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Murmurs in Mudak, S1A1E4

Murmurs in Mudak -- an image of the Martian slum

This story is a part of Starset: The Great Dimming's living lore. To learn more about the living lore of Hoodwink's Starset RPG, click here.

Ataraksia’s braid flopped around like the victim between her hands. As the stranger coughed and sputtered with each punch, her white hair tossed with a mind of its own to avoid the flakes of dirt and blood flying from his bewildered face.

            She finally paused and dropped the man to the ground. A smart band on her wrist hummed, and she tapped to accept the call. Tiny receivers in her ears whispered the call noiselessly by vibrating the bones in her skull. Normally it was a pleasant alternative to the blaring speakers of holographic or screen communicators. But today her head ached even before the receivers started vibrating.


            “Codeword salvation.”

            “Codeword vengeance,” she muttered wearily. The bruised wreck of a man heaved at her feet.

            “The Count requires an update on your progress. His agents are saying the strike will happen in the next three days, and, despite the Trojan’s exuberant conclave fees, we have seen no results from your efforts. Explain yourself.”

            Ataraksia pursed her lips and blew a strand of stray white hair from her cheek. “I am tracing a promising lead in Mudak.” She peered around the shanty town surrounding her. It was a fragile settlement – horrifyingly so. The life support capsules were rejects or scrap hastily patched together and erected side-by-side in haphazard clusters of aluminum and grey synthetic covers, bleached by the unfiltered sun. Most didn’t even have appropriate oxygen seals. She eyed her helmet nearby. “Probably the only promising thing here. I think –”

            “What about the whore the terrorist met with? What did she say?”

            “Our sources in the Republic say she’s not a street walker like we initially thought. She was sold by the Iron Guild to the club a few weeks back from a salvage mission after getting a writ from the Judicator. The paperwork was vague, as expected, but I greased a few palms in the port and learned she was actually pretty smart. From a research installation or something. Ajax may be –”

            “Where is she now?”

            Ataraksia bit her tongue. “Gone. Ajax had already taken her before we got the club.”

            “So where,” the voice replied, vitriol hanging from each word, “is she now?” 

            “There are only a few places she could be, so we’re –”

            “I didn’t ask where she could be. Maybe if I say it slower, you’ll understand. I asked where. Is. She. Now?”

            “In Mudak or one of the surrounding slums. We’ll have her to you by tomorrow at sundown.”

            “Must I remind you of the cost of your service? The Royal Court is paying the Trojan Conclave over a million credits for your mercenary service – more if you include those debts you insisted be removed from that disgusting club. If you fail to deliver on this, the Count is well within his rights to terminate your contract for cause.” The humming from her earpieces stopped. Her heart beat once. Twice. Three times. “And I don’t think I have to tell you what the conclave does then.”

            “I said you’ll have her by tomorrow.” Ataraksia’s lip quivered as she murmured into the earpieces.

            “See to it you do.”

            Her wristband hummed that the call was over. “Bljad,” she cursed.

Footsteps echoed down one of the dim corridors to the right, past where sunlight streamed in white beams through the capsule’s windows. “Krasni Four, incoming,” a voice announced. A trooper in armor matching her own lumbered down the corridor, the Trojan Cross “T” emblazoned on his shoulder pauldron.

Stat block for the Trojan Security Squad

She pulled a rag from her belt and wiped her face, nodding to the newcomer. “Find anything?”

            “Yeah.” He nodded to the whimpering lump on the floor. “Who’s this?”

            Ataraksia picked up her sidearm from a counter and pulled the trigger. Bam. The whimpering stopped. “You were saying?”

            “Did you have a death writ for that?” the other mercenary prodded.

            “The Judicator doesn’t care about these lice. In fact, they’d probably appreciate us getting a few out of their hair. As long as there isn’t a paper trail. Now,” she waved her hand, “you were saying.”

            “Right. There’s good word that Ajax was here with that streetwalker. They were looking for manpower – apparently the Count’s intel was good on one thing. They’re planning the hit in the next three days.”

            “How much manpower are we talking? They can’t mobilize more than a few hundred fighters in the next couple days, can they?”

            “I said the intel was good on one thing – but it got just about everything else wrong. This isn’t a revolution. It’s an assassination. A four-man squad, infiltration and sabotage, plain and simple.”

            “What’s the target?”

            “Was that the Count’s steward on the line?”

            “Why?” Ataraksia shot back, annoyed.

            “Because you might want to call him back. The hit is on the palace. And it’s tomorrow night.” The mercenary pulled his helmet off and grimaced. “They’re going to burn it to the ground, Count and all.”

Add Mudak to Starset RPG maps and a brief description of the slum for Overlords

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