Monday, 30 July 2012

Chapter 5 : Last Stand at TK1075A, Part 4

In the last episode the party were told they would be charged with piracy for taking and holding the asteroid TK1075A this chapter see the start of the trial process.

A ship from the Imperial occupying force at Tyrfing
Ragnar Ivaldsson Long receives a call from their legal defender, Lt Shad McRaven of the Imperial Navy. He wants the issue of the unknown man, aka Wyatt Earpe, cleared up. After being presented with the evidence that when they arrived in system their ship was stopped by an Imperial Patrol where all the members of the party identified themselves and said they were working for Ragnar who held the papers to the asteroid in question, Ragnar admits that Wyatt Earpe did not exist (at least not in this century).

The party travel to Niflehel Station for the pretrial. In advance of the trial starting they are advised to get a civilian lawyer and so hire one on Niflehel. The lawyer, one Valbrand Bjornson Kruhl, after listening to their side of the affair advises them to seek an extension of time so as to find passengers from the Selene who may be able to provide some proof of good character as the players were instrumental in saving one of the ships boats along with a large number of passengers.

On Niflehel, Ragnar also meets up with a representative of Ling Standard Products who agrees in principle to purchase the entire quantity of tantalum from him, providing the court case goes in his favour.

Sali and Edlend fight it out in lego
Before the trial starts, Sali Hasvirsson Hjalmir has a run in with one of the Slodi clan. He is barged out of the way by a local who then starts insulting him. When he retaliates in kind he is challenged to a harmgang (as the modern version of a holmgang duel is now known in the Sword Worlds) by his assailant. This turns out to be Edlend Asorson Slodi, another uncle to Alvar and Dolf. Edlend is another follower of Aesirism and so favours the direct approach of settling arguments with the sword.

The harmgang is held the next day at dawn, Sali and Edlend face each other bare chested armed with broadswords. The fight is brutal, both protagonists swinging wild blows at each other. Edlend lands the first blow, a massive strike that wounds Sali quite badly. Sali quickly recovers and strikes Edlend with an equally damaging blow. The two men circle each other, both staining the grass with their blood, each unwilling to give up. Edlend swings a mighty overhead blow...and misses, Sali quickly counterstrikes and stabs Edlend under his arm. This wound takes all the strength from Edlend and he backs away. Sali pauses to give Edlend the opportunity to surrender the fight and realising his chances of survival are small if he continues, Edlend drops his sword and surrenders.

Sali's wound is bound up by Ansgar, making use of his military first aid training, while Edlend is rushed to the hospital for intensive surgery. Sali spends the next couple of days before the pretrial resting and healing with the assistance of Ansgar.
This is not the judge (honest)
The pretrial starts and the party are charged with piracy. They elect to be all tried together, rather than separately, although the judge, Commander Joachim Sanchex, warns them that although their guilt will be determined as a group, their punishments if found guilty may vary dependant on their level of involvement in the crime. Their defence lawyer successfully pleads for an extension of time to find witnesses and is granted six weeks.

The prosecutor, Lieutenant Commander Baldwin Wei, protests but is overruled. He also asks that the party are held in custody until the trial commences, however the defence lawyer successfully argues that if the party fled, they would lose the very thing the case is trying to determine, the ownership of the asteroid. The judge agrees and formalises the situation, the parties will have to put the asteroid up as a bond to ensure that they return. If they fail to attend the court case in six weeks then they will lose the asteroid, be declared outlaws and hunted down and executed. be continued...

Monday, 16 July 2012

Chapter 4 : Last Stand at TK1075A, Part 3

Following on from  Part 2 in which the party captured two members of the Slodi Clan, tied them up and drugged them to keep them quiet...

A mining robot, now working properly
Ragnar, Ansgar and Granzh retrieve the malfunctioning mining robots and spend a few hours cleaning the dirt out of the joints and getting them working again.

