The Not For Hire approached Ita proper and established an orbit, and Gale awaited to be hailed by the planet. After a few moments of not being hailed, he hailed them, only to receive the response “whaddya want?” Not being a commercial hub and privately run, Ita did not receive a lot of visitors and treated each with more than a little disdain. After a bit of convincing, the NFH entered Ita’s stormy and chaotic atmosphere and settled down onto the only landing pad at the colony.
Gale, Shlock, Butch, Marcus, and the Captain embarked, facemasks in place, and attempted to enter the colony, but found the door entry as rudely manned as the radio. Eventually they were let in and given directions to where they could find Dan Brovlowski. The crew made their way there, losing Marcus en route at the large common room/tavern area, where he proceeded to fleece the locals of their heard-earned wages.
The crew found Danial in the mineral survey section and Shylock spoke with him at length about their needs. Danial explained that what they were looking for was not within his area of expertise and escorted them to Amber Delacrois’ botany labs.
Amber was a colourful young woman with a rather “open” reputation, but after hearing Shylock out was interested in what he had to offer. Shylock offered to bring the samples to her and left with the group to get them. Seeing children on the station, the Capt agreed to allow Ivy to come on board, so she joined them on the return trip.
Butch and Shylock returned to the Botany labs with the samples and gave them to Amber, who told them to return in the morning. He then wandered to the tavern where he spoke with the bartender about liquor consignment options, at the very least to give them a reason to return.
Meanwhile, Ivy dragged the Captain and Gale all about the station and then suddenly focused on a direction, which ended up at a t-intersection, with Ivy pressing her ear to the outer all. The Capt asked her what she was doing, and she explained she could hear something, outside the station. After some debate, the Capt agreed to put on masks and step outside to see what Ivy could “hear”.
The journey took significantly longer than expected, over crevasses and through gullies, well over two miles across the violent landscape, before they finally stumbled upon a large impact crater. Ivy slid down into it and dug through the debris at the bottom, surfacing with a cerulean colored square piece of “plastic” approx 18" on a side and 1/4 an inch thick. She clutched it to her chest and cooed happily, and exclaimed she could return now. The Capt and Gale spent a bit of time trying to determine which way home was, and the return trip took significantly longer than the outbound one.
Upon their return, they went directly to the ship where Ivy played with her new toy and the Capt took an inordinately long shower. Marcus and Shylock returned later in the evening, having done all the business (or gambling) they could accomplish, and the crew retired for the evening.
The following morning, they debarked again, this time sans Ivy and with the addition of Hart, who parted company with them shortly after entering the station. Shylock made his way to the botany lab where Amber gave him the rundown on what she’d discovered.
The plant grew on Hubal due to a very specific plasma radiation from its primary planet, the gas giant Djinn’s Bane. This radiation is the results of the extremely violent plasma storms that occur within the giant’s atmosphere that puts off radiation that the plant responded to, mutating into its current form to adapt. There was nothing unique about the soil, water, or nutrients available, the reason the planet thrived only there was due to this radiation. She took the question to Charles “Chip” Dunham, the installations resident helioforming expert, but he knew of no ways to artificially generate radiation of the same time and intensity in a controlled environment. He was certain he could trigger such storms within the atmosphere of another gas giant, but he couldn’t promise that it would it cause it to implode and start converting into a brown dwarf, which would be bad for any moons orbiting it, plus any other planets in nearby orbits.
Amber gave Shylock back all his materials and gave him some ideas as to where he might search, universities and such, but what he wanted to do had never been done before (obviously), so he’d be breaking new ground.
As the ship lifted off through the stormy atmosphere, the crew discussed where they wanted to go next. The discussion drifted towards the hidden city and untold riches, which meant they needed to head to Boros. Seeking an excuse to head that way, or at least a way to make some money, Shylock discovered that Maximillian Alexander, on Rhamba, had been sending him notes, making sure he was OK, and letting him know that he was always willing to have them carry kelp for them.
