Episode 516: Newhope Encounters
Air Date: 10 May 2011
Present: Andy, Bobby, Kim, Maer, and Terri
Giselle and Racy settle to life on Equinox.
To pass the time en route to Newhope, Rina does a little digging into the Ion’s owner, Captain Einerson. Over the past few weeks and months, she’d sent out inquiries about the ship’s history and now the replies are coming back in. She’d sent a query to Einerson and he sends her back a wave telling her of his business when he flew the ship. Jing Jing Bei went out of business and auctioned off the ship, which Einerson bought. He was primarily employed taking colonists out to Blue Sun. He made the mistake of taking out a lot of loans to keep his business running and got in over his head in debt. Because he didn’t feel right about taking the colonists for everything they had to keep up with his payments, he folded his business and sold off the ship—grudgingly—to Potemkin on Highgate. He’s on Meridian now and he mentions that anything of his we find on Ion we’re welcome to. Einerson also mentions he would happy to see Ion again. He loved Ion and misses her. He sends Rina his ground address so she can contact him if she’s ever in the neighborhood. Rina waves him back, thanking him for his candor with the information and tells him she would love to look him up the next time she’s in the area.
Rina also spends some effort trying to find more information on Director Ah Toy and the JJB. Her searches come up empty and she finds that there are virtually no records on the JJB. The Verse has been wiped clean of their existence. Of course, Rina finds the lack of records suspicious and keeps on digging. She fails to find anything more on the JJB but when she removes the JJB from her search parameters and continues with just references to Ah Toy. Rina discovers the woman owns the largest and most successful club in Nouveau Lyon, Beaumonde. What kind of club? It’s a casino, dance club, exotic shows. And it’s also got with a quietly unsavory reputation. Journalists have made accusations that it engages in corrupt gambling, illegal prostitutes and drugs, and other offenses like money laundering. The owner is reputed to be linked to the JJB.
Of the Director of the JJB, we find out that Ah Toy is actually a historical person—meaning there are records of her existence.
Do we tell Giselle or not? Nouveau Lyon is her home and she’s expressed her wishes to go home to her family there. Joshua decides to tell Giselle.
Sunday, 12 Jul 2522
Kalidasa (Xuan Wu) system
1700hrs, local time
When we close in on Newhope, Byshek waves us and offers us a possible job. We arrange to meet him at his restaurant in Gibraltar once we kiss dirt. Rina cannot go, unfortunately, because she has the monthly maintenance to pass. Joshua goes in her stead.
Byshek tells us a few things when we get there. One, the Bai Tong (White Chrysanthemum) is interested in us. Their leader is Skarn—he whom we pissed off on Ithaca. Byshek got this information from the Bai Tong’s rival, the Song Jiang Tong, who Byshek actually knows. They told him what we’d done on Ithaca vis-à-vis Racy’s rescue.
After our meeting with Byshek, Nika and Kiera stay behind in town to trawl the docks and bars and cut loose a little. Joshua returns to oversee the refueling of our ship and when it’s done, take Rina off-ship for a little alone time. Before they leave, he asks Arden to do a little research on the Song Jiang Tong.
Arden finds out that they are pirates, mostly, whose primary targets are other ships and corporate fat cats. Newhope is their safe haven. Hmmm … and Byshek knows these guys.
Meanwhile, down at the bar, Nika and Kiera are having a good time. There’s some drinking and some dancing. And then there’s some guys doing a little grabbing. Nika pops a few noses and a few more guys show up. So of course, things get ugly. The room erupts into a bar fight. A shot is fired. The room freezes. A woman stands up with an ID badge in hand—she’s a Federal Magistrate. Her attitude is formidable and not wanting to tangle with the law, everyone quiets down.
Buzz totally killed by legal interference, Kiera and Nika slink out and are stopped by the Magistrate, who orders them to follow her upstairs above the bar. They do. They enter an office and the man waiting for them is none other than Captain Baz Arrow, he who sharked that cargo deal out from under us a few months ago. He grins and the Magistrate stands revealed as his XO and not a Magistrate at all.
