Knight of Shadow

By Roger Willcocks

Colour Designation: Green
Minimum SCL: 9
Training Package Recommended: 1x Medical Required
1x I&I/Forensic/Exploratory (additional to Medical above) required
2x Combat Operatives Required
Pilot/Navigator preferred
Consolidated Pay: 1600c per Squad
Contact: Paul Anderson, Department of Exploration
Coverage: Station Analysis
Summary: Operatives required for first contact survey. Suspected human colony world. Departmental of Racial Employment exemption Special requirement - human only operatives. Other operatives may be considered based on prior experience and record. Expected duration 3 months.

GMs only info

Eremas 417 is suspected of being a lost colony based on primitive microwave transmissions received at Outpost #436-768. The transmissions feature television and radio broadcasts. There is evidence of human inhabitants, no mention of other species has been noted. Exploration wants a squad for survey, to determine resource and technology levels before approaching the system overtly.

The transmissions were being sent from a Thresher station planted there over 30 years ago. The transmissions were intended to entice SLA in and entrap them in another War World in order to divert forces from Dante. The situation changed, and the transmissions were cancelled almost twenty years ago. This won't be noticed at Outpost #436-768 for another ten years, although the absence of transmission will be noticeable to any vessel arriving in system.

There is a human population on planet, with a technology slightly above the Middle Ages. There are some relics of advanced technology, unreliable and used by 'sorcerers'. There is a single Thresher vessel hidden on planet, and no longer capable of space flight.

Travel

A series of folds and transfers among the Exploration fleet, logistics for this number of vessels is a nightmare, so it would not be too surprising if the squad misses a connection or two, or ends up having to back track to a transfer point. Most fleet freighters transfer cargo from a central store to any of 4 or 5 lesser stores further out towards the periphery of known space. This allows the pilots, etc to become familiar with their routes, improving their efficiency. (It also increases smuggling, but hey, it's all good.)

The squad will typically arrive at a depot, wait for their transfer to arrive, board, fold to the next depot, and so on, further and further out. The further they go, the older and more obsolete the vessels get. Vessels in the core systems get transferred further away as newer ones are manufactured.

Arrival at Outpost #436-768

Upon arrival at Outpost #436-768, commonly called the Vagabond by the residents, the squad will have to wait a week or so for the scout to arrive to transport them to Eremas 417. By this point, the squad should be aware that they are already approaching a month of delays, if the return trip is similar, that will leave them little more than a month to conduct 'an in depth survey' of 'a lost human colony world of uncertain technological advancement'.

Arriving on Eramas 417

Upon arrival in system, it will be noted that by the pilot that the transmissions recorded by the Vagabond are no longer in evidence. Depending on how the Ops have been treating him, he may mention this before setting them down.

The Ops may choose any reasonable landing zone on the planet, but in order to fulfil their mission requirements, they will need to select a point relatively close to a major population centre, within 300-400 kilometres. Because the technological level is significantly lower than expected, if they set down at the outer limit of that range, it will take them well over a week to approach any civilised area, further limiting their full survey time, but allowing them to acquire information allowing them to construct suitable cover stories, and an idea of what is actually going on.

What is going on

From the Ops point of view, instead of a early twentieth century equivalent society, which their briefing lead them to expect, they are stuck in a mid Iron Age society, few chemical projectile weapons, basic mills, almost entirely hand production. There are a few relics of Conflict Era technology, but don't bother inflicting any of it on them unless they antagonise someone to the point that the local 'sorcerer' gets called in to handle the problem. Things they can find out:
Local slang
Local clothing
Local news
Appropriate level of technology
The enemy kingdom is on the brink of invading
There's a civil war brewing in the enemy kingdom

Here comes trouble

The real fun begins when the Ops reach the population centre they were headed for. Some time around when the Ops arrive, a day or two either side, the Thresher drop ship arrives, and demands tribute. The Ops will be clearly able to identify it as an atmospheric capable space craft, but will probably not recognise it as Thresher unless they have had extensive contact. The ship is a small scout class, and the type is not often used in direct attacks against SLA. About a week after the Thresher vessel arrives, members of the city council, having arrived at an agreement with the vessels crew, will attempt to declare a state of emergency to deal with the approaching army. Opposing factions in the council will attempt to variously, stage a coup in an attempt to hand the city over to the army, with whom they have made a deal, assassinate other members of the council to settle old debts, or to prevent one or the either of the first two events from occurring. The crew of the vessel will also seize the opportunity to make covert attacks against the city to remove member likely to oppose them.

