The Liberty Hotel Bar
The stunningly beautiful redhead, Kimberley Wells, was enjoying a glass of expensive sparkling white wine with four of her ship's crew in the bar of the upmarket Liberty Hotel they were staying at. Seated beside her was one of her two best friends, nurse Gwendoline Papillion, whom she had known for the past ten years. Across the table were the ever alert bounty hunter hunter, Julia Frostorm, and a persuasive gunner, Jeanette Grey. They both sipped fruit juices, as they preferred to keep sober. Standing watch over the table was the metallic purple android, Celeste, ever vigilant and totally dedicated to protecting Kimberley at all costs. Her inbuilt sensors took in everything around her, assessing every other person in the room for a potential threat. She didn't eat, drink or sleep, and was deadly in combat, making her a perfect bodyguard.
Kimberley was an experienced 25 year old captain of a small independent scout ship called The Ace of Spades. They had docked at Cassandra Starport on the planet, Achamandra in the Eriel star system. Achamandra was the capital planet of the United Federation of Planets in the Phoenix star sector and was a jewel in the crown of the Federation. They had spent the past year exploring planets in the outer rim of the galaxy and were long overdue some rest and relaxation time.
Kimberley's crew consisted of 13 females and a young daggertooth cat. Of the ones not present at this informal gathering, pilot Storm Galloway was in command of The Ace of Spades in Kimberley's absence. Keeping her company on board were young computer hacker, Sharuna Randall, and the ship's matronly doctor, Judith Kramer, who was the owner of the pet daggertooth, whom she called Fizz. The two scouts, Katja Sondquist and her Venetian lover, Danica, were sleeping off a long and energetic nightclubbing session from the previous day. Cat burglar, Rebecca Ellington had joined them and she was also sound asleep in her room in the Liberty Hotel. Lynda Pelligrosso, the ship's research scientist, was visiting the research laboratories of the prestigious University of Achamandra. Finally, Kyran Calaveri, the ship's engineer and joint best friend of Kimberley was wandering the starport, checking out the other ships berthed there. It was something she liked to do whenever they docked at a starport.
"State your intention," Celeste said brusquely as the stranger drew closer. Her weapon arm was pointed straight at his head. He, however, was unarmed and he smiled cheerily at Kimberley, clearly recognising her and totally ignoring the android.
"It's okay, Celeste," Kimberley announced. "He's a friend. Let him be. Hello, Banderhaven. Come and join us. I haven't seen you for a long while."
Banderhaven had known Kimberley's dead fiancé, Buck Hanson, very well, having tipped him off to a few lucrative jobs in the past. As he took a seat, he placed an empty beer glass on the table.
"Noice to see you again, Kimberley," he spoke Basic Anglic, the common tongue of the Federation, with a notable Borian accent.
A passing waiter filled up Banderhaven's empty glass and Kimberley introduced him to the rest of her crew, although he knew Gwendoline already, as she had also served under Buck Hanson.
"Could be, " Kimberley replied non-committally. "It depends what you're offering."
He took a rough knuckled hand and banged it against his left thigh. It made a dull, metallic thud.
The address read, "Mearc Sterling. Harrigan's Hotel, Room 505. 10am."
Meeting the Clients
The battered, paint peeling door to room 505 stood at the end of a dark, sooty, foul-smelling corridor, where the visitors were obliged to step over a few prostrate forms of the dregs who seemed to inhabit port towns of every place and age.
"Banderhaven sent us," Kimberley replied. "We understand you're looking to hire some mercs."
voice told them to wait. Julia could hear muffled low-voices arguing
about something but was unable to make out the details. Eventually the
door was noisily unlocked and swung open to show the ugly muzzle of a
large-calibre automatic pistol. The weapon was held by a handsome young
man dressed in worn fatigues and a mesh-lined armoured coat.
"Come in," he said in a tight voice, "but no sudden moves."
(I briefly went into combat mode here. Julia easily beat the gunman for Initiative. She spent 2d6 of her 6d6 Martial Arts attack to utilise her Arm Lock exploit. She inflicted 1d6 for damage and rolled a 2, which he was not allowed to SOAK. She was stronger, faster and far more skilled than he was. The fight was over in the blink of an eye.)
"Don't you ever point a gun at me or my friends again!" Julia snarled angrily.
The gunman looked into her steely brown eyes and saw no mercy there.
"Please don't hurt me," he sobbed tearfully as he was forced to his knees. He couldn't believe how fast she was. He was convinced she was going to snap every bone in his wrist.
A pretty young brunette woman seated at a desk screamed, "Royce, you bloody fool!"
Standing beside her, a young male with blonde hair and a tanned complexion furiously declared, "Dammit, Royce, I told you to settle down."
Kimberley yelped, "Whoa, calm down everyone!"
"Let him go, Julia," Gwendoline pleaded. "I'm sure it was a misunderstanding."
No one heard Jeanette quietly say, "This could be fun," as she gripped the butt of her phaser pistol in preparation for a fast draw.
The blonde haired male turned to the party and introduced himself. "Hello. I'm Mearc Sterling and these are my colleagues, Sheas Danelish... and that hothead is Royce Tavahi."
He looked to be in his late 20's. He had long blonde hair and a moustache and he wore combat fatigues and a Kevlar vest. A large slugger pistol was holstered on his right hip.
"I assume you're here about the job," he continued. "It's quite simple really. We're from the Sterling Agricultural Colony on Breuse. It's a small farming co-op in the northern half of the eastern hemisphere. We've been making a good go of it - that is until recently. A few weeks before we left, bandits started raiding the colony. Not much at first, just random harassment of some of the outlying farms. But, things have gotten steadily worse. Two days before we left, the raiders attacked the colony centre. Four people were killed and seven wounded. My father, Alfred Sterling, the Colony Director and founder, was one of the wounded."
"He decided that we had to defend ourselves, but we aren't soldiers. We've tried everything - the Patrol was no help, can't get involved in planetary disputes or some such nonsense. The system Governor is looking the other way and the mercs on planet want more than we can offer. So, dad sent us here, hoping we could hire a couple of mercenaries or guards who would be willing to train us to fight, and to help us defend the colony."
"We can't pay much cash up front - just enough to get you there safely and comfortably - because the harvest won't be in for another five months. Most of the little money we have will go to buy weapons. we are, however, prepared to offer two shares of the colony's yearly profits for the next five years to each of you who is willing to take the job. That's the best we can do. Will you help us?"
"We'll do it," Kimberley replied boldly and without hesitation. "Julia here is a skilled combat instructor and has taught most of my crew how to fight. As you have seen, she is very, very good."
Mearc and Sheas nodded approvingly and Royce blushed in shame.
Mearc provided a standard legal contract, binding the team to protect the colonists from the raiders and instruct them in basic combat techniques. The party had the option to void the contract at any time, forfeiting any pay not already received. The colony could void the contract only if the hirelings did not fulfil the duties as specified.