Episode 119. Extraction

From RPGnet
Jump to: navigation, search

Present: Mary, Terri, Bobby, Jay and Tony
Air Date: 28 Apr 2009

Jump to:

NOTE: Trying out a different style for our logs, going for straight-up paraphrasing of the game events. Not sure if I like it, but I can't deny it's fast to work up.--Maer.

Thursday, 08 Feb 2519
Landis Ranch, Belix
Kalidasa (Xuah Yu) system
13:00 hrs, local time

Mark and Sylvia Chao-Marshall have arranged a visit to the Landis Ranch, and Rick is their guest. Christian is going under the guise of Rick’s manservant. Nika will pose as a hired ranch hand, thanks to her ranching experience, and insert herself with the ranch hands on the grounds to listen to the scuttlebutt. Arden will stay with the shuttle and play getaway driver. Rina will stay with him and later plays Rick’s girlfriend at dinner.

Nika flies the Gift to the edge of Landis’ sprawling 1000-acre property and settles the ship in a depression, out of sight. We lock everything up and set the alarms. We all board the shuttle to fly the rest of the way in on a craft more suitable for a rich man’s guests.

Flying over the property, we can see that it’s mostly rolling hills and pasturage, horse and cattle country. Landis’ mansion is a sprawling H-shaped house, with a two-story section over the transverse of the H connecting the long low wings. Several outbuildings, including a large horse barn and paddocks, string along to the side beyond the beautifully landscaped gardens, and behind all of it is the landing pad. No frills, just concrete and landing lights, and set a couple hundred yards from the house. On the opposite side of the house, a two-story berm rises greenly upward, planted in apple trees and shielding the house from the sight of a vast factory: Landis’ Philosopher’s Stone Works. Surrounding the factory itself are the junkyards and salvage Beylix is famous for and the stark contrast between the grey industrial wasteland and the verdant grounds of Landis’ property is heartbreaking.

Christian gets Rick and the Chao-Marshalls installed in their rooms, then with Rick and the Chao-Marshalls go downstairs to listen to what turns out to be a spiel on Philosopher’s Stone, the process and company that extracts precious metals from industrial trash. Rick involves Landis in a long discussion along environmental concerns and Christian wanders through the servants sections of the house under the guise of pursuing his duties.

Christian finds the butler’s stairs to the 2nd floor bedrooms and finds Mir’s room. She hastily tells him the situation:

No, she’s not here of her own free will. No, she’s not being mistreated. Yes, she wants to leave but can’t. She’s being held hostage. Her good behavior guarantees the welfare of Landis’ factory workers. Landis is running a con—his Philosopher’s Stone is a fake. It’s not some miraculous process he’s invented, but old and rightfully banned practices using toxic chemicals, employing workers to sift by hand the gold and precious metals from the toxic soup. Landis had made the mistake of showing his secrets to his intended bride and Mir announced her intention to expose him and his heinous treatment of his employees. Landis put to death a worker on the spot and threatened to kill more if Mir spoke of this to anyone. Thus trapped, Mir agreed to keep silent and continue her association with him.

She was not without options, however, and when Landis allowed her to send a wave back to the Guild, she was able to signal with non-verbal cues that something was wrong. Hence our extraction mission here. Christian tells her that we’re here to get her out. She counters that saving her will doom everyone at Landis’ factory. She also tells us that Landis is a control freak who monitors all communications transmissions on the factory and the house grounds, and who tapes everything at the factory as a security measure. The resultant visual proof against him can be obtained if we can somehow hack into his computer’s database. He keeps the surveillance recordings close—inside the house, as a matter of fact, in his home computer. If we can extract the information there, she can use it to blackmail him into either letting his employees go or making vast improvements in their working conditions so as not to have their health endangered. As things stand now, an employee lasts maybe a few weeks before dying of the toxic waste exposure. She’s done what she can to help them—better food and medical care, all concessions wrangled from Landis in exchange for…herself. But without some means of blackmailing him, her power is limited.

Can we help her?


Christian reassures her that we will attempt something tonight, during or after dinner, and that she is to be ready to go. They part company and Christian goes back downstairs to tell the others what he’s discovered.

Meanwhile, Rick is in the kitchens, chatting with the house chef about food sources and the menu. After a few minutes of talking, Rick thanks the man and leaves.

Outside on the grounds, Nika has installed herself in the horse stables and is listening in on the ranch hands as they go about grooming and feeding and watering the horses. They are show horses, not working horses, being bred for riding and racing. But nevertheless they are horses. Nika works the curry comb over one fine animal after the other, nodding at others as they notice her. Nika keeps her eyes and ears open and her mouth shut. No one thinks her presence is odd and after a little while she understands why. Landis fosters competition amongst his hands, with rewards given for the most points earned in the pursuit of their duties. Grudges are carried, feelings run high, and the drop-out rate is great enough that the employee rolls are a revolving door. Apparently Landis’ penchant for competitiveness carries over from work to home to play….and his employees reflect that. There’s little love lost between the employees, nor between the employees and their employer. Can we use this to our advantage?

