side wildly but still takes several rounds to the skull; his helmet proves strong enough to contain the large spray of brains that erupt from the back of his head. Aiden steps back around the wall, back into cover. Blake finally comes to his senses but isn’t able to take any other actions. Seamus shakes suddenly and quick-draws his sword then steps up but manages to completely miss the Weren right in front of him with his jab. Rackham readies his rifle as his plasma grenade goes off. Blake isn’t able to quite jump out of the way and the blast throws him backwards into the wall next to him. His armor takes some of the impact but he still is badly burned. Benton runs over to him and begins to pull Blake backwards into cover to give him medical aid. Psi-chick steps around her corner and turns her gaze towards Gargoyle, staring intently at him. His rifle arm suddenly is pulled to his side, grappled by her psionic attack. He tries to break free but can’t yet. Sinon continues lying onto he ground, shuffling back a step towards Aiden and propping himself up on one elbow as he takes aim at psi-bitch across the room. Aiden leans around his corner and, not seeing Rackham, lines up a shot at psi bitch and fires. Two rounds hit but neither seems to deal significant damage to her as a shimmering of the air intercedes. Seamus finally is able to strike at the arm of the huge Weren, wounding it enough that he will be a bit slower to bring his weapon to bear.

The ceiling explodes at the far end of the terminal while the No Equal crew drops down to the floor. Meanwhile Rackham sprays the wall opposite where Aiden is standing; his rounds manage to miss him as bullets whiz by above Blake and Benton. Gorblog mutters something about being sorry and, while he can’t quite swing his halberd is able to deceptively prod it at Seamus, dealing a painful wound to his chest. Benton pulls Blake further backwards into cover while Blake lies there and bleeds. Psi bitch again stares back at Gargoyle and tries to further restrict his arm; he thrashes around and is able to avoid her getting a better grip. Sinon lets loose a long burst aimed at psi bitch but she’s still able to block it. Aiden takes aim and fires a few rounds at Rackham, managing to nail him directly in the head. Gargoyle flies around a corner, breaking psi-bitch’s hold on him. Seamus recovers from his wound enough to slash at the Weren’s arm, who can’t quite defend with his halberd in time. His sword manages to pierce his armor but the wound doesn’t look so severe.

One of the cowboys who has just landed on the floor turns towards psi bitch and opens up with an autoflechette shotgun on her; she promptly passes out. One of the other cowboys fires at Gorblog, hitting him several times in the back. Benton has pulled Blake far enough into cover that he’s able to whip out some bandage spray and apply it to the entire front of Blake. Sinon manages to bring his rifle to bear on the back of the Weren’s head and is able to put a round through the unarmored rear of his skull. The creature falls over like the sack of shit he is.

One of the cowboys runs over to Sinon to apply bandage spray to his still-bleeding leg. Thaddeus Burns and the other two cowboys walk over to ask if we’re OK. One of them gives first aid to Sinon. The T’sa’s head is pulped, Gorblog the Weren is bleeding badly including a nasty head-wound. Psi bitch continues to bleed but does not immediately expire. Rackham likely will not last very much longer; not a single fuck is given. Benton is able to give some more first aid to other members of the group with lesser injuries.

We talk with Burns, discussing how he just happened to be in the right spot in the ceiling to intercept the bounty as it would have arrived. Nevertheless we all discuss the matter and agree that we owe him a split of the bounty for their services. We gather up the weapons of the assailants to add to our shipboard gun locker.

Sinon gets carried over to the medbay to have his leg re-attached and we retire for some booze and healing. Benton spends several hours reattaching Sinon’s leg, which he does competently. We all get three character points.

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Session 4 -- Clean Up on Aisle 4
And a new bounty!

Psi chick looks as though she’s going to pull through although the Weren expires messily. We’re reminded that the hibernation pods on the ship won’t prevent death a la freeze field; a dying person will still expire inside. Benton looks over psi chick and determines she looks to be save-able. He’s unsure if he wants to do it but some encouragement from the rest of the party causes him to relent; he patches her up and she’s now stabilized. Gargoyle checks over the dead people and finds that they do not have bounty hunting licenses, indicating that they were probably not bounty hunters at all and were more interested in just killing us. In any case Psi chick gets put into stasis. Benton decides to go through the belongings of the dead people to see if there’s any loot; we’ve already planned to take their weapons and add their distinctiveness to our own; they oddly have next to nothing else, including no identification or other conspicuous possessions.

