Starforged: Valentin Sikorski (Session 5)

Session 5 of my Ironsworn: Starforged actual play journal. A simple delivery side job develops unexpectedly. And who are Scarlet Blades ?

Details about truths, character and the starting sector.

Character sheet

At the beginning of the session.

Scarlet Blades

Vesper Carr was standing on a bridge of his old, heavily armoured corvette Mighty Blade. He watched ships of his fleet barraging they had on the station below. Other ships were on their way to board the station.

Part of his clan Scarlet Blades have been attempting to weaken and ransack this place for almost two months. They haven’t achieved much so far. Interestingly, a station with quite a poor population of a few hundred scrappers was able to defend itself for so long.

Vesper was quite sure it was going to end today. As it’s often the case, he had to come and lead the attack himself. This time they’ll succeed.

Vesper Carr had a dream. Dream of finding a place for his clan to stay. He considered their nomadic way of living to be just a stage in the evolution of their society. Prism Station could be the place. Small enough so nobody would care they took it. Full of poor scrappers who will be happy to join the ranks of Scarlet Blades.

The new milestone on their path.

In and out

I opened a small window in the crate to see what the creature inside looks like.

For a moment I thought Bruno was just joking. I wiped the dusty window to see better because the crate looked empty. Then something in the corner moved. And blinked. Blinked with half a dozen of eyes at the same time. I took a light and shined it in the crate. The creature started changing skin colours as the light confused its ability to camouflage. It was a small, winged creature.

Three short beeps signalled that we exited the drift and are at the destination. I gasped when I looked at the screen.

Prism was surrounded by a small fleet of ships. Various classes. Mostly not in the best shape, with crappy upgrades. Most of them had the same symbol painted on their hulls. Two bright-red crossed scimitars.

I was quite sure that Kayla mentioned “Scarlet Blades” when we talked about the pirates attacking the station. What was scary was the absence of a fight. Some ships were quietly floating around the station, others were docked.

I decided to contact Julio directly. “Young Valentin, glad to see you, “ he smiled on the screen.

Julio described the events of the last few hours: Scarlet Blades came in bigger numbers than before and managed to seize control over the station. The few people one could call local authorities were under home arrest. The leader of Scarlet Blades asked for an armistice and claimed they came to “forge an alliance”. Interesting approach to negotiating. Kayla fought until she realized the battle is lost and eventually retreated to Julio’s place. It seems the situation calmed down and I should be able to pick her up.

I hailed the station’s dispatch and nobody had anything against a courier delivering a message. Hopefully, this inherent respect for my guild will help me avoid trouble. I docked at the same airlock as the last time.

I took the crate, Jones and entered the station.

The atmosphere at the station was different. The hallways were emptier than usual and everyone was quiet. People were walking around and staring into the ground, trying to avoid eye contact. The pirates who were standing around in small groups were easy to recognize thanks to their insignia painted on their rusty pieces of equipment.

I have to find the recipient. The name was Derya Bond.

Prism is an ever-growing improvised space. There’s nothing like a fixed address. I had the name and had to ask around a lot. Eventually, somebody recognized the name Derya Bond as one of the wealthiest merchants around here.

As I was approaching the part of the station where the rich part of the society lived, I was stopped by a couple of Scarlet Blade thugs.

“This area is closed to the public. Keep going.”

“I have no plan to interfere with your business. I am a member of the Syndicate of Iron Heralds and I am here to deliver a message to Derya Bond.”

“We respect that, but we cannot let you in. You’ll have to deliver your message later. That’s how it is.”

Well, it’s never easy, isn’t it? There are always ways how to get to places where one shouldn’t get. I just happen to be quite good at it.

I picked up my comm device.

“Julio, you old data junkie. Please tell me, that you have some plans for the station. Doesn’t have to be accurate, just something where I would see maintenance corridors.

“I believe I have the best you could get around here. It’s not perfect, this is not a well-engineered place. But people use it to keep it running. I am transferring the file to you as we speak.”

It wasn’t that hard to find a place where I could crawl into a maintenance duct and get behind the blockade.

There were certainly some missing details in the plans. I spend quite some time crouching in the small utility corridor. Running back and forth until I finally found an exit that should be behind the blockade. I got out, followed by Jones. Maybe I should have left him on the ship.

I hope that when I passed the blockade, I should be able to move quite freely. But I still try to keep a low profile and avoid any complications

I managed to hide each time somebody crossed my path. As I was approaching the door of the Bond’s penthouse, my communicator mildly buzzed. It was Bruno.

“Well, it’s not what we expected, is it? The positive is, that nobody was interested in searching my ship. How is it on your side?”

“I am almost there. But it’s not easy, Scarlet Blades blocked this part of the station. I think they wanted to isolate the richer citizens.”

“Well done! Just hand over the animal. They know about you and the payment will be arranged later. The scope of the whole thing is changing. They want me to get them out of here. Officially they are under home arrest. But don’t let me waste your time, go inside. We’ll talk in a minute.

I was standing in front of the door of the penthouse of Derya Bond. I pressed the buzzer.

They led me into a big room and told me to sit down. Travel luggage was everywhere.

Derya Bond arrived after a few minutes, her communicator in her hand. She placed it on the table and pressed a button. A holographic image of Bruno appeared over the table.

“Derya Bond, nice to meet you. Mister Bai has told me about you. I am very grateful for your help with the delivery. The animal you brought is very dear to me. Sadly, we are in a bit difficult situation right now as you may have noticed. The pirates placed all people connected to the local council under a home arrest which sadly includes me. Even though I haven’t been to a council meeting for several months.” She sighs.

