Chronicles of Orion's Arm

The Big Game


Murder at the Desert Retreat, part 1
Zero in the crosshairs

333 and 334-1118
After a lengthy discussion, the Travellers decide that Zero, Brie, Captain Doom, Frank (Frances Nancy Stine), and Hiram will go to the Desert Retreat to try to figure out who shot Zero, and why, back on Last Eve 1117. Karl chooses to remain on board the All In because he doesn’t see a use for his skills at a luxury resort.

Two shuttle trips, first a shuttlecraft from the highport to the surface, and then a grav transport out to the resort, the Travellers arrive about an hour and a half later at the Desert Retreat. They are met by Carmella Ancona, a hostess the Travellers met previously when Karl, Hiram, Brie, and Captain Doom were searching for clues a few days prior. She apologized profusely to Zero for the poor hospitality he had received the last time he was at the resort, and was glad to have the opportunity to make it up to him. If he needed anything, just call on the video phone, and she would be happy to take care of it for him.

The Travellers settled in and discussed what they would do the next day, and how to get to this Pyott Jankovy fellow. He is the son of the viceroy of Lubodin state, and seems to have not been back to the resort since then. But he is the only one who knows the identity of the mystery man who was with him on Last Eve 1117, when Leftenant Kyle Crandock of the Caldos Desert Scouts was murdered.

The next day, the Travellers took Zero around to all the locations he had seen on Last Eve. They began with the private game room where the fateful game took place, with all three of the casino employees who were present that night: Carmella, Rondo, and Lyta Mundon. They waited until nightfall, and took him through the casino, retracing the route Zero took with Lt. Crandock and Irwin Ambrose Percival Zephyr the 5th. They even took him outside, and walked him across the desert toward where they deduced the starship had been parked. Still no luck breaking through the amnesia Zero suffered that night.

Two days gone, and still no luck.

Setting Up The Sting
Now what?

The Travellers discussed their various problems and went over the facts once more. After a lengthy discussion, Karl and Captain Doom pay a visit to the highport offices of the Caldos Defense Force to see if they can find out any more details regarding their starship, the All In, in the period just before it became their starship. Having met briefly with the base Colonel, he handed them over to a Leftenant Menendez, who got them the information that they were looking for: prior to Irwin Ambrose Percival Zephyr the 5th winning the ship on the night of 365-1117, the ship was titled “Requiem,” and flew out of Tyr. It belonged to a shell corporation, Arguilla Holdings, Inc.

A bit more cajoling persuaded the leftenant to try to acquire a booking at the Desert Retreat on the Travellers’ behalf. An hour or so later, a message comes in to Mama, awarding them a week’s stay at the posh resort, courtesy of their acquaintance Lyta Mundon.

Now all the Travellers have to do is bait the hook…

Digging Deeper
Who Shot Zero?

The Travellers, after much debate, decide that the best idea was to poke around in the vicinity of the lowport and see if they could dig up any new information on the brazen murder from eleven months previously on Last Eve 1117. But just to be careful, they would take the public shuttle service down from the highport. Someone wanted the ship very, very badly, and the Travellers weren’t about to deliver it to them!

Exiting the ship, they discovered that someone had placed an impound boot on the All In’s airlock, with a note to contact the Caldos transit office for more information. Hiram, Brie, Captain Doom and Dr. Karl decide to go to the planet’s surface, while Frank and Zero remain behind. Zero, because he was still missing chunks of his memory about the night of the attack, and Frank because she didn’t see much use for a bounty hunter on a planet where the law permits no weapons of any kind. Besides, someone needed to keep an eye on the barrister, G. Hakra Deodant, in case he needed help. He would be working towards getting the starship released from impound while the team was on the surface conducting their research.

On the surface, the improbable team of two Cidi, one Irari, and a human on a planet whose population was predominately human traveled to the Desert Retreat, a resort for the rich to play on the parched planet. Casinos, ball courts, pools, restaurants, bars, all available for the enjoyment of the few who could afford the luxuries on an impoverished world, and visitors from off-planet.