We turn our attention back to our original objective, the bounty, which has yet to arrive. We contemplate moving the ships to make it look like everything is normal but considering that the Iron Mule has already seen our vessels we decide that’s not worthwhile. Our deliberations end up being cut short. The Star Mule contacts the planet. Thankfully we give the local authorities a good story to tell about the other ships in dock. The No Equal and the cowboys take off and plan to meet us on Tendril to collect the bounty.

The ship finally lands. The Star Mule’s captain disembark along with his crew, for a stretch. Local security forces check them out as well. Our plan is first for Blake to feel out the captain about handing the guy over, despite all of his bad burns from the plasma grenade that have miraculously healed thanks to some good drugs and medical care. We also plan to work on getting them all as drunk as possible in the cafeteria with booze procured from the No Equal. If that doesn’t work Gargoyle plans to be ready to sneak on board their ship to look for the fugitive.

Blake applies some silver shine to his tongue, pulls the captain aside and sweet-talks the captain fairly well. The captain mulls it over, considering the implications to his reputation. We try to convince him that a number of other bounty hunters will be after this guy and that it might be in his best interests to unload him sooner. The captain indicates that their next destination is there last one and that he could easily unload the guy and let him take his chances. We offer to pay him off about 1,250 credits which will also save the captain a trip to the next system and the associated expenses. The captain finally agrees, indicating that a side airlock door to the ship well be mysteriously unlocked when they unload cargo in about six hours. We talk him into providing payment after we make the grab. As we now have six hours prior to action we rest up while Benton works to treat injuries. Benton’s natural healing manages to make astounding progress in the time, thanks to some fantastic healing rolls. Seamus’ [un] natural healing powers also cause him to recover greatly.

In six hours Seamus, Gargoyle and Blake stand near the main airlock, ready to infiltrate the ship. They keep open a communications channel to make sure we’re all aware of our activities. Conveniently the rest of the Iron Mule’s crew is on another level entirely. They quietly makes his way to the passengers area of the ship, locating the single passenger’s compartment that is occupied (based on the light on inside). The three of them try to approach quietly; Gargoyle sneaks well but Seamus and Blake fail to approach quietly. They walk up to the door and find that it’s locked. Blake goes to work on the door using his lockpick and makes short work of the mechanism and opens the door. Our target, Tag Morris, is inside and looks rather surprised at seeing some burly strangers at his door. Seamus does nothing more than stand there and look at him and Tag is quickly cowed into submission, accepting his fate. He offers little resistance as he’s cuffed. Seamus goes through his things looking for anything pertinent to his crime and is able to find a hidden box of X3D’s, likely data that’s pertinent to the case. Seamus also kindly packs up his belongings for him and brings them along. We show him to his new quarters, in the brig, and give him a new set of clothes to make sure he’s not concealing anything.

We take off from the planet and head towards Alaundril to drop off the bounty. We have about 21 days of total drivespace. We continue our studies. During the trip Sinon spends some time talking with Tag to hear his story, find out about his crime, and inquire as to the circumstances to verify, to his own satisfaction, that the guy actually did commit the crime. He seems more interested in spinning falsehoods and stringing facts together to form a story of his innocence. Based on that as well as his easy capitulation to us at his door, Sinon seems comfortable turning this person in to the authorities.

Between jumps Blake takes his time to check and double-check his astrogation calculations and manages to put us far outside the orbit of Alaundril. Space traffic control directs our flight path to a landing area. Ion Productions representatives and government representatives meet us at our landing area, as do the Red Hook crew. Burns demands to only take 25% of the bounty instead of the 50% we originally negotiated for upon seeing that we kept our word; we decide to take him up on it. We now have some time to let our drive recharge.

