The morning after the night before….
They had managed to escape the Cellar and return to the safety of Coriolis’ Core. In the aftermath of the fight they had allowed the Legion troopers to take the surviving attacker in their custody (the one shot by Ajit and then stabilised and dragged back to the Core by Ozgare).
Back aboard the Spectral Corsair the injured Norsa was installed in the medbay, with a 10 day stay to recover from his terrible wound. When the Nekatra came round Karter explained what had happened: the attacker’s bullet had smashed away his left elbow, leaving flapping tissue spilling plasma and blood at a fatal rate. They’d had no choice but to remove the arm above the elbow to have any chance of saving Norsa’s life.
While Norsa convalesced the crew split off to keep ahead of Sister Mariam the Witchsmeller: Ajit dashed off to the Samaritan Sanatorium and found a good spot to keep comings and goings under surveillance; Ozgare returned to the Legion Post House to interrogate the prisoner; and Hanbal and Fenwick went to Jasmine Alley to report to their contact, Sadida Tameen.
She was not happy to see them, once she heard what they had to say:
“You identify a Witchsmeller and the first thing you do is bring them here? To me? You better not been followed…”.
Once they calmed her fears she ordered them to carry on with the mission – find evidence and deal with the problem. She would alert the Legion leadership. But under no circumstances were they to contact her again without orders to do so from on high.
Hanbal and Fenwick left, a little deflated and unsure how to proceed. But in the end they decided to just carry on, track down Sister Mariam and add her to their list of dead Witchsmellers.
On his trip to the Legion Ozgare not only found out that the prisoner was now on a Legion battleship moored outside Coriolis, called Solar Gift. He also learned he wasn’t going to be allowed there today, so he left. Only to be bumped by Brother Asculum who had something to tell him. They met in Booja’s and over a hookah-full of Opor Asculum told him that Sister Mariam had returned to the Sanatorium late yesterday in a complete state of agitation – so much so she has retired to her cell and no one has been allowed in other than Counsellor Alfeco. But, in the middle of his sentence Asculum started to choke and wheeze, trails of opor floating from his nostrils. Was it a seizure, just a bad trip from the strong drugs coarsing through his body, or was the timing so coincidental that it had to be poison? Ozgare didn’t know, but wasn’t feeling more ill-effects than usual with a lungful of opor. But Asculum was slumped before him: Ozgare rushed him to hospital, saving Asculum’s life but losing his savings, of 1000 Birr, to pay the deposit for his friend’s treatment.
The following day, with Ajit watching the Sanatorium and Norsa healing slowly, Hanbal and Ozgare visited the Solar Gift to interrogate the Zalosian prisoner. They didn’t do well at first, with Hanbal losing his temper and pulling pipes and tubes from the poor victim. In the end Ozgare assaulted the prisoner’s mind and the poor man, called Mansouri, succumbed, sobbing:
“She’s our leader,” he cried, “planning and getting us all ready.” So, perhaps some kind of insurrection on Coriolis was coming… And they had stumbled upon the plot.
On their return to Coriolis Hanbal was bumped in the crowds, and found a note had been slipped into his pocket, but no idea by whom. It soon became clear the letter could only be from Sister Mariam. In it she gave them a third way, a way out: leave Coriolis, just go and live your lives on the rim and they would be left alone, and even given 5000 Birr every month the sweeten the deal.
The crew debated long and loud. But in the end they decided to stay loyal to the Legion, but only just, and by a vote of 4 to 2. Then Ajit had a brainwave: the one thing the Witchsmellers could never ignore were the Children of the Void, the escapees from Phokaas who were an ever-present threat to the Zalosian theology*. They had all helped a young girl, Tayisha, escape the Covenstead. Ajit posed the question: what would Mariam do if Tayisha, in her ship the Golden Griffin, was seen to arrive on Coriolis? He suggested that Mariam would be forced to come and kill the Child of the Void, at all costs, even at the cost of her mission on Coriolis. This would draw her out of the Sanatorium, make her show her hand, and they could get her without having to assault or infiltrate the Sanatorium, something no one wanted to do.
The Legion agreed, and agreed to help. Two weeks later they had sourced a ship, created its history and legend, had it docked, and let the news leak out quietly across Coriolis’ docking systems that the Griffin was in port. They set the trap, and waited for the Witchsmeller.
The Zalosians took the bait. As Hanbal and his crew, most with some trepidation, moved in to spring the trap and prevent their escape from the fake Golden Griffin, Mariam worked out it was a trap. But she’d been ready for it. She called out, her telepathy reaching out to Ozgare’s mind.
“Ozgare – you and yours can still flee. Save yourselves and go now, or you will all die when I become a martyr to The Martyr. Go, or die with the thousands on Coriolis…”
Ozgare told the others: they glanced at each other, their decisions suddenly questioned, their future suddenly in doubt…
*: see ‘The Witchsmeller Covenstead of Phokaas’ blog post, dated 27 July 2017.
View from the GM’s Chair:
This scenario saw me try and remember to make better use of my Darkness Points to add colour or influence the game. I’d felt that, over recent games (and especially in the run-in to the end of the last campaign), I’d lost some focus on making good and varied use of DP.
So, this time I activated Hanbal’s hatred of the Firstcome during his interrogation of the Zalosian foot soldier, leading to him torturing the poor fellow and pulling out the tubes that were keeping him alive! The fact that the Legion blithely cast a blind eye over what was happening says a lot about them, and gave us an insight into just how much Hanbal hates the Firstcome.
Then I used 2 DP to have Brother Asculum take his bad trip. I don’t exactly recall how or why this came about, but it was defo a spur of the moment thing and not something I’d planned. The fact that it all happened right in the middle of Ozgare getting vital information from him made it inevitable that they would see Sister Mariam’s hand behind it.
Finally, this scenario started the process of (in-game) giving the players a chance to evaluate the direction the crew of the Corsair is taking, and offer them the chance to change things should they wish to. I expect this will play out fully in the fourth and final part of Episode 1…