Episode 117. Part 1

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Present: Mary, Terri, Bobby, Jay and Tony
Air Date: 14 Apr 2009

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Re-ver-sal (rĭ-vûr’səl) n. A maneuver in which a competitor being controlled by the opponent suddenly reverses the situation and gains control…

                                                                           —Londinium English Dictionary, 2511 edition

Tuesday, 10 Jan 2519
Kuiper II Class, Summer’s Gift
En route to Bernadette
White Sun (Bai Hu) system
18:00 hrs, ship’s time

On approach to Bernadette we hold an impromptu staff meeting over dinner. One of the things we discuss is what we’re going to do when we get there and how we’re going to deal with Potemkin. Also, the matter of Captaincy—do we go with one? As has happened before, we chose to go a more unstructured route, leaving each of us to do what we do best as the need arises. If we need a command decision, we’ll defer to the person whose expertise best fits the situation. In other words: no. No Captain.

Tuesday, 10 Jan 2519
Kuiper II Class, Summer’s Gift
Jamestown Station, Bernadette
White Sun (Bai Hu) system
13:00 hrs, ship’s time

We land in Jamestown Station aka Container City and immediately get to work on our ship: flushing out the tanks, refueling, getting that monthly maintenance done. It requires a trip to the hardware store for parts, and Arden drives Rina over. Thanks to the parts, Rina does an even better job on the maintenance this time around, shaving 17 credits off the usual cost down to 50. We also purchase a custom container for our lower deck: a half and half, half garage for our car and half cargo hold. But all that comes later. Before any of that gets done, something pops up that needs our immediate attention: Josef Sergeyevich Potemkin

He waves us and Nika takes the call. He wants to meet with us over ownership of our ship. Nika insists on meeting him somewhere open and in public. He suggests the Ark Museum and Park, at the Wall of Names under ‘P’. Nika agrees, and the time for the meet is settled: 18:00 hours. That leaves us 5 hours or so to get ready. Potemkin ends the call and Nika fills the rest of us in via comm, as not all of us are back at the ship yet.

Meanwhile, Rick has been out and about looking for cargo and plant opportunities and on his way back he spies someone watching our ship. He hangs back and observes the watcher for a bit. Chinese gentleman, non-descript clothing, doesn’t scream “thug!” He’s standing where he can keep an eye on our airlock, noting all our comings and goings. Rick keeps his distance calls it in over his comm: have we noticed this guy? Christian immediately responds it could be someone Potemkin’s hired to keep watch for our ship.

Great. Now what?

We could question the guy, but if he’s just a middle man hired by Potemkin, he won’t know anything useful. We could hire thugs and beat him up, but we don’t have the money for that. Even if we use the 40 credits Rick just earned selling his plant seeds on Bernadette, there is no guarantee the thugs would discourage Potemkin from setting another goon to watch us later. Besides, we need the 40 credits for more important things.

Rick offers to hang back, in case the watcher did not see him leave the ship. It might be useful to have Rick on the outside and unaccounted for as our own set of eyes on the street. Nika suggests to Rick we could use someone to scope out the Park prior to the meeting with Potemkin and Rick goes off to do that. His skills will come in handy for the job.

We decide to get to the meet in the park in twos and threes. Doing so we can better pick out observation points and spread the target around if Potemkin’s planning ambush. Rick asks someone to bring his knife to the park for him, and since Rina and Arden are still out on their parts run, Rina asks Christian to bring extra clips for her gun as well. She’s got only what her gun’s loaded with at the moment. Christian ends up packing something for everyone: pistols and extra clips. Nothing big like a rifle or a bazooka—we’re just going to talk to the man.

The Ark Museum Grounds
17:45 hrs, local time

We regroup at the park ahead of the meet time and get ready. Microtransmitters go into our ears and we check our channels: five by five. We get our weapons from Christian: locked and loaded. We synchronize our watches: everyone’s on the same time. Thus prepared, we split up. Rick is still out there somewhere, however, and we comm him letting him know we’re here. Nika sees Rick’s position and walks by him, leaving his knife in the bushes where he can retrieve it, and goes on to the rendezvous. Rick picks up his knife and settles at an interactive display where people can look up names of their Ark-borne ancestors.

