Start date: 218-1121.
The Agatha Dinmont is sent on to Inthe w/ Yvette, Cassandra, the engineer, and some frightened nobles who thought that Regina would be a fun place to go slumming, and really really want to go back to the Imperium. Rebecca is taking her own ship, the Favorite Falcon, on to Algine-II, because her son Treal Delgado is evidently on that planet. Treal was part of a group of Marines who were on a Navy vessel that seized a shipment evidently containing some pharmaceuticals of a psionic nature (experimental-like?). All the people involve in that little op have been either discharged for something like drugs or drunkenness, or are undergoing treatment for psychiatric problems. Treal has gone to Algine II to follow up on a lead about this. Rebecca found out he went there, and no one has heard from him since, so she needs to go there and make sure all is well. And possibly back him up.
Algine-II has large polar ice caps, mountain ranges around the ocean (poss. Impact crater), tropical areas. Smugglers have been operating around the inland sea in the borderline temperate/tropical zone, and in the river passes through the mountains; howood is the reason for the smuggling, at least the primary one. The population centers are on the inland sea coast, which is the only really navigable area as the ocean is really icy. This info Rebecca has gotten from a smuggler on Regina. Algine-II was classified as a Red Zone when it was still part of the Imperium. Algine-II has different religions (or at least variations) in each of the cities, and was colonized by people who left the Imperium because it was sinful, and were later bombed on Algine-II after the tossed the infidels of the first contact team onto a bonfire. Also, there are rumors among the smugglers on Regina that the ruling body of one of the major cities is in cahoots with the smugglers.
Nicolai is going to stick w/ Rebecca, as is the gunner Gharli. Added to the crew are Hunter and Cena Fitzpatrick (Nicolais not going anywhere dangerous w/out a good doctor). As Rebecca has information indicating that some kind of psionic enhancing drug is being smuggled off Algine-II, everyone is advised to bring some kind of psi-shield.
Before the Falcon or the Agatha Dinmont leave Regina, the engineer on the A.D. tells Rebecca that he found an old name on the ship that was covered up by many layers of paint: the Alesandr Demitrius. Rebecca is able to find out is the name of the person who sold a lemon to the original writer of the Dick Salamander books, and was the name of the villain in the original Dick Salamander movie.
Leave Regina on 220-1121.
Arrive Algine-II system 234-1121.
The trip in to the planet is fraught w/ danger: interdiction satellites, leftover Navy mines, ship wreckage. And a new-looking Imperial Scout Courier, just tumbling in space, w/ a cockpit that looks like it was taken out by a ship's laser. Rebecca manages to get the ship through the mess, and about two planetary diameters out, the unpleasantness abruptly stops. It's rare for the Navy to have that much clear space around the planet, but perhaps the smugglers cleared it?
Per the information (outdated though it was) that was obtained on Regina, five large cities were expected. As it was planetary night, another well lit site is discovered, that looks like a work area surrounding a ship - like a logging operation, and one of the buildings has fencing around it, and looks like part of a forced labor camp. Nicolai also discovers what appears to be a similar, abandoned site, that looks like the same sort of place as the occupied one, only it's all logged out. A landing site - a flat outcropping of rock - is found between the current and abandoned sites, but a bit closer to the abandoned one, and the ship is set down there. It's a good site to hide the ship, as it is pretty much invisible from lower elevations (it's @ 5,000 m.).
Gharli is left w/ the ship, as is the engineer, and Rebecca, Nicolai, Hunter, and Cena take the air-raft to within 1 click of the camp, then the party continues on foot to the abandoned camp, leaving Hunter to cover the air raft. Nicolai recons the camp first to make sure it really is unoccupied, and he will give the all clear signal if it's safe.
Nicolai finds no human-sized heat prints, but primitive boot prints. One building was obviously a sawmill, and the other appears to have been the holding facility for the enslaved workers, given the slit windows, rows of bunk frames, etc. Nicolai finds no signs of any papers anywhere, even in the office. Some one has either taken great care to clear away anything that could be used to identify anyone involved, or the people who have stripped the place of anything even vaguely useful, or both. The only thing he finds is a planetary calendar carved onto the drawers, with dates crossed off.
