Episode 101. Part 1

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Present: Jay, Mary, Terri, Bobby
Air Date: 18 Nov 2008


Tuesday, 01 Jun 2518
Kuiper II Class Ship MakeMake
Outbound for the Rim
11:12 hours, ships time

We're a few days' hard burn out of Bernadette when our Captain, Ivan the Terrible, emerges from his bunk and orders us off course. Nika doesn't like it but she does it. We drop our of hard burn and stop somewhere off the beaten path. Ivan tells us to hold our position with our beacon pinging at full volume. When asked why, he just says he's looking to meet someone for business. Oookaay.....he's the boss. Nika waits til he's left the bridge to message Josef Potemkin back on Bernadette, telling him of this new development and asking what he wants her to do. Meanwhile, Rina's noticed the change in speed (Hard to miss, she's in the engine room listening to the engines...) and goes up to the bridge to ask what's going on. Nika shrugs and fills her in.

Rina: Christ, you don't have the beacon going full blast, do you?
Nika: Hell no. Damn thing isn't even on. I'm not touching it til I get word back from Potemkin.
Rina: What's the SOL delay?
Nika: About an hour.

At which point Ivan returns to the bridge.

Ivan: Have we made contact yet?
Nika: No.
Ivan: Why is beacon not on?

We look. The light for the beacon is off. Shit.

Rina: The bulb must be burnt out. I'll fix it.

And she gets right down on the deck, opens up the console and starts tinkering. Apparently satisfied, Ivan wanders off the bridge with orders to call him if anyone tries to hail us. Nika tells Rina to fix it to look like the beacon's pinging away when it's actually turned off. Rina does it easily, rigging it so the light glows on. An hour passes and Potemkin's reply returns. It simply says: Stand By.

Nika: "Stand By"? What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Stumped, she decides to continue with the ruse.

15:47 hrs, ships time

Meanwhile the rest of the crew has already figured out we're sidelined yet again for a clandestine deal and they start grumbling--not so much over the illegality of the activity, but that such delays make them LATE, incurring penalties when they finally arrive at their destination and reducing their cut of the profits. Maven, Grimes, and the others are getting torqued off and the new-hires (Nika, Rina, Christian, and Arden) are getting increasingly anxious about possible mutiny. The fact that all the crew had to surrender their weapons to be kept under lock and key in the gun locker is small comfort--should mutiny arise, Grimes would have instant access to the firepower, since he's the only one with the key. If the shit hits the fan, there's no telling what the man will do. Rina's of the opinion that the plan has always been to sell the passengers to slavers, kill off the new hires and sell the cargo--out in the deep of space, off the regular traffic lanes, who's to say any different? As an explanation for why we're parked in the middle of nowhere, it's as good as any other.

The others dismiss her idea as paranoia. Together, Nika, Christian and Arden figure out a way to drug the regular crew to avert mutiny, allowing Nika to fly us back on course til the Captain emerges from his current drunken stupor. He will have lost out on his clandestine meet, but at least the MakeMake will arrive pretty much on schedule with passengers and cargo intact--just as Nika had been hired by Josef to do. The passengers, segregated from the crew, won't notice a thing. It was a simple plan, no one would get hurt and by the time they wake up, everything will be over without a shot fired.

Pity it didn't happen that way.

Ivan keeps tabs on the bridge, popping in every 40 minutes or so to mutter "where are they, where are they?"

Ivan: Are the sensors working properly?
Nika: Yes, Rina's checked them. What are we supposed to be looking for anyway?
Ivan: Ship.
Nika: No, really?
The sarcasm goes right over his head.

Ivan: A mid-sized freighter, but if any ship shows up--any ship--tell me.

He goes back to his cabin to drink and wait.

