Starforged: Valentin Sikorski (Session 4)

Session 4 of my Ironsworn: Starforged actual play journal. Valentin continues in his preparations for an information-extraction heist. Is he going to be able to steal the necessary navigational data?

Details about truths, character and the starting sector.

Database record OG12-088-921.1

  • Name: Syndicate of Stellar Vanguards
  • Sphere: Industry, Technology
  • Primary focus: Military equipment research and manufacturing
  • Secondary focus: research of ancient technologies
  • Influence: Localized, Corvus Flux sector.
  • Significant settlement: Selena deep space station
  • Leadership: Oligarchical elite

Syndicate of Stellar Vanguards is an organisation of entrepreneurial character. While quite secretive, it is rumoured to offer quite reasonable living and working conditions to the citizens of their settlements. Any outsider joining their ranks must go through a long screening process and only a fraction of candidates are accepted.

Their leadership consists of three oligarchs representing the three founding families that joined their businesses a couple of decades ago.

They are a leading supplier of high tech military equipment. It’s expected that many well-funded organisations are to be found among their clients. However, all such business connections are kept secret.

Solo job

I finished reading the file OG12-088-921.1 and put my personal communication device away.

It’s time for the next goal. I have to find one of the cargo ships that Syndicate of Stellar Vanguards uses for hauling supplies to their station. Based on Julio’s research, they are a regular customer at both Karma Station and Glimmer Outpost. So I’ll try to look around in both places. I am going to travel there alone. Kayla is still recovering from her injuries.

As Orca does the last jump to Karn, sensors immediately start going crazy. We have just run into an energy storm.

This is going to make our landing quite risky. But those things happen in space. This is not my first energy storm. It took me some time to navigate my way around and safely land the ship in the port of Glimmer Outpost.

Glimmer is a huge mining city and the port here is accordingly big and busy. It’s not possible to walk around and check every ship. But all ships landing here need to go through the port dispatch and they are recorded in a database.

I decided to try to get access to the network of the port authority through a public network. Let’s hope the security is not the best around here.

I found a public terminal and connected my portable hacking kit. It’s a neat extension for my communicator. It has some additional storage with various hacking tools and additional hardware for decryption attacks.

It was easier than I expected. The entry point to the port authority network was not hidden at all and my digital intrusion toolkit cut through all the defences like an arc welder through a cheap plastic.

Bingo. Log of all the ships present in the port including history. Indeed, I found a ship reportedly owned by the Syndicate of Stellar Vanguards.

Exactly what I wanted to see. The loading is already finished and they are leaving tomorrow. It’s likely the crew is not on the ship, maybe having some fun around. That’s a good opportunity.

I approached the pier 17-L-2 just around the time the pubs are the most full. The Newton’s Folly was a big ship, able to carry a lot of resources. The cargo-bay door was closed but the stairs to the personnel entrance were in place. I looked around. Some dockworkers are around tending to their responsibilities. Didn’t look like anyone was interested in my presence. I climbed the stairs and checked the door. Locked. But this kind of lock shouldn’t be a big deal for me.

The door slid open and I sneaked inside. They closed behind me.

The entry corridor was full of VAC suits and various equipment, but nothing dangerous to me.

I carefully sneak into the community room. I look around and freeze in the middle of a step. There is an old couch next to a wall and a person laying on the couch. I listen for a moment. Regular breathing. They are sleeping.

I managed to sneak around, but it was nerve-racking. I arrived at the bridge.

I approach the console of the navigation computer. That’s what I need. Both the station’s coordinates and the ship’s identification codes should be here. Maybe, if I am very lucky, there could be even detailed data with a safe passage to the station. But given how secretive they are, I doubt it. That would be a huge security issue.

Hacking into the computer was very easy. I quickly found and downloaded the data, but I was right. The passage data were not here. Maybe the ship’s navigator has it on them all the time. Or they might even have the crucial information memorized. This will have to do. I should get out of here but carefully so I don’t weak up the crew member in the other room.