A man is spotted sneaking towards the camp barracks. He appears to be a local, and is armed with a spear. Nicolai and Hunter set out to flank and pick up the unknown. As they get closer, they see he's dressed in layered skins, and his spear is a long dowel with a sharpened bit of metal on the end. He is reacting to Hunter moving in the woods (what's stealth?). Hunter decides to just call the guy, and tell him they don't want to hurt him, and they just want information. And they're willing to trade food for information. This works.
His name is Ral, he's been in the woods for two snows, and he escaped from the abandoned camp. The party goes indoors, to get out of the cold, and for privacy (mild paranoia, but just in case...). Ral was sent to the camp because he spoke out against the priests in the city of DelhiRam, especially about the priests withholding medicines because it is made with plastic, and has to drip through plastic tubes, and plastic is anathema. Lovely. The plastics come from the city of Basil, which is across the sea, and that's where Ral would like to go. Ral agrees to help the party, as a native guide, and he will be paid in supplies (and gold, if he wants). Ral is happy to help do anything against the priests.
The smugglers boasted that they could get away with this as long as they wanted because the priests were producing the Blue Angel powder, and it was making them rich. This powder is also anathema, unless of course you are a priest. Naturally. This would probably be the psi-enhancers.
They group goes back to Rals little camp, and he's the one who scavenged all the paper. He has been collecting bins of local medicinal herbs, which Cena takes notes on, and takes samples of both for later reference, and just in case we end up somewhere where we need the local stuff. Turns out Ral was a scholar before he ran afoul of the corrupt priests. Ral was also the one who carved the calendar on the drawers.
The group (including Ral) takes the air-raft to within 10 clicks of the new active camp, and hides it by the river. Rebecca stays with air-raft, along with Ral, while Hunter, Nicolai, and Cena go out to recon the camp.
300 ton Far Trader, with a triple laser turret, and a guy in BDU pants and a rock band t-shirt, is supervising prisoners as they load as much wood as possible stuffed into the cargo hold. There's a priest in bright saffron robes (just as Ral described), and an off-worlder smoking a cigarette, and watching the perimeter, about 100m outside of the ship. Nicolai sees the priest speaking to a guy in a jumpsuit and wearing shades, while standing under one of the big lights. Out of the office comes a priest in robes with a narrow black stripe, which Ral had told the party indicated the rank of Bishop. This Bishop handed the guy in the jumpsuit a small tube or cylinder (Blue Angel powder?). There are four guards that can be seen, and they are armed, and are wearing armor. There are other large locals that are apparently also guards, and are also watching the prisoners. The recon party returns to the air-raft after 30 minutes, to share information.
Hunter and Cena set up in the LP/OP, to observe the camp. Nicolai is the backup and possibly the cavalry, so he'll stay primarily by the air-raft. Hunter and Cena take turns sleeping and watching, for 24 hours.
Shortly after daybreak, an incredibly ornate, shiny boat arrives @ a makeshift dock/pier. The ship has a Wheel of Life on the flag, so it's evidently connected to the priests. Sure enough, the Bishop's tent is struck, and his things are being packed up, as the Bishop occasionally beats any prisoner in reach. The Far Trader is finally packed up, and lifts. Shortly after that, the air-raft leaves, and then the priest lifts a black box to his ear - evidently some kind of radio. Nicolai is able to listen in, and after the priest makes sure the off-worlder in the air-raft can hear him, the other guy tells the priest to not call him unless you can't find the little bastards. Nicolai marks the frequency. The boat (or barge) leaves with the Bishop.
Prisoners are cleaning equipment in the camp, and then they are lead off into the forest. They come back some time later, slowly dragging a log.
One guard goes out with this group. Cutting teams, when they go out, have axes, so they have two guards with rifles who go out with them. These crews only go out during the day. Everyone, guards and prisoners, seem to eat from the same source.
