With their escort of the Alliance Cruiser ANS Corega and her 4 gunships, under the watchful eye of Capt Stevens, the Not For Hire made her way to Athens to be refueled. During the trip, the crew noticed that Ivy was walking around the ship wearing a tinfoil hat.
The Capt asked her where she got it and she said “Hart gave it to me!” The Capt approached Hart and asked him about it, and he explained that it was based on the same basic theories of the implants and he felt it would block her abilities somewhat, and he thought it would help her deal with being near planets, plus make her harder to find.
As they made their way to Athens, the crew checked their secure ‘tex mail addresses and found notes to them. Shylock had a note from Brovlowski, the “family” terraforming engineer on Ita. He explained that Amber had gone missing. She continued doing some research into Shylock’s project after he left and found a reference to someone having already done something very similar and started looking into it. Two days later, she vanished, and a note was put in her file that she was transferred out. Brovlowski did some quiet research on it and she had never been transferred, the corporation still thought she was on Ita. She’d obviously stumbled onto something and now was gone, and Brovlowski was worried about her. Additionally, the Captain got a message from Dan indicating that Clayton had also gone missing and had not been heard from for more than two weeks.
The Not For Higher docked at Athens station and began its refueling, not wanting to set down on Athens (or stay in the system longer than necessary), but the crew wanted to play, so most of the crew, plus some of the bikers headed out on the shuttles to visit Athens. Markus took off to gamble and the carousing crew (Shylock, Butch, Gale and the Capt) headed out to party, settling on a high-profile night club with an elite clientele, though the Capt’s smile gained the entire group entrance without hesitation. After a few minutes of mingling and socializing, the Capt (and just the Capt) was invited up to the VIP lounge, past the velvet rope and up the stairs, by the Lt Gov of Athens.
She went up the steps and began mingling with the crème de la crème of the Athen’s social scene while Gale stood at the bottom of the steps and glared at the bouncer. The Lt Gov was not particularly charming but was quite enamoured with the Capt and did all he could to woo her. While this was going on, Markus won a deed to an un-named cargo, something the prior owner had won just the other day. It was sitting in a warehouse, awaiting shipment. Markus called Shylock, who contacted the Capt and the crew returned to the shuttles to discuss things. Markus and Shylock went to investigate the cargo, Gale went up to get the ship, and the Capt returned to her VIP lounge.
Shylock and Marcus went to the warehouse, opened a crate and found they were filled with small metal containers, roughly the size of shoe polish, containing a taupe ungent with a rather unpleasant smell.
They carried it about to a few places and finally determined it was a type of machine oil used to clean and lubricate small engines, like those used in motorcycles. Shylock and Marcus returned to the ship and Shylock began discussing a consignment deal with one of the bikers.
In the VIP lounge, when the Capt returned, she was invited to a table that contained a number of Naval officers, including 3 Admirals. The highest ranked (a 2 star) introduced himself as James L Monroe and offered her the seat next to him. Significantly more charming than the Lt Gov, Adm Monroe introduced the people sitting at his table, which were other officers and a suited gentleman that he only introduced as Mr Mitchel, a bidding agent for defense contracts.
During the course of the evening, the Capt explained the nature of their arrival, with the pirates, and the Adm contacted his fleet captain to ensure additional patrols were put into place and to give a commendation to Capt Stevens for helping keep mercantile traffic clear.
Gale brought the NFH down to Athens, then returned to his post outside the VIP lounge while the Capt was wined and dined by the best the Alliance had to offer. When asked the Capt indicated they were headed to Sturges and the Adm offered to escort them, indicating they were heading to Hera, if the NFH could delay another day. The Capt agreed and notified the crew that they’d be on Athens another day. She returned to the ship late that evening, much to the chagrin of the naval officers who were attempting to win her affection.
