Marsh shaved the time on the plot down to thirteen days, but that still left the crew and passengers with a nearly two week trip to Beaumonde. One of the passengers, a Dennis Fletcher lives on Persephone and pressed to be dropped off on the way. However, to meet Killian’s deadline and to avoid a run in with Darius Nightblade, Chan had to say no. Xavier was able to verify that Killian could not only cover the costs of his high speed run, he was a wealthy and well known philanthropist.
The trip proved to be uneventful with the biggest challenge being how to stretch the food to last long enough to keep everyone eating for the whole trip. There were potential fireworks as the two female passengers – Jessica Bascome and Heidi Bergstrom ran afoul of Cindy for flirting with Marsh, who wisely, rejected their fake advances realizing they were purely to gain food or other minor comforts. The women each were wise enough to recognize the threat Cindy posed and kept their distance from the pilot.
The other passengers Fred Wong, a mid-level mining guild rep, proved to be the least bothersome of those on board. The last of the escapees was John Taylor a high strong sort that William pegged instantly as a potential problem, but had Willis keep him pacified during the entire trip.
On arriving on Beaumonde, Killian revealed his plan. Namely to outfit the ‘Ghost as a sort of roving “Red Cross Express” for those on the rim in need of medical care but are too poor to afford treatment. Killian proposes a six month cruise/charter with a hazardous duty bonus for contract the crew as guards. The care is meant to be first rate and will supplement Cindy’s skills with three medics, two nurses and a doctor.
The sticking point is the costs are high enough that Killian wants to use investors to split the costs to finance the endeavor. Killian is a long time campaigner and has the skills to set up a fund raiser. He will see to all those details while the crew repairs the ship and gets ready to attend the party. Chan tried to dodge the party, but Killian was insistent. The donors needed to see and talk to the crew to be certain they were right for the job. Not having much choice, Chan agreed. Killian said his advocate would send the contract via wave in a couple days. The party would be in three days, the crew had that much time to repair the ship, buy proper clothing, and learn proper manners in order to make the fund raiser a success.
As Willis and Marsh focused on repairs, the rest of the crew began preparations to fit into the fancy shindig. Marsh and Willis went to one of the scrap yards to search for salvageable parts. The first yard they stopped in, amazingly enough, did not have any Firefly hulks. The second yard did and Marsh quickly spotted the needed sections of hull plates needed and Willis was so skillful in extracting them, that the dealer reduced the price by a quarter to 70 credits for a total of 820 credits to repair the damage fully. Willis was again brilliant and completed repairs the same day as he started, which gave him and Marsh one full day to practice their manners and get outfitted.
Chan and William had a high quality outfit, purchased forever ago when they were trying to earn their first cargo run from Patrick Hong on Verbena. Li Ming had an extensive wardrobe and easily could come up with a fitting outfit. Willis, Xavier, Marsh, and Cindy were the ones that needed to find something appropriate and with how much the repairs to the Ghost had devastated their cash supply, the crew had to get creative to find the proper outfits on a very tight budget. Scraping together the bare minimum and with some surprisingly deft help from William, the entire crew arrived in outfits that were completely fitting for the formality of the fundraiser.
During the party everyone but Li Ming got cornered at one point to speak on behalf of the mission. Chan, Cindy, and Xavier all spoke very well (roll Hard), while William was not as eloquent as he typically was (roll Average). Willis spoke brilliantly (roll Formidable), which compensated for Marsh’s stumbling (roll Easy) overall the crew performed admirably in an area that was completely foreign to them, earning even higher esteem from Killian
The next five days were a whirlwind of activity as the ship was stocked and made ready for an extended cruise. The doctor, two nurses, and three medics easily fit in the four double passenger cabins. Ensuring nothing was overlooked kept most of the crew too occupied to be on guard more than usual.
However, Li Ming had less to do than the others and noticed they were being watched always certain of her abilities, she chose to confront the observer. One man spotted Li Ming and the chase was on. The next several minutes were a wild steeplechase with Li Ming coming within a hair’s breadth of catching the man twice before he finally escaped. Frustrated, the gambler returned empty handed.
