Redemption

While the Cap'n's Away...
Something hinky is happening on Higgins Moon

So, we were all enjoyin' some pleasant downtime, due ta meet back at the ship in a couple weeks, back on Persephone. The cap'n contacted me ta say he wouldn't be back in time, but he'd set up our next job for us. Everything was arranged. We'd do two jobs, receivin' the pay after completin' the first delivery. We just had to meet up with some fella name of Badger to pick up the goods. Alyss also called in that he wouldn't be back in time (Alyss being our hired hand, what we took on after… ya' know).

So, when Callum and Seraph (more of a partner than a hired hand, that one) returned to the ship, I told them we'd been hired and had ta meet Badger ta get the stuff. Callum and I had sort of a… dispute, it were, 'cause Callum, he was sayin', "We'll go talk to this Badger and see if we want to do it." While I understood the job to be a foregone conclusion because the cap'n had made the arrangements. This led to much amusement on Seraph's part at—what he described as—Callum and I talkin' right past each other. Also, some discussion on whether the ship were a democracy or not. (It ain't.)

But we did go see Badger. And he was pissed that the cap'n weren't present. Now, Cap'n had made it very clear ta me that this job was super important, so we agreed to Badger's why-should-I-trust-you terms, which were that we had to put down a deposit on the goods, which we'd get back with our payment for delivery. This whole interview involved a lot of posturin' from the menfolk and ended with Badger punching Callum in the stomach, followed by Seraph agreein' to Badger's terms but staring him down to unnerve him some.

So then we headed off to a tiny place called Higgins Moon to make our delivery. Now, you might think this'd be where the bad guys spring a trap, but… as it turns out… we was the trap that was being sprung.

See, we'd been told who our contact was and given coordinates for an out-of-the-way place to set down. There we were met by guys with a truck to pick up the goods. But our contact weren't with them. She was waitin' for us back in town, they said. So we rode with them in their truck, a little unnerved about some sounds we were hearin' off in the distance. Seraph thought maybe he heard artillery. I was more concerned with closer sounds, like how the poor trunk engine sounded.

Well, they didn't take us into town, after all. The truck stopped at an old church. The sound of that poor thing really pained me. I just couldn't resist and immediately slid under the truck to see what were the problem with it. Then I heard a woman's voice say, "You must be Bekkah." It was our contact, a nice, though tired lookin' middle-aged woman. I'm a bit ashamed to say her name escapes me, something Japanese like, from old Earth-that-was. But ya' can't fault me too much, that engine was near death.

The men we'd met were carryin' the crates into the church building and we walked along with the lady, after they pulled me away from that engine, and what we found inside was triage. Callum was appalled at the state of medical care (or lack there of) going on. One of the crates was opened… it were medical supplies. Angry but efficient, Callum set to work. Meanwhile, Seraph's seeing what's in these other crates and they're weapons. Not only that, but they're weapons sent from the cap'n. The cap'n was our client all along! Or hirer, rather, I guess I should say.

So while I was tryin' ta help Callum as best I could (that not being much, people-parts bein' so diff'rent from machine parts), Seraph gets the story out of the woman. Higgins has been crackin' down on people something awful. It's reached war-stage. There'd been a bit of a rebellion a little while back, supported by Fess (the son of Higgins), but Fess had been killed (perhaps by Higgins himself, I heard tell rumor).

So Seraph assessed the whole situation and tried to figure out what we could do ta help, not being able to personally fight an army. I did my best to fix up their shoddy equipment, and Callum saved as many lives as he could. But ultimately, we decided if we could get to Higgins himself, we could put an end to the insanity. So, we planned a raid on Higgins' mansion (a fine house, larger'n the maidenhouse back on Triumph, and filled with some mighty pretty stuff, but I'm sure Callum could talk more smart about that than me).

So, we did this raid, without the cap'n… given everything that were goin' on, it were figured that the cap'n must be in a bad situation to have set us up to do this and not be back in time to come along. I know I sure was wonderin' where he was. But the cap'n trusted us to this job, so do it we did.

