After settling things with the Greengrow corporation personnel and ensuring there were no Punch or Judy clones left, the crew were left with the problem of getting off planet and back to their ships in orbit.
The Maasdai Mara class shuttle they had taken to the surface was damaged while attempting to overfly a dome, being hit amidships by a missile and forced to make a rough landing. The second Massdai shuttle had crashed into a building nose-first, damaging the nosecone. Meanwhile the mercenary’s ship, the Gilded Cage had a badly damaged wing.
Using parts from the two Maasdai shuttles, the crew and the Greengrow technical staff were able to splice the nosecone from the gut-shot shuttle onto the other, replacing the damaged nose. In return for the help from the locals in repairing the shuttle, the crew promise to take any messages to their next port of call so the Greengrow corporation could be apprised of events and the colony could be resupplied after the incident. The mercenaries also needed to contact their guild to request pickup, as the small shuttle was not big enough to carry all the mercs.
While the shuttle is being repaired, Claudia takes the time to examine Preditta’s implants in detail. The implants contain a cryptographic key for access to a bank account. She discovers that the key is half of a complete cryptographic access token, and according tot he implants the other half of the key is located elsewhere.
With additional probing, Claudia learns the key is hidden in the sensie editing gear of a colleague of Preditta, named Soimah Imah. According to Preditta’s information she was residing on Santo Domingo Station, in the Hispaniola frontier System.
With crossed fingers, the crew boarded the patchwork shuttle and launched. While the hull creaked alarmingly, the ship managed to hold together long enough to clear the atmosphere and reach orbit. The shuttle just managed to fit in the Absconder’s hanger bay with the removal (and external docking) of the Work Bee.
Once reunited with their ships, the crew set course for the Hispaniola system. On arrival, they discover that it is an active trading and resource hub, with frequent traffic. As they approach the station the crew transmits the mail they received from the mercs and the Greengrow employees left on Ivy.
After obtaining docking clearance, the crew park the Mafdet and Absconder in a large bay, and set out into the station to find Soimah. Station security is tight, forbidding most weaponry and any sort of pressure suit. The crew leave most of their gear onboard the Mafdet and proceed to the residential sector to find Soimah.
On arrival in Soimah’s residential block, the crew discover Soimah’s door forced open. Soimah is standing in the middle of the room and reacts with hostility to the crew’s sudden appearance. After they explain Preditta sent them, she rolls her eyes and exclaims that he was nothing but trouble.
The crew calm Soimah down and try to figure out what is going on. She explains that only a few minutes before they arrived, a pair of thugs broke into her apartment and stole her sensie console. Unfortnuately, this is the very piece of equipment that was supposed to be carrying the other half of the cryptographic key. Soimah proclaims that she had no idea it was stored in her gear, but that she wouldn’t put it past Preditta to pull that sort of stunt.
Station security finally arrives and questions everyone, files a report, and leaves. The general impression is they are mainly concerned about the integrity of the station and the larger businesses aboard the station rather than the individual inhabitants, so they are unlikely to put much effort into recovering the stolen gear.
The crew spend some time tracking down the thugs involved in stealing the equipment, with Claudia hacking into the security system and trying to follow back where the thieves went after swiping Soimah’s gear. The crew hole up in a abandoned storefront on the commercial level to have some piece and quiet while Claudia works.
Ranso has attempted to do some old-fashioned detective work and is checking with the locals to try to find out what the deal is. When he walks into a random cafe the attendant at the door shoves a duffel bag into his arms and tells him to get out quick. Bemused, Ranso quickly leaves, and seconds later sees dozens of station security personnel swoop down on the store. Ranso quickly leaves the area and returns to the bakery.
On investigating the bag, the crew find a medium-sized lock box with a military-grade locking system on it. The lock requires special hardware to even attempt to bypass, so the group has no way to open it for now. Finch goes out and makes some friends in low places, trying to find some local contacts to acquire the necessary lockpicking gear and to see if they can get any leads on where Soimah’s gear has been taken.
The crew have lunch in a particular Italian restaurant, and their waiter discretely discusses their situation. He agrees to help the crew return to their ship discretely with the lock box, as they cannot bring it back through security without arousing suspicion.
The crew meet a contact named Luigi in an empty hanger bay. He provides a space suit and oxygen tank for Ranso to walk outside the station to reach the docking bay holding the Mafdet and Absconder. By entering the ships from the outside he can bypass security.
Ranso reaches the ships, but while he walks along the Mafdet’s hull to reach an airlock, he encounters two suited people planting something on the docking clamps holding the Mafdet and Absconder together. A fight ensues, with Ranso making good use of his implanted shiv. He takes a hit from a bangstick (explosive slug on the end of a baton) and is saved by his ballistic armor, although his suit is badly damaged. Fortunately Ranso’s other enhancements kick in, allowing him to resist vacuum and lack of oxygen until he eliminates both of his attackers.
Realizing he shouldn’t try touching the explosives, and running out of stored blood oxygen, Ranso quickly cycles into the Mafdet, hiding the duffel bag in one of Finch’s smuggling compartments. After a quick check of the ship for any other attackers, Ranso finds nothing. Once he has recovered his stored blood oxygen, he heads back outside, works his way back to the other docking bay, and meets back up with the rest of the crew.
When Ranso comes back into the bay, the crew and Luigi see his suit is badly damaged, with a gaping hole in the chest. Ranso hands the suit back to Luigi, who takes it with only a raised eyebrow. Luigi says it will take some time to get the lockpicking equipment, so in the meantime the crew resume their search for the thieves.