The Spectral Corsair: Episode VIII – “The Ice Men Cometh…”

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No one can see what the future may hold…

The crew of Spectral Corsair finally had a couple of weeks of well-earned rest and recreation: Valdez and Karter recuperated from their operations, and were sporting shiny new cybernetic legs; 8 Bit and Karter both took up the offer from their new friend, and newly promoted priest in the Church of the Icons, Awbari, and were ritually cleansed and blessed; Ozgare continued to grapple with the essence from within the Zalosian Witchsmeller armour – the spiritual battle still ongoing, and taking a toll on Ozgare’s will; Hanbal took the chance to get some quiet time; and Shikoba the cat got used to life without her kittens…

But, well aware that they still have a mission to fulfil for their patron, Jubal Aldair, they spent time (when not gambling in the casinos or wrestling with mystical armour…) walking the souks, bazaars and cantinas of Einekkeh in search of work to help them on their way. Their next destination after Mira was the Zib system, then Tarazug, before finally – finally – reaching Odacon.

And find work they did! In fact, they took on four new jobs:

  • Strangely enough, they were first approached by Irania, the very same Okra Darma gang leader they had faced down for Samar.  She declared how impressed she was with their talents, and needed a simple “pick up & deliver” job doing in the Zib system – the price (22,000 Birr, payment on completion) was excellent, and they readily agreed;
  • Then the Church of the Icons ‘Chapter of Corrections’ needed them to deliver a shipment of weapons and supplies to the prison planet Hamza-Yurbul, also in the Zib system, so the two jobs nicely complemented one another;
  • The third task was a missing person run, to travel out to the Tarazug system and a beautiful but weirdly uncolonised planet called Omran;
  • And the final, but most immediate job – a simple passenger run…

The strange figure approached them, ahead of his group of five comrades. All were clad in almost identical environment suits, each faded and wrinkled, with the tinge of a frosty glow around them.  Each suit had a battered regulator that nestled under a frosted face plate, that revealed the almost blue skin of the man within, and the dark and inexpressive eyes. They were Mazunians, Humanites evolved to live in the frozen wastes of Mazuna, the first planet in the Zib system, and incapable of surviving in temperatures much above freezing. Renowned as fierce soldiers with notoriously short tempers, Mazunians are rarely seen outside the Zib system, and indeed that is where they wanted to return. The deal was agreed.

Mazunian#1

The night before departure, with Valdez and Ozgare out at the Einekkeh casinos sure they could make money by abusing Ozgare’s Icon-given mind reading talents (they were wrong, by the way…) a visitor came to the ship.

The man, a Bounty Hunter called Taman Dani, was asking for their help. These Mazunians, Taman said, were wanted under an Ijma’urf warrant for the crime of breaking the interdict against their sort leaving the orbit of Mazuna without a permit. But, Taman continued, arresting them in the open would inevitably lead to a fight and many innocents would be hurt. Taman suggested (for a suitable fee, of course) that the crew of the Raz al’Zeka should somehow allow the Mazunians to “oversleep” in stasis after the jump from Antmira (Mira’s second star, where they were) to Mira. Taman and his colleagues could then come on board and affect the arrest of the offenders one at a time, satisfy the law and prevent harm to them, the Mazunians or the crew of the ship.

In their Captain’s absence, and despite some misgivings about betraying their fare-paying passengers, Hanbal, 8 Bit and Karter agreed to co-operate. On their return Valdez and Ozgare agreed as well, although Ozgare, as a fellow Humanite, was particularly torn. This crisis of conscience wasn’t helped when the Mazunians, in an uncharacteristic show of friendship and gratitude, explained how their race was vilified and hated, and that they were deeply touched by the loyalty and respect that the crew had showed them…

And this was to come back to haunt them all. Ozgare wrestled with his conscience and finally decided he could not betray the Mazunians. The night before the jump, as 8 Bit covertly modified the stasis pods so they could control when the Mazunians would awaken, Ozgare made sure he knew how to open the pods manually. As a Void Child – one born on a triad festival day and hence not born under any of the Icons – he has the Void Talent of ‘Icon Sight’, allowing him to traverse a portal jump whilst awake. This he did, to ensure he could awaken the Mazunians before the rest of the crew and before the agreed rendezvous with the bounty hunters.

