Debriefing of this episode is pending.
Adventure Log: En Route
The jump back into regular space is uneventful. Similarly to the first jump, Captain Corelli announces that the Autumn Gold will be re-entering normal space within one hour. The announcement is made at 8am so, unlike the prior jump where you were awoken in the middle of your sleep, you are wide awake and in the passenger lounge. Dr. Roh, is there of course with his instruments and sensors recording various measurable such as pressure, sound, magnetic, micro, and ultraviolet waves.
At the 5 minute mark, the Autumn Gold’s jump drive begins to hum and whine as it builds up speed. However, unlike the last jump, the rattling and shaking of the ship, as the turbines reach a fevered RPMs, is more normal (although there is always rattling and shaking in jumps). With 30 seconds to go, the lights dim as the jump drives is nearing its peak capacity and is drawing every drop of power from the ships power plant.
Dr. Roh is very excited because he is getting new and different readings this time… he says, “Very interesting, the magnetic and microwaves are different after the maintenance cycle of a jump drive. I need to examine the maintenance records of test data to see if the ships that had the fatalities in low berth were current in their jump drive maintenance.”
After the always unsettling re-entry into regular space, Captain Corelli announces, “Welcome to Walston. We are 7 hours from landing so please relax with the xboat data and news that we are receiving now. We expect to land this afternoon 3pm.”
After a few minutes the xboat news and messages are downloaded into the Autumn Gold
The hours fly by as you digest the xboat news and entertainment files. Around 3pm the Autumn Gold lands at Startown on the main island on Walston.
The startown is small, perhaps only 600 people is really more of a village, with most of the buildings half-underground. As you are descending, those of you in the passenger lounge (the large windows are the best place to see out), notice the very large mountains to the east of Startown run the as far as the eye can see both north and south. To the west and southwest, you notice rolling fields and hills. The oceans are crystal clear and blue and after the dreariness of 567-908, your spirits are already lifted.
You also notice that no other starships are present in landing area.
As the ship touches down, a swarm of Vargr, wearing maintenance uniforms rush from the maintenance buildings to shore-up the Autumn Gold , begin refueling and unloading of the cargo.
A human female, meticulous dressed in a Scout supervisor uniform that was just pressed and washed, stands with a clipboard watching the activities of the Vargr and occasionally shouts at the Vargr, who overt their eyes and rush even faster, “SAFETY FIRST! Take your time, but hurry your vermin!”
For those of you who have not met Vargr in your travellers, they are a strange sight at first. Basically they look like wolves with human bodies. The ships library has the following information about Vargr:
As you disembark from the_ Autumn Gold_, this scout supervisor rushes forward to you and says “I am Assistant Port Supervisor Kesi Fesh and on behalf of Ellcry Counsel, we welcome you to Walston. I see from your markings the transmitted signature that your ship is the Autumn Gold. Who might be the captain and what names shall I entered on your custom sheets?” She clicks her heals as she finishes and stands perfecting straight awaiting your answer.
Captain Corelli steps forward and says “I am Captain Corelli, the owner of the Autumn Gold. Here are my crew,” she gestures to her crew. “I will take the custom forms for them as well.” She points towards NEW, Dr. Roh and the other couple that was also passengers, “These are my declared passengers.”
Port Supervisor Fesh nods and hands Captain Corelli a stack of forms, ’These are our N-1A individual declaration custom forms. I have also included our N-2 forms for declaring any cargo you are bringing through customs." She turns to face everyone and announces “Walston is a civilized world and is an Imperial member. All weapons say blades and stunner are STRICTLY prohibited. Only medicinal drugs are allowed and all other drugs are grounds for immediate deportation or worse.” Dr. Roh looks around nervously.
She continues, “we have very strict rules regarding what information you can bring into Walston….. you are prohibited of bringing any manufacturing technologies and political propaganda. This list,” she hands you a two page sheet, “is a list of those banned topics that you cannot talk about with vargr.” You scan the list and it includes all manner of politics, questions regarding their status in society and any topics related to revolts or equal rights.
