Port Authority = SternMetal
Since I ever served in the Corps, I’m an early riser, but I ain’t used to no two-bells scramble no more and when the Port Authority comes a-calling I ain’t laying out no welcome chado. SternMetal mercs, they stomp around a little looking at what we already looked over.
Merc with rank badge: So anyone here tell me what the alarm raised was about?
Pip: Nope, Yep, Nope, Yep, Nope, Fair enough…
Merc: Care to provide a little more detail on that?
Pip and BJ explain. BJ includes the gimmick tech in his explanation, but doesn’t hand it over, explaining that it is in pieces in Engineering. Iceman heads off to his turret asap. Widow makes surly remarks about competence as she sucks down java, forcing an Interaction check (adequate) lest there be consequences.
Once they leave we have a bridge conference. Seems to all of us we ain’t just paranoid. I ask Choi if he can fit a sniffer to some sort of cleaning bot, and he allows as how we already have a bot like that, just needs a little cam fitted. That can patrol off our net so can’t be hoodooed. I ain’t seen no cleaning bot in my quarters, not that they dirty.
BJ Iceman and Pip all got today earmarked to blast the horizon, learning to shoot the three different long-arms. [BJ – laser rifle; Iceman – Gauss rifle; Pip- Needler rifle] That leaves me either covering the ship or shopping for that cam, which same I do.
Training for firearms is geared to spending money, as a fair way of demonstrating training time. Waste X number of rounds costing Y, you have trained enough. The trio head out the main air-lock, which is reached out of the dome, 90 degrees around from the docks exit. Training is uneventful, aside from Iceman complaining about how few rounds it leaves him – 13. It takes a half-day.
I have another run-through of the center’s pawnshops and find my last count was right – there are only three. For 200, I pick up a smallish cam I figure Choi can set to work on.
After lunch Pip tags along with me back to the pawnshop with the good vac suits. She allows as how the one I set aside is pretty fine, so I set to some bargaining, and dicker the guy down to 5k. [half-price with an Interaction roll +5] Pip gets excited about a couple others and after a yak on the vox with cousin Bex sets down for two, same price as mine.
Three vac suits, on top of our load-out, is a fair way to get jacked, so I look about me and hire a well set up loafer for 50, to tote the suits for us.
Dogging behind him I do note I got me a fine view. I ain’t sure as how I like his sassy grin but I aim to see if I can grind it off of him. Pip gets part way along with me then she’s hailed by Wells, the IPA agent from ‘way back.
Wells: Excuse me, Pip?
Pip: Oh! Agent Wells…
Wells: I wonder, would you have time for another coffee?
Widow (bawdily): Score! You go gata! (Low-fives, waves seeya with a clear conscience)
Aboard, Widow detains the loafer for some extra activities in her quarters. She is absent for the next three scenes.
Pip and Wells – not a tryst
Wells has heard of the break-in and it leads him to suggest that it is probably a gang of jackers that target less-defended ships here, selling them to any of the interdicted worlds within a double-jump. With only two IPA agents in the whole system, there’s not much he can do about it himself. He mentions getting a bounty crew together – like us. Pip offers to lead him aboard so he can put that to the crew.
Wells pitch takes place in the rec room. Present are Pip, Iceman, BJ, Bex, Choi. He explains that we will have to investigate (hearts sink) but there could be bounty (hearts rise).
Bex excuses them and moves to a hasty bridge conference. She explains that so far she has struck out with regards to cargo for Arramanx, the preferred next destination. If we don’t want to dead-jump, be on the lookout for chances at cargo – and if we can’t get cargo then bounty might do. But she will not go back to get involved in the sordid detail.
[Still detained as Widow, I listen with interest as the other three personalities have to talk over how deeply exposed they want to be. The GM chips in as Choi, to help clarify here and there. I wish I had taken more notes, but the gist is that Choi prompts the idea we might need some gear for snooping, the others are particularly concerned not to leave a ‘poison port’ we can’t return to.]
This gato’s name is Hamish, so he says. I set him by for later, slip on skivvies, and head out for a snack. Pip hears me in the galley and hollers, come on here.
They allow as how Agent Wells is offering bounty work rolling up the jackers. I grab me up someone’s jacket, zip it, and head on over to where they got Wells stashed in the rec room.
Widow: You offering bounties now?
