Silverhold Shuffle

(GM's note- The title is a play on Cowboy Bebop episode Gateway Shuffle)

Plans within Plans
The Britannia is on the way to New Melbourne in Red Sun with a cargo to drop off before going to Aesir to investigate the whereabouts of the prisoners from the Folsom. They begin searching open publications and business listings for the names of the supposed slave buyers that Ruan Read from the Folsom's former engineer Lin Barnes. Once they arrive on New Melbourne, Captain Windsor contacts local police officer he knows, Allen Simpson. While the ship is down for monthly maintenance and getting a seized primary stabilizer replaced, Officer Simpson does some discreet inquiries and does turn up some evidence that conspirators and their company, Aesir Mineral Extractions LLC, may be crooked. However, bribery and corruption are common in the Alliance and especially on the Rim, so that may not be enough. Windsor uses the information they have learned to contact the company offices in Tsi Canyon on Silverhold to arrange an interview as a prospective freight handler. They pick up a small cargo of fish oil and head to Silverhold.

Business Tactical
(GM's note- About this time Matt had to leave and Jim ran Ronnie as an NPC). On Silverhold, the crew hits the bars and ends up in the company's preferred drinking hole. Cid and Silas talk to some locals and hear some rumors that someone like Silas would be good at keeping uppity workers in line. The next day, they prepare to go to Windsor's meeting. Cid, Silas and Ruan will accompany the captain while Naomi does some shopping for electronic parts for her projects. Ronnie stays behind to watch the ship and his daughter, Sarah.

The captain and his entourage present themselves and Windsor and Cid meet with one of the company's brokers, Mei Winters. Ruan flirts with the attractive secretary and learns a little local gossip about the conspirators. The former captain of the Folsom, William Hughes still flies with the company. The other three are members of the board of directors. One lives on Aesir, the others are here on Silverhold. Windsor and Cid make a strong impression and leave with a tentative offer of work. But when they try to reach Naomi, there's no answer…

Naomi has hit the parts suppliers serving the port, looking for electronics. But the ship has been recognized and Naomi fails to see she is being followed. She is hit from behind with a taser and passes out… When she wakes up, she is tied up in the bath tub of a trashy motel.

The crew returns to the ship and saddles up to find Naomi. They ask around and shop owners remember her, an attractive young woman with blue hair stands out. But they can't help. Silas goes the back alley route and finds a local who saw Naomi kidnapped and taken to a sleazy motel on the bad side of the port… Ruan follows him and they discover a new team interrogation technique with the intimidating and scary Silas playing good cop while the Ruan is the unlikely bad cop. It works and the crew heads there.

Ruan and Silas replay their roles to threaten and intimidate the desk clerk into giving them information and a master key. They head up to the second floor and they drift along the doors until Ruan finds Naomi. Silas opens the door with the master key while Ruan goes in pistol first and shoots two of the kidnappers at the table, killing one. Silas comes in and opens fire and they finish off the kidnappers promptly. Outside, Cid and Windsor are guarding their backs, another door down the way opens and two more thugs come out, one of them with an auto-shotgun. More lead flies and Windsor is hit with two slugs from the shotgun, but the armor he took from Quintus saves his life. The last bad guys are shot down and Ruan finds Naomi in the bathroom and frees her. They strip the bad guys of identification and Cid grabs the shotgun.

They realize they need to get out before the feds arrive, the desk clerk is a weak point. They discuss bribing him with the dead guys' money, Ruan says he will take care of it. Ruan goes into the office and finds the clerk hiding behind the desk… He thanks him for his help, gives him back the master key, and then kills him with a single shot from his silenced pistol. Ruan returns to the truck and they drive back to the ship and decide to head to another city on Silverhold rather than attracting attention to themselves by leaving the planet so quickly the night of a major multiple murder in Tsi Canyon.

