Log 12

 

As the ship neared Greenleaf, Li Ming suggested they use the same trick they used when they had to visit Persephone without tipping off Nightblade that the ‘Ghost was nearby, Chan agreed and decided to have everyone but Marsh and Willis make planet fall. Li Ming piloted and the ‘Ghost waited ten light minutes from Greenleaf, far enough to minimize detection, but close enough that pick up was less than thirty minutes away. Setting down a hundred kilometers from Lychee City where Keystone had his office in order to further reduce the chance of detection. The crew began making arraignments for the meeting with their hopefully unsuspecting foe.

 

Li Ming would be the primary contact with William acting as a silent bodyguard. Li Ming had enough fine clothing to support her disguise, but William had to purchase a new outfit to match the level of quality a professional bodyguard would wear. As the contact team worked on their disguises, Xavier accessed the Blue Sun network with the captured algorithm. She was able to insert false credentials so that Keystone would fine Li Ming’s alias when she called to make an appointment.

 

Chan and Cindy made the rounds of Ming’s underworld to find that Keystone ia a high-powered advocate in Lychee City and represented many of the region’s upper class families, but was rumored to have other dealings. Their source could only speculate as Keystone dealt at such a rarified altitude that the source didn’t know anyone of the sufficient rank to know first hand.

 

Once everything was ready, Li Ming sent the wave to Keystone, Li Ming delivered a flawless pitch and the credentials planted by Xavier also worked flawlessly. Li Ming simply stated she had resources to assist with a set back Keystone had suffered and they could discuss a lucrative business opportunity in private and Keystone agreed. Li Ming and William boarded a bullet train and met with Keystone three hours later.

 

Armed with information picked from Flannery’s files and playing on her seductive skills to the fullest, Li Ming was able to convince Keystone that she had the perfect ship and crew to re-establish a pipeline for highleaf distribution. After listening to Li Ming’s presentation, Keystone said that he had to set up a meeting with the leader of the cartel interested in the highleaf distribution. Keystone was persuasive enough to get the meeting set up in an hour at a secluded mountain resort. Li Ming said she and her bodyguard would arrive by shuttle at the designated time. Li Ming smiled and made her exit, she then called for Chan and a pick up.

 

As soon as Chan got the signal from Li Ming, she sent another signal to Marsh to get him moving for the planet. During the trip to the meeting place, Chan, Cindy, and Xavier got fully armored and ready for a fight, but would remain hidden while the less obviously armored Li Ming and William met with the leader responsible fir all their troubles. Marsh executed a hard burn and was entering the upper atmosphere form a south polar insertion as Li Ming landed the shuttle for the rendezvous.

 

The two contact team exited and waited ten minutes before a very sleek and obviously expensive yacht flared for a landing. Five men exited the yacht, their contact and four bodyguards. William instantly recognized the contact as a member of Baron Chang’s entourage! Unable to speak in his role as bodyguard, William had to remain silent and see how things played out.

 

The contact introduced himself as Chan Ai Rui and was very interested in hearing how the crew would be of service. Li Ming started her spiel and Chang with interest. After a couple minutes Chang said he was very interested as a couple of set backs from some insignificant pests had forced him to open negotiations with the likes of the Hip Sing Tong. At this point one of Chang’s bodyguards could no longer restrain himself and interrupted Chang. The young noble snarled at the interruption, but goggled when the man pointed at William. There was a split second as both sides realized the situation, then everyone went for guns.

 

Xavier knowing her limited utility in a fight began powering up the shuttle. Two of Chang’s bodyguards fire on Li Ming, but the nimble gambler in a fluid motion, sidestepped the shots, drew her yet unused Le Mat model pistol and fired the shot round at one of the guards. The impact with very little effect immediately let the crew know the bodyguards were wearing the same heavy armor as Chan, Cindy, and Li Ming. Chan and Cindy bolted from cover and Chan took a snap shot at the same guard Li Ming just hit. The autofire attack barely fazed him, but a second guard that managed to talk the arrogant noble into fleeing an instant before Chan fired was hit in the side of the head by a slug flattened by impacting the intended target and crumpled as if pole axed. The fourth guard hit William square in the chest driving him back a step and to one knee, saved by his body armor. The reeling first mate managed a hit on the guard that shot him weapon arm, but the man managed to hold onto his weapon. The guard reacted unnaturally fast and hit William a second time leaving the big man all but unconscious on his feet. Li Ming snapped off three rapid fire shots at the guard she hit the first time, which had the desired effect of rendering the man unconscious but at the cost of her pistol jamming.

 

Chan spotted the fleeing Chang and sent a burst to try and stop him from reaching the yacht, but the slippery noble dodged safely aboard the ship. Cindy darted forward spraying the two remaining bodyguards with auto fire from her SMG, grazing one man slightly, but knocking out the man that had hit William twice. The remaining bodyguard chose discretion and bolted for the yacht. Li Ming had to unjam her pistol as Chan and Cindy charged forward firing auto fire at the fleeing bodyguard, hitting him but not stopping him from boarding the yacht, with no one to shoot at, William still shaking off the two slugs lumbered in pursuit as well. The hatch to the yacht slammed shut in Chan’s and William’s face, forcing the crew to back pedal for their shuttle. Both the shuttle and the yacht powered up at the same time, with Chang’s yacht bolting immediately to break atmo.

 

Xavier had to wait until William staggered aboard before being able to pursue. Li Ming reached the controls just before William boarded and the two women roared in pursuit seconds behind Chang.  Xavier had sent a signal to Marsh as the shuttle was powering up getting the Ghost en route for a possible intercept. Chang took his yacht into heavy planetary traffic leaving absolute chaos in his wake. Li Ming and Xavier complimented each other brilliantly staying fairly close to the powerful yacht despite Chang’s attempts to lose them. However, when Chang rolled wildly between a freighter and an approaching tug, the two women tried to follow but the opening closed before they could slip through. Facing a fatal collision, Xavier managed to pitch the nose down and overload the anti-grav drive as she rolled the shuttle upside down. This insane maneuver probably would have failed, but the freighter’s anti-grav reacted to that of the shuttle’s and forced the smaller vessel into the clear. When everyone was certain they wouldn’t vomit, they dejectedly headed to redock with the Ghost.

 

En route, Cindy had a flash of brilliance. Since the yacht was obviously a noble’s hot rod, it stood to reason that the engines were very specialized, possibly even unique. If the sensors could be tuned to look for the drive output, they might be able to track Chang. Fortunately, Chang had hit hard burn on breaking atmo causing a powerful signature to trace Willis driven by his desire to regain Chan’s trust after his failure with Li, adapted the sensors in less than an hour. Marsh was quickly able to lock on to Chang’s trail and determined Chang was heading for the nearby planet of Jiang Yin. Marsh hit hard burn to catch the source of all the crew’s trouble.