When dinner comes, everything is in place. Rina is whistled forward from the shuttle. Nika takes her place, and she and Arden guard the shuttle and pass the time by playing cards. At the main house, Rina is outfitted with something suitable for dinner from Sylvia Chao-Marshall’s wardrobe and when the hour arrives, Rina goes down to dinner on Rick’s arm. By agreement, she’ll refrain from conversation and smile her way through the meal. If she must say anything, she’ll simply speak in Russian. Odds are very low anyone at the table would understand her and therefore she needn’t lie—sidestepping her inability to lie convincingly. She’s also outlined a general strategy with Rick. To give them a reason to be gone for an hour with no one looking for them, she and he will pretend to go off for some nooky and break into Landis’ computer then.

Dinner is lavish. Steak. Fresh vegetables. Side dishes. All of gourmet quality and attractively presented. Rina takes advantage of the largesse and fills up on the meat. Conversation is varied and animated and somehow a drinking contest is proposed. Landis enthusiastically agrees to it and straightway does his best to drink everyone under the table. Christian volunteers to play bartender and things couldn’t have gone better for our plans. Christian jiggers the drinks so that the Chao-Marshalls, Rick and Rina get the least alcohol and Landis gets the most. Mir nurses hers as a Companion is wont to do and in the end it is she who announces it’s time to wrap things up. Landis is too drunk to protest and she hauls him off to bed. Leaving us free to do what we came to do.

Rick suggests he and Rina wait a bit, then sneak through the house in the guise of lovers searching for a midnight snack. Rina agrees. She dons one of Rick’s button-down shirts and leaves off pants for her skivvies. Under the shirt, she duct tapes to her skin the minimum amount of tools she’ll need for the job. Rick goes barefoot in his pajama pants, shirtless. And there they are—a couple in hastily-donned apparel in search of a snack.

They find the office without difficulty and Rina drills through the lock on Landis’ CPU box. She finds and yanks the hard drive unit and duct tapes it on under the shirt. Job done, she and Rick leave the office and head back upstairs. On the way, they hear a guard approaching and thinking fast, Rina pulls Rick to her and throws herself against the wall. Just go with it, she whispers to him and fakes making out.

Her intentions were well-meant, but her instinctive reaction to Rick’s enthusiastic response botches the ruse. She doesn’t quite push him away or knee him in the groin but there’s enough of a resist from her to catch the guard’s eye and prompt a “Hey, are you all right, Miss?” And before either party can say anything more, the guard spies something--"Why've you got duct tape under your shirt?"


Rina and Rick linger in the clinch just long enough to draw the guard near and when the guard is in range, they both come out swinging. Three volleys and it’s all over. Score: one guard pummeled to unconsciousness, and two crew members only a little worse for wear. They drag him into a nearby closet and hotfoot it upstairs. The clock is ticking now—when the guard wakes up, he’ll blow the whistle and we need to be gone before that happens.

Down in the shuttle, things have taken a turn for if not the worse, then for the amorous. Nika and Arden are somehow in a clinch themselves and unlike Rick and Rina’s this one is going along quite nicely, thank you very much. An alarm on the console blares out in the middle of proceedings and Nika claws up off the deck to check it out.

The entry alarm from the Gift is beeping—someone’s broken into our ship. Knowing we have possible enemies on our tail, they have no choice but to fire up the shuttle and take a look. Mindful of Landis’ monitoring of communications in range of the house and factory, Nika flies the shuttle out of there without explanation and hopes we won’t need her til she gets back.

She docks the shuttle with the Gift and she and Arden cautiously disembark into the midships lounge. No one meets them with word or bullets. They make their way forward and as Nika draws even with the entrance to the galley, a shot is fired at her from the bridge doorway. Lightning reflexes saves Nika and she snaps off a return shot of her own. Arden takes cover in the curve of the midships lounge wall, providing covering fire for Nika. Another volley of shots is exchanged and Nika gets winged, but her ballistic mesh saves her from anything more serious.

Now Nika’s pissed—who the hell snuck aboard her ship and what the hell are they doing on the bridge? She yells out in her most intimidating manner: get the hell off her ship now and she’ll let them leave alive, no questions asked.

Behind the door, she glimpses an unkempt woman in ragged clothing…and amongst the tears and the stains, she sees an insignia. Can’t quite make out what it is, but she suspects Lex Talionis. The woman in the doorway yells over her shoulder to someone deeper inside the bridge, asking if they should take Nika up on her offer. A man yells back that Browncoats will tell you anything, don’t believe them.

Nika responds with a reiteration of her offer—fiercer, this time around—and the woman in the doorway urges her partner to leave. The man grumbles but acquiesces, saying he’s done here anyway. The intruders emerge from the bridge, their guns up and their backs to the bulkhead. They sidle slowly to the stairs down, and with guns trained on our crew, they duck inside and hoof it down to the lowerdecks. Nika and Arden follow hard on their heels to make sure they do indeed vacate our ship. They see the intruders jump into a mule and take off for parts unknown. Away from our ship.

