Episode 316: Bait, Part Two

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Part 1

Meanwhile, the rest of us get the site of the sting ready. We haul in a bed and a mattress. We install the cameras. And we gird ourselves for the nasty business ahead.

Nika: Look, we already went through this. We have very few options here but to go ahead and at least let it go to a certain point so that we have hard evidence. Much as it’s distasteful and hateful to every single one of us.
Arden: I’m gonna have to scrub my soul when this is all over.
Nika: I’m sorry.

Rick points out that we can stop it once the Exchequer’s pants are down but before he lays a finger on the kid. The charge of buggery alone is leverage enough for our purposes. Rick also mentions we’ll have to find a way to take the Exchequer’s guards out of action, lest they interfere in the sting.

Rick: I could throw my knife into the elbow joint of their firing arm. That way I won’t have to kill anyone.
Joshua: I know you’re that good.
Arden: That would be awesome.
Nika: I’m not adverse to bloodshed if it should become necessary but I’d really prefer not.
Rick: If we have to immobilize the guards…?
Nika: Immobilization is fine, but I’d really prefer that we just not kill them if we can avoid it.

Rina keeps her opinions on bloodshed and killing behind her teeth. She’s already excused herself from manning the camera equipment. This is something she just can’t watch, not without blowing a gasket or killing the culprit. Or both. Preferably both.

We contact Ellis and ask him about procuring a kid now that Lazlo’s distancing himself from the operation. Ellis explains it to us.

Ellis: Before Lazlo took over, the previous guy who hooked him up, found… what do you call’em? retards, that kinda stuff.
Rina: --!
Ellis: As long as they’re not too, you know…
Arden: Smart.


Ellis: Yeah. But they can be a little bit older if they’re like that. It’s the weak mind, you know.
Nika: (grimly) So they can’t testify.
Arden: Oh. My. God.
Joshua: You mean, like adults?
Ellis: Not adults. More like… he’d be okay with a youngish teenager on that account. Ohterwise it’s got to be a runt.
Nika: Boy or girl?
Arden: (to Joshua) I’m not sure your disguise skills can go that far.
Joshua: Actually, I might be able to do it.

Ellis is not too convinced. We have to find another alternative. And while she’s scouting out the impound yard in anticipation of getting the goods on the Exchequer, going over contingency plans and praying they’ll be fast enough to save the kid before the worst happens, Rina spots a nearby store with high-tech imaging equipment. The neighborhood around the lot is sketchy at best but the area immediately surrounding the impound fence is paradoxically made safer by the increased Federal presence. Hence, that high-tech store.

And in the window is the answer to our prayers. The latest in holographic telephonics: a 3D imaging package that would allow anyone to project a convincingly solid 3D holographic image via camera feed. “So realistic, it’s better than real” is the slogan.

Rina immediately realizes this is the answer to our moral objection to the sting. With this set-up, we no longer need to put the child in the same room with the pedophile—we can ‘beam’ him in via the camera, filming the child in a room identical to the one we’ve arranged for the Exchequer’s ‘fun’. Rina watches the demo in the store window avidly, checking the hologram for the tells that would give it away: flicker, grain, motion stutter.

The hologram is extremely convincing. It’s also extremely expensive.

Rina starts scoping out the security of the store, already deciding to come back and rob the place. She notices that the security measures are a little more lax, thanks to the implied security provided by the Fed presence next door. As she’s pondering her strategy a truck pulls up to the curb and some burly guys jump out, open up the back of it, and start hauling stuff inside. The boxes are big and the driver gets out to help, leaving the engine running. Rina walks up, slides in behind the wheel, and peels out, stealing the truck. Rina parks it once she’s safely away and takes quick look in the back. One of the holo-phonics is sitting inside.

She takes the box with the holo-phonic and closes up the truck with the keys inside and walks off. Once she rejoins the others, the planning starts anew.

We have to film the kid and beam him in real-time into the room with the Exchequer, but since the kid will be a hologram, the second the Exchequer lays a hand on the image, the jig is up. We have to delay the touching business long enough to get the goods on the man.

Arden: This guy is not going to do anything incriminating with an image.
Rina: Not unless he believed it was real.

