SH14: The great expedition! (Solution phase)

Welcome back! To kick off I’ll cover off the GM’s decision on Iceman’s Strange Impotence.

GM: I’ve reviewed this over the week, and in light of Iceman being horny for various NPCs over the entire season, I will offer you this: you may work towards being impotent, which will involve some major catastrophe rendering you that way, with the possibility that there is more at risk than just your willy.

DB: in light of your not-so-veiled threat, Iceman will stay the course and stay horny thanks.

And now we return to our regular broadcast.

 

Overall Mission: assist in establishing a scientific research station on Lewis, planet of the Klackons

Krabby

Current mission: detect who may have sabotaged one of the satellites stored in the cargo bay of the Bad’n’Ruin

Bad’n’Ruin’s PC crew:

  • Widow: Master detective, Sensors/comms
  • Pip: Pilot
  • Iceman: Gunner/Steward
  • BJ: Engineer

The NPC crew:

  • Bex: Merchant, beginning to act like a captain
  • Rhonda: Steward/Computer
  • Choi: Computer/Engineer’s mate

 

Where we are up to: The Bad’n’Ruin is carrying over 30 University of Junidi employees. On the second leg jump-space of the voyage, Widow takes on the role of security duty officer when the satellite techs discover their satellite has been tampered with.

 

GM: and I must say Widow jumped at that role quite forcefully

AM: it was either that or sit watching you talk to yourself as six different NPCs

GM_talks_to_self

It is early morning. Widow has brought Rhonda into her security detail and they have scanned enough camera feeds to detect when the sabotage occurred and what degree of technical knowledge would have been needed.

 

I get up, stretch a mite, and knock up the expedition boss men, Fuse Floyd and Tone Wik. They allows as how they heard about this from their own security, and what am I doing about it. I tell them I’ll be interviewing their expedition folks, and they throw in with me and cooperate.

First up, me and Rhonda clear Pip as best we can, then we bring Iceman in, update him, and now we got two pairs of eyes and ears. [Iceman was cleared based on him only ever hanging out in the gun bays, whereas Widow rolls a mighty 3 in interviewing Pip.] We question BJ about what Choi been doing, and Choi about what BJ been doing, till we get a lock on them two. Then BJ is told off to check how the cameras been switched off and how the satellite was interfered with while we other two pair get on with interviews on the real targets.

Thing is, between our own recollection and the cameras, we got some clusters of activity. The sabotage happened not long after 3.am. Round about that time, long as anyone can reckon, they was one group making a fair amount of noise in the rec room. About an hour earlier, the air raft pilots came out into the corridor and set up a game of sliding, until one of the docs got up and hollered at them. About an hour before that, a couple of people, hard to see, went from the mechanics and researchers end of the corridor around to the galley to fix some food, and came back not long later. And most folk were to bed by that time or earlier. The one group in the rec room turns out to be a set of card players, mostly youngsters: Ares, Eddie, Troilus and Voles from the menfolk and Rachel and Sauce from the researcher womenfolk.

I set up the first set of interviews with the idea to be filling in a “dance card” for each card player. I allow as how if we are patient, we can fill in the whole session and see who went where and who said what.

[This was pretty painful, because role-playing a genuine cross-examination is flat-out not possible. On the other hand, just making a series of interaction rolls would be pathetic. So this section of the session was a combination of both. Enough talk to give the GM an idea of approach, then a roll if needed. But it did tease out what proved to be the vital flag.]

Meanwhile BJ investigates. Looking at the satellite, he is somewhat alarmed to discover its power is on. He knows little to nothing about satellites and blunders round trying to see evidence of tampering, then calls on Choi to help. They find little – BJ may or not remember hearing Widow say she can’t trust Choi. BJ then checks back along the corridor to see if he can pin down what happened to the cameras. He finds two things: one, an entire wing of cameras are all on the same circuit (which flaw he quickly fixes with an excellent roll; he also installs a surge protector) and two, a disc-shaped gadget was used next to the camera outside the construction crew and researchers’ end of the corridor. Later, BJ also checks both the boat bay door and cargo hold door security logs (yes, apparently each door keeps a log) and finds the window of sabotage can be narrowed down to 3 minutes.

Folks are getting hungry by this time, what with Iceman and Rhonda both helping with the interviews, but Floyd and Wik keep them peaceable, making scratch breakfast in the galley into a diversion.

With BJ’s report on the camera and doors, and a small flag raised off the dance cards, I send Iceman away to check on meals, and focus all the rest of us on the three non-playing construction crew, Gibbs Dorsey and Reed. See, the flag raised was how around midnight, the card players seemed about to break up, then Voles, the only construction crew playing, started big-noting and got a higher stakes game going, which went on until after three. But the thing was, Voles was no great shakes as a player, and the player that did most of the winning, Troilous, said he was telegraphing his hand. So why does someone who couldn’t expect to win much start a higher-stakes game? Ain’t just to show off to the cute girls maybe.y_and_chicks

[Iceman actually tosses Choi’s quarters again, finding nothing out of the ordinary. And he checks the armoury.]

This time, our questioning is got to be more like a cross-examination. I have BJ prep a technical question, which same will be sprung on each suspect; and I throw in a real lie that will force them to re-evaluate their account of their movements. The tech question is to allow us to watch their face when asked something they do know the answer to, but will have to pretend not to know.

Crime suspect faces interrogation panel comprising of 'Good cop, bad cop, not much cop.'

Reed shapes up to be genuinely asleep. His answer to the tech question also comes across as the most genuinely dumb. For the other pair, Dorsey and Gibbs, I got to say they are slick. But they did both leave their quarters around midnight, long enough to prep the camera take-down.

Finally I sit back from my notes and look around. We all look pretty tired.

Widow: I’m ready to just execute one person as a lesson to all, and give up

Iceman (who has rejoined us by then): sounds good to me. I checked the armoury by the way, and all’s safe there

Rhonda: but we do have to report to Fuse Floyd remember? What do we say?

Widow: (groans) yeah, I’ll have to do that (heads over to the boss quarters)

Tone Wik: ah, any news? There’s a lot of talk and it’s hard to keep a lid on it

Widow: nothing conclusive, but overall we seem to have three of the construction crew working together. I think it’s time to toss quarters

Tone Wik: I can get our security detail on that

Widow: sounds good. I want the construction crew, researchers and air raft pilots quarters all tossed. Meanwhile, we going to get late mess going and keep as many folk in the galley as we can

[Iceman and Rhonda are obviously tired because the steward rolls are poor.]

By the time the pilots start hollering about their bunks being trashed, dude_u_tossed_my_bunk Ralph and Hook have found evidence in the construction crew quarters. They got a disk the right size, and a remote control. BJ confirms this is the right type of stuff.

We cold-sleep Voles, Gibbs and Dorsey and finish the jump no further problems.

cold_sleep_chamber

[Cold sleep is the Bad’n’Ruin’s fall-back for passenger travel. We previously only used it for Derns. I’m told that technically we have room for 20. The homebrew uses something like Traveller’s chances of cold sleep being fatal.]

Dropping out over Arramanx, I see the convoy is building up around the Jundy U flagship, the Hixus. There’s also a really big Crystal class converted for freight. We’re joined by boss-lady Andrea Young, and two minders. After listening to me describing our cockamamie efforts she decides it could be industrial espionage. Reed, the remaining construction crew, will transfer over and she puts a trusted man on the Bad’n’Ruin in his place. She plans to let the three roam free on Lewis, see what they do.

 

The Great Expedition! (Building phase)

The final hop goes fine, we drop out over Lewis, and there’s a bustle and hurry as all the passengers get set for their jobs. The construction, security and shuttle teams are to be first out while we orbit for a couple days. Voles, Gibbs and Dorsey come out of cold sleep OK [Widow rolls a 3 for revival but it’s not a fumble so they are still alive] and head off with the other lead teams.

[The GM hastily draws an encampment up. It’s atop cliffs overlooking a river, set well back from the coastline. It has a landward side away from the cliffs, where a dry ditch is cut across. A physical and force barrier runs right around. Key strategic buildings are spread well apart. The landing pads are well away from the prefab living/HQ low-rises.]

We touch down gentle like, Pip allowing to impress someone or other, and I get my first sniff of Lewis as I oversee the passengers disembark. It smells clean and fresh. Plenty of birdlife. I can feel a sunbed calling me.

[The individual players again make a call on what they want to do with some downtime. Widow has decided to work on Interaction and stays on friendly terms with the medical staff Cooke and Maureen. She sets up a sunbed area atop their hab and encourages them to start a roof garden. BJ patrols the perimeter and then gets back to work on his drone. Iceman sets up a firing range and works on his sniperism. Pip chats to a security team member (i.e. guard) and learns about the Gauss weaponry they use, then continues to polish her interaction skills.

Pip advances Interaction, moving to 12 same as the others; BJ advances his Tech to 10, and the drone is now fully weaponised and flying properly. Iceman and Widow do not advance.]

 

The next two weeks are all about shuttling freight from the Crystal. When Tone Wik joins us one morning and allows as how he got a job for us going outside the perimeter and out to the site of the Fetterman fiasco I jump at it, and the others do too.

 

That’s all we have for the year, but the season will resume in early January so watch out for an update around Jan 9-10.

 

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SH13: The great expedition! Suspicion phase

Welcome back! This adventure begins with our surplus heroes taking a ten-day break on Junidi, the wealthy, high-tech world that lies at the centre of sub-sector affairs. Bex is off making connections, and BJ is doing the first full maintenance since the Bad’n’Ruin was bodged together, leaving the others to pick whatever form of entertainment Junidi can offer.

Junidi is not a pleasure planet, though tourists from inhospitable worlds do travel here to enjoy the climate and seas. Its equatorial torrid zone is extremely hot and stormy, and the tropics also get heavy storms. The bulk of the billions of inhabitants therefore live in thick-clustered, semi-buried cities in the cooler latitudes. There are some undersea cities as well. In the inhabited zones, the beaches are pleasant and there is entertainment aplenty.

As we already know from shuttling Dr. Schmidt and Charo out to Rowsion II, Junidi maintains an elitist and eugenic system of birth control. The drive to earn birth points is a powerful one, particularly for women in child-bearing years.

 

So, what do you want to do?

BJ’s running ship maintenance, and he asks Pip to help. Don’t be silly, I’m going shopping, says Pip, and by the time BJ goes to collect Choi the boy’s already gone with Rhonda. We’re surely paying that pair too much. Iceman allows as how he’ll be shopping too – for guns – and heads out in his usual gear minus the armour. I spent all my pay and more on the Q4K plan, but we’re near due another month’s pay so I book into Casino Galactica, which offers the kind of beaches and beds I’m aiming for.

Soaking up the sun one morning – I gotten me into a routine of early swim, stretches, sun, then light entertainment, a nap, then evening entertainment – I catch a feed talking about Altara. Seems as how an old-timer ex-Navy executed a mob boss in old-style Taran revenge, and died in the process. Police are finding more connections between the perfumer and a drug gang as they investigate. I raise a glass to Heath’s memory and thank my stars we all are out of it.

