Five years have passed.
With Baefre, Wayfinder, Moros System, lost on the other side of the unstable wormhole, the rest of the crew ended up surrendering to DRN John Uskglass. Thanks to the machinations of Boris Johns, Lord Dunn, Sir Korbin’s enemy, they quickly found themselves at a gulag on Lubyanka.
Almost at once, though, things began going weird. At the gulag, Anya’s “lawyer” was waiting for his client, much to her confusion and surprise (as well as that of the gulag personnel), and demanded a private meeting with her. Both of them vanished without a trace from that meeting – they walked through a door and just … disappeared) and all images or vids or picts of this lawyer just spontaneously corrupted. Naturally, this … displeased the gulag authorities who took out their frustrations on the rest of the crew in lots of different ways, the worst being their withholding of crucial medical treatment for Alexei when he was evidently caught in the middle of a turf war. He died soon after.
Very quickly, the imprisoned crew learned that their respective factions appeared to have completely written them off. Sir Korbin could not get anyone from within the Ducal government to answer him; Ilik discovered that his sister, Minerva, Lady Alcluith, could not be reached for any reason; and the SpaceFarer’s Collective seemed utterly uninterested in responding to Rostya’s entreaties for aid. This meant they had to survive on their own.
Sir Korbin immediately adopted the ‘keep your head down and do your time’ mentality and it seemed to work out for him. He spent a lot of time in the gym working out and was eventually transferred to a lesser security facility due to ‘good conduct.’ Once there, he instantly began working toward a full release for both him and his crewmates.
Rostya embraced the thug life and was involved in a number of fights which only made him tougher. After some time, he was accepted into vocational training where he learned additional engineering skills. Thanks to the actions of an imprisoned psion at the gulag who went dream-walking, Rostya became aware that the Collective seems to have seriously messed with his head to the point that he doesn’t know what to believe regarding his past anymore.
Ilik wholeheartedly threw himself into the illicit gambling within the gulag to keep his mind off his circumstances and soon turned into the guy to beat at cards or dice if you wanted a reputation. He was briefly involved in an escape attempt soon after Sir Korbin was transferred, but managed to avoid getting fingered as a participant. More worrisome, though, the above-mentioned psion also later tried to dream-walk into Ilik’s brain and met a sticky end. Later, Ilik would have a vague memory of the dream where the psionic intruder met a towering four armed humanoid with a carapace made entirely of metal resembling chrome and wholly covered with razor-sharped blades; the following morning, that unregistered psion and his bunkmate were discovered in their cells, deader than dead. They were flayed and filleted and blood was everywhere…
After stepping through that doorway with Doctor Smith, Anya’s memories become … suspect for a time. For almost three years, she was with him and has trippy recollections of impossible vistas, bizarre entities and running. Lots and lots of running. She became fairly obsessed with figuring out what the heck she was actually experiencing and how the good doctor managed to do some of the weird things she kept seeing him do.
On of their jaunts eventually went sideways, though, and she was stranded in the middle of nowhere on Nyx for quite some time. Alone. Forced to survive against the various predators and strange weather, she eventually made it back to civilization. Intent on rescuing her crew, she soon discovered that Sir Korbin had managed to effect his own release from the lower security prison that he’d been transferred, and together, they began working to get the rest of their crew out of the gulag.
After vanishing through the wormhole which collapsed soon after, Baefre, Wayfinder, Moros System, mysteriously reappeared three years later along with most of the crewmembers of the two Type 336 light warships that had entered the space-time bridge immediately prior to the Battle of Three Navies. All were in the cryogenic escape pods common to heavier Taareh ships … but the Type 336s don’t carry such pods and Baefre did not even transit through the wormhole in a PKF ship! Most of the pods were quickly snatched up by Peacekeepers where they vanished into the bowels of the Lighthouse.
