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Rites of Passage

This adventure originally appeared in response to an informal adventure contest on the (online, now defunct) Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society (JTAS) at SJGames in 2001, and was posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller in 2002 with the permission of SJGames and the author, and reprinted in the May/June 2019 issue. It may not be distributed elsewhere without the express permission of SJGames and the author.

Criteria: The adventure should concern a BASE and a COURIER. The type of base (naval, scout, local, megacorp) is up to you. A courier should figure somewhere in the adventure (PCs, NPCs). This is general enough for you to place it in any portion of charted space you’re most familiar with and use any race of creatures you’re comfortable with.

A Traveller “Plug In” Adventure (Inserts fairly easily into any campaign, just place it on a remote starport between two agricultural worlds.)

Players’ Information

Gillarté Station,
Yorbund/Regina Spinward Marches

(Gillarté Station was profiled in ‘It’s Just Business’ in the online JTAS issue of January 9th, 2001)

The line for entering the station’s entertainment mall-plex is a long one, but the excitement of the rugged corporate miners eager to enjoy a three day pass is infectious. Before long, the lighthearted banter and laughter of those hard working “rock hounds” makes even the most serious merchant crewman crack a smile. Imperial navy crewmen, scouts, and civilian crews all stand together in line, waiting to pass through the security checkpoint to enter the station interior. Once past the overworked security staff, (who secure any ranged weapons in a storage facility until departure), the line moves faster carrying everyone along toward the clubs, restaurants, and gambling parlors in the mall-plex. When entering the crowded main concourse of the mall-plex, the spacers quickly notice a pungent smoky scent coming from somewhere up ahead. Moving along with the crowd of miners arriving on the station, they cannot help but notice the excitement fading as the crowd moves toward the main concourse.

In moments, the reason for the quiet is clear. Along one side of the corridor stand three young human females, all barely old enough to be considered adults. Every member of the trio is dressed completely in black, from boots to hooded cloak. Each bears an old and elaborately designed sword carried in a scabbard on the left hip. They stand silent and watchful, with arms crossed in a form of military precision. They surround a shiny metallic canister as if guarding a most precious treasure. Those who would be tempted to mock them have only to see the expressions of complete dedication and lethal intent to change their minds. Three black censers sit on the floor next to the canister, emitting an irritating thin smoky haze. As the crowd passes slowly from view from the odd, funeral-like gathering, a portion of the belters’ original joviality returns. Smaller groups disperse toward the entrances of assorted establishments. Some comments can be overheard as they depart regarding the odd group of young sophonts, some conveying curiosity, others making rude jokes.

As the group of spacers stand waiting for a seat in one of the crowded restaurants, a security officer known to some of the crew members approaches the crew. He cheerfully greets his friends, and then with a word to the hostess, they are immediately taken to the next open table. He sits down, and as the waitress takes orders for drinks, he gets quickly to the point. The head of security and the station administrator are both eager to get that trio of young women off the station. The station already has a problem with too few women available for carousing with the crowds of miners, and the presence of these young women is making matters worse. They have been the center of attention in three altercations with drunken miners looking to somehow impress the young women. Two of GenTech’s belters are in the infirmary from those encounters, and the shop steward is screaming for the sword wielding young women to be locked up. The chief of security verified with witnesses and the sensor logs showing the actions were self-defense, so no charges have been filed. They are waiting for a ship to purchase passage for Heya, which looks to be a minimum of a few days off. If the crew will leave immediately, the station is willing to provide a few bonuses like free fuel for both directions, a particularly costly commodity for this area of space. They also will agree to pay for shipping fees for up to twenty tons of kavic grain from Heya. The young women have already placed the price of three mid passage tickets on account with the travel office, they just need a ride. Will the crew accept the offer and travel to Heya? It isn’t a flood of credits, but it is for a good cause.

Referee’s Information

The young women are actually part of an elaborate pilgrimage involving a fertility ritual in Heya’s rich traditional heritage. They have been selected from hundreds of applicants to honor their ancestors on this trip. They are the guardians of a shipment of grumac grubworm larvae and kavic seeds. Every year, a delegation of three adolescents travel from Heya to Kinorb to re-enact the original mission of their forefathers, the struggling survivors of a devastating grain blight centuries ago. They, too, traveled to Kinorb, and bartered with the wealthy farmers of that land for a sample of these precious creatures who were able to bring life again to Heya’s soil. The worms thrived in the Heyan soil, and aided the growth of the kavic cereal grains that are now the primary agricultural source of wealth of that world. This ceremony is an annual reminder of how precious their world is to them, and how the delicate balance of the ecosystem must be protected.

The travel will be easy, as the three are quite focused on their mission. They will be no trouble for the crew, remaining in their staterooms for most of the journey. If asked, they will explain that they wear black to remind them of the deaths on their world, which caused the need for the original expedition. There are respectful and quiet at most times, but a one or two might be engaged in conversation if approached politely. None of them will be open to anything more than general conversation, and only while in the presence of another of their peers. One of the group will watch over their cargo on an eight-hour shift while the other two rest. This watch is maintained without fail during the entire trip. The only annoyance will be the scent of the incense burners, which must be continuously lit during the journey. The only time that might be difficult is if other passengers of crew harass them in any fashion. Then they turn to their swords for protection. They are rather skilled in using them, but they are not masters. They will not relinquish the blades during the trip, and they have no other weapons.

Planned Encounter (Station Docking Ring)

Friends of the injured miners decide to attack the group for revenge as they leave the security post and head out to the outer docking rings of the station. A group of suitable tough belters with melee weapons will attack the young ladies and the crew who are aiding them. The fight should be dangerous, and should reveal that the pilgrims are not as skilled with those swords as they might first appear. Intervention of the crew will be required to keep them from serious harm. The attack will occur on the docking rings, as that is when the belters have been able to regain their weapons from security.

Upon arrival at the Heyan starport, the elders waiting for the young ones to arrive will greet the crew. Hearing as how they have aided the pilgrims in defending themselves while carrying out this sacred tradition, they will honor them as well. The crew will be treated as special guests, and will enjoy several days of hospitality as guests of the church. Each crewman will be given a small black wooden pendant, carved in the shape of a single kavic grain engraved with several religious symbols. This indicates that each is an honorary member of the Heyan community. If the crew chooses to leave fairly quickly, within two to three days, they will be offered up to their entire hold in kavic grain, at a quite reasonable purchase price. (If they choose to remain over two weeks or more and truly take full advantage of the hospitality of the religious order, then this additional offer will not be made.) They will also be known as friends to those in the religious community, should they return again to Heya.

Optional Additional Ending

One of the crewmen has managed to charm one of the girls in a strong case of infatuation, and now that she has finished her pilgrimage, she wants to run away with him and become a crew member on the merchant vessel. Being that she is an adult by Heyan standards, there is no legal problem with this situation, but the church might be most displeased and consider it a scandal. After all, they would assume that the relationship began during the pilgrimage, a most holy time of service. Any action other than a most diplomatic of responses would engender a long-lived hostility, earning the crewman and possibly the ship itself a new set of enemies. The level of insult offered by the crewman and the ship’s officers would be a direct measure as to the dedication of the church and the girl’s family to seek retribution.

The Heyans

Liceena Bracks 787979 Human Female Age: 18
Sword 0, History 0, Leader 0

Ulia Zanders 698777 Human Female Age: 17
Sword 0, Ground Craft 0, Dance 0

Wilmara Chismar 8788A9 Human Female Age: 19
Sword 0, Computer 0, Medical 0