Traveller - On the Make in the Core

The next morning the two tons of illegal luxuries arrived at the ship and were quickly stored. But before the Petrel could depart, Inspector-Commander Julhan Vamata arrived with a dozen SACco security guards in flak shell armor and combat rifles. He has questions for the group - Sir Davis Doylahide had commit suicide last night, throwing himself out of his office on the fifteenth story of Demiti Tower. Not satisifed with the answers he was receiving, he took the group into custody. Dravij, trained in Advocacy, managed to make sure that they would get representation. The group as a whole kept quiet, with only Robert saying that they had just been given the package to deliver to Sir Davis and had been assured it was nothing illegal and dangerous. He did not mention anything about Jonny Goodeboy. After a few hours they were released when Havad Manapulu came to free them. The Inspector-Commander told Havad that he hoped he knew what he was doing, spending political capital on a bunch of tramp Travellers, and told the group not to leave Sevan until notified otherwise. The group thanked Havad and returned to the Crimson Petrel, worried about what they would do if they couldn't leave to start making money again - they had been docked almost a week and another 5,000 credit berthing fee was due soon, not to mention the damage to the ship's hull they were forced to put off.

Sometime after dinner they received a hail from a Phillipe Saigaisur, who wanted to speak with them. They agreed and Saigaisur came aboard. He was a black man, handsome, lean and lithe, with a little gray in his hair. He introduced himself as part of SACco security and didn't speak for a minute. He then declared that the group was in deep trouble. Besides Inspector-Commander Vamata thinking they knew more about what happened than they were admitting, Sir Davis's son Adrius was putting pressure on SACco's C-executives to intervene in this. If they did not, Adrius had sworn that he would personally see that the crew of the Petrel paid for their role in his father's mysterious death. Not that Adrius really cared that much for his father and was quite happy to suddenly being a lot richer sooner than he expected, but certain filial forms had to be obeyed.

Phillipe then told them that they were in luck - he could make all this go away. They just had to go athwart of the Army of the Free Soil, and he would be more than happy to be their Fairy God Spook.
Phillipe informed the crew that he had become aware of a Free Soiler plot to raid an armory holding weapons for SACco security and the Chesuvar Mercenary Company in a town 60 km north of Sevrathi. This raid had become of pressing concern for the Army since they lost a lot of equipment during the attack on Enidi. Phillipe wanted this robbery stopped and at least a couple of the thieves captured. Unfortunately, the town, Little Scar, had a lot of Free Soil sympathizers and if any SACco personnel moved into the place, even in secret, the Army would learn of it and call it off. Phillipe needed agents who were complete unknowns, and the Travellers fit that to a t.

To sweeten the pot, Phillipe said that in addition to using his influence to get the heat off the crew's back, he would immediately give the crew ten thousand credits and pay their upcoming berthing fee. Once the job was done, he would also have 30 tons of luxury foodstuffs delivered to the Petrel, free and clear. Finally, if a few combat weapons, a suit of armor or two, etc, happened to go missing during the thwarting of the armory raid, he wouldn't ask any questions. Charley demanded repairs on their ship to be part of the payment as well. Phillipe shrugged and agreed. He specified that he wanted this robbery stopped and the Free Soil agents bloodied a bit. If one or two were captured, that was gravy.

After discussing this offer in private for a little while, the crew agreed. Before leaving, Phillipe suggested getting some fishing gear and go to Little Scar under the guise of fishermen - Little Scar Lake was a popular fishing spot for off-planet visitors with time to kill. It would make a convenient cover, though if the crew thought of something better suited for them it was not a huge deal. Phillipe told them to get to Little Scar as early as they could tomorrow - he didn't know when the raid was going to happen, only that it was slated to kick off very soon. With that he bid them good night.

In theory, he wasn't aware that the crew of the Crimson Petrel planned on double-crossing him - or, at the very least, planned on playing both sides...

