Beaumonde Interlude and Second Deal

Short Summary: Dolby from Aces & Eights returns to attack Saxon looking for Preston's deck of cards. The crew deciphers the secret and travels to Aphrodite.

Introduction

While Sata, Howard, Jackson and Lang Ye are away on Aberdeen, the Yellow Submarine is undergoing maintenance in the Blackbird Yards on Beaumonde. Lennon and Wilks are there to keep an eye on things, but a ship in a repair bay doesn't have much to worry about, so it's more of a vacation.

Romance for Two

Dr. Liz Hammerstein from Zephyr is along for a little vacation with Lennon. She accompanied Lennon on his clinic tours and in the evenings they hit the night life of New Dunsmuir. After a couple evenings of coy flirting, Liz decided she needed to drop the subtlety and make the first move and they became lovers. The next couple days were something of a working honeymoon; days at Lennon's clinics, nights together. Then Lennon got word of the workers' revolt on Aberdeen and that all contact had been lost. Crushed by the possible loss of some of his closest friends, Lennon waited for word, supported by Liz's concern. But the missing crew did return, a little worse for the experience, but alive. Lennon insisted on making sure Howard and Jackson had gotten good medical treatment before releasing them. Jackson was equally concerned that the ship had gotten good treatment while he was away and began a thorough inspection of the maintenance work.

Assault

Meanwhile, across the 'Verse on Gonghe in White Sun, Saxon is living it up with his woman of the moment, returning to his suite at his hotel. A voice, vaguely familiar, calls his name and he ignores it, being a little tipsy and already having company for the evening. He doesn't see the door open beside him or the man inside with a sonic rifle. His first rushed shot misses and knocks Saxon's date against the wall and drops her unconscious to the floor. His second shot hits Saxon, but does not drop him. Without his pistol, Saxon draws his extendible sword and slams it into his assailant, releasing the blade and impaling him. Before Saxon can finish him, he is tasered from behind and passes out.

When Saxon wakes up, he is handcuffed to the furniture and the man with the familiar voice is searching his pockets and asking him for "the cards". Saxon tries make a deal to gamble for the answer, but the man ends up leaving as police are on the way. Saxon and his date are hospitalized, questioned and released. Sober and relaxed, Saxon realizes the man in the hotel was Dolby, who killed the gambler Preston on the casino ship Golden Voyage. Saxon buys a new sword, rather than waiting for his to clear evidence examination and contacts the Yellow Submarine. He speaks to Wilks, finds out the ship is on Beaumonde and catches a passenger liner out that day. Saxon arrives on Beaumonde after Lennon has received word that Sata and the rest are safe, but before they arrive.

Departure

So our crew are reunited and decide to look for work. Sata picks up a cargo bound for Meridian in Blue Sun. The ship leaves Beaumonde, and pauses on Zephyr to drop off Liz. Lennon is gone saying goodbye at her home for longer than expected…Once the ship is under way, the crew turns to other pursuits. Lennon contacts Admiral Sharpe about the location of the remnants of the 15th Nightstalkers and asks the admiral to pass on a message that he has something he wants to "return" to them. Lang occupies himself decrypting the memory unit from Mr. Streen's laptop and Saxon finds Dolby's cards and examines them. Unable to find anything, he turns them over to Lennon, saying "examine these as if they were a patient."

Lennon does find that the cards corresponding to the 1188th's symbol on the deck, black aces and black eights, have a radio opaque sheet in them which appears to be the lines of a topographic map with an "x". Lang also has success, finding some interesting material in the corporate communications recorded in the memory unit.

Putting it Together

Lennon presents his findings to everyone at dinner and they begin to pull the pieces together. Dolby is an ex-Alliance intelligence officer who works now for one of the shady security firms paid to police the rim worlds. He and his boss were on the Golden Voyage. The 1188th was a logistics unit on Aphrodite during the war, wiped out almost to the last man by the Browncoats. Preston was one of a handful of survivors. A secret map with an "x" cries out "buried treasure". Lang is able to match it an area called Perseus Ridge on Aphrodite.

