En route to Ita, Marcus took the time to do a thorough search of the ship, knowing the kind of “presents” the Alliance likes to leave behind when they do an “inspection”, and they did not disappoint. Right where he expected to find it, there was a kill switch on the main power conduits which would allow the Navy to detonate the conduit and disable the ship remotely, should they need to pursue it. He easily removed it and set it aside, for future mischievous use.
Additionally, he found a very small tracking device, hidden someplace only he would have looked. It was not Navy issue, nor was it destructive in any way. And more curiously, it had a thin Orchid-colored bow tied around it.
He removed the bow and made note of where it was, but left it attached and chose not to tell the crew about it.
Upon arrival in Ita, Gale found an old employer of his, Jim Owens of Owens Space Exploration, was looking for experienced salvagers to chase down a lead he had. A freighter (mid-line, not super freighter) carrying a hospital’s worth of gear from Bellepheron to Beaumonde never arrived. The owners traced the trail back and forth and found no sign of it, and finally filed insurance papers, making it free-and-clear salvage. Jim had a whiz kid working for him, named Terri, who’d been crunching the numbers on it and believed he knew where the ship was located. He sent the numbers to Marcus, who validated that they seemed accurate enough, and if they were correct then the ship was off the vertical ecliptic, way off, and drifting into the deep black. Owens had no permanent salvagers and no one he’d offered the job to would take it due to it being an unknown quantity and so far off the black. Owens offered the Break a 50/50 split of whatever they brought back if they’d go see if the ship was there.
There were no guarantees on this job. It might not be there, it might be blown to pieces, it might be a wreck and the cargo all destroyed. And there’s no fuel out in the black. It’s a risky proposition at best, but the cargo was worth millions so the crew agreed to consider it and would notify Owens when they headed out.
The Break continued onto Rambha because the Capt had received an urgent call from her contact there, Nace Diamond, regarding a mother and child that needed to be taken to Charity quickly, no questions asked, and he was offering to pay 1,000 credits each for their safe passage. En route, Shylock contacted Maximillian, who was more than happy to have him carry more kelp to Aberdeen, setting up that cargo run to cover them being on Rhamba.
As the ship settled down, a gentleman was awaiting them on the landing pad and the moment Shylock exited the ship the gentleman approached him. He was well dressed and mannered as well as polite, and asked if he could book passage on the ship. He was not openly evasive, but also not very forthcoming in volunteering information. Shylock’s gut feelings were screaming at him that this was trouble, so he explained that, due to all of the drama they’d had experienced from passengers, they were no longer taking on passengers for the foreseeable future.
The stranger attempted to insist one more time but Shylock was firm, so he politely dismissed himself and left. The Capt and Gale drifted out into the city to contact Nace, finding him at his home. He introduced the young girl as Ivy Sanders and explained that her mother would not be travelling with them. While Ivy was eating, Nace explained that there was an altercation and the mother was killed as he escaped with the daughter. He did not know who was looking for her, there were no warrants on the ‘tex for the girl or her mother, and no Alliance jackboots chasing her down. All he knew was that the mother was approached by a group of people who wanted to enroll Ivy in a certain school, and her mother refused. They became insistent, she continued to refuse, then things went bad. She lost her job, her husband was killed, she lost her home, and over the course of the last several weeks she’d been on the run while strangers tried to hurt her and take Ivy. Nace explained that Ivy believed her mom was meeting her on Charity, but that was obviously not the case. Lindsay tucked Ivy into a duffle bag, Gale tossed it over his shoulder, and they returned to the Break.
During this time, Shylock approached Hart and spoke to him about ways to hide a little girl. The conversation took several dark turns where Hart explained all the things that could be done with an inert child who was put in a box and hidden in the walls, to be revived at a later time. Shylock filed these suggestions away and Hart began making preparations, just in case.
Shylock headed out into town, leaving Butch to guard the ship (in case the odd gentleman returned), to pick up communication system equipment for Marcus to equip the ship and crew with. He had excellent luck in finding the gear and was about to return when his friend, the odd gentleman, made another appearance, this time with two Naval Troopers in body armor as an escort. He presented his ID, showing him to be an Agent of the Alliance, introduced himself as Diego, and asked if he could buy Shylock lunch and talk with him for a few minutes. Shylock agreed and they stepped into a nice street bistro, with the Troopers standing on station outside.
