Episode 124. Part 4
She listens some more.
Deanna: We’re at the office. (puts the call on mute, looks at Christian) I take it some of your crew reported back?
Christian: Yes. Two members of my crew escaped.
Deanna: Can they come here?
For an answer, Christian calls Nika back on his comm. It rings once, twice…And Nika picks up.
Nika: (over the comm) Yeah. What’s up?
Christian: I need you to come—and this is not a trap. I say this in advance, of my own free will—.
Nika: And I’m supposed to believe that, exactly why?
Christian: I need the two of you to come to the Offices of Parliament here on Osiris.
Nika: Um. We’ve got company. I’m not sure she’s safe to leave anywhere by herself.
Christian: What sort of company?
Nika: Dr. Sampson. She’s been dosed. Like Mike.
Christian: Yes. Bring her.
Deanna cuts in and Christian mutes his line.
Deanna: Do you want me to send police escort?
Christian: (to Nika) Are you worried about getting here intact?
Nika: (puzzled) Um… not so much.
Christian: Are you sure? Don’t go back to the ship.
Nika: Why not?
Christian: Because if they know we’re here, they know where our ship is.
Nika: (pissed off) Oh…BRILLIANT! No, we’re just coming out of the industrial sector. We can get to where you are.
Christian: Okay. Come here and there will be someone waiting for you in the lobby. They’ll take you to where I am. We may actually have….a friend… in this.
Nika: That’d be a switch.
Christian: (chuckling) Wouldn’t it?
Nika: All right. Parliament. Do I need to give them a name?
Christian: Ask for Ms Hill’s office.
Nika: We’ll be there as soon as we can get there.
Nika ends the call.
Rick comes to in a stark room, handcuffed to a chair set before a table, discovers Arden next to him similarly restrained. Arden, however, has headphones on, noseplugs in his nostrils and is blindfolded. The Blue Hands team, the man and the woman, are seated across the table from Rick and he eyes them narrowly.
Blue Sun Woman: Your friend here has had an unusual reaction and is not being as forthcoming as we’d like. Before we use the drug on you, and potentially result in the same unusual effect, we thought we’d ask you some questions in your present state. Let’s imagine at this point, you are ten steps from the gallows. Each answer you give will bring you a step closer to the gallows or a step further from the gallows. Do you understand?
Blue Sun Woman: Very good. Eleven steps.
Blue Sun Woman: You are not on our recorders as being in the Osiris hospital incident. Were you on Osiris with this took place?
Rick: No, I was not.
The Blue Sun Man and Woman trade a look and nod.
Blue Sun Woman: Good. You are being forthcoming. Twelve steps. You might take enough steps to walk away from this.
Rick: How many steps does it take to get out of this?
Blue Sun Woman: The important step is realizing that this is not entirely up to you. You put yourself into our hands.
Rick: (seriously) How many steps to get you out of that outfit?
Rick has scored a major point: Blue Sun Woman is actually taken aback by his brash comment.
Blue Sun Woman: (recovering) Maybe if we’re lucky, you’ll be able to do something about it. You’ll have all the appropriate parts.
Rick relaxes slightly, knowing at least he can invoke a reaction out of the adversary. He eyes the Blue Sun Man, notes that he’s a little …twitchy, in marked similarity to a certain engineer. Blue Sun Man takes up the questioning, asking Rick how long he’s been with the crew, how well he knows them and what he knows of Mike Carter, where did they drop Carter off?
Rick: We dropped him off on Salisbury but he’s no longer on that planet and we have no idea where he is.
The interrogators trade another look.
Blue Sun Woman: You’re a bit closer to the gallows.
Blue Sun Man stands up, pulls out a tazer and jabs it into Rick. Rick jerks from the current, in a world of hurt. A few seconds later, the tazer is withdrawn and Rick’s body relaxes, his wrists red against the handcuffs, singed where the tazer touched him.
Blue Sun Woman: Let’s hope you survive your whole trip to the gallows. Would you like to change your answer?
Rick: (clears throat) I’m not sure what else you want me to tell you when I’m—.
Blue Sun Woman: Only the truth.
Rick: —when I’m telling you the truth, that we have no idea where he’s at now.
Blue Sun Woman: What did you say you kept him on?
Rick tells them: our ship.
Blue Sun Woman: And where was your ship headed after Osiris?
Rick: We were going to Londinium. To pick up cargo at Londinium.
And so the interrogation begins.
Out on the streets of Memphis, Nika shuts down her comm at the end of Christian’s call and gives Rina a look.
Nika: You were going to blurt something?
Rina: (gestures at the comm) What?
Nika: Christian says we may have an ally and we need to meet him at the Parliament.
Rina: We’re not going back to the ship?
Nika: Well…as he pointed out it might not be a good idea.
