The Bellona Intrigue
This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue.
Synopsis: A reformed terrorist engages the heroes to prevent an assassination attempt on her lover, a planetary official, by her past comrades.
Setting: Initially, any Imperial world; another world with a Type A starport two parsecs away.
The team is approached by a woman who is trying hard not to be noticed in the crowd. Lireyn Niikesh makes no bones about her former line of work (her government considers her a terrorist; she calls herself a freedom fighter) but claims it is all behind her. She wants to hire the group to find her lover, Arpesh Shalimak, an official of the planet’s lower house of parliament. She had been assigned to assassinate him, but they instead fell in love. The two carried on a brief relationship before Lireyn’s comrades realized that she had no intention of carrying out her orders. In response, they made plans to kill both paramours. A first attempt on Lireyn’s life alerted her to the plot; she escaped her assailants and is now trying to warn Shalimak of the plot against him. Not wanting to lead the villains to him, she asks the PCs to undertake the task of finding him and either warning him or protecting him. As payment, she is willing to reveal the location of a large cache of valuables the terrorists have collected, worth at least Cr50,000. But she will only do so once she knows her lover is safe.
Lireyn knows that Shalimak has left the planet for a nearby system on business, but she’s not sure which one. The terrorists have the means to go after him, using their own (stolen) starship. She turns over a description of Shalimak’s Type Y Yacht, the Kimikir Giraam; a secure commlink to contact her with once they have completed their mission (they will be unable to do so until then, as she will be in hiding); and a personal item (referee’s choice) they are to show him to prove that she sent them.
Shalimak left the world for a system with a Type A starport 2 parsecs away. Data from the originating starport should allow them to make a good guess as to which system he was headed for. The Kimikir Giraam has only a Jump-1 rating, so it will take him two weeks to get there. If the PCs have access to a starship with a higher jump rating, they can get there ahead of him. Depending on how much tension the referee wants to build into the plot, the extremists may also have a high Jump rating and thus arrive perhaps a few hours behind the PCs.
When the PCs make port, they will have to find a way to locate Shalimak. Hampering them is the fact that since his yacht is unstreamlined, it cannot land on-planet; he will dock at the highport and take a shuttle to the downport. The adventurers will not know which shuttle he is on. Worse, the downport is large enough that their ship and Shalimak’s shuttle may be kilometers apart. And unfortunately, the day on which the PCs make port is unfortunately an unusually busy one. The port is jammed with people of every stripe who have chosen that day to travel through the system and the crowds are phenomenal. The group can locate him on a throw of 11+ (DMs: former service as Navy or Rogue, +1; Liaison skill) made twice a day. If they have arrived ahead of him, their task is far easier; they will have time to search shuttle schedules and scout out likely hotels. The terrorists will have the same chances to find Shalimak, but at -1 since they cannot operate as openly as the heroes.
Upon arrival, Shalimak quickly checks into a hotel and gets right down to business. He is an energetic man who stays on the move; he wants to complete his errands and get back to Lireyn. He is accompanied by a single bodyguard (discreetly armed to the planet’s Law Level) who will view anyone approaching Shalimak uninvited with suspicion. Shalimak himself will react to the heroes at -2, viewing them—at least at first—as obstacles to his work. Showing him Lireyn’s personal item will soften his animosity toward them. If they can subsequently convince him that he is in danger, he will promise to be careful, but not abandon his tasks. He will invite them to accompany him as long as they don’t get in the way and they defer to the bodyguard.
The heroes will be hard-pressed to watch for danger in the ever-present crowds. Roll the chances for surprise per the rules in (Classic Traveller) Book 1: Characters and Combat, except the terrorists will neither avoid nor retreat from the adventurers.
As soon as the terrorists spot Shalimak, they will they will try to kill him. The number of heavies will be half the number of PCs, plus 1 (round up), equipped with whatever weapons will get the job done (guns, knives, explosives, etc.) despite the Law Level. The criminals are fanatical enough to take on long odds to complete their mission and will not be deterred by the presence of witnesses. When the adventurers and the bodyguard engage the terrorists, another group of the rogues will be hanging back, observing intently. What they learn of the heroes will give them a +1 to another assassination attempt, which will not come for at least 24 hours after the first. They will be certain to wait until the PCs’ party is alone and/or distracted. Also, another throw to locate Shalimak will be unnecessary, as they will have kept him under surveillance. As always, the referee may vary the opponents’ numbers or equipment if the PCs prove to be especially competent.
If the heroes are successful in keeping Shalimak from harm, he will gratefully offer them the same pay as his bodyguard (Cr2,500 each). Lireyn will make good on her promise, divulging the location of the terrorist cell’s cache. The referee can designate the contents of that treasure, where it is hidden, and how it is guarded. Retrieving it may lead to a subsequent adventure. Finally, the group will be invited to the couple’s wedding in one month’s time, as Shalimak will propose to Lireyn at first opportunity.
The referee should determine the flow of subsequent events.