When Valdez and the rest awoke they found themselves at the barrel-end of six very angry Mazunians… But, never known to miss an opportunity to save their skins they rapidly changed their alliegence once again: pretending that they’d never betrayed the Mazunians at all, Valdez convinced them that they would deal with the bounty hunters, if the Mazunians remained in the stasis chamber.

Three bounty hunters, well armed and well armoured, strode into their cargo bay. Taman Dani listened attentively but did not take well to Valdez’s explanation of the changed circumstances. So close to their quarry, the hunters were angry at the unexpected turn of events and in no mood to be fobbed off with some sob story or excuse. They demanded access to the Mazunians, and demanded that Valdez and the crew held to their agreement and helped them make the arrests.

It was a stand-off, and inevitably a fight broke out.

Taman fired first, and Valdez fell at his feet, a bullet through his chest. The Captain of the Spectral Corsair was dead before he hit the cargo deck.

The crew were stunned into a rage-full vengeance. 8 Bit went berzerk, firing wildly and screaming for his dead captain, his dead friend. Taman Dani fell under the hail of bullets, broken and battered but not dead. One of his compatriots was not so lucky, and took a shot to the face that his helmet couldn’t deflect. The last bounty hunter released a flurry of smoke grenades in a desperate attempt to drag Taman back to the safety of their airlock.  In no mood to let them escape, Valdez’s crew rushed the smoke in a frenzy and the third enemy was captured. But not for long – none were feeling merciful and both Taman and the last hunter were summarily executed on the spot.

The Mazunians saw the sacrifice they had made to help them. After a brief pause to loot the bounty hunters’ vessel, they fled the scene. That night, in orbit around the Miran star they elected Hanbal as the new commander of the Raz al’Zeka. The matter of Ozgare’s actions, and how the rest of the crew might react, was for another day.

For now, mourning the loss of Captain Valdez was enough…

————-

View from the GM’s Chair:

A bit of a shocker, Valdez going down like that! Damn those crit rolls, they leave you soooo vulnerable to a 65 or 66. But I have to say that Connor, who plays (ahem, played, sorry) Valdez took it very well indeed – it was just such a pity as he’d spent about four scenarios hobbling or rolling around with only one leg, and now he’d finally got it sorted and his new leg installed he was suddenly dead. But all that said, we have a pretty cool idea for his new character, so I hope Connor wasn’t too disappointed!

But the game was another one where the players role-played beautifully, and both 8 Bit and Ozgare had a really good ‘agonise’ over what to do with the Mazunians. Ozgare’s eventual solution was entirely in character for the Humanite who feels discriminated and victimised, but ran – and still runs – the risk of turning his crew against him. Especially seeing how it turned out in the end. We will see how it plays out!

But Dean (who plays Ozgare) made excellent use of his Icon Sight talent, to allow him to get to the stasis pods first and release the Mazunians. This is a Void Talent, full details of which can be found in my blogpost “CORIOLIS – The Void Children”, found here https://rpggods.org/2017/09/24/coriolis-the-void-children/

As for the command of the Spectral Corsair (aka Raz al’Zeka)? Well it seemed that none of them really wanted the command, and I certainly couldn’t see them letting Ozgare take command after everything that had happened. In the end, whilst looking at what to spend their hard-earned xp on, Tony (playing Hanbal) declared “I’m taking command”, by which he meant he was taking the Command skill. But the authority in his voice when he said those three little words – and the silence from the others – made it clear where the Captaincy would now reside…

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