Episode 710: Sleeper of Athens
Air Date: 06 Mar 2012
Present: Andy, Bobby, Kim, Maer, and Terri
Friday, 10 Dec 2523
Military Installation, Highgate
Blue Sun (Qing Long) system
0600 hrs, local time
We've been on the dirt since landing on 21 November and a lot of ground has been covered by the 10th. Repairs have been made to our girl, supervised by our two resident engineers. Luckily on the Independent dime. The Independents also restock our guns and ammo—2 clips per weapon, 1 pistol and 1 assault rifle each per crewmember. We also get paid 3 month's backpay, which kicks off a little flurry of personal shopping amongst some of the crew. Arden, Kiera, and Dr. Lawrence have managed to devise maintenance drugs to counteract the Pericles effects on our systems. Until an actual cure can be found (or our deaths) we will have to maintain a drug regimen in order to function normally.
Nika finds out on the 10th that the Trebuchet class Longshanks will be shipping out with a team of Marines to Pericles Station. They have our reports and our findings and will not go in to the situation blind as we did. They will also bring a shipment of the maintenance meds we've made and will administer them to the survivors. Nika also finds out that Brian Connelly's unit is the one assigned to go and she makes her way out to the landing pad at the base to talk to him before he leaves.
There is some awkwardness at first, but they both get over enough of their personal issues to talk and Brian admits he wasn't quite in his right mind the last time they met. He'd been to Miranda since then, helping with the Reaver clearances and on one such mission, nearly lost his right arm to combat. He's wearing a tank top and the scars are hard to miss. While he was recuperating, Brian reveals he had some time to think things over and he came to the realization that he want to try again to make things work. He realizes that they may not be able to get all the way back to their former footing, but he's willing to try. When he comes back from Pericles, he'd like to start again with Nika.
He also tells her that he's dying. There's something wrong with his heart. It's growing too big to fit his body and he's got maybe a couple months left. Not much of a future but still, there's a chance that a cure or some sort of medical intervention may be found to buy him more time. Until then, he intends to carry on and right now, it means going to Pericles and an absence of maybe three weeks. Nika is shocked and cut up by the news but manages to keep it together and send him off with the promise she will try to be here when he gets back. He leaves to finish mission prep with his unit and she goes back to Exeter.
During our downtime, Arden and the other doctors have been searching vainly for untainted human DNA to further their research. Thanks to the use of Halcyon, finding humans completely untouched or unaltered on the genetic level is extremely hard. If they are to find a cure, they will need uncontaminated DNA to compare samples to and to test on. It's possible that there might be pockets of humanity in the more remote locations on the outer planets who haven't yet been touched by the mutagenic plague (as people are starting to call it), but their very inaccessibility is a major roadblock to research.
Hope comes from an unexpected source when Beglan calls the crew to the conference room later that day on the 10th. He's managed to study that mystery point in space a little more since our arrival and with the data he's gathered and the records he's been able to access, he's got a fairly good idea what that point in space actually is.
He shows us blurry telescope pictures of something shining in the black. It's clearly man-made and it's a ship of some kind. Comparing it to the silhouettes on record, he's pretty certain that it's one of the legendary lost Ark ships. The Amenoe Kihashi, The Bridge of Heaven. He's pretty sure we can get out to it, it's only a month away by pulse, floating in space off the ecliptic. And if his findings are correct and it is an Ark ship from Earth That Was, all the souls aboard will have been protected from all the genetic alterations and should be pure enough to continue searching for a cure.
There is some debate over who should go or even if we should use the two-month plus turnaround time on what might very well be a fools errand. And time is of the essence. The maintenance drugs can do nothing to halt the progression of the disease. Without a cure to the Halcyon mutagen, we are ALL on borrowed time. And yet, the possibility of all that clean DNA beckons …
Nika and Joshua go to our superiors to tell them of Beglan's find and the ramifications it means toward the cure. Colonel Tanner (formerly Major Tanner, who we've met before) is skeptical at first but when Nika points out that we are not vital to the Independent forces, given that we aren't a combat ship, he grants her request for detached duty. Permission given to pursue the possible Ark ship, Nika and Joshua go back to deliver the news to the crew and start preparations for our trip.