Checking the robot's logs they discover that one of the robots has started following a rich vein of tantalum, a valuable metal used in jump drive manufacture. The robot has extracted several tons of it, but the accounts show no record of the material arriving at Niflhel Station. Evidently the Slodi family members who were on the asteroid when the party arrived had been shipping it elsewhere and only sending on low grade ore to be added to the company accounts.

Further examination of the accounts shows that the former owner has been spending the majority of the proceeds on the construction of a ship at Tyrfing HighPort. The account is set up to deduct monthly payments automatically to the construction company.

The party get a call from Rorik Gagnison Damsgaard, their friendly neighbourhood belter who asks how the situation is progressing. He says that the party have lots of support from the local independent belters, most of whom have issues with the Slodi Clan. Ragnar promises to keep in touch and asks Rorik to arrange a conference call with the belters to discuss their plans.

Two Gazelle Class Close Escorts
Alvar Pederson Slodi is the next to call the asteroid. He pleads for the release of his brother and uncle. He wants to make a deal - the party can keep the asteroid if they agree to release their captives and pay 20% of proceeds to compensate for killing the two Slodi family members. He once again states the asteroid legally belongs to him, having acquired it from Una Magnusdotir Hos, who he says was the Chief Financial Officer of the former owners so perfectly entitled to sell it to him to pay off the owners debt to him. Ragnar is less than impressed, despite Alvar's slightly more diplomatic overtones.

The next day visitors arrive - an Imperial Gazelle Class Close Escort. The ship hails the asteroid demanding the release of the prisoners and charging the party with piracy, murder and kidnapping. The Imperium Occupying Force are responsible for law and order within the system following the end of the Fifth Frontier War and the formation of the Border Worlds Authority. The Imperium Occupying Force have imposed the system of Extrality on the Border Worlds Authority during the occupation. However due to the peculiarities of the Sword Worlder's clan based customs of vengeance and retribution, they do not want to enforce crimes against persons such as murder and kidnapping. They do have on the other hand, a serious problem with piracy, so that will require a trial. Ragnar agrees to release the hostages and they are taken on board the Close Escort.

Lt Shad McRaven plans the defence case
Ragnar Ivaldsson Long, Magnus Olafsson Karlseffni (as Sali Hasvirsson is known to the Slodis) and one unnamed other (Ansgar Padraigson Long never gave his name away) are summoned to appear in court at Niflhel Station in one weeks time for a pre trial hearing or they will be assumed guilty and hunted down. They are assigned a legal defender, Lt Shad McRaven of the Imperial Navy. He arrives at the asteroid to meet the defendants and prepare for the case. Ragnar gives his side of the incidents, not all of which makes much sense to Lt McRaven and names one Wyatt Earpe as the unidentified third defendant who he says has now left his employment and was last seen at Niflhel Station. Ragnar also pins most of the killing on the outlaw Wyatt Earpe. Ansgar is introduced as a new employee, brought in after Wyatt left.

The legal defender leaves with the weapons captured from the Slodis as evidence, along with photographs of the interior of the asteroid, the bodies of the two dead Slodis (whose bodies were left in the airless portion of the asteroid) and a somewhat inconsistent story from Ragnar.

A chunk of tantalum
While waiting for the trial the party get stuck in to the mining. Locating where the robot was mining the tantalum, they concentrate on this area. They borrow a scanner from a neighbouring belter (it keys off micro changes in ore density) and map out the tantalum deposit. It appears to be a ship embedded in the asteroid and crushed by geological periods of time, the tantalum being part of the ships engines. The ship is far too crushed to yield anything of use, but they do manage to extract large amounts of tantalum.

Ragnar rents a secure storage unit at Niflehel Station and they transfer 2 ship loads of tantalum (26 tons, worth MCr 1.3) to it over the week before the trial. There seems to be about 174 tons of tantalum remaining in the asteroid, at that rate it will take 7 more weeks to get it all out and shipped to Niflehel Station. Ragnar looks into finding brokers who can deal with this much tantalum, the only people who could buy this quantity will be one of the megacorporations who construct jump drives, manoeuvre drives or antigrav drives - all of which use tantalum. be continued...

