Episode 507: Harem-Scarem

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Episode basically done. This was an action heavy episode, not so much with the talking.--Maer

Air Date: 01 Mar 2011
Present: Kim, Maer, Terri, Andy, and Bobby

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Special Features

Friday, 06 Mar 2522
Pottersville, Verbena
Kalidasa (Xuan Wu) system
Picking up right where we left off last episode...

We return from our trip to the towns of Del Marin and Lochmyre of Verbena and set up base outside of Pottersville, there to plan our op to get Lanie free.

We spend the balance of the week until the Wednesday night prior to Bannon’s regular Thursday night outing to get everything in place: explosives to simulate an attack and to sow confusion, a scanner to capture and replicate the control signal on the girls’ collars, finding the source of the control signal and concealing the scanner/capture near it to cop the signal, make a replica of the control device Bannon takes with him to allow Lanie to leave the property with him, observing Bannon long enough to allow Joshua to Borrow him. Surveillance of the man at work suffices and Arden was able to get the footage himself.

Kiera disguises Nika as an older woman—hair rinse, some aging makeup, appropriate clothes—to get her into the brothel as housekeeper. Kiera goes to the housekeeper and convinces/bribes her to go on a week’s vacation so Nika can take her place.

Beglan and Rina make up the faux controller—Rina does a fantastic job in replicating it, though close scrutiny will show it up for a close copy. We’re talking grooves being slightly different, things being off a sixteenth of an inch, that sort of thing. But the joinery is smooth and the surface polished.

She also uses her demolitions skill in making up a raft of explosive devices and plants them in the town. She rigs up two line-of-sight remote detonators and keeps one, gives the other to Kiera. When the op goes down, she and Kiera will be planted at points in town with the line of sight needed to set off the explosives. They’ll flip the switches and the bombs will go off, scaring people away from our target and allowing for the getaway.

Beglan will stay aboard our ship to be on hand to warm up the engines as we board. Or field calls or coordinate comms.

In the matter of comms, we have throat mikes (finally!) and will be wearing them during the op.

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2522
Bannon’s residence, Pottersville
0200hrs, local time

Arden and Joshua sneak into Bannon’s house to kidnap him so Joshua can take his place. Arden deactivates the alarm system to avoid detection but neither he nor Joshua are able to make their way stealthily up the stairs. Bannon hears them coming and meets them at the top of the stairs in his pajamas with a shotgun. Joshua grapples with the man and Arden manages to close in and trank Bannon. Bannon goes unconscious, Arden zip ties him and takes him to EQ, there to be held in one of the vaults in the rear cargo hold until op’s end. It’s rigged so the captive has air and won’t suffocate, but Bannon will be far from completely comfortable.

Thursday, 12 Mar 2522

Joshua sleeps the balance of the night in Bannon’s bed and gets up, goes to work in Bannon’s place and generally lives the man’s life until it is time to go pick up Lanie.

The hour approaches. Kiera and Rina install themselves at their watch points for the remote-controlled explosives. Arden stands by with our flatbed mule outside of town, waiting for the call to come pick up the girls. Joshua as Bannon goes back home to primp and pick up Lanie. In the brothel, Nika is carrying out her housekeeper duties and watching for anything that might ruin our plans.

The Baron makes his appearance in the evening and Joshua arrives. He has the faux controller in his jacket pocket and when Lanie comes down the stairs, the Baron slips him the real one. Joshua stows it in a separate pocket to avoid mix-ups. Lanie pauses on the stairs, sensing something is off about Bannon. Throughout the day, Joshua has been deflecting queries from people by saying he didn’t sleep well the night before—true enough—and that he’s a little off his game but basically fine.

Joshua takes Lanie down the steps of the brothel and hands her into his car and they drive off. When they are out of sight of the town, Joshua reveals he’s a double and he’s impersonating Bannon to rescue her from the brothel. Lanie takes this in and then tells him to turn left. Joshua does. After all, he’s good at following orders. They drive for a while and Lanie asks him just what he’s really after. Joshua convinces her it’s not a trick, that he’s on the level and we’re in place to mount an op in the morning when everyone’s either asleep for the day or at the mill. In fact, we need her to circulate amongst the other women in the brothel to see who wants to go with her—we won’t leave a woman behind who wants to leave. That seems to tip the scales for Lanie and she agrees…but first she wants to see our ship. Joshua told her we’re flying Jing Jing Bei’s ship and she wants to see it.