Other feeds tell me that fleet construction is ongoing, and that the university will maybe have a big announcement to make.

 

Every barrier is an opportunity

Meanwhile, Iceman shambles around the city, noticing that the remarkably hot research assistant Charo would rate as normal here. multicharoHe decides to invest in new clothes after all. After that, he tries various outlets that might conceivably stock weaponry, failing in all.nogunsallowed At length he tries a sporting goods shop, where there are no firearms.

Clerk: tennis is vigorous

Iceman: I guess I could stuff a grenade in one…

Clerk: have you tried fishing?

Iceman: with grenades?dynamitefishing

He spots a poster for a wilderness trek and books himself in. By good fortune, the ex-special forces man that leads the expedition can teach sniping. Iceman pays an extra 2k and enjoys a solid week of discomfort, learning how to be the tree, be the bullet.

forestsnipe

Get together

Meanwhile, Pip elects for shopping for good clothes, then moderately-tame entertainment. After enduring the delights of a strip club (where it’s raining men, apparentlyraining_men) she becomes more interested in re-connecting with scattered family members that might be on-planet.

Cue Bex, who chimes all members to invite us to dinner, where she is picking up the tab. Iceman can’t make it but everyone else does. [Iceman’s player continues to listen as he’ll be available in the next few days.] Bex is excited about a potential job she has lined up from University of Junidi. It’s a charter flight, ferrying passengers, as part of an interstellar-scale project.

 

An invitation

Bex hands us out tickets and brings up a visual of the campus to show us where to meet up tomorrow evening. Then she allows as how BJ for one will need to spruce up. She looks around, and Pip allows as how she could stand to have another new dress. I positively assure Bex I got enough – my evening wear is mighty fine – and brush off Pip’s help. I climbed into my next month’s pay enough.

 

While I’m changing and checking my makeup, buzzcutI catch a feed showing a protest against this here birthright laws that Jundy got. Some kind of tougher regs. It seems like a religion to them if you was to ask me. The feed goes on to say construction schedules are keeping pace and a psi conspiracy is suspected somewhere.

 

The destination is Lewis

We step off the air raft looky pretty ritzy, Pip is all sparkles – I ask if she got vajazzled vajazzlebut she don’t reply – and BJ has polished pretty nigh all the grime off and got himself a fancy suit and cravat. There’s a mile of folks, a mix of academic types and freighter crew, so quite a range of souls. Inside the convention centre – if that’s what it is – there’s a fine spread of food that draws Choi and Rhonda away.

The jawing kicks off a short while after we get there, with Chancellor Kingston saying his piece then Usher Stoll (Jundy Construction) says his, then hands on to faculty head Sam Cook. Sam brings up a huge display showing Lewis, a water planet and Klackon world three jumps from here.

Seems like our mission will be as part of a convoy ferrying a big research team there. They allow to set up on an equatorial island well away from the crabbies. The last survey took was the Fetterman, maybe 300 years ago. Up to 16 vessels will be used for the convoy, all double-hoppers.

That’s about where Sam finishes up but he allows as how more material’s on the display terminals, so I collar a drink and wander up there, while Bex and Pip work the crowd and BJ heads over to another terminal. I find the governance structure and study it. It’ll be administrators, academics and ex-Scouts, which latter makes sense seeing as Jundy got a big Scout base. The admin chief is Fuse Floyd, and his bio makes him sound reliable, and the Scout chief is Tone Wick, a decorated vet. The other thing I peek to is about Fetterman, which ain’t how you spell it so it takes a while. The Fetterman expedition lost around 25% casualties, but that report the survivors wrote is about all we got to go on about the crabbies. Sounds like a SNAFU all ready to happen.

 

Around the floor

BJ: He’s curious about the scheduled jump stop Arramanx, and why it is described as an out-station stop, while the planet is well-populated. He quickly learns that the planet’s population is balkanised and riven by minor but endemic warfare and contact is avoided. BJ_suitedHaving by now recognised Tone Wik, the ex-Scout with the stellar career, he moves down that way and introduces himself after many other folk have had their hands shaken. The two shared a brief period in the Scouts where Wik was moving to retirement and BJ was a rookie. Wik seems a jovial, highly social chap but his hunting headlamps come on when BJ is joined by…

Pip: Over a drink Pip socialises alongside Bex, looking mainly for cousins. Usher Stoll approaches and addresses Bex as ‘captain’ and Bex looks slightly abashed as Pip glances at her. Drifting away from Bex Pip meets a journo named Steph Todd, who wants to know what Stoll was saying. In turn Pip learns a bit about Stoll’s immigrant background. In quest of the passenger manifest Pip moves closer to Bex, has her picture taken, and with the manifest drifts near BJ and is introduced to Wik. Perhaps it’s because she is not cookie-cutter gorgeous like most of the local woman, or perhaps he’s just a horndog, but Wik seems very keen on Pip.

 

I work my way through the terminal information to security, and find which will be aboard the Bad’n’Ruin. One’s a very fit-looking type named Johnny Hook, the other’s a doggy name of Ralph. I spot them in the crowd and head over. Johnny is just my type and I let him know I’m interested in him. HookHe gets my chime code. We’ve learned a mite and have a charter so we finish the food and drink and head out.

[Iceman returns from his wilderness venture and training, but his roll is poor and he does not advance in sniperism at this juncture.]

 

 

The manifest

It’s a full ship, with a range of souls from the party kids – that’s the raft pilotsairraftpilots – through the jocks (security) to the nerds (researchers trying to make a good impression). The fellows of middle passage turn their cabins into offices, except for security, who turn it into a gym.

Speaking of that, I have to give Johnny Hook the right-about. I ain’t f***ing around on my own ship where I got responsibility. He sulks about it sulkingbut I don’t pay that no never-mind.

It could all get too close and cabin-fever could maybe set in, but Iceman’s getting better and better with cooking and a mess where passengers want to eat is a happy mess. One time where Rhonda thaws the wrong protein he invents a whole new dish. [Another double-ought on steward from Iceman!]

BNI Administrators: Tone Wik; Fuse Floyd. Construction engineers: Tina K; Eddie. Security: Jonny Hook; Ralph (V). Medical staff: Dr Cooke; Maureen. Oceanography, Climatology, Biology: Dr Cee; André; Dr Shanthaul; Girding. Satellite and photography: Gaus; Vika; Troilous; Lizzy. Air raft specialists: Bingo; Grunter; Smooths; Fireball. Shuttle pilots and engineering crew: Eddie; Amelie; Woods; Maxine. Research assistants: Ares; Caps; Brown; Sauce. Construction crew: Voles; Gibbs; Dorsey; Reed.

Feneteman

We reach Feneteman (which is the right way to spell Fetterman) with all seeming happy, aside from Hook’s sulks. The out-station lies over a mining installation in a low-G planet.

The ore out of Fetterman is a special type, but that ain’t the reason those Jundy militia types are on duty looking sharp around the port.elitejundimilitia I can see by their gear they ain’t been planet-side long. Same goes for the port mechs. Ralph tells me they all been brung in from Jundy special for this project.

We have some down-time here while the ship’s turned around.

[At this stage we hit a one month break since the last training test. Widow makes a good roll: her Intrusion ranks are now maxed at 2. Everyone else rolls badly. Oh well, next month will be at +2 or 3.

We also update money, though technically the pay moved across on Junidi. I’m not saving very well, because I decided to make the Junidi break a real one and budgeted 2k. I have 6k all up. The others are doing better and some are nearly at 10k.]

 

BJ’s bad

The Bad’n’Ruin lands with three other ships. Since BJ did a good thorough job on Junidi the dock fitters will have little trouble turning the ship around. Trouble is he can’t shut up about what an excellent job he did.

Feeling in his element, BJ flaps his mouth off about how the Bad’n’Ruin has been bodged together from scrap parts and a hull. BJbraggingThe fitters (all from Jundy) are mightily impressed. But BJ has forgotten that we are on fake papers. Nothing we have would stand up to real scrutiny, and nothing we have done has been strictly legal all the way through.

 

Interference

Bex and me, we tell BJ so he can’t forget: we don’t talk about where the Bad’n’Ruin got its start, nor about our company.

With a couple days to rest, I make sure to have a proper sit-down with the medical staff. They come up through the medical system on Jundy, but done some off-world work already. My skills are more about bullets than bioscans, but we’ll work well together if need be. doctorsIt goes well, right up until they start harping on how their birth points will go up, and I start asking them about the whole birth rights and point out it seems more like something they believe in than something that’s got moral sense to it.

Later, my evening chores are interrupted. The satellite jocks Gaus and co come up the bridge all hot and bothered, allowing as how someone’s jiggered with a scope. I follow them back to cargo, and whiles I don’t exactly see what the fuss is about, I take a measure of what cams we got there. Seems as how anyone going in or out would be on a recorded feed, so I start to think who can I trust.

I’m just muttering to myself if only I could trust Choi, when Hook and Ralph hurry in, about to cover the same ground. I don’t waste no time jawing about who’s got authority in dock, just head back and collect Rhonda.

 

The thorn of suspicion

Rhonda’s time ain’t fully accounted for neither, but she gives me a straight answer so I rope her in and between the two of us, we bring up cam feed and check what happened. [pretty good rolls from both result in a net +3 on tech] There was a short blackout period about 3.a.m ship’s clock time on the feed, long enough for someone to get in, monkey with the gear, and get out. I can’t say as how the blackout been done before or after.

Now I got a window, me and Rhonda put our heads together on who could do it or who could help do it. We figure if Bex was paid enough she’d arrange it. Pip is on bridge vid all evening and night: but she could be helping whoever did the physical work. Iceman is cleared, since he just hangs out on the gun decks when he’s not in the galley. Choi and BJ are definite suspects, and so’s pretty much every member of the expedition.

 

I’ll leave it there and pick up next session with who Widow decided to trust. Stay tuned!

Something I haven’t covered in this session, but maybe should, is DB (playing Iceman) moving to impair his own character. He declares that as a result of extended cryo-sleep Iceman has no sexual function at all, and is happy with this disability, and won’t be changing it. It seems a genuine impairment (in game mechanics) with both an upside and a downside, but it does contradict Iceman’s stated preference for Bex and various other ‘hot’ NPCs. The GM has only just got DB to go along with Iceman not being a complete social outcast so lets this go, for now.

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SH12: Boom! Surplus heroes farewell moral obligations!

Welcome back! The crew of the Bad’n’Ruin are now in Altara City, where their mission is to free Q4K and Tangle from their life-debt to the Jackal gang.

Widow (PC) and Heath (NPC, Q4K’s uncle): the ‘raid’ team. Their job is to remove Talban, oyabun or boss of the Jackals, in his perfumery underground. Underground Altara is law-abiding and security-filtered.

Pip, BJ and Iceman (all PCs): the ‘ram’ team. Their job is to remove Eyeball, the accountant of the Jackals, in his counting-house aboveground. Aboveground is relatively non-secure, similar to any C20 western urban environment with few security cameras.

Curso, number two man of the Jackals, is expected back from Fellan, and will also need to be hit.