Holo-chai looks over available bounties and offers us our choice of three; we end up choosing to go after a pirate leader that’s attacking shipping targets; he’s wanted dead or alive, offering twice as much money for him being alive (180,000). We also have the opportunity to pay ourselves and do some shopping while on-planet. We decide to pay ourselves our normal salary, $6,000, and remaining money after expenses will go into a general operating fund for rainy days. We spend some time shopping as well to gear up. Gargoyle helps us navigate the mean streets to find marginally-legal equipment as we want it.

We put psi-restraints on psi-bitch and wake her up to ask her some questions. She’s surprised that she’s still alive and wants to know what we want from her. Sinon, with some help from interrogation drugs, is able to get into her mind and extract honest information from her. The mission was to extract and safely transport Tag Morris, the bounty guy, to extract and safely transport him to Thorn shipyards. After digging further we find, though she’s very reluctant to tell us, she’s a part of the Securtas mercenary group. Apparently her captain negotiated the deal with their client, Thorn Shipyards. After questioning her further we eventually decide to turn her over to the local authorities. We’re able to get an honest answer from her that she doesn’t plan to seek revenge as this is “just business.”

Holo-chai does some research on our next target, a piratical captain. He’s apparently wanted for a number of counts of murder, property damage to ships, and for the last ten months or so he’s been targeting Rogue, Inc ships hauling rhodium out of Acheron as well as freighters coming from Tendril carrying starship parts purchased from Ion productions. We consider different methods of intercepting him. While we know a few spots in space that we might find him we also consider that his party’s reputation for partying in the Lucullus system is also known. They normally stop off there to sell captured components and celebrate. Considering that it’s an easy intercept to find the guy we decide to head to the Lucullus system to set things right.

That’s it for the night. We each receive two character points.

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Session 5 -- The Pirate's Den
A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

We spend a few weeks traveling to Lucullus. Sinon’s leg finally finishes healing and we learn quite a bit more from the teachings of Holo-chai. Blake is able to plot us a jump that gives us about 11au to travel to our destination of Penance. On the way we consider that Lucullus is a former Solar penal colony that revolted a few hundred years ago and is now independent. As it’s a binary system the two stars create a significant amount of radiation between them. Penance, where we’re heading, is a rather unpleasant place and is damn cold. There are “a lot” of people on the planet and it’s rather crowded. As is befitting the rest of the system, a wretched hive of scum and villainy that’s run by six different gangs. The Jamaican Syndicate is the major power on the planet. The Picks are a super-violent gang of nihilists. The Technospiders are sort of good and sort of neutral and maintain the technological infrastructure that makes the planet livable. The Free Trade guild controls Freeport, the large spaceport on the planet. The Union Penates are effectively a labor union, as their names imply. Finally the Supervisors are the last of the Solars who use psionic enforcers to get their way. They give Mindwalkers a bad name and those caught using psionics using their powers on others are killed. The Lucullun League is a kind of United Nations of the gangs, still not a very nice organization.

Port Royal is effectively the planet’s capital and is run by the Jamaican Syndicate. Unsurprisingly there is no centralized law enforcement on the planet. Unsurprisingly Bounty Hunters are also not looked upon well. Upon landing at The Spoke we all go about locating appropriately concealable armor for us to use. We also all gear up appropriately as Blake expertly pilots us to our landing platform. We note several weapons platforms tracking us on the way in, which apparently is a matter of course. Once landed Sinon concentrates for a period of time and reaches out with his psionic senses attempting to locate our target. He’s able to reach out to about 1,000 miles but cannot sense him within that range; he informs the crew of his findings.

We also hear a bit more about how this town is a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Not knowing a specific location that Tigerlord frequents we decide to hit the Golden Quarter in town, the most likely spot for information on the guy. We head to that area in a group, for security, to find a bar to gather information. Drinks are ordered from the scantily-clad serving winches; Aiden pays for the quite broke Blake. Seamus manages to get his hologram on the wall by drinking a brew that’s particularly foul smelling and tasting and rots away the first few millimeters of his stomach lining. Gargoyle and Sinon manage to notice we’re being watched by quite a few groups as we enter, although the assumption is that everyone is watching everyone else in this place. We notice a number of concealed weapons, again unsurprisingly. Sinon tries to ask the waitress who we can talk to and purchase information; she’s clueless and rebuffs him. He tries to communicate with the ship but seems to be out of range as we’re underground. Gargoyle and Seamus go and asks around, finally locating a fence on-planet that we might be able to get some information from. He goes by the name of The Vulture. He’s had some cosmetic work done to gain some feathers and some hair so he looks the part somewhat as well.

