Campaign of the Month: January 2011

Honour Among Thieves

Nine Tenths of the Law Session Ten

A promising lead comes to nothing, while a crew member comes to.

The next morning, the crew convened in Shenmue’s common area to plan their next move.

“Let’s prioritize,” Worth said.

“We’re already here,” Jonah said. “Right?”

“How did I know you were going to say that?” the mechanic replied.

“Yeah, the situation’s pretty clear,” YJ said. “We’re going to leave Shenmue here, we’re going to get to the island and see what we can find, so in case we don’t repossess this fantastic yacht, we have something to pay for repairs.”

“Makes sense to me,” Worth said. “We’re still looking at a hefty repair bill, even with the stuff we salvaged from Haruna.”

“So we grab the stuff from the island, fly to Osiris, repossess the Desdemona, leave Shenmue on Osiris for some extended maintenance, and get her completely fixed up, using the stuff we grabbed from the island.” Jonah said.

“Yeah,” nodded YJ.

Jonah continued, warming to his own idea. “We get a cargo on Desdemona – she’s got a ton of cargo space, plus she’s got a pool, a disco, and a full bar – so we take a little pleasure trip over to drop Whitaker off, because we gotta figure that the Desdemona isn’t bugged. So it should be safe.”

“The only problem is, how do we get back to Shenmue?” YJ asked.

“Well, when we fly, we’ve got Osiris, Lilac, and Beaumonde, where we can go to make payments. So we fly out, drop off the cargo, and fly it back.”

“Where does McKittrick want Desdemona dropped off?” YJ asked.

“He said that when we have Desdemona in our possession, he’ll send us a coded wave with the coordinates.” Jonah said.

“So it’s simple, let’s go to the island and see what we can find.” Johnson said.

“If it’s not anything we can use, if it’s stuff we have to sell, that complicates things.” Jonah said.

“What can we get for the Desdemona?” Worth asked. Everyone turned to stare at him.

“I’m just putting that out there,” Worth said, raising his hands defensively.

“Well, let’s head out then,” Johnson said.

“I’ll grab Holton and see if he and his boys want to tag along,” Jonah said. “Maybe check to see when the best time to head out is, meteorologically speaking.”

They found Hill in the distillery, supervising the restarting of the mash unit that Worth had repaired the day before.

“What can I do for you?” Hill asked.

“We want to fly back to the Resort,” Jonah said. “We figured tomorrow sounds good,”

“Sounds good to me,” Hill said.

“Any way to avoid the hurricanes?” Jonah asked hopefully.

Hill grinned. “Well, you know, hurricane season pretty much lasts all year these days, so any time is good, it’s not going to be any better, or any worse, really.”

“Can we fly over top of them?” Jonah asked.

“You tell me,” he said. “After all, how did you guys get here?”

“Thanks for your help,” Jonah said. “Tomorrow morning’s good?”

“Any time’s good,” Hill said.

“Ta ma de wo de shenghuo,” Worth grumbled as he walked away.

The crew prepped the shuttle and loaded it with the tools of their trade, including, optimistically, a grav sled for hauling loot. The next morning, they welcomed Hill and two of his comrades onboard. The Doc elected to remain with Wild Sky on Shenmue, and Worth and Jonah joined YJ on board the shuttle.

Johnson disengaged the shuttle from Shenmue and headed south. The glacier and tundra gave way to oceans dotted with icebergs, and the temperature warmed and the air grew choppier until they were right back in the soup from which they had extricated themselves a couple of days before – high winds and low visibility.

“How we doing on that beacon?” YJ asked as he fought to keep the shuttle on an even keel. The Resort’s low-frequency beacon could only be teased out of the background static by a tight-beam ping launched directly at it. Jonah and Worth worked together to aim the shuttle’s communications array in the island’s general direction. Miraculously, the beacon was still functioning despite the pounding the island had endured.

Seated on the uncomfortable benches in the shuttle’s hold, Holton and his men were doing their best not to vomit, given the aerobatics necessary to keep her from being driven into the frothing waves beneath the ship.

Rain beat fiercely against the shuttle’s viewports as the tiny spacecraft cut through the dark clouds. YJ reflected that it was quite different flying a 20-ton shuttle as opposed to a 2,400 ton starship through the stormy weather.

They made visual contact with the island a few moments before they would have overshot it. Currently, two storm systems were engaged in an all-out war for supremacy in the sky above the resort.