The next session is scheduled for September 9th.
After the Sevan Agricultural Commerce Company agent, Phillipe Saigaisur, left the Crimson Petrel, the Travellers discussed what they wanted to do. None of them liked the idea of working for SACco, but they needed Phillipe's help to be able to leave Sevan - the reward he was offering would also help a lot with their finances. They decided that they would go to Little Scar but try to get in contact with any Army of the Free Soil agents stationed there and see if they could cut some sort of deal with them.

In the meantime, Robert Choi and Dr. Petrova took a look at the comm Choi had managed to lift at the gala where he had delivered the message to Sir Davis Doylahyde. It was the comm/cell phone belonging to a Captain of SACco security, Kirowan Falthame. Robert had removed its battery to kill tracking and discovered its files were encrypted with a decent security system, which neither he or Dr. Petrova was able to crack at the time.

The next day, waking up early in the morning, the Travellers rented an air/raft and got fishing gear to prepare to head up for Little Scar. Robert got in touch with the marine they supplied passage to Sevan for, Angelica Visallamir, and asked if she was willing to watch the ship for them. She agreed, and she asked if they wanted to hire her. She agreed, and also offered her services as a gunner and a marine for 2000 credits a month, telling him that her friends didn't have any work lined up and she was a bit tired of the bounty hunter life anyhow. Robert told her he would discuss it with the crew. Finally, a Down Port repair crew dropped in to start repairs on the Petrel, the foreman telling them they should have it done by 20:00 Local that night (the ship had suffered 10 points of hull damage in the fight with the Scout pirate they had encountered Jumping into the Sevan system). With that all settled, they left the Down Port, heading some 63 km north to Little Scar.
Little Scar is a town of some 6500 people, undomed. People wore filters to protect themselves from the bacterial taint in the thin atmosphere and the buildings all had simple air locks and decontamination air flows installed (as mentioned before, the native bacteria is very susceptible to filtered and purified oxygen). Little Scar has two hotels - the Alagi Hostel, which catered to most visitors, and the luxurious Elurand's be the shores of Little Scar Lake in the lakeside village of Kwelly (population 400), which cost 1250 credits per night's stay. Obviously, the Travellers chose to stay at the Alagi. Once checked in, the group separated to pursue different courses of action. Robert scouted the area around the armory. He found a few vacant houses to the south, a few hundred meters from the armory, that would make a good place to observe. He watched the armory from there, seeing that it had five guards active on the outside patrolling, along with visible security cameras. The guards had combat rifles and flak shell armor and seemed trained if not elite. The cameras were well-placed but Robert decerned blinds spots that could be taken advantage of. He noted no one else keeping the Armory under observation.

Dr. Petrova got breakfast and listened in to the local gossip. She didn't hear anything too interesting, but did learn that the town administrator, Skallard, an officer tied to SACco security, was considered an over-ranked idiot who only had his position through nepotism, his uncle being an executive in the company.

Meanwhile, Dravij Cavrian took a walk around Little Scar, looking for any signs or hints of an established resistance - coded graffiti or gang signs. He had no luck, though he took note of some places in the town that were a bit run down that could be worthwhile checking out later and headed back to the Alagi.

Charlie Taylor decided to stay near the hotel and people watch, finding nothing of interest. Nex Gryo drove up to the lake to fish, going out on its surface on the air/raft. He didn't have much luck and actually ended snagging something very strong and getting pulled into the water. Lake lifeguards helped fish him out and Nex headed back to the hotel soaking wet. The Travellers met for lunch and discussed what to do next, deciding to split up again and follow various courses of action. Robert tipped their waiter well and asked about who was the 'unofficial' head of the town, getting the name of a woman, Avamanda Zecell, who owned the Alagi and had shares in several other businesses in the town and Kwelly.
The Travellers began to separate, with Dr. Dessa Petrova leaving the Alagi first. As she went out the front she spotted a man across the street, by the front of a convenience store, propping up a wall and drinking a beer through a straw as he watched the hotel. The good doctor managed to conceal she spotted the watcher and called her friends letting them know. Charley and Robert went out next, walking across the street to the convenience store, Robert pattering to Charley to convince the watcher he hadn't been made while Charley attempted to scan his surface thoughts. She succeeded and learned that the watcher was looking for Dravij and was taking note of any strangers. In the convenience store they quietly let everyone know the situation. They quickly decided to have Dravij take a walk and see what happened, while the rest of them would try to trail behind unseen.

