Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Tyrant's Crew - Episode 1: A Simple Milk Run (A Stars Without Number Actual Play Report)

Our crew assembled and gear purchased, we were ready to go. It was decided that Wang had made his way to Dixie in the last days before the surrender in an attempt to chase a fortune that never quite materialized. When The surrender was signed and Hegemony troops took over, he decided the political climate was no longer in his favor and hopped aboard the first ship heading anywhere but there. As luck so happens, it was mine. We'd flown together a couple weeks before we picked up Doc. We still don't know what his story is, but he was in an awful hurry to get off that station. You can tell in a man's eyes whether they're running to something or away from it. Doc was definitely the latter. We needed the extra hand though, so we welcomed him aboard. Might be nice to have someone patch us up when we need it.

Our first session was going to be easy, right? It was a simple milk run. A previous contact of Wang's named Mr. Daws from the Rabani sector wanted us to visit a Maxwell Aldo. There was some kind of corporate exchange going down with everything in escrow. All we needed was to pick up a hard copy of some sensitive data and make it back. Pick it up, drop it off. We walk away with 200,000 credits. What could possibly go wrong? (Please, contain your laughter!)

Spike drive engaged. We came out of transit just outside the planet's gravity well. It was this massive, fancy-ass bureaucratic nightmare. The space port was a giant glass dome with one major exit/entryway. Space ships were lined up like ants trying to get in. The docking attendant chimed in on comms, asking us about the nature of our business planetside. She seemed to get annoyed when I give the name of our contact as Jonathon Doe. It took about two hours from the time we talk to customer service to the time we're cleared a spot to land. Government at work, ladies and gentlemen. 

We managed to land without issue. I decided to go low-profile, meaning that I was only carrying the derringer (Savannah) in my waistcoat pocket, the Dixie toothpick in a sling under my armpit, and the big iron low on one hip. With my coat, it was all covered up nicely. Practically stealth mode. The rest of the crew takes a similar tact, with the Doc stuffing a shotgun under his coat. Wang decided to leave the grenades at home, opting instead for his stun baton (apparently, his only options are "nonlethal" and "overkill"). Outside, we were greeted by a docking engineer who asked if we needed any station services -- refueling, maintenance, etc.

"Could use a carton of cigarettes." Moraine is clearly a smoker, he'd been a week in transit, and I'm sure as hell not trusting the fire suppressor on our rust bucket.

"Uh. I'm.. Sorry Sir.. I'm an engineer, not a stewardess."

"..The hell use are you?" My 17 Charisma shined through.

We hop a cab and make our way to the location. Aldo's was a big warehouse in the shipping district. It's a giant reinforced brick building, completely unadorned but for the sign with his name above. A huge steel security door is built into the wall beside an obvious intercom panel. There are no windows. Promising.

We buzzed in. The guy on the other side had no idea who we are or why we were here. We eventually ask for Maxwell Aldo by name and tell him we are supposed to make a pickup. He disappeared for a few minutes before the door opened and some Pink Water security goons show up to greet us. A man with a voice matching the intercom guy greets us and tells us that he's sorry about the mix-up, and offered to escort us to a waiting room. I'm itchy already, but we go.

The waiting room was down a roundabout hall or two, but was ultimately what you'd expect out of a mid-level corporate break room. A bunch of uncomfortable chairs, some old coffee, bottles of water, some fruit in a bowl, and a couple magazines. Wang dove straight for the food because we've been eating nothing but protein-sludge for three weeks now. Doc takes a seat and flipped open a magazine. As soon as the guards are gone, I immediately go for the door -- Locked. "Son of a bitch."

"They probably don't want us wandering around." Wang is trying to be helpful. Really.

"Don't cotton much to cages. I've been locked up long enough." I spent nearly two hours pacing my happy-ass back and forth along the low-maintenance grey area rug. Just when it seemed like I might be contemplating blowing the door off its hinges, Wang chimes in again.

"Calm down, Bo--" his line is interrupted by boots running in our direction. I turn to face the door from my left, to obscure the play I'm already making for my piece. The door swings open and red dots pan up the floor and the across the wall behind us. One of the goons takes a knee and disengages the safety on his SMG just in time for a .44 caliber hole to open up in the front of his skull. Big iron, big bullets. He goes down like someone flipped a switch. The goon behind him took a graze to the hip where the round over-penetrated through the first man into the second. Wang was on top of him in an instant with the stun baton, rendering him unconscious. The doc finished the job with a shotgun blast to the face. Gnarly.

"So much for the milk run."

Doc and Wang grabbed their SMGs and strap up. I wound up going for the walkie talkie on his chest rig. A few seconds later, the asshole from the intercom out front chirped through. "Heard shots. Report in. Were they taken care of?" I spammed the button while replying to give the impression the thing was malfunctioning. "Ta-" click "ermin" click "rep" click "firmative." I clip the radio to my waistcoat and replace a shell in my revolver. We need to move.

We took a wrong turn and end up in the warehouse proper. There were boxes and crates everywhere. I wound up asking Wang if he has any idea what the thing we're looking for looks like.

"Uh, it's easy. It's a <fucking technobabble.>"

As I stood there with a single-action revolver in my hand, "Do I look like I know what a <fucking technobabble, repeated phonetically> is?"

"...Right boss, I'll get looking."

"You've got two minutes, son. Make it quick."

Everyone was making search checks, looking through boxes. I wound up having a moment of thought and asked the GM "Can I make a tactics roll? I want a defensible position?" "uh.. Sure!" The resulting roll was silly high. I found a sturdy table and what appeared to be the sort of steel plates you'd expect to reinforce a wall with. My two companions turn suddenly and in some horror at the ridiculous clatter of me kicking the whole thing over.