Gargoyle indicates to him that we may have come into possession of some Rhodium and are looking to unload it; The Vulture apparently rolls a very good reaction check for Gargoyle and likes him. He indicates he might know some potential buyers that he could connect us with. Gargoyle tries to bluff that we have about a medium-sized freighter’s worth but Vulture doesn’t buy it and asks him for the truth. Gargoyle indicates that we’re looking for someone who stole some Rhodium and names Tigerlord. Vulture immediately realizes that we’re bounty hunters and advises that we not waste our time and our lives and not bother with the bounty as he’s a very dangerous prey with an extremely nasty crew. Vulture indicates that he’s usually in Santiago or Kingstown or the Highport. However because he seems to like Gargoyle he hesitates briefly and, with a bit of prompting, Gargoyle offers to purchase something to try and make it look like they’re not just chatting for information. Gargoyle forks over 1,000 credits and in return Vulture whispers to him that Lucullus is showing up on-planet already wealthy, as it would seem he’s selling his goods elsewhere. Gargoyle thanks him for the information and then flies off; he and Seamus go back to the group.

From Vulture’s information much of his crew has been cosmetically modified to look like tigers. We briefly consider either purchasing many tiger pets or make ourselves look like tigers to draw his attention. We consider our next move, to either track down the different location he’s fencing his goods at or we could still try to nab him when he arrives. It’s possible that whatever the other location he’s going to is that could mean a more favorable environment to make our grab, especially how crowded and lawless this place is.

We decide trying to talk to one of the grounds crews who might have serviced Tigerlord’s ship on its last visit and could have information on where it came from. Alternatively someone who’s close with the crew would be a good resource. Additionally we consider that Highport could be a good location to gather information, especially considering that the people there would be most negatively impacted by losing business from him going to a different fence to sell stolen goods. Blake is able to sell some bodily fluids in order to pay for the transport up to Highport as he’s still dead broke.

We hop a ride on a shuttle and in about 90 minutes we arrive at Highport, a wretched hive of scum and villainy with a much higher elevation. We’re immediately surrounded by people selling junk and trying to scam us. Seamus is able to force us a path through the mass. No security is to be found anywhere. Blake is having trouble controlling himself from taking out a loan to purchase the huge variety of things around him. Gargoyle notes a slightly higher number of Sesheyans in this system as opposed to elsewhere he’s gone. Seamus gets a wide berth from the teeming throng. He’s able to locate an appropriate vendor, someone who may now be selling less Rhodium than previous. The dealer’s name is Rufus Reynolds. We head up to deck 17 which is not tremendously different than our previous location. We’re able to find Rufus rather quickly in his office, a converted apartment with “Reynolds Brokerage, Ltd” on the door.

Inside we’re greeted by a woman who was clearly cosmetically modified to be very attractive; Samantha Wright is on her nameplate. We indicate our business is Rhodium and magically he becomes free to speak to us at just that time when he was previously busy. We’re ushered into his office and meet a very sleazy looking businessman behind the desk. Samantha Wright leaves us to talk. We indicate that we heard a rumor that he’s being cut out of the Rhodium business; he downplays it and asks us what we want. We scan his inventory via a display in his office and find that his supply is fairly low at the moment; we indicate that we’re looking to sell him services, including solving supply chain issues. He asks us to speak frankly; we indicate that we’re looking to take out Tigerlord.

Rufus indicates his frustration at being cut of business by Tigerlord going elsewhere and asks what we want; we indicate we’re looking to find out where Tigerlord is offloading his catch. Rufus indicates that he would also like to know but states that he’s not sure he wants Tigerlord taken out of the game, that it would stop business. He offers us 200,000 (20k more than the bounty) to simply disrupt wherever the new place he’s offloading his catch is so that he returns to doing business at Lucullus. We indicate that we’ll consider it. As we leave his office we notice three thug-ish guys hanging around the outside of his office; the sigil on their clothes is of a security company the station employs. We decide that likely our presence inside his office triggered some kind of silent alarm but they should pose us no harm.

