Episode Six Pt 1


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 High Stakes Part 1 - Brown Girl in the Ring


     Some six years ago in a drab office on Santo a man in his forties was standing by a desk at which Eleanor Diawara was sitting.

“I was cheated out of a lot of money that night Ms Diawara but I can’t prove how he did it. That Miguel is a cheater, he couldn’t possibly have had five flushes in tem hands.”

“Mr McDonough to be able to prosecute a fraud case against Mr Del Mondo we will need some evidence to be able to bring a case. I take it that since he cleaned you out that you don’t have any money to pay me with.”

“Well hell yeah – he even took my wedding ring. So you think we got a case missey”

Eleanor gives him a stern look at the missey comment.

“Without any actual evidence I’m afraid I think we have zero chance of winning. But then I do like challenges.”

Cue Music …

     Fey was sitting on the bridge as the ship was approaching Santo when she got a tell coming through. She answered it, surprised to find her sister Sinead on the other end of the comm.

“Fey I’ve been trying to get hold of you to tell you I’ve found out some more about who killed our parents. A woman named Jade Zho led them.”

“Sinead, its been ten years since we last spoke. What makes you think that this person was responsible?”

“Well someone told me before they died” Sinead replied. Fey asked Sinead where she was and she told her she was at the Companion Guildhouse on Sihon. Sinead said she’d been trying to track Fey down for ages and asked her where she was. Fey told her that she was on Santo and asked if she could meet Sinead. Sinead suggested that Fey meet her in seven days on Santo and it was agreed.

     Having just ended the tell with her sister a second tell came through into the cockpit. Fey answered it and the lady on the other end asked to speak with Nathaniel. Fey found out that it was his sister called Melissa and asked her to tell again in 5 minutes and headed down to the sickbay. She told Nathaniel his sister would be telling soon and propped him up un-gagged in front of the screen. Dr Wu decided to head up to the bridge and listen in on his idol’s conversation.

     Melissa visibly upset told Nathaniel that their father was killed a day ago in a bomb explosion. Apparently according to the Alliance police those responsible were Browncoat terrorists. Melissa was very upset and Nathaniel said that he’d come back soon to Londinium.

     Fey landed the Serendipity at the airstrip a mile out of Santo City.

     Delores tried once again to make a connection with her son, telling him he needed to look his best for when he met his brother Maxwell. Pinto was more worried about the horse and sent his mother off again without making a connection. Pinto searched the local directory and found a local vet on Santo for Horse. The vet said that there was a 250 Credit call out fee, which Pinto agreed to. Later he thought this might be too much and went to Eleanor to get her to renegotiate. She felt that he’d already made the deal and there was little he could do.

     The vet came out a looked at the poisoned Horse and determined that he’d need at least 4 days vetinary care at their stables at around 100 Cr a day. That made about 650 Credits, which was beyond what Pinto could afford, so he begged another favour from Eleanor and got her to go and ask Delores for the money. Eleanor feeling a bit like the errand girl to massage Pinto’s injured sense of self went to talk to Delores. Eleanor felt that doing this for Pinto would be a way back into his heart. This emotional blackmail worked, but Delores said that she didn’t have that kind of money anymore. However she offered to try and find a client here to earn the money for Harrison (Pinto). Delores then headed off into town to be the Companion that she was.

     Joe had already contacted Kevin Davy and had arranged for them to go into town and meet him at his house. Pinto waited on the ship looking after Horse until the vet had come back with transport for him. Nathaniel was untied and left in his quarters, however mysteriously the screen in his quarters no longer worked and his door would not open.

     Kevin Davy was a midget dressed in a sharp suit. He welcomed then in and bit them tell him what he could do for them. Joe explained about the disk and asked the Captain to elaborate on the problem. Kevin takes the disk, checks it for viruses on a separate machine. He determines there is an executable on it and reverse engineers it to find that it will send a nullify signal on the same wavelength as the chip controller. There is also however a second piece of code that sends a message to a codec that Kevin didn’t have. A large degree of discussion continued on whether they should try the nullify and what to do with the second message. It was decided that Kevin comment out the second message from the code and recompile it so that it could be sent from a computer on board the Serendipity. He would join them on the Serendipity to get the Codec from Nathaniel’s chip.

