The Sadaal Route

Session 16 -- The Eye of Anubar
Messenger 13, CC61

Aboard the Orun II, ½ hour flight time from the Eye of Anubar

Djinnbound

The Captain regarded them with dark eyes. Deckhand Ayda Leon spoke to him and he seemed confused. Adzem Kembouri and the others drew up the banishment circle around the bridge. Tariq shoved the captain into the circle. Noises from further inside the ship indicated the mercenaries were coming. Dr Adnan engaged the engines and the ship slowly corrected course away from the red doom of the Eye of Anubar. The captain did nothing.

Exorcism

Zera’s senses tingled as a dark shape leapt into the bridge — a Palace Guard armed with a flashing mercurium sword. She interposed her own blade inches from Dr Adnan’s head. Tariq aimed carefully and shot the Guard in the heart.

They felt fear of something in the doorway — except Adzem who knew it was the Djinn. Ayda bravely swung her spanner at it, but it was useless. “Only holy weapons and flame can harm it,” hissed Adzem. He tossed his small ‘holy’ knife to Zera and concentrated on lighting the seven flames for the ritual. Dr Adnan snapped out the blowtorch from his toolkit and lit two more.

“You want flame.” said the Djinn, and burst into showy flames. Ayda and Zera narrowly avoided being burnt. The Captain tried to punch Tariq, but he sidestepped. While Zera prayed to the Icons and faced off with the tiny knife against the Djinn, the others continued to light the seven urns. Adzem finished the ritual with a call to the Faceless One.

Impact

As the Djinn dispersed to the Dark Between the Stars in a blur of colours, the ship rocked with a huge impact. A meteor strike had struck the stern, and decompressed it. Captain Ratjun collapsed in the circle next to the dead Palace Guard.

Evacuate!

Quick comms to Mazim on board Al-Gorisme indicated he’d disengaged in time. Ayda contacted Akbar Kolb, who had barricaded himself in the workshop: the time to escape was now. Tariq decided the best way to get off the Orun II was in vaccuum suits through the bow airlocks. There were three suits on the bridge, and Adnan estimated three more in the crew area, where the mercenaries were heading.

Have Spacesuit — Will Travel

Zera put her infiltration skills to use, skipping ahead of the approaching mercenaries to the crew quarters. She located the suits but the mercs entered the area. She hid in one of the cabins but was found out by one of the mercs. She bowled him over and ran out of the room, carrying the suits awkwardly. With the help of the Dancer she manage to escape the crew quarters, but not unscathed. One of the mercenaries shot her in the back. Nevertheless she limped up to the bridge, with the mercs in pursuit.

Venting

The three Melem Gesurra employees already had their suits on, including the unconscious Ratjun. Zera, Tariq and Dr. Adnan struggled to get into their suits while covering the door. Two mercs appeared and the group opened fire. Ayda Leon punched the VENT controls and a howling evacuating wind made the mercs stumble. Tariq reminded them that they had forgotten their helmets, which made them flee.

Going My Way

The mercs were shooting up the corridor as they made their way to the bow airlock and Tariq copped a bullet. Soon they were looking out at black space, as gas vented around them. They made their way to the exterior hull. Soon, Al-Gorisme appeared and extended the docking tube. Thanks to some very fancy flying by Mazim it was relatively easy to clamber aboard.

Aftermath

They were free of the Orun II, with several of its surviving crew but the ship still drifted dangerously close to the asteroid swarm. Kolb was still aboard, as were several of the mercenaries and maybe their ship. There were hard choices to be made.

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Session 15 -- Race to the Bridge
Messenger 13, CC61

Aboard the Orun II, 1 hour flight time from the Eye of Anubar

Ayda the deckhand

After the fight with the masked guard, deckhand Ayda Leon cautiously emerged from her hiding place in the ventilation shafts. She agreed to lead them to the bow, taking them first to Lift Shaft A (Lift Shaft B being broken). Adzem Khembouri retrieved his exorcism materials. Meanwhile Mazim returned to Al-Gorisme with the restrained engineer Atallah, to ready the ship for immediate takeoff.

Shafted!

The lift was old and slow. Tariq decided it would be the perfect spot to be ambushed, so they rode on top of the cage. Zera noticed a moving glint outside against the starry background and Mazim radioed to say another ship was approaching the Orun II, warning “Tariq Ali” to begone.

They bypassed the Workshop in the centre of the ship, where ice akbar Kolb had barricaded himself, and continued towards the bow. Sure enough, the lift powered down halfway along the shaft, and Zera heard soft footsteps approaching. It was another of the palace guards. Zera concealed herself in the shaft while the others opened fire on the intruder. Tariq shot it in the foot and Zera finished it with her mercurium sword. The guard fell away down the shaft.

