Having mustered out of the Merchant service after 16 years, 34-year old Arterhas Ralmard finds himself on planet Mylor, on the edge of known space, just where he wants to be. The frontier, where he can seek his fortune, seems more interesting than returning home, rimward, to the Anterion system, to run his parents booth at the giant space station’s market.
Art has just witnessed an attempted assassination of a noble in the Happy Gluck Tavern, at spaceport Mylor. The Baroness Galaxia Hood-Raxon, on tour of the frontier, decided to drop by a typical spaceport tavern, and only made it out alive because five “travellers” foiled the attempt on her life.
He watches as the travellers meet privately with the Baroness, and sees the gangsters the travellers had just gambled with hire some rough looking goons, obviously the ambush the travellers. As the goons leave, he follows them.
A couple of hours later, the members of SAFCO leave the Happy Gluck to return to their ship for the night. As the walk though the now-closed market, the six goons surround them and draw shotguns. A firefight ensues. SAFCO quickly dispatches most of the goons, but one steps out and holds Fardt hostage, a shotgun held to the gluck’s spherical body. There’s a shotgun blast, the goon drops, revealing Arterhas Ralmard standing in the shadows, his own shotgun in his hands.
The team notifies the authorities that there are criminals needing medical attention in the market, and meet Art, who it turns out is a great navigator looking for employment. They sign him on.
It’s a been a night of unusual violence for SAFCO, but they were acting in their own defense and the defense of others.
The next morning they take off on Zal’s expedition into the Void – the unknown – in search of Precursor secrets. 70 diameters out two imperial gunboats hail them. It seems the Baroness has disappeared, and they will board the ship so look for her. Zal talks to them, and they recognize the team as the group that saved the Baroness the night before. They let the ship go. To be on the safe side the team searches the ship. Lucky finds the Baroness in the cold berth room, dressed in a rugged cloak and outdoor gear. She announces that she’s going with them. The tour of the outer reaches was boring, and she’s lived a life of comfort and low-expectations. Her whole family, she states, has done nothing, but she will do something. Her interest in the research is real.
In his first official duties, Art uses his Nav-2 skill to plot an extremely elegant and efficient course to Zal’s System. The team is impressed. The ship reaches the jump point and with a jump flash they speed to Zal’s system, in the Void. During the week in jump space, they learn that the Baroness is highly intelligent and educated. She’s able to talk about nearly any topic that comes up. No wonder she’s been bored.
They arrive at Zal’s System and proceed to the moon of the gas giant where they first encountered the Little Reds, and where they left the Guardians. Art plots an approach to the system that will use the moon itself to shield them from the gas giant’s periodic radiation bursts. They land, spend a week refueling and maintaining the ship, and have a chance to check on the Reds. All is well.
Their next destination is a system in which Zal believes there is a gas giant, based on his analysis of Precursor data. The team is cautious. That system is 3 parsecs away, and will require a Jump-2 and then a Jump-1, which is their maximum range. Should he be wrong, they could be stranded in the Void. They use their new Scout-class scanning system, once in space in Zal’s system, to search 2 parsecs out for gas giants they might find along the way. They find none. They make the first jump, spend another week in jump space. Scanning confirms a gas giant at their destination as they do drive maintenance in deep space. They make the final jump. Art’s navigation skills pop them out of jump space near the gas giant.All breath a sigh of relief.
They spend some time scanning the route to the gas giant, and discover they will pass very close to a rocky size 7 planet with an apparently breathable atmosphere. They proceed. As they near the rocky planet they detect three objects on an intercept course. As they get closer the things appear to be cubes about 100 feet on a side. Roger begins evasive maneuvers. They hail the cubes, but there is no response. They try the universal translator, still no response. They are now very close to the planet, which has a ring system with lots of big, chunky rocks and a moon. The cubes fire lasers, but miss. The Rambler returns fire with it’s two pulse laser turrets. First shot hits, damaging a cube’s maneuver drive. The cube spins into the ring system, smashes into an asteroid, destroyed. Joe suggests they use the rings as cover, makes his Tactics roll, and the teams gains a +1 on subsequent actions based on his recommendations. Roger dips into the rings. More shooting. The two remaining cubes fire, but miss again — very hard to hit a ship that Roger is flying. The Rambler fires again, blowing up one cube’s laser, and disabling the drive of the other, which is also destroyed in the rings. With the final cube defenseless, the Rambler emerges from the rings and fires, destroying it. Baroness Galaxia thinks this was all very exciting!
Safe for the moment, the team surveys the planet from space. It appears that the planet was bombarded in the distant past. Massive cratering now weathered and overgrown are detectable. They do not detect radiation. There are large bodies of water from which they could refuel.
Elapsed game time: 216 days