Few of Days and Full of Trouble

Episode XVIII
The crew meets an antique dealer

Milan flies the Jia Li to Liann Jiun, where King Yama resides in the town of Anyang. Everyone gathers in the cockpit to discuss their next plan of action. Looking over the loot, they nabbed an 1867 typewriter, Sunflowers by Van Gogh, a Ming vase, the Avengers signed and framed poster, and an Andy Warhol painting. Bix fails to mention the Bruce Lee manuscript he’s hidden away in his bunk,while Jasper conveniently forgets about the Lassiter gun concealed in his tool box. He does,however, remember the hard drives and documents he’d stolen from Durran Haymer’s office. Jasper immediately hands the drives over to Lucy, asking if she can hack the encryption codes. Finn claims to be afflicted by a sudden migraine and shuts himself in his bunk,much to the relief of the others, who still don’t trust him.
Lucy pulls out her rolltop to work on the encryption, while Milan sends a wave to Felix. Felix responds, saying while they’re no longer in debt to King Yama, there is the one remaining job they owe the Tongs. Milan mentions they’ve acquired some highly interesting artifacts which King Yama should find intriguing. Felix answers,“If you have anything to sell King Yama, first go to Dallas Cheung, his personal appraiser. He owns an antiquities store in Shinzing, the town north of Anyang. If he deems anything worthy of King Yama’s attention, we’ll talk.”
Thanking Felix for his time, Milan lands the Jia Li at the ship docks of Shinzing on the planet Liann Jiun.
Lucy keeps working on the three hard drives, while Jasper takes a crack at deciphering the documents. The document turns out to be 20 pages worth of email correspondence between Durran Haymer and Blue Sun,concerning something called Project Chimera. One question in the fourth email stands out to Jasper,‘How many beds will we need?’ making it seem like the correspondence involves human experimentation. Reading further, he finds information on the newest flavor of the Fruity Oaty bar, along with details on its chemical composition and official recipe. The notes say they’ve had surprising success with the new ingredients. “Does anyone know anything about science…or granola bars?”Jasper asks. Lucy offers to look at the recipe and notices the components are incredibly complex for a granola bar. They contain a mild derivative of G-23 paxilon hydrochlorate, a highly suspicious ingredient for a granola bar.”Maybe we shouldn’t buy that flavor, or any of these bars ever again,”Jasper suggests. In one of the documents, Jasper finds a mention of Milan’s brother, stating that Angelo Borgia can not only read minds, but can also move objects with his mind. The crew members exchange worried glances at the news.
They decide to take only the Sunflowers painting and the typewriter to be appraised. Arming himself with his Moses Bros revolver, Bix hefts the typewriter and Milan, with the painting, follow Lucy and Jasper to the antiques store. Cheung’s Antiques is the third store along the main road. Approaching the store, they find two armed guards standing on either side of the entrance. Bix steps forward, the others stand behind him. Both guards are taller and heftier than Bix, one is of Native American descent, the other is a big white guy. The white guy speaks up, asking,”What’s your business here?”
“We were sent by Felix to get some shit appraised,” Bix answers.
“Felix who?”asks the guard. “Cobb,”snaps Bix. “Okay, and who are all of you?”
Bix introduces himself as Jon Chen, Milan as Milan Borgia, Lucy as Lucy, while she glares at him for forgetting to use her alias. Jasper interrupts announcing,”And I am Doctor Obadiah Bumpus,” before Bix can mess up his alias as well.
The guy turns to the other guard,”Rosh, watch them,” he orders his partner. He goes inside,leaving Rosh to stare blankly at the Jia Li crew. Jasper strikes up a conversation with Rosh, wondering if he help set up a black market connection for steroids. At first Rosh isn’t sure whether he should be offended by Jasper’s presumption, but, for a finders fee, tells Jasper about a black market dealer in Anyang who can help him.
At long last, the first guard comes back,”What are you bringing to him?“he demands.
“Really?” mutters Lucy,”Is this how you do business?”
“You think I’m lugging a fucking typewriter around for fun?” grumbles Bix.
A voice rings out from the shop,”Marvin, ENOUGH! Let them in!” Marvin relents,standing aside to let them enter.
Bix, Lucy, Milan and Jasper hurry inside, the shop’s interior is lined in glass cases full of assorted ancient artifacts. Dallas Cheung, a young 28 year old Asian man sporting a wispy goatee and mustache, is seated in the middle of the room at a large ornate desk. Dallas orders Marvin to stay outside and keep the door closed. Marvin is quick to obey.
Dallas turns to the crew of the Jia Li, saying,”So, who’s your leader?”
Bix steps forward, thumping the typewriter down on the desk. Dallas puts on a pair of jeweler’s goggles and thoroughly examines every inch of the typewriter. Finally, he looks up from it, satisfied and asks Bix,”How much you want for it?”
“No, you’re the appraiser, you tell us how much it’s worth,” Lucy corrects Dallas,”That’s what an appraisal IS.”
Dallas glances at her, saying,”I know, but I’d like to take it off your hands.”
“It’s reserved for someone else,” Milan speaks up.
“Who?”demands Dallas.
“We’re going to see if King Yama would consider a trade,”Milan replies.
Dallas looks puzzled,”What kind of trade?”
“We need a plant to get somebody out of a coma,” Bix explains,”Indian Paintbrush.”
“Well, first of all, if you guys intend to trade for Indian Paintbrush, this won’t do it,”Dallas explains,”So unless you have something bigger..”
“What would do it?”Lucy asks him.
“He’d want something at least starting at a million credits. This typewriter is only worth 500,000 credits.”
“What about this?”Milan blurts out, slapping the Sunflowers painting down next to the typewriter. Dallas looks over the painting, spending a long time on it’s largest sunflower. After examining every inch, he announces,”Fake.” Milan swears profusely.
“What else you got?” “Could you give us some time to go grab something?”Milan asks.
“If you let me hold on to the typewriter as collateral, sure,”Dallas answers.
“Jasper, you and Lucy wanna stay here, me and Milan’ll go back to the ship,”Bix orders. Jasper pulls Bix aside, whispering to him about the Lassiter hidden in his toolbox, he tells him to bring it along as well. After Bix and Milan exit the store, Marvin reenters and begins pacing around Jasper.
“Can this guy give me some space?”Jasper asks Dallas,”I’m trying to peruse the merchandise.”
“Oh, you’re looking to buy?”Dallas looks up, interested,“Marvin, back off.” Marvin moves to the back of the store, but continues staring at Jasper.
“What are you looking for?” Dallas asks Jasper.
“I’m a collector of odds and ends,I’m really interested in history. I’m in between offices at the moment, but my old office, before I had to move off the core planet,”Jasper explains,”was full of antiques and artifacts. When I set up my practice again, I’d like to furnish it like my old one. This would make a great centerpiece,”Jasper points at the astrolabe and Dallas agrees wholeheartedly.
“Absolutely, if you’re interested, it only sells for 45,000 credits.”
“Oh,hey, that’s not bad,” Jasper remarks, trying to look exceptionally wealthy, as Lucy laughs at him.
All of a sudden Marvin shouts”OH!” and bolts out the front door. “Lucy, I just realized I forgot to feed the horse,”Jasper mentions. Marvin returns, closely followed by Rosh, they block the door so Jasper can’t leave. Marvin says,”Boss, do you recognize that guy?” “No,”Dallas replies, annoyed,”I’m trying to do business with him.”
Meanwhile, Bix and Milan make it back to the ship. Milan grabs the Avengers poster while Bix carefully wraps the Ming vase in towels to protect it. Ducking into his bunk, Bix takes the Bruce Lee manuscript and tucks it under his shirt, just in case he might need to offer it as a last resort. After digging the Lassiter from the depths of Jasper’s toolbox, he and Milan head back to the store. They return to find the door blocked by Marvin and Rosh.
“He’s the guy on the Cortex!”Marvin yells.
“What guy? There’s alot of guys on the Cortex, you’ll have to narrow it down a bit,”Lucy reasons.
“You know, the guy who had a TV show and then sponsored that racer, and he’s a wanted murderer but he escaped,” Marvin insists,”The guy who’s worth a ton of money.”
“Oh, yeah, I’ve gotten this before,” drawls Jasper, waving the accusation away,”Ever since he escaped jail, I get stopped and questioned. I guess he looks similar to me. I’m really not the same guy, I just look like him. I even got arrested briefly on the last planet I was on. I’m only a doctor, a completely different person from that killer.” Marvin’s excitement wanes, but he still seems doubtful that Jasper is telling the truth.
“Listen, I get it alot, you can call the police and we can go through all the rigamorale again, but it’ll only waste everyone’s time,” Jasper shrugs innocently,”I guess I’m cursed with the bad luck of looking like this bastard.”
Dallas orders Marvin to stop blocking the front door, since Bix and Milan are trying to enter. Disgruntled, Marvin steps aside. The two men come in, bearing their stolen wares. Milan hands Dallas the framed Avengers poster. Dallas peers through the frame’s glass at the poster.
“Okay, it’s better than the last,“he says,”worth at least 25,000 credits.” Milan appears disappointed, since he’d hoped it was worth more.
“What else?” Dallas asks. Bix places the Lassiter gun on the desk. Dallas attempts to hide the fact that his eyes light up, recognizing it’s worth immediately.
“Can I look at this closer?”asks Dallas,” I’ve seen alot of fakes.”
“By all means,”Jasper replies. Dallas glances at Bix,”May I?”he reiterates, Bix nods. Dallas spends quite awhile examining it with his magnifying glass. After he’s done, he explains,”There’s one more test I’d like to do to determine it’s authenticity. I need to take a paint chip to chemically test it.”
“Won’t that damage it’s value?”asks Jasper, concerned.
“Only a tiny bit, but I need to run a test on the paint to make sure it’s an actual Lassiter and not a reproduction. If I have your permission,” Dallas answers.
“What kind of official documentation can you provide? We don’t want to have it chipped here and then take it somewhere else and have them chip it too. Can you write up a certificate of authenticity that will be recognized, showing it’s worth.”
“Sure, no problem, I’m with the Antiquities Guild, I can draw up an authentication certificate. Easily recognized, anyone who’s a legitimate member of the Guild will know it and it will place the value of this merchandise at one and a half million credits. If it’s for real,” Dallas continues,”but before I do this test and verify it, I want something from all of you.” “What?”asks Jasper, the others gather round.
“So, from the artifacts you’ve shown me, you’re either extremely skilled thieves, or the luckiest thieves that have ever walked into my shop. Because of that, I want you to pull a job for me.”
“What kind of job?” Milan speaks up.
Dallas looks shifty,”If I give you access to King Yama’s palace, you’ll have access to the Indian Paintbrush you need and also to a particularly rare item, I’ve been wanting to get my hands on.”
“Wait! Are you saying, he won’t trade us the Indian Paintbrush for that gun?”Lucy asks.
“I’m saying, you could get it without any cost to you. You could take away all of these artifacts and keep them. You won’t have to pay for the certificate, if you bring back an item from King Yama’s personal collection.”
“That’s a horrible idea!” Milan gasps,”He’d find out who did it!”
“We need to talk amongst ourselves for a minute,”Jasper pipes up.
“What is this thing anyway?”Lucy demands to know.
“It is a jewel, a very rare jewel from Earth that Was which helped found the bank of the Core planets. It’s what allows the currency you currently spend to retain value.”
“Okay, let’s go outside and have a talk,” Jasper insists. Grabbing their items from Dallas’s desk, Bix, Lucy and Milan follow him outside. They gather beneath a tree to discuss.
“We can have him look at the Ming vase and if it’s worth 500,000, then we’re good. We can just buy the plant,”Milan suggests.
“It’s one and a half million for the Lassiter, already. Isn’t that enough?”Lucy observes. “Seems like, if we show him that vase he’ll figure out who we got it from. Can’t be alot of those sitting around the ‘Verse. And I bet if we don’t do his fucking job, he reports us to the fucking Alliance,”snaps Bix.
“But how the hell can we go to King Yama with nothing?!”Lucy sounds exasperated.
“I wouldn’t mind holding on to that Lassiter gun, I’ve got some ventures going and I could use the money,”Jasper observes,”but so far, we’ve gone through alot of trouble to Not steal from King Yama.”
“So we’re Not going to,”Milan insists.
“Seems like a pretty fucking good idea to tell this guy we’ll do the job, but rat him out to King Yama instead,”Bix interjects.
“Look,”Lucy says,”the thing is, we came here for that plant, are we gonna get the plant if we do it straight. We’re not that attached to the fucking shit we stole, let’s be honest. If we can actually give that away and get what we want, then why would we do his job?” she turns towards Bix, “But you’re saying, he knows it’s all stolen and he’ll just turn us in if we don’t do what he wants?”
“Yeah,” Bix replies,”that’s what he’ll do, if he gets the chance.”
“Is there any chance of getting the Indian Paintbrush honestly, at this point?”Lucy asks. Bix shrugs.
“We could break in and then confront King Yama, saying Dallas let us in, that he’s a traitor and we’d rather not get on King Yama’s bad side. That’s being honest,”Milan says.
“The problem is, we don’t know King Yama personally, we don’t know how he’ll react to this guy’s betrayal,”Lucy remarks,”it’s a huge gamble.”
“I don’t wanna get on Yama’s bad side,” Bix growls,”If we screw him over, we’ll have all the fucking Tongs after us.”
“Since we’ve already got Alliance law enforcement after us, it might be good not to piss off all the criminals as well,”Jasper points out.
“But I don’t see how we’re getting this planned, unless we do what this guy wants us to,”Lucy stresses.
“Right, unless we say we’re gonna do what that fucker wants us to,” Bix explains.
“And then turn him in instead?”Lucy asks.
“Yeah,”Bix replies,”but first, we’re selling him this fucking typewriter, it’s goddamn heavy. I’m not lugging this shit anymore.”
“We should get the certification for the Lassiter before selling him the typewriter,”Lucy advises. With a nod, Bix shoulders the typewriter and heads back to the store, the others coming along behind him.
“Welcome back,” Dallas greets them as they enter.
“We’re okay with you doing the certificate thing,”Lucy informs Dallas,”then we’ll do the job.” “But only if it’s real, not if it’s fake,”Milan interjects.
“Great, give me 10 minutes to run the paint test and I’ll get it all written up.” Jasper hands over the gun and Dallas scurries into his lab to do the testing. While the crew waits, Marvin creeps up on Jasper again. He gets so close, he’s breathing down Jasper’s neck.
“For god’s sakes, Marvin, What?!”Jasper yelps.
“I still think you’re the guy,”grumbles Marvin.
“So get the law in here and we can waste a bunch more time!You can ruin your boss’s day even more and get dragged into the station.I’m so damn sick of this!”
Taken aback, Marvin edges out the door, a wary eye still on Jasper. He talks to Rosh outside, bitching about Jasper and the boss. Rosh tells him to take it easy and to shut up.
Bored by the proceedings, Lucy opens up her rolltop to check on her encryption codes for Durran Haymer’s hard drives. She’s pleased to discover the encryption successfully cracked. On the first drive she finds blueprints and the location of a facility where Durran Haymer had been spending a lot of time. It’s on Argabuthon, a moon of the planet Athens. The details show a large amount of daily chemical disposal taking place at the facility, but doesn’t verify where it’s located on the moon. It’s heavily protected with daily importing of weapons going on. The facility lists about 42 staff members on site.
Finished testing the paint, Dallas returns to speak with the crew.
“So,”Dallas turns to Bix,”when do you start?”
“When do you need us to start?”Bix asks.
“Where’s the certificate? Did you write it up already?”Lucy interrupts.
“I’ll go back in a couple minutes and write it all up, but, basically I need you to start making preparations you need to make, and I would like the job to happen in the next four days.”
“And you’re sure you can get us in there?”Lucy double checks,”can you elaborate on the plans more?”
“I’ll be bringing you in as my assistants.”Dallas explains,”You’ll be helping set up tables, place artifacts, stuff like that. Every few months I do a display for him from artifacts I’ve gathered, and he takes the best pieces. In four days, I have plans for another meeting with him. That’s when I’d like you guys to strike.”
“So, you’ll be there too?”Lucy asks.
“Yes,”Dallas clarifies,”let me write up the certificate now.” He steps back into his lab and fills out the authentication certificate, complete with it’s official seal and stamp. After folding the certificate carefully closed, he hands it over to Bix.
Passing the gun to Jasper, Bix asks Dallas,“You wanna take this typewriter off our hands?You said ya were interested earlier.”
“Yes,of course,”Dallas replies,”500,000 was our agreed upon price.” He passes Bix 500,000 credits, which the crew splits evenly amongst themselves.Taking the typewriter, Dallas tells Bix,”I’ll be in touch with you and your crew, but otherwise, meet me in Anyang, at King Yama’s palace in four days.” Their business finished, the crew heads back to the ship.
Walking down Main street towards the ship docks, they notice two local law enforcement marshals coming towards them. Bix, Lucy and Milan continue along the street in the direction of the ship, while Jasper sidles quickly down the nearest alley. The two marshals split up, one hurrying down another alley, as the other casually saunters up to Bix, Lucy and Milan.
“Excuse me, gotta a moment? I need to ask you a question,”the marshal addresses them. “Okay, whatever,”Lucy replies for them all.
“Do you happen to know a guy by the name of Jasper Marmaduke?”the marshal asks.
“I don’t know anyone named Jasper, I’d remember that name,”Lucy lies.
“Isn’t that the guy on the Cortex?I saw something about him there,”Milan adds.”Yeah, that’s right,”Bix agrees with Milan.
“Hey, didn’t you win a race recently?”the marshal turns to Milan,”Your face is really familiar. Could you three come with me to my office?”
“But why?” Lucy reasons,”we don’t have any information for you.”
“Come with me to my office,now,”the marshal orders, no longer friendly.
“But I have a horse I need to feed,”Lucy frets.
“It won’t take long,”the marshal tells her.
“Fucking hell, it’s just some goddamn questions,”Bix growls,”Fine, we’ll come.” They follow him to his office.
“We’re just going to wait here, while my partner asks your compatriot a few questions.Nothing to worry about,”the marshal states, as he enters the office, closing the door behind him. The three crew members exchange nervous glances with each other behind the marshal’s back.
After scooting down the alley, Jasper emerges on the next street over, next to a barber shop. He scurries inside to find two other customers already being served, one of them with a hot towel over his face. Hopping into the nearest empty chair, Jasper tells the barber,”I’m in need of a haircut.”
“Absolutely,”the barber agrees, spreading a towel over Jasper’s shoulders.
“I’d like it shorter in the back and sides, and can you color it grey, I’m trying to look more dignified. A hot towel would be wonderful too, I have a bit of a headache.” The barber hurries to comply with Jasper’s wishes. Just as he’s lain a hot towel over Jasper’s face, the pursuing marshal enters the shop. Without pausing, the marshal stomps right up to the chair Jasper is lounging in.
“Jasper Marmaduke,”the marshal says. Of course, Jasper doesn’t respond.“You are bound by law to stand up and to give me your hands.”
After a moment of silence, Jasper asks,”Who?” He pulls the towel from his face and sits up, blinking innocently.
“Jasper Marmaduke, turn around,”the marshal orders. Jasper appears blearily befuddled. “How long has this man been sitting in this chair?”the marshal asks the barber.
“I only just sat down,”Jasper speaks up,”he hasn’t even begun yet. But I’ve gotten this before.I’m not Jasper Marmaduke. I’m Dr.Obadiah Bumpus. I have ID papers.”
“Do you have those papers with you, sir?”the marshal addresses Jasper. Jasper pulls out the papers for the fake ID Lucy set him up with. Handing them to the marshal, he continues,”In fact,you’re the second person today to mistake me for that man.I was set upon by a thug at the antique store earlier.”
Relaxing back into his chair, Jasper watches the marshal examine his ID papers. Finally, the marshal hands the ID back to Jasper, saying,”My apologies,sir, there’s been a mistake.We were told by a citizen in this town that you were an individual by the name of Jasper Marmaduke.”
Jasper sighs, dramatically,”I told him to, what’s his face, um.. Marvin at the antique store. He almost accosted me and I explained the situation to him, even offered to show him my papers, but he’d have none of it.I suggest you have a talk with him.”
“I apologize fully, sir, I’ll talk to him,”the marshal leaves. Jasper enjoys getting his haircut and hair coloring with no further mishaps. When he’s finished, he leaves the barbershop looking much more dapper than before. Before returning to the ship, he stops by a liquor store, where he purchases a fancy bottle of champagne.
A short time later, the marshal who’d been following Jasper stops by the station, where Bix, Lucy and Milan are nervously waiting.
“Josiah,”the marshal addresses his partner,”it wasn’t him.”
“Are you sure?”Josiah asks,”Did you really check the guy out?”
“Yeah, but all his papers were legit, so wrong guy.” Josiah turns to Bix, Milan and Lucy saying,”Apologies, folks, we were just wary of what could potentially be a fugitive in our town.”
“You done with us now?”Bix snaps. Josiah allows them to leave, apologizing once again for the confusion. Grumbling together, Bix, Lucy and Milan go back to the ship.
Stepping back on board the Jia Li, the three crew members split up. Bix slips into his bunk to hide his Bruce Lee manuscript, Lucy heads to the lounge area calling for a meeting, after concealing her share of the money in her bunk. Milan hurries to the infirmary,but then remembers his brother is on Dora. Saddened,he wanders off to find Brad the cat instead. Returning to the ship, Jasper finds Lucy,in the lounge area, waiting patiently for the rest of the crew to gather for the meeting she’d called.
He sets the champagne down next to her. “I have to thank you. Those papers saved my ass.”Jasper tells her,” You did a fantastic job, I bought you some champagne.”
“Wow,thanks! So he did find you?”Lucy says, delighted with the champagne.
“Yeah,and my story wasn’t convincing him, but the papers did."
“I’m glad they worked,”Lucy replies, relieved.
“Do you like my haircut, I took the liberty of having it colored too, so I no longer have this problem so much.”
“You still kinda look like you,”Lucy remarks as Jasper pops open the champagne.
His manuscript and his money safely hidden, Bix heads back to the lounge area. On the way he passes Finn’s closed cabin door from which issues frenzied shouting. Bix bangs on his door.
Finn yells,“What?”
“You okay in there?”Bix asks, baffled.
“Yeah, I’m just watching the Cortex feed and it’s pissing me off!”Finn explains lamely.
Bix listens closely for a moment, but can’t detect any noises from the Cortex Finn claims to be watching. Puzzled, he goes to the lounge to find Lucy and Jasper drinking champagne together.
“Bix!”Jasper greets him,”Do you want some champagne? Also we need to talk about what to do about our current situation.”
“Yeah,”Bix replies,”it just blew up in our fucking faces. How the fuck are we gonna do anything with the little shit right there?” Milan enters the lounge area cuddling Brad the cat in his arms.
“Can’t we call King Yama or Felix from here and tell them Dallas is a traitor, why do we have to wait four days?”Jasper remarks,”and shouldn’t Finn be a part of this conversation?”
“I dunno, he’s acting fucking weird,”Bix says.
“What do you mean-weird?”Lucy asks.
“I heard him arguing with someone, he says it’s just the goddamn Cortex.”Bix explains,”But I can’t hear shit, no Cortex, nothing but him.” Milan sets Brad the cat down on the couch and marches over to Finn’s door, pressing his ear against it to eavesdrop. Lucy switches on her rolltop to check the ship’s communication logs. In seconds she’s able to open a multitude of communications between Finn and Simon Mohinder, whom she recognizes as a known Alliance spy.
“We have a mole,”Lucy announces,”he’s been talking to the Alliance. Simon Mohinder, Not a good guy,either.”She continues to read aloud from the conversation transcripts, discovering to everyone’s horror that Finn has given the Jia Li’s current coordinates to Simon. Alliance enforcement is already on it’s way.
“Hey,Finn, we’re having a meeting!”Milan cries out.
“I’ll be there in a second!”Finn calls. Milan briefly hears Finn say,”Gotta go,”presumably to Simon Mohinder. There’s a pause and the door opens, Finn emerging with a guilty look on his face.
“You may want to get us in the air, Milan!”Jasper shouts, then takes a sip of his champagne, not budging from his seat. Milan darts down the hall, racing for the cockpit. As soon as he reaches his pilot’s seat, he begins lift off procedures.
Bix bolts from the lounge area, heading for Finn’s cabin, and without breaking his stride slams a fist into Finn’s face. Finn’s head snaps back, he staggers as Bix bellows,”Fucking selling us out to the fucking Alliance!You fucking piece of shit!”
“What?!”shrieks Finn, holding his gushing nose”I haven’t done anything?!”
“Ya been talking to Simon Mohinder, a fucking spy espionage shit this whole fucking time!”Bix’s fists fly into a blur, pummeling Finn’s head like punching bag.
“Why are you hitting me?I can explain!Stop, please stop!” Bix punches him again, Finn goes flying into the , landing in a crumpled, bloody heap.
“JASPER!!”screams Finn.
“Maybe we should let him tell us why he did it?”Jasper muses, standing up, he pours Bix a glass of champagne, then proceeds over to the fallen Finn. Handing Bix the champagne, Jasper asks calmly,”Alright, let’s hear it.” Bix slams the champagne back like it’s a shot of whiskey.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.“Finn grovels,”I didn’t mean to give you guys up, but they have shit on me!”
“Maybe you shouldn’t do shit!”Lucy shouts in response,”What shit do they have on you?”
“I killed my acting teacher and I almost killed my girlfriend, and they’re using that as leverage..”
“You ‘almost’ killed?”Lucy puzzles, “On purpose?”
“NO, purely by accident, I’m not right in the head and I’m trying to find some kind of treatment,”Finn whines.
“It sounds like you just need a vacation, far away from here,”Lucy remarks.
“Can you guys wait, please, just wait until we’re on a planet and I swear to god I’ll leave! Or I can leave right now, please let me leave!”Finn babbles.
“Throw him out now!”Milan blares over the intercom from the cockpit.
“I think we should let him leave,”Jasper announces,”and Finn, if we ever see you again,we’ll kill you.And FYI, that’s a pretty ridiculous thing,killed your acting teacher?That’s pathetic!”
“Can I get my shit?” Finn asks.
“What shit?!”shouts Lucy,”You just got out of prison, you don’t have any shit!Get the fuck out!”
“WE broke you outta fucking prison and this is how you fucking repay us?!”Bix roars,livid. Finn staggers,backing away down the hall, then suddenly veers into the kitchen.
“Bix, let’s keep an eye on him!”Jasper yells, jogging after Finn into the kitchen. Bix stomps after them, but Jasper reaches the kitchen first, in time to see Finn grabbing a kitchen knife. Jasper draws his gun, pointing it at Finn he orders him to drop the knife. Out of his mind with rage, Finn’s expression begins jumping spastically between being petrified with fear to being a wild eyed psycho killer. Alarmed,Jasper jumps back and screams,”BIX!” Bursting into the kitchen, Bix quick draws his gun, and fires two bullets into Finn’s chest.
Milan lifts the Jia Li from the dock and flies away, gathering speed as he goes. Within moments, he breaks atmo, hurtling away from Liann Jiun before the Alliance enforcers can reach the dock. “Pitch him out the airlock!”Milan calls out over the intercom.
Finn skitters back into the kitchen wall,dropping his knife, then slides to the floor. He lies there, still alive, his face snapping back and forth between terrified and enraged.
”Help me get him to the fucking airlock!”Bix shouts.
Jasper holsters his gun, asking,”But is he dead?”
“Good enough!”growls Bix.
Lucy runs into the kitchen to help. Finn starts flailing, but Jasper manages to grab an arm, while Lucy struggles with his other arm. Finn is kicking like crazy and Bix can’t get a hold of his legs. Lucy drops Finn’s arm and snatches up a cast iron skillet from the stove. Swinging with all her might, she bashes Finn in the head with the heavy skillet. Finn drops like a sack of potatoes to the floor. Bix grins, impressed by Lucy’s skillet wielding prowess, manages to grab Finn by the legs. Together he, Lucy and Jasper drag Finn to the airlock. From the cockpit, Milan opens the entrance door to the airlock and cheers as the others drop the body in. He closes the inner door, then opens the outer door, jettisoning Finn into space. After a brief discussion, they decide to head for Persephone where Milan’s mother should be able to hide them for a few days.