Christian serves the passengers and sees them settled, then carefully drugs the regular crew's dessert. Working under Arden's direction, he tailors the dosage to each recipient based on body weight and metabolism. The vehicle is hot cocoa, made with real cooking chocolate to disguise any taste of the drugs. Things go awry when Grimes refuses his portion. Harvey Ellis immediately asks to have it and Grimes gives it over. Within minutes, Ellis is looking quite sleepy, having had over 2 doses' worth of the drug. JJ starts looking ill-ish, muttering something about the food not agreeing with him—too much damn paste. Then JJ clutches his heart and hits the deck, struggling to breathe. Rina gets on the deck with JJ, checking his airway. Rina yells down the hallway for the doctor—"Get your ass down here, there's a man dying!"

Not the most discreet thing to be yelling within earshot of the passengers and crew, nope…but it's too late to take back the words. Ellis starts blinking and asking if his friend is gonna be okay? Rina runs flat out for the doctor in the passenger lounge. Nika yells at Rina to tell the doc to bring an Epi-pen, and then elevates JJ's head to help him breathe. She occupies an increasingly-upset Ellis with this task and by the time Arden arrives with his bag, the big man has JJ cradled in his arms. Arden throws Nika a sour look over the plan going south and she shoots him a `shut your mouth' look back at him. Grimes stands by and starts connecting the dots—the food's been poisoned.

Back in the passenger lounge, Christian tells the passengers that everything's all right, the doctor is on it, it might be best if they all returned to their quarters for now, give the man room to work. Rina hangs out in the passenger lounge, her message delivered, staying out of Arden's way. Christian sees Grimes pass through the lounge for the gangway belowdecks.

Where the guns are. And he has the only key.


Christian tells the passengers that everything's under control, he's just going to check on things and come back….and follows after Grimes. Hinked, Rina follows Christian.

She gains the landing at the bottom of the stairs and steps out into the passageway for the lower level. Directly opposite is a set of doors leading to the gun locker. Christian is already at the outer door and swings it shut, intending to trap Grimes inside. The door operates via keycard. Rina says she can hack the panel and bypass any commands Grimes might punch in from the inside. Christian puts his weight against the door and tells her to just make sure they can open it again after she's done. Rina shoots back that she if fails, there's always the blowtorch.

Being it's a complex action, it's going to take more finesse than simply monkey-wrenching the control panel. And the longer it takes, the greater the chance Grimes can overpower Christian's weight and get out. Christian tells her to hurry.

Grimes pushes off the bulkhead inside and rams the door, forcing it open a crack. The door's hinges are opposite Rina and the opening is inches away from her. She draws her knife from her left boot, ready to stab Grimes if he goes for her.

Grimes lashes out with his gun, using it as a club as he tries to push the door open. Rina dodges. Christian tries to shut the door on Grimes' hand, but Grimes snatches it back in time and is shut in again. Rina gets back to work on the controls, trying to jam the locks. Grimes shoves against the door and Christian turns the tables on him, yanking the door open to throw Grimes off balance.

Grimes rushes out and Rina slashes at him with her knife as he passes her. Only fair, since he tried hitting her with his gun. She draws blood. Grimes keeps on going and hits the far wall of the passage. He manages to stay on his feet…and keep his gun. Christian catches the door to the gun locker before it can bounce shut and ducks inside, leaving Rina stuck outside with a wounded Grimes not three feet away. Grimes raises his gun and shoots. She takes a hit in her arm, a graze.

That's it. All bets are off. Rina closes in on Grimes and slashes him with her knife again.

In the locker, Christian goes for his rifle, only to find that it is locked in a gun rack. He looks around for anything not locked down and finds pistols and a stun baton. He grabs a pistol and runs back to the passageway.

He emerges with his pistol up and ready and he orders Grimes: "Please surrender now."

Meanwhile, back upstairs…

Nika's managed to tell Arden that JJ is suffering an allergic reaction and Arden's only just started on the man when a shot echoes up from belowdecks. Nika does a quick head count—who's sleepy and who's not. Mavis is wavering on her feet, lists wildly once, twice, and hits the deck. Ellis is still awake and goes over to sit down in a chair…and passes out. That leaves just Nika, JJ, and Arden in the crew lounge.

And back downstairs Christian has his pistol on Grimes, who has his on Christian…

It's a Mexican stand-off. No one moves. Everyone breathes.

