Episode 124. Part 1

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Present: Terri, Maer, Bobby, Jay and Tony
Air Date: 02 Jun 2009

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Friday, 30 Jun 2519
Memphis, Osiris
White Sun (Bai Hu) system
07:30 hrs, local time

Christian is finally recovered from the flu and emerges from his quarters to belatedly greet Rick back aboard, apologizing for his lapse in manners. He inquires if Rick has everything he needs, including his pay.

And so we arrive on Osiris, thirty days after leaving Constance, and hook up to refuel, pay our fees and off-load our cargo of 160 tons of plants.

Jake Åberg is off-ship the entire time arranging for and purchasing better filming and camera supplies. His absence comes as something of a relief to the crew, since it leaves us free to do what we’d like without worrying how it’ll look on camera.

Taking advantage of her time on a Core planet and with money in pocket to afford the expense, Rina asks Christian to go shopping with her for an evening gown, complete with the shoes and accessories to match. Actually, it’s not so much a shopping expedition as a trip to the tailors. It takes three appointments for fittings and several days of sewing start to finish, but the gown gets done by the time we leave. The shoes, jewelry and hair ornaments to match are boxed up to go with the gown. When she’s asked why she insisted on such an extravagant purchase, especially when she normally wears nothing but cargo pants and tees, Rina only says that since we’re now a professional outfit, she’ll need something fancy to wear to professional or special functions.

Christian has a client waiting for him in Memphis, with a visit scheduled a few days hence. He uses the time to go shopping for himself and gets primped and pampered head to toe. His client, Deanna Hill, is the Chief of Staff of MP Edward Gibbons, and Christian wants to look extra-polished for her.

Our third day on the dirt, we get a live message from Dr. Valerie Sampson. It’s a surprise to hear from her, given what Swordsman had hinted at her situation. Nika is on the bridge when the call comes through and she patches it through to Arden. She sounds hushed and hurried.

Valerie: I can’t talk long. (A beat) Our second round interning…do you remember where?
Arden: Yes.
Valerie: Tonight. Late.

She cuts the channel and the screen goes blank.

Arden thinks back to his interning days and remembers where he’d done his second round. It was at the Helwon Free Clinic. It’s in a bad part of town. Arden goes to Nika to tell her about the message. Nika looks at him.

Arden: It’s on the bad side of town.
Nika: And?
Arden: I need back-up.
Nika: (chuckling) Yes, Arden. I will come kick your old girlfriend’s ass for you.
Arden: I’d rather you just make sure my ass doesn’t get kicked.

There’s the distinct smell of “Trap!” coming off this call.

Arden: After all, if I were her, I wouldn’t want to contact me.
Nika: Actually, it makes me a little bit alarmed that she in fact did contact you.
Arden: Yeah.
Nika: So, yes, I will go with you.
Arden: Should we let the others know?
Nika: It would be prudent, in case we need to get our butts out of hock somehow.

Rina’s last fitting for the gown is today, meaning she’ll be in a kick-ass mood from all the prodding and poking and finicking about her person. If anyone would be ready for a fight, it would be her. Rick is aboard working with his plants and Arden takes the opportunity to fill him in on the situation that’s coming. Arden briefly explains how we’d visited Dr. Sampson back in November of last year, and how she’d developed a cure for one of our passengers who had been overdosed with Chempliance. Also how Dr. Sampson got into trouble for her efforts, and that Swordsman had strongly hinted that she’s in custody and that she’d never leave it alive. And now she’s asking to see us, apparently released on her own recognizance.

Rick: I wonder how she got out?
Arden: I don’t even know if she was in.

After all, we only have an adversary’s word for it as to what happened to her since we’d last seen her. Nika joins in the discussion, saying Dr. Sampson is almost certainly being watched, and it even may be a trap. When the others come back from their various shopping trips and errands, Nika and Arden fill them in.

Once Rina, Christian and Rick are filled in, we consider the risks. If it is a trap set for Arden, who is behind it? Blue Sun or the Operative? Who should we fear most? We have one Operative who seems to have taken a paternal interest in Arden, and therefore he is unlikely to harm him. The Blue Hands agents we’d run into the previous November, however, had no such interest in any of us and had we not gotten away, they would have killed us without compunction or remorse.

