SH2.25: Zoom! Surplus heroes on Zykoca! (insertion phase)

The surplus heroes:

Pip, pilot and back-up medic and engineer (AL)

Widow, comms, medic and ground tactician (AM)

BJ or Big Jim, engineering and melee (DL)

Iceman, steward and guns (DB)

Choi, tech and computers (GM)

Bex, partner and banker (GM)

The Bad’n’Ruin, a Kitty-class double-hop freighter


Current mission: Charter vessel to the interdicted planet Zykoca and act as bravos and tech grunts for Usher Stoll, slick Fociline-origin JTD official.


The Charter

Stoll come aboard after we done stowing the fancy air rafts and such. His two coat-holders take passage with him, so I pay them more mind. One’s Walker, a sharp, quick-looking type; the other Faber, a solid, well set-up type. Then a floating box-thing comes aboard, and Stoll allows as how it’s his secretary.

Usher Stoll takes a separate cabin with his robo-secretary, and Faber and Walker take one apiece. By this time BJ has re-programmed his pet drone, so it won’t shoot passengers.

Then a slew of deliveries bring food stores aboard and stow them in the galley. Including good Jundy Coffee. Pip and Bex and me we say ja na to the Café-Blast for the time being. Iceman acts like he don’t care but within the hour he’s cooking.


On Altara

Prior to this, Iceman’s general paranoia [same player as Morath and Birkby] has Widow agreeing to chip in on finding out any real underlying reason behind Stoll’s mission.

Iceman visits with Seddon, the oyabun (learning nothing); Widow takes the boring chore of viewing through feeds; and Pip heads off to drink and gamble with any Fociline contact she can find, and it turns out both Marty and Cole are the right contacts, so her mission is very cheap.

They provide the best source of information, but that is basically that Stoll could not have made his money all legit. They suspect the JTD is up to something connected with the massive fleet build program [see Widow’s comment last ep].

Widow’s research reveals very little more than what we already know. Stoll is very much in favor with the Junidi Trade Department (JTD), and poster-boy for outsider success in Junidi society. The only really new element is that under Junidi regulations Stoll is eligible to father dozens of children. Boringly, this means he is a sought-after sperm donor.

There is also a little bit of repair and gearing up to do in Altara as well, but not relevant to the mission. I’ll mention it if it does become so. Essentially, we refit.


In Jump

We aim to keep ourselves busy as usual, even with a one-hop like this. BJ’s spending every spare minute rebuilding the two broke drones into one good one; and Pip sticks by Bex to learn the paperwork side of the biz. Iceman finally admits he ain’t getting anywhere with sniper training so he joins me on the mat for workouts. I invite Faber, who I got an eye on for post-mission work, and Iceman invites Walker.


Faber has a mech arm, but since we sparring he dials it down. Got to say though if that shotgun round had tore my arm off that would be my pick. He some kind of military background, as you’d expect.

Over to Iceman’s mat, Walker way too fast for the old blue geezer.

‘Course, we ain’t just working out. As part of my duties I got to talk to Stoll, and Pip invites her own self. We drift the conversation around to overall purpose, but Stoll is a few streets of slick ahead of us.

[Interaction from Pip, who has the best chance – presumably contested by Stoll. The GM just tells us Stoll is happy to talk in general but always has a ready answer that doesn’t get to the nitty gritty of what the JTD is really after.]



We drop out over Zykoca OK and I get [good comms check] coordinates for landing pronto. They look familiar and sure enough it’s the same patch of hard pad we got our asses off of, couple years back. Some of the ATVs rolling around sure look like the cargo we were carrying back then, too.

A welcoming committee, military types, is there for Stoll. While they shaking hands all round I notice a lot of brass, and seems as how mustachios are in fashion. Figures.


As Stoll Faber and Walker head away to discuss business, we are welcomed by a Capitano, name of Zaier I find out later. He hands us all a large ‘guest badge’ to be worn at all times and invites us to relax. Iceman allows as how the badges are probably stacked with monitor chips and I guess he’s right. Don’t matter a damn to me nohow.

Ain’t much to enjoy, but we do our best with the local booze, which ain’t bad, for a few days. Local eateries are cheap, seems like Impy creds get good mileage here. But fiestaville it ain’t. So we about to gnaw off our own arms out of boredom by the times Stoll calls a bridge meeting five days later.


Mission parameters

Stoll: I have news. Negotiations are at the point where both sides are ready to make an agreement. However there are a few loose ends around getting biochem on-stream. Each side has agreed pro temps that compensation will be disbursed amongst its own people. Now, to specifics.

Platform 38 is a biochem facility that went off-line in the disturbances. Like all such, it is situate in a low area, using condensers to harvest valuable biochem.