The island’s condition had visibly deteriorated from two days before. A substantial amount of abuse had been heaped on it – that much was clear as YJ banked the shuttle around for a visual inspection. Another building had completely collapsed, and the debris from the building brought down by the Chi’ang Shih’s ship had been spread out violently across the rest of the structures. The dune buggy left behind by the fleeing Dave Flynn was now perched in a third story window of the smaller of the two hotel towers. The seawall had been breached at the south end of the island, and the landing area was now completely submerged. The terrain was even more treacherous looking than it had been two days earlier. Luckily, the shuttle had a smaller footprint than Shenmue.

“Put her down right by the casino,” Jonah suggested.

Worth turned to Jonah. “Hey, you rolled with the Sundeen Seven. Where would they have stashed their loot?”

Jonah nodded. “They weren’t the brightest folks, but the most obvious spot would be a vault. The casino’s got to have one, right?”

“Let’s make sure we can land before we divvy up the skin on this bear,” YJ said. He peered out the shuttle’s viewport, looking for a clear space wide enough for him to put the shuttle down. He spied a section between two skeletal building frames and brought the shuttle in for a landing.

“Ahh, Parallax Towers, I never thought I’d see it again,” Holton Hill said wistfully. “You guys were right, it has seen better days. Yeah, the casino vault, I know where that is.”

Worth opened the shuttle hatch and was immediately soaked by driving rain.

“This sucks,” he said, mopping his moustache.

The men rushed from the shuttle to the casino’s entrance. The damage from Jonah’s grenade was still visible beyond the half-closed security shutter.

The once-classy Windjammer Casino was in a sorry state. The interior was soaked with a mix of rain and seawater, some of which was leaking through from the roof.

Hill strode through the remains of the casino like he owned the place. “This way, fellas.” He made his way to the cash-out area and ducked behind the counter. He tapped his feet around on the sodden carpet until his boot met with something metallic. He nodded to his men, who men pulled the section of carpet away from the floor to reveal a recessed hatch, about six feet on a side. Hill turned to Jonah. “You boys got anything that can handle this?”

“You betcha,” Jonah said. He put his goggles on, flipped on his plasma torch and lit a cigarette with it.

While Jonah got down to work, YJ turned to Worth. “Say, have you noticed any weird power fluctuations on Shenmue lately? Any drops in amperage in any subsections?”

Worth pondered this for a moment. “Where you going with this?”

“Put two and two together.” YJ said. “We were interrogated. We think our ship is bugged. Bugs need power.”

Worth scratched his head. “I can’t say I recall anything like that.”

Jonah continued to cut through the lock.

YJ and Worth took the opportunity to take another look around. It was a wide open area full of slot machines, all of which had been broken open with crowbars. The ceiling tiles were in fact CorVue screens, most of them shot out. The carpeted floor was full of everything from pachinko balls to poker chips to bits of broken glass. The cabaret stage nearby featured a dust-caked karaoke machine that had seen better days. A sign pointed to the lobby, where they had traded shots with a robot.

They tried not to think of the pile of decomposing bodies that awaited them upstairs.

“I’m getting a little thirsty here boys,” Jonah said to Hill’s men. “Want to check the bar for a drink?”

The lock finally disengaged with a satisfying snap as Jonah cut through it. He pulled the hatch open to reveal a shaft, its edges disappearing into the darkness.

One of Hill’s buddies turned on a flashlight. About twenty feet down they could see a cage at the bottom of the shaft. YJ could see no obvious way to call the elevator car up. Recessed ladders on the sides of the shaft offered a quick way down.

They made their way down to the top of the cage, finding a hatch they could open up and crawl through. The elevator shaft opened into a narrow corridor, its concrete walls wet with moss and coppery water stains.

After a few meters, it turned, L-shaped, to the right, and they were met by a large vault door.

Jonah fired up his torch and lit another cigarette. Then he noticed that someone had kludged together some wiring on the door’s exterior. It didn’t look like a standard door release mechanism. He turned off the torch.

“Worth, why don’t you take a look at that while I stand around the corner?” Jonah said. “I’m not saying they had access to claymores or anything like that, but I don’t imagine it’s impossible.”

Worth examined the tangle of wiring and shrugged. “It could be a booby trap, or it could be the controls to open the door.”

Jonah smiled. “S’okay guys, I got this.” He pulled out his electronic lock pick set and went to work.

“Open Sesame,” Worth muttered.