As they sat down and ordered their meals, the Agent asked Shylock if he knew of a young woman fitting the description of Allyson Hankins, the woman they’d carried to Bhima with them and left on board the Alliance cruiser.
Shylock admitted to knowing about her and having carried her as a passenger. The Agent asked a number of questions regarding the discrepancies in the Break’s passenger manifest where it indicated Allyson had been on the Break since Hubal, but records showed Allyson was never on Hubal. Shylock explained he knew nothing of her origin, saying he did not handle every passenger’s transaction personally, and perhaps the Capt had been the one to check her in. Shylock then explained that she was safely in Alliance hands as far as he knew and asked what the problem was. The Agent chase not to answer that question and instead asked Shylock to gather all the information he could on Ms Hankins and get it to him, giving him a card that contained the Agent’s contact information. Shylock agreed, the Agent paid for lunch, and took his leave, with his Troopers settling in stride behind him.
Shylock returned to the ship to find Ivy being entertained by Marcus teaching her poker in the common room. Amusingly enough, the six year old played poker as expected, but was impossible to bluff, and was more interested in the pretty pictures on the cards than the game itself. The ship spent a quiet-but-tense evening docked and at dawn the kelp arrived to be loaded. Butch guarded the hold from the outside while Gale and Mikki loaded it as quickly as possible. When it was fully loaded, the ship lifted off without incident.
In transit, Shylock approached Lindsay with the discussion about where to hide Ivy, explaining that Hart had ways to “suppress her life signs” and allow her to be stored safely, using phrases like “suspend animation” and such. The Capt was unsure that was going to be necessary but said she’d consider the options. A great deal of conversation took place among the crew about what they were going to do with Ivy, who would be meeting them on Charity, and how would they know them if they saw them. Hart was approached and asked to get a message to the Abbey on Rhamba to take to Nace and find out.
As they approached Aberdeen, Shylock was in contact with the planet, trying to drum up business, and found someone who needed shipping medical/colonial supplies to Charity. He closed the deal and arranged for it to be ready to load the day after they touched down.
The Break landed in Aberdeen without event and the kelp was unloaded, again by the same well-dressed Stevedores in the unmarked mules, and Hart took off to the Abbey to get the message sent. Later that day the medical/colonial supplies began arriving and Gale and Mikki loaded them up without issue. Hart returned after getting the message sent and the Break lifted off.
Shortly after the Break broke atmo, Ivy tugged on Lindsay’s sleeve and whispered that there were bad men on board. Lindsay quietly alerted the crew and moved to the bridge with Ivy. Marcus, Butch, and Gale armed up and headed to the cargo bay with hand scanners. They carefully moved about the crates, scanning for life signs, whispering to each other over the ship’s comms systems until Ivy whispered to Lindsay that they were listening in. Lindsay and Ivy creeped back to the cargo bay and Ivy pointed to the crate they were in, then they returned to the bridge.
Marcus, Butch, and Gale took up position around the crate, with Butch and Marcus above on the catwalk and Gale on the crates when a pair of gunmen burst from a crate on the top and a firefight ensued. As with many firefights, the vast majority of shots hit anything but their desired targets and Gale was wounded and dropped to the deck, but the Break’s valiant defenders were triumphant and the gunmen were defeated. Marcus examined the crate and found a lot of explosives and assault equipment, concluding the invaders were a snatch and grab team, and the Break was to be scuttled after they’d succeeded. They were using Alliance gear but had no Alliance credentials, which was very odd as even covert-ops teams carry some form of credentials.
The crew gathered in the common room to go over the situation when Hart explained that the Abbey had contacted him and that Nace Diamond had been murdered. It became clear to the crew at that point that no one good would be waiting for them on Charity and even if there were, there was no way for the crew to identify friend from foe. They discussed options and decided that the best solution was to consign the cargo to another freighter, head for the black, and start working on new identities.
Shylock pulled some strings and found another freighter in the area that needed the cargo, negotiated a deal, and the Break touched down in a deserted area of Whittier to meet up with the Dawn Starr. The captain, Katie Simmons, was a shrewd bargainer but Shylock managed to haggle the deal down such that the Starr made some money and the Break didn’t lose too much.
Gale and Mikki transferred the cargo and both ships lifted off, the Starr heading to Charity, and the Break heading off the ecliptic, into the black.
After 7 days of flying the ship came across debris traces that allowed Marcus to suggest a better course.