We began this session in space, headed to Constance, orbiting Kalidasa, with a hold full of cheap consumer goods (affectionately referred to as tiny umbrellas) and 8 large crates of dubious origin and content. Regarding the crates, Capt Buckingham asked Hart’s opinion about them as she noticed he seemed concerned at them being loaded. Hart explained that each crate was worth 250k each, minimum, and the contents could be priceless, and that no one travelled with those type of crates on a ship like this unless they didn’t want their movement tracked.
Understandably worried about this, the Capt approached Mr Reginald Humphries, the well-suited owner of the crates and asked a bit more about them. He explained that the crew was in no danger as long as the crates were not opened or damaged, nor was anyone pursuing him or them. While not comforted, his comments did ease her worry a little and she let it drop at that.
A day prior to the crew’s arrival on Constance, Shylock received a note from his “niece” on the “family” letterhead, requesting a favor.
She needed to be a passenger on the next leg of their journey, and it was important that she had been there all along. Shylock discussed it with the crew, explaining it was “safe” and that this was an offer he really couldn’t refuse. Before landing, Shylock adjusted the manifest to show Allysson Hankins was on board for awhile.
The Break entered the atmosphere, Constance tower control took the helm, and the moment the ship touched down on the landing pad it was landlocked, by Alliance order. The Capt and Gale opened the rear airlock and were greeted by an Alliance Naval officer and his detail.
He introduced himself as Lt Cmdr Dexler Howe, Alliance Medical and explained (somewhat reluctantly) that, under Alliance Emergency Measures Orders, he needed to commandeer the Lucky Break for a Humanitarian Aid effort. The Capt escorted him and his detail to the common room where he provided the whole story.
The planet Bhima was experiencing an outbreak of a rather virulent plague (a check of the ‘tex corroborated this story to some extent, the planet was Alliance quarantined), and the Alliance lacked the vessels on this end of space to bring the materials to the planet fast enough, so they were borrowing every ship they could find. There was no cure to this plague, but there were medicines to ease their suffering and quarantine protocols they could support to protect from the spread of the infection. They would cover the cost of fuel, and provide a modest payment to cover their services, so it wouldn’t be a complete loss and they would appreciate the Break’s cooperation. The crew reluctantly agreed and the Naval officers agreed to return the next day with the supplies. Somewhere in the middle of the meeting, a strange woman drifted into the common room and poured herself a cup of coffee. Apparently Alysson had gotten on board unnoticed and made herself at home as she was wearing a dressing robe and slippers
The Capt headed back to notify Hart of the new mission, finding him working diligently in the kitchen. At hearing the news, Hart appeared to be concerned and a bit irritated. He told the Capt he’d be back the next morning, apologized for the urgency, and bolted from the ship at a rather indiscrete pace, leaving lunch uncooked, so the Capt displayed her remarkable culinary skills by completing the meal.
Gale and Mikki quickly began unloading the cargo as two different vehicles arrived to collect it. The first was a shabby flatbed with a group of seedy teamsters, and the other was a conspicuously non- descript panel truck with clean and well-dressed stevedores. The teamsters began gathering crates while the stevedores collected the medical canisters. During this loading, Shylock had a discrete conversation with Mr Humphries where Shylock made it clear he was aware the value of the cargo, and Reginald made it clear he appreciated the discretion. With very little actually said, a great deal was communicated, and it was made clear to Shylock that, should any other cargo need to be shipped, the Break would be on a short list to be asked.
As the cargo bay was emptied, the crew discussed possible preparations. Butch and Marcus were of the clear opinion that the Lt Cmdr wasn’t Navy Medical but a “spook”, someone for Naval Intel, but couldn’t say why he’d be here or doing this. The overall consensus was that the crew needed decontamination foam, and lots of it, so Shylock (with Butch in tow) went into town to try to locate a large quantity of the foam without drawing suspicion. He found an industrial site that had almost enough, and covered the volume of the purchase with an accurate statement that their cargo hold was covered in equine influenza and, for them to be able to carry livestock again, they’d need to decon the entire ship. His argument was so convincing that the merchant recommended another shop where he could purchase the remaining amount they needed and it would be shipped to them the following afternoon.
