The Surplus Heroes
The Bad’n’Ruin: a double-hop Kitty (Keiten) class starship. Sports a good mix of cargo space and cabins.
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, blade concealed in it. Late-30s, greasy tan skin, hefty and overweight.
Choi (NPC) the engineer’s mate and system tech. Early 20s, Taran urban scum background, has some useful criminal skills.
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.
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.
Widow the ship’s sensors/comms, ex-marine lieutenant and still a reservist. Early 30s, urban scum of Japanese-Brazilian ancestry, hair shade (and length) varies.
Ship the passengers and cargo safely to Heguz, and obtain forward cargo for the next unknown destination
And find Sid the forger, to find out why the two logs of the Lewis expedition disagree in an unlikely way
[During the jump from Pavanne’s outstation to the Beyavin world Heguz, which is a full double-hop, most of the surplus heroes stay busy. Choi works on better-quality fake IDs for Faust and Co., Iceman is busy as cook, Bex stands in as steward, BJ ensures the security systems are working at all times, and also works on close combat training with Widow. Widow also ropes in Marty and Cole, who otherwise spend a lot of the jump squabbling. Cole, the Vargr half, sneakily interrogates her about the passengers during training, but she catches on eventually. Al Wainwright the fugitive shyster keeps himself locked away almost the whole time.]
We about to drop out near Heguz, so time to defrost. Pip, who’s been idling most of the days, chips in to help. I defrost Shaz [Faust’s mistress] first, and take real good care to get it right. She comes out fine [double-ought on Doctor] and the rest of the six follow on OK. Choi gives Shaz her new card for the new world a-waiting.
Over Heguz, I realize I ain’t been scanning the right frequencies [-4 on sensors&comms] and gone and missed some dragline we oughta have snagged. The starport seem pissed about it.
While Pip guides us in – gentle and legal I remind her since we started off on the wrong foot – I bring up media and have a quick look at the Heguz highlights.
Heguz relies on atmosphere in its various large craters. Dub Crater is the effective capital as it includes the starport and the Dub Sea, or large lake. Outside the craters, a respirator and full body cover are required for survival. Day cycles are 13 light to 13 dark hours.
The Beyavins of Heguz are a caste society, with un-caste at the bottom, Artisans and Strongarms next, and Bluffs at the top. The ‘best’ of the best Bluffs are the Overbluffs, who are equivalent to warlord-plutarchs. They are, by name: Dubgee, Arnal, Mixton, and Granan. Because each Overbluff sets up fief-style relationships with Strongarm clans, they wield enormous direct power.
Visitors are welcome (though expected to set up a relationship with a Bluff house, if long-term). It’s normal to eat out and enjoy bath-houses.
IPA’s Most Wanted
As I disembark our 19 passengers and head back to the rec room where Cole and Marty planned to stretch their legs, Pip voxes me that she got a call from the IPA rep here. He wants Cole and Marty held. Now I know that, I got to tell them.
Only they look at each other and Marty says:
Marty: if you just heard it, it’s gonna be too late by now
The agent, Rahlman, comes aboard with a brace of armed escort and dresses Marty and Cole down, loud, front and center, right there in front of us all. As I’m hearing them being torn a new one each, I get the idea they done bad by the agency. Seems as how they took leave to go chasing Sid on their own ticket. None of which gonna be reimbursed after the Scout Service zaps them back to Nasemin.
I bid them farewell, and I gotta say I’m that relieved I can’t make sad. Now they ain’t gonna be all over my case as I try to find Sid my ownself, and I ain’t gonna need to come up with all them half-truths.
Getting acquainted with local customs
Ashore – Bex and Choi staying aboard for now – an off-world Strongarm hands us buttons that ID us as tourists, and taxes the other three for the guns and blades on show. This is a daily charge: all to sudden Iceman decides to shuck his armor and BJ drops that and his gun back to the Bad’n’Ruin. Pip stick by her blade and pistol, can’t rightly say why ‘cept we been in some bad spots. Me, I’m kitted for R&R and got my hair extensions and a change of clothes in my purse. We all agreed with Bex we got to look for cargo and contacts to sell what we got; but it’s been a hell of a time since I had a man and I got my priorities.
The security woman at the port recommends the Lake View, so after we get off the elevator into breathable levels, and onto a transit into town, I vox back to Bex that’s where I’ll be heading. I boost the idea of a seafood dinner for all of us, but Iceman and BJ are looking for cheap booze and women so they split from me and Pip once we disembark.
Seems as how the brass-and-drum music in the elevator, same as repeated in the transit, is kind of typical. There’s a lot of it here.
Iceman and BJ: the transit has given them some directions to a source of skimpy-dressed waitresses, so they head that way. It turns out to be a bath-house, an impressive collection of buildings and awning-covered dining areas. And sure enough it has female wait staff in low-cut tops. They both eat the local food (rather spicy) then go for the bathing area. Different rates are on offer. BJ goes mid-passage, for the Strongarm baths, where he enjoys the sight of naked artisans squashed into a mass bath below him, then pays for ‘extras’. Iceman goes high-passage to the Bluff luxury bath which is private, and pays for ‘extras’. It all takes some hours but is satisfying.
Pip and Widow: take further transports down to the ‘coast’ and note a large complex, well-guarded, the compound of Dubgee himself no doubt. The Lake View boasts small rooms, with great lake views, and in-house bath, beach and gambling. Widow goes to the open, mixed nude baths while Pip heads for the gaming tables. Pip learns quite a lot about the local structures while dropping 200 creds. In particular Dubgee is said to have cornered the market on off-world talent, and is looking to expand into key markets. Widow cruises for action and picks up a younger man with stamina.