“John Smith,” a.k.a. Irwin Ambrose Percival Zephyr the 5th, was setting up a private card game to earn himself some decent credits. With him was Zero, an acquaintance he had only recently made, and two wealthy, spendthrift young men who were looking for a high stakes private game. Desert Retreat security chief Lyta Mundon informed Smith that he needed five players to qualify for one of the resort’s private gaming rooms, and he found one in Leftenant Kile Crandock of the Caldos Desert Scouts, looking for a little excitement on his night of leave.

The five went into a private, high stakes card game, with three employees from the Desert Retreat in service: security chief Lyta Mundon, Fasanni cashier Rondo, and hostess Carmella Ancona. The Travellers interviewed the trio of casino staff in order to begin to figure out what happened on Last Eve 1117.

The game proceeds normally for over three hours. One by one, the players are eliminated until only John Smith and one of the two unknowns are left. Rondo indicated Smith was on a huge roll, up over a million credits, having wiped everyone out except the stranger at this point. The unknown was down a half million just on his own. He and his friend were talking in not-so-hushed whispers during a break about how his father was going to kill him for losing his entire bank in one game. Carmella thought Smith might have overheard the comments. She thought she overheard “Chiller” as a name, but not sure if it referred to either of the two men or not.

Returning to the table, Crandock dealt to the two remaining players. Knowing the stranger was tight, Smith went all in to attempt to force his opponent to fold. The two strangers got belligerent, claimed unfairness, cheating, anything they could throw at the game at this point. Security chief Mundon stepped in to insure the safety of the players. Smith suggested the man use some form of collateral in lieu of money, knowing that the young man was unlikely to be able to pony up anything worth a million credits. Until the fellow suggested his new ship as collateral. Rondo adjudicated it to be worth Cr 2 million, roughly half its value, a common casino arrangement. If the fellow lost, Smith would owe him what was on the table as “change” for the ship. Both men argued about the arrangement, but ultimately accepted. The operation codes for the ship were given to the security chief, to be awarded to the winner. Carmella said that the two unknowns talked about the strength of his hand with only 4 cards down, while Smith was physically shaking, and Zero trying to reinforce the man’s courage. Crandock dealt the last card, no help to the unknown’s three Queens, but giving Smith the pull to the inside straight that he needed. Smith won.

The two men were enraged. Lyta transferred the operation codes for the ship to Smith, and told him to get out while she dealt with the losers. Smith, Zero, and Crandock had a couple minute head start before the two men ran off the casino floor. The valets reported they grabbed their vehicle and sped away towards the desert flats. The two men were never seen after that. Dead Leftenant Crandock and his scout car were found out in the middle of the desert flats, where the richies park their starships. A ship had taken off sometime during the night. (Matching the highport records of the departure of the All In.)

Then the group traveled to the military base of the Caldos Desert Scouts, where they met Major Marie Jones, commander of the scouts and head investigator into the murder of Leftenant Crandock. She introduced them to Sergeant Shockley Burns, who was with Crandock that night. The pair went their separate ways when they refused to allow Burns to join the private game because he was a lowly NCO, while Crandock was an officer.

Jones acquired video of the two unknowns from Lyta Mundon, but doesn’t have a powerful enough computer to run facial recognition software to ID the duo, if they are even contained in the Caldos database.

On the way back to the shuttleport, the group stops at the Safehouse to pay a visit to Tibold Ganar to see about the impound lock on the All In. Since the Safehouse is a non-humans only establishment, Captain Doom has to wait outside, while Hiram, Brie, and Karl head inside to confront the Kronin. With Karl distracted, the two Cidi confront the bounty hunter. Apparently, he placed an impound on the All In based on a dubious title claim, and then sent a message via x-boat to Magnus Lothbrok back on Dpres. He believes that he can make Cr50,000 by holding the ship here until Retention, Retrieval, and Return, Inc. can arrive to commandeer the ship.

With the Travellers gathered back at the ship once again, they have Mama, ship’s AI computer, run facial recognition software on the images of the two men. They discover one in the highport database: Pyott Jankovy, son of the viceroy of Lubodin, one of the most prestigious countries on Caldos.

What does all of this mean? Until next time…

Why Are We Here?
For that matter, where are we?

The Travellers were in hyperspace for a week, with Captain Doom driving everyone crazy, while the others were trying to settle in. Karl was in his lab, Hiram in the engine room, Frank working out in the cargo hold, and Brie hanging out between the bridge and the community room. G. Hakra Deodant, the barrister, just kept getting frustrated.