Other Bad’n’Ruin crew involved (all NPCs):

Bex: just making sure business goes on…

Choi: providing fake papers for Q4K and family, and seeing to a gang regalia so that a false trail is followed after the hit on the counting-house. Uses his own fake ID for buying and hiring.

Rhonda: mainly finishing regalia but also keeping an eye on Curso’s arrival.

The conference

It’s the next day, and I get some odd looks around the galley when I show up with my new hair in. First up, with Q4K off keeping the kids busy, Bex reports, then the others.

Bex: I’ve lined up a full cargo for Junidi, with a window of one week to leave. I’ll be working on the turnaround today: progress has been good but I’m aiming higher. Also… I’ve put a line out to a reliable temp agency to provide us with suitable crew profiles… in case circumstances require them.

Pip: a new pilot?!?

Widow: could be new ever’thing

Heath: hem. I did call into the officers mess here at the spaceport but there is no gossip of this Jackal gang. On the other hand, policing an influx of a drug known as Tunbiddy was being talked about… stemming it, where it could be coming from, and so on.

Widow: we know where from, we seen foxy on Fellan – Curso – and he Talban’s number two

Iceman: haw, number two is right, soon to be zero

Widow: yeah we got to watch for him in this window we got, expect we see him at Jundy Coffee

Rhonda: I’ve set up the computer to ping me when any flight arrival from Fellan is logged

Widow: that’s good work!

Choi: the papers are all in hand and coming along well. Meanwhile I get to runway my new season’s line of gangsta coats and dew-rags. (Affects slightly camp accent) Now here in plain heavy twill is the coat, as you can see concealable body armour will be no problem, as well as handguns… sporting a lively gold orb with black hand insignia, I present the Black Hand watch-coat.

Widow: Black Hand Gang?

Choi: no-one is using the tag hereabouts

Widow: OK I like it

Iceman: I’ve got a list of updated equipment to give to Rooso based on what BJ worked out and the other details we worked through yesterday. Hidden ballistic armour will go better with the coats. We won’t need vision aids since this will be daylight. But we will need some chassis-work on the crash truck, and some protective gear like crash-helmets and mouth-guards. So, if someone can hire a garage…

Pip: BJ and me will do that, we know what gear we’ll need. Some cutting and bending gear as well

Choi: since I’ll have the paper soon, I’ll go with them, hire the garage and buy the two vehicles we need

Pip: and you can drive the getaway, because I think it will be you leaving it in the target neighbourhood for us

Widow: speaking of protective, someone find out if Tunbiddy is powdered, if it is you-all need breathers

BJ: I got a respirator already

Widow: and Iceman if you’ll kindly bring me along I’ll want to meet Rooso when you discuss the incinerator. He allowed as how he got into Talban’s without no camera on him, I want to know how

Iceman: uhhh think I can manage that. Only with you instead of Pip he’ll probably want to know where the hot one is

Widow: you sayin’ I ain’t hotter than Pip in full getup? Vixe! I was guaranteed tenting on any straight male if I wore that fancy perfume!whynotenting

Iceman: no reaction here, too long in cryo

Pip: don’t tell me that froze too?

BJ: big heap little frozen knob, haw

The final details

There’s a few other details we work out, such as it’ll be me as decides where Choi needs to park, and me as sketches out where the ram team need to get out to. That’s mostly around who’s busy doing what, and who’s already been through the neighbourhood.

I don’t see nothing Pip ain’t already told me, and best place to park seems like it would be less than a block clear. Not too far away, I also find me a good vacant lot and drain where things can be dumped. That’s on account of how Rooso tells Iceman the industrial incinerator is too complicated but if we dump gear in an agreed spot he’ll see to its disposal. I don’t rightly like leaving evidence in other hands but seeing as how we are working on trust anyway, I OK it.

Rooso ain’t got more than half an idea how Talban walked him in past security cams, but mostways I can work out, head for the front door right smart, once the camera over Jundy Coffee is swinging back.

I’ve picked out the two sites by about 5pm that same day, with my pants afire, seeing as how Rhonda already called us at 2pm saying as how there’s an inbound from Fellan. I’ve briefed Heath on a go-word and an abort-phrase, and me and him – me with my getup on – sashay over to an officer’s club past where the scout craft disembarks. Sure enough it’s foxy and two usu.

[I gather the GM kind of signals Heath’s lack of buy-in to the plan, but no check required, and I decide not to ask for a read on whether Curso picked up our walk-by. It will make no difference.]

Right away I can see as how we got to be moving. We head back to the Bad’n’Ruin, and brief Choi who’s ready to roll the getaway to the countinghouse block.

Widow and Heath

Next morning early, with a last makeup check, I collect Heath who is looking right fine in suit-coat, pants and formal shoes. He gets the scanner in a briefcase, I pack light spare clothes, shoes, knucks and power pack in the big shoulder-slung purse I bought, and we head out from the spaceport to an entry to underground farther afield.

Reason is, the spaceport security is top-notch. The one we pick is more visual scan and e-gate, and the concealeds we’re toting don’t set nothing off. From the entry, we take slide-tracs out to the perfumery’s area and head for Jundy Coffee.

Team Ram!

The two combats are run interleaved, and I’ll start with the Black Hand Gang, who have the duty of signalling Widow when they are ready to move. They’ve driven from the garage in their modded cruiser without incident, engine straining against the extra weight of the reinforced cab and engine compartment. Pip is alone up front, BJ and Iceman seated in back. The explosives are packed securely in the rear compartment.

{Below: Team raid pays its tab at Jundy Coffee and steps outside.

Widow: hard left. Stop a while. Wait for the camera…}

Revving the engine a little, Pip hustles the cruiser down the ‘main’ street leading to the count-house, and at the last second swings the wheel to hard right, ramming the vehicle under the count-house’s balcony and partway through the wall.

[Pip rolls 5 under her drive, very poor – the GM allows a hit roughly where intended but various load-bearing walls stop the vehicle before it can burrow through to the weaker interior next to the stone tower. None of the doors are jammed.ramraid

Fort checks are called for all round: disastrous! Snake-eyes from BJ, a 3 from Iceman, Pip scores 2 under.]

AL: isn’t there some advantage? We were ready!

GM: the advantage is, you got to simply roll Fort checks to walk away

{Below: Team raid watches for the security camera to complete its traverse and start swinging back right}

Round 2: The trio are stunned, but Pip is at least beginning to move. Small-arms fire begins to sporadically pepper the vehicle’s rear.

{Below: Team raid walks quickly across the mall and over to the doorway of Talban’s perfumery}

Round 3: Iceman (with a good Fort check) wrenches the left-rear door open and slides out, bringing his SMG to bear. He definitely does not have edge.

{Below: Team raid reaches the door. Heath opens it for Widow. She enters, finding only Talban and his well-dressed goon present.}

Round 4: Pip slides out (right-hand since this is that kind of world) followed by BJ. Both are more inside than out of the ruined wall.

Across from them and more out than in, Iceman is coming under fire from a window above, but makes a great cover check, and returns fire in a long burst that drives the Jackal away or clips them.

Handgun fire from the ruins above them prompts BJ to send a burst up there, with no particular result.ramraid_firefight

{Below: Talban and goon’s eyes are leaving Widow and tracking Heath, who is walking purposefully forward, lifting a handgun out of his briefcase! Seeing things have gone off-mission, Widow yells the go word and jumps sideways to cover. Heath fires three shots while approaching serving counter, button dice modifies to a 1, Talban’s cover roll 14, makes it.}

Round 5: Pip and BJ both hose the area above, forcing the enemy to cover. Iceman (great Alert check) spots an armoured Jackal charging at him from around the front side of the building, and sends him back into cover with a second burst. His SMG is empty.

{Below: Widow misses the goon, who is in partial cover behind a counter. Heath’s athletics roll is a staggering five over, so he springs over the serving counter separating him from Talban, removing Talban’s combat cover. Goon draws mini-needler. Heath fires a further three shots, empties the mag of the Body pistol, and gets a modified 4 (clip) button dice on Talban as Talban leaves room for his residence. Talban has no cover roll. Goon chooses to shoot the man attacking his pay-cheque, and fires his mini-needler into Heath’s back, modified 2 button dice (floored), no cover roll allowed.}

Round 6: Iceman uses the chance to pull back inside the ruin and around the nose of the cruiser, getting the engine block between him and the last opponent as he reloads. He makes his cover check against the handgun fire from above. Pip hoses the armoured Jackal while BJ reloads, dropping the man with a deadly burst. Her SMG is empty.

{Below: Widow kills the goon with a head-shot. Heath hits the deck. Talban opens a concealed doorway, Widow moves to the main counter. Talban rolls a wound roll, snake eyes, minus 3 for 3 rounds fired, very bad result. The clip result turns out to be a mortal wound. Widow sees Talban collapse just through the doorway. Talban hits the floor, rolls 3d10 -10 for minutes lingering. The result is below zero, and he dies.}

Round 7: Pip and BJ squeeze back out through the ruined wall and race past the twitching corpse back up the street they drove down. Iceman (whose understanding of the plan matches the GM’s, but not of the rest of us) weasels through the ruins to a sturdy corner room.

{Below: Widow moves around the counter and checks Heath. Heath’s wound roll is mortal, he is on the way out with no hope of medical aid. Lingering for only a moment (3d10-10 was unkind to him too) he smiles and points at his dying foe. Widow partly catches Heath’s last words.}

Round 8: Pip and BJ reach the corner and look left, seeing the getaway car parked where it needs to be.

Iceman detonates the bomb

BLAMMM!

The entire building jumps and shakes, dust and smoke are driven everywhere.

Iceman puts in his respirator, and realises he probably should have included earplugs – he has gone deaf.

{Below: Widow collects Heath’s briefcase and peeks outside. No alarm has been raised.}

Round 9 to 11: realising Iceman has not emerged and the stone tower has not collapsed, Pip and BJ head back.

{Below: Widow finishes reshuffling gear, checks that Heath is definitely dead, and moves back to the door to watch the camera. The shop stinks of perfume and blood.}

Round 12: Iceman is now scrambling over a variety of wreckage, still on the ground floor. He makes a successful Alertness check and chooses the correct entry way to take him to a tower entry point. Ahead of him, he sees a dust-covered, ragdoll figure that matches Eyeball’s description. A steady rain of creds is trickling down from the floor above. Following this his eyes catch a shatei and kyodai weaving into some form of activity, and Curso between the two drawing a piece. Firing from the hip with a D burst Iceman adds further to Curso’s shock but the No. 2 Jackal is tough and returns fire, cowing Iceman back to cover. (His Fort check is fine, so he will be ready to act next round.)

Round 13: Pip and BJ skid to a halt in some cover outside the main entry inset. They have a good view of the entire interior of the first* floor, including those three targets. They hose Curso and he falls. Iceman yanks his mini-needler out and executes him.

{Below: Widow leaves the shop and heads for the main shopping district.}

Round 14: Iceman also executes Eyeball in case he is not quite dead. All three leave!