Dravij took a walk down the street. The watcher followed him and the others, stringing behind, managed to not be spotted. Dravij took a turn down an alleyway. The watcher hesitated, suspecting a trap, and was going to walk on when Charley managed to plant a suggestion in him to follow Dravij. In a lot the watcher found the broker waiting for him. The two talked to each other, both being oblique in what they said. Dravij said he had heard there was an upcoming dance happening in town soon. The man, calling himself Joey Idaho, claimed he didn't know anything about it. Dravij said someone may try to crash the dance and wondered if he could talk to the man organizing it. Idaho said he'd ask around about that. He was heading off when Robert, who was keeping a bead on him, called out saying it was nice to meet him. Idaho spun around, about to draw, when he spotted that he was outnumbered and that Robert was putting away his pistol. Idaho nodded and smiled mirthlessly before continuing on his way.
The Travellers decided to go to the lake and relax for a bit with some fishing. They returned to their hotel with a good catch that the establishment offered to cook for them. When dinner was ready, they were informed by the maitre d' that a gentleman would like to dine with them in one of the private rooms. Entering, they found a short, bald and very muscular man, built like a fire plug, sitting at the head of the table, with Joey Idaho and a formidable looking woman standing behind him.

The man introduced himself as Spartacus Rahl. He said he wasn't the organizer of the dance, but he was helping with it. He wanted to know what the party's interest was in it. Dravij, with assistance of the others, explained their current situation and said they did not like Sevan Agriculture Commerce Corporation and didn't want to work with them, thus why they're warning Spartacus about their assigned role in stopping the heist at the armory. In exchange for the warning, they wanted to see if they could arrange a fake thwarting of the heist to fool Phillipe Saigaisur and get them out of trouble on Sevan. As a show of good faith, they handed over the comm unit Robert Choi had managed to steal from Captain Kirowan Falthame, which they hadn't been able to crack.

Spartacus thought this over for a moment and said he believed them, because he couldn't see an agent of SACco coming up with such a convoluted story to try to get an in with the Army of the Free Soil. He would wave off the heist for a day, since he wanted to confer with his superiors, and would give the Travellers an answer soon. He also accepted the comm and after finishing dinner with the group bid them good night.
The next day the Travellers are contacted by Spartacus's female bodyguard who says that the fake attack on the armory is a go for the next night. Robert received a special comm, heavily encrypted and secured, through which the two groups could coordinate. The next night the Travellers set up in one of the deserted houses south of the armory. They observe, discovering that the perimeter guards are Free Soil agents, or at least sympathizers, coordinating with other resistance agents. The guards subdue the un-suborned guards (unfortunately having to kill one) then let about a half dozen men with grav trucks access to the armory through the rear bay doors. A few minutes later the Travellers move in their rented air/raft. Both sides exchange fire before the Free Soilers and security guards flee. The Travellers manage to grab a small crate of combat assault rifles, taking six of them and dumping the rest, letting Spartacus know of its location if he wants to procure it. Our heroes depart early next morning back to the Down Port. The rental agency is not happy with the condition of the air/raft (it got hit a few times - Nex's piloting managed to avoid anything other than cosmetic damage to the vehicle) but Dravij pointed out that any damage was covered by the insurance policy attached to the rental (a very good Advocate roll).

Back at the Crimson Petrel, Angelica informs them that all was quiet the few days they were away and repairs on the hull were finished without complication and as far as she could tell no bugs or trackers were introduced into the Far Trader's structure. The crew tells Angelica they'll hire her on as a gunner, marine and general hand, with a salary of 2000 credits a month plus a share of any 'extracurriculars' that she takes part in.

