The long strange trip

On the town, part 3 (Mama told me not to come)

So, you hear about a concert, a benefit for the Startown Volunteer Fire Brigade’s new fire engine. With all the fires that have been breaking out around Startown lately, this does seem a worthy cause. The Stoned Rollers are headlining, supported by Gerry Gallows. After you snap up your own tickets, B tells you Madrid Straaker has given her a fistful of backstage passes, too.

On the night, the streets outisde the club are thronging with people and there’s a lot of excitement in the air. Your VIP passes wave you through to the side entrance ahead of the crowd and you get a ringside view for Gerry Gallow’s set, which is rapturously received. You see Faber in the crowd and follow him down to the VIP area, where you see him enter a dressing room. Listening at the door, you hear Gerry Gallows shouting at someone. Entering the room you see sitting, looking bored, four men, one of whom (addressed as ‘Mr Shutheash’ by the others) takes control of the situation when he sees Faber’s reaction to you. He invites you all into the room but Ari smells a rat and there’s a scuffle in the doorway which results in her being pushed out of the room and the door firmly secured behind her.

• The rest of the party is then escorted up to the building’s air/raft pad and then taken on a long flight to the East Hill area of Startown; you are led into and through a less-than-salubrious bar; its denizens barely even blink as you are filed through into a backroom where you are then gagged and duct-taped to chairs, and left alone in the dark with the sounds of revelry from out-front to keep you company..
• Ari meanwhile goes for help to Madrid Straaker, who makes a few calls – but turns up blank on the party’s whereabouts. By browbeating Gerry, he does hear that Blaxton’s disappearance has something to do with an important private game being run in a casino in Credo. Ari also gets Faber’s address from him, but when she goes there finds only Faber’s bullet-riddled corpse.
• At a loss for how to proceed, Ari heads back to the Crescent where sometime later she is highly relieved when her companions, footsore and weary, arrive back unharmed but grumpy having walked back through Startown all the way from East Hill. Their obstruction to the East Hill Gang’s plans is apparently no longer an issue as a few hours later, Blaxton himself also walks into Ma Mossett’s, looking like he has been through the wringer.

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On the town, part 2 (let's go shopping!)

Now that you’re hanging out with a noblewoman of such obvious elegance (ie, Loretta), you’re starting to get a bit of a fashion sense, it seems, and she agrees to take you on a shopping spree to get you all fitted-out in the latest word in Reginan style – reinforced with some discreet gel cloth protection. You all hand over large amounts of money for gel cloth ‘casual suits’, tailor-made for you at Telzxin.

• While window-shopping in downtown Credo City, a market stallholder tries to sell you an ‘Ancient artefact’ – a small ‘gold’ statue; when you decline, he tries to ply 2 small gold discs on you for CR600 the pair, with a design of fire on one and a design of a human on the other – also ‘artefacts’, used in obscure rituals by the Ancients, or so he claims. In any case, you decline to buy.

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On the town, part 1

Jan and Ari take Loretta to the Downport to check the Jasper Milo is being taken good care of, and to show her their ship.
• In a Startown cafeteria on the way back, they overhear an argument between two spacers – one in an Scout Service jumpsuit, the other in Navy coveralls; the scout is insisting there really was a place called Twilight’s Peak, the navy crewman insisting it was the ranting of a drug-addled scout. They take their argument into the street when it becomes too heated.

• On trying to follow them to find out more about Twilight’s Peak, the three walk straight into a street fight between two gangs of gaudily-dressed youths, one human, one Vargr. They try to run through it, but the clash is over very quickly and both groups disappear into the crowd, leaving chaos behind them.
• While the three are collecting themselves they are addressed by a woman who shouts at them to move on in case they are hauled in by a Startown Police dragnet: unless you have important information you shouldn’t hang around at a crime scene because the police will just round everyone up and it will take a very long while to process you…
• Later, they ask Sar to look up Twilight’s Peak and he finds some library data on a legend based around a lost Scout Service task force which went missing during the Third Frontier War, and supposedly encountered mysterious alien artefacts.

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Annic Nova: just give us the money!

There has also been an update from Jenna Chin, re: your salvage claim.