The crew of the vessel are planing to allow the army to attack the city, and then destroy the winning force, thereby gaining control with the minimum of risk. The reason for this is that the vessel is beginning to deteriorate increasingly quickly due to the lack of repair facilities. The crew want to secure a permanent secure base before this occurs.

The overall result is chaos. The Ops can either stick around and tough it out, make deals for personal profit, or cut and run till the fighting stops. Be warned, some members of the ruling council are 'sorcerers', and have access to odd items of high technology, which can pose some surprises. All of them are highly skilled in political intrigue, deniability, and enough cunning to put a Cloak operative to shame.

The scout ship will arrive to pick up the Ops approximately one week after the army makes it to the city. The return trip will take around half the time of the outward trip, and a preliminary debrief will occur at the outpost.

Octavius

The kingdom of Octavius is currently ruled by Janis. Janis is an expansionist ruler who seeks to bring the entire continent under his control. Their army is currently bearing down on the city where the Ops find themselves on their intelligence-gathering mission. The Ops will have little or no opportunity to make contact with ranking members of the kingdom, but may come into rank and file soldiers, and the commander of the approaching army, General Barath.

D'Argaville

The city of D'Argaville is situated in an easily defensible position between two river valleys. It is a major trading centre, and was originally constructed over and around a series of silver mines. These mines riddle the subsurface and are used as smugglers tunnels, sewers and storage areas. The population is approximately 27,000 people, two thirds of whom live within the city walls. The remainder are either farmers, or slum dwellers in the shantytown around the city proper.

Officially, a council rules the city. The council members elect new members from the noble families in the city. In truth, the Cabal, a group of influential 'sorcerers', usually makes the major policy decisions. Many of the Cabal and council members maintain private spy networks to gain information and influence over each other.

The city itself is primitive; the streets run with refuse and sewage, the stench is almost intolerable to anyone who has spent days in the country. Fortunately, it really doesn't smell that bad compared to Mort.

Once things begin to go to pot, there will be assassins roaming the rooftops, and occasionally losing to Thresher suits, who are under orders to protect the secret of their activities at all costs. Many of the noble families will be desperately recruiting guards, and/or attempting to flee to their 'country estates' to avoid the coming siege. The Thresher crew are locating and eliminating 'sorcerers' who have equipment capable of harming them, their vessels scans are capable of picking up powered energy and vibro weapons that remain in the same place for more than a day, and the same, as well as projectile weapons, when actively used.

Wrapup

The Ops need to make it back to the agreed landing site, or contact the ship to arrange alternative co-ordinates. Their orders are not to attract attention, so somewhere away from the city would be best. Unfortunately, this almost certainly means finding a way through a force of 14,000 men, possibly during a pitched battle, without being captured.

Assuming they make it to the ship, they will be attacked by the Thresher vessel attempting to leave atmosphere. The Thresher vessel cannot follow them into space, so they can simply out run it. The Thresher crew are trying to prevent SLA finding out that they are there, knowing it will mean their capture or death.

Arriving at the outpost, a preliminary debriefing will be conducted by Station Chief Andersons secretary, and forwarded to Mort, while the Ops make their return somewhat slower.

Personalities

Navigator Slick SCL 6c
Ebon navigator, the Ops first pilot out from Mort A little self impressed, but a good source of information Channels information to Dark Lament frequently, and to Cloak when specifically requested to do so Slick has two associates who recently went 'Nec', and is himself approaching the point of requiring White Noise to operate effectively Slick was born on Static, and raised on Mort.

Station Head Anderson
Human Administration SCL 11, approved for SCL 7 access Anderson is a drunk and an incompetent The only reason he is employed, even at this distance from Mort, is because he has blackmail material on two of his superiors relating to financial indiscretions. Most members of the outpost ignore him and just do their jobs. Anderson insists on meeting all new arrival in his office, and giving the 'We run a tight ship' speech. He is prissy and tidy to a fault, but never actually accomplishes anything beyond hiding his alcohol dependence.