View
Episode XVII

1280px-Indian_Paintbrush_in_Grand_Teton_NP-NPS.jpg

Despite the excitement of the night before, Bix, Lucy and Milan get up early, while Jasper and Finn sleep in, trying to recover from their hangovers. Feeling at fault for exposing the Jia Li to the computer virus, Program 741, which had nearly destroyed them all, Bix takes a shower, indulging in a lonely grieving session where nobody can hear him. Upon waking, Milan immediately rushes to the infirmary to check on his brother. Although Angelo is alive and breathing peacefully, he remains in a coma.
Lucy brews a pot of coffee in the kitchen, accidentally waking Jasper from where he’s slumbering on a kitchen chair. He helps himself to coffee while looking much the worse for wear. “Why is everyone awake?” groans Jasper.
“We’re meeting with Dr. Clay about Milan’s brother this morning,”replies Lucy. “Awww, shit,”says Jasper,”Where..which..what planet are we on?”
“We’re on Dora,”she answers,”Do you even remember last night? The whole attack with the virus and everything?”
Jasper shakes his head, mystified he missed so much. He asks Lucy if she can help him with his abysmal computer knowledge and wants to know if she has a fake ID for navigating the Cortex. She admits to having a fake ID.
“I’ll pay you well, if you can make me a fake ID that registers me as a doctor,”says Jasper. “Like a general practitioner?”Lucy asks.
“Can you make me a brain surgeon?” Warily, Lucy replies"I can, but only if you promise never to work on anyone’s brain." Agreeing to the terms, he pays her 300 credits for the ID. With a sigh of reservation, Lucy sets to work on her rolltop making the fake ID, while Jasper contemplates a new name to go with his new ‘profession’.
Finn wakes up, comes into the kitchen and digs a carton of eggs from the depths of the cooler. Leaving the infirmary, Milan stops by the kitchen for coffee, where he’s immediately pissed off to discover Finn trying to juggle a dozen of his precious cooking eggs. Finn’s juggling attempt fails miserably and everybody in the kitchen finally notices him, angrily protesting the horrible slimy mess he’s caused. “I’ll clean it up!”he yells, and snatching up a rag, begins to wipe it up.
Bix finally emerges from the shower to grab a cup of coffee, while eyeing the mess of shattered eggshells and goo all over the floor. “I swear I’ll get it all cleaned up,”Finn tells him, Bix rolls his eyes in reply. Milan and Bix discuss taking Angelo to Dr.Clay. Deciding to meet Dr.Clay first, they leave Angelo on the ship. Since they don’t have access to a gurney, it seems the best course of action. Perhaps Dr.Clay will have a gurney they can borrow for transporting the coma patient to her office. Jasper finally decides his new name will be Doctor Obadiah Bumpus, brain surgeon. After they’ve downed their coffee, Bix stands up, announcing that he and Milan are going to meet Dr.Clay. “Who the fuck else is coming?”he shouts above the hubbub. Finn speaks up from the floor where he’s still frantically scrubbing,”I’ll just stay here and finish cleaning my mess.” “You could turn on ALFRD,” suggests Bix. “You..kinda gave him a beating, “sighs Finn.
“Oh, is ALFRD damaged?”Jasper asks, concerned.
“He had an accident last night.”Lucy informs him,”while you were passed out, he got infected by the virus and..”
“Bix smashed his head in!”Finn pipes up.“It was going for Lucy!”Bix argues.
“I’ll pay to get him fixed,”Jasper volunteers,”Who else is going to feed my horse but ALFRD?!” Lucy takes him up on his generous offer. The crew parts ways, Bix and Milan leaving for Dr.Clay’s office, as Lucy and Jasper load ALFRD into the hover wagon to take him to the machine shop in town.
Bix and Milan find the doctor’s office, a small blue house on the edge of town. Milan knocks and the door is opened by a petite white haired woman. She asks,”How can I help you?” Bix answers,”Yeah, we were sent by a friend of yours: Luopan.”
Her face lights up, recognizing the name and she gestures for them to enter. Following her inside, they all sit down together at her desk. “Now, which one of you is the brother of the patient?”she asks. Milan introduces himself. “Can you walk me through what exactly happened to him?”
“We have no idea,”Milan replies,”We found him on a ship, already in a coma, so we saved him and brought him aboard, but he hasn’t shown any response to anything.” “It was a rescue mission,”Bix blurts out.
Dr.Clay looks thoughtful, asking,”Do you know what they were doing to him?”
“Fucking with his head,”says Bix, helpfully. Milan looks doubtful if that’s the sort of answer Dr.Clay is looking for.
“Was Blue Sun involved?”she asks. “Yes,”both Milan and Bix answer in unison. “Honestly, it’s hard for me to determine the problem unless I see him,“she says.
“Why don’t you come back to the ship with us.”suggests Milan. “Got a gurney we can use to move him?”Bix interrupts her,”or I can throw him over my shoulder.”
“I wouldn’t advise that,”she says hurriedly. They grab a gurney from her office and lead her back to their ship.
Milan and Bix show Dr.Clay to the infirmary where she uses multiple instruments from her doctor’s bag to check Angelo’s condition. Once she has thoroughly looked him over, she asks,”Has he shown any sign of brain activity or motor control at all?”
“He moved his hand a couple times,”Milan replies.
“That’s a good sign,” explains Dr.Clay,”He may be trying to break free from the coma. I’ll have to study his brain activity to see how it’s been damaged. Whenever you guys are ready, let’s get him back to my clinic.” Bix and Milan transfer Angelo to the gurney, and carrying him between them, they return to Dr.Clay’s clinic. Once there, they place Angelo on her exam table, where she puts electrodes on his forehead, along with a small electronic apparatus that she hooks up to some wires. A monitor screen lights up on the wall, showing the outline of his brain. “It’ll take me a few hours to examine his brain activity. I’ll send you a wave when I have more information.” Bix and Milan leave Dr.Clay’s office, heading back towards their ship.
Meanwhile, Jasper and Lucy drive ALFRD in the hover wagon to the machine shop. Jasper knocks and a big, burly man wearing a leather apron streaked with grease and oil, yanks the door open. “Yeah?”he asks.“Hello there, my good man,”answers Jasper,”we’ve heard you repair robots.”
“Yeah. Whaddya need?”
“Well,”Jasper replies,”Some unscrupulous man beat our robot’s head with a bat, I’m told.” “It was a bar, a metal bar,” Lucy corrects him. The mechanic looks disturbed,”So, is there long term damage to the machine. Ya’ tried firing it up?”
Jasper and Lucy exchange glances,”Ummm, no,”they answer.
“My standard fee applies no matter what I’m doing,”the mechanic explains,”300 credits a day.” “What!? That’s enough to get a fake doctor’s ID!I mean, let’s turn it on first.” Jasper switches ALFRD on. The robot’s head is severely dented in and smashed up, tilted on it’s side. ALFRD powers up, but twitches frequently as he asks in a squeaky robotic voice,”How cAn I HALP u…U. Ho…how..c..c..cc.a” his voice cuts off and he begins beeping rapidly.
“Yeah, we better get him fixed.”says Jasper. They leave ALFRD after paying the mechanic in advance. “I think I only paid 500 credits for him in the first place,” Lucy mutters as they climb back into the hover wagon. “Maybe we should have him equipped with guns,”suggests Jasper. “NO,” Lucy snaps,”No guns!” She explains how the turret gun Bix bought on Beylix had activated the virus on the Jia Li. Jasper instantly agrees; more guns are a bad idea. They leave in the hover wagon to find the others.
While the crew is out, Finn finishes cleaning up his egg disaster. Retiring to his bunk, he notices an incoming wave addressed to him from his contact, Simon Mohinder. Simon asks him how things are going. “Good,” Finn replies. “Do you have any information for me?” Simon asks. “No,”answers Finn. “What have you been doing with your time on board?” Finn mutters something about drinking with Jasper. “Are you drinking now?”Simon sounds annoyed. “No, I’m sober.” “I need some information on them. Now!” “Okay,fine,”Finn complies,”my buddy Jasper’s an alcoholic. Milan has a vegetable brother on the ship. Bix has anger issues. There’s a robot too, but Bix beat it up last night..and I don’t really know anything about Lucy, she seems cool. They’re all nice, but only Jasper talks to me.” “Can you convince them to visit a core planet?” Simon asks, agitated. “No, these guys seem like they’re against the core planets. Don’t think I can help you there.” “You’ve GOTTA give me something!”snaps Simon, frustrated beyond anything,”I’m breaking my neck to keep that P.I. off you! Are you keeping info from me?” “Listen, they don’t talk to me much. I’m not really welcome aboard the ship yet.” “Fine,”sighs Simon,”but a week from now, I’m gonna want more. Find out anything you can," He exits the conversation abruptly.
Lucy and Jasper run into Bix and Milan as they’re leaving Dr.Clay’s office. “I think ALFRD’s going to be alright”Jasper informs them,”How is your brother?” “She’s checking him out,”Milan replies,”All we can do is wait.”
“Normally I’d say let’s go get a drink, but I’m not quite feeling up to drinking,“Jasper admits,”I’m a bit hungover.” The others exchange knowing looks. Since nobody wants to stay in town, they return to the ship.
On the Jia Li, Jasper finds Finn moping in his bunk. They chat about Jasper’s newest business scheme. After Jasper leaves to make a presentation about a new product he’s working on, Finn turns on the Cortex news; there’s a brief announcement about the crew of a Terrapin class ship harboring a fugitive by the name of Jasper Marmaduke. Authorities are unable to track down the ship.
Milan makes a beeline for the cockpit where he discovers Brad the cat waiting patiently for him. He feeds the cat, then sits in his pilot’s seat, petting Brad while worrying about Angelo.
Bix examines the new turret gun. Thinking he’d better make sure it’s free of the virus before using it, he stops by engineering to explain his worries to Lucy. She assures him the virus was purged, so he can quit freaking out about it. “Can you change my name on our ship’s papers?” Bix asks. “Who do you want to be?” “Jon Lee Chen” Lucy begins changing the crew list in the Jia Li’s registration. Bix is careful to thank her as she shoos him from engineering. On a whim, she asks Milan over the intercom if he needs an alias also. Milan decides on James Morrison. Thinking it wise to err on the side of caution, she also sets up a fake identity for herself with the name Capri Duncan. By the time she’s done changing all the names, she and Milan each receive messages over the Cortex.
Lucy’s is from the mechanic working on ALFRD. He says he’ll need a little more time to fix the dents in the robot’s head, but he’s repaired all the broken interior cables. The 300 credits they already gave him should cover all the labor and parts used.
The call to Milan is from Dr.Clay. Milan and Bix hurry back to her office to hear the diagnosis in person.
“Alright, here’s the situation: They’ve done sub cranial work on his brain, basically their goal was to make him more sensitive to psychic phenomenon. It had mixed results,but the problem is, although there may be a way to get him out of the coma, I don’t know if he’ll be exactly the same as you remember him. Not only that but in order to get him out of the coma I need a specific medicine from a particular flower. It’s an incredibly rare plant called an Indian paintbrush. And there’s only one person, whom I know of, with a collection of this plant- King Yama.”
“Oh,fuck that guy!” gasps Milan.
“So, here are my suggestions: you could buy it from him, but it’s exceptionally expensive” “How expensive?” Milan interrupts. “A million and a half credits. Or you could come to an arrangement with him, I don’t think he’ll part with it without at least that much in trade. Or..and this is the worst case..you can take it from him.”
“That seems like a bad idea,” Milan remarks. “Well, maybe something will work. I can keep your brother safe here, he should be fine. So, let me know, and in the meantime, I’ll keep him stabilized.” Milan thanks her, then he and Bix return to the ship.
Once they’re back, the crew gathers in the common area. Milan explains everything he’s learned from Dr.Clay. Lucy immediately researches everything she can on King Yama. He is the head of the Tongs, known for his exceptional horticulturist skills and his passion for collecting ancient artifacts from Earth that Was. There seems to be a friendly, ongoing competition between King Yama and Durran Haymer as they try to outdo each other’s collections. “Well, fuck it, Haymer ain’t home,”Bix suggests, grinning,” let’s raid his place.” The others agree, raiding Haymer’s estate seems the most reasonable course of action.
Lucy finds the address of Durran Haymer’s floating island estate located on Bellerophon. Milan sets the course, quickly taking off from Dora in the direction of Bellerophon. In a few hours, they land in New Madrid on Bellerophon, which has the nearest dock serving the floating islands of the area. They discuss different methods of getting in, finally settling on Lucy’s idea of posing as maintenance/cleaners in the hopes that such disguises will grant them more freedom of movement for their thievery. Bix and Jasper already have coveralls from their Academy Prime kitchen workers disguises. Milan purchases three more pairs of coveralls, a toolbox, two extra large duffel bags and a couple of baseball hats from the local supply shop/laundromat. Lucy discovers they’ll need security badges to finish off their cleaning company uniforms, along with authentication codes to be admitted onto the premises. While Milan and Jasper are paying for everything, Lucy pulls Bix aside whispering that she needs him to steal a security badge. She’s careful to explain,”Use the five finger discount, NOT the fist discount. Nobody needs to get hurt”
“Okay, Fine,” he mutters, baffled why she’d think him violent. They each swipe one security badge apiece off a couple of workers who are using the laundromat in the store. Laden down with their new purchases, they return to the Jia Li. Both duffel bags are rolled up tightly and stuffed in Jasper’s toolbox. Jasper places a machete, a new bottle of whiskey, and cleaning rags on top of the bags. Since they are required to pass through body scanners at every entrance into the estate, they cannot enter armed and must stow their guns in the shuttle. Using the two stolen security passes, Lucy makes two more duplicates, then manages to procure authentication codes by hacking the island’s database. While in the database, she double checks the security of Haymer’s island to find cameras liberally sprinkled through every room, as well as security guards regularly patrolling the perimeter. Lucy decides to stay on the shuttle so she can work, in relative safety, on her rolltop, while the rest of the crew ventures inside. As soon as they’ve prepared their gear and are dressed in worker’s coveralls and baseball hats, they head out to Haymer’s island in their shuttle.
Upon arrival, Lucy gives her authentication codes to the guard, who promptly grants Milan clearance to dock the shuttle. On the docking bay, everyone except Lucy exits the shuttle. One of the two security guards on duty barks out,”What’s your business here?” “Weeding, maintenance, cleaning…shit like that,”Bix replies. Their security passes are scanned in successfully by the guard, who then ushers them through the entrance onto the island. Proceeding through the garden, their security passes are scanned a second time at the front door of the mansion, before they’re finally admitted within.
Once inside, Jasper takes his toolbox with him through the back rooms of the mansion, on the prowl for Durran Haymer’s important documents, ID’s, files and such. Of course, he can’t find any personal items on the first level of the mansion, which is like a museum showing off Haymer’s artifact collection, so he dusts his way up to the second floor. There he finds 6 more rooms to search. Trying every door on his way, only one proves to be unlocked. Entering, Jasper finds a 1959 cherry red Chevy Bel Air, in mint condition, parked in the middle of the room. An antique gas pump sits next to the car. Neon signs line the walls, along with a jukebox, chrome bar stools and a Twister mat framed on the wall. “I found the tacky room,”he tells Lucy over his comm link.
Down on the main floor, Bix enters the first room to his right, in which he’s pleased to find a vase from the Ming dynasty of Earth That Was displayed on a pedestal. Another pedestal holds the original manuscript of Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Upon the third pedestal sits a mysterious document he’s unable to identify. Out of the many paintings on the walls, none are familiar to him. Noticing that each artifact rests upon a security mesh covering each pedestal’s top, he pretends to dust the pedestals, while more closely examining their security features.
Aboard the shuttle, Lucy is busy hacking into the mansion’s cameras using her rolltop, when Bix reports back to her with his comm link. Informing her about the security mesh, he asks if she can turn off the sensors in the mesh, for at least a minute, so they can snatch up the artifacts without triggering alarms and guards. Lucy throws everything she has into hacking the sensors through the estate’s database. “I’ll go for the Ming vase and the Bruce Lee manuscript,”Bix informs her. “Who’s Bruce Lee?”asks Lucy. “WHAT?!?”Bix squawks, stunned that she doesn’t know of the Earth That Was legendary historic master Bruce Lee.
Up on the second floor, Jasper emerges from the tacky room to find a security guard rounding a corner of the hall. “Excuse me,”he calls out,”I need to clean these rooms, but they’re all locked.” “Those rooms are off limits,” snaps the guard. “But I was told to clean them,”Jasper insists. The guard won’t listen to him, saying,”Don’t worry about them, if the doors are locked, they’re off limits. The rules are clear. Any room that’s locked is not to be opened.” Jasper tries to argue, but the guard simply refuses him again, then marches away.
Meanwhile, Milan finds Bix carefully wiping down the pedestals in the first room. Checking out the mysterious document on the third pedestal, Milan is disappointed to discover it’s the original human rights charter for when the Alliance was in it’s early formative years. Declaring the document to be junk, he advises Bix to snatch the Ming vase and Bruce Lee manuscript instead. Bix is relieved that Milan is knowledgeable about Bruce Lee. While still pretending to wipe dust from the pedestals, Bix examines the mesh more closely. It is full of laser sensors that will trigger the doors and windows to slam shut if any of the artifacts are even slightly disturbed.
In an adjacent room, Finn finds an antique typewriter from 1867 on one pedestal. Upon another pedestal squats a large black and white television circa 1980, but he can’t identify any of the other artifacts in the room.
Jasper manages to get another door open, behind which he finds the first AI ever to be invented, a robot the size of a small child. He immediately tells Lucy what he’s found, saying it’s portable and might be worth stealing, unlike the big plastic lime green thing labeled iMac,also in the room, which looks both heavy and worthless. On a sudden whim, he jogs back to the tacky room to search for the car keys. Although they aren’t in the car, Jasper spots a key rack on the wall with four keys on it. Snatching them up he sticks the car key into the Chevy’s ignition, then runs back to the hallway to try the remaining keys on the rest of the locked doors.
Milan ventures into the room where Finn is pretending to clean. Besides the television and typewriter, he finds a glass column display case encasing the suit Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he was shot at the Ford Theatre. Within a large glass coffin occupying the far wall of the room, resides the preserved corpse of Mao Tse-tung above which is hung a small sized Andy Warhol painting. The rest of the paintings are too enormous to take, so Finn decides to snatch the Warhol once Lucy manages to disarm the sensors. Since Milan doesn’t think anything else in the room is worth taking, he goes back to Bix’s room to see if any of it’s paintings are more portable. One of the pictures is a mint condition Avengers poster from 2012. The other three artifacts in the room consist of two Vincent Van Gogh paintings:Starry Night and Sunflowers, as well as a huge garishly painted chunk of cement which is labeled: the Berlin Wall. After a quick chat with Lucy, Milan decides to grab the Avengers poster and the painting of Sunflowers by Van Gogh.
Meanwhile, upstairs Jasper manages to unlock one of the rooms, where he finds a lavish office. Searching for any sort of ID, he goes through the desk discovering Durran Haymer’s passport, along with an encrypted hard drive and various important looking documents hidden within. He stuffs it all into his toolbox, then leaves the office, careful to lock the door behind him. The next door he unlocks opens onto the master bedroom, holding a palatial bed above which looms a huge painting of a ginger haired woman. Realizing there’s nothing interesting in the bedroom, he moves on to the next door. The third key unlocks it, and within this last room he finds an ancient telephone from 1951 in a display case and a Mark III Lassiter laser pistol sitting upon a pedestal. Now that he’s finally found something worth stealing, he tells Lucy what he’s found, then closes himself in the room, where he begins meticulously dusting the pedestal holding the Lassiter.
Throughout the time that the men are exploring and pretending to clean, Lucy is hard at work hacking the database while using the security cameras to follow their movements. At long last she manages to shut down the sensors, but only for a period of 30 seconds. She alerts the men over their comm links to make sure they’re ready.
As soon as the power drops from the security mesh, they all spring into action. Finn yanks the Warhol painting from the wall, just as Milan whisks both the Avengers poster and the Sunflowers painting down. Bix snatches the Ming vase and the manuscript, clutching them to his chest.
Upstairs, Jasper grabs the Lassiter, quickly shoving it into his toolbox. Carrying the toolbox, he races from the room, not slowing down until he’s back in the tacky room, where he drops it on the floor and picks up the heavy bulk of the thing labeled an iMac. He struggles over to the Chevy with it, quickly switching on the car, then drops the iMac into the Chevy right on top of the car’s gas pedal.
The car leaps forward with a roar and goes crashing straight through the second floor windows. Plowing down through the garden, leaving smashed hedges and ornaments in a horrific path of destruction all the way to the edge of the island. Security guards come running just in time to see the car hurtle right off the island, plummeting to the ground miles below. Lucy screams at them to run while the guards are distracted. Jasper snatches up his toolbox and runs downstairs. Bix, Milan and Finn are already out the front door, racing to the shuttle, their arms full of plunder. As Jasper emerges from the mansion, the guards turn away from the destruction wreaked by the Chevy only to spot the ‘cleaning crew’ running for their shuttle while clutching priceless artifacts from the estate. The guards immediately engage in a hot pursuit, but it’s too late. The Jia Li crew escapes, reaching the shuttle just in the nick of time.
Anticipating a chase, Lucy starts up the shuttle, as the men leap on board. Vaulting into the pilot’s seat, Milan swiftly undocks the shuttle, just as the unmistakable sound of another ship starting it’s engines reaches their ears. Unable to trigger a hard burn in a tiny shuttle, Milan darts the craft back and forth across the sky cleverly dodging the multiple missiles flying at him from the guard’s ship.
Firing up the shuttle’s Shinigami guns, Bix sends a barrage of bullets into their pursuers. His shots rip through one of the cannons on the guard’s ship, destroying it and slowing it down considerably, but it’s second gun continues firing even as they dock their shuttle to the Jia Li. Milan barely succeeds in getting the Jia Li’s engines going as shots fly all around. Bix runs for the turret gun while Milan takes off from Bellerophon, Durran Haymer’s guard ship catching up with them, despite the damage it’s sustained. Darting wildly around to escape the shots, Milan is finally able to get far enough from the planet to trigger the Jia Li into a hard burn. The blowback from the Jia Li’s hard burn sends the guard ship spinning out of control.

