It was the endgame. The remnants of the Haruun empires shattered battlefleets scattered into the wide voids of space, trying to evade the vengeance of the Terran Armed Forces arrayed against them. The ships jumped into hyperspace, many not completing careful calculations and not knowing where they would emerge.
One such ship, through happenstance, came across Abrahams World and quickly settled down to the surface.
This world was inhabited, but bore little modern technology - it was colonizeds by a pacifistic religious order that disdained many forms of technology. Apart from clean sources of power and advanced medical technologies, most other trappings of modern society were cast away by the colonists in favor of implements which have been employed for millennia.
The Haruun vessel was crewed by elements of the dreaded Internal Security Police, an organization of exceptional brutality within an exceptionally brutal regime. The commanders recognized both the vulnerability and value of the colonists and set about making a new home on the planet where they could hide from the TAF. In addition, they made preparations that should they be found, they would inflict hideous damage to their enemies before they too passed into oblivion.
The colonists had long been isolated from the remainder of the worlds of humanity. Tucked in an isolated arm of the Haruun empire, even the imperial bureaucrats skipped over this world. Little of value was produced here - what agriculture was barely above subsistence level and the mineral wealth was far lower then what could easily be had elsewhere. That, and the insular nature of its inhabitants, served to shield the world from the devastation of the Haruun War.
Elements of the ISP moved between the various villages, providing valuable metal to the colonists in return for maintenance on various ‘weather monitoring’ devices placed nearby the settlements. These devices were SSL-30s and the targeting systems for them. The systems are currently configured to automatically engage any starship detected by dozens of redundant sensor arrays scattered over the planet.
The ISP ship is now hidden in an underground installation excavated near the capital city of Abrahams World, Messina.
No fewer then 12 of the SSL-30s ring this, the largest city on the planet with a population of 320 thousand.
At this point in time, the Haruun leave the Abrahamites alone, though as time goes by they will begin to integrate themselves more or begin to take control of the people. They are primarily waiting for a couple of generations to pass before becoming more active, hoping to escape detection until they can build their strength.
Abraham’s world is actually quite earth-like and had it’s mineral resources been stronger, could have easily become a major colony world. Protected from major collisions later in its development by a number of superjovians elsewhere in the system, most of it’s metal is concentrated at its core.
It has significant surface water with shallow oceans covering fully two thirds of its surface. It’s climate is somewhat warmer then earth normal and is fairly dry.
"Right here!" exclaimed Professor R. Morrison, a member of the University of New Mars Faculty, "Abraham’s World."
Derek, one of the professors grad students, looked over to the professor’s tablet, where he had a starsystem map and a planet highlighted.
Rod continued, "Its deep in old Haruun space - well off any of the trade and hyperspace routes. Lets see. Founded by the Ellentites eighty years ago. Agri-world, mineral poor. Hospitable but a little dry. Can you check to see if any commercial transactions show shipment to this planet?"
A short delay, then Derek responded, "None that I can find. Guess they really are isolated."
"Well, sounds like they are perfect candidates for the Project."
The Project was Rodd Morrison’s current obsession. He was tasked with helping find planets which were isolated by the recent war and worth sending ships to to reestablish contact. It had some noteworthy successes, and some failures. Not all the worlds fared well in isolation - some were the visions of nightmares.
Three Months Later
Location: Scout ship Nelly Banks, just entering orbit around Abrahams World.
"Okay, we are starting to get power readings from the planet. No radio emissions but there are definitely fusion powerplants down there."
"Helmsman, bring us into high orbit - I want to have a good look-see before we go down to visit."
Masha had always cared for the Flower as the village elders had instructed him. He let no leaves or dirt build up on the saffron petals or the grey center. His wonderful metal plow was his village’s payment for carrying out the the chores for the Heretics. The Heretics obviously were not good at haggling, for the plow’s value far exceeded the time it took to keep it clean. That was okay, there was no sin in taking advantages of Heretics.