Captain of this vessel

In the crew quarters they found three more crewmembers’ bodies; Ayda sadly identified them as Second Officer Kirin Bor and stevedores Mirra Touli and Lasar Ulba.

Zera sneaked up to the bridge. The reddish glow of the Eye of Anubar was visible through the panoramic window. Two of the crew chairs were occupied; one with a corpse and another with a living, but unmoving man. Zera ducked out of sight to confer with her fellows. They agreed to set up the exorcism circle on the bridge, and shoot the captain if he attacked. They tried to creep in quietly but the captain arose from his chair and stood regarding them with black black eyes.

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Session 14 -- Icy silence
Messenger 13, CC61

Asteroid Belt, 2 hours flight-time from the Eye of Anubar

Investigating the Orun II

Exterior scan

Al-Gorisme made a quick circuit of the the Orun II. It was dark and there was no response to radio hails. However its thrusters were active, accelerating it towards the nearby Eye of Anubar, a potentially destructive node in the Asteroid Belt. It would reach that destination in two hours. The front airlocks had been deliberately damaged from the inside. Near the stern, Zera noted some flashing lights which quickly ceased.

on-board40.png

Docked

Tariq and Adzem were keen to keep things moving. Mazim docked smoothly on one of the stern airlocks. They cycled the airlock and stepped aboard.

Dead engineer

Zera took point and quickly located a body. They identified it from the ships’ log as Engineer Kakinwene Rabolbour. She had a fatal wound from a Mercurium Sword. Her tabula revealed that something had got on board and affected the Captain.

Live engineer

The intercom crackled into life: “Turn around! This ship is doomed and at the mercy of the Icons.” The Al-Gorisme crew headed for the Machine Halls. They were locked but Zera and Dr Adnan soon overrode the controls. Inside were the ships’ large graviton projectors. They found Engineer Attallah, who had cut off power to the bridge and aimed the Orun II at the Eye of Anubar. He didn’t want the Djinn on board to reach civilisation. Tariq tried to reason with him, but when that failed they rushed and restrained him. Dr Adnan restored the ship’s power and cut the engines.

Mazim noted some monitor screens of other ship locations. The bridge seemed empty but the Service area in between the stern and bow had been barricaded by Ice Akbar Kolb, who seemed very jittery and cut off conversation.

The palace guard

Adzem Khembouri admitted that he had some skill at dealing with djinni. He and Zera ran to retrieve his exorcism apparatus from Al-Gorisme. On the way they were confronted by a tall silent figure with a mask and a mercurium sword. He tried to impale Zera but she dodged. Khembouri cried out and the others arrived, guns blazing. Under fire, the swordsman retreated with a giant leap. Mazim put a bullet in its heart.

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Session 13 -- The Proposition
Messenger 09-13, CC61

Coriolis - Asteroid Belt

Prophets before profits

An old woman accosted Tariq on his way to Wahib’s. “You carry the mark”, she hissed. “Beware, she has returned. Death and darkness follow where she goes.” As she departed Tariq had a mental image of her destination, a room in the Cellar filled with people. Tariq felt compelled to go there. He called Zera to say he’d be late.

Tariq found his way to the Cellar refuge, where many mystic outcasts sheltered. He talked to a young refugee called Aylah and urged her to seek his help if she needed it.

Mis-taken identity at Wahib’s

Zera and Dr Hakim met outside Wahib’s. Glancing inside, Zera saw that Wahib was not on duty and that a muscular mercenary woman was proclaiming herself to be Tariq Ali to someone in the booth, with two armoured thugs standing nearby. Zera sent Hakim to cause a drunken distraction. Just when he was about to be manhandled by the thugs, Zera glided up and faced down the merc leader. She and her goons left the bar, glowering. Zera was suspicious of Wahib’s absence from his bar; she menaced temporary barkeep Forbo.

Client: Azdem Kembouri

A quick negotiation with Azdem Kembouri followed. Kembouri needed to hire the crew to find the ice-hauler Orun II, which had abrubtly ceased transmission and changed course.

  1. Find out why Orun II has altered its course and stopped responding to hails.
  2. Secure the ship and its crew.
  3. Make sure the hauler resumes its original course and arrives safely at Coriolis.

Kembouri would accompany them, and pay them 20,000 birr on completion. In Tariq’s absence, Zera and Hakim agreed to the job.