Phillipe Saigaisur visits later in the day, a lot cooler and less friendly than he was previously. He acknowledges the Travellers stopped the raid, having watched footage of the incident, and expresses disappointment that they didn't capture or kill at least one of the raiders. It's fairly obvious that Saigaisur is suspicious but doesn't have any solid proof of a collaboration. He says that the 30 tons of luxury foodstuffs would be delivered the next day. He recommends that the Crimson Petrel depart soon after and not return to Sevan any time before its mortgage is paid off.

(In retrospect, it's obvious that I could have - and perhaps should have - thrown in some complications to make things more complicated and interesting in this sequence. The whole incident went a bit too smoothly with little difficulty for the players).
The thirty tons of luxury consumables arrive the next day. As the cargo is being loaded int the Petrel, they are approached by a vargr looking for passage to Umgadin (which is the group's next destination, with plans to sell both their procured cargo and the luxury consumables). The vargar, male, with red fur and a white face that makes him look a bit fox-ish, introduces himself as Charagrr Talechaser, a senior correspondent from the Core Liberal Herald, a sector-wide news service focusing on sophont rights.

Besides passage to Umgadin, Talechaser has a job offer for the Travellers. For the past few weeks, he had been investigating the situation on Sevan and is pretty certain he has angered SACco. While he's already mailed off his story to the main office on Capital, he has a feeling that he's in danger of assassination. He has no concrete evidence, just instinct, but he's been an investigative journalist long enough to know when to trust a gut feeling. He's going to Umgadin to investigate a shift in politics there, with the rise of a new political party shaking up the government. Talechaser wants to use the Petrel as a base of operations from the star port. Any time he goes into Ilmarthal, the capital city, he will pay a thousand credits to any Travellers who accompany him into the arcology. He expects his investigation to take anywhere from one to three weeks, and will pay the group a fee of 11,000 credits a week they are in port - 10,000 credits week for staying in Umgadin plus covering the star port's current berthing fee of a thousand credits. Once he's done, he'll pay for passage back to Capital, with an additional 20,000 credits pay on arrival.

The Travellers discuss this in private and decide that they don't want to be stuck in Umgadin for potentially nearly a month. At the very least, Charley needs to get to Crystalan. Robert tells Talechaser they can give him a week's time, but after that he'll need to make other arrangements. The vargar shrugs and agrees.

While the group was discussing this, Charley asks Angelica if they can trust her. Angelica lights a joint and says that as long as they aren't secretly pirates or Solomani terrorists, she's fine with them. Charley bluntly says that there's a secret more serious than either of those. Angelica pauses for a moment and asks for some time to think it over.
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(In retrospect, it's obvious that I could have - and perhaps should have - thrown in some complications to make things more complicated and interesting in this sequence. The whole incident went a bit too smoothly with little difficulty for the players).
Nothing wrong with a job going smoothly on occasion. Gives them a little victory. Just cause one expects things to go wrong doesn't mean they have to.
The Crimson Petrel reached Umgadin without incident and settled into the High Port for a week, with Dravij going about selling their cargo and eventually getting over 500,000 credits. Charagrr Talechaser spends the first day making calls to lay groundwork for his investigation while getting carry concealed license for the Travellers. The next day he heads to the downport, which is part of the capital arcology, to interview the average citizen of Umgadin about their opinions on the planet's current political situation to get a feel about the public's current mood. Charley, Nex, Dr. Petrova and Angelica accompany him. Nothing unusual happens and Talechaser treats the crew to a good meal after they're done.