We end for the night, receiving two character points each.

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Session 6 -- Pirate Island!
Also, "game called on account of humidity"

We return to the ship to confer regarding our next move. We all agree that we would like to extract information from Rufus Reynolds in search of Tigerlord. How we would go about doing that is up for debate, whether we use coercive options to try and get what we want from him or whether we decide to accept his offer (whether we intend to actually carry it out or not) as a lead towards Tigerlord.

Gargoyle messages Rufus for more information about the task to help us make a decision. Rufus responds that Tigerlord is going to a pirate enclave orbiting Dione around Lucullus C; the area is called Pirate’s Cove. Rufus indicates that we won’t be able to find it without their com codes. The planet is 2-3 times the diameter of Earth but is nearly completely covered in water with a surface pressure of 5 atmospheres and an average of 95 degrees C with a high rotational period. As such environmental gear would be required to operate on the planet. Additionally the planet’s high temperatures, steam-filled atmosphere and the radiation of the Lucullus system makes visual detection and analysis by normal means not possible. Rufus indicates that he may know who has the codes, if we agree to his deal.

Gargoyle is interested in potentially taking on Pirate Island on Dione to rid the system of lots of pirates and to remove an option for Tigerlord to sell his loot. Sinon is of the opinion that perhaps Pirate Island might represent biting off more than we could chew and that perhaps we should focus on capturing Tigerlord at Santiago.

We finally elect to turn down Rufus and go to Santiago to look around, gather intelligence, and plan how we’re going to snatch Tigerlord. We can take a shuttle down from the station we’re docked at; we go back to the ship first to grab beaver arms for our expedition.

For that we stop for the night as it’s super humid and super warm and uncomfortable. We each get one character point while Gargoyle earns two for pushing the investigation.

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Session 7 -- Bodies and More Bodies
And a cage match!

Sinon elects not to head back to the ship to grab equipment as nobody else feels the need to. We proceed from Port Royal to Santiago via train, about 5-6 hours via high speed train. As we pull into the station we notice groups of well-armed, organized security forces run by the Jamaican Syndicate. The city is made up of a series of interconnected domes, several of them smashed and dead. Santiago itself is in poor repair, the capital heavily damaged after fighting with the Kroath several decades before. The exception is the HelixTech complex which was not damaged in the fighting due to their collusion with the invaders. A constant hum of combat and altercation pervades the air, making the heavily-armed security forces guarding the station stand out that much more. Despite patchwork armor and equipment used by the guards they do move as a coherent, organized force.

For the last part of the train ride Sinon closes his eyes and concentrates, reaching out with his mind to try and locate Tigerlord. As it so happens Sinon is able to discern that he’s within the city but can’t determine where exactly as of yet. He lets the rest of the group know. We query the local grid for mentions of Tigerlord, researching available media feeds to find mentions of him. We’re able to see that he’s been sighted a few times at the Bloody Weren, a fight club in the city. It’s in a subsurface area so we take a large elevator downward.

Stepping out of the huge lift we emerge into a large underground cavern. It looks like a shabbier, more lawless area of the surface. Aiden does his best impression of an intimidating person and manages to keep the vermin at bay, a number of street punks lounging around. Aiden discreetly puts us into a tactically advantageous formation for our transit.

While heading to the bar we discuss what we’re actually going to do once we arrive there with our target. We quickly agree that now isn’t the time for action, that we instead want to observe and size up the target. Sinon mentions that if we had something of his or one of his retinue’s it would be much easier for him to locate them.