Nika closes the airlock door and runs back upstairs to see what’s been done to our ship. The nav computer lies opened and spilling its innards to the deck. The intruders had broken into it to examine our records, to see where we’ve been.


Nika leaves the nav computer as she’s found it and flies the Gift in-atmo back closer to the Landis ranch. She settles the ship in some cover and she and Arden reboard the shuttle to fly back to the others.

Back at the ranch, we've seen our only ride pick up and leave—but we carry on with our mission anyway. Now that we have the goods, it’s time to get our stuff together and leave. Rina yanks some pants on under the shirt she’s wearing and together with Rick, Christian and the Chao-Marshalls, she hoofs it out of the house to the landing pad. Christian breaks radio silence and yells for Nika to pick us up at the pad. She comms back an affirmative. The house guards are pouring onto the grounds, alarm is raised, and bullets start flying.

We run. Through the gardens and across the lawn, making a beeline for the flat lighted pad on the grounds. Nika comes screaming in low and puts the shuttle in a sweet swerve between us and the house, banking like a surfboard cresting a wave. The shuttle’s hatch is open and it’s a snap to dive in. Running to the cockpit, Christian looks back to the house and sees Landis and Mir on the front steps. He’s got her by the wrist and is holding a gun—aimed not at her but at us….and Christian tells Nika to repeat her manueuver on the front steps.

The shuttle responds like a dream. Nika screams in low and swings the shuttle around, scattering all but Landis and Mir. The backwash blinds Landis just long enough for Christian and Rick to effect Mir’s rescue. While Rick buttstrokes Landis in the face with his rifle stock, Christian leans out and grabs Mir. A shout from Christian and Nika lifts the shuttle out of Landis’ reach. We fly off, bullets whining ineffectually in our wake.

Scott free.

Nika docks the shuttle to the Gift and we burn atmo for orbit, yanked nav computer notwithstanding. We park ourselves in orbit, Rina fixes the nav computer, and Sirtis Mir cleans herself up to speak with Landis via wave.

He accuses us of kidnapping. Mir counters with her intent to expose Landis. He fires back he’ll kill his workers. Mir returns with her offer: in exchange for the hard drive, she wants him to release the workers he’s got at the factory right this minute.

Landis agrees.

We get a secure wave link to Mir’s data account on the Cortex and transfer a full copy of Landis’ hard drive files to it, safe from his hands. She’ll use it later to wrest further concessions from him if necessary and certainly it would help her case if he prosecutes her further.

We leave orbit and shake-n-bake back to the dirt, to Landis’ factory. True to her word, Mir hands Landis his hard drive and he, in turn, releases his workers into our care. We take on the poor souls and lift off. Mir comes with us—she’s returning to Osiris and we’re to take her there.

Arden goes through our new passengers, treating them as best he can and making them comfortable. We decide to fly to Constance—it has medical facilities good enough to treat Landis’ workers. (Arv: Saturday, 10 Feb 2519) We drop them off, leaving them in the hospital’s good hands, and take off immediately for Disraeli, to deliver the Chao-Marshalls as contracted. The older couple are delighted at the adventures they’ve had so far and bid us a fond farewell, with the agreement that we will pick them up 10 days hence to take them back to Bernadette.

We say goodbye for now, thank them profusely for their help in our extraction mission, and leave them to their second honeymoon.

After that, we return to Constance for maintenance and downtime, and it’s all over but for the mopping up. (Duration: Sunday, 11 Feb to Tuesday, 21 Feb 2519)

Arden checks a side project he’d started on Beylix and finding it done, he has it shipped to Bernadette for pick-up once we return.

Nika pulls Rina aside and tells her what she noticed about the intruders. Their appearance, their dress, that odd insignia, and the remark the man made about Browncoats. Rina starts piecing it together—the Lex Talionis at the party, the spraypaint job making them a target, the intruders’ remarks about Browncoats…the nav computer records hacked to see their backtrail. Her insides go cold: The Lex Talionis are not after her, they’re after Mike.

Oh dear God.

Rina goes over the ship from stem to stern, looking for booby traps and God knows what-all. She finds a transponder, set to broadcast our position to parties unknown. After a short debate whether to keep it intact but smuggled aboard another vessel so as to leave a false trail, Christian short-circuits the moral dilemma by smashing the damned thing to plastic confetti on the landing pad.

Privately, Rina’s not convinced they’ve found everything and resolves to spend the rest of the time til Bernadette combing through the ship again for more nasty surprises. The Lex Talionis is a vigilante group, meting out their own form of justice, and willing to break the rules to achieve it. At the moment, she’s not sure what she can do to get them off Mike without setting them on herself, but she’s got ten days at Constance to think of something, with a further 21 days of transit time back to the Core. That gives her a month. (ETA: Tuesday, 14 Mar 2519)

She hopes it’s enough.

Jump to:

Back to Season One: Foundations