At the start of our adventure, it was early evening on the ocean planet of Rambha. Bob and Pat were sleeping off the prior evenings excesses in their cabin, Hart and Henry were still not to be found, Capt Buckingham was lounging around the ship, basking in the glow of her evening’s conquests, Shylock was working the ‘tex, trying to drum up business, Mikki was making repairs and Gale was loitering about the ship. The young-and-overwhelmingly-smitten Mr Andrew von Stevens arrived in the early evening with a bouquet of flowers, a box of candy, and a rather attractive engagement ring. He stood at the entrance of the docks and awaited the attention of his hopefully- betrothed.
Capt Buckingham gathered up her beau and brought him aboard, enjoying his attentions without answering his suit, and he discretely sent for his things, under the assumption that she was taking him away from it all into the romantic adventure that is the Black. Concerned about the absence of Bob and Pat that evening, Shylock sent out a discrete query into the local ‘tex to see if they’d been picked up again and made two discoveries. The first was that they had not been picked up this evening, and the second was that, yesterday, when they were picked up, they were flagged as being guests of Rambhan Oceanic Industries Inc, and all charges were instantly dropped, with instructions to deposit them at the berth unharmed. Further discrete inquiries into this revealed that all members of the crew were similarly flagged and “all courtesies were to be shown to these guests”.
The following morning the crew was awakened to the raucous cacophony of Mikki re-installing the dorsal airlock, and the smell of coffee that indicated Hart had returned. Capt Buckingham wandered back into the infirmary to discover Hart had returned without Henry. She inquired as to Henry’s disposition and Hart replied, somewhat evasively, that Hart had “given him peace”. When pressed, he leveled his rather disconcerting gaze upon her and asked “Are you certain you wish to hear the truth?” When she replied to the affirmative, he explained rather directly that Hart had euthanized him, ending the conversation.
Later that day, crates of kelp began arriving and Gale secured in the cargo hold, with Mikki’s enthusiastic (if inept) assistance. With at least two more days of repairs ahead of them, Shylock searched for other cargo heading outbound and managed to fill the rest of the hold with fish provisions which, while they did not go for a lot of money, allowed the Break to fly with a full cargo load, helping defray operating costs and keep her in the Black for another trip.
The next several days were rather uneventful, with cargo arriving and being stored, Mikki doing her repairs, Shylock scouring the ‘tex for business in the area, and the Capt and her boytoy enjoying each other’s company. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Mikki completed her repairs the evening of the fourth day, and it was time for the Break to make for the Black. Unfortunately, Mr von Stevens did not wish to leave and wanted to remain with the Capt forever. It took the coaxing of the Capt and the firm presence of both Gale and Hart to gather the young man and his possessions and deposit them on the tarmac, broken and dejected, gazing up at the departing ship with heartbroken tears in his eyes.
The journey to Angel was short and uneventful, albeit the arrival was somewhat disconcerting as there were two massive Alliance cruisers orbiting the planet. While a rather populated planet, Angel is not the site of a large Alliance installation, so while a single cruiser passing through on patrol is not that noteworthy, one being on station, much less two, is certainly cause for speculation. During their stay, the crew noticed an inordinate number of Alliance personnel on planet, in and out of uniform, and quite a bit of Alliance security, unusual for a planet on the Rim.
The moment the ship touched down, a pair of “corporate” gentlemen, along with their stevedores, arrived to relieve the ship of the crates of kelp. They were conspicuously military in their bearing but put forth the intended impression that they were corporate “worker bees”, out and about on their corporation’s business interests. The transaction took place expeditiously and without issue.
Upon landing, Bob and Pat took their tearful goodbyes and thanked the crew for an eventful (and profitable) journey. Shylock made a few discrete calls to local “associates” to make sure that, if Bob and Pat were going to be as wasteful with their share of the Reaver cash on Angel as they were on Rambha, he could at least make sure the money fell into the right hands, in exchange for considerations to be discussed at a future time.
