Scenario 4: Fair Game

The Avalon departed from Nexine with a full cargo hold and headed for Palique. Despite the potential ramifications of having worked for Paliquan dissidents Julio decided to trust in the good impression he had made on his first trip there. The journey was uneventful and the ship made planetfall in good time. Captain Battalitor set to work contacting local brokers to shift his cargo while his crew went about prepping the Avalon for the next trip.

Alex decided to go looking for other, more diverting, work. In the course of trawling the underworld dives around the starport he spotted a man tailing him and tried to lose him. His pursuer was close and moved quickly to catch up. Drake almost drew his weapon and opened fire before recognising the man as Sergeant Victor Van Janson – an ex-army trooper who had worked closely with Drake on one of his extended counter-intelligence operations. Van Janson greeted Drake and warned him that one of Drake’s recent victims had hired him to kill him. The crazed zealot Pontifex Volenz had very accurate information as to Drake’s recent whereabouts and was anxious to deliver divine justice for the theft of one of his cult’s most sacred relics. Victor had decided to take the job in case it happened to be his old friend and couldn’t be sure if he was the only heavy entrusted with the mission as the Pontifex appeared to have deep pockets. Alex thanked Victor and said he would put in a good word with the Captain if he wished to hitch a ride with the Avalon. On hearing that the Avalon was captained by Julio Battalitor Victor was somewhat shocked. The two had worked together back on Cagaro during Vic’s mercenary days – indeed the Sergeant had been part of Battalitor’s security detail for a time. To find the Marquis reduced to captaining a tramp freighter operator was a surprise. He went to meet Battalitor and the good Captain, mindful of the large profits he was making, decided that an additional trustworthy security expert was just what the doctor ordered.

Alex had turned up a contact who claimed to have work for discreet operators with a jump-capable vessel. Julio took the reins and got in touch with Matthew Rexel. He was the CEO of Rexeltech – a company with a presence in several systems across the sub-sector specialising in planetary surveys. Rexel asked for a meeting as soon as possible and the crew obliged. He told them that one of his survey vessels the ‘Brook’ was over a week late in returning from a routine mission to the planet Sinai (one jump from Palique). The crew were there obtaining biological samples for a Biotech company. Rexel was very concerned as Captain Cole of the Brook was a personal friend of several years. Beyond that the vessel and equipment on the expedition represented over 200 MCr of Rexeltech assets. He asked Julio to jump to Sinai, find the brook and do what was necessary to get them home. He offered to cover costs and chip in 50,000 credits as a retainer with bonuses based on how much help the crew needed to render the Brook and how much of their cargo they recovered. Anxious to build a relationship with a wealthy businessman Julio accepted. The crew spent some time gathering information on Sinai and picking up necessary supplies – including a disarmed gun skiff – and they departed with all haste. Julio put his trades on hold to give the mission priority.

The jump to Sinai was text-book. Initial scans showed no sign of the Brook so Nelson took the Brook in to orbit around the planet. Al Barani picked up something on the planet’s surface that could well have been the Brook. Attempts were made to hail them but no reply was received. Further scans showed some short range encrypted messages originating from the area around the suspected Brook. Another attempt to hail was made. This time Alex mentioned that the Avalon had been sent by Rexeltech to assist and a reply was almost instantaneous.

Captain Jenson Cole confirmed the location of the Brook, said that they were having some trouble and offered landing co-ordinates so the Avalon could come down to assist. At this point the Avalon received another message from the surface (likely from a portable transceiver). A woman’s voice told them not to trust Captain Cole. The Brook jammed the signal straight away and Cole explained that the voice was Kate Anderson – formerly the Brook’s xenologist and science officer. Cole blamed her for the Brook’s current predicament and claimed that she was some kind of hippie saboteur who had tried to kill them all. He promised a fuller explanation once the Avalon landed. Despite some misgivings the decision was made to land and meet with the Captain.

The crew cautiously approached the Brook and found Cole and his team engaged in repairs. The Captain explained that the Brook had crash-landed over a week ago after suspected sabotage by Anderson. She had become uncooperative over the course of the week as the crew removed samples from Sinai and Cole suspects she is part of some extremist eco-terrorist group. In the course of the crash one crewmember was killed. Two of the captured samples escaped and both Anderson and the security chief – Zolo Rennick – went missing. Cole does not think that Zolo is working with Anderson but rather that he is having a mental breakdown due to post-traumatic stress from his time in the Star Marines. He supplied some recorded radio transmissions from Rennick which seemed to indicate he was taking care of a wounded marine comrade in a war-zone. He had been having bad nightmares over the previous week and seemed to snap when the brook crashed.

Cole outlined the help required of the team. He needed to recover Subject Five (a large reptile) and Subject Twelve (a plant). Rennick had to be found and recovered safely. Anderson took several critical jump drive parts with her when she fled and these had to be recovered. Once this was accomplished the repairs to the Brook could be completed and they could jump home.

