Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Solo Traveller - Episode 23: A necessary side-trip

Lasperth/Foreven (2537 B469443-A Ni) / Date: 325-1106

"Don't look now," says Eshtam to Lt. Gytovo as they are walking into the commerce centre of the spaceport, "but we're being followed."

"Are you sure?" he asks.

"Positive. I noticed when we got to the terminal."

"Great. How many of them are there?"

"Just one, but he's big."

"What do we do? See any good ambush spots?"

Just then their pursuer starts shouting, "Sergeant? Sgt. Gytovo! It is you! Wait up!"

[Every week in port I have been rolling for a patron encounter (5+ on 1d6) per the CT encounter charts. The PCs head into port in pairs (and always leave at least 2 on board to watch Heldamin), so a second d6 determines who gets the encounter : 1-2 E&G, 3-4 I&O, 5-6 D&V.

The patron rolled is: marine officer.]

The man approaches, a warm smile upon his face. "Sgt. Gytovo, it's been a while. Where you been keeping yourself? Word is you got tapped by Darus for special duty."

"Yeah, something like that. And it's Lieutenant, now."

"I always said you were due to get your commission, 'specially after that raid over Woon. Congratulations, Lieutenant."

"Thanks, Captain. Eshtam, allow me to introduce an old shipmate of mine. Captain Betalar is CO of the ship's troops aboard the Dikiishgaamurga. What're you doing on Lasperth, Captain?"

"Same as you, I suppose: transporting mercs off Dimmul. I only hope your lot weren't such a handful. Ours nearly tried to take over the ship, and the Lasperthian government is all saying the Imperium is just trying to fob off criminals on 'em. I'm up to my eyeballs in red tape, and the authorities aren't making it any easier... and..."

"And?"

"Well, these mercenaries aren't the only problem."

"What's up?"

[Q: What is the patron's goal: stop / death.
Q: Is the mission related to the events on Dimmul? Likely (3+): O3 C2, Yes, and... PCs cannot decline.

Q: Who is the perpetrator (1d6)? 1 disgruntled mercs, 2 hired mercs, 3 criminals, 4 spy, 5 terrorist, 6 person or persons unknown

5=terrorist

Q: Who is the target? 1 returning mercs, 2 civilian population, 3 goverment, 4 starport, 5 imperial ship, 6 patron himself

5=imperial ship

Q: The Hekabe? 50/50 (4+): O1 C5, No. Rolling a random ship encounter = Lab ship]

"I been in and out of the port authority and the repatriation centre ever since we set down on Lasperrth," says Captain Betalar. "Then, [1d6=2] a couple days ago, I finally had an evening off duty. I picked some random bar that wasn't too crowded or two loud. The guy in the booth behind me musta not seen me come in, or thought that the music was a better screen than what it was, because he was blabbing away to someone on his commo, and I could eavesdrop without even trying. I could only hear his half of the conversaton, but it sounded dirty. So I listened in further, and fuck me if he wasn't planning to raid a ship, the Djehuti -- an IISS lab ship no less! The plan is for him and his associates to wait for the ship's pinnace to come into port for supplies, steal it to get aboard the ship, kill the crew and then release some sort of statement."

"The Djehuti?" asks Eshtam. "Are you sure?"

"Believe me, I got a definite confirmation."

"How?"

[Q: How does he know? violate / a representative]

"I followed him into the gents and beat it out of him."

"Did you tell the authorities?" asks the Lieutenant.

"They said they'll look into it, just as soon as he regains consciousness..."

"And you think we should deal with this in-house," says the Lieutenant.

"If you could. I don't know who else to ask. All my people have their hands full with the undesirable mercs, and I'm sort of not allowed to leave port. You know, until the assault charges are cleared..."

"what a coincidence," says Eshtam. "There just so happens to be a scout on the Djehuti that I gotta see."

[Quick mission setup:
Using the tables in Book 6, Lasperth is found to orbit a G V star (like Sol) and is in orbit 2. The lab ship is (1-2 closer, 3-6 farther; 5) farther out in(1d6+2=) orbit 5, around Ifchep, a minor planet in the system (Y402000-0 Ba Ic)

Q: Is a ship's boat available for charter on short notice? 50/50 (4+): 06 C2, Yes, and... ready & fuelled right now. Cost is cr30/hr (per CT rulebook)]

Eshtam goes to charter a ship's boat from the port and sends Lt. Gytovo to fetch Inty to pilot it. Not only is she a rated small craft pilot (Eshtam has read her dossier [ship's boat-1]), but having her along is good insurance that the Hekabe will still be in port when they return. Eshtam is pleased to find a ship's boat for hire sitting fully fuelled on launch pad 94.

Inty is less than pleased about being dragged away wihtout notice, but holds her tongue. Orneev goes with them to the launch pad to see her off, and help carry the vacc suits and weapons. He promises her that he'll fill the cargo with cheap, high-resale cargo whilst she's away. He watches from the platform as the external hatch closes, and blows a kiss through it just as Inty is about to disappear from sight. Inty does her best to smile and not ruin the moment.

And then they're underway.

It's a long trip out to Ifchep's orbit. Even at maximum (6G) acceleration, it will take about 36 hours. Inty doesn't know why they're going out to an uninhabited planet, and she's afraid to ask. All the guns they brought along are giving her a distinct case of indigestion.