Rick had not yet joined our crew when we’d encountered the Blue Hands and he wasn’t with us during our trip to Sophie. Tt takes us a moment to lay out the details for him.

Nika: We’ve seen them use some sort of high-tech-y armor, maybe even personal force shields.
Rick: So the Blue Hands are more bad-ass? Or…?
Arden: I think they’re just bad asses.
Nika: They’re all pretty bad ass.

Operatives and Blue Hands both.

Christian: If you were to throw an Operative against the Blue Hands, my guess is the Blue Hands would go down before they could bring their weapons into play. Because we never actually saw evidence that they had any combat skills.
Rick: Oh, so the Blue Hands aren’t as good as Operatives.
Arden: We don’t know.
Nika: We don’t know for sure. We know that they are immune to their own weapons.
Arden: Speaking of weapons, where is that weapon we took off Sophie? (To Rina) Have you ever been able to figure out anything about the wand?

Rina looks askance at him.

Rina: Without turning it on and risking bleeding out? No.
Arden: You’re not going to bleed out because we’re here.

Besides, the wand off Sophie may not be the same as what the Blue Hands used, for all it looked similar. Nika drags us back on topic.

Nika: Look, I think we’re talking three different things here. We’ve got the Operative who’s pretty damn durable and pretty damn resilient and is very hard to hit.
Rina: He is fast.
Nika: But when you hit him, though…I think once you get past the armor, he pretty much—
Christian: And perhaps even more importantly, he has the ability to command pretty much any military force that he wants from all I’ve seen.
Nika: There’s that. That’s some serious, serious reach in resources.


Nika: And then we got the Blue Hand guys. They were at the hospital where we stole the cure out of and they probably worked for Blue Sun.
Rina: They were wearing armor beneath their clothing. We saw it when you shot one of them, because it was shiny.
Nika: And there was a ripple, which is where we got the idea that they had force shield on them.
Rina: No, the ripple was from the sonic weapon when they deployed it.
Christian: The point being—shooting her with a gun didn’t do us any good.

True. They were hard to hit, thanks to the sonic weapon and once hit, harder still to damage.

Nika: And then there’s the wand that we got off the guy in the basement. [On Sophie]
Christian: And he did not have Blue Hands or armor.
Nika: Yeah, no. We didn’t have any of that going on down there.
Rina: Thank God.

And now Rick is up to speed and Christian has to dash off to his appointment with his special client, the Chief of Staff to a Member of Parliament. She’s already arranged for him to meet her at the legislative offices for the MPs in Memphis.

Arden asks who’s going with him to meet Valerie. Rina, Nika and Rick declare themselves in. Since Christian took the car to meet his client, we look to fly the shuttle so we can bring more weapons. Since we’ll be landing in the bad part of town and then leaving the shuttle unattended, it may not be as great an idea at second glance.

The clinic is only a few kliks away. We could walk it and not risk our shuttle at all. That decided, we lock and load up for bear, with each of us taking our standard but discreet favorites. This being Osiris, there’s no walking down the street carrying our rifles, however much we may wish to have the extra firepower. We all elect to carry our pistols and wear our mesh. Arden brings along his lock picks. Rick elects to take his high-tech ceramic throwing knife and Rina also shoulders her tool bag. You never know when you’ll need a mini torch or a pipe cutter for the inevitable snags that crop up.

Basically, we’re taking our standard away-team gear.

We set off on our march through the spaceport and the shipyards, which give way to the industrial area and its warehouses, and they give way to the tenements. We find Dr. Sampson’s free clinic. Gone is Sampson’s shiny sleek Core-tech office at OCURC. We have a low, free standing one-story brick storefront-style building surrounded by taller, but no less disreputable looking neighbors. The usual debris decorates the street. Trash cans. Litter. Dirt. At the other end of the block, a crusty-looking garbage truck sits silently. Her Twitchy fired up on ‘full’, Rina eyes it as either a possible Trojan horse or a get-away car. Or rather, get-away tank, considering its size and weight. It might come in handy and she memorizes its location.

