In the lounge, the crew and Delores Iskellion sat around tables and negotiated. Her marines stood at ease at the door and her assistant, Mr Chu, sat behind her, at another table. Delores spoke easily and clearly, obviously someone who negotiated deals of this magnitude often. She came with a long list of things she was willing to provide and laid them all on the table for the Captain to review, along with pictures of the ship she proposed to give them, the Locksley.
The Locksley was an experimental ship, a mix of freighter and luxury yacht, commissioned privately for a Parliament member who remained nameless and no longer had a need for it (being arrested and in prison). It was originally designed as a blockade runner but was highly customized and contained entirely too many “unique” features for it to be viable on the market, but most of those features would be ideal for the type of work the Captain seemed to find herself involved in. Delores provided pictures and videos and let the Captain go through them (with the crew staring over her shoulder) at the amenities, including the luxuriously apportioned lounge and weapon systems. However, not to be distracted by shiny things, the Captain dove in to the negotiations with her lawyering, pushing for many other considerations, including (but not limited to) parts repair, fuel, lounge repairs for the Hephaestus, and a lump sum of cash. Delores seemed unphased by these requests and added comments to clarify as Chu made notes and produced documents indicating they had already thought about these things.
The two women went at it in earnest, pushing and pulling on the deal for several hours, though Delores did not seem overly aggressive in her negotiations. Meals and drinks were served, crewmen came and went, until the negotiations moved into their final stages. Seemingly casually, Delores asked about Ivy and if it would be possible for her to meet the child. This raised the Captains hackles and she asked Delores why she wanted to meet her. Delores responded quite candidly that the more she read about actives the more concerned she became that they had infiltrated her organization and that her thoughts were not her own. She had several worries that talking to the child might assuage. She had absolutely no intention of taking or harming her, she just wanted to speak to her, and was willing to throw in a great many political considerations into the deal if she could be allowed to spend time with her. The Captain explained that Ivy was not on board but that, perhaps at a later time, an introduction could be arranged, and that seemed to assuage Delores’ interest for the moment.
While the bargaining was going on, Trevor, Gale, and Grace stepped out of the room and began discussing the fact that they felt Chu was an active, likely a pusher. Given Ivy’s absence, they needed another way to determine it, so they went to Brian in engineering and found the “active” detector. Trevor hid it on his person and planned to get near Chu and see if it pinged on him.
Delores offered to show them the ship, given that it was in the Frontier being worked on. The Captain thought that that was a marvelous idea. Delores asked the Captain to plot a course to Burnett and, as the group moved out, heading towards the bridge, Trevor got close enough for the monitor to trigger, positively identifying Chu as an active. Trevor let the Captain know this (subtly), so the Captain turned and whispered to Delores that she’d like to speak to her privately, about Ivy, so the two of them stepped into a cabin while everyone else remained in the lounge.
As the Captain was explaining to Delores their suspicion that Chu was an active, the rest of the crew maneuvered to stun Chu and catch him unawares, when suddenly, and with no explanation at all, Shylock accosted Chu, explaining that the “jig was up” and they knew everything, that he was a pusher and that he’d been pushing Delores. Before Trevor could get him stunned, Chu managed to hit a switch on his watch. As Chu went down, the marines drew their weapons and charged into the room as several more marines charged in from the shuttle still attached to the Hepahestus, as well as the other 2 ships in space locked weapons and began hailing for the ship to stand down and surrender. Just as the firefight was about to break out in the lounge, everyone fell to the ground, as if they were puppets with their strings cut.
The Captain awoke to Brian and Valis standing over her. Valis apologized profusely for gassing the ship (using Hart’s counter measures), but the situation was getting out of hand too quickly and too many were going to get hurt. The Captain forgave her and people were awoken in specific order, starting with Trevor and then Gale, Grace, Hyacinth and the rest. The marines were stripped and bound, as was Chu, and left unconscious (Chu blindfolded and gagged). Delores was moved to the Captain’s cabin and shown the footage of what happened. The Captain explained that the other 2 ships had weapons locked on the Hephaestus and continued to ask for status. Delores nodded and spoke quietly into her wrist comm. The ships suddenly powered down completely, the weapon locks going offline and the comms ceased. Valis carried the stripped marines to their shuttle, cycled the airlock and detached from it.
Delores indicated that she’d like to travel to Ivy, so the Captain had Gale plot the course and the Hephaestus quietly pulled away from the 3 “dead” ships. Gale took his time getting to the asteroid again to deter pursuit, so it took just over a day for them to arrive. When they arrived, the Captain called for Ivy, who wheedled and whined about leaving the infirmary, but the Captain was insistent, so she finally came, albeit petulantly, with Hart also coming at the Captain’s request. They all met in the common room, where Ivy curtly explained “yeah, he’s a pusher, yeah she’s all messed up by being pushed too much, can I go now?”
A minor struggle ensued as the Captain explained the importance of the issue at hand, so Ivy went through Chu’s head (impatiently) and began rattling off things that he’d done, codes he’d used, contingencies he’d set up, etc. Delores turned white at hearing many of them, horrified at how violated her organization had become and her secrets being poured out into a notepad here in some rock. The Captain asked if Ivy could fix Delores, and Ivy rather tiredly explained that there was no “fixing” her, but she could help her “realign”, though it would take a lot of time and she had other things to do. Hart patiently explained that the “other things” would have to wait, as he would be helping with this new problem and no progress would be made on the “other” one until this was closed. This gave Ivy the impetus she needed to make this one go away, so she took Delores by the hand and led her somewhere quiet so they could work through it. Before she left, Delores quickly scribbled a cryptic note, handed it to the Captain, and indicated it should be delivered immediately to the indicated address. Hart had Chu moved to the infirmary where removed all of the electronics from him, including comm implants and other such security issues.
The Captain, deciding the note should not be delivered from the asteroid asked Gale to run out and deliver it from somewhere else. Trevor, Gale, Mikki and Brian take Shylock to Blackwood, where they deliver the message and pick up beer. Shylock takes his leave of the crew there and books passage home, having done enough damage already.