Seek The Seeker

(Inspired by Jack McDevitt's book, Seeker, with some NPC names stolen from Larry Niven's excellent Neutron Star short story)

Introduction

After rescuing the slaves on Ita (Rescue on Ita), the Yellow Submarine rejoined Admiral Sharpe's fleet for some work done by the Moradin. Jackson spends some quality time with Lt. Qin and during their pillow talk, she asks if Capt'n Sata ever did any investigating of his mug from the HMS Seeker. Jackson didn't know it had any significance and Qin explains the Seeker was an ark from Earth-That-Was that was lost on the crossing and never seen again. If he has an artifact from the ship, it may help solve the mystery. She gives Jackson a datapad with her research and tells him to give it to Sata. Sata is still on medical rest after being shot on Ita, and Lennon is in temporary command. Lennon orders Howard to set course for Zephyr for a little relaxation.

Down Time

On their way to Zephyr, the crew sees news reports about the rescued slaves arriving on Beaumonde in the Firefly transport Sharpe donated to transport them there. There's even a bit from Senator von Alksburg about how more appropriate military spending would help increase the ability to police the rim and pursue pirates and slavers. The ship arrives on Zephyr and the crew takes a two day rest. Lennon visits his girlfriend, Dr. Liz Hammerstein. Jackson begins working on the ship defense projects the rescue mission interrupted. Lennon does a rat survey of the ship and discovers a crawlway into main engineering and then finds a tap labelled "water" that connects to Jackson's hidden still. Lennon manages to track the pipe back to the still, but covers up his visit. Sata studies the articles Qin passed to him. They decide to follow up on the mug, they need to go to Gonghe where Saxon bought it in a pawnshop (Bloodcoats). The crew contacts Archibald Finx and he brokers a cargo of frozen sides of beef going to Gonghe.

Bad Choices

Enroute to Gonghe, Sata is contacted by Alliance investigator and Lennon's former fling Fiolla Hart. She is on Beaumonde investigating the slave rescue and wishes to speak to them on behalf of her superior who assigned her the mission. Sata tells her they are headed to Gonghe, she does not want to discuss matters over the cortex and will meet them there.
On Gonghe, the crew splits up. Wilks and Howard go drinking in a bar and start a brawl. Lennon takes Julia and heads out for a clinic day. Jackson and Sata remain aboard ship dealing with offloading cargo and monthly maintenance. Lang goes shopping for a high grade set of body armor and notices he is being followed. He sneaks into and out the back off a shop and takes the shadower by surprise and drags them into an alley. The shadower has tattoos of the tong which is after Lang and pulls a knife. Lang knocks him out and calls for the crew to come pick them up in a shuttle.
The crew brings the unconscious tong into sickbay and straps him to a surgical table. They try to get him to talk, but to no avail. Sata decides to try to get him drunk by directly injecting a syringe of Jackson's homebrew into the captive's vein, but misses the vein. The botched injection causes serious pain and serious damage, the tong channels the pain into anger to resist their questions. Lang contacts his uncle in the tong he used to work for, he says the guy is a low level street enforcer, kill him and dump the body. Lang and Sata aren't quite that brutal and aren't sure what to do next. Jackson secretly calls Lennon back to the ship. When Lennon returns, he makes a hard, fast landing with Julia. He throws Sata and Lang out of the sickbay and treats the captive. After a great deal of discussion, they decide to drop him off in the outback of Bellerophon so they have a few days to clear out before he can talk to anyone. Lennon and Howard fly their captive to Bellerophon, Lennon explains to him that he saved his life and the tong should keep his mouth shut after this.

Questions, questions, questions

Back on Gonghe, Sata visits the pawn shop and speaks to the owner about the mug. He explains it was part of a purchase from an estate sale. Sata asks for any other items and the owner brings out an antique space helmet with the Seeker's insignia and the name "Hamilton". In return for buying the helmet, the owner provides the names from the estate, Sonya and Peter Laskin, and the lawyer who handled it; Lloyd London, Esq. Sata meets with the lawyer the next day and learns the Laskins were Deep Space Survey crew for the Terraforming Commission. They died in a ship accident a little over 5 years ago and he was the executor of their will. Leftover items not specified in their will were sold and the proceeds donated to charity per their wishes. The mug, helmet and a few other items were among those sold. The crew decides they need to go to the Terraforming Commissions offices on Bernadette. Sata calls Fiolla to tell her they are heading there, she replies that she just made orbit and she is on her way down in a shuttle.
Fiolla arrives in an Alliance military shuttle, flown by an Alliance Navy crew. She comes aboard alone and asks to speak to the crew. She is still a little uncomfortable with Lennon. They try to have a conversation in the common area, but Wilks and Jackson are watching Fish tournament coverage and Wilks continually interrupts. Fiolla questions them about their involvement, since rescued slaves reported a tall doctor wearing a Browncoat from an Osprey transport helped them. The crew continues to try to avoid answering and maintain a cover of innocence and Fish related interruptions. She knows they departed Angel right before the raid and returned to the Kalidasa system empty after the raid and that she could have them all bound by law and the ship impounded right now. Fiolla is rapidly getting annoyed and drops a bomb on the conversation by asking Lennon how Admiral Sharpe is doing. Taken offguard, Lennon doesn't quite lie as smoothly to his ex-lover as he could have and tries to brush it off. Fiolla replies that dropships matching those used by the pre-war Londinium Space Navy were used in the rescue. She wants to know what it will take for them to cooperate and Wilks jokes "sleep with our sniper". Fiolla stalks over and slaps him across the face and asks Lennon and Sata to meet elsewhere. They take her to the medbay, Lennon is still trying to maintain the pretense that he is a travelling doctor and any irregularities stem from that. Fiolla takes a more conciliatary tack alone and explains that she is not there to pursue the rescuers, what they did was a good thing. Her superior sent her to possibly gather any intelligence they can give to help them in their efforts to crack the slaver ring. Fiolla admits they know the ring may have connections to a member of parliament. Sata wants to bargain and trade information: what does Fiolla know, who is the senator involved and who is she working for? Fiolla agrees and Sata and Lennon take her through the raid. He has Lang produce the computer unit they took from the slavers' office building and gives it to Fiolla after copying its encrypted files. Fiolla names the crooked senator, Joseph Bishop of Bernadette. Fiolla explains that the captured crew of the pirate ship chasing them in Red Sun provide information that correlated with information they obtained from Magistrate Higgins and other sources. She cannot reveal the identity of her superior without her permission and she pays them 500 credits for their information. Sata puts the money in the Bail Money fund. Fiolla departs with the promise to exchange information from the computer once they have broken it, it has an Alliance government security program. Sata contacts Senator Von Alksburg and arranges a meeting on Londinium in a few days. Lifting off from Gonghe, they spot the IAV Lionfish, the Orca class corvette that helped them in Red Sun and that Fiolla's mysterious superior is using.

History Lesson

The Yellow Submarine flies to Bernadette and visits the Terraforming Commissions headquarters. Poking through the public records in the TFC's museum finds the Laskin's service record, but not their flight logs. Lennon contacts his sister, she pulls strings and gets them a pass into the archives. The crew is able to pull up the records of the Laskins' last missions and Howard starts working out a search pattern to follow to retrace their steps. Sata wonders if the Glory's military sensors would be better suited to the search, but decides it's not a huge improvement over the Yellow Submarine's upgraded sensors. Jackson suggests further upgrading the ship's sensor package while they are in White Sun. Lennon visits his sister's family afterwards.