An agent of the ruling noble of the subsector, Her Grace Duchess Estelle du Mere, contacts the characters. Sir Nolan Stannar is a member of the nobility who is well into middle age, recently retired from the Imperial Marines. He engages in small talk for a while, providing a round of refreshments while comparing military service histories, but soon comes to the point.
“Her Grace,” he says with a more formal tone, “is well into her second century of life and is preparing to retire from the Moot. In light of her exemplary service to the Imperium, the Duke of this sector has allowed her to select her replacement from among the nobility of the subsector. Her Grace has no relatives remaining to allow for a more… normal means of succession; so she has a short list of candidates.”
“The problem to Her Grace’s mind is that none of the most acceptable candidates has ever truly been tested by dire circumstances. Therefore, she has decided to stage such an event aboard her yacht – which has been specially fitted with extensive surveillance gear so Her Grace may make a full assessment of the candidates under such conditions.”
“Countess Yvette du Marisone, Marquis Kei Chang and Baron Lars von Helgard are currently bound for this world aboard Her Grace’s yacht. Her Grace intends for you to pose as members of a local group of pirates and stage an attack and boarding of the vessel. She will provide you a spacecraft and weapons loaded with non-lethal ammunition for this task.”
“The crew of the yacht is aware of this ploy, staging a slight delay on their last port of call to send word ahead. Their weapons will also be loaded with non-lethal ammunition, though they will endeavor to miss you so as to keep the façade going as long as possible. You will raid the ship, disarm the nobles without giving yourselves away, take valuables and pretend to kill the crew toward the end.”
“Before you can pretend to kill the nobles, you will depart indicating that the authorities are on their way. Once you are clear of the yacht, the crew will inform the nobles of the deception and upon your return to this world, you will each be paid Cr 50,000 and be provided a high passage for your trouble.”
He pauses to crack his knuckles before continuing. “Let me be clear: none of the nobility aboard the yacht is to be harmed beyond a bruise, abrasion or minor cut. The crew is only to be attacked with the non-lethal weaponry provided to you and nothing else. Any permanent injury to anyone aboard the yacht will void the agreement and possibly result in legal action against the lot of you.”
If the characters agree to this unusual arrangement, Sir Nolan will escort them to the starport to a fast pinnace armed with a laser that has been purposefully set to be ineffective. The livery of the local pirate group is boldly emblazoned on its flanks and the characters are fitted with vacc-suits and the non-lethal weaponry – snub pistols loaded with tranq rounds and a spare magazine loaded with marking paint rounds colored the hue of fresh blood (to “finish off” the crew of the yacht).
Sir Nolan provides emergence coordinates for the yacht as the characters prepare to depart. “The yacht should emerge from hyperspace about twenty hours from now – plenty of time to get ready.” He smiles and winks. “Give them a good show,” he says as the spacecraft’s hatch closes.