The neighbourhood is taking an interest, but the three are still safely dressed in Black Hand regalia, so all the witnesses see is three gangbangers jumping into a car and driving off fast. (Drive check is +6) Removing re-usable gear such as red-dot sights, the “gangsters” dump their incriminating evidence at the agreed drain and drive away. After a wipe-down they leave the car and rendezvous at the Bad’n’Ruin.

*English and NZ use: start at the ground floor, then 1st floor is above that. 

Widow alone

A media feed tells me I’m already outside the police cordon when I hear sirens. Seems as how tracs are OK to take from here. I zip back along to the topside exit and walk through security no problem. I get some funny looks, which ain’t hardly surprising: been about ten years since I cut my own hair and I used the shears mighty fast.

My hair and extensions, plus clothes, shoes and such, are in a bin in the main shopping area. I changed and shaved in a public convenience, and used the toilet-cakes to shift the shop’s stink off of me.

The scanner and power-pack in my bag don’t attract no more than a straight question and get a straight answer. Being a Reserve, it’s stuff I’m rightly entitled to carry.

The knucks are strapped close, where the mini-needler used to be. Ain’t no search worth calling the name, and I get by fine.

I left the mini-needler in Heath’s hand, with his prints on it.

He died how he wanted: shooting the dirty oyabun as killed his niece. Only I wished as how he had told me he was going to go for Talban straight off, no talk. Could be I could have got the goon before he got Heath, not after.

Goodbye Q4K

By the time the taxi drops me to the spaceport the media feeds are telling me all good things. Gang-related violence has taken out a drug-related building,gangrelated and a robbery gone wrong accounts for three dead underground.

I get aboard and ask for a sitrep from everyone, and the news is still all good. Bex has the turnaround she wanted so launch is real soon. I tell her I’ll break the news to Q4K.

I’ve done this a few times both as NCO and Warrant Officer. I tell her the usual lie, that it was very quick and he could not have felt a thing, only I wasn’t lying when I tell her Heath died doing what he wanted and with a smile on his face.

We all bid Q4K Tangle and Eskip goodbye with fake papers that will see her in good stead.

We’re 40 minutes from off when our friends Cole and Marty from the IPA show up. They show me a picture of old Sid the forger, ask me about him, I tell them something of what I know and allow as how I think he stayed on Pavanne. Then we head off for Jundy, richest and highest-tech world in the whole sub-sector.

This concludes the ‘regular season’ of Caseless: Surplus heroes. A side-plot adventure should take us the next 2-3 sessions. Our GM tells us he is going to keep thinking about play balance and any tweaks that seem needed. Stay tuned!

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SH11: Giri-Ninjo! Surplus heroes without honour or humanity!

Mission: extricate Q4K and Tangle from their life-debt to the Jackals, a Taran gang.

Last session, the crew of the Bad’n’Ruin opted to follow Widow’s sense of obligation, and protect Q4K and Tangle. The attention now turns to planning and preparing for the full sense of the obligation. We pick up during the final week in jump-space prior to dropping into Taran space.

A session consisting almost entirely of conversations and planning is hard to encapsulate. We kick off with the main planning conference on the Bad’n’Ruin. The kids are in bed, and all adults are present. The GM is now minding more NPCs than there are characters.

Spelling: as usual for Q4K read Que Vork, for Tangle read Tarngal, for Jundy read Junidi, and for Nazmin read Nasemin.

Culture: I don’t normally gloss Widow’s terms but in honour of the yakuza-themed scenario she has dropped a few extra references in. Oyabun is equivalent to family boss, wakagashira the first lieutenant, shateigashira the second lieutenant, and saiko-komon and shingiin fill advisory positions. Kyodai or big brothers are somewhat equivalent to made men while shatei are street-level operators.

 

Seated around the mess table

Player Characters:

Widow aka BW: sensors/comms. Widow left the Marines as a Lieutenant and generally pushes decisions.

Pip: pilot. Pip is often used as the pleasant face of the crew.

BJ: engineer. BJ is also the best close-combat specialist.

Iceman aka BB: gunner. Iceman is also the best cook and also acts as armourer.

BadnRuinCrew

NPCs:

Bex: purser. She carries a lot of weight, as she owns half shares in the entire venture.

Choi: computers. An ex-Jackal youth himself, Choi has been found to have skills in forging fake IDs.

Rhonda: steward. An ex-pirate, Rhonda is involved with Choi.

Q4K: passenger, aunt of Tangle, the boy the Jackals want back. She has no particular skill set.

Heath: Q4K’s uncle, an ex-Imperial Navy officer. From what the crew have seen, he is tough and a good shot.

 

The briefing: our problem

Talban is oyabun of the Jackals and they move Tunbiddy, a drug with enough street value to make the Jackals strong. They work out of a broke-down counting house in a Taran neighbourhood. It’s a shikeru area with neon lights, lousy weather and poor roads. Talban has a legit face underground, as a perfumier. Q4K don’t know much more other than that Foxy back on Fellan is probably Curso, one of Talban’s chief men, maybe wakagashira.

Widow: I held off talking to Jackals til we get to Nazmin, I want to negotiate, see what this Talban will take to buy Tangle out

Choi (squirms, looks uncomfortable)

Widow: kid, you’re crew, if you got something, lay it out for us to see

Choi: you know I was with the Jackals for a while, well, I can tell you ‘negotiate’ would only begin with handing the kid over

Pip: so this a problem? If we looking at whole picture, we get Q4K and Tangle back to Altara as agreed, then their problem

Widow: we all agree otherwise. So if we break Tangle free, take down the Jackals

Choi: Jackals like any other gang, work good so long as money roll in and bosses in place

Widow: BJ and BB, you work up feasibility of putting remote detonation onto one of the missile warheads using something like a phone

Bex *sputter* *gack* IPA! Official investigation! *gaah* nowhere to run!

Widow: calm down parceira, you got smoke coming out your ears. This is options

Pip: ship to ship missile? Options be city-size crater

 [At this juncture the GM unwisely demands an Interaction test for those around the table. Instead of GMPC Bex winning hands-down as expected, Widow comes up +7 over and everyone else scores low.]

BJ: better option than an ICBM maybe fertiliser based explosive in back of truck

Widow: I want the entire structure down not windows broke, but that’s fine, whatever gets the job done

Choi: I reckon be four or five top dogs, they the issue

Widow: Heath, how committed you be? You die for your niece?

Heath: I would kill you to save them, yes

Widow: would you strap on a suicide vest for them?

Heath: ….yes I suppose I would

Widow: so that’s another option. Come on people, I need to hear ideas. Q4K, we need something a little more solid. How about you ask Tangle about the big guys? Don’t tell him what we’re thinking natch

Iceman: can a drone be used to deliver a payload? How you doing on your drone BJ?

BJ: coming from you that’s just weird. Not very far, but I’m workin’ on it. If it flies, yes it can send a feed back to us or shoot

Widow: when we in port, we need to keep Q4K and the kids to home. We need false papers since so far we just made them disappear

Iceman: I’ll be talking to Mr. Seddon about explosives, weapons and whatever, I’ll need a list. He can connect to a forger

Widow (catching a glance between Rhonda and Choi): come to think of it, Choi: I just lay this on the table too. I toss your quarters and found your ID blanks.

Choi: you tossed my stuff!?!

Widow: so we need some work up for our passengers

Rhonda: Choi’s been sweet, he done a really nice set for me. I been getting them marked each chance I get, makes them look legit for reals

Widow: so you just using the kid? Respect!

Choi (still aggrieved): did you toss BJ’s quarters?

Widow (deadpan): sure

BJ: how’d you like the plans I keep stashed under my mattress?

Widow: it took me a whiles to scrub clean

Iceman: so BJ, I (chokes slightly) don’t mind helping on the drone weapon system

Choi: I can check the processors

Widow: I can help with the sensors, and quality check for Iceman

Iceman: then I’ll just need a list of stuff we want, and I’ll talk with BJ about blast shape and size

Widow: now about the counting house, Pip, you been quiet, how about you build me a scale model of the area in one of the bays

Pip: huh? I do pilot this heap you know

Widow: you already done pushed that autopilot button gata. But I’ll help and Q4K will help lay out plans. And we need something to blame… I’m thinking there’s a new Anglic gang, the Coat Colours. We can’t none of us pass as Tarans ‘cept maybe Choi, and we don’t want no blame thrown at existing families, so we get us some long coats, and some kind of colour

Choi: like a gang patch?

Widow: that’s it, only not one that’s in use. Rhonda and you can scratch around the port surplus stores for coats

Rhonda: that should be fine

Pip: and buy burners, we don’t want our signals to lead back to us

Widow: OK, Q4K will get back on anything Tangle adds, meeting adjourned

 

Over Nasemin

Dropping out, working sensors, I pick up a slew of Navy hulls, and it gives me an idea. I say to Heath, maybe Impy Navy gonna be some use, if you can pick up intel. He allows as how he can walk into the port officers mess and see what he can pick up. I specially want to find how come this Curso is out on Fellan but anything could be useful. Tangle’s told Q4K that Talban always has a kyodai bodyguard in the perfume shop, there’s another chief name of Eyeball that mostly stays up in the counting house and has plenty of shatei. countinghouse_shateiHe could be anything from shingiin or saiko-komon counting beans to shateigashira. This is sounding like we only need put down three targets, and avoid getting ourselves known for it.

Meantime, media feeds are full of the Roysion mess, and assurance from Usher Stoll, chairman of Jundy Construction, that production will still go on. Bex is lining up deals and meet-ups fulltime.

The drone flies, but Iceman messed up on the weapon system for it. I ain’t saying he done it deliberate. We kick around a few options for feed off it, but for Iceman’s shopping list nothing ain’t been added.

Iceman’s going over the list with us in a final standup. He’s specced Semtex or suchlike, about 1k worth. The rest of the list is mostly munitions, and a few other items like lights, NVGs, and burners.

 

Iceman: I’ll head out to Mr. Seddon straight away. You wanna come with? You met him before ain’tcha?

Widow: I met Rooso and a big goon, but I hear your Seddon was taken with Pip. Hey B-Cup, you wanna go with BB?

Pip: hey! I get to give you B- names, not the other way round

Widow: don’t forget gata, cleavage, cleavage, work it

 

 

Mr. Seddon’s hand

The meet with Seddon and Rooso goes smoothly. The GM asks Iceman, in particular, how much of ‘the plan’ he’s going to reveal, and Iceman sticks to his normal procedure and blabs everything, while seeming to be discreet. The real sticking point is explaining the motivation. This is where Iceman’s good Persuasion (+2 on Interaction of 12) is tested, and he makes it.

Seddon_Rooso_Gonzo

Conditional on being kept out of it, they agree to help. Rooso volunteers what he knows of the setup, based on one visit to the perfumery.  He was brought in in a way the cameras did not pick him up; and there was an implication that there is a tunnel link between the counting house and the perfumery. Curso, if in port, will most likely be found in the coffee shop across the boulevard from the perfume shop; while Eyeball pretty much lives and works in the counting house.