Unfortunately, the ship is on it's way to Blue Sun with a cargo. Sata decides to stop at the Long Night Skyplex and hire someone to take the cargo the rest of the way. Saxon wants to see if he can get a set of cards made to replace Preston's deck with the same design. Coming in to Long Night, the ship is hailed and stopped by an Alliance patrol ship, the IAV Peregrine, commanded by Sata's friend Commander Hwan Fei. The alliance boarding party gives the ship a very cursory examination and Fei takes Sata aside for a private chat. He received orders to be on the watch for an Osprey class ship heading to Blue Sun. No ship name or details or reason to stop the ship, just look for Ospreys. Fei confides in Sata that that kind of order seems to come from somebody pulling strings, not a legitimate reason. He says he's going to have to write up a contact report and send it in, and if someone is looking for a particular ship, but doesn't want to say which one, the contact reports will give that information. Fei cautions Sata to watch his back in Blue Sun, especially in Reaver territory, and asks Sata to bring him some whiskey from New Canaan if possible. Sata gives him a bottle of Zilan Wine instead and doesn't tell Fei his plans to reverse course after stopping at Long Night.

Subterfuge

The Yellow Submarine continues on to Long Night, trades the cargo off to someone else and picks up a new one for Boros. Saxon gets his fake cards made, but realizes they are shiny and new, Preston's are at least seven years old. The crew takes turns shuffling and playing with them on the journey to Boros. Sata detects an odd transmission coming from the ship and they realize the ship may have been bugged with a homing beacon. Running the sensor logs back, the signal shows up every 24 hours. Sata and Jackson search the exterior of the ship, but can't find anything. After dropping the cargo on Boros, Sata spreads word that they are headed to Kalidasa and the ship takes off empty, planning to take a departure path to Kalidasa, but turn for Aphrodite later. They wait for the beacon to transmit and track it down to a device in rear port landing gear well. Jackson suits up, locates and removes the device. The ship returns to Boros after claiming some mechanical difficulty, and ships the beacon by mail to one of Lennon's contacts. Hopefully having dodged surveillance, they take off again on a course for Kalidasa, fly a day's travel out of the system, then double back to Aphrodite.

Alliance Issue Treasure

The Yellow Submarine and her crew land on Aphrodite near the "x" an the map. Wilks heads up hill with his railgun to keep watch, Howard, Jackson and Lang remain on the ship. Sata orders Sweet Loretta brought out and when Jackson asks if they should rig up the cannon again, Sata says yes. Lennon drives the gun truck with Sata and Saxon on board. They find some very old, mostly filled in tire ruts which lead to an almost completely buried vehicle entrance door. They find and activate the entrance control and the door retracts upwards, allowing its covering load of dirt to spill inside. The mini avalanche of soil and rocks triggers a boobytrap anti-personnel mine just inside, but no one is harmed. Lennon pulls Sweet Loretta around to shine the headlights inside and they see a number of crates and three military trucks in a large concrete garage. Checking the labels reveal some medical supplies, a lot of military rations, rifle ammunition, grenades and some pistols. Saxon helps himself to a grenade. A side door leads to an office with another tripwire rigged mine, and a desk with an old Alliance armed forces computer and some paperwork.

The crew gets to work. Sata has Jackson fly the shuttle up so they can load cargo onto it directly, Jackson suggests just driving the loaded trucks away instead of taking it off the trucks to load in the shuttle. During loading, Howard calls out there's a shuttle approaching, it launches a small missile at the Yellow Submarine before heading towards the cache.

Confrontation

The shuttle approaches them with troops in the open hatches. On his hilltop, Wilks snipes one of them as the shuttle approaches, the soldier falls from the craft. As the shuttle lands, Lennon heaves a grenade and then takes cover. Sata jumps to the gun on Sweet Loretta and fires a short burst, killing one of the attackers as they disembark, then he also takes cover. Saxon heads around to one side, keeping out of sight to approach the shuttle. The soldiers, who are wearing unknown, non-Alliance fatigues, lay down suppressive fire on Lennon and Sata. The soldiers advance, one of them is Dolby. Sata kills one with a burst of submachinegun fire, then Dolby shoots Sata with his assault rifle and the captain goes down. Saxon sneaks around and boards the shuttle. He leaves the grenade on the flight console and steps outside with sword and gun in hand. Wilks snipes the last trooper, leaving Dolby alone. The grenade explodes inside the shuttle and Dolby turns to see Saxon behind him. Saxon shoots Dolby, then charges with his sword. Saxon runs Dolby through.

Lennon is tending to Sata as Saxon finishes Dolby. The crew regroups and gets Sata back to the Yellow Submarine for more care. They finish emptying the cache, trucks included, and strip the soldiers and their shuttle of any useful equipment. In Dolby's equipment is a tracking device, that leads them to find the second homing beacon installed on the crew's shuttle. The crew departs Aphrodite, the Yellow Submarine needs some repair work to fix the missile hit, but she's still flying. Sata needs some work too, but that will be no problem either.