The next day Talechaser goes down to meet with a couple who are active rank and file members of the Umgadin Reform Party at a popular restaurant. Agin Charley, Nex, Dessa and Angelica go with him, with Charley going in first and sitting at the bar, using Tactical Awareness to see if there's anything odd set up (I'm not certain if Tactical Awareness quite works that way, but I let it go. I don't believe it's an automatic 'detect ambush' ability - anyone who can clarify on its limits please chime in). She didn't detect anything, so commed Talechaser that it was clear. The group meets with the interviewees and Talechaser gets down to business after everyone makes orders, the reporter again paying for everyone. Charley is at the bar on overwatch.

After a few minutes a man drops off their drinks and quickly walks away. After he does so, Dessa and Charley realize it wasn't the same man as their waiter. Suspicious, Dessa puts a hand over Talechaser's lager as he is about to pick it up. The doctor runs a quick scan on it and finds an anomalous substance in it - she would later test the glass after dumping the lager in a potted plant and discover residue of a nerve toxin. Charley tries to follow the man, who is dressed similarly to the wait staff but is not wearing the right uniform or having a lanyard, but the bar is too busy for her to get to him before he's out on the street and has vanished. She calls emergency services to report the attempted poisoning, to give the assassin a false impression and maybe draw him out. The latter fails.
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While unhappy that his suspicion about being targeted for assassination, Talechaser is a tough wolf and continues his investigations. On the fifth day on Umgadin he has an appointment to interview a politician of one of the established parties. His offices are on the far end of the arcology (which is laid out like a traditional city with a holographic lighting system to simulate a Terran-class day and night cycle and open streets connecting free standing buildings) from the star port, so he hired a taxi grav for transportation. The entire group decides to accompany him this time, with Robert and Dessa deciding to take a separate taxi. The hired taxi is waiting for them when they arrive at the down port. Talechaser and his guards get in the back. The driver asks if they were ready - when Talechaser says 'yes', the driver nods and starts getting out. Charley, an extremely suspicious woman, shoots the man through the shoulder with her laser pistol and Angelica shoots him through the head with her autopistol. The man falls out of the cab. Dravij manages to jump into the front to keep the driver's side door from shutting.

As you can imagine, this caused a lot of turmoil and panic around the star port. Security and police quickly arrive and apprehend the group, who surrender peacefully. They are taken to the local police station and are held for a few hours, being questioned about what happened. They are eventually released - police investigation discovered the cab had been hi-jacked, its computer programmed to lock the doors and accelerate to extremely high speeds and crash head on into an office building a couple of kilometers from the star port.

Outside the station, Talechaser confesses to the Travellers the situation is starting to rattle him. He's been in dangerous situations before and had even been shot at when covering the unrest on nearby Xalm, but being deliberately targeted for death is a new and unpleasant situation. Once back at the Crimson Petrel the group wonders how the assassins are tracking Talechaser. Robert takes around the hanger area, looking for anyone out of place, while Dr Petrova does a sensor scan for bugs attached to the ship. Neither find what they're looking for, but just as Dessa is about to stop, she notices a comm channel focused on the Petrel. Examining it, she discovers that it is riding Talechaser's comm channel (the vargar had called the politician to apologize for missing the interview and trying to arrange a new appointment). She tries to track it but Talechaser disconnects before she manages to. She goes to Talechaser's cabin and asks if she can see him. When she enters, she bluntly tells him his comm has been hacked.

The next session is scheduled for this Saturday, 9/23.
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Sorry this took so long to complete - it was a long session compared to the previous two and I haven't been feeling very good recently. I am looking forward to the next session. I'm probably going to lose Charley the psi-warrior, though. While everyone else had fun, she told me she was bored almost the entire time. She told me it wasn't my fault - objectively she says the plot and adventure was very good, but she thinks the system is not working for her. She's going to give it at least another session to see if she was just having an off night.

