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Traveller: Session 22

 


This is part of an ongoing campaign. You can find the other sessions over on the sidebar. This session was run on March 2, 2023.

Twinsong (Kushga/Diaspora 1219, E85A544-9 Ni Wa): Until recently, Twinsong was corporate controlled. Falling profits due to the war caused the corporation to go bankrupt and the residents were left to fend for themselves. Before the bankruptcy, Twinsong had a Class C orbital starport, but it was liquidated in order to settle the company’s debts. While the skeleton of the highport remains, it is essentially non-functional and Twinsong is forced to rely on the dirtside landing facility that is minimally staffed by the nascent local government.

Large scale settlement of this water world began about a century ago when Briny Bounty, a seafood corporation, decided it was ripe for conversion to a fish farm. Prior to this, the world was only of interest to scientists studying the pseudo-cetacean Luvelo’s Grampus. These borderline sentient, air-breathing, aquatic lifeforms communicate using high frequency sound and seem to extend their intelligence across whole groups. They get more intelligent as more of them get closer together.

Briny Bounty’s fish farm was always borderline profitable at best because the local algae proved to be poisonous to the terrestrial fish important to grow for food. The algae was an unforeseen problem as it bloomed dramatically with the introduction of terrestrial fish feces to the environment. The company had to import large amounts of chemicals to control the growth of the algae. As a result, the Rebellion quickly drove the company into bankruptcy as the chemicals proved harder and harder to get with the disrupted supply chains.

When the company collapsed, most of the 250,000 people living on Twinsong decided to stay. They formed a representative democracy and were able to purchase many of the company’s assets and prevent a hostile takeover thanks to the Imperium’s laws about self-determination for former company worlds. However, they were not able to save the world’s highport due to the large, secured debt Briny Bouty owed the company that constructed it. Deciding that the fish farm business was a lost cause, and Twinsong would never be able to pay for the highport, the company salvaged the systems they could from it for resale.

Without a real starport to facilitate the export of its fish, Twinsong has not been able to afford the ever-escalating prices of the chemicals needed to control algae growth. The results have been catastrophic with millions of fish dying as the ecosystem establishes a new equilibrium. While they are not in danger of running out of food, the people of Twinsong, like so many others in 1118, stand on the precipice of economic collapse.

Twinsong is a beautiful world. Ninety-nine percent of its surface is covered by water with a sprinkling of volcanic islands spread about in small chains. The inhabitants are primarily Solomani-descended humans, with small populations of most people found throughout the Imperium, there is also a sizable population of uplifted dolphins.

Arrival:

The characters arrived at Twinsong as passengers aboard The Garret’s Fortune, a mid-sized merchantman. They had spent quite a bit of time getting to know each other during the weeks long journey through jumpspace. They traveled down to the surface of Twinsong in one of the Fortune’s cargo lighters piloted by Jade Aven, ship’s mechanic. The lighter was carrying a load of the chemical compounds necessary for controlling the algae.

They decided that it would be best to focus on helping Zarf take possession of the Scout Type-S he was entitled to as a member of the Detached Service. The ship in question, The Prismatic Ray, was currently in the possession of Jessica Zhen, who was being moved from the Detached Service to full retirement. She had been in control of the Ray for about seven years, but records showed that the ship had not left the Twinsong system for close to five years. This meant that it had missed its scheduled depot event. Zarf would need to effect whatever repairs were necessary to make the ship jumpworthy, and then get it to a Class A starport where the Scout Service would fund its overhaul.

As the cargo lighter set down at the rudimentary starport, they were dismayed to see the accommodations available. There were only five landing pads, with the three lighters from the Fortune as the only occupants, and four large hangars. There was an administrative building that showed no sign of life, and a small booth where an elderly vargr rested against a battered gravbus. As the lighter’s hatches opened, they were overwhelmed by the smell of rotting fish.

They approached Grask, the vargr bus driver, who told them that the nearest town of any size was Caldera. It functioned as the de facto capital of the planet and was a couple hours away. They decided to take his bus instead of waiting until Jade arranged a sale and transportation for her cargo. She joked that she would be around for a few days in case they changed their mind about staying on Twinsong. The trip to Caldera took the across two other islands joined by bridges. The islands were small, but lushly vegetated.

Caldera was a city of about 20,000 with few of the buildings being more than a few decades old. No building seemed to be more than three stories high, and the only facility of note to the hardened space travellers was the small airport that mostly seemed to service seaplanes. If anything, the smell of rotting fish was worse here than it was at the starport.

Once they had access to the planetary network, Aryanna ran a search for Jessica Zhen and did not get any hits. She followed up by trying a reverse image search using Jessica’s official Scout Service photo. This returned results for a DJ going by the name Athena Rain operating out of Ham-on-sea Beach, an artist commune on an island about 2,000 kilometers away. The picture of Athena showed a dark-skinned woman in her early middle years with gray dreadlocks, wearing a multicolored mu’umu’u. Aryanna then tracked The Prismatic Ray and learned that it was listed as still docked with the decommissioned high port. It had last docked there five years ago, before the port was mostly stripped for salvage following the Briny Bounty bankruptcy.  This raised serious concerns about the level of preventative maintenance that had been performed for Zarf.

They decided to charter a plane to the artist commune and decided on a battered, propeller-driven, seaplane operated by Cindy Stevens, a large woman in denim coveralls wearing a white captain’s hat. The tour of the airplane raised some concerns, but they decided to risk it. About halfway to their destination, the left prop failed, and Cindy had Zarf pull himself out on to the wing while she talked him through fixing it.

They eventually made it to Ham-on-sea safely and tracked “Athena Rain” to one of the small huts built from local wood. Her hut was garishly painted with a heavy bead door. Has they pulled the beads aside, smoke billowed out.

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