1 – The Lost Scout
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After finding themselves together following the promise of a ‘free ship’, the four Travellers meet on the highport above the planet Flammarion, an Imperial world located in the Spinward Marches. The Travellers are introduced to Anders Casarii of the Imperial Scout Service, who provides further information and explains that the ship, a detached duty vessel named the ‘HIGH N DRY’, was recently abandoned on the planet of Walston, located four parsecs from Flammarion. No exact location on the planet is known as it’s tracking beacon was disabled, and the old crew refused to cooperate other than providing the name of the planet. The Travellers are requested to bring the ship back to Flammarion, where immediate repairs can be performed, and they will have free use of the ship for one standard year, it will then return to ISS ownership.
Casarii provides transport to Walston via High Passage tickets on an A2-Class Trader, the Autumn Gold, which he indicates will drop them off at Walston after a delivery and resupply at the planet of 567-908. A week passes in Jump Space, where they begin to get familiar with each other and interact with the crew and other passengers onboard. Arriving at 567-908, the Travellers take the opportunity to get some fresh, un-recycled air for the first time in a week. A skinny, shifty looking man, who notices the Travellers as some of the first non-official arrivals to the planet, introduces himself as Gelin Hrey, who offers payment to have this artifact he recovered from the planet be smuggled back into Flammarion. Gelin provides the details of the buyer: Fendrick Jax, who works as a customs agent at the highport they left from one week earlier.
Agreeing to perform this upon their return, they leave aboard the Autumn Gold with the strange artifact, destined for Walston. Another week of jump travel later, they land and proceed through the local customs on Walston’s only starport. While some members of the party are willing to comply with local law, Asang manages to hide some of his weaponry and Wade convinces an official his throwing spears are for recreational fishing. They speak with a customs agent, Justif, who reports he did remember the old crew as obnoxious, rude and unwelcomed, but also recalls they did not leave with their ship, and took off quickly on the next available merchant ship headed off-world. Investigating further, the Travellers speak with Seben Breeson of Breeson Salvage, a local business in proximity to the starport. Breeson recalled purchasing bits and pieces that would have come from a Type-S Class Scout/Courier, the same model as the HIGH N DRY.
After consulting the planet’s localnet, a public statement, issued by Alan Greener, Minister for Offworld Affairs, Public Relations and Fisheries, was released condemning the actions of the scouts and commenting that he was glad there would be no further dealings with them shortly after the old crew left the planet. Following this lead, they travel southward to the planet’s Capital. Arriving at a Government office, Greener is convinced by the Travellers they are on authorised to collect the ship. Greener has one request for providing the ships location: Fix the mess made by the previous Scouts. He provides details about what happened to the ship, including that as while conducting a contracted planetary survey, the ship crashed into Mt. Salbarii, a once-thought dormant volcano which has recently become active again. Greener strongly believes the crashed ship and fleeing crew, along with the increased seismic activity in the immediate area near the volcano, is closely tied together.
The Travellers take a train headed south and arrive at the town closest to Mt. Salbarii, Barvinn. Greener was able to supply the group with a ride to the base of the mountain, but they would be left to their own devices to reach the peak. In their first full day of travelling, Bradley begins to feel weak and needs to rest. Wade and Phoenix, who have both had some medical training, attempt to restore Bradley’s condition. Unfortunately, both fail terribly and severely worsen Bradley’s condition, forcing them to make early camp for the night.
Next morning, Bradley has recovered slightly, and they proceed further up the mountain. As the terrain gets more difficult, they encounter a ledge which seems almost impassable. Thanks to their quick thinking, they make a make-shift chain using the spear head from Phoenix’s spears, and a chain from one of their kits. At nightfall, they hear a howling, and Phoenix makes use of his Psionic telepathy skills to detect a single lifeform, somewhere above high in the crater where the ship is supposed to be.
Eventually, and thankfully still in one piece, the Travellers reach the top of the crater, where they see the HIGH N DRY crashed, surrounded by a small body of water. As they get over towards the ship, they can clearly see the ship crashed into something and quickly work to bring the ship’s systems online. After the repairs are completed, Phoenix digs up a hand-held sized alien device, similar in origin to the artifact they were provided on 567-908. Having spent some time examining the original artifact, Phoenix believes this formerly buried piece was used to help stabilise the volcano.
Phoenix, Wade and Bradley go out in search of a few other alien components they believe are distributed around the crater, while Asang checks the health and status of the ship’s computer system. Each alien component reveals a series of symbols that can be rotated, and using their wits and communication, they are able to align each node to point to each other, rather than the central terminal that was destroyed. A ding and the cessation of tremors leads them to believe they have found a workaround to the issue.
Believing they have completed their part of the deal, the new crew of the HIGH N DRY fly back to the Capital, landing just out of town to speak with Minister Greener. On their way, they discuss seeking further compensation for their efforts. Phoenix leads the negotiation, and upon the impact of realising these foreigners can turn the volcano on and off at will, Greener provides them with enough money to make them go away, hopefully forever.
After two fuel stopovers on Bowman and Asteltine, they arrive back in the Flammarion system, where they contact Fendrick Jax, a custom agent at the Highport, and their contact for the artifact exchange, who directs them on a quieter and less monitored route into the station. They exchange the artifact picked up on 567-908 for the agreed sum, and park the ship in a maintenance bay aboard the highport for some much needed further repairs.