Mission 1 – Finding Zolo Rennick

The decision was made to find Zolo Rennick first. Rashid attempted to get in radio contact using his knowledge of Star Marine codes and procedures. Rennick replied but was paranoid and delusional and refused to cooperate. He was not far away but had holed up in the thickest jungle on Sinai and would be tough to find. Though Rennick had already seen the Avalon land Warren suggested using the ship’s boat (an ex-navy vessel) to stage a fake extraction to see if Rennick would try to either reach them or hijack the boat.

Rasid, Alex and Warren concocted a message with extraction co-ordinates and the tried to contact Rennick again. This time they had more success and he replied. He said that his injured squad-mate could not move and needed a stretcher to reach the boat. He gave directions from the boat to his position and requested assistance. Vic, Alex and Rashid suited up and went in. The followed a stream up through the tick jungle for several minutes. It led to an old volcanic crater with a bubbling water lake at the bottom. As they approached Rennicks position they spotted several traps that Rennick had constructed. The fact that he had not warned them about the traps put them even more on alert.

Rashid was caught in a snare trap and almost triggered several grenades that had been attached to it. Vic spotted them and managed to disable the trap but Rennick took this opportunity to attack from his hidden position. He dropped a frag grenade between the pair and opened fire with his assault rifle. Rashid dived for cover but Vic trusted in his combat armour and tried to drop a stun grenade on Rennick’ position. It went wide but forced Rennick to fall back into his trench for cover. Victor and Rashid tried to flank the deranged marine while keeping him under suppressing fire. In the meantime Alex had crept up through the thick undergrowth and when Rennick popped up to fire was able to disable him with a well-aimed stunner shot. Nearby they located subject Twelve – an inoccuous looking plant – and began to speculate that the plant was using some kind of psionic or pheromonal control over the marine. The crew cuffed Rennick, put the specimen plant in a container and got the pair back to the boat before returning to the Brook.

Scenario 3: Scar Tissue

While Julio was wheeling and dealing on Nexine and Mulcahy was seeing to routine maintenance Rashid and Warren were at a loose end. They rapidly exhausted the local sights and decided to look for some gainful employment. They were spotted in a bar in the spaceport by Alex Drake who recognised them and approached the pair. They caught up and Drake offered them a part in a job he was working on. His contact was Wayne Gross, a Paliquan agitator and activist. He was a part of the peaceful democratic protest movement on Palique and needed experienced security personnel as bodyguards for an upcoming media event.

Sanda Renn, the leader-in-exile of the movement, had arrived on Nexine to speak in the forum about the abuses going on in Palique under the rule of the imposed Dualan colonial government. She had been severely burned in a protest march in the early days of the protest after police opened fired on marchers and despite her personal wealth had refused to get her horrific injuries cosmetically treated. This had catapulted her to the fore of the movement and her public speaking skills had raised the profile of the agitators across the sector. James Teller, a high-profile journalist was also on Nexine and had agreed to do an interview with Sanda after her speech in the forum. Sanda was in a safe house in Nexine and while the local authorities had no problem with her giving her speech Gross was fairly sure that Paliquan or Dualan intelligence and military assets were on planet and possibly planning to grab Renn once she made her public appearance. The job was to plan the journey to and from the forum, get Renn to the interview with Teller and then get her safely to the shuttle that would take her off-planet to a waiting free trader. Nelson picked up a tail while out picking up weapons for the job. He managed to lose him. Alex investigated the local Paliquan embassy and noted that additional soldiers had recently arrived in from off-world. Evidence pointed to some or all being part of a black ops team.

Alex and Rashid worked on an entry and exit strategy – with their black-ops and intelligence backgrounds this was familiar territory. They met with Renn and organised three cars on different routes to try to split up any tails. Once at the forum Nelson recognised his pursuer in the crowd. They moved Renn in by a different entrance and got her in position. Drake managed to disable the agent with a stunner and took his comms device. He used this to send erroneous messages to the agent’s handler to disrupt the Paliquan’s efforts. Renn made her speech and the team moved her out after picking up the journalist and left in a car bound for a second safe-house where the interview could be conducted. On the way Alex received a message on his stolen phone offering a financial incentive to sell out Renn. He did not respond and dumped the device.

Once at the safe-house the interview was concluded successfully and the team got Renn into the car to bring her to her shuttle. They picked up a tail on the way but managed to lose it with some fancy driving by Drake. They met with the shuttle and Renn got off-world. Shortly after a van full of Paliquan agents arrived. There was a tense standoff briefly before the agents realised their target was gone and let the team leave. Wayne Gross arranged payment and thanked all three for their efforts.

Scenario 2: A Friend in Need

Julio managed to secure a good deal on some high end electronics while on Palique. He decided to head to Nexine where he thought he might get a good price. Warren spent some time looking for an engineer for the Avalon and eventually settled on Master Chief Dan Mulcahy. He was easily the most skilled of the candidates though short on references. After the situation with the first set of passengers Julio decided to institute more stringent screening and rules for the next trip. This scared off most of the high-end passengers who valued their privacy. Loaded up, the ship set off for Nexine.

