Bemela Ryos Thihs
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2016 issue.
Author’s Note: This is told from the point-of-view of a close friend.
Ryos had always dreamed of joining the Guards—ever since we played together in the fields around our farms on Roget. He’d be the Cavalry corporal and I the dutiful private he could order around. Even then it was always Ryos in charge. So it’s a shame that his dream came true.
Our parents had put us through the very best schools in the hopes that we would rise above their lives as farmers. But it didn’t change our goal. We both went to join up but I didn’t make the grade. I know the Guards only take the best – but for a while I’d hoped I’d be among them. Roget’s militia had a place for me and I dutifully accepted; but I knew it would never quite be the same. Instead, I had to rely on xmail messages from Ryos and live his life vicariously. He, of course, passed the entrance requirements with flying colors and was soon messaging me from his Cavalry troop. Details about training, uniforms and yes, sometimes punishments that he and his buddies would suffer. Sometimes undeserved, it seemed to him, sometimes deserved. There was one time he accepted a ride on a local’s gravcycle, after curfew, and in breach of several strictures placed on the Guards’ behavior. Nothing really serious, but infractions nonetheless. It was just the kind of thing that he’d do—and he got away with it as well, which didn’t surprise me. But a sennight later, he was in front of the Base Commander. His conscience had got the better of him and he confessed! I had to laugh when he told me that. Only Ryos! He reckoned the commander was trying not to kill himself laughing as well, but he meted out a suitable punishment which Ryos got on with and my suspicion is that it actually stood him in good stead with his superiors. On the occasions we did meet up though, it was clear that the experiences he was going through were shaping him up to be one of the Confederation’s finest. He and I had never been the biggest or strongest at school, but we held our own and Ryos added a quick intelligence that would as often get him out of scrapes as soon as it would get him into them.
His natural qualities didn't remain hidden for long and he soon made Private before his regiment was shipped out to a base on Nosea. He kept writing though, despite the time lag, and I could at least share something of what he was up to. Other friends dropped away and even those who promised to keep up, drifted off—I’m not saying I was blameless; I could have written more. But Ryos was never out of touch for long. Nosea, of course, provides a tough environment for the Guards to train in and one of the final exercises is one that, frankly, I'm glad to have missed. Dumped a several hundred kilometers from their barracks with virtually no equipment except their respirators—the much vaunted ‘missions with full combat armor’—never included this one, and the troops would have to get back under their own steam. Ryos’s descriptions of the sand flies made it clear they were by far a greater challenge than the sergeants putting other kinds of obstacles in their way. At one point, he wrote, he ended up sheltering for the night in a cave with a mate who snored so loudly sleep was impossible. I didn’t take seriously his question as to whether he could plead diminished responsibility if a ‘rock fall’ had ‘happened’ to bury his mate in the small hours, but I can imagine the frustration!
It came as no surprise that despite the rigors he experienced, Ryos signed up for another four years in 1092. I did the same in the militia—still dreaming of making the Guards, but I knew the chance had gone. Ryos made Lance Corporal, of course, but he was destined for bigger things. You could see it in his eyes in the vids he sent. I’ve still got an image I saved from one which shows his athleticism and happiness—but also has an air of “I can do anything”. Oh, he’d never express it like that, but I knew. Sometimes, in my darker thoughts, I figured he’d outgrow me somehow as a friend and stop writing. He never did, though, I’ll say that for him. Even while he was doing some advanced training that ate into virtually all the hours he was awake, he’d still take the time on occasions to send a note, something encouraging, something personal.
One of his staff sergeants, however, Gunolil his name was, obviously saw something in him as well. He encouraged him to keep up his training and to sign up for a third term. Not surprising, really; Ryos was fast becoming something of a wonder at keeping his grav tank going in even the harshest of environments. There didn’t seem to be anything he couldn’t fix on one, and nothing he didn’t know about their innards. But his leadership potential had been seen as well by those higher up and they put him on an officer track. He made Lieutenant at the age of 28 and I was able to get to his commissioning ceremony. That was some do. His parents were there, Gunolil was there as his sponsor and looking as proud as newborn father. It was weird seeing Ryos in person again—it had been a few years—but our friendship seemed to pick up again as though it had just been yesterday. I still remember the improv theatre we went to see that weekend, The Colors of the Orchard. Ryos had been handed a purple robe and stepped into the part of a particularly unhappy tree as though he’d rehearsed it a hundred times. Where did that come from? He just shrugged it off with a joke about his wooden performance.
It was on exercise a few years later on Rorre, that Ryos really made his mark. His messages were somewhat circumspect for security reasons, so it was only later I found out the details. But Ryos was leading his grav tank platoon and came up with a new trick to defeat their opponents using the gravity of the world and a feature of the Sphere grav tanks they were using that was not in the manual. Completely caught the other side on the hop, as it were! Once the maneuver had been analyzed by the staff officers, they could see it wasn’t just a fluke even if it was unique to a higher gravity world. Ryos was promoted again, to Captain, but it was clear from his grin that his real delight was in having added something to the field handbook.