The Exchequer is an important figure, enough that things wouldn’t have to get too far in order to smear him good. There’s still an element of risk—the kid cannot be too far from the Exchequer’s room, due to limitations in the camera’s broadcasting range. Say, a room two floors away. Arden says he still feels slimy about the whole business but we all agree this is infinitely better than actually having the kid in the same room with the Exchequer. Further discussion with Ellis as to the Exchequer’s habits reveals the official likes ‘fresh kids’, those who have no idea what’s coming because their fear is part of the thrill.

Nika: In other words, he likes the scare. But kids are going to be scared no matter what.
Ellis: He starts off by being nice to the kids. And then, you know, takes it to another level. Usually by then the kids are not in a position where they can refuse. It ain’t pretty.

The crew trades looks. Do we really want to do this?

Rick: All right. Well, then, we just need you guys to get a kid.

Ellis agrees and it’s all over but for the rationalizing.

Rina: (sighing) It’s better than having him physically in the room with the bastard.
Nika: Why? He’ll just be physically in the room with the next one.
Ellis: You can’t change the whole Verse.
Nika: No, you can’t.
Arden: That doesn’t mean we should let what we can change happen.
Rina: At least it’s one less bastard.
Joshua: (quietly) Okay.
Arden: If he refuses to do our bidding, can I just shoot him?
Joshua: Why are you looking at me?
Rina: Why wait for him to refuse? Just get the goods on him. (gets up and starts pacing) I say we get what we need and then shoot the bastard.

Ellis offers up a suggestion.

Ellis: It might be possible—
Rina: (rounding on him) Oh, Jesus Christ!
Joshua: No, no, no. Let him go.
Rina: (backing off) …Yeah, yeah….(paces)
Joshua: Keep on going. ‘It might be possible …’?
Ellis: If the kid thinks we’re playing a trick on the man…
Joshua: Right.
Ellis: ‘He’s gonna say a buncha silly stuff’, you’re gonna say ‘Yes, mister. No, mister.’ and you’re gonna be safe in another room. It’s not necessarily going to be …
Joshua: Mentally scarring?
Ellis: (nods) Mentally scarring to the child.


Rina: Can we take the kid back to his mom and dad?
Nika: And that’s where I was coming from with this. The kid’s not going to be in the same room and we don’t want a kid who’s going to go scream and lose it.
Rick: And unfortunately we know that this is going on in the Blackout Zone, so unless we wanna create the crime-trolling force of preventing pedophilia in the Blackout Zone, where one building alone is ten blocks wide and a hundred stories tall, we’d need probably a thousand people to patrol that. At least.
Ellis: Like I said. You can get one guy off the street. You can save one kid. That might be something.
Rick: We could nuke the building from orbit.
Arden, Rick and Rina together: It’s the only way to be sure.

And we start to laugh. We’ve run ourselves through the emotional wringer for this, so for God’s sake, crack a joke. It’s that or be consumed by the horror of it all. Rina suggests strapping the Exchequer to the nuke and then launching it. Arden says he just wants to strap him to the engine. Joshua asks us not to kill anyone, please.

We settle after a minute.

Joshua: Let’s not nuke anybody please.
Rina: (scrubbing her face) … oh, God….
Ellis: Maybe you don’t wanna go that far.

Saturday, 25 Jan 2521 (4 days later)

We gather at the brownstone on the day of the sting, set up our equipment and finalize our plans. The environment is as depressing now as it was when we first scouted it out—not so many cars as elsewhere and what cars there are, are broken down wrecks on the curb. Rats, cats, garbage. Buildings dirty and in disrepair. An entire section of the city bypassed by municipal services. Ellis tells us that we can expect the Exchequer to be driven up to the door, escorted inside by two or more body guards. There might be more in the area. Expect to see one or more of Lazlo’s people in attendance. Nobody exchanges names, they don’t do anything. The Exchequer will usually have a toy or candy.

Ellis: Sometimes he wants the kid to go for a ride and if that happens, then you know what you have to do.

Because what we’ve got isn’t a portable holographic projector.

Also, since someone from either Lazlo’s men or from the Exchequer will already be waiting in the building to let the man in, that means at least one of us should be in the hallway where the kid is, to protect the kid. Rick volunteers for guard duty. We’ll need one person sitting with the kid, Joshua says, and someone should be in the building across the way to keep an eye on things with—. Nika cuts him off with the reminder that we need to keep in mind what’s realistic and having someone in a building across the street with a sniper rifle isn’t realistic. If we want to have someone sitting on the front stoop keeping an eye on things, that’s doable.