     On the way back to the ship Eleanor went and got supplies for tea and whilst shopping noticed a Cortex news display. Apparently there had been a plague broken out on the planet of Shadow. There were also rumours of a Browncoat attack on a Senator’s house on Londinium. A new no fly zone over the city has been introduced and been rigorously enforced.

The crew go back to the ship and Fey asks Nathaniel’s permission to get the Codec and send the nullify command. Nathaniel refuses and asks that he is given all the evidence when he leaves so that he can follow it up. Fey and Nathaniel stop short their discussion as it starts heading into Nathaniel’s opinion of Fey’s command skills.

Fey asked Kevin to get the Codec from the chip anyway, which he did and he used it to check what the additional message was. He sent the message to the codec and the following message was played.

     “Nathaniel I hope you are listening to this as this should not play without your chip in range. First of all I would like to apologise to you for having to do this to you but it was the only way to save you. The Alliance was pushing for your death for Treason and I had to cut a deal to save your life. I only agreed to this, as I knew there was a way to reverse it. There was no way I could stop it at the time but I have friends in a group who are dedicated to seeing the Alliance being a force for good rather than a force for oppression. This group, called the Shadow Council, has loyal dedicated members within the Alliance hierarchy. One such member Blaine Fitzpatrick encoded this disk to activate some code in your chip that neutralises the dangerous protocols. Blaine should hopefully have delivered this disk to you. He has also transmitted data to your chip that will activate on a need to know basis when you are in the proximity of things you need to know about what is going on. That way if you are captured Nathaniel you can plausibly deny knowledge until you absolutely need it. I trust you son to get to the bottom of this for us son.”

Having seen this the crew decided to show Nathaniel the message. Nathaniel told them they’d be better off if they didn’t go looking into this, as it was likely to be trouble. Bau said that they’d already found trouble without looking for it, so it couldn’t be much worse. It was agreed that Nathaniel would leave and take the evidence with him. Fey asked Kevin to send the nullify command to Nathaniel before he left.

Various members of the crew decided to have a goodbye drink for Nathaniel in town. It was noticeable that Fey and Bau remained on the ship when the others went into town. Bau changed the locks on the Serendipity to ensure that Nathaniel couldn’t get back into the ship.

On way back they the crew met Denny Sharp who told them he had a job for them. He was now General Manager of Bruins Casino here and they were holding a ‘Verse wide poker tournament and he needed to hire some additional security. With such a fortuitous meeting with old comrades fate had indeed intervened. The crew agreed to meet with Denny next morning to discuss the job.

Joe didn’t go straight back to the ship and checked out Denny’s story. Later he went back and told Captain about Denny’s offer.

Next morning the crew had hangovers but decided to head down and meet up with Denny at the bar in the Bruins Casino. Denny told them he’d had a tip off that there were thieves planning to steal the poker trophy (worth about 4000 Credits). The crew asked why the regular security detail couldn’t cover this, and Denny told them that the tip had told him that there was a mole in his security to the thieves. He therefore had need of independents to work for the 3-day duration of the tournament.

The crew checked out the Casino and decided to install additional cameras in various places. They tagged the prize money in the safe (21,000 Credits), trophy and the 5 gun holsters of the security staff. They then changed the code on the lock on the security room and kept the original security detail out. Denny gave the crew some background on the seven participants of the poker tournament.

  • Betsy Li – universes best poker player – only beaten once in her time
  • Orson Blake – Youngster wanting to make a name for himself
  • Miguel Del Mondo – Card sharp from Osiris
  • Craig McDonough - Local Champion
  • Thomas Flynn – Strange man slowly winning on the roulette wheel
  • Babette Fontaine – Old time player from Londinium
  • Earl Daggerson - Only person to beat Betsy

Denny is worried one of them is winning slowly on the roulette wheel. Eleanor watches the man and determines he is betting at the last minute and calculating the wheel spin. She gets Denny to get the croupier to call no more bets before spinning.