 

Walking the ground

Later, Iceman and BJ con the mean streets of the Taran-heavy neighbourhood around the counting house. They are narrow and potholed. Pedestrians use them, making them more like slum alleys than streets. It appears that for the counting house, the GM has decided to use something along the lines of a fortified manor-house. crumbling_manorIts stone tower provides the strongest structure, and any explosive will need to factor that in. However, road access will be from the point farthest away from the tower. Widow’s original idea of simply rolling a van in beside the counting house and blowing it up won’t work for Semtex: they decide they would need to ram a vehicle in through the broken-down ground floor and as close to the tower as possible. This and the turning area available rules out an unmanned vehicle.

 

Tara Rollers

In quest of something cheap from someone that won’t look hard at ID, the dauntless pair head off to the sleazy car yards of Tara Rollers. There, they find a wide variety of vehicles that could conceivably carry a payload of Semtex. cruiserOf all, a Taran Transit van and a cruiser sedan seem the most promising. They can both fit down a lane and both turn in roughly the same circle.

 

Makeover madness

Widow wants to assess the Perfume Shop of Talban herself, but needs to look like a woman that would visit a perfumery (!) so Rhonda and Pip take her around a few underground outfitters near the port. Much spending on hair extensions, makeup, clothes and shoes later, Widow’s tats and scars are hidden. WidowMakeoverPip and Widow head out beyond the main shopping area to where the perfumery lies nearly opposite a Junidi Coffee joint, across a pleasant pedestrianized boulevard. They sit in the coffee shop for a while. Widow assesses security cameras and ways of escape; then they cross and browse the perfumery. Talban himself shows his fine perfumes, and while he is engaged, a well-dressed thug staffs the main counter.

 

The general plan of action

Topside: Pip, BJ, Iceman

Acquire explosives and any body armour needed.

Equip a cruiser with explosives rigged to a remote detonator. Iceman will hold said detonator. Pip will drive while BJ and Iceman are passengers. All are dressed in Coat Colours gear with body armour under it.

Signal Widow when ready to go using ‘burner’ comms.

Ram the counting house building, kill goons trying to stop said manoeuvre, escape, detonate device.

Dump evidence in an industrial incinerator after fleeing area in second vehicle, head back to Bad’n’Ruin.

 

Underground: Widow, Heath

Acquire mini-needlers (or pocket pistols) that can be brought through security.

Enter underground carrying disguise clothing, weapons, and scanner.

Disguise.

Wait around coffee shop until receiving signal.

Enter perfumery, pretend to shop, shoot Talban and goon when distracted.

Use scanner to check for hidden people and areas.

Escape along lines less watched by cameras, dump disguise.

Leave underground, head back to Bad’n’Ruin.

 

In terms of dice rolling, this was probably my best session, nothing under an average roll and a couple very high, including the one that sank the GM’s plan of making Widow shut up about blowing shit up. Or as he would put it, ‘rebalancing the options.’ I will need the same luck next session trying to execute the Underground part of the plan. I would much rather be the driver of the bomb car and send Pip below ground, but if some intrusion and comms tasks are involved then Widow is best.

With a few minutes to spare we kicked around ideas for the next campaign. Our GM tells us this season can be extended with an ‘after story’ that will link to the second season, but we will probably need something after the Christmas break.

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SH10: Entangled! Surplus heroes jump to moral dilemma!

Welcome back! Before the game, I speculated that there could be a zombie attack, a driving schedule test, or a sneak-past-Indians. As it turns out all three are on offer.

The Bad’n’Ruin ground team:

  • Pip: driver and pilot
  • BJ: wounded mechanic and engineer
  • Iceman: marksman and cook
  • Widow: tactician

The Bad’n’Ruin support team of NPCs:

  • Bex: merchant and banker (and power-point presenter)
  • Choi: computers
  • Rhonda: steward

The rescuees:

  • Tangle (Tarngal): troubled boy
  • Q4K (Que Vork): Tangle’s aunt, who brought him to hide on Rowsion II
  • Heath: Q4K’s uncle
  • Eskip: girl cousin of Q4K

The ground team and rescuees are travelling in a full-cab luxury air raft. When we re-join them, they are sheltering in an abandoned school grounds, in a barn.

Spelling: For Q4K, read Que Vork; for Tangle, read Tarngal; for Roysion, read Rowsion; for Bayvan, read Beyavin; for Nazmin read Nasemin.

 

 

News from above

Choi has good news and bad news. The shuttle will wait on the window I estimate – around 8-12 hours from dawn – but there’s a force of EMA troops getting closer. Our problem is getting past them. He signs out sounding meccha happy.

Iceman: there’s someone that’s getting some

Everyone’s been jammed in by me to hear this so don’t need no briefing. We work out watches – Heath, me, then Iceman – Pip is already back to sleep and BJ is still pretty sore.

 

 

 

The Juni-Jats

We get jumped by pack predators towards dawn, while Iceman’s working on grub and the kids, Pip, and Q4K are sleeping in the raft.

[A series of Alertness rolls are failed or borderline, owing to the heavy rain on the barn. Finally Widow makes a fair roll while leaning against the raft’s offside, nursing a coffee, towards dawn.]

 

Battle layout: Picture a no-window one-level barn big enough to hold three big vehicles, that’s about the size. doublewidebarnIt has no loft or skylight and no lights, so BJ’s IR goggles are passed from sentry to sentry. Looking in from the doors, our raft is sitting off to the left a little though with plenty of room for campers to sack out between it and the wall. It faces the doors for a fast getaway.

Edge: since she made the Alertness check the edge is with Widow.

Surprise round: A chugging, gurgling animal noise can be just picked out on the driver’s side of the air raft. Widow sets down the coffee, draws her pistol, and signals to Iceman. Iceman abandons his coffee/breakfast prep, and picks up his rifle.

Round 1: Widow lies down right (kicking Heath awake) so she faces around the raft’s corner, and lets fly with three rounds, then calls her position. All sleepers wake. A menacing roar comes from the general area Widow fired at. (Fort checks all round. Pip fails.)

Pip, who is lying across the front seats, starts up, bangs her head on the wheel and stuns herself. BJ wakes fully alert, grabs his SMG, and gets up: he can fire next round. Heath shifts to the raft’s front end, near where he was dozing. Iceman slides down the IR. He sees three creatures beyond the raft in the wider unoccupied half. Two of them are ‘sounding’ while the third is advancing. He calls its general bearing.

Round 2: Widow crabs back to her bedroll, and locates her torch. BJ empties the SMG’s mag with a D burst, in that direction, giving the advancing critter a fright. Iceman (making a great Alert check) works out these are jackal-like creatures, Juni-Jats. He opens up with a triple burst at one in a corner, scaring it.

Widow catches a movement from the opposite direction, turns her torch on, and lets fly at the critter. As it jinks past his position, Heath blasts it with his needler pistol: it staggers back out the doors.

Round 3: BJ opens the raft offside door, leans across to flip the lights on, and bangs heads with Pip. He still manages to get the lights on! The lights shine past gaps in the doors, picking out multiple eyes – there’s a whole mob of Juni-Jats out there!

An unwounded Juni-Jat leaps atop the raft, bellowing. (More Fort checks, but everyone with a weapon is still OK.)

Widow swings back around and pumps rounds into the critter, and it falls back. (A fine roll given the lay-off penalty and the first time in about seven sessions Widow actually did damage to something in combat.) Pip switches on and lofts the raft.

Round 4: BJ clambers in back, trying to reassure the kids. Iceman scans around: the critters seem to have retreated. Leaving his breakfast makings where they lie, he slides in the back as well, while Heath jumps into shotgun position. Widow grabs her shotgun, and rolls in as the raft shatters the doors and flies away.

[So much for the zombie attack! We are pretty conservative with ammo, and see no point in shooting at critters that are backing off. No XP for kills in this game!]

 

Driver fatigue

For a navy geezer Heath can sure shoot. He says it ain’t nothing. We take shifts in shotgun position, being so towards the eight-hour mark I’m ready to try a comms check. Up til then, Pip keeps driving with mighty few rest-stops. We kick around what course is going to be smoothest for a whiles over the map. I say to Pip, head south alongside the woodlands to Miiri, swing west round it, head south another hundred klicks, then due west.

Umar and Disclin Mining

The weather is just as shit as ever, only when we get down towards Miiri it starts hailing on top of everything else. [Pip makes three good Air Raft checks, confusing pilot skill with air raft, but they are still OK when AL spots the mistake.] It’s looking more like eight hours than 12, only early days since we ain’t hit no mountains yet.

Wide of Miiri, we see refugees heading out in columns and smoke off of burning vehicles. Miiri is pretty bad – I guess it got took out by another meteorite. Pip ain’t fully buying my plan for driving south then west, and swings south-west. We can’t see nothing past about 15 metres, sometimes 5 metres what with fog now. She allows as how she’s picked the right valley to head up, and how she got to get some shut-eye.

Widow: how ‘bout you BJ, you allows as how you can back Pip up on any shit

BJ (groans): uh, don’t reckon I said that ezackly, I ain’t feeling too good nohow

Widow: well I’m a great driver, I can take over

Iceman: optimism of the deluded

Widow: hey, that ravine I dropped the car into back there was a oncer, it ain’t gonna happen again

I drive as near west as I can, alongside slopes and over fence-lines. BJ’s kinda quiet and clutching the dash. Iceman’s muttering something in back. Only one not bothered is Pip, she’s sawing logs back there. I spin out once but get her back on track. I figure to make a pit-stop and set down.

I don’t hate my luck. I see people-shapes moving in the fog, haul out my slicker and hide my pistol under it. They hail us. I explain we are offworlders heading for high ground so’s we can wait for help to arrive, up off of the plains. They allow as how they are farm folk looking for help themselves, so I tell them about refugees down on the plains. I don’t know that they buy my story of why we are all heading away, but they don’t come no closer and drift on.

 

Sneak? Or Catapult?

I drive on, getting pretty nigh a real crash, and Pip wakes up on the last scrape. I hand over and take over shotgun, and get on the comms to Choi and Rhonda. They are down on the shuttle deck right now. Bad news, the EMA troops have the base fully surrounded. Rhonda gives me the co-ordinates and I take a proper bearing.

Widow: roger leave that with us… snugglebunny

Rhonda: seriously?!? (turns comms off)

I call a Chinese parliament and we kick around options for penetrating to the base. I favour infiltrating by getting close, grabbing a vehicle and just driving through pretending to be the EMA. Heath and Q4K will sound like locals if we need to talk. Pip favours boosting the raft high, like a catapult shot, and dropping down on the base. She allows as if she does it right, ain’t gonna be time for missiles to lock on. I figure if she turns off the drive, and freefalls down, IR targeting won’t work. She don’t say she can do that, but overall most want to try that based on not having to drag kids around so I go that way.

[AL has second thoughts after a poor roll and tries to jawbone the GM into believing that Pip wanted to fly much lower. Luckily the GM ignores this.]

Pip’s well up through the fog and rain when tracer zips up past us. Something slams into the raft’s belly and the thrust module cuts out.

Omnes: aiiaargh!!!

Pip: I planned this! I planned this! Brace!