Rick doesn’t think that Rina or Arden should be the ones assigned that detail. He’s pretty much right, since both Arden and Rina have some rather strong feelings about this whole sordid mess already and probably shouldn’t be the ones standing just outside. Joshua counts himself in with Arden and Rina on that score. It’s decided that Joshua will stay with the kid inside the building. Arden will take up post on the stairs, to go up or down as needed. Nika elects to keep an eye on the goons outside and take Rina with her as back-up. The women will pose as two of the neighborhood’s street people and if necessary, engage the Exchequer’s men to keep them from coming to the man’s aid when the others nail him.

We will be able to record everything via the cameras to back up our claims. Rick will monitor the video camera feed to watch for the Exchequer’s move. When it goes down, he’ll signal the rest of us. The BOZ doesn’t have Cortex signal or much in the way of comms, but we manage to rig up something that works for the short range we’re scattered in.

Nika and Rina take up their positions a few doors down across the street. Nika’s disguised as a brunette crack addict looking to score either crack or a hump. Rina’s a few yards away scavenging through the trash and curb clutter, toting a shoulder bag with some cans and bottles.

Thus prepared as far as we are able, we wait.

The kid arrives first and he’s hip to pulling a fast one on a fat cat sunlight-pullin’ government official. Hell, he’s all for it. Of course, there’s a reward for this, right? The boy’s no stranger to the streets, having worked since he can remember doing odd jobs delivering messages, running errands, minor punkery and such. It takes Joshua a minute to wrap his mind around the kid’s combination of street hustler and tender age. Ellis sees the kid is put in Joshua’s hands and goes back outside to take up a position on a nearby stoop, booze bottle in hand and fitting right into the scenery, thank you.

The Exchequer’s car arrives a short time later. A man gets out and he doesn’t look like your standard SPO but more like private security. Which would make sense if you were a government official with something to hide. The bodyguard is carrying a large briefcase. The Exchequer follows behind him. Rick sees them coming and opens the door.

Eschequer: (pointing at case) I’ve brought a telescreen. The kid might like kid films, stuff like that. Which room am I going to?

Rick points out the proper room and closes the front door.

Exchequer: So that’s what? A couple of hours?
Rick: Yeah.
Exchequer: Here you go.

And the Exchequer hands Rick the standard fee, then goes inside the room. His bodyguard takes up his station outside it. Upstairs, Joshua has the kid posed on an identical bed as the one in the Exchequer’s room and the holophonic is up and running and broadcasting the kid’s image downstairs. Joshua’s already warned the kid not to let the fat cat touch him as part of the punking. Downstairs, the Exchequer puts that to the test as he walks in and approaches the hologram on the bed. The kid can see what’s going on via the spy camera’s monitor and moves out of the Exchequer’s reach.

Exchequer: (friendly-like) Hi. Did they tell you why I’m here?
Kid: (playing it) No… except that you were going to… give me a present?
Exchequer: (brightly) Yeah! Hey, have you ever seen one of these?

He opens up the briefcase and reveals the telescreen. The kid affects a dubious look.

Exchequer: You could watch your favorite shows. You watch the tri-vid?
Kid: Yeah…. I seen’em before.

The Exchequer sets it up to cartoons and the sting gets underway.

Outside on the street, Nika’s eyeballing the Exchequer’s car from her stoop and aside from a second bodyguard standing outside the car, reckons the driver’s still in it. So there’s at least one more person to deal with, possibly more. Ellis did mention the Exchequer traveled with two or three men. Maintaining her cover as a crack addict-woman of easy virtue, Nika slouches off her stoop and approaches the car. The plan is, Nika will shine the driver on and Rina will step in if needed. Rina hangs back to avoid suspicion, going through the cans on the other side of the street. She’s got her gun tucked in the rear waistband of her cargoes under a ratty jacket and the usual suspects in her pockets. Nika, in the guise of a crack addict and whore, isn’t wearing enough to conceal much of anything, much less a gun. Rina keeps an eye on the other side of the street and the can between her and the bodyguard.

Rina: (muttering) Ahhh, man… People don’t throw away good shit anymore…. (paws through another can) … damn cheapskate skinflints….I gotta livin’ to scav here….

Nika sashays up to the bodyguard. He’s bored and offers her a cigarette.