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Slodi Clan

The Slodi Clan control a relatively large section of the asteroid belt in the Tyrfing System. Many of the belters that work for them claim they were tricked into large debts that they can never repay. The Slodis enforce their control ruthlessly, trusting no one outside of their extended family. The head of the Slodi Clan is Bera Viggodotir Slodi, reputedly a dangerous psychic.

The Slodi Family Timeline
996                  Slodi Clan arrives in Tyrfing
The Slodis arrived in Tyrfing with a jump tender and 4 50ton mining vessels.

997 to 1020     Slodi mining in Tyrfing
During this period the Slodi Clan slowly expanded their operations throughout the belt

1021                The big strike
This was the year of the big strike, an asteroid with a very pure ore deposit.

Burning out an enclosure in an asteroid.
1024                Slodi habitat construction  
With the wealth from the big strike the Slodis started construction of a large habitat

1029                Slodi habitat  finished
After five years the Slodi habitat was finished and the Slodis moved more into management and agriculture – selling food,air and water to belters

1054               The Opening of the enclosure
This year saw the opening of the enclosure to belters, along with many outlets for entertainment and supplies. The Slodi habitat became in effect the equivalent of a small mining town

1057               The first blight
Three years after opening the enclosure to outside, the Slodis suffered the first of many blights. The crops died and the soil became unworkable. The enclosure was opened to vacuum and cleaned and the soil removed of infestation. After the enclosure was restored entry was restricted once more

1062               The second blight
Despite the restrictions on entry to the enclosure itself, there was a second blight, this one worse than the first. The enclosure rapidly became overgrown with fungus and the air thick with spores.

She can read your mind like a magazine,
She sees where you're at,
She knows what you mean,
She's got all the secrets that you'd rather keep...

Image by Nicolas Kudeljan
1063               Bera Viggodotir Slodi born
Conceived during the second blight, Bera's DNA was affected by alien fungal spores and she developed a prodigious psychic talent.

1075               The last blight

Many blights followed. Eventually the enclosure was fully cleaned down to the rock face and that melted with concentrated beams of light from the sunlight collecting mirrors until nothing organic remained. Fresh new topsoil was imported at great expense and finally the enclosure was free of infection.

1076 to 1085  The decline

The blight years depleted the Slodis finances considerably and they never recovered. By this time more asteroid habitats had been created, including the much large Niflhel Station, which was run more fairly to its inhabitants than the Slodi habitat. With competition from other habitats, the Slodis could not charge such high prices for basic provisions. In addition, partly due to the Slodis prices, belters had become more self reliant in producing basic food and air using small automated bio-enclosures.

1086               The start of Bera's reign
Bera became the head of the Slodi clan following the death of her father, her brothers deferring to her will (and psychic abilities). The clan started enforcing it's will on nearby belters. Those offered supplies on credit terms suddenly found themselves deep in debt to a vicious organization that claimed ownership on all they mined.

1115                Now
Ragnar Ivaldssson Long comes into possession of an asteroid recently acquired by the Slodi family and everything goes pear shaped.

The Slodi Asteroid

The asteroid is approx 1km long with a diameter of 450m. The enclosure is 600m long with a diameter of 280m. The period of rotation is 42 seconds giving a gravity equivalent to 0.33G on the surface of the enclosure.

The asteroid has 6 double pulse laser turrets and 1 particle accelerator bay. The turrets provide 360° coverage (3 can bear on any one target at a time). The PA bay has 180° coverage, requiring rotation of the asteroid to bear on all targets (up to 12 minutes).

The enclosure is partially planted for agriculture (40% surface area), has a large open water area (25%) for temperature stability, the rest being trees and grassland (35%).

The Slodi ancestral home is the only inhabited structure in the enclosure, the majority of the living accommodation as well as the retail areas are within the rock shell. The retail areas provide meager entertainment for the belters trapped in a vicious credit cycle, as they extract back all the little money that the miners receive for their work, with a combination of over priced alcohol, prostitution and recreational drugs.