“If you are caught communicating with a Vargr in any other than providing instructions for service or instructions you face immediate deportation or worse.”
“Psionic activities is prohibited. If you are caught engaged in psionic activity you will face immediate deportation or worse.”
“We encourage you to support our local economy by purchasing some of our universally-unique Walston Rum, made from our special grown sugarcane. The Art of Blending has become synonymous with Walston Rums. During our unique, and highly secretive, special blending process, each rum is carefully selected and hand blended to create various Walston offerings each with a unique character, flavor and aroma. Described as a glorious combination of art and science, Walston’s Master Blender, Joy Spence, noses and tastes each barrel to ensure the unmistakable quality Walston is known for around the subsector is in every bottle. Any attempt to export our recipe or technology related any element of our specially grown sugarcanes and our blending and distilling process you will face immediate deportation or worse.”
“Now please complete your immigration forms, and head to Processing Station 2. Enjoy your stay on Walston!” She smiles.
Assistant Port Supervisor Fesh is quite attractive. She is about 5’7", thin with blonde hair (very similar to the picture above) and appears to be in her early 30s. Every stitch of her uniform is in place and her boots are polished to a shine. She is all smiles with you but can quickly lose the smile as she barks orders to the subservient vargr.
She unfazed by your questions and smiles between her answers:
“Walston visitors may store any items that will not be brought through customs in a our storage facility on level 2.” She points towards a hallway leading to a large elevator. “There is a fee of 25 credits a day for a personal size locker that is 4×2×1. We also offer lockers as large as 10×10×2 for 500 credits per day. Each locker is protected by a keylock coded to your fingerprint only.”
“We also have warehouses for rent within the starport for large items, such as vehicles, that you are not bringing through customs.”
“I see that you do have ATVs on your manifest…. you may bring an ATV through customs for a vehicle tax of 500 credits. Vehicles with weapons would not be allowed through but your ATV does not appear to have weapons declared according to the manifest sent by Captain Corelli earlier today.”
As Fesh recites the rules and answers your various questions, Lars is able to slip away from the main group, still within the landing area, without anyone noticing. As you slip away, you see vargr maintenance personnel rushing to and fro, ignoring you. YOu have not seen any other human at this point.
Fenris, as you take in your surroundings, you don’t notice anything unusual except this is one of the cleanest and most organized starports you have ever seen. You also notice that Fesh is the only human you have seen. The rest of the individuals are vargr. You also do not spot any guards or spy cameras either.
In response to your attempts to get Fesh to talk about herself or agree to provide you with a personal tour of the Walston rum distilleries, Assistant Port Supervisor Fesh simply says, with a completely straight face, “I don’t mix pleasure with deportation or worse. Enjoy your stay on Walston.”
In response to Fenris’ questions, “On Walston, code section 345.3(a) states that any starship that lands anywhere outside of startown without expressed and specific instructions from the Ellscry Council shall be deemed to be a smuggler regardless of their actual cargo. Smugglers face immediate deportation or worse.”
“Walston is small and Startown is the only place that has refueling and maintenance and we are not aware of any underground starport. While we do not have a space navy, we do have satellites that track ships entering and exiting our system and we would know if ships were entering our atmosphere but failing to land at startown. Our records, like I said earlier do show two ships that do have a recorded landing at startown, they would be deemed to be smugglers.”
“I do remember the Maverick and her crew. Our records show that the vessel came through Startown a couple of times over the past year. The last time was 2 months ago, as I told you. I remember the crew being very rude and offensive when I explained to them the customs declaration obligations. They were also quite infamous in town; destroying hotel rooms and skipping out on bills. I am sure that if you ask around in town you can learn more about the crew— they left quite a negative impression.”
