031-3128, Lanphin-4 (moon in the Tisan System), Olympus Station
I’m awakened by the sound of a door in my temporary cell. The lanky rebel is standing at the entrance with a stupid grin on their face.
“Turns out, you are as stupid as you look. Came here to pick up some corporate bozos and didn’t even get paid for it. She’s a looker though, I could see why you’d do it.” the rebel says.
I might as well have been slapped in the face. I try to stand firm. “Seeing as you are the mastermind here, what don’t you just tell me what’s going on and then I’ll see my way out.”
“Sorry flyboy, there will be no evil villain monologue today. Why did you come here? I ran your ship through the registry, it is in good standing even if your Bounty Hunters license isn’t. Surely you can find better things to do.”
“I have a thing for women with pink hair.”
“Maybe you are tied up in what UI is working on here and didn’t bother to loop your girlfriend in.”
It had occurred to me that no one blows holes into a moon station just to grab some survey data.
“Ahh, so they are doing something more than just cataloging rocks outside? One hears rumors Universal are building super soldiers or somesuch nonsense but I always chalk that stuff up to conspiracy lovers. We haven’t haven’t seen a sector-wide conflict for centuries.”
“You are thinking about it backwards. Universal has been gradually taking over The Federation. There’s no blasters here, kid. The war was lost in local elections, then regional governorships, and now there’s no one at the senior levels of the Federation who was not bought and paid for by UI.”
I chuckle. “Good job, you’ve been reading the local news bulletins! Do you get a pizza party now? I always loved those as a kid.”
“When the oppression of UI comes down on your throat, you won’t be laughing… you will take this seriously.”
Whoever they are they’ve obviously seen some shit. I try to cut them some slack. “Look, I don’t know who you are and I don’t know what UI is doing here. I was trying to help the lady out, plain & simple. If you didn’t kill her friends yet then we’ll take them with us and I never saw you.”
“That’s not happening but I have a proposal for you. Pick up a shipment for me on Azain and bring it to Selaan. Then you can have your friends back.”
“They’re not even my friends. What’s in it for me?”
“Besides a hot date?” They appear to be thinking for a moment. “I’d like there to be no… Federation entanglements, if you catch my meaning. Keep this trip off the Fed’s radar and I might be able to help you get your Bounty Hunter’s license restored.”
“Well, now we’re talking. By the way… who I am even talking to?”
“Clay Toran, of the Independent Systems Alliance.”
The ISA? Bunch of do-gooders with no credits and a cause. Other Hunters have warned me away from ISA bounties because they’ve had troubles collecting payment. “How do I know you will keep your end the bargain?”
“You don’t. Might I remind you that you are the one that flew into here with no plan at all.”
That much was true. I was blinded by the beautiful face. I’d ask him how he knows I’ll keep my end of the bargain but I’d wager they are installing a tracking beacon on my ship right now.
“What’s the shipment?”
“It is one of those the-less-you-know things. It won’t blow up your ship or put you or the nice lady in danger though.”
“Ok.” I reach over to shake his hand. I’m led out of the room after a while where I find Britney sitting at a table with our personal belongings laid out.
“Your friends are ok” I tell her “but they aren’t letting us walk out of here with them. If we help them smuggle some cargo they’ll release your friends to us.”
“Why? Why would we help them? Why would they not just shoot us all now.”
Fair questions. “Well by committing crimes for them we are tangled up with their mess. Why smuggling? I’m guessing these folks don’t have a fleet of ships at their disposal. Why not just us shoot us now? I don’t know, maybe they are ‘good guys.’ They seem to think UI was up to no good here.”
Britney looks troubled but tired. In any other moment she probably would have held firm or walked away very coolly. Instead she sighs and says “Ok.”
The Starport Scum Storyteller’s guide has an optional Social Combat system that offers a crunchy way to handle verbal duels. I ran both interrogations through this system. Britney quickly lost but Colfer held his own. Initially Clay had out-maneuvered Colfer but a series of fumbles (critical misses) by Clay left an opening. I used some NPC conversation tools from Mythic to work out the context of what the tone and topics were. Very very fun, particularly as we’ve yet to have any combat so far.