The park is flat and open and somewhat windswept—it’s an overcast day and the weather is wet and drizzling. Bernadette’s seasons follow the calendar, so it’s not only wet, but cold. In short, miserable. At least the trees and shrubs are bare of leaves, what there are of them, and offer little in the way of hiding places. If Potemkin’s going to ambush us, it’ll have to be from a distance via sniper rifle. There’s really nothing to hide behind here, except the Memorial Wall itself. Christian and Nika go to the Wall Of Names and stand at the ‘P’s. Rina moves farther down and peruses the wall at the ‘Q’s. Arden buys some popcorn and walks around. Rick does the same, sans popcorn.

Despite the weather and the fact that the Ark is closed for the day, there are a few other people at the park, walking around and taking in the Ark’s exterior. As ships go, it’s huge. Ginormous. It’s bigger than the IAV Dortmunder. It’s parked on the ground like a metal mountain and is now a museum.

We’re also not the only ones pretending to be tourists. Arden spots four people standing off to the side in the grass, kitted out in trench coats and cigarettes and fedoras. Loitering. Arden alerts the team to their presence. We look, we see and we agree: suspicious huddle at 3 o’clock. Arden settles on a bench to keep an eye on things.

The Trench Coat Brigade smoke their last cigarette, grind the butts underfoot and start moving. Arden tells us they’re coming. We maintain our positions and wait to see what they do next. They aren’t heading for us directly, but milling around in our general area. One’s looking at a children’s carousel, and Rick moves over to keep an eye on that one. The others check out other features of the park. It’s obvious by now they’re not here to take us out, but to keep surveillance on us. So we mutually spy on each other and wait for Potemkin.

He’s late. It’s 18:20 when Potemkin finally shows up. He has a hulking bodyguard with him, and the big guy holds an umbrella over his boss. From his position on the bench, Arden tells us all of Potemkin’s approach.

Meanwhile, Rick is watching the Trench Coat watching the carousel and both are trying not to look creepy doing it, when Rick notices someone off to the side near one of the Blue Sun Snack machines. It’s a Chinese gentleman. Rick takes another look and realizes it’s the man he’d spotted earlier watching our ship.


Is this another of Potemkin’s men? Or is there a third party involved?

Back at the Wall, Rina moves to guard Nika’s back. Christian stands at Nika’s side. Arden keeps to the bench.

Potemkin stops just short of arm’s reach and stands looking at Nika.

Nika: Mr. Potemkin.
Potemkin: You have cost me a great deal. What reparations do you offer?
Nika: You’re brother’s death was accidental.
Potemkin: And the taking of my ship?
Christian: Well, it was actually given to us by the rightful owner, so…
Potemkin: So you say.
Christian: We did check the legal papers.
Potemkin: You do not know the arrangement made by Fairweather and myself.
Christian: You and the corpse that was sitting in his office?
Potemkin: Do you know why he is corpse?
Christian: Because someone shot him in the head.
Potemkin: Do you know why someone shot him in head?
Christian: No, there wasn’t anyone around to explain it to us.
Potemkin: So instead you decide these things for yourself. You seem very confident in your abilities.
Christian: It’s more along the lines of: if the ship was legally yours, you wouldn’t have had fake papers for it.
Potemkin: I’m glad we are deeply concerned with the legal system. But nonetheless, you have cost me a great deal and from my perspective you owe me a great deal. The ship will be mine. Again. The question is, are you going to walk away from it or are you going to be carried away from it?
Nika: Well, we’ll sell it to ya. What’s so important about the ship that you’re gonna threaten us to take such a simple thing back?
Potemkin: It is no threat. It is fact. I’m already, how shall we say, legally involved with your ship now. I have purchased your lien.
Nika: Nice.
Potemkin: As lien holder, I have certain rights.
Nika: Confiscation certainly falls within your rights, if that’s what you want to do.
Christian: No it doesn’t. Not as long as we don’t fall behind in our payments. But, okay. You’ve made us your proposal. We have to have time to talk about it.
Potemkin: So talk. Your friends are all here. You summon them and speak of it. I don’t have time to go back to your ship and make more plans. Talk about it now.
Christian: We’ll be right back.

