With the pirate situation under control in the Tortuga system, and no new leads regarding the past strange happenings, the crew bury their curiosity for the moment and finally turn their attention to the tip they received from Fed:
The Occulus, personal yacht of Calan ‘Credits’ Preditta, has been spotted in a remote star system to which Fed provided the coordinates. The crew have been meaning to catch up with Preditta, as he owes them a fair bit of cash for their ‘recording’ deal. Ranso’s recording device is also full, which should be worth a fair bit to the director.
Previously, Finch discussed the details of the coordinates provided by Fed with the Bahmani ship captain Mussaf, who explained that it was a small star system called ‘Ivy’. The only notable planet being a small rockball currently being terraformed into a farming colony by GreenGrow Inc. According to Fed’s information, the Occulus was currently in a stable orbit some distance from the planet.
Worrying about the remoteness of the system, and fearing a possible trap, the crew bring both the Absconder and the Mafdet with them. On arrival in system, they discover the Occulus is docked to another ship. The crew prepare for a fight, but on intercept make contact with the unknown ship, finding it to be The Petty Drake.
The crew last encountered The Petty Drake at Pebble station where a dispute between the crew of the salvage ship and the Fairwinds asteroid clan was on the verge of erupting into violence. The Drake fled with a Fairwinds ship in pursuit.
Since then, captain ‘Drake’ had been lying low, trying to make back some of the money he lost in the Pebble incident. He came across the Occulus abandoned in the Ivy system and legally claimed it as salvage. GIven FInch and Rence’s attempts to smooth over the situation back at Pebble, Drake agrees to let the crew check out the Occulus to find out why it was abandoned.
On inspection, the crew finds that the ship showed damage from being boarded. A look at the security logs indicated that a paramilitary team boarded the Occulus and used non-lethal weapons to subdue the crew. As they cornered Preditta in his suite aboard the ship, however, Preditta’s bioroid actors, Punch and Judy, took action, disabling the computer systems and inflicting severe internal damage to the Occulus. In the attack they managed to badly wound the boarding team, and the team withdrew to their own ship after discovering Preditta already dead in his room.
Searching Preditta’s computer, Claudia discovers a message left for the crew. In this recording, Preditta explains he is probably dead, but has left the remainder of his fortune to the crew of the Mafdet if they deliver his data and implants to an aide at an undisclosed location. The details are in his implants. Unfortunately Preditta’s body is nowhere to be found, so the crew is at a loss.
Claudia checked the external sensor logs, and discovered the boarder’s ship, the Guilded Cage, had fled the Occulus with Preditta’s body and headed towards the planet Ivy for medical attention for their wounded crew.
Drake allowed the crew to take one of the Occulus’ atmospheric shuttles with them, docked to the Absconder (along with the Mafdet) to orbit around Ivy. The crew then took their shuttle down to the colony’s landing field.
As they approached the airstrip, the crew discovered the Guilded Cage with a damaged wing, and the Occulus’ other atmospheric shuttle, parked at the end of the landing field. The shuttle was nose-first in a building at the end of the airstrip, seemingly having crashed.
Upon landing, the crew were initially met with a hostile mob of GreenGrow bioroids and a security team who thought they were raiders or pirates. After defusing the situation, Finch and Rense explained that they were only there looking for Preditta.
The crew were led to the local infirmary by GreenGrow bioroid ‘Number 37’. In the injury ward, the captain of the Guilded Cage and his men, who were all badly wounded, lay recovering. From his hospital bed, the commander of the unit, Major Oka Grang, explained his team was hired by the Ulman Entertainment Licencing Group to arrest Preditta for breach of an exclusivity contract. On boarding the Occulus, however, his team was attacked by half a dozen copies of the actor bioroids (Punch and Judy) and barely managed to fight them off. On finding Preditta, it was discovered he was already murdered, either by his bodyguard Mr. Lynch or one of the Bioroids, in a fairly gruesome manner. To their dismay, they learn Preditta was decapitated and that the whereabouts of his head, and thus the implants, was unknown.
Regarding the initially hostile welcome and ship pile-up at the end of the runway, the local security chief, Tanisha Rosario, explained that a couple days after the Guilded Cage landed for medical assistance the atmospheric shuttle arrived and the bioroids onboard immediately attacked the surrounding area. They destroyed the port facilities in the building impacted by the shuttle, killed or wounded numerous workers and security personnel, and then holed up in agro-dome six with hostages. The remaining security forces had the dome under siege, but thus far the bioroids had rebuffed all attempts at negotiation.
Realizing it likely that the bioroids had Preditta’s head, Finch and Rence went to the dome to try to contact them. Meanwhile, Claudia and Ranso used the atmospheric shuttle they landed in to conduct a flyover of the transparent agro-dome to see what the situation was inside. To their surprise, they were attacked by a missile fired from the dome, and the shuttle was badly damaged, making a crash-landing back at the landing strip. Claudia and Ranso survived with only minor injuries, but the shuttle was crippled.
The crew again spoke with Major Grang, who revealed that the bioroids had raided the smallarms locker of his ship, which included a few man-portable surface-to-air missiles, as well as other guns. The bioroids seemed competent with the weapons, indicating they had access to combat programming.
The crew returned to agro-dome six and again attempted to talk with the bioroids via the intercom at the main door. After numerous attempts were all rebuffed or ignored, Ranso followed up on a hunch: Remembering ’Judy’s’ reaction to him after her ‘resurrection’ he announced his name and that he was coming for Judy. This got a reaction, as the door to the dome immediately opened, allowing the crew access.
The Mafdet crew cautiously entered the dome, seeing GreenGrow bioroids restrained against rows of bushes. As they entered, the bioroids began chanting Ranso Loughman’s name, and suddenly stood up and charged him with various agricultural implements and knives. The crew opened fire, immediately dropping several of the attackers. In a flash of inspiration, Finch pointed to one of the bodies, and in his best stage voice pronounced: “Ranso Loughman is dead! You’ve killed Ranso Loughman!”
The GreenGrow bioroids immediately stopped and dropped their weapons, becoming instantly passive. The crew told them to leave the dome through the open door, which they started doing. Once the bioroids were clear, the team advanced farther into the dome, finding Lynch tied up against a bush. The team was then ambushed from above and in front by various copies of Punch and Judy. After a fierce firefight, the crew managed to gun down all the Punch and Judy bioroids, and recovered a cryo-bag found to be containing Preditta’s head.
Why the bioroids killed Preditta and acted the way they did was still a mystery, but at least the crew of the Mafdet had Preditta’s head (and implants) to try to claim their reward. Now the question was how they were going to get off the planet and back to their ship(s) in orbit…