Episode 105. Part 1

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Present: Mary, Terri, and Bobby
Air Date: 06 Jan 2009

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Thursday, 07 Jul 2518
Kuiper II Class Ship Summer's Gift
On approach to Beaumonde
Kalidasa (Xuan Yu) System
08:35 hrs, ships time

We take twelve extra hours getting to Beaumonde, the salvage-job-turned-Reaver-evasion having delayed us and taken us off course. In that time, Rina ends up fixing everything inside the ship she can reach that the boost job damaged. The exterior damage to our ventral trim vanes will have to wait—to go outside in a suit while traveling on pulse is tantamount to a death sentence. Nika spends practically all that time manning her chair on the bridge, watching for pursuit—the Reavers have her rattled and that’s a fact. She finally lets Rina spell her at one point for five/six hours for some much needed shut-eye. Arden keeps a close watch on Christian, still drugged to unconsciousness to keep him from injuring himself further. He checks on Christian frequently, sleeping nearby with an alarm set to wake him every hour.

Our passenger Malcolm Reynolds is up and about, and he is told that the cargo, engineering and bridge areas are strictly off limits.

Reynolds: Fair enough. And I hear you’re going to Beaumonde?
Arden: Yes. We’re going to Beaumonde.
Reynolds: And you plan to deposit me there?
Nika: Unless you wish to pay passage for additional.
Reynolds: If I can extract some finances from some of my older accounts, then perhaps I would…
Nika: Then you get free passage as far as Beaumonde.
Reynolds: I am very appreciative. I wish there were something I could do to pay off my debt to you. What services did the man who was injured do? Perhaps I could take over his duties.
Arden: He was our morale officer.
Nika: The cook.
Arden: The cook. Bartering. Trading. Things like that.

Reynolds backs off, not sure how effective he would be in those capacities. He’s ….odd. He’s extremely fit, handsome in his way, and utterly polite…but he’s disturbing. Something in the way he holds himself, something in the way he speaks. We can’t put our finger on it, he’s done nothing overtly alarming or objectionable, but he’s…odd and disturbing.

Arden takes Reynolds to a computer, and in plain sight, downloads everything he has on Reynolds onto a flash drive and hands it to him. A show of good faith, as it were. Reynolds thanks him.

Thus we fly to Beaumonde. Our ship is still handling a touch wonky. It doesn’t go unnoticed.

Arden: Can we dock this ship to get it repaired?
Nika: (Hells yeah) I could land a piece of shit in a tin can, man.
Arden: I’m very happy for you. But can you land this ship and get it docked?
Nika: Yes. I am reasonably certain that this ship is in good enough shape so we can land. I can’t give you any better than that.

We will have to kiss dirt for repairs—the fees of a dry dock in space would bankrupt us.

Nika: We can potentially go ahead and make that work [dry dock repairs] but let’s hope not.
Arden: We can land and fix whatever needs to be fixed, right?
Nika: We hope. Yes. In theory.
Arden: Great.

Before we attempt shake-and-bake through Beaumonde’s atmo, we take stock:

  1. We have cannabis to deliver to New Lyon. It’s a big big city.
  2. We have the ‘communications equipment’ to deliver to our associates in New Dunsmuir. New Dunsmuir is a smaller burg than New Lyon, nicer and better kept. Genteel. More exclusive.

Nika: Oh great. Does this mean I have to break out the girly clothes? Damn, I’ll have to break out the freakin’ girly clothes to deliver stuff.
Rina: I don’t have girly clothes.
Arden: You could raid Christian’s closet.
Rina: (turns a slow dangerous look on him) Anything he has, dear, will not fit me.
Nika: (chuckling) I’m not touching that…

Oh, and we have to land in one piece.

Easy as lyin’.

When we’re two hours out we get on the horn to Colonel Nguyen to tell him we’re coming. He gives us directions to meet him at the Sleeping Dragon restaurant in New Dunsmuir, and we’re not to take the comm equipment with us but leave it on the ship.