The vault doors opened up with a hiss. A musty, damp smell washed over the men in the hallway. Flashlights were shone inwards, illuminating a room about fifteen feet by fifteen, and bits of the floor glittered enticingly.

“Anybody bring a Shop Vac?” Worth asked.

The crew could see cardboard boxes, satchels, crates, a briefcase, and a set of matched luggage, and coins scattered across the floor. Upon closer inspection, they could see that they were silver coins. Not worth stooping down to pick up.

“This doesn’t exactly look like pirate booty,” YJ said, unimpressed.

Jonah moved towards the satchels. Each was embossed with a logo that said Castle Gate Mining Company. There were six of them. Worth undid the drawstring and peered inside.

“Silver rings over here,” Worth said optimistically.

Jonah rolled his eyes as he looked into another satchel. “Those aren’t silver rings, they’re washers.”

“Well if we were building a pipeline they’d come in handy.” YJ said.

Jonah winced as a handful of washers, thrown by Worth, hit him in the face.

Jonah opened the cardboard box nearby. It was full of fireworks. He thought about reaching for his plasma torch, but stopped when he felt how damp they were.

“This is getting depressing,” Worth said.

YJ was fiddling with an oversized briefcase. He opened it to reveal a case load of gaudy multibands.

“They suit you,” Worth said.

YJ found a crate marked Sweetknuckle Whiskey.

Holton grimaced. “Guys, don’t. Just don’t.”

Jonah grabbed a bottle and took a swig. He managed to keep it down, but a vein on his forehead strained. “It’s not that bad, Holton,” he said in a strangled voice.

“Well, we really hit the jackpot here,” YJ said.

Jonah took a look through a lidless box that contained some electrical components. He pulled out what looked like three pulse beacons, likely stripped out of stolen ships. He also found an interruption spike, a thumb-sized device often used by hackers.

YJ moved on to a box full of signal flares. Unfortunatley there was no flare gun to go with them.

Worth pawed through the luggage and found a fine silk kimono. He held it up appraisingly.

“What?” he asked when he saw everyone looking at him. “This would look good in Wild Sky’s room.”

Jonah opened the next crate and saw that it was full of protein paste tubes.

“As our procurement officer, I think you should procure those.” YJ said.

He saw Holton Hill’s eyes widen. “You know guys, that’d feed us for a year.”

“Tell you what, I’m willing to make you a deal on behalf of the crew,” Jonah said. “We’ll give you the entire box, none of this 50-50 business, and whatever else we find is ours. Want to take a gamble? Maybe there’s nothing else to be found.”

“Like I said, that would be quite useful to us,” Hill said.

Jonah looked over at the crew. “You guys agreeable to this? We’ll get all the fireworks.”

“You’re the procurement officer, but just remember: in space you can’t eat space.” YJ said.

They kept looking, but the pickings were slim. The vault itself looked to have been cleaned out some time ago; nary a poker chip remained.

Worth scratched his temple and muttered to himself.

Jonah shook his head. “Luggage and washers? This is embarrassing to the Sundeen Seven’s legacy. I’m ashamed by association.” He looked around. “I mean, these guys were able to keep a ship in the air. Presumably they were successful.”

“There must be something else,” YJ said. “This must be a ruse.”

“Yeah, it’s too obvious to look in the vault,” Worth said. “Everyone would look in the vault!”

There was a screech of metal on metal as Holton’s men got the elevator cage working.

“Let’s go toss their living quarters,” Jonah said. “Beds, toothbrushes…”

“Yeah, there are some dead bodies up there, if you don’t mind the company,” YJ said.

“What else are we going to do, right?” Worth asked.

They loaded the loot onto the elevator and rode it to the main floor of the Windjammer. Jonah quickly transferred their share to the grav sled before the men headed for the lobby. Their boots crunched over the scorched remains of the droids they had blown up in the earlier firefight.

YJ looked edgy. “I’m not sure about those dead bodies.”

“Need a hug?” Jonah asked.

“When you come down from there,” YJ said darkly, “let me know if you still need a ride.”

They could smell the scent of death before the elevator reached the fourth floor. Jonah and Worth lit up cigars to cover the smell as they walked out into the hallway.

The place was even hotter and damper than when they had last walked it. Rain was streaming in through glassless windowpanes and the gaping hole at the end of the hallway. There was a lot of fresh damage to the front-facing rooms that had served as the Sundeen Seven’s headquarters. That wasn’t the worst of it, however. Flies were buzzing everywhere, and the cigars didn’t completely overpower the smell of decomposing flesh.

