Saturday, 18 January 2014

Solo Traveller - Episode 12: Friends & Enemies (9Qs #3)

Uloryy/Foreven (3033 A877758-7) / Date: 210-1106Q3. What elements of the results of Q1a or b and Q2 suddenly get twisted together in
a surprising manner, increasing the danger to the heroic motivation?

[Be the GM first:
• Use the random idea generator to inspire a shocking plot twist that wholly or partially expresses a relationship between the threat encountered in Q1a or b and the unusual event experienced in Q2, alluding to greater dangers ahead.

Delay / Peace.

• Roll a d6 twice to express that twist in an encounter of: (3) revelation, (2) betrayal
• Choose or use the random idea generator to inspire the place where and when the encounter will occur: Syndicate pod.

Be the PCs next:
Use the heroes' abilities to respond to the twist as per their heroic motivation and the RPG's rules.
Be the GM once more:
Close the encounter by resolving NPC reactions to the heroes.]

The aftermath of the battle: All the soldiers have been incapacitated or killed. Starman Unamshiiguu is seriously wounded. Slinx is injured but mobile. The criminal's leader, Heni, is incapacitated, as is Palina, one of the thugs.

"So who set us up?" asks Sgt. Gytovo as he reloads his weapon. "I know it can't have been any of my guys, so it looks like you guys have a traitor in your midst."

"What do we do now?" says Sir Fenzies.

"We need to get out of here. Fast. You three," says the sergeant, pointing to Eshtam, Slinx and Bov, "sort the bodies and figure out who's going to make it. Me and his highness are going to have a little conference and find somewhere to hide out and stash the weapons."

"I've got a sort of artist's loft in a converted startown warehouse." says Sir Fenzies, "We could hide there."

"Is that where you were supposed to take the consignment?"


"It'll do, then."

Sir Fenzies has an expensive air/raft he imported from Mingiz. Slinx rides with him, with their injured compatriots (Heni, Palina and Unamshiiguu) in the back seat. Bov drives the weapon truck. Sgt. Gytovo rides shotgun, Eshtam crams into the middle of the front seat. Three prisoners (V, W, and Z) are put in the back seat of the cab and covered with a tarp. The air/raft leads; Bov has been given the address in case they get separated (he's never been there before).

[Q: Are there any problems on the way to the hideout? (Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No.
Q: Can Sir Fenzies call in a mob doctor to care for the wounded? (Very Likely | 9[d10]) Yes.
Q: Does (d6,2 =male) he agree that Eshtam and Bov can pick him up in order to not give away their location?  (50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes.
Q: Is anyone looking for the party in startown? (Very Likely | 4[d10]) No.]

It is soon apparent that Sir Fenzies' 'hideout' is more of a secret love-nest than anything else. Still, at least it seems to be a well-kept secret. The injured are unloaded and arranged on the plush sofas in the entertainment suite. The sergeant keeps a watch over them with Heni's silenced pistol, just in case. Sir Fenzies calls a doctor he knows to patch everyone up. The doctor agrees to be picked up from a restaurant ("you know," says Sir Fenzies," the one with the awful higlaten sauce") in another neighbourhood, so they don't have to give away the hideout location in case the comm is being tapped.

Eshtam and Bov go out to fetch the doctor, returning within the hour and without incident. They come back to the smell of Sir Fenzies and Slinx cooking up something in the kitchen, and sergeant Gytovo scowling as he listens to their prattle.

The doctor stabilises the wounded whilst everyone else eats. Sgt. Gytovo organises the watch schedule. In the morning of the next day he convinces the doctor to bring the prisoners round so he can question them.

Q: Does Sgt. Gytovo have Interrogation skill? (50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes. Interrogation/Doubletalk-1

Badgering ~(diff) 1d6 hours roll10+2

(Using the charts in Mercenary, I roll up: Medium Cadre mission Training (compensation B) 9 weeks
Merc unit: large(60 members), trait-bigotry, fame bonus +1soc, avg skill=marginal)

Q: How much does the merc know? (2d6=8, basic details)
Q: Why are the recruits fighting? Trust / A plan. They believe in their cause, and accept the designs of their leaders.

random roll of 6 nearest likely systems to find out destination of conspiracy: Dimmul (!)