I traversed through the room without issues but my heart was racing. I stopped for a moment in the corridor and took a few deep breaths to calm down.

On my way out, I noticed a door with the label “Storage”. I have never seen myself as a thief, but this is too tempting. Maybe I’ll find something useful there. It can’t be that bad to steal from a big corporation which capitalizes on warfare, can it?

As I am going through the locker, I hear the main door opening and a couple of voices loudly chatting. Steps rush into the corridor. I hide next to the door. Shit. They are back early. I peek through a small window in the door. They are going further to the ship. One of them lights a cigarette. “I told you, the shit you smoke smells like burned cock. Smoke outside while we are docked.” The smoker grunts and goes back outside.

Sooner or later they would find me here. I wait for them to leave the corridor and sneak out.

As I sneak through the corridor I can see that the guy is sitting on the stairs and smoking. He doesn’t see me, but I can’t get past him. My options are limited.

I take out my taser and quietly approach him from the back.

I am just about a meter from him when he stands up and turns his head.

“Who the fuck…”

I try to close the distance quickly but he is swift enough to realize I am not going to ask him for a cigarette. He suddenly punches me in my face and we brawl for a couple of seconds. Finally, my taser connects with his body and I paralyze him.

It seems nobody around noticed. I quickly leave the area. Let’s rather get out of here before they can start some trouble. It was an almost flawless operation until I got greedy.

Just one jump before I reach the Prism Station while waiting for my e-drive to recharge, another ship jumps into the place. Small ship, similar to Orca. I am immediately hailed.

“Ahoy! On the way to Prism, are they? Vertigo, nice to meet you.”

“Yes, I am on the way to Prism. How can I help you?”

“My database tells me that this ship is run by a courier guild, am I right? Certain Yelena Volkov?”

“That’s a bit outdated. Yelena Volkov is not around. I am Valentin Sikorski and I am a member of the Syndicate of Iron Heralds. And yes, I do participate in deliveries.”

“Well, I don’t really care if you are gal or dude, Yelena or Valentin. But I could use a favour from a dear colleague. I am not a member of any guild or so. But I do specialize in moving goods around. You know, special things. Things some people want to have a lot and other people don’t want anyone to have.

A smuggler. I nod and wait for him to continue.

“Well, the problem I have right now is that I need to get a certain cargo to the Prism. Very important to someone. But I also know that my reputation in the station is not the best and they’ll ransack my vehicle as soon as I land. That I don’t like. This is my property, no one should be sticking a nose into what I have in my cargo bay. We are living in free space and we need free markets, you know what I mean?”

“But what do you expect from me?”

“Well, it is a very precious shipment for a very good paying buyer. I would like you to deliver it. To the person who ordered it. I’ll land meanwhile, they’ll go through my stuff, but nothing illegal.”

“I am not sure If I want to get into trouble, what is the thing you are trying to smuggle? Keep in mind I am a data courier. I don’t deliver goods.”

“Well, it’s a creature. You know, people are scared of those animals you can find in the Forge. So many stupid regulations and laws, different from place to place. Quarantines and so on. This creature is perfectly safe. It’s rare and there are those rich people who enjoy having them at home and taking care of them. I just help to move it from one such person to another.”

Doesn’t sound like a terrible thing to do. “What’s in it for me?”

“I can pay you, I can barter. Plenty of things in my cargo bay that could be useful to you. A lot of legal supplies. So what do you say, gonna help me?”

I wasn’t so eager to help until he mentioned the word “supplies”. I agreed to dock our ships and have a chat. I took Jones and a bottle of booze. Let’s get to know him a little more before we start a business.

He is one of those cocky, swaggering space cowboys. Not the nicest personality, but very easy to read and predict. Bruno in particular makes an impression of a person one could trust once they become a bit closer. I decided to help him.

He gave me the animal in a transport crate. We said good bay and jumped to the Prism separately.