The war grinds on.
Zalosian forces have been bottled up in their own system, and the conflict has reached a military stalemate. The only place that Zalosians can operate unhindered outside Zalos is in the centre of the Third Horizon, the Coriolis station itself. The Samaritan Sanatorium, the charitable hostelry operated by the Order of the Pariah, remains active. The Legion’s efforts to shut this down have proved fruitless, every attempt blocked by the Coriolis Council despite the Legion’s assertions that the Order is using the so-called charitable venture as a front for espionage and intelligence.
Hanbal and his crew clambered from their stasis pods, the briefing from Castellan Rahull still ringing in their ears and the Corsair running on her new identity, the merchant vessel Valley Forge flying out of Shahin in Altai.
“You can’t fly around the Horizon in a Zalos flagged ship…” Rahull had said. And she was right. “And I need you to return to Coriolis, and uncover the illegal activities of the Order of the Pariah, identify any Witchsmeller presence and find out what they are working towards and how they communicate with masters on Zalos.” They were given a contact, who will update them when they arrive, called Sadida Tameen, a tobacco dealer with a stall on Jasmine Alley.
That briefing was weeks ago, and they had been dropped in orbit around Caph, one jump from Kua. They also had heard nothing from Jubal Aldair, who must be wondering what had become of them.
Coriolis was buzzing, busy as ever despite the conflict across the Horizon. Life here carries on much as always.
Tameen was not hard to track down, but was naturally guarded and reticent when they approached her in a Jasmine Alley tabac house called Honied Embers. She was eventually persuaded when Ozgare gently used his telepathic powers to present her with an image of their past, and a view of horror from his civil war on Benagia at Zalos B, an incident known as the Sea Of Corpses.
Tameen gave them information on three suspects working from the Samaritan Sanatorium: Sister Mariam – in charge of the lepers and other untreatables, who travels to the Cellar every day; Brother Asculum – a humanite from Zalos B, just like Ozgare, who walks the ring helping the homeless; and Robart Alfeco, not a missionary but a negotiator who travels to the rich levels of the Spire to build ongoing support for the Sanatorium’s charitable mission.
Before they could form a plan they were approached by three beautiful women, and Norsa, Karter and Ozgare decided some R ‘n’ R was in order. Unfortunately, the tabac these women added to the hookah had a paralysing effect, and they were challenged by minions of Jubal, who’d had no trouble in tracking them down. Their spokesman, a tough-looking but softly spoken man who called himself Karim Javad, explained how disappointed Jubal was at their lack of communication. This disappointment would only be compounded when Jubal learned of his brother’s death, and the manner of Resim’s death. Also, the late and missed payments for the ship mean Jubal can legally take it back, should the mood take him.
Hanbal and the crew vociferously argued their case, explaining the circumstances and that they had done everything they could, in the best of faith, to comply with Jubal’s request. But Resim had gone insane and his death was almost inevitable. Karim suggested that Jubal’s disappointment might be assuaged somewhat if they at least returned the research they had taken from Resim. They were given a little time to think it over.
But in the meantime they had a job to do: track down the Zalosian operations on Coriolis. They chose Brother Asculum as their first target. Ozgare took up the role as a homeless down and out, and soon enough he was approached by Asculum, their shared humanite heritage an immediate point in common. They followed him, and eventually ended up in a backstreet tabac house called Booja’s. Here they found Asculum and his demon – the addictive drug Opor.
It was clear Asculum had no interest in geo-political infighting: he just wanted to forget Benagia and help those unfortunates who needed it. But his past, his guilt, and his understanding that he was hardly helping anyone, had led him into the depths of the Opor. But he really wanted to make the Horizon a better place.
Eventually Ozgare and Hanbal won Asculum’s trust, and the Zalosian missionary decided that if he could help them in any way, he would do so.
All in all, a good night’s work by the crew of the Corsair, and they departed Booja’s with two more targets to attend to…
View from the GM’s Chair:
Another scenario that I enormously under-estimated in terms of the time it would take to play through (hence, the ‘part 1’…). Having the Legion fly them, in stasis, from Merik to Caph was my way of hand-waving the crew half-way around the Horizon. I think this was a good idea, as the crew’s immediate (and legitimate) thought when they awoke was “we need money, where’s the next trade coming from?” I could easily have had them fly themselves from Merik to Kua, and that would have been fine: the whole first campaign was based on the adventures they had doing exactly this.
But I wanted to get them to the next chapter in their careers, that of being agents for the Legion, under the cover of being Free Traders. I’m more than happy for the new campaign to follow a similar look and feel, with the over-arching mission being an agent one for the Legion, but I wanted to get into the thick of the action quickly, to make the change in group emphasis more obvious.
A good game, with some interesting use of telepathy to convince people of the crew’s intentions. Indeed, Brother Asculum has become something of an agent inside the Order of the Pariah for them now, an outcome I hadn’t considered at all but one that opens lots of interesting opportunities!
Watch this space!