She continues to answer your questions, "Walston has lots of rolling hills, " she gives you a glossy map. “Technically speaking any semi-qualified smuggler could land in 1,000s of places. Our satellite records are available for public inspection by travelling to Hople, the capital of Walston. Hople can be reached by taking our railservice which runs a daily train to Hople.”
In response to Jason’s comments about paying a double ATV import fee, Assistant Supervisor Fesh states, in a matter-of-fact way, “I have to refuse your offer to pay an additional fee. My record keeping log do not allow me to adjust the amount collected and any overage in my records would lead to my immediate departure or worse.”
Assistant Port Supervisor Fesh, watches Kreios carry his arsenal by [HAHAHAH_- the image in my mind was Jane from Firefly], and looking to be helpful she says, “You can bring the book read through customs….. so long as it doesn’t have any of the prohibit items listed on Form 5.” She smiles.
WHen your belongs, including the ATV have been unloaded from the Autumn Gold, Captain Corelli approaches you and says, “I guess this is where we part. Thank you again for your assistance in saving my ATVs back on 567-908. I won’t forget it. If you need me, send me a message via the xboat system.”
[What are you doing with the ATV? Taking it through customs? Storing in a warehouse there? Selling?]
Centrix, who has been studying the ship’s library (knowing that you are about to lose the Autumn Gold) peppers you with details about Walston.
After you get through customs you find that Startown is nothing more than a village. It has a couple of decent hotels [this trip is being billed to Borderline but going forward this is when we will normally deduct your weekly expenses] and restaurants. If you ask around you find out the train to Hople leaves tomorrow morning at 6am and takes 10 hours to get to the capital. Lars [and I am assuming the rest of you], heads to one of the hotel bars. The bars have a few humans and mostly vargr. One vargr, a young male, makes his way over to your table, releasing that humans are not from Walston (not hard to do when there are only 50 humans per town). He introduced himself as Karlow Paes. He says, “Are you aware of the discrimination on this planet?
The Ellscry council won’t let vargr serve in any capacity except slave. I have with me a petition,” he pulls some crumbled papers from inside his jacket and says, “to force Ellscry Council to provide equal rights to Vargr. As an outsider, you have the opportunity to help suport the Vargr. Would you sign? Also, would you be willing to take our story offworld to the Imperial Subsector government?”
[backtracking in time—- You learn from talking with Fesh that you cannot drive to Hople through the mountains without issues— it would be a dangerous trip over the mountains (there is a road however) in her opinion. She does indicate that the ATV would be fine for any travel on the west side of the mountain range but the fastest way to Hople is by train. She also adds that you can safely take the ATV through customs and leave in the locked warehouse while you take the train, if you are so inclined.
Sarah notes that Captain Corelli could be asked to use the Autumn Gold’s sensors when they take off and report any results before they leave the system.
Taking your comments as rejection, Karlow Paes dejectedly drops his eyes in shame, places the crumbled papers back in his worn jacket, and turns and walks away, head down.
You spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in Startown and nothing unusual happens. You do observe the humans bossing the vargr around, making them move seats, clean up skills caused by the humans… basically treating them like slaves. You never once observe any physical assaults on the vargr; just a sense of elitism and entitlement from the humans (which manifests itself in the form of short, terse tones when ordering a vargr around) and a sense of acceptance in the tone of the vargr.
You hear other stories about the crew of the Maverick. In particular two vargr are thrilled that are interested in their opinions and they talk over each other (like two small children vying for the attention of grandma) about what the crew did in town. Basically through their rapid fire statements you learn that the crew was real jerks, loud-mouthed and offensive to the vargr. When asked how they compare to the native humans, they report that the humans here are nice to the vargr (you find it interesting that the bossing and short tones that you have observed are received as “nice”) but the crew was very hateful.
