When the ghost docked with Skyplex Li Xing, the ship shuddered almost as if she were in pain.  Willis went with Chan and Marsh to check on repairs, while Cindy and William went looking for work. Li Ming and Xavier each went out on their own for different reasons, Li Ming to reassert her confidence that she could handle anything and Xavier to check on her quest to become Miss Universe.

Xavier had some difficulty finding an access node for the cortex, but eventually tapped in and after bypassing station security, where she found that she had failed! Another super hacker had beaten her out to become the new Mister Universe. Xavier returned to the Ghost crushed by the failure. She slashed apart a half finished painting and trashed her cabin before finally collapsing in exhaustion and tears. In the meantime, Li Ming managed to check her wilder impulses and left the gambling house with much more than she started and returned without getting into a fight.

Searching for reasonable repairs proved to be difficult. Willis however, managed to out negotiate the yard foreman with Buddha’s teaching and getting costs down, but repairs were still going to be nearly 340 credits. Li Ming insisted on covering nearly half as it was her relentless enemy that was responsible for most of the damage to the Ghost. It was Li Ming that found Xavier in a pile crying on the floor. Li Ming was not able to console Xavier, but called for Willis, who was able to comfort the distraught woman. Xavier then explained her secretive campaign to replace Mister Universe as the supreme hacker of the ‘Verse. Xavier made up the difference to repair the Ghost, which left the crew short on funds again, but would get their ship fully operational again.  However repairs would keep them on for two days without access to their ship.

Chan was able to skillfully barter the last of the special gear captured from the monk Li Shen Fung to pay for enough rooms for the crew. William and Cindy returned to the ship late, having struck out looking for work. Chan sprung for drinks that night and while at the bar, a stocky woman wearing an eye patch and from the Dyton colony offered the crew a chance to earn some coin with a simple theft. While Chan and Xavier were interested enough to at least listen, the rest of the crew was strongly against the plan and thus Chan decided to honor their opinion and reject the offer.

Cindy and Marsh ran into an old army buddy of Cindy’s that had a job that would pay two hundred credits. More than a little suspicious of any possible connection to the Neo-Browncoats, Chan insisted on inspecting the cargo first. While Donny Higgins was not pleased to have to talk with the “coward,” Chan spoke so well that he agreed despite her reputation. Higgins did speak with Cindy alone later and Cindy was again asked to join the cause. Higgins managed to keep Cindy from mentioning this little chat and the rattled medic left Higgins with her mind in a whirl.

The ship was ready on 10 Aug 2518 and the cargo, some two hundred tons of frozen meat, was loaded aboard. The Ghost undocked at 1700 for the four day trip to Ezra. Marsh and Willis carefully worked the Ghost’s engines through a break in period, thankful not to have to stress the repairs. This slowed the travel time a bit with the crew arriving at 1400 on 15 Aug 2518. 

The Ghost touched down in a remote area of the harsh planet, all but under control of the notorious gangster Adelai Niskia, the old man’s reputation for brutality being known to Chan, but the location of the drop was not the gangster’s skyplex. However, while Niskia was not involved, it was patently clear that despite their precautions, they had been duped again. The rendezvous was with neo-Browncoats.

The landing point was covered by gun emplacements and openly staged fighters. The cargo however, belonged here and, while furious, Chan could only have Marsh touch down and have the cargo transferred to a smaller Basurero-class freighter. Chan kept her temper in check, but made it clear that Cindy was going to have to stop making contact with ex-Browncoats because too many were now neo-Browncoats and the last thing they needed, especially now that they were free of the Blue Sun influence, was to get tagged as neo-Browncoat supporters by the Alliance.

The neo-Browncoats worked quickly despite the lack of proper load-lifters, but before three fourths of the cargo had been transferred, a piercing siren sounded. Chan grabbed the nearest neo-Browncoat to demand what was going on and got a bone chilling reply. Alliance attack.” 

Chan ordered Marsh to begin the power up sequence, but when she had the crew check in, William, Willis, and Xavier were off ship. William was alone three kilometers north of the ship buying a garden bunk, while the other two were a little closer to the northwest looking at coveralls to replace Xavier’s paint spattered wardrobe. Chan knew they would either be destroyed on the ground at the very worst or identified at the very best if they waited for the others as Marsh got a good sensor scan and knew the Alliance force was only five minutes out.

Chan ordered Li Ming to get to her shuttle to help with the pickup, as Cindy ran to help speed up the Ghost’s start up sequence. Despite being nowhere near as gifted as Willis, Cindy got the ship to respond within three minutes. In that time, the neo-Browncoat PT Boat Hammer and the four Derringer-class fighters lifted to fight the Alliance and all four guns were manned to cover for the slower starting Shellback, the Anvil and Basurero the Questor to get off the ground.

Just as the Ghost was ready to lift, Li Ming reported she was ready as well. Using the distraction provided by the neo-Browncoats resistance as cover, the Ghost lifted and Li Ming detached her shuttle to rescue their fellow crew members.

The initial burst of Alliance fire damaged one Barracuda fighter for two derringers and the Hammer. Marsh roared in fast and low and Williams succeeded in an insane leap to reach the cargo ramp. As he scrambled to get inside, Chan hit the control causing the ramp to close resulting in Williams sliding in unceremoniously into the cargo bay. Li Ming flew brilliantly and all but scooped up Xavier and Willis in one pass.

The neo-Browncoat pilots proved to be extremely good and the Barracudas found themselves in trouble. As did the Mandrake, two Barracudas attacked the cannons destroying one, but taking damage to both fighters, Marsh and Li Ming roared away at top speed as the Shellback began launching fighters. Deciding to stay low and use ground clutter to avoid being identified, as soon as Chan reached the bridge, she took over piloting from the co-pilot’s position to allow Marsh to concentrate on spoofing any Alliance trying to ID them.

Chan pushed her piloting skills to the limit, but successfully kept the Ghost low and out of the dirt long enough to evade battle area. Marsh matched Chan’s success and jammed the Alliance’s attempts to figure out who was fleeing, but failed miserably. The crew escaped with only the half of the coin they received up front, but did flee with sixty tons of frozen meat that they could sell at their next port of call. Li Ming had an easier time with the smaller shuttle and Xavier easily jammed the one Alliance attempt to scan them. Li Ming rendezvoused while the Ghost was till atmosphere and as soon as they broke atmo, Chan ordered hard burn to clear the area.