During the distraction, Cindy was alone and approached by an old war buddy; Thomas Dewitt served with Cindy and rescued her at Du Khang. He asked to speak to Cindy in private who agreed. Once alone Dewitt asked what Cindy thought of the rebellion. Dewitt played on the medic’s fears and superstitions to weaken her resolve and plant the seeds of the Neo Browncoat movement. Dewitt played his part masterfully and managed to wrest a promise of silence that they had spoken. [Invoked Superstitious Trait reducing Cindy’s Willpower to d6 another activated Traumatic Flashbacks reducing Influence to D2. Finally rolled a 20! On 2D10 against Cindy’s 4 to implant Neo-Browncoat party line and rolled 16 to Cindy’s 5 to remain silent]
Once the ship was fully
stocked, they departed Beaumonde on
Cindy fought with nightmares since leaving Beaumonde and Marsh struggled to help her through the rough times eventually breaking through her pain. It took several more days before Dewitt’s words broke their hold and she was able to tell Chan about the warning of an attempt to hijack the Ghost after they reached Beylix. However, not ten minutes later, Marsh detected two ships closing fast! Chan demanded to know what was going on and Cindy steadfastly denied knowing but before the scene could get ugly, Williams stepped into say he believed that Cindy was telling the truth. Chan accepted this and everyone prepared for battle.
Chan snapped off a series of orders and for hard burn. William, Chan, Li Ming, and Cindy all donned full armor and grabbed their heaviest weapons, once ready, Cindy prepped her aid bag as the others took up positions in the cargo bay in case they were boarded. Chan stopped by the bridge to see if out running their pursuers was possible, but the speed of the two ships an old Mercury-class courier and an even older Treefrog-class freighter made that clearly not an option. Chan then had the medical staff take shelter in the infirmary with orders to stay put unless called for by one of the crew.
Rushing back to the bridge, Chan was about to have Marsh and Willis set up the “fluids flush” that had crippled the Reaver ship, what seemed like forever ago, but the plan was scrubbed as soon as the Mercury, named the Zephyr, fired a warning shot missile and then ordered them to have to and prepare to be boarded by forces of the Neo-Browncoat militia. Dumping the ships water supply would only work if the pursuing ship was very close and since the Zephyr was armed they wouldn’t get that close.
Chan was turning the leave the bridge, when she had a flash of insight. Her insane plan would only work if the Mercury was the only armed pursuer and if Marsh was as insane as she thought he was. Not having much choice, she quickly filled the pilot in on the plan and knew it was as crazy as she thought when Marsh loved the idea. Marsh began a careful deception to lure the Mercury in closer.
Marsh’s first attempt at luring in the purser was a disaster and allowed the Zephyr a missile launch. Fortunately, the missile became confused by Marsh’s evasive maneuver and failed to lock on. Marsh and the Zephyr played a deadly game of cat and mouse, with Marsh getting the hang of the Zephyr’s maneuverability and pilot’s skill and slowly luring the Neo-Browncoat ship into position.
Willis had carefully set the ship’s engines to respond to Chan’s insanity, but with an instant response to Marsh’s touch. One near miss slammed the crew about, but only Cindy was caught off guard taking a blow to the head as she flipped end over end. Her armor absorbed most of the blow leaving her only slightly stunned and more embarrassed than injured.
Once Marsh had the Zephyr in position, he initiated plan “Crazy Chan”, rather than a rapid reversal by pivoting the ship’s engines in opposite direction, Marsh slewed the Ghost perpendicular to his direction of flight and caused the ship to spin by pivoting the engines to have one pointing up and the other downward. Xavier then over rode all the safety interlocks to cause the empty shuttle to detach and with the spin Marsh created, fly directly into the path of the dumbfounded pilot of the Zephyr. Caught completely by surprise the Zephyr never had a chance to evade. The shuttle slammed into the Neo-Browncoat ship and the damage was devastating. The Zephyr survived the impact, but very quickly main power failed leaving the ship on the draft. The Treefrog named Cupid’s bow had to break off pursuit to assist their disabled comrades giving the Ghost the chance to go to hard burn.
Marsh changed vectors several times as Chan waited for a response from Killian about the attack. The crew was stunned to hear Killian’s reply which ordered them back to Beaumonde. The insurance on the mission and the backers would not risk the investment and regardless of Killian’s desire to continue, forced a cancellation of the mission. Six days at hard burn got the Ghost safely back to Beaumonde. A deeply chagrined Killian met them when they landed and apologized for the sudden end of the planned job, but paid them the normal chartered vessel rates for fifteen days, refueled their ship and most importantly of all, replaced their lost shuttle.