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Old March 10th, 2009, 09:38 AM
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Default Honor the fallen...

The players are approached by a middle-aged man who turns out to be the principal of a local elementary school. He, the staff, and the children have hopefully raised enough money to send the remains of their former janitor to his home planet (on the players itenerary). He asks, politely, if the players would also take the mans few effects to his family. If the players agree the principal pays up front and has delievered to their ship a hermetically sealed but cheap coffin, a small simply locked box with the man's effects, and a packet of identification papers and holo-chips. The holo-chips are to help any remaining family members identify the man. If players watch the holograms, and they are given permission to, they see a smiling 40-ish human dark haired male who seems to obviously have severe mental handicaps. However, several scenes show him playing and being friends with elementary school aged children.

For the Referee:

Spoiler:

This adventure will help get your players involved or deeper into any espionage areas you'd like to play. Help the players be mildly suspicious and get used to checking "facts". For example, the principal's story is totally true, and the dead man's UPP and data are available. He received a government subsidy for the handicapped and had been at the school for several years.

However...

The man died of cerebreal hemmorage. A skilled medic doing an autopsy would likely note the damage to the brain and cause of death is obvious. Cellular toxicology reveals normalcy, except for trace amounts of Santonin-40. S-40 was developed about 20 years ago and failed on the market. Originally a headache remedy it had serious side-effects and was pulled. The man's body shows recent use of S-40, although death wasn't one of the side-effects expected.

A detailed medical inspection of the body with high tech scanners shows minute body alterations in several areas. While concentrated on the face, hands, fingers, and ears the traces resemble significant cosmetic surgery over a long period of time.

Hopefully by now the players realize somethings up. They may also realize they're being shadowed.

Assuming the players inspect the box contents, it's easy to open and contains a few trinkets, several "thank you" awards in children's finger painting style, a couple of actual, well used, paper books, and a child's notebook for learning writing. Inspection of the latter will reveal several things.

First and foremost, though much of the hand-writing is poor, it doesn't seem to be "normal" for a child. Players might correctly assume the man was learning to write. There are a few things of note, however:

1. The hand-writing skill varies throughout the book, going from scrawls to totally fluent *and back* several times.
2. The hand-writing changes languages several times, to include Zhodani, and whatever other languages your cosmos considerers "foriegn". Possibly even languages your players don't know, and would find it hard to match in a computer.
3. Someone with forgery or similar skills will realize the hand-writing changes hands, from right to left and back, occasionally.

Once the get to the destination planet, checking local planetary records shows a normal events in the man's life, school, no police record, and then leaving the planet to find work. The players seek and find the elderly couple who are the man's parents. Nice couple, grey and sandy blonde hair, and family pictures here and there. However, the man's picture isn't amoung their "children" and when asked the couple seem surprised. Their child by that name died as an infant.

About this time the party comes under covert attack, their things are rummaged through, even if they're well protected. Let them know they're up against a well-oiled and equipped covert enemy. As the party tries, two or three times, to corner their attackers and in-turn get evaded or beaten, let them get a growing sense of powerlessness. Don't beat them down, but make them see just how big a thing they've gotten in to.

When things seem desperate, have a party member be contacted by a former service friend. Scouts work well, but use whatever hooks your group best. The friend will let them know, while displaying signs of nervousness, that the party is being tracked by multiple shadow agencies, though the friend doesn't know why. The friend just saw the player's name on a "watch-list" and his returning an old favor.

After one or two more narrow escapes, the party sees someone watching them, letting the party see they are being watched, and then turns away. Assuming the party follows, they find the watcher who will quietly, as if in fear of being overheard, ask for the dead man's effects. All of them, including the notebook, mentioned specifically. When pressed, the watcher will truthfully tell the party he's rendering honor to a fallen hero, but say no more. The watcher will, however, identify the group attacking the party as a Zhodani (or other, for your cosmos) asassination team and he will provide some small assistance.

Assuming the party turns over the effects and body, they will receive a dropped off invitation to a local club a couple days later. At the dinner the party is politely ushered to a private dining room, well appointed, and sumptously set. Attending is an older gentleman (who probably looks like Wilford Brimley) who thanks them for their service.

If the party isn't hostile but realizes they can make a decent ally, Wilford will swear them to secrecy but point out that "this conversation never happened". The deceased is Thadeus Linconnen and he actually is from this planet. However, as a young man he dreamed of enlisting in the <service of your choice>. While otherwise capable Thadeus had one interesting point. All entrants take personality tests to help chart their career. Thadeus failed. Not that he did something wrong, but he had almost no personality!

About this time a black ops project in <service> was experimenting with psycological overlays. Thadeus was brought in, tested, and was able to be totally programmed by the computer with an overlaid personality. It was as if a machine could be made in a human body. Thadeus was an agent and one of the best. He was programmed with 8 different personalities over a dozen years and did in fact speak multiple languages, write with different hands, look very differently in each "persona", and had a diverse skill set.

Of course, such things take their toll, as experimental things do. Each persona was laid on and then wiped for the next, but after so long Thadeus brain showed the wear and he started remembering things from different personas. Santonin-40 has a side-effect of blocking long-term memory and it was used to help Thadeus stay nominally sane. At least until his mind finally gave and he became as the school children knew him, the odd old man who was very nice.

Thadeus' friends had remarked about his amicable nature and longing for a family, "when I get out of the sevice". His placement at the school was a gesture by Wilford and the <service> to honor their co-worker, friend, and hero.

You can close the scene however you want, but the party may, if they react well, be offerered the occasional "task for a friend". It pays well, or may just open a door for them that would otherwise be closed. In any event they have a chance to build a connection with a powerful but non-existant agency.

And to honor a fallen hero, who gave all he had...


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