Most of the trip is spent on auto pilot. They sleep in shifts so someone is always awake to monitor the instruments. Orneev sends occasional vid-messages to cheer up Inty, but she is too embarrassed to watch them when the others are awake. Mostly she tries to watch some of the musical films that Diula lent her, and wonders if perhaps she should see if the new doctor has better taste in entertainment when she gets back. Lt. Gytovo cleans the guns thoroughly, and does calisthenics in the cargo section. Eshtam is content to keep an eye on the instruments, or just gaze out the portholes at the stars.

[The party arrives (1d6): 1-2 early, 3-4 on time, 5-6 late
1=early]

When they are about 3 hours from their destination, Eshtam suggests that they eat something, in case things go poorly at the other end. "Right," she says afterwards, "let's get suited up so we don't have to rush." They don their vacc suits in a leisurely fashion, leaving the helmets off for the time being, but kept close to hand in case there is trouble. Before putting the gloves on, Lt. Gytovo starts fiddling with the weapons.

"What'cha doing?" asks Inty.

"Flipping back the trigger guards, so we can use them in our vacc suits," says the Lieutenant.

"Oh," she replies, a bit flustered. "I didn't know that was a thing."

"Pretty standard for spacers' weapons, just like oxygenated powder. I assumed you guys stocked your ship's locker on purpose."

"I, uh... no, we just got lucky."

"Want me to show you how to set your shotgun?"

"Please. You don't expect we'll need these, do you?"

"Hope not. But I'm not promising, mind. We're not exactly sure what's waiting for us around Ifchep."

"Yoru're not sure," thinks Inty. "What sort of mission is this, anyway?"

They travel for the better part of an hour, Eshtam watching over the sensors, Inty waiting to do some actual flying. "We've got to be on their scanners by now. Inty, cut the engines, turn this thing around so we can see in the direction we're going, and shut off everything but emergency power. Then start sending a signal GK."

Inty complies wordlessly, and hopes that no one can see her hands shaking over the controls.

The distress signal is repeated for more than five minutes. There is no response from the lab ship.

"I don't like this," says the Lieutenant.

"I'll try something a little more forward," says Eshtam as she switches on the communicator. "This is civilian transport 679-G-8 to vessel in orbit around Ifchep, we have an emergency. Please respond. This is civilian trans--"

A voice crackles over the comm, interrupting her in mid-sentence. "Civilian transport, please state the nature of the emergency."

"I think the power plant is shot. We just had a major systems failure, and we're running on backup.  Please, can we dock and get some assistance."

[reaction=6, unreceptive]

"Uh, negative, civilian transport. I'm afraid we can't take you aboard."

"Maybe you can send someone over to help us out then?"

[Q: Will they send an engineer to help? 50/50 (4+), O2 C0, No.]

"Sorry, civilian transport. We can't do that."

"Are you serious? Do you want us to die out here?"

[Q: Do they want them to die out here? I was uncertain what the odds should be, so I rolled 1d6=4, 50/50, making the odds 50/50 (4+): 06 C1, Yes, and...]

"You'll have to find help elsewhere. We're not letting anyone inside."

Inty looks a bit shocked at what she's just heard. Eshtam mutes the commo, then looks over at Lt. Gytovo. "You think they're in trouble, or just being pricks?"

"Dunno. They don't sound scared."

"Fine. I'm tipping our hand." She activates the commo again. "Right. Listen up, you arseholes. Your relief ship is a trap. It's being hijacked by terrorists and the port authority doesn't give a shit because they're sick of Imperials mucking about in their system. We came all the way out here to warn you."

"You have proof of this?"

"No, but can you afford to doubt us?"

There's a long silence over the communicator [new reaction roll=8, interested] "Well, what do you suggest we do? We sent the pinnace out on a supply run."

"Then I suggest you refuel & refresh in port. We can escort you back."

Another long pause, as they presumably talk it over [reaction=9, intrigued]. "Agreed. But no funny stuff. Keep at least 5km separation."

"Fine. But once we're in port I need to talk to one of you. We can discuss that on the ground."

"We'll see."

Eshtam shuts off the commo as Inty fires up the power plant. The lab ship breaks orbit around the icy planet, and Inty swings the ship's boat around to follow it.

"Lovely friends you've got there," says Inty. "You must go way back."

"Something must have spooked them," opines the Lieutenant. "Keep an eye on the sensors. And I suggest we stay suited until we're sure we're in the clear."

Whilst they are following the Djehuti back, Eshtam attempts to contact the Hekabe on a secure channel. She informs Sir Veev that they are on their way back, with an ETA of ~50 hours. He agrees to find Captain Betalar and meet the Imperial crew when they out in at the highport, and deliver the code phrase to find their contact.

[Both Eshtam and the terrorists need to make commo rolls; if she wins, they do not intercept her transmission. E: 10+1 vs. bad guy: 7+1, the transmission is secure.

With the way interplanetary flight works in Traveller (constant acceleration to mid-point, then constant deceleration to destination), determining whether or not the enemy pinnace heading out from the mainworld can catch the lab ship heading back towards it could require some rather hard maths. SO instead I'll just ask the Oracle--

Q: Do the bad guys catch up with the lab ship? 50/50 (4+): O6 C9, Yes.]

About 10 hours in, on Lt. Gytovo's watch, another small craft appears on the sensors: a 40t pinnace, of the standard design for a lab ship. The lieutenant wakes his two comrades, who were napping in the aft section. "We got company," he says. "Ship on the scopes, and I think it's trying to match trajectories."

2 comments:

  1. Uh huh, definitely not just economics for the Hekabe crew, is it? . . . please don't take too long to post the next episode.


    -- Jeff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not remotely.

      Next part is finally written up!

      Delete