Few of Days and Full of Trouble

Episode XVI: Program 741

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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.

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