As is true anywhere in the 'Verse, there were some mishaps. Some attempts to move about silently and remain hidden from the guards… failed. Some bodies got stuffed into barrels (not ours). Some radios got confiscated (again, not ours). Some guards—well, I ain't got ta like to say it, but I'm tellin' it to ya' straight—some guards got Seraph’s knives in their throats. Callum caught a guy runnin' 'round the corner towards us and kneed him into unconsciousness. I think you would've been surprised to see him in action.

I got us through the door's security and then we crept around inside. Meanwhile, outside, guards were gettin' confused as to where other guards were 'cause of the aforementioned barrels. We headed up spiral stairs to the floor we suspected Higgins was on. Some guards were coming up the stairs behind us, calling on their radios that there were intruders. Callum used his radio to say the intruders were outside and create more confusion. A right smart one, he is.

On the upper landing, I set to work tryin' ta crack the door while Callum shot down the stairs and even lobbed some grenades below. (I know the cap'n woulda been happy ta see that.) Seraph descended to slice to shreds with his swords whatever goon was in front. After a bit of workin' on the door, I realized it was electronically unlocked, but there must be a physical bar on the other side, so I demanded the only tool we had on hand to deal with that: Callum's shotgun. I know what you're thinkin', "What? My mei-mei with a gun?" Betcha they were prepared for most anything, tucked behind their shiny little door, but not point blank range on the plaster next to it. They don't call me "savant" for nothin'.

So, we did get the door open. Callum tossed a grenade through the hole I'd made to get them away from the door. Higgins and guards were escapin' through the window. Seraph went after them, and Callum covered them from above. The boys seemed to have matters under control, so I followed the siren song of electronics into the office for information. Callum said it was important to get the bank account numbers so that Higgins wouldn't be able to continue to pay mercs to harass these poor people.

So, yeah! We ended up capturing Higgins and endin' the war. I gotta say, the boys were a bit miffed about the cap'n thrusting them into that situation. But I believe when Callum said something like, "Why didn't Ty tell us?" I heard that woman reply, "Because he thought you wouldn't come." To which I believe Callum muttered, "Well, he was right." Mind ya' I might've heard that wrong, over the clank of their poor, poor engines.

Regardless of all that, I'm glad we helped those people. And I'm sure the cap'n had a good reason, whatever it was. Who knows? Maybe Higgins was fundin' Wheeler in some way. And it might very well be that Badger was only willin' ta hold the goods for a very limited time so we had to get them out of there when we did. And if the cap'n knew he couldn't make it back to Persephone from whatever other Wheeler leads he was pursuin' in time to meet us… you know how the 'Verse is. Anything coulda happened with the cap'n, and we were right to do what we did.

We were right.

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Interlude: Stop-Over
Shopping trips are never simple.

Redemption Interlude: Stop-Over

As Ty kept an eye on the navigation readouts on the bridge, he noticed the sensors picking up a space station that wasn’t in Redemption’s records. He commed the engine room for Bekkah. Since Bekkah was asleep, Judah disentangled himself from the wires he was stripping and answered. Ty asked Judah to wake Bekkah. He shook her lightly, and she asked, “Have we exploded yet?” To which Judah replied, “Not yet, mei-mei.” She got up and went to the comm, and Ty asked if the ship could use a rest. She surely could, he was informed. So Ty altered the ship’s course to dock in at the station, to let the systems (and their mechanic) rest a while and also to hopefully pick up some more parts for prolonging the life of the engine (and the crew).

Redemption docked at Dandelion Station, a bright green docking and cargo cylinder with a yellow habitation wheel fanning out at one end. The fees were reasonable, and when they stepped off, they met a short burly man named Carmine, who inquired about their cargo needs. He informed them that they were lucky to have gotten the last large berth for their ship, as the station was rather popular at this point in time. Ty said they had no cargo to offload but did request that they ship be hooked up to the station’s power-grid to take the strain off the engines while keeping life support up and running. After all, Rachel was still in the med-bay, sleeping off her surgery. In the large bay with elevators in the middle, they noticed a man watching the room, leaning against the wall with arms crossed, a large gun very visibly strapped to his hip.

