SH1.13: 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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About andrewmclaren26

Weekly Roleplayer, Wargamer when I can
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