Kiera mentions her father has asked her to meet him on Athens, in Georgia system. As the owner and CEO of Veridian Corp, he can be a powerful asset in our search for the cure. He has at his disposal Core-level pharmaceutical research facilities and resources that the Independents do not have. If we could get him aboard on the task, we can get to the cure much faster and save more lives, including our own.
Nika is reluctant to go to Athens. It means a 25 day trip one-way, a delay in our trip to the Ark ship. Arden calls her out in front of the crew, stating her reluctance is based on her personal issues with Brian Connelly, implying a selfish ulterior motive. It's also implicit that Arden himself is jealous of her continued attachment to Connelly. While true, neither matter has a proper place in a crew meeting and Nika shuts down the discussion by agreeing to the Athens run.
Several of the crew rally along partisan lines over Arden's undermining Nika's Captaincy over this, but luckily for all involved, fireworks are dodged and by the time Exeter lands at Acropolis, Athens, the matter is pretty much resolved.
We take off late on the 10th, there being no reason to delay our departure.
Thursday, 06 Jan 2524
Georgia (Huang Long) system
We arrive after 25 days on Athens, having spent Christmas and New Year's Eve in transit. When we contact Kiera's father's HQ at Acropolis, we're given a warm welcome but are regretfully informed that JJ Sullivan isn't available to see us that day. Kiera's mother, however, is and Mary Beth Sullivan whisks Kiera away for a day of girly shopping and lunch out. They catch up on old times and Kiera is once again reminded of everything she dislikes about her mother, but for the sake of getting to her father, she puts a good face on it. Furthermore, there is some interesting information behind Mrs. Sullivan's chatter about society and her sojourn to the rustic Rim and Kiera listens carefully. In the end, Kiera arranges to have her meet the crew at dinner with the Sullivans that night.
The entire crew dons their fancier duds—not too fancy but fancy enough not to be insulting—and as a common sense courtesy, they step off their ship unarmed. Even Rina goes without her usual suspects. The crew drives over in the hovercar they acquired on Persephone and arrives at the hotel specified for dinner. Joshua has refused to take the maintenance meds, insisting that the Pericles effect is not adversely affecting his ability to function. It has in actuality enhanced his ability to use his Reading skills. It has also made him more sensitive, more wide open to the minds around him and stepping into the crowded streets of Acropolis is a touch overwhelming. And he's not the only one affected. Given her proclivities toward paranoia, Rina gets extremely twitchy, despite her meds, and spends the entire evening on edge. It's debatable if she's able to keep it from showing but at least she doesn't kill or attempt to kill anyone.
We arrive ahead of the Sullivans and are shown to the table reserved for us. It's on a raised area of the floor, off to the side, affording us a good view of the restaurant and its entrance. And the Sullivans do make an entrance: accompanied by two bodyguards of quiet but lethal demeanor and their secretary.
The second they all cross the threshold, Joshua is hit with a mental wave, sending his stomach spiraling down into nausea. He manages to keep everything down. He knows from previous experience that a Reader of some considerable power has arrived and is close by, quite possibly as a part of the Sullivan retinue. He tries to get a fix on the Reader but cannot find his or her location. Joshua settles on the secretary as the prime suspect and tries Reading during the dinner conversation. It only gives him more nausea and a solid fact: the secretary is not the Reader. So … who is the Reader? Or is it possible that JJ Sullivan was able to develop a jammer against Readers? Is that why Joshua's stomach is so upset? There is no telling. It's not exactly something you can discuss in a fancy hotel restaurant over dinner. What we do discuss is the current state of affairs with the Halcyon mutagen disease, the possible Ark ship off the ecliptic, and our plan to harvest uncontaminated DNA to search for a cure. We'll need his facilities and resources to speed the process. Would he help? It's not a matter of Independents vs. Alliance or Blue Sun vs. Veridian. It's about saving humanity. Sullivan plays it cool and dinner ends with the promise of further discussion but no firm commitment either way.
Once the crew gets back to the ship, they have a review meeting over the evening's events and revise our strategy where needed. When Nika asks Kiera if her father was interested in helping us, Kiera says yes—she knows her father well enough to tell his is interested, despite his statements at dinner.