The men started looking around.

Jonah grabbed the damaged communication console and added it to the sled. Then he braved the makeshift morgue and retrieved the Kid’s two pistols, and Brade Sorgen’s shotgun. He grabbed the wallet from the man with the gaping hole in his chest, which was now a hive of flies.

Worth’s pockets full of washers jangled merrily as he checked around.

Jonah frowned. “Let’s take a minute here. We’re criminals right? If we were hiding something, where would we hide it?”

“A mattress? Behind paintings, in the Gideon bibles?” Worth offered.

“Wouldn’t Teague have had an office?” Worth asked.

“They had a ship, right?” YJ asked.

“Scrappers got to it before we did,” Jonah said.

They searched every room on the fourth floor.

YJ kept an eye out for signs of recent disturbance. In the room beside the morgue, something caught the corner of his eye. He saw a void against the far wall, where a squarish object had been set up against it for some time. He moved in for a closer look. He took note of drag marks; the object had mussed up the carpet even further. He followed the trail into the hallway and turned up the corridor. The marks led directly to the blown-out section of wall at the end the hall. If the hole hadn’t been knocked out, the tracks would have ended right at the edge of the corridor.

YJ poked his head out, squinting against the rain. He could see the rubble scattered across the roof of the smaller hotel tower. There was no sign of any heavy object.

“Whatever was there, somebody else got to it first,” he said.

“The Chi’ang Shih.” Jonah said.

“Eff this,” Worth said. “I’m out.”

“I don’t know what it could have been,” Jonah said. “But I’m less optimistic about there being a second vault here.”

Hill and his boys were high-fiving one another.

“Listen Holton, I’ll let you go back on the deal if you want.” Jonah said.

Holton smiled as his companions picked up the crate of protein tubes. “The way I see it guys, these protein tubes will allow us to concentrate on making more whisky, which will benefit all of us. I may be able to give you guys one for the road.”

“Let’s cut our losses,” YJ hissed.

They got back on board the shuttle and headed back towards the Cap.

Worth got on the radio. “Hey Doc, I picked up a pretty dress for Wild Sky.”

YJ shook his head in disgust.

The shuttle arrived at The Cap without incident.

True to his word, Holton Hill had his boys load a cask of whisky on board, installing it in the galley so they could serve it on tap.

“You’re going to crash the ship,” Jonah said as YJ filled a glass from the dispenser.

“We’re looking to blast off pretty quickly; we’ve got a ticking oxygen tank to worry about.” Jonah said.

YJ turned. “You know what? Let’s have a little congress outside before we leave.”

The crew marched to one of the Quonset huts.

Jonah smiled. “So, we’re basically right here,” he said, pointing to a star chart readout on his PDD. “Osiris is very close, so the way I see it, we go to Osiris, grab the Desdemona, and drop off Shenmue. At this point we can’t put repairs in, we don’t have the money and we got nothing from this job, but we should put her in drydock. Hop over to Lilac with the cargo, drop off Whitaker, drop off the cargo, send a wave to Sai and let him know we got the ship. Presumably he’ll want us to bring the ship somewhere, so we fly it back, pick up the Shenmue, and fly it back too.”

“Did you guys see anybody milling around our ship on Beylix, or anywhere else for that matter?" YJ asked. "Anybody from a docking crew, or who shouldn’t have been there? Maybe who we didn’t pay for?”

“I don’t remember anything like that,” Worth said.

“What’s going on?” Jonah said.

“It’s obvious that our interrogator knew the answers to all the questions he was asking,” YJ said. “He can get some information from our logs, but not everything.” He thought for a moment. “Remember how our computer’s been running slow?”

“It’s been running slow ever since I came on board,” Jonah said.

“Just as a precaution, let’s not discuss our current business on board our ship,” YJ said.

“Well I actually have a debugger unit that I’ve been using,” Jonah said. “It pushes out enough static so we can have a small conference.”

“Okay, that’s going to be our morning huddle,” YJ said.

“The problem is, Clouseau’s going to know that we’ve got Wild Sky back.” Jonah said.

“Clouet,” Worth corrected.

“How would he know?” YJ asked.

“We’ll he’s got the ship bugged,” Jonah said. “None of us have said her name yet, but…” he trailed off. “No we won’t discuss it.”

“How’s our communication array? Long range, I mean.” YJ asked.

“Not good,” Worth said. “Snapped off during the storm.”