He and Nika withdraw, gathering Rina and Arden into the huddle.

Meanwhile, Rick is watching the Chinese gentleman at the Blue Sun vending machine trying to get it to accept his credit chit and the damn machine keeps spitting it out. He shoves it in, the machine spits it out. In. Out. In… Takes! He punches in a selection at random and the screw turns, pushing forward a bag of chips…which falls and sticks halfway down. Crap! As the gentleman stands there debating if he dare jostle the damn thing for his snack, Rick recalls the fact that four times the number of people are killed annually by vending machines crushing them than are killed by terrorists.

Now’s a good time as any to approach the guy. Rick leaves off watching Potemkin’s goon at the carousel and gets closer to the kiosk. He’s good at covert movement but the Gentleman turns around and addresses Rick. Busted!

Gentleman: You’re from that ship. The MakeMake.
Rick: (cautiously) Yeah, I’m a passenger.
Gentleman: A passenger that travels out to the park on the same day that the ship’s crew is talking to its former owner—its current owner?
Rick: Well I don’t know how long we’re going to be here. I thought it was only going to be for a day and I wanted to see the Ark no matter what the weather is like.
Gentleman: (Yeah, right…) Yeah. Me, too.

Nice try, Rick.

Gentleman: I was hoping they’d have something other than those horrible fruity oaty bars. And all they have is strawberry. Well. It’s too bad you showed up after the Ark closed. The inside is pretty impressive.
Rick: Yeah. I hope if we’re here tomorrow, I can stop by again.

The Gentleman moves closer, maybe a little too close. He’s not an old man or a young one—he’s got that ageless Chinese look to him and he could be the spittin’ image of Pre-Exodus actor Chow Yun Fat. He looks shrewdly at Rick and says:

Gentleman: You don’t seem like one of Potemkin’s usual people. So let me tell you this. If you’ve got any information that might be…. useful….you might want to talk to me.

The Gentleman opens his coat a little and Rick can see the badge on the man’s belt: he’s a Marshal.

Gentleman: I can get you protection if you’re afraid.
Rick: Is he under investigation for anything? Is that what’s goin’ on?

Oh, hell! Do we care if that’s what’s going on if a Marshal is offering us help and protection? Just tell the man already!

Rick tells the man a brief description of what he knows of our ship and how we acquired it, finishing up with our near-death by strep via Potemkin. The Marshal hears it to the end and tells Rick to hold on a second.

Marshal: So, yes. You’re willing to talk? So, tell me why are you really here? Right now. In the park.
Rick: I’m sure you know that Potemkin’s here.
Marshal: I know he’s here. I don’t know exactly why he’s here.
Rick: He’s here to meet with the current crew.
Marshal: Which seemed odd to meet out here rather than on the ship.
Rick: The hope was that this would be a more populated area than inside the ship.
Marshal: Then I take it that the crew and he are not on good terms.
Rick: Yeah.
Marshal: All right. Are we expecting something to happen here? Something to go down?
Rick: I would say that it’s a possibility. I don’t know if you noticed this other group of people that were here earlier that definitely appeared to be out of place.
Marshal: Well, walking around in the park in the rain is a little unusual.

The Marshal pulls his collar up and in Chinese he speaks to the mike he’s got concealed there. He calls for backup with the admonition to remain hidden.

Marshal: Are you in communication with the rest of the crew?
Rick: Yes.
Marshal: If you could tell them not to engage in any kind of violence at this stage, I would appreciate it. We’re building a case on this man. We know he’s got a bunch of his goons here but …

The Marshal spreads his hands as if to say having goons in a park hardly makes for a damning case.

Rick agrees and gets on the channel with the rest of us.

Rick: We’ve had an interesting turn of events and I’ve been asked to make sure that this does not turn violent.

We all hear this in our ears and Christian answers first, concealed from Potemkin by our conference huddle. He covertly engages his receiver.

Christian: By?
Rick: It appears that Potemkin is under investigation.
Christian: (drawing it out) By?
Rick: By the police.
Arden: Cool.
Christian: Which ones?
Rick: Federal Marshals
Christian: (pleased) That’s serious.
Nika: The nice part of that would be is, thus far aside from accidentally killing his brother while holding off bandits, we’ve done nothing wrong. We could turn ourselves in—.

