In the previous session, the group had decided to follow up on one of the rumours they had picked up at Eskandor about off-worlders going missing whilst on hunting expeditions. The group were still split on whether they wanted to do this, and whether they actually wanted to stop a group of eco-terrorists who were apparently killing hunters of endangered species.
I hadn’t been expecting anyone to follow up on this. The long term group members have shown little interest in getting involved in anything except a quite narrow list of ‘hooks’, mostly around science and exploration which are difficult to do in civilised space. The new player has different interests, and whether they should be allowed to set direction is a good question, but the change was refreshing for me, plus they’re on their way to do a scientific exploration of a comet, just before heading off on a huge scientific exploration, so a short delay doing something else doesn’t mean that they’ll miss out on other things.
So, thinking about it over the past week meant what is really going on has changed a bit, though what is known is still the same.
The Travellers were invited to go and meet with the local Starport Directory, who had heard that some of them had been asking questions about the events. They in turn did some digging around about her, to try and find out what she was like. Zanobia went to the high class places (of which there are few on Eskandor), mostly frequented by the better quality merchants and a few visiting nobles. The view on her was that she was a competent administrator, who tried her best to keep things running smoothly and according to Imperium standards. She is let down by a team that doesn’t share her enthusiasm for high standards.
Alfred and Shinzaro went to the lower class establishments, checking our bars and casinos for any information. From what they heard, she was also insisting on enforcing unnecessary regulations and a pain to work for. For a backwater lie Eskandor, it shouldn’t be necessary to work so hard to keep things running smoothly. In the meantime, whilst trying to sort out their next cargo, Madeleine had discovered that some people were asking about the worth of the ‘sentient rocks’ that Zanobia had shown interest in.
Visiting her, they were told that several groups of Imperium citizens had gone missing on the world, but it was a local planetary matter so she couldn’t get officially involved. Unfortunately, the local authorities don’t seem that interested since many weren’t keen on the hunters in the first place. However, some friends of the missing people had managed to scrape together a Cr100,000 reward for anyone who could uncover who was responsible, and Director Shamram was happy to pass that information along, plus any other information she had.
During their meeting, Alfred tried to scan her thoughts using his Psi abilities. Given it takes 1d6 x 10 seconds to do this, I said that he couldn’t do this in a conversation without making it look obvious (or at least, without making him look really odd). If he wanted to take a -4 penalty (down to 1d6 seconds of time), then he could do it during a conversation. So he sat back and let the others talk whilst he tried to do it – and failed.
The hunting groups should have had their positions tracked by satellite, but their tracking beacons went off-air, and the disappearance happened during a satellite blind spot. The world has a full comms/GPS satellite network – but it’s old and is in need of repair, so it has gaps in coverage. Whoever was responsible had been able to take advantage of those gaps.
Since they had some days to spend finding cargo for their next trip, they decided some of them would spend it looking into things. Their first thoughts were the passengers that they’d brought here – they’d been interested in animals, and talking about long range sniper rifles. However, on digging around about them, they’d been off-world during the last event, so if they had been involved it wasn’t just them.
The missing hunters had hired vehicles from Elmo’s Wilderness Travel, which also sold survival gear, tents and hunting rifles. Weapons were restricted here, but it was possible to get licenses for hunting purposes. It was located just behind one of the big hotels (“The Traveller’s Advantage”) near the starport, and had a garage full of vehicles as well as a hunting supplies shop. Alfred and Shinzaro went to visit, and Elmo was in there, trying to get his insurance company to pay up for the three vehicles he had hired out and which had gone missing.
Talking to him, they get the locations of where the groups went missing. They’d taken large wheeled ATVs out, and had gone out by themselves without local guides. Whilst working out distances, I realised just how far the trips had been over land – 10,000km to the furthest one from Bokkinnar starport. Probably a bit far to drive across scrub desert in a thin atmosphere. But never-mind. He also mentioned the Exclusion Zone in the north, where the sentient rocks were located. There was no particular defences there to stop being going in, just a warning sound on local GPS telling people that they weren’t permitted to go there if they got close.
Whilst the two were at the shop, they made several observation checks, and failed all of them. They did notice that the owner was doing a lot of locking and unlocking of doors, and they put it down to eco-terrorists causing problems because of him renting things out to hunters. Alfred tried a couple of mind scans, and failed both times. The Traveller’s direction of thought seemed to be along the lines of Elmo being responsible for what had happened.
Meanwhile, Zanobia was up talking to the scientists again at their lab in the capital. There was talk about funding – they needed Cr100K to keep them going for another year, and she also noticed a new ‘member’ of the team – an attractive young woman named Ali who seemed to be all over one of the older scientists (the senior Linguist).
Apparently he’d picked her up (somehow) in a bar or something, and she’d shown interest in seeing what they were up to, so he was giving her a tour. Zanobia did some research on her, and found that she was an off-worlder staying at the Traveller’s Advantage hotel, and who had come in with the crew of the Safari ship Soldier’s Heart.
I had expected to wrap this up in a session, but there’d been a lot of chatting during the session and the group didn’t get through things as quickly as expected. Not a problem, since it means the prep will last two weeks rather than one. They hadn’t followed up on some things that I’d expected them to, but that’s not a problem since they’re starting to pick up clues as to what has happened. The events going on around the rocks seem to be keeping Zanobia interested as well. I’m expecting that next things it will be wrapped up, and we’ll be back heading on to see what Deepnight has in store for them.