Having “run like a bitch” from Persephone, the crew takes Icarus out Into The Black. After some (!!!) deliberation, they decide that they’ll travel to Bernadette, in the Core Worlds, so that Kai can sneak into a high-tech hospital using her Doctor’s credentials, and do a total DNA scan on the bio-data storage being carried in the cat. They start on the long haul to the Core (2 weeks away).
During the journey, the Captain notices that Kai is keeping to herself…staying in her quarters, not eating with the crew, etc. He asks her about it, and gets some decidedly odd responses as a result. Y’see, unbeknownst to the crew, Doctor Kai has a little problem. She’s somewhat Leaky in the Brain-pan….and that endearing quality is kept at bay by a daily regimen of a drug called Mimezine. The problem? She only has a week’s supply, so she’s been taking half-doses on the way to Bernadette.
A bit over a week into the trip, Aida picks up an automated distress signal:
“Firefly-class Medical vessel Persephone Belle, in need of assistance. We’ve cracked our Primary Stabilizer, and are in need of assistance…repeat…”
The crew decides to help because a) it’s the law of the spacelanes to render assistance when able….and b) the med-ship might have the drugs and scan equipment they need (…sure, they’re heroes…but they’re practical heroes).
Willem contacts the Persephone Belle as they get within comms range. The Captain of the Belle informs him that they were attacked by pirates, and managed to drive them off, but not before losing their Primary Stabilizer. They’re dead in space, and could really use the part. However, they’ve been transporting viral samples from the Rim to a research hospital in the Core, and during the battle, the viruses were exposed, so he’s dealing with a Level 3 Bio-hazard on his ship. Given that, he’s sure that the Icarus crew doesn’t need to come aboard and risk contamination, so he suggests that they do the exchange out In The Black.
This, naturally, sends up red flags for Willem and the rest of the crew. (“They’re little worms, dangling on hooks,” the addle-brained Doctor suggests, helpfully.)
After much sussing out of strategy (during which time, a fed-up Doctor Kai decides that she’s going to “walk over” to the other ship….and is stopped by the crew), Willem asks the Persephone Belle if they have the sort of DNA scanner he’s looking for, as well as a list of drugs (provided to him by Kai). The Captain of the Belle says that they don’t have a specialized bit of equipment like that, but they do have the drugs (including Mimezine). The two ships decide to bring their respective packages out via Shuttles, meet in the middle, hand them over during a space walk, and then fly back to their ships.
The exchange goes off without a hitch, much to the surprise of the crew of the Icarus. The Persephone Belle thanks them for the much-needed replacement Stabilizer, and the Icarus continues on it’s way.
Kai immediately takes some Mimezine (from her now 90-day supply), and feels much better.
Or, rather, she does until she’s putting away the drugs in the Infirmary, and notices a note hastily scribbled on one of the drug boxes:
She immediately tells Willem. The Icarus pulls a 180, and roars at full-burn back in the direction of the Persephone Belle.
They contact the Belle, telling them that “their consciences got the better of them”, and that they’re coming back to render as much assistance as possible. They offer to hold any sensitve cargo for the Belle, while the medship vents its atmosphere into space, thereby solving the level 3 biohazard problem. The Captain of the Belle seems flustered….but then agrees to hook up with the Icarus, bay to bay, and bring over some of the cargo that they want to protect.
Willem, Gideon and Leda gleefully prepare for an ambush, “just in case.”
The two Fireflies float nose-to-nose, and extend an airlock passageway between their two cargo bays. Aida notices that scans indicate that the Persephone Belle has completed repairs, because they’re showing a full power curve.
Before opening the cargo door, Jules warns the three men coming over that the crew of the Icarus is armed…because “we’re being careful, ‘cuz we don’t know you.” The captain of the Belle replies that they are as well, for the same reason. Jules opens the door, and three men come aboard, all in Vac Suits. The Captain, armed with a pistol, and two men with shoulder-slung rifles, pulling a large sealed storage container.
“We done?” says the Captain.
“Almost.” says Willem. “Tell me, how does it feel to be a Slaver?” He whips his two pistols out from behind his back.
Gideon, from her perch on the catwalk, notices one of the other guys switches off the safety on his rifle…that’s all the sign she needs to open fire. A neat hole opens up in the front of his vac suit helmet, and he slumps to the deck, dead. Jules runs for cover, as Willem opens up on the Captain of the Persephone Belle, killing him instantly.
Leda decides that they need a prisoner to interrogate, and shoots the remaining man in the thigh with a crossbow. He falls to the deck, still very much alive.
At least until Gideon notices that he’s trying to go for his gun, and ventilates him from the catwalk. So much for questions.