View
Episode XVI: Program 741

c4cbf7e542e2fa35fbc75ff67a78808d-d3ivy3t.jpg
Amidst all the rioting and confusion in the winner’s circle, the crew manages to sneak away, making their way back to the Jia Li with the second place racing ship in tow. They stuff the racing ship into the cargo bay and take off from the Tilattama space station. Jasper immediately heads for the ship’s common area, where he starts knocking back multiple shots of liquor with Finn. Bix goes to the kitchen and wraps ice in a kitchen towel, before handing it to Lucy for her bruised cheek. She accepts it, and holding it to her bruise, says,“Thanks, but aren’t you bleeding?” Bix replies,“Oh, yeah, fuck,” and uses another kitchen towel to staunch his leaking stab wound. The towel quickly becomes gross with blood. Lucy gives him a disapproving look, but he only continues to ruin the towel. Using her rolltop, she sends Luopan a wave detailing their take down of the Barbossa gang with Milan winning their race and stealing their glory. She asks him to make good on their deal and get Milan’s brother to a doctor. When she doesn’t hear back immediately, she goes to the cockpit to see what Milan is up to .
In the common area, Jasper leans over to Finn and whispers,“I think I fucked up today.”
“What? How?”asks Finn.
“I think I got my face on a whole lot of cameras back in the winning circle,”Jasper replies.
“That’s ok,” Finn consoles him,“I killed a guy.”
Jasper laughs, surprised, then exclaims, tipsily,”Yes, good God, at least I didn’t kill anyone!” Bix is still too preoccupied trying to staunch the bleeding from his wound and doesn’t join them in their celebratory drinks.
Lucy stops by the cockpit, just as Milan notices that there’s an incoming message for her. He points it out to her. She answers the message, which turns out to be Luopan. He directs them to fly to St. Julian’s Hospital in Capital City on Dora, which is a moon of Lazarus, explaining that they will find his friend, Dr. Clay there, who will be expecting them, along with their comatose patient. He asks if her message about disrupting the Barbossa gang means that they are completely broken up now. She explains that since the rest of the gang just found out their leader, Tessa, was working for the Alliance, they weren’t too pleased by the news. He seems highly impressed, but informs her that his operations are under the microscope currently and he can’t pay them quite as handsome a bonus as he’d hoped. Since Milan is listening to their whole transmission, Luopan takes a moment to thank him profusely for his success at the Tilattama race and taking down the Barbossa gang. Then he signs off, leaving them to set their course for Dora.
Lucy goes back to the lounge, where Bix asks her how her face is doing. She’s still holding her ice towel to it, but answers,”It’s fine, are you finished destroying that towel?”she looks annoyed,”Go see Milan, he can get you stitched up.” Bix hurries to the cockpit to obey her orders.
On the way, he walks past a light which suddenly blinks and fizzles out. He pounds a fist on the wall panel next to it and the light instantly pops back on. Shrugging, he steps into the cockpit. “Hey, can you stitch this up?”he asks Milan,who turns to see Bix clutching a dark red towel to his side. Horrified, Milan instantly agrees to stitch him up. He sets the ship on auto pilot and they rush to the infirmary, where Milan removes the blood soaked towel, pitching it out the nearest airlock. He cleans the wound and stitches it closed. Although, it’s not pretty, it’ll do.
Lucy goes to Engineering and checks on ALFRD to find him recharging. She switches on the Cortex to see what’s happening in the ‘Verse news. An announcement blares out saying the Tilattama Centurion Races were won by Milan Borgia, who was sponsored by Jasper Marmaduke, convicted felon and fugitive from justice, who’d murdered Dr.Mitchell of the Magical Elixir company, then used money he stole from the company to sponsor Milan’s racing ship. Dismayed at this sudden turn of events, Lucy takes a moment to look up information about Dora, the moon they’re heading for, but apparently it’s pretty typical and boring, a farming world, full of quiet colonies and settlements. She searches for Dr.Clay, but can’t find out anything, except that she’s a country doctor with a small private practice. After exhausting her Cortex searches, she goes back to the common area to see how drunk Jasper and Finn have become.
Jasper and Finn are being obnoxiously loud and drunken in the common area when Lucy ventures in from Engineering. She takes one look at the two drunks, slurring their words and laying around on the couch, says she forgot something and immediately leaves them to their drunken stupor.
Lucy stops by the infirmary where she informs Milan and Bix of what she’d discovered on the Cortex. Both men are immediately distressed at the news, Bix wants to know if his face had also wound up on the cameras with Jasper, but Lucy shakes her head," No. They were only talking about Jasper," she explains. As they’re discussing options regarding the announcement, the sink in the infirmary suddenly turns itself on and starts gushing water. Baffled, Bix tells them about the lights going out near the cockpit. He says banging on the wall made the lights come back on. Lucy stops him from banging on the sink, since he’ll probably wind up breaking it or himself more. He opts for turning the water off instead of breaking the sink, while Lucy hurries from the infirmary saying she’ll do a diagnostic on the life support systems on board.
Bix eyes the sink suspiciously, after turning off the water, then asks Milan how his brother is doing. Milan pokes Angelo’s cheek, he doesn’t flinch or move. “He’s still a vegetable,”answers Milan, sighing miserably.
Suddenly an alert sounds out from the cockpit. Milan races back to check it out. It’s a proximity alarm, warning that a ship is quickly approaching. He checks the sensors which claim the ship is 20 minutes away, and coming in fast. After about one minute, the sensors show that the ship is now 10 minutes away and close enough for a visual. Peering out the window anxiously, Milan can see nothing. The sensors tell him the ship is docking. He calls Bix over the intercom, telling him to hide Jasper, then looks out the window again. Still nothing, no ship can be seen.
Milan calls over the intercom again, this time to the whole ship, asking,“Are there ghost ships in space?” “WHAT?” Lucy intercoms back, baffled by his question. Milan explains what’s going on. Bix asks Lucy if the diagnostic is finished yet. After checking, she discovers the diagnostic results indicate that they have a bad catalyzer installed. Bix tells her to take the catalyzer out of the new racing ship and replace their old one with it. After reinstalling the racing ship’s catalyzer, the Jia Li seems better.
Back in the common area, Jasper and Finn are enjoying being raucously drunk, when suddenly the Cortex screen turns on by itself. They start chuckling, thinking they accidentally turned it on. They check the news, where the announcer is first talking about a squirrel who just won a surfing competition on the moon Triumph. Suddenly, the announcer looks straight at the camera and says,“I know you killed your girlfriend.” Jasper lets out a burst of giggles,“No, I didn’t! Never killed no girlfriends!” Finn looks nervous and guilty, but doesn’t say anything.
They turn the channel to find another announcer blathering on about a local Peach festival, but suddenly, in the midst of going on about the peaches, she says,“We’re after you, Jasper. There’s nowhere you can hide.”
“I don’t wanna watch the Cortex anymore,”groans Jasper. They talk loudly, complaining about the crazy Cortex full of creepy news announcers. Bix can hear them from the infirmary, so he goes to the common area to check on them. Jasper slurs,“The TV talked to me.”
“Yeah, so, it’s supposed to fucking talk,”answers Bix. Jasper and Finn continue to argue drunkenly together. Bix switches off the Cortex screen, saying,”Shut the fuck up, ya fucking lushes.” Without warning, all the lights on the ship go out.
Lucy desperately tries to figure out why the lights are out. She uses a flash light to find her way to Engineering. Bix leaves the common area and stumbles over to Engineering as well. He sees Lucy’s light and runs to her. ALFRD’s lights switch on, but instead of their usual mellow blue, they are bright red. All of a sudden, the robot reaches for Lucy, but she’s stunned, frozen to the spot. ALFRD’s mandibles begin to close on her neck, Bix leaps past her and kicks ALFRD in the head, knocking it ass over tea kettle, it crashes into the wall. Lucy scrambles to switch the robot off. She tells Bix that she suspects their ship is being attacked by a computer virus. Bix blames the new racing ship, since they hadn’t had any problems before it was brought aboard.
Back in the common area, Jasper and Finn turn towards the sound of the crash. Jasper excitedly exclaims,”Hey, someone’s playing horseshoes!” and begins chuckling while tossing back another shot of whiskey, but Finn has his doubts. He begins fighting desperately for sobriety, realizing that something on the ship is wrong and he can’t deal with it while too drunk to stand up.
Meanwhile in the cockpit, Milan calls out on the intercom for Lucy to scan the new racing ship, his suspicions also peaked.
Lucy is busy doing a virus scan, when Bix turns, glimpsing, out of the corner of his eye, a small figure. He whirls towards it and catches sight, as he’s turning, of a small boy wearing an Alliance uniform. Bix jumps, startled, he tries to tell Lucy what he saw, but confused, Lucy doesn’t understand why he’s freaking out. Then he whispers in an ominous tone,“Can you do a scan for human life.” Lucy throws her hands up in complete exasperation. “Okay, so scan for human life AND scan the racing ship AND scan for a virus. How am I supposed to scan all this shit in the dark?!” She finally manages to restore the light, then begins the human life scan. Bix runs out of Engineering to the kitchen, where he digs around looking for flour. Lucy speaks to Milan over the intercom, telling him about the kid Bix had seen, she insists he lock himself inside the cockpit. Milan checks the console and realizes a message is being sent out by the ship. He cancels the message and, although he attempts to read it, it’s encrypted and indecipherable.
The scan for human life concludes, listing eight life forms on board: Jasper, Finn, Angelo, Milan, Mustard the horse, Bix, Lucy and Brad the cat. Once Bix returns from the kitchen, carrying a bag of flour, Lucy tells him the results of the useless human life scan. They both suspect the virus is messing with their ship’s ability to scan.
Meanwhile, up in the cockpit, Milan discovers the message sent out had been a help beacon, until he turned it off, but he can’t determine what sort of ‘help’ it was broadcasting for or to whom it sent the signal. Over the intercom, he tells Lucy and Bix all about the . He asks Lucy if she wants to check out the message, but she replies that she’s a bit too busy with the virus scan. She asks Bix which way the kid went, but he replies that the kid never moved. He tosses a handful of flour at the door, but all it does is make a mess; no obfuscated child figure emerges. Bix glances at the door where he’d last seen the kid, trying to peer out of the corner of his eye. After no luck, he turns away and suddenly the kid appears again. Bix panics, lunging forward he tries to grab the kid, but instead he goes right through the child figure,as if it’s a projection instead of a real body. He winds up crashing into the opposite wall out in the corridor. Rolling up from where he’s fallen, Bix looks up as the kid takes a step towards him,“I’m going to kill you,”the kid threatens in a sing-song voice. Lucy hears a child’s voice and, in the hopes that Bix is dealing with it on his own, she slams the Engineering door shut.
Bix yells,“Who the FUCK are you?!” at the kid, who smiles evilly, replying,“I’ve been following you for days. I know what you’re doing for the Resistance.”
“You can’t be following us if you’re standing right the fuck in front a’me!”snarls Bix.
“Yes, I can,” answers the kid, whose voice suddenly changes, transforming into the voice of Bix’s dad, Teague Madigan. It says,“Bix, it’s time to come home.” Bix grapples for the kid again, but passes right through him, again, and bangs into the wall. He freaks out, screaming “I’m not going fucking home, ain’t got no fucking home there! I’ll burn down the whole fucking planet before I’ll go back!”
Lucy finally finishes the virus scan, their ship is shown to have been infected from the nose down, so that the virus is affecting the entire ship. The only way to purge the ship of the virus is by shutting down everything for a period of at least 5 minutes, even life support and then rebooting the entire system. After a good deal of digging, she learns that the virus is a particularly nasty secret weapon of the Alliance. It was brought on board by way of their shuttle’s Shinigami guns and the turret gun that Bix had purchased on Beylix. The virus sits in the system, scanning to determine whether or not the ship it’s aboard is Alliance or Independent. Once it discovers where the ship’s occupants loyalties lie, it begins attacking the ship, sending out help beacons to any nearby Alliance vessel, and even forcing hallucinations on the human occupants.
She intercoms Milan and explains everything, especially that it can cause hallucinations. Milan glances out the front window and his heart stops for a second from shock, because he sees his little brother Angelo, float past the window, his face frozen and his hands in claws reaching for Milan. “FUCK!”screams Milan, bursting from the cockpit, he runs all the way to the infirmary. Of course, he finds Angelo, completely safe and still sleeping soundly. Milan hugs his little brother, before returning to the cockpit. Once back in the cockpit, he realizes that the help beacon must have been sent to the nearest Alliance ship. All of a sudden, Milan receives an incoming message from an Alliance cruiser. Answering it, he is ordered to cut his ship’s engines and prepare to be boarded. Milan intercoms the rest of the crew, telling them what’s happening. Suddenly the engines power down on the ship, they’re trapped waiting for the Alliance ship to intercede with them.
In Engineering, ALFRD powers himself back on, the red lights of the virus coming on. Lucy snatches up a long metal pipe from a pile and flings open the Engineering door, screaming for Bix, who is still busy flailing around in the corridor. Bix jumps up, grabs Lucy and yanks her out from Engineering. She shoves the metal pipe into his hand and he violently bashes ALFRD three times in the head with it. While Bix is beating it, the robot’s red lights flicker to blue and ALFRD emits a plaintive cry of:“Please, Please,” but the red lights burst back on again, the virus still in control of it’s programming. The robot’s head is jammed to the side, unable to move it’s line of sight. Finn has managed to sober up from his drunken stupor and is wondering what the hell is going on. When he spots Bix taking down ALFRD, he yells out,“Yeah!Go, Bix! Kill the robot!” then returns to huddling on a couch in the common area.
Lucy decides it’s time to try restarting the ship, she flips open her rolltop and starts frantically begins hacking into the ship’s database. After breaking into the system, all of a sudden, a computer generated voice issues forth from the ship’s intercom,saying,“Do you want to play a game?” “NO! FUCK YOU!”roars Bix, but Lucy takes the computer generated voice up on it’s challenge.
She cleverly defeats it in a game of five card stud, then immediately fires up the anti virus quarantining the Alliance virus from the rest of the ship’s database. The Jia Li begins shutting down everything, they can only hope and pray that it will work in purging the virus before the Alliance ship reaches them. Even ALFRD shuts down. The crew members sit in silence for five long minutes. At long last, the Jia Li systems come back on. Checking to make sure the ship is completely free of the virus, Lucy is relieved to discover the anti virus program combined with the purge and reboot have proven successful. Everyone lets out a sigh of relief at her announcement. Mere minutes before the Alliance ship comes into view, Milan triggers their ship into a hard burn. They go shooting away into the black, escaping the clutches of the Alliance once again.
In a few hours they reach the moon Dora, where Milan lands the Jia Li in the Capital City shipyards.

