Episode Seven


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 Flotsam and Jetsam in the Acadamy of Love


A number of years ago we find Joe with a group of mercenaries raiding the lab of a company called BioZyte Corporation there to steal drugs and medical tech. The group get in OK killing three guards, but when they get to the lab they found a lab doctor wearing a lab coat and a mask over her mouth. The mercenaries pulled their guns on her as she cracks a vial in her hand. Her eyes glint as the mercenaries started to collapse on the floor. Joe looks up in his agony to see the black haired woman inject something into his arm. Agony wracks his body and he briefly passes out. When he comes to some 5 minutes later the woman was gone and his fellow mercenaries were all dead with hideously aged skin, and the lab on fire. Joe seeing it had all gone wrong fled the place thanking his lucky stars that he was not lying dead like his fellows.

Cue Music ....

Delores knocked on Pinto's room and asked to talk to him, but he put her off telling her that he would speak to her later in the mess room. Joe spotted Thomas organising the cultery drawer obsessively straightening every piece. Bau came into the pilots cockpit and told the Captain that he was not feeling very well. Fey asked him in what way and he answered it by dashing off to be sick. The Captain ordered him to go and see Dr Wu and later checked on them and found Dr Wu talking angrily to Bau. Dr Wu told her that Bau has Chinese Flu and that Bau had infected him as well. They were likely to feel poorly for about 5 days, but it was nothing serious. It only affected people of the chinese ethnic background.

A short while later in the cockpit Captain Flint saw an incoming message on the comm. The message said "SOS. This is the S. V. Vehemence. We are in trouble, please help us, come quickly .....". The message stopped and all that was left on the open comm channel was static.

The Serendipity approached the stranded vessel floating in space and observed it for a little while seeing no obvious sign of life. Pinto and Joe suited up and strapped a camera to their helmets. Thomas took the ship as close as he could to the Vehemence and the two went out into space over to the other ship tethered to a safety line. They looked in a window and saw two dead bodies in the mess, one slumped forward on the table the other slumped back in a chair with a knife in his chest. There was a couple of bags of stuff on the table. Joe couldn't open the main airlock, but accessed the ship via the shuttle door. Inside Joe and Pinto found the two in the mess room and discovered the bags contained some sort of food substance with the name NuMunch on the packaging. The substance was a doughy like substance but neither wanted to touch it. The man slumped in his chair had a gun in his hand. They continued on to the cockpit where they found the pilot down at the base of the seat, shot in the back.

Meanwhile back on the Serenity Eleanor and Thomas do some checking. Eleanor finds the ship registration details and find the captain's name is Phillip Weaver. After doing some checking she found a photo of him on the cortex. Thomas meanwhile did some checking into NuMunch, finding out it was a new start up company running out of Bellepheron that had been started only a year ago. The advertising for the bar pitched it as the tastiest snack in the 'verse, pitching as competition to Blue Sun.

Pinto checked the manifest in the cockpit and found that they had picked up 5 crates on Bellepheron. Together Joe and Pinto searched the rest of the ship and eventually found the dead captain in the hold surrounded by an open crate with hundreds of bars of NuMunch pouring out.

Captain Flint spotted another ship coming in on the radar and was immediately hailed by it. "This is Captain Desmond Mutanga of the S. V. Hyperbole and this is our salvage. We request that you move clear." The ship coming in was Cobra class and was armed, but Captain Flint had already made her decision. "Yes it is salvage now" she said "and we will be moving clear." She talked to Joe and Pinto and told them to come back, instructing them to only bring one bar only on the NuMunch for analysis. As they moved away Captain Flint observed the Hyperbole docking with the Vehemence. Thomas meanwhile did some analysis on the bar and found that it had a very highly addictive substance in it. He concluded that perhaps Blus Sun had somehow spiked the bars to try and eliminate the competition.

On coming back on board Pinto couldn't help having a brief conversation with Delores. Once again he told her it was hard to come to terms with her as she hadn't raised him and hadn't been there all those years. Delores told him she had tried hard to find him but just was not able to locate him.

On approach to Sihnon Captain Flint hoped that her sister had arranged for their pass as Sihnon was a restricted landing planet. Upon mentioning her sister's name the customs man instantly recognised it and said that Lady Fitzpatrick had already sent down clearance for them.