Wells: I was thinking, 500 per diem… but perhaps 3k per head
Widow: Yeah I think a per-head bounty will work for us
Wells: I will need proof they are related to the jackers of course
Widow: Do we get badges?
Wells: No, but the Junidi Trade Department will look kindly on those assisting them
Widow: The JTD!! Well now! Let’s get some of this in writing… (looks around for someone that can put a report in order) Say now Choi, take this down and knock it into good order:
- The JTD will not hold against the Bad’n’Ruin crew any events on Pavanne Outstation
- The JTD will not hold against the Bad’n’Ruin crew any events on Heguz
- The JTD will not hold against the Bad’n’Ruin crew any events on Carsten
[Widow doesn’t bother throwing Lewis into this mix, it’s ‘this is this, that is that’ in her mind.]
Wells: I guess that will wash. So, I guess Pip will brief you all around my educated guess about the Port Authority. I look forward to a results-based investigation.
Widow’s Wee Plan
Iceman: Well howdy-do Mr. 500 per diem, where do I draw my money?
Pip: You maybe didn’t listen, Wells just settled on 3k per head, no advance
Iceman: Well F***! There goes my next buy on rounds for Lucille
BJ: Ah, I too did not pick that up
Pip: Too late now, Wells has gone
Choi: I guess she has some kind of plan
Widow: You think I go into this without some plan? Po! Listen up! I don’t aim to spend long getting to the jackers. We got to get your guy Pip and he tell us the jacker ring if we put him right… So Iceman, you hit brothels
Iceman: All right!!! Why?
Widow: You find a smart madam have a talking girl. Guy, he love to brag up to a whore. You get madam to play nice with us – be careful! BJ, you go along with that?
BJ: Huh? Naw… I’m OK
Widow (slightly shocked): Huh? Uhhh… OK then, Iceman, I got… mmm 125 creds left in my in-port allowance, I give you this for the visit
Pip: btw BW, couldn’t help noticing we still got a non-crew member in quarters
Widow: Name is Hamish, you maybe see him now an’ then while we’re in port
BJ: You know, we are being really careful about SECURITY right now… if he steps foot outside your quarters my drone’s gonna shoot him, just sayin’
Iceman heads to the center’s brothels and discovers one that meets his requirements. At this point the GM asks for an Interaction roll: -5 (dismal) so Iceman learns nothing and spends all the creds on a good shag. He reports back.
Widow is sad about the waste of 125 creds but sadder about the waste of an entire day. Now to explain the investigative situation to BJ! After carefully stepping out the plan again, and stressing how the deal with the madam is a deal therefore requiring merchant skills, he gets it and agrees to hit the center.
Widow has dinner with Hamish who turns out to be… a good conversationalist! Widow moves him way up her short-list of prospective husbands. She learns he is an ex-merchant helmsman and rates himself as being a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.
Next day, BJ heads in, follows much the same track as Iceman, but unlike him does not get distracted by bare bits. The madam, Tussi by name, proves willing to make a deal. [BJ’s Interaction is -1 as he broaches the subject of narking] Tussi sets the price at 500, conditional on keeping her out of things and keeping any ‘business’ away from the whorehouse. BJ pays, she names a particular Port Guard, Greg by name, and better than that, allows BJ to stick around so Greg can be directly identified.
Two hours later a black-haired, dark-eyed stocky Anglic/Taran type visits and picks his regular girl. BJ happily heads back to report.
Bring an air raft!
Widow outlines a plan to track Greg. Choi whips up a rather large obvious transponder – but it’s the best he can do. It seems that of all the crew Widow’s old street skills will be nearest to being clever enough to plant the bug. [It’s actually her full Intrusion proficiency but it seems realistic to attribute this to slightly rusty street-urchin skills] Choi, who’s no stranger to street-craft, helps out, and brings along Widow’s locator, now tuned to the bug. A quick distraction where Greg shoves Choi out of the way and the bug is planted on his SternMetal jacket [Widow just makes Intrusion]. Widow and Choi follow the beeper as Greg heads in-center, to the brothel, then out to the old fissure lying 180 degree across from the main airlock. Rally and bring weapons for taking someone alive! And Pip – fetch the air raft!
The GM reaches into his bag and pulls out Death-Spiral, rules for air action in Caseless
[In defense of Widow I did not ask for an air raft, I asked for a simple pallet-trolley or similar]
BJ slings his needler rifle but Iceman (no! you can’t bring Lucille! We need Greg alive!) brings an SMG. They jump aboard the air raft as Pip maneuvers it at ‘sane’ speed through the dock and into the dome.
