This session was run on April 20, 2023.
As they rode the elevator up to the higher level of the city, they examined the radio more carefully. Arenui determined that it was not a commercial radio and that it had strong encryption. Zarf took a closer look at the statue and thought that it seemed to be really old, potentially pre-human starflight. Concerned, he asked Trow if there was any chance that the statue could be an Ancients artifact. Trow told him that he didn’t really know where it came from and that his grandfather had been a collector of strange items. He thought his grandfather probably would have mentioned that in his will if it was.
They arrived at the high-rise apartment building and had to go through security in order to access the elevator. Zarf and Marven both tried to hold back weapons but were caught by the scanner and surrender them without incident. They took the elevator up to Rathe Hawthore’s penthouse to make the sale.
When they arrived, they were met by Rath’s Aslan bodyguard, L’Coath. He escorted them into the living room. There were many artifacts on display from cultures from across the Imperium. Many antique weapons lined the walls with art objects displayed on tables. A large window, taking up almost one entire wall, looked out over the city.
Trow began negotiating with Rath over the price of the statue. The travellers were surprised to hear that they were talking about millions of credits. Just as it seemed they were coming close to making a deal, the picture window behind them exploded inward in a shower of glass. Flash bang grenades sailed in through the window, followed quickly by a police SWAT team on ropes. There was a brief attempt at resisting, but they all surrender in less than a minute.
As they were being frisked, one of the officers pulled the strange radio off Zarf and motioned for the leader, a young man with Berger on his name tag, to come over. Berger ordered Zarf to be separated from the others and they were all taken loaded into hover cars and taken to the police station. Once they arrived, Zarf was taken into a room by himself to be interrogated by Berger. A small bowl of seeds that smelled like mint sat on the table.
“Mr. Beetlebrow,” Berger said, “Despite what my nametag says, I am Agent Chakraborty of Imperial Intelligence. You understand that all of you are in quite a bit of trouble for trafficking in Ancient artifacts, correct? That is a very serious offense on its own, but you are serious trouble. What don’t you start by telling me why we found a SolSec radio on you?”
Chakraborty began munching on a handful of seeds and pushed the bowl towards Zarf, indicating that he should try some. Zarf politely refused as he thought through the implications of Chakraborty’s question. SolSec was Solomani Security, the Solomani Confederation’s intelligence and internal security agency. It was extremely powerful inside the Confederation and there had been rumors of its increased activity here in the Diaspora sector since the start of the war. Zarf decided he needed to close the information gap a little before he answered.
“So, you are an Imperial Intelligence Agent undercover in the Last Exit planetary police? That seems like an oddly specific assignment.”
Chakrabory grinned, “You are incorrect on two accounts. One, there is no planetary police force since each domed city considers itself to be a separate sovereign. Two, I am not undercover. I am an agent personality capable of being uploaded into any person augmented with the correct equipment. Think of it as an advanced version of skill chips, you don’t just get the ability to cook Vegan cuisine, you get to be me.”
The agent pointed to the seeds again, “Really, I don’t need to poison you to get what I want. I have been at this for over four hundred years. Try the seeds, they are quite refreshing.”
Zarf decided that the truth would be best and explained that he and his friends had only been hired to escort Trow and did not know the true nature of the statue. In fact, he had even asked if it was an Ancient artifact and Trow told him it was not. As for the radio, he had taken it off one of the gang members that had attacked them in the lower city. He offered to take the police to the scene of the attack to see for themselves.
“That won’t be necessary Mr. Beetlebrow. I have already inspected the site. Fortunately, everything you said is in accordance with what your friends, Mr. Backett, and even the gang member we captured told us. This is a very lucky day for all of you since Mr. Backett’s statue turned out to be a very elaborate forgery. You are free to rejoin your friends and leave.”
Chakraborty stopped halfway through the door, “Mr. Beeltlebrow, try to stay out of trouble the rest of the time you are on Last Exit. I would not want you to draw my attention twice.”
He left the door open behind him when he left. To his surprise, Zarf found that the seeds were quite refreshing.
It was starting to get light when they returned to the Prismatic Ray. Trow paid them the 12,000 Cr. he owed them and apologized for the inconvenience. He then offered them an additional 52,000 Cr. to take him to Nike after they finished the refit. Zarf asked him if he was aware that the statue was a fake when he tried to sell it and Trow admitted that the actual statue was in the box he had left on the ship during the meeting and said that he had always planned to transfer the actual artifact and only took the replica because he was worried about whether he could trust Rath. He had intended to tell Rath that he would bring the real statue once they had agreed on a price as long as there was no indication of foul play. He intended to find a new buyer on Nike.
While Zarf was dictating the steps he wanted Trow to take to disguise the artifact if it was staying on the ship, Arenui sent a message to Chakraborty telling him that the real artifact was on the ship. As they stepped off the Prismatic Ray, Chakraborty and a squad of police met them and arrested Trow.
“You chose well, Mr. Beetlebrow.”