Shylock was able to locate both cargo and passengers outbound to Aberdeen, but because of the size of the planets involved (highly populated on both ends), the profit margins were a bit scarce, however it was a full load, so it covered fuel and maintenance and moved them across the Black. The only oddity among the passengers was a young Shepherd. Shepherds, by their nature, tend to be social and open, and this one was no exception…until he came aboard. In the presence of Hart, he was quiet and subdued, deferring to the older man in all cases. Hart always gives Lauds every morning with breakfast, and the young Shepherd attended each, quietly, and when Hart was not present the younger man was sociable and engaging. Other than this oddity, the journey to Aberdeen was uneventful, and there was no alliance presence above the world.
Before arriving, Shylock began scanning the local ‘tex, looking for cargo and passengers and immediately came up with three “off this rock” class passengers, with no formal destinations listed other than “not here”. Once the Break had touched down, there was a flurry of activity as cargo and passengers were unloaded. Hart debarked the ship, duffle back over his shoulder, without a word. When asked by the Capt if he was returning, he indicated he’d return in two days when she said the ship would be leaving again, and continued on his way.
Standing near the docking ring were two gentlemen: a weather-beaten man named Horace Chan and a rather sharply dressed gentleman named Marcus Snively. While Gale and Nikki (in her role as apprentice stevedore) supervised the unloading of all the cargo, Shylock stepped up and introduce himself. Marcus explained that he was one of the “anyone but here” passengers that were seeking passage, and after a quick negotiation on fare was escorted to his cabin where he availed himself of the hospitality of the common room, making himself quite at home. Horace then explained that he was a seeking to do some business with the Break, so Shylock led him up to the ship’s common room, where they could negotiate over coffee and lunch.
Mr Chan had fallen upon hard luck. He was losing his ranch and was about to lose his 50 head of appaloosa horses as well if he couldn’t sell them. He’d negotiated a contract with a Mr Solomon Buckhalter in New Odessa City on Salisbury to buy them for 2500 credits each, but he no longer had the means to move them there himself, and if he couldn’t get the horses there in eight days, the contract was void, he’d be stuck with them, and then lose them with the ranch. He insisted they were good horses and asked the crew to buy them for 1000 credits each and would sign the contract over to the crew to carry them to Salisbury and collect 2500 each for them upon delivery. Shylock said he’d investigate the horses and talk to his Captain, and contact him in the next business day.
Shylock found a reputable veterinarian and went out to check on the horses. The vet went over them as best as he could (for a moderate fee) and pronounced them hale, barring things that would only show up on blood screens. Once back on the ship, Shylock explained the horse cargo opportunity and both he and the Capt went over the contract, determining it was indeed valid and legal. With everything on the up and up, the crew agreed to take on the cargo and Shylock found three more passengers interested in flying to Salisbury, filling out the passenger complement.
The following day, Shylock notified Horace that they would indeed take his horses and he and Mikki went out onto Angel to purchase the remaining parts to finish the repairs on the ship as well as supplies for the horses. Parts were found for the remaining repairs, as well as a Mule and a Cat (wheeled vehicle) and arrangements were made for the supplies to be delivered that afternoon along with the horses.
Returning to the ship, Gale and Mikki supervised the construction of the temporary pens the horses would be in while on the ship, stacked the hay and feed as it arrived, and then Gale retired to the bridge when the horses arrived, sneezing the entire way.
That evening, the remaining passengers arrived. Nicky (Nix) Tanner, a young up-and-coming harlot negotiated her lodging and fare personally with Shylock and seemed to have earned a discount. Ruben Laski, a surly mercenary-type who spoke little and didn’t haggle over his fare. Jason Rushmore, a self-proclaimed gambler and scoundrel who felt he’d seen all there was to see on Angel and was looking for a little adventure. Hugh Fletcher and Sam Kilborne, ranch hands who were moving to Salisbury, seeking employment. They settled into their cabins without issue, Nix choosing Shylocks to stay in…to save money.