With nothing else to do, Marcus, Gale, and the Capt headed into town to carouse a bit. Due to the size of the world, the carousing was quite good but the gambling was a bit challenging. Marcus found himself playing people with his own skills and interests so the gambling was more intense and less profitable, but he did have a chance to catch up on the news from that side of the table. Lindsay managed to drum up a couple of contacts that were interested in moving contraband materials in relatively large volumes, so she collected a few cards for future reference. The trio had an enjoyable, if somewhat uneventful evening, and returned to the Break around 3am.
The following morning, the crew was awoken to the sound of the buzzer on the airlock as the Naval Officers had returned. Most of the crew was asleep and reluctant to arise, but eventually Gale went downstairs, opened the cargo doors, and began the process of loading the medicinal crates into the hold. Those who awoke noticed the smell of coffee, indicating Hart had returned. The Capt went to the infirmary to talk to him, but not only didn’t find him there but found the infirmary cleaned out, as if Hart had never been there. As she was leaving the room, she noticed Hart exiting the shuttle and approaching her.
He explained that he felt it was highly likely that the Lt Cmdr would want the infirmary as an office so he moved his things to the shuttle. The Capt did not disapprove and Hart settled into the shuttle as his temporary home. As the Capt greeted Lt Cmdr Howe, Hart’s suspicions were confirmed when he asked if he could use the infirmary for him and his men. The Capt gave her permission and the Lt Cmdr and his men settled into the infirmary, “digging in” as Butch and Marcus called it.
The decontamination foam arrived while the medical crates were being loaded and the Lt Cmdr sought out the Capt, asking her why they would have purchased such a thing, seeming more than a little irritated.
The explanation of the equine influenza seemed to appease his concerns and he returned to loading the medicine. The Lt Cmdr did reassure the Capt that her crew would remain safely on board and that the Alliance would handle unloading the cargo bay.
The cargo loaded, the Naval officers settled into the infirmary, and Allyson comfortably in her cabin, the Break took off for the long run to Bhima. The Naval Officers remained in the infirmary and took their meals there, Hart came out for meals but otherwise avoided the Officers and remained on the shuttle, Alysson moved about as if she’d always been there, and Butch sat on high alert in the common room, very unlike his usual stance of drinking and sleeping. The two body guards took shifts staying away so whatever they were doing in the Infirmary was their business and not to be known by the crew. The only unusual activity that occurred in route was Hart giving everyone a new immunization shot, which made sense given the plague world they were going to, but with the plague having no cure, it’s questionable what the shot contained or protected them from.
A few days out from Bhima, the Break was joined by another freighter and two Naval escorts. Capt Stevens of the freighter Bethlehem hailed the Break and was rather scoundrelish to Capt Buckingham, explaining that they’d been commandeered in a similar fashion and had the same babysitters. The two freighters and their escorts made an uneventful journey the rest of the way to Bhima. As they approached orbit, they noticed two Alliance Cruisers in orbit over the planet, and were receiving the quarantine beacon chatter on their radios indicating the entire planet was on lockdown.
The second before the Break touched down, the one remaining shuttle broke free and, from the larger ship’s sensor shadow, made for the center of town. Capt Buckingham hailed the departing shuttle, asking Hart where he was going and was told that he needed to take care of something and he’d be back. When asked about the plague, he rather cryptically replied “you already have it”, then said nothing more.
The Break settled onto its landing pad in a fenced off area where hundreds of people were collected, trying to find a way off the planet. A number of Alliance personnel were moving about the area, in hazmat suits or full body armor. Lt Cmdr Howe, having settled in the cargo bay before landfall, cycled open the cargo bay doors and began moving cargo to the back of the bay while suited stevedores approached the ship. Marcus, not having access to the bridge, used his considerable electronics skills to hack into the ship-wide systems and was listening quietly in the common room, alongside Alysson, who was taking particular interest in the proceedings while Mikki groused fearfully from engineering.
Shortly after beginning to unload, a scream cut through the ship-side systems (that Howe and his team were still plugged into), followed by two more in quick succession. Capt Buckingham attempted to establish contact with Lt Cmdr Howe, only to find silence. Unable to see anything from the upper deck airlock, the vacc suited Shylock cycled the lock and stepped out into the cargo bay, followed closely by Butch. Gazing down from the catwalk, he saw the three figures of the Naval officers, contorted and prone, the faceplate of the one that was face up so red it appeared to be spray-painted from the inside.