[Pip’s raft skill (1 box) offsets the button of the AA cannon dice roll. This averts a fatal strike. Pip has a vehicle skill of 13. She rolls a terrible 5 to control the drop using the support module, and rolls a 12 to not disastrously crash: GM decides not to TPK]

I claw down into crash position, Pip slams the thing down any old how and I’m too shook up to move. [Athletics checks at -2: only Pip makes it!] Pip rolls out her side and I hear guards calling her to get her hands up. But they ain’t locals and then I hear Choi yelling, so we made it through to the base.Disclin

I check around on everyone [+9 check] and the kids are fine. We packed plenty of blankets and whatnot around them earlier on. Everyone else is mobile, so we check in with passport control and get our documents stamped. The outstation guards have kinda set up as default government here, cooperating with Disclin. They don’t seem bothered by whether we are toting weapons or not, so I carry both the shotguns aboard. The other guns are all local cartridge and ain’t much use elsewhere so we dump them.

 

It takes around 20 minutes to make the outstation. Bex is there to greet us and I give her a big hug. She done well by us.

 

Who saves a life, owes the life

Pip’s on bridge, BJ in med-bay, Iceman out giving his guns a strokin’, I’m squared off so check back around my passengers, and I find Q4K crying.Q4K_Tangle

Widow (uncomfortably): there, there…

Heath takes her, me and Bex aside and Iceman serves her a hot sweet tea. Heath allows as how Q4K reckons to have failed, seeing as how she’s headed back to Nazmin. Seems as how Tangle’s right mother was killed by her husband and he was a Jackal name of Talban. Q4K dragged the kid out of the gang and planned to get him a new life on Roysian.

Well, here we are and by picking her up it’s on me to do something. I take some responsibility. I got some clues about how to deal with a gang boss.

 

[I’m not sure how much the GM built this situation from my background for Widow. She has a street gang background herself, with cultural influences from crime syndicates such as Yakuza.]

 

Fellan

By the time we’re dropping out of jump to Fellan, BJ is fit and working on his drone again. Bex briefs us and allows as how spot prices for hull ore could be high, ‘less the Taran government set a cap on them. We all agree as how a low profile on Fellan will be best, and not to blab out about Q4K and her kin.

 

I give the all-clear [great sensors check] and Pip drops onto Dome City’s flamed-out pad yakking to her cousin Scopie the whiles. She briefs him pretty fully on Q4K and he allows as how he can lose any paper on the passengers. Looking around the Dome City port, I spot two Tukera ships, Reunion and Scalding Sun by name; an independent like us name of Buthnall; and a small Bayvan ship name of Tikmas. It gives me an idea.

 

While I percolate the idea round in my skull, I head back to engineering and ask the Choi-boy what he might be able to do in the way of talking to Jackals. Turns out it’s easier: he used to be a sho Jackal til his tias pulled him out and got him into straight studies. This means I don’t have to try making two sets of approaches.

My idea still sounds workable in my head, so I find Bex and run it by her, seeing as how she’s got to be the face man. She likes it. I allow as how these other crews, according to Scopie, are setting back waiting for news from Roysian. So if we give a presentation, with slides and whatnot, we can charge some sang’ cred for it. We work on the presentation a little, then I leave it with her and hit the town.

 

Fox around the henhouse

Pip and Scopie hit the Pillar about the same time, and their meal is interrupted by one of the local Jackals, kind of fox-face himself. Near as I can hear he asks about passengers, but Pip plays dumb like a good girl [the Jackal is indeed angling for information on what specifically happened to the Rowsion II passengers and whether we brought any back. Persuasion to bluff, makes 2 above] and he leaves.FellanJackals

I see him again at Bex’ presentation when he asks the same shit, and a few hours later when it so happens I got my needler rifle and am patrolling round the Bad’n’Ruin. Don’t get me wrong, the presentation went great! Only, with fox-face showing up, we allow to be ready for trouble. We brief the whole crew and Choi sings out what he told me. Then we stand duty. Foxy shows up with a posse of Jackal bros, tries to bluff his way on board and I stand him down. [Widow is lousy at bluffing about not having space but she is not bluffing about a face full of needle if he steps closer.]

 

To Nazmin

By this time the other four craft have taken off to Roysion. We’re serviced mighty prompt thanks to Scopie, and get aloft within a 24 hour turnaround. I call all clear, BJ buttons the engines down and Pip takes us up to jump. Nazmin and a month’s pay is next!

 

With a few minutes of time left in the session, players roll for stat or skill gains, to represent training during the jump-space downtime, but without success. I get within 1 of topping Widow’s Intrusion skill.

Ten episodes! No PC actually killed! Whoda thunk?

We got much further than the GM expected, thanks to choosing not-fighting options wherever possible. A good session though I didn’t enjoy the extensive section where our fate rested on the chance of dice. I lost track of how many air-raft rolls Pip made, but at least three for the swan-dive into Disclin’s port.

I like how everyone seems OK with taking moral responsibility for stray NPCs we saved. Even though there is no intrinsic motivation. It’s not like Q4K and Tangle are played as lovable or useful. In fact, they are ciphers. We know more about Heath than we do about Q4K.

An estimated two to three sessions left for this season. We next need to muster resources and wits for dealing with the Jackals of Altara City, come up with a plan and see it through. Stay tuned!

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SH9: Loyal for a night! Surplus heroes rescue bid!

Mission: the hunt for Q4K

A reminder of what the heck:

Undertaking what appears to be their first profitable trade run, the crew of the independent trader Bad’nRuin docks at the outstation above Rowsion II. The ‘ground’ team of BJ the engineer, Iceman the gunner, Pip the pilot, and Widow the sensors/comms escort their illegal cargo through customs, down via shuttle to Rogan City’s shuttle-port on Ranui Island, and out to the commune the cargo is bound for.

Then, much of the hemisphere is hammered by meteorites, leaving Ranui a devastated wilderness where only those on high ground survive.

The Bad’n’Ruin’s ‘home’ team of Bex the merchant, Rhonda the steward and Choi the tech are able to negotiate passage off the island from Disclin Mining. Disclin’s shuttle-port lies far south of where the ground team has taken shelter. Luckily, the ground team has found a luxury air-raft by which they can easily travel there.

But then a complication arises. Q4K, a passenger off the Bad’n’Ruin, begs for rescue. She, her nephew Tarngal and two others are trapped in Oomar. Widow compassionately agrees to help: and we rejoin the team as they prepare for rapid departure.

Spelling: For Umar, read Oomar; for Q4K, read Que Vork; and for Tangle, read Tarngal.

Ready, go

It ain’t no surprise that the others throw their selves to the job of getting the air-raft fitted out with all manner of food, warm blankets, spare clothes and such. We pack a few bottles of fancy water as well as grabbing gallon containers and refilling our canteens with clean. Iceman allows as how we have 12 person-days of ready food and 24 person-days of stored food. BJ rustles up a passable mech tool kit from the workshop downstairs.

There’s a few jokes about finishing the booze and making molotovs but by the time the air-raft is packed out, we figure we ain’t got time to do more than swing back to the truck, pick up the stuff left there, and head south. Iceman calls shotgun, me and BJ sit at ease in the back.

Pip launches the air raft low and fast – go figure – and it’s hard to believe we spent most of a morning getting to the estate as the truck comes into view through the driving rain in a few minutes. Leastways the rain ain’t so muddy no more. We pack the camp stove, the water purifier, and the tent that some fool left hanging. I throw in a few sets of webbing straps for good measure, then Pip points the nose south. We got us a fair step to go to Umar. After that, we have to get to the hidden Disclin base up in the mountains.

Umar and Disclin Mining

Q4K’s plight

Seeing as how the wind is hammering the air raft Pip keeps her low, but visibility ain’t good so the pace is a mite slower than could be. Navigation is easy, the GPS is still working fine. It’s time to link in to Q4K again.

Q4K: Bad’n’Ruin, Bad’n’Ruin!

Widow: Bad’n’Ruin check. We’re on our way. Give me details about your location

Q4K: we’re not right inside Umar, we’re in a commune west of it [describes general layout]

Widow: good, we plan to stop maybe 2 hours walk outside. We’ll need a, uh, place to hide the vehicle

Q4K’s Uncle: I can give you a good place [describes wooded park]

Widow: we’ll hide the transport and walk in over the bridge, pretending to be survivors. Don’t say nothing to no-one

Q4K: we won’t! Good luck!

Park’n’hide

We find the road into the park like the guy said, and sure enough there’s a nice turnout down and under some trees. It’s so sheltered I figure no need to camouflage the air raft.

Pip: I don’t like to just leave it, what if someone comes by

BJ (pops service panel, removes distributor): no problem

Pip: great! Hand me that…

BJ (after GM plants seed of suspicion): hmmmm, maybe I’ll just hang onto it

Widow: then, everyone remember we can’t afford to leave BJ on the battlefield

BJ: is that a thing she does?

Iceman: best not go there

Pip: you’re not married to her, so you’re pretty safe

Widow: stop jawing! First up, throw your slickers down and get them good and muddy. We look too clean for folk that been slogging for days.

Pip, BJ: mud fight!

Iceman (darkly): enjoying it way too much

Widow: let’s get up to the main road and walk. Four-man until we get to the bridge. Me and Iceman’ll be back say, 20 metres. Try to look like tired, hungry survivors

Equipment carried:

  • BJ (point): slicker, under which a SMG is concealed, one spare mag
  • Pip (to BJ’s left): slicker and concealed SMG, also has a sidearm hidden under the slicker
  • Iceman (support): slicker and automatic rifle, plenty of rounds for a short firefight
  • Widow (to Iceman’s right): slicker and shotgun, has police-issue armoured vest and a sidearm hidden under the slicker, and the camping 1st-aid kit

Peaceable like

By the time we see the bridge – which ain’t big and has the river pushing high against it – we can hear small-arms popping and cracking. A mix of rifles and shotguns, and maybe a few sidearms, I figure. I wave BJ and Pip forward, and signal them to get their SMGs out seeing as how we’re headed into fire. Pip crosses and tucks in behind BJ and they work along one side of the bridge while me and Iceman cover. They move off to cover – in the wrong sides – by a couple buildings, and we hustle along across the bridge too.

Near as I can tell, the commune is split by a stream that’s swolled up between two rises, each of which got a big structure on it. The stream joins the river maybe fifty or sixty metres upriver from our bridge, and in between the nearer rise and the river is a ramshackle vill that reminds me of my home favela, only a million percent wetter. Small roads or tracks that are now like streams run into the village off a kind of common ground in front of us, directly past the buildings Pip and BJ are at. I’m about to signal a search when Pip waves a signal for four oncoming. She moves to get a better position, they see her and hail her.

[In these situations, BJ normally pops his blade and we find ourselves in combat, but as it happened BJ and Pip crossed formation and Pip is closest. BJ stays reserve while Widow and Iceman close up on Pip. That leaves the option to talk, so that’s the way it plays out.]

 Shamlin: ho! Who goes there? Loyal, or rebel? Offworlders! What do ye here?

Widow: stand down, stand down! We’re survivors out of Umar, been trying to find food and shelter!