View
Episode XV: The Centurion Races

space_race.jpgOnce the Jia Li has safely escaped the Cerberus, Jasper announces,”I’d like to introduce you to my good friend, Finnegan Bentley. He’s a professional actor.”
“Are we dropping him off somewhere?” asks Bix.
“Actually, I’m interested in joining your crew,” Finnegan pipes up, hopefully. Everyone else looks skeptical.
“What skills can you bring to our missions?” asks Jasper.
“I can bring money!” Finn answers, but nobody can figure out how he has any money, since he’s just escaped from prison.
Jasper wants to hide out on a border world to lie low, while drinking copious amounts of whiskey, but the others are more concerned with getting help for Angelo, Milan’s comatose little brother. They gather in the cockpit to include Milan in the group discussion. After a long conversation, they decide to travel to Tethys, where Jasper’s brother, who is a doctor, lives. They hope he will be able to help Angelo. Although Jasper is asked to send his brother a message about the visit, Jasper decides to surprise his brother instead with no warning whatsoever. Suddenly remembering he has a horse to care for, he proceeds to the cargo bay where he gives Mustard food, as well as a large draft of alcohol. Then he stops by the common area, where he finds Lucy busily examining Dr.Mitchell’s laptop. She explains how she’s used it to hack into the company’s database, where she discovered Norton and Shelby’s latest nefarious scheme has been to set themselves up as the chief beneficiaries of Dr.Mitchell’s estate. The two accomplices stand to inherit a sum of one million credits as beneficiaries. Jasper fumes, stunned at their evil and dastardly deeds. Together, he and Lucy conspire about how to snatch the money away. Bored by their shenanigans, Bix goes to the cargo bay where he starts punching and breaking crates, while Mustard, the pleasantly tipsy horse, makes goofy faces at him from his stall.
Milan sets the ship on auto pilot and leaves the cockpit to visit his little brother in the infirmary. He bumps into Finnegan on the way, who asks him where he’s going.
“I’m busy,” answers Milan, throwing Finn a suspicious glance. Finn appears confused by Milan’s distrust.
“Bye,” snaps Milan, gruffly brushing past him to duck into the infirmary.
After discovering that Lucy can hack her way into the company and divert the money to a more deserving charity rather than to Norton and Shelby, both Finnegan and Jasper begin enjoying a bottle of whiskey in the common room, being terribly loud and raucous as if it’s their own personal party. While Lucy’s busy with the hack, she receives a wave from Luopan. She immediately leaves the noisy common area to speak with their benefactor.
Back in engineering, she answers the wave. Luopan asks if they’re ready for the next mission. Lucy tries to explain that they’re busy trying to find a doctor for Milan’s little brother. Luopan explains that if they carry out this new mission successfully, then as soon as it’s done, he’ll get Angelo to a medical cruiser, swearing to take care of all expenses involved as well. He explains that he must speak with Milan directly, since the job concerns him the most.
Lucy rushes to the cockpit after calling Bix up from the cargo bay. Once the three crewmembers are together in the cockpit, Luopan lets them all in on the job. He wants them to compete in the Annual Tilottama Centurion races against the corrupt Barbossa gang. If Milan succeeds in winning the race, he’ll be awarded a customized racing ship, along with 150,000 credits in prize money.
Lucy asks if they’ll lose their own ship if they don’t win the race. At first Luopan attempts to change the subject, but eventually it comes out that they will be gambling with the Jia Li, and she will be forfeit if they lose. Bix gets upset, unwilling to lose his beloved ship. Milan decides he’d rather buy a racer for the competition, than risk their own ship.
Jasper and Finnegan notice that they’re drinking alone, so they leave the common room to find the others in the cockpit, where they get filled in on what’s going on.
“You mean, we’re not going to my brother’s?!”Jasper gasps in relief, but, much to his disappointment, Bix says they can always pay his brother a visit after the race.
They travel to the scrap planet Beylix, where Milan is hailed by the United Reclamation Society, and ordered to give them his registration number for collecting scrap from the planet. Milan stalls, asking the others what to do, while Lucy searches desperately for a number they can use to get past the Reclamation society and into Beylix. She manages to find a number, which is deemed acceptable by the Society. Once clearance is granted, Milan lands the Jia Li in a random area and they open the cargo bay doors to see miles and miles of ships, engine parts and garbage stretching to the horizon.
Lucy spots several small racing ships laying around, so everyone clambers into Jasper’s hover wagon to go exploring, checking out every racer they can find. Eventually they manage to uncover a promising racer. After scanning the racer’s tag, Milan discovers it is missing two parts: a catalyzer and a condenser. Despite the missing parts, the as-is asking price of 20,000 platinum AKA 10,000 credits, is a hell of a bargain. The racer’s wear and tear proves minimal, since it was discarded by the wealthy man who owned it after only running about 120 different races because he’d bought a newer model.
Jasper gets a hankering for a butler robot that he can program to feed and water his horse and clean up it’s shit. Fortunately Lucy talks him out of buying one, since Alfred can be programmed to do those chores. Milan purchases the racer naming it Brad’s Revenge, much to the approval of Brad the cat. They find a condenser to replace the broken one on the racer and use the catalyzer that Bix recently bought from the Cerberus. They find two afterburners to add on which will help boost the racer’s speed. Milan discovers an EMP rail gun, a high speed electronic shock that can fry out electronic systems, which he also purchases. It has four remaining shots left in it. Bix buys a turret gun for the Jia Li, paying 1500 for it along with 300 rounds of ammo.
The Jia Li, piled high with their newfound purchases, takes off from Beylix heading towards Tilottama, where the race will begin at the space station there.
On the way to the space station, the crew talks with Luopan who explains to them the Barbossa gang, consists of ten separate racers who work together to knock out the competition by any means necessary. The gang is suspected to be in the pocket of the Alliance. They’ve been raiding Resistance ships, stripping them of their supplies and killing entire crews.
After setting the Jia Li down on the visitor’s landing strip, Milan leaves to register for the race. Lucy manages to place a donation of one million credits from Dr.Mitchell’s estate to the Resistance. She skims 50,000 off the top, then splits it four ways, giving Jasper,Milan and Bix a share of the money. Delighted to find out that Milan is 15 to 1 in the odds to win, Jasper gathers up money to bet on his friend. After placing his bets, along with those of Finn, Bix and Lucy, he accompanies the others to the bar area of the space station.
Once in the bar they find Tessa Barbossa, the leader of the Barbossa gang, cheering on a huge man with a full face skull tattoo, who is engaged with throwing knives at a screeching and terrified young man. The young man’s wife is screaming like crazy, begging them to stop, but they refuse, continuing to torment her husband and making fun of them. Trying to ignore the violent debacle taking place, Lucy and Jasper go up to the bar and buy drinks. Although Bix and Finn both warily eyeball the skull tattooed man who’s torturing the young couple, they make no move to intervene.
One of the gang members yells out,“Race starts in ten minutes! We gotta go!”
Tessa laughs, shouting,“We’re having too much fun to leave!”
Jasper interrupts their ‘fun’:”Excuse me, but would you happen to be members of the famous Barbossa gang?”
Tessa answers,”Yeah, we sure are, who wants to know?” Awed, Jasper asks if he can buy them drinks, explaining he’d placed his bets stupidly, unaware the infamous gang was involved in the race.
“Who’d you bet on?”snaps Tessa, but after introducing himself as Norton J. Pepperdine, Jasper hems and haws, not giving any specific details, only saying he’d bet on someone who probably hasn’t even raced before. Tessa tells Jasper he can change his bet and sends him off with two of her bruisers to the betting area.
The bruisers accompany Jasper, but as soon as they reach the betting table, he fumbles, claiming to have left his wallet back in the bar. The biggest of the two thugs, Big Mike, grabs Jasper roughly by the arm,”No, you place your goddamn bet Now..or else.” he threatens, but Jasper quick draws his gun, and, shoving it under the man’s chin, he insists Big Mike back off immediately. A bit of a struggle follows, but Jasper somehow wins out, getting Big Mike to relent, while hinting about private information that he won’t divulge unless he plays along with the ruse.
Meanwhile, Milan and his newly refurbished racer are lead to the starting area, where he puts a few finishing touches on his ride. He’s surrounded by other racers, ten of whom are in the Barbossa gang. The Barbossa gang racing ships are extremely rough looking, spray painted and covered in sharp pieces of metal. One of the gang members approaches Milan, asking him what his name is and where he’s from. He answers that his name is Shelby Looker, he spends most of his time on Pelorum, but travels alot, since he’s often busy selling his Dr.Griffin’s Miracle Elixir. Another of the gang members, a young woman, seems terribly interested in the Miracle Elixir, firing curious questions at Milan about it. Milan explains,“Sorry, I don’t have a bottle with me, but I’ll be happy to bring you a sample after the race.” She thanks him in advance, telling him not to forget his promise.
Jasper and the bruisers return to the bar, where Tessa Barbossa asks Big Mike if their new friend Norton has fixed his bets. Big Mike lies through his teeth, answering ,“Yes” to her question.
She seems pleased, inviting Jasper/Norton and the rest of his friends to come drink with them. The young couple they’d been tormenting earlier seem to have disappeared, but nobody bothers to ask where they’ve gone.
Tessa asks if the others had also placed bets, but Lucy answers that her friend Norton placed a bet for her. Bix says “Nah,” dumping whiskey on himself and pretending to be drunk, although he’s not. Lucy hangs off Bix while he scans the room making note of all the exits. He blushes profusely, unprepared for her sudden clinging.
At the starting line, the seconds are counted down, the starting gun goes off and the racers immediately burst into action. The Barbossa gang racers all take off screeching forward insanely fast. Milan is in fourth place, but he puts on a burst of speed and manages to push forward into third place.
Back in the bar, Tessa’s expression tenses, she whirls on Big Mike insisting loudly that they have to win, they absolutely have to. Big Mike replies,“A’course we’ll win, we do every year.”
One of the Barbossa gang members turns to Finnegan, his face glowing in admiration, and whispers that he really loves Finn’s work and hopes to see him in a performance soon. The guy tells Finnegan all about an action film script that he’s written and his friends in the Barbossa gang want to make. They’d be thrilled if Finn would star in it. He says the money will be crap, but they’ll give Finn plenty of free booze and fun for his troubles. Finn smiles, chatting up the guy, who begs him for an autograph. The others are too intensely watching the race to notice Finn and his new found friend.
Milan is catching up with the second place racer, from whose ship suddenly emerges a row of hidden band saws, attempting to cut into Milan’s racer. Since they’re in space, Milan easily moves upwards, maneuvering out of the reach of the idiot with the band saw attachments. Milan edges in front of the second place racer.
Back in the bar, Tessa freaks out, throwing a temper tantrum, she flips a table.
“Who’s that racer? Anyone know?!”she screams at the top of her lungs.
Nobody knows, she asks Big Mike if any of their racers ‘helped’ that racer and Big Mike answers that yes, they must have.
As Milan is racing ahead, he hears a strange bumping noise coming from one of his afterburners. He suddenly realizes that some sort of bomb must have been planted on his ship, inside one of the afterburners. It was most likely snuck into place while he’d been distracted talking to the young woman racer about Dr.Mitchell’s Miracle Elixir. Milan steers his ship closer to the racer with the band saws, edging his sabotaged afterburner towards the whirring blades. The other racer cackles, thinking he’s winning, slices off the sabotaged afterburner. However, his actions slow his racer even more and Milan is able to push forward into second place.
Tessa yells again,“Who the FUCK’s that racer?” One of her guys speaks up, saying that he saw which ship the guy took the racer out of. She orders him to go with three other guys and find that ship. They leave, but Bix and Finn meander out after them, using the excuse of needing a cigarette and/or a piss.
While stalking their prey, Bix asks,“You got a weapon?”
“No,“Finn replies,” do you have a knife I can borrow?” Bix hands him a knife as they continue strolling along after the four gang members.
Meanwhile at the bar, Jasper treats the Barbossa gang to their favorite, extremely alcoholic beer, Blue Tumbleweed, ordering a party platter of chicken wings for them as well. He and Lucy huddle close together for safety as the Barbossa gang grows increasingly more tipsy.
Out on the walkway, Finnegan and Bix sneak up on the four Barbossa gang members. The gang members are talking about the ship, when out of nowhere, Finn draws a gun, and blows off the head of one of the gang members. The rest of the gang members roar,“What the FUCK!” but Bix explodes into punches, bashing all three in their faces. They turn all their attention away from crazy Finn waving his gun, and attack Bix instead.
Still trapped in the bar, Jasper and Lucy continue to drink with the Barbossa gang, but Tessa is livid about Milan moving up into second place. Suddenly, she flips out, jumping up from her seat, without provocation, she punches Lucy in the face. Flailing wildly, Jasper leaps up, trying to attack Tessa, but he’s tripped by one of the Barbossa gang members and misses completely.
Irate, Jasper bellows angrily,“I’ve been buying you drinks and these damn tasty chicken wings! How DARE you punch my friend!”
Tessa only snarls back,“You buy everything for us, rich man.” She leans closer and hisses,“If ya wanna live, ya better shut the fuck up.”
Jasper draws his gun, replying,“If you don’t shut the fuck up, I’ll shoot you.”
Tessa only laughs in his face,“Yer on my turf, rich man, you don’t got a leg to stand on.” Jasper begs to differ, since he’s the one with a gun aimed at her head.
Tessa chuckles, “There ain’t gonna be no more fist fights.”
“Good,”says Jasper,“or there won’t be any more chicken wings either!”
Big Mike turns to Tessa,“See,I told you this guy was fun,” he says.
Lucy stands up, but is stopped short by Tessa demanding,“Where you goin’?” Pointing to where she just got punched, Lucy answers that she’s going to the bathroom to clean herself up. As soon as she’s in the bathroom, she pulls her rolltop from her bag and using her many connections and backdoor passwords, begins to dig up incriminating dirt on Tessa. She discovers Tessa has been receiving her ship raiding tips directly from an Alliance operative, whom her gang members know nothing about. It’s quite likely her gang will not be thrilled to find out the truth behind their ship raiding success.
Milan is inching closer to the first place ship, but realizes that his current racer doesn’t have enough speed to catch up with the completely tricked out racer in front of him. He decides to shoot the racer with the EMP railgun he’d stowed on board. The EMP cannon rolls out from his ship, a blue white pulse zaps out from Milan’s ship, hitting the first place Barbossa racer. The blast sends it spiralling away, out of control, all of it’s circuits fried. Milan streaks forward into first place.
Meanwhile, Finn aims his gun at another of the gang members, shooting him in the jaw. He falls to the ground garbling and spraying blood. Bix punches one thug in the face, sending him stumbling back. The thug rights himself and, lunging forward, manages to stick a blade in Finn causing one lethal damage. The other thug stabs Bix, also causing one lethal damage. Bix pummels the thug who stabbed him, unleashing a flurry of punches that knocks his assailant to the ground.
Back in the bar, Lucy returns from the bathroom, where she covertly whispers what she’s found to Jasper, unnoticed by the Barbossa gang members. Tessa glances at one of her guys standing near Jasper, and makes a motion for him to punch Jasper, but the guy’s punch goes wild, missing by a long shot. Big Mike looks at Jasper, but Jasper only gives him a big smile. Tension crackles through the room, all the guys are eyeballing Jasper, itching to fight some more.
Still in first place, Milan is just turning the corner round the main sun, Kalidasa. As he’s darting along at the head of the race, he spots a ship hiding just to the side of the sun. It’s waiting for him and is obviously armed to the teeth. A series of missile tracer rounds shoot towards his ship, but by expertly veering to the left and then to the right, he manages to avoid them. He flips his remaining afterburner on and, putting on an enormous burst of speed, he darts round the sun, then back towards the space station and the race’s finish line.
Back in the bar room, Tessa, red in the face and fuming with anger, stands up and snarls,“Okay, let’s go” Her lieutenant signals to the rest of the gang. They all stand up and file out of the room, looking shady as if they’re on their way to start a riot in the winner’s circle, which is most likely the case.
Lucy uses her rolltop to lockdown eleven ships, all owned by the Barbossa gang members who are hurrying away.
Back on the walkway, Finn tries to shoot the last gang member, but his gun is out of bullets and only clicks. Bix whips out a knife and quickly slits the guys throat. They leave the bodies where they fall, immediately running back to the bar where they’d left Jasper and Lucy.
Milan uses ludicrous speed to book it, screeching his way past Heaven on his way to the finish line at the space station. The crowd goes wild with enthusiasm. Finally the Annual Tilamatta Centurion Races have been won by someone other than the Barbossa gang.
Finn and Bix burst through the bar doors, just as Jasper and Lucy are standing up to leave. Jasper hurriedly explains that he must stop by the betting station now that the race is finished, so he can collect his winnings.
Bix says,“Okay,” takes one shocked look at Lucy’s face and roars, “What the fuck happened to Lucy’s face?!” Jasper glances at her, then replies,“Oh, yeah, somebody punched her.”
WHO?!?”
Lucy answers,”It was Tessa.” Bix’s face turns into a fiery inferno of rage, but Lucy begs him to not go after Tessa. Despite being livid that she was attacked while he wasn’t there to protect her, he obeys Lucy’s wishes…for the moment.
Milan is escorted to the podium amongst fanfare, fireworks and flashing cameras. He’s awarded 150,000 credits in prize money as well as the second place contestant’s ship. The ten Barbossa members whom he’d been racing against, gather around the podium, glaring at him, waiting for the press to back off so they can take their revenge.
Suddenly Tessa strides into the winner’s circle, closely followed by the eleven remaining gang members from the bar. They all look ready to rumble as they advance upon the podium. Unnoticed, Bix moves away from his crew members, intent upon Tessa and exacting vengeance for what she’d done to Lucy.
Taking matters into his own hands, Jasper hops up on the podium, grabbing the microphone from the announcer, he motions for Milan to come closer. Milan jumps to his side as Jasper begins making a speech about the Barbossa gang. He introduces Tessa as the leader, explaining that their good fortune in ship raiding is all due to her Alliance inside man, even saying the name of her Alliance contact aloud. Tessa pulls her gun and aims it at Jasper up on the podium, which he points out as an admission of guilt. Smiling conspiratorially, Jasper asks Big Mike if he’d like to own the ship that won the race. All he has to do is leave Tessa’s gang for good. Big Mike graciously accepts the offer, taking the racer, Brad’s Revenge as a fair trade for never being forced to deal with Tessa’s bullshit again.
Bix sidles closer, while Tessa’s focus remains on Jasper, he manages to get right in front of her. Blocking her way, he growls,“I got a fucking message for ya, from a friend a’mine.” She looks up, annoyed and puzzled, “What now,”she grumbles. With no further warning, Bix suddenly winds up and lands a punch square in the middle of her face, smashing her nose into a bloody pulp. Her gang gathers around, but half of them are screaming for her death and the other half are trying to defend her. All hell breaks loose around them.

View
Episode XIV: In the Jailhouse Now

Se27E.jpgWhile waiting for the police to come arrest him, Jasper takes a shower, then finds himself more whiskey to swig. Dressed in only a bathrobe and slippers, he calls an old consultant of his, who is an ex-cop, as well as his old friend Sheriff Bass Reed, to ask for help with his terrible situation. After having no luck reaching his old consultant friend, he is relieved when Sheriff Bass Reed, replies to his wave. Jasper informs the sheriff of his dire situation, but Sheriff Reed explains that he can’t get there in time to stop him from being arrested. However, he should be able to arrive on Pelorum by the time Jasper is incarcerated in a holding cell by the arresting officers.
The police officers finally show up, and Jasper tells them he needs to get dressed. Detective Yang stands guard at Jasper’s bedroom door while he’s dressing. Once he is ready, they escort him from the vacation mansion to the local police station.
Meanwhile, back on the Jia Li, Lucy has found footage from the cameras at the resort showing Jasper entering Dr.Mitchell’s vacation mansion, but she’s unable to find any footage of him leaving. There’s a gap of time consisting of about 20 to 30 minutes, then a bit of black 15 minutes long, where nothing can be seen in the camera. It seems like the tape has been tampered with. Bix asks if they can try getting into the doctor’s vacation house, he’s done some fucking B and E’s, so he thinks he can figure out how the real murderer entered the house and they may be able to find the missing murder weapon as well. Lucy insists it’s too risky to break into the house, but Bix explains that if he does it at night there probably won’t be any guards or police to dodge. Lucy digs around on the Cortex looking for anything that may help, including hacking into the police files on the murder. She finds out that Dr.Mitchell was bludgeoned to death and that the body was cold for at least 3 hours before being found by a maid. Lucy finally agrees with Bix- the only way to find out anything more is by breaking into the mansion.
Bix and Milan begin gathering stuff for the break in- dark clothing, flashlights, a crowbar, lockpicks, as well as gloves from their infirmary. They go into town where Bix manages to find a black market vendor from whom he purchases two balaclava masks and a long length of rope. When the vendor asks what they need the stuff for, Bix answers, “Kinky sex, what the fuck d’ya think?” Milan seems embarrassed by his remark and the vendor looks taken aback. The vendor attempts to sell them some high tech face spray that will block facial recognition on a camera for the astronomical cost of 10,000 credits per bottle. Bix refuses to buy the spray, saying, “That ain’t fucking sexy.”
Around 3 am, Bix, Milan and Lucy show up at the mansion with their gear in tow. Using her rolltop, Lucy works on figuring out how to shut down the security cameras, but she can only get one of them to shut down for a period of three minutes. Bix and Milan scuttle across the lawn, expertly dodging the lawn camera, they come to a halt at one of the lower story windows. Bix pops the window open with his crowbar. As Milan shoves the window up, the lawn camera sweeps back the other direction. Lucy tries darting across the lawn to join them, but hesitates at the wrong moment and doesn’t succeed, instead she’s forced to dodge in order to escape the camera’s notice.
Milan and Bix climb in the window, while Lucy checks on her rolltop to find a camera inside the house that is aimed directly at the two men. Using her comm link, she warns them and they drop to the floor. Luckily the camera only catches Milan, but he’s wearing his balaclava, making him virtually unrecognizable. Bix army-crawls his way to the door with Milan closely following and copying his movements. They manage to open the first door and sneak through with no further problems. Bix almost disappears completely while going through the second door and past the second camera.
While his crew members are committing “fucking B & E’s” for his sake, Jasper is being thrown in a cell at the police station. All his clothes are exchanged for a shabby prison uniform. He expresses worry about getting his old clothing back, but is given no hope from the police. The holding cell they’ve tossed him into is occupied by a scrawny, wild eyed man who’s sitting in the corner, looking strangely twitchy. The scrawny man tries talking to Jasper, but is told to shut up by the police. As soon as the police leave them alone, the scrawny man starts jabbering away, asking,”What’d you do to get thrown in jail?” They chat, Jasper telling the man his tragic story about being wrongly framed for the murder of his boss, and the man reciprocating with a tale of his own woes. Soon a police officer comes in and tells the scrawny man, calling him Colby, that he’s going to be transferred to a penitentiary on the Halo. Colby says it doesn’t sound very pleasant. The police officer swaggers away, leaving them to keep talking.
Meanwhile, Lucy notifies the men of a camera she’s spotted that’s partially hidden over the main office door, but somehow they both manage to dodge it undetected. They sneak inside Dr.Mitchell’s office, where they find the crime scene chalked out and surrounded by emergency tape. Bix checks the windows, but finds them all closed, the windowsills covered in a thick layer of dust. Obviously the murderer didn’t enter by the windows. While checking out the fireplace, he can’t help noticing that it’s strangely clean. After peeking up the chimney, he realizes even the inside of it is completely free of soot. Milan peers up the chimney, using his flashlight he spots something stuck to the interior, he yanks it down only to discover it’s a baseball bat with flecks of blood stuck to it. Milan shows Bix the bat he’s found and Bix tells him to toss it out the nearest window, being careful not to disturb the dust on the windowsill. From outside the mansion, Lucy sees a baseball bat crash to the ground, but she doesn’t touch it or go near it, since it’s obvious they’ve found the murder weapon. They decide to lower Dr.Mitchell’s laptop down to the ground, using the rope.Then they crawl back the way they came, Bix is invisible again with Milan close on his heels. Just as the lawn camera scans the other side of the compound, Lucy races up to the house and grabs the laptop, stuffing it into her bag, then uses her rolltop to turn off the lawn camera for three minutes. As soon as it’s off, she signals for the men to leap out the first floor window they had entered the mansion by. Once everyone has exited the mansion, they race across the retreat grounds, not stopping for anything until they’re safely back at the Jia Li.
Meanwhile, at the station a police officer approaches the holding cell to inform Jasper that he’s being moved to the same penitentiary Colby is being taken to.
Baffled, Jasper asks,”What?! Aren’t you going to at least interrogate me?”
The police officer,chuckles evilly, saying,“Let’s put it this way, your friends are paid up with the right people and you’re fucked.”
Jasper asks if they’re going to deny him his rights this entire time and the officer nods, grinning,“You bet I am. You’re leaving in 5 minutes.” Jasper looks extremely annoyed, but Colby begins arguing, saying,“Don’t you know who I am?”
The officer appears woefully unimpressed and says,“Nope,course not.”
“But I’m a famous actor! My real name is Finnegan Bentley!”shouts Colby. The guard shakes his head, saying he’s never heard of Finnegan Bentley. After some more arguing and frustration, it becomes glaringly apparent that neither the officer nor Jasper has heard of anything he’s performed in, proving his ruse to be completely useless. as they’re being escorted to the prisoner transport ship, Jasper asks the officer, ”How much money did you get paid for this?" receiving only a hard smack in the head for his question.They’re both forced aboard the prison ship, the Cerberus, where they’re thrown into a tiny cell together, and told to abandon all hope, since they’re prison bound now.
The others hurry back to the Jia Li with Dr.Mitchell’s laptop, to find a wave waiting for them from Sheriff Bass Reed, Jasper’s friend who is trying to help them. The wave details that he’s on route to Pelorum, where he plans to vouch for Jasper’s character, but first he needs to know what Jasper’s jail time status is and if they’ve hired a lawyer yet.
Lucy quickly hacks her way into the law enforcement’s database, where she discovers transfer records have been recently filled out for Jasper Marmaduke, stating that he’s going to be taken to Downwater Prison, which is situated near Reaver space on the Halo. She informs her fellow crew members and Bix insists they tell the Sheriff immediately, Lucy gives him an exhausted look, so he quickly changes his tone,saying,“Just send a fucking wave and I can tell him everything.”
Grumbling to herself, Lucy complies, but is growing increasingly more frustrated at their predicament. Sheriff Reed pops up on her viewscreen in answer to the wave. Bix informs him of everything they’ve learned concerning Jasper’s current status. Sheriff Reed explains that if Jasper is already being transferred, then the police have been well bribed and, most likely, he won’t even be given a trial.
Lucy starts freaking out- they don’t know anything about the prison transport ship, how many guards are on board or even what the Cerberus defense systems are, and how the hell can they save Jasper at the rate that their plans keep going pear shaped. Bix puts a hand on her shoulder rather awkwardly trying to calm her down. She asks the Sheriff, ”How far away from us are you?” and he answers that he’s still about 6 hours flight away. He wants to know if they’d rather break Jasper out of Downwater prison or rescue him by raiding the prison transport ship. They decide after a frantic discussion, to try for the ship first and if that rescue attempt fails, to meet up with Sheriff Reed and stage a prison raid. While they’re still in the midst of formulating a plan, Milan triggers the Jia Li into a hard burn so they can catch up with the prison ship. He winds up setting their ship directly in the Cerberus’s path. He tells his crewmates, over the intercom, that the Cerberus should reach them in about 30 minutes, so they’d better get to work.
Meanwhile, on the Cerberus, Jasper and Finnegan are sitting miserably in their cramped cell. Jasper says that this is not turning out very well for either of them. He notices two sentry robots patrolling the halls. Jasper calls a guard over, explaining that he was denied the wave he’d asked for while he was back on Pelorum, but the guard snaps back,“What’s that to me?”
“Well,” Jasper goes on,“they were illegally blocking me from sending a wave.” “SO,” grumbles the guard,“What’s that to ME?” “Nothing, nothing, never mind,”says Jasper leaving the completely useless guard to go back to Colby. They start chatting about where they had been heading before they’d been arrested. Colby says,“I’ll go anywhere except Osiris. Where were you before?” Jasper begins talking about his old crew and how much fun they’d been having at his company retreat until he was suddenly framed by his two most bitter rivals and his weekend was ruined, along with his life. He says he was going to ask the guard for cards, but it doesn’t seem worth it now.
Lucy manages to hack into the Cerberus’s database, using the Cortex. There she finds detailed schematics on it’s defenses, as well as discovering there are 16 prisoners, four guards, and two sentry robots on board. The ship is very well armed, so they can’t just open fire, even though Bix thinks he should go after it in the shuttle with the Shinigami guns. Fortunately Lucy is able to talk him out of such a stupid plan. Lucy’s suggestion to pretend to be a ship in distress seems their best bet. Bix asks how they can fuck up the Jia Li without hurting it beyond repair. Lucy suggests removing the catalyzer and hiding it, while Milan says he can leak some fuel from the ship’s tanks, to make the Jia Li appear to be hopelessly incapacitated. They decide to use both tactics, just in case one technical difficulty isn’t enough to convince the Cerberus of their dire need for help.
On the prison ship Jasper and Finnegan are being served horrible prison food that looks like green slime. Finnegan asks for real food, but the guard replies,“You get goddamn algae and protein and that’s IT!”
“Suddenly, I’m not feeling so good,” mutters Jasper, but the guard yells,”I don’t give a shit how you feel.”
Finnegan asks if he can have Jasper’s food, but then takes a bite of his own and immediately vomits it back up. It tastes like 3 week old saag, complete with mold and slime. Another guard starts walking past, so Jasper calls him over, spinning a long sob story about his old, decrepit mother who is stuck alone at home and because he is her only designated caretaker, she’s probably losing her mind with worry over his sudden disappearance.
The guard asks him how they can get in touch with his mother. Jasper answers that she lives on Pelorum at Club Lush and her name is Matilda Marmaduke. The guard says that he’ll patch through a wave for Jasper’s mother and asks for him to dictate the message for her.
“Sure!” gasps Jasper, delighted to finally be making some progress,” Please tell her: ‘Jasper Marmaduke has been arrested with four friends and is being taken to Downwater prison. And he wants Alfred to take care of you.’ Please let me know if you hear anything back, if I am ever out of here, I am in your debt."
The guard grunts,“Lucky I’m in a good mood,” then leaves to send the wave.
Cascada Pearl receives a very strange wave from the Cerberus and immediately sends a wave to Milan, since she’s fairly certain there was a Jasper Marmaduke in his group of ‘trouble making’ friends.
Milan thanks her for the message, tells her that he’ll call her as soon as he possibly can, but explains that he’s a bit busy right now. He can’t tell her anything else, except that he’s in the middle of fixing a mess.
Lucy removes the catalyzer, while Milan makes some fuel leak out of the ship’s tanks. After a short time of hanging out in space, waiting, they are suddenly sent a wave from the Cerberus prison transport ship, demanding to know what’s wrong with their ship and ordering them to identify themselves immediately.
Lucy answers,”Yes, we’re the Garbanzo, I’m Shana White, the ship’s engineer. Our catalyzer blew and our ship is leaking fuel. Please, can you help us?” The commanding officer on the Cerberus insists on speaking to her captain, so she directs him to Simon Smith/AKA Bix. The guard asks him to identify himself, so Bix does, rolling his eyes at all the unnecessary protocol, he reiterates that he’s Simon Smith, Captain of the Garbanzo. Bix then asks the officer on the Cerberus to identify himself. The officer does, stating, in no uncertain terms that his orders are to not interfere with any other ships until his mission is finished.
Bix shrugs,”It’s okay, we’ll just die out here." The officer seems rather alarmed at Bix’s words,”What’s your current mission?” he asks.
Bix replies that they’re trying to get an extremely sick crew member to a doctor, referring to Milan’s little brother, who is still in a coma and lying in their infirmary, but their catalyzer blew up and now they’re stranded with no doctor for the kid. The officer has a change of heart, suddenly agreeing to sell them a catalyzer, although he insists on charging them 300 credits for it. Furthermore, only one Garbanzo crew member will be allowed to board the Cerberus and retrieve the catalyzer, but that person must be unarmed.
In moments the Cerberus is docking alongside the Jia Li. Bix decides to be the one crew member to board. He, Lucy and Alfred, their robot, hurry to the docking bay where the Cerberus is now situated. On the Cerberus side of the docking entrance stand two guards, one of them unarmed and holding a catalyzer, the other armed with a gun. Next to them stands a sentry bot, it’s guns fully trained on the entrance.
When Bix steps into their area, he’s instantly ordered to stand still so they can pat him down. Fortunately, he’s completely unarmed, though feeling rather vulnerable and wishing he, Milan and Lucy had worked out their plan a bit more. Alfred the robot stands in the door behind him, for moral support, while Lucy perches on a stray crate, busying herself on her rolltop.
Bix takes the catalyzer from the unarmed guard, proclaiming loudly that they’re saving them and starts babbling on and on about how grateful they are.
Suddenly, he drops the catalyzer, stumbling forward, he tries to grab it, but trips and the catalyzer skids away from him again.”Shit,”he mumbles,”we ran outta food too, haven’t eaten in a couple days.” The guards exchange exasperated looks, wondering how a dipshit like this ever became a captain. The unarmed guard puts his face in his hands, unable to watch Bix’s clumsy debacle any longer.
Bix staggers behind the armed guard, grabs the catalyzer, his hands no longer shaking in the slightest, he slams it violently into the armed guard’s head, knocking him out immediately. Leaping up, the catalyzer still clenched in his hand, Bix smashes the unarmed guard in the back of the head. Both guards crash to the floor, unconscious. The sentry bot turns only to be crushed by Bix walloping it with the catalyzer.
While Bix is attacking the guards, Lucy successfully hacks the Cerberus’s database, springing every prison cell door on the ship wide open all at once. At first the prisoners are stunned by their newly found freedom, but they quickly come to their senses and begin rioting.
Jasper grabs his bowl of foul prison food and bursts from his cell, racing down the corridor that’s quickly filling with prisoners. He runs up to the robot Bix has just smashed up and slams his bowl of saag in it’s face. Some of the horrendous slimy food splatters Bix, but he’s too busy relieving the unconscious armed guard of his gun to notice.
“Thanks for saving me!" shouts Jasper, a huge smile of relief plastered on his face.
“Get on the fucking ship!” roars Bix, shouldering the guard’s gun. Jasper leaps through the docking bay door, just as Finnegan comes running up.“Take me with you!” he begs, frantically. “Sure, come on!” yells Jasper, “The great thing about this ship is there’s no captain, so nobody cares if you come on board!” Finnegan hurries through the door, closely followed by Bix, who is lugging both the armed guard’s gun and the catalyzer.
Lucy undocks the Jia Li from the prison transport ship and Bix tosses the catalyzer to Lucy, yelling,“C’mon, put this thing in, let’s get the fuck outta here!”
Milan readies the ship to trigger it into a hard burn and the second Lucy manages to install the catalyzer, he breaks into hard burn, shooting away from the Cerberus.
Once they’re safely away, they gather in the kitchen to talk things over. Bix insists that they need to quit fucking around and have a vote to appoint a ship’s captain. True to form, Jasper casts a vote for himself, while Bix votes for Lucy. However, both Lucy and Milan vote for Bix, so he accepts the new position despite being completely clueless about a captain’s duties.

