Max realizes that it is time for him to get to work and so he is one of the first up. He kisses Suzie goodbye and wishes her farewell. Another passenger, another farewell.
He shrugs and flips open his handcomp and start to search:
“Ah bollocks. Fackin’ low-tech shit’ole worlds. Looks like I’ll ‘ave to go the oldskool route an’ start knockin’ on doors.”
With that, he heads off.
The others assemble for breakfast and discuss their plans now that they have arrived on Pagaton.
“We need to find a jeweller,” Jie says. “We’re going to have to narrow down the field one jeweller at a time as Pagaton is a large world so we can’t expect every jeweller to know the owner of every badge. To start off, we’ll need to find out which country it’s from.”
“OK, then let’s get started straight away,” Taeva says. “The Connoisseur has already been gone a long time.”
They head out to the decrepit starport and it doesn’t take too long before they track down a jeweller. The jeweller doesn’t seem to be too ready to give out information, however.
“Why don’t you leave it with me and I’ll return it to its rightful owner,” says the jeweller.
Grim tries to bargain with him, but the jeweller is not forthcoming with the information.
Grim sighs and gives Max a call:
“Max, looks like we’re going to need your help here,” he says. “Can you meet us at Mitchell & Sons jewellers in the mall?”
Max arrives ten minutes later. A few minutes of arguing and an exchange of Cr. 500 later and the party members have learned that the badge originated from the largest nation on Pagaton, which is Quanchiovt.
“Off to Quanchiovt we go then,” says Jie.
“Looks like sellin’ th cargo will ’ave to wait,” Max says. “No ’urry on that anyway.”
They return to the ship and tell Autumn to keep an eye on the ship while they head dirtside. They then all get into the AGC and Max shoots off out into the void.
Jie is in the passenger seat, pointing in the direction of the largest of Pagaton’s islands which is Quanchiovt.
“We might as well start off with the capital city, Furingort,” she says, “So hang a left.”
Half an hour later and Max slows down as he brings the craft down to ground level and begins to follow the dirt and cobbled streets. The residents gawp as the AGC passes, sending groats and other assorted pack animals into a panic.
“There’s a jeweller,” Jie says.
Max pulls up in front of the jeweller and they enter.
The conversation is a repeat of the one earlier, this time it takes Cr. 1000 and the threat of violence with extreme prejudice to get the information from the jeweller. The party got lucky through, the badge belongs to Armbreaker First Class, Ryloro Voramdibblei of the Nattichippin Mercenary Company which, coincidentally, is located just 3km from the shop.
Taeva tells the jeweller in no uncertain terms what will happen to him if word was to reach the owner of their interest in him and then the party members head off on their way.
With the AGC sticking out like a sore thumb, Max parks it a good mile away from the site of the mercenary barracks and stays with it to keep urchins away while the others cautiously make their way towards the barracks.
It’s not hard to find the barracks, looking totally out of place among the single storey slums surrounding it. It’s a two-storey buildings with just a couple of small barred windows plus a main gate. There are three mercs on sentry duty, all armed in combat armor and carrying gauss rifles.
The party members discuss what they should do. With memories of the Elixabethan Embassy fiasco still fresh in the minds of everyone (apart from Stian) a full frontal assault on the fortress-like building doesn’t appear to be the best approach.
Stian reveals to the others that he has a small recon drone that should reveal more information and so they decide to wait until nightfall before using it.
While they are waiting, Will monitors their radio traffic. The only traffic seems to be between the merc base and a ship called the Sir Galahad at the highport. Will gives Autumn a call and asks her to investigate.
She calls back half an hour later:
“It’s a Type-M,” she says. “Tooled to the max with six triple beam turrets. There’s a squad of four mercs in combat armor guarding the airlock to it so I couldn’t get too close.”
Will reports back to the others.
They toss ideas back and forth until night falls, then they wait some more until after midnight. Then Stian sends his drone in. Although there are no open windows that it can fly through, between the findings of the drone and the party’s other sensors, they can see that there are at least twenty mercs there, although the majority of them seem to be asleep.
“Well,” says Will. “This looks like all of the information that we are going to get from the outside. So what do we want to do now?”
Everyone looks at one another to come up with some ideas.
When none are immediately forthcoming, Will start the ball rolling:
“So I’m assuming everyone agrees that the standard InterSol™ frontal assault is not a good idea, especially as the odds of the Connoisseur being here are probably nil. We’re pretty sure the mercs just kidnapped the Connoisseur for someone else. One of the possibilities is from Tarkine, which is only one jump away. I think the other was Trexalon. Given the merc’s location here on Pagaton, it seems more likely that the Tarkine guy is the culprit. I suggest we either:
1. Go straight to Tarkine and cause lots of mayhem; or
2. Grab a merc, preferably Mr. Voramdibblei, interrogate to make sure of our target, and then go cause lots of mayhem (freezing the merc and dropping him off somewhere if necessary). Hell, maybe we could just buy the guy a drink and he’ll tell us who the client was, especially if a babe like Autumn returns his missing badge."
“I like number two,” nods Grim, “Especially as there is literally no substitute for human intelligence on this low tech waterball. It also gives us more opportunities for social interaction with the likes of Mr.V, again in keeping with our new focus on Ethos, Intelligence, and Compassion.”
“We probably haven’t exhausted the local gossip front,” Taeva reminds the others. “We haven’t really tried it in fact. Tomorrow I plan on getting some local clothes so, while I may not be able to pass as a local, I might get by as an offworlder who has been on Pagaton for a while.”
“Someone must have seen something -for example a prisoner being bundled along. Jie and I should slum it for a few days and see if they can pick up anything.”
“I will also spend some time casing the merc building – checking out routines, checking the contractors who deliver stuff, scavenging the refuse all spring to mind. Deliveries of top notch culinary ingredients for example.”
“Before we shoot off to a different world we need to check out some possibilities on this one.”
“Jie’s mind is clouded by all the memories of growing up in this tropical paradise. When she heard Will speak, she heard:
“Blaa blaa blaa leave soon.”
When she listened to Taeva she heard:
“Bla bla bla stay here a while slumming in bars.”
So Jie votes for Taeva’s suggestion.
“Looks like we’re staying here then,” summarizes Will.
He stifles a yawn and looks at his watch:
“It’s 2.00am now,” he reminds the others. “Maybe we should call it a night if we’re not planning on making a suicidal attack tonight. Shall we find an inn for the night so that Jie and Taeva can get some local clothes in the morning so as to blend in with the locals better?”
All agree and so head off on the mile long walk back to where Max is still waiting in the AGC, obviously bored out of his mind. They fill him in on their findings – or rather lack of them – and tells him to take them to the best hotel he can find.
Max takes the AGC straight up. With most of the city being without electricity, it is mostly in darkness. A few areas are lit up, obviously meaning that there are some buildings there with modern tech and generators. He heads past them to take a closer look. The third building he passes is The Savoy. From the fancy grav vehicles parked outside in the upmarket part of town, they won’t be the only offworlders staying there.
They check in. The prices are outrageous but the hotel is very luxurious and offers all mod cons, so they check in and take rooms for the night.