Bodyguard: Getting’ a lotta business done today?
Nika: Ya gotta be kiddin’ right?
Bodyguard: You picked the streets, lady. I dunno your business.
Nika: Well, I dunno. This must be my lucky day, cuz I saw you guys pull up.
Bodyguard: Well, I’m afraid that my employer’s not really interested in your…wares, today.
Nika: (shines him on) What about you?
Bodyguard: I got a… No offense, but I haven’t had my shots, so…
Nika: Hey now, I’m clean.
Bodyguard: Yeah.
Nika: I ain’t even got my meds this week.
Bodyguard: I think you should just move along.
Nika: Aww, ain’cha got the time’a day for a workin’ girl?

The bodyguard reaches into his pocket and pulls out a platinum coin and flips it to her. Nika makes it disappear.

Bodyguard: Just find another corner, okay?
Nika: Well….if you change your mind, I’ll be around.
Bodyguard: Yeah. I’ll keep that in mind.
Nika: (turning to go) Thank ya, kindly.

She sashays away, all the while thinking her poor Daddy’s rolling in his grave.

Nika: (to herself) Daddy’s done drilled himself to hell by now.

Back inside the brownstone, the Exchequer has progressed from the creepy uncle who wants to give you gifts to ‘It’s time to give me a gift’.

Exchequer: I paid for you. You have to do what I say.

Upstairs on the camera, we get a nice full view of him saying it. Joshua judges it’s sufficient to nail the man to the wall but before he can signal the rest of the crew to come in, the Exchequer lunges for the kid on the bed and—Fwmmmm!—falls right through the hologram.

Rick kicks in the door. The Exchequer turns around, surprised and angry.

Rick: That was a robot!

The Exchequer reaches into his pocket. Rick susses it’s not a gun but something else—like an emergency beeper to the goons outside. Rick leaps in and grabs his arm. Upstairs, Joshua sees everything and telling the kid to stay put, he runs out to Arden and tells him what’s going on.

It’s a go! Go!

Downstairs in the room, Rick pins the Exchequer down. The Exchequer snarls at Rick to release him, now, or he’ll unleash the full legal might of—

Rick: We have it all on tape.
Exchequer: No one’s going to believe someone like you. You’re gonna release a tape that you set up some sort of prostitution ring?
Rick: You’re the pedophile. I’m not on the tape.
Exchequer: Who are you?

Rick refuses to answer and the Exchequer is still calm and trying to bargain, despite the arm lock Rick has him in.

Exchequer: Listen, listen. I’ve worked out this scenario in my head a lot of times. It’s just not worth it to you. What do you hope to get?
Rick: Whaddya got?
Exchequer: I can get you some money, but…right now you oughta be thinking about how you’re gonna survive.
Rick: Survive what? Your four thugs?
Exchequer: That’s something you might want to think about.
Rick: That’s nothing to me.
Exchequer: Let’s suppose you escape, then what?
Rick: I got you, buddy. Lookit how big this shithole is. Where are they gonna find us? In the hundred story building that’s ten blocks wide? How long’s it gonna take them to find us there? These guards aren’t going to be reportin’ back anytime soon, because if they come lookin’ for ya, I’m gonna kill them.
Exchequer: (still skeptical) Right. And then what? Who are you going to take me to? Who are you going to sell me to? What do you hope to make from this?
Rick: I got some plans.

Arden arrives.

Exchequer: This is suicide. I’m tellin’ ya guys.
Rick: Did your buddies bring rocket launchers?
Exchequer: I don’t think you know who I—
Rick: I know who you are. Exactly who you are.
Arden: Which is why you’re still alive.
Exchequer: Then you know that you’re signing your death warrant unless you release me now.
Rick: (Nope!) Hm. Not a death warrant for me.
Arden: It would be a shame to be a public official with tapes propositioning young boys to be released to the media.
Exchequer: Exactly. So now if you release this…you’ll have nothing to live for, right?
Rick: You’re going down too with us then.
Arden: Here’s the deal.
Exchequer: Okay.
Arden: You are going to arrange for us to get what we need and you’re going to go back to living your life however you want to.
Exchequer: What is it you need?
Arden: We’ll get to that in a few minutes. Right now, we need to decide what to do with you… in the moment.

They decide to tie him up. Rick leans in and says softly:

Rick: As long as you don’t resist, I’m not gonna kill you.
Exchequer: The longer you do this, the more likely you’re going to…

He trails off, perhaps thinking on what constitutes resistance. Arden goes upstairs to get Joshua. Meanwhile, Rick is watching the time. The Exchequer told his men he’d be two hours. It wouldn’t do to run long and rouse their suspicions. We have thirty minutes left before they come knocking.