They rode the elevator up to the center column and then switched to another to ride a spoke out to the Wheel. Once there, they found themselves in a populated corridor that served as the main street all the way around the station. There were signs for various stores, some of which were accompanied by monitor screens, others by bona fide windows into their interior. As the group walked around the Wheel, they saw a sign advertising the Waterin’ Hole, with a note saying “Specials available for miners!” Indeed, many of the people they passed were dressed in spacer clothes, overalls or jumpsuits, and seemed of a scruffy nature. A drunken man ambled down the corridor, pausing in front of the Waterin’ Hole sign to laugh at it before continuing on.

They passed a store called SideIron, with a monitor showing a gun swinging back and forth. Callum pressed the call button on the closed door, and a voice asked, “Interested in guns or ammunition?” Judah said, “That’d be why we pressed the button.” The man replied, “Gimme five minutes, and I’ll open ‘er up for you.” Across the street, from the Shave and Haircut, a man immerged, mopping shaving cream from his jowls. He walked up to the door and ushered the men inside. Callum asked if the store wasn’t open yet, but the man, Leroy McMasters, assured them that the store was open from 8 to 6, and as it was 10, he was certainly open for business. The inside of the store was pretty simple, with some basic side arms on display. Leroy asked what they were looking for, and they said ammunition. Ty and Judah requested 50 caliber, and Callum asked for 45, saying, “I’m the scholar of the group.” Leroy took an interested look at all their side arms, and his eyes lit up at Judah’s modified girls. They struck up a conversation, and Callum excused himself.

While the menfolk had stepped inside SideIron, Ashulani and Bekkah continued a mite further to look at some fish in a tank serving the role of window into the eating establishment Koi. Soon they were joined by Callum, who, glancing at his reflection in the window, decided he needed to get cleaned up. He suggested to the women that they eat at the restaurant and then noticed a sign saying reservations were required. Callum asked Ashulani to step inside and make reservations while he went over to the barber. “For how many,” she asked. “For five, of course,” Bekkah interjected. Callum said Ty and Judah were pretty wrapped up in their guns, but Bekkah insisted they’d be lured away if food were involved.

Ty stepped out of SideIron and was informed that they were going to make lunch plans for noonish. Callum went to get his hair cut, leaving Ashulani to make the arrangements. Ty and Bekkah decided to seek out the repair store to see what parts were available. There they met the proprietor, a large Samoan named Ness. Bekkah talked with him about parts, but he really only had minor stuff. He called into the back room for someone, and when there was no answer, he asked if they’d met Donny down in the docking area. They had not. Ness loaded up a box for them, and they headed out. Ty asked Bekkah to take it to the ship and get some rest for a while, since there was still plenty of time until lunch. He intended to get himself cleaned up at the barbershop.

Elsewhere on the station… Ashulani made reservations at Koi with the polite Asian hostess. The menu was very sophisticated and the décor quite nice for so far off the beaten path. Aosha Uduri inquired whether they would be having just fish, or if anyone would be ordering chicken or other small animals, as such things required additional slaughtering time. Ashulani said fish would be fine. Judah, meanwhile, had just stepped out of the SideIron and realized he knew where no one was. However, just as he was about to start further around the Wheel, he saw Ashulani. Callum, too, was finished with the barber, right in time for Ty to pass them by and get a quick shave and trim. The barber, Bevy Henderson, was quite talkative, rambling to Ty, as he had to Callum, about all sorts of things, asking if they’d just arrived, where they were from, had they met Donny yet, etc., etc., etc. Out in the corridor, Callum started to place his hat on his head, but then decided otherwise, given his nice new hairstyle. He told Ashulani that he’d heard from the barber about a couple clothes shops that they could check out, and he was willing to buy her an outfit. Ashulani laughed that that was a dangerous offer, and Callum emphasized that he’d used the singular.

Judah stuck his head in the barbershop to let Ty know what was going on. Ty was just finishing up, and Bevy encouraged Judah to have a seat, to which he agreed. Judah inquired about shiftier things at the station, and Bevy said security was pretty good. However, the station had just relocated to this corner of the ‘Verse, so there were a lot of miners around, checking out the station’s offerings. It was good for business, but Bevy missed his old clients. He said the station relocated every six months or so. Bevy also said that if there were any trouble on the station, it was like to be down around the Waterin’ Hole, and probably stirred up by old Avery, who fit the description of the drunk they’d seen earlier. Bevy told Judah that Hon Fung at Cards and Bones was connected with a Tong, so no one messed with him over there. Bevy also mentioned that the elevators in the central column could actually be detached, thus spacing the occupants if they offended the station operator, Victoria Saunders, who was in all respects, a fair, but no-nonsense, woman.