What follows next is an odd but mostly silent tour. Joshua drives up to the ship, mikes Beglan to open the cargo doors, and he escorts Lanie aboard. He lets her set her own pace and Lanie goes slowly, stopping and staring and touching things as she goes. One can only imagine what she must be thinking and feeling at this moment. She goes up the stairs to the passenger deck and stops at the door of one passenger cabin, stares into it for a long time without speaking. Joshua stands back and gives her room. She finally turns and asks if he has any makeup. Her mascara a runny mess from her tears.

Joshua uses his XO override to unlock Kiera’s cabin. Lanie finds the cosmetics she needs and spends some time making herself presentable. As before, Joshua gives her the space she needs. When she’s ready, they leave and drive around some more to keep up the illusion that they are the real Bannon and Lanie on their regular Thursday night tryst. During the long ride, Lanie tells Joshua what she knows of the guard complement inside and outside the house, the shift changes, the staff, and so on—in short, filling in any of the tactical information Nika wasn’t able to get for us. Joshua takes her back to the brothel. Lanie will get the girls in the house ready to leave in the morning. Joshua enters and takes his leave of the Baron. Lanie is friendly with the guard on duty and slips the man the false remote for the collars.

Friday Morning, 13 Mar 2522

The air strike by the PMV comes pretty much at the time expected. What is unexpected is the manner in which the airstrike occurs: carpet bombs paint their fiery path all the way up to and over the mill.


Kiera and Rina wait for a moment and then set off their bombs as well.


As we’d hoped, there’s panic and a pouring of guards from the ISH offices to the mill to put out the fires. Joshua rushes to the brothel to order the guards there to the mill—after all, he’s the mill boss and ISH technically is there to protect his investment. 2 of the 4 guards remain, the others leave. The girls are pouring down the stairs and they get hustled down the basement stairs to the basement to wait out the bombardment. Nika is swept along with them, where they are watched by a guard and the House Matron.

Great. So much for whisking the girls to safety out the front door.

Nika notices that Lanie has got all the girls to go along with the plan, because she can see that under their house robes they’re wearing street clothes and street shoes—oops! Bad idea, if they’re supposed to be faking being rousted from bed. Nika tries to warn one of the girls to cover up with her robe but is stopped by the Matron.

Joshua shows up as Bannon and successfully gets the guard upstairs to leave the house and go help save the mill. Joshua calls us in via throat mikes. Kiera and Rina quit their position and make for the house. They duck down an alley while still a house away and join Arden in the street running behind the houses on that block. There is about an acre of lawn to the Baron’s back door and a low stone wall marks the edge of his property at the road. Arden pulls up next to the gate in the wall.

Rina and Kiera take up positions on either side of the gate, the better to cover the entire yard with overlapping fields of fire. Both are armed with rifles.

Downstairs, the Matron slaps down Nika to discipline her for her uppity behavior with the girls. Nika hunkers down and takes it, staying in character. The Matron’s hand comes away with some of Nika’s hair and seen up close it’s obvious it has been dyed.

The jig is up. Nika launches herself at the Matron in a grapple, hoping to overpower the woman. The Matron is an astonishingly adept fighter and Nika cannot gain the upper hand. They go round and round on the basement floor, struggling to overpower each other. The guard at the stairs can do nothing. He can’t shoot without risking a bullet going through the walls and hitting one of the girls. Or shooting the Matron, who seems to be able to take care of herself in a fight, thankyouverymuch.

Joshua goes downstairs and orders the Matron to give Nika to him—he’s got a gun and he will punish her. The Matron complies, Joshua gives Nika the gun and Nika turns it on the Matron.

Tables turned.

Joshua and Nika get the remaining guard and the Matron cornered and start hustling the girls out of the house. Arden advances across the lawn and lobs a smoke grenade into the basement to hinder pursuit, then covers the girls as rear guard. Kiera and Rina stand ready, braced on the wall to offer covering fire if needed. The girls and Joshua and Nika make it to the gate without gunfire and everyone climbs aboard the flatbed.

There are nineteen people aboard this thing and it’s a definite strain on the mule. Rina does that voodoo she does so well and the mule slowly picks up speed. Like a train leaving the station, we go faster and faster and faster until we are flying along at a decent clip all the way to EQ. We mike ahead to Beglan to open her up and we fly our flatbed right into the cargo bay. While one of us gets the doors closed, Nika flies up the stairs to take the pilot’s seat. Kiera hustles the girls to the passenger level and gets them secured in the rooms. Lanie cannot bear to be on that deck and instead gets installed safely on the crew deck. Rina gets aft to engineering with Beglan and Joshua joins Nika on the bridge.

