Tuesday, 26 Sept 2519
Harvest, Red Sun (Zhu Que) system
07:30, local time
Our prisoner is hidden in a smuggling hidey, drugged up and made comfortable so as to escape detection during our inspection.
Mal, after getting over his surprise at Allyne’s dyed state, is short and professional in his communications with us. Zoe is more taciturn than usual. Obviously Mal is mulling over the information we’d gleaned about the pirates and the one-million bounty on Serenity and her crew. Not that we can blame him.
Xiu is happily engaged in her new projects: a mechanical otter (ship’s mascot), an hourglass (aversion therapy vs. phobia of sand), and working on the Gatling gun and pop-hatch.
Our inspection was a breeze, thanks to our paperwork, and we were thanked by our inspector for it.
So now we’re on the dirt on Harvest and unloading our cargo and our passengers. Our passengers have paid us already and Oksana sees them off, then sees to our hidden patient again. She moves him back to the recovery ward in med bay, straps him securely to a bed, sees that his meds and nutrient drip are working as they should. Then she goes to the Captain and asks him for an advance on her share: she wants to buy meds and go to the clinics and orphanages in the area to offer her services as an itinerant doctor. He gives her the money. She orders meds for the ship and food supplies as necessary using the ship’s online credit account, then leaves Otter for the clinics and orphanages that might need her.
Before she goes, she hunts down Verity and asks if she’d like to come along. No thanks. Would she like Oksana to pick anything up for her while she’s out? No, thanks anyway.
There being nothing for it, Oksana leaves. Buys those meds for her trip out. Verity remains on the bridge.
As for our partner in this cargo venture, Serenity doesn’t stay a moment longer after offloading the cargo than she has to. Malcolm Reynolds makes his goodbyes to Allyne Stone short and to the point. Keep in touch, we’ve got his contact info. Malcolm is going to go to ground for the next while, see if he can’t flush out the foxes on his tail. Allyne promises to keep in touch and wishes Reynolds the best of luck.
Meanwhile, Verity is coaxed off the bridge by Xiu asking for help with the Gat. Verity gets permission from the Captain first. Does she have everything? he asks Xiu. He doesn’t want anything critical yanked out and offline when we need to take off. Yes, we’ve got everything and no, nothing critical will get yanked.
Fine, carry on.
Everything goes smoothly and thanks to her technical engineering skills, Verity recognizes a point where the electronic interface would glitch on the Gat and cause it to fire while empty.
Allyne lends a hand and they get that fixed.
More work ensues and they all realize that the gun is flawed: no matter what they do to fix it, there is a 20% chance that the gun will overheat and glitch, causing it to triple its rate of fire and then jamming. It’s a quirk and we can’t get around it without finding a way to cool the gun.
They debate what they can do about it. With a 3xROF, we get to do a little more damage than normal (+1 step bonus to damage rolls) before it jams (in the next round). Once jammed it would take an actual overhaul with manual access to unjam it. Every time we use it, we are rolling with a 20% chance of the glitch coming into play.
Xiu carefully fires it to see if she can get it to jam, videoing the test. Sure enough, the glitch kicks in and it jams after tripling its ROF. She sends the video to River and Kaylee on Serenity. Maybe they can figure out a fix and send it back to her. She begs the Captain for more repair tasks to do around the ship. Allyne tells her he hasn’t any.
Meanwhile, Oksana is on her way back from a day of helping out the locals when she spies a shortcut through some buildings that would cut her travel time by an hour. It’s an alley that she sees people passing through. She walks in and isn’t but 30 feet into it when the way out ahead is blocked by two burly thugs and looking behind her, she sees she’s blocked off by two more from behind.
Memories of her war days crowd to the fore but she shoves them down. She has her gun on her hip, hidden by her messenger bag. She leaves it for now. She asks them what they want.
They know she’s a doc, she’s new to the area and they want the drugs in her bag.
Realizing she’s being shaken down for the street value of the meds, she holds her bag open and tells them there isn’t much in there. Off their expressions, she pulls out a vial of isoprobalyn and propoxin. They’re 50 credits wholesale but she knows the street value is much higher. She holds them up, says their names, and offers them flat out to the thugs.
Hmm. They like that idea. Their leader peers into her bag, sees there’s really nothing else worth taking. All right. She can go.
Oksana passes him and slaps two syringes on a barrel, saying he might need those, and walks on. Relieved she got out of there without resorting to violence, she makes it the rest of the way to the ship without further incident.
Verity goes back to the bridge and plots our course for New Melbourne. It’s a sweet efficient one, too. If we leave at soonest, it’ll be optimal.
Our tea cargo starts arriving and everyone present rolls up their sleeves and get to work.
Verity is especially interested in it, giving each tea crate a kick to see if she can startle any Trojans hiding inside.
Xiu has to be persuaded (successfully) from jerry rigging an x-ray scanner out of Oksana’s med bay equipment.