The militia can’t confirm what happened. They are as eager to establish, or re-establish, the facility as I am. So on the one hand your mission is to go to Platform 38, bag up our own people, get enough of the facility working to permit a new team to run it; and on the other hand you are to work alongside the militia as a joint mission. Questions?

Widow: Are we gonna need an ATV? How big of a body-bag job is this?

Stoll: Oh no, an air raft should do, let’s see, there were seven in the facility:

  1. Platform chief Gordon
  2. Administrator, Mrs Gordon
  3. Engineer Ed Sanscel
  4. Deputy engineer Veris, a Taran
  5. Tech crew, an Anglic name of Fox
  6. and two locals, Vander and Goossen.

Widow: Other question is (looks around to see no-one nearby is local) are you expecting the militia to return from the co-mission?

Stoll: Oh, this is a genuine co-mission, no question. No, all good, hands across the galaxy, that sort of thing. Well, I assume gear will be something you’ll use your own expertise on, but do contact me if there are any other questions.


Zykoca – the science bit

Zykoca’s livable areas are small patches of green in the steep uplands where the atmosphere is relatively benign, and cool. The overwhelming majority of the surface, roughly everything below the tree line, is thick with a chemical mixture that is non-flammable but not friendly to human organs.

Zykocans have developed a body-covering and breather-mask system that is efficient for their own world, and visitors are advised to take advantage of this local expertise.


Mission prep

I get to see Capitan Zaier, and jaw over what the locals use in the lower reaches. We get fitted out with ugly but full-fitting body suits, and goggle-mask combis that ain’t got IR so not much chop. Iceman gets his HUD adapted so he can still use it.

I borrow a pressure tent, and we load up with Zykocan body bags and food and water. We load our own loadouts – Iceman bringing plenty of gauss rounds and me making sure all three spare SMGs are aboard and Pip adding her las-carbine – and roll out before 0600 the next morning.

The militia are there ready. They got them a bigger air raft, with a fixed-point MMG. They are only five strong: Zaier himself, an NCO, and three others. They look sharp and fit and not over-dressed.


Platform 38

Pip steers us down through the fertile belt and after we run through some kinda farming slopes we’re into cloud and wilderness where mossy plant-life is taking over. It heats up a notch each time we drop into lower cloud, and by the time she levels we’re sweating under the skin-tights.

It takes her 1.5 hours to make the Platform, not a huge rig, standing kind of like a three-legged humpy beast dipping a small head down to ground. It’s humped with different boxy structures for different purposes. Iceman signals onto where he seen a corpse, maybe 30 meters from the ‘head’ or ground-to-plant access stair. They ain’t no lights nor no sign of life.


Pip slides the air raft in where I point, part-sheltered where one of the big ‘feet’ are anchored. The militia park out nearby, and make for the corpse whilst we set to an open order and make a circuit, Iceman told off to concentrate on up.

He spots the emergency shutdown shed has a hole and beam-weapon burn marks. Which accounts for the no-lights no-power.

Opposite, at the elevated delivery point where big freighters would take aboard the biochem, he spots a manual entry hatch.

[Fair to +2 Alertness checks for Iceman who is specifically looking up for this kind of thing.]

Meanwhile Capitan Zaier allows as how they found six militia corpses all told. We join them and take a look. Weapons have been dropped in combat and allowed to rot, and the burn marks on the bones – which is about all they are given the months – tell me beam weapon fire. Pip frets as to how come they weren’t in cover and I tell her she over-thinking it. Not wanting to put the idea that off-worlders in the plant shot them by surprise, into our co-mission friends heads.


I agree with Zaier we take the manual entry and come to the main entry our own selves while they wait. Then Pip rafts us up around to that manual hatch and BJ takes a yard or two of time getting open the hatch Iceman spotted.

They ain’t no pressure and no change in atmosphere so we surely keep our full gear on. I flick on my cold light and BJ and me, we take right side of passage while Iceman sticks left, covering past us.

In the tech and living quarters assembly, we find two old corpses, Vander and Fox. Beam weapon killed them. I call stick with first things first, get the main hatch secure, so we head straight there, finding the remains of Mrs Gordon, then further along an unidentified Anglic.

The main hatch is shut and sealed, so it takes us a fair while to crank them open. Pip and El Capitan are ready outside, and Pip joins us.

Now we need some real engineering work done!


Called a little early but although it doesn’t read like it, there was a lot of GM text. BJ’s player was absent, so that was a good point to suspend operations, because next steps are going to need detailed work on the emergency shed; then power units and the life support unit. Plus being on the lookout for who or what the shooter was.


Our GM says there are maybe four more sessions left, then maybe one extra wrap session. Stay tuned!

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