He signed up for another term without hesitation. But I could wish that he’d chosen to retire then. It would have been early, I admit that, but he wouldn’t now be crushed. It’s sad to see him a pale shadow of his former self. Towards the end of his tour something happened which ended his dream of being a Confederation Guard. Ordered to take part in a black ops mission to Margesi (Vilis subsector) that saw the troop under his command inserted covertly onto the world, the aim was to use Sword World grav tanks to make an attack on a large township look like the overtures of war with the Imperium. Should a tank be disabled, its crew had to be retrieved. Should that prove impossible the Confederation Guards were under extremely clear orders to not allow their bodies to be found by the Imperials. They were to kill without quarter and take no prisoners. Ryos wrote, without going into details, that he couldn’t believe the Confederation was engaging in such tactics. In what was the most difficult decision of his life he refused to take part in the mission. I knew that he couldn’t have lived with his conscience if he had gone ahead with it. Unsurprisingly, a court martial followed and only because of his outstanding service was he not ejected immediately. They stripped him of his pension, however, and he wasn’t allowed to reenlist. The last vid I got showed a haggard Ryos at his wits’ end over what he’s going to do now.
I’m on my way to see him, I couldn’t do anything less, but I don’t know what the future holds. We’ve always been friends but I’m not even certain he wants to see me right now. There was a time when I thought we might be something more than friends, and then that time seemed to pass, now it would seem unwise to even think along those lines, and yet, and yet… he needs me more than ever. He needs protection—from himself as much as anything. Perhaps this is my chance to be a guard.
Bemela is convinced that his superior officer is a traitor to the Confederation and wasn’t acting on orders from any higher in the chain of command. He obviously can’t ask the Guards to investigate, nor the Confederation police, and he’s too close to the whole situation. But he wants the PCs to look into the background and behavior of the Major concerned.
Bemela is still struggling to come to terms with events and has heard of the brilliance of the Envoy, Penghen Bok Gepi. He wants to hire the PCs to help him get to Penghen and persuade him to look into negotiating a different outcome to his trial. Perhaps get his pension reinstated (under Classic Traveller rules Cr5,000, under Mongoose Traveller rules Cr. 10,000). Deep down he knows it’s hopeless but he wants to try. Perhaps Penghen can help, or at least assist Bemela in dealing with his pain.
Bemela and his friend want to leave the Confederation and try their luck in the Imperium; they want transport in that direction. Whether the relationship is disintegrating as they travel or becoming stronger than ever, is left for the referee to determine. And no, neither of them have told their parents what they’re doing.
Gunolil, now a Sergeant Major, has been hired by Bemela’s parents to find him. They fear the worst. Gunolil wants the PCs to help him look for his protégé although there are few clues as to where he’s gone. There’s even the possibility that he’s left the Confederation entirely and headed for the Imperium.
Classic Traveller statistics
Bemela Roys Thihs 986BC4 Age 38 Cr11,000
5 terms Army (Captain)
Mechanical-3, Computer-2, Brawling-1, Leader-1, Gun Combat (Laser Rifle)-1, Tactics-1
Cash: Cr11,000, Laser Rifle, Voucher
GURPS Traveller Statistics
Bemela Roys Thihs [150 points]
Race: Darrian [-18]
Ht: 6’9” Wt: 145lbs Age: 38
ST 11 ; DX 11 ; IQ 14 ; HT 9.
HP 10 [-2]; Will 10 [-20]; Per 15 ; FP 9.
Basic Lift: 24; Damage 1d-1/1d+1; Basic Speed: 5; Basic Move: 5.
Social Background 
TL: 12 ; Cultural Familiarities: Darrian (Native) .
Languages: te-Zlodh (Native) .
Absolute Direction (3D Spatial Sense) ; Allies (112 points 3, appears fairly often x1) ; Allies (Staff Sergeant Gunolil, 150 points 5, appears quite rarely x1/2) ; Fearlessness 2 ; Fit (Fit) ; G-Experience (All) ; Temperature Tolerance 1 .
Chronic Depression [-15]; Code of Honor (Soldier’s) [-10]; Sense of Duty (Small Group) [-5]; Status -1 [-5]; Stubbornness [-5].
Acting IQ+0 14 ; Animal Handling (Dogs) IQ-1 13 ; Artillery (Cannon)/TL12 IQ+0 14 ; Brawling DX+2 13 ; Computer Operation/TL12 IQ+2 16 ; Environment Suit (Vacc Suit)/TL12 DX+2 13 ; Forward Observer/TL12 IQ+0 14 ; Gunner (Beams) DX+3 14 ; Guns (Rifle)/TL12 DX+2 13 ; Leadership IQ+1 15 ; Mechanic (Sphere Tank)/TL12 IQ+4 18 ; Piloting (Contragravity)/TL12 DX+1 12 ; Soldier/TL12 IQ+2 16 ; Survival (Desert) Per+0 15 .
Mongoose Traveller statistics
Bemela Roys Thihs
Character: Guard Captain. Career Path: Guard (Cavalry)
Age 38, 5 terms, Cr. 20,000
Str 9 (+1) Dex 9 (+1) End 7 (+0)
Int 9 (+1) Edu 11 (+1) Soc 4 (-1)
Skills: Mechanic 3, Comms 2, Computers 2, Athletics 1, Gun Combat (Energy Rifle) 1, Leadership 1, Melee 1, Animals 0, Battle Dress 0, Carouse 0, Heavy Weapons (Field Artillery) 0, Recon 0, Survival 0
Equipment: TL12 Gauss Rifle, TL13 Guard Armor