AMBER ZONE: A Call to Arms!

Players’ Information:

The players are in a tough spot, down on their luck and down to their last credit and living hand to mouth in the local Startown. A local pirate gang has been making the news for their brazen and brutal nature. Several ships in local space and in the surrounding systems have been shot to pieces, their crews tortured and spaced by the “Main Rouge Sang” (ancient Solomani French, for the Red Bloody Hand, an ideogram of which is also left behind in the aftermath of the raids.

The local navy is powerless, as the world is off the beaten path of the spacelanes and the local officials have been screaming for help to the central government, albeit to no avail as the last two jump couriers never made it past the pirates. In short, things are beginning to get tense on-world as the world is a net food importer and the government is beginning to mention things like “crisis” and “rationing”. The government has put a bounty on every pirate, dead or alive, but there has been few takers.

The players should be in a Startown bar, nursing their last drinks for a while, when in strides Jak Pagonis (or whatever name suits your campaign). Jak by reputation is a “man’s man”, a decorated hero of the last war who was forced out of the central government’s navy because of politics, or so the story goes. He has taken down pirates across the subsector, and has done it in style. He and the 4 man crew of his converted Scout ship have prices on their heads from half a dozen pirate bands throughout the subsector. They dress and look the part of “bad guys doing good things that need doing”.

Pagonis will get everyone’s attention, loudly. He will say that he knows where the pirates are, and he knows they have more than one ship, but he’s ready to lead a force of his fellow spacers to do what the local navy can’t or won’t do. So, who’s with him?

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Image from ESA – Public Domain

Referee’s Information:

The locals are in far more trouble than they know. The pirates are but the opening act in an invasion by the losing side in the last war. Said invasion will probably touch off another war.

The pirate band is actually a bunch of mercs who made a very bad reputation in the last war with their criminal conduct on and off the battlefield. If the central government ever got their hands on them, they are as good as dead. So, they are very motivated not to double cross their employers.

This operation is happening at the same time as some other operations are occurring within 3 parsecs of the border to seize several lightly held systems cheaply. A pair of enemy frigates will be present with the “pirates”.

They plan on wiping out Pagonis and his merry band, then the local navy (which doesn’t have anything better than a pair of 40 year old SDB) and then awaiting the merc brigade that is one jump away waiting for the all clear signal.

The “pirates” number some 5 ships in total, 3 more than Pagonis was led to believe. And they all have veteran crews. 1 is a Mercenary Cruiser, another is a Patrol Cruiser. The other 3 are converted merchants armed to the gills.

Worse, they have taken over an old station that has been abandoned since the war..or at least, it was abandoned. There are some 80 “pirates” and another 40 jump-commandos waiting for the word to drop onto the planetary capitol and decapitate the government to pave the way for the invasion. All the enemy troops and crews are Veteran NPCs.

All in all, Pagonis has stumbled onto a hornet’s nest, one he and the rest of the players are going to be lucky to survive.

But, make sure the enemy is outnumbered 2-1, even if most of the ships on the player’s side are freighters and the like. The local navy should also intervene halfway through the battle, though they don’t really stand a chance alone, but their intervention should be seen as the tipping point. It should be the classic numbers vs. quality fight.

Make sure the players are pivotal to the action, if they have a ship, have them duel with the enemy commander, if not, then have them plan and lead the boarding action.

Play up Jak’s larger than life demeanor. He should have abnormally high Charisma and Leadership skills. He is the kind of guy that would make you want to charge the gates of hell with a pail of water…with a smile on your face, and a song in your heart. And he would be there right out front.

But Pagonis has a secret, one that he has even kept from his crew. He is dying. He got a terminal diagnosis on the last planet they visited three months before. He was given six months then and now three are gone. The disease is painful, slow, and the stages rob you of your sight, your mobility, and your faculties, not to mention your dignity. It is not a way Pagonis plans on leaving this world. He has kept going on pain killers and will, but the disease will soon batter down even a man like Jak, with the stress of battle being the catalyst. At an inopportune time, Jak will collapse in excruciating pain, and will be paralyzed for the rest of the fight, unable to speak or move. However, make sure Jak is able to find some strength for one last bit of heroics that will more than likely get him killed.

It will be up to the players to finish the job, Players with Leadership and Tactics skills will come in very handy here.

If one of the enemy frigates is destroyed, the other will jump out and leave the troops on the station and the pirates to their fate (The overall commander of this operation never thought much of it, or the people he was asked to cooperate with it, better to report it a failure and come back later with a more traditional fleet).

If all goes as it should, the players and the motley fleet should overcome all resistance, as while the “Pirates” will either run for it, or die to the last, the abandoned Jump Commandos will surrender, as they know they will be repatriated after the war is over.

The local government and people will fet our players, should they survive, and the players will never have to pay for their drinks again, though there is the larger problem of a major war just having started.

If Jak survives, he will get enough (stronger) pain killers to keep going, and go off to find his fortune in this new war to come. If not, he will be buried in a funeral half the planet will turn out for, and his crew will become solid contacts for the players in adventures to come.

If it all ends badly for the fleet, then there is the possibility of a crash landing on the mainworld, and a series of adventures centered around the guerilla resistance to the occupiers that are soon to come.

Jak Pagonis and Crew:

Jak Pagonis is an Elite NPC and is dressed more like a biker gang member than a man who has received the realm’s highest decorations for bravery, as well as 5th in line for a title of nobility. Pagonis carries a Autoshotgun and an autopistol in a hip holster. His 3 man crew are all Veteran NPCs in a variety of trades and are similarly armed (think SMGs, Shotguns, Pistols and Blades).

Jak Pagonis Age 45

Pagonis was born on the subsector capitol to a family of minor nobility. All of the family had  served in the central government’s navy with distinction, with a couple of the family reaching the lofty rank of admiral. Jak had a small problem. Jak tended to shoot his mouth off, especially to superiors he thought were stupid. This limited his career in the navy, that was until the war. During a major engagement, Jak was an assistant engineering officer on a Light Cruiser. The Chief Engineer was killed in a volley of meson fire, along with a goodly portion of the engineering department. He managed to keep the engine running and the lights on, and made his way to the bridge, having heard nothing from them since the ship was hit. He never got further than the iris valve leading to the bridge, as they had all been killed in the same volley.

Jak took command and kept the ship in the fight from the secondary bridge. He got a volley of missiles off that helped finish off a heavy cruiser, and then after the battle, limped the ship at Jump-1 back to a friendly base. The trip took 8 weeks during which, the crew, led by Jak, and had to keep the life support and engines running in the face of all the damage suffered.

Jak was decorated, the ship was scrapped, and he was sent home on survivor’s leave. Jak made his way home to his wife, whom he found in the arms of an Admiral’s aide. He promptly beat the nine bells out of said aide, who declined to press charges, at the urging of the Navy, who soon shoved Jak out the door, hero or not.

Ever since, Jak has been travelling from world to world, taking what mercenary tickets he can. He prefers space to groundside jobs, as the competitions is fewer and far between.

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