During the night, a large bear-like thing came snuffling into the LP/OP, and stuck his rather large head right in, so Cena sprayed him in the nose with pepper spray. The enraged bear took off towards the river, tearing right through the camp.
The guards and the priest checked the area out, while armed, before taking out the teams. After a while, everything went back to normal. The group decides to take out the guards with the cutting and hauling crews guards, and the priest. The priest, and maybe the guards are wanted for information. Rals job is to control the prisoners after the guards are taken care of, Hunter is going to take out the two guards with the rifles, Nicolai will take out the guard with the stick, and Cena will take out the priest. Hunter uses a shotgun with teleshot, and takes out one of the guards, but only wounding the other. Nicolai takes down the guard with the stick, and Cena takes down the priest, secures his hands, and takes his radio. The guards are killed, the priest is seriously injured, but Cena medics him.
The prisoners are questioned, and yes, Treal was at the camp. He came originally as one of the smugglers, but snuck out during the night. He was hunted down and brought back, and then the priests took him away on the barge. Hunter was bright enough to question the prisoners about the wood smuggling, and especially the Blue Angel powder, in order to distract the prisoners from the subject of Treal, and is successful enough to get one of the prisoners to arrange to meet Hunter in Basil in 3 weeks to provide him with as much as he wants, while cutting out the middlemen/priests. The prisoners are left with the guards weapons, to scavenge whatever they can from the camp, and with directions from Ral as to how to get to Basil.
The party takes the priest and the air-raft to the outskirts of DelhiRam, to observe the city and the manner of dress (since they are going to have to blend). They camp, so to speak, and question the priest. Hunter takes the tack of we're taking over the business now, so you're going to have to deal with us, and don't piss us off. The priest does know about Treal, who Hunter describes as the traitor; apparently, Treal escaped shortly after they got him to the outskirts of DelhiRam. The priest tells the party he was going to be turned over to the Cardinals Synod, who are the only ones who can make the upper level decisions. The priest wants to be returned to the camp, so he's not away from his position. En route back, Hunter pushes the priest out of the air-raft --- but making sure that Rebecca and Cena weren't watching. Hunter affected the innocent look, and said He got away from me! These guys are real fanatics. Right.
The party camps for the night, in the hills overlooking the city, taking turns on watch, and discussing plans for the next day - how to get local clothing, etc. Rebecca feels that the best option is to try to find the local underground, and see if Treal made contact with them.
Ral is sent into town with some silver specie, to find local clothing. Middle class clothing for all except for Cena, who will have lower upper class clothing, just in case, and some slightly lower quality for Rebecca. Cena and Rebecca both have linguistics, and Cena has experience blending in with the locals.
Ral returns with clothing, lose enough to conceal at least some weapons, and maybe some armor. The cover story will be that the group is from Charlesburg - far enough away to explain odd accents, and DelhiRam is not currently at war with them.
The air-raft is camouflaged, and hidden, the combat armor is left with the air-raft, along with most of the extra gear. The party's belongings (I.e., medical gear) is in disguised packs and satchels.
Into the city, after a night of preparations. As long as you act as though you're above everyone, most people will treat you as if you do. The city is sort of a cross between Amsterdam and Venice - built on water, stone buildings, barges, walkways, bridges, canals, etc.
Ral finds the party the Inn of the Sun and the Moon, near the University, and many classes frequent it - nobody really poor, or really, really rich, but great local color. Besides, the party needs to get some real food, and it's a great place to observe the locals. They see people doing business, few unescorted females.
Ral sees some one he wants to speak with, wearing muted pink house colors (ick!), comes up behind him, and says something quietly to him. The guy in pink looks very surprised, and extremely uncomfortable. Ral tells him the lady he represents is interested in trade in local herbs and spices. The young man comes over to the groups main table, and tells Ral he's insane to have come back here. Rebecca discreetly shows him a picture of Treal, and says that we are looking for him. There are rumors... Ral asks about his family - his wife has lost her position @ the University, and his daughter has lost her classes, but they are being helped as much as possible. The cardinals have gone insane! More so than usual, evidently.