In the bar a cowboy greeted Pinto by the name of Maxwell. Pinto nodded to him but did not reply.

Whilst he checked a camera Bau got an electric shock and fell from his ladder. In the process he had a fit and Dr Wu checked him out. He couldn’t really see what was wrong although Bau’s back hurt.

In the evening the poker tournament started with Mr Bruin introducing the players. Orson Blake ended the evening winning a bit more than the others with Craig McDonnagh having lost badly (he was nearly out). Thomas Flynn ended the evening slightly up with Betsy Li slightly behind very often having folded early.

During a break a couple called John and Juliana came up to Eleanor and said that Craig McDonnagh had told them that she was a lawyer, and that they had a problem on their ranch with a neighbour over water rights. The couple wanted Eleanor to meet with them the next day and give them legal advice. However Eleanor said that she was busy on another job as she did not quite trust them. They left the Casino slightly disappointed.

The crew took shifts overnight, with everyone still managing to get six hours sleep. Pinto met another man who recognised him as Maxwell and the man told him that they now had a few extra cows on the ranch (with that he winked a Pinto).

The next day as it reached early afternoon Pinto started to become worried that his mother had not returned. At last it seemed that he had started to acknowledge his mother now that she was missing. Pinto sent Eleanor out to go to talk to the sheriff about his missing mother (once again getting Eleanor to do his dirty work). On her way over to the Sheriff three men in black put a gun to Eleanor’s chest and kidnapped her. They took her to a basement under a warehouse where they put her in a cage next to a reaver. One of the men took Eleanor’s comm and then crushed it under his foot. One of the three men then told Eleanor that he was the brother of one of the men who was killed after the Reaver she got freed was released. They were going to put her in the cage with the Reaver and see her talk her way out of the Reaver killing her.

Eleanor was visited in the cage by the couple John and Juliana Hemp who came to explain to her exactly what was due to happen to her.

After two hours Pinto started to worry over both his mum and Eleanor. Pinto called the Companions Guild on Sihnon, but they refused to give out the confidential details of client lists. They did say they would talk to another Companion who was on Santo to get them to look for Delores. Then Pinto went to see the Sheriff who thought that Pinto was Maxwell. He told Pinto that he hadn’t seen either woman. Pinto then went and reported the missing people to Captain Flint. Pinto did some checking up on Maxwell but could only find detailed records in the Cortex for his parents Phillip and Joyce Glassman. They lived on a ranch five miles away from Santo City.

Bau tried Eleanor’s comm to make contact with her but found that it was not responding.

Joe had a thought to go and talk to people in shops in the streets on the way to the Sheriff’s Office. A shopkeeper saw three men in black with hats leading a black woman away. He pointed the direction that they took her in out to Joe. Bau and Pinto took up the search and started asking other people if they had seen Eleanor with the three men in Black. However the witnesses who had seen them were not clear exactly where they’d gone.

Meanwhile Betsy Li told Thomas Flynn that the couple who met Eleanor last night wanted bad things to happen to her. Thomas told Dr Wu who told the Captain this information. They pulled pictures of the couple off the security feed.

Pinto and Bau went to talk to the Sheriff about the couple in the picture. The Sheriff warned Maxwell against bringing guns into town again. The Sheriff told them that they were called John and Juliana Hemp and that they have a house outside Santo City and an import / export warehouse in town.

The crew decide to quickly launch a raid on the warehouse with Pinto, Bau, Joe and Fey fully armed. The search of the upper warehouse revealed nothing, so they decided to check the basement. Bau checked the door and found it not locked, hearing the roar of something behind it. Pinto and Bau charged in and bullets started to fly. Bullets from one of the men in black knocked out Bau. All three men in black are killed in the assault. Pinto got the key from one of the bodies and rescued Eleanor from the cage. Fey took one look at the Reaver in the cage and consulted Eleanor on what they should do with it. Having established that Eleanor's views had changed dramatically, Fey shot it. They picked up Bau and dragged him between them like a drunk back to the Casino. Louis Wu then took a look at the unconscious Bau.

To be continued ….