Having completed their most recent job (delivering a cargo hull of self-sealing stem bolts to a frontier world colony), the crew returns to the planet of Beaumonde to ask after any new jobs from Madame Joy.
As they begin their descent into the planet’s atmosphere, Koda notices a red light flashing on the Calcifer’s instrument panel. He immediately realizes that the ship’s hydraulic system has gone offline – and knows that the Calcifer will plummet like a thrown brick if the problem isn’t fixed. In the cockpit, Jackson and Mulan quickly notice a problem and check in on Koda and, on learning of the issue, advise the remaining crew members to buckle up and hold on.
Both Rushi and Imani are unable to locate a seat belt before the ship bucks them; Rushi is able to get off with a little bit of rough tumbling in her quarters, but Imani – and the dinner she was working on – go scattering gracelessly across the galley floor. Working against the gravity and the force of the spiraling ship, Koda is able to melt duct tape to secure the offending hydraulic pipe.
With the hydraulics (barely) working, Mulan safely guides Calcifer and crew into port. (Tower control is less than pleased with her ‘shenanigans’, however…) Koda’s quick fix saved them from certain misfortune, but he informs the crew that Calcifer won’t be going anywhere any time soon without a much needed, rather expensive hydraulics tube.
Once they’ve landed, Jackson, Imani and Mulan leave Rushi to watch over the Calcifer as they report to Madame Joy. Koda asks the three to purchase the necessary repair part while they’re out, then heads off to a Mom and Pop scrap yard to see if he can find one there.
No one seems to be present at the scrap yard when he gets there; being who he is, Koda attempts to sneak in – and promptly runs into a small pack of dogs. His attempts to charm them with some trail mix and nice words fails splendidly. They attack him; one even manages to take a nice chunk out of his ass as he’s running from the yard.
Elsewhere, Jackson, Imani, Mulan and Ein trot off to Madame Joy’s. They ask for Madame Joy at the desk, relinquish their weapons and step into the inner building. Here, it’s more like a hacker den, people working on computers with multiple monitors and video feeds of the building. They pass recording studios where the ‘masseuses’ service their clients. Madame Joy herself is sitting on what can only be called a throne, on whose armrests are the controls for the multiple video feeds and monitors around her. A pit of people with similar set up work around her.
Madame Joy already has a job for them, but Jackson announces that Calcifer and crew will not be able to leave until they have the necessary hydraulics part, so he asks for an advance. Madame Joy seems reluctant to give an advance, but agrees to give them the part if they sign on for a special retrieval job: she has an Alliance informant that didn’t check in when he should have; she doesn’t care so much about the informant (though he is useful), but requires the information.
On acceptance of this retrieval job, Madame Joy sends the hydraulics part to the ship, gives the three of them all the necessary information on the man, and sends them off.
In the meanwhile, Koda has his ass expertly stitched up by Rushi, who leaves a little butt dimple to “teach him a lesson about dogs.” When the three other arrive back at the ship, Mulan slips off for ‘a walk’. Jackson thinks she’s going to beat up the man who offered to buy Ein for his meat; in reality, she’s picking up her illegal ADHD medicine.
Their mission is as follows:
Franklin Bates (known as Joker) is a squirrely white guy with a soul patch. As an Alliance informant, he is supposed to meet one of Madame Joy’s people at the Starmaiden, a bar on Persephone, every couple weeks. The last time they were supposed to meet, he didn’t show. The crew must go to Persephone and retrieve Joker or the information he was carrying – ideally both, but the latter particularly.
This time, Rushi and Mulan stay on the ship when they arrive in Persephone. The rest take public transport to the Starmaiden, where they (smartly) do not relinquish their hidden pistols at the door.
Within the seedy bar, there’s a group of Japanese suit men (identified as space age Yakuza, not that high in pecking order), some other spacers like the crew, several drunk people, some guys sitting around a hologram stripper and one old whore in the corner. Jackson orders a drink and asks the bartender if he’s seen Joker around; he says no. Koda goes to engage the stripper guys, also asking about Joker. They seem to know but won’t say until Koda offers to buy them some liquor (Midshelf!) in exchange for info. He gets the man a whiskey sour.
“He was in here a few weeks ago,” the man says. “Rosemary’s Boy’s picked him up, beat him up something fierce. Keep it on the down-low, don’t tell Rosemary.”
A new fruity, fizzy drink with umbrella later, Koda charms the bar keep to learn more about Rosemary. All he’s able to learn is that Rosemary Boyd runs the Jackal gang, a group of ex brown-coats.
Not willing to risk seeming suspicious, the three cross the street to an almost mirror image of the Starmaiden, the Maiden of Space. Koda decides to try his hand at the really old whore. He pays her 15 credits to get info on the boys, but she points at some brown coats coming in the door and takes off. They say they hear the crew’s been asking questions about the Boys, and that they should stop asking questions if they want to get off the planet.
Jackson tries to convince them they’re also anti-Alliance and they should be friends. Imani mentions they’re looking for an Alliance informant, and the boys say that info is now “classified”. Fight breaks out.
Jackson and Koda end up wounded; of the three men to enter the bar, one runs away with a hole in his stomach, one loses his head, and the other is swiftly detained and brought back to Calcifer.
(The now headless brown-coat was carrying: 2 clips of ammo, a glock .20, knife, concealable vest, cell phone, cash.)