(GM's note- There was a lot of outcry out of character from the other players over Ruan's cold blooded murder of the desk clerk. Emily's argument was that Ruan was trained and programmed against his will as an assassin. He is a murderer, his jobs were the blackest of black ops with no witnesses, no survivors, even children. In Ruan's mind, the desk clerk's murder protected Naomi and the other crew members from danger. I am going to have to do some more thinking about Ruan's mental health and how the rest of the crew views him. And considering that Ruan went through what River did, it was perfectly in character. I can't even say his willingness to murder is at odds with his Sweet and Cheerful asset. In War Stories, River saves Kaylee by killing three of Niska's men, then smiles and makes a joke about it.
I did discuss with them that they are leaving more clues than they realize. The Bloodsworn guild is going to investigate Quintus' disappearance and come to the conclusion Ronnie was involved. The Academy may investigate also and it's possible they will identify Ruan. The hotel security cameras will have filmed Windsor approaching the management and some of the crew as well. The Academy issue pistol Ruan uses has left a few bodies behind across the 'Verse. If those coroner's ballistics reports get correlated… I described what would be a cool cut scene. It's Locke standing in front of a smartwall computer display. He asks the computer to display deaths from the Academy issued weapons, then dates and locations. Next he asks the computer to search port records of ships on planet on those dates. He knows what date he felt Ruan on Persephone and adds those port records. Looking at the columns of ship names he orders the computer "Cross index matches" The lists shrink to a small number of ship names. He reads down the list and whispers "Britannia…")

"Mighty Fine Shindig"
Once settled in the town of Brayhill, the crew tries to gather more information about the owners of Aesir Mining Limited and where they might be found. Naomi scours the cortex and hacks a few local government sites to look for property and tax records for the names of the owners that they have. She is successful and finds that Dai Shung and Judith Song have estates outside of Tsi Canyon…
They discuss infiltrating the estates to place tracking beacons on their vehicles and possibly searching their homes for incriminating evidence. Wondering if there are any public events they might attend, the crew finds a cotillion for the local gentry in a week. Now the plan is to get Ruan close enough to them to Read the owners for clues. Ronnie contacts the venue and applies as a musician and gets a job. Ruan tries to get a job as a waiter and ends up working as a busboy for the catering company. Captain Windsor schmoozes the locals until he can get an invite, planning to bring Naomi as his date and Silas as his batman. Cid will guard the ship and Sarah and be prepared to swoop in with the Britannia for an extraction. There's a rush for fine clothes for Naomi and Silas, Ruan trains at the caterer's and Ronnie practices local favorites. When they find out it's a horse race, Naomi does a statistical analysis to predict the winner. They fly back to Tsi Canyon in one of the shuttles. Captain Windsor rents a limo for the drive to the cotillion while Ronnie and Ruan report for work.
At the cotillion, they work and mingle with the local well to do. Windsor and Naomi make bets based on Naomi's research and win. Ronnie's first piece falls flat and the music director threatens to can him, but Ronnie regains his composure and his next song is a a concert worthy composure. During a break, Ruan slips outside and places Ronnie's tracking beacons on the mine owner's limos. Circulating through the crowd, they spot the owners and eventually are able to point them out to Ruan. He Reads them and gets confirmation of their fears and the location of the mine with the POWs: Kytsev Mesa. After the cotillion, the team flies back to the Britannia.

Heave to!
The Britannia flies to Aesir and begins a search for the camp. They locate it and land nearby to scout it out. The camp has a electrified fence and guard towers with snipers and looks like a prison, not a mine. After a lot of discussion, they decide they need some special gear like night vision goggles and plan to go to New Melbourne. When the ship lifts for orbit, they are hailed by an Alliance patrol ship, the Heimdall and are boarded. It's the Osiran Captain Matheson again. He questions them since they have no cargo and have been flitting about in the outback of Aesir. He decides they are smugglers and impounds the ship. All crew and passengers are his prisoners, Ronnie and Sarah will be confined to a passenger room under guard. A prize crew will fly the ship to New Melbourne to be searched.
After the ship departs for New Melbourne with the prize crew aboard the Britannia, Captain Windsor is interviewed by Captain Matheson and his XO. Windsor tells Matheson just enough to convince him slaves are being held at the mining camp. Matheson decides to head back and investigate while the prize crew proceeds to New Melbourne. Back at Aesir, Captain Matheson takes a squad of marines and the crew of the Britannia down to the mining camp in the Heimdall's dropship. They land on the shuttle pad and debark with the marines spreading out as Matheson marches forward demanding to see the camp administrators. The camp guards are unsure what to do, they stall for time while ordering the "workers" to return to their quarters. A group of slaves head towards the fence, it's obvious the ones on the edges are protecting the slaves at the center. The group reaches the fence and the people at the center move forward to line up at attention. As the camp administrator arrives, the former crew begin shouting name, rank and position aboard the Folsom. The administrator sees the prisoners speaking to an Alliance officer and panics and orders the guards to kill Captain Matheson and his party.
Chaos breaks out as the guards open fire on the marines and the marines return it. The landing party falls back and the dropship lifts off to provide fire support, but it is struck by a missile from the camp and crashes back to the ground.
As the marines take casualties, the crew of the Britannia seize weapons and help fight back. Sergeant Jenkins orders a volley of frag grenades, then smoke and she leads the survivors on a fighting retreat to the rough terrain beyond the shuttle pad. Captain Windsor drags the wounded Matheson to cover behind the damaged dropship. Naomi and Captain Windsor get aboard the shuttle and she activates the emergency fire suppression systems. Windsor opens the arms cabinet and grabs a grenade launcher and goes out to join the battle. Naomi treats the wounded crew then starts trying to figure out what the dropship has left to fight with.
The landing party has taken cover and is fighting back, but the camp guards out number them and defeat is only a matter of time. Then suddenly missiles streak down from the sky destroying the last four guard towers. The Heimdall roars over the camp and Lt. Commander Parker orders them to surrender. The Heimdall lands more troops and medical personnel. The battle is over, the prisoners will be freed.