Q: Are recruits from Dimmul? (Very Likely | 7[d10]) Yes.
Q: Are they part of a major conflict? (50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes.
Q: Is there any outside involvement? (Somewhat Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but... proxy war between 2 of Dimmul's major players.
Q: How far into the training are they? 2 weeks
Q: Are more shipments due in? (Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes.
Q: Small arms? (Likely | 8[d10]) Yes.
Q: Who set up the criminals? Organized Shadow lawyer.
Q: Does Sir Fenzies begin to suspect he isn't dealing with the crew of a free trader? (Likely | 8[d10]) Yes.
Q: What does he intend to do about this information? Block / Weather. Keep this from becoming a shitstorm.]

After many hours of interrogations, Sgt. Gytovo has gotten the broad details of the conspiracy out of the prisoners. Eshtam is a bit relieved to see that he did it through psychological interrogation techniques rather than just beating it out of them. Eshtam mostly listens in, but is more concerned with keeping an eye on the criminals. Bov is a reluctant nurse, but he thinks someone should to attend to Palina and Heni, who are doped up on medical slow drug. Slinx keeps watch over Starman Unamshiiguu, who is similarly medicated. Sir Fenzies has medicated himself recreationally, and is left to his drowsy euphoria. The doctor has been doing his best to keep the prisoners conscious for their grilling.

Sgt. Gytovo is conferring with Eshtam about their next move when Bov interrupts. "They don't pay me to figure stuff out," he says, "but it don't take no genius to see that you guys aren't just some bunch of merchants what got in over their heads."

"Where's this going?" asks Eshtam

"Look, I just wanna walk out of this without ending up in a jail or a coffin."

"The way I see it," says Sgt. Gytovo, "you guys have a traitor in your organisation, who's managed to use your smuggling contacts to bring in a load of weapons and wasn't too concerned about blowing you away in order to pick them up."

"This guy won't know anything," Eshtam interrupts, "I say we trade his cooperation now for letting him go when we make our move."

"This is on you if it backfires."

"We have bigger problems. I'm not here to play cops and robbers."


"Alright, Bov, you and your crew go free when we clear out. But I'm going to need your gun until then to prove your bona fides. And let me see Sir Fenzies' comm."

[Q: Is Sir Fenzies' personal comm way of a much higher TL and way better than it needs to be? (Likely | 7[d10]) Yes. TL(9+1d6)=13 - it can call the highport.]

Eshtam puts a call through to the Imperial Navy facilities located on Uloryy highport. Within four hours they have managed to contact the Dikiishgammurga, and set up a secure channel. She makes a full report.

[Q: What are the commander's orders? Abandon / A burden.]

Commander Darus decides that the mission, whilst somewhat successful, has also been compromised, and arranges for evac the following morning. Sgt. Gytovo grudgingly keeps his word, and allows Bov to drive off in the air/raft with his injured compatriots and the doctor just before dawn. An hour later, a pair of g-carriers arrive at the warehouse, full  of marines in battle dress. The party and their prisoners are transported back to the starport in one of the carriers, whose troops stay behind to guard the weapons shipment until it can be collected. The sergeant seems more taciturn than usual during the trip; Slinx quietly informs Eshtam that their escort aren't from the Dikiishgammurga; they're from the Bettina von Arnim, a 30000-ton battle rider, flagship of the Imperial defence fleet stationed at Uloryy.

"Ever been on a ship this big before?" asks Slinx as their pinnace approaches the enormous, weapon-laden cruiser.

"Just once," says Eshtam, "when I was a schoolgirl. Back when the Imperium was sending round an old Azhanti High Lightning class cruiser on a goodwill tour of Foreven and Seven Sisters before it was decommissioned. My class won a tour in some essay contest or something. First time I was ever in space, too."

Sergeant Gytovo speaks, almost for the first time since they were collected by the marines. "Somehow I can't picture you as ever having been a schoolgirl."