Christian: (to Grimes) Please surrender now and I promise to have the doctor tend to you and you won't be further harmed.
Grimes: All right…—Like hell!

Grimes tries to shoot Christian. Rina strikes out with one hard fist, connects, and sends Grimes flying back into the bulkhead. There is a wet crunch and the back of his head paints a bloody smear all the way down to the deck.

Christian: (shocked and angry) You realize he could have been innocent.
Rina: (shocked and angry right back) Tell that to my arm.
Christian: Yes, yes I'm sure his broken spine and your arm are equals.
Rina: Let's pitch his body out the airlock. We can tell them he fell down the stairs.
Christian: Throw him out the airlock? Oh, that's a very convincing story. He fell down the stairs, rolled into the airlock, hit the airlock release button and then went out into space? No. We leave him here, and hope he was going to get a weapon to take over the ship…and not to defend it from a perceived mutiny.

Rina sighs and shakes her head.

Rina: Everyone on this crew is culpable.

Meanwhile, back upstairs…

When aother gunshot rings out below decks. Nika orders Arden to check on the Captain. Arden argues he's only just gotten JJ stabilized and as for the Captain—

Arden: What am I supposed to do with him?
Nika: If he's not out already, sedate him.

Christian hits the stairs for the upper deck, emptying the chamber of his pistol, ejecting the clip and tossing the gun. He doesn't need it. Rina wastes no time getting the key clip from Grimes' belt and goes inside the gun locker to get her gun and don her shoulder holster. She gets Nika's gun. And three extra clips. She takes Grimes' gun into the locker and locks everything in there down tight. Rina picks up the clip and the gun that Christian discarded, reloads the pistol and tucks it on her person as a back-up piece. She zips her coveralls over her holster and makes sure none of the other weapons she's carrying are visible, zips the key clip in an interior pocket, then goes up to find Nika. Nika is their only pilot and she's their only ticket out of there—she'll need a bodyguard.

In the crew lounge, Arden is arguing with Nika.

Arden: I don't want to sedate anybody else until I know what we're going to do with them.
Nika: Then just monitor them. God help us, I think there's at least one other guy running around here…

Nika takes off for the foredeck, wondering what the hell she's going to do next and encounters Christian coming the other way.

Nika: Our doctor's keeping track of the sick people.
Christian: Our non-lethal distraction—
Nika: What happened?
Christian: (sighs) We weren't able to keep him in the weapons locker, which was our initial plan. He came out and …Rina decided that lethal force was necessary for the situation.

Nika cuts loose with something very very vulgar in Chinese.

Christian: He did shoot first. But only after she brought out the knife. He tried to pistol-whip her first. It was not fun. He's dead at the bottom of the stairs.
Nika: I'm going to the bridge and I'm going to get us back on course.
Christian: I'll go and make sure the Captain is still sleeping.

Christian hears snoring through the Captain's door. Yup. He's out for the count.

A blessing.

Nika gains the bridge and realizes that there really is a man still unaccounted for—the other repair engineer. She hears Christian's tread on the deck aft of the bridge and calls out to him.

Nika: I think we're missing one of the crew members.
Christian: The other engineer wasn't at dinner.

They pause and take stock.

18:55 hrs, ships time

So the situation as it stands:

  1. We've successfully taken the vessel—
  2. Minus the extra engineering guy.
  3. But at the moment we still have power.
  4. Though we don't know how long that will last.
  5. We have drugged the crew.
  6. Induced an allergic reaction in one of them…
  7. And killed another.

Christian: This seemed like a good idea at the time.
Nika: We had better hope we were right. `Cuz otherwise we're gonna be in deep deep—.
Christian: Well, for now we should find out where the other engineer is and secure him, making sure he's not a problem—
Nika: —<Chinese obscenity: Explosive diarrhea of an elephant>
Christian:—and make sure the Captain doesn't wake up, which I don't think he's going to do anytime soon. And I'm thinking we should secure the other crewmates and I would actually like to go through Grimes'—

A blinking light on the bridge console distracts Christian. It's the proximity alert. Something's coming.