Launch

Mazim had prepped Al-Gorisme for takeoff as the crew converged on the ship. Kembouri gave him the co-ordinates and they launched immediately. Kembouri brought two large metal trunks on board. Dr Hakim was suspicious of their contents. He rifled through them while Kembouri discussed the mission with the others. He found some large jars and an old book.

Arrival at Orun II

The journey to the Asteroid belt took 3 days. Kembouri had spent the time looking at the map of the Orun II and glancing at his book, which he claimed contained ‘old fairy tales’. Finally a dim point on the sensors grew larger: it was the silent Orun II.
orunII-in-space-fs8.png

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Session 12 -- Mission accomplished
Messenger 08-09, CC61

Jina - Kua and Coriolis Station

Afterimage

The enemy ship retreated beyond sensor range, toward the moon Cala Duriha. Zera detected two transponder signals from it: first the Fawzia of the Azure Squad; then quickly changed to Shaddaad. She also noticed a signal burst between the ship and a nearby point in open space.

Dr. Hakim emerged from his drunken stupor and noticed a screen image of the Shaddaad which Mazim had captured. It had the logo of The Afflicted, a bounty hunter group with painful associations for him.

Tariq was not interested in another potential ambush. Al-Gorisme had the data they had come for, and now they would return to Coriolis with it. Mazim turned the ship around and engaged the thrusters.

Unwrapping the package

Mazim was curious about the data package, and he and Dr. Adnan tried to decrypt it. They were only partly successful though and their tampering was clear.

Uncle No-show

Back on Coriolis about twenty hours later, Mazim prepped the ship while the others went to meet Uncle T’Jocbe at Wahib’s Cantina. Al-Timsah arrived alone, saying Uncle had an unexpected social engagement. Tariq was suspicious, but Al-Timsah seemed truthful and he gave them some payment for the data.

Have spaceship, will travel

The group remained in the bar after Al-Timsah’s departure. They decided they needed a new job to pay for the sabotaged cryopods in Al-Gorisme. Wahib must have overheard them because he mentioned a contact willing to meet them that night.

Zera went to visit her family, easily losing the pesky Dr. Adnan in the crowd. Hakim retired to a bar and then returned to the ship. Tariq asked Idi Juun of the Eventful Horizon about the new contact, ‘Azdem Kembouri’. He was associated with a small shipping company called Melem Gesurra which owned a few ice and food freighters.

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Session 11 -- We Have Reached Our Rendezvous With Destiny
Messenger 07, CC61

100 diameters from Jina

Before too long, the Durgamah appeared on the sensors. It made no broadcast, but manouvered to short range to begin a tightbeam transmission to Al-Gorisme. Mazim joked about uploading a virus on the link, to Tariq‘s annoyance. Soon after Captain Kalay transmitted: Ship approaching. Is it connected to you Al-Gorisme? It wasn’t. A fighter approached rapidly, transponder off, locking onto the Durgamah.

Shaddaad attacks

The crew of Al-Gorisme scrambled to their posts. Mazim suggested to the Durgamah that they take evasive action. “Negative: transmission highest priority” was the response. The tightbeam continued. Next Mazim suggested the ships jointly retreat, while maintaining the tightbeam. Tariq’s plan was to get between the fighter and its target. Fancy flying from both pilot Mengesha of the Durgamah and Mazim kept them out of range of the fighter’s weapons. The Al-Gorisme crew saw the fighter — the Shaddaad — flash by at contact range, still intent on the Durgamah.

Finally the transmission was complete. With a farewell from Zera on the comms channel, Captain Kalay ordered the Durgamah out of there posthaste. Simultaneously, Zera activated Al-Gorisme’s stealth field, feeling the immediate surge of heat inside the cabin as she did so. The Shaddaad was alone in space and it turned back towards Jina.

Epilogue

Meanwhile, down in engineering, Hakim woke to find the bottle empty and no hazard on the scanners. Despite his best intentions inebriety got the better of him down in the solitude of the humming engine room.

Still, he could trust that having allocated power appropriately, he could trust in the Al-Gorisme and its crew while he polished off the last of the rum he found in a cupboard — the legacy of a former engineer of the old ship.

