DARVEN HARRAK, SEASON 1, EPISODE 3: TULAN ROUGE
Darven and Tulan get acquainted. We meet a slime and get a job.
Darven sat on the observation deck and observed the various structures being constructed and retrofitted in the orbit above Fondor. An Imperial II-class Star Destroyer docked at the end of one orbiting platform was getting some form of repair or upgrade to its turbolasers. At another donut-shaped platform in orbit, there was a massive exoskeleton of what appeared to be the rear of a very oversized Star Destroyer. Darven wasn’t familiar with this class of vessel but wasn’t surprised either; the Emperor always had pet projects being worked on “off the books”.
“Mr. Harrak? Uh, excuse me.” a young human who looked flustered, started up again “Vice Admiral Harrak? I’m Tulan Dain.” Tulan was wearing the standard gray-green double-breasted dress tunic and trousers of the Imperial Navy. His face still had a baby-like softness to it, with blue eyes and dusty blonde hair underneath his cap.
“Sit down. Mr. Harrak is fine for now, I’m retired.” Darven said as he motioned to an open chair.
“Sir, you don’t look a day over 40… well for a human that is.” remarked Tulan who was clearly sizing up Darven. While it was true that Darven had generally maintained his physique over the years, his endurance wasn’t what it once was.
“Flattery isn’t necessary. I’m 58 and I know my facilities aren’t what they used to be. I need a pilot with a good eye and quick reflexes such as yours. I’m not sure I need a discharged pilot though.”
Tulan interrupted “Honorably, sir. That was Gar’s idea, as cover.”
“Gar’s? … and he owed you a favor? How does a pilot earn a favor from an Admiral?”
Tulan twitched nervously in his chair “War is hell, sir.”
A mystery for another time thought Darven, for now it was crucial to get moving on the information provided for his first job. Tulan’s profile looked legit and in-person he didn’t set off any of Darven’s alarms.
“Why’d you move from piloting TIEs to helming cruisers?” asked Darven.
“It had been dream of mine to helm a Star Destroyer” Tulan trailed off briefly but continued “…I’ve discovered there’s a vast difference between the independence of piloting a TIE and co-navigating a capital ship with a dozen other crew members. I guess, I need to right-size my ambitions.”
“You can handle a blaster?”
“Yeah, of course. I’ve got turret experience as well.”
“Ok. I can offer you 5100 a month to start. The crew right now would be yourself, a KX-series droid and myself. I’m looking for one more crew member. Our jobs are going to be intelligence gathering: sometimes at a distance, sometimes up close. Clients will vary, but at the start we’ve got some guarantees of employment from the Imperial Navy. We’ll have to get our hand dirty from time to time but I’m hopeful we can rely on our wits more.”
Tulan nodded along, held his tongue for a moment and held out his hand.
“Welcome aboard, grab your belongings and send them over to bay C-5422, my droid can get them stored. We need to make a small parts run to the surface on Fondor… I had some minor issues with my hyperdrive on the way here. Meet me at the shuttle bay and we’ll use one of the many perks of Imperial retirement; free transport.”
Fondor’s planet was mostly covered with one gigantic metropolitan city, much like Coruscant. There were stark difference though, many of the structures were laden with advertisements and in general things had a more commercial and industrial feel.
Darven and Tulan made their way to a line of taxis and paid for transport to the Sunlo Sector. Passing from the complex mass of towers into a suburban residential district with clear building height restrictions.
“How we are going to find ship parts out here?” wondered Tulan out loud.
“I know a slime.” noted Darven, who was intensely cataloging his surroundings.
Tulan raised an eyebrow and return to staring out the taxi window.
The two pulled up to a plain-looking building surrounded by what appeared to be other newly constructed private residences. Darven paid for the trip and directed Tulan to follow him up to the door of one of the residences. A “tattletale droid” poked it is eye out and barked at Darven.
“Hi Ferret, I need some parts.”
The droid poked it is eye out further, surely capturing a complete picture of the area for its owner. Then retracted back into it is socket. The door split into four retracting parts, revealing another blast door that also opened. Inside, there was indeed a green blob of slime. It was like if you took a Hutt and turned it into a transparent green orb without the tail. Tulan, clearly looked out of his depth.
“Darven, you old hack. I heard you retired and uh, I guess uh, now you are babysitting?” joked Ferret.
Darven motioned towards his new team member, “This is Tulan, my pilot. I need a Magnetic Plasma Reducer.”
“No smalltalk? All business? At least I know it is you. I might have something for you. I can see why you didn’t just get that town.” Ferret, turned to his datapad and then paused. “I’m not doing fine by the way.”
His eyes were facing towards the data pad, but his mouth had slid around to the side facing back towards Darven and Tulan making Tulan feel even more uncomfortable.
“I’ve got one of these in my possession. I could part with it… I don’t have a military grade ship to use it on. Of course, I’ll need a favor.”
“I need help finding a merchant who missed dropping off a shipment last night.” said Ferret who eyes slid around to his mouth and looked over Tulan. “I’ll transfer the details to your datapad.”
Darven’s datapad lit up and he scanned the first few lines. A chain code, last known coordinates, and… “what was the cargo, Ferret? I don’t see the details here.”
Darven sighed, “Ferret, come on. Am I walking into an arms deal?”
The slime adjusted their weight from side to the other a rubbery rippling sound breaking the silence in the room. “I don’t need anymore guns” laughed Ferret “let’s uh call these medical parts, alright? They’re not hot. Or at least I didn’t think they were.”
“Can you spare a couple of blasters? Had to leave my gear in orbit with the starport restrictions.”
The slimes eyes rotated over to look at a closet room that opened up. Darven and Tulan walked over and Darven selected a couple of hold-out blasters. Weapon restrictions on this planet meant that grabbing the heavier carbine rifles would just be asking for trouble. Darven also grabbed a couple of stun grenades.
“I’ll reach over comlink when I find your merchant.” said Darven as he walked back to the entrance.
“Glad we could catch up! Nice to see you getting your hands dirty again.”
As Darven exited the residence, Tulan asked “You trust that character?”
“Ferret’s reputation is solid. I relied on them for information broker for a while. Keeping cards close to their vest is pretty standard behavior for info folks. Let’s take the pulse of this job and see if it is worth the trouble. I really need this part to get my ship’s hyperdrive running smoothly again and it’ll help us make up for some lost time, so it is worth the hassle.”
Tulan nodded and Darven dialed up a taxi on his comlink.
One of my first issues with meta-gaming in this session, where I happen to know why Gar owes Tulan a favor (via a Traveller character creation life events) but Darven doesn’t. I did not fully flesh out life event, such that I could leave a bit to uncover when the time was right - I only have a sentence to work with as of now. No bothers though - it is not logical that Darven would guess or that Tulan would willing give it up, so it is straightforward to just RP around it. As to when it will reveal itself, I’ll leave that up to our encounter tables and event twists to determine.
When it came to offering the pilot’s salary I know the standard is 6000 Credits in SOLO, but I figured a negotiation check couldn’t hurt and I’d let the results deal with what salary Darven offer Tulan. Darven CRIT on the check, so knocking 900 (15%) off seemed reasonable.
Quite a few other bits in this story involved some reaction tests which were done as 2d6 8+ tests, pretty standard for Traveller spot rulings. There were a lot of random tables used - pretty much any location, location sight/sounds/smells, “Ferret” as a Patron, the job Ferret offers Darven - all randomized.
I think I probably need to start a clock on the Imperial Job Darven was offered - something to ratchet up the tension if they stay on planet too long.