Rina joins the others on the bridge, tying a handkerchief around her arm wound with her teeth. They fill her in on what they've discussed. Rina grimaces and mutters she should have just kept on walking on Bernadette and not taken Potemkin up on his offer…. Dammit. She checks her handkerchief, sees it's holding up fine. She makes a fist: she can use her arm. Good. At least something's going right.

Christian checks out the proximity alert.

Christian: That doesn't look like a good thing…

We're picking up a very faint pulse beacon. It's faint, but it's pretty close. And we don't exactly know what that means.

Nika: Great.
Christian: Maybe this is why we were told to stand by. Or it would be good to leave.
Nika: Are they transmitting?


Christian: A very good thing to leave now.

Rina looks the data over. It's moving at a slow speed, practically drifting, and it's only a kilometer away. She squints out the bridge windows.

Rina: Do we see any red paint?
Nika: Oh,frack!
Christian: That's a big assumption to make.
Nika: Not necessarily, not out here.
Christian: I have no idea. I'm not from out here.
Nika: I'm staying on course. It's not my job to worry why that other ship's drifting.
Christian: So we're going to ignore it?
Rina: If we only had guns, I'd say we shoot it.
Christian: So it's drifting? It's possible it's a ship in distress.
Rina: Then they'd be sending a May-Day.
Christian: Assuming their equipment was working.
Nika: And if it's something uglier? Do you really want to chance that when we've just incapacitated the entire crew?
Rina: Our running lights are off. We're not transmitting on the beacon. And our emissions…(she checks the status boards) …how hot are they…?

There's some signature: we're running life support, so we're a little more noticeable than the other ship. What we're getting from them is a very faint signal. And they don't appear to be moving toward us, they appear to be drifting. They could easily have flown right up to us, nonetheless.

Rina: My instincts are telling me keep your foot on the gas pedal and your foot on the brake, and rabbit if we have to.
Nika: Okay.
Christian: Perhaps we should try to hail them.
Rina: (looking askance) Always with the talking, this guy. Always with the talking.
Christian: It's amazing what happens when you don't break people's necks—
Nika: My instinct says let's just rabbit.
Rina: Majority rules. We're rabbiting.

Nika rabbits but does a fly-by to check out the other ship. Rina grouses the MakeMake isn't outfitted with external cameras and she doesn't have a camera herself. Damn.

We see what looks like a medium-sized freighter, just taking up space, listing. There are no skeletons strapped to its hull or any red paint.

Nika: Do you want to salvage it?
Rina: I say we just get the hell out of here. I mean, how are we going to salvage it? We need you to fly the ship. Everybody we could have ordered on the crew to salvage it are sleeping—.
Christian: Could we at least do one scan? To try to find out if someone's alive aboard that ship?
Rina: All right. If it'll shut him up. Sure.

Rina paints the other ship with a scan, checking for signatures on the vessel. It comes back showing there's emergency power only on the ship, which would include the beacon. That explains why it's so faint. Also, this a large ship, larger than ours though not that much larger. There are no obvious signs of habitable life support. There could be conceivably be someone aboard in a spacesuit, but it's not likely anyone would be alive aboard because it's going to be very cold inside. It looks like the life support's been off for a couple of days. The ship also sports her name: The Danton.

Rina relays all of this to Christian and Nika.

Christian: All right, now I'm agreeing with you because there's no one alive aboard that ship.
Nika: Why not? Because if this is the ship that's supposed to meet us, why not?
Christian: Either something happened inside the ship or something happened outside the ship, and if something happened outside the ship—
Rina: It could be plague or pirates. Let's get out of here.

There's no sign of weapons damage to the outside of the ship. Pirates may not be the reason she's drifting.

Nika: We're going anyway. Make a note of it in the star charts of where it is. When we come back, maybe we'll come back and look.
Christian: Agreed.
Nika: Make a note of the location on the star charts, approximate drift pattern, and what ship it is so that when we get back we can figure out what the heck's going on.
Christian: I'm going to go back and check on everyone else.

