Melvin Toombs: Your team was operating on a planet in the Queleff System investigating allegations of interstellar war crimes at the request of the subsector Duke when orders came down to immediately report to the Apollo for new mission orders. The only additional orders provided were to be prepared to conduct search operations on a desert world.
Kowalski and his team of Marines are part of the Apollo’s Marine detachment quite accustomed to conducting special operations, you have just been called to the Bridge.
Jenner Barsum patrols this sector for the Imperial Scout Corps monitoring trade and regulating the various smuggling factions. When orders came to report to the Appollo in order to provide information on the Likitornot System, you knew smugglers must be into something big to attract the attention of a Diaspora Fleet Cruiser like Apollo.
Manny is the engineer officer on duty on the command deck. He tends to be on duty quite often as the Ship’s Engineering Officer wants him nowhere near the ship’s engines or himself.
The ship’s captain, Captain Barbosa, stands on a raised dais in the center of the bridge. His executive officer stands to his right on a lower raise and over to his left is a legendary Marine Colonel named William Heart. The Colonel seems to look over you with a bit of disdain as he chews on his unlit cigar. Hovering nearby the Colonel is an automated data assistant.
After tending to some ships business, Captain Barbosa turns to address you: Good Day Gentlemen and, to those of you who have just arrived, welcome aboard my ship … unfortunately you won’t be able to stay long as you have a rather important mission to complete. It seems the Imperium has intercepted signals intelligence that puts one, Lieutenant Commander Xavier Windhook down there on that planet. (points out the view portal) Your mission is to go down there and find him.
When Manny hears the Captain speak of the mission, he is filled with a mix of emotions. Windhook, though a few years older than he, was at the academy with him. He was brilliant, well respected, of noble birth and Manny thought he was very kind. He has a bright future, the instructors would say. It was very disturbing to learn that he was an assassin the first time. This briefing is bringing up all the old emotions again.
Here’s what we know: Windhook has been using his intelligence contacts in the criminal world to continuously change his identity and garner passage on mostly smuggling ships. He has been doing this for months and has managed to frustrate all attempts to locate him. It appears now that something went wrong.
We have intercepted smuggler transmissions in which, Windhook’s hosts are apparently surprised to find out who he was. Also in those transmissions, are terms of payment for turning over their former passenger, now prisoner, for a decent payday. The group they turned Windhook over to is called the Syndicate – I believe Master Jenner is quite familiar with this group. (Jenner gives out an involuntary whistle – that sums up his thoughts … holy shit!) We don’t know what the Syndicate’s intentions are but we are not waiting to find out. Our orders are to find the location they are keeping Windhook, and if we can’t capture him … then we obliterate that location.
You won’t be the only team down there mind you, our sister ship, Athena, will be sending a team down similar to yours. And of course there are the Blackened Water teams … mercenaries hired directly by Lucan and the royal family to hunt this man down. They have been chasing him since he departed the Core system and they are highly motivated to bring him in.. I recommend you steer clear of them down there.
This part of the system is a smuggler’s paradise. There are secret bases and shadow starports that these smugglers use on this world and on some of the surrounding worlds. In space, these smuggling groups are vicious competitors but down there they share facilities – it is neutral ground for them. We know there is a base somewhere in this systems’ desert though imagery does not give us any clues as to exactly where – no energy readings, man-made objects on the surface, nothing. Something must be shielding it. You will have to go down there and find it. When you do, confirm Windhook’s presence and get out. We will do the rest. Understand. Captain Toombs, you are in command on this mission, your team has a good reputation in this subsector for technical surveillance and reconnaissance, don’t let us down on this one. Kowalski and his Marines are your muscle. If you get an opportunity to kill or capture Windhook, by all means take it, but Kowalski’s primary mission is to protect you from the Smugglers, Mercs and anything else that might be down there. Jenner here should be able to back you up with any intel you need on the pirates of this subsector, who they are, how they operate … stuff like that. I also understand Capt Toombs that your team has one man down to some strange illness – a mechanic I’m told…. Manny here is the best I can offer as a replacement. Manny .. you stand relieved of your current post. You best get yourself ready to travel. (Manny turns white with a combination of fear and excitement). Lastly, I am sending one of my ship’s Doctors down with you .. as an extra precaution.
If you have no further questions, you best get some rest, you go in before this planet’s dawn.
The Planet: Likitornot is a relatively low population world with no centralized government and moderate laws. The planets main staple is mining with an abundance of Iron derivatives.
Giant Worms called Sandworms inhabit the desert areas of the world. They are attracted to salt deposits and can be very aggressive if young larvae are in the area. Miners have been researching ways to direct their tunneling in support of their mining operations. There is no indication whether they have been successful.
There are three large organizations (along with many smaller operations) involved in smuggling in this part of the subsector; The Syndicate, Angel’s Wing and Player Productions. The Syndicate controls shadow facilities on this world to include warehouses, auction houses and starports for smuggling groups to buy/sell/hide or transfer their wares.
The briefing Part II
Just as you are getting seated for dinner in the officer’s mess and are formulating a plan –a Marine major comes in . “Toombs, Kowalski, the old man wants to see you in his quarters ASAP. Kowalski immediately understands that the major is referring to Colonel Heart. You enter Col Hearts quarters – they are modest and minimal. He is sitting as a small desk reviewing papers when you enter, still chewing his unlit cigar. His data assistant dutifully hovers nearby. “Good evening, Gentlemen – I have a few adjustments to your mission orders. Your mission is about to get just a little bit more difficult. Here it is, bottom line up front – you need to make sure Windhook gets out of there … alive. Once you find him – you need to spring him. Your going to have to do this before you report, because once you report his location … all hell is going to break loose. You’re going to have both Merc’s and smugglers up your ass, and this ship along with the Athena are going to rain hell down on you. Get him out of there, get him clear of the surface and I will take care of the rest. This is your new mission gentlemen and if you are smart you will share it with as few people as necessary. This is a need to know mission… understand. Last thing, ADAMM here is going with you. (He points to his data assistant) He might prove useful to you. The robot turns and faces you speaking in a calm, soothing voice … “a pleasure to meet your acquaintance”. Now then, you have preparations to attend to, get moving.