Gunther Kline (Shaun), Amaris Grayling (Bess) and Doctor Doug (Simon) ended up kicking around together, and looking for work. They met with Captain Breaker, a leader in Shoova’s Lances (a mercenary company) because he offered a job.
They were to take Aliara Von Vayle, an aristocrat, and help her pick out an alternate identity as part of their ship crew (and the Lances would loan them a ship.) They get 200,000 credits split between survivors when she goes to a rendezvous point after Aldorian IV.
Of course, Aldorian IV is the site with the Freezethorp Detention Installation in deep orbit, so security is ferocious. The only way they are getting close is in a massive caravan that’s headed out there. Some nobles are going to a tournament where the warden thaws out the most dangerous mutants and pits them against each other in mortal combat, and where nobles gather in force you need a city of support personnel and luxury items. The mission is to get hired as an escort and to help haul cargo, and smuggle Von Vayle to the site. It’s ambiguous, and dangerous, but the pay is great; sure, they took the job. Captain Breaker gave Kline the key to the ship, and they were on their way.
They got aboard their ship, but “Lamentations” was a terrible name, so they renamed it “Strumpet.” They also went to meet with Von Vayle, finding her guarded by tough cyborg guards unhappy about being out in the open in a spaceport with their charge. Before the meeting, Amaris did some surreptitious quick research, finding out that the lady Aliara Von Vayle was the bursar for the entire Von Vayle fortune, making her a key figure in the economy of the sector. Her brother, DiArmond Von Vayle, was the Court Portraitist, and not her biggest fan. In fact, he had a bounty out on her so big all the bounty hunters in the sector were scouring the transpo corridors hunting her.
They met with her, and she seemed very trusting, dismissing her guards. For a disguise, she was planning on going full Void Sister with a burqa and memorized sign language. She also showed signs of technologically enhanced health; over 40 years old, she looked 20. She enthusiastically followed them to the ship, where Amaris dubbed her “Wacko Prescott” for a spacer name.
They flew to the asteroid base where Captain DeekDeek, a mutant warrior, was hiring on people for the big caravan. After a brief interview, they were hired on, and took on cargo, joining the caravan. Amaris wasted no time in using her nanokey to worm her way in through the security of the crate, finding that it was live eels for stupid expensive snacks for aristocrats; she locked it back up without mishap.
They did pop out of the tesserarch jump once, because there was a distress signal. A local hauler was being attacked by Graamin mutants. Even though there was a 500 credit bounty for those who were keen to help out, they declined; the whole thing was over shortly, spare tesserarch engines fitted to the Sunsetter hauler so it could limp back to civilization, and the caravan was once again in transit.
For most of the trip, “Wacko” took the captain’s advice and wore her confining garment, getting used to it. The others pursued various entertainments during the three day trip.
When they arrived, and the cryoprison tugs managed the logistics of bringing people and supplies to the station, they were in the middle of a flurry of activity. Holes were cut in the base so modules could be added, for the comfort of the nobles. Upon boarding, they surrendered all weapons but knives.
There was a fight every two hours, twelve fights for the duration of the event. As the first fight started (twenty warriors against Axeface, who dispatched them all) Von Vayle finally revealed her true motive.
She was here to rescue one of the fighters, Spatterwrench. When Captain Kline guessed he was a past lover, she blushed and said he used to be a poet for the court, but his writing got political, and not only was he banished here but he was subjected to severe mutations to make him violent and dangerous.
She had plenty of money, and an Omnikey (rare technology) and her plan was to smuggle the key and a message to him. Then he could get through some of the internal security, they could meet him, and escape together. It was a pretty sketchy plan.
Amaris and Von Vayle targeted a wealthy woman about Amaris’ size, and used the Omnikey to break into her docked suite. They found a servant there, who Amaris managed to incapacitate (though she got a nasty bite) and they stole a very expensive wardrobe made of extinct animal parts so she could command respect.