We take off and immediately pick up a couple of tails—ASREVs. Nika yells a warning for everyone to strap in, then yanks on the yoke and sends us almost straight up in a vertical climb through atmo. When we reach a good spot, she’ll pulse us in-atmo for Angel. It’s going to take Joshua a few minutes before the course is plotted in and until then she’ll have to evade capture and enemy fire before hitting pulse.

Our sensors blare—incoming! We’ve got two missiles heading for us, courtesy of the ASREVs. Nika jinks and swerves, zigs and zags. One of the missiles goes wide of us, faked out. The other one impacts on our hull at an angle—we shudder under the impact and the explosion. Such a hit would have crippled Summer’s Gift, but Equinox’s hull is armored and our ship remains intact. We make our pulse point, Joshua punches in the last set of numbers, and Nika goes to pulse, kissing the bastards behind us good-bye.

The stars steam past us in ribbons and we all slump back and breathe. Safe.

For now.

Friday, 13 Mar 2522
En route to Angel
Later, ssame day

During the one-day journey to Angel, we manage to get the collars off the girls but not without a painful shock to the first girl we try to get free. Arden sees the trick of it and manages to get the others off without any furhter painful results and Rina stashes the collars in the arms locker. We’re not sure what we’ll do with them but for her part Rina is unwilling to ditch them until she’s taken them apart to see how they work. They may end up going out the airlock later, but for now, they’re safe enough where they are.

The girls settle into the ten cabins on the passenger deck, save Lanie. Arden kindly offers the woman his cabin and takes himself off to the med bay’s bed to sleep for the duration of the trip.

We wave Christian once we’re within range of Angel and he warns us off. The planet is Califate-run and at the moment, extreme fundamentalists are making life hard on everyone there. Our arrival and our passengers will not go unnoticed and things will not go smooth for the women, even in the remote fastness of Lucifer’s Landing. We thank him and make plans to double back to Sho Je Downs. Rina has Christian put Lem on the Wave. She tells him she loves and misses him, and apologizes that Mom can’t come to visit as she’d hoped. They end the call and Rina says nothing more about it to anyone, keeping her feelings to herself.

Sunday, 15 Mar 2522
Sho Je Downs
Kalidasa (Xuan Wu) system
2200hrs, local time

We arrive into port and set about getting ourselves refueled and restocked. We have twenty souls on board who need to be housed and fed and while we had the stores to carry us from Verbena to Angel to Beaumonde, we do not have much more. Lanie wants to go home to Greenleaf in Red Sun. That’s a considerable journey—two weeks if not more—and we’ll need to restock our food for the trip. After dipping into our coffers for that, we’ll need more money and money means we need cargo. We cannot take in more lucrative jobs transporting passengers—we have no room for them. The girls we’ve rescued are our passengers for now. And there are the repairs still going undone—the missile hit from ANS at Parker Strip Station and the more recent hit from the ASREVs. We have money for food and fuel, but not for our repairs.

We need cargo.

Jumping on the Cortex, we get a line on hauling chemicals for a sweet 1145 credits … but it’s sharked out from under us by a charming man at the next table over when we meet to negotiate with the customer. He undercuts the deal and our prospective customer votes with his wallet.

The shark in the matter, Captain Sebastian “Baz” Arrow of Dōngzhì (Chinese: Solstice, sound clip ), takes a shine to Kiera and Kiera shines him on right back. She gets an expensive drink out of him before we leave to find another customer willing to haul with us.

We get a job hauling chemicals to Paquin. We have to fly to Ghost to load it. There’s a bonus in it for us if we can get it there quickly. We can make the distance if we are willing to do a pulse with hard burn. Having done it once, Rina’s willing to do it again. Dyton is one of Greenleaf’s moons and Greenleaf is Lanye’s desired destination. After 24-hour layover to refuel and stock , we leave for Ghost late in the evening of Monday the 16th. It’s a two day flight to Ghost.

Wednesday, 18 Mar 2522
Cargo Facility, Ghost
2230 hrs, ship’s time

Ghost is a 24-hour layover for us as well, loading cargo and not much else.

With the sense of things finally falling into place, we set off for Red Sun on the 19th to deliver the cargo to Paquin for a payday and Lanie to Greenleaf, where another payoff will be waiting. Given the years gone by and the life Lanie had to lead to survive them, we can only hope it is a good one.

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