View
Episode XIII: Corporate Retreat

led-lights-modern.jpgThe next morning on Summerfair, Jasper sends out a wave to Dr.Mitchell, his boss and supplier of Miracle Elixir, asking how business is going. Dr.Mitchell immediately replies, inviting Jasper to the corporate retreat for his Miracle Elixir salespeople being held on the planet, Pelorum. Jasper inquires if he can bring his friends to the retreat. Dr.Mitchell proclaims that it’s an exceptionally good idea for Jasper to bring them along, since he’ll get a bonus if he can convince any of them to drink the crazy kool-aid and sign on as representatives of the Miracle Elixir company. He hurries to the lounge area, where Lucy, Bix and Mo are hanging out, and talks up the retreat with such enthusiasm that eventually Bix says it sounds good and Lucy agrees to go along too. Jasper makes a point not to invite Mo, since she holds his Miracle Elixir in such disdain, but Mo would rather not wind up stuck at a retreat full of swindlers.
Milan is still in the infirmary, hovering worriedly over his comatose little brother Angelo, so they call him into the lounge area. As soon as he arrives, Jasper goes on about how free and wonderful the retreat they’ve been invited to will be. Milan finds it all highly suspicious, saying that it’s probably some sort of trap set up by the Alliance reeling them in, but none of the others share his suspicions. He asks Mo about his brother’s chances of survival and whether or not his consciousness can be restored. Mo says there’s nothing she can do to help heal him or awaken him from his coma, but he seems stable, all they can do is wait and see at this point. Jasper says he has a brother who is a doctor, but is doubtful whether his brother will want to help them, as there has been bad blood between them. Lucy asks Bix if he knows anyone, but he doesn’t think the doctor he knows will help at all, since it’s his dad, head of Spartoi Tec and most likely the reason Angelo is in a coma in the first place. None of them suspect that their former crew mate, Dr.Torbert will be of any help, since he was always too drugged up and strung out to function. After much deliberating they finally decide to go to Pelorum and have a nice little vacation.
They reach Pelorum after a couple of days flight and are given clearance to land on the club med type planet. While Milan lands the Jia Li, Lucy asks Jasper,”Aren’t there a lot of doctors in your company?” “Oh, why Yes, of course!,”says Jasper, proudly,”Everyone’s a doctor! I’m a doctor, Dr.Mitchell is a doctor, even the newer ones are doctors, really we’re all doctors!” Lucy looks extremely doubtful, realizing that none of them are legitimate doctors of anything but quackery. Jasper goes on to explain that he’s the highest rated salesperson in the entire company, therefore he’s unsure about how many younger, less accomplished paeons are running around these days.
After breaking atmo, Milan is directed to land the Jia Li near the fancy beachfront estate where the retreat will be taking place. After setting their ship on the landing strip, they walk up to the swanky main building together, where they meet Marcel, the events organizer. He shows them to their own personal vacation mansion and asks if he can get them anything. Jasper asks for a stiff drink and swimming trunks, to which Marcel replies they’ll have a tailor made swimsuit done up for him. Lucy requests a tankini and he says he’ll send tailors to make a custom swimsuit for her, that they’ll have finished in about an hour. Looking uneasy with all the decadence, Bix asks for swim trunks and a bottle of whiskey. Jasper bellows,“Your Best Whiskey, my good man!” Marcel hurries to comply. Once telling them of the poker tournaments going on in the main mansion, Marcel begins listing different prizes that can be won, including a single person shuttle that’s incredibly fast as the top award available and after some consideration, Milan decides to wander over and check out the game.
Lucy runs off to take a bath in one of the huge, decadent bathrooms, leaving Jasper and Bix to peruse the rest of the house while downing glasses of whiskey.
As she’s bathing, Lucy logs onto the Cortex from the feed in the bathroom, searching for any news on their Academy Prime raid. However, all she is able to find is local news and tidbits that she couldn’t care less about. Despite her better efforts, she can uncover no pertinent information.
Jasper hears from Marcel about the coming up retreat activities, most notably a meeting with Dr.Mitchell’s top associates and warnings about changes that may be happening in the near future. Jasper tries to get in touch with Dr.Mitchell, but winds up only speaking with his receptionist, who schedules a meeting time for him, along with directions on how to get to Dr.Mitchell’s retreat mansion and informs him of the mandatory company party being held that evening at Club Lush.
Lucy emerges from her bath, dressed in all the spa clothing she could find in her bathroom, including soft flip flops and a fluffy, white bathrobe. Jasper tells the others that he has to meet with his boss, and instructs them to bring a bottle of booze for him along to the mandatory party, because he’s definitely going to be coming down off his alcoholic buzz by then.
Milan instantly perks up at the mention of Club Lush, since the resort just happens to be owned by his old girlfriend, Cascada Pearl, to whom he would greatly enjoy paying a visit.
Everyone gets ready for the meeting. Lucy finds a bunch of clothing in her bedroom wardrobe that fits her perfectly, so she gets all dressed up in a corset, skirt and blouse. Jasper gets handsomely dressed up in his now beautifully pressed three piece suit. Bix wears the usual, since he really doesn’t give a shit about dressing up. Milan dresses to the nth degree, in his ruffled shirt, waistcoat and frock coat, he looks utterly fabulous. Finally ready, they are lead in a procession with other attendees to a separate area, where everyone is welcome to indulge in the night’s entertainment, except for Jasper, who is suddenly whisked away to Dr.Mitchell’s home.

At Dr. Mitchell’s, Jasper finds Dr.Norton and Dr.Shelby, his rivals, both glaring back at his amiable greeting. They whisper amongst themselves, Jasper looking down upon them, since he’s the best in the whole company, and they’re nothing more than a couple of amateur hacks, not fit to work with him. At long last, all three of the salesmen are lead into Dr.Mitchell’s study, with Jasper in front, while the other two try to elbow their way in front of him. The room reeks of cigar smoke and expensive wine, Dr.Mitchell sits at the head of a huge, ornate table in the center of the room. He bids them to enter with a jovial smile and greeting. He says,“Gentlemen, Thank you for all the work you have done in the company. I’d like to reward you with not only shares in the company, but also territory therein.”
Dr. Mitchell makes a motion towards Jasper, who steps forward, brimming with pride. Dr.Mitchell pulls out a medal and goes through a long drawn out speech about Jasper, explaining how he’s the best in the whole company and Dr.Mitchell owes him a great deal of thanks for his loyalty and trustworthiness, while pinning the medal to Jasper’s suit jacket. Jasper thanks his boss profusely, then asks about the territory that is up for grabs. Dr.Mitchell replies that Jasper is to have first pick of the territories. Audible groans issue forth from both Dr.Shelby and Dr.Norton, annoyed at the obvious favor their boss shows towards Jasper. Jasper takes the Georgia system and the Lux system for his base of operations. The others agree to split the core planets, which Jasper saw as too safe and not enough of a risk. They both call Jasper a fool, but Dr.Mitchell steps in as the peacekeeper and stops them from picking a fight with his most treasured employee.
As they leave Dr.Mitchell’s office, he pulls Jasper back and asks him to come see him tomorrow morning. “How early?” asks Jasper, looking doubtful for a second. But when Dr.Mitchell says,“Noon” Jasper nods, relieved, and wholeheartedly agrees to the meeting.
Jasper continues off to Club Lush, making sure to get a separate cab from Dr.’s Shelby and Norton. There he finds the rest of his crew, all pleasantly tipsy and milling around outside the Club while waiting for him to turn up with their tickets. The four Jia Li crew members gather together, as Jasper confides with them that he can’t stand this part of his job and would much rather hang out with a bottle of whiskey and a lounge chair, than be social and partake of wild dancing and partying. Milan wanders away from their group in the direction of the poker tournament proceedings. Jasper reluctantly leads the others into the Club, taking the bottle of whiskey offered to him by Bix and tossing back a healthy swig, he searches out a table for them. They have a confrontation with a man who doesn’t want to let them take away his table. Jasper and Bix manage to convince the offending man and his date to give up their table through menace and threats. Lucy, Jasper and Bix sit down at the champagne table after chasing the asshole away. A waitress shows up and offers them everything under the sun to drink and/or drug themselves with, including Chrysanthemum Blonde, which Lucy and Bix back away from instantly, sporting looks of extreme distaste. Bix winds up ordering another bottle of whiskey, while Lucy starts downing champagne, delighted to discover it’s free.
The stunningly beautiful Cascada Pearl strolls up to a podium and makes a little speech about the history of Club Lush and how she got into the business of pleasure, then invites everyone to party on. As she leaves the podium, the festivities really kick off.
At a nearby table, two salesmen start fighting about who’s made the most money in the last year, drunkenly, they draw their guns, but then Jasper calls out, “No! Don’t, it’s not worth it!” They both turn their guns on Jasper. An argument ensues, Jasper talks the two into punching each other’s lights out, instead of shooting anyone. They holster their guns and try duking it out with their fists, but it looks more like they’re slapping each other than punching.
Annoyed with the amateur display in front of him, Bix yells, “That ain’t how you fucking fight!" He glances over at Lucy, looking gorgeous in her corset, then suddenly he jumps up and throws a punch at the nearest salesman.
Another salesman, sitting at an adjoining table, turns towards Jasper, saying,”That little Asian friend of yours can’t possibly take both of them!” Jasper replies,”Oh, you’d be surprised, I’ll bet you 500 credits, he can take both of them at the same time.” The bet is on. Bix punches one of them in the face, and then gets hit for three bashing damage from behind by the other salesman. Whirling around, Bix kicks him in the stomach. The kick lands making the salesman double over in pain, wheezing he tries to punch Bix back, but misses completely. The guy stumbles back, almost crashing into Jasper. Lucy sticks out her foot, nonchalantly waiting for one of them to get close enough to trip. Bix glances over at Lucy again, swings a punch and wildly misses the erratically stumbling drunken salesman. Luckily Lucy manages to trip the salesman instead. He trips, falls backwards, and crashes through a glass table, behind him, which shatters into a million pieces. His rival salesman staggers back, horrified and starts shouting,“Police!”
Jasper points his gun in the guy’s direction, who immediately stumbles from the room while crying and clutching his bashed up face. 500 credits is promptly handed over to Jasper for winning the bet.
Meanwhile, Milan meanders through the ballroom on his way to the tournament floor, walks up to the stairs and, looking, up finds Cascada Pearl walking down the stairs towards him. Her mouth drops open in surprise.“Milan!” she gasps, “What are you doing here?!” He tells her that he’s just here with some friends. She wants to know where his friends are, and he says “They’re probably getting into trouble somewhere, if you’ve heard any crashes, it’s them.” There comes a loud crash from somewhere out on the floor, the sound of a salesman falling backwards through a glass table, and Milan rolls his eyes, completely unsurprised.
“What was That?!?” Cascada jumps, startled, she looks around trying to see what caused the crash.
Milan shrugs,”Yeah, that’s them, my friends” She’s curious why he’s not currently with his friends, but he answers that he wanted to be alone for the time being. Her brow wrinkling with concern, Cascada asks him what’s wrong. Finally he opens up about Angelo and tells her about their raid on the Academy Prime ship and of Cy’s death only a couple weeks prior. She is horrified that so much has happened to him in such a short period of time, but Milan says that he’s going to go play in the poker tournament, so he’s busy right now and can’t stay to chat further. Cascada lets him go, but only after she’s gotten him to agree to meeting up with her later.
While the others are waiting for someone to come clean up the salesman/glass table mess, Lucy conspires with Jasper to steal some ID’s. She manages to swipe the ID card of the salesman who fell into the table, since the fall knocked him unconscious, and discovers that he’s the head guard for Dr.Mitchell’s corporation database. After a few minutes of work on her laptop, she’s able to set up a system so that it looks like the head guard is siphoning money from his rival, but actually the money will end up in Lucy’s account and in Jasper’s account. She splits it 60/40, but doesn’t tell Jasper the way in which she’s split up the amounts. Neither of them bother to let Bix in on their scam, since he’s only interested in eyeing Lucy in her corset, while drinking copious amounts of booze, and he couldn’t care less about extra money.
On their table’s Cortex feed, Lucy can see Milan entering the tournament floor and taking his place at the table. The others at the table prove a motly assortment: Ricardo Montalban, the incredibly handsome host, along with John Castle,an ugly linebacker wearing teeny, tiny sunglasses, Lady Esmeralda Masterson, a frightening vision in black and pink tulle, and some guy named Sully O’Sullivan. John Castle folds almost immediately, then starts chewing a handful of ice, while watching the game because his jaw is bigger than his head. Ricardo Montalban folds shortly after John Castle, then leans back to watch the game’s proceedings while suavely stroking his exquisite chin. Milan winds up winning with a full house of queens and aces. He winds up raking in a pot worth 16,500 credits. Jasper, Lucy and Bix gather around to congratulate him. Jasper tells him that he never wants to play cards against him and Milan agrees that winning all of his shipmate’s money would probably make things awkward between them.
An announcement goes out over the loudspeaker instructing the guests to finish up their business, postponing the fun until after the vitally important seminar. They file into the seminar room, where they’re regaled by Dr.Mitchell with heaps of boring business information for his employees, including a long talk about their newest product, Miracle Elixir plus, which is a stronger and more concentrated formula that should be rolling out in a few months.
After the tedious seminar, Milan leaves to try meeting up with Cascada.
Bix yells,”Fuck it! Let’s go swimming!” He and Lucy run back to the mansion, don their new tailor made swimsuits and race to the beach, both still quite tipsy from champagne and whiskey.
Dr.Mitchell calls up Jasper, asking him to come to his mansion, saying it’s terribly important that Jasper hurry. Jasper rushes over to the mansion, as instructed, where he’s lead into Dr.Mitchell’s inner office. Dr.Mitchell explains that he’s had some distressing news: there is an assassination attempt out on him. He goes on to say that he’s heard through the grapevine about Jasper’s group being good, reliable bodyguards, and therefore, he’s interested in hiring them to protect him while he’s in Londinium for his annual business trip. Dr.Mitchell and Jasper discuss the logistics of the proposed job, as well as a payment amount for the task. After a lovely chat, where Dr.Mitchell admits that Jasper is the only one he can trust, they pat each other amicably on the back and then Jasper hurries off to find the rest of the crew.
Lucy is the first in the water, cavorting and splashing about. Bix stops at the water’s edge, watching her and looking concerned for a moment, but then jumps in the water where they have a splash battle. Jasper comes up and tells them about his talk with Dr.Mitchell. They’re both interested in the job, but decide that they should talk about it tomorrow when they’re no longer drunk. Jasper wanders back to the mansion, procures a bottle of whiskey and then spends the night walking around on the beach, drinking himself into a stupor.
Meanwhile, Milan manages to find Cascada again. They walk together through the gardens, talking about everything that’s happened while they’ve been apart. After hours of chatting, they go back to Club Lush, and cook dinner in Cascada’s personal apartment. While they’re eating together, Cascada asks Milan,“Why did we split up?” Milan is unsure, after some deliberation, he admits that he was just busy doing everything, but he greatly regrets not staying in touch with her. Suddenly Cascada leans forwards and kisses him, and then they have at.
After a few hours swimming and splashing in the water, Bix and Lucy finally emerge, no longer as insanely drunk as they had been and exhausted from cavorting, they sit on the beach wrapped in their towels. Bix asks Lucy why she’d stayed with him and Milan after Cy and the Edelweiss blew up, instead of leaving with Wager and the Doc. She answers that she didn’t really like Wager or the Doc, especially since the Doc was always opening the infirmary door to her while naked and stoned. She says that she signed on to serve with Cy, and not with either Wager or the Doc. Bix is completely enraged that he never got around to killing the Doc for being so creepy and nude at Lucy. He hadn’t known that the Doc was behaving that way towards her, and he swears a blue streak, furious at the disrespectful Doc pervert. Lucy rolls her eyes at Bix’s swearing, then asks him why he stayed with her and Milan, turning his question back on him. At first, he hems and haws, then says that he’s got shit to do and he might as well do it with them. Lucy looks skeptical, he stammers that he’s still got to teach her how to knife fight. Lucy becomes increasingly more annoyed with his bullshit answers. Finally, he admits,”I’m not done protecting you yet…” then adds ,”..and everyone else too, I guess.” For a few moments, they sit in silence, then, confession time over, they stroll back to the mansion and fall asleep in separate bedrooms.
The next morning Lucy gets up and checking the Cortex, discovers that Dr.Mitchell was found dead last night in his mansion. An investigation is under way and the conference is over because of the emergency.
Lucy runs to Bix’s room, and pounding on the door, she wakes him up to tell him that the horrible news. Almost immediately, Bix races to Jasper’s room and bangs on the door. There’s no answer, he yanks the door open to find the room empty. “SHIT!” yells Bix “Did Milan come back?” asks Lucy. Bix goes to Milan’s room and finds it also empty. They decide to pack up everyone’s stuff, dump it on the ship and then come back to find the others. Once they’re finished stowing everyone’s stuff on the ship, they come back to the retreat area and commiserate about whether or not they should go out and find the others or if they should wait for them to come back to the mansion themselves.
Meanwhile on the beach, Jasper wakes up to find his rivals, Dr.Norton and Dr. Shelby standing over him, laughing conspiratorially together. They tease him, asking how his night’s sleep was. Jasper brushes them off, even as they make jokes about how this might be his last good sleep for a long time to come. Not comprehending their bizarre remarks, Jasper stands up and, ignoring their taunts, he staggers back to the mansion. He stumbles into the kitchen to find a very worried looking Lucy and Bix waiting for him. Bix asks Jasper, bluntly, if he killed anyone last night. Jasper grumpily answers that he should have killed Norton and Shelby. “Oh no!” gasps Lucy, “you don’t know!" “I don’t know what?” puzzles Jasper.
“Dr.Mitchell woke up dead. I mean, he’s been found dead, this morning. And you’re the prime suspect.” Jasper looks stunned, then realizes that Norton and Shelby probably did it to frame him. They discuss the facts of the case, trying to figure out what to do. Jasper is positive that Norton and Shelby committed the murder, in order to get both Jasper and Dr.Mitchell out of the way, so they can take over the company.
Cascada wakes up, gets out of bed and tells Milan that she needs to go back to Club Lush for opening duties. Milan lays around, being lazy and sleepy while Cascada has a shower, eats breakfast and departs for a few hours of work. Once she’s gone, Milan immediately goes back to sleep for another hour. He doesn’t awaken until Cascada returns in a breathless huff. She tells Milan to get up and turn on the Cortex. On the news he hears about Dr.Mitchell’s death, along with the information that the prime suspect is Jasper Marmaduke. Milan says,“Oh No! I should have known they were doing something stupid.” He jumps up to leave, Cascada kisses him and he promises to call her as soon as he gets the chance. Once Milan arrives at the mansion they were staying at, he finds the others, and they discuss their horrible predicament. Jasper thinks he should go talk to the police while the others try to find proof that Norton and Shelby are the real murderers. Lucy, Bix and Milan all return to the ship and set to work on finding out what actually happened.
Jasper sends a wave to the police, explaining, as innocently as possible, that he just woke up and is appalled to find out that not only had the good doctor been murdered last night, but also that he is the prime suspect. The police officer warns Jasper not to leave, to stay in one spot and they will come within an hour to arrest him. Jasper says,“I wouldn’t have called you if I meant to run.” He sits down in the mansion and awaits the officers arrival.
Back on the Jia Li, Lucy hacks into the database to find images of Dr.Mitchell’s mansion the night before. She can find footage of Jasper entering the house, but for some reason cannot find any footage of him leaving the house after his meeting with Dr.Mitchell. She searches for the ballistic report on the murder, as well as information on Norton and Shelby’s whereabouts.