Rina: Am I invited, too? Or are you bringing me a doggie bag?
Nika: (Shrugging) If you wanna go.
Rina: What about our passenger? I don’t like the idea of leaving him alone on our ship while we’re out.
Nika: Oh, no. He’s gettin’ off ship as soon as we land.
Rina: Then I’ll go.

Nika returns to the mike and Col. Nguyen on the other end of it.

Nika: Just in case we don’t show--we took some damage on the way in. So landing could be just a hair dicey.

Friday, 08 Jul 2518
New Dunsmuir, Beaumonde
Kalidasa (Xuan Yu) System
07:00 hrs local

We drop out of pulse outside Beaumonde and begin our descent. Beaumonde is the biggest Rim planet in population. It’s got seven million people. It is an industrial planet for the most part, and most of the industry is by Blue Sun. So, the industry is mostly in disposable goods—Blue Sun bottles its cola here, for instance, and their ready-to-eat meals are also manufactured here. It’s the manufacturing equivalent of present-day China. Or Ohio.

There are also areas of pristine wilderness and Beaumonde’s capital city, New Dunsmuir, is located in one of them. Nguyen is going to meet us there, deep in the heart of all that’s cultured and urbane on Beaumonde.

Flight Control asks for the usual information on approach. We transmit our manifest: comm gear and agricultural product (listed on the manifest as oregano, all ten tons of it). We also alert them that we have damage to our ship. As we start our braking sequence through atmo, our ventral trim vanes send the boards on the bridge alight like a Christmas tree. It’s a very bumpy ride down.

Nika: Mr. Reynolds, make sure you’re strapped down.

The heat signature off our vanes is getting dangerously high. Nika hears some heated Russian swearing from the ship’s speakers.

Rina: Nika, what the hell are you doing? Do you want more power or not?
Nika: Shove the thrust. Go.
Rina: Okay.

Rina gives Nika more power to offset the burn-through and to adjust our angle of descent. Swearing the while, because she’d JUST finished repairing the damage the last engine boost had inflicted.

Nika flies the Gift but it’s hard going. We’re sustaining heat on parts of the ship that shouldn’t be getting friction, and those containers affected will be toast.

More Russian issues from the speakers.

Nika flips the ship in a maneuver to correct the burn and though the gravitics hold, everyone’s stomach flips, too.

Rina: Zhri govno i zdohni! (Basically, ‘Eat shit and die!’ in Russian—Maer)

The ship steadies. The heat signatures begin to dissipate, even as the verbal heat increases.

New Dunsmuir Traffic Control: Are you out of control?!
Rina and Nika simultaneously: No! We’re all fine here, thanks. How are you?

Rina notices from her boards in the engine room that missile-locking radar has swept the ship. Ground control is ready to take them out.

Rina: (to Nika) They’re painting us.

Thanks to Rina’s power boost, Nika was able to use our maneuvering thrusters and get our landing gear into position. We go where they tell us—a landing pad far…far away from the others at the spaceport. Nika lands the ship smooth as silk.


Arden arranges for the usual hook-ups with the ground crew. Ten credits should cover us if we don’t end up staying a week. He notes we burned a little more fuel than usual on the way down. No surprise. Nika starts shutting the bridge down.

Arden: (to Rina) Do you have any idea how much repairs are going to cost?
Rina: (pissed) I’ll have to look at it first. But I can give you a ballpark figure: A lot. More than I have in my pocket.
Arden: (consulting our ships fund) As long as it’s not more than 370…

We all take a moment to breathe. New Dunsmuir is the capital city of all Beaumonde, but it’s not likely to have the range of parts we need the way New Lyon will. We decide to fly to New Lyon after off-lading the EMPs, and make repairs there.

Arden: Can you fly the ship without damaging it, now?
Nika: Yeah.
Arden: Okay. If you say so, I believe you.

But first, we have a detail that needs clearing up.

