Our Cast of Players:
- Alexei Makarov (Ian): Human Expert – Technician/Adventurer, level 1.
- Christian (Craig): Human Psychic – Adventurer/Psychic Researcher, level 1.
- Hilton “Hiltie” Jones (Max): Human Expert – Biotech Crew/Pilot, level 1.
- Jonah Priest (Alan): Human Warrior – Security Crew/Ground Forces, level 1.
- Lazarus Morgenstern (Dave): Human Expert – Noble/Adventurer, level 1.
- Munroe (Ricky): Human Warrior – Soldier/Merc, level 1.
It is with a sense of relief that you accelerate away from the asteroid and Ranse plots a course back to Brightside Station. Hiltie assesses the wounded and is relieved to find that Munroe’s and Lazarus’ injuries are not as serious as he thought. He is confident that with a couple of days’ rest they will both make full recoveries and, after all, there is not much else to do aboard The Leadbelly. Priest, though, he is much more concerned about. Assuming he even makes it back to the station he will need hospitalisation, including surgery to remove the bullet fired into him by the Chittik using Lazarus’ revolver.
Attention now turns to the attaché cases containing the packets of white powder. You are convinced it is a narcotic of some sort and try to analyse it with the medi-scanner, but all that tells you is that it is not an organic compound. You consider a couple of possibilities, the stimulant vrax (a contraction of vraxoin, also known on the streets as zip) or the geriatric spectrox. A simple test rules out the likelihood of vrax as this is not soluble in water whereas the powder you have found is. This leaves the astonishing possibility of it being spectrox and, if it were refined spectrox, the street value of the quantity you have here would be enough to buy a small planet on the outer rim.
Once the excitement has died down, consideration now turns to what to do with the powder when you arrive back at Brightside. You talk to Ranse over the shuttle’s PA and bluntly ask him if there are any hidden compartments aboard that he uses for smuggling contraband. He is deeply offended and crossly cuts the mike off immediately. You do not hear from him at all for the rest of the journey.
You eventually decide to conceal one packet inside the body of the decomposing Chittik which, incidentally, is now stinking out the drone retrieval bay and, as well as making you all feel sick, is doing little to help with hygiene and the recovery of your injured. A second packet Hiltie rather more prosaically stuffs under the tools in his toolbox.
On arrival at Brightside, Dr Andrani is once again waiting with a trolley and one of her nurses, and she takes Priest away to the infirmary. You see Ranse disembark from the front cargo hatch, almost buried in the lead shielding, and he pointedly ignores you as he makes his way straight to the lifts and out of sight.
You decide to play it straight with the security guard at what passes for custom’s control on Brightside Station and ask him if he will permit you to bring on board the stinking Chittik body and the alien stun batons. He gives you an “are you joking?” look but stays good natured. Apart from the alien artifacts you hope to sell, you openly check in all the weapons and other gear, including the attaché cases, remembering that your previous experience was they had virtually no interest in items you weren’t intending to bring on board. This remains to be the case and after a quick pat down for concealed weapons, he is happy. Crucially he does not search Hiltie’s toolbox.
As he makes arrangements over a pocket phone with Roland Lomax for the Chittik’s body to be put into cold storage, he asks you nonchalantly, “is the same going to happen to this one as happened to the other one?” There is a moment’s silence as you all look at each other in confusion and then ask the guard what he is talking about.
Rather than try to explain, he leads you to the secure storage area. Sure enough, there is the mineral encrusted crystal sarcophagus just as you left it, strapped up. Lazarus approaches and peers through the encrustations and instead of a body inside there is a layer of soil. He checks the straps – they have not been cut in any way – but the seal of the casket has been broken. He turns to the rest of you and shrugs, “she’s gone”.
With no apparent explanation forthcoming as to what has happened here, you decide to leave any investigation for later and seek out Marius Rochambeau, with a view to selling on some of the items you have brought back from the tomb. You find him easily enough, he is in his stateroom once more, and show him what you have found. He explains that the odd white disks are radiation sinks, and serve to protect the wearer from exposure to low to moderate levels of radiation. They gradually turn black as their protective capacity is used up. The crystals he calls everlights. Christian asks if there is any way to deactivate them once illuminated and Marius replies in the negative. He has had one that was illuminated for nearly two years and it only stopped working when he accidentally dropped it and it shattered.
Remember your last visit, you turn down his offer of coffee and get straight to negotiating a price with him for the items you want to sell. He makes you an offer totalling Cr2,200 on the 10 decorative serving trays, two of the radiation sinks, an Ushan cutting torch, the non-illuminated crystal, the rank jewellery from the Chittik, and the three Chittik stun batons (conditional on him examining them himself). Christian keeps the illuminated crystal and Lazarus retains one of the radiation sinks.
You part company with Marius cordially and with thanks and, with some fresh cash burning a hole in your collective jumpsuit pockets, head straight to The Locker to buy a survey scanner, an item you’ve had your eyes on for quite some time.
To be continued…