Oksana walks in as loading is in progress, sees Verity kicking the crates, groks the reason, and pulls her stethoscope from her bag and slaps it in Verity’s hands. You might need this, she says to the pilot, barely breaking her stride. Verity gives them back to her.
Apparently she prefers kicking the damned crates.
Oksana breathes a laugh and walks on as Xiu leans close to a crate and says loudly: “When was your last cargo discharge?”
In the end, we load up 5 tons of tea. It’s stasis packed but it’s extremely important we deliver it as soon as possible. It’s not fermented but still in its green leaf state. The Asians prefer their green tea to be as fresh-picked as possible and the less fresh it is, the less money we’ll net.
We have no passengers looking to go to New Melbourne. Cargo loaded, there’s no reason to linger. Verity dusts off not 24 hours after we’ve landed.
Goodbye, Harvest. ETA New Melbourne, 30 Sep 2519.
Wednesday, 27 Sep 2519
Mid Bulk Freigher Space Otter
En route to New Melbourne
Red Sun (Zhu Que) system
07:30, ship’s time
The first day out, our prisoner slips into a coma from the meds. Oksana notices his numbers dropping and manages to save him. It takes significant toll on our med supply, however. The drugs have taken a significant toll on our patient as well, rendering feeding him via GI tube too dangerous. His swallow reflex is compromised as well, so feeding him while he’s unconscious is also not an option. Oksana has no choice but to keep him on a nutrient IV drip. She catalogues the damage done so far: swallowing is difficult, there’s kidney and liver damage. Neural damage (suggested by that swallowing trouble) will be difficult to track or test for while he’s unconscious. Oksana keeps a close eye on his numbers and tries what she can to strengthen and heal his internal organs.
Allyne spends his day trying to line up a purchase of wet suits on New Melbourne. Why? In case we have to get wet. It’s hard going. Wet suits these days are sophisticated items and trying to find some at the price he wants will take time.
Oksana gets protein dye from Xiu via an odd convoluted conversation, where Xiu says she doesn’t want to be pink or blue. As Oksana knows about the prank, she just smiles and locks the dye away in med bay.
Verity is quiet and withdrawn and Oksana decides to keep an eye on her, making sure to run meals up to the bridge and keep the pilot supplied with coffee.
Thursday, 28 Sep 2519
Xiu gets rather mesmerized by the hourglass she’s rigged up. Oksana sees this and realizes that Xiu’s meds are having a psychotropic effect on her. She reduces the dosage a fraction and logs it in her reports.
Friday, 29 Sep 2519
10:00, ship’s time
Xiu suffers a flashback to her Academy days. She wakes up in a night terror, reliving her escape from her tormentors. Gripped by her hallucination, she searches the ship for the crew.
Verity is on the bridge, enjoying the peace that comes of flying.
Allyne is walking the ship, checking all the points where the ship systems seem to be having problems. Currently he’s in the shuttle bay, running down the glitch that reports the shuttle as docking and undocking continuously.
Oksana is in the recovery ward checking her patient’s stats. She’s been doing this every even numbered hour on the clock, twice the normal amount. She’s got the machines rigged to sound an alarm through all-ship if anything goes amiss. So far, the machines have been quiet and the patient is holding steady.
Xiu starts looking for droids. She decides to look for tranks in med bay to make a dart gun. She looks for tape for hand cuffs. She sees Oksana in the recovery ward through the view port in the recovery ward door.
Oksana has locked it from the inside for security reasons, knowing that the rest of the crew have no liking for her patient.
Xiu tries opening it and it doesn’t move. Addled by her hallucinations, she bangs on the door with her fist.
Oksana turns at the sound but sees nothing. She calls out but there’s no response. Hmm. She turns back to her work.
Xiu bangs on the door again.
Oksana goes to the door and looks out the door port. She just manages to catch sight of Xiu standing obliquely to it. She opens the door.
Oksana: Xiu? What is it?
Xiu: (shouting like a droid) Students are experiencing an emergency in the tutoring room!
Oksana immediately realizes that Xiu is suffering an episode, likely from the lowered dosage, and steps out to tend Xiu. Just as she crosses the threshold, the crash alert on her patient starts breeping. Oksana turns back for her patient, Xiu bull rushes her with a syringe raised to stab her. Oksana sees her in time, strong arms her back with a push, and shuts the door, locking herself inside with her patient.
Oksana rushes over with the crash cart and starts working on her patient. Xiu would have to wait. Xiu realizes the door is locked against her and she starts taking apart the door control panel.
Allyne is up to his elbows in wires and parts, hears the alarm, and extricates himself and rushes to medbay. He goes in and sees Xiu sitting on the floor, the syringe half concealed beneath her.
Allyne: (nice and easy) Hey, Xiu. What’s goin’ on?
Xiu: Not much. Help me with this project. Hold this down and hold that down and—
Allyne: What’s that you’re sitting on?
Xiu: (lying) Nothing. Grab this, willya?
Allyne: That’s not nothing.
