John – Boris Clapshaw, ex Army Infantry Sergeant
Jonathan – Riishaa Daanel, ex Marine
Dylan – Count Asenault “Chivers” Washington-Pipps, retired Marine Colonel
Chris – “Bunty” Staffburger, ex Marine Force Commander
Bunty’s girlfriend, Selia Vuir – a sulfur miner – is overdue from her shift. She has mentioned finding a cache of sunstones – opal-like gemstones – which she had intended to sell, under the counter, to Jorgan Kiorpanos, the local VenGems Holdings agent. Bunty and his companions venture out into the badlands above the sulfur flats to try and locate her. Instead they discover mysterious vargr, vicious alien lifeforms called irrijari, and a buried shuttle craft belonging to a mysterious methane-breathing species called the Mi’yargin. The ship has been on Por’via for around 200 years. The Mi’yargin have managed to save Selia, who was injured by the irrijari, by melding her mind into their Collective Consciousness, while they alter her body to better survive in a methane atmosphere.
Once the companions deal with the Vargr, and with the irrijari, the Mi’yargin shuttle takes off to rejoin its mothership, hidden in the rings of the Por’via system’s gas giant. While heading out-system, the companions realize that they are being followed by the Vargr freighter Akhska that was in port, and which was noted for its crew not speaking Gvegh – the standard Vargr language.
The Mi’yargin Nullship is a planetesimal-sized, icy structure, deep in the gas giant’s ring system. A crater near the equator turns out to be a large, external shuttle bay. Gaining access to the Mi'yargin's internal transportation system, Chivers and his companions are able to ambush Captain Vegh and the Akhska’s crew and seize their ship by emerging directly beneath the freighter through the nullship’s surface. The Mi’yargin Collective, having successfully reintegrated the Collective of the shuttle crew, are able to assist Chivers and his companions in translating some of the information discovered aboard the Akhska, and interrogating the one surviving Vargr crewbeing. The Akhska has come a long way – from Waystar in Cabria Subsector where someone called Aia issues orders to Captain Vegh and the crew of the Akhska. The Vargr aboard the Akhska speak an ancient Vargr language called Arrghoun - older than, and distinct from, Gvegh, the language of most Imperial Vargr. The Arrghoun Vargr refer to their employer as Aeroukh Doaengosra - “Lord (or Prince) Whipworm”. The Mi’yargin Collective wonders if Lord Whipworm may in fact be a Danshihabi, an ancient enemy of the Mi’yargin and referred to, by them, as “thieves and carrion worms”.
The Mi’yargin ask Chivers and his companions to journey along the Akhska’s back trail to Waystar to learn more about Lord Whipworm, and to report back to the Collective at a rendezvous point in the Yuar Outsystem in Cabria Subsector. The Collective turns the Akhska over to Civers and throws in a little something to continue their association – a large, sarcophagus-like object.
|Music tastes change in 200 years|
Once Amin, and Knaes – the captured Vargr whom Daanel has convinced to join the new pack – have worked out the basic bridge control layout, the Akhska leaves the Nullship. Slipping back to Por’via in an attempt to recover Selia’s Sunstone stash, the companions find that it has been picked clean. An attempt to hunt down the scavengers, thought to possibly be associates of Jorgan Kiorpanos, the VenGems agent who was killed by the irrijari, proves fruitless, so Chivers and his associates decide to leave Por’via and set out on their mission for the Mi'yargin.
On approach to Evvikkim, Amin informs Chivers and his companions that she is picking up an automated message being tight beamed to their ship. The message is in code and in Arrghoun, which the Bunty and Daanel are able to crack. The message appears to be from a local agent of Aia’s, saying that a strange ship has been spotted in the Evvikkim system and asking the Akhska to get word to Aia.
Evvikkim Downport shows signs of decay, as if it was once a lot busier than it now is. Very few Evvikkimians are evident, and all look pale and drawn. Also, no children are evident within the starport concourse, while the bulk of the service work at the starport is performed by gangs of Vargr of different origins. Large areas of the starport have been mothballed, or partially shut down, and many areas are dusty and unserviced, as if no-one has ventured into them in many years. Even snack food dispensers are lightly coated in a film of dust, and are stocked with older style packets of snacks.
Chivers and Boris Clapshaw meet Sholoam Kharii, Head of Security for Evvikkim Downport, a tall and cadaverous Vilani and who, like all Evvikkimians, wears slightly archaic styled clothing. Amin is convinced that she recognises him, and that he was head of security when she last passed through Evvikkim – over 200 years ago. Sholoam seems a little suspicious when Chivers talks of picking up a cargo, and advises Chivers and his associates to be wary of the Vargr groups that frequent the starport, and in particular a group lead by Angtuez.
While Chivers and his companions are out looking for cargos and news, Amin is abducted from the Akhska by a Vargr gang. Giving chase, Chivers and company track down her assailants in an abandoned maze of tunnels between the starport and Evvikkim City and, after a shootout, rescue her from the band of Vargr led by Angtuez.
Getting back aboard the ship, Chivers and his associates are thoroughly convinced that Evvikkim is getting all a bit too creepy, and so they perform an emergency takeoff, damaging the access tunnel to their docking bay in the process. With threats of legal retribution reverberating from the ship’s comm., the Akhska heads for the system gas giant, Lamo VIII, to refuel while a debate rages over their next move.