For most of a year and a half, Baefre was held in solitary confinement upon the Lighthouse with the PKF command desperate to find out a wide variety of things from him, ranging from what he saw on the other (which he could not really articulate well due to the unreliability of his own memories) to how he gained the additional head stripe tattoo (of a dark greenish-like color with unusual designs to the Taareh eye) that cannot be easily replicated and what material the equally unique brow studs he now bears is made of (as it defies modern Taareh science). In between bouts of interrogation, Baefre began composing his thoughts on the Truths as revealed to him by Anpu, Master of Secrets and Foremost of the Divine in the written form. The current caste system is broken, these Truths reveal, and must be abolished or thoroughly revamped to allow for more social mobility if they, as a people, wish to evolve.
He did not intend for these Truths to be revealed to the greater Taareh society just yet, but copies of them were made without his permission and quickly spread throughout the PKF. Reactions have been … mixed, with something considering him a modern prophet while those in power instead perceive him as a dangerous reactionary (and probable lunatic). Luckily, at least one of those at the higher ranks who have read his initial Truths was impressed enough to order his release. And so, a changed Baefre, Wayfinder, Moros System, was finally able to depart the Lighthouse, a free sophont once more.
Reunion and the Present
The combined efforts of Anya and Sir Korbin finally paid dividends as they called in favors and contacts, eventually culminating in the release of Ilik and Rostya, as well as Alexei’s remains that can be returned to his family. Once more reunited, the crew look to their next step but find many doors closed to them as several bear the black marks of having been sent to the gulag on their records. Lothrain Free Company is no more, having been gobbled up by its competitors following the tragic events just prior to the Battle of Three Navies; Hiro Lothrain has vanished entirely, along with Jenna Marcuro. Marcus St. George, Lord Feri, is currently not in the Moros System at all, having departed it on urgent company business elsewhere, and the crew are unclear about whether they can trust any of their other allies and contacts.
And then, to their great surprise, Baefre, Wayfinder, Moros System reaches out them as well! Having returned from the Otherside, he’s something of a changed sophont and Ilik immediately finds that he greatly dislikes the change. There’s something … off about the Taareh now; to Ilik’s psionic talents, it is as if his old crewmate simply isn’t even there. In fact, it is now physically painful for Ilik to even touch Baefre! But beyond that, he seems to be much the same if admittedly more intense.
With so few options at hand, the crew matriculate to the Belt where they finally find employment with the Krystal Kleer company out of Lloegyr. It is a factor of how bad things have gotten that the crew have been forced to sign aboard the ice-hauler turned salvage ship, Abzu’s Bounty but surely, things will be looking up soon…
Yes, a timeskip was involved. Based on some feedback from the players after season 1, we’re considering this a sort of “soft reboot,” where the characters are the same(ish) but that’s kind of it. I was originally planning on making getting out of the gulag a more important element in season 2, but, as one player pointed out, that wasn’t what they signed up for and I did basically railroad them into that whole mess. Hence, the timeskip to get past it and move on.
Time Skip Notes
Since I advanced the timeline to get out of mistakes I made, I decided that not only would the PCs not need to make ageing checks, but they’d also be able to serve a new Term in an appropriate career – for four of them, that was obviously Prisoner, but Baefre obviously needed something else and I didn’t want to figure out how or why Anya wasn’t … bothered by hardened criminals so I wanted to remove her from that equation (as well as get the ball rolling on some other plot stuff.) Anya opted to go into Scholar (Field Researcher) and Baefre (to my surprise) went with Truther.
The dice were not kind for him. He went into Prisoner (Fixer), but rolled poorly on the Survival portion of the term. I’d jokingly told the player that it was possible but highly unlikely that Alexei could get ganked in prison, so naturally, he rolled that very option. On the Mishaps table, he rolled 1 (Severely Injured) which is “reduce one physical characteristic by 1D.” He randomly determined this to be DEX (which he has 4 in) and promptly rolled a 5. Prisoner obviously doesn’t pay for medical care per rules as written (RAW), so he could have gone into medical debt (25,000, I think), but the player opted to have Alexei die in prison.