Nika tells Rina and Rick to play watchdog and take a quick look around, while she goes in with Arden.

Nika: Circle around and make sure everything’s okay. I’ll go in with him and look less conspicuous as just a couple.
Rick: Right. As a couple.
Rina: I’m not going there. Nope.

Rick nods toward the garbage truck.

Rick: Hey, don’t you think they could use that as an APC?
Rina: Oh, yeah. Easily. Slap a cage over the front grill, reinforce it with armor—oh, sure, yeah.
Rick: Maybe we should walk down there and bomb it, or plant explosives.
Rina: You see? I keep telling her we need grenades.
Rick: We shoulda brought C4.
Rina: Yeah.

Rina sighs and they complete their circuit of the grounds. Once the turn around the building’s made, Rina hits the roof of the building to the clinic’s left. Given the clinic’s situation on the corner, Rina has a decent field of view on two sides. Rick takes up position in the rear alley at the back door of the clinic. Rina and Rick check each other’s signal via earmike, find it good, and settle in to watch and wait.

The clinic advertises it is open 24/7. Arden and Nika don’t linger on the sidewalk but try the side entrance first. It’s locked with a keypad lock that wasn’t there during Arden’s stint as a resident doctor. There is a sign telling people to use the front entrance.

He and Nika go to the front of the clinic. There is an airlock vestibule entrance, and to enter the clinic proper they have to be buzzed through by a guard. Arden knocks on the door, like any patient would. One wall of the vestibule is a ticket window, and the guard sits inside it. Arden can also see the entrance is built with integrated weapons detector. The guard presses the button and the door’s locks pop open. Arden walks in and immediately the gun he’s stashed in his doctor’s bag sets the alarms off.

The guard has a bored Rent-A-Cop look to him. He stays in his glass booth and tells them via speakers.

Guard: You can’t bring guns in here. Arden: Well, I’m a doctor and I was summoned here and this is a bad neighborhood.

A roll-top drawer slides out of the wall below the guard’s window, just like at the drive-up teller at a bank.

Guard: Place your weapon here.

Arden complies. Nike does the same. We’re not here to argue with any guards. The drawer slides back into the wall and the guard buzzes us through.

The waiting room is empty. There is no receptionist in attendance, though there is a sign on the desk saying to press the buzzer for service. Dr. Sampson is nowhere in sight. Arden and Nika start searching the clinic for her. Leading straight through to the back of the clinic from the front waiting room is a hallway. There are two restrooms to the right and examination rooms on the left before the hall empties into the rear break room. Directly at the end of the hall is the rear entrance/fire door. Dr. Sampson isn’t there. They search the examination rooms by peering through the door windows and in one of the rooms they find her—just sitting and staring off into space.

Arden approaches her first. Valerie turns at his entrance and says his name.

Valerie: Arden.
Arden: What’s going on?

Her words are slow and measured.

Valerie: They released me. And as you can see, my situation has deteriorated somewhat.
Nika: Are you here as a patient?
Valerie: No.
Arden: So, you’re working here.
Valerie: Yes.

She pauses. Then:

Valerie: That thing I gave you. Do you have more of that? Were you able to synthesize more?

More? No. Arden shot the entire dose into Mike in one go.

Arden: All I have are the notes for it. I suppose it could be synthesized.
Valerie: I’ve found myself in a position similar to your friend.
Arden: That’s not very good.
Valerie: No, that‘s not very good.
Nika: Do they know that you’ve contacted us?
Valerie: Yes. They do.
Nika: (via earmike) Rina. Heads up.

On the roof, Rina breaks radio silence.

Rina: On it. Rick, we’re gonna have company. Lock and load, buddy.

Meanwhile back inside, Arden asks Valerie what she wants to do.

''Arden: What do you want to do? Because I think we’re going to be busy in the next few minutes.
Valerie: Hm. Um…I should want to do something, I think.
Nika: Where is your husband?

Valerie has no answer for that one.

Arden: Do you want to get out of here? Do you want to run?
Valerie: (slowly) I can’t run. I have to stay here.
Nika: Why?
Valerie: They told me.
Arden: Conditioned.
Nika: How far behind us are they? Do you know?
Valerie: They’ve already responded.

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