He finds Arden.

Arden: I don't know about the other engineer, but the pilot's probably going to wake up in an hour and I have no clue about the big guy because…he's…I'm surprised he's still out. Maybe he had a bigger dose than I realized.
Christian: Well, we're not going to worry about them for the moment.<ve> Arden: I still think we should put them someplace where they can't get out.
Christian: There was another ship we were passing. Apparently dead in the water and we are now back on our destination. I want to check on—.
Arden: Is that blood on you?
Christian: Yes. There was an…unpleasantness downstairs.
Arden: I heard the gunfire, the gunshots.
Christian: We attempted to confine the Bosun to the weapons locker and he took exception to it. Violently.
Arden: Does anyone need help?
Christian: No. No one needs help.

Christian heads back to engineering. The hatch to the engineering compartment is locked. Christian taps on the door's window.

Tap. Tap.

No answer.

Christian: (buzzing via intercom) Excuse me.
Engineer: Who's there?
Christian: It's Christian.
Engineer: What's going on?
Christian: We're going to our destination.
Engineer: Is there some kinda disease? Saw some people on the floor.
Christian: No. No. It's a very long story. (Pause) How do you feel about the stop we were making?
Engineer: Don't much care. We're still working. Easier to work in space than on land, sometimes.
Christian: It seemed as if other members of the crew were agitated and looking to take their fair share of what they thought the Captain owed them. And we took preventative steps. They should be all right in a few hours.

Nice spin!

Engineer: All right then. Just keep it at that, I guess.
Christian: And meanwhile, while we're on our way to our destination, if you wish to stay in there that's fine. I promise no one's going to harm you.
Engineer: I guess I'll just stay in here.
Christian: All right.
Engineer: If you don't try to get in here, everything should be fine.
Christian: Um, as long as there's nothing in there, I'm sure we won't.
Engineer: As long as you're not trying to get in here, there won't be anything wrong in here.
Christian: Agreed. If you need anything, please let us know. I don't know how much longer it will take us to get there, but you can't stay in there forever. It's more than a few days. You will need food. I will be glad to leave it here, step beyond the other door, so you can come out, grab it and go back in.
Engineer: I saw what happened to the other people who liked the food.
Christian: Indeed. And that's the risk you'll have to take. I can give you sealed packets.
Engineer: You might want to do that.
Christian: All right.

The engineer seems twitchy but willing to stay put and deal for now. Christian goes back to the bridge.

Christian: Are we on course?
Nika: Yep.
Christian: Good.
Rina: Oh. Here's your gun. (She hands Nika her gun.) And extra clips.
Nika: Excellent.
Rina: I couldn't find your holster.
Christian: That's probably because they wouldn't take your holster from you. Would you please come with me and help me take our extra crew members to a place somewhere where they wouldn't be a bother?
Rina: Sure.
Christian: Which I think it's going to take the three of us to take care of the big guy. But before we do anything else, since they aren't going to wake up in a while and we can tell the doc to keep an eye on them, I want to search rooms. I would like evidence, maybe someone wrote something down, about the theoretic mutiny—.
Rina: I have hacking.
Christian: That's possible. On the other hand, they may have a Cortex link in their rooms, the Cortex may have information….

19:30 hrs, ships time

We search the rooms. In the Bosun's quarters, we find a small pistol and a combat knife.

Rina: He was going for the big guns, even though he was closer to his own.
Christian: True. That's interesting. I wonder if there was something else in the locker.
Rina: We could check it out, but we should do it now.
Christian: If I wanted to keep something from prying eyes, that would be the place I'd put it. For now, as for the crew, why don't we lock them up in each room, keep them apart.
Rina: If you're going to lock them up, put them somewhere where they can't use anything to MacGyver their way out.
Christian: Forget the rooms. We're going to lock them up in the seeds container. Since we don't have an infirmary, we should put the doc and his patient in one of the staterooms and keep the door locked. That done, I want to check out the weapons locker.
Rina: What do you want to do with the body? You're gonna trip over it in a second. It's at the bottom of the stairs.
Rina: What about the airlock?
Christian: We'll put him in the airlock but we won't—
Rina: Right. We can bleed out the atmo and let the cold take care of the rest.