[A test is required after a brief conversation. Widow is trying to act girly and helpless and it doesn’t come naturally, but she makes +4 over Interaction and Shamlin buys it.]

Shamlin: you can find food and shelter up at the hall, but you’ll be expected to pitch in and help. Especially if you can shoot. I’ll take you up there.

The thin wet line

The nearest rise falls streamward to an earthworks or some such, that’s where the firing is coming from. Shamlin allows as how the New Dawners are forted up in the big store building on the other rise, and both sides are trading shots across the stream. Puzzle is what to do about shutting them down, seeing as how the footbridges over the stream are under a torrent, and the boats are way off over the river. He shows us into the hall and leaves.

We meet Lenin, the commander of this Loyalist posse of survivors.  He seems to swallow down my yarn, but he allows as how we need to show our worth first before we are given hot food and a bunk. Pip and Iceman grab a cold sandwich as I am pointed to a section of earthwork where we are to set up under command of a man named Lather.rainstorm_shack

The wind is blowing rain under my slicker so I keep my head down and hurry over – but Vixe! I forget those on the other side are really only fifty metres or so yonder and a bullet hurries me on the last few metres. Rookie mistake.

[We are moving by reference to a map. The map is laid out in 12m hexes, and the stream makes the opposite side look further away, rather as it does in real life. I was thinking of ‘effective range’ but of course a rifle has a very long maximum range. The GM rolls to hit and misses me.]

Down behind the earthworks I see the way they have it all rigged up, right smart work. They’ve pulled a bunch of vehicles into line and piled earth bags in them or just heaped earth up. It’s pretty solid cover and keeps folk from being drowned in a trench. There seems maybe four small squads hunkered down along the line, none spoiling for a fight.

No real arm done

I reckon Lather to be ex-civilian, though I can see a few uniforms of this or that police force along the line. Ammo seems tight, and Lather hands me the same line Lenin did: work for your keep. I act worried about civilians that might be flooded out in the vill, and he tells me yeah there are a few hiding out there.

BJ nearly collects a bullet as he joins me, and after a while Pip and Iceman scuttle in, sensible-like. Pip chats to the next squad down and learns nothing new. Since we agree we need to show earnest, Pip loopholes a section of earthworks for Iceman. He gives and returns fire. There’s a pause.

Iceman: everyone is waiting for the other side to fire

BJ: we need to wave something around

Pip: who’s wearing a helmet? Put one on a stick

BJ: aw, I’ll just wave my right hand up, they ain’t gonna hit it and anyhow it’s metal…

[Waves, GM rolls to hit, shot is excellent. Cover rolls is lousy, so the button takes effect. It is a 2: Floored: the bullet drills through the vehicle and earth and into BJ’s right ribs]

BJ (falling): Ungghh!

[BJ is Floored. DL was pissed at the GM for this. But he had made it clear – to those listening – that the earthwork was not hard cover. Moreover if you put yourself in a position to shoot, there is always a chance of being hit. I’ve left the hit as rolled, but a ricochet off BJ’s arm and down through his trap and ribs is just as plausible.]

Medevac

BJ flops over into the mud. I turn him so’s he won’t smother and compress the bleeding, then me and Iceman drag the big man up slope and into the hall. Iceman really totes that bale – I keep up OK.

[Widow is right by BJ and rolls on Corpsman/Doctor to check him. The GM rolls on Wounds and scores a 10, Serious. BJ is in danger of dying without proper medical attention, but can help people move him. Matching Frame to Frame, the GM determines that since both Iceman and Widow are just as solid as BJ we are not facing a penalty on Athletics. We combine Athletics rolls, getting a score of +12 above BJ’s Frame. Most of that came from Iceman with an 18.]

I help out the local doc, we swab out the wound, stitch him up and set him up on O-pos. I’ve swiped the gizmo for the air-raft off him by this time. He’s looking peaky but fit to move in an emergency. [BJ improves to ‘beat up’ which allows him to move, slowly.] Iceman’s back with Pip by this time, I don’t hear no fire-fight so figure they taken it easy.

Lather comes off shift and tells me we done good, which I know, and that they want an old geezer in the vill, ex-Impy Navy, name of Heath. Since I been acting concerned for those poor strays left hiding in the vill I turn that round and say we’ll search for him.

Contact

I take some time away from local ears and eyes and check in with Q4K on the time agreed. They are right fearful wondering where we are. I explain, and get their 20, which is midway along the vill near the river. She got Tangle, plus her Uncle, plus another kid. I agree a signal to let them know it’s us, borrow a torch from Lenin’s crowd and we head out. BJ will head slow and steady to the bridge end and wait.

We set up a simple triangle down the streaming roadway, Iceman point. Pip and me cross-cover each other as Iceman hustles from cover to cover ahead. We get outside the collection of huts and houses where the refugees are supposed to be, I whistle the signal, they whistle back. We meet them over river-side.survivors_rain

Q4K: are we glad to see you!

Widow: who we got here?

Q4K: this is my uncle…

Widow: ola, jiji, you wouldn’t be Heath now would you?

Heath: I am

Widow: Impy Navy huh, no use to anyone

Heath: I’m sorry?

Widow: just kidding, we’re Marines. Let’s head out

It was bound to happen

I get the same formation set, with Q4K tucked behind Iceman and the geezer and kids between me and Pip and we head for the bridge. Then we see a group headed our way.

[BJ waits in position and spots a fair-size group of loyalists through the rain and wind. He would like to alert the others by comm but we have been paranoid about that so he decides to move slowly after the group while trying various lines.]

Sledge: hi! You found Heath then!

Widow: you know it! Said we would! (whispers) Just play along!

Heath don’t hardly trust me, he raises a needler pistol and luckily, points it at the big moyss with the sledgehammer heading our way.

Loyalists_bunch

The loyalists

Battle layout: a fairly narrow and very wet street, with plenty of buildings and alleys on BJ’s right (the other characters’ left) and a few on his left – enough for some cover.

Edge: Pip is about to open up unexpectedly, at people that think we are on their side, so edge is with her.

Round 1: Pip opens up, initially stating she is ‘giving it everything’ which eventually reconciles to suppressive fire. Most of the loyalists take cover though the lead loyalist armed with a sledgehammer barrels on. None fall. Widow and Q4K grab a kid each (Widow scores well on Athletics but not well enough to keep the shotgun ready) and head right to cover. Heath misses Sledge and joins them. Iceman heads left but the wet street (and a lousy Athletics roll) cause him to slip and stagger ending a metre short.

Round 2: BJ, who has now limped close enough for SMG work, opens up with a D burst on one of the two he can see. The loyalist drops back into the shacks. Iceman is tempted to shoot laterally at Sledge but the GM successfully persuades him not to, because right by Sledge is Q4K and Tangle, cowering in a doorway. Widow ushers Q4K, Tangle and Heath past her and away off the street, snap-shoots the shotgun and misses. Sledge charges her, but she has kept in enough cover (scores 14 on Cover) to prevent the hammer making contact. Pip calls for the loyalists to withdraw as she empties the other half-mag; a couple do but two remain. Iceman and the nearest loyalist exchange shots at very close range, the loyalist backing off and Iceman getting to cover.

Round 3: BJ changes to his last mag and clips one with another D burst – though the man gets up and staggers off – while Widow backs off enough to allow the others and Heath to shoot Sledge. Heath manages to drop him, allowing the group to rally and flee.

Rest stop

Once we’re over the bridge and moving, I pass Pip the gizmo and she shucks her slicker and gun, and lights a shuck for the air-raft. We keep BJ stepping along, and make introductions again. The kid I pulled out the way is a girl, name of Eskip.

Pip picks us up in short time and we get everyone set and warm, and head south. But not due south. Pip allows as how the screaming wind is going to flip the air-raft if she gets out over open water, so as next best I make a call that we’ll head down the main road for a time, pick a gas station or such like and sack out there.

Sure enough, passing up the chance to get a down-home welcome from some other communes, we come by a school or such. abandoned_schoolThere’s a barn, a large one-level building, and some small shack in back. We get the air-raft stowed in the barn, and while the others wait and rest, Iceman and me scout the school. We find jack. The shack turns out to be an out-door shitter, so we call it safe, and fort up in the barn.

Another good session, though trying to visualise the conditions was hard. The mission is pleasantly sandboxy. We’re working to a restricted time and may need BJ to take shifts at the controls so that we can keep going. In theory we are well through a 12-hour drive but the conditions are so poor there could still be another eight hours of tricky navigation up through mountains.

Best roll of the night was from Pip, scoring a double-ought to spot the oncoming loyalist patrol when we entered the vill. There were quite a number of Alertness checks, most of which were made. And of course the fine Athletics tests for dragging BJ were a highlight. Though personally I enjoyed the ‘Widow tries to act girly’ thing the most.

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SH8: Luxurious Clue! Surplus heroes find a way out!

The NPC crew of the Bad’n’Ruin, currently up on the shuttle station above Rowsion II:

  • Bex – merchant and banker
  • Rhonda – steward
  • Choi – computers

The PC crew of the Bad’n’Ruin, currently trapped on Ranui Island:

  • BJ (DL) – point man and engineer
  • Pip (AL) – driver and pilot
  • Iceman (DB) – marksman and cook
  • Widow (AM) – tactician and burglar

The GM spreads out the maps he sent round so we can compare the before and after and get some thoughts going. In terms of the characters, the maps are sent through towards the end of BJ’s watch, which wakes us all up.

We move to roleplaying.

Spelling: for Jundi read Junidi

In a truck, barely

Widow: so, yeah, I like the idea of a raft if BJ thinks this [slapping truck canopy] can be fixed for it. You’ll need to come up with a list of materials so we can decide if it’s viable. But it’s the end of your watch so get some shuteye. Pip, I think you’re up ain’t you?

Pip: yeah, I won rock paper scissors and picked second watch remember?

Iceman: tell me again how I got dawn shift?

Pip: you can prep MREs so they don’t taste like MREs.

Come dawn or near enough we’re woken by Iceman rushing back to the truck from outside somewhere, at the same time the truck is hailed. Sticking my piece over the gate and sighting along it I see four or five moyss straggling in all anyhow.

[From his vantage point some distance uphill, Iceman makes a decision to scramble to the truck once he saw them, but not yell or fire. An excellent Athletics roll, and a good Alertness roll to overhear their wary discussion of the truck, and a second good Alertness roll to deduce a lack of armour, follow.]

They come in peaceable like. They’re all off a Councilwoman’s estate and are trekking upriver back to family. Mixie their leader allows as how they are all servants, and the estate is now empty. Reason they left is, fear of some faction or other hitting the place. We watch them go.

[OOC I point out that this proves we are not the murderhoboes last session may have implied, otherwise we would have shot them and stolen their supplies. If ‘not a sociopath’ is commendable, then I commend myself.]

From a height

Widow: belay breakfast Iceman, if we are on rations then it’s a meal a day. Just a sip of water each too. I’d like a look at the lay of the land, see what materials we’ve got to work with. BJ, work up that list of what we need. Iceman, wanna come with?

