The Surplus Heroes
The Bad’n’Ruin: a double-hop Kitty (Keiten) class starship. Sports a good mix of cargo space and cabins, and generally no need to use iceboxes (Low Passage).
Bex (NPC): Pip’s ex-banker cousin, and merchant brain of the Bad’n’Ruin. Also hot, and good at gambling.
Big Jim/BJ the starship engineer, ex-scout with a cyborg arm. Late-30s, greasy tan skin, hefty and overweight. Prefers close combat ’cause he’s got a blade concealed in that arm.
Choi (NPC) the engineer’s mate and system tech. Early 20s, Taran urban scum background, has some useful criminal skills. Prefers no combat.
Iceman the ship’s gunner, ex-marine with weird blue-tinged hairless skin from being iceboxed for 15 years. Looks mid-30s. Hefty, likes guns a lot. Complains when ranged combat doesn’t happen.
Pip the ship’s pilot and ex-scout with a need for speed. Mid-30s but looking good, very dark hair and pale olive skin. Prefers no combat but very competent with a carbine.
Widow the ship’s sensors/comms, ex-marine lieutenant and still a reservist. Early 30s, urban scum of Japanese-Brazilian ancestry, hair shade varies. Prefers ranged combat, preferably on her terms.
Spelling: as usual for Bayvan read Beyavin, for Jundy read Junidi. All proper names are just spelled as Widow hears.
Glossary: Impie means Imperial Navy. Whippet and lupara are different names for sawn-off shotguns, normally trimmed right down to a pistol-grip and up to a foot of barrel. Icebox is cryo-sleep. Fugee is refugee, or in this case more likely “fugitive from the law.”
What to load?
Bex throws the question onto the table, what we going to bring to Heguz, happy land of Bayvans. Right off the launch I can think of ore what the Impies don’t need for their navy building on Altara, and we been got our faces rubbed in how there’s souls needing to get their selves off of Pavanne, so surely some’s got money for passage. Ain’t no-one got better ideas so that’s where it lays.
That last breeds talk of crazed muties wandering the Bad’n’Ruin and looking to eat us, so BJ and Choi (who must be watching even crazier vids than me to come up with such stuff) like to take on upping security, especially the doors.
So the rest of the tasks break down to Bex trying to sign on ore for Heguz out of the mining concerns like Obelindas, Ling, and Mora Metals. I tell her if she needs muscle to call on BJ, since Pip me and Iceman will be setting up the deal about fugees with Moes down in the GTRoadhouse.
The deal with Moes
I stand Pip a drink and sink a whiskey my ownself while we waiting for Moes. Iceman ain’t drinking. Moes and me set down and jaw the deal over. Like I thought, it sells itself. Moes can’t wait to get his end of the fugee money – 25%. We agree that mid passage will be 10k and low 2k. And by low, I’m talking icebox. We got plenty of bunkroom same as we took scientists and crew out to Lewis in, and can re-pack it as middle. The folks as got 2k will be desperate enough to icebox.
Moes allows as how we ought to have a vetting room. Back over my shoulder I can glimpse Iceman nodding his head and muttering ‘crazies with guns’ so I say show me what you got. Moes ain’t riding us for more creds, he just points us to a section of the level. We try a couple rooms and find one that’s big enough to hold the mob of fugees I’m visioning. Saying to Pip and Iceman we need a couple more, and Pip can be the airhead judge and Iceman the mean judge, which makes me the hot judge, I call our sitch through.
[Meanwhile with some rolls on Engineer or something similar, BJ and Choi re-work three key doors in the Bad’n’Ruin. BJ also activates his pet drone. We are now in a lot more danger.]
By nightspin we have a bridge meeting and Bex and all catch up on progress all round. BJ and Choi have handed round new swipe cards – yeah that wasn’t funny being locked out for a whiles – and Bex has some ore signed for, and will keep working. On my side, we won’t know what demand is like for a time. But the money is right if numbers get above say ten middle. We got plenty of MREs in the stores, since we knew we was carrying miners around from back on Altara.
Next dayspin we head out to our chosen interview room. I got to add, we still tooled up each time. The Natty Chipper merc guards don’t pay us no never-mind, which same turns out best for us, as you’ll hear later. Iceman still packing his laser rifle, I got my SMG and lupara for belly to belly work.
A group of three is our first customers. Man name of Faust, his goon name of Calvin, and his moll name of Shaz. He shows creds that cover full fare for him and one other. I look over at Shaz and reckon she expendable in Faust eyes. It’ll be her in the icebox. Too bad. They allow to wait around the Roadhouse for the word go.