As you know, she says, the original owners have 10 years to file a claim of ownership. If the owner of the ship and / or contents doesn’t show up in the first year then the salvage claimant, ie you, gets custodial care of them. After 5 years they can be sold with the government getting 50% in taxes and fees, 1/4 going to the salvage claim holder and one quarter being held in trust for the owner. Then if the owner is found, they are required to pay 25% of the value to the salvage claim holder (ie, you).
• Of course, there is a complication – according to the 6 Sisters research team, there is a possibility of there being survivors of the AN, who abandoned ship prior to your finding it; on the other hand according to an IISS guesstimate, the chances of their being found is unlikely. All this probably mean that the ‘custodial care’ option might be all you get, for quite some while, ie 5 years or so.
• Apparently, though, there is an alternative: the ship can be held in custody by the IISS on behalf of the 6 Sisters; and you, the salvage crew, can get a discount “finders’ fee”. I understand that some of the finds on the ship have already been sold off? A bale of tobacco, I believe? And that you have been entertaining business offers regarding the ship from a certain Afflin Gelb? This might all be looked on most severely by the authorities, should they take a closer interest.
• I would advise you to accept this last offer. It would net you perhaps 15% of the ship’s current market value – around MCr 60. My fee, by the way, is 0.5%

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Annic Nova: facts, theories & speculation

The 6 Sisters research team has got in touch to tell you they have completed their survey and are now compiling their findings in order to publish them.

The team, all from different specialisms – xenobiology, sophontology, jump-space mechanics, and so on – have conflicting theories about the origins of the ship, its technical configuration and the fate of its crew.

As a courtesy, they have forwarded you a collated bulletin of their discussions before they compile them for the academic community [see Forum post for details].

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A night on the tiles

157-1105

Well, now, the last time you saw Gerry Gallows, she was howling invective at you and practically spitting with rage: “You lickspittle lackeys! You’ll be sorry you refused me!” Ah no, the last time you saw her, she was tearing up off your hotel landing pad in a speeder and some dodgy-looking feller who’d just tried to rob your rooms was hanging half-in, half-out of it. This might be serious. Maybe you’d better get out there and actually look for Blaxton?

Jan decides to wait in to see if he comes back while Sar, Khel and Ari scrub up and head out for an evening’s carousing at the clubs and casinos of Credo City. There seems to be no sign of him in any of the casinos you hit, but Khel and Sar take the chance to try their hand at a few games of chance – Khel dropping CR100 and Sar walking away with CR100’s winnings. While at the tables, you get talking to a dame – actually a real dame (SOC 11) – who’s been hovering at the edges of the gaming tables, but not trusting her luck too much to take part. As the evening progresses, she regales you with tales of lava rafting on her home planet (Rethe / Regina) and you tell her tall tales of derring-do in the jungles of Ruie, which she politely pretends to believe. When it’s time to move on to the next club, you invite her along and she accepts. Her name is Loretta Carponia.

The next club turns out to be the Pigeon-Toed Orange Peel – maybe not your kind of place, but it’s where B said she saw Blaxton with Gerry Gallows. The club is noisy, packed and sweaty. The hip young things of Credo City gyrate on the dance floor, and Ari and Loretta join them there while Khel and Sar moody it up at the bar. Sar takes the opportunity to look up the club’s ownership on his hand terminal; there are three names listed: Eneri Shulamikar, Zilla Pegunang and Eddie Oliveira.

As a slow number comes on and the crowd parts for a moment, Ari sees someone she’s sure she recognises – a short, uncomfortable-looking chap, flanked by two large stone slabs of men in shiny suits. The trio look out of place but Ari still can’t place the shorter of the three until, headed back to the bar to point him out to Khel and Sar, she suddenly whirls round in recognition and calls to Loretta to get the others and follow her.

Casually sauntering up to the fellow, whom she has placed as Gerry Gallows’ hotel suite-robbing sidekick, she warmly greets him. He freezes, in shock, then tries to squirm away between the two heavies with him. They look at each other and then down at him, puzzled and slow to react. Seeing Ari’s companions headed their way, they each then grab a shoulder of the fellow and turn and hustle him off, his feet barely scraping the floor. Ari threads her way through the crowd but earns little other than a punch in her stomach for her troubles. As a commotion breaks out and her friends reach her, the three they are following make good their exit.

Club security is quickly on the scene and Khel persuades them that his friend has just been blamelessly assaulted. In fact he does such a good job that they invite him up to their control room to point out the culprits on the monitors; Khel even gets a hard copy image of their faces and their vehicle.

Later, the four of you head back to Surprise Crescent, where Loretta is gladly given a room by Ma Mossett. Sar runs a copy of the air/raft’s registration through the Reginan Vehicle Registration Database, and comes up with the name Vuef Shutheash. There is one niggling problem – Sar’s trawl through the database has set off some kind of alarm, he’s sure of it…

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Where’s Blaxton Zagger?

On getting back to the Crescent – and before you all have a well-earned rest – you have a stern word with the two charges you’ve left under guard back at Ma Mossett’s. Showing them pictures of Tin Hand Terry lying in a pool of his own blood seems to do the trick and they are eager to assure you they won’t be troubling the Crescent again.

Next morning sees a parade of thankful Crescenters bringing you gifts of all-sorts – home-baked pies, home-knitted woolly hats and mittens, you know the sort of thing – and they have a whip-round which gets you a couple of thousand Reginan Crowns for your trouble (= CR1250).