Ty headed off with Callum and Ashulani. The men went into Ling/Mitchell Tailors, where they got fabulous outfits. Ashulani paid custom to Fashion Now!, where the proprietor, Kristina Lahita seemed to feel a little threatened by the presence of a woman more beautiful than she. However, after Ashulani’s comments about just being on the station for a day or so, Lahita chilled out into a more helpful saleswoman.

The group reassembled at Koi for lunch, but Bekkah was nowhere to be seen. Ty decided to head down to the ship because she must have over-slept. Callum said he should probably check in on Rachel, anyway. Ashulani told the hostess they would be back shortly, and they all headed down to the ship. When they got there, Ashulani went to her rooms to drop off her purchases. Callum stopped in the med-bay. Ty headed around to the crew quarters, shouting for Bekkah all the while. Judah simply walked right to the engine room but found it exactly as he’d left it earlier. He headed around to meet with Ty in front of the starboard cargo bay, one gun in hand. There, he and Ty conferred, worried about what had happened to their pilot. Callum saw them from down the hallway, in front of the port guest suite, and asked what was going on. Everyone gathered to discuss what to do. Ashulani really seemed like she wanted to stay on the ship, rather than go off looking for Bekkah. The men, on the other hand, set off to find her. By the elevators, Ty talked to the security chief, Russel Jones. Russel asked if there was any reason to suspect foul play, and Ty said not exactly, but that they were pretty worried and would appreciate if security kept their eyes open for her.

Then the men headed back to the Wheel. First Callum ducked into Koi to push their reservations to dinnertime. Ty figured the first place to check would be with Ness, at Pieces and Parts, in case she’d gone back there. But the friendly Samoan had not seen Bekkah since she’d been there with Ty. He said that the people on the station who would know anything worth knowing would be Bevy at the Shave and Haircut or Tommy at the Waterin’ Hole. Bevy hadn’t seen anyone matching Ty’s description of “a girl about yay high with dirty blonde hair, done up in two antennae.” So the men moved on to the Waterin’ Hole, stopping along the way at Download, the cortex café. The proprietor, Terry Skylor, was a hipster very popular with his teen clientele. He wasn’t particularly interested in being helpful and said he’s not seen Bekkah.

The entrance to the saloon was a foyer with a gun checking wheel and a very large man obstructing the doorway beyond it. Judah headed straight to that doorway, but the man blocked him, saying, “You’ll want to be checking those.” Judah simply replied, “We are trying to find someone very important to us, and we’re wondering if she might be here.” And the guy said, “And you’re welcome to find out… after you check those.” Callum quickly checked his guns and entered the bar. Judah glanced at Ty, who nodded, and checked his guns, asking if the bouncer had seen a girl of Bekkah’s description. He said he didn’t remember, but they should look inside.

Callum, discomforted by the whole situation, got a seat at the end of the bar and made small talk with the miners around him, saying he was looking for a girl of Bekkah’s general description. One of the miners said he needed to check out Kitties in Kages. When Ty came into the room, he went right up to the bartender and asked for Tommy. The man said he was lookin’ at ‘im. Ty inquired about a girl of Bekkah’s description, but Tommy had not seen her. Ty asked about if anything unseemly happened around the station. Tommy said the security force were topnotch, and that if anyone got on the wrong side of the owner, Victoria Saunders, they’d find themselves taking a long elevator ride. With the move of the station to its new location, though, there were a lot of people around who he just didn’t know well enough to speak for their intentions. Tommy then admitted that if there were illicit business going on, Carmine would be the man to talk to about it. Ty asked about places where there might be “action” to be had, and Tommy said weren’t no way Yan Mei would let anyone cut into her business in that way. Judah asked the wait staff, but no one had seen Bekkah. Callum was growing more frustrated, and left when he saw Judah and Ty heading out. They reclaimed their guns, discussing whether they should go see Carmine or check out Kitties in Kages. Callum thought that wasn’t an actual lead, more like a suggestion for entertainment, but Ty thought it worth looking into.

