Arion, Episode 98: Enter the Baron

Thebus, 1106 Week 13

“Why are we on Thebus?” Arion wonders aloud as he walks around the ship doing postflight checks. “We could have gone straight to Noricum and saved ourselves two weeks.”

“It’s one of the original members of the Empire, it’s unclear whether it was the first or second world to join, and it joined voluntarily,” Coriander observes, sitting on one of the landing feet, keeping him company and surveying the starport through the facemask of her respirator/compressor.

“Look, here’s Dmitri,” she says, as the familiar figure ambles back from what passes for a class B starport locally. The original one was much bigger, but the few thousand hunters and prospectors who remain on this blasted planet have neither the manpower nor the money to rebuild it.

“What’s up?” asks Arion. Dmitri pauses to explain.

“One of the local politicians got caught telling safaris that Theban lions are actually aslan that can be shot for money if you bribe the right people. There are people who’d pay well for an aslan-skin rug, especially ones who’ve run into the Glorious Empire and its clans.” (World encounter 25, local bigwig in scandal.)

“Is that actually true? The shooting aslan part, I mean.”

“Nah. There’s an apex predator locally called a Theban lion, it stands on its back legs to look around sometimes and then it looks like a male aslan, or close enough to fool someone who’s never actually seen a real one. Lot of people in the Reach don’t like aslan.”

“What about the free trader crew?”

“They were in on it. I couldn’t get any details, ongoing criminal case and all that.”

“Wait… there aren’t any actual laws to speak of on Thebus, so what’s really going on?”

“Search me.”

“I say!” calls a voice as it approaches. “You chaps there by the scoutship. A moment of your time please?” By dress and accent, this is an Imperial noble.

“Certainly,” Arion responds.

“Perhaps we could speak on board, over some tiffin? This atmosphere is quite beastly, don’t you know.”

They repair aboard ship, and tea and biscuits are served. Muysteyjen ogles the newcomer, and he ogles her right back, until reminded he had something to discuss.

“Ah yes. I am Baron Samuel hault-Divett, and I’m in a bit of a pickle I’m afraid. I’ve come halfway across the Reach to bag m’self a Theban lion, and the crew I contracted with has gorn and got themselves arrested and their ship impounded. Dashed inconvenient. Perhaps you’d be interested in accompanying me into the jungle looking for one? I looked at your ship’s registry and I thought, bless my luck, Imperial scouts, trustworthy fellows and absolutely trained for this kind of thing. What do you say, eh? I can make it worth your while, you know.”

“I think we should help him out, Arion,” says Coriander. “Muhsteyjen and I can investigate the Sindalian ruins while you and Dmitri go hunting with the Baron here. It will make a pleasant change for us all, after being cooped up in the ship for weeks on end.”

Arion realises there is more going on here than she can tell him now, so simply agrees. Looks like an extra week on Thebus coming up.

GM Notes

Baron hault-Divett is an NPC from a long-gone campaign that I always had fun with, and this seemed like a good excuse to bring him back. He is one of the dimmest bulbs on the board, and mad as a hatter to boot, but the dice loved him. Let’s see if that’s still the case 15 years after his last outing.

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