“All right then,” YJ said. “Next time we get pulled in for an interrogation, we say that our long-range communications array was down, and that’s why we weren’t able to communicate anything to the Inspector.”

“What?” Jonah said.

“If they know she’s on board, and we get intercepted again, we have a plausible explanation: we were on our way to communicate, but we couldn’t because our long-range array wasn’t working.” YJ said. “Meanwhile let’s get that array fixed as soon as possible.”

Worth nodded. “And if they test it and find out it works, we can be like, ‘you guys are amazing, I’ve been doing this for four months, and nothing.’”

YJ smiled. “I see you’re catching on, Worth. Also remember this phrase: I have no recollection of the moment in question.”

“So, we have a spaceship to steal,” Jonah said. “I figure it shouldn’t be too hard.”

“The word steal is thrown around a lot – you mean repossess.” YJ said.

“Listen, you know the type, right?" Jonah smirked. "He’ll have a couple of core-world bodyguards who have probably never fired a shot in anger; we’ll wave a gun in his face to let him know we mean business. They’ll run off and we’ll have the ship. Couldn’t be easier.”

“You mean like, play good cop, bad cop?” Worth asked.

“No, I mean bad cop, worse cop.” Jonah said. “We can kneecap one of them if they get out of line.”

“We need to find some way to put this Baron Otello off his game,” YJ said. “What would be a good reason for him to not suspect anything? Maybe give him a bump with our ship, make it look like an accident?”

“I’m afraid Shenmue might fall apart if we do that,” Jonah said.

“Hope you got insurance,” Worth added.

“Who’s to say he’s on it, right?” Jonah said. “He’s probably got it in dock. He probably has a big mansion, and it’s his pleasure yacht. So assuming he’s not cruising around, we just go up to the docks, we get inside, and we fly away with it.”

“Yeah, because there will be a welcoming committee out there rolling up the carpet for us to climb on board.” YJ said.

“Security guards?” Jonah said. “For a few plats they aren’t going to give us any trouble.”

“Let me put it this way, from experience,” YJ said. “The last guy who had a luxury vehicle that I thought wouldn’t give me any trouble fired a Vulcan machinegun at me, and it went up in flames.”

“When did this happen?” Jonah asked.

“What if one of us poses as a whisky salesman?” Worth said before YJ could reply. “Get Quinn to pose as a whisky salesman on a cruise.”

“We can’t get Quinn until we have a clean ship.” Jonah explained.

YJ nodded. “Yeah, do we need to drop them some air supply on the way?”

“Eh, they’ve got ten days.” Jonah said dismissively.

“They’re down to five,” Worth said, doing a mental tally. “If they take turns breathing, that is.”

“I think we need a little better plan than, ‘we show up at the dock and take it,’” YJ said.

“Guys with guns? I think that’ll work,” Jonah said. “But you can finesse it up.”

“Yeah, what about that whisky plan?” YJ said. “The Baron sounds like a man of taste.”

Jonah considered. “So we offer him whisky, he lets us on the ship, and then we pull the guns?”
“Yeah,” YJ said.

“So if we don’t have Quinn, who’s the next best smooth talker?” Worth asked. “Sure as hell ain’t me.”

“If he’s on board his own ship he won’t fire on it,” YJ said.

“What about the Doc?” Jonah asked. “He’s been known to tell a tale or two.”

The meeting broke up and the crew made their way back towards Shenmue. Hill was waiting for them at the cargo bay doors.

“Any time you’re in the neighbourhood, mi casa es su casa,” Hill said.

“Well, we’ll be back for some whisky, for sure.” Jonah said.

Hill smiled. “Well, maybe I can hire you to make some deliveries once I build my client base.”

The two shook hands.

One of Shenmue’s passenger dorms was pulling double duty as a recovery room. A woman lay in the single bed, IV feed and heart monitoring devices wired to her.

She opened her eyes. And immediately regretted it. A blinding white light assaulted her eyes, which she screwed shut involuntarily. She waited until she could stand the blood-red glow let through by her eyelids before cautiously cracking them back open. The brightness slowly resolved into what looked like the ceiling of a nondescript room – a network of pipes, wiring, and light fixtures all wreathed in haloes of pain.

She tried to wiggle her fingers and toes and was rewarded with a lightning bolt of pain that coursed through her extremities from her toes to the top of her head. She tried to scream, but couldn’t catch her breath through her parched mouth. Even the blanket covering her was scratching her skin.

