Bounty: Meryx Inga and Edvaard Gungir
The Navigator's Guild has issued a bounty for capture of Meryx Inga and Edvaard Lewis, rogue members of the Guild who have been excommunicated for the crime of casting doubt on the neutrality of that venerable institution.
Mercy vs. Fortune, Love vs. Duty
In the year 9996, Meryx Inga, a 24 year-old Rostran woman who had received her education in Silkenvault, was a navigator in good standing with the Navigators Guild. In that year, Edvaard Gungir, a 29 year-old Verdial airborne soldier who had once served in the League Army as an auxiliary, graduated from the Navigator's Guild's special training course to serve as Meryx's assigned NavGuard aboard the latter's Honeyguide, the Seahopper. Edvaard and Meryx were initially something of an odd and contentious pair, thought this would eventually change. While the two were both professionals in their field and from differing species, cultures and sets of national loyalties, it gradually became apparent to their Guild handlers that there was a growing sexual tension between Edvaard and Meryx. While relationships between Navigators and their NavGuards were technically against the Guild's standards of conduct, such relationships were also not unheard of, with offenders typically being somehow equalized in rank and position to prevent any sense of impropriety. Therefore, it was the subsequent actions of the couple that led to their eventual excommunication from the Guild and the Voxelian-backed hunt for their respective hides. The Navigator's Guild professes complete political neutrality; any nation or organization which has not done something to warrant ostracism from the Guild may utilize the Guild's services in return for payment. This neutrality is a critical matter to the Guild, as any sign of partisanship might endanger lucrative contracts and spawn competitors based on national loyalty over economic interest. Edvaard and Meryx, being from opposing sides of the War of Reunification between Voxelia and the coalition of the Free Faces League, Craterhold, and Commonwealth of C, would normally have only been assigned commercial navigation contracts explicitly to avoid their respective loyalties becoming an issue. Unfortunately, on one fateful day in 9998, the Guild had not been made aware of the fact that the Vendrik's Fortune - guided by the Seahopper at the time - was actually a Voxelian "Q-ship," a form of combat vessel disguised as a commercial vessel. Once the Fortune arrived at it's destination in East A, it deployed it's parasite fighters and began to bombard the Craterhold outpost there, killing countless innocent civilians before some could retreat to the relative safety of their Moble Remote Operations Base. Meryx, upon seeing the despair in the eyes of the man she had secretly begun to love for the loss of his home country's allies, made the command decision to abandon the Fortune as an escort in the unfamiliar cube - already a violation of Guild standards - and transmit their coordinates to League forces aboard the East A/Medial C skystation. League Army airships subsequently destroyed the Fortune and reported the event to the news media, souring trade talks in progress between the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy and Voxelia (some Rostran tradesmen, resupplying the colony, were among the dead). As a result of this blatant (if avoidable) display of partisanship, Meryx and Edvaard were immediately excommunicated from the Navigator's Guild. The pair, knowing they would be hunted for their transgressions by NavGuard, Bards Recursant, and bounty hunters alike, fled to the most isolated place they could find in the manifold - an abandoned Way of the Biocosm monastery in the Distal G cube.
At some point during their travels, the party encounters evidence of the fugitive Meryx and Edvaard, whether due to a keen-eyed individual noticing the lights on in the "abandoned" monastery or by word from other sources (i.e. Verdial explorers) that the monastery may be occupied by squatters. Because the terrain surrounding the monastery is relatively rough, airborne vehicles must land some distance away and negotiate a gauntlet of environmental hazards (including Distal polyp patches and areas requiring careful footwork, climbing, or swimming to traverse) as well as traps set by the ever-resourceful Edvaard (who was a sapper in a previous occupation).
At some point, the party finally arrives at the monastery and, as they approach, see signs of recent humanoid activity. Parties who wait will see a woman matching Meryx's description sweeping the grounds or tending to the small gardens that keep the family fed; sneaking into the makeshift garage attached to the monastery allows the party to see Edvaard at work on his auto-armor or showing his twins the various toys he is making for them. At this point, the party must decide how they will approach the situation and if they intend to collect on the bounties placed on the subjects' heads. If the party does decide to try and apprehend or kill the couple, Edvaard and Meryx fight without hesitation or restraint, ideally killing the party or disabling any aircraft to prevent word of their presence from getting back to Voxelia or the Navigator's Guild.
In the aftermath of the party's actions, the couple may attempt negotiations with the party. If the party has captured Edvaard and Meryx, the couple are ornery prisoners and gain a +2 on all actions taken to reunite with one another or their children.
The adventure ends with either the party collecting the bounty on the couple or somehow working out a deal whereby both the party and the family benefit.
- The Navigator's Guild will pay 5000 NGC for Meryx's death or capture and 4000 NGC for Edvaard's death or capture. If the couple cannot be taken alive, then strong evidence (preferably fingers with usable prints or clear photographs of the bodies) must be presented to support the bounty claim.