They argue over what’s she’s doing. Technobabble ensues. Allyne gives up and looks through the door port and Xiu rushes to stab him in the leg with the syringe.
Allyne knows she’s there and he evades.
On the bridge, Verity hears the alarm and calls med bay asking if Oksana needs help.
Verity: You okay? You need me down there?
Oksana: Yes, pazhalusta. Please.
Verity: On my way.
Oksana doesn’t acknowledge but works on. She doesn’t even know there’s an altercation right outside her door. Her concentration is fully on her patient and the crash alarm masks out most of the sounds.
Verity slides down the ladder to her quarters and runs aft for med bay. It takes her 3 minutes at normal speed. Going flat out, it takes her considerably less.
Xiu and Allyne scuffle and he dodges another stab. He tries pinning her in an unarmed combat move. He’s successful, pinning her right arm with his right hand and left foot. He braces his weight with his right foot and he keep his left hand free to block any further moves she makes.
And she makes her move.
She lands Allyne a solid punch in the nuts. He’s wearing a suit of ballistic mesh armor and it does go all the way down. The blow is dissipated somewhat but damn, it still hurts like a gorram cao ni ma. Allyne roars and snaps an elbow thrust into Xiu’s head.
It makes her head whip right around and she brings it back around just as fast, crazed by her psychotic break and lent extra vigor by it.
Xiu: Oh no you di’ent!
Allyne: I am your CAPTAIN. Pay ATTENTION!
Nope. It doesn’t sink in.
Verity walks in at this moment and whoa! She sees Xiu pinned by the Captain, who’s crouching over her fending off blows. What the hell? Verity doesn’t waste any time. She runs up behind Xiu and grabs her free arm, then slides her grip into a headlock.
Xiu: Dirty-fightin’ Alliance bastards!
Verity: (growls) Alliance my ASS. (to Allyne) Can I kick her?
The weight of two grown adults on her finally sinks in and brings Xiu out of her psychotic break. She doesn’t remember how she got there. She went to sleep and BAM! here she is under a dogpile. She tries to make sense of it and comes up with a reason.
Xiu: It was only a damned dye pack, asshole!
Oksana took the precaution of telling Allyne and Verity where the trank patches were, just in case they needed to knock out Xiu in a hurry. Verity debates slapping her with one but in the end she and Allyne decide not to risk it. They zip tie her before strapping her into a bed in the med bay.
Meanwhile, Oksana is pitched in a battle against death for her patient. She manages—but only just. She’s stabilized him and she brings him out from under his medically induced unconscious state. It is no longer safe to keep him under anymore. His body can’t take the drugs. Once she’s satisfied he isn’t going to die on her, she steps out of the recovery ward to find the door controls on the med bay side in pieces and a tied-up Xiu in one of the two med bay beds.
Verity gets to work repairing the door controls while Oksana does a scan and work up on Xiu. The numbers come back.
Xiu’s serotonin levels are completely off. She’s suffering from high levels of adrenaline and has gone through an episode of the night terrors. All the symptoms are a result of Xiu metabolizing the reduced dosage of her meds too quickly. The resulting chemical imbalance kicked off the episode.
And right now, Xiu is babbling.
Xiu: I can taste the color nine. It smells like … (sings) … soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur …"
She increases Xiu’s maintenance dosage by half again and leaves the young woman comfortable, yet strapped, to the bed in med bay. There has to be a level that won’t affect her as a psychotropic yet will keep her from going psychotic.
Once Oksana’s done with Xiu she goes back to check her first patient and sees that although he’s conscious, he’s got all the cognizance of a head of lettuce.
Somehow the drug regimen had damaged not only his liver and kidneys but his brain to the point of complete catatonia. Every so often he twitches. Oksana had seen mercury poisoning victims in her travels and he looks very much like one of them. She hooks him up to a scan and his brain activity is mostly flatline, with an occasional tick in the line. He’s effectively brain dead. There is no hope of recovery.
In the next room, Xiu starts singing about pink elephants on parade. Verity turns from finishing up on the door controls and slaps Xiu with a trank to shut her up. She stomps off to the bridge, thoroughly irritated. Allyne leaves med bay to look for a sharpie marker. Every good prank deserves a prank in return.
Back in the recovery ward, Oksana can see her patient failing before her eyes. He’s having trouble breathing. Heart sinking, Oksana notes the time in his record and injects him with a lethal dose of barbiturates to save him further suffering. She holds his hand until he dies, then turns off the machines. She leaves the med bay to report his death to Allyne.
We’ve one more day of travel before we reach New Melbourne. The Captain hasn’t decided yet whether to space the patient’s body now that he’s dead or turn him over to the Merchant’s Guild when we arrive at New Melbourne. If we turn him over, Oksana will want to do a full autopsy on the remains to pinpoint the cause of death, write up the proper reports, and turn them in with the body. If the Captain decides on spacing, she’ll simply prep the body for jettisoning. There should be a sheet that would serve as a shroud. But neither option can be pursued until Allyne gives her the word.