Shylock went down the steps, trying to control is reflex to vomit and faint, down into the cargo bay where he saw a number of the stevedores milling about outside, uncertain how to proceed when a gentleman in an official-looking hazmat suit, who introduced himself as Administrator Davies, approached the ship.
Davies was understandably upset and expressed his concern to Shylock, who was equally as confused and more than a little nauseous.
Hazmatted stevedores were ordered to move the bodies outside and Administrator Davies was examining the area when he noticed the shuttle was missing. He confronted Shylock with this information and found him to be ignorant of it as well. Shylock passed this to the Capt who explained Hart absconded with it. Shylock explained that the shuttle had been stolen and was more than a little irritated at losing yet another expensive shuttle. Annoyed that he was missing out on conversations, Marcus configured his scanner to pick up suit chatter and patched it into the ship system, giving everyone access to what the Naval officers were saying.
Someone chimed in from the city, saying they’d located the missing shuttle, and that it was parked near downtown. Administrator Davies ordered Shylock to retrieve the shuttle, so he and Butch climbed into the Navy mule and headed into town. Past the crowd of people at the fence, the rest of the town was relatively abandoned. They found the shuttle parked near the Abbey, where Hart and a number of shepherds were distributing medicine to a slowly gathering crowd. Shylock approached Hart who nodded at him as he arrived and Hart explained he was almost done and would get back to the ship towards evening, and for the crew to not be alarmed. Shylock and Butch climbed into the shuttle and Butch carefully piloted the shuttle back, letting Gale take control and dock it safely.
Shortly after the shuttle returned, the crew started hearing screams again over the Naval comm channel, as more Naval officers started bursting. During the chaos, Administrator Davies was heard calling for help from the cruisers flying above before his call was cut off with a gurgling scream. At this point, Butch and Marcus both agreed that it was time to get off the planet, and explained the normal Alliance protocols for dealing with plagues usually involved orbital bombardment. Capt Buckingham wholeheartedly agreed and tasked Marcus and Gale with suiting up, going out, and disabling the Landlock on the ship., the crew started hearing screams again over the Naval comm channel as more Naval officers started bursting.
Gale and Marcus suited up and headed out, just in time to meet Hart walking back in. He walked directly to the docked shuttle and sealed himself in, saying on the shuttle comms that he would stay there until things could be decontaminated. Gale and Marcus went out and noticed that, not only where there no Naval personnel in sight, there were no citizens either, they were alone on their docking pad. Shylock scurried about, gathering every piece of Naval equipment he could find that wasn’t nailed down and tossing it into the hold, as well as moving the unloaded medicine back inside while Marcus and Gale focused on getting the ship loose.
The Naval comms picked up the chatter of the shuttle landing and the team deploying, talking between themselves about what they were seeing, so they heard the conversation about how someone was distributing a cure and how the Naval officers died just like on Shadow. The order from on high was that the cure was not to be allowed to leave the planet, so the team returned to the shuttle and launched, and before it got out of range of the scanner, it picked up one of them screaming.
Since all Naval personnel were gone, Marcus walked up to the console and disabled the Landlock the easy way, and with everything loaded, the Break lifted from its pad and proceeded to make a rapid get away, map-of-the-world, while in the distance behind them they saw a small explosion and debris from the destroyed shuttle rained down onto the planet. The cruisers above ordered the Break to stand down and surrender the vessel, and emphasized the point by firing mass projector rounds at them, destroying the planetary landscape around the fleeing ship, which was then rocked by the shockwaves that resulted from the cruisers nuking the only city on the planet to contain the “plague”.
Had things gone well, the Break might have been able to get around the planet and leave atmo with the planet between them and the cruisers, giving them a good head start, but a number of mishaps resulted in the Break leaving atmo within weapons range of the pursuing cruisers and even at max push they were unable to get away. Ordered to stand down and surrender because they were suspected of carrying the plague, Capt Buckingham reluctantly complied and shortly thereafter the ship was jarred by the impact of docking clamps. The dorsal airlock opened and Naval commandos stepped in, ordering everyone to hit the deck and drop their weapons. Shylock tried to argue that he had a contract that they’d not been paid for, but the commandos were disinterested.