Meanwhile, you stash a couple of the ACRs in Ma Mossett’s attic and take the rest to Olivia Purbeck, who is more than happy to arrange for two more to be delivered to your berth at the Highport. She also throws in 250 rounds SAP ammunition for each of the four weapons you keep.

Later that day as you put your feet up, scoffing pie and trying on each other’s woolly hats, ‘B’ Zigana asks for a quiet word with your captain. She tells Jan she’s decided to drop her claim to the Annic Nova shares – she knows she could never afford the legal representation if it came to court, and she knows that you were all kind to her, offering her a place onboard and so on. Only, she has one favour to ask… could you introduce her to Dermont Calaway?

Over the next couple of days, thinking about winding up your affairs here gets you wanting to put things in motion and recall the rest of your crew. At this point, you realise you haven’t seen your engineer for several days… not since the day after you docked, in fact, when Blaxton was going off to visit his son, who stays with his ex-wife. Ma Mossett tells you that his room hasn’t been slept in since that day, and he hasn’t dropped round for a change of clothes, either. You’re not exactly worried, but you know he wouldn’t be staying with his ex, who in any case tells you when you call, that she hasn’t seen him for several days either – and that it’s unusual of him not to drop by and see little Jagger (yes, that’s right – Jagger Zagger) more often. Well, he’s probably immersed himself in some marathon card game, but – one that lasts for several days …?

B skips through the lounge on her way out to a meeting you’ve arranged for her with Madrid Straaker. She tells you she saw him out in a club the other night – she’s been checking out the local music scene, of course. He was moving with a high-rolling crowd, with some glamorous woman in tow “I’m sure I’ve seen her somewhere before…”. On her way back in later – after a very nice chat with the very nice Mr Straaker – she suddenly remembers who that woman was: “That singer, you know – Gerry Gallows! Hasn’t Khel got some of her albums? Hmmm, he’d scrubbed up pretty well, I suppose – but what would a celebrity like her be doing with, you know … Blaxton!? And … you know, it looked more like Blaxton was being towed round by her, than the other way round. By her and the fellas she was with…”

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Dawn raid

Sequestering yourselves and your prisoners away from a darkly-muttering lynch mob, you initiate a tactical discussion. Khel’s interrogation techniques have revealed that there are perhaps half a dozen more perps in this little group. Now, Jan’s leadership skills come to the fore and she spells out that to have a chance of settling this thing once-and-for-all, it’s vital to do it now, while the opposition is off-guard and unsuspecting. A dawn raid is in the offing.

You place a call through to the ubiquitous Merv Dobry, who agrees to provide transport – for triple his usual fee, plus a generous tip. Placing two sturdy senior citizens on watch over your charges, you grab what equipment you need and set off for your objective. Dawn creeps over a sleepy Startown, as Merv descends through a gap in the canopy and deposits you next to the embers of a large communal fire. Three huddled figures next to it pay you no mind at all. Merv ascends back through the canopy and you trek into the maze.

Using the mapgrid Sar was able to overlay onto a satellite photograph of the zone, Ari navigates you to a narrow alley between canvas & plasboard dens off a ‘boulevard’ of Tent City, where you find a couple of welded-together ship’s cargo containers, pitted with rust. You can feel the walls humming, and a low light gleams through pinholes rusted in the metal surface. A throbbing bass pulses from within. A doorway has been las-cut into one end. It has a rubber-sealant surround and a TL8 mechanical lock, which Sar easily picks. There is an electronic alarm pad by the door; while attempting to disable it, Khel inadvertently sets it off and it trills for a few seconds before he can silence it. With no time to waste, Khel rushes inside, pistol drawn.

Through the gloom, Khel sees the first container is divided into four compartments – a filthy kitchen, a dirtier bathroom, and 2 garbage-strewn lounge/bedrooms. Suddenly the bass volume jumps and brighter light spills in as a doorway is opened from the second container beyond. A figure is silhouetted in the light. Without hesitation, Khel pumps a flechette dart into him. Jan, horrified but too slow to react, can only watch. Ari rushes to stabilise the wounded perp, who you recognise as Roupan Pete, as Khel secures the structure.

Your search reveals a similar configuration in the second container space, with flimsy partition walls separating the rooms. You find some coshes, a few blades and a couple of handguns. There are also several VR rigs scattered about, some still in their packaging. Against the rear wall of the place, there is a crate with its lid askew. Propped against it is a fully-assembled light advanced combat rifle, prepped and ready-to-fire. Inside the crate are perhaps two dozen more, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Deciding to lie in wait for other denizens of the place, Khel steps outside and climbs to the top of the containers, where he crouches in the shadow of the canopy. The rest of you conceal your tampering with the lock and alarm and hide inside.

