Episode 112. Part 1

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Present: Mary, Terri, Bobby and Jay
Air Date: 03 Mar 2009

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Sunday, 06 Nov 2518
Kuiper II Class, Summer’s Gift
En route to Persephone

The trip to Persephone is uneventful. We’re all too messed up to do much more than nurse our wounds and rest up. Some work cannot be avoided, however: chair time on the bridge; monitoring the comm chatter; cooking our meals, maintaining the ship’s systems and definitely everyone launders what they’d been wearing the night of the shoot-out. Beyond that, we make do with the minimum of fuss and flying and simply heal.

That’s not to say we’re not occupied. We are all working through the ramifications of what’s happened. Arden monitors everyone’s health. Rina helps by doing what she can, in addition to maintaining the ship. Nika is uncharacteristically quiet. Mike is likewise preoccupied with the progress of his cure. As soon as he’s able he starts testing his ability to resist verbal commands. The drug Valerie made is working—but it’s not instantaneous. His free will returns by slow degrees. By the time we kiss dirt on Persephone, it’s not entirely restored but enough has been regained that we can all ease off watchdogging him. Much to everyone’s relief, not the least of all, his.

So it’s with some sense of anticipation we land on Persephone. It’s a chance to make a fresh start, to move forward and put some of the rough and tumble behind us.

Of course, we should have learned by now that nothing is ever that simple.

Tuesday, 08 Nov 2518
Kore, Eavsedown Docks
Eavesdown, Persephone
White Sun (Bai Hu) system
08:30 hrs, local time

We touch down at Kore, an offshoot docks a little removed from the larger and better-known Eavesdown Docks. Landing is a somewhat haphazard affair, consisting of equal parts of aggressive flying and a certain flexibility in determining suitable landing areas. We shoehorn the Gift in amongst the crowded ships somehow and pay up our fees and start fueling up. We get notified by the Port Authority that our ship is overdue for its mandatory monthly maintenance check…and though Rina grumbles about bullshit Fed regulations, she sets to the inspection and the paperwork, and checks the necessary boxes where applicable. And calculates the extra fees incurred to the Port Authority.


When we land, we also look around—discreetly—for a buyer for the drugs we stole from the OCURC. Our guesstimate of the store value of the drugs is around 300 credits. We’d like to net more if we can. While Arden checks into the retail side of things, Rina sends a message to Omar Tennison, an old acquaintance, asking if he can help sell the drugs and the car.

The car has got some dings and scratches. During transit to Persephone, we launder the vehicle. Arden and Rina remove the VIN, clean up the blood and such. Between Rina’s mechanical skills and Arden’s covert skills, we get the car sanitized.

Arden’s skills raise some questions with the crew—what sort of medical school teaches its students how to pick locks, for example? Arden says he learned how while on the run for his life. So on the trip over to Persephone, the subject’s raised and talk around the dinner table takes on a Truth or Dare tone: who’s trying to kill you and why? We bundle the girls off so we can speak freely. Arden starts first.

When he walked out of his apartment one day, his car blew up as he approached it. He called ahead to the hospital to tell his superiors that he was going to be late and they replied there was someone waiting for him. Who? Some official. Arden didn’t ask for the person’s name or department, being understandably stressed out at the time.

Nika: You just assumed this was a bad thing? It could’ve been a cop checking into the bomb.
Arden: But the bomb had just gone off, thirty seconds ago.
Nika: What in the world were you into before that?
Arden: Nothing!
Nika: ‘Nothing’ covers a lot of things.
Arden: ‘Nothing that I know of’.
Nika: So what were you doing, in fact?
Christian: Could it be something from your odd cloned society?
Arden: I have no idea.
Christian: Do you have some kind of secret genetic time bomb that’s going to turn you into sword-wielding maniac?
Arden: I. Have. No. Idea.
Christian: You probably should start looking into why that guy looked like you.
Nika: Because he came from the same batch.
Arden: Actually, not from the same batch but from the same gene line.
Nika: Does your society run job kinds of things on gene lines? Like these certain batches are always cops, these certain batches are always doctors, these certain batches are…?
Arden: No. Not to my knowledge. And basically, this is the first time I’ve encountered another ‘me’.

Arden can see it’s not sinking in with the others, so he explains how it works.