Ral asks about the Silver Tortoise, and is told it has been closed, but that those that used to frequent it have moved to a place called the Squid, that's near the University, and is a bit less of a dive now.
The cardinals men are everywhere now, and they are displaying more weapons, and more openly, according to Rals friend. Then conversation sort of stops when a cardinal walks in. The party begins speaking about spices, etc. The cardinal and his goons walked directly towards the party's table, then @ the last minute the cardinal spins and says And what about you! in the direction of a group of locals, and some one with a guilty conscience breaks, and runs for the door. His flight is redirected into the door, and Cardinal Chenzen comes over and strikes up a conversation with Cena. Unctuous pleasantries are exchanged, and Cena is invited to visit the Universities medical school. She's told who to speak to at the University, etc., and then he leaves.
Ral tells the group the cardinal is Chungras dog, or protégé. Chungra is the head of the Synod, and has been busily getting rid of what progress has been made in the society. The department of astronomy has been disposed of, telescopes are registered, and the speculation about anything in space is forbidden. Evidently a mathematician has been burnt just for working out the orbit of the planets moon.
There is something of a curfew, and problems have occurred with the bravos hired by the houses, who have been acting like bravos are wont. As the party goes to find a place to stay, an upper-class twit with a rapier and a retinue, the twit deliberately bumps into Nicolai. Or rather, bounces off him. Nothing more than nasty glances are exchanged, though.
The party goes to the Squid, where Rals daughter has been seen by his friend. It's definitely a rough sort of place, and the more upper-class looking members of the group are looked at rather askance. There is live music, and some of the lyrics cause Ral to raise an eyebrow - not politically correct? Students start arriving after a while, and the place gets a bit more quiet after a while. A local cop (not with the religious police) wanders in to make a casual inquiry as to the whereabouts of some missing bolts of silk, but it's all rather friendly-like.
Some upper-class young man who fancies himself a duelist, comes over with two larger toughs, and inform Cena that she's in his space. One things leads to another, and Nicolai steps outside with the larger one. Bets are taken, Nicolai triggers, and things do not go as well for the big guy as he expects. The younger man, Trevor, comes up beside Cena, presses a dagger into her ribs, and tells her to call off her man. Cena takes the younger man out, Nicolai is not disturbed, and some bright people make some money. The upper-class tuff and his buddies are cold pissed about the outcome, and will undoubtedly be a problem later.
After things calm down a bit, a young woman, looking nervous, arrives at the Squid and goes to the back area with the students. Turns out this is Rals daughter, and the church police are on her tail. Rebecca goes out to get the group a boat, and sees the two church police - she trips one into the other, and they go down the stairs the hard way. The party leaves quickly, with Rals daughter Dahrna.
The boatman takes them to his cousins inn, where information is exchanged, and people are medicd as needed. Treal is being hidden by the Resistance, such as it is. There's also an off-worlder who is always with the cardinal's men who were looking for Treal, and is described as being like lightning; he also dresses all in black, wears strange boots (combat boots like Hunter's), and boasts that he owns the night. There are rumors of slavers returning to the area.
Dahrna knows where Treal is, and the party sets out over the bridges to get Treal. Cena suggests that they get some bright green cloth, the same shade as Trevor's house colors, to make into sashes, and small bits of cloth to be left behind, just in case. They are able to nick some of the cloth from the house itself, but Trevor and his goons show up on the island. The party hides inside, as Trevor and his group go by. The party finds a bolt of silk in the house colors, and use it to make one sash, some armbands, and some of the small torn pieces to be dropped. Coarser fabric is used to make the other sashes.
A group of trollers with swords show up en route, to play with the mice. Rebecca uses her TL 15 cutlass to break the first one's sword arm. Then Trevor, seeing the colors the party is wearing, thinks he's coming to their aid. The party leaves dead people in the canal, several wounded people in flight out of the area, and Trevor is taken with them, after Cena disarms him of 2 stilettos, and a garrote.