“I had quite well-going business here but I don’t believe this change in the power can be any good. Things were already getting difficult due to attacks and I decided to move to another settlement a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the preparations were taking time and now I am stuck here. Part of my belongings was already shipped away, most of the valuables and all my precious animals, except this little one you brought. “

She pauses and looks at her hands for a moment. I glance at Jones.

She is scared, desperate, and honest.

“They are taking council members to their leader one after another and it doesn’t look good. I lost contact with a couple of them. Some of the others don’t want to talk about what happened. We have heard about some of their homes being ransacked by the pirates.”

She looks at me, with hope in her eyes. “I am desperate. I would be infinitely grateful for help to get out of here. As I already arranged with Mr Boi, he is happy to provide us place on his ship and take us to the safety of Enigma where I rented a small place for the time being. However, I need help getting to the docks and to his ship.”

It’s a distraction… And why should I help her and not all the others who might need to escape from here? Those thoughts are running through my head as I look into her eyes.

I can’t fight all the battles, can I? But I already got here and I also need to get out of here. And having someone better situate who owes me a favour? That’s never a bad thing in Forge.

“I’ll help you, but you can’t take all your things. We can take the animal and something small with the most important things for you. If you are lucky, you might be able to send someone for the rest later, when things calm down. I promise I’ll do whatever I can to get you safely to the ship.” I touched my pendant as I swore the vow.

“First, I need you to change. Do you have anything that doesn’t yell money as much as your clothes right now?”

Lady Bond changed her clothes and her three bodyguards took the most necessary luggage. This is certainly going to be riskier than sneaking around on my own.

My plan is to use the maintenance ducts I used when getting past the blockade.

I knew the way and getting to the duct entry was easy. We haven’t met anyone. Darya Bond wasn’t super excited about going there but it was easy to convince her.

As we are passing through the labyrinth of maintenance corridors and ducts we hear very distant rumbles and possibly explosions.

I call Julio just to check what’s happening. New fights broke out in a part of the station where Scarlet Blades performed a raid and tried to confiscate weapons. Useful distraction for us. Good time to get back to the public corridors.

Everybody managed to get out without attracting that much attention, but it was painfully slow waiting for everyone.

Now we need to get all the way to the docks. We’ll pretend we are the normal station folk going around.

We managed to get to the elevator that goes all the way to the main docks. It’s a big platform used to move goods and people around.

It is supposed to go up and down in regular intervals or when full. It’s not one of these “press a button and it’ll come”. It is supposed to have an operator on the platform. It wasn’t here and the indicator was showing it’s all the way down in the docks.

We were already considering alternatives when the indicator started moving. The platform was almost empty. Apart from the operator, only two people came out. We had to travel all the way up and then back down. Hopefully, we won’t’ run into any trouble.

We managed to get all the way down without any issues. Many people were not around but we were lucky and didn’t run into any pirate patrol.

I called Bruno Bai.

“Hey Bruno, we are at the docks. Where is your ship and how does it look there? Any guards? Is it safe for us to approach?”

“There is one a couple of those pirate thugs who were being nosy and patrol around. I’ll try to distract them. Maybe try to sell them some booze. Sneak through on my mark.”

Bruno managed to entertain the pirates for enough time for us to sneak through. It felt like ages. It is much easier to move around alone than to drag a rich merchant and, three bodyguards, Jones and some luggage.

Soon Bruno joined us on the ship.

“I didn’t expect that our deal would expand as it did but very well done. As I promised, you can check the cargo I have onboard and pick up your payment.”

“I think it’ll be safer to do it later. It’s better when you leave now. My ship is docked at another end of the station. I would prefer to not deal with logistics now. Wait for me at Enigma. We’ll sort it out then.”

Derya was quite grateful as well. I wished them good travel and good luck.

“Julio, I am on my way to you. Tell Kayla to get ready, I would prefer to leave sooner than later. I think this place is not the safest right now”

I decided to keep my profile low to prevent any unexpected complications.

I managed to avoid any contact with pirate patrols. It was slower than just walking past them and hoping they wouldn’t interfere.

Finally at Julio’s place. I shared what I found and he was happy. Kayla was quite grim because of the Scarlet Blades. I was expecting she might want to stay and fight. She hesitated a bit and eventually said:

“Scarlet Blades are searching through the whole station, confiscating weapons and taking away anyone who seems to be ready to fight them back. We lost this battle. If I stay here, I am going to die fighting a lost battle. If I leave, I might be able to get back and kick their asses when they don’t expect it. I am going with you.”

I offered Julio to leave as well. He rejected. He doesn’t expect Scarlet Blades to have a reason to harm him. He feels too old to leave his home.

So it was me, Kayla and Jones. The next stop: Enigma.

Just as I disconnected the airlock and started manoeuvring Orca, a broadcast message sounded from the comms.

“To all ships docked at Prism. Scarlet Blades are issuing an immediate lock-down of the area. No ship is allowed to leave. Repeat: no ship is allowed to leave. The lock-down will be in effect until further notice.”

Shit. Hopefully, Bruno is already far away. But it took me too much time to move around and chat with Julio. But I don’t want to stay here.

I opened a channel to the port authorities. “Whisper to Prism. I am a member of the Syndicate of Iron Heralds. I need to leave in order to perform my duties. I have no quarrel with Scarlet Blades. Requesting permission to leave.”

It took some time for them to find a responsible person from Scarlet Blades and it took some effort to convince them. Eventually, they agreed under the condition they’ll search my ship. They are looking for a council member who fled home arrest. I am glad Bruno already left.

Kayla hid in the secret compartment on the ship just to be sure. They did their sweep and allowed me to leave.