The following three days aboard the Bettina are filled with questions, briefings, debriefings, and interviews, both singularly and as a group, conducted by a variety of high-ranking naval officers. The prisoners are doubtlessly subjected to a similar, if slightly more pointed, programme.

On the morning of the fifth day aboard, a pair of Ensigns collect the party from their  breakfast, and march them into the Bettina's command centre. A large number of high-ranking officers are present, including the Commander Darus of the Dikiishgammurga and the Bettina's own Fleet Admiral Vemantir. Sergeant Gytovo and Slinx snap to attention immediately upon seeing her, and Unamshiiguu follows suit, as well as he is able.

"At ease, soldiers," says the Admiral. "I've sent for you all as I thought you might like to see the fruits of your labours. Please, have a seat."

Commander Darus explains, "It seems that certain elements have contracted a mercenary company to perform a 9-week cadre mission on Uloryy, right under everyone's noses. There's a lot of countryside and empty farmland to hide in here, and a sizable group of offworlders brought as seasonal labourers in via low passage hardly raised an eyebrow. The mercenaries were to shape them into a mechanised infantry battalion, then move the lot of them offworld in a bulk freighter to the theatre of operations on Dimmul. Once on Dimmul, the mercs were to have a second ticket waiting for them to assist the battalion in active duty.

"I won't bore you with a summation of the political situation on Dimmul nor the Imperium's official stance on it -- not yet anyway -- but suffice it to say that there is no side in any current conflict in the Dimmul system which has Imperial backing, nor can we allow inaction in this matter to appear to sanction it.

"We are therefore launching a full-scale ground action with fighter and ortillery support in order to neutralise the training camp. I see you bristling, Sergeant. Don't worry, you're not missing anything; the Dikiishgammurga is not one of the ships taking a direct part in this operation. She's still looking for our unidentified visitor, who may very well be wrapped up in this whole affair.

"Besides, you've already captured all their heavy weapons. We're sending such an overwhelming force against them that we don't expect there will be much action at all, just a quick surrender. Then our troops on the ground will stay to convert their camp into a POW compound and guard it whilst we await further orders from High Command. We've already dispatched fast couriers to inform them of the situation at the close of your mission, and sent word to... other interested parties. I'm afraid the four of you will need to remain on the Bettina until we have word from above."

The operation goes much as Commander Darus had hoped; the mercenaries and their charges are far too poorly equipped to think about taking on Imperial marines. Within four hours comes unconditional surrender, and within 72 hours the important prisoners have been identified and ferried up to the Bettina for questioning.

The party are given full use of the officers' club and recreational facilities, though the ship's crew are stand-offish and regard them with more than a little suspicion. Some of the senior officers smart at the idea of having to share their space with enlisted men and a civilian. Eshtam and Gytovo spend most of their free time alone in their respective quarters, Slinx and Unamshiiguu play a lot of cards. Some personal items and clean uniforms are brought over to them from their ship, and Eshtam's duffle bag is retrieved for her from the Galatea, though without her weapons. The Commander checks in on everyone from time to time, and quietly slips Eshtam some of the dossiers from interrogation sessions with the mercenary officers.

A week and a half plods slowly by. Finally there is buzz around the ship that some VIPs have come aboard. But the waiting continues. Finally, orders come through; there will be a briefing the next day at 1100 (ship time).

Two ensigns arrive at Eshtam's quarters at 1045 precisely. They salute in greeting, and one tersely explains they are to escort her to the war room. The journey is passed in silence.

Inside the war room, fourteen seats have been arranged around the table/holo-projector. Eshtam is ushered into the only empty seat, right next to Sgt. Gytovo wearing his full dress uniform.

There are six navy representatives, three of which are flag officers. Eshtam recognises Commander Darus and Fleet Admiral Vemantir; the rest are unknown to her. Three representatives of the IISS are present. Eshtam is almost surprised to see Special Executive Thurmond, her former SpecOps handler. She recognises the other two as members of his staff. Rounding out the group are a Imperial nobleman in ceremonial dress and two smartly-dressed assistants. Slinx and Unamshiiguu are nowhere to be seen. Amongst all the pressed uniforms and finery, Eshtam feels positively underdressed.