The following morning, the crew awoke to the smell of coffee (indicating Hart had returned) and the pounding of tools on metal (indicating Mikki had started her repairs). Jason and Marcus were enjoying each other’s company (and the breakfast fare) in the common room as Hart quietly said his Lauds to himself (neither gambler showing interest in any religiousity). Mikki was working diligently to complete the repairs that day while the ranch hands helped settle the horses in. Concerned with her health and well being, Shylock took Nix to see Hart in the infirmary, asking that he perform the “standard passenger health screening” on her. Having a bit of a weak stomach, he adjourned from the proceedings but Hart asked the captain to supervise the procedure, for propriety’s sake. Nix passed the procedure with flying colors, indicating her playful affection for everyone, including the captain herself, and made more than one not-so- subtle offer to her, should she be interested.
With the repairs completed in the late afternoon, the Break lifted off for Aberdeen without issue or concern. Two days into the journey, one of the ranch hands noticed an issue with the horses. Hart began inspecting them fully, doing full blood screens, and the next day pronounced that they were infected with equine influence two, the fatal version of the disease, which he considered odd because it was mandatory that all horses be immunized against it as part of the initial birth-battery of shots for any new foal. Shylock was concerned, but Hart reassured him, indicating that, in hearing there would be horses, he stocked up on veterinary medicinal, including a large supply of general antibiotics, which would help him coax the horses through it.
- **GM Note: I’ve not mentioned this before, but during the course of your journeys, Hart has insured you are all immunized, especially when the horses were brought on, and every passenger is immunized as well.
If your character has a concern with this, please let me know and we’ll discuss it. He considers this a SoP for any shipboard crew, especially one going planetside and taking on passengers. If a passenger refuses, Hart would bring that up to the Captain as a concern.. He’s tried a couple of anti-histamines on Gale, but none seems to work, his allergies are very aggressive.*
Two days later, the horses seemed to be recovering, albeit slowly, when the ship was hailed. Long range sensors picked up a Tahore class Alliance cruiser (one of the city ships), which identified itself as the IAV Magellan, and the Lucky Break should hold its course and prepare to be boarded for a routine inspection of contraband and compliance. As the Captain explained this to the passengers, Rufus seemed to become more than a little agitated and insisted that the Alliance not be boarding the ship and it should make a break for it.
When the Captain seemed reluctant to comply, Rufus grabbed a handful of Mikki’s hair, pulled her close as a shield, and put a pistol to the back of her head, backing his way towards the shuttles.
Gale drew on him but did not fire, and the Captain tried to talk him down, but he seemed hell bent on violence. As he was backing towards stairs down to the catwalks, Hart rounded the corner, startling both men, and Rufus reacted by spinning and shooting Hart in the chest, who then gracefully tumbled down the steps like bag of rocks. Gale, Jason, and Marcus all began firing while the Captain stepped forward, attempting to subdue him with the pommel of her sword, but he twisted away in time and her pommel came down upon Mikki’s head, knocking her to the ground.
Having lost his shield, Rufus took off down the steps, clamoring over the inert Hart. Gale turned and bolted down the crew stairs (which were closer), putting him on the catwalk and in clear line of sight of Rufus, but his shot went wild. Rufus returned fire just as wildly and attempted to get over Hart to the shuttles, only to stumble and fall.
Shylock and the Captain rushed to Mikki’s aid while Nix hid behind the table and Marcus and Jason pondered what to do next, taking bets on which way the situation would go. Rufus made it to his feet, took another shot at Gale and tried to make it the rest of the way to the shuttle, and Gale managed to hit Rufus in the leg, stumbling him a bit and slowing him down.
The gamblers, bored of just sitting, jumped to the steps to take shots but were wildly inaccurate due to the angle, though Jason did manage to wing Rufus in the arm before he pulled the door to the shuttle closed. The Captain went to the bridge and notified the Magellan’s commanding officer, one Commander Alistair Harken, of the situation.
The Magellan dispatched escort ships to intercept the rogue shuttle, but Rufus refused to stand to and the shuttle was summarily destroyed, a small flash of bright light and eight-five thousand credits vanished in the distance.