Captain Matheson calls Captain Windsor in for a meeting after Alliance reinforcements arrive to take control. He thanks Windsor and his crew for saving the lives of his troops and his own, and for bringing justice for the POWs. They are being returned home after treatment. The Britannia is safely on New Melbourne under guard by his prize crew, she has not been stripped. Windsor and his people are free to go and will be transported to their ship immediately. Finally, he grudgingly extends the Alliance's thanks and awards Windsor 4,000 credits as a reward for the rescue of the Folsom survivors.

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

Quotes and Smart Remarks
Discussing that Captain Windsor may be tracked down after posing as an Alliance officer
Lee "I'll just start wearing glasses"
Kevin "It works for Superman"

To avoid a penalty from being distracted by Naomi in a swimsuit, Emily needs to make a roll for Ruan
Emily "I can think about what it was like to get shot…Okay, hard-on is gone"
She rolls a 15 Willpower check
Emily "I've got a lot of control over my penis"

Suggesting sending the assassins to investigate
Lee "We can send Ruan and Ronnie to look for anything…slavey"

Talking about Ruan's journal
Matt "It has 'X number of days since I killed anyone' "
Emily "Actually, it does"

There was a comment that it's surprising Hollywood has never tried to do a sequel to the Princess Bride about different Dread Pirate Roberts
Raleigh "It would be like a medieval version of Doctor Who"

Kevin "What weapons can we carry to this job interview?"
Raleigh "It's Business Tactical"

Suggested titles for the magazines in the waiting room
Raleigh "Drill Bores Today"
Kevin "Good Mine Keeping"
Lee "Drill Bits Monthly"

Ruan is trying to get information from the secretary
Lee "The first thing she's going to think isn't industrial espionage, but that you're trying to sleep with her"
Emily "Well, I am"

Naomi wakes up in the bath tub of a dirty hotel, all tied up
Raleigh "Can I panic?"

The captain and Cid both botched while looking for Naomi
Kevin "They ran into each other"
Jim "We ain't found shit!"

Planning the attack to rescue Naomi, Michael started considering getting grenades, which was shot down
Lee "I will buy you a drink if it turns out we needed grenades"
Kevin "Flash forward to a scene of you two tied up back to back and he's saying 'Remember I wanted grenades?' "

Kevin "I have Fighting Type, so I still have a non-combat action?"
Jim "Yes"
Kevin "Can I run to the bathroom?"

They find Naomi alive and unharmed
Emily "I'm going to run into the bathroom, all relieved"
Raleigh "Most people run out of the toilet relieved"

The ship moves to another town on Silverhold, Brayhill
Jim "This town name comes courtesy of the Donjon random generator"

Reading from Emily's game diary about Ruan and Naomi's date
Emily "Naomi cleans Ruan's pipes"
Matt "It was the best day ever"

Lee "Can we look them up in sprolodex?"

Lee "Why don't we surveil them first, it seems like killing them then surveilling them would be pointless"

"We never plan our shooting and killing, it just happens"

Talking about a scene montage as the characters get ready for the fancy party
Lee "I can't decide what cheesy 80's song is playing"
Jim "Putting on the Ritz!"

Raleigh was late and Emily sent him a text to let him know what was going on. But, instead of saying "You're on a date with the captain right now", she sent "You're on a date with right now" which sounds like a line from a cheesy motivational lecture. For the rest of the evening we made jokes about "You're on a date with Right Now"

Kevin "In the the future, 'The Final Countdown' will replace 'The Girl from Ipanema' as elevator music"

Raleigh "I am confident in my mathematics, I am going to bet 150 credits…on two horses"