Anyhow, opinions on what you think of this GM's first foray into the Third Imperium are welcome.
After being told of the tap on his comm, Talechaser makes another call to see if Dessa can establish a trace. She manages to do so, discovering that it was originating from the Azoth Green Hotel, an average hotel near the Down Port. The group meets to discuss what to do with this information, first talking about giving the information to arcology security before deciding to set a trap for the assassins. Talechaser, first sending an email via the Petrel's computer to give a heads up, calls a contract, asking to meet them at a restaurant near one of the shuttle stations, giving enough time for the assassins to set up if they take the bait. The crew then goes ahead to set up a watch while Talechaser, bodyguarded by Angelica, goes to report to the cops.

In front of the shuttle station the Travellers disperse and wait, keeping an eye out for the assassins. Robert notices two men - one by the station doors, pacing and talking into a comm, another across the street leaning against the light and seeming to be listening to music. If it wasn't for being forewarned and suspicious, Robert doubted he ever would have spotted the barely noticeable tells they were showing. He discretely comms his partners and tells them what to look for.

Charley uses her telepathy to scan the surface thoughts of the one by the station doors. She manages to learn names, that there are three left with one staying at the hotel, and that he had a flechette pistol beneath is coat. Charley calls security anonymously, saying that there was a suspicious man in front of the shuttle station. When a prowl car approaches, she goes over to the other man and threatens him, telling him that he's made, his partner is going to be arrested and that she'll kill him if he so much as twitches. She tells him to stop making runs at Talechaser and that if he knew what was good for himself, he'll leave. Charley also orders him to unload and throw away his fletchette pistol when he walks away. The man doesn't say anything, having gone stark white, though whether with fear or rage, Charley wasn't certain. By this time the security officers had frisked the assassin by the station doors and found his pistol, for which he doesn't have a concealed carry license, and arrest him. The man Charley threatened walks away, but after throwing his weapon away looks over his shoulder to look hard at her, memorizing her looks. However, Charley manages to plant a suggestion in his head to make him forget any defining features about the person who threatened him.

While this goes down, Robert, Dessa and Nex head to the Green Azoth to see if they can deal with the last assassin.
Charley had managed to get the floor the assassins had been staying on at the Green Azoth, the fourth, and the name of the one still there, Althea. She also learned they were members of Chessuvar, the mercenary company currently in the employ of the Sevan Agricultural Commerce Company. Robert managed to get the number of the assassin's room from the concierge in the lobby. He and Dessa stayed behind to keep watch in the lobby while Nex went up to the fourth to check the area. Nex spotted Althea, a military woman with most of her hair in a crew cut, save for the right side, which was done in braids hanging down the side of her face. Althea was not carrying any luggage but was moving with purpose. The mercenary spotted Nex and sped up a bit, taking the stairs down and making her way to the lobby.

Nex gave his partners a heads up and they spotted Althea coming out of the stairwell and make for the lobby doors. Dessa got in her way long enough for Robert to bluff her into thinking he was a cop. He claimed (with some truth) that one of her partners had been grabbed and they had a warrant to search her room. Althea shut up, only saying show her the warrant or take her in, she wasn't saying anything. She eventually took a swing at Robert, missed, and ran for front doors. Robert, a fairly skilled unarmed combatant, managed to grab her and with Dessa and Nex's help subdued her. Dravij and Charley at that point showed up at the hotel. Nex called security while Robert, Dravij and Charley hustled Althea out of the Azoth Green. Frisking her, they found a fletchette pistol and a com, which Robert took (in turned out to have been bought on Umgadin when the assassins had arrived and had nothing interesting on it). Robert did a quick fade before the cops arrived; Dravij and Charley explained who they were and who Althea and what she and her associates had been up to. The cops, already knowing up the incident outside the Star Port, took custody of the mercenary, just asking Dravij to come down to their station tomorrow to give a statement.

This freed up the threat to Charagrr Talechaser. He thanked them for their work and said he'd be fine now. He also told them to contact his employers at the Core Liberal Herald when they got back to Capital for a payout for their good work. After finishing up loading cargo, the Crimson Petrel left the High Port and made the Jump to Crystalan, where Charley was told to go by the mysterious psionicist she had encountered at the gala on Sevan.