At fate would have it, he was walking away from his daily cleaning of the flower when an unusual sound struck his ears. It sounded like one of the strange metal machines you found at the hospital - the work of different Heretics. Some of the elders described the machines as ‘weather monitors’, though that also changed nothing.
He was dead before his eyes could perceive the flash, and milliseconds later, his village joined him.
In the space of that instant, a powerful laser beam momentarily connected the Nelly Banks with the epicenter of the explosion, high intensity x-rays momentarily rendering atmosphere incandescent.
The beam struck the after portion of the scoutship, easily burning its way through all layers of the hull and exiting
out the other side.
Though lasting only a moment, the ships movement at orbital velocities turned the relatively small hole into a several-meter long gash, flashing the air in the compartment into plasma which then violently exited through the wounded hull as well as crashing through the ships inner bulkheads, never designed to absorb this type of damage….
Enter the PCs
Abrahams World is still very far from the core planets and as such is a very low priority for the TAF. Assuming the PCs are the typical ship for hire, they find a listing for a search for a missing ship - the Nelly Banks.
Very few details are available - the University is also unable to pay a high price on the contract but would be willing to entertain negotiations on future services (free tuition, research, access to labs, etc) to supplement cash.
Enough information is made available that some form of defence system is in place, and that the PC’s had best investigate from further out then the Nelly Banks did.
The Nelly Banks also has a functioning emergency transponder, but it is damaged and can only be detected within 1000km.
One of the continents of the planet, with a rather harsh desert climate, is completely uninhabited and is not covered by SSL-30s. The PCs can land a ship there safely so long as they do not complete any orbits that would put them in view of the ground based detection units.
Once on the ground, they have a fairly long oversea or land journey to head to the location of the downed ship. Over this trip they may encounter exotic local creatures, sandstorms and perhaps ISP patrols. The ISP are Gestapo/Secret Police Analogs, equipped with somewhat older equipment, but still deadly.
1. The planet is currently not in an area where law enforcement has any jurisdiction and the possibility of Banned weaponry (Nuclear devices) means any TAF intervention would be very heavy-handed. Arrival of warships would trigger a barrage of SSL-30 firings and devastation of civilian population. Translation: The PCs are on their own.
2. In addition to the SSL-30s, there are dozens of sensitive, purely optical (visible and IR) sensors scattered about. They use very little power and are difficult to detect. They are linked to the SSL-30s via wireless links.
2. The university craft was heavily damaged - most of the crew killed, but some managed to survive the crash landing.
Unfortunately, the crew are blamed for bombing the town where the first SSL-30 was located and now are being held pending execution. The people on Abrahams world may have been pushed out of their pacifism by the hideous after effects of the nuclear explosion. ISP agents may be present to goad them on.
3. The ISP forces will now be on high alert and expecting trouble since one of their systems was activated. Expecting the worst, they will prepare for a TAF onslaught. They of course will deal with lesser threats
such as meddling PCs.
The PC’s may chose to simply rescue the surviving crewmembers of the Nelly Banks or perhaps they might try and save the people of Abrahams world. This will be difficult as the PCs will need to disarm a large number of nuclear devices - defended both by the Abrahamites, ISP forces and boobytraps - with a rather expensive price for failure.
Perhaps the PCs could hack the network that links the SSL-30s and sensors? Maybe they could convince the Abrahamites of the truth and enlist their aid, or help evacuate the people. Maybe even convince the ISP that the war is over and they can rejoin the folds of civilized humanity?
Perhaps while they are working their way slowly though this deadly situation that they receive word that TAF are coming to investigate and now they are in another race against time!
World Notes and brief explanation of terms
A huge former empire of the classic Totalarian form, now destroyed. Most of its principle worlds have been reduced to radioative cinders by an unrestricted intersteller war.
Terra Armed Forces - The rather utilitarian name for the military of the vast Terran Commonwealth Demo/Corporatocracy.