Episode 312: Stealing Away Home

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Air Date: 23 Mar 2010
Present: Maer, Terri, Andy, and Bobby

Catching up:
We leave Shepherd’s Mission on the 19th of November, arrive at Orcus on the 20th, and spend the next 6 days salvaging parts. That brings us up to the 26th of November. When we leave Orcus, it takes us only a day to get to New Canaan, making landfall there on the 27th of November.

Wednesday, 27 Nov 2520
Ba’al Space Port, New Canaan
Blue Sun (Qing Long) system
1200hrs, local time

We arrive in New Canaan a week and a half late and take that 50 credit hit on our pay. We do get our full fee for the cargo delivered to Meridian upon returning, as promised, so it’s not a total wash.

Our stores, however, are a different matter. We need everything: food, fuel, medicine and Flomoxipan. Arden leaves the ship to get the meds and before he goes, Rina gives him her last 15 credits and tells him to buy Flomoxipan with it, and to bring it back to her. If Joshua is adamant about skipping doses to make the meds last longer, by God she’s going to see to it that he has at least a half-month supply at full dose in reserve. Just in case. Arden is successful and hands her a small case containing 15 vials. She stashes it in her quarters.

Meanwhile Joshua attempts to pick up the passenger/friend that Christian has arranged for us to take to Ariel. As our ship’s steward, Joshua is the logical choice for this duty. Our passenger, however, cannot be found. Calling for her at the Companion House turns up disappointing news. Eliza Garrett is not there. She left earlier that morning to meet us at the spaceport. When four hours pass and she fails to show, Nika and Joshua fear the worst and set out to find her, hoping to encounter her somewhere on her route from the Companion House to our doorstep. Or, barring that, finding news of her and her whereabouts. We have no vehicle to pick her up in so they rent horses and ride out for the Companion House outside the spaceport and city.

Rina has been walking wounded since Potemkin’s attack two weeks ago and the constant demands of work are preventing her from healing at all. Arden sneaks up behind Rina while she’s working in the engine room, slaps her with a sedative patch, and catches her before she can brain herself on the way down. He puts her in her quarters and locks her in to sleep it off. The dose he hit her with should keep her down for hours, time enough to start to heal.

Meanwhile, out in the open air on horseback, Nika and Joshua make the ride to the Companion House. It’s on a high mountainside and at the foot of it runs a river, a village nestled near its banks and a monastery on the opposite shore. Passing through the village, they encounter a band of monks knocking on the doors and talking to the people. It seems the band is a patrol set to guard the village against the dangers of immorality, with special warning for the villagers to keep their young boys from falling prey to the blandishments of the Companions upslope.

Our crew speak to the monks and quickly get the lay of the land. The monks consider the Companion House and those in it to be their moral adversaries, and they see themselves as the village’s shield against the immorality the Companions might contaminate the area with. The monks are also staunch Browncoats and any whiff of disagreement to their methods is instantly attributed to loyalty to the Alliance. Unfortunately, Nika inadvertently brands herself a Fed in the monks eyes when she disagrees with their assessment of Companions, and they clam up and refuse to help us look for the missing woman. She and Joshua withdraw to the edge of the village and wait for nightfall before questioning the villagers, and from their vantage point on a rise above the houses they see the monks roust the inhabitants for a sunset prayer service. Vespers? Perhaps. It’s not a long service and the people are soon released to go back to their homes. The monks make off for their monastery and our crew make their way back to the village.

They knock on the door of an old woman, describe Eliza and to their relief, the woman verifies that yes, Eliza did pass through the village just this morning in the direction of Ba’al spaceport. She even gives a description of Eliza, down to her appearance and the fact that she was carrying what looks like a fancy banjo on her back. Knowing that they are looking in the wrong place, Nika and Joshua thank the woman and ride back toward Ba’al, keeping an eye peeled for Eliza on the way. it’s full dark by the time they ride back to the livery, return the horses and get back to the ship. A call to the Companion House verifies the old village woman’s description and timetable for Eliza’s travels, along with the fact that Eliza did take her instrument, as befitting her job as music teacher. If nothing untoward happened to her while on the road, chances are very good that Eliza is in Ba’al and is simply waiting for morning before approaching our ship.

The crew gathers together and heads out to the city, near the entrance where Eliza would've entered. Rina sees something that quickly convinces her there is some sort of slave trade happening and the rest of the crew works hard to keep her from completely scaring away any people that they might be able to question. As he falls behind, Joshua hears sitar music coming from a side alley and slipping away behind Nika’s back, he goes to investigate. He follows the music to a little hole-in-the-wall teashop, maybe only about 7 tables all told, and there in the back is Eliza Garrett playing her sitar for the enjoyment of the customers. He waits until her set is finished before approaching her and introducing himself. She’s delighted to meet him and is a little relieved to find the Gift’s crew. He contacts Nika on the com and tells them that he has found her and they can go back to the ship. Nika collects the crew from the bar they wandered into, but not before Rick bellies up to the bar counter and orders two drinks—instantly makes it several more, which he speed drinks two-fisted. He slams them back and they all head back to the Gift. Meanwhile, Joshua escorts Eliza back to the Gift as well. Once there, Joshua installs Eliza in the remaining first class stateroom and sees she’s made comfortable.