The ship made its way there, changing out the transponder back to the Lucky Break, while Shylock searched around for more business to fill the old. Kelp was not particularly profitable, nor was it going the right direction for their needs, so when the opportunity to carry “rare seafood” coreward showed up, at a decent price, he jumped at the chance. He notified Maximilian that he’d come back for the kelp, and the merchant understood.
As the Lucky Break reached Rhamba’s orbit, they were hailed by the planet and cheerfully directed to a landing spot almost instantly, which was virtually unheard of on such well-trafficked worlds. This aroused Gale’s suspicion at the same time that Ivy suddenly became very quiet and huddled closely in the Capt’s room, not making a sound, the combination of which sent Shylock’s “guts” into apoplexy.
The crew considered aborting the landing and bolting, but realized that would only create suspicion so they landed and Shylock hurried the merchant up, explaining that they had a timetable to keep. The cargo was a part of large, multi-ton crates, refrigeration units (the merchant explained) that were very, very expensive. Marcus scanned them but found no transmissions and no life signs beyond what was expected from fish. The cargo was loaded and the ship got underway.
Out in the black, far from anything and anyone, the ship suddenly went completely dark. Butch rapped on Shylock’s door and told him to sit still, called for Marcus and they headed towards Engineering, finding a cursing Mikki trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Butch had chem-lights because the flashlights weren’t working, so they lit the area up and determined that an EMP of some kind took them out and began working repairing things.
Shylock and the Capt went to the bridge to look out the windows, watching for other ships while the rest of the crew diligently worked to bring systems back online. Life support and gravity came up relatively soon but further work was interrupted by the clanging of a ship latching onto the Break. Butch chased everyone off the bridge, ordering them to the engineering area and told them to seal it up. He closed off the bridge area and the crew retreated to the rear. A few moments later, the ship was rocked with a series of explosions, and then silence, followed by Ivy’s quiet whisper “Butch is hurt”.
The Capt and Gale suited up and exited via the rear hatch to EVA around the ship to the top. The dorsal airlock was gone, along with chunks of the hull around it. Above them a much smaller ship, a scout ship of some kind, was slowly cart wheeling away, not under its own power but with some lights to indicate it still had power. They climbed down into the hole and found Butch draped over the right bridge console (the left being completely destroyed), his leg crushed and the suit integrity sealed due to ruptures. They picked him up and quickly took him to Hart, then returned back outside to determine the damage to the ship.
As they were making their way back to the bridge, the Capt’s helmet was grabbed and a gun placed against it. Gale saw behind the Capt a covert ops skinsuited person, using the Capt as a shield and holding a flechette pistol to her helmet. The intruder pressed his helmet to the Capt’s (so she could hear him) and explained his situation. After some conversation (hearable by the entire crew), the intruder handed over his pistol and surrendered. Marcus and Gale took him into custody and he was secured in sick bay.
While Hart worked on Butch, the crew interrogated the intruder. He indicated his name was Samson, he was a mercenary covert ops operative, and working on a contract. The contract entailed the retrieval of the little girl and the disposition of the crew was at his discretion, for $250,000 for the pair of them, himself and his partner (a paltry sum that disappointed Shylock). He did not know who hired him, it was done in the usual manner, through intermediaries, and the child was to be returned to Rhamba.
After Hart finished on Butch, the crew departed, leaving only Marcus to help guard Samson. Hart offered to give anesthetic to Samson to ease the pain of his wounds while Hart worked on it, but he refused. Shortly afterwards, Marcus fell over and lost consciousness. When he awoke, he was lying on the counter in sickbay and Samson was strapped to his bed out cold. Hart apologized and explained that, since he couldn’t give the mercenary an injection, he gassed the compartment, and he couldn’t very well warn Marcus without also warning Samson.
We ended our session with the crew trying to decide where to go next, now that the Lucky Break was “destroyed”.