Planet Melpomene (C-5437B7-9, Red Zone) is entering its second year of a civil war between the repressive central government and a coalition of rebel groups, which has some foreign backing.
The Melpomenian government is a non-charismatic dictatorship, under Premier Alcazar, that is somewhat efficient, repressive but not brutal, and indifferent to religion as long as they pay the taxes.
The rising rebellion (the Freedom and Justice Party) claims to be democratic, having several ideological camps under its umbrella. The rebel leaders claim to be neutral towards religion, but several of the sub-groups are accusing the Church of endorsing and collaborating with the old regime. They are targeting Christian parishes for ransom, seizure and destruction.
Government forces are too tied up with fighting a war to protect the Christians, which they never cared about in the first place. Some government forces are reportedly claiming the Church is supporting the rebellion and carrying out punitive strikes.
The Archbishop of Longmire, a neighboring world, has learned that the PCs are an honest and honorable crew, and seeks to charter their ship. He asks that they go to Melpomene and find the local Archbishop, Konstantin. The situation has gotten dangerous enough to warrant withdrawing him from the planet until the war is over. Most of the world’s Christians have gone into hiding, and Bp Konstantin knows where the sanctuaries are. The Archbishop of Longmire is able to offer a success-only contract for Cr 20,000 to each crew member who participates in the rescue mission. Part of the contract stipulates that the crew must avoid the use of deadly force, even when protecting the Archbishop.
The referee can decide who controls the starport at the time the PC’s arrive. The side controlling the port will be searching all incoming and outgoing ships. During any encounter with the two warring sides, the referee can determine the attitude towards assisting refugees by consulting the Reaction table and applying a DM of -2 for rebel forces, or -1 for government forces.
The pre-war Christian population of Melpomene was never more than 10% of the Melpomenian people, and many have already fled to Longmire or other worlds. A recent refugee brought word to the Archbishop of Longmire of the situation with Melpomene’s Archbishop.
The PCs will have to use Streetwise and probably Bribery to gain information on the Archbishop’s whereabouts. Ordinary civilians will help or not help based on the successful use of skills, or by an unmodified reaction roll. Instead of attack the PCs directly, negative reactions mean the civilian will contact whichever force is in control of the local area and inform them of the PC’s intentions.
Archbishop Konstantin will be found in a small town in the Valley of Carcour, at least a day’s travel away from the starport. Carcour is a long, narrow, forested valley with several small towns in it. The Archbishop is at the end of the valley furthest from the starport.
When the PCs find him he will have with him about 75 people, all that are left from a local parish which was attacked by one side or the other. Seeing an opportunity for them to escape the war, the Archbishop will refuse to leave without them. The refugees will each have at most 20kg worth of personal effects to bring along with them.
The main part of the adventure will be transporting the refugees back to the starport and then away from Melpomene. Some of the refugees are children, some are injured. The PCs will have to acquire enough transports to move everyone, and protect the convoy. Melpomene has gravitic technology but it is far from universal; wheeled or tracked vehicles are common.
Potential complications include:
- The starport may be shut down for a time as the two sides struggle for control of this vital point.
- One of the refugees suffers a medical crisis that forces the group to stop for an extended period to handle the emergency.
- Patrols or checkpoints set up by either side impede progress, and run the risk of capture. Reaction rolls will determine whether they will be allowed to continue or taken into custody.
- Archbishop Konstantin will implore the PCs to not use violence to secure the escape of the refugees.
- Word has reached the MPLF of the refugee’s flight, and they dispatch troops to capture or kill them.
- Vehicles can suffer breakdowns or malfunctions.
- A planned route through rough countryside can be blocked by battles.
Only on an unmodified roll of 12 on the reaction table will either rebel or government forces offer to provide the refugees with an armed escort; at most they may offer some supplies and directions, and rumors about opposition activity if the PCs ask. Such an escort will cover no more than 20-30 km, and could draw an ambush/attack by the other side.
It is always possible that an individual soldier for either side will be a Christian who is willing to assist the refugees, sneaking away from his unit to serve as a guard.
The referee may feel free to allow a miracle to occur, to help the PCs out of a tight corner.
If the PCs decide to fly their ship to the Archbishop’s location, Government air and space forces will pursue them on the assumption that they are providing aid to the rebels. Rebel forces may have obtained some anti-spacecraft weapons as well.
Government forces will be equipped to TL 9, with cloth armor as standard issue. Most troops will be armed with assault rifles. Support troops will have RAM GLs or laser rifles. Army vehicles are primarily of the G-carrier and air/raft type; heavy armor should not be encountered. Their communications gear is all TL 9, and hooked into the planetary communications net.
FJP forces will be armed with a mix of TL 7-9 equipment, with no standardization from unit to unit. Vehicles are a mix of tracked and wheeled trucks, jeeps and ATVs. They do not have a centralized communications network, any unit encountered will be in contact with another FJP unit only on a roll of 9+
Some rumors to employ:
- The Archbishop has been killed. (false)
- The Melpomenian People’s Liberation Front are responsible for most of the attacks on Christians.
- The side not controlling the starport is preparing a big offensive to re-take it.
- General Chillicote (government) is sympathetic to the Christians’ plight. (false)
- The rebel’s offworld supporters have deposited caches of supplies around the countryside.
- The rebel forces hold important positions along the PC’s planned routes.
Once the PCs ship breaks orbit they should be safe from both government and rebel forces. How their ship will handle transporting 70+ people is left up to the referee. The Archbishop of Longmire will up the payment to Cr 40,000 for the safe delivery of the refugees.