On landing Eleanor, Pinto and Thomas decided to go and visit the museum of antiquity in the city. There Eleanor decided to ask the attendants about the "lost ark" and they didn't know much about it other than what they had on their leaflets. She suggested going to the front desk to ask. The man at the front desk was charmed by Eleanor and gave her the name of Professor Moran who he said he would get to contact her.

Joe meanwhile found a pub to go drink in.

Delores asked Fey if she could go with her to the Companion Chapter House as she needed to do her yearly check up. At the Chapter House there was a mob of Catholic protesters and a security team preventing them going up to the main enterance. There was also a van with a sign on the side Morland Intelligent Climate Acclimatization Systems (MICAS). The protesters seemed to be upset about a girl training to be a nun who had decided to leave and become a companion. They belived that the Companions had corrupted the young girl into debauchery. Delores took charge and parted the crowd and got them past the security team.

Once in the Chapter House Delores met a younger companion in her thirties by the name of Leonora. It was evident to Captain Flint that there was needle between her and Delores in their tone and Leonora took it upon herself to take them to Sinnead's office. On the way she described several pictures down the long corridoor that were of famous people in the guild. These included a picture of Chen Lin Wei a famous Companion who not only had the most extensive client list ever, but also went missing some fourty years ago when his ship was lost. Another showed an early picture of the current Guild Mistress Sun Jaio Lui.

Fey was greeted by her sister and they spoke about her Fey had been looking for Sinnead for some time. Sinnead said that Fey only needed to come to the Companion Guildhouse, but Fey said that if it was only that simple and she'd looked for her for some time. Sinnead asked if Fey had seen Siobhan as she had not seen her elder sister since their father's funeral. Sinnead had argued there with Siobhan over money there as she had refused to share the inheritance with Sinnead. The two chatted about the past for a while and eventually Fey asked if Sinnead knew Dr Weir. Sinnead told her that she'd met him once or twice in the past. Fey asked if Sinnead was on a Satelitte a week ago with Dr Weir and she told her that she'd been here at the Chapter House for the past three weeks.

There was a shriek a short way away and Fey and Sinnead headed towards the sound with a large number of other Companions. At the centre of the crowd of Companions there was the body of a maintenance man with his head cut of by the ventilator fans. Sun Jaio Lui said that with all the bad publicity going on outside she really didn't want the police investigating this and adding further fuel to the fire. She said that she wanted to try and get this investigated quietly. Fey ignored this and decided this was not her business and went back to talking to her sister.

By evening Fey had not returned and the others had all returned to the Serendipity. Eleanor got a tell from Professor Moran who asked her what she was interested in. Eleanor explained that she was interested in the "lost ark" and that it contained many of her race. Professor Moran said that it was an area that interested him greatly and that he had written about it. He was nervous about talking about it over an open channel and suggested they meet up next morning.

Meanwhile in the Companion Guid House in the evening a number of armed men entered wearing the same uniform as the guards at the gate. They rounded up all the Companions and other people including Fey, Sinnead and Delores and held them in the Gymnasium arena. There some of the men went off and sought out the Guild Mistress Sun. The men made sure that the others kept quiet and held them with machine guns. Suddenly a steel security plate went down over all the windows and doors. The men returned with Sun and demanded that she tell them where he was. Sun denied knowing what they wanted to know. A short time later the head man asked Higgins to report but got no response. He sent out another man after Higgins who returned to report that Higgins had been found dead with not a mark on him. The head man assumed there was still someone out there and ordered two of his men to go out and search for them.

The head man called Mendes threatened Sun that they would kill one Companion an hour until she told them what they needed to know. As they started the countdown Fey tried to reason with them, but the head man would not have it. He restarted the countdown and Fey turned on her communicator. Mendes shot the Companion on five, but Sun would or could not tell them what they needed to know. Mendes said that she must tell him where Chen was else another Companion would die in an hour. Fey spoke quiety with Sinnead who said that she thought that Sun knew a bit more, but not where Sun was located.