Arden explains to Joshua why he’s needed downstairs.

Arden: You need to talk to him because you’re the persuasive one and I’m not.
Joshua: Ookay. So…let’s get this straight. We’re gonna tell him…?

That we want him to shift the ships in the impound yard across town as a distraction so we can waltz in and steal our ship back, while leaving the evidence lockers open for Lazlo’s men to cherry pick for profit. Joshua and Arden hit the stairs to the ground floor.

Joshua: And we know where that impound lot is?
Arden: Yeah.
Joshua: Have you patted him down? Have you gotten his stuff?
Arden: I assume Rick’s doing that now.

And Rick is, actually. Going through the man’s pockets. Rick finds a short range communicator, some platinum coins, and some candy. No ID. Rick takes them all. He pockets the comm and the platinum and eyeballs the candy. Poisoned? Doesn’t look like it. He stows the candy and turns as Joshua enters

Joshua has met the Exchequer before, but not in his current guise as Joshua. A blessing.

Joshua: We need a ship and you’re going to be our way of getting to it. You help us do that, it would help my soul that you’ll go on to live to … do whatever it is you do. Our ship is in the impound yard—.
Exchequer: Your ship is in the impound yard?
Joshua: Yes. You have our ship. It’s in the impound yard. You’re going to give us the passkey so we can get in. You’re going to give some orders to the people there, basically making it easier for us to get in.
Exchequer: I don’t have my passkey on me.

Joshua looks at Rick.

Joshua: (to Rick) True?
Rick: Mm-hm. He didn’t have a passkey on him.
Joshua: (to Exchequer) Okay. Where is it?
Exchequer: Back at my office.

Not leaving it to chance, Joshua surface-reads the man: He’s lying.

Joshua: Don’t bullshit me. If you’re lying, tell me where it is. I don’t want to hurt you. But my friends…?
Rick: If you’re lyin’, you’re dyin’.
Joshua: Pretty much.
Exchequer: It’s in the car.

He seems to be telling the truth.

Joshua: How many men do you have with you other than the driver and the man outside?
Exchequer: Two guards and a driver.
Rick: Are they wearing armor?
Exchequer: I assume so.
Joshua: We’ll be right back.

Joshua goes back upstairs to Arden.

Joshua: We got him, so…how are we getting him out of here, again?
Arden: We’ll have to deal with the guards now.
Joshua: Do we have a plan for that? Other than killing them? We’re not killing them? Disabling them?

Rather than an elaborate ambush, Rick comes up with something simple. He’ll just stick his head out the front door, motion the guard over by saying the Exchequer needs him to bring something. Something the Exchequer won’t tell Rick about. And when the guard goes inside to verify the order, Rick will take him out and repeat the process with the remaining guard using another convenient lie.

Divide and conquer. Simple.

Joshua: That works for me.

Of course, this trick may only work once, but it will have the added benefit of alerting Nika and Rina outside that things are wrapping up. Rick sticks his head outside and catches the guard’s attention.

Rick: He needs you.
Bodyguard: What’s the problem?
Rick: Your boss needs to talk to you. He won’t tell me what he needs but he said you have to get him something.

The bodyguard signals to the car that he’s going in and he goes inside. Rick shuts the door, normal as you please. Outside, the car door opens and another guard steps out. Rina sees Rick speak to the guard, watch the other guard take his place. She signals in turn to Nika around the corner that it’s going down.

Inside, Rick shows the guard to the Exchequer’s room. The Exchequer is tied up and sitting on the bed and Arden is sitting next to him with his gun aimed at the door. So the guard gets quite an eyeful when he steps inside. Rick waits until the guard’s back is turned before pulling his knife out, holding it ready to throw through the man’s elbow.

The guard takes in the room and tries to zip out, drawing his weapon. Rick throws his knife into the guard’s drawing arm. The knife and the drawing arm arc and swing. They connect. The blade buries itself into the door jamb, skewering the guard’s gunhand to the wood.

The guard screams. The gun falls. The knife wins.

Rick picks up the gun. Arden approaches the guard with his, discouraging the man from making any funny moves—like calling for reinforcements.

Arden: (to guard) Lucky for you I’m a doctor.

