Required Equipment: Vehicle
The way the guy — Ambrosius Kemp, the owner of an export business over in Startown — was waving his hands around and sweating, I’d have thought he was gonna keel over any moment. He had called us in to talk to us about a job, but the more he talked, the more agitated he got. He kept going on about how time was running out and how he’d be ruined if we couldn’t help him. I watched him; if he didn’t calm down soon, his time was gonna run out. A sneaked a glance over at Vajra, and she must’ve thought so, too; her fingers were inching closer to her sidearm.
The Colonel finally got Kemp to calm down long enough to explain what it was he wanted. Kemp sat down — actually, he more like collapsed — behind his desk, and took a deep breath before starting his spiel. Seems he has a partner, name of Aquino, who had one of those cybernetic drives installed in his brain so he could better keep up with the number-crunching and the day-to-day. That upgrade made Aquino a whiz-kid who doubled the company’s income in a matter of weeks. Trouble is, in those same weeks, Kemp noticed Aquino acting more and more strange. Finally, Kemp decided to do something, but Aquino beat him to it; he checked out of town. But not before helping himself to the company’s most sensitive data and a big slice of the company’s finances to the tune of Cr5,000,000. One of us let out a low whistle at the figure. I started imagining all kinds of things I could do with that kind of puli. Kemp wrecked my daydream by repeating that loss would ruin him.
He paused, and the Colonel had to prod him for more info. Kemp knew he had to locate Aquino fast. He made a lot of commcalls and called in most of his favors, but he finally found out where Aquino was: aboard the planetary hyper rail, headed for the world capital. Another low whistle, from myself this time. Hyper rails are the last word in maglevs, and this planet wasn’t that big; the train would get to the capital in a matter of hours. No wonder Kemp kept saying time was short. Worse, Kemp said that the capital was also the subsector headquarters for Periva Factors, a big brokerage firm that had been trying to get its hooks in Kemp’s firm for a long time. He was certain that’s where Aquino was headed. If he made it, Kemp could say bye-bye to everything he’d built over the years.
Kemp wanted us to intercept the hyper rail, locate Aquino, and get him back to Kemp, who’d have people waiting to deal with that pesky implant. For our trouble, he’d pay us one-tenth of the amount Aquino ran off with. Five hundred thousand for grabbing a guy off a train and bringing him home? Not too shabby.
The hyper rail will reach its destination in six hours. It makes two scheduled stops, one two hours into its trip, the other two hours later. It spends 30 minutes at each stop before continuing. If the adventurers choose not to board the train at the stops, they will have to come up with another way to do so while it’s moving at hundreds of kilometers per hour.
Once aboard the hyper rail, it’s up to the players how they find Aquino and remove him from the train. The referee should determine what security arrangements are in place. At a minimum, it’ll have an Anti-Hijack program (similar to the program mentioned in Book 2: Starships) and an armed guard or two.
While the implant is active, Aquino has total recall and cognitive function that gives him an equivalent INT of F.
1. All is as represented.
2. Kemp is lying; he’s actually guilty of gross corporate malfeasance and has been embezzling funds from the company. Aquino finally had enough, downloaded the evidence, and headed for the World Court in the capital. If the group succeeds in returning Aquino, Kemp will kill him as soon as the adventurers leave.
3. As 1, except Aquino’s not responsible for his actions; the implant malfunctioned and caused temporary insanity. Aquino will be subject to periods of paranoia and rage until the implant is deactivated.
4. Kemp only thinks Aquino has betrayed him. In actuality, Aquino’s actually bent on committing an act of corporate sabotage. He downloaded only copies of the company’s files as bait, and included a computer virus designed to infect and destroy Periva’s system. If he succeeds in his mission, Periva Factors’ operations will be irreparably damaged and the company will be out of business in a month.
5. As 1, 3, or 4, except that a third party has found out about Aquino’s mission and wants to help itself to the secrets locked in his head. 1D+2 crack assassins (adjust for PC strength) will attempt to kidnap Aquino and head for parts unknown.
6. As 1, except that the train is also carrying a valuable cargo, which is guarded by a contingent of planetary troops. The soldiers will consider any disturbance as an attempt to steal the cargo and act accordingly.