Eleanor on hearing this contacted the police and told them what was occurring. The rest of the crew decided to get a taxi to the Guild House to see what they could do. When they arrived they found the police had surrounded the building and that an expert hostage negotiator was in place. There were also some police copters in the sky. Thomas wanted to get a better look at the van, but the police wouldn't let them near.

Inside the building a scream was heard down the corridoor again. Fey once again told the leader Mendes that he she could help him. Mendes decided to take her at her word and took her down the corridoor to where the scream was. The sprinkler system had gone off and a power cable become disconnected and electrocuted the man. Fey said that they needed to turn off the power, so Mendes led her down to the basement at gunpoint. In the basement they soon found the generator, but alas there was a force field protecting the generator. Mendes led Fey back to Sun's office where she was being held at gunpoint and he ordered her to show him how to turn off the security system. She showed him the buttons, but they still would not work.

Mendes took them all back to the Gymnasium and announced that they would go to Plan B. He sent a man called Saunders down to the computer to hack the Comapnion Guild records and announced that they would kill another Companion in 10 minutes. There was an explosion to the area where Saunders had gone and he soon came back horribly injured from an explosion. Fey said she could do first aid and did some very basic repairs to Saunders. Then the men began changing into Police uniforms and Fey mentioned this over her comm link. The rest of the crew went and told the police this. Thomas went round to see what he could see from that side of the building. At the last minute they put gas masks on and also on one on Sun. They warned the Companions not to follow them and headed off towards the front exit. Fey decided to let them get a bit ahead, but to follow at a distance.

Outside the crew heard three ships about Firefly size approaching and seeing them starting to drop gas Joe, Pinto and Thomas hold their breath and run for it whilst the police all get gassed. At the enterance there was an explosion where the terrorists had blown the door. One of the ships slowly turned and is lowered a platform for them to escape on. Meanwhile Pinto and Joe moved back to where the sleeping Policemen were as the gas started to dissapate. They picked up a couple of assault rifles and began shooting the bad guys. Mendes held Sun in front of himself as a human shield but still was hit in the head by Pinto. Eventually they had downed two of the four as the ship came into range. By then Fey charged Mendes from behind but failed to knock him down. Sinnead also charged and knocked him down. The giant Duvall was eventually knocked out by several bullets from the two shooters. The ship flew off before any police ships could get here to intercept it. Sinnead held Mendes down whilst Fey went with Sun to get some rope. Sun invited the group to a thank you supper the following night.

The police took statements from all those involved before letting everyone go. The police inspector promised to put Joe, Pinto and Fey up for a bravery award.

Next morning Eleanor went to see Proffesor Moran at his office by the museum. Proffesor Moran told Eleanor that he had written a book on the subject of the lost ark, but that someone was trying to keep the information quiet as every publisher he had taken it to had refused it. Proffesor Moran believed there was a high level conspiracy to keep the information quiet and warned Eleanor to be careful who she spoke to about it. He offered her a copy of his manuscript and he said that it helped sort out the myth from the stories that were probably true. Eleanor explained about the panther man in the freak show and Proffesor Moran promised to follow up on it and let her know if he found anything out about it.

That evening the crew went to the Guild Chapter House for their intimate supper with the Guild heads. There they were each served by a novice Companion of the opposite sex. Sun thanked the crew for their help in defeating the mercenaries and explained that Chen was special in that he had certain extra abilities. He was on his way to see Denise Jarrett, mother of Senator Walter Jarrett when his ship disappeared and was never found. Eleanor asked if he was a reader and Sun replied that it was something like that. During the conversation Sun realised that Pinto was Delores son and she said that he was lucky to be born as it was forbidden for a Companion to get pregnant by one of their clients. It was lucky that the Senator was understanding and helped make the arrangement. Delores was punished for her breach of the rules. Sun said that the Guild would pay good money to find out what happened to Sun and why the mercenaries wanted to find him.

Joe made some unsubtle hints that they would like to be paid for helping the Guild but Sun merely offered the hospitality of the Companions who were serving the crew for the night. Pinto accepted immediately as did Thomas. Eleanor keen to read her manuscript was hestiant but eventually accepted as well. Only Joe and Fey refused the offer.

Next day they returned to the Serendipity and found Bau and Dr Wu had started to recover from their illness.