Once she’s aboard and everyone’s been introduced—including Rina, now awake after the meds have worn off—we tell Eliza that we have to detour to Meridian on the way to Ariel to help out a friend in need. Eliza agrees to this and we take off on the morning of the 28th for Meridian. Before leaving, Eliza stops at the information desk at the spaceport. Joshua, curious, asks the man behind the counter what she was asking about. He is unwilling to give much, but says she was asking about travel brochures and vacation information.


It’s about a two day flight to Meridian. The Decatur is still in dry dock but the radar dish on her hull pretty much complete. We hit the orbital cue in the final hours of November and kiss dirt as the clock ticks over into December. We land and sleep on the surface, and the spaceport crews spend the time until we wake refueling and pumping our tanks.

On the nuts and bolts side of the repairs, we are now 6 days overdue for ship’s maintenance and Rina tears into it. She does well enough that it only costs us about 125 credits to complete. Despite this success, there are still major components that need installing on our girl. The two vanes on our portside hull, for instance, and our airlock door. While those items might have been possible for Rina do to singlehandedly in the weightless environment of space, it isn’t so under Meridian’s gravity. The repair facilities at the spaceport quote her a price of 500 credits to have a crew do it. She reckons renting a crane for a day or two for about a 100 credits would allow her to do the work herself. It would mean she’d be working while injured and the sheer size of the vanes would mean the job would take several days…but it would be less expensive than forking over half a thousand. So goes her thinking.

Nika declares Rina insane to attempt doing the repairs herself. The engineer still has stitches in her from her injuries and Nika refuses to let Rina risk ripping them out. She orders Rina to stand down and hire the repair crew for the 500 credits. Thus our airlock door and vanes get installed and Rina spends more hours in downtime healing. Grousing at the inactivity, but healing nonetheless.

Joshua goes out to find us cargo for our trip to the Core. We cannot go straight to Ariel without stopping to refuel, so aware of the need to stop along the way, Joshua finds and arranges the transport of a 100 tons of fresh food to Pericles Station. If we get it there quickly, we can look forward to a 20% bonus. The clients are eager to get their shipment out to the station in the freshest state possible and have already crated up and loaded their two shipping containers with the foodstuffs. All we need do is swap out our two dented containers for their already-loaded ones and we’re in business. Woo!

Meanwhile, Rick goes off to sample the spaceport and Arden sends Nika to Valerie’s clinic to ask for the woman. Is Valerie in trouble and does she need our help? Arden would go himself, but he’s tied to the ship keeping an eye on Rina to make her rest whenever possible and Joshua is busy arranging cargo and taking care of Eliza as our guest. Faria is in no real state to go out, being wheelchair-bound, so Nika treks out.

When she arrives, she’s told that Valerie isn’t there.

Great. Now what? Did we fly all the way to Meridian for nothing? What are our obligations now? Should we take off for Ariel right away or wait?

Rina finds a wave recording waiting for us on the bridge before Nika gets back. It’s from Rick, time stamped an hour ago, 2 PM. It’s now 3. The recording is short and to the point:

He’s been arrested for rape and assault and is in jail without bail. Come get him out.

Rina comms Nika with the news. Nika advises Rina to tell Faria. Faria can deal with the authorities while Nika and Joshua get supplies. Rina copies and cuts the channel to do as ordered.

We need weapons to supplement our three pistols and Rina and Joshua both need ballistic mesh vests. This will be Joshua’s first as one of our crew and as for Rina, it will be a much needed replacement for the one that got slowly shredded under a month’s hard use. So while Rina tells Faria what’s happened to Rick and on the Shepherd’s request pushes his wheelchair to the sheriff’s office and the jail where Rick is being held, Nika and Joshua buy the weapons and the vests.

At the Sheriff’s office, Rina and Faria learn that a woman has pressed charges against Rick for assault and rape that took place ten days earlier, during our previous stay on Meridian. Rick insists he’s innocent. We believe him. The Sheriff, however, is not convinced. Even though the victim isn’t local—being originally from the Core—rape is a serious crime and one that isn’t tolerated in these parts. The woman who brought the charge is reluctant to come forward and identify Rick from a line up and the Sheriff is content to wait until she’s ready. Meanwhile, Rick can very well cool his heels in the hoosegow until then.

