The Spectral Corsair: Episode VII – “No Rest For The Wicked”

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Mira, oh Mira. 

What did this place mean to Valdez and the crew of the Corsair?  It meant escape, and respite, from Zalos: it meant time to rest and relax in a safe place, with those they knew were friends; it meant time to repair the ship, and repair themselves…

But nothing goes easy for this crew – they must have angered the Icons somewhere along the way.  A portal misjump, between Mira and her sister star Antmira, left them dead in space.  But they were lucky: they only had to wait 24 hours while 8 Bit restored power and got them flying again, delaying the peace they knew awaited them at Samar’s Hamam, in the leisure city of Einekkeh, on Trigon’s paradise moon, Kharfai.

But, eventually they found their way to Samar’s Hamam, and her Insula, the low-rise apartment building right next to the Hamam.  Samar welcomed them with open arms and gifted them the use of the top floor of the insula for two weeks, as friends of Jubal Aldair.  But perhaps best of all, she handed over 20,000 Birr that Jubal had sent through to help them.

8 Bit, more in jest than in suspicion, joked that Jubal probably sent more.  Samar blanched, and 8 Bit was rounded on by Valdez and the others for being an ungrateful guest.  But the seed of suspicion – that Samar was hiding something – had been planted in 8 Bit’s mind, even as he was apologising to his host…

Karter’s leg continued to lignify, from the wound he took on board the Throne of Shahada, in the rescue of Alina from the Trial of the Icons.  A local shaman and healer, Awbari, from the Temple of the Weeping Mother came to see Karter, and was shocked.  His advice was stark: lose the leg and lose it now, before the taint took him too far and there was nothing Awbari could do to stop the curse from taking Karter’s life.

Talking of Alina, she had left the Corsair and gone into Einekkeh on some errands of her own.  On her return she asked if they had received the 45,000 Birr that Jubal had sent them through Samar…

Samar broke down, and from the tears and cries came the predicament she faced: gambling debts and a protection racket had spiralled and seen her in debt to the tune of 55,000 Birr to the local leader of the Miran gang called the Okra Darma.  This leader, Irania, had taken Samar’s niece, Barindi, as hostage.  Samar had hoped that paying off some of the debt, with Jubal’s money, would help.  It didn’t.

Irania, the local gang boss, was known to be well-in with the local Weeping Matriarchy, and had a base at a shrine near the centre of Einekkeh called “The Home From Home, For The Weeping Mother”, where Samar suspected Barindi was being held.

The crew wanted to help Samar, but there was no agreement on what to do.  After a lot of fruitless debate Hanbal and Ozgare, in frustration, left to recce the shrine.  They got a sense of its defences, realising that it wasn’t a straight-forward job to get in and out.  After fighting off an attempted mugging by a couple of louts they decide to leave.

A frontal assault on the shrine, and a rescue of Barindi, was going to be very costly: some of them might die, so this was most definately a last resort.  Instead they tried to convince the shaman Awbari to help them.  But their approach was a mistake: Awbari resented their accusation that Irania was a criminal; he resented the implication that he consorted with criminals; he thought their offer of an Icon-blessed kitten was not only a con, but a blasphemy.  Awbari’s anger took them by surprise, as did his accusation that they were charlatans.  Hanbal, his hatred of the Firstcome boiling to the surface, went for the priest with his fists.  A few blows were struck, with Ozgare trying to intervene, himself trying to ignore the religious proclamations coming from Awbari’s mouth, such lies and untruths.  As Hanbal finally began to calm himself, Awbari’s theological rhetoric soared to even greater heights, and Ozgare’s temper could take it no more.  He stepped up alongside the shaman and a surprise blow to the side of the head saw Awbari hit the ground like a sack of hammers (it was a damn fine punch, though).

A while, and some smelling salts, later a bruised and wary Awbari came round in the crew’s apartment in Samar’s insula.  While Awbari was – not least metaphorically – a captive audience Valdez explained Samar’s situation, and what they really had to offer – they had six kittens, all of which had been blessed by the Icons, and Awbari had to see them to believe.  Valdez’s calm words and irrefutable logic worked, and Awbari agreed to visit the Corsair and see the kittens for himself.  Stepping into the chapel aboard the Corsair Awbari stopped in his tracks: the sight of the Icons living through these kittens convinced him in an instant.

“I can see – the Icons live through these little beasts,” he said, his voice a whisper, “and the Deckhand is living through this vessel, but for good or ill I cannot see…”

Awbari agreed to broker a deal between Irania and Samar, in return for the safe delivery of the kittens to the Temple of the Weeping Mother.  Valdez agreed, not least as he feared the consequences of Awbari’s rapidly blackening eye… They had little choice but to trust the priest they had so recently treated so badly.

And against all the odds Barindi was returned to Samar unharmed, and Samar’s debts were written off with a promise, backed by Awbari, that she and her Hamam would be left in peace.  The money she gave Irania, from Jubal, was returned, and Awbari received a promotion in his order, his personal kudos and clout enhanced beyond easy measure.  Awbari didn’t mention his black eye again…

With the money returned Valdez was finally able to afford the cybernetic replacement for his lost leg, and Karter underwent the amputation that Awbari had so strongly recommended, and a purification ceremony overseen by their new shaman ally.  His new, shiny cyber-leg is now his pride and joy.  They had some money left over, and 8 Bit used it to replace the middle finger on both his hands, although he hasn’t changed the nickname to 10 Bit yet…

Finally, the crew of the Spectral Corsair, aka Raz al’Zeka, were able to have a couple of weeks of real rest, before setting course for the Zib system, in their ongoing quest to find Jubal’s brother.


 

View from the GM’s Chair:

My first failed portal jump! 

It seemed so appropriate that just as the crew escaped Zalos and suddenly felt they were getting some breathing space Hanbal should roll bugger-all 6s on a lot of dice, then bugger-all 6s on the re-roll (and this after praying on board and making most of the chapel!).  For a moment I had visions of my carefully crafted, slower-paced, planet-bound scenario going Pete Tong, and my brain started cranking into “where the hell is this going” mode!  But the “screwed-up portal jump” roll was quite kind, the Corsair didn’t make any jump at all and the duration of the repairs was as short as it could have been. 

So what looked like a potential game-changer (and real problem going by the looks on the players’ faces) became nothing more than a short delay and a costly misfortune (to replace all the spare parts they used to make repairs).  I could crack on with the scenario as planned.  Phew!

I have an interesting and really fun crew of players.  They NEVER agree on what course of action to take, they NEVER compromise and if one side eventually backs down it’s always with a grumpy look and a grumble, but they ALWAYS come through and work together when they have to.

But they can talk, and talk, and talk about what to do.  We had it over the fate of the kittens, we had it over tactics in the heat of space battles, we had it over how to help Samar.

But the solution they reached, after they’d looked at the direct approach, and punched their possible solution until he was unconscious, was clever and well-played.  It also didn’t involve shooting or – perhaps more importantly – getting shot.  I think we are all beginning to understand that, unlike many RPGs, fights in Coriolis (and other Year Zero games) can be brutal, fatal, and short!  And my players are starting to work hard to find other solutions, any other solutions, before they draw their guns and run the real risk of getting slotted in an instant…

 

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