The jump to Nexine was far from spot on and the Avalon arrived well over a days travel from the planet. Within two hours of arriving they picked up another ship the free trader ‘Bold Endeavour’ on sensors. Battalitor was suspicious at finding another ship so far out and spoke to Captain Lyssa Karn the captain who claimed they had just jumped in and were bound for Nexine as well. After a few hours travel the noticed the Endeavour drifting off course Battalitor requested an explanation. Karn assured him that nothing was wrong but when the bridge crew analysed her course they spotted a small cargo pod that had previously been missed on their scans. It looked to have been jettisoned by a passing ship as there was no other debris. Julio decided to leave the Endeavour to her prize and continue on to Palique. Not long after this the Avalon received a distress call from Captain Kevin Rand of the far trader ‘Beowulf’ indicating that they were being pursued by pirates and requesting assistance. Sensors showed that the Beowulf was being pursued by an unnamed Corsair-class raider which had almost closed to gun range. The planetary navy was contacted but they were some hours away and would be of no immediate assistance. Despite some misgivings Battalitor ordered the passengers to their quarters and sounded battle stations.

The battle was over swiftly. The Corsair disabled the Beowulf’s manoeuvre drive with a well-aimed shot, leaving her drifting. As the pirates moved to swallow the smaller ship the Avalon opened fire with its beam laser. Battalitor was accurate and deft manoeuvring by the Nelson as well as timely deployment of the sandcasters by the Master Chief negated the Corsair’s energy salvoes. In the space of a few minutes the Avalon had inflicted significant damage on the lightly armoured Corsair and it jumped out without its prize. Captain Rand was very grateful and the Avalon docked with the Beowulf, enabling the crew to effect emergency repairs. When the planetary defence ships arrived they escorted the traders into port and reported that three corsairs had jumped in to system simultaneously and wrought havoc on shipping. Once on planet Julio was able to get a good price for his electronics and picked up some valuable robotics equipment for a fraction of its real cost. Things were going well.

Scenario 1: Now Open for Business

Scenario 1: Open For Business

Captain Julio Battalitor, Captain Warren Nelson and Colonel Rasheed Al Barani arrived on the fat trader ‘Argo’ at the spaceport on the planet Tartarus. They were there to arrange finance for the captain’s new ship ‘Avalon’ and to take possession of the vessel. Eric Vimm, an old free trader was the seller. Vimm had been a contact of Captain Battalitor’s for several years and was winding up his merchant fleet to set up a sizeable planetary brokerage. Warren and Rasheed inspected the Avalon and concluded that she was in need of some extensive work. Her maintenance history was a nightmare with all manner of bodge-jobs and inappropriate replacement parts. In addition the manoeuvring thrusters were less responsive than Nelson would have liked. The pair decided that the issues were fixable but prepared a detailed report on the likely costs involved for the captain’s benefit. They then spoke to Vimm and he gave Battalitor some useful information on the political situation in Tartarus. All four then proceeded to the Imperial bank in the spaceport. There the manager, Yvonne Beswick, approved the loan and repayment arrangements were put in place.

Julio hired Chandra Vale as ship’s steward and then proceeded to take on passengers and cargo for a voyage to Palique. On the journey the captain cultivated a contact in Ata Korvay, a Paliquan native with a starship modification facility at the starport. He also hinted that he might have ‘work’ for those interested and was open to the idea of trading services. Over the course of the voyage Fredrik Verner, a mercenary drank heavily and seemed extremely stressed. Things almost got nasty at the dinner table when he confronted Warren but the captain talked him around and violence was averted.

During a routine maintenance check Rasheed noticed that radiation levels were elevated and checked for a reactor leak. Once he was sure there was none he brought his findings to Julio and Warren and an investigation got underway. The source of the increased radiation was traced to the stateroom belonging to Branca Gerva, a Paliquan scientist. Battalitor spoke to her while Rashid and Nelson went into her room to search. The increased radiation was coming from a luggage case. The levels were high enough to cause long-term damage if exposure was continued and Gerva was showing signs of radiation poisoning already. Rashid constructed a container from rad-shielding patches and they placed the suspect package in this and placed it in the airlock. Under interrogation Gerva cracked and revealed that she was not who she claimed to be and was travelling under false identification. She was transporting radioactives for a resistance cell on Palique but had been told it was perfectly safe.

On coming out of jumpspace near Palique the captain contacted the port and asked to speak with the Palliquan spaceport liaison officer – William Gibbons. He explained the situation to Gibbons who instructed the Avalon to maintain her course. She was intercepted by a police cutter that docked and boarded her. After a preliminary inspection the cutter captain advised that the passengers and crew be evacuated to the police vessel. Captain Battalitor and crew opted to remain on board but the rest of the passengers were moved across. In the course of defrosting the low passage travellers one of them panicked at the sight of Paliquan law-enforcement and went for a gun. Nelson spotted him and managed to stop him from causing much harm with his stunner. The suspect package proved to be low grade radioactives rather than a functional device but would have been sufficient to create a dirty bomb devastating in Palique’s arcologies. On interrogation the low-berth passenger proved to be a resistance agent. Gibbons thanked Battalitor and warned him that subversive elements on Palique may not thank him once word of his actions spread. In recognition of his service to Palique he offered him the use of his broker and contacts for his stay. A decontamination team cleansed the ship and medical personnel examined passengers and crew before the Avalon landed at the spaceport.


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