"What are you do--" The objection was cut off by a deafening burst of automatic fire as more security entered the room. A bunch of shots were exchanged in an intense standoff, with my now-reinforced table absorbing a lot of oncoming fire. There were four men in chest rigs and what appeared to be the head of security in full combat armor. One of the mooks winged me in the shoulder with their SMG. Banter ensues which ultimately results in said mook getting focus-fired on by the rest of the group until he got his head unzipped from a three-round burst from our side. I managed to plug another dude in the chest with my revolver and the other two mooks hauled ass out of the warehouse, shouting that they were not being paid enough for this.

The head of security seemed like he was taking this whole thing rather personally, and opened up another burst, this time catching Wang in the stomach and in the process managed to take the pinky and ring finger off one hand. We call him 8-ball now. Doc finally gets a shot through the guy's armor, dropping him low. I walked up and put a bullet in his stomach out of spite.

Doc jumped on 8 Ball with a Lazarus pack. He was bleeding bad. We have no idea where his fingers got off to. Deke's player got two of the worst rolls I've ever seen and seemed to be reliving some kind of traumatic episode involving the last time he lost a patient. I ran over and shoved him out of the way. I have no medicine skill, but with a shockingly good roll I managed to get him stabilized. "Ain't you never seen a bullet wound before?" (It's no wonder that mobster's daughter died.)

The doc stammered and helplessly shrugged.

8-Ball was still conscious and tried to tell us to keep looking for the thing. I turned to the doc "You have any idea what he's yammerin' on about?"

Deke's player turns to the GM "..Uh. I have points in science. Do I have any idea what he's talking about?"


"I totally know what he's talking about."

"Get to it then while I drag his sorry ass out of here."

Doc went off exploring. I started trying to get 8-Ball back down the winding corridor to the exit. Doc managed to find the guy we were sent here to deal with in the first place. Aldo is sitting at his desk with a revolver leveled and ready. Unsurprisingly, he demanded to know why we were here. Doc attempted to explain the gist as best as he understood it, and that it was supposed to be a simple pickup before, you know, the goons.

"You've murdered four men."

"To be fair, they shot at us first."

"..What will it take to get rid of you?"

"Uhhh." Doc actually opened up a channel with our compads to call me on the other side of the building. In the most amazing "let me let you talk to my manager" moment I've ever seen, he explained the situation and then puts me on speaker phone with the guy. This whole thing has apparently been absurd enough to make Aldo require a cigarette. He apparently smokes some dainty-ass Imperial Slim crap.

I finally make my initial offer. "Three hundred thousand credits... and a carton of cigarettes."

"Two hundred thousand credits... and a carton of cigarettes."

"...Two-hundred and fifty thousand credits, and two cartons of cigarettes."

He sighed. "Two-hundred and fifty thousand credits, two cartons of cigarettes, and I never hear from you again?"

"You'll forget we were ever here."

He digs through a drawer and fishes out a disposable credit chip. "You've got ten minutes after I hand over this chip before I call the cops."

"Make it twenty and you can keep a carton of cigarettes."


Doc collected the carton of Imperial Slims and the chips and goes off to find me. Aldo returned to work like nothing happened.

We meet up just outside the place. The two run-away security guards were outside on their phones. I handed one of them a $50 chip.

"Reckon you boys are out of a job. Fifty credits in it for you if you cut that sumbitch's phone line in the next ten minutes."

"Dude.. you killed Steve."

"Steve was an asshole, son."

The other guard chimes in. "... Steve was an asshole."

They agreed right as the cab showed up.

We wound up telling the cabbie that we were mugged. He bemoaned the state of the shipping district this time of evening. I offered him a double tip if he can get us to the space port fast. We cleaned up in the car. By the time we made it there, we still look worse for the wear but we've downgraded our traumatic appearance from "lost a gunfight" to "maybe traded even in a bar fight."

We managed to get through customs fairly quickly and get back on the ship. We're granted clearance to leave just as I got settled in. That's when Doc handed me the goods. "What kind of asshole smokes Imperial Slims? I should've shot that sumbitch when I had the chance."

The ships comms chime in. "Tyrant's crew, you are free for takeoff."

8-Ball is our pilot, but he wasn't looking so hot. I can fly in a pinch, so I asked him if he wanted me to take over.

"Boss, me on my worst day is better than you on your best."

"...Remember who plugged them holes in your hide, son."

"... Sorry, Boss. You know what I mea--" a failed flight roll, due to all the penalties from, you know, bleeding out. We manage to clip the giant dome on our way up, sending a section of shattered glass and crumbling structure raining on anyone unfortunate enough to be below.

The ships comms chime in -- would you like to accept the call?

"Uh. Shit."

8-Ball immediately goes "No! I got this." He hits the button to accept and then immediately hangs up. "Tyrant's Fear di---" click.

The ships comms chime in -- would you like to accept the call?

"Tyrant's F--" click.

The ships comms chime in -- would you like to accept the call?

"TYRA---" click.

Klaxons are screaming. The ship's computer kindly informs us that we are being painted by targeting lasers. Doc is stammering. "CAN WE GO? NOW? PLEASE?"


We're approaching maximum acceleration as we fight to get out of atmosphere. A little warning signal is beeping on the console. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep beep beep beep beepbeepBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP -- TARGET LOCKED.

We break out of the gravity well.

PUNCH IT. We're gone. The klaxons vanish. The computer goes silence. I manage to utter the closing line of "We need to have a talk with Mr. Daws."

And so ended our first session.


  1. Cool, waiting for the rest! I hope you'll make a Google+ post announcing the next bit like you did with this one.