- GM’s Note: I found the shuttle costs, 85,000 for a new one, 75,000 for a used one (technically they’re all used, no one’s making them anymore). There’s not much difference in the price because it has no pulse, 90% of the cost is the engines and systems, which need to be working or it’s not sellable. You can get a shell for 5000 and Mikki can build it, but the final cost will be about the same as a used one and take several weeks to complete. The Mule cost 9000 used, and the Cat cost 3000 used.*
The ship lurched slightly as the Magellan’s docking clamps locked onto it and the inspection crew came aboard, one Lieutenant and four heavily armed and armored escorts. Lt Holley then proceeded to walk the ship, making rather disparaging comments about the ship, crew, and cargo, jotting down notes and marking citations as the two gamblers bet upon the final amount that the irritable Lt would end up with.
Marcus and Gale had seen the drill before and shook their heads as the Alliance officers, bored with being assigned to the “trash pile of the ‘Verse” that was the Rim, took their frustrations out on any ship that crossed their path. The SoP was pay the fines and move on, because these officers were always excited to find a ship captain who would try to fight it, giving them some sadistic excitement in crushing them.
Captain Buckingham, at her most charming, convinced the Lt that, after the drama of a murderer trying to kill them all and escaping on their shuttle, perhaps the Alliance could be lenient. Her…assets having the desired effect, the flustered Lt pronounced the citations dropped and awkwardly returned to the Magellan, with his chuckling escort in tow.
While the horses were healing, it was going slow and the horses were still going to be lethargic and symptomatic when they arrived at Salisbury, though not contagious, so Shylock decided to notify Mr Buckhalter of the delay due to “Alliance concerns” and attempted to bluff him into allowing him to extend the contract. Unfortunately the bluff failed and Buckhalter explained that, if the horses were not delivered on time, they contract was void. Shylock decided to shop the horses around to other buyers on Salisbury, only to find out that Buckhalter had influence among the other buyers and no one would touch the horses. Deciding to look further abroad, a shuttle was sent to the surface with the passengers debarking and to gather supplies to feed the horses for a few more days. At this point, the blackballing and rumours about the Lucky Break on the ‘tex in this sector of space changed to “they’re lying cheats trying to pawn off diseased horses”, making it clear one of the ranch hands informed Buckhalter of the state of the horses. Despite the rumours, Shylock located a buyer on Hubal, a moon of Djinn’s Bane, three days travel away, so the Break made headed that way, leaving Salisbury and their bad reputation there in the space dust.
Once on Hubal, there was some concern over the condition of the horses, but between Shylock’s bargaining skills, Hart’s reassurances as a vet and shepherd, and the Captain’s batting eyelashes and other accoutrement, the buyer on Hubal was convinced to pay the price and the horses were finally gotten rid of. Additionally, two of the three remaining passengers, Nix and Jason, chose Hubal to be their destination and made their farewells, and the crew (sans Hart and Mikki) headed out into the city of New Punjabi to sample its nightlife.
- **GM’s Note: Hubal was colonized by “Earth that was” Indians (dot, not feather) initially and is primarily an agricultural world, self- sustaining in its own food supplies but having no other real exports beyond one. Due to the unusual radiations coming off of Djinn’s Bane, there is a form of mutated plant life that grows rather prolifically on the planet that is very similar to Kudzu from “Earth that was” in that it grows very quickly and has no real purpose other than to grow and choke out other plant life. However, it has been discovered, when treated “correctly”, that this weed (called Blackleaf, locally) can be the primary ingredient for one of the most amazing man-made pharmaceuticals in the ‘verse: the hyper-hallucinogen known as Wetdream. Wetdream is an odd drug in that it is relatively harmless, causes no permanent damage, and has only beneficial effects (in proper doses).
The primary effects include a flooding of endorphins through the body’s pleasure centers, combined with attached hallucinations that parallel the sensations…in short, the mind imagines amazingly pleasurable things, and the body follows suit, very intensely. A slight side effect is a mild paralysis, which actually makes the drug safer as it’s highly unlikely that a person on Wetdream will go anywhere or do anything harmful, but simply lie there and spasm until the drug runs its course. The downside is that, in improper doses, the effects range from permanent paralysis and nervous system shut down to coma and catatonic dream states from which there is no return.