Ironically, I had just figured out a subplot for the character so …
Operating on the presumption that Anya had essentially become a Companion for the Doctor for a time, the player decided that her character was principally focused on trying to understand what the heck she was seeing and, as a result, went into Scholar (Researcher). We’d joked before that she was turning into John Crichton from Farscape, with his obsession toward wormhole tech and well …
She picked up Investigate to reflect her trying to understand, then failed the Survival role leading into a Mishap which turned out to be her being stranded somewhere and picking up Survival/1. During Mustering Out, she rolled something that didn’t work, so we used the 2300 AD mustering out table and she came up with the NI Jack again. Rather than have her reroll it, I declared that her existing implant (which is already far more advanced than anything in Human Space should be) had “evolved” so she gained the Cockpit Sensory Suite from the Central Supply Catalogue.
This turned out to really mess me up and its my own fault. To begin with, his character was screwed up – during creation, he’d mistakenly added all of the service skills for each career he’d been in … and he’d been in four! This left him with a buttload of skills that he shouldn’t have had, so we had to fix that, which seriously trimmed down his skill list and made him look almost lacking when compared to everyone else. That crappy EDU 5 really hurts him.
For the career term, he opted for Truther from the Companion and decided that his Truth revolved around the Old Gods. He picked up Persuade, then failed the Survival roll of 4 by 1! His Mishap was “Truth alienates former colleagues” and he gained 3 Rivals. Since I’d decided to cast him in a G’Kar kind of roll, I decided these colleagues were PKF. His mustering out resulted in a Minor Following, but I arbitrarily pushed that up to a Major Following which granted him 1 Ally (again, likely PKF.) I also decided he needed Art (Writing)-1 because it fit the needs of the story and his skill list is so much less impressive than everyone else.
My original intent was to have Baefre be discovered in a cryo pod in the first session of season 2, but that doesn’t work with this term, so I’ve reshuffled it around. He’s still got 3 years of time lost (must like Anya), but now, he’s been in-system for a while.
I also made him the equivalent of a Pariah from 40K. In game-terms, he’s got a PSI score of 9 (randomly rolled), but the only Talent he has comes from the MT1e Babylon 5 setting called Blocking. So Ilik can’t read his mind or alter his mood or any of that. And he just feels weird to Ilik.
Speaking of, he also went into Prisoner (Fixer) but had a much better go of it. Unfortunately for him, he already had all of the Service Skills so he didn’t learn anything new there (other than the Melee (Unarmed)-1 that all prisoners get). Unlike Alexei, he survived, then rolled a Failed to Escape result on the Event, got promoted and improved his Gambler by +1 to 2.
But hey, he survived intact!
Opting for Prisoner (Inmate), things went pretty well for him. In addition to the Melee (Unarmed)-1 that all prisoners get, he opted for Deception-0 as the service skill. After surviving the term, he rolled “Prison Event” which lead to Transferred to a different prison. This worked out nicely for my future plans.
While mustering out, he also gained Streetwise-0.
Like Baefre before him, his character was a mess due to adding too many skills from changing careers during creation. After we unscrewed that up, he (as the player has done the entire time) “let the dice decide” and random rolled everything. He already had Melee (Unarmed)-1 so that part was skipped. Amusingly, he still ended up as Prisoner (Thug). Gained Persuade-0 as skill training, survived, got the Vocational Training event which fortunately added Engineer-0 to his skills. He was “promoted” and ended up improving his END by 1 (which is good, cause it was only at 6 so he was basically a glass cannon!)
He and I have persistently joked that Rostya was the one who shanked Alexei because the latter had dared to horn in on Rostya’s job as ship mechanic.
Alexei’s death meant that player was now needing a character. Looking at the crew’s needs, he opted for a full-on medical type and rolled up Niall McLeod. As a physician serving aboard a mobile space hospital, it was pretty easy to link him to a couple of the characters – Anya and Baefre, I believe – who had been injured during their respective careers.
Originally, Niall’s Terms 4 and 5 were reversed, with him winning the prestigious prize and then mustering out to become a Drifter (Scavenger) (so as to better link up with the other PCs in 2.01), but I exercised my GM powers and flipped them, so he won the prestigious prize, which led to him being recruited to work on a secret project. Whatever he saw there haunted him to the point that he walked away from his old life.
Going forward, I’m planning on trying for more of a “Firefly problems in an Expanse universe” kind of feel … which is tough to juggle.