Scout Captain Harris SCL 8.4
Human Pilot/Navigator Late fifties Pilots an old but serviceable scout ship, capable of interstellar and atmospheric flight Harris is somewhat grumpy about everything, but likes a good yarn He respects anyone who will stand up to his deliberately overbearing attitude without themselves going over the top. Likes to play card and drinking games when not on duty. Has participated in over twenty exploration insertions, and would be a good source of advice if the Ops get him on side.

General Barath
Mid forties, looks older. Has spend the last 30 years fighting. Disillusioned with the king, but is loyal on his honour. Many higher-ranking members of the army also share his disillusionment, and would gladly take the opportunity to rebel if he indicated that he was willing. The army is approximately 14,000 strong, but suffers from poor morale, and the deterioration of long fighting. On the other hand, some members have been fighting for so long that they are practically legends for their ability to survive.

Alchemist Rogak
Late fifties. Accomplished 'sorcerer', with access to significant knowledge and information above and beyond what is commonly known. Maintains a larger and more effective spy network than any councillor, as well as secretly being a member of the 'Cabal', the ruling 'sorcerers' who run the city from behind the scenes. Rogak greatly fears the coming of Octavius, known for persecuting 'sorcerers' He is one of two factions attempting to ally with the Thresher vessel His negotiations will succeed, resulting in the vessel remaining in the area

Sergeant Gregir
Late thirties. Heavily scarred. Very proficient with close combat weaponry. The sergeant is a member of the approaching army, and he and his squad of four men are in the city to collect intelligence prior to the siege beginning. When the army arrives, they plan to open one of the gates. The plan will fail, but will cause rioting in the streets. The sergeant and his men have been continuously at war for almost 12 years. They are the surviving members of a company that was part of a battalion that failed to do its job properly during a provincial uprising. Their sentence is to fight until they die, no breaks, no reprieves.

Councilman Kennis
Mid thirties. Member of the City Council, the group that officially runs the city. Renowned duellist, has killed 14 men in public duels. Maintains a large spy network, which is not nearly as effective as he believes. Kennis favours allying with Octavius in return for greater power. He will work by attempting to persuade the council to capitulate

Councilman Lyra
Early forties. Lyra is one of three female councillors. She is one of two factions attempting to ally with the Thresher vessel. Her negotiations will fail, at which point she will begin hiring professional assassins to eliminate pro-Octavian members of the council. Lyra is a member of the largest trading house in the city, and has significant resources to draw upon.

Star Captain Turos
Late sixties. Turos is the commander of the Thresher scout ship 'Azath'. He and his crew have been stranded for almost twenty years, without the means to restore either their long-range communications, or their breached hull, to a level sufficient to effect a return home. There are only 11 crewmembers left, and only 3 Thresher scout suits remain operational. These suits render them virtually invulnerable to anything the locals can throw at them short of a catapult stone; they use the suits to obtain supplies. The suits are prone to malfunction if used for extended periods, and cannot be repaired with local materials. The suits are being used to conduct aerial reconnaissance and assaults prior to the Octavian army arriving in position. All the crew members are elderly, and their combat skills have deteriorated along with their suits.

Synopsis

The Ops are operating under fairly heavy time constraints, they have equipment that is vastly superior to almost anything that can be brought against them, but using it will instantly identify them as outsiders, or 'sorcerers'. They will arrive in a city in turmoil, where their advanced equipment will make them much sought after if they make themselves know, but excessive use will attract the attention of the Thresher personnel, who will immediately target them as a high risk. There is significant danger of being caught in riots or pitched battles, and there is of course no LAD available.

The players can be introduced to animals and conditions that no longer exist inside the World Of Progress, which may prompt them to begin wondering why, and what benefit there is. Many will no doubt also seize on the opportunities for profit these present.

There is an excellent opportunity to trade or loot for precious metals and gems, which could be put to later black-market use, or sold via discrete channels on the way back.

They have the opportunity to explore aspects of interstellar commerce and exploration that they have probably not encountered before, and may learn useful information or acquire contacts that can be of assistance in later missions.