The ship came out of hyperspace two parsecs trailing from Dpres, down the old Sindalian Main trade route towards Tyr. Between the two dominant systems lay a series of marginal worlds, Janus, Caldos, Sagan, the first and last lightly populated and relatively poor, the other populated and poor. But two parsecs trailing was an area without a solar system. This was not a problem for their starship, the All-In, because it held an auxiliary fuel tank making it capable of two jumps before needing to refuel.

Mama, the ship’s computer, announced that Low Passage number six was failing. But there were only five cold berths in the cryo pod. Where could the other one be? Dr. Karl and Hiram both came up with the idea of using the repair drones to find the broken unit that needed fixing. The drones found a concealed cargo space below the floor in the cargo bay with the missing cold berth, and a passenger inside!

Frank brought the passenger out of cryo sleep, only to discover that the passenger had been shot before he was placed in the pod. So the ship’s medic had to save the man from a wound he might have suffered weeks before. She stabilized him, and the the lawyer determined that he was one of the other inheritors he had been trying to locate after Irwin Ambrose Percival Zephyr the 5th disappeared, a fellow named Zero.

Zero, however, had memory issues known as cryo-amnesia, as a result of being in cold sleep for what was determined to be almost eleven months! He recalled playing cards with the man he knew as “John Smith,” and other high rollers on Caldos back on Last Day of last year, 365-1117. After that, nothing.

Mama announced that the ship had finished refueling, and off the ship went, back into hyperspace and onward to Caldos. It gave Zero a week to heal up, and the Travellers a chance to figure out what they wanted to do when they arrived. General consensus was that if Zero got shot on a world with severe legal restrictions on weapons, maybe it was someplace they didn’t want to investigate.

So that when they emerged from hyperspace, they just wanted to refuel and get as far away from the area as possible. While refueling, the ship is hailed by a system patrol boat, Captain Lara Stifel commanding, informing them that they have a torpedo attached to their hull! Where in the worlds did that come from?

Doom and Zero went out in EVA suits to open the bomb up and detach it from the ship’s hull, while Hiram depressurized the cargo bay and opened it up to allow the humans to haul the missile inside.

Upon examination, Karl and Hiram figure out that the torpedo was empty, but it had an extra chip, completely unnecessary and doing nothing, on the torpedo’s communications board. Pulling it, they discovered that it was a holo vid left by the late Mr. Zephyr, advising them to quit now and give up the ship, because other people were after it and willing to stop at nothing to get it, and it had brought him nothing but trouble since he had won it several weeks before.

The Travellers elected to travel into the high port and try to find out what information they could about the night Zephyr and Zero were attacked on the planet. But the Caldos Desert Scouts are a planet-based defense unit, the club they were attacked outside was located outside of the low port, and their just wasn’t much to be discovered up at the high port. Karl only was able to discover that the same bounty hunters that had attacked them leaving Dpres two weeks ago were the same hunters attacking Zero and Zephyr months before.

That left the Travellers with a decision to make: travel to the planet’s surface and try to unravel a murderous mystery about the All-In, or turn and run away from the Sindalian Main, never to return to these worlds again…

Five Strangers And A Barrister
Here's Your (Sur)Prise!

Five individuals gather at a lawyer’s office on D’Pres spaceport to receive an inheritance from a gambler they barely knew that owed each of them money. A holovid from the deceased is played, wherein they are all instructed to go to a particular address where their inheritance is kept. Upon arrival, they find a warehouse with a small starship inside. Immediately, a bounty hunter and his crew descend upon the building and attack. Given little choice, the Travellers and the barrister retreat aboard the relative safety of the starship, and they blast their way out of the warehouse and escape!

The fun doesn’t stop, because the Travellers quickly realize that they are not in control of the starship! Some program independent of the main computer is flying them out to the nearest jump point. And several fighters belonging to the repossession firm of Retention, Retrieval, and Return, Inc., plus a system defence boat from D’Pres starport are in hot pursuit.

The Travellers have just over an hour and a half before the enemy vessels get within range, but several minutes before they reach the jump point. They are still trying to wrest flight control away from the computer, while the gunners fight off the repo fighters. Just when it looks as if the little trade ship might be overcome by sheer numbers, the starship reaches the jump point and makes the jump to hyperspace!

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