Kiera calls up her father and manages to wrangle a meeting with him at his Acropolis HQ for the following day. Her mother jumps at the chance to spend more time with her wayward daughter and turns it into a brunch date whereby Kiera will simply drop off Arden's research (to date) with her father and leave.
Friday, 07 Jan 2524
Kiera gets a last minute message from her mother, begging a raincheck on their brunch date. Something's come up. Kiera sends her acceptance and the crew all leave the ship for Veridian HQ. It's a glass and steel Coreside-looking building, complete with skylighted atrium of suitably impressive size. A receptionist's desk sits at the far end from the entrance and comfy chairs and sofas flank it. Behind the desk is a vast courtyard with a skylight over head. The bulk of the building encloses the courtyard in two slanting wings of offices, labs, and conference rooms.
We are told that Mr. Sullivan is currently in a meeting and would we like to sit down and wait for him. Having little choice in the matter, we sit down and wait. Joshua sits with the rest of the crew off to the side and as at dinner, he's pretty much hit by a mental vasectomy. Again with the stomach churning and Joshua is distracted by keeping everything down. Of course, this doesn't go unnoticed by the rest of the crew and Joshua tells him what he's getting off the place. Speculation as to the cause of his distress goes back and forth amongst the crew. Perhaps there's a Reader on site, possibly at the meeting, either Reading at the meeting or disabling it? There's nothing we can do but sit and wait it out and hope the meeting ends soon.
And who should walk in before that happens? Two Blue Hands operatives walk right in through the front doors and head for the receptionist. We're off to the side but see them coming and Kiera immediately moves in an intercept course. One Blue Hand moves to intercept her in turn and from her vantage point, Rina sees the other pulling a pen-like object from his jacket. Twitchy at the best of times, but backed up in this instance with prior experience, Rina recognizes it as a sonic weapon and ascertains the action as an opening attack move.
So of course, she decides to move first. She gets out of her chair and RUNS for the Blue Hand. Joshua covers for his wife by jumping up and shouting in greeting: It's been too long, boys! His obvious enthusiasm to see them throws the Blue Hands off and Rina leads with her fist in an all out attack. Her fist connects, plowing hard for the man's spine, and it bounces off his body armor. Grinning, the Blue Hand activates his sonic weapon and it starts its eerie scream.
Ow! Immediately the crew feels sick and starts to bleed.
Nika grabs Joshua by his collar and hauls him back. Arden looks around for something to throw and not finding it, heads off to find a fire alarm to pull. The other Blue Hand pulls a different weapon from his jacket—it looks like a ceramic or plastic gun—and Joshua shakes off Nika's grip and runs for him. He executes an Aikkido disarm move and the gun goes flying and skittering across the lobby floor. Kiera hears the chime of it hitting the marble tiles and dives after it.
Arden has found the fire alarm and pulls it. The air drowns in a klaxxon's blare. The rest of the crew keeps fighting. Everyone's bloody now from the sonic weapon and the receptionist is slumped over her console, already paralyzed and bleeding. Nika rushes over to her to help her. Kiera manages to get the gun but she's feeling very bad by this point. Rina is closest to the Blue Hand with the weapon and refuses to back away, intending to slam the man into the ground like a tent peg.
Arden up to help Rina. He's been the least affected by the sonics since he's been the farthest away for the entire encounter. The Blue Hand who had the gun takes a swing at Joshua and punches him. Joshua stays on his feet. So does Rina despite the beating she's taking. She manages to send the sonic weapon flying in a disarm move, runs to it, and turns the damned thing OFF.
Nika can do nothing for the receptionist and starts looking around, reassessing the situation, and spies JJ Sullivan, his wife, his secretary, and two bodyguards approaching the lobby. Nika runs down the corridor to intercept them, telling them to follow. She's already grokked the Blue Hands might be after JJ and she must get him away from the building. The bodyguards, however, aren't buying it and advance in her directions with their weapons drawn. Nika stops, shows her hands, and keeps talking. There are people attacking her crew in the lobby. We think they're after Sullivan. Help out or get their principal out, but do something!
