The Spectral Corsair Campaign: Episode II – “The Whim Of The Icons”

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Ajit Mehr had been on Trini in the Aiwaz system for months, settling in under his deep cover and tracking the movements of the Draconites.  Trini was always bustling, full of traders, carriers and haulers, and Mehr was a busy little spy, working for the Legion. Mehr knew there was a sizeable Legion presence on Trini, intentionally less covert than he was, and an under-current of Zalosian tendrils creeping through the community. Mehr had kept clear of the growing Legion-inspired unrest: the bombings and assassinations weren’t part of his brief, even though he was well equipped to have carried the operations through.  But the Legion was increasing the pressure, and even Mehr’s careful activities were beginning to draw the attention of the Draconite Justiciary.  Then Raganhar Jarmil, leading Draconite business magnate and highly influential figure, fell to two sniper’s bullets, deadly vibro-ammo that tore Jarmil apart from within.  This was a step too far, and Mehr knew he and the other Legion operatives, although unknown to him, would be rounded up for sure this time: it was time to get the hell out of dodge.  His Legion contact, Gihrune Koriedes, gave him the green light, and Mehr headed to the spaceport, sure the Draconite trap was closing on him but with no way out.  He needed a miracle…

Then he saw it: the blast from his past.  And before he could say “bless the Icons!” he was stood at the ramp of his old home, the cursed but much-loved Spectral Corsair, and renewing his old friendships and rivalries, especially with that Firstcome-hating Humanite Hanbal.  It was almost like he’d never left all those years ago.

The crew were heading into Zalosian space, the next step on a long journey, and they headed out to find work.  Their passenger, the stunning Mystic Alina Abdessalam, tagged along despite their misgivings, but she wasn’t going to take any orders from the likes of them!  They eventually found a colonist, heading to the Zalosian outposts on Havilah, with need for his people – and in particular those without the necessary paperwork – to get into the system.  To cover the illegals, ten of whom could squeeze into the Corsair’s stash at a push, they bought enough legal delicacies to fill the cargo deck.

Karter still had his illegally-acquired cybernetics and the bloody and gently rotting arm they had belonged to.  He had it in a bag in his cabin, and it was starting to smell.  Karter and his captain, Valdez, went into the less salubrious souks, and only needed to grease the wheels with a few Birr to find a craftsman called Payam Mipha, hidden away deep in the bazaars, with a reputation for good bio-work and asking no questions.  Payam took the arm without a second’s hesitation: Karter may as well have given him a spiced cucumber for all the impact it had.  Payam took a down payment of 5,000 Birr, saying he could remove the old flesh and bone from the blades and install it for a further 20,000.  But it would take time…  Karter left the arm, with a promise to return with the cash and a threat to Payam not to cross him…

As they headed back to the ship Mehr and Captain Valdez smelled a rat, and soon spotted the scruffy little man who was following them.  With some nifty footwork Mehr got alongside the man, and challenged him.  The man, a small-time trader of Zalosian origins, claimed to be fascinated by the Humanite, a unique creature on Trini.  Without evidence to the contrary Valdez and Mehr let the man go on his way, but his true motives were not so innocent.  He was an agent for the Zalosian authorities, and had been tracking the Mystic ever since his minions had noted her arrival: this man’s attention boded ill for the future.

Setting off, they got the measure of the Zalosian paranoia by the reaction of the Class IV cruisers standing guard over the portal.  Following a brief standoff, the Cruisers ‘Abomination’s End’ and ‘Wind Of Ill Will’ took the 10,000 Birr fee and let them pass.  But their progress was short-lived.  They made the portal jump into Zalos space only to be immediately challenged by two Class II Wolfhound Interceptors, ships of the Witchsmeller Covenstead of Phokaas.  They had been single-out and targeted – someone knew something about their cargo…

The Havilan illegals, assuming they were the target, dashed into the stash (even the poor young man who had broken his leg earlier when, under 8 Bit’s instruction, they practiced “hiding drills” in case of boarding, made it in).  In anticipation of trouble the crew geared-up.  Mehr checked his weapons, and noticed for the first time that two vibro-rounds were missing from his sniper rifle.  What the hell?  He hadn’t fired the shots, those two shots that killed Raganhar Jarmil back on Trini, but was someone trying to make it look like he had?

They were boarded by a Witchsmeller-General himself, Ioachim Iyator, resplendent in his heavy robes, with thick silver fur bunched around his collar and the grey silk inner lining flashing in the light as his cloak flowed behind him.  He strode through the airlock, accompanied by four heavily armed Covenstead Acolytes, dressed in the unique Zalosian sculpted Penancesuit armour.

The Witchsmeller knew of the Havilan illegals, but he was prepared to overlook this infraction, saying instead:

“I want the witch, she must answer for her witchcraft, she must stand trial and face execution.”  

Valdez looked him in the eye, standing face to face on the Corsair’s cargo deck.  In the silence the Witchsmeller pointed a slow gnarly finger up at Alina.  Then with lightning speed he swirled his baton, and Alina fell to her knees, stunned as the crackle of the charge dispersed into the air.  The crew, almost as stunned as Alina by the sudden attack, shot sideways glances to each other, unsure what to do next.  But Ajit Mehr moved to action and stepped in to defend her.  Mehr’s swift draw and quick shot caught the Witchsmeller, and he fell to his knees, holding his blasted balls.  The sound of the shot broke the atmosphere, and now Valdez didn’t hesitate: his swift blade to the back of the Witchsmeller’s neck all but took the Zalosian’s head off, and he was dead before his Acolytes could react.  The fight was bloody, but the crew prevailed, leaving two guards dead, one unconscious and one captured.

But they still needed to escape the Wolfhounds, ‘Dutiful Child’ and ‘Severance’.  Anti-Matter missiles slipped their shackles and chased down the Corsair.  Karter’s gunnery took down some, but they were saved by the Icons, stepping in to protect the ship and her crew from the ferocious energies unleashed by the Zalosian weapons.  The fight was desperate, but the battered Corsair escaped the hounds, both left disabled and rolling in space by the fire from the Corsair’s heavy cannon.

The leader of the Havilah illegal immigrants, an old woman called Melyana, believing they fought to save them, thanked them for saving their lives and offered whatever help the Havilah colonists could, from their own meagre resources.  They and the Corsair headed away into the dark, knowing that behind them the Order of the Pariah was stirring like an angry hornets’ nest.

View from the GM’s Chair:

The start of this scenario gave me a little challenge to sort out, as it was the first game for which Morgan, who plays Ajit Mehr, could join us (and there’s an ongoing issue for later as Morgan will return to university, so I needed a way to step him out of the campaign as well as bring him back in).  Morgan decided to roll up an Operative, and his back story quickly developed.  As an old friend and former sensor operator on the Corsair Ajit has a real role in the group when Morgan can play, but as an operative with an independent side story he can be pulled from the game with relative ease and then returned to the game when Morgan is available.  Has worked well so far!

This scenario showed how dangerous combat could be, as I’d originally planned for the Witchsmeller-General, Ioachim Iyator, to become a long-standing enemy and nemesis.  But, after Ajit chose to attack it only took two rolls to put him out of the game for good: Ajit’s shot was a critical that stunned Iyator, and Valdez’s blade attack, with a bonus for a prone and defenceless enemy, critted with a 63 (“severed jugular”), which I took to be a downward thrust to the back of the poor witch hunter’s neck.  Oh well, one potential nemesis down… but plenty more out there!

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