1 title from a sample in ‘Some shit @ 78BPM (The Scratch Opera)’ by Buckshot Le Fonque

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Session 10 -- Inspection
Messenger 06-07, CC61

Kua – Jina shipping lane

Check One

(Callin’ di meek and di humble)
Inspection!
Get ever’ting ship-shape an’ shine.
Check. Check one.
Hot shot! Boom shot – all kind of shot
We don’t take dat back, hehehehehehehe
Whatcha doin’ here?
No, I won’t turn ya out
‘member, we don’t talk foolishness we talk trut’
Long time wit’out dey a’ come for it now
You think tink we’d it done, ya tink we do it all

— Leftfield, Inspection

They boarded Al-Gorisme. Tariq and Zera inspected the ship while Dr Adnan restarted the reactor. Air moved gently through the old ducts. They familiarised themselves with their stations:

  • Mazim Al-Nasir, Pilot and Captain
  • Dr Adnan Hakim, Engineer (and Medicurge)
  • Zera Enreides, Sensor Ops
  • Tariq Ali, Gunner

Chamber of eyes

evil-eye-small.jpgThe stasis chamber was filled with twenty or thirty hanging Evil Eye symbols of different sizes — traditionally used to ward off curses and the Dark Between the Stars. Dr Adnan determined the cryopod control had been deliberately disabled. It would be expensive to repair.

Heard you crying in the chapel

Tariq was tempted to put the Kuan statuette into the irregular alcove which represented the Faceless in the ship’s chapel, but a sudden headache and aversion stopped him.

Launch

Mazim guided the ship out of the hidden hangar, without much grace. There was no food on board, so Mazim suggested they dock at the Net, the array of old superstructure around Coriolis now used as a loading zone. While docking and landing, Mazim realised he was more used to flying smaller ships.

Destination: Jina

You will rendevous with the Durgamah, Captain Kalay, and receive a transmission from him.
The standard meeting point is 100 [679000 km, 0.005 AU] planetary diameters from Jina surface, Jina-Cala-Duriha vector (Kua 2 —> Kua 2.1)

Uncle T’Jocbe, written note to Tariq

Tariq and Zera were concerned about being followed. They set course for Lubau, then Zera activated the stealth field before changing course to Jina. Mazim estimated 19 hours of flight time. They decided to take watches.

Eventually the green-tinged planet Jina loomed large on the viewscreen as Al-Gorisme approached the rendevous point.

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Session 9 -- Al-Gorisme
Coriolis Station, Messenger 06, CC61

“Uncle” T’Jocbe’s offer

They found “Uncle” T’Jocbe and his henchman Al-Timsah at Wahib’s. Dr Adnan spilled his drink at the table when Zera shoved him. T’Jocbe once roamed the Horizon and helped establish the Consortium. Now he was worried about the ‘Ghosts’ from Xene and the encroaching Dark Between the Stars clouding his retirement. T’Jocbe offered Tariq his old ship, the Al-Gorisme in exchange for them agreeing to use the ship to carry out some errands for him. But there was a catch. Al-Gorisme was in an unused hangar in the Cellar, that old part of Coriolis station which had been sealed off by the Guard during the last cycle. T’Jocbe handed Tariq a golden sun medallion which served as key to Al-Gorisme.

Uninvited guests

Swaggering Goro gang members pushed into the bar, menaced Wahib. Everyone knows Arhama and Goro gangs are challenging the Wark for control of the plaza, muttered T’Jocbe. Tariq and Zera confronted the gangers, while Mazim and Dr Adnan dithered at the table. Tariq convinced them that a bunch of Wark gangers were outside and the Goro departed quickly. Wahib was grateful.

The way down

There were several ways:

  • Mazim suggested exo-walking, or using the spindly gantries of the Net to get below.
  • Tariq knew the main elevator was right near the Guard headquarters. He had the access codes, but that approach might be dangerous.
  • Dr Adnan, student of vice, remembered a gambling den in the sewers, accessible via the University of Coriolis in the Core

They reckoned the gambling den would be the best way. As the evening shift finished they made their way through the busy streets to the University Grounds. Dr Adnan led the way to a bunker-like building inhabited by Engineering students and their moonshine still. A bulkhead door marked STORE ROOM marked the way to the Cellar.

The Cellar

The light and air were suboptimal, and condensation beaded everywhere. Contrary to official reports, some people did live down here; but the few they met shuffled aside and avoided eye-contact. Zera found a concealed Vulcan — probably a murder weapon, Mazim thought — and handed it to Dr Adnan. They passed a guarded door with pulsing music audible, most likely the Syndicate-run gambling den.

Docking Bay 96

Two levels down there were fewer people but skittering and squeaking sounds. Tariq had heard of ‘semi-intelligences’ down below. At docking bay 96 the personnel door had been forced open and was dark inside. The light fixture nearby had been smashed. Mazim activated the nearby cargo door; it split apart. Mazim and Zera dashed inside while Tariq gave cover.

Photophobia

The docking bay was home to a nest of squatters, who cringed at the light. Dr Adnan recognised the signs of extreme malnutrition. Mazim shouted at them to get out, and they complied fearfully, scuttling into the shadows.