Now I got me some and feeling relaxed, I vox around trying to get the meal idea started again. Pip has found the bath-house so she taken a while by the time she catches up to me. But the seafood is good, if a mite spicy. We vox Bex and discuss this and that, and I tell her I ain’t forgotten about forward cargo. But it’ll keep till tomorrow, when she joins us.
[We strike a little player participation issue here. Although it’s pretty clear the starport is safe territory, the GM makes a point of saying ‘and this will be the first time the Bad’n’Ruin has no crew’. BJ and Iceman immediately decide not to go ashore until either Bex or Choi returns. So their players get minimal game time from here.]
Those plans of ours
Bex comes down for breakfast the very next day. Choi does too, though I never do see that kid until he’s back aboard easy-sleazy. Bex has that glint in her eye that means gambling chips, and heads for the gaming tables. She say she ain’t needing my help, nor yet Pip’s, so we aim to get some forward movement on the cargo issue, and I also aim to catch any drift of underlife that might point to Sid.
Pip: Heads directly to the Dubgee compound. It is well guarded, but open. She pays another daily fine for her weapons and admires the fountain, ostentatiously playing in the middle. [Poor Alertness check.] Over a fine Junidi coffee her escort-guard explains that her best option for trade is Dubgee, naturally. The compound houses all manner of skilled artisans in service to the Overbluff. He recommends her to discuss her cargo with a factor, and she makes an appointment to see him.
Widow: Wanders round the area with a view to speaking to Strongarms and getting to know about trade opportunities with their Bluffs that way. She hooks up with a Watchmaster and during their assignation, [with an OK Interaction check] she gains a good lead on the ‘perfume’ trade. It’s possible this will lead back to Nasemin [i.e Altara] rather than further in to Fociline. Widow gets back to Lake View to find Bex’s winnings are a little too high. Dragging her away from the table after handing round enough of Bex’s chips to pay for a hefty round of drinks, Widow minds Bex while she cashes up (‘Imperial creds!’) and voxes Pip to rally her for a new meeting. Pip calls them over to the compound.
Getting back on course… or not
It’s still bright day outside. The Dubgee compound, walls a-painted with those huge portraits of the man himself just like half the facilities in this here town, is mighty spacious. Got a whole fountain just running in the midst. Plenty of green around.
Just while we’re meeting Pip and Bex is complaining about being cut short on her winning streak, I catch a glimpse of Sid. [+1 on Alertness] Just a glimpse mind, and he’s wearing the local poncho and hat, but I’m pretty sure.
Pip’s gotten herself an appointment with a cargo factor, and we head in. Nice office. Seems Pip has sold herself as the captain, and Bex is a mite irritated when Pip sets her down as purser and super. She’s even more pissed when I drop the idea of getting to meet someone with skills in documents into the conversation. This is after Bex has sewed up the sale and has good prospects for forward cargo. Anyhow he agrees someone might be found as can see to my needs.
Bex [sputtering]: fsshgjhb!! What in hell were you thinking? I’m heading for a cargo deal and you… you basically say we are dodgy and need fake papers!
Widow [cold]: get a grip, bitch
Pip: don’t forget, you were running that ‘friend of the family’ line, seemed to work for you
Widow: thanks for reminding me gata… wasn’t seeing the need for it here but yeah, might use that again
A lead on Sid
I allow to get some more R&R in and book for the night once more. The beach is kind of short-ration but the scenery’s OK and after a whiles I dine. I ain’t rightly sure if Bex went back to the Bad’n’Ruin, but next day I find Iceman and BJ are back in town so seems like she went back sometime or other. By this time I had a chime and a meeting time.
BJ and Iceman: BJ decides to check out the Lake View after all since the idea of a seafood meal sounds pretty good. Iceman decides to do the whole luxury-brothel thing all over again.
So I meet a Bayvan, trader kind of Strongarm I guess, and run the ‘friend of the family’ line. He’s surprised, and I catch that Sid’s name is known to him. [Rocking Interaction check!] Seems he got the wrong end of the stick same as Bex did, but goes away to think and make some arrangements. Before he leaves he allows as how I ought to stay unarmed for any future meet.
Sid! Long time no see!
BJ Pip and me had a midday meal by the time he chimes back with an invite over to the Dubgee compound. I tell them about the unarmed thing and Pip is OK with this idea, seeing as how she’s now spending her third daily tax. BJ has a blade in his mech arm, of course. I can’t rightly think where to put my mini-needler but then think the Lake View must have security boxes and sure enough it does, so I leave the pistol.
[I managed to stop the GM in full scene shift mode and make this play on Widow’s concealed weapon, so kudos to me because that’s no easy task!]
At the compound I’m told it’s only me allowed to go in for this meet-up, so I nod BJ and Pip away. I’m given a full pat-down, so good thing I thought where to store the pistol. Sid’s there in an inner room and nods the security team I’m OK.
If you really want to know
I explain about the two mismatched logs.
Sid: the past is always changing! That don’t matter none! And the future changes all the time too! What’s important is the now!
And that past, people invest that much money and effort in, they going to react bad if you challenge it.
But yeah, I can tell you about that version of the past, if you dast know.
Widow: I dast – clue me in