Iceman: ah-yuh

Iceman leads me back up past his picket point and onto high ground. We’re in light woodland with some hunting potential, plenty of timber for crappy raft-building. I can see a lot of the road has been washed out in the river flood, river_overflowand beyond, the river is still swollen high and whole trees are milling in it. A raft would be barely viable. Looking further east, we can see a turnoff roughly heading south off the road, that will be where the five servants came off. It will lead to the estate they allowed they came from. We head back.

Widow: how’d you do on the list BJ?

BJ [scratches, looks blank]: grmmph? I was mostly thinking about tools.

Widow: well get on it, we need to make a decision. So we need to forage, and we need water. I shoulda gotten onto that last night but I was pretty tired. BJ, rig a cape, and clothing to filter the mud, and get the canteens filling. And work on that list!

Into the woods

Pip: I wouldn’t mind hunting, we’ll need to supplement rations

Widow: do you know your way around this kind of country? I thought I’d guide Iceman, he’s best shot

Pip [slightly hurt]: how hard can it be? Scouts train for all sorts of terrain. And I’m a better shot than you

Iceman: well… OK I don’t mind guarding

BJ: I can rustle up some tools off this truck too

We each check a shotgun for loads and head up into the woods. We mark a herd of a local goat-like critter named Nunarope, but something niggles me and I index the thing, finding that it’s well known for toxic flesh syndrome.

[With +2 on the skill, Widow proves a lot better than Pip in Survival based hunting, as expected, and makes a 19 on Survival again to check the prey before shooting.]

We track on, closing on a big panther-like critter as I figure it has to be hunting something, and as it moves off we spot the game herd it was following. These are big horned beasts, too big to carry but we can carve some cuts off one. I close in – someplace back I lose Pip – and line one up, but the buckshot doesn’t do the job and they all run away.

[More fine Survival checks from Widow and inadequate checks from Pip. We are not permitted to average them, so Widow ends up alone. Her shot’s button dice is a 9, which does little more than scare.]

Up to the estate

Back at the truck we report failure. BJ’s got some tools, some belonging to the truck and some makeshift. But he declares they ain’t near enough to convert a truck top to a raft, and anyhow, it ain’t gonna be sturdy enough to stand off floating trees, nor to reach Rogan before sinking. The idea of the Councilwoman’s estate has been on my mind, and on Pip’s, and she pushes for it. We heat and eat, and march.

[The GM checks encumbrance and gear fairly carefully at this point. Keeping weapons in preference to things like the camp stove means no-one is super-encumbered but Widow is at -3 Athletics with backpack, med-kit and shotgun. Others are at -2 I believe.]

We walk downriver the short step to where Iceman and me saw the turnoff, and head up south into higher country. It’s a good sealed road so we make good time, keeping in formation [same as last episode] up to the estate wall and main gate.

Pip [Alertness]: look! The estate runs left, down the side of the slope

Widow [Alertness]: facing east… good feng shui. OK look sharp for a generator, antenna, landing pad. Let’s have a look at this lock… mmm pretty high tech…

[Some time and two Intrusion rolls later…]

Widow: say BJ, hand me that ballpeen you found in the truck…

[Finally a great Intrusion roll]

kano yarrrro!!!! [destroys lock-pad with numerous frenzied blows]

…OK all good, let’s climb over the wall now.

There’s an equipment shed up top near where we climb over into a fine white-pebble courtyard. Over yonder is a tilted statue. Iceman covers while we check the shed.

BJ: quad bikes!

Pip: I’ll check the tanks [taps fuel tanks] mmm… not much though we could pool what’s here into one

BJ: funny those five didn’t take them

Widow: couldn’t ride maybe

BJ: not much else here, I spotted an antenna on the house so that’s next

Iceman [calls]: I think I can see a landing pad or something like it down the bottom, too

In the lap of luxury

I guess the outer gate lock told me enough that I don’t find the house door lock no trouble. [+4 over Intrusion] It’s a big, smooth-floored chamber with a couple doors off the sides and big double doors up ahead. We drip our way in. Lights come on and warm air pumps down. I shed packs, slicker and clothes as I head to the double doors, push them open and find a huge entertaining space with maybe a view in good weather – leastways there’s a balcony – and plenty of exits.

luxury_loungeII

Widow: I call first shower

[Iceman’s paranoia is rising and infects BJ and Pip. They remain in the lobby, debating how to secure such a big place, or even forting up there.]

Widow [wanders back near-naked]: you found comms or kitchen yet?

Iceman: haven’t checked. We were thinking of pulling out and finding an LUP nearby

Widow: this is a senator or some such’s place right? You don’t get to sack out in this kind of place too often. Take the chance

I find an office off a side waiting room and sure enough, a good comms unit. I begin scanning for the Bad’n’Ruin call-sign. Meantime the others pretty much get the idea and Pip finds a kitchen and pantry off left-ish of the main room, and BJ hunts right-ish downstairs and finds showers, rooms and an air-raft hangar. Air_Raft_Variants Iceman just stands cold and wet under his slicker. I bring up the Bad’n’Ruin and Choi happens to be on duty. He rustles up the other two and I update them. They update me, and it’s hard news though not unexpected. I set up frequencies that we’ll get in touch by at set times.

BJ reports on the air raft, it’s top of the line Jundi work, practically unlimited range as it’s fully charged. It’s even full-body so if we had vacc suits – big if – we could take it up to orbit range. fullcabairraftI hear most of this in passing as I’m heading for where he says the showers are. Man that hot water feels great! Warmed by hidden air jets I search maybe half a dozen rooms for clothing. I pass up the chance to wear hippo-size silk in favour of things that fit me, so meet up with the others wearing boy-pants.

Smoke’m if ya got’m

While I’m servicing my autopistol, I see Iceman’s finally shed some gear and searched. He brings in three data slates. I ask him where’s the food, he gives me a look but heads out to the pantry. I stroll back to the waiting room, open a humidor and select a stogie, light up, head back to the entertainment room, flick on the sound system and wallow in luxury.

[There is a lot of cross-checking, each of the other three seeming not to trust the others’ judgement on security, air raft, food etc etc. I’m going to break out of sequence here. I’m also naming the huge entertainment area the ‘lounge’ from here on.]

BJ: after providing the general lay of the right- and downward wings and the fact of the air raft, BJ stands guard for a while, then fiddles with a slate that Widow hasn’t been able to unlock, without success. He showers and changes, and rejoins the group late for the meal.

Pip: after passing on what she found, Pip checks back over what BJ about the air raft. She finds a little more detail about its capabilities. Then she walks back up, showers, and joins in the meal.

Iceman: checking the desk, Iceman finds a handle or grip under it. He pulls on it while comically menacing the desk with his autopistol, but fails to notice any effect (3 on Alertness). More importantly he locates the desktop computer and three data slates that Widow later uses. He leaves the slates in the lounge and heads off to cook, scoring an excellent Steward roll.

Widow: mighty fine meal Iceman, you been holding out on us.

Pip: yeah if we knew you was this awesome we might not of hired Rhonda

Widow: maybe she can cover guns while you just steward

Iceman: over my dead body… check that, over your dead bodies

Checking the details

After sinking some nice booze to top off the meal, I get to work on the two slates I opened. The first is mostly media feed stores about the Councilwoman, but the second one looks more useful as it’s a diary. Doing some searches for ‘shuttle’ and such, I find a mention of Disclin Mining, and a couple names. Even so there ain’t none of what we need, an alternative shuttle port. Bex’ main point was that there ain’t no shuttle service out of Rogan now.

I set down at the desk, boot up the desktop, and look around for passwords. It is pretty routine, and I get in real quick. But it takes me a power of searching and cross-checking [Admin, only makes it] before I find those same names on a donation to the Councilwoman – with an address. I head back out and ask the three, who are pretty much sacked out in the lounge, to cross-check the address on the slates. Then I head down the hall and hit the best bed.

Meanwhile:

BJ: After the meal he rechecks Iceman’s search and locates the trap – the grip triggered a needle-spray from the front of the desk, peppering the wall. He checks the security of the whole estate and gets the basic idea of it. He heads back to the lounge, ignores Widow’s suggestion to search the slates, and sacks out on a sofa.

Pip: After the meal, she searches further downstairs and finds servants’ quarters, a generator room, and a security set-up. (Inadequate Tech roll to decide how it works) She decides not to push buttons to see what happens. She heads back to the lounge, ignores Widow’s suggestion to search the slates, and sacks out on a sofa.

Iceman: After the meal, he returns to the kitchen and loads portable preserves. It’s quite late by the time he finishes. He’s about to go to sleep in the lounge, when he decides to double-check Pip’s security report. He walks down to the security station, and like Pip, makes very little of the set-up. He’s about to push a button at random when BJ interrupts him.

BJ: iyo!

Iceman [guiltily]: nothing! uhh, hi, your watch is it?

BJ: you should get some shuteye, the ladies will want a good meal

Iceman: the who now?

BJ: har har!

Call to action

It’s a quiet time on my watch after my rostered call to the Bad’n’Ruin. I walk the corridors and rooms, feeling real good. I see the security set-up Pip mentioned downstairs by the generator room. After I rouse Iceman for his watch I let him know where I’ll be, set to and map out the security settings. I write them up idiot-proof, making a mental note to watch while an idiot actually tries to read it. Then I head up, loot the pantry for a few edibles, and set to an early meal.

After, I find out none of the others actually did look for the site of Disclin Mining. I set to the slates again and the media one gives me a base in the south of Ranui.

It’s right after that Bex comms in again. She’s been able to speak to some of the Disclin types upstairs, and has coordinates for me. She’s bought passage on their shuttle for us, and it will be expecting us in 2-3 days.

Widow: hope you ain’t peddled our asses for the next few years to get those seats Bex

Bex: do you want me to ask for a refund?

Widow: no, no, don’t take me wrong, I’m surely grateful

Q4K: breaker breaker, is this the Bad’n’Ruin?

Widow: breaker this is the Bad’n’Ruin, what’s your handle over?

Q4K: this is Q4K… can you help? We need to get out!

I get the details off of Q4K, it sounds pretty rough where she, her kid Tangle and two others are, a place called Umar south of here and on our way to the shuttle site. I head out to the lounge.

Widow: hooraw! Pack ‘em up and load the air raft! We move asap!

A session which seemed to race by. Sometimes a no-combat evening can be great fun. This was a ‘puzzle’ session, the principal one of course being the elements needed to locate the secret mountain shuttle base, or Hidden Fortress to use an indirect reference. (Bags me being the heroic daimyo!hidden_fortress_cast) I could see the GM’s face twitching in annoyance when the other three failed to search for the Disclin cross-reference and I deliberately signed out as being too tired to continue, but sometimes that’s roleplay. To his credit he didn’t just phone it in from Bex. I enjoyed luxuriating in character, the other three acted more like a visit to the Caves of Chaos by sacking out together on sofas. Plus the bizarre cross-checking of each other’s searching. I should also note that in a second roster check-in with the Bad’n’Ruin I learned that Rhonda is banging Choi.

Next session we are all packed and ready to air-raft to rescue the Princess (or at least, a young mother, a disturbed child and a couple mooks) so stay tuned!

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