The Bloody Weren is of recent construction, an amalgamation of several other clubs in the area. A massive Weren head is the entrance, built with scrap metal and other discarded materials. We note a camera system around the exterior of the building along with imposing-looking guards wielding human-sized chuurk’nahs as well as more modern weapons. The size of the club means no line to enter. A few street bums line the perimeter. One of them, a filthy street kid walks up to Blake begging for money and offering favors. Sinon talks to him briefly, asking him whether he knows who Tigerlord is; the kid doesn’t quite know. A couple of other urchins try to sneak up behind us; Sinon and Gargoyle manage to hear them coming. Sinon comments loudly that he can’t pay the urchin if his friends rob us. That scares them off. We go inside for now, leaving the kid.

Heading inside the club we emerge into a large open area akin to a stadium. In the center is a big cage, nearly 10’ by 10’, currently empty of combatants. In its place are hologrammatic images of previous fights. We discern from watching that the cage is electrified. A countdown of a few hours is displayed prominently, announcing the next fight in the ring. Some places to make bets are easy to pick out as is a dance floor and several actual bars to purchase drinks. A VIP area with an excellent view of the cage looks populated with a group; those of us with magnified vision can see a large group with tiger-themed body mods; we’re able to pick out the man himself as well as his crew. We also can see one of the tigresses in the area. As we look around a couple of us are able to see a couple of tigers in a lower-level VIP lounge; they seem to be in the middle of some kind of business transaction, taking a payment of some sort for a nondescript box with a bio-lock on the outside. The buyers look to be some kind of partygoers. We take a look around and try to identify as many tigers that we can see. Ten appear in the main VIP area. We also catch a glimpse of Tigerlord himself. He’s a human of Asian descent with a large mane of hair, heavily tattooed and sporting cat eyes, claws and fangs. He’s carrying a tray of some kind of beverages that he gulps down, one after another. He’s about 5’8, roughly 160lbs, and wears a duster, a heavy suit of armor, and a sword poking up above one of his shoulders. The tigresses look around alertly, not drinking anything and otherwise hang out looking attractive in a cat sort of way. All of his crew have some kinds of body modifications in a tiger style. Everyone in their group is well-armed. They seem to have brought in some sort of large trunk with them as well.

Suddenly a burst of gunfire erupts from one of tigerlord’s crew members. A random patron looks to have been making a run for the trunk but was dispatched by one of the guards. Little heed is paid. We decide to go and check out the recently-deceased body to see if we can gain any post-mortem information from him. Sinon mentions that we should not assume the man is dead yet, that we may be able to render aid.

Blake and Benton go to check out the body while Gargoyle and Sinon go to shadow the recent purchasers we just saw heading their way out. Aiden and Seamus stick around to keep an eye on the area. Apparently there are divisions of cage matches, mainly an unarmed and a mêlée division, unaugmented and augmented, as well as divisions by body weight. An “Open” unrestricted division also exists. Fights are to the death, although technically you can tap out of the fight before then. It seems that the crowd is the larger determiner of whether a combatant lives or dies.

Benton and Blake make their way over to the body, confirming that the man has in fact expired. Benton examines it briefly and covertly takes a blood sample. He’s able to locate what look like hypospray injection points all over his arms. Blake goes over the body but finds nothing. The man is in poor physical condition with some discoloration and translucense around his skin, hair falling out and teeth rotting. Aiden observes from a distance to see if anyone takes an unusual interest in them but doesn’t note any. Benton indicates that if they could get the body away for more examination that could provide valuable information. Nobody seems to be paying much attention to them so Blake heft the body himself to take the man away on the pretext of a cleanup job. Benton indicates that if they could find an abandoned medical facility of some kind that might have the necessary info, apart from returning to the ship. Aiden does some electronic research and is able to locate some old buildings that we might be able to utilize with some repair to the technology. As it turns out Benton is incredibly skilled in all of the necessary areas.

Meanwhile, Sinon and Gargoyle shadow the group of recent purchasers from Tigerlord. One of them clutches their box closely while the remaining three gather around closely, moving away quickly to what looks like a crumbling building out of the way. The two follow them as they make their way into the building, sneaking behind. The building is old and is in very poor repair. Faded lettering indicates this formerly was some kind of Solar colonial administration building. The four revelers ascend an internal staircase and head to an internal room with no windows.