After the doctor sealed up her wound, Captain Kline and Doctor Doug headed down to get a ride back out to their ship; they succeeded in persuading the staff because of Doctor Doug’s pheremone persuasion. (He had pheremones, and the ability to manipulate fire with his mind, because he was an experiment to pay off his medical loans. As a result of the processes, he wasn’t very bright.)
They had to go out to the ship to get Amaris’ code patcher, and as they headed back Captain Kline used his technical skill and ability to focus in stressful situation to make an ID for them as a salvage company.
Meanwhile, Amaris tried to put the moves on the Warden, but he had so many requests for an audience (each with lovely side funding) that she couldn’t get to him. So, she targeted a lower official, suggesting she wanted some private time with a gladiator. Or the official. It wasn’t totally clear. Anyway, the official scanned her, and the dress showed up as stolen. (It had been reported with surprising speed.) The dress was removed, Amaris put in coveralls, and locked along with Von Vayle in a holding cell to be processed and kept at the facility, adding to the bottom line as the Court paid for more prisoners.
Von Vayle was NOT scanned, so she produced the Omnikey, and they got out of the holding cell. Von Vayle’s enhanced memory meant they could get into the ductwork, and from there maneuver, if they could evade the guards.
The guards were modular cybernetic units each about torso sized. They could form guards, or cover panels, or make centipedes, combining to add power to shielding or stunners or size. They were called Guardians.
The spacers dodged the Guardians and got into the ductwork, then managed to mostly evade the super-hot and super-cold and mechanical chompy bits, escaping into the pen where the gladiators were kept chained to posts.
Von Vayle dodged between the grasping gladiators, but Amaris was snagged by one of the big dangerous mutants. She managed to form enough connection not to get twisted in half, but the situation got dire as Von Vayle confronted the former court poet. Turns out his wits were intact, and when she freed him they quickly had an escape plan.
Spatterwrench (formerly known as Sarnim Bellutha) got his massive wrench weapon, and rescued Amaris from the other mutant. Then they unlocked all the chains, and directed the gladiators to fight the rich people who were the real enemy.
The Warden showed up in power armor designed to quell this sort of super-riot, but the suit was not prepared for the ferocity of Spatterwrench’s onslaught, and it was torn open. Amaris fished through the remains in the cockpit to get the Warden’s ident. Now they could access EVERYTHING.
As the gladiator prisoners surged against the guards, Captain Kline and Doctor Doug charmed an employee into letting them out to the forklift tug (as salvage operators, which their license proved.) From there, Captain Kline started transmitting on an unused junk frequency as he closed in on the area where the facility was putting all the massive crates the supplies arrived in.
Inside, Amaris logged in as the Warden (took two terminals, because in the first one there were still some remains on it that gummed up the works more or less literally) and got more than she bargained for. The facility was so corrupt and secure that it had a data vault of encrypted secrets of the rich and powerful. Still, there was no way to transmit or retrieve the data–except she had a data vault installed in her head! She managed to get about 3/4 of the data, and on the operations side, she put a virus in the system that muddied up the ship records, and by then the fighting was too hot and too close; it was time to make a move if they were going to escape at all.
Amaris looked on the junk frequency and found Captain Kline, so they coordinated a meeting point. Kline used the ship to connect a container to the exit, and Amaris went with Von Vayle and Spatterwrench into the container. From there, they remote accessed the ship using the Warden’s codes, and had it meet them in unencumbered space. (Chaos reigned as the wealthy were piling out to their relatively secure ships and retreating.)
Aliara Von Vayle had coordinates in empty space, and they headed for those. They came out of the tesserarch right on top of a freighter that was patiently waiting, and after getting a secret communication channel established with Von Vayle, they let her put Spatterwrench back in the cargo and transfer to the other ship. Then they went on their own way.
Now they possessed a vast store of poisonously encrypted secrets of the rich and powerful; the priority would have to be extracting those secrets in a safe environment, slicing them open, and then leveraging them to make obscene amounts of wealth without being wiped out by the kill squads of aristocrats threatened by truth.