Rina: (crossly) I know, it might be staked out by now. I get it. Okay, any port in a storm, he might have something for us. Come on. We should get going.
Nika: Worst case? We’re dead, you know? Whatever.
Rina: We’re taking her with us, right?
Rina still has Valerie by the arm.
Nika: Yes. Christian specifically asked for her once I mentioned we had company.
Rina: (brusque) Fine. Let’s go. No time like the present.
Nika divests herself of her gun and tells Rina to do the same.
Rina: Oh hell, no. I’m not droppin’ my gun.
Nika: Oh yes, you are. You’re gettin’ on public transport in the middle of Osiris and you’re walkin’ into Parliament. You are not walkin’ into Parliament with a gun.
Rina: Fine. I’ll stash it before we get there. In fact…
Rina looks at the street they’re on. They are on the outskirts of the industrial district. She spies a newspaper vending box and taking a thin flattened roll of duct tape from one of her cargo pockets, she tapes her gun to the underside of the box. Off the ground and out of sight, it should be safe for the next few hours. She writes down the location of the box in one of her pocket notebooks and rejoins Nika. Together they hail a cab and get over to the Parliament offices.
They disembark, mount the steps to the lobby and tap on the glass doors of the lobby entrance. The lobby guard looks askance at us and rises from his chair, but before he can do anything someone else comes up the steps behind us. It’s a Member of Parliament, a man in his apparent mid-to-late thirties. Caucasian, Brown on Blue, firm of chin and upright in bearing, in decent physical shape.
Nika steps aside to let the man pass and says to Rina:
Nika: Let me call up, because Christian said Ms. Hill was expecting us anyway.
The Parliamentarian turns around at the sound of Deanna’s name.
Parliamentarian: You say you spoke to Ms. Hill?
Nika turns around.
Nika: And who are you?
Parliamentarian: I’m Edward Gibbons, Member of Parliament.
Nika: (Um…Yeah.) Okay. I was asked to come here and go to Ms. Hill’s office.
Gibbons: Well, then perhaps you know what this is about. (turns to the doors) Barney, let us in.
The guard opens the doors right up and Gibbons strides in. The women follow and Gibbons turns in the lobby and looks at them: a brunette, a blonde and a crazy woman.
Gibbons: Unusual crowd, but…Ms. Hill wouldn’t wake me up in the middle of the night for nothing.
He pushes the button for the lift and they all ride it up to the office level. As the elevator rises, he says:
Gibbons: I’m guessing you’re not among my constituents.
Nika: And who are your constituents?
Gibbons: I represent Osiris and the Burnham Quadrant.
The elevator stops on the thirtieth floor and everyone walks into the office a few seconds later. Gibbons calls out as he enters, drawing off his coat and throwing it over the back of a chair. He looks at his Chief of Staff.
Gibbons: There had better be a war or something going on to wake me up at this hour.
Nika: (undertone) Now that would be the understatement of the friggin’ millennium.
Deanna’s bearing is instantly respectful and she has the grace to look embarrassed.
Deanna: My apologies, sir, but these people may have information for you, quite pertinent to your most recent investigation.
Gibbons: (gestures at Christian) Who is this person?
Deanna: Christian Edge. He’s a member of the Guild, sir.
Christian: Not the Mining Guild.
Gibbons: No. I didn’t think so.
Not in that get up, he isn’t. Christian is fully dressed in his Go-to-Client finery and it’s patently obvious which Guild he’s a member of. Behind Gibbons, Rina sniffs the air discreetly. Oh, yes, it’s also obvious just what Christian and Ms. Hill had been up to, as well. The engineer and the pilot exchange a look but keep their mouths shut.
Deanna: Christian, can you tell Mr. Gibbons what you’ve told me?
Nika: (undertone to Rina) Oh, we’re SO goin’ to jail…
Christian walks Gibbons through it: our friend getting captured and taken to Hera; his subsequent overdosing on a derivative of Chempliance; his rescue and our encounter with the Operative; our subsequent trip to Osiris in search of a cure, the hospital and the Blue Hands on the roof. Christian also mentions our discovery that Arden is the clone-brother of the Operative and that both may have been made for a specific reason hidden from the rest. Custom ordered, so to speak…
Gibbons: That’s a piece of the puzzle I’m not sure where it fits.
Christian: We’re not sure either.
Nika: And the fact that they just grabbed him off the street—
Christian: And the fact that they went out of their way to capture him and Rick. I suppose they could be after Rick.
Nika: That’s highly improbable, I would say.
Christian: Anyway. That’s where we are. Our friends have been captured by what we believe to be Blue Sun special operatives.
Nika: Do you believe that?
Christian: I believe that.
Gibbons: And so, can you tell me what happened tonight?
There’s a pause and we fall silent.
Gibbons: I’m sorry, I didn’t get your names.