[Pip makes -3 on Air Raft]
Pip: Dammit! I’m a bit… wedged
Ambush round: Widow walks towards Greg who is exiting the fissure, brings up her electro-knucks and attempts to punch Greg: but he is not off-guard and slides away from the blow. He fumbles for a handgun.
Round 1: Choi draws his piece. Widow follows up before Greg can level his pistol: this time the rabbit-punch connects and Greg drops. Choi hurries forward.
Round 2: Widow spots that Greg is still mobile, and repeats the action, this time on a prone target. This time Greg stops moving.
Pip: lessee, yep, just one more turn oughta do it… [rolls snake eyes] uh-oh
BJ: Umm, you are really wedged. And that crowd doesn’t look pleased
Iceman: I get off here, see ya pilgrims
Iceman walks over to help Widow and Choi, while BJ and Pip negotiate with a hostile neighborhood. After 500 creds they get enough help to get the air raft moving. By this time Widow turns up looking for a coat (to cover Greg) she jumps aboard and they load Greg up.
Greg and the big sleep
[Crew members that are remotely squeamish are told to not stick around]
I want information and I ain’t aiming to take days about it. Iceman and me, we have Greg zip-tied and bound down in the boat bay, and I get BJ to strip Greg naked with his blade. Greg whines and asks is he safe if he talks [Widow makes near her Interaction at this point, Iceman is providing a help and the set-up is helping so the GM decides the lie is believed] and I tell him he won’t be in no danger, so he names Dashman, a moyss what’s living deep in the fissure. Greg was a-blaming him for planting the bug, they argued and smashed it. Iceman drags Greg off to the iceboxes, I tell him he’ll be turned over later, then once he’s set I turn the life support off. That’s a mighty fine way of earning our first 3k. BJ tells me he vid the interrogation so that’s living proof Greg’s a bounty.
The fissure is what?
BJ volunteers to ask his contact madam about the fissure, funny how he’s warmed to the notion, and I get much the same picture from Hamish my own self, later. Seems as how the fissure is where the down-and-outs live in low-rent and no-rent holes, plus a few fugitives hole up there.
You don’t say
Collins: Is this Iceman?
Collins: We have an item come in stock you asked about
Iceman: Say what now?
Collins: Yes one of those particular things you said you are interested in
Iceman: Ah, now sad to say another offer has been in earlier, and that was all my funding
Collins: Oh well another time, pity, a nice Gauss pistol doesn’t turn up every day
[For reasons best known to himself Iceman does not share this item of news]
Widow’s Giant Plan
Widow now outlines a mad scheme that may both get Dashman, and make some money along the Pavanne Fugitives line to defray the cost of a dead jump to Arramanx. Most of the crew have a specific chore to do, except for Pip, who has neither admin nor merchant skill, nor is particularly persuasive, and has no special expertise in espionage. As a sop she is sent to keep an ear to the ground while not losing money, gambling. The jackers must spend their money, it is possible they spend it gambling.
For the ‘real’ part of the plan to work we need ID blanks, since Choi only has a couple dozen left. Iceman has learned how criminal networks work and is sent in-center to make discreet contact and signal that we will be wanting some. This is successful [not an awful Interaction and he gets his Criminal Contacts as a +3] so just needs money to proceed.
It may be worth noting that both Pip and Iceman ended up at the Aces and Eights gambling saloon to achieve their tasks. Pip learns only that the high rollers are typically miners, not anonymous space travelers with mysterious pasts. She gains a K in close-fought gambling.
Widow looks through the media feeds for clumsy, cheap ads that will suit the pitch she wants, learning (as an update) that JTD forces have now occupied Pavanne Outstation and promises to investigate certain back-records of some people. Wishing pain on Dubgee, who may have just lost a large investment, Widow identifies that the feed ads are all made by SternMetal anyway.
Widow then sends BJ (who has merchant skills) and Choi (good social skills) to visit SternMetal. They choose an ad style and Choi steps up to do the voiceover. It costs 500.
[Here our GM enjoys himself way too much. Suffice to say Choi makes a great off-the-cuff ad.]