View
Episode XII: Academy Prime - Part 3

TSW_Escape_concept_art.jpgOnce everyone is armed with a gun, they split up, Milan taking the kids to the boarding area as he uses his remote to make the shuttle return to the Academy Prime, while the others run off in the direction of the dark corridor, down which the prisoners are being kept.
Bix and Lucy draw their pistols and Jasper shoulders one of the shotguns as they approach the locked door at the end of the corridor together. Fortunately Jasper has the key code from his earlier espionage attempts, ignoring the violently retching guard convulsing on the floor in front of it, he punches in the code, unlocking the door. Quickly they rush through the door, only to discover red lights flashing along all the walls. It’s obvious someone has tripped an alarm.
Two guards are at the next door, one of them, while fighting his guts, grabs his gun, pointing it at Bix. Jasper quickly draws his gun and shoots the guard. His well placed shot knocks the gun from the guard’s hand. The guard succumbs to his nausea and pukes all over the floor in front of them. Jasper generously recommends for him to use some miracle elixir to help his stomach, then robs the guard blind of the meager 20 credits in his wallet.
At the bottom of the stairs they find Durran Haymer, who is standing there with his arms folded and not looking sick at all. He demands to know what they’re doing and why they’re here. Bix answers by shooting him in his right shoulder. Durran Haymer screams in pain, falls to the ground and then bellows,“You’re DEAD! You’re All Fucking Dead!”
Lucy kicks him in the head to make him shut up. Both Bix and Lucy notice Haymer repeatedly tapping a ring he’s wearing, setting off an alarm of some sort. Bix stomps on his hand, smashing it, making Haymer scream again. They all agree to grab Durran as a hostage, before they try opening the third door, behind which the prisoners are being held in cages. Jasper zip ties Durran’s hands behind his back, then tries to intimidate him into opening the last set of doors, but is met with only disdain. Durran sneers that they have no room to bargain with him, even though he’s bleeding profusely from both his shoulder and hand now, with a vicious headache on the side. Jamming his gun up against Durran’s chin, Jasper begs to differ, but Durran still refuses, saying they have no idea what they’ve done.
Meanwhile, Milan is dealing with the kids in the loading bay, trying to keep them calm. One of them asks why they should trust Milan. He answers,“Because we’re not going to poke holes in your brains.” All the kids agree that they’re sick and tired of having holes poked in their heads, therefore, they take it as a good sign that Milan can be trusted. Suddenly, there comes a loud rumbling from the boarding area just outside the ship. Glancing out the window, Milan spots an unidentified ship approaching. One of the kids also peeks out the window, sees the ship and immediately backs away looking terrified. Milan says,“Shit.”
Back down the dark corridor, Lucy manages to hack her way through the last door using the ship’s database to gain control. As Bix and Jasper hurry through the third door, dragging a bleeding Durran Haymer along with them, Lucy explores the ship’s database.
Within the last room, they find two guards being extremely sick, Durran yells for them to get up, but neither of them can function beyond retching uncontrollably and clutching their guts.
The three men descend down the stairs, where they find four cages containing three emaciated children and Mrs.Spiral, who is drifting in and out of consciousness, trapped inside. Jasper tries to threaten Durran into opening the cages, but he refuses again. Bix says:”This guy’s fucking useless!” and calls out to Lucy to open the doors using the cortex terminal she’s operating. Irritated with their seemingly useless hostage, Bix digs out Durran’s wallet to find out who he is. The second he reads the name on the I.D. card, he snaps,“I’ve gotta kill this guy.”
“Why do we have to kill this guy?”asks Jasper, exasperated, but Bix only yells back, “I need to fucking Kill this guy! After we get the kids, he’s DEAD!” Jasper shrugs, unwilling to argue at the moment.
Back in the docking bay area, the rest of the kids panic at the sight of the mysterious new ship approaching. They break free, racing back down the hallway towards the cafeteria. Milan calls for them to stay together, but none of the panicking kids can hear him, so he chases after them. As soon as he catches up with one of the kids, he asks,while running:”So on a scale of 1 to 10, how close are we to ‘Oh Fuck’?" The kid says,“Eleven.” They keep running. Some of the kids start shouting about something Blue.
Lucy succeeds in opening the cell doors, Bix and Jasper watch the doors pop open with a huge sense of relief. While she’s digging around in the prisoner manifestos, she is stunned to discover that one of the last names on the form is Borgia. Angelo Borgia, to be exact. Filing the knowledge away for later, Lucy hurriedly searches the database to find out where the shuttle is and if it’s going to reach them soon.
As Bix and Jasper are helping the prisoners from their cells, they discover one of the kids lying in his cell, unresponsive and barely breathing. Jasper tells Bix to give the kid some miracle elixir, which Bix does with a worried look on his face, stating,”We don’t need to give him the shits too.” However, the kid shows no improvement, so Bix picks him up and slings him over his shoulder.
With Jasper dragging Durran along and Bix carrying the comatose kid, they proceed back down the corridor towards Lucy. The other two emaciated kids, who are luckily still able to walk, help Mrs.Spiral along, following closely behind the men.
After finding out that a ship has docked which is not their shuttle, Lucy calls out,“It looks like we have some company.” Jasper yells out,“Shit!”
As they all rush out of the dark corridor, a torrent of kids race past them, with Milan taking up the rear. Jasper yells out that an enemy ship has landed and everyone must run to the kitchen docking bay or else they’ll be killed by the enemy. The kids make a beeline for the kitchens, even before Jasper is done yelling. They hear the air lock opening for the enemy shuttle way down at the other end of the hall. As soon as everyone is in the kitchen, Lucy hacks her way into the Cortex terminal and jams the kitchen doors closed.
Milan notices the three kids whom the others have rescued are alarmingly emaciated, one of them in such a comatose state that he’s being carried sack of potatoes style over Bix’s shoulder. Milan gathers the kids around him and leads them back to the kitchen docking bay, just as screams begin to erupt from the hallways and from the other docking bay, replacing the earlier retching noises from the pukers.
Jasper calls for everyone to get on the shuttle which has finally just arrived, but before joining them, he snatches the ring off Durran’s finger flinging it into the stroganoff pot in the kitchen. Once everyone has finally boarded the shuttle, they set off.
Jasper asks Bix what they’re doing with this guy, motioning towards the bleeding, glaring Durran Haymer. Bix replies that he’s going to kill the scumbag later. Jasper asks,”What did this guy do to you that you’re so eager to kill him?” Bix snaps for Jasper to quit asking so many questions and lying the comatose kid down on one of the shuttle benches, he goes to stare down Durran, who is looking at him with extreme resentment.
Bix snarls,“What?! You gotta problem with me?” Durran only looks at him, saying nothing. His silence enrages Bix even more, sending him off on a tirade about how he knows who Durran works for, he knows the kind of fucked up shit he’s done and it’s time for payback now.
Milan attempts to take the shuttle off it’s autopilot course back to Ezra, so they can fly the shuttle to the Jia Li and transfer the kids onto their ship. With Lucy’s help, he manages to reconfigure it, regaining control just in the nick of time. There’s a loud rumble and, at long last, they take off from the Academy Prime ship racing towards the area where they’d left the Jia Li. The first one off the shuttle, Milan hears Moe call out over the intercom,“Finally! We’ve been getting multiple waves from that Academy Prime ship and I don’t know what to tell them!”
“Shit,” yells Milan," We’ve gotta hit hard burn! Everybody off the shuttle now!" The others clear the shuttle, Lucy calling for Moe to come help the kids who need medical assistance. Bix carries the comatose kid into the infirmary, leaving him on one of the examining tables, then retrieves Durran and forcefully stuffs him into a crate in the cargo bay.
Milan works quickly to reverse the controls on the Academy Prime’s shuttle so they can get rid of it. Together, he and Lucy manage to reprogram the shuttle to recoil back to the Academy Prime ship, sending it straight back to the main docking bay, in the hopes that it will crash into the enemy ship still docked there. Racing to the cockpit, Milan triggers the Jia Li into a hard burn jetting them away from the vicinity of the Academy Prime ship as fast as possible.
Once they’re flying safely away, the crew has a quick chat amongst themselves about what to do with Durran. It turns out both Jasper and Lucy want to use him for ransom, but Bix won’t listen to their logic, demanding Haymer’s death as payback for all the evil he’s committed.
Lucy gives each of the kids a protein bar and a blanket, then beds them down in various areas of the ship. The crew gathers in the cockpit where Jasper pours them each a stiff drink. They sit down to talk. Lucy tells them that she wasn’t able to say something earlier because things had been so crazy, but she’d noticed the last name of one of the kids was the same as Milan’s. Turning a bit pale, Milan asks,”What was the name?”
“Angelo Borgia,” answers Lucy.
Milan immediately stands up and marches out of the cockpit, not once stopping until he reaches the infirmary. Jasper, Lucy and Bix follow, curious to see what new drama awaits. Hurrying up to the boy laying in the infirmary, Milan peers into his face and seeing no reaction whatsoever from his comatose little brother, he sits down next to the exam table the boy is lying on and asks Moe what’s wrong with Angelo. She says that she’s not sure, she’s getting no reactions from him and can’t figure out what’s wrong. They sit and stare at the comatose boy in silence, feeling helpless.
Bix leaves the infirmary and makes his way back to the cargo bay to check on Durran. Sitting down on the crate that Durran’s been stuffed into, he starts drumming his heels against the side of the box. Durran shrieks for him to quit it.
Bix asks,“Do you still work for my dad?” Durran asks,“Who’s your dad?”
“Your boss, Spartoi Technologies, Madigan.”
“You’re Madigan’s boy?!”gasps Durran. Bix says,“Why else ya think I gotta kill you?” Durran lapses into silence.
Jasper and Lucy go back to the lounge area where Jasper continues to drink, feeling sad and depressed about his present situation. He doesn’t want Lucy to know he’s depressed, but she starts talking to him and they hit it off, chatting about their pasts and how silly people are when they’re being swindled out of their money. Lucy asks Jasper about his life story and he tells her about his days as a gunslinger, shortly followed by his adventures being chased by angry mobs. She explains her own life to him, all about her family on Bellerophon and how her parents had been event planners for horrible rich people when she was growing up. They talk quietly amongst themselves while nursing the bottle of whiskey together.
Milan is comforted by Moe, she tells him that he needs to sleep and she’ll tell him if there are any improvements. Milan leaves to go to his room.
While Bix is busy banging his heels against the crate, a kid approaches and asks him if he knows the guy inside it. Bix answers,”I know about him and the shit he’s done. I know he likes to cut pieces off kids and torture ‘em, chops ‘em up like meat. Did he cut pieces off you?” The kid replies,”No, but I know others he’s hurt. Did he hurt you?”
” Yeah, probably."
“Cut pieces from you?” asks the kid, in a hushed voice.
”Yeah, a few.”answers Bix. The kid pats him on the shoulder, comfortingly, telling Bix, “You can talk to me anytime.” Bix stiffens, unsure of how to react to the kid’s concern, then, shrugging, he starts kicking the crate even more viciously.
Halfway through the bottle of whiskey, Lucy finally remembers to send a wave to Luopan, who immediately hails her back, and inquires about how the mission is going. She informs him they have the kids and are on their way to SummerFair with them now, just as Mrs.Spiral told them to. He wants to know if they had to leave anyone behind. “No,” answers Lucy. He asks how many people they had to kill aboard the Academy Prime ship, and when she says none, he seems taken aback with surprise. She explains the condition of the kids and their rescue. “Oh, yeah,” says Lucy,”and there’s one other person we took from the ship. Durran something..” Luopan pauses for a second, then gasps, stunned,“You guys took Durran Haymer!”
“Yes,”answers Lucy,“I mean, he was there and sooo we took him..” There’s a shaky sigh from Luopan, then he replies,“Okay, I will have medical personnel standing by to care for the children. but Haymer..” Lucy explains that they’d like to sell him Durran, and Jasper backs her up as loudly and drunkenly as possible. However, Luopan only answers that he’ll think about it, but says nothing concrete.
They are just outside of Summerfair, and have finally slept and sobered up. Lucy wakes up from where she’d fallen asleep slumped over at the table, and begins making coffee. Once she’s moving around, Jasper sits up, awake, but a bit cramped from sleeping all night in a chair. Lucy asks him if he knows where Bix is. Jasper answers that he has no idea, but suspects he’s in the cargo bay .”Oh no, he’s probably killed that guy!" Lucy cries out. Jasper scurries down to the cargo bay to find Bix lounging on top of the crate, still banging his heels against it. Surprisingly, Durran is still alive, although a bit worse for wear. Jasper tells Bix he’s needed in the kitchen, so Bix gives Durran’s crate one last satisfying kick, yells,“See ya later,sweetheart!” and follows him to the kitchen.
Once everyone is gathered in the kitchen, there follows a long discussion with Jasper trying to talk Bix into letting Haymer live in order to get tons of money for him. At first Bix starts listening to him, but the second Jasper suggests buying a new ship with the money, Lucy looks instantly worried and Bix becomes upset, yelling that there’s nothing wrong with their ship and they’re keeping it, no matter what. Lucy has to intervene to calm him down, since Jasper has no idea that their present ship is named after Bix’s mother or that he’s offended Bix by suggesting getting a new ship. With Lucy’s help they manage to convince Bix to agree to ransoming Durran off to Luopan, but only under the condition that he gets to hack off Durran’s arm before he’s handed over.
After they’ve gained clearance to land on Summerfair, Lucy sends a wave to Luopan requesting further instructions. He orders them to bring Mrs.Spiral, the kids and their cargo to the town of Saint Werburgs, where a store called Smitty’s Antiques will serve as a temporary home for the rescued prisoners until they can be retrieved by their parents.
When Milan is asked by Lucy if he’s going to be turning over his little brother, he answers,“No,of course not.” He decides to tell both Mrs.Spiral and Luopan that Angelo Borgia died overnight from his injuries.
After the Jia Li has landed on Summerfair near the small town of Saint Werburgs, Mrs.Spiral hugs each member of the crew, thanking them for everything, then asks them about the boy who was in a coma. Milan informs her that the boy didn’t pull through, but she’s suspicious they’re lying, especially after Bix gives her a big grin and nobody looks even slightly sad about the tragic ‘death’. She tries asking more probing questions until finally they admit that the boy is Milan’s little brother and, no matter how she sees it, Angelo is staying with them. Mrs.Spiral smiles and nods, relenting to Milan’s insistence that his little brother be allowed to remain with him, since she can clearly see that Angelo is safe in his care.
Jasper and Bix load the crate containing the miserable Durran Haymer on the mule. Lucy and Jasper hop on the mule, driving it behind Mrs.Spiral as she walks to Smitty’s Antiques with everyone else following. Once they’ve reached Smitty’s, Jasper and Bix unload the crate, kicking it into the store, they proceed to the back of the shop where the shopkeeper, Abraham is waiting to meet with them.
Mrs.Spiral introduces them to Abraham, who thanks them all profusely, assuring them that the children will be well taken care of. He says,“I understand there’s another addition. I can offer 35,000 for the package,” referring to Durran Haymer.
Bix says he’d like to kill the guy right now for free, and that’d be fine with him. No money, just death for Durran. Abraham says he understands why Bix wants to kill him, but Haymer can be used to fight and free so many more in their struggle against Blue Sun. Jasper keeps trying to bargain for more money until Abraham asks if they’re in it for the money or for the job. Bix tells him to just take the bastard, but he’d better never escape, and use him to rescue as many kids as possible. He pays the Jia Li’s crew 20,000 credits for the rescue mission and then an additional 35,000 credits for Durran Haymer imprisoned in the crate. Bix gives the crate one last kick before they’re done.
Abraham tells them that it’ll be awhile before their next mission, so he recommends that they lay low for the time being, staying well under the radar. Finally finished with the dropoff, they leave Mrs.Spiral, the kids and Durran with Abraham, heading out to explore the town of Saint Werburgs before they have to leave.
Bix walks off in search of a knife store. He winds up buying a boot knife, a Bowie knife and a dagger in a leather scabbard for 100 credits from the overly enthusiastic sales girl at the knife store.
After setting up his hover wagon a little ways away from the Jia Li to sell his wares, Jasper is approached by a small bedraggled looking family who ask him if his elixir can help with shingles. Jasper beams, saying,”Sure and I can give you the family discount. One bottle for 20 credits each." They agree to the price and the father gives Jasper his last 20 credit bill. Then they walk off, telling their little boy that they’ll have his shingles fixed up in no time.
Lucy goes back to the ship to look up the source of the traceable credits they’d just been paid. She is able to trace the credits Abraham was allowed to approve for them. Going through several proxy accounts, she finally manages to uncover the final source that is associated with someone in the government/Parliament, but can’t find out anything more.
Milan stops by the candy shop for Angelo’s favorite candy. After buying candy and chocolate, he stops by a bookstore where he purchases a book on birds for his little brother.
Bix takes his newly purchased knives and returns to the ship, where he grabs the holster he’d bought a few days ago from his room and starts rummaging around in the kitchen for a snack.
Jasper takes a break from hocking his wares, locks up his hover wagon, unhooks Mustard from the hover wagon and rides off into the wilderness on him, so he can stretch his horsie legs.
Lucy goes clothes shopping, buying pants, shirts and a leather coat during her super fun shopping montage set to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’.
Once her song montage is finished she goes into the next store, Robotiques. While wandering around and casually perusing the robotic units on sale, Lucy is approached by a little man with a little goatee. He asks if she’s looking for something specific.
“Do many people use robots these days?” she inquires. Appearing slightly nervous, the little man answers,“No, not really, there was an incident once, not that model,” pointing at the robot Lucy is looking over, ”but there was one that kind of exploded.”
He shows her around the shop, pointing out different models, each one designed for specific tasks. She’s interested in a robot that can be programmed to help out around the ship by cooking, repairing the engines and cleaning. The little man points out one in particular that should meet her needs, so Lucy looks it over extensively before making her decision. After she bargains him down from 3000 credits to 2000 for the unit as well as talking him into throwing in a case of spare parts for it, he promises to deliver everything straight to her ship within the hour.
Lucy goes back to the ship and seats herself in the lounge area, amongst her piles of new purchases. Bix bursts into the lounge and hands her the holster he’d bought while they were on Ezra last week. He says,“Here, I got you a holster for your Glock.”
Looking a bit stunned, Lucy accepts the holster, saying,”Oh!…Will it fit my Glock?”
“Yeah, and it adjusts and shit.”
“Maybe you can help me adjust it,” she smiles. Bix turns bright red, gives her a couple of furtive glances, then mumbles,”I’m sure you’ll figure it out by yourself.”
“I made an impulse purchase.” continues Lucy, brimming with excitement, “I bought a butler robot!” Bix seems noticeably uncomfortable at her news, then hands her the dagger and scabbard he’d just bought. “Well, if it attacks you, you can probably kill it with this.” he says, helpfully,”I got it for you.”
Lucy looks completely mystified as she takes the dagger from him.“What, why?”
“Ya said you wanted a knife, I gotcha a fucking knife.”

Meanwhile, once Jasper is a good distance from the town, he dismounts Mustard, and begins to practice shooting with his gun. Over and over tries, but it’s no use, every attempt misses by a mile when he’s using his right hand. Feeling frustrated, but determined to somehow make it work, Jasper begins to practice shooting with his left hand, as Mustard happily munches on grass nearby.

Back at the ship, Milan rushes into the infirmary loaded down with the presents he’s bought for Angelo. He frantically places the candy and the bird book into Angelo’s hands, promising to read the book aloud to him, once he wakes up. Desperate, he even tries wafting the candy in front of Angelo’s nose, hoping and praying the smell will trigger memories and bring him back to consciousness, but his brother shows no signs of life besides the steady rise and fall of his chest. Milan asks Mo if she knows how to help Angelo wake up, but all she can say is to be patient. She doesn’t know why he’s still in a comatose state, all they can do now is take care of him and hope for the best.
The little man from Robotiques arrives with the robot in tow and pounds on the cargo bay doors.
“It’s Here!” shrieks Lucy and races down to the cargo bay with Bix following close behind her, a worried look on his face. The robot man gives her the robot, along with the box full of extra parts. He shows her how to turn it on and leaves after thanking her profusely and asking her to tell all of her friends so they can all come buy similar extremely safe robots from him. Lucy sets up the robot in the cargo bay, asking it all about it’s functions, while Bix hovers behind her, refusing to leave her alone with a machine that, at any moment, could snap and attack her. Once it is fully functioning, the robot tells her that it’s name is FRED and asks her where it is. She explains that it’s on the Jia Li, their ship, currently on the planet Summerfair.
Meanwhile, still out in the wilderness, Jasper finally manages to hit his target by successfully shooting with his left hand. Overjoyed, he leaps on Mustard and gallops back to the ship, filled with a better outlook for his future as a gunslinger.

View
Episode XI: Academy Prime - Part 2

1500x1027_12024.jpg

Everyone except Moe and Erich are gathered in the kitchen discussing their new mission. Unfortunately Erich is experiencing another bout of sickness and Moe is busy caring for him. During the meeting it is decided that Milan and Lucy will be masquerading as teachers, while Jasper and Bix pose as kitchen workers. They look over the blueprints,weighing different options to pull off the rescue.There are 9 personnel,which includes Alliance security,teachers and doctors, who take care of the 11 children who are trapped on the Academy Prime.Luopan explains the schedule times for the weekly shuttle run from the Academy Prime. It seems as if they need to talk to Mrs. Spiral,their contact on board the ship, before they can decide on their final plans.After considering the idea to make either the kids sick enough to be sent to the hospital in a shuttle, or to poison the Alliance with ipecac syrup, they decide it would be better to use ipecac syrup on the adults, since the children have clearly suffered enough.
Moe gives Jasper a bottle of ipecac to dump into the personnel’s food with express instructions to only use one teaspoon since more may be too powerful. Luopan says there’s only one doctor, five teachers and the rest are Alliance security guards.
Once they land the Jia Li on Hershel,the nearest moon, they will be taking a shuttle to the Academy Prime ship, but they must hack into the shuttle’s system in order to be able to use it in the rescue. After they’ve landed near the town of Green something or other, they leave Erich and Moe with the ship, while Lucy, Jasper, Bix and Milan venture over to the town’s shuttle hangar to check out the Academy Prime ship’s shuttle. In the hangar they find five shuttles, but aren’t sure which one is their target shuttle.There is only one man inside and he is spot welding one of the shuttles while wearing a welder’s mask. Jasper goes up to him to ask about work repairs for his hover wagon. Bix and Lucy stay back letting Jasper work on the welder, whose name happens to be Charlie. Jasper leads Charlie away from the hangar while still chattering incessantly about the repairs he needs.
Bix acts as the lookout while Lucy approaches the now empty cortex station in the hangar in order to hack in and find out which shuttle is the Academy Prime’s shuttle. She discovers the name of the shuttle is the Evenstar and it’s parked in the third space in the middle of the hangar. Once she and Milan board the Evenstar, they begin trying to hack into it’s main computer. It’s typical Alliance shuttle,Milan notices, although he can tell that it’s been customized to a ridiculous extent. It seems to be set up to cruise on auto pilot without any need for a human pilot’s direction. It’s main function is to move as quickly as possible between the Academy Prime ship and the moon,Hershel. They succeed in hacking the shuttle with a programming code that enables Milan to recall the shuttle to himself one single time through a remote access. They are hopeful that one recall of the shuttle is the most they will require for their rescue mission.
Meanwhile, Jasper has brought the welder to where he says he left his hover wagon, but finds nothing more than an empty spot instead. Charlie throws up his hands in exasperation and impatience, proclaiming that he’s going back to his ship and stomping off, he leaves Jasper to freak out about his obviously ‘stolen’ hover wagon. The second Charlie is out of sight, Jasper goes to the nearest bar. As he’s drinking an extremely cheap whiskey, he overhears a conversation between the bartender and some old dude. The two men are gossipping about some recent child kidnapping cases. The old dude is positive that the children are trapped on the Academy Prime ship so they can be experimented upon by Blue Sun.
When Charlie comes back,he walks by Lucy and asks her if he can help her. He seems very smitten with her and keeps tripping over his words,but comes across as very polite. Lucy asks him a few questions about the Academy Prime ship, being sure to let him know that she has just been hired as a new teacher. Once it becomes apparent that Charlie doesn’t have any pertinent information about the Academy Prime, Lucy and Milan decide to go back to the ship.
Bix says he’s got shit to do, so they go back to the ship without him. Going into the first gun store he can find, Bix buys a concealed carry shoulder holster for a Glock, 200 rounds of Glock ammo,100 rounds of ammo for his Moses Brother’s gun and a Mare’s Leg Rifle with ammo,all for 1500 credits.He goes back to the ship,loaded to the nines with ammo and the Mare’s Leg Rifle. An argument ensues with Bix wanting to board the Academy Prime ship while armed and Lucy,sensibly refusing to allow him to do so. Eventually he agrees with Lucy and leaves the Mare’s Leg rifle in the infirmary for Moe’s use ‘just in case’. Since Moe’s Alliance training covered piloting a ship, they decide to leave her in charge of the Jia Li tomorrow.
That evening Jasper pours everyone a drink. He suggests they try something more powerful than ipecac syrup,like drugs or something, but he is instantly shot down by Bix and Lucy both yelling:“NO DRUGS!” simultaneously. They each fill out the papers for boarding the shuttle with fake names. Jasper goes by Ron, Bix goes by Bruce and Milan as Richard Kirk. Lucy decides to call herself Heather Pebbles.
The next morning the four leave, both Bix and Jasper are wearing comm links in order to communicate with Moe on the Jia Li while they’re gone.
The shuttle takeoff point is bustling with activity.They see one boy dressed richly who is being sent off to the Academy Prime ship along with them, but the rest of the people boarding the shuttle are all adults.
An Alliance guard approaches and demands to see their paperwork.Lucy gives him hers and he looks it over,then says:“Welcome aboard,ma’am.” Jasper gives him his papers and the guard asks what planet he was born on. Jasper spins such an amazing story about his planet and history that the guard sends him on without even glancing at Bix. Milan hands the guard his papers and the guard starts giving him a hard time about the Psychology teacher’s position, but after a little talking, he finally allows Milan to board saying:“That’s good,We need another Psychology teacher.”
Everyone piles onto the shuttle along with two more maintenance workers, the dressed up boy,and two teachers. Jasper sits down next to a Santa Clausey looking maintenance worker, and begins groaning about his arthritis pains. Santa says he suffers from the same affliction, so Jasper talks up his Dr.Griffin’s Miracle Elixir saying it’s the only thing that grants him relief from his pain and attempts to sell Santa a bottle.
Milan sits down next to the richly dressed boy,Lucy next to the teacher, while Bix squeezes in between the two maintenance workers.
Lucy strikes up a conversation with the older male teacher sitting next to her, a redhead with a handlebar mustache. After introducing himself as Mr. Dawson the chemistry teacher, he asks Lucy a ton of invasive questions about her education,acting intensely flirtatious towards her. Lucy answers his questions to the best of her ability, carefully inquiring about the atmosphere on board the Academy Prime, but doesn’t receive any pertinent information from him, despite her efforts.
Milan notices that the kid he’s sitting next to seems terrified, beads of sweat are running down his neck and he’s sitting extremely stiffly in his seat.The kid gives Milan a nervous side glance, but doesn’t say anything to him. Milan asks"Looking forward to any classes this year?" in a friendly manner. The kid looks startled and answers:“Yes,psychology and sociology.” Milan replies,“Hey, I’m the new psy teacher.” The kids says"I’m not supposed to talk to you,” falling silent. Milan is puzzled and intrigued by the kid’s strange behavior.
Bix sits between Santa and the 30 year old lady maintenance worker, but remains quiet and doesn’t speak to either of the other workers, since he’s too distracted giving Mr.Dawson, who is still flirting with Lucy, an especially wary eye.
The shuttle shakes a bit while breaking atmosphere, but it proves to be only normal turbulence and sooner than later it arrives at the Academy Prime ship, attaching itself to the hull.
Lucy is the first one off the shuttle carrying her rolltop and a bag containing a change of clothing. Milan has a change of clothing,a pack of cards, and teacher supplies.Bix brought only a jacket, which he’s wearing over his coveralls and a knife stored in his boot.Jasper has three bottles of miracle elixir,bottle of whiskey and a carryon with changes of clothing.
A hideously grungy guy bellows:“Who’s kitchen?!?” Bix and Jasper step up and are lead off to the kitchen. Jasper tries to be friendly towards their new boss, but the grungy man only yells:“Shut Up!” at him, followed by a stern order to stir the damn soup. After ordering Bix to chop the meat, the boss stomps out of the kitchen. Jasper chats amiably with the rest of the kitchen staff, while Bix chops his way through multiple piles of meat using two knives at a time.