Nika asks what she can do for Baz, considering he must have got her fat out of the fire for some reason. In the process, she and Kiera tell him about our fixer on Newhope, Vladimir Byshek.
Monday, 13 July 2522
We get the shopping done for ship and crew. We get an envelope delivered to us. In it are the details of our next job. It’s a Bill of Lading, with the tonnage noted. We’re to pick up cargo off a VLF ship in orbit—aVLF48, run by Varian Logistics and Freight, is a ship that’s ½ a mile long and 300 feet high. It’s too big to make landfall. They are waiting for us to pick up the cargo so we can take off for orbit now. Based on the tonnage and the number of ship hands at our disposal—5—we reckon it will take us 2.5 hours to load it without help. Joshua advises we wait until 0800hrs tomorrow so we can take off and land in daylight. We’ll be flying the cargo directly to our client on the dirt and since the client is the rival Tong, daylight is safer than darkness.
Nika, already bleary from her late night fun, agrees and promptly takes herself off to bed.
The rest of the crew spends the time til take off as they see fit, getting in last minute errands and shopping done.
That night, Racy asks for a grub stake to start off her new life. She’s thinking of buying a taxi. In return, Joshua asks for a business proposal. Racy says she gets a feeling about people and she feels we’re dangerous. Less time spent with us, the better. Joshua gives her 10 credits of WAM and lets her go shopping on her own.
Tuesday, 14 Jul 2522
0800hrs. local time
We take off to meet the cargo ship in orbit.
We’re processed for landing and use of their loading/unloading equipment. We get a hover sled for free and pay 10 credits to rent a second one. The cargo ship is one long pressurized corridor running the long axis of the ship, lined to either side with airlocks of independently mounted cargo containers. And those containers stretch on for nearly half a mile on a side. Toward the center of the run is a large bay with four airlocks to allow ships to dock for cargo transfer. We’re docked at one of the two airlocks on the starboard side.
Arden notices one of the airlocks directly opposite to port has a ship docked at it. We don’t pay it much mind but split up into two teams to a sled. Nika and Joshua man one and Rina and Beglan man the other. Kiera and Arden stay with our ship to handle any necessary paperwork. Nika puts her sled into gear and notices there’s heightened security. She detours in the sled for a looky-lou.
Both teams trundle forward to the correct container, open it up, and start loading. The cargo is boxes, roughly casket-sized in dimensions and light enough for two people to laboriously stack them on the sleds. We stagger the trips between the sleds to allow one to go back to Equinox with a load as the other arrives to take on more cargo. By this means, we have a constant revolving train of loading and unloading. By the time we get 75% of the cargo loaded on Equinox, the hammer falls: the other ship docked opposite us is the White Chrysanthemum Tong and the cargo we’re loading is theirs. They are here to claim it.
Arden intercepts them and tries to delay them with the paperwork. He shows them our bill of lading and does his best to muddle matters. Why don’t we go to the main cargo office and sort this out, surely this is just an innocent misunderstanding. Arden also attempts to bribe the Tong, handing over 20 credits of his personal funds to smooth things over. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew are still rotating the sleds to and from the container, working frantically to get that job done for Byshek. Kiera joins Rina and Beglan’s team to speed up the loading. Racy is manning the bridge and comms Arden that there is a weird beeping on one of the consoles.
We’re landlocked. Someone’s been talking to someone with the authority to keep our ship from leaving. Now what?
Nika and Joshua drive their sled back to Equinox and unload. Joshua eyeballs the Tong talking to Arden and he’s convinced that they are carrying some kind of New Tech weapon. Meanwhile, half a dozen guys have peeled off from the main group and have walked to the container where Rina, Kiera, and Beglan are loading up the sled. They seem to be unsure if they are in the right container. Not wanting to disabuse them of that notion, our crew keep right on loading and climb into the sled and trundle off without engaging the Tong. Just another dock crew loading cargo. Nothing to see here. Moving right along. Just flyin’ casual.