An ancient airlock
Over the next day inquiries drift in. Those not hailing from the fissure are sidelined and those from the fissure are short-listed. BJ and Choi do the grunt work on this, using BJ’s Merchant skills [-3 under but it is not a high-pressure test so this is adequate] as base with Choi helping. Widow will interview the short-list and initially asks BJ to sit in, but he defers to Pip since two of the short-listed are women.
[Again worth noting: both Choi and Widow have a soft spot for a woman with a hard-luck story and desperately needing to get out. So it ties together smoothly.]
One of the women knows this Dashman though she ain’t with him. She allows as how he living right the end of the fissure hard up against an ancient air-lock, sounds like it maybe is a Scout lock they put in first thing before digging out the dome here. I kinda lick my lips on hearing this cause no way no old Scout lock gonna keep us out. And we got us some fine new vac suits.
We trim or fatten our loadout as case may be. I remind us our objective is take Dashman alive, anyone else in our way is to be put down. Iceman, you get to bring Lucille, I say, and he beams all over his face. I check over the survival bubble I bought after Roysion, it checks OK, and I pack it. After a little jawboning BJ agrees to tote the med-kit for me. That lets me tote my needler-rifle, giving us two non-lethal longarms. Pip and Iceman has both of them a mini-needler but Pip has a laser rifle and Iceman his Gauss rifle.
We slog across Dome like we going practice outside, and once out we climb over and round 180 degrees. Without more than a mite of searching we locate the old Scout lock. It’s live.
[Here I suspect the Scouts were supposed to track around to see who or what had been using it, but time is pressing as this is all going down in the final 25 minutes of the evening session]
I set up the same order as before since we going lock to lock, and after a couple minutes I get the outer lock open. BJ and me goes through, but in our vac suits that’s only gonna be us fitting. Signalling the others I pop the inner door [-2 Intrusion for outer door, +5 for inner] and we roll through.
Iceman and Pip are heading in the lock as BJ and me burst into some sort of living room, with a vid screen, a crappy couch and what have you, and a hung rug screen beyond. Then we get to it.
Surprise Round: Someone is shouting but the vac suits and the hung rug muffle the noise. Widow pops her helm; she and BJ kneel ready. An angry Dashman enters, protesting about expecting them to wait for him. Apparently he has confused the crew with someone else, probably jackers living outside. Both BJ and Widow spray a needler D burst at him. Widow’s is the more accurate, the burst being equivalent to a 2 button. Dashman dodges as best he can and retreats, calling on two names (Zeus and Apollo).
BJ: Zeus, Apollo? Hi, I’m Hermes, I bring a message, quick on the scene
Widow: And I’m Herpes, I get around
Round 1: BJ launches himself up in pursuit and through the curtain as Dashman staggers on, fumbling a gun out. Two drones appear. BJ lunges past them, [a 15 on Athletics] and closes. Iceman and Pip are now in the first room and can see the drones thanks to the rug being torn down by BJ’s passage. And the drones can see them. Widow hits the deck and stays there for the remainder – she has no weapon that will affect a drone! Iceman blasts one, the mighty Gauss-driven shot tearing the electronic guts out [button a 1] and it drops. Pip narrowly misses the other. It fires back but possibly too many choices to process causes it to miss.
Round 2: BJ is in close combat with Dashman who now has a mini-needler. BJ, mindful of the need to not kill his target, kludges him with his mech-arm, Dashman is knocked down by the heavy blow. But at the same time, Dashman shoots the big guy. Luckily the vac suit deflects the needle spray. Even more luckily, the laser shot from the surviving drone is also deflected: it has picked the target attacking its master as the priority! Iceman shoots the drone but merely knocks it askew for a second. Pip misses cold.
Round 3: Iceman jams Lucille. This time Pip does clip the drone, but it corrects and shoots BJ again. He tries to whip Dashman up and around as a shield but fails miserably [well under on Athletics]. The drone misses anyway!
Round 4: Iceman unjams Lucille and the jammed round is saved! Pip clips the drone again but again not enough to put it down. BJ now gets Dashman up and in front, putting the drone off to a secondary target – Pip! Luckily by this time Pip has stepped into partial cover and the wall takes the blast.
Round 5: Iceman hits the drone solidly [button is a 2] and the drone falls.
Round 6: Both Iceman and Pip nail the drone. Dashman is our prisoner!
In the next few rounds Dashman is eased into the survival bubble and exported to the surface. Mission accomplished!