The long strange trip

Trouble at Surprise Crescent

A few days after you move in at the boarding house, you’re having tea. It’s late evening, darkening and slightly chilly outside; warm & cosy inside.

After a splendid repast, Ma asks you for help. She explains that the two big criminal gangs that control Startown usually leave Surprise Crescent alone. Some years ago a group of the residents of the time taught them that it wasn’t cost-effective to collect protection money there.

Recently, however, some new guys have tried to frighten the Crescenters into paying protection money. Unfortunately, many of the people who fended off the two big gangs eight years ago have moved away since then. The current residents aren’t up to dealing with a whole bunch of thugs (though one or two may be able to help).

They can’t ask the police for help, because technically they’ve no right to live in their houses (indeed, the houses themselves are illegal), and it would be much too expensive in bribes. And they definitely don’t want the two big gangs to become conscious of their existence again. They simply have to keep under the radar. So Ma hopes that your group can help.

• Ma Mossett says the first message arrived one week ago – a crude, unlit firebomb was left on everyone’s doorstep, together with a note: Your contributions to the cause will be welcomed. We shall be calling. It was sent to her and the other residents of the Crescent.
• Then she shows you a bullet – Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) ball ammunition – and says it was left last night, together with a key to a locker at the monorail station, with a number on it; the other residents also got keys, with different numbers. This time the note demands CR500 from each of them. She asks if the group could have a snoop around, find out who is putting the frighteners on the Crescenters.
o “Something similar happened eight years ago. The East Hill Gang and the Ishimiri Mafia both tried to muscle in on us. My brother-in-law Beau, who happened to be on Regina at the time, organized some of our kinfolk and some of the locals and convinced both gangs to leave us alone. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of that crowd on Regina today. Beau’s off chasing rainbows, Cain Markham moved back home to Madzaki, Mariko married that pioneer and went to Forboldn… There is one guy who could be a great help. His name is Cliff Westwood, lives in a small hovel off the Boulevard. Ex-military of some kind and tough as nails. Trouble is, he’s a bit of a recluse. More than a bit, actually. I’ve no idea how Beau convinced him to help the last time, but somehow he did, so it is possible.”

• Roy Montjeux’s two-centicredits’ worth:
o “Criminal scum! There are far too many of their like, preying on honest people. Did you know someone is starting fires in the Vargr Quarter? It won’t be long til someone is killed!”

Ma Mossett suggests Father Patrick
Father Patrick ‘Mon’ Oshiro
o A tall heavyset man in clerical garb; no preacher, believing that while saving people’s souls may be important, you first have to keep them alive, then give them a little hope, then you can start to worry about their souls
o age 66, 6’1", 180 lbs.; olive skin, greying black hair, brown eyes, heavy build
The Startown Refuge: The refuge is a charity hostel cum clinic funded by the Abbey of St. Mathew in Credo, but the religious connection is kept very low key.
o “Here, let me help you.”

• He suggests the Payans, local loafers, bored rich kids
o “Hmmm, sounds like trouble to me. Trouble could come from lots of places in Startown… but my guess wouldn’t be the criminal gangs or the Police; they tend to be more professional and in-the-open than that; they want people to know who they’re dealing with. I’d say amateurs, someone younger, testing the waters.”
o “It could be youngsters from any of the refugee groups – perhaps the Payans, they tend to be a bit rowdy. Or have you considered that it might be people from outside the community? Lots of well-to-do youngsters from Atora come ‘slumming’ here, looking for thrills – and some of them can be quite callous.”
o “Not the oo-jays, definitely no, not their style at all. Smash-and-grab is more their line.”

  • A street noodle vendor complains to you that the oojay gangs are a confounded nuisance. He has to keep a sharp eye out all the time to prevent them from stealing stuff off his barrow.

Owapefab
o a Bawapakerwa-a-a-awapawab (Bwap) bureaucrat working for the Starport Authority on Regina Highport; thinks that a properly formulated regulation is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, but he reserves his reverence for rules that make sense
o Bwap male, age 29, 4’8", 160 lbs.; greenish-yellow skin
o Finds comfort and security in complexity; Hates to hurry
The Startown Community Center: A volunteer based private organization that tries to provide a bit of education for the ‘UJs’ (Unregistered Juveniles). It has no fixed location but moves around to avoid raids by the Juvenile Welfare people. One of the volunteers is Owapefab.

o “Greetings. My name is Owapefab. I’m employed by the Imperial Starport Authority as Third Deputy Superintendent in the Office of Berthing, Ship Services Department, Regina Imperial Starport, Orbital Component. Allow me to suggest that you return to the young woman her purse.”

Oojays
o ‘Undocumented Juvenile’. An Undocumented Person under the age of 18, although many use the term only for those under 12. UJs are hunted by the Reginan Department of Juvenile Welfare. The pre-teens band together in gangs and hide out in abandoned buildings and in the sewers.

o “Moop it, you old gam!“
o “You trudeing, gaff?”
o “30-something? That’s archaeological!”
o “Yaaah!”

Reginan Street Slang
Coat: To be all over someone like an overcoat (or possibly like a coat of paint). Usually much the same thing as to trude, but it can be used in a positive sense. A bodyguard who coats his principal is just doing a good job.
Crock: To cripple or maim.
Gaff: Old man (anyone over 12 years or so).
Gam: Old woman (anyone over 12 years or so).
Mitt: To grab or to paw someone.
Moop: Initial-slang: To mind one’s own business. Derived from the age-old insult ‘myob’ (“Mind your own business!”).
Juwe: Anyone from Juvenile Welfare (not to be confused with ‘juvie’, a juvenile (Never used by oojays).
Trude: Verb derived from the phrase ‘To intrude on someone’s personal space’.
Unmitt!: “Let go of me!”
UP (Pronounced ‘yoo-pee’): ‘Undocumented Person’. Someone who is not registered in the Reginan data banks, or someone who doesn’t want anyone to track him down through the data banks. Many UPs are criminals, but there is also a subculture of people who just don’t want the government to interfere with them. UPs don’t have or won’t use ID cards, which means they can’t have bank accounts, legal jobs, subsidized health care, public education, or anything else that requires the use of one.

• Monorail station cameras
o You see a feed of the lockers – and it gives up the faces of two loafers

  • Sar overhears an out-of-work mercenary in Brubeck’s bar telling the bartender of a mysterious master criminal called The Schemer who plans ingenious capers and sells the plans to others to carry out. A friend of a friend worked on a Schemer job and it went off without a hitch. Apparently the victim hasn’t even realized that he’s been robbed yet, and that was months ago!

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