This got very long, so I had to cut if off a bit early. Will save the rest for the next episode.
Rao’s Revenge Indeed
So as we last left our travellers, the group underground in Acrid had gained control of both one level of food production and also the small PRQ space station above Acrid.
jumped out for Tanith on a mission to buy food and recruit mercenaries. Word had also been sent of ships travelling through the very busy Acrid highport that the revolutionaries would pay absolute top dollar for food shipments.
All was quiet on Acrid for a couple of days after the firefight in the biodome. Everything possible in storage and that could be harvested was moved into the miner’s residential quad for consumption. The miners had detected drilling activity below the biodome level they controlled, but it appeared to be very small scale. PRQ had dropped the ceiling to block their escape route back to the citizen’s quad and the section of the ring tunnel that they controlled, which suited the miners just fine. Guards were posted and personnel in the biodome were kept to a minimum necessary. Good thing, too. . .
Without warning, hell opened up and ate the entire fourth level of the food biodome. PRQ detonated enough explosives below it to drop the entire level, destroying everything in both the third and fourth levels. Only a few lives were lost, but the ongoing food production available to the miners, already insufficient, was completely wiped out.
Based on what had been stored and what they were able to harvest, the miners had about 3 days of food for their 5,000 population, with the Mendina
not due back for at least 11 days, probably longer. The travellers and miners decided to keep full rations for the combatants (about 100), with everyone else going on half rations. Even then, five or more days without food awaited the majority of the miners. Plans were made for an all-out assault on PRQ, but this desperate action was put on hold to wait the return of the Mendina
, or any other food bearing freighter. And so they wait. . .
As for the Mendina
, she’s not doing any better than the folks back on Acrid. She had jumped out for the Tanith system, and upon arrival headed for Pylkoe-10 to sub-contract some mercenaries for Acrid. She also sent a message to brokers on Tanith downport to arrange purchase of concentrated foodstuffs to take to Acrid. In route to Pylkoe-10, Mendina
was hailed by the Hero
, a broadsword class mercenary vessel, which claimed to be on contract to provide system security, and demanded that Mendina
heave to for boarding. Alaina, temporary captain of Mendina
, attempted to contact the spaceport at Pylkoe-10 to confirm Hero’s
story, but found its communications jammed. She then ordered her crew to reverse course and break for jump limit. They would proceed to Tanith if the Hero
didn’t pursue, but of course it did, as it is actually under contract with PRQ. PRQ’s reps had arrived at Pylkoe-10 many hours ahead of Mendina
, and wasted no time in recruiting.
The merc captain, Jenaime Ygrant, had jumped the gun, not expecting Mendina
to match its 3G acceleration, but it did get to very long range with the Mendina
still 200,000 km from the jump limit. At 3G acceleration, that’s one hour, or ten turns. Hero
opens fire with 9 missiles per turn, and her lasers aren’t in range. The Mendina
has a couple of long range pulse laser turrets (I disallowed these after this game session, more on that later), and managed to land a couple of shots. But between the Hero’s
armor and sandcasters, only 16 points of damage were accumulated before Alaina had to order that all four laser turrets engage in point defense.
Nine missiles per turn, and they start arriving in turn seven. Countermeasures were attempted but were useless, due to the combination of civilian grade sensors and no trained sensor op on board. Point defense picked up most of the missiles, but certainly not all of them. Alaina diverts one point of thrust to use her considerable pilot skills for evasive maneuvers. Despite her efforts, Mendina
becomes a pincushion for missiles, taking a whopping 152 points of damage over several turns, including critical hits to cargo x3, M-Drive X2, Hull X2, one weapon, and fuel. None to the jump drive. (I’m playing space combat straight, but their luck is going to get me accused of having some famous luck with the dice, if you know what I mean.)
The fuel leak is stopped, and Alaina and crew enter jumpspace with 8 hull points, bound for Acrid, and with no fuel beyond what’s needed for the jump. Efforts are made to repair systems, but without access to the outside hull, and without any spare parts (destroyed with the cargo bay hits), there isn’t that much that can be done. I thought about role playing all kinds of things going wrong with the ship in jump, but hey, enough things are already wrong with the ship. They manage to move one dton of fuel from the launch to the main fuel tank, which keeps them going, and everyone lives.
needs a few extra turns to get to the jump limit, and then also jumps to Acrid. I rolled to see the arrival time of each ship. Mendina arrives first by four hours. I should have used the expanded jump rules in the Traveller Companion
, which would have given credit to the traveller’s much better astrogation and jump skill checks, largely due to their superior skill, in which case the Mendina
would have arrived 18 hours ahead of Hero
So, one very uncomfortable week later, everyone arrives in Acrid. The miners are 5-6 days out of food at this point? It’s make or break time for the revolution. Mendina
pops out of jump space, screaming over the radio like a stuck pig, and moving at approximately 388,000 km/hr (3G acceleration for 60 minutes prior to jump). “Very uncool”, say the controllers at GeDeCo. “Where’s the f’ing food?”, say 5,000 ornery miners. “What the holy hell did you do to the ship?” cry the rest of the travellers!
