The crew spent a week on Sturges, socializing and selling grease, turning a tidy profit. Hart spent a great deal of time among the bikers as a Shepherd and medic, healing the bodies and souls of their various sins. Shylock received a note from the family that something had triggered one of his flags. An engineer, looking into things he was asking about, had requested help from the family and was currently in hiding on Beaumonde with a hacker friend of his. No Alliance warrants, just a long string of very unlikely “bad luck”…the guy was hunted and no one knew by whom. Shylock searched about and found a grain haul from Hera to Hastur, giving them a reason to be near Beaumonde and the crew headed out to Hera.
Hera is a large world, filled with both corporations and industry, with a large Alliance presence and a virtual feeding frenzy of weapons developers and defense contractors, all nursing at the government teat. Once on the ground, the crew dispersed to its normal activities, with Markus heading out to a successful night’s gambling, and the Capt, Shylock, and Butch going carousing, though the corporate presence on the world proved a trifle boring for the Capt, who was invited up to the VIP lounge but found herself surrounded by corporate sharks who were less than impressed with her charms and more interested in her military contacts. Shylock joined her where he and a fellow executive, named Yuri St Vincent, discussed “favors” they could do for each other and the business landscape on Hera and in the Alliance in general. Something big was going down and the Alliance was gearing up significantly in the sector. The Capt eventually got bored, called Adm Monroe and went to spend the evening with him.
Shylock eventually returned to the ship with Butch, and Markus returned much later that night.
During the evening, the Capt made mention of the favors Shylock had negotiated for as well as tried to convince the Adm to give them an escort to Beaumonde, but the Adm explained that he was tied to Georgia sector and the Adm in charge of Kalidasa was his superior and did not like him very much, a three star Adm named Agatha Dupre. They’d had issues earlier in their respective careers and they never got along.
When she was promoted before him, it only made her dislike of him worse, and he recommended the Capt not mention him at all should she run across Adm Dupre.
The following day, Gale and Mikki supervised the loading of the first shipment of grain while Markus returned to gamble and the Adm and Capt went shopping, sampling the commercial delights of Hera, returning to his quarters later in the evening. Hart had replaced Ivy’s tinfoil hat with a tiara, and she was parading around the ship wearing it, climbing on the grain and exploring. At one point she fell and her tiara fell off. She quickly grabbed it, put it on, and ran to Hart, saying bad men were coming. At Shylock’s direction, Hart put Ivy on Ice and, at the same moment that Shylock was contacting the Capt, the Adm received a phone call that the ship was to be inspected again and a landlock slammed down hard on the ship. What followed was a complex disaster area of epic proportions:
- A group of armed people showed up at the ship, flashed dubious badges, and indicated they were going to perform an inspection.
Shylock and Gale met them at the door as they walked in, uninvited, and started scanning the ship with small hand held devices, starting with the cargo bay, upending crates and spilling contents into the hold and onto the docking area floor.
- Shylock contacted the customer, asking for his direction. The customer indicated he’d be right there.
- The Adm and the Capt showed up with two base police and joined in the conversation, the Adm telling the men to stand down, the men ignoring him. The base police took up position at the docking doors.
- Mitchell showed up with two powered armor troopers who took up position in the docking area on either side of the ship, armed with assault weapons.
- The customer showed up, having called the local constabulary, and began berating the Adm, Mitchell, and the men doing the inspection that his rights were being violated.
- The sheriff showed up and positioned snipers across the street while he and 3 of his men entered the docking area and tried to determine what was going on.
- Markus showed up, seeing all the hullaballoo, decided to sit in a café across the street, along with a number of other people, tapped into the ship’s cameras and made sure everything was filmed for posterity while he sipped coffee.
- Gale and Mikki were shouting that some of the crates might explode or catch fire if they were manhandled.
- Colonel Macon Farris arrived (at the Adm’s request) arrived with a squad of marine commandoes, also in powered armor, who took up position adjacent to Mitchell’s men and in the cargo hold and began asserting their authority. One of Mitchell’s men shot at a marine and was promptly bludgeoned to the ground, the marines burst into action and proceeded to detain all of Mitchell’s men.
- The Sheriff and the Adm were in deep conversation over what to do while Gale and the customer screamed at them.
Eventually, the Adm and the Sheriff agreed on how to handle the situation, 4 of the marines left with the sheriff and base police, with Mitchell’s men in custody, and 4 marines remained behind to help load the cargo back into the hold while the customer expedited the rest of the cargo be brought in and loaded. The land lock was released the ship lifted, Markus drifted over, and the ship lifted off into the sky.
Once in space, Shylock called back to Athens and had the contract pilot he hired (“Chip”) fly Markus’ ship (the Icarus) to Ita to meet them there. Both ships arrived at Ita without incident. Shylock asked Owens to watch the Icarus while they picked up “Chip” and headed for Beaumonde. En route to Beaumonde, the crew planned on leaving Ivy with Hart at the Abbey on Beaumonde for the quick run to Hastur for the grain because it was a known destination for the ship.
Additionally, the Capt, Hart, Markus and Shylock discussed options for Ivy and her hat and opted for putting small subcutaneous implants on her head to give her a permanent “tinfoil hat”, with the Capt having the ability to turn it on and off.
The ship landed on Beaumonde and most everyone departed: Gale, the Capt, Butch and Shylock to the Maidenhead to meet Fanty and Mingo, and Hart with Ivy to the Abbey. Markus quite vehemently refused to set foot outside the ship so he and Mikki kept company on board the ship, guarding the grain.
In the Maidenhead, the crew met up with Fanty and Mingo, old friends of Gale’s, and talked about their “guest”. They didn’t know who he was, a hacker in their employ knew him as some kind of engineer.
They’d met in school and he was EXTEMELY risky to have around, as bad things had been happening around him. After some socializing, they gave Shylock a location to pick the engineer up and bid them farewell. Upon returning to the ship, the Capt found she’d received an “anonymous” mail, saying “he” was on Hastur. Believing “he” to be Mitchell, the crew decided not to go to Hastur at all and consigned the cargo off to another ship. The consigning freighter captain was more than a little confused, being paid to do what had to be the shortest cargo run he’d ever done (the moon was clearly visible in the sky), but he agreed to do the run and the cargo was moved.
The crew headed out to pick up Hart and Ivy but ran into some complications when they asked about Hart at the Abbey and was told there was no “Hart” in residence. They described Hart to the young woman at the front desk, she did some typing, then got very quiet.
She told the crew to wait a moment then studiously went about working on her computer. A few moments later, Hart came out with Ivy in tow, and the administrator at the desk did not look up from her work or acknowledge him in any way. Ivy was most upset at having to leave the kids and proclaimed her misery the entire ride home. The crew picked up the engineer, Brian Kinder, and lifted off from Beaumonde, bound for Ita.
During the trip to Ita, the crew got to know Brian, who explained he was an emissions engineer, responsible for developing terraforming equipment. He worked for a subsidiary of Starline Industries, working in energy emissions. When things started going wrong, he was working on a private project, duplicating radiation emissions necessary for various terraforming tasks on a much smaller scale, for labs and such. It’s fairly ingenious but it’s applications were somewhat limited, so he was calling investors to try to get funding to test it. Someone approached him and offered to buy all his data for a fairly large amount of money, but didn’t want him, just the research.
When he refused, things went to hell. He lost his job, his house was broken into, he moved in with his parents, his parents lost their jobs, etc. He eventually went to ground with a friend he felt could hide him, and that’s where he ended up.
He has not build the technology yet, but his science is sound. He just needs a place to test it and the equipment to do so.