Back at Equinox’s airlock, Nika, Arden, and Joshua are approached by four of the White Chrysanthemum Tong. Behind them in the Tong’s own airlock, just inside the ship, we see they’ve set up a light machine gun—not quite breaking the cargo carrier’s no weapons regs—and it’s aimed right at us. So there we are, caught flatfooted on the carrier’s deck without a weapon toward our defense, staring down a machine gun.
Joshua starts talking, claiming we were hired in good faith to haul the cargo dirtside. It doesn’t work. Two of the Tong try to bull their way aboard our ship. Joshua pushes one into the other and tangle them up.
Nika gets a punch thrown at her. She throws a punch back and knocks him flat. She gains another action and moves back into the airlock.
Joshua wants to grab the Tong goon at his side to throw him into the remaining goon of the pair standing against Nika. Unfortunately for Joshua, the goon successfully resists and lands a blow for some stun. Even so, Joshua recovers quickly enough to grab the goon Nika felled and throw him into the goon who punched him. The goons slam into each other but manage to stay upright.
The lead goon yells in Chinese: You two! The girl!
Two goons rush forward for Nika. Nika throws a punch at the one closest. She fails and he lands a punch for stun. The other goon closes in and she evades and punches back.
Joshua gets the goon on him in a grapple, going for a sleeper hold. The goon turns the tables on him and inflicts more damage.
Arden, meanwhile has ducked inside Equinox and retrieved guns from the upper decks. Nika falls back deeper into our airlock and continues fighting. She has two goons on her. She KOs the first with a punch, fails to dodge the second goon and takes on stun from his blow.
The fighting continues, an all-out scrimmage between Joshua and Nika and the Tong goons.
Arden comes up with gun in hand and tries to intimidate the goons into backing off. Nothing doing. Guns don’t scare them. They keep going.
The goon on Nika gets a punch in for more stun. Joshua gets clocked by the remaining guy on him. Arden shoots at the man on Nika to wound him and break up the fight., but by some freakish chance of fate or karma, the single shot kills the man and he hits the deck—dead as a doornail. The blowback slaps Nika in the face and she gives Arden THE LOOK.
Joshua’s still grappling and still taking on stun from his opponent. Nika moves over to help him, giving him room to move.
Meanwhile, that gunshot of Arden’s is attracting attention. Even so, Arden seriously considers shooting the man on Joshua … and instead kicks the unconscious but alive goon off the ramp of our ship. Joshua takes another hit for stun.
More people arrive at the Tong Ship’s airlock—looks like we got the entire Tong crew’s attention now. Joshua’s opponent finally gets the upper hand, grabbing Joshua in a hold and using him as a human shield. Not to be outdone, Joshua snarkily critiques his captor’s technique.
Nika tells the goon to stand down or she’ll call security.
The goon holding Joshua postures threateningly. Nika refuses to back down. She demands to see his papers for the cargo.
The goon releases Joshua and walks away from the dead and the wounded.
Security finally shows up. And so do Kiera, Beglan, and Rina on their sled. They drive the sled right into the cargo hold and unload and then we all make ready to get the hell out of there. Luckily for us, the landlock has been lifted and we take off.
Final Score: We have one Tong goon dead on the deck, one KO’d, and likely some hard feelings. We have left 42 cargo containers behind—25% of the cargo lost—and are on our way to the receiving Tong to try to explain why we’re short.
Nika flies us beautifully back to the dirt and we see that the coordinates we’ve been given has us touching down at a rock quarry. There is a mansion built on the very edge of it. Looks like that’s the place.
Nika leaves the ship to see the clent. A hover truck and a fancy sports vehicle (a Volker model, btw) meets her on the dirt. A man in a Coreside suit gets out and comes up to our Captain. He’s handsome, in a Tong sort of way. There’s no telling how many people the Tong client has watching us from the vehicles or from afar. Nika has Joshua, Kiera, and Rina at her back.
Nika explains what happened in orbit. The Tong client tells her icily he doesn’t like her attitude. He would rather deal with people who can get the job done without resorting to violence. He tells us to take our money and go.