Your subterfuge is rewarded when two figures emerge at the head of the alley – giggling and space-walking, they are obviously drunk or zoned out on psychedelics, or both. There is some swearing and fumbling and dropping of keys as the two negotiate their door – then suddenly freeze, sensing something wrong as they get it open. Ari darts forward but misses with a wild lunge. Then Jan clubs one to the ground and Sar runs the other through with his sword. Ari tends to him but there is little she can do.

Moving quickly now, you secure the two injured perps while Tin-Hand Terry pours out his life’s blood on the dirty floor. Leaving a written warning for the remnants of the gang, you separate the ACRs and ammo into four bundles and hail Merv. As a parting gesture you comm Steve-o, alerting him that his friend is dying and needs urgent medical attention, then lift off and peel up and away from a slowly awakening Tent City, ignoring the shouts behind you.

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Nighttime at the Crescent

Thinking that you might need a bit of artillery at this point, Sar pays a visit to Olivia Purbeck (leaving behind the argumentative Khel this time) and comes away with what she has on the premises – only a few handguns, unfortunately: two Flechette pistols, a light revolver and a Spurt gun.

After realising a visit by the extortion ring is overdue, you hurriedly set up an electronic security screen around the Crescent, but it’s a hasty job and there are inevitably holes in your perimeter. You put the residents on alert and stand watch through the night.

Your endeavours are rewarded when you spot two nefarious-looking types wander slowly up the street and break into one of the residences – not setting off any alarms. Khel tip-toes out after them and Jan alerts the others, Ari springing into action as fast as she can.

Khel doesn’t wait for backup, but walks straight in and challenges the two – one of them freezes but the other comes straight for him, snarling, dagger in hand. Khel looses off a salvo from his spurt gun – which goes wide, redecorating the room. Dropping the now useless weapon, he draws his flechette pistol and puts a burst into the perp, who drops, wounded. At the explosion of gunfire behind him, his partner-in-crime hightails out the back of the building, pursued closely by Khel. The darkness fails to hide the fleeing perp from Khel’s augmented eyes and he puts a burst into him as well.

Ari arrives in time only to provide medical aid to the two wounded villains, who you tie up and interrogate. Your questions reveal that the whole gang seems a bit amateurish, to say the least. It has a few central faces – Roupan Pete and Tin Hand Terry, you already know – and a few hangers-on, like these two. When asked why they are here they reply, “It was our turn!” Further questioning leads you to conclude that there are half a dozen or so in this would-be extortion racket, and they are based at Pete and Terry’s place in Tent City.

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Meanwhile, back on the Highport...
  • Myles Nerim quickly managed to find a buyer for your bale of tobacco from the Annic Nova (roll = 8 + Broker+3 + assistant+1 + INT+1 = 13) and brought the deal to a timely and successful conclusion (roll = 7 + Broker+3 + assistant+1 + INT+1 = 12). He managed to sell your goods for 120% of their base value, or CR60000 (roll = 9 + Broker+3 + assistant+1 + INT+1 +/- no sale/purchase DMs = 14)… perhaps the notoriety of the Annic Nova helped there. Minus his 5%, that makes CR57000 for the ship’s funds.
  • Taking an initial (free) legal consultation about salvage shares for the Annic Nova, perhaps from Jenna Chin (of Madkashgerg & Chin, the original go-between for Khel & Madrid Straaker), doesn’t yield much optimism about your standing vis-a-vis B’s claims to an equal share. She says, “As Ms Zigana was a legally constituted member of your crew at the time of salvage, it seems she would be entitled to at least a part share, befitting her status as ship’s steward…”
  • You also engaged Myles Nerim to find a shipping broker for the Annic Nova. He has also been successful here (roll = 6 + Broker+3 + assistant+1 + INT+1 = 11). This broker is keen to determine the ship’s position vis-a-vis salvage rights and eventual outright ownership. As this is currently a legal grey area, he asks you to remain in contact and notify him when the paperwork has been resolved.
  • Another thing you asked Myles Nerim to do is to keep an eye out for contracts with General Shipyards, who are currently enjoying a boom in orders (see TAS News Brief Regina). He is sure that such a large operator will go for discounts of scale and be using large bulk carriers for any freight (eg raw materials, machine parts) they need. But there might be the chance of doing runs for their suppliers and contractors. He’ll keep a weather eye open for opportunities.
  • Up on the Annic Nova itself, the research team from the Six Sisters has been poring over the ship and investigating the artefacts you found on it. They are still puzzling over the myriad of anomalies you yourselves discovered (a strange mix of hi- and lo-tech, and plenty of in-built redundancies), for which they have plenty of conflicting theories. But they think they have identified the world which was mapped in the Map Box you found – Victoria / Lanth (0207), a Red Zone. They also let slip that there seem to be some chronic problems with the command systems on the ship – the ship’s computer seems to be causing them.
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