In the previous session the crew of the Sex Thing had been investigating the disappearance of some off-world hunters on the planet of Eskandor in Limon sub-sector of Reft. Things definitely hadn’t gone according to plan on my part, with the players not investigating the things I’d considered to be ‘obvious’ and going off to take a look at what I’d only come up with a passing reference to, or hadn’t thought of at all. Basically, a typical investigatory RPG session.
This was all fine through because they were getting information and starting to pull threads together. The last things to have happened was that Zanobia had discovered that an attractive young woman had been chatting up a senior member of the scientific research team who were investigating the sentient rocks, and Alfred and Shinzaro had decided to take a trip to one of the crime scenes to see what they could find.
The players had a number of theories about what was going on, which they went over – something I always find useful as GM since it gives me an idea of what their thinking is, so I know what to either correct, or simply steal if they have some good ideas.
- Elmo was involved in some sort of insurance fraud over the loss of his vehicles.
- Aji was responsible, and was involved in some plan to steal the sentient rocks.
- The missing people were themselves responsible, and were faking their own deaths for some reason.
- The rocks were behind it, using telepathic powers (not sure this was entirely serious).
- There was some sort of rogue AI that had been causing the GPS and tracking systems to go wrong (again, this may not have been entirely serious).
So Shinzaro and Alfred headed off into the wilderness in a rented grav car, along with Khadashi and Madeleine, leaving Zanobia and Trennance back on the ship to do some of their own research. Zanobia kicked off an investigation into the health records of the missing people, which would take under the next day to get any information.
Trennance uncovers that there is a second ship – a small Launch – that belongs to the Safari ship Soldier’s Heart which is parked separately to the main ship. This is the ship that Aji had come in on, and it was owned by Khazili Manidkagash, who had been a Lt Colonel in the Imperium Army. Zanobia pays some kids to keep an eye on the two ships and to let her know if they leave.
The following morning the car had reached the destination (auto pilot works by TL 9) where the third hunting party had last been spotted according to the satellite tracking. Again I had been careful to mention that all the information about where things had happened had come from the satellite tracking systems.
There was no signs that any wheeled vehicles had been here, but Alfred attempted a Life Sense and picked up on a human-equivalent sophont a few kilometres to the south. Unable to rely the information to the rest of the crew (they still didn’t know he had Psi powers, and he wasn’t going to tell them), they instead concentrated on a ridge overlooking the area where there were some broken trees.
Investigating found evidence of a smallish craft (maybe a ship’s Launch) had tried to land in the trees, and there was an abandoned sniper’s rifle which had been here for a few weeks. It was damaged and broken though, and a reasonable attempt had been made to clean it of fingerprints and DNA. The crew come to the conclusion that this is probably evidence that has been left to salt the scene, but they’re not certain why.
Meanwhile Zanobia finds out that a couple of crew from the Soldier’s Heart have left to go get breakfast at a local cafe. in the town. BY the time Zanobia and Trennance get there, the Lt Colonel is sitting with three other people – including Aji. There is also a platinum blond woman and a young man focused on his data pad. They are just finished as Zanobia arrives, and Aji and the young guy go across the street to the hotel they are staying in, whilst the other two head into town.
Back at the site, Alfred spots a thin column of smoke coming from the south. I decided to give him a break and give him an excuse to head that way – he’d probably been trying to think of reasons to concentrate a search in that area so it was reasonable for him to have been paying the most attention. The crew take the car south, and find a small wooden shack, outside of which a half naked man appears to be doing yoga.
He’s a hermit, who hasn’t seen anyone for ages. Apart from a small ship that turned up about four weeks back, did some things to the north then flew off. It was a bit of a weird ship, since it’s hull changed colour to match the sky and ground. There hadn’t been any wheeled vehicles, or any other vehicles for that matter, and whoever it was had left him alone. He’s quite happy out here, but was grateful when the crew gave him some chocolate.
Back at the starport, Zanobia confirms that both the Launch and the Safari ship have holographic hulls. There’s no records of them leaving at that time – though they were in port. They have been out and about, but have been in system for most of the time. Except… there’s a missing record in that the Safari ship is recorded as having come back in to dock twice, without leaving in between.
By the following day everyone is back at the starport, and doing further investigation. Khadashi is talking to artists around the starport (it is a world of artists after all), one of which has some nice photos of ships leaving and taking off. He has a really good photo of the Soldier’s Heart coming in to land (with a nice rising sun behind it) on the morning after the third group went missing. According to port records, it was in port all that time.
Alfred goes back to talk to Elmo, and yes the Lt Colonel had been here with a younger chap, asking all sorts of questions about what the wilderness expeditions were like, size of groups, types of weapons available to be licensed out etc. The younger chap had spent some time investigating the vehicles as well. There had also been a couple of break-ins to his garage where the vehicles were stored. Nothing seemed to have been taken, but there were some broken locks.
Zanobia gets full access to the satellite tracking records. Unfortunately the senior space traffic controller hadn’t come into work today, but the Starport Director Shamram was able to get one of his team to help out. Though the raw data for more than a month ago had been wiped to save space, there were some inconsistencies. Also, around the time of the first event, the satellite system had gone down for an upgrade, and due to a mistake by the senior controller, Giimla, it had been down for about twelve hours.
So Khadashi and Shinzaro go to see if they can track down Giimla. He isn’t at home – his wife tells them that he hadn’t been home all night, and expects him to have been at the casino, which is where he often hangs out. Since it’s getting late, and I want to get to a good stopping point, I fast foward things to where they locate Giimla – face down in a storm drain having apparently fallen off a tall building. He’s quite dead.
So by now the crew have a lot of information about what’s going on. I’d expected the satellite records to have been investigated early on, and Giimla wouldn’t have been dead at that point. But they should have enough leads to follow up on now, and hopefully next week we’ll be able to wrap things up.