Before going to Kitties in Kages, though, Ty wanted to call down to Ashulani in the ship. The only place to do that from the Wheel was Download, so it was back to there. Judah and Callum lingered outside the doorway while Ty went in, threw some credits at Terry, and sat down. Shortly thereafter a string of curses spewed forth from his mouth. Judah pushed open the door, alarmed. Terry yelled at Ty, “Keep it down, Grandpa.” But with fiery glares shooting at him from Judah and Ty, he wilted, muttering, “There are children here….”

In the corridor, Ty informed Callum and Judah that Ashulani had not answered at the ship. Judah glowered even more, if that were possible. “This is ruinin’ my sunny disposition…” he growled. They were itching to go talk to Carmine, to see what he knew, but Ty figured they should swing by Kitties in Kages, while still on the Wheel, just in case. “Time to go to the whore store…,” he muttered.

Kitties in Kages turned out to be not exactly what the men were expecting. At the door there was a sign posted in English and Chinese with the rules of the establishment. #1: No touching. #2: No touching. #3: No touching. They entered and took in the layout of the place. The hostess was a standoffish Asian woman, Yan Mei. There was a bar area with five cages, four of which had pretty, scantily clad women dancing. There were also some tables and booths. The place didn’t have many people in the early afternoon. Ty’s sharper eyes took in the knives concealed by the hostess’s flowing sleeves. And then he saw something else, something that made him swear up a storm all over again. Judah and Callum looked at him, and he pointed to the back of the room. There, seated at a booth, were Ashulani and Bekkah. Bekkah was tugging her ear and sliding out of the booth to stand at the edge and shyly wave at the menfolk. Judah stalked right up to her, to within just inches and glared down at her. “Where have you been?!” he growled. Bekkah backed up a little and nervously stammered, “Ah think jus’ ‘bout everywhere y’all’s been!” From the booth, Ashulani admonished, “Judah!” He took a step back and let out a breath. “We were worried sick, mei-mei.” Ty and Callum came over, and Ty asked what happened. Bekkah said she would be happy to tell them, but seein’ as how she’d cost everyone their nice lunch, might be they could leave this particular establishment and head over to the Hot Plate for some food. Ashulani seconded the idea, seeing as how they had dinner reservations already in place for later. Callum asked how she knew that. Ashulani just smiled, and Bekkah insisted she would explain it all over lunch. And so they headed out, with Callum carrying a box of engine parts and Judah hovering not a foot away from Bekkah the whole walk over. Once there, Bekkah and Ashulani filled the men in on their own afternoon.

After parting ways with Ty, a tired Bekkah had headed to the lifts to take the parts down to the ship. On the way, she saw a sign for the Garden Patch, and she went inside to see what it was. The woman there, Melissa Moonbeam, sold herbs and vegetables, and Bekkah spent a long time looking around there. She lost track of time, and then realized she was late for lunch, so she ran over to Koi. (What Bekkah did not say was that she had lost track of time at the Garden Patch because Melissa let her inspect very closely and take notes on the hydroponics facility set up in the back room.) When Bekkah got to Koi, the hostess told her the lunch had been rescheduled, that her companions had gone off to do something and would be back in fifteen minutes. Figuring that was enough time to get her stuff back to the ship, Bekkah hurried on down.

Now, after the men had left the ship, Ashulani had checked in on Rachel for a while. When she was leaving the med-bay, she heard the sounds of the airlock opening and glanced carefully around the corner. She saw Bekkah with a sheaf of papers rushing down the hall. Ashulani called Bekkah, who spun around in surprise. The Companion told the mechanic that the men had gone off to look for her, because they were worried that something had happened. Bekkah stammered, as she continued to the engine room, that she’d just been ten minutes late! She told Ashulani they should go find the men so that they’d stop worrying about her. Ashulani suggested they just wait at the ship, but Bekkah thought that would be a waste of time. They got to the engine room and an exhausted Bekkah realized that she didn’t actually have the box of parts! So then she insisted that they go, because she needed to find it. She was going to go with or without the Companion; Ashulani relented.

