Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Ace of Spades Campaign - Raid on Sterling part 02

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.
As the five crew members were gathered in the bar early that evening, a red-skinned Borian male approached them.
"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.
"Are you lookin' for work?" the cheerful Borian asked after downing half his pint in one slug.
"Could be, " Kimberley replied non-committally. "It depends what you're offering."
 "Well, Oi was over at the starport earlier this afternoon, and Oi ran into an old college buddy o' mine - name's Mearc Sterling. He's workin' a farming colony out on the rim with his old man. Seems they're havin' some trouble with marauders out there, and they're lookin' to hire a team to run the bandits off. Oi would've taken the job moiself, 'cept Oi got half moi leg shot off on moi last mission."
He took a rough knuckled hand and banged it against his left thigh. It made a dull, metallic thud.
"Anyway, soon after that, Oi met your engineer, Kyran, and she told me where you were stayin'. So, thinkin' you moight be interested in this job I found out where Mearc and his "delegation" were holed up. Boy, Oi never thought Oi'd hear old Mearc havin' a delegation. Next, he'll be running for sector Governor. Anyway, here's the address if you're interested. If this works out, you guys owe me one." He finished his beer and wandered off, merging with the thick crowd.
The address read, "Mearc Sterling. Harrigan's Hotel, Room 505. 10am."
Meeting the Clients
Next morning, the five crew members followed Banderhaven's instructions and found them standing in the lobby of a run-down hotel not far from a busy and noisy refuelling station at the starport. A short conversation with the drowsy desk clerk sent them to the fifth floor in a rickety, open cage elevator. All five were armed - Julia, who had taken point carried a holstered laser pistol and a knife on her belt, Kimberley was armed with a 10mm autopistol, Gwendoline had swapped her phaser rifle for a phaser pistol, Jeanette was also armed with a phaser pistol and Celeste had her inbuilt disruptor pistol fitted to her right arm. They weren't looking for trouble, but given that the Harrigan's Hotel was situated in one of the rougher areas of Cassandra, they felt it necessary to be prepared should something untoward happened.
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.
 Julia knocked on the door and a timid sounding, "Who is it?" came from within.
"Banderhaven sent us," Kimberley replied. "We understand you're looking to hire some mercs."
The 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."
He was confident that the strangers would comply without question, so he was totally unprepared when Julia struck. Without even looking at him, she shot her right arm out and grabbed the gunman by the wrist, which she cruelly and deftly twisted and bent behind his back, forcing him to drop his pistol as he screamed in agony.
(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.
All at once numerous voices shouted out as one.
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.
Julia released her grip and even helped the crestfallen Royce back to his feet. He avoided all eye contact with her and stood with his head bowed as if fascinated by something on his boots. Sensibly, he made no move to retrieve his dropped pistol.
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?"
Sterling was telling the truth. They only had 60,000 Credits in cash, and 55,000 of that was earmarked for the purchase of supplies. Two shares of the colony's profits added up to 30,000 Credits per year, payable once a year, at the end of the year. In total, the crew of The Ace of Spades would receive 390,000 Credits per year for the next five years.
"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.


  1. A very nice Sunday morning read. The scenery looks very nice too.

    1. Thank you kindly, Phil. The scenery is a combination of the Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse and Sci-fi 2 terrain sets. You'll be seeing a lot more of it in future posts.

  2. Nicely presented and written, Bryan. Top stuff

  3. I've SO looked forward to this, and you've certainly not disappointed Bryan. Great narrative and accompanying photo's! I agree with Phil - the scenery is superb.
    Kimberley obviously doesn't suffer from a lack of confidence... or trust, her character is beginning to show already.
    Excellent start to the campaign, and I'll be avidly following the crew's exploits :-)
    Out of interest, can you tell me what mini you've used for Banderhaven?

    1. It is comments like yours, Greg, that makes this project so worthwhile. Many thanks!

      Kimberley is a great leader who just exudes confidence and charisma.

      Banderhaven was a Mantic Deadzone dwarven coach. Sadly, he is no longer available on their webstore.

  4. Cool start Bryan, certainly setting the scene quickly