On the bridge, Aida, looking out the front windows at the pilot of the other ship sitting on his bridge, notices the pilot receive some kind of communication, and start flipping switches quick-fast-and-in-a-hurry. She decides to ask for situation status over the intercom….and suddenly the other ship pulls away, tearing off the extended walkway, and exposing the cargo bay of the Icarus to open space.
All hell breaks loose as the atmosphere in the ship starts howling out into the black, pulling everything with it. Debris, bodies, small bits of personal gear, etc., all fly out into the cold darkness that gapes beyond the open cargo doors. Gideon barely manages to grab onto the catwalk and hangs there suspended in the raging winds. Leda loses her grip, and goes flying towards the open doors, only to grab on to the heavy storage container brought aboard by the slavers….which starts to inch towards the open doors.
Willem throws himself into the air, and allows himself to be carried towards the doors, but grabs on to the cargo door controls (the big red button attached to the steel cable), and activate the closing sequence. Jules trips up and nearly gets sucked into space, but Willem grabs her foot at the last second with his free hand, and they manage to get her inside before the doors close. Atmosphere begins to fill the cargo bay again, and the crew counts their blessings.
The Icarus sets off in pursuit of the slavers….who Aida notices have now “gone dark”…no electronic transmissions of any kind. However, she also notices that Icarus now appears to be sending out electronic signatures identical to the slaver ship. She alerts the crew in the cargo bay. There’s some kind of transmitter in the storage bin.
They open the bin and discover, sure enough, a cobbled-together transmitter, mimicing the electronic signature of the slaver, and….an unconscious man.
Jules turns off the transmitter, while Kai revives the man….who turns out to be Renner (the livejournal-less Sean Rao), a mercenary who was shanghai’d by the slavers. The last thing he remembers is some guys he was playing pool with in a bar on Beaumonde buying him drinks. It’s an old story…they obviously saw him as a good choice for slave trade, but were concerned about him causing trouble, so they knocked him out for the duration of the trip.
Jules susses out what’s happened. The slavers figured they’d put this aboard the Icarus, and then report to the Alliance that there are slavers in the area….and when the Alliance stopped the Icarus, they’d find the ship carrying a slave.
Renner says that he wants his gear back (which is back on Persephone Belle) and he wants to pay back the slavers. He asks for a weapon. Willem tells him that he’s not sure he trusts him with a gun. Renner says that he’s always loyal to an employer….so Willem hires him.
Icarus catches up to the slavers, thanks to a combination of Aida’s frightening level of piloting ability, and the fact that Icarus has a hot throttle, running much faster than a standard Firefly. The crew comes up with a plan.
Jules rigs the mis-matched shuttle they’re carrying with a remote control system, and, flying it from the secondary station on the bridge, uses it as a guided missle, hoping to destroy one of the other Firefly‘s engine pods, and stop the ship so they can board it.
Unfortunately, at the moment before impact, the pilot of the Persephone Belle zigs when he should zag, and flies into the path of the shuttle. The shuttle slams into the rear “bulb” of the ship, tearing a huge gash in the hull on the starboard side, before continuing to slam into the starboard engine pod, disintegrating it. A huge gout of plasma pours from the crippled ship, as it begins to tumble nose-over-tail. Aida desperately tries to avoid collision, but the two ships slam into each other, the port engine pod of the Persephone Belle slamming into the belly of the Icarus.
The good news is that the slaver ship no longer has operational engines. The bad news? Icarus overloads its power coupling, and cannot change speed or manueuver. Sparks fly from consoles, etc.
It takes Jules an hour and 15 minutes to fix the problem.
They head back to the Persephone Belle, which is still adrift and venting plasma….and now is broadcasting a signal that claim that they’re under attack. Jules rigs the transmitter the slavers brought aboard the ship, to jam the slaver’s signal.
Willem, Gideon, Leda, Jules and Renner get suited up in vac suits, as Aida matches speed, pitch and yaw with the drifting Persephone Belle. Renner cracks the code on the slaver’s dorsal airlock, and the 5 crewmembers board the crippled slave ship.
As the boarders deal with the remaining slavers on board (and Willem accidentally kills the man who sent the Icarus the note asking for their help….Oops), Aida notices a ship approaching….running with no reactor containment.
She warns the others, who hustle the 20-odd slaves into the two shuttles on board the Belle. Leda and Jules fly one back to the now-empty shuttle birth once home to the mis-matched shuttle-turned-missle, and Renner, with Willem and Gideon in tow, flies the other shuttle into the decompressed cargo bay of the Icarus (where Kai waited, in a vac suit, to open the door and close it behind them).
With no time to spare, the Icarus engages it’s pulse drive, getting the Fuck Outta Dodge before things get really bad.
They head off into the black with a ship full of rescued slaves, wondering how in the hell Reavers got in so close to the Core Worlds.