No bail. No walking. No exceptions.

We have no choice but to acquiesce and take the Sheriff’s advice: look for an advocate for Rick’s trial. The Sheriff isn’t a particularly vindictive man, despite his refusal to release Rick to our recognizance until his trial, and he fills us in on the LEO landscape. There are no judges, there are no lawyers, and there is no traditional jury. Trials are held by having the case heard in front of the defendant’s peers, all who choose to attend, from six to twenty or more and a vote is taken to decide the defendant’s punishment. The penalty for rape is severe. It’s strongly suggested if we want to help our friend, we find the most eloquent speaker we can find to argue his case before the audience.

Faria asks to see Rick, to speak to him as a Shepherd. The Sheriff agrees and insists on attending. Apparently clerical confidentiality doesn’t exist in these parts and any confessional that takes place will not be private. Faria goes in anyway, to offer Rick his support.


Meanwhile, Arden tries to find out where Valerie has gone. Backtracking her message’s transmission path and her phone records through a little judicious hacking, Arden finds out that she’s been staying at a gated retreat community for Meridian’s wealthy elite. Citadel Estates is a small apartment community suspended over the waters of a nearby lake, complete with 24-hr security and a guarded gatehouse on approach. The only ways to access the luxury apartments are either via the pier leading to it from land, or by water taxi and the little docking piers underneath the floating apartment structure.

Now that we know where she is, the crew debates whether we essay a rescue. After some wrangling, we agree to go and try to spring her out of her house arrest. Asking questions of the staff that maintain the community, we get the lay of the land from one of the landscape gardeners and thus armed with intel, we call Valerie to tell her we’re coming. We hire a water taxi out to the floating estate and take off. On the way

We alight from the taxi and arrange to have it wait for us, the meter running. The driver is more than happy for the extra income and agrees to wait. We approach the guard house at the start of the bridge to the complex. His uniform doesn’t fit well, he’s got hair and beard in need of grooming, and he sports tattoos. He insists on calling Valerie to confirm our visit. She does and he lets us through the chain link perimeter fence to the bridge beyond. We almost make it to the very end of the bridge before the bad guys make their move. Three men melt out of the courtyard and stop us on the threshold.

They start frisking us for weapons. Arden adroitly dodges his frisker, Rina steps up and punches for the frisker…and misses. She’s still recuperating from her injuries and she’s not at the top of her game, nope. Still, she has her vest on beneath her coveralls and she has her fists. Meanwhile, Joshua rushes the leader of the thugs, despite the other man’s gun being aimed right at him. Joshua rushes him and successfully disarms him. The gun goes skittering across the concrete. Arden puts his gun to the man’s eyeball and orders him not to move. Nika covers her crewmates and sees another goon behind us at the chain link fence.

She aims. She shoots. She hits. And the guy goes down.

From the courtyard in front of us, a man wearing the gloves of a Blue Hand walks up, backed up with two goons with guns. He gives us his ultimatum: Give us Arden and we can walk away.

As if we’d ever willingly give Arden over to Blue Sun’s tender mercies.

Joshua rushes him but is put to sleep with a single uttered phrase from the Blue Hand.

Blue Hand: Oh-ess-das-vah. Noy-yey.

Joshua crumples like a puppet cut from its strings. Arden shoots the Blue Hand and manages to graze him. Rina attempts to punch the original frisker and misses.

The armed goons fire at us. Arden is hit, the rest of us dodge and then engage the enemy in hand-to-hand. Rina lands a hit on the goon in front of her. Wounded, Arden dives over the bridge’s parapet into the water 10 feet below. The current carries him into the warren of taxi piers and supports for the community above him. He may be wet but he’s out of the line of fire.

Which is not to say the rest of us are. Rina’s still fighting and lands a blow. Nika closes the distance between her and the Blue Hand, shooting and hitting him. He staggers, grazed.

The thugs get their licks in. Rina and Nika are both hit for damage. And Blue Hand pulls out his sonic device, triggering it without concern for his nearby men. Nika jumps over the side into the water but Rina is unable to do the same—she’s too far away from the parapet. She runs for the dubious shelter of the trees and buildings in the courtyard but falls to the sonics, despite.

The fight, such as it is, is over. Valerie is still holed up in her apartment. Joshua and Rina are down and in enemy hands. Nika and Arden are wounded and in the drink, but are still at large. If they’re lucky, they can remain that way long enough to rescue their crewmates from Blue Sun and from Meridian’s frontier justice.

It’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded. It remains to be seen who can steal their way home and win the game for their team.

Go back to: Suckered | Forward to: Trade Off
Back to Season One: Foundations
Back to Season Two: Hitting Our Stride
Back to Season Three: Things Fall Apart