In another part of the ship Lucy and Milan are lead down the extremely sterile looking halls to meet the commandant in charge. The commandant shakes Milan’s hand, thanking him profusely for his service to the kids and the Alliance. He does the same to Lucy, while also trying his best to crush her hand and be an entitled douchebag. After meeting the commandant, they are shown to their room and told that they must be ready for classes first thing in the morning. When Lucy asks if there is an orientation for her and Milan to attend, the answer is ”No.” She and Milan decide to wander off to the teacher’s lounge for the duration of the evening.
Later, while Jasper and Bix are being lead to their quarters,along with the rest of the kitchen workers, Jasper spots a dark hallway from which he can hear someone sobbing. He tells Bix and, together they slip out of their group to explore. At the end of the hallway they find a guard,who levelling his rifle at them, shouts:“What are you doing down here?! Go back now!” Jasper explains that they’re lost and they are forced to turn back the way they came at gunpoint by the guard.
As they’re wandering, trying to look clueless and lost, they come across Milan and Lucy, who are standing with a group of teachers by the lounge door. The new teachers are being told not to listen to anything they may overhear coming from the lower decks, or to even speak with their students outside of class. Bix and Jasper attempt to keep checking the place out, but they are stopped by another armed guard, who also demands to know what they are doing. Bix gripes that the place is a fucking maze with no damn signs anywhere and they’re just lost trying to find the maintenance workers quarters. The guard tells them where to go and they walk off in the direction he gestures, closely followed by the guard. Jasper and Bix wind up giving up, retiring to their quarters for the night since they’re obviously attracting too much attention. Once they are safely in their quarters, Jasper notices a camera situated in the corner of their room. Pointing it out to Bix, Jasper gives the camera a loud talking-to, scolding Academy Prime for not showing even the slightest bit of trust in their new hires and ending with a warning that he sleeps naked. Bix roars,”Fucking Christ!” but luckily Jasper reassures him that it’s nothing more than a joke.
Lucy and Milan enter the teacher’s lounge, where Lucy bums a cigarette from Mr.Dawson, the chemistry teacher, who, although he still seems friendly, continuing to ask far too many obnoxious questions about her past.
Lucy notices a man going down the hall outside the teacher’s lounge. People move out of his way with terrified looks on their faces, as if they are afraid of him. Observing the man walking past, Mr.Dawson worriedly explains:“If Durran Haymer is here,we’d better call it a night.” He puts out his cigarette and wishing Lucy a good night, he hurries off. All of the teachers seem skittish after Durran Haymer goes by, but Lucy and Milan remain baffled as the others rush away to their quarters. As soon as everyone else is gone, Lucy logs onto the cortex to find out more information on Durran Haymer. She suppresses her cortex signal as she digs to keep from being detected. Searching on the net, she discovers that he’s involved with Blue Sun, bio weapons and chemical weaponry, to such an extent that he may even have been involved in the Miranda disaster.
The next day Lucy and Milan are given their schedules, along with detailed instructions about never talking to their students outside of class, since such behavior is utterly forbidden on the ship. Milan and Lucy go to the cafeteria for breakfast, where Lucy sees Durran Haymer talking to the commandant very closely. Lucy grabs a tray of food and, sitting as close to the two men as possible, motions for Milan to join her, which he does. Unfortunately the background noise in the cafeteria makes it impossible to listen in to the conversation.
In the kitchen, the grungy boss informs his staff that they’ll be making stroganoff for the adults tonight, while the kids will be dining on chicken and vegetables. After handing out the food prep duties for the daily meals, the grungy boss hurries from the kitchen. Jasper gives Bix a knowing look,muttering, “Looks like it’s gonna be in the stroganoff,”under his breath. More loudly, Jasper continues, “You wanna go make sure everyone is okay in the cafeteria.” A couple of kitchen workers overhear, but only roll their eyes at the two new kitchen helpers, because nobody really cares if anyone is alright in the cafeteria. Bix eloquently states,“I gotta take a shit.” and walks off, snatching up a napkin and a pen on his way. He writes on it ‘Stroganoff Tonight’, and, sidling into the cafeteria, he catches Lucy’s eye, and places the napkin folded in half on the edge of a trash can. Lucy immediately gets up and hurrying over, she snatches up the napkin, as he stomps back to the kitchen. She tells Milan what Bix wrote on the napkin, and then they watch as Durran Haymer and the commandant exit the room. At long last Lucy spots Mrs.Spiral sitting at another table with a group of teachers. She and Milan approach the table and introduce themselves.The teachers attempt to speak nonchalantly with the two of them, but also become noticeably relieved once Haymer and the commandant have left the cafeteria.
Lucy introduces Milan, explaining that he is of Italian descent to explain away her slip in calling him by his real first name. Mr.Dawson asks if Milan can cook. Once Milan replies that he is an excellent cook, Mr.Dawson pleads with him to give the kitchen staff a better recipe for stroganoff, since the rubbish they dish up on the Academy Prime ship is horrible and not fit for human consumption. Milan graciously explains that stroganoff is not a traditional Italian meal, therefore he lacks any decent recipes to supply to the kitchen staff.
Mrs.Spiral gets up and leaves, quickly brushing a hand on Lucy’s shoulder on her way out. Lucy gets up to follow her, and winds up being lead out into the hallway and then yanked into the nearest supply closet.
Mrs.Spiral asks:“Are you Luopan’s?”
“Yes,”answers Lucy.
Mrs.Spiral asks"How many of your people are on board?"
Lucy answers,”Four, in all.” She explains their stroganoff plans to Mrs.Spiral, who immediately asks Lucy if her people are able bodied enough to fight. Lucy says that two of them are, but the other two she’s not sure of. Mrs.Spiral explains there are three highly valued children being held in a certain area of the ship and hopes they have a good plan in place for removing those children,as well as the other children and Mrs.Spiral from the Academy Prime ship. Then they both leave, Lucy going out into the hallway to wander around, exploring, while Mrs.Spiral hurries off in the direction of the classrooms.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen the grungy boss is giving both Jasper and Bix a hard time for getting lost the night before, but at long last he grows weary of it, yells out:”Keep on cooking!” and, much to everyone’s relief, exits the kitchen. Bix starts hacking apart a pile of chickens so loudly that he can’t even hear what is going on around him.
Jasper starts bragging that he was a sous chef at some fancy restaurant on Londinium. One of the cooks asks why the hell isn’t he there instead of being a brand new shitty kitchen worker here on the Academy Prime ship. Jasper explains in an agitated voice," I was BETRAYED!" Everyone says Oooooohhhh… immediately they’re all terribly impressed. One turns to another and whispers:“Yeah, he knows what he’s doing.” Jasper says he’s heard rumors about shady things going on in the Academy Prime ship. The two kitchen helpers they’re working with tell him that the last guy who asked about shady happenings wound up thrown out an airlock. Jasper feeds them a pile of fascinating lies about his former job and the dastardly betrayal he suffered, which they eat up eagerly, believing every word he says. They all agree that he is the most qualified to brew up some stroganoff that will actually taste good, instead of the horrendously tasteless garbage they normally wind up serving. After being put in charge of the stroganoff and noodles, Jasper asks Bix to go get some more stuff from the freezer, Bix says:“Yeah, guess I’d better go find the freezer.” He walks out carrying a bin along with him, just in case he happens to find the freezer out in the hallway and might need something for carrying things back with. As he’s wandering around, lugging his bin, he comes upon Lucy. She motions for him to follow her into the same supply closet that Mrs.Spiral had taken her into, but suddenly an announcement blares out over the loudspeakers, ordering all personnel to freeze wherever they are and remain motionless in their spots. Lucy asks:“What’s going on?” Bix says:“It’s probably cuz of me,” suspecting he is about to be dragged away by the guards for acting suspiciously and looking for a freezer where there obviously isn’t one.
Two guards approach Bix along with Durran Haymer, but, surprisingly, they walk right past him, then proceeding past Lucy, they grab Mrs.Spiral. She looks frantically at both Lucy and Bix,as she is dragged away by Durran Haymer and his guards. She glances over her shoulder at Lucy, a pleading,desperate look in her eyes, but there’s nothing they can do to save her, without endangering their mission. The last glimpse they have of Mrs.Spiral is as she’s taken into the dark corridor where Jasper and Bix had been turned away the night before.
Lucy demands to know what Bix is doing out in the hallway. He explains that he was trying to be smart and explore, while looking for the freezer. Lucy says if he wants to be smart to go find a freezer in the kitchen. Bix insists,”I’m fucking invisible in this hellhole anyway.” Lucy replies,”You’re not invisible, I can see you just fine.” He softens a little, muttering back at her: “Well, at least somebody sees me.” Then they go back to the cafeteria where Lucy meets up with Milan, and Bix continues back to the kitchen with his empty bin.
Lucy tells Milan that Mrs.Spiral was captured, but that before she was taken, she’d been able to tell Lucy about the three children being held separately in a different part of the ship than the others. They have to go teach their classes now ,though, and can’t talk anymore.
Lucy finds her classroom full of five kids, all between the ages of 13 and 16. They are all dressed in prison like clothes, their heads are all shaved and they seem extremely exhausted. The lesson plan for the class is on staying hidden while on the cortex. She advocates staying hidden by using multiple identities. The kids are very quiet and obedient, typing on their pads. One of the kids asks if she has multiple identities and Lucy answers that she has as many identities as the Alliance requires her to have. She remains cautious as she helps them navigate choosing different identities through the cortex, studiously practicing her advice during class, but aside from the fact that they seem tired and anxious doesn’t notice anything more pertinent about them.
Milan also has five students, dressed the same as Lucy’s students. The topic of today’s class is how to deceive and confuse your enemy. Milan starts to talk slowly, stalling as obviously as possible, then explains that one way to deceive is through stalling and misdirection. The kids ask a bunch of questions and seem intrigued by Milan’s answers, especially when he’s talking about doing unexpected things to their enemies, like ‘booping’ them on the nose in the middle of a confrontation. One kid asks if they can become invisible, but Milan tells them that he only has one friend who can do that and it’s only because his friend is an Asian in this Firefly world of the ‘Verse, where, for some strange reason, Joss Whedon wrote it with Asians only in the background. There’s a sudden shout of “Woohoo!” from the back of the classroom and Milan is stunned to realize there are not five students, but six… After taking a ton of questions,Milan notices a young girl raising her hand, a worried frown on her face. She asks,”When can we get out of here?” Milan replies, with a conspiratorial smile,:“Sooner than you may think.” Confused, the girl asks,”How?” Milan answers,“Graduation may be coming earlier than you assume.”
Once both Lucy and Milan’s classes have concluded, the children are lead away by armed guards and Milan goes back to his quarters to find the box for controlling the shuttle. He slips it into his pocket. Lucy searches their quarters, looking for cameras and listening devices, but she can’t seem to find anything. She tries to hack into the computer system again, to see if she can do it without being detected and is able to get in without tripping any alarms.
Three hours later Bix and Jasper head back to the kitchen, where they find the grungy boss yelling,” Where are those goddamn noodles!” Jasper is quick to point them out to him, since he’s standing in front of them, and he quickly takes over for the clueless grungy boss. The second that nobody is looking, Jasper dumps the entire bottle of ipecac into the noodles. They are then ordered to announce dinner to the ship. Jasper takes off in one direction down the hallway and Bix jogs off in the other. Jasper runs into Milan and tells him about the stroganoff using a myriad of puking puns in his description so Milan knows not to touch the noodles. When Bix comes upon Lucy, he says the food is done, the noodles are fucking awesome, while giving her a look that says:“Eat anything except for the noodles.” before walking away.
Jasper goes down the dark corridor where he informs the guard there, “Dinner’s on.” The guard looks worried, saying that he can’t leave his position. He asks Jasper to go into the locked corridor he’s guarding and tell the guy back there that dinner’s ready. Jasper agrees to do this and hurries down. He passes many plexiglass boxes, each with a child sitting inside it, although in the last box is Mrs.Spiral, who looks like she’s been badly worked over. The guard he finds back there threatens him with his gun, but once he hears about dinner, he orders Jasper to bring 6 bowls of food for all the other adults working back there.
Once they’re seated in the cafeteria, Lucy and Milan both claim food allergies and are given chicken and vegetables by Jasper. Then Jasper goes to take 8 bowls of food down the dark corridor. He loads them on to a small cart, asking Bix to come along with him. Knocking on doors, as they proceed down the hall, they yell for anyone inside to go to the cafeteria and eat before the food gets cold.
Bix pushes the cart to the guard in the dark corridor, and Jasper hands him a bowl. While the guard is punching in the code to open the door, Jasper manages to memorize the numbers. They go down the corridor with bowls piled high with noodles, and hand them out to all the guards. Durran Haymer shows up and immediately asks what the kids are having for dinner. Jasper answers that everyone is having delicious stroganoff. Durran seems wary, staring at Jasper for a couple of minutes, then says he needs 4 more bowls for the prisoners.
When they get back to the cafeteria, the commander is puking into the trash and all hell is breaking loose. The kids are all standing around looking disturbed and appalled by the horror surrounding them. Lucy tells the kids that they must get away from the adults, before they all get sickened by whatever virus they’ve contracted. But when a couple of kids ask,”Why aren’t we sick like them?” Milan shouts:“It’s Graduation day!” The girl who’d spoken to him during his class about leaving the Academy Prime, smiles and runs to Milan, practically bursting with excitement, despite the horrible smells from all the vomit. Hurriedly Jasper and Bix relieve the puking guards of their guns. They wind up with two shotguns, which Bix and Milan shoulder, and two pistols, which Jasper and Lucy take. Then they gather in the middle of the puke filled cafeteria to discuss how to get the rest of the prisoners out of their cages.

View
Episode X: Academy Prime - Part 1

croc1.jpgThe day after Lucy, Bix and Milan purchased the Jia Li from Border Joe’s Bargain Shipyard; the three crew members are still settling in.

Bix wants to know how the ship’s security features are, so he checks in with Lucy for a techie’s opinion. It’s all pretty typical, Lucy tells him, with no cameras like on their old ship and no immediate defects or flaws. Nearly all of the ship looks fresh off the factory line.

Bix takes a stroll round the Jia Li for himself and notices a nose turret, stripped of weaponry but capable of compartmentalizing a forward gun. With no howitzer to mount to it, he has to content himself with repainting the ship’s only gun turret a flat black with white speckles. For now.

Lucy and Milan have a chat about what to register their new ship’s purpose and wind up deciding on a mid-bulk cargo ship, cargo to be decided later.

After their chat, Milan leaves on a mission to buy an inexpensive ATV style mule, blankets and pillows from Merle’s Mercantile. He manages to buy a mule for 1000 credits, as well as 12 blankets and 6 pillows for an additional 100. He also winds up buying a motorized whetstone for himself at 200 credits. When he’s on his way back to the ship with the mule piled high in gear, Milan notices a small black cat peering from the opening of a nearby alley. He stops to pet the cat, but has no food to give it.

A man dressed in a shepherd’s clothing, and dragging a small, battered suitcase behind him, reaches into his shirt pocket and feeds the cat a bit of jerky. Glad to see someone caring for the fuzzy stray, Milan continues on his way back to the ship. The shepherd seems as if he’s traveling, but doesn’t appear to be in a rush of any kind. He picks the cat up, sticks it on his shoulder and continues on his meandering way to the docks.

Milan returns to the ship with his haul. Bix finishes painting and, not bothering to clean the paint flecks off his face, goes to ask Milan about buying a mule. Milan explains with a sigh that he already got one along with the blankets and pillows for crew and potential passengers. A strange clopping noise reaches their ears and they turn to see an older gentleman driving a horse their direction, a ramshackle hover wagon underneath him.

The gentleman pulls up near their ship, dismounts from the wagon and begins unfolding a small table. Then, from the cupboards of the wagon, he begins pulling out small corked bottles and begins shouting.

“Hear ye, hear ye, it’s Doctor Griffin’s Miracle Cure! Aches? Pains? Corns giving you hell! Don’t despair! Today’s your lucky day! This little tincture will make you right as rain! Step right up, folks!”

A group of at least twelve gather around him. One man gruffly asks “Hey, what’s in that stuff?” but the gentleman explains that all the ingredients are a trade secret. An old lady steps up and claims she’s in dire need of help for her debilitating arthritis. She wants to know if she can try just a small sample of the miracle cure. The gentleman agrees but warns everyone around that the curative properties may not happen immediately.

He then gives the old lady a draft. She swallows some, wincing at the bitter taste. And for just a moment, it would seem the gentlemen was right. The cure might take its time with this one.

But suddenly she begins to stand up a little straighter, a smile slowly creeping across her face. Then, raising her arms with growing vigor, she shouts that she can’t feel her arthritis anymore. She breaks into dancing and leaping, her tiny withered limbs clearly not keeping her from busting into cartwheels.

A young woman, dressed in stark but utilitarian clothes, calls out from the sidelines that it’s all horseshit. She’s a medic, she insists, and knows any cure that fast is simply too damn impossible to be true. She says that if anyone wants real medical treatment, they’d be wise to ignore this lying thief and come to her instead.

The shepherd Milan had seen earlier quietly walks up, the stray cat still balanced on his shoulder.

Lucy remarks that they should check out what’s going on. She and Bix push their way through the growing crowd. They find a heated debate going on between the medic and the gentleman, who introduces himself to Bix and Milan as Jasper Marmaduke. Upon getting a better look at Jasper, Bix realizes he knows the man from somewhere but can’t quite place him yet.

Suddenly a man lets out an angry roar, bellowing “There he is! That’s the fucker!”

Shoving his way into the crowd to leer up at Jasper, the man screams that he’s had the runs for three days straight all because of that grifter’s bullshit miracle elixir. He pulls a gun and demands his money back from Jasper. The medic calls out that she can help the screaming man for free. The crowd grows rather pushy and violent. The belligerent man starts to get in Jasper’s face. General chaos ensues.

The shepherd lets out an ear piercing scream. Everyone jumps and Jasper hurries over to Lucy, asking her if he can talk to her captain, since it would be best for him to leave this planet at their earliest convenience. Bix finally remembers why Jasper looks familiar.

“Didn’t I buy you a drink on Paquin a few months ago?”

Jasper brightens up, recalling their meeting and saying “Why, Yes! Yes, good fellow. And allow me to return the favor, just as soon as we get airborne.”

Before Lucy can answer Jasper’s question about passage on their ship, the drunken man begins unloading insults on the shepherd, accusing him of being on Jasper’s payroll.

The shepherd disagrees and offers to pray for the man. He lays hands on him and begins praying vehemently for “this troubled and confused drunken soul” but the man’s face turns beet red. He whips out his gun and waves it between both the shepherd and Jasper, yelling: “I ought to shoot the both of you! Buncha con artists and grifters!”

Jasper draws his gun with lightning quick reflexes, pointing it coldly at the belligerent man. In the confrontation, Bix moves around behind the man, out of his view. Jasper is able to talk the man into backing off a bit, but when the man says that Jasper and the shepherd had both better be leaving and turns to go, Bix crescent kicks him into the ground. The man goes face down into the dirt like a sack of bricks.

His friends know better than to stick around for their dose and immediately turn tail and run. Jasper makes a speech about how the crowd ought to reward Bix for knocking flat a violent cretin and amid applause, a few coins are tossed Bix’s way (much to his embarrassment).

The crowd finally disperses and so Jasper asks if they’re interested in taking on passengers. The medic who’d been trying to calm the screaming man steps up, also interested in gaining passage on their ship. Bix says he can vouch for Jasper & the rest of the crew have no problem taking on new passengers, as they desperately need more help on the ship and legit cover, should the Alliance stop them.

The medic introduces herself as Moira Lang, Moe for short, and the shepherd introduces himself as Erich.

“I’m not sure about this cat’s name though” Erich tells them, “since we only just met this morning”.

Milan names it Brad. Brad the cat hops down from Erich’s shoulder and stalks his way into the ship with an air of ownership.

As they’re loading the hover wagon and Jasper’s horse, Mustard, into the cargo bay, a man goes speeding past on an ATV style mule, a large crate strapped to its back. He’s heading for a nearby ship that is just lifting off from it’s docking bay. The man starts flipping out ,yelling “NO! No! No!” over and over again. His intended ship takes off into the atmo.

Dejected and desperate, he spots the group loading up the Jia Li’s cargo hold and quickly drives his mule over.

“Do you guys want to make some money?!” he cries out, leaping off his mule and running up to them. “I just missed my ship and this cargo has got to get to Ezra! Who’s in charge here?”

Lucy asks him what the cargo is and he replies that it’s a crocodile named Elizabeth, but he’ll give them 20,000 credits if they take it to Ezra for him. They talk amongst themselves and decide it’s worth the risk for such a sizeable stack of money. He gives them a barrel of frozen chickens to feed Elizabeth along with detailed instructions on how to deliver her to a baron on Ezra, Baron Walter Landon. They are required to sign a contract and let him read over their ship’s registration but luckily he finds nothing suspicious in their papers. Once all is to the man’s liking, Moira cleverly negotiates for a down payment for the crocodile’s delivery sum, netting them 1500 credits for her efforts.

Soon Elizabeth the crocodile and her barrel of frozen chickens are loaded into the cargo bay with Mustard the horse looking on warily. The man thanks them profusely for taking the job on such short notice and hurries away. “Sounds legit” mumbles Moe.

They set up a barricade of boxes in between Mustard the horse and Elizabeth the crocodile, to keep the horse from freaking out. Lucy keeps trying to get their ship’s clearance granted so they can legally leave Santo.

The passengers are each given a room, sparsely furnished with a bed ,a footlocker, two blankets and a pillow. Jasper lounges in the common area, amiably nursing his bottle of whiskey. Erich prays fervently in his room. Moe busies herself exploring and organizing the infirmary. Stopping by the infirmary for a quick chat with their new medic, Bix asks her rather bluntly if she’s on drugs. Surprised, Moe answers “No, of course not. Why would you think such a thing anyway?”

He replies that their last doctor had been a batshit nudist, who managed to drug himself, their old captain and another passenger the first day he was aboard. Moe assures him that won’t be the case with her. Bix leaves relieved and satisfied.

Recalling how shaken up Erich the shepherd had seemed after the violent confrontation with the drunken man on Santo, Moira goes to check up on him. She finds him kneeling in his room, praying with disturbing amounts of desperation. Careful as she can, she can’t get any information from him, except for the fact that he seems to have been terribly traumatized by the incident. Lucy finally manages to gain clearance for their ship to leave Santo and Milan takes off, heading in the direction of the Georgia system, where Ezra is located.

