The Hand of Retribution
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue.
Synopsis: The PCs are asked to rescue a journalist friend who has been kidnapped by terrorists before she is forced to identify a member of a counterinsurgency force.
This is a Classic Traveller adventure for 3-5 characters of diverse prior careers and backgrounds. No one career is more essential than the others, but ex-Army or Marine characters will be helpful. No special skills or equipment are necessary to participate in the adventure. The action can take place on any Imperial world with a high level of terrorism.
Keiko Kasczak, a dedicated journalist for a Traveller News Service office, is a longtime acquaintance of the PCs who met the group when she inadvertently found herself in the middle of one of their missions. Despite some initial misunderstandings, her help was subsequently invaluable in getting charges against the heroes dropped. She has maintained contact with them since.
The heroes are conducting business on Keiko’s homeworld when they decide to pay her a visit. Calling on her at her office, they find that she hasn’t reported to work in a while, even given that her job often puts her out of contact for long stretches. A report to the police has not been acted on; the police have prioritized their resources into combating terrorist attacks, and recent high levels of insurgent activity has given them a fortress mentality. Keiko’s editor is understandably worried; she tends to be both fearless and impetuous, and the combination has gotten her into trouble more than once. She recently conducted interviews with figures who could shorten her lifespan by a considerable margin and the editor believes that she may have run afoul of one or more of them. Since the adventurers are already present, and they have helped Keiko in the past, the editor is willing to pay the group Cr10,000 to locate her, and rescue her if necessary.
Keiko has been kidnapped by the Host of Swords, a xenophobic local terrorist group also considered one of the most ruthless. Their ideology – to rid their world of “impurities” (offworlders) – has been responsible for the deaths of local leaders, law enforcers, even children. A year ago, a long counter-intelligence operation, spearheaded by the planetary military, broke the back of the organization and reduced it to a mere shadow of its former self.
The Host is currently in the middle of a long, slow resurgence and have recently seized upon a chance to gain a bit of revenge. Keiko ran a popular series of interviews with one of the soldiers responsible for disrupting the Host’s operations and killing its leaders. In order to do so, she had to get the permission of his superiors and take extraordinary steps to protect the soldier’s identity. While this was sufficient to protect the soldier, it left Keiko wide open for reprisals. Predictably, the Host kidnapped her with the aim of torturing her in order to find the identity of the soldier. Armed with that knowledge, the terrorists can begin tracking down the other members of the unit that nearly destroyed them.
The adventurers should be able to discover through viewing Keiko’s past assignments – especially the special interviews – what has occurred. A search of her apartment will confirm their suspicions: there are several threats to her safety on her comm recorder and her datanet correspondences that she apparently never took seriously. The threats came from the Host of Swords.
The Host is holed up in an apartment building in the middle of a working-class neighborhood just south of the city center. The insurgents have not only taken over the entire building, they have complete control of the surrounding neighborhood. The citizens there live in terror of the radicals, and have picked up on their xenophobia. Still, they are somewhat tolerant of strangers, as long as they conduct their business and don't harass the natives. Any PCs who are obviously outsiders cause the natives to react to them at -2. Any behavior they engage in that the denizens consider even remotely suspicious gets reported to the nearest Host members, who then simply hunt down and kill the troublemakers. Heroes using stealth and subtlety will find such an approach far more effective.
The radicals’ apartment building is a four-story affair consisting of 24 units. Entrance is gained through a main entrance, but there is a fire door in the back of the building and fire exits wherever the referee thinks them necessary. Once a pride of the neighborhood, now the structure is a testament to squalor. Drug addicts, petty criminals and other social jetsam frequent the premises, largely ignored by the Host as long as they don’t cause trouble.
The Host numbers 4D+10, but they are good at hiding their numbers; the adventurers won’t see more than a handful at any given time. Almost all of them are armed with auto rifles, but are not wearing body armor. They irregularly patrol in pairs; Throw 9+ for the heroes to encounter a patrol at any given time. The terrorists will ignore anyone who looks as though they belong in the area.
Keiko is being held in an unoccupied unit on the top floor. She has been badly abused, but hasn’t yet broken. The referee should determine just how injured she is. She is guarded at all times by two Host members. When the heroes arrive, throw 10+ for two interrogators to be present attempting to extract information from her. If the questioners are present, but the PCs take no action, Keiko will break on a failed throw vs. her (current) END and spill the identity of the soldier. If this happens, a team of assassins moves out within the hour.
Once the adventurers act to rescue Keiko, or they are discovered by the Host, they will be attacked. The insurgents will ask no quarter and give none, attempting to kill the PCs and Keiko alike. If the heroes escape, the Host will chase them on a throw of 4+; only giving up if the group crosses the extrality line of the starport, they are challenged by police or soldiers outnumbering them at least 2:1, or the adventurers kill them all. Until then, the Host is willing to kill anyone or destroy anything between them and their quarry.
The referee should determine the flow of subsequent events.
Keiko Kasczak 6A8685 Age 34 Cr60,000
4 terms Investigator (Journalist)
Computer-1, Interrogation-1, Liaison-1, Recon-1