The Spectral Corsair: Episode V – “Kittens Or Curtains?”

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The Spectral Corsair sped through the dark, choosing the two and a half weeks flight between the stars Zahedran and Zalos A, rather than brave the portals again, and the Zalos ships that would be patrolling them.

Having pulled themselves from stasis they found that the ship was not as they left it: inexplicably a 5 hand game of poker seemed to have been left in mid-play; and dirty crockery littered the kitchen.  What could this mean?  Boarders?  The haunting spirit of the Corsair playing games with them?

A search of the ship eventually uncovered the truth, and they found a Humanite, his reptilian eyes glinting and never looking like they ever really closed, hiding in the smuggling stash.  Armed and armoured, he however declared that he presented no threat to them.  Indeed, he was open about his history – a genetically engineered soldier fighting for the rebels on Zalos B, he’d lost his faith in the Icons (for how could they let all the evils of war persist?), fled the war, was captured and sold into slavery, then sent in stasis to Havilah, there to be sacrificed.  But the airlock failed to work, the Icons saving Ozgare for greater things, and he was freed, free to stow-away on the Spectral Corsair in his attempts to escape Zalos for good.

It then occurred to the crew that Ozgare had come through the portal jump without being in stasis.  How by the Icons could that have happened?  But Ozgare said he’d been approached by the spirits in portal space, and they had helped him, played poker with him, then fled when the ship returned to real space.

Alina, whose opinion and word carries much weight with Valdez and the crew, vouched for him, saying there was something special about his aura, and Ajit could confirm his story as one of the sacrificial victims.  So for now, Ozgare was accepted and, even though he wasn’t given his rifle back, he could come and go with reasonable freedom.

Alina, having been saved from certain death, finally started to open up.  She told Valdez that she had originally come from Odacon, had been rescued by Resim who had found her locked in stasis and revived her, and had been Resim’s lover: she feels an obligation to go and try and save him.   Despite the seriousness of the conversation Valdez tried to seduce Alina, and to his – and everyones’ – surprise, she allowed herself to be seduced…..

On the journey, as Valdez and Alina did a lot of hugging, and Hanbal and Karter were asleep, Shikoba gave birth…

The Corsair shuddered and twisted, a hull breach tearing open in the cabin module of the ship.  Hanbal’s lung was punctured as the air fled his cabin, but he was pulled from certain death by Alina and Karter.  On the cargo deck, the birth was witnessed by Ajit and Ozgare, dark bound creatures bursting from Shikoba’s cage, the kittens scattered across the cargo deck, and 8 Bit locked the whole section down.  Ajit and Ozgare fought well together, Ozgare holding off the beasts while Ajit raided the weapons cabinet for the Humanite’s heavy weapons.  Eventually 8 Bit joined the fight, and they defeated the beasts, a well-placed burst of automatic fire from Ozgare’s rifle saving the day.

But one of the nine kittens died in the cross-fire.  Each bore the mark of one of the Icons, and the dead one bore the Deckhand’s mark, the Icon who had saved the Corsair more than once.  Valdez and Hanbal took the dead critter to the chapel, and prayed over its body for forgiveness.  But their prayers went unanswered and there was no sign from the Deckhand.  Two days later the kitten’s body disappeared from its plinth before the Deckhand’s altar.

As this happened the other eight kittens and Shikoba were snuggled safely in the twisted remains of their cage.  The crew did not agree on what to do with them: 8 Bit wanted to put them straight out the airlock; Karter wanted to keep them, or at least the one for his Icon; they considered selling them, or giving them as an offering to some religious authority.  No decision was reached…

But, battered and bruised, they limped back to Havilah, having received a message from the new elite – those who had been saved from sacrifice by Ajit’s data djinn hacking.  They were assured of a safe haven on Havilah whenever they needed it, and despite misgivings that it might be a trap, they had little choice but to trust their new friends.  The Icons were smiling on them, and they received the warmest of welcomes on the toxic planet.  They were healed, re-supplied, Mukafa’a serviced and re-provisioned.

Whilst there they received a message from their patron, Jubal Aldair:

“I hope all is well with you.  And Alina.  But I cannot find the details you are seeking.  If you need help I direct you to find an old friend, Samar.  She owns a hamam on Kharfai, a moon of Trigon, in Mira, at the leisure settlement of Einekkeh.  Tell her I sent you.”

Ozgare spoke to the new elders of Havilah, offering to go out into the Third Horizon and seek answers to the inevitably of war.  They gave him their blessing, and Ozgare found himself a place on the Spectral Corsair’s crew.

So with a new destination, and the bright hope of escaping Zalos for good, they set off into the dark once again, heading for the portals.  But on the way they want to stop in the asteroid belt, The Devil’s Field, to find the Choral Station they think was destroyed when the freighter Raz al’Zeka was taken, and loot it for goodies………


View from the GM’s Chair:

This scenario was focussed on the moment that Shikoba was to give birth (on Day 64 of the campaign, the alternative name for this episode being “64 Days Later”…).  I had expected the crew to have made more progress by this point, and hadn’t anticipated that this would happen whilst in Zalos.  But no problem.  The mystery of the “possessed” cat (according to Alina) and her kittens remains to play out in future scenarios, and the complications caused by the kittens – and the untimely death of the Deckhand’s kitten (a random roll that could have hit any of them, but the Icons obviously wanted the Deckhand to suffer and be grumpy) – are still to be felt…

There were a couple of issues that came up in this scenario:

  • yet another ship critical hit that resulted in explosive decompression that resulted in a life-threatening injury.  It might be that the crew of the Corsair have been really, really, unlucky in this campaign, but I did get an “oh no not again” feeling when Hanbal took the deadly critical.  I am going to look at the ship critical hit table, and see if I can expand it to 2d6 for 66, rather than 2d6 for 2-12, and make ship criticals a bit more varied (watch this space!);
  • the introduction of Ozgare as a character, and his ability to go through portal space without going “ga-ga”, brought along my thinking about rules for managing players in portal space.  This brought up two new things to think about: rules for portal space itself (see Episode 8 of The Coriolis Effect and a post coming here soon); and what I’ve called Void Children (those born on one of the three days in the year that do not belong to any Icon at all) and the Void Talents that might be available to them (including one called “Icon Sight” that means the horrors of portal space hold no fear for you, and the dark beasts found in that realm do not attack you). 

So, next time the crew are looking to get the hell out of Zalos, and I was quite surprised when they said they wanted to stop off to loot the Choral Station (you know, the one where everyone was brutally killed by Darkmorph Byara who might be looking for more victims…).  

Well, up to them – I know the lure of loot can be pretty powerful…

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