Required Skills: vacc suit skill
Required Equipment: Jump-capable starship with 10 tons of empty cargo space and one high or middle passenger compartment
The players are contacted by a middleman from one of the local nobles. He simply calls himself “Catfish.” Apparently, one of this noble’s family members has been captured by a pirate band and he is arranging a ransom. The middleman will not divulge the noble’s name as saving face is important to this aspiring unnamed noble. The PC’s will receive a shipment of ten tons to be delivered to their ship the next day and they are expected to go to a system eight parsecs away to rendezvous on an isolated rock where the exchange is to be made. The noble will pay for the empty cargo space the group has (1,000 credits per parsec = 16,000 credits per ton); 20% now and 80% upon a successful return.
The next day the cargo arrives along with “Catfish.” The cargo contains small, sealed containers labeled “vacc suits,” “medicines” but two containers are one-ton cryo-units (a portable low berth) that is occupied by one person in each unit. Catfish stays in his quarters most of the trip only to emerge when they are in the middle of their last hyper-jump. He then provides the crew with the co-ordinates to the barren, airless, small moon. Not long after the PC’s arrive they receive a signal to travel to another nearby airless moon for the actual rendezvous. Halfway to the new location they are intercepted by a corsair that flashes the agreed upon rescue signal and they ask to pull alongside for the exchange.
Catfish is telling the truth in that he is performing an exchange for the noble. If he is psionically probed nothing other than what he has been told can be read. The noble in question is none other than the head of the system or subsector (as least a Marquis). The prisoners he is providing are captured corsairs and they are in exchange for one of the noble’s adult-aged children who was captured in a corsair raid some months ago.
The pirates are experienced, aggressive and they are not fools. When the exchange is made they will ask the crew to stand down while they offload the cargo by hand. This is non-negotiable and Catfish will insist they comply. When the cryo-units are moved out the pirates will bring a cryo-unit of their own with the noble’s kin sealed inside. They have an electronic lock on the unit attached to an explosive. They tell the PC’s they will be provided the unlock code when they are out of weapon’s range.
1. All is as it seems to be. The exchange is made without a problem and the unlock code is sent as promised. After all, the pirates need to have a way to obtain badly needed goods. When the cryo-unit is unlocked, Catfish uses his medical skills to help wake the former hostage and bring them back to consciousness. The journey home is fairly routine and needless to say the name of the noble becomes known. The noble will personally greet them at the starport and he/she will be grateful and remember the PC’s for future “delicate” work.
2. All is as it seems to be. The exchange is made without a problem and the unlock code is sent as promised. Just on the verge of sensor range an explosion is detected. Apparently several of the medical cargo units were plastic explosives and they were triggered when they were opened. The corsair’s ship is damaged, but they will survive. The corsairs will not forget the PC’s or their ship – that can be counted on for certain. The noble will personally greet them at the starport and he/she will be grateful and remember the PC’s for future “delicate” work.
3. All is as it seems to be. The exchange is made without a problem and the unlock code is sent as promised. Catfish uses his medical skills to wake the former hostage and bring them back to consciousness. When the noble’s kin reaches normal body temperature, their chest cavity explodes, killing the victim instantly and wounding (2d6 damage) anyone within three meters (Catfish will be one of them). Upon return to the original starport the noble will have his attendants standing by to receive the remains of his kin.
4. When the cryo-unit of the hostage is brought on board the PC’s are robbed of their personal effects as the corsairs steal just about everything that is not nailed down. There are no other complications on the trip and the noble will compensate the crew for their lost belongings.
5. As the exchange begins three Type “T” Patrol Cruisers in formation burn towards the rendezvous site. Catfish is frantic to stop the cruisers but they burn in and start shooting at the corsair. The exchange ends before it begins as the corsair immediately flees. While burning out of the system the body of the noble’s kin is expelled out an airlock. Back home, Catfish will speak highly of the PC’s efforts and they will be paid as promised, albeit reluctantly.
6. At the exchange point not one but three corsairs intercept the PC’s ship. When their cargo is brought on board, the pirates loot the PC’s ship and they do not hand over their hostage. When Catfish yells at them for being liars and deceivers they shoot him in the face. As the corsairs depart, three Type “T” Patrol Cruisers burn into the sensor range and now the PC’s are in the middle of a firefight. If the cruisers get the upper hand the noble’s kin will be expelled out the nearest airlock as the corsairs flee. If the corsair win, they will claim the PC’s ship as their own and take them prisoners, demanding the noble send more ransom money due to his “treachery.”