Once they’re about a days distance from Santo, Lucy receives a message from Luopan,asking how everything is going.She says it’s all fine and they’re headed for the Georgia system. He explains to her that he’ll have more information for them when they’ve gotten closer to their destination and signs off.
Jasper goes to the cargo hold to feed Mustard the horse,who seems in good spirits, despite sharing his room with a crocodile. Bix comes in and tries to figure out how to feed Elizabeth the crocodile, but Jasper has to help him. Jasper pulls a feeder drawer out of the crate and Bix shoves a frozen chicken into it,luckily losing no body parts in the endeavor.Elizabeth can be heard chomping down on the chicken through a cacophany of bones breaking.
Shepherd Erich occupies himself constructing an altar in his quarters. Moe continues to catalog and organize the infirmary supplies. In search of Milan, Lucy finds him in the cockpit being cuddled by Brad the cat.She tells him about Luopan’s wave and how they’ll be getting more information soon.Milan insists they stop at Ezra first,to drop off the crocodile before going on to find the Academy Prime ship and Lucy completely agrees with him.Suddenly an AIV,a huge Alliance ship looms in front of them. Milan warns everyone over the intercom that it’s quite likely they’ll be boarded by Alliance soon.He informs them the ship is called the Valiant and Moira recognizes it as one that she worked on for two years.She explains to everyone over the intercom,also saying that she was honorably discharged from the Alliance. Lucy does a scan,trying to find out the ship’s main purpose for the Alliance.Moe tells her that it specializes in customs and imports.Shepherd Erich is suddenly taken ill,so Moe takes him to the infirmary to tend to him.
The captain of the Valiant sends Milan a wave,inquiring about what sort of cargo they’re
carrying. Milan answers that they are currently on their way to pick up the cargo,but otherwise they are only carrying Dr.Griffin’s Miracle Elixir. The captain asks if there are any narcotics in the elixir.Milan replies:“No narcotics”, then starts blathering on and on about how their last doctor was a druggie and totally nuts, so they’d been forced to get rid of him and now they’re all extremely against drugs and have a much better doctor who just so happens to have been honorably discharged from the Alliance recently. The captain is utterly unimpressed by Milan’s explanation and says that they had better prepare to be boarded.
Milan tells everyone to prepare for boarding. Bix and Jasper cover the crocodile’s crate with
an assortment of other crates and blankets so that the holes on the side cannot be seen by any discerning Alliance ship boarders. The Valiant sends over a couple of small shuttles that attach to the Jia Li,the soldiers boarding through the cargo bay airlock.The officer in charge of the boarding party marches up to Jasper and Bix,demanding to see the ship’s papers.Bix intercoms for Lucy to bring the papers to the cargo bay,so she immediately complies.The officer goes over the papers with painstaking attention to detail, but finally, he begrudgingly admits:“Everything seems to be in order,” before handing the papers back to Lucy. He asks for a bottle of the Miracle Elixir and when given it, hands it to a soldier, ordering him to take it back to the shuttle and conduct an analysis of the contents. Bix warns the soldier not to drink it,unless he wants a raging case of the shits.The officer asks if any of them have been convicted of a crime,to which they all answer in the negative.He wants to know where the other members of the crew and is told their pilot,Milan, is in the cockpit, while Moe is in the infirmary taking care of their severely sick shepherd.The officer insists on going up to meet their doctor and her sickly patient, so Bix escorts him to the infirmary. They find Moe attending to Erich. The officer asks her about his illness, seeming concerned about his condition, but Moe isn’t quite sure what he’s suffering from. The officer orders her to report his illness immediately to the authorities at their next destination,since he may need to be quarantined. After looking around the infirmary while acting as if it’s all highly suspicious, the officer finally exits it and returns to the cargo bay closely followed by Bix.
At long last,they are given back the bottle of elixir, along with the news that it’s completely
free of narcotics and the officer informs them that they are free to go,since they don’t seem to be doing anything illegal.Bix gives the officer a big grin as he leaves with the boarding party.As soon as the shuttles detach, they uncover Elizabeth’s crate and check on her,finding her sleeping peacefully.
They fly on for another day, reaching Ezra in the afternoon,Lucy negotiates their landing from an especially rough acting Alliance soldier.He fires an abundance of invasive questions at Moe about their ailing shepherd, but they are finally cleared to land and,since Erich has improved a bit since their experience with the Valiant, he is not forced to be quarantined during their time on Ezra.
Lucy hails Walter Landon, and organizes a meeting with him, so he can pick up his crocodile.Bix and Jasper feed Elizabeth a frozen chicken parting gift while they’re waiting for her owner to show up.Before long a couple of ATV’s pull up piled high with 5 rough looking
goons as well as Walter Landon.Approaching the Jia Li, the biggest of the goons asks about how the voyage went and Bix answers that they had no problems and that Elizabeth has just been fed a chicken.The goon mutters dutifully into a ear/mouthpiece:“Elizabeth has been fed a chicken”. Finally,Walter approaches,and eyeing them all up and down, orders his goons to open the crate and check on Elizabeth.She’s calmly contemplating her delicious chicken and, to the delight of Walter Landon,proves to be in great health,good spirits and is quite well fed. He seems highly impressed with their work and when he asks who is the captain, so he can hand over their pay, Bix stomps forward,impatient at all this annoying ’where’s the captain’ bullshit.Walter Landon hands Bix the 20,000 credits,thanks them all for a job very well done and says they’ve made a good ally in him from now on. He leaves once his goons have loaded Elizabeth’s crate onto one of the ATV’s.
Bix’s first action is to turn to Lucy and ask:“How much should we take out for the ship?”since he is completely clueless how to go about running a ship.Lucy figures out they
should keep 5,000 credits for the ship,so they set that amount aside, dividing the remaining
15,000 credits equally. Everyone winds up with 2500 credits each.Erich immediately walks into the town by himself and donates his entire share of the job to the only church he can find.Moe stocks up on more morphine and also buys herself a decent pair of boots.
Once everyone returns to the ship, Milan tries to take off, only to discover a blinking
light on his console saying that one of the thrusters is weak. He can’t even break out of the
atmosphere, forcing him to land the ship, he calls over the intercom to Lucy, telling her of what’s happened.Lucy throws herself into working on the thruster,but realizing it’s going to take at least an hour, she announces the delay over the intercom to the rest of the people on board.
Jasper goes outside to check out their surroundings and is instantly approached by a man who says:“Hey,don’t I know you?” Jasper brushes him off saying:“I get that alot, but No, I’ve just got one of those common faces,” and the guy walks off without making any more fuss.Using the intercom in the cargo bay,Jasper asks Lucy how much longer she thinks the repairs will take, to which she answers,“At least two hours.” Jasper decides to visit the nearest bar and asks if anybody else would like to join him.Both Milan and Bix decide to accompany him.
Once they’re almost to the bar, they see a man flung out the front door of the bar, the bouncer, roaring"And DON’T COME BACK!" after him. Undeterred by the sight,they go to enter anyway,edging their way around the rejected man who’d just been thrown out.They order their drinks,but the bartender won’t stop loudly referring to Milan as ‘Fancy Pants’ which completely pisses off Bix, who can’t help bitching out the bartender for being a disrespectful douchebag.Luckily,Milan just shrugs off the bartender’s insults,beginning a poker game on the spot and ignoring Bix’s griping.Surprisingly,the bartender eagerly jumps into the game,proposing a bold bet that if Milan wins all of his drinks as well as his friends drinks will be free. If the bartender wins,they’ll have to buy him drinks and pay double.Jasper, Milan, the bartender and one other person sit down at the table and Milan deals the cards,while Bix fixes the obnoxious bartender with a murderous glare.Milan ends up with two pairs, sevens and Aces,winning the whole pot of money,as well as free whiskey for the evening.The entire time they’re drinking and raking in the money pot, the bartender gives Milan the stinkeye from behind the bar.
Lucy manages to fix the thruster before two hours have passed, so she hurries off to the bar to let the guys know,while leaving Moe and Erich alone in the ship.Once everyone is back on board the Jia Li,Milan is able to fly it away from Ezra with no further complications.Lucy receives a wave from Luopan containing a picture of the Academy Prime ship.She puts the contents of his wave up on the various screens of the ship, so that everyone can see,while he begins to explain the layout of the ship,describing in detail the requirements for their new mission.He shows them where the different dorms are located on the map,explaining that they must infiltrate the ship fully, either masquerading as new teachers,one new Psychiatry teacher and one new Defending Yourself in the Cortex teacher, or as maintenance workers,since these are the only ways for them to get close enough to reach Mrs.Spiral,their inner Academy Prime contact.Luopan goes on to say that their prime directive is to rescue a group of children,who are being imprisoned and subjected to heinous experiments.They must grab the kids, get them on their ship and then hit a hard burn to escape the Academy Prime ship’s immediate pursuit as quickly as
possible. It’s their only hope of getting the children away safely. Jasper asks what have they
gotten themselves into and receives a reply from Bix, letting him know that this ship’s crew is working for a new employer,who helped them purchase the ship and is Not the Tongs,for once,which Bix sees as a good thing.He says if they don’t want to help,that’s just fine,but they can be dumped on the nearest planet so they’re not in the way.Both Jasper and Moe agree that they have no love for the Alliance’s tactics or transgressions against innocent civilians,but Erich is quiet on the matter,perhaps because he is busy praying again.They decide that Milan should play the part of the Psychiatry teacher with Lucy playing the role of the Defending yourself in the Cortex teacher,while Bix,Moe and Jasper pretend to be maintenance workers.The chapter ends as they continue to trade ideas about carrying out such a tricky prison escape as the one Luopan has tasked them with.

View
Episode IX: Santo

1701787-rubi_boneyard_concept_i.jpgThe chapter begins as the Edelweiss shuttle arrives on Santo, closely followed by the shuttle bearing Wager and the Doc. As soon as they land, Lucy receives a message from Felix with instructions to make sure all the money is accounted for, along with a time and place for a meeting to hand over the money to Felix. Leaving the Doc with the shuttle, Wager goes to the Edelweiss shuttle to talk to everyone about their situation. Lucy tells her of Felix’s instructions and Wager says that once the money has been delivered, she and the Doc will be leaving to strike out on their own. “Good!”snaps Bix,“You don’t run off and do whatever you want when you’re working security, you follow the fucking plan! What you did got our Captain killed!” Leaving with no reply, Wager stomps out of the shuttle to rejoin the Doc in the other one. Milan leaves for the tavern where their meeting with Felix will be to drown his sorrows in alcohol, while Lucy and Bix wander off, looking to buy some decent clothing that isn’t evening wear.
They find an upscale clothing shop, where a snooty lady asks them if she can help them with something. Lucy replies that she needs some clothes. The snooty lady eyes them both up and down, sniffs haughtily, then declares that she may have something in the back that might work for Lucy. Bix immediately takes offense at her attitude, thinking she’s putting Lucy down, he grumbles:“What the fuck? You only sell stuff from the back of the store?! What’s wrong with her buying any of this shit in the front’a the store?!” He tries to talk Lucy into going somewhere else, since this lady is acting like a bitch and will probably try ripping them off, but Lucy ignores him, calmly asking the lady if she can go get whatever she has in mind. The lady gives Bix a reproachful look and bustles off to the back. She returns bearing beautifully tailored clothing:a couple of shirts, jacket,skirt,boots and socks. Lucy barters with her,adding pants to the pile. When Lucy realizes she’s in need of a hat as well, the lady suggests her husband’s haberdashery shop, next door, and tells her they can work out a deal for the clothing once she’s picked out a hat. Her husband, luckily turns out to be much more friendly than his wife and Lucy finds a well crafted black fedora. She pays 300 credits for the entire ensemble, rushing back to the shuttle where she changes from her evening gown.Coming out of the shuttle, she finds Wager standing around outside. Wager asks if she can get her stuff from the shuttle, which Lucy allows her to do while they have a little chat.Wager asks in a perplexed voice,“What went wrong?I don’t understand..I killed Morgan, saved the money, kept us all together…” Lucy shrugs, feeling awkward, before saying,“Well, I don’t know…I guess you made it pretty clear who’s important to you..” Wager goes back to the other shuttle with her stuff while Lucy takes another crack at breaking the encryption on the mysterious message she was sent a few days prior. She still can’t seem to completely open it, though, so she leaves for the bar to join Milan and wait for the exchange with Felix to take place.
Bix wanders over to Merle’s Mercantile for clothing that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg,
where he’s approached by Rosie, the storekeeper. “What can I help you with?” she says and Bix replies, gesturing at his rumpled dress clothes,“Yeah, you got some clothes and boots that isn’t this fancy shit?” Rosie leads him to a huge pile of clothes amidst the farming equipment. He manages to dig out some pants, shirts, a jacket, boots and most surprisingly, some socks from the disorganized heap, and pays 100 credits for everything. He then lugs it all back to the shuttle,where he dumps the whole mess into one of the emptied storage lockers.
Meanwhile, at the tavern, Milan orders a whiskey double and while he’s knocking back his first shot a gentleman comes into the bar. “The Blue Sun Annual Poker Tournament is about to begin, folks! Anyone who wants to enter must do so now. Give your hundred credit entrance fee to the bouncer at the door. Milan immediately slams his second whiskey shot and races to join the tournament. He’s lead to an outlying building furnished with a table where five places are set, cameras that feed into the cortex are pointed at the players from above. Four other entrants sidle up to the table, take their seats and the game is on. Milan loses the first round of Texas Hold’Em, then the second round, but he comes back strong in the third, winning with a clever bluff.
Once Lucy reaches the bar, she looks around for Milan, but can’t find him anywhere until
she notices the poker tournament being televised on the cortex tables and spots him sitting at the tournament table. Lucy orders herself a beer and, sitting down at a vacant cortex-able table,she asks the waitress about the tournament. The waitress replies that it’s the annual Blue Sun Poker Tournament with a grand prize of 6000 credits. Lucy hooks up to the cortex and while she’s watching Milan play in the tournament, she continues to work on decoding the mysterious encrypted message. Bix enters the bar and spotting Lucy at her table, he goes to join her, but is stopped by the waitress who says,”I’ll be right with you." Bix shrugs,mutters,“Don’t bother” and throws himself into one of the empty chairs at Lucy’s table. He orders an entire bottle of whiskey from the waitress as soon as she returns to the table.He asks Lucy what’s going on and she answers that Milan is playing in the poker tournament, adding that the grand prize is 6000 credits. Bix says,“He’d better not lose”, and knocks back a shot of whiskey.He asks if Lucy has seen Wager and Lucy replies,“Yes, she came and got her stuff from the shuttle.Bix looks up from another shot he’s pouring,startled,”Her stuff?Are the guns still there?" “Yes,”Lucy assures him,“She was acting kind of martyr-like and weird, but she only took her stuff.” “Great,”growls Bix,“maybe she should pull her head out of her ass and realize there’s a bunch of people,besides her and her precious doc, who don’t want to fucking die!When you’re working security,you don’t just go off and do your own shit and fuck up the plan.You DON’T get others killed.” Lucy calmly states,“I know you can be quiet, so just be quiet when they’re here for the meeting,OK?We need to keep up appearances..for Felix.” Bix grumbles that the only reason he was quiet was because he’d been busy listening to Wager bitch out Cy for whatever reasons, with a pointed look at Lucy, he tosses back another shot and Lucy( glimpsing both Wager and the doc entering the bar dragging the money along in a sizeable luggage bag between) hisses that Bix had better be decent, despite their difficulties. Although he relents,giving in to her sensible logic, he refuses to give up on draining his half empty whiskey bottle during the proceedings.They all sit in awkward silence watching Milan win the next round of Texas Hold’Em, Wager mumbles that she hopes Milan wins the tournament, but otherwise they don’t talk until Felix finally graces them with his presence.Upon entering the bar, Felix spots the group and immediately makes a beeline straight for them.He thanks everyone profusely for all the trauma the Odd Easy job put them through. He then takes the luggage bag from Wager and the doc, saying that it had better all be there. Wager answers,“It’s all there,but I’m not going anywhere till I make sure everyone gets their fair share pay.” Felix then tells them all that the money:20,000 credits has been wired to their accounts,split five ways, of course.“It was 20,000, wasn’t it?”he asks, to which Bix replies:“20,000 for our crew and 20,000 for Absalom, who betrayed us,tried to kill us, murdered Cy, and who was gonna run off with All the Tong’s money too!?” Felix says they only get the 20,000 that had been agreed upon for the crew, but Absalom’s share will be kept by the Tongs. He takes the luggage full of money, telling them
that he’ll be in touch soon, to let them know what their next mission is.Bix grumbles,“Sure,we’ll just be living in a fucking shuttle wherever.” and he downs, yet another
shot of whiskey, much to Lucy’s dismay.Luckily,Felix leaves without acknowledging Bix’s remark. Wager stands up with the doctor and says,“Well,I guess this is it.” Lucy is the only one to reply, saying,“Yeah,I guess so..”Bix grunts,tosses back another shot,then slams the bottle back on the table, and Wager and the doc quickly exit the bar.Bix asks Lucy if she wants a drink, then says,“Here,have a drink,”before she has a chance to answer.He tries to pour her a glass,but winds up dumping most of it on the table. Lucy tells the waitress that he’s cut off,but Bix grins and asks her for another bottle and the waitress hurries off with a chipper smile.While Lucy busies herself with the encrypted message, Bix looks around the bar.He spots a man sitting alone, looking around the bar intently, as if he is searching for someone. Bix eyes the man bleerily, wondering what his deal is.
Lucy finally manages to open the encrypted message and it says:“Hello. My name is Luopan.” Confused,Lucy asks it,“Why are you on an encrypted file?” Luopan replies:“I’m on the Cortex.With you.It’s an encrypted transmission. I have no interest in our conversation being tracked.I have an offer.A business arrangement.I work for someone who is familiar with your pasts and interested in your futures.My employer knows about your recent loss.Of your ship and your friend.” Lucy is stunned,“How do you know all this?”she asks,“You must have been watching us for awhile.” Luopan answers:“We’ve been following your work since the Lester Maddox.You are probably freaked out by all of this.” Lucy asks,“Why should I be talking to you?” Luopan says:“No good reason.Except one.We have common cause.My employer has no love for the Alliance.And wishes to expose it.I am aware of the risk you would take trusting a stranger.I can only tell you that you have allies,whether you are aware or not.” Lucy asks,“How do I know this isn’t an Alliance trap?” Luopan says:“That’s a fair question.We can meet with you.Or we can make a starting gesture of good will.And by we,I mean my employer.We are many.He has sought a large number of us out.Answer one question for me.The Miranda incident.How familiar are you with it?” Lucy sighs and replies,“More familiar than I’d like to be.” Luopan says:“Enough to want to know everything about it?We want that as well.Here is my employer’s offer.If you agree(the group of you) to disentangle yourselves from the Tongs and work for him,he will cover part of the cost of a new ship.The remainder of the cost you must take care of yourselves,as a group,to insure that the ship is representative of this partnership.Each of your crew will have a vote,on all missions.And on who is to be your leader(if at all).My employer will only weigh in if there are ties.” Lucy replies,“This is something all three of us need to talk about,when we’re not drinking.” Luopan says:“Tomorrow,Late tomorrow,if you like.You’re drunk?Lucky bastards..” Lucy answers,“No,I’m not drunk,One of us is drinking.Doesn’t your employer let you drink?” Luopan replies:“Nope.We’ll have to share sake when we meet.This is NOT a blind date.” Lucy says,“I think we’d need to meet.” Luopan says:“Face to face?Not yet.But I can contact you via the Cortex tomorrow.Ask your friends what they think.I’ll contact you tomorrow then.Take care.” Lucy goes back to watching Milan win another round in the poker tournament.
Bix is still eyeballing that lone man,who is still looking nervously about the room.Bix
elbows Lucy,saying,“Hey,get a load’a this guy.” Lucy glances over at the man Bix is indicating
and tells him that the guy is only watching the game. Bix shakes his head,“Nah,he was looking all around,like he’s casing the joint.” Lucy nervously suggests,“Maybe he’s waiting for
someone.” Bix insists,“Nope,‘s jus’like he’s gonna rob the place.” Lucy whispers,“Well,you’re
the muscle,I’m not going up to him.” Bix searches around for his bottle,mumbles,“Wheres th’ bottle?” Then suddenly,he stands up,obviously swaying on his feet, and looking the man in the eye,Bix gives him a friendly,but slightly wild drunken wave.The man ducks down over his Cortex table and Bix drops back into his seat with a loud chuckle.The man leaps up and hurries from the bar.“Quit getting trashed,you know I can’t carry you back to the shuttle,”Lucy begs Bix,but receives nothing more than a pleasantly tipsy smile from him in reply.
Next door Milan wins the final round of the tournament with a straight flush. The
announcer announces Milan as the winner of the tournament, saying his name will be displayed on the official Blue Sun Tournament plaque and hung on the wall above the bar and also, that all his drinks will be free whenever he is at the bar.The announcer congratulates Milan, giving him a huge novelty check for 6000 credits along with the pot of money he had already won.Milan graciously accepts, then proceeds out of the tournament building.On Milans way back to the bar, the man who Bix had been waving at stops him, pulling a pistol and threatening to shoot him,if he doesn’t turn over all his winnings immediately. Completely fed up with everything, Milan draws his sword and deftly slashes the pistol out of the man’s grip,slicing the man’s hand severely as well. “Still want those credits,”says Milan,grinning evilly, but the man just runs off screaming and gushing blood from his hand instead of answering.Milan swaggers into the bar,clutching his winnings and hurries over to Lucy and Bix’s table.They congratulate him,although Bix can no longer stand up without falling over. Lucy asks Milan to help her get Bix back to the shuttle. Bix asks,“Hey,where’s that one guy?” Lucy rolls her eyes,saying,“You mean the one you were watching?” She describes the man to Milan, who says,“Oh,yeah,the guy who just tried to rob me.He ran off…crying.Maybe I should have gotten the gun.” Bix mutters,“Always git th’gun..”and falls off his chair.Somehow or other,Milan and Lucy manage to drag him back to the shuttle where they drop him into one of the bucket seats,before sitting down to have a chat.Lucy fills Milan in on everything that happened in the bar, while he’d been playing in the tournament.She explains about the mysterious messages from Luopan,telling him all the details that had been discussed.Milan asks if they said anything else about the Tongs
and the work they’ve been doing for them.Milan is deeply concerned about what the Tongs might do if he stops paying off his debt to them. Lucy suggests that they sleep on it and talk further in the morning. She goes to sleep in Wager’s old bunk with the only blanket left on the shuttle. Milan digs around on the shuttle until he discovers a pack of colored markers,most likely left by the doctor, which he uses to draw a rainbow spewing dick on the slumbering Bix’s forehead, before he goes to sleep in another bucket seat.
Lucy is the first to awaken and she immediately leaves for the store to get food.Milan
returns to the bar they’d been at last night to get his giant novelty check cashed.When he
comes back,he gives Bix a rude awakening by accidentally dumping coins all over the floor,
then,even more noisily,picking them up. Bix has a pounding hangover. Wincing,he asks Milan what the hell is he doing and Milan answers,“I’m trying to put my money away.” Bix grumbles that Milan has the loudest money in existence and Milan says,“Yes,of course!” Lucy enters bearing food,takes one look at Bix’s forehead and immediately gasps,“What did you do?”at Milan,who only smiles wickedly in return. Lucy informs Bix that he has a rainbow dick on his forehead and he runs into the tiny shuttle bathroom whilst roaring incoherently, to attempt scrubbing it off.Lucy cooks breakfast for everyone. Milan gobbles down his food while Bix is still in the bathroom, then hurries off to buy some clothes from the haberdashery shop that Bix and Lucy had visited the day before.After succeeding at removing the rainbow dick from his forehead,Bix receives a talking to from Lucy for being a drunken fool at the bar last night.His only defense is that he Absolutely Needed to drink an entire bottle of whiskey.Lucy tells Bix all about her conversation with the mysterious Luopan the night before and Bix is immediately eager to take up the offer. The thought of being able to actively work at exposing the Alliance is too good of a chance for any of them to pass up.
Lucy sends Felix a wave, which is immediately answered and after a great deal of bartering Bix and Lucy are able to renegotiate Milan’s debt payments to the Tongs. They agree on giving the Tongs 10,000 credits now, followed by a payment of 2000 credits every month for the next five months.Felix also insists on making them agree to work one more job for the Tongs.When Milan comes back carrying his new purchases, they inform him of the new terms and find him quite relieved to hear that he’ll be out of debt sooner than later, even though he must fork over 10,000 credits immediately.Milan is a bit furtive around Bix,unsure if he’s going to get punched in the face for the dick drawing incident,but Bix only says,“You’re not twelve,so Don’t Act like it.”and speaks no more on the subject.
Now that they’re all together again, they visit Border Joe’s Bargain Shipyard to peruse the available ships.Finding the only one to meet all their specifications to be the Terrapin,
Lucy asks Border Joe what it’s price is. When he says 50,000, they decide to stop back at the shuttle to discuss their money options. Once back at the shuttle, they are hailed by Luopan, who asks them what their decision is.Lucy tells him that everyone is interested and that they’ve been able to get the Tongs off their backs for the time being.She explains to him about the ship they’ve found and it’s asking price,since they will definitely be in need of a down payment loan.Luopan agrees to wire them 35,000 credits.Combined with their pooled resources, they’re able to come up with the rest of the 50,000 and they still manage to have credits left over for supplies,fuel and Milan’s first half of his sizeable debt payment to the Tongs. They fly the shuttle back to Border Joe’s Bargain Shipyard,pay for their ship and load it with supplies from Merle’s Mercantile.The new ship may be a bit dusty on the interior,but it’s in remarkably good condition throughout.Eventually,after being unable to decide upon a name for the ship,Bix suddenly suggests the name Jia Li.Lucy asks"Who’s that?" He answers simply,“My Mom,” and both Lucy and Milan agree it’s a good name.They register their new ship,the Jia Li, under the name Cy Young,since Border Joe tells them it would be best not to use their own names on the papers.Once they’ve gotten settled in a bit,Luopan sends a wave asking how the ship is.Lucy answers that it’s great.Luopan explains that they all have equal shares in the ship and also asks if they want to know their mission now, or if they need a little time to get more situated in their new living quarters.They opt for getting started now and Luopan explains:“You’ll be flying to the Georgia system where you will contact Miss Spiral on the Academy Prime ship.She’s a teacher at the middle school who helped River Tam escape the Alliance after the Miranda incident.”They fly off into the sunset,excited to Finally begin sticking it to the Alliance.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.