[Meanwhile aboard the Bad’n’Ruin BJ and Choi rework three less significant doors. Bex gets some traction with Mora Metals and Ling Standard, two of the mining concerns.]
In the hindwatch we score a round half-dozen, four for mid, two for low. Taking their cue from Faust they just show us creds. All this means we can’t prepay Moes his cut, not that he saying we got to. Matter of fact we don’t see him till after it’s all done, but that’a keep for later.
Chumming the waters
At the bridge meeting, which same is routine in this stage, we catch up with Bex. She got ore from Mora Metals crating aboard, but is having not much pull with Obelindas. I push the thought of calling in a favor but she wants to save that for when it counts.
Tension’s rising on Pavanne outstation and word is out, and we get a tight four-man crew next. I walk round to the Roadhouse and drop word to Faust that he done right getting in first as places are filling fast. Also, we might move up our jump date. He’s happy with both and I allow to myself word is going to spread.
After the midwatch we get a pretty quick run, three mid three low. That brings us to 13 and 6, so Bex will be happy as a clam.
Moes goes missing
Then a media feed goes live that Moes has been kidnapped, feared dead. I walk round to the Roadhouse. It’s packed with rubberneckers, not to mention Bayvan mercs, but sure enough I do see one of his usu rubbing the back of his neck where he been sapped. I hear Watts is offering 4k reward for Moes’ return. I call out that Moes is a friend of mine and I’ll add 2k to the reward. That oughta give Moes a working chance of surviving Watts’ rescue. Some jackass says show me, I just say I’m off the Bad’n’Ruin and good for it.
With trouble shaping, I step aside to Faust and when we head back to the ship his party walks with us. The Natty Chipper mercs see nothing to get excited about, and we set Faust Calvin and Shaz to using showers and making comfortable in the galley and rec room.
The IPA calls
Next dayspin I keep an ear open for word of Moes, there being plenty of expeditions to this or that level looking for him, and move the other groups aboard in small parties. Then I get a vox from Marty. Him and Cole need to get out too, and want a meet. I give direction to my interview room, but send Iceman ahead to lay up opposite, with his rifle. Then I head over alone.
Cole does most of the talking and Marty stays lookout. They are the ones what took Moes, and beat the whereabouts of Sid out of him I guess. Cole gives me some tripe about another thing they got on Moes but I don’t pay that no-never mind. Now I got me a problem, but it’ll keep for when we out in black and deep. Anyways, I charge double-high for a good crew quarters, on condition they don’t get to ask about no-one they shipping with. That oughta protect Al Wrightman and any jib about Sid too.
A good idea brings help
Seeing’s how Marty and Cole are still in hobo rags, I vox Pip to buy some clothes – say, miner gear – from one of the lines. We sit tight.
[Iceman also sits tight, wishing something would happen; Pip has no Merchant skill so fares poorly with Ling Standard, then brings in BJ to help, and they buy the right type of sizes for double price. It works out to 2k. BJ pays out of his own stash, to be recompensed later. By one key concern – that the pilot not be left ashore – Pip returns to the Bad’n’Ruin and leaves BJ to go alone. Choi sees to unhooking the Bad’n’Ruin, in case of emergency departure.]
The big guy brings a disposable valise with the clothes in – lucky even Marty don’t need boots – and Pip ain’t with him. That works out pretty well, BJ being all tooled up with his two SMGs.
Earlier on, I spotted Bayvan mercs from Natty Chipper’s rivals massing up, so now I decide to head back away from the Roadhouse and set a file order. Iceman is to trail us, seeing’s how that system works out well in the circle layout of the levels here. We get jumped anyhow.
Party order: Widow (SMG), Cole (Autopistol), Marty (Autopistol), BJ (SMG).
Note: BJ’s Alertness is just as average as Widow’s. If it was better he would be point.
Note: Pip’s player is controlling four of the van ambushers.
Surprise round: Iceman spots (but at the same time) a pump-action shotgun-wielding ambusher in a cross-corridor. They fire at one another at close range, though not close combat range. Neither goes down, but Iceman is clipped and hunkers down. The Edge goes to the ambushers.
Round 1: At the van of the party, Cole comes under fire from two directions, but his armor (concealed under his miner’s clothes) holds. A pump-action shotgun blasts from Widow’s right but misses her. One of the rear ambushers charges BJ but fails to connect with a clubbed pistol.
Reply: BJ tries to scramble past his attacker to the dubious safety of the same cross-way the man came from, but can’t get clear of the man. Marty backs him up but fails to connect, and the four – Marty, BJ, pistoleer and pump-action – now form a melee, part blocking Iceman’s view from further back. At the van both Cole and Widow skedaddle sideways through a doorway and into cover.