Commander Darus addresses the room. "Ladies, gentlemen, my lord, you've all been briefed on the situation here on Uloryy, and read the dossiers detailing the mission undertaken by Sergeant Gytovo and Ms. Dreejeh, and the intelligence gleaned therefrom. You are all, I believe, in agreement as to the next phase, so let me sum up the salient points for the benefit of our two operatives.

"There is an unknown agency at work within Imperial space, attempting to start another war on Dimmul. They have been moving soldiers and equipment within Imperial borders for some time, probably to keep off the radar of Dimmul's various factions. They can't intend to do this indefinitely, as their willingness to burn their bridges demonstrates.

"There are currently six hot wars -- five on the ground and one in space -- involving the mainworld, but these have been dragging on for some time now, and are mostly stalemates. The beginning of a new war, one with potentially massive outside involvement, will further destabilise the system and may start to spill over into neighbouring systems. The Imperium would prefer not to have an interstellar war right outside its borders, so it is imperative we trace this back to its source and eliminate the threat.

"You two have been chosen to continue on with this mission, in light of your recent exemplary success, and with your individual skills and service records in mind."

"If I may interrupt," says the Baron, "I would like to point out that there are certain... holes in Ms. Dreejeh's service record, especially at the tail end of it before her dismissal. Might I ask, just what is it in her service record that makes her so suitable for this assignment?"

Thurmond smiles across the table at the Baron. "Sorry, Trev, 'need to know' and all that."

"All indications," continues Commander Darus, "point to Dimmul itself, so that's where you'll be headed. The Dikiishgammurga will deliver you in-system. You'll be taken to the Imperial Embassy, disguised as relief troops for the security detail. I'll be disembarking with you, to stay at the embassy for the duration as the representative of Naval Intelligence. We'll be running this mission in tandem with the Ministry of Justice. The Baron's already got a controller in place on Dimmul. You'll be working with some of her agents on the ground. The IISS will be taking a somewhat less direct role, but Special Executive Thurmond assures me that he has couriers on standby in case normal diplomatic channels become compromised. Now, I believe it's time to turn this briefing over to the Ministry. Dr. Uikstra, you have the floor."

One of the baron's aides, a strangely ageless woman with hair pulled severely back into a bun, stands and activates the holo display. A globe representing Dimmul appears, hovering above the centre of the table. "Thanks, Mike," she begins, "Right, if everyone will please page down to section 1.2.15 of the dossier..."

* * *

After the briefing, Thurmond visits Eshtam in her quarters.

"So I guess this means I'm back in the IISS?" she asks.

"It's not that simple, Esh. You were one of my best operatives, but after that last mission you were giving off just a little too much heat. The mission was buried, but you still had to go. I never intended it to be for long, just enough so that things could die down a little. The detached duty office would have kept tabs on you, so I could call you back in when the time was right."

"Seems right to me."

"It isn't. Not... not really. Look, when Mike -- Commander Darus -- recognised your name, he knew you were one of mine. That's why he sent you in, in the first place. He knows better than to ask me questions I can't answer, and for old friendship's sake he probably won't go digging. But this is his show, make no mistake. Never you mind the Ministry of Justice posturing. This is strictly a military operation. He pulled me in as a courtesy.

"Fine. But what about the baron? He seems pretty keen to know my record. He's MoJ, and has got an Imperial Warrant... is he just being thorough, or is this about T'nan?"

"T'nan never happened. Get that through your head. And don't worry about any Imperial Warrants; the order to bury the mission came from pretty high up."

(adventure continues here)


  1. Oh oh, it seems that the Traveller game is taking a break. Hopefully you'll come back to it soon.

    -- Jeff

    1. Never fear, it isn't finished. I've just not gotten all my play notes polished up into something readable yet. I did hit a bit of an impasse with the climax of the adventure, but stepping back a little and playing something different seems to have made it more obvious which way to go with it.

      Glad you're enjoying it!