From a nearby location Sinon attempts to project his vision into the room but fails the first time, taking a minute. Meanwhile Gargoyle is able to see that they are taking some kind of objects out of the box, apply them to their arms, twitch slightly and then lay back, now relaxed. Gargoyle goes over to the room and opens the door, getting no response from the people as he does so. Sinon abandons his attempts to see inside the room and instead sneaks over by the stairwell to listen, providing security for Gargoyle as he investigates. The box is a container for some kind of disposable injection devices, now laying next to the people. He’s able to take one of the devices easily; the people seem to have no awareness of his presence. They look in poor shape, similar to the dead body from earlier, with skin that’s slightly translucent. By the light of a small portable source they brought in Gargoyle is able to discern that this is probably where these people live from various objects strewn around. A dead human woman is also present, decomposing. He pokes it slightly and the skin looks a bit odd, almost slightly hardened unnaturally. He pulls out a small vibroknife and takes a sample, cutting it with difficulty. He notes the same injection marks on the body as with the others. It also seems as though only a section of its skin was hardened.

Back at the club Benton and Blake egress by the main entrance. As they prepare to carry out the corpse they notice that it’s bleeding heavily still. Blake talks him into applying spray bandage to the corpse while Blake jokes that the guy might pull through.

As Blake and Benton walk out Aiden notices one of Tigerlord’s crew watching them exit with the body. The crewman, after awhile, taps Tigerlord on the shoulder and points them out, looking over at the corpse-haulers. We coordinate to meet at an abandoned hospital we’ve located about a quarter-mile away. The dead body is unnaturally heavy, however, so Blake and Benton have to carry the body together. Gargoyle and Sinon approach a bit later, keeping an eye on anyone who comes after to follow Benton and Blake. The group makes it to the hospital just fine. Sinon packs a good vantage point across the street from the hospital, conceals himself and keeps watch. Aiden and Seamus decide to head back to the Bloody Weren so that Seamus can sign up under the moniker “Sharknado” for a fight in the unarmed, augmented division. He’s scheduled for a fight in 27.5 hours against Ivan, a Narac cybersoldier.

Benton, Blake and Gargoyle head over to the hospital to take a better look at the body. The hospital building looks to be partially repaired, power being active in some sections. Two guards in shabby uniforms stand at the entrance as Blake and Peter walk up to them carrying a dead body. The guards immediately inquire what they’re doing. Benton and Peter explain they’re trying to do an autopsy on the body but the guards don’t seem to care much. Gargoyle and Blake try to talk some sense into them but they eventually respond by drawing their pistols. They state that the building is people’s residences and that we can’t just walk in carrying the body.

Finally Gargoyle asks what it takes to get a room in the building. The two guards indicate that they might accept a one-day payment of 100 Concord dollars per person, which sounds relatively reasonable to them. They fork over the sum and are allowed in. Benton, Blake and Gargoyle head to the lift, which they find doesn’t actually reach the floor that has the medical equipment on it (floor 19). Benton does some quick hotwiring and is able to rig the elevator to take them up to floor 19, which the elevator does. The door opens to a completely dark and emptied floor. They’re able to locate a small medical office; Gargoyle turns over the samples he procured earlier. In the office is a diagnostic bed but it’s currently unpowered. About two hours of work fix that by hacking into the floor and locating a live power feed and another couple hours pass before the diagnostic bed is operational. Aiden and Seamus come back to join the rest of the group and meet with much less resistance at the door. They have no problem meeting with the others, encountering a deconstruction of the floor in progress.

Benton is finally able to activate the bed, bypassing initial analysis that the person is actually dead. He’s able to see many large tumors around the body at the main nervous system joints. He extracts one and takes a look, analyzing it over the course of a couple more hours.

Towards the end of that time Sinon, from his vantage point across the way, is able to see a group of humanoid figures moving towards the building who don’t look like they belong. One is tall and balding with pasty white skin while the remaining three look to be standard humans. A fifth looks like a Weren with too-long arms, wearing a hooded cloak as are the rest of the men. They’re headed straight for the guards, pulling some kind of weapon about 20 yards away and shooting the guards with some kind of well-placed shots from quantum weapons – pistols, from their appearance.

That’s the end for tonight; we all receive four character points.