No one speaks.
Gibbons: Listen, I may be the only friend you have right now.
Nika: I’m trying to figure out even where to start.
Christian: Why were you out there where he could get captured?
Nika takes a deep breath and begins.
Nika: Dr. Sampson called us. She was the doctor who helped us try to find the cure for our friend.
Gibbons: (gesturing to Valerie) May I interrupt you for a moment?
Nika: No you may not. Not yet.
Christian: Let the very very powerful man who may be our only friend interrupt you.
Nika: (exasperated) She’s been doped with the Chempliance derivative.
Gibbons: Which may be useful to us.
Christian: Just let the man do his job.
Nika growls but subsides. Gibbons addresses Valerie, whom Rina has held on to off to the side during this entire visit.
Gibbons: Were you instructed to summon these people to the clinic?
Gibbons: Can you tell me who instructed you?
Valerie: The Hands of Blue.
Gibbons: Okay. (to Nika) Go ahead.
Nika: We didn’t know at the time she contacted us that she had been dosed. Rina: And I found this on her.
Rina pulls the syringe from her sleeve and hold it out to Gibbons, who declines to touch it.
Gibbons: Could you put that on the table please?
Down it goes.
Nika: (to Valerie) By the way, what was that for? What was this intended to do?
Valerie: I don’t know.
Christian: Do you know what the drug in the syringe is?
Valerie: It’s Paxilon-E.
Gibbons and Deanna exchange a look.
Nika: (to Valerie) Did you give anybody this stuff?
Valerie: Yes. I used it on Arden.
Christian: Oh, you better hope my theory’s right.
Nika: You better hope I don’t get my hands on you anytime soon.
Nika takes a step back.
Nika: Anyway, we didn’t know she was dosed at the time she called us. She is a friend of our doctor and so we went. We went to check out what was going on because the last time we were here, she helped us and she got in trouble. And we figured it was at least partially our fault—if not all our fault. So we went ahead to go check on her.
Christian: We were told specifically that Blue Sun had her.
Deanna leans over to Gibbons and murmurs to him.
Deanna: You know, the incident at the Osiris job. The hospital.
Nika goes on to tell Gibbons what she saw at the clinic, how we’d found Valerie doped up and sitting alone in the clinic, and how we immediately figured what had happened to her. How we had two of our party outside keeping an eye on the street, how Valerie informed us she’d already contacted somebody we’d be here. How we realized her call had been a trap.
Nika: And so we left. Or we kinda left. Getting out was a little problematic. Um, yeah. Let’s not get into details there, that’s gonna be kinda ugly. So. We got away.
Gibbons: So there were casualties, is that what you’re trying to say?
Christian: You don’t need to go into details. They already have enough on us to lock us up for life.
Nika: There were casualties.
We also assumed the people who came after us were Blue Sun security. She tells him we’re pretty sure the guard at the clinic was doped up, perhaps with the same drugs as Valerie’s. Gibbons grills Nika on the actual drug used—Paxilon or Chempliance. She admits she doesn’t know.
Christian: Was he acting like her? (points to Valerie) Or like Mike?
Nika: Well she and Mike are acting pretty much the same.
Christian: No. The difference is Mike was capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation without having to be asked questions.
Nika: Honestly, I can’t tell at this point. I can tell you the guard was not acting in a manner consistent with the situation. While our doctor was trying to hack out the back door, I was trying to deal with the guard. And there were two trying to get us from the front and two in the back…
Rina: There were four. They split up. Two at the front, two around the back to the alley where we were going to make an exit.
Nika: That didn’t go so well but the guard was still alive when we left. If I remember correctly, we got out the back door and the two guys at the back door were dead.
Rina: (reluctantly) Yeah…. But they shot first.
Nika: Those two we left behind and we ran, trying to get away from the two out front. When it became clear that they would not give up, we slit up. Rina and I stayed behind to try to slow them down and stop them.
Gibbons: Was there any unusual behavior on their part?
Nika: Well, let’s see. I’m shooting at them with a gun and they’re coming at me with their bare hands. I’d say that’s highly unusual.
Gibbons: Would you say there was any resistance to pain?
Rina: I shot one in the face, grazed his jaw down to the bone and he keeps coming. He’s spraying blood, screaming, and it’s not even slowing him down.
Nika: I shot one three or four times and he just kept coming.
Christian: Stop. We’ve encountered them before. Were they acting like Reavers?
Rina: (slowly) They were… more coherent than Reavers, but they seemed impervious to pain.
Nika: There were parts where….but yeah, okay. I could go with that explanation.
Rina: If you’re hinting that they’d taken whatever made Reavers or augmented it or altered it…
Christian: All I’m saying is that if I knew I had a drug that created a superhuman and immune-to-pain homicidal maniac, I’d want to control it.