Where Eagles Dare
This adventure was obtained from the author’s blog, with permission, and reprinted in the May/June 2017 issue.
Sabitha Tomksh is an authority on the Jala’lak primitives on Gaea and author of several books on the subject. Now, for her definitive work she wants to confirm a theory that she has recently formed.
Recently a temple (“The God-Monster”, Freelance Traveller, Mar/Apr 2017) was discovered on Gaea/Albadawi 0702 which implied that humans had transplanted the Jala’lak across space to two separate worlds. In that temple references were made to a certain point upon the world of Jada, in the Hieronymous/Esperance 0506 system.
Sabitha is a very sick lady, on the verge of death that even the combined forces of her wealth and modern medicine cannot stop. Knowing that her nephew, one of the players, is on the planet, she calls him. Sabitha wants him (and his companions) to go and survey the area on Jada.
The Hieronymous system is interdicted, and she knows that the players will be more willing than her employees to break interdiction. She can provide a pinnace (or ship’s boat of some sort) jam-packed with electronic evasion gear to slip past the interdiction satellites. The equipment is strictly illegal and very expensive.
Once at the co-ordinates, they should record what they find. A comprehensive survey of the area and anything of interest should be made. Artifacts must be brought back for analysis.
Sabitha will give them a ship to travel in, and should the players complete their task to her (or, should she die, her lawyers’) satisfaction, they can keep the ship.
Hieronymous is a system with two habitable worlds, Hieronymous itself and the uninhabited Jada. Upon Jada is an Ancient pyramid, a massive construct reaching several kilometres high. All efforts to investigate the artifact have ended in failure, often with the expedition members falling victim to the ‘Jada Curse’, as it has become known.
The players put themselves into a parking orbit around one of the outer planets, and then head inwards in the pinnace. The interdiction satellites have the armament to utterly destroy the pinnace, but fortunately ignore it.
The co-ordinates are on the edge of rocky, mountainous terrain, thick with vegetation. At the exact centre of the co-ordinates is a temple exactly identical to those on Gaea, and about a kilometre away is a village. The Ancient pyramid is on the other side of the world.
The village (and others nearby) are populated by Jala’lak transported here at approximately the same time as the ones on Gaea. They have not been discovered by the Imperial authorities because of the presence of the ancient artifact. Jada possess no precious minerals and, because of the interdiction, has never been settled.
The Jala’lak here are similar to those on Midway in temperament—and completely unlike the Gaean type. Each day they used to walk to the temple and pray to their gods. They lived a peaceful life until the arrival of the Rule of Terra.
About one terran year ago, the Rule of Terra (Eagle Squadron) established a base in the system, just behind the temple. Amongst their crew were several Vargr—immediately hailed as gods by the Jala’lak. Consequently they have been enjoying their role as gods, and sacrifices have become common amongst the previously pacific people.
Eagle Squadron has a fair-sized base here, with two Close Escort gunboats hidden under camouflage netting. One is in Imperial colours, the other sports the Rule of Terra’s crest. The surveillance system is mostly automatic—robots patrol the area. The number of terrorists present is no more than can be carried by the two ships, both of which possess the codes enabling them to pass the interdiction satellites safely.
Unfortunately the world is home to one of the ‘lint’ plants. These are moss-like plants that grow in sheets and hang like curtains from branches of trees. At certain periods they suddenly ‘go lint’ whereupon the air is filled with the seeds from these plants. Anywhere it settles and finds nutrients, it grows. Nutrients include machine oils and the grit and grime that accumulates in machinery.
The Jada plants have just gone ‘lint’, and most of the Rule of Terra’s base is out of action because of it. One of the Close Escorts is infested and the other is under quarantine to prevent contamination. All of the surveillance devices are out of action, as are the robotic sentries.
The players arrive at the end of this period; however, their pinnace may still become contaminated—requiring a very thorough overhaul. Should their pinnace (or the electronics) become contaminated they will be stranded unless they can hijack the working Close Escort.
It is unlikely that they will escape the Rule of Terra’s attention. Naturally, the terrorists do not want anyone to know about their base and will try to eliminate the players. However, this would have been easier had their sentries been active.
When the players get around to examining the temple, they find that in the rear chamber there is an inscription quite unique to this temple. Carved on the wall is a star map (of Poseidon/Suleiman 0110, once they run a computer check) and a few words. The language is translatable, but the message is indistinct: “Go To (obscured) Every (obscured).”
Sabitha will be fascinated by all aspects of their adventure once they return, and they will immediately be asked to go to Poseidon. This time, they can take a couple of archaeology experts, but she would be happy if the expedition was in the players capable hands.
However, Sabitha has grown worse and may die soon. If she does then the players will be required to complete her forthcoming book. Otherwise they will not own the ship.
- Hieronymus (Esperance 0506 X530622-6):
- Hieronymous is a system with two habitable worlds. One is populated, the other is dry and desolate.
- The system is interdicted. Ships requiring to refuel from the Gas Giant may do so, but insystem travelling is forbidden.
- This is the practice of isolating a single world from the rest of the Imperium. There are a number of methods of interdiction, all involving an orbital presence of some kind. These can range from several huge, heavily armed, automated satellites to a full naval presence.
- Lint Plants:
- Lint plants (typified by Ponsonby’s Velvet) reproduce by means of spores which drop away from the plant. Blown by the wind, they will eventually find a source of nutrients—often in the most unlikely of places—and start to grow. This can become a hazard, especially if the plant feeds off the lubricant used by delicate machinery.
- Areas where the plants have gone lint are usually a no-go zone for any type of machinery. There is no simple cure apart from cleaning the affected machinery thoroughly, then isolating it.
- There are several types known to the Imperium, found upon a variety of worlds.
- Rule of Terra:
- A violent pro-Solomani terrorist organization.