Outside, Rina advances on the Exchequer’s car, staying inside her cover by going through the trash. There isn’t a lot of trash on this side of the street and she’s bitching as she goes.

Rina: There’s not enough trash… Howza person supposed to make a decent living scavving when there’s fuckin’ nothin’ here, man? Grrrr…. Jeez…

This of course catches the eye of the remaining guard as she hopes. He goes up and tries moving her along.

Guard: I think you’re done here.
Rina: Hey, get your own trash, buddy. (turns back to the garbage) Aww, man… this was better last week…

The guard pulls his sidearm and gestures Rina off with it.

Guard: It’s time for you to leave.
Rina: (raising hands, backing off) Jeez, all right… you want th’garbage? Fine. S’shit anyway…

The guard is ten feet away. He’s got a gun. So does she. He has an earcomm. She does not. But the BOZ will limit his range to the car and the area just inside the building. He has back up in the form of the driver and the car. She’s got Nika just around the corner.

He’s moving. She’s got two seconds to decide what to do.

Acting like the street freak she’s pretending to be, she gets closer to him, trusting that most people are going to back away rather than attack. Of course, we’re talking most people. He, on the other hand, attempts to shoot her. She’s been keeping an eye out for anything hinky. He shoots. She dodges.

And then she grabs his gun arm and flips him onto the hood of the car. She’s really really really REALLY pissed that pedophiles get to walk the dirt and hire goons like him to watch his back. She pins him to the hood and Nika closes in as fast as her footgear will allow. Good lord, her crazy engineer is gonna kill somebody—against orders.

Inside, Rick and Arden are trussing up the bodyguard they’ve captured. Arden covers him with his gun while Rick does the honors tying him up, going through his pockets. Aside from the gun, Rick doesn’t find anything else but a slim billfold with some money. Rick takes it and brandishes his knife.

Rick: We don’t want to kill you but if you act up, this is goin’ into your head.

Job done, Arden glances outside to check on Nika and Rina and sees Rina all over someone on the hood of a car. Upstairs, Joshua sees the same and goes down to investigate. Out on the hood of the car, Rina disarms the guard and his gun skitters to the pavement. Before she can do anything further another guard gets out of the car.

Huh. Looks like our headcount was off by one.

Nika doesn’t have a gun but she thinks fast and comes up with a distraction.

Nika: (Indignant) Hey! Hey, whaddya doin’ to th’ crazy girl? Get’cher hands offa her!

Joshua hears this as he makes the front door and he starts double timing it down the stoop. Nika’s outburst was surprising, but not sufficient to deter the guard. He draws his gun and moves for Rina and the man on the hood. Rina sees the man coming but has her hands full. The guard shoots, Rina ducks behind the hood and dodges the shot. She jumps up to finish the job. Her fist glances off him with little effect, he swings, she dodges.

The fight is on.

The second bodyguard is using the opened car door for partial cover. Nika runs up and slams the door into him. Joshua grabs the man on the hood and yanks him to the ground. Nika opens the car door and slams it into her opponent again. He remains conscious but the impact pins and disorients him. Joshua has the other guard by the leg and Rina throws a punch and misses. He’s squirming and flipping, but Rina and Joshua are determined and it’s all over in a few furious passes.

In the end, we’ve got two tied up guards on the street and the one inside, the car, the kid, and of course, the Exchequer. We get the guards off the street and inside the building, empty their pockets, and take their gear. We take their comm units and call Ellis over.

Ellis has been watching the entire operation go down from his stoop and he walks over, amused.

Ellis: That was pretty funny. Took you a long time to knock those guys out.
Nika: Excuse me?
Joshua: Yeah, well. We’re not professional knock-out guys.
Rick: You should’a seen the knife work.

We leave the guards tied in duct tape in the building and get the kid out of there. We board the Exchequer’s car and take him, our camera gear and the kid with us. The kid claims the portable telescreen as his—and we have no problem with that. We’ve also got twenty platinum from the guards and Rick gives the kid some platinum he found frisking them. Not much, only three or four in case the kid would spend it on drugs or set himselfup in an unsavory business with it, but it’s platinum and it will buy necessities. And the kid gets to ride home in a fancy car.

How about that?

After we drop off the kid, we get the Exchequer to make the call to transfer all the small ships and land vessels in the impound yard, leaving the Gift behind. Now all we have to do is walk in and take her back.

All in all, not bad for a day’s work.

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