Arden: In my year, 689, there were four of me. I was “–C” of the four. Hence the name Arden 689-C.
Nika: How many are there usually? So every batch has four…?
Arden: Usually.
Nika: ‘A’ through ‘D’.
Christian: So at some point, he—
Rina: So, it’s Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta?
Arden: He might have been ‘512’.

Meaning Swordsman.

Christian: But you must be bred for certain genetic traits.
Nika: That’s what I was saying.
Arden: It’s not general knowledge. They don’t let us know those sorts of things. Upon investigation of what was going on, I found out that other people from my crèche were disappearing.
Christian: So…your…lemme.….
Nika: But only from yours?
Christian: ‘Creche’…?
Arden: (to Christian) 689.
Christian: It’s the batch of them, not the ‘you’ specifically?
Arden: No, it’s the 689.
Christian: It’s all the people within your batch of…?
Arden: 689.
Rina: So, is it ‘Creche 689’?
Arden:v Yes.
Christian: Can I postulate a theory?
Arden: Okay.
Christian: We already know that Blue Sun—possibly for the Alliance, because they do seem to be working together—is doing experimentation at least involving mind control drugs. I would imagine a society of specifically genetically created people would be an ideal test tube for experimenting with certain theories in genetic manipulation and biological—
Arden: I’m not blowing holes in your theory, but the society was founded by a doctor who was a bit ‘out there’ and his followers were the ones who were the original gene lines.
Christian: I’m thinking that there’s something perhaps unique to your crèche, perhaps possibly something Blue Sun did.
Arden: Well, there is something unique about my crèche: who’s in it.
Christian: But the guy with the sword was—well, yes. You are unique in that you were in that.
Nika: How different are you?
Arden: What do you mean, ‘how different’ am I?
Christian: Is it unusual for your people in your crèche—for people in your society as a whole—to have…I’m going to say—
Arden: Very rarely do our people go off planet.
Christian: Obviously only two have.
Arden: For education.
Nika: Well, right…but not even that part. (Dragging back to her original interrupted question) Is it unusual within your society for…(how to say it?)…You come across to me as someone who has a lot of independent thought. A lot of independent trails of…
Arden: Mainly because it’s an effort of mine to be different.
Nika: So that is something unusual.
Arden: Yes. Specifically to me. Because I don’t want to be the same. So when other people do that, I do this.
Nika: Okay.
Arden: Speaking of which….there’s a package waiting for you on Persephone.
Nika: What? (derailed) There’s a package waiting for me?
Rina: Does it say ‘Frederick’s of Hollywood’ on it?
Arden: I can neither confirm or deny that rumor.

And by saying so, Arden just did. Rina starts to laugh.

Rina: (to Nika) I hope it’s in your size.
Christian: If it isn’t, I can alter it.

Everyone starts to crack up.

Rina: (off Nika’s blank look) ‘Come to me in a teddy and we’ll talk about it. We’ll play doctor.’ I think you’d look absolutely stunning in a nice russet.

More laughter, and then everyone sobers.

Christian: So someone’s trying to kill you and you don’t know who or why.
Arden: Apparently.
Christian: I honestly think it would perhaps be good to look at your genetic code at some point. Not that we have the equipment for it.
Arden: I have it on my med-comp if you want to see it.
Christian: It’s not going to do me any good, I don’t know biology, but you do.
Arden: Yeah, but it doesn’t tell me anything either.
Nika: The reason why they’re coming after him, to my mind, is potentially far more related to why he tries so hard to be different.
Christian: Possibly, but unless everyone in his crèche is doing the same thing, the fact that they’re all disappearing—
Nika: They’re not [re: being different]. Yes, they are [re: the disappearances]. All the people in his crèche are—
Arden: All the ones that I’ve been able to track down have gone missing or they are explained away or… missing.
Nika: Before that, though, what were they doing? Were they doing what they were supposed to be doing?
Arden: They were doing the jobs they were supposed to be.
Mike: But you left to be educated when you were fairly young.
Rina: How old were they when they disappeared?
Arden: In the past five years, I imagine?
Mike: At about the same time you did? You didn’t disappear, you just went offworld and then you came back. And they were gone?
Arden: I suppose. I looked Leonides-A up, and he wasn’t there.

And when Arden inquired further, some of his crèche mates had reasons to be elsewhere. But some of them didn’t. The disappearances were all within the time Arden had been away.

Christian: Your crèche doesn’t represent the entire generation of your people, does it? There are other crèches in your generation, right? I just want to make sure your entire line of people wasn’t disappearing.
Nika: So, 689 is not….?
Arden: In my community, 689 was the year, yes.
Christian: Not 689 batches of clones.
Arden: No.

