The bodies of Robart Alfeco, Yara Mahar and the two Sadaalian diplomats were still warm, bleeding out across the cargo hold of Spectral Corsair.
“Time to clean up,” said Hanbal. “And keep this quiet – we can’t have our passengers getting wind of this!” But, Norsa’s misgiving about the killings now translated into his urge to take the dead to the ship’s chapel and give them the last rites. Their passengers, Joachim and his charge, the betrothed Zena, saw the Nekatra dragging the bodies and a stand-off was inevitable. Joachim’s gun was swiftly drawn, and Karter’s aggressive response saw him shot through the chest at point blank range. As Karter was rushed to the medbay Hanbal calmed the situation, and agreed to let Joachim and Zena off the ship, with their fare reimbursed and a tidy 2000 Birr alongside it as compensation, to keep them quiet. Then they got the hell off Trini and away from Aiwaz, burying the bodies at sea once Norsa had completed his observances, then getting through the portal to Errai at double-quick time.
Their destination was Nepleca, a planet in the Errai system, where they were to drop off five passengers, safely tucked up in mobile stasis pods secured in the hold.
But things never fly smooth. Their routine inspection after the jump showed that one of the mobile pods had been opened… Unsure whether this had happened before, during or after the jump through portal space they were all very cautious. It was soon clear that the occupant, a man in his 40s, was dead, pushed to one side of the pod but dead of a deeply slit throat.
There must be a stowaway on board, yet again!
A thorough search of the ship revealed very little, but eventually they realised there was someone in the bowels of the ship, slipping and sliding around through the tunnels that are nearly all too narrow for an adult. They finally found them, only to see there were two stowaways, not one. Both were children…
After long negotiation Abdelacar managed to persuade them to come out of the tubes and tunnels, and encouraged them to tell their story.
The older of the two, a girl of only 11 or 12 years of age called Melany, did the talking while her younger brother, a boy of maybe 9 called Donny, hid behind the protection of his big sister. They had been slaves of a group they called the Black Brotherhood, a so-called secret society that many believe doesn’t really exist. But Melany and Donny had been abused for as long as they could remember, but had escaped and were now set on taking revenge against their tormentors: specifically the five men and women in stasis, who were in stasis fleeing righteous justice and trying to escape back to their secluded retreat on Nepleca. But there is no escape from the wrath of the Icons…
The children had to access the stasis pod to survive the portal jump, and took the chance to kill the man at that moment. His name was Jaul Ben Joulloun, and he was a leader and chief perpetrator of terrible acts that no human should ever have to experience.
It took the crew moments to decide their course of action, and they opened the stasis pods one by one. On awakening the occupant Abdelacar would question them, using his negotiating skills and lie detector to assess their guilt or innocence of the crimes of which they stood accused. Two more men – one old and one young – and a woman, were all convicted in this kangaroo court, and were shot dead there and then. The last man to be questioned immediately saw what was happening, including the sight of the slumped body of the young man – his son, and lashed out in desperation. His fist whipped into Abdelacar’s throat, rupturing the blood vessels beneath the skin and Abdelacar fell. Shots rang out, and that savage blow was the last action the final man ever took.
Abdelacar was rushed to the medbay, and was stabilised, taking up the bed alongside Karter. Both would need some bedrest before they were fit for action once again.
So now there was no need to travel to Nepleca: in fact, the crew would want to give this place a wide berth as yet another contract goes unfulfilled. They could only hope that Taba Akalay, the agent who gave them the task in the first place, has better things to do than check if his cargo of five passengers arrived safely… At least now they could focus on selling their remaining cargo, and delivering the case of exquisite Sadaalian masks to their rightful owner.
But, they had two extra passengers, the girl Melany and the boy Donny. Mariam suggested that the children could be easily accommodated at the Ahlam’s Temple orphanages on Menkar and raised in safety and security. Hanbal and the crew eagerly agreed: they had no desire to keep two kids on board, but couldn’t face just dropping them off somewhere, even if they gave them some money and a start…
View from the GM’s Chair:
We added a new player to our group for this episode, with Roger joining the game as Abdelacar, the more-or-less loyal retainer to the players’ patron, Jubal Aldair. He rolled up a Peddlar, making his version of Abdelacar pretty similar to mine when he was an NPC.
I wanted to give the players another moral question to consider, but frankly it was very likely they were going to react in the way that they did. I had also thought about building in a situation where they would have to think about “dealing” with the kids, but I felt that the ideas behind the scenario were dark enough already, and adding a deeper layer of darkness would simply detract from what is supposed to be a fun experience, after all!