- The Grand Army of Voxelia will pay 2500 JS for Edvaard's capture, as his long association with the League Army makes him a valuable intelligence asset. While Meryx would normally be considered a traitor to them, Edvaard's inevitable public execution would be considered punishment enough by the Council of Liars.
- If the party offers to help the couple and their children survive, then the party is offered the use of their services, in a somewhat limited capacity, as thanks for the assistance. Negotiated benefits include free airship docking/refit/repair, temporary lodging within the monastery, or possibly information on hidden areas Meryx might be familiar with. If none of these will suffice, the couple can offer up to 2000 NGC in exchange for the party's continued silence on the matter.
- If the party appears hostile, the couple will fight with desperation to protect their family; in this state, they gain a +2 resistance to any effect which would serve to remove them or their children from the monastery.
- If the party offers to help the family but subsequently fails to conceal the family's location (i.e. via falsified bounty claim), a group of Bards Recursant will arrive in 2-12 days to attack the family; in this case, all location-based bonuses the party might accrue from helping them are lost, as the family will be forced to flee again.
- If the party does claim the bounty on either Meryx or Edvaard, the party's next interactions with the Free Faces League, Commonwealth of C, or Craterhold will suffer a -2 penalty. If no provisions are made for the care of the family's children after the claim of a bounty, or if the party is excessively cruel (i.e. Meryx is sent to the Guild and Edvaard is sent to Voxelia), then this penalty is increased to -4, and the party gains a permanent reputation as cold-eyed mercenaries.
The Navigator's Guild is so powerful that it generally assumes that any party which would show interest in a bounty it has placed is doing so either from a desire for wealth or because the party shares a similar interest in maintaining the strictly cultivated image of neutrality that the Guild operates by. However, this is not the only possible reason that a party might seek out Meryx and Edvaard:
- The party might be actors for a faction involved in the War of Reunification, making their interests in the couple a matter of national pride. Characters hailing from Voxelia, for example, would want to kill Edvaard for his perceived treachery and Meryx for aiding therein. Characters from the Free Faces League or Craterhold, on the other hand, might seek the couple to offer protection in exchange for information or "off the record" navigational assistance/
- Characters with emotional investment in the story of Meryx and Edvaard. might be inspired to somehow end the threat against them. Once the couple is encountered, if the party does not immediately attempt to capture them, Meryx and Edvaard will offer their own head in exchange for the lives of their spouse and children. The couple is of no risk to anyone, Meryx having merely acted to save the countrymen of the man she had secretly fallen in love with, and both are primarily concerned with the survival of their children. This presents an issue for free agents, as collecting the surprisingly high bounty on Meryx's and Edvaard's heads comes at the cost of rendering the children orphans and actively opposing the ideal of love, while attempting to smuggle them into a friendly territory will provoke a response from Voxelia's Bards Recursant.
The party undertaking the quest to either help, capture, or kill Meryx and Edvaard are the protagonists of this adventure.
Various citizens in Petalcap Vale are familiar with the monastery in Distal G due to it's history as a remote site of meditative worship that was abandoned due to the financial collapse of the sect that used it.
Bards Recursant from Voxelia are actively on the hunt for the couple; if the party discovers the location of the couple via rumors in Verdial-controlled territories, then the Bard Recursants will also hear the rumor and eventually be discovered (disguised as regular mercenaries) on the same route as the party to the monastery. At this point, the party will have to decide whether they want to help the Bards Recursant, oppose them, or trick them out of their prize.
Meryx and Edvaard are the primary antagonists of this adventure. Should the party not cover their tracks properly, however, Bards Recursant or a NavGuard unit may harass the party at a later date to deliver the message that these organizations are not to be trifled with or cheated out of lawful bounty fees. Depending on the party's previous entanglements and chosen route to Distal G, elements of the Avarix Corps may attempt to waylay the party as they cross into contested frontier territories. Elements of Parasol Private Holdings may also oppose the party, albeit in (ideally) more non-violent ways, as they have both professional and ethical interests in protecting Meryx from Voxelia's wrath in particular.
Meryx and Edvaard are hiding in the strange environment of Distal G amongst the refurbished ruins of a Verdial-built Biocosmist monastery, the most distant point of the Manifold from any major population center belonging to the factions wanting their heads.
While hidden in the unknown reaches, the relationship between the two developed into a fervent romance. With Edvaard's ingenuity and Meryx's keen environmental senses, the couple has remained undetected for years, eventually producing a son and a daughter. Despite their talents, the covert nature of this lifestyle is imperfect, and careful observers might see signs of the family's activities. From the air, the monastery in which the family lives appears to be abandoned. From the ground, however, it is apparent that someone is sweeping the grounds, and the occasional strain of a human voice can be heard in the austere silence of Distal G. In nearby clearings, amongst the jumbled boulders which break up the floor of purple silt that defines Distal G, some ruined machinery and the abandoned hulks of several small airships may be discovered; on inspection, the fuel and comestibles of these vessels have been carefully siphoned away by unseen scavengers.