For a short period of time, Hubal was making quite a bit of money with Wetdream as a recreational drug until enough people used it irresponsibly that it was deemed contraband and possession was subject to being bound by law and impoundment. The Alliance then invested time and energy burning out the plant wherever it was found on the planet to the point where it is virtually extinct…except for those that preserved it for their own use. There is a huge underground movement for the drug and to those that are willing to risk it, great profit to be made.*
The crew made an evening of the town, Marcus doing extraordinarily well at the tables (bringing in over 2000 credits, overall) while the Captain worked the room, drumming up business prospects for Shylock to close on. While the gambling was good, the business prospects less so, and the crew returned to the ship around two am with no prospects, only to find a rather thin gentleman in an expensive suit awaiting them at their ship. He did not introduce himself, he simply explained that he had heard the crew was seeking business and that he wished to acquire their services. He had eight canisters, a ton each, roughly four by four by eight feet in size, that he needed shipped to Constance in six days (requiring a direct, no-holds-barred flight path), and that he needed to accompany them. When asked, he indicated that it would be bad if the canisters were opened or inspected by the Alliance, but did not explain what the contents were or whether or not they were illegal. He did, however, after some haggling, agree to pay thirty thousand credits to have him and the canisters delivered, no questions asked, which was more than twice what a full load would pay, and there would still be room to acquire more cargo.
After some discussion, the crew agreed and the gentleman was told to bring the canisters by in the morning. While the rest of the crew went to their cabins to retire, Shylock spent the evening scouring the ‘tex to find some cargo headed that direction and, after haggling and finagling, he located a shipment of consumer goods that were desired on Constance that he picked up for less than cost. The profit margin would be low, but it took advantage of the extra room in the cargo hold and provided something a bit less conspicuous to put in the hold with the canisters.
The following morning, the gentleman arrived with the canisters, each cylindrical case had its own gravitics and electronics, and Gale supervised their loading and placement. The gentleman expressed some concern at how the crates were being handled but Gale reassured him they would be fine. Once the canisters were secured and the other cargo was beginning to be loaded, the gentleman retired to his cabin.
Shylock went out after breakfast on “personal business” and visited a local organization at which he has a “membership”. He explained he was looking to employ the services of a bodyguard and asked if one was available. After going over the current roster, he was told that one with a good standing in the organization, named Butch Sinclair, was currently cooling his heels at a bar called Casey’s down the way and seemed to be available. Shylock headed that way, finding himself in a rather seedy section of town, and found Casey’s settled dingily in the middle of what was clearly the wrong side of the tracks.
Seated in the corner, nursing a beer, was an older man with silvering, short cropped hair and goatee, wearing an alliance enlisted man’s cap and jacket with stripes indicating he either was E6 at some time, or stole it from an E6. As Shylock approached, he glanced with a surly expression on his face, clearly annoyed at being interrupted, but mellowed when Shylock provided his identification and purpose. The two discussed terms and settled upon an agreement, logging the agreement in the organization’s books, making the contract official.
Butch picked up his duffle bag, containing everything he owned, including a rather large assault rifle sticking out the top, and followed Shylock to the Break.
Shylock showed Butch to one of the single passenger cabins, where he dropped off his bag, and introduced him to the crew. Being rather plain and unobtrusive, he made little of an impression, though he did take his hat off to the Captain and call her “ma’am”. Shylock then took Butch for a tour of the ship where he took notes about security concerns and continued on after Shylock returned to his quarters, climbing around in the rigging and jeffrey tubes, much to Mikki’s chagrin and protestation.
After his inspection, he approached the Captain (nursing a Blackwood Dark Ale bottle), and presented her with a list of suggestions that could be done to improve security on the ship and keep things happening, like, oh, say, a shuttle being stolen, making sure to call the Captain “ma’am” at least twice.
Once everyone was settled in and the cargo was secured, the Break lifted off from Hubal, on it’s (hopefully uneventful) way to Constance. The gentleman does not leave his cabin except to get meals, which he takes back to his cabin. Butch drinks the Blackwood Ale and sleeps in the common room, tucked into a corner in a comfy chair of some sort, when he’s not sleeping in his bunk.