She concentrated on the one sense that wasn’t causing her pain – her hearing. She heard a muffled beeping noise to her left and with a supreme effort of will peered out of the corner of her eye. She could make out an IV stand and life sign monitor attached to it, with wires and tubes leading to points of pain on her body where she could feel them connected to her.

It felt as though she was immobilized by an infinite quantity of cotton batting – clearly there was some kind of painkiller being pumped into her body that was taking the edge off, but only barely.

Her surroundings were completely unfamiliar. She didn’t know where she was.

Think, she said to herself. How did I get here? What’s the last thing I remember?

To her growing concern, she realized that she didn’t remember anything that would explain why she was lying in a strange bed, hooked up to medical equipment, and in the worst pain of her life.


What’s my name? She thought.

She didn’t know.

She would have freaked out, but it hurt too much to move. Only her twitching eyelids belied any trouble. Movement would cause a cycle of reciprocating pain.

She had no idea how she had gotten here. She had no idea who she was. She had no idea where she was. She didn’t even know when she was.

She managed a ragged sigh. Someone would be along shortly, she was sure. Nothing to do but wait it out, she thought.

She took an inventory of her aches and pains to keep her mind off the elephant in the room. Behind her eyes she could feel a mighty migraine spinning up. Her arm was throbbing, immobilized by a cold metal frame. She could feel the IV needle piercing the top of her hand.

She heard the sound of a door sliding open.

Worth headed to the passenger dorm, kimono folded under his arm. He opened the door, and stepped inside. The Doc was sitting at the small table in the corner, updating a medical chart. Setting the kimono on the dresser, he turned to look at Wild Sky. Her eyes were open.

“Jao gao,” Worth blurted. He fumbled for his handset. “She’s awake.”

Tulsa nodded and put a finger to his lips.

Worth winced as he realized his mistake. “I mean, why we keep this old dog around, anyhow?” he said into the handset.

Tulsa rolled his eyes.

Jonah turned on the debugger as he and YJ went into the passenger dorm, saving Worth from further embarrassment.

“Guess we’ll have to call the organ dealer and tell him the deal’s off,” he said.

YJ glared at him. “That’s about the fourth time you’ve earned a one-way trip to the airlock.”

“Welcome back,” Jonah said to Wild Sky, ignoring the captain.

“Doc, what the status here?” YJ asked.

“Well, she has been shot in the head, gentlemen,” Tulsa explained. “There’s the possibility of impairment,” he said, somewhat uneasily. “But regaining consciousness in and of itself is a good sign, and she’s ahead of schedule.”

“What are the chances she’s a veggie, doctor?” YJ asked.

“Her vital signs are strong,” Tulsa said. “Earlier, she was actually trying to move, which I’m guessing is showing her ability to regain consciousness. She’s definitely ahead of schedule in terms of healing which is a miracle in and of itself, but I’m still giving her a week before she’s cogent.”

“Can’t you run some kind of brainwave scan, doc?” YJ asked. “Work some of that modern medical magic?”

“Listen, I’m working with what I’ve got,” Tulsa said. “We need to stock up on supplies, plus our facilities aren’t exactly up to Core World standards.”

The beeping of Wild Sky’s pulse had increased in tempo.

The woman’s wide eyes darted from one scruffy-looking man to the next. None of them looked familiar, and from their appearance she couldn’t fashion a logical explanation as to why she’d let them get within twenty feet of her under normal conditions. Then again, aside from that offside organ dealer crack, they didn’t sound like they meant her any harm.

YJ met her gaze, and then looked at the heavy bandage covering half her head. She didn’t look good. The bruises on her face were a vibrant yellow and purple, and her lips were cracked and dry. She seemed to have shrunk back to a child-like state. Certainly, she didn’t look like the self-assured woman who had insulted them all while booking passage on their ship some months ago, and had been a valuable part of the crew ever since.

“The fact that she’s here at all is a big deal, considering where we found her,” said the Doc.

“Looks like she could use a drink of water,” Worth said.

“Or a hug,” Jonah said slyly.

“I’m guessing our chances about finding out about all the lovely things we found in her quarters will have to wait.” YJ said. He turned to Jonah. “Let’s get the ship prepped.”

The two men stepped out of the room, joined by the Doc. Worth made as if to follow, but hung back for a moment. He checked to see that no one was looking, then leaned down and caught Wild Sky up in a bear hug. Then he quickly left the passenger dorm.

The woman stared at the ceiling. “Ow,” she croaked.



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