In fact, there are only 5000 people in the entire colony. At all times.

Christian: At all times? What, do they kill you off when the next ones are made?
Rina: No, they wait til you die. Hello, I’m sure they wait.

Christian turns his attention to Rina.

Christian: So, who’s trying to kill you and why?
Arden: Do you need a reason?

Rina backhands Arden on the arm, irked and amused.

Christian: I find her enjoyable company.
Arden: Okay. (licks his fork) The paste is really tasty today.
Rina: Goes good with ketchup. (passes him the bottle) Here.

The digression doesn’t distract Christian for a minute.

Christian: Who is trying to kill you?
Rina: Aren’t we supposed to be drunk before we answer questions like this?
Christian: I can go get the vodka.

Christian actually gets up from the table and pulls out a couple bottles of wine and a bottle of the aforementioned vodka, and starts passing them around. Swigs are taken and we resume the ‘game’.

Nika: Rina. What did you do? If you don’t trust us by now, you’re not gonna.
Rina: (slowly) Let’s just say that… certain people believe I’ve done something that I haven’t.
Arden: What did they believe you’ve done?
Christian: Who were the certain people?
Rina: (sighs) The Feds believed I took out an entire transport ship.
Christian: Wow.
Arden: By yourself?
Nika: They think your ship’s crash was your fault?
Christian: They think you’re a terrorist?
Rina: Yes.

Back during the war?

Rina: Yes.
Christian: We were on a Core world and there’s a warrant out for your arrest?
Rina: No, no, no—
Arden: Not for Rina’s arrest. (lightbulb!) Not for Marina Sebastien’s arrest.
Rina: No…but there’s always a chance I’ll be recognized anyway.

By whom?

Rina: (rolling her eyes) Oh, jeez, let me think….

Back in the day, her face was plastered everywhere from the Rim to the Core. Milk cartons, too, probably.

Christian: I wish you’d told us that before we’d landed in a heavily monitored Core world.
Arden: I’m glad she didn’t.

Actually, when we were on Hera we were in more danger from that than on Osiris. Rina takes a deep breath and lays it out for them.

Rina: It’s been ten years. And more. And….my tracks were covered, but there’s always someone who might be able to look at the dates, connect the dots… compare photos.
Christian: O-kay.
Rina: They think I’m dead.
Christian: For the record. You didn’t blow up the transport, right?
Rina: (quietly) No.
Arden: Did you have any part in the blow up of the transport?
Christian: Was it an accident or did a group of people blow up the transport?
Nika: My goodness! Is this the Spanish Inquisition?
Arden: Nah, I just like giving her a hard time. (to Rina) Honestly, Rina. I really don’t care. All that really matters is the time you’ve been spending with me and on this ship.
Rina: Thank you. But if you want to look it up, just look up the Battle of Highgate.

Christian turns to Nika.

Christian: And you? Who’s trying to kill you?
Nika: Nobody that I’m aware.
ChristianJust the people we’ve been meeting since we’ve got together.
Nika: You people are the ones who seem to have attracted them in my direction.
Rina: Oh, come on, Nika. I’m Russian. I’m a SNAFU magnet. It’s in our genes.
Christian: I’m sure there’s a Russian somewhere who… (off Rina’s look) ...um…no?
Rina: Like I said. In our genes.
Nika: The only people who remotely might be a problem are at home and it’s a personal issue more than anything else.
Arden: They’re all personal issues.
Nika: I was cleared of all charges. I killed my brother-in-law in self-defense.
Arden: I honestly don’t care. I really don’t care.
Nika: Nobody’s trying to kill me, my brother—my ex—Whatever the hell his is—his family hates my guts, but they—
Arden: They’re not going to track you down?
Nika: They don’t have the resources. They’re ranchers. So nobody’s trying to kill me.
Arden: Even if they won the lottery and had all the money in the Universe?
Nika: Probably not, because he was a fuck-up.
Arden: So they were sort of….secretly relieved.
Nika: Maybe?
Arden: What about your sister? How did she feel? Or is it none of my business?

Nika just looks at Arden.