Round 2: While the four-man melee struggles (impotently) one of the van ambushers decides to trim down the bounty-shares and opens up with his SMG on the whole group. This counts as area fire, not direct, so Pip’s player is disappointed because the dice roll is excellent. Everyone needs to save, and BJ fails: he is clipped and cowed and needs to get to cover. Marty gets the same result but he flees to a far doorway. One of the ambushers also get the same, and he too flees, along behind Marty. Then Iceman opens up on him, and he flees the opposite way!
Reply: Widow signals Cole to distract the Autorifle ambusher opposite with pistolfire. It doesn’t work, because when she steps sideways to hose the area she is fired on! Luckily the shots merely go into the solid wall next to her.
Round 3: The far group of ambushers now makes its presence more known. The SMG empties the remainder of his mag at Widow and Cole, with no result as they are in hard cover. Another with a pump-action gets himself ready. A leader type urges them on.
Reply: Widow looks around and locates a dirty bedroll that can be used as a bolster. She signals Cole to get his shirt off. BJ and Marty stop fleeing and BJ realizes he can get around from the side-alley he got to, behind the Autorifle. Iceman spotting the far SMG gets a clean strike and his laser smokes through the cheap armor, killing the man.
Round 4: BJ completes his maneuver and the Edge swings to the surplus heroes. He steps too close (close combat is his forté) and both the Autorifle and a pistoleer hidden there hear him and swing round. In the exchange of fire the Autorifle jams, and the pistoleer shoots his mate as he flees from BJ’s rather ineffectual burst.
Widow and Cole are now ready with a decoy. Marty has followed BJ’s lead and is close to that alley.
Reply: the pump-shotgunner beside the Leader has a clear sight on BJ and clips him; BJ leaps back around to where Marty is arriving. The pistoleer, undaunted by his Autorifle buddy fleeing, hunts BJ around the corner but is driven back by Marty who looses off a couple of rounds. The Leader begins to get impatient, edging out into Iceman’s line of fire.
Round 5: Widow’s decoy works: both the Leader and the pistoleer, opposite, notice movement from what looks like a man’s shoulder, and riddle the shirt and bedroll with holes. Iceman misses completely but Cole steps out of the doorway drawing his backup whippet, and blows the Leader away.
Reply: all remaining ambushers flee.
The ID is JTD
We got the field to ourselves, and seeing as how this is Pavanne outstation I allow we got privacy for some whiles. BJ Iceman and Cole see to their hurts while I toss the Leader’s body. I retrieve a nice body pistol, monoknife, ID, wallet and creds. The ID tells me he was Jundy with a JTD authority. Pretty much like I thought then.
The worst damage was to Cole’s shirt, which ain’t worth the wearing, so he borrows Marty’s jacket and we push on round and out to the Bad’n’Ruin.
Moes is still out there
Back aboard I see to getting the right intel off my two IPA buddies. Cash handed over they admit where Moes is stashed.
Right that minute, with JTD and who knows who else hunting us, I’m on the verge of just unlatching and jumping, only Bex points out we ain’t handed over Moes’ 25% yet. Ksss!
Widow’s notion of giri is idiosyncratic but she can’t go against it.
I hunt up the schema again and see as how Moes is on the 11th floor, a near walk away for us on the landing stage. No need to get complicated then! We – Iceman BJ and me – traipse back past the guards, liberate Moes, and hand over the 35.5k we owe now. Funny how that much creds soothes even an oyabun been tied up for a couple days.
We don’t stop to call in on Watts and ask for the reward, we just unlatch and jump.
My expectations for the session were totally wrong. I expected that we’d get to Heguz almost immediately, and be dealing with a whole different bureaucracy and easy-to-offend warrior caste. Instead we had a session of cargo-hunting. But it was fun, and really interesting how Widow’s relationship to Moes and Marty and Cole drove the decisions. Even against her self-interest, Widow has kept the IPA agents safe, and now her giri will require that she delivers them to Heguz, where they will be free to undermine her attempt to get to Sid the forger.
My fingerprints are all over this session since it was Widow’s ideas that generated the cargo and Widow is boss in things like ground action and dealing with Moes; and it was even Widow’s idea to buy miners’ clothes; so I’ve not related the dialogue here because it would be even more Widow-centric.
The dice stunk for just about everyone, up until Iceman got two good shots and Cole got one. BJ’s engineer rolls were OK too. Most satisfying roll of the night was Cole’s shot with the whippet, because no-one had used one effectively up until then. Pity it was an NPC, but yay! our NPC.
Next session, definitely involving space travel in the direction of Heguz, hopefully including Heguz. Stay tuned!