The party runs into three slavers trying to grab a woman and a child. The slavers don't last long, especially when the woman objects to the mess. A section of green cloth is left in one of the slaver's hands, and one of Trevor's stilettos is left in the heart wound of the other one. Nicolai sees a laser being bounced off a nearby window, and Dahrna feels the man in black nearby, so Cena distributes psi-shield to some of the group (Cena can't use the stuff - has no effect on her at all). Hunter and Cena head for the high point to try to find the bad guys, only to find some one in off world military gear, just like Hunter. First the guy thinks Hunter and Cena are his people, then he realizes something's not right, and Hunter goes mano a mano with him.
Meanwhile, Rebecca and the others went into the boatwright's building, and finds Treal. Alive, if somewhat the worse for wear. She gives him the info on where the air-raft is, and where the back up rendezvous is, and they are heading out, planning on taking out any bad guys on the way - there are evidently some waiting for a signal to move in (heat prints). Some one else on the opposition heard the ruckus up on the roof, and is coming up, demanding (in a loud whisper) what the hell is going on up there. Hunter has Cena giggle, and a guy pops up on a ladder only to have Hunter shove a large knife through his ears; he bounces off the pier and into the water.
After Dahrna and Ral take off a different direction, with Hunter covering Rebecca and Treal and Cena spotting. When that group gets to a position where they can cover, Hunter and Cena move up. Nicolai tosses a fire frag into one of the buildings with bad guys in it, adding to the havoc. All hell breaks loose, what with the fire, the explosions, and the gunfire, Hunter and Cena try to meet up with Rebecca and Treal. The church police appear in the midst of the people trying to put out the fire, trying to find the evil people from Charlesburg. Rebecca does a lovely job of shooting the church police, and shutting them up.
Hunter is let pass by the church police, who snap to, thinking he's one of the smugglers. Unfortunately, some of them spot Cena with Hunter, and it's Wait a minute - that's a woman! Unfortunately, all of the smugglers were men. Hunter and Cena ignore the yells of halt! Rebecca, Treal, and Nicolai get a boat and head out away from the carnage. Treal is not in great shape, but only Cena and Hunter have medical, so he has to wait. Rebecca fires on a boat full of cops, the people whose boat they hired jump off the boat, but are shot by the cops in the water, who jumped off after Nicolai almost hits them with a grenade. Hunter and Cena try desperately to find the others. The top and middle level bridges are covered with church police, which doesn't help. Nicolai and Hunter try to coordinate locations, then they decide that the big building with all the spires is a good place to meet. That would be the Synod...
The Synod looks like an anthill has been kicked over. Cardinals and bishops, and priests are all over the place. The smuggler from the camp is there too, with their air-raft. Nicolai, on Rebecca's orders, tries to take out the smuggler so that there's no one to pilot, and takes out the priest right beside the smuggler, and then everyone starts shooting, regardless of where they're pointing. And when Nicolai lobs in a grenade, it gets worse. This kind of screws up the meeting, but Hunter and Cena try to catch up before everyone has to un-ass the area.
Nicolai radios Hunter that the air-raft is in flight and heading our way. Hunter uses his armburst, but hits behind the raft. Cena tosses Hunter his rifle, and he quickly tries to take out the driver, firing full auto. He hits something, once, but he's not sure what. Hunter and Cena get to the set point, but there's no sign of Rebecca and Treal; turns out they are on the bridge below. Cena drops down, and Hunter is in the process of dropping down, when the air-raft comes around the corner. Cena actually manages to hit the pilot in the head, but he's evidently either not dead, or has died and locked up in position, because the air-raft keeps going, with the machine gun going. Rebecca and Treal are hit, and then the air-raft continues around in a circle, still firing. At everybody.
The party moves around the corner. Hunter medics Rebecca, and Cena medics Treal. That at least allows them to continue to escape. They get to a nice part of town, and Hunter bribes a couple of guards to go fight an imaginary fire, while the party steals the really nice 20 boat, with a canvas cover/canopy. And they head out of town, trying to find the least suicidal route (not right past the Synod or the Justice Center). Some cutthroats jump on the boat, and one of them cuts through the canvas. Cena shoots through the canvas, hitting that one in the spine, and killing him outright, while Rebecca accelerates quickly, and dumps the other one off into the canal. The body is dumped overboard too.