Nika: Mr. Reynolds. I believe this is your stop.
Reynolds: True enough. Are you sure there’s something I can do to help you out? I don’t like being beholden to others.
Arden: You’re not beholden.
Reynolds: Oh, but I am. You saved my life.
Arden: It was an unusual circumstance. If—
Nika: If you felt like contributing to the repairs, I’m cool.
Reynolds: If I could access some funds I will do so. I’m afraid—
Nika: If not, you are not beholden to us in any fashion. If you would like to, you could contribute voluntarily. It’s certainly your prerogative.
Reynolds: I’ll tell you what. Sometime when you’re not expecting it but need it, I’ll be there.
Arden: That would be good.
Nika: That would be wonderful.

Rina thinks that would be bad—how would Reynolds be able to pull that promise off if he wasn’t following them? Or spying on them? She keeps her mouth shut in the face of the others’ acceptance, however. And keeps her eyes open.

Nika: Farewell.
Reynolds: So… if you sense someone behind you, it might be me.
Nika: (politely, but it’s time to go) Travel well.
Reynolds: Very good.

A handshake and he’s off. He pauses at the edge of our landing pad and stares hard at us and Summer’s Gift, as if memorizing every detail. Then he turns away and is gone. A disturbing and earnest man, that one.

At which point Rina’s off the ramp like a shot to inspect the damage to our ship. She sees what’s done and starts a running monologue of curses and parts lists, tempered with awe that Nika got us all down in one piece despite. She whips out one of her pocket notebooks and a pencil and starts noting the details. Nika follows behind to inspect the damage with her.

Rina: Oh my god, oh my god, omygodomygodomygod…..

It’s amazing we didn’t suffer full-on burn-through, a hull breach, because whole sections of hull plating are gone. Pulled off. Bits and pieces of our ship are missing—either through snap-off or melt-out upon reentry. The overall effect is of a radial tire worn down to the steel tread. Even so, we made it down in one piece.

Nika: (knuckle bops with Rina) Team Supreme.

Rina eyes the damage on the containers, underside, and speaks up.

Rina: Okay, guys. I have a question.

All eyes turn to her.

Rina: We need to get rid of some of these containers, because they’re just going to burn through the next time we go through atmo. So as long as we’re ditching them, we have the whole undercarriage of the ship to play with.
Arden: We’ll fix it when we get to the next city.
Rina: I know that. Do you want to fix it with a shuttle bay for our shuttle?
Arden: (getting it now…) Oh! I see what you’re saying.
Rina: (not even stopping for breath) To make her a little more aerodynamic so she doesn’t have to do these flippity-flops going through atmo just to land.
Arden: Flippity-flops? Is there something you’re not telling me?
Nika: (soothingly) Oh, we just did a couple of 360s on the way down.
Arden: Normal. Right?
Nika: (Deadpan) Not even close.
Arden: Thank you. I’ll just go and take some sedatives now….
Nika: (miffed) You’re walking away, aren’t you?
Arden: I have no complaints.
Nika: (mollified) All right.

Some of the deck crew approach, saying they can hook us up with some repairs. Two of the crew stand off to the side. One whaps the other on the upper arm and holds out his hand: gimme. The other rolls his eyes and slaps a twenty in the first one’s hand.

We decline, saying we’re fine thanks. The crew leaves, having hooked our ship up for water and power and all the rest of it.

Next on our to-do list is meeting Nguyen. The Sleeping Dragon isn’t a spacer’s dive and our usual cargo pants, coveralls and tee-shirts will not pass muster. Arden is sure Christian has something suitable that will fit him; he can stay behind to keep an eye on Christian if it doesn't work out. Christian himself is out and about, doing light work—nothing heavy. At the moment, he’s wondering how the dishes got out all over the floor in the galley.

For the women, however, some shopping is in order. Rina is not enthused.

Rina: I’d rather have my teeth filed.
Arden: That’s a possibility.
Rina: Shut up, you.
Arden: Just sayin'.