Arden football tackles the Blue Hand on Rina, solidly connecting and pushing the man back about five feet. The Blue Hand reaches into his jacket for something and from across the lobby, Kiera shoots him with the ceramic gun she's picked up. It unleashes a laser beam instead of bullets. She hits him for a nasty wound, the man staggers and she shoots and hits him again. A third shot follows the second and the man goes down. Meanwhile Joshua's grappling with the Blue Hand agent on him and they're going at it Classic Greek style—rolling and squirming on the floor, each trying hard to gain the advantage. The hell with that. Kiera marches right over and stands over the agent and growls: PLEASE make me kill you.
The bodyguards pass Nika and continue on toward the lobby and she starts herding Sullivan and Mary Beth after them. They refuse to go with her, so Nika leaves them well back, about 40 feet, and peeks around the corner toward the lobby.
She sees Arden rush up to Joshua, who's grappling with one of the Blue Hands on the floor, with Kiera holding a gun on them both. Arden swings and punches the agent, delivering a devastating blow, rendering the agent unconscious. With both agents down, Arden goes back to the laser-shot Blue Hand to try to save him. Can't question dead men after all, right?
Nika stands guard at her position in the corridor in case the Blue Hand that Kiera and Joshua have in hand tries anything funny. It's a pity she wasn't looking behind her. A shot rings out and one of the two bodyguards standing nearby falls, instantly dead. Nika spins around and sees Mary Beth dragging her husband away with a gun to his head.
Another step and he dies, she yells.
Kiera hear the thread and runs outside, intending to circle the building and come up behind Mary Beth. Arden follows her.
Mary Beth shoots the second bodyguard and kills him.
Before Joshua can do anything to help, he's hit with a punishing mental whammy, staggering from the stun. There's no doubt in his mind, however, where the attack came from. He knows it's Mary Beth and despite his pain, he's intrigued by the fact that she's a Borrower—how else could the woman impersonate Sullivan's wife?—and a Reader of incredible strength. He draws closer hoping to find out more about her … and possibly about himself as well.
Rina, meanwhile, sees what Kiera and Arden have done, susses the hostage situation, and runs into the inner courtyard, hoping to find an exit that will allow her to come up behind Mary Beth or at least catch her in a flanking maneuver with Kiera and Arden. She's unable to find a door she can open. She doubles back, hoping she's not too late.
Nika grabs a gun off one of the downed guards and follows Mary Beth, who's made it outside the building. By now, however, the bulk of our party have caught up with her and she's cut off. Let him go, Mary Beth. Nika sees the woman isn't going to comply and has not choice: Nika shoots her and she goes down unconscious. The crew rushes up even as Mary Beth starts to convulse. She's dead by the time they reach her side—foam drips from her mouth, likely a suicide tooth or pill.
Sullivan is stunned by this turn of events but gathers himself together quickly. He regards the woman at his feet clinically. He cannot actually verify if the woman is his wife. He's been gone a good deal from home lately. His wife might have been swapped for the agent then … or his wife could have been a mole.
He comms his staff to have someone sent over to clean this mess up, then says to the crew he'll meet them in orbit where we'll dock ships. He agrees to help us in our search for a cure. Kiera goes with her father and the crew goes back to Exeter.
True to his word, Sullivan meets us in space. We do a deep scan of Mary Beth's body and the results come back negative: the woman is not Sullivan's wife. So where is she? Kiera rejoins the crew and they part company with that question unanswered. On our way out, we get one last wave from Sullivan.
He's run a diagnostic on all the message traffic for Mary Beth and his techies have found one message to her friends with a subcarrier wave attached. Going by the date on the message, the substitution could have happened as far back as 22 months ago. Based on Sullivan's travels and his wife's, he has no idea where she is.
There is nothing we can do to help him. We have a derelict ship in space to intercept and explore and possibly, just possibly find what we need to cure the Halcyon mutagen. If we're lucky, we'll find it in time to save humankind.
Go back to: Land of the Lotus-Eaters | Go Foward to Bridge to Heaven
Go back to Season Seven, May 2523 to --
Back to EPISODES or TIMELINE