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Session 8 -- Yes, They Are After Us!
Part 1 of "Big Fight in Partially Abandoned Building"

We resume!

There are 5 heavily armed men converging on our building, where we’re set up in a makeshift medlab on the 18th floor. Sinon is across the street, set up in his camo gear. Seamus is taking the elevator up, and presses all the buttons for every floor. He changes his mind and elects to take the stairs from the 14th floor onward. Gargoyle sneaks out of a side window and flies down to street level. The armed men make it through the lobby, and decide to take the stairs as well.

The group sets up some cover out of furniture and rubble on the 19th floor. Gargoyle picks up Sinon with some effort and flies him up outside to the 19th floor. He gives Aiden one of the two grenades he had smuggled in his flesh pocket.

We hide, redecorate the floor a bit, set up positions, and wait.

We hear signs of them attempting to quietly approach, with some heavy breathing from the trek up the 19 floors. One shape quickly moves up, not stopping on our floor. A second moves in a very odd manner, using 4 limbs to climb up the center of the stairwell. A shape gets to the staircase, stops, gets to the door, and stops. Its face is not visible, they have a form-fitting greyish-black plasticy substance covering it. Their cloaks have moved to form around them.

A monotone voice asks us for the body, any evidence we collected, and any data, and that then we will be free to go. We respond by (hopefully) giving them a body, and chucking a plasma grenade. Much like Ricky Bobby, he is on fire, though he dodged and dropped with surprising grace.

One of our adversaries moves in. Very quickly. He’s got a pistol-like thing that’s surrounded his hand, and a haze / smoky shortsword-like object. It looks reminiscent of Kroath bio-tech. He tries to shoot at Aiden. He misses, with some kind of quantum discharge.

We start shooting / stabbing / etc. Gargoyle slices one through the wall in the neck, Aiden shoots a burst off at one of the enforcers, thudding high-powered rounds into his chest. All attacks so far seem effective, but these guys are tough! Seamus slices one that moved through with a deceptive attack, but the enforcer dodges. Blake takes aim at ones vitals. Benton shoots one, but it grazes off its arm for minimal damage.

One of them slashes at Seamus, but the swing is poorly timed and whiffs.

The enforcer who got sliced through the neck takes one step forward and collapses. His buddy barely sees him collapse out of the corner of his eye. He attempts to fire at Aiden, and then unfortunately meets the business end of a monowire whip to his neck. His shots fly over his intended target as Aiden hits the deck. Aiden returns to a crouch. Seamus delivers a nasty slice through the torso of the enforcer who initially ate a plasma grenade. Blake follows up with 3 precisely aimed grazer pistol shots to the vitals, leaving some holes in critical places. It takes a moment for his body to realize precisely how dead it is about to become, and he then falls backward. Sinon follows up by shooting his laser pistol 3 times to the [RANDOM], which results in a hit to the right arm, the abdomen, and the chest. One of these is quite effective, rendering his right gun arm useless. He runs towards Seamus, shortsword arm swinging at him to the [RANDOM]! It lands, after Seamus fails to dodge. The" blade" is more of a corrosive attack, which hurts like hell, seems to eat away substantially at Seamus’ coat. Gargoyle makes a mighty swing at the adversary’s neck from behind. Blood is pouring down his body, but he’s still standing even after Aiden fires 3 rounds at his vital organs!

Seamus feels the curse of Rex from beyond time and space and fails his roll to remain conscious.

Sinon fires 3 quick shots, hoping to land somewhere that hurts. It’s enough to get him to finally fall over. Benton runs over to bandage Seamus, who is quickly conscious again and healing like a champ.

The enforcers start disintegrating! Seamus grabs a sample vial full of the disgusting gray ooze, and it corrodes through like blood from Aliens. Gargoyle attempts to collect some data with zoomed in visual recording. Sinon focuses his senses and attempts to find the large enemy with his Seeker Sense. He critically succeeds. Both are above us, spread out slightly. We end for the night there.

We each get 3 character points.

REMINDER OF MINOR RETCON: the guys, when they dissolved, WERE liquidy at first, but dried out to dust by the time 10 minutes had passed. But definitely wet at first.

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