You also learn that the crew returned to Startown after leaving with the Maverick. Except they did not come back with Maverick, instead they returned in an Air/Raft and boarded a merchant ship headed for Caladbolg about 2 months ago. One of the vargr adds, “they sold the air/raft to my cousin, Yunnr, who was thrilled to have a vehicle! But the Ellscry Council seized it and did not give him his money back! They said that vargr can’t own property.”
Finally, a man comes over and says in a harsh tone to the vargr, “Beat it you two…. can’t you see the finer race,” he gestures to your table, "has had quiet enough of your dribble. " The two vargr scurry off. Once they are gone, the man says, “friends, you have to understand that you are not obligated to even talk with vargr unless you want them to do something for you. I can see you are new here, so I figured that I should clue you in to how things work around here. My name is Griff Benson, field supervisor of Walston Rum Inc. Are you all part of the expansion to open another processing center?”
Griff rubs his jaw, grimaces as if he was thinking hard, “Maverick….. I’ve heard of her… we all have.. that Captain Mohrong and his crew were a piece of work. They wrecked this town, skipped on bills and basically really disrupted live around here. We were glad to see them ago. As for the Maverick, I don’t know what happened to her. We were just glad that they are gone.”
“Glad to hear that you are to transport our rum offworld….our startown is not large enough for massive exporting so we do hope that passing free traders like yourselves will load up on the rum. It is the best in the subsector, maybe even the sector, and will command a high price!”
The vargr barkeep arrives with the drinks Fenris ordered and Griff grabs one off the tray, lifts it high in the air, turning to the entire bar, and says loudly, “Welcome New Era Works, are newest exporter! Cheers!” He swallows the rum shot in one glup.
As you take your shots, you have to admit the rum is really good. Perhaps this would command premium prices offworld…..
[the Walston Rum is so good, that you can add +5DM to the trading rules we have set up in the forums.]
As you are enjoying the rum and calculating the economics of trade, 6 heavily armed humans burst into the bar. They are dressed in black leather uniforms. They are all wearing black knee-high leather boots, newly shined and gleaming, and matching leather gloves. They all have ear comms. Each has a black leather utility belt that contains a couple of small aerosol cans (probably mace), handcuffs, and billyclub. Finally, each carries a silver stunstick which is held in one hand. They don’t look like amateurs.
Two of them take of positions on either side of the main entrance. The leader of the group scans the small bar as the other three fan out around the room.
“I am Senior Enforcer Agent Tanner and by order of the Ellscry Council all vargr are ordered to lie on the ground immediately! Failure to comply will result in immediate arrest or worse!”
Immediately, all the vargr (about 30 in all— both patrons and workers) fall to the ground, face down. All except one, Karlow Paes, who drops to one knee, hesitates, and then makes a run for the kitchen. Senior Enforcer Agent Tanner quickly nods to two of the guards who rush to block the kitchen exit. Karlow is about 15 feet from the kitchen entrance the guards block that way, turns, panic in his eyes (as it is heard to gauge the facial reactions of a vargr with all the hair), and breaks for the hallway to the restrooms, does a roll to avoid a swing of the stunstick by one of the guards. Another guard attempts to jab him with a stunstick as he comes out of his roll, but he shifts his body weight in an amazing way, and slides across a table, sending all the glasses flying. He lands on both feet and rushes toward the bathroom hallway. You are impressed with the speed and agility of this vargr.
Senior Enforcer Agent Tanner gestures for the other guard to pursue. Upon receiving the instruction the other guard rushes after Farlow who is now trapped…there are no exits in the bathroom hallway. Farlow attempts to entered the female bathroom .. he rattles the handle a few times … its locked. He begins to shout, “You have the wrong vargr… I have done nothing.. please…. don’t hurt my family…..they are innocent…” He moves to the men’s bathroom door and attempts to open it. The door swings open and he rushes in and tries to close the door behind him. By this time the guard reaches the door and jams his foot between the door to keep it from closing. There is a struggle for ownership of the door as Karlow attempts to push it shut and the guard is trying to pushing it open. You are impressed at the strength and absent the guards foot in the door, Karlow would have easily overpowered the guard and closed the d oor. As they are struggling the other two guards join the third and one of them jams the stunstick through the opening of the door and you hear a loud popping, sizzling noise followed immediately by a blood curdling scream from Karlow.