Well, aside from breaking into at least two hospitals and kidnapping an Operative and don’t forget this little factory on Beaumonde…. as far as anyone knows on the books, we’re pretty much clean.

Rina: Excuse me, Rick. Is he after us, too?
Rick: I don’t think so, but I haven’t asked him anything yet. So far he’s only been talking to me about Potemkin.
Christian: What did he call the ship?
Rick: The MakeMake.
Christian: And what does he think we’re here to do?
Rick: He has no idea what you’re here to do.

Christian groks it—the Marshal was hoping we would lead him to Potemkin, or at least something incriminating enough to use against Potemkin.

Nika: (to Rick) What does he want from us at this point? Because, right now? We’ve got a very big problem.
Rick: (answering Nika’s query) All the information we have on Potemkin.
Nika: We’ve got a very big problem. Here’s what just happened.

She fills Rick in on our conversation with Potemkin—he wants his ship back, he’s bought our lien, we’ve cost him money and people who cost Potemkin money rarely get off lightly. Potemkin has told us we can walk away from the ship or get carried off the ship in body bags.

Rina’s of the opinion we offer to be the guys on the inside and lead the Marshal to Potemkin. Arden’s all for provoking Potemkin into gunplay here and now, the better to get him arrested. He’s reminded by Nika that the Marshal has already warned us against that sort of thing. Nika tells Rick to fill the Marshal in on our current situation—give up the ship or die here--and tell him that we are completely willing to assist him in his investigation. What does the Marshal want us to do, right here and now? Rick fills the Marshal in. While he does that, the rest of us fake out Potemkin by pretending to discuss his oh-so-generous offer.

Christian: So. What do you want for dinner?
Nika: I want the biggest damn steak you can find me.
Rina: I second that.
Christian: Buffalo, it is.
Nika: And a nice big bottle of red wine.
Rina: Vodka would be good.
Arden: Cognac.
Rina: (nodding at Arden) Give the man two points.
Christian: (gleeful whisper) Oh…this is going to work out perfect. If he’s arrested, all his assets will go to his defense. Which means his lien will be sold.
Rina: Can we buy it back?
Christian: If we have the money. It may be auctioned.

That puts an interesting wrinkle in the landscape.

Meanwhile, standing next to the Marshal, Rick fills the man in as ordered and the Marshal tells Rick the plan. We’re to see if we can delay him and if necessary, to tell him there’s a landlock on the ship. So, it won’t be leaving anyway. And perhaps have us tell him we want to get our stuff off, first. Rick relays all this back by our comms.

Nika: (to Rick) Did you check his badge?
Rick: I saw a badge. I didn’t—
Nika: Verify his badge. Please.

Rick asks. The Marshal shows. It looks damn real to Rick.

Christian and Rina approach Potemkin to tell him what we’ve decided. Christian does the talking. Rina provides the back-up.

Christian: You know what? The truth is, the ship’s been more trouble than it’s worth. Breaks too often, attracts all the wrong kind of trouble and you’re a pain in the ass. So you can have the ship back. We do need to get our stuff off. We’re not going to go anywhere because you own the lien and you can put a landlock on it as soon as you want, for delinquency of payment. I’m sure you can bribe the right people for that.
Potemkin: You can take…whatever you can carry off ship.
Christian: Okay.
Potemkin: Any cargo, any things—
Christian: Any cargo we have has already been delivered. All we really have is our personal belongings. Sure, I got no problem with that.

Good thing we got the car off the ship before Potemkin came calling. The car won’t count toward what we can’t take with us. Whew.

Potemkin: Very well. If anyone is still on ship at dawn….they will stay there. As adornment.
Christian: Really? You’d let our bodies molder around? That would be unpleasant.
Potemkin: It is expression. Does not translate well to English: You will die.
Christian: Okay. That’s fair enough. I will say this, though: If you do anything before then? We will take you with us. Have a good day.

And Christian turns around and goes back to the group. Rina guards his back. On the way, Christian tells Rick to have the Marshal meet us at our ship. We’ve got some planning to do.

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Back to Season One: Foundations