Al-Gorisme

hangar_by_medders800px.jpg
Mazim located a control panel in the observation room. He flicked a switch to activate the hangar lights. There she was, the Al-Gorisme! An access door below opened in response to Tariq’s golden key and they walked towards the old ship.

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Session 8 -- The Karnilya connection
Coriolis Station, Messenger 06, CC61

Clues at Karnilya’s

Tariq and Dr. Adnan Hakim retrieved the ledger, which showed the business had ceased its regular payments in the segment of the Faceless One, CC60.

The strongbox had not been cleared and contained several thousand birr.

Data djinn discoveries

With the help of Karnilya’s ledger, Mazim discovered the following:
- 8 new account numbers associated with Karniliya’s
- concealed transactions with the University of Coriolis via an academic administrator called Aman Selam
- transactions with luxury liner Lulu Fekadu
- transaction signatures DeformedHead and MindOfSilence

Dr Hakim found out from Portia al-Sawaya that the Lulu Fekadu was a liner which mostly ran between Kua/Coriolis and the luxury moon resort Cala Duriha around Jina (Kua-2). Portia mentioned that Jina itself was an acid wasteland, not worth visiting.

Karnilya’(s ex)-employees

Dr Adnan suggested that tracking down the ex-employees might be more fruitful than the owner of the business.

Selassie

An hour or two of asking around the Spice Plaza for one of the names led Tariq, Zera and Dr Hakim to Bombalah’s, a more downmarket establishment than Karnilya’s. Tariq booked some 1-on-1 time with Selassie, while Dr Adnan sampled the wares of her associate Sheina. Zera kept watch outside.

Selassie told Tariq:
- three cold guys had started working with Karnilya last segment
- they weren’t at all interested in the girls
- soon afterwards, all of the girls including Selassie were fired
- though Karnilya had paid their entitlements
- she heard two names, DeformedHead and RightHand; she didn’t know the third

Karnilya’s apartment

The ledger listed madam Karnilya’s address, a reasonably well-off address near the Spice Plaza. Zera easily entered a window and let the others in.
- apartment was deserted
- food in the refrigerator unit was old
- clothes were missing from the bedroom
- Zera noticed a pamphlet describing Cala Duriha luxury tours

1530: It was time for the appointment with Uncle T’Jocbe.

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Session 7 -- the formless statuette
Kua/Coriolis, Messenger 05-06 CC61

All the angles

Spiritual

Tariq questioned Zera about the artifact. Her reply was that it was older than the Sogoi and that a witchdoctor would be no help.

Material

Dr. Adnan used his portable lab to analyse the statuette material but could not identify it.

Financial

Meseret’s contact Hasara examined the statuette. Asked about buyers he mentioned the Foundation and the Syndicate. He offered 8,000 birr. Tariq found the whole idea of being a tomb-robber tawdry, though Mazim and Dr Hakim didn’t mind it.

Informational

Mazim delved into the data nets. He found:

  • Dr Zhar Baghra (missing since CC 60) was a subject matter expert
  • Lavim Tamm was thought to have a similar statuette on Coriolis
  • A strange connection: The University of Coriolis paid a brothel called Karnilya’s House of Pleasure for information about a similar statuette, to someone called DeformedHead.

Mazim realised he might get better information back on Coriolis.

Return to the station

That afternoon, Zera smuggled the statuette through Kua customs and they boarded the Monolith Round Trip shuttle. The heavy planetary gravity fell away and a few hours later they returned to Coriolis.

An Eventful reunion

Idi Juun met them at Neoptera and asked them to accompany him to the Eventful Horizon office. There they met the imposing humanite Zafaar Al-Timsah, who strongly invited them to join Tariq’s “Uncle” T’Jocbe (Tariq hadn’t seen him for years) at Wahab’s Cantina at 16:00. He suggested they might want to lay low until that time, as they were wanted by the Guard.

Karnilya’s House of Pleasure

Mazim found absolutely nothing when he looked up Karnilya’s — even less than on Kua. That in itself was suspicious. Dr Adnan didn’t want to rest. He made his way to the Spice Plaza with Tariq in tow to investigate Karnilya’s House of Pleasure.

They avoided the Ganiyas gang members and slipped in the back door of the brothel. The place seemed deserted, though the sign out the front was illuminated. The office showed signs of heavy data-use. A terminal indicated the last regular payment to staff had been a month ago. Maybe Mazim could dig into this more.
The Doctor also found a staff list:
1. Karnilyah, madam
2. Zufan
3. Selassie
4. Zewdnesh
5. Haset
6. Jalene

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