Pleasantries over, Rao’s Revenge
launches a shuttle to chase down the Mendina
with some spare parts and an extra mechanic. Mendina
has some use of its M-Drive, so it able to slow itself for landing at PRQ Acrid. Rao then begins patrolling very close to the jump limit, earning another protest from GeDeCo. Artemis
is still no more than a rumor in system, also is patrolling at about 110 diameters, laying a trap for Hero
should she arrive, which she does in due course.
The crew of Rao
, with a sense of irony, demand that Hero
stop for boarding and inspection. Of course, this would have been funnier had Hero
submitted, as Rao barely has enough crew to keep flying, much less board anyone, but Hero
has no way to know that, so her captain, Janaime Ygant, backs off. As the two ships both have 3G acceleration, this looks to Hero
to be a perfectly good way to waste time and draw Rao
away from Acrid while waiting for more PRQ sponsored ships to arrive. She can jump out at any time if necessary. Rao keeps up the pursuit
, and Captain Ygrant begins firing missiles once her ship is safely back past 100d, knowing she can order a jump should she get in too much trouble. She has a mercenary contract to fulfill, but she also knows she’s outgunned. Rao
just keeps plodding forward, not returning fire, as the travellers have no desire to see Hero
leave. Given Rao’s
tech advantage and the tremendous skill of Sofiya, her sensor operator, those missiles aren’t getting through. (Note: I gave Hero
radiation shielding, because otherwise this encounter would end as all the others).
While Captain Ygant thinks she’s buying time, she’s really just headed straight towards the stealthed Artemis
, which is closing in order to get a called shot on Hero’s
One round away from close range, a strong sensor check by Hero
detects the incoming Artemis
, and the mercs redirect all fire towards the smaller ship. IRL, an argument breaks out over the use of countermeasures at such a short distance. A strict interpretation of the rules says no, which is really, really bad news for the Artemis. Since they didn’t know that, I allow them to redirect one point of thrust towards evasive maneuvers against the missiles, which makes a huge difference, but Artemis still gets lit up by Hero’s
laser turrets. A dangerous chain of critical hits starts, with a crit on the hull leading to more damage, which triggers another cri to the hull, which does more damage, which leads to another critical hit to the. . .cargo bay. Whew, that was close.
The initiative sequence for the next term is the Harrier, then the pocket warship, then the broadsword. Bad news for our mercenary friends. Get a better crew next time. Artemis
closes to dogfight range. Using one point of thrust for aiming, combined with a sensor lock, fire control, and good gunnery, she lights up the Hero
with two critical hits to the jump drives, disabling them. Captain Ygant briefly considers her options, and orders her crew to repair the jump drive while continuing to unload on the Artemis
. This plan is shortl lived, as Rao’s Revenge
unloads with both particle beam bays, doing tremendous damage to Hero
, including a third critical hit to the jump drive, destroying it.
With no escape possible, Ygant knows she won’t survive long in a firefight, so she raises the figurative white flag, requesting parley. Our travellers, who are still seeing red, demand that her entire crew evacuate the ship in one of her two modular cutters. Ygant wants safe passage for her ship, which in this case means a space at the repair yard in the GeDeCo owned highport. GeDeCo agrees to accept the crew and see that their passages back to whence they came are honored, but refuses to allow the broadsword to dock, essentially hanging Hero
out to dry. Ygrant can’t outfight or outrun the Rao, so she has no choice but to accept the terms and abandon her ship. Hoping for the arrival of a PRQ armada is better than going down with the ship.
Meanwhile, Alaina has managed to limp the Mendina
to the PRQ spacestation in their control, and from there they take a shuttle down to PRQ Acrid. Alaina declares that she will “Never! Ever!” fly the Mendina
again. (They originally wanted to fly the Mendina straight to the downport at the mines, because they wanted to switch ships and take the 400 ton SDB up into the battle in case more PRQ ships arrived).
Here’s a short clip of the Mendina’s
crew rushing from the badly damaged ship to get to the SDB: