Locke Out

Summary
4/12/2518

Fallen Comrades and New Faces
The Britannia arrives on New Melbourne with wounded crew and a dead pilot.

Cid Garland was killed in the battle at the pirate base Johanson's Rock and Silas is severely wounded. Crew members from a mysterious warship who aided the injured and helped them get to port, disembark to return to their own people.

Captain David Windsor calls Cid's family on Boros to give them the bad news and make arrangements for the funeral. He also calls their former shipmate Ronnie Fullmer and his daughter Sarah. Windsor gathers the crew and passes out Cid's belongings according to the will Cid made after her was previously seriously wounded. The rest of his personal effects are bundled up for delivery to his family. With a vacant crew bunk open, Junior moves into Cid's old quarters. The captain gets a cargo bound for Liann Jiun in White Sun and plans to locate a job there to take them on to Boros. The trip is quiet and uneventful as the crew adjusts their routine to Cid's absence. With their primary pilot gone, Windsor spends more time on the bridge with Naomi who is splitting her time between back up pilot duties and engineering. The captain also pitches in with more of the shipboard work.

On Liann Jiun, Naomi applies for her transport pilot certification, but fails the test. She is allowed to retest in four months. Ruan realizes that she failed from a distance and meets her at the gangway with a hug and an expensive bottle gifted to the crew by Cid. Despite his attempts to mope he cannot help it and continues to raise morale anyway.

At the port, a well dressed Asian man approaches the captain about a job, his name is Long Zi Tai. He explains he is looking to travel and work as well. The captain is interested, but wants the crew to meet him first (and mainly for Ruan to read him). Tai agrees and offers to buy everyone lunch. Windsor agrees and Tai says he will be back to pick everyone up for lunch. Ruan already read him during his initial meeting with Windsor and knows he is a member of a wealthy tong family on Persephone and he is travelling to get away from enemies. Tai also is the cousin of Fei Zhan, the Tong that Niska payed Ruan to publicly execute in his own restaurant. Ruan is fairly certain he won't be recognized.

Tai shows up with a hover limo and takes the crew to a private room at an upscale restaurant in the city. Ruan gives him the low down on who Tai really is during the ride over. Windsor says its obvious Tai doesn't need to work for money and he agrees, but he wants to travel. Windsor agrees to accept him as a probationary crew member and signs him on. He can bunk in one of the passenger cabins, his first job is to find a cargo bound for Boros. Tai moves aboard and locates a shipment headed to their destination, the next morning the ship is loaded and they leave for Boros.

While en route, Ruan approaches the captain and says he is thinking about leaving the ship too, he doesn't think he can be a medic anymore; he's not very good at it and he lost Cid. Windsor tries to console Ruan with the fact that Cid was seriously wounded and then exposed to vacuum, not to mention that Ruan was also wounded at the time. Anyone would have had a hard time saving him. Mostly Ruan is still bothered by the experience of reading Cid as he died. This was an Academy programmed skill set (killing and confirming) that he has used many times, but as a medic working on a friend; it was painful and he's not sure he go through it again. None of the crew had to experience that and it makes him feel lonely.

Still traveling, Ruan is contacted by Citizen Wraith, a hacker friend of Naomi's. Ever since their encounter on Persephone Ruan has been secretly paying him to look for Locke. Though Ruan had previously thought Locke to have been part of the Academy hunting him in order to take him back after his escape, he now knows this is wrong. After reading him, Ruan has come to realize that Locke was more like a partner and another victim of the organization, but more than that, as his Operator, Locke has answers to questions that Ruan has about himself. In addition, Ruan knows his own escape left Locke in a terrible position within the Academy and his survivor's guilt is real. Since then Ruan has stopped running from Locke and started looking for him. He wants to find Locke, get his questions answered, and if he can, put Locke in the same position he is now in. Ruan wants to set Locke free.

He has not had any luck finding Locke, but Citizen Wraith had an idea and asks Ruan for the ship's name and ID code. Ruan gives it to him. Ronnie calls the captain before they arrive also and lets him know that Campbell has offered for them to have the wake at their jazz club and Ronnie will be covering the cost.

They arrive at Hile Docks outside Nanchou and are met by Cid's father and brother. They deliver Cid to them for funeral arrangements and hand over his personal effects. Mr. Garland tells them the have rented a bus and will pick the crew up in the morning for the funeral. They take care of offloading cargo and such and Tai begins looking for a new job. The next morning the crew goes to the funeral with Cid's family. At the cemetery, Ronnie and Sarah are waiting and Sarah runs up to give Ruan a hug. Ruan is happy to see her, but like everyone there, is saddened by the circumstances. Ruan spends some time with Ronnie and Campbell, hoping that talking to fellow former assassins will give him the feeling of connectedness he's been craving. It doesn't.

The mourners include family friends, workers from the Garland Yards, and a few former Independents like Captain Chapman and Middleton Sears. After the funeral, there is a short break, then the go to Campbell's club, which is closed for the evening. During the wake, a last minute floral arrangement arrives, it's signed "Adelai and Magda", it appears Niska is still keeping track of them.

After the wake, the crew returns to the ship and the next day they lift for Beaumonde.

Secret Mail
The crew lands on Beaumonde, begins offloading cargo and heads out. Windsor and Tai try to get cargo, but can only come up with small jobs. Junior takes the cargo truck and goes to talk to contacts to look for illicit jobs. Silas remains on the ship and thinks he hears something. He investigates and it seems like something is moving in the crew quarters hall, but no one is there. Is Cid's ghost haunting the ship? He puts it aside and returns to his distilling work.

When the crew returns, Ruan goes to his quarters and finds a envelope on the bed with his name in quotes. Opening it, its a card from Locke telling him to come meet him in town at a cafe at 4pm. It also says: "PS, there's a bomb in the ship." Ruan can't detect Locke anywhere in the area, but decides to take the bomb threat seriously. He cautiously takes each crew member into his confidence regarding the bomb threat, calling Junior first and asking him to come very very quickly. With Junior on his way, Ruan asks Silas to look for things on the ship that might be a bomb. He finds Naomi next and then finally the Captain.

Junior shows up with the cargo truck loaded with cargo for a job going to Paquin. He doesn't know what it is and he didn't ask. Naomi decides to check the airlock sensors and the security system and discovers it was hacked. Someone entered the ship while they were out, and again a couple of months ago when the ship was in drydock! They check the security cameras and see that on the recent intrusion the visitor went to Ruan's quarters and the maintenance crawl way under the quarters, but while in dry dock he just walked around the lounge, crew quarters and bridge. With that information, Windsor searches the access way and finds a metal box glued to the inside of the hull below Ruan's quarters. He backs out and let's Junior into investigate. Junior opens the box to find and improvised bomb consisting of a grenade wired to a comlink and some mini-rockets duct taped to the grenade. There's no timer, no anti-tamper, its very crude.

While Junior and Naomi debate disarming it, Ruan packs his bags and tells Windsor he's leaving and there's a good chance he can't come back. He also suggests that they leave the bomb alone, abandon the ship, stay out of harms way, and wait for Ruan to talk Locke into disarming it since he put it there. They argue and eventually decide to disarm the bomb, then the crew will shadow Ruan. Ruan explains that Locke will know if he has a tail. The crew agrees to let Ruan go and attempts to convincingly say goodbye forever.

Windsor wants to take a shuttle and Naomi finally comes clean about all the upgrades she made to Shuttle 2. Ruan arrives at the cafe and takes a seat to wait for Locke. When he becomes aware that Locke is approaching, Ruan stands up to shake his hand and introduces himself as "Ruan Weir". Locke is amused, but complies. When they sit down he begins questioning Ruan about why he left and what he had been doing since. Locke mentions he has heard the Academy has been "culled" and there's no one left but them. Ruan finds this upsetting. It's lonely being the only reader on the ship and it feels even lonelier knowing there are even less out there. It cements his resolve that Locke needs to remain alive and free. Locke knows the rest of the crew is shadowing them; he finds it interesting that Ruan has made friends who care about him to this extent.

While they are talking, an Alliance shuttle lands at the parking facility down the street. Two men in suits and blue gloves get out and approach. Locke sees them and tells Ruan to run and hide; that if Ruan is detected the Academy will realize he's alive and start looking for him again. Locke, in order to protect Ruan, goes out to face them. Ruan is torn between trying to pull Locke with him to hide, and his own desire to use Locke's cover and remain free. He tries until the very last minute; when he turns and runs out of the Cafe's back door it feels terrible.

One of the Hands hits Locke with a taser like device knocking him unconscious and they pick him up. Ruan runs outside, leaving his bag behind in the cafe and opens fire with Cid's Hades pistol wounding one. The Hands retreat to their shuttle, firing laser pistols at Ruan. Junior drives up on Naomi's motorcycle and snatches Ruan, then takes off. Windsor swoops in with Shuttle 2 and Junior, with Ruan as his passenger drives into the airlock. Once in the shuttle Ruan panics. He doesn't care about his things, but his journal is in there and it is VERY detailed as to who he is and what he knows. This alone is enough to make him a fugitive forever if it is found. Once the Alliance shuttle is clear, they circle back and land on a back street and Ruan rushes into the cafe and snags his bag and they head back to the ship.

With everyone aboard, they lay low and watch the Alliance shuttle fly to the port and land in the military section of the port. They return to the Britannia to try to decide what to do. Ruan tries to convince the crew to help him rescue Locke and they talk about Ruan's psychic abilities in front of Tai who is very confused. While they debate, the port issues a traffic warning, all departures and arrivals are delayed. Naomi goes back into Shuttle 2 and uses its sensors to track a small Caswell class courier lift off from the military section of the port. As soon as the take off ban is lifted, they take off in pursuit.

Deep Space Rescue
With the transponder data Naomi got as the courier lifted off, they take off in pursuit. Once the courier clears orbit, it goes into pulse drive bound for White Sun. Unfortunately, it is faster than the Britannia and they are forced to go in pursuit under hard burn, but they can't catch up. They decide to wait until they are out of the system, then overload the engines to close the distance and fire their railgun. They've got two shots left for it, so they will have to make them count. Outside of the Kalidasa system, Silas and Naomi red-line the engines and close in on the courier. Naomi opens the cargo bay and calculates the shot. When they close the distance, she fires and its a hit! But the Britannia's power system overloads and the ship loses power.

The courier's pulse drive is damaged, but she still has thrusters and comes around towards the drifting Firefly. A quick effort by Windsor, Silas and Naomi gets the ship rebooted and as the courier approaches, Naomi fires again. The round hits the courier on her bow. She pitches off course and begins to drift. Windsor, Silas, Junior and Ruan board shuttle 2 and go across to the courier.

They board through her bridge airlock and find one of the Hands of Blue dead in the pilot's chair. He appears to have burned to death from the inside. Moving further aft, they are attacked by another in a spacesuit and shoot him. They take the laser pistols and some small gadgets, then the second agent bursts into flame as well. Ruan leads them to Locke, who is bound and sedated in the cargo bay. They search the ship as they go and find data chips which they take. Ruan begs the captain one last time to allow him to save Locke's life. The Captain has some strict rules and insists that Locke be in restraints and under guard the entire time he is aboard. Ruan agrees; he would have done anything the Captain asked at this point. He knows he is doing the right thing.

They put Locke into a spare suit from the courier's locker and return to the shuttle. Silas rigs the ship's reactor to overload and they fly off before the ship explodes.

Back on the Britannia, they set course for Paquin where they plan on dropping Locke when they deliver Junior's cargo.

Locke is placed, handcuffed and still unconscious in one of the passenger quarters with Silas guarding him. Ruan sees to his injuries and finds that being a medic is still hard. When Locke regains consciousness, Ruan explains to Locke what's happened and what he's done; that Locke is now free - at least he will be as soon as they land. (And that perhaps Locke would be freer sooner if he hadn't gone sneaking around the ship and planting bombs. Not shiny. Not shiny at all.) Ruan also gets his much needed moment of community and familiarity so even though things are tense, it is a relief to again be with someone who shares his abilities and experience, especially Locke who also shares his programming.

Locke asks Ruan if he found the data chips on the ship. Ruan explains that he has and plans on paying a hacker to decrypt them. Locke offers up a simpler option: the password. Locke tells Ruan that these are all his private personnel files from the Academy. They contain his real name and identity as well as his training and mission records and the password to unlock them is "snow globe". Ruan is confused since he didn't start collecting snow globes as souvenirs until he lived on Gonghe.

Locke then asks about the snow globe collection in the lounge. Ruan replies that he likes them so he collects them. Locke laughs and tells him as an Agent, his unique programmed "primary safe object" used to shut him down at mission completion was a snow globe that Locke would send him to find.

Ruan, excuses himself, pushes past Silas, goes back upstairs to the lounge, whips out his pistol and shoots every snow globe on the ship…

This is the end of the third "season" of "Lost Sheep". More to come!

Silly Quotes and Smart Remarks
Discussing DragonCon
Emily "We drank, we wore costumes, it was a successful DragonCon"

Snacking before the game
Emily "Coffee and Fritos are bad"

Emily hates rolling d4s, so she found a d8 that's 1-4 twice and a d12 that is Roman numerals 1-4 three times
Emily "This die goes to IV"

Discussing bad character complications
Raleigh "Crohn's Disease"
Lee "Irritable Bowel Syndrome"

Discussing if Cid's body needed to be embalmed before the trip home
Emily "Don't we have some kind of Future Space Magic bag?"
Lee "We have space…"

Cid's last thoughts
Lee "Clear my browser history"

Michael's new character is meeting the crew and the ship's dachshund, Emily rolls that the dog does not like him
Raleigh "He does not please the wiener"

Looking for cargo, mentioning bobble headed geisha dolls and black market beagles
Jim "Black market bobble headed beagle dolls?"

Emily discussing Ruan leaving the crew
Raleigh "We'll have a psychic assassin gap"
Emily "That's not something you can interview for"

Emily decided to roll for Ruan to be mopey and Jim pointed out his Sweet and Cheerful Asset would be a penalty to mope. Emily botched with two 1's.

Captain Windsor's eulogy
Lee "Nobody could use the three switches like Cid"

Ronnie is a retired assassin, Ruan is a psychic assassin and Campbell is also a retired assassin
Lee "How many assassins are at this wake?!"

Lee "Cids's ghost is going to show up and say 'Go to the Dagobah system'"

Talking about Feds
Jim "Damn Purple Bellies"
Lee "That's what Cid would have said"

Finding the bomb on the ship
Kevin "Do we have a bomb removing robot?"
Raleigh "We have a <robot> parrot"
Emily "You can clearly not choose the bomb in front of you"

The bomb is made with an Alliance issue grenade
Matt "Alliance! I'm prejudiced against the grenade"

Raleigh "Does whoever set us up the bomb know Tai is onboard?"

Raleigh "For just a dollar a day, you can adopt a Mudder child"

Captain Windsor is flying the shuttle in to pick up Ruan and Junior
Lee "I don't have time to land on a fence"

Discussing Ruan's Reader ability
Michael "So when you say read, you mean…
Matt "Books"
Lee "Books"

Michael "You can read minds?"
Lee "Read mimes. Ruan is very good at understanding mimes"

Ruan is trying to convince the rest of the crew that Locke is also a victim
Emily "He's just like me"
Raleigh "I would not kiss Locke"