And that's what we do.

Rina goes through Grimes' pockets, looking for anything incriminating. She avoids everything below the belt. Ew. She finds nothing useful.

She checks out the locker with Christian. Christian takes his time, looking for anything that's not a weapon because it would be suspicious. Rina looks for any kind of communications device that Grimes could have used to call up reinforcements on the sly, any kind of data management or data access equipment. Also, we're looking for anything that in general doesn't belong in a weapons locker. Basically, we're both looking for anything that would suggest why someone with a gun within five feet of him would go all the way down here, other than the fact that he could pretend he was going to see the Captain.

Rina finds an unusual item in one of the ammo boxes.

It looks like a computer board of some kind. She's seen something like this before, but where she's seen it eludes her. This is the only thing out of place they've found. Rina takes two more extra clips for her gun and a ballistic mesh vest for herself. Christian takes a mesh vest for himself as well. Rina will take the board to her quarters where her tools are, to try to figure out what the board really is, but for now she and Christian go back to the bridge and fill Nika in on what they've found out so far.

20:45 hrs, ships time

Christian: The Bosun had a gun in his room, about fifteen feet away from where he was at the time. So rather than go to his room, he went all the way down to the locker. We got suspicious so we headed to the weapons locker. And found that. Also, the engineer has locked himself up in the engine room and I promised that as long as he didn't interfere with the ship, we wouldn't interfere with him. Because otherwise, we'd have to find a way to get in and it would get messy and bloody and I don't want to kill anyone else. If we don't have to.
Nika: Fair enough.
Christian: We've locked two of the crew in one of the cargo containers. The third one, the one that was having heart troubles is with the doctor in one of the staterooms.
Nika: Well, bear in mind that the Bosun may have in fact been in cahoots with the Captain, so when the Captain rouses from his stupor, we could have some serious problems.
Rina: Can't we just pitch in a gas canister in there and seal him up and make him go to sleep some more?
Christian: The Captain?
Rina: Yes.
Christian: Do you have a gas canister?
Rina: No. But I'm sure I can find some chorine bleach and some ammonia windex—
Christian: Do you want to deal with him now or do you want to deal with him when he's awake?
Rina: (angry) I don't want to deal with him at all, so why don't we just… (deflates)… see what I can figure out about this thing.

She holds up the board they've found.

Rina: Call me when you need me. I'll be in my quarters.<br
She stomps out.

Christian: (asks Nika) All right. How long til we get there? The Prairie Paradise?
Nika: About a week.

20:47 hrs, ships time

Back in her quarters, Rina looks over her tools. She's got her hacking kit, a data book, a data reader, some chips, a portable Cortex 'box the size of a tablet, and a few hand tools of the sort that one can normally carry in your pockets: swiss army knife, a Leatherman, slide calipers….that sort of thing.

She decides to utilize one of the Cortex 'boxes in one of the passenger staterooms to hack into the board they've found. It may end up destroying the 'box, but better that than her own. Besides, the stateroom 'box has a beefier processor than her data book, anyway. If this thing is what she thinks it is, she's going to need that extra processing capacity.

It takes her an hour or so, but it appears to be part of the ship’s ‘black box’. It’s a registry board, whose purpose is to transmit the owner’s name and the ship’s name and registration information. It's synonymous to an extra (illegal) license plate for a car and Rina sees it originally came from another vessel. The information coded onto the board states it is for: The Tsin Jyu, and it says it's owned by Grimes.

We have plausible evidence the Bosun, at least, was waiting to take over the MakeMake, slap a false transponder on her, and take her for his own. Christian will be pleased when she tells him what she's found. The Captain won't be, when he finds out.

Rina stabilizes everything she's found and puts as much of her findings (either as a typed report or the actual data) as she can on a chip as back-up. She goes to Nika and Christian to tell them what she's found.

Go to Part 2
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