The Not For Hire floated in space, it’s dorsal airlock missing (again) along with a good portion of the hull around it. Butch lay in sick bay, his leg braced and broken in multiple places. Mikki was on the outside of the ship, trying to patch the holes while Markus and Gale worked to re-run electronics and avionics cables to the bridge to give the ship navigation again. The crew worked for several hours restoring the ship to some semblance of functionality, and finally got the NFH fixed enough that Gale could fly her.
The crew realized that the cargo was fake and there was no reason to continue coreward, they consulted the nav charts and determined that Anton’s Star would be close enough and big enough to let them fuel so they could head to Ita to repair. During the trip to Anton’s Star, there was a great deal of discussion on what to do about the intruder, who Hart had put on ice. Gale was vehement against torture while Hart offered options ranging from “I can get the info, you don’t want to know how” to “we can chemically induce him to dump his brain, which will kill him and not necessarily give us everything we need”. No one seemed to mind killing and spacing him, but there was much conjecture on the value of his information, as well as much talk on flying back to Rhamba and meeting the ambush head on, trying to find out who had done this and why. In the end, the decision was for Hart to dump his mind and space him.
The trips to both Anton’s Star and Ita were uneventful, and Owens was (as always) happy to see them. The crew settled into the salvage yard, and began picking out pieces to repair the ship when Gale heard a knocking on the windshield of the ship. Clinging to the outside of the ship was Orchid, holding a sign that read “Don’t shoot. May I come in?” Gale directed her to the rear of the ship and she slipped in quietly. She met the crew in sick bay where they discussed what she had learned and what had happened to them.
Orchid was very concerned when she’d heard the ship was destroyed, as was Maximillian Alexander, who had put out requests onto the ‘tex for any information about the status of the Lucky Break. The crew found from Orchid that the kelp they’d been shipping was a primary base for a bio agent the Alliance had been developing for population control.
They deploy it on worlds with a high insurgent population and then inoculate people from it based upon behavior. The insurgents, who tend to gather anyway, infect each other and it spreads like wildfire. The incubation period, where the virus is infectious but not active, is months so by the time people become symptomatic they’ve infected 1,000’s of people.
The crew discussed the agent and how Ivy could not “see” him and, through a bit of trial and error, they determined that the reason Ivy could not “see” him or Orchid was due to her implants. When she turned her implants off, Ivy was able to “see” Orchid fine.
Orchid asked Hart about how the Alliance personnel on the two cruisers and down on Bhima had died, and mentioned that they died just like the people on Shadow. Hart said that she very likely didn’t want the answer, but she insisted. Hart explained that he had engineered a virus, extreme virulent and contagious, that reacted with the Alliance immunization doctrine, brutally killing anyone who had both the immunization and the engineered virus. The virus could be carried by any human, and remained active and contagious in a host that had never received the Alliance immunizations, and would then die off after 24 hours, becoming inert. Orchid was very disturbed by this and left sickbay to go to the common room. She told the crew she’d look more into the stuff about Ivy and took her leave.
The crew spent 13 days in the Ita yards, doing repairs, reinforcing the airlocks, and installing camera systems on the hull.
Additionally, they gutted the nose of the ship, moved the Capt’s cabin aft to the passenger quarters, and installed an extremely large sensor array from a survey/reconnaissance vessel. It took a great deal of power management and the both the array and the engines cannot run at 100% at the same time, but the sensors are installed and operational.
After all their repairs, the crew flew to New Kasmir, where Shylock had located some cargo, terraforming and construction equipment, as well as some engineers, all headed to Prophet, which would give them reason to be near Boros. Once the ship landed, Markus took off immediately to go gambling (doing quite well, as usual) and, once Shylock had secured the cargo, Shylock, Butch, Gale and the Capt went into town to carouse.
The carousing bunch found themselves in a corporate nightclub and settled into a corner with a group of engineers, out for the evening.
After plying them with drinks and attention, Shylock and the Capt managed to get a lot of information out of them regarding radiation emission technology. They worked for a large firm called Heliodyne, which specialized in helioforming initiation technology, so anything they did was on a massive scale and would not be useful to Shylock’s purposes. However, they mentioned that the leader in that particular field was corporation called Starline Industries, Inc, a firm who specialized in industrial emission equipment and perhaps that firm could provide the crew with better information.
Late that evening, both sets of the crew (the gambling and carousing groups) realized that comms were down. They hurried back to the ship, meeting up in an alley across from the docking ring. The cargo bay door was open and two of the terraforming engineers were prone on the doors. The crew came forward and verified that they were dead, and the other two were dead inside…Hart, Mikki, and Ivy were nowhere to be found. Butch and Gale searched the ship while Markus hit the cameras and found footage of Mikki and Hart scrambling out of the dorsal airlock with Ivy over his shoulder, as well as 2 men dressed as Alliance officers entering the ship and shooting the terraformers.
Markus pulled up his scanner to find the tracking device he’d put on Ivy and found her in a building 3 blocks away.
Gale, Markus, and the Capt armed up and headed out to get their missing crew while Butch secured the ship and took up position to guard it. The trio found the building and spotted a pair of Alliance “officers” trying to break into the building. Markus led them around another building to the backside, deftly sliced the lock, and they entered quickly, hearing the fake officers at the other end of the building, also entering. Gale set up an ambush downstairs while Markus and the Capt ran upstairs. They found their missing crew hiding in an office, Ivy clinging tightly to Hart and Mikki shakily holding Hart’s old shotgun. The capt and her group proceeded back to the stairs in time to hear the firefight break out downstairs, where the officers had found Gale and bullets were being exchanged. Markus and the Capt came at them from above and the crew defeated the fake officers in the crossfire. Everyone returned to the ship.
While the rescue was occurring, Shylock contacted the customer and explained (vaguely) the situation. The customer was apologetic, apparently believing this was some competitor who sought to hurt his business and asked the NFH to lift off quickly to save what was left and avoid any further unpleasantness, telling Shylock that they’d be paid the same, even though they didn’t bring any passengers, and the customer would work out with the law what happened. When the crew returned, the NFH lifted off and made its way towards Prophet.
The cargo was safely deposited on Prophet without event, the ship was refueled and made its way to Boros. Markus took his sighting on the map, then the crew decided to set down on Boros and find some cargo.
Markus, Gale, and the Capt headed into town to carouse and gamble and Shylock focused on finding cargo. After a few hours, he stumbled upon a group of “bikers”, professionals who ride big motorbikes on the weekends and were looking for a ride to the planet Sturges, which was near Hera, where they were headed. It was a dozen bikers and their gear, and they had no problem staying in the hold with their bikes.
Unusually, there was no drama on the planet, the bikers were loaded up, and the crew lifted off for Sturges.
After a day or so of flying, Gale activated the scanners and noticed a ship just outside normal scanner range. Seeing they were spotted, the other ship started launching missiles at the NFH. Gale banked and turned to dodge them (they were poor quality, not up-to-spec military grade, and fired from maximum range) and hit a hard burn to try to pull away while the Capt sent out a distress signal. Two more missiles were fired and dodged before the distress signal was answered by an Alliance cruiser, the ANS Corega.
Capt Weathers of the Corega requested they continue on their course and dispatched gunboats to deal with the ship, which turned out to be Tong by its markings. Seeing the naval vessels, the Tong ship turned tail and fled and the gun boats pursued for bit, scanned the Tong ship to get it’s registry, passed it onto the Naval network, and returned.
The Corega met up with the NFH and proceeded to give it an escort to Athens, which after the hard burn and dodging, was about as far as the NFH was going to make.