Rina is also flat-out broke. Nika offers to spot her on the purchase, provided it’s nothing fancy. Rina agrees.

We women head off and find a place that can make up something quickly. So far so good. To pull the last-minute order off, Rina has to be measured. Not so good. She decks the first tailor when he measures her bustline and she and Nika get tossed out. And asked not to come back. We go to another store to find word has traveled in advance of our arrival. Nika confirms the rumors and the tailor simply hands Rina the tape. There ensues some back and forth with the designer about style of dress.

Rina: (grousing) My God. All I want is something simple. Simple with a high neck.

She chooses something Asian. High-collared Vietnamese tunic slit high on the side, with loose trousers underneath. We get the measurements done, order the outfit and get out of there without further fisticuffs.

Rina grumbles that she can’t wear her mesh under the outfit, or her knife.

Nika: (fed up) No.
Rina: Crap.
Nika: (fed up some more) Will you please stop? Seriously. Please stop. Or I’ll make you stay.
Rina: All right. I’ll be good.

12:45hrs, local time

Nguyen sends a cab for us at the appointed time. Arden, Nika and Rina pile in. We question the driver about our destination. It’s a Cordon Vert cooking school. Oh really? we ask. Oh, yeah. Fabulous. Best meal in town. We’ll love it.

The school itself is modeled after a 16th century French Chateau. Very posh. We get driven right up to the door, there being no parking lot. Nika steps out of the cab in an elegant gown, all bias-cut and flowing falls of satin. Rina follows next like some primly-dressed ladies maid. Arden completes our party, wearing something tasteful from Christian’s wardrobe.

The Maitre’d looks up as we approach.

Maitre’d: And you are…?
Nika: (archly) We’re meeting Mr. Nguyen for luncheon.
Maitre’d: (consulting his list) It’s not here. Your name, again?
Nika: Nika Earhart.
Maitre’d: Very good.

He takes us further into the restaurant. Nika glides along behind, carrying herself well, like one with some experience with this environment, if not habituated to it. Our table isn’t the best spot on the floor, but not the worst either. Arden takes everything in—he’d trained in the Core, but lacked the money to enter a swank place like this. Our party garners some looks and that makes Rina nervous and twitchy.

Nika covertly looks for Nguyen, but he isn’t here. Our food arrives even though we didn’t order anything, everything’s exquisite, and still Nguyen doesn’t show. Rina takes her cue from Nika, skipping the overly rich sauces and focusing on the main ingredients. Arden’s captivated by everything. Toward the end of our meal, the chef arrives at our table.

Chef: Is everything to your liking?

Nika grins.

Nika: Now that’s quite a departure.

She looks the man up and down, standing in a chef’s jacket and toque, hands clasped before him modestly.

Nika: Absolutely wonderful.
Ngyen: (quietly) It requires careful planning, well-timed execution, ruthless efficiency....a departure?
Nika: Fair enough.

Somehow, the two of them aren’t discussing the food.

Ngyen: I heard you had some difficulties, then. I trust everything’s okay. Did the cargo make it intact?
Nika: Yes.
Ngyen: Well, please. Finish your meal. And then I’ll invite you to my office to discuss… (gestures vaguely)
Nika: I cannot begin to compliment you.

Rina connects the dots and leans over to Arden.

Rina: (very quietly) The Colonel’s the chef.
Arden: (equally quietly) Wow.

Nguyen waves it off humbly.

Nguyen: I did not produce the meal. My students, of course. I merely oversee them.

When we’re finished eating, a waiter escorts us to the rear where the Colonel has his office. The route has us go through the kitchen. Rina notes it’s a normal five-star restaurant kitchen, full of staff and work stations, pots and pans and knives. She also notes all the entrances and exits. She itches to steal a knife, just one, to have a weapon…but restrains herself. After all, the people we’re supposed to meet are supposed to be our allies.


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