They first went to the Garden Patch, where Bekkah cheerfully greeted Melissa and inquired whether a box had been found. She was let into the hydroponics room and there recovered her box of parts. Then they stopped at Koi, intending to change the reservations to dinner, and found that Callum had already done so. Ashulani apologized to the hostess for all the confusion and paid upfront for the dinner. Bekkah figured Ty would’ve gone to Nass, so that’s where the women headed. Nass confirmed he’d sent them on to the barber and the bar. Bekkah recommended they go straight to the bar, as that’s where her fellas were most likely to go when lookin’ for trouble. They got to the bar and entered the foyer. Ashulani asked the bouncer, “Have there been some men here looking for her?” The bouncer nodded and asked if they were in some kind of trouble. “No, we’re with ‘em,” Bekkah insisted. The bouncer said he’d heard them mention Kitties in Kages. “Just like men,” Ashulani muttered. So the women headed over there, and since the men hadn’t yet been seen there, they took a booth and settled in to wait.

Bekkah repeated insisted that she was very sorry for alarming everyone, that she had only been a little late and that she hadn’t meant to scare anyone. She remembered she had something for Judah then, and tossed him a bag of spices she’d gotten at the Garden Patch, for which he thanked her. Bekkah went on to say that it was just a space station, so there was really nowhere she could’ve gone. Ty pointed out that after the events on Larroque, they had a right to be a mite nervous when people went a-missin’. Judah muttered that they really needed to get a set of personal communicators. After lunch Ty said he’d take the box down to the ship. Bekkah asked if he’d be okay by himself, trying to joke. Ty said sarcastically, yes, he thought he would be able to travel 150 yards by himself getting from one place to the next without incident… and then added under his breath, “unlike some people.” Callum was offering to pay for a fancy outfit for Bekkah from Fashion Now!, but said he would actually go down to the ship with Ty to check in on Rachel again. Bekkah turned to Judah, “You’re gonna come help us choose an outfit, right?” To which Judah stammered agreement. So, Ashulani and Judah helped Bekkah choose a nice outfit, and everyone had a very elegant dinner, after which they had a restful night on Redemption before heading out to Whitefall in the morning.

End Notes: The space station and the people on board were designed by Lynn LeFey and accessed at http://www.aimoo.com/forum/postview.cfm?id=671180&CategoryID=456017&startcat=1&ThreadID=2313352

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This week, on Redemption
Trailer for Interlude: Stop-Over

(Black screen.)

Out in the Black…

(A space station slides onscreen from the left, and the camera pulls back to show the vantage point is Redemption’s bridge. Ty is sitting in the pilot seat. He flicks a switch.)

Ty: Bekkah! BEKKAH!

When your ship is falling apart…

Cut: (Redemption’s soot-covered, part strewn engine room. Judah is on the floor in a mess of wires, stripping ends and twisting them together. Off on the side, Bekkah is asleep on a cot. Judah rises to his feet and hits the comm.)

Judah: She’s asleep Ty. What’s goin’ on?

Anything is better than nothing…

Cut to: (an airlock, the door scrawled with, “Welcome aboard. Please don’t put no holes in my station. We reserve the right to detach your vessel or space you if you get rowdy.”)

Except when all you can find…

Cut to: (Ashulani, Callum, and Judah looking at fine clothes displayed in a window. Ty stares up the corridor, people are jostling by. Ty scratches his head, then turns, eyes sweeping past Judah, Callum, and Ashulani.)

Ty: Where’s that girl gotten off to?

... is trouble.

Quick cuts: (A man behind a bar, hands in the air)

(A close-up of a fish’s eye. Then the head flicks to stare straight-on at the camera.)

(Ashulani smiling demurely)

Ashulani: There are other ways to deal handle this.

(A burly, hair-covered man)

Man: Lucky you got a docking. We got all manner of people on-station these days.

(An upscale-looking establishment, four pretty women, scantily clad, dancing in cages. A fifth cage is empty.)

(A close-up of small, green leaves)

(A harried-looking man with a gun leveled.)

Man: Ain’t no one movin’ tils I have all yer carryin’.

(A ship pulling away from the station)

(Black screen)

Woman’s voice-over: My baby! They’ve taken my baby!

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