Rina: You know, I think I’d rather be discussing who we’re all sleeping with than who wants to kill us.
Nika: (to Arden) Honestly? I think my sister was probably relieved about the whole thing. He’d been beating her.
Christian:(to Rina) We know who you’re sleeping with.
Arden: Off the record—I’m not sleeping with anyone.
Christian: And you’re the only one besides Mike over there that’s sleeping with someone right now.
Arden: And that’s on a regular basis.
Rina: That’s not my fault.
Christian: Not saying it’s your fault. I’m saying there’s no point in discussing it because we already know.
Nika: (to Christian) Did you get the answer to your question?
Christian: Yes, I got the answer to my question.
Nika: Okay.
Arden: So. Is Persephone here, yet?
Rina: Not soon enough.
Nika: We’re not even gonna ask Mike who’s out to kill him, because at this point it’s gotta be everybody.
Christian: Yeah…we don’t have time for that.
Mike: (amused) I have a few friends.
Nika: Really?
Arden: Yeah, most of them are on this ship.
Nika: Are most of them sitting at this table?
Christian: He’s pretty sure that the two girls we’re carrying aren’t out to kill him.
Arden: Is anybody out to kill them?
Nika: No, but somebody’s definitely after them.
Christian: No, we don’t actually know that for sure.
Nika: As soon as somebody figures out that they’re gone, somebody’s gonna be after them.
Arden: By now, they probably know she’s gone.
Nika: Not necessarily.
Christian: We should probably check the Cortex to see if there is a missing persons report.
Nika: A BOLO, right.
Rina: Oh, God. Just pass the vodka.
Nika: Hnnnn…my headache’s back. How is it that killing my brother-in-law makes me the most normal of the crew?
Arden: I don’t know.
Mike: Nobody said that. You just said nobody wants to kill you. You’ve killed all the people who wanted to kill you. Even people who hardly even know you.
Nika: He didn’t want to kill me, he just wanted to have sex with me.
Arden: Who wouldn’t?

Looking into the missing persons reports, there is an alert out on Bellerophon for the two girls, with pictures and everything, stating that the two may be looking to find transport off the planet.

Arden: Off the planet? They’re a bit late with the news. We may have to disguise them. You got any more hair dye?
Christian: Unfortunately, I am pretty much out of what I’d need to do that for them. I can cut their hair, but don’t want to do that to them. They’re just going to have to stay on the ship when we get to Persephone, because there is enough of an Alliance presence there, not to mention there’s a very high nobility factor. I’ve found a few clients on Persephone in the past.

Arden remarks he’ll just as soon keep his current dye job of light grey, thanks, as get rid of it. And Nika speaks up, in non-sequitur fashion, that her sister—for the record—is her identical twin.

Rina: Oh, no. You don’t think we’re looking at a case of mistaken identity, do you?
Nika: What?
Rina: If she’s your twin, could she be mistaken for you and get you taken in?
Mike: Her twin’s not wanted for anything.
Christian: I’d just like to say that any man who can’t tell his wife’s twin from her …
Nika: Especially when his wife’s six months pregnant and he’s in the process of beating the shit out of her? Yes, he knew.
Arden: Okay. If I was there, I’d have helped.
Mike: (grimly humorous) You’d help him beat the shit out of—? Arden, that’s horrible.
Nika: (heatedly) In any case, the reason that I mention it at all is that we were all law-abiding people. We called the sheriff, they came and checked it out, and I was tried and cleared of all charges.
Christian: Okay, I apologize for upsetting you.
Mike: (undertone to Nika) Killer.
Christian: (sighs) Who here hasn’t killed in self-defense, raise their hands.

Arden puts his hand up. Mike grins an evil little grin and looks at Arden.

Mike: Yours is pure murder.

Damn, Mike’s in a wicked mood tonight. Maybe it’s the booze talking.

Actually, Arden has yet to kill anyone directly. He’s lain down covering fire in our defense. He helped us take out the bandits on Jian Yin by pulsing the Gift’s engines. But no, he hasn’t actually killed anyone.

Rina: Um…Is there a point to this conversation?
Nika: (rolling her eyes) No, not at this point. (Nodding toward the men at the end of the table) They’re just cutting up.

Truth to tell, they’re probably all thoroughly drunk by now. Empty bottles sit on the table. Despite her ancestry, Rina’s had surprisingly little.

Christian: We’re out of vodka.
Mike: Now it’s a real emergency.
Rina: (Laughing at Mike) All right, now I’m gonna have to kill you.

In vino veritas. Having unburdened ourselves somewhat, we all break up the bull session and go our separate ways.

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