The stunstick does it job as Karlow drops to his knees in pain and abandons his attempt to close the door. With the resistance gone, the guards quickly shove the door open; the door handle smashing Karlow in the facing drawing blood from one of his eyes and knocking him onto his back. The bloodied eye socket is not enough pain to draw his arms away his mid-section where the stunstick hit him. The guards drag him, face first, out of the bathroom back to Senior Enforcer Agent Tanner and force him into a kneeling position.
Senior Enforcer Agent Tanner, places his hands behind his back and in a very condescending tone says, “Karlow you know what happens to vargr who refuse to embrace their role on Walston?”
Silence from Karlow.
“Oh, sure you do but let me remind you. First, we arrest your children and wife and re-program them. I’m sure you know about re-programming.”
“NO! Please don’t!” Karlow struggles to say, blood drinking off his fur onto the floor.
“You should have thought about that before you decided to organize a rebellion,” snaps Tanner.
“Please, it was just me… I haven’t recruited anyone….. it is just my idea… please leave my family alone…[sobs]……please…..,”
Senior Enforcer Agent Tanner, ignores the sobs, and continues, “After the re-programming of your family, its your turn. I haven’t decided yet what I will do with you. What would you suggest?”
“…[sobs]… please….. mercy….”
“Rebels get no mercy,” says Tanner. He gestures at the guards who are holding Karlow up, “search him, perhaps he has something of value that will lead us to the other rebels.”
As the guards search him, Senior Agent Tanner sweeps the room with his gaze. The humans are drinking and watching, most with a smug look… the look that says ‘vargr are always causing trouble’ The remaining vargr are still laying face down.. not one has moved.
Tanner walks slowly to the first vargr that is lying face down; a young female that served drinks in the bar. His boots make a echoing clicking sound as he slowly walks towards her. As he walks he lowers his hand that is holding the stunstick so that the end of the stunstick is touching the back of the neck of the girl. Addressing the room, he says, “If any of you vargr are part of the rebellion now would be a good time to confess. Things might be better for you. However, if I find out later that you are part of the rebellion …. well, let me put it this way, you will be begging for the ‘or worse part’.” He places one of his boots between her shoulder blades, shifting his weight onto her and flicks the switch of the stunstick, jamming it into the neck of the young girl. Her screams are horrifying as she struggles to escape the pain of the shock. The weight of his boot across her back forces her to take the full 10 second punishment. You ha ve trouble not misting up as your comprehend her agony as reported by her screams, which are half-screams of pain and half-crying.
Finally, Senior Enforcer Agent Tanner relents and turns back to Karlow. By this point the guards have found the crumbled petition in his worn jacket. They hand it to Tanner, who says “Karlow…this is the second time you have lied to me tonight. There is a quite a few names on this petition.” He scans the list, “Oh, this is will be most helpful in uncovering and arresting the rebels.” He continues to read the petition, “Oh, so you rebels are threatening to stop laboring in the production of the rum unless the Ellscry Council grants the vargr equal rights under the law.” He laughs and tucks the petition inside his cloth uniform.
“Karlow its time that you and I became good friends.”
He gestures for the guards to lift him up. “You are coming with me. You might want to say goodbye to the rest of your vargr friends here… its not likely that they will recognize you the next time you might see them…. if ever.”
Turning to the humans, he says “Goodnight ladies and gentlemen, the Ellscry Council sends its greetings,” with that he bows slightly as the guards drag Karlow out the door and crisply turns and follows them out.
Karlow is screaming for help as he is removed, “Help me! They are going to torture and kill me and my family! Have mercy and help!”
And they are gone.