Cena medics Rebecca, and finishes patching up Treal. The party is stopped at the gate which has been chained shut. Hunter shoots at the guards, and then Nicolai uses det cord to blow the chain. As the boat is getting further away, Cena is hit in the back by some one firing roundball ammo; she's knocked down, and the wind is knocked out of her, but the round does not penetrate. Hunter takes exception, and tosses a grenade at the shooters, as does Nicolai; the firing stops. Hunter medics Cena, who is in pain, but that's about it.
A boat comes out from the city, headed after the party. Hunter becomes somewhat distressed, when he sees Nicolai demoing the boat. The party stops near a ratty looking boat pulled onto the side, where they need to go inland and up to get to the air-raft; they hope the other boat belongs to Ral. The boat is wired to continue up river, and the party takes off, after cutting loose the other boat.
About 15 minutes later, gunfire is heard up river, probably the group from the city, firing at the empty boat. Then intermittent firing is heard later, and a squealing, wounded rabbit, that was evidently mistaken for a fleeing bad guy.
The group makes it's way up to near the air-raft, and then Nicolai and Hunter go ahead to recon. Three people are at the site: Ral, his wife, and his daughter. His wife's armed is badly burned, so Cena medics her as the group gets ready to leave in the air-raft. Treal gets several cylinders of Blue Angel powder from Dahrna; they had been fishing it themselves, to try to find out what the heck the stuff was. The local clothing is ditched, Gharli is radioed to get the ship ready, stuff is packed up, and off they went. Once on board the Falcon, a side trip to near Basil to drop off Ral and his family is planned.
Gharli gives Rebecca an update on the radio messages she's intercepted: the unhappy smugglers finding out that the camp was empty and the slaves were gone, etc. En route to Basil, a campfire is spotted along a river - probably the escaped slaves. Also, a radio message for help is overheard, evidently the locals demanding help from the smugglers. Oh well.
Outside the city of Basil, the ship sets down, and Ral is paid, and is given the groups local clothing, as well as an extra big box 9mm, some ammo, and some extra gold. Cena makes certain that the family is well medicd before they go. And the group takes off for home.
While maneuvering through the debris field, they find that a large ship, probably around 800 tons, has recently been destroyed in this field. It's a very stressful couple of hours making way through the new debris. The Scout Courier the group spotted on the way in is still floating up there, so Rebecca has Nicolai go over and check it out. He finds the deceased pilot, a very senior Scout, and takes his dog tags, and finds an only 6 week old magazine. He also takes the computer memory core, and the ship's log. There is a separate memory core, that is still taking in data, from the bellyful of sensors, and he transmits the info to the Falcon, and takes the rest with him back to the ship.
Rebecca is able to read the scout's logs on her laptop, and the last entry indicates that a mine took him out. Not one of the Navy mines, but the one that was on again and off again. Several notes mention Operation Cleveland One, psycho-history, and the planet as an example of why psycho-history must be carefully monitored. He didn't understand why the Navy was so anal about this planet.
Nicolai has a really odd dream, where a pyramid comes up to him, and chimes soft bells at him for most of the night. And then it shows him images of people seeing visions. Nicolai, of course, thinks of Michael and that he's probably done something annoying. On Regina, Michael has a vision of the same chiming pyramid, which evidently wants to know where the big round Therian ship is. All Michael knows is that it was taken to Birabates, so that's what he thinks about. For whatever reason, some time later the quantum black hole vanishes from the Therian ship, and has been replaced with, evidently, a pyramid shaped glowing piece of the sun.
The Falcon does get back to Regina safely, and there's a rumor circulating that the original set piece for the original Dick Salamander movie, the ship, has been located. That would be the Agatha Dinmont.
End date: 254-1121.