The crew was marched up the ladder, down a long corridor (with a number of hazmatted Naval personnel in it) between orange lines painted on the floor and into a containment room, where they sat for many hours while they watched people go in and out of the Break, removing all Alliance material, including the cargo. After several hours, a gentleman approached and introduced himself as Capt Ramsey, commander of the cruiser. He rather brusquely asked who had sent the tight beam communication off before the ship surrendered. Alysson stepped up and confessed, saying that, as a reporter, it behooved her for her story to get away before something unfortunate happened to her. The Capt, clearly exasperated, explained that Alysson would be detained and the rest of the crew would be tested and screened to validate they were not infected.
After Alysson was escorted away, each of the crew was taken from the detaining room into a small chamber where blood, skin, and bone samples were most uncomfortably taken. They were each searched intrusively and then returned to the room with the others. This process took almost half a day. At the end, Capt Ramsey returned and explained that the cargo and all contraband materials on the vessel had been confiscated (this included both the Naval officers personal effects and Alyssons), and that the contract would not be honored due to “extenuating circumstances”, but the ship would be provided with fuel for the inconvenience and sent on its way. The crew was escorted back to the ship and the docking clamps were released. Before returning to the infirmary, Hart said “you have twelve hours before you want to be as far from here as possible”.
Not needing to be told twice, the crew quickly debated where they wanted to go, settled on Ita around Kalidasa, and put on some speed.
News and events
In a private communiqué to Capt Buckingham, Nace Diamond sends his greetings and a trio of messages. The first was a simple greeting, hoping she was as fabulous as he remembered her and how much her boy toy was pining for her. The second was that a group of unsavory people were passing around her picture, asking if they’d seen her around. The picture was very pretty, from a few years ago, and was paired with her picture from the socialite rag on the planet, detailing her conquests. The third was that he needed her help, that he had precious cargo that needed off the planet ASAP, so if she were near, he’d be grateful.
By the time the crew reaches Kalidasa, there is a video circling the edge of the ’tex, being killed as fast as it comes up, but spreading virally. It is narrated by Capt Ramsey and tells the tale of a man- made virus that was inflicted upon the planet Bhima (it lists its name as IAMV-437). The Alliance created it to suppress uncooperative populations and inflicted it on Bhima as a field test (complete with a copy of the order, signed by Admiral Ackley of the Alliance Navy).
The recipe for the cure is included in the video, as well as an explanation that, when the people discovered the cure on the planet, it was nuked to suppress it, and includes a recording of the order to nuke the planet, given by Capt Ramsey, and a video of the city being nuked from orbit. There is no mention of the Break, it’s crew, or the dying Alliance officer and ends with “You have been warned, the Alliance is here to serve you, whether you want it or not.”
- Blackleaf – Grows rampantly, Alliance and local govt burn it out when they find it, there are many different variations and some are better than others for making the drug, but the quality is subjective. Currently “slickseed” is the name of the generally accepted “best” variation. Because of how hard it is to grow safely, it is not grown or sold in large quantities. There is certainly no “known” supplier who can provide it in bulk, just many smaller ones with many different contact methods. Prices range from $500/pound (with seeds, typically garbage) to $2000/pound (slickseed).
- Redsalt – Mineral that is found in great supply and is mined for openly, used for a number of medicinal and pharmaceutical treatments, it’s a catalyst that speeds up and enhances chemical processes. It is available in large quantities relatively cheaply, roughly $20/pound.
- Distillery – It requires a separating distiller in which distilled water, Blackleaf, and Redsalt are added (proportions 10:10:1) and boiled while pressurized. The Wetdream is the result of the process, resulting in roughly half a unit of Wetdream for every 10 units of Blackleaf. The remainder is hazardous waste, dreadfully poisonous and noxious for which no useful purpose has been found. The distillery costs $500 for one that will handle the above proportions in pounds.
- Wetdream – The price varies drastically based upon quality and market. On a core world, the highest quality (both process and materials) can be sold for $10k/oz. On the Rim, it goes for closer to $5k/oz, again assuming the highest quality.