The following day Markus headed out to gamble again and Hart took his leave of the ship as well, while the rest of the crew remained aboard. Markus called in several hours later and explained that he’d won a ship. Shylock and Mikki met Markus at the hanger, only to find the ship land locked and sealed, due to overdue docking fees, to the tune of 65k credits. Shylock and the Capt did some lawyering to reduce the fees and get the lock cleared, and then Mikki spent the afternoon crawling around inside and making a list. The ship was barely spaceworthy, having been shot at more than once and missing a few pieces. The total list to make it “good as new” was almost half the cost of buying the ship outright, plus there was a problem of not having a pilot for it, so they left the ship in its hanger and agreed to return for it later.
When all were aboard, the NFH lifted off and joined the naval flotilla, consisting of 3 cruisers and 12 gunships and headed out to Hera. Shortly after getting underway, the Capt of the ANS Pericles, Capt Weathers, contacted the NFH and asked if the Capt would be willing to join Adm Monroe for dinner. The Capt agreed, a shuttle was sent over, and the Capt was brought over to the cruiser, where she ran into Mitchell again. The Capt spent the evening in the company of Adm Monroe, and in the morning was given a tour of the cruise by a young Capt named Jackson. The Capt spent a second evening on board, and during this evening, on the NFH, Markus was awoken from his slumber by Ivy screaming from the Capt’s room. He crept in to find her curled up in a ball, clutching her head, her tinfoil hat on the floor. Markus returned the hat to her head and her sleep instantly quieted. He picked her up and carried her to Hart, meeting Shylock on the way, explaining what had happened to both of them.
Shylock made an executive call and told Hart to hide Ivy such that she could not be found, promising he would bear the consequences. The Capt returned on another shuttle, but instead of unarmed officers, a pair of armed officers got off the shuttle and took up positions on either side of the airlock. When asked, they said they were following orders. The Capt contacted Adm Monroe, and the Adm explained that the NFH needed to be searched for suspected contraband, that it was a routine search and there was nothing to be alarmed. A few moments later, another shuttle docked and Mitchell debarked, walking onto the NFH and began searching the ship, every nook and cranny, with the two armed officers escorting him. He checked every cabin, every hidey hole, even holes the crew was unaware of. In the end, he did not find what he was seeking and returned to his shuttle, taking his guards with him.
When the Capt asked where Ivy was, Shylock told her (from sickbay) that Hart had hidden her. Furious, the Capt stormed to sickbay, only to find it locked and Butch standing in front of the door. Frustrated and upset, she began pounding on Butch, who did not block any blows or move aside, even when his nose was broken and both his eyes were blackened. Gale picked up the Capt and returned her to the bridge and Butch stepped into sickbay to be treated. Shylock explained to the Capt that Ivy was what they were looking for and, if she’d been found, they would have taken her away. She was safe and sound and very well hidden, which was all for the little girl’s best interests.
Determined to take her anger out on someone, the Capt contacted the Pericles and began berating Adm Monroe with the violation of her ship and personnel. The Adm explained that, as an officer in the Alliance Navy, he answered to the civilian authority, of which Mitchell was a significant representative. Mitchell asked to do the inspection upon suspicion and the Adm had no choice but to comply. He apologized profusely but the Capt let him stew for another day before returning to his side to spend the evening with him again. During this later trist, the Capt softly mentioned that their other ship, back on Athens, was in need of parts and whether or not the Navy could help provide them. She gave him a list and he arranged for a good many of them to be provided from Navy stores and would be awaiting them at the dock on Athens.
The cluster of ships arrived at Hera, where Markus took another reading for the asteroid. As the NFH was clearing Hera, Gale hit the sensors and spotted a Tong ship, pulling away from the planet to pursue. The Capt contacted the Pericles about the ship and Adm Monroe ordered it boarded and searched. Adm Monroe gave his fondest farewells to the Capt and told her he hoped to see her again soon.
The short hop to Sturges took no time at all and the NFH landed outside of town in a big field, where the bikers finally roared their engines and took off onto the road. There were 1,000’s of bikers on the planet, all riding around, and all needing Markus’ special bike oil, so everyone managed to turn a tidy profit.