Throwback Thursday: Space Cowboys #3 – “Shore Leave””
As you can see, while the heroes were very small fish in a very large pond, they still got to rub up against major events.
This was the session that started the tradition of teasing Osolo for having a glass skull. Bop him on the head, down he goes.
Again, we pick up moments after the last episode faded out…
The girl turned out to be Rahne, Bubba’s 8 year old daughter from a wild weekend during his days in the Patrol. After establishing her identity, she burst into tears, explaining that a local hooligan had stolen her duffel bag that morning, in the nearby mall. She downloaded a picture of the creep into Dr Nanika’s public directory, which she later printed out for everyone else to see.
While Rahne was talking to Bubba, the others were treated to the sight of Capt. Cotton O’Rourke, of the Blue Bird, a tramp freighter similar to the Cabra, trying to fast-talk a crowd of refugees into accepting his second-hand nanosleep tubes for a trip to Mimas, a moon of Saturn. They were members of the Church of Elvis, claiming religious persecution, who wanted to relocate to the Heartbreak Hotel, the center of the church. Rather than see the poor refugees put their life up for such a poor gamble, Dr. Nanika talked the rest of the crew into accepting the crowd at cut-rate prices. A deal was negotiated: the 18 refugees could set up camp in the cargo hold, while the four missionaries would pay full price for the 10 AU trip.
Having sorted that out, Bubba and Osolo took the mules to go check out the mall, leaving Samale in charge of settling the passengers. Hal and Cap’n Jack took off to investigate the local drinking establishments. Dr Nanika started the process of checking the refugees, and Rahne, for medical troubles… starting with a blood test to confirm that she really was Bubba’s daughter.
After casting about for a time, the twins spotted the hooligan, walking near the ice skating rink in the mall, carrying a duffel bag over his shoulder. Osolo shouted and flung a mallet from his mule’s toolbox to get their attention, while Bubba accelerated into an attempt to snag the bag. Osolo lost control of his mule, ramming it into a sudden stop against a bench, but recovered in time to lasso the bag. Bubba got into a scuffle with the culprit’s gang, grabbing one by the throat and throwing him into another.
When all of this started, Rahne, back at the boat, jumped into action. She tossed a video link to Nanika, showing the start of the fight – apparently, she had been keeping tabs on Dad – and ran out of the sickbay. Nanika made a grab for the girl, but missed, and was obliged to chase her out of the boat and all the way to the mall. They showed up just as mall security was responding to the incident. Standing at a distance, Rahne activated the toys in her bag: a miniature group of WWII-era soldiers escaped from the bag and started setting up to launch a bomber.
Osolo was rendered unconscious from a security billy club. Rushing to his defense, Bubba discovered the toy air strip and spotted the ladies. Calling upon his military experience, he ordered the toys back into the bag, and yelled at Nanika to get Rahne out of there.
In the end, security rounded everyone up and finally got the story straight. When Rahne accurately described her toys, and the hooligan couldn’t explain what he was doing with a bag full of little girl’s clothes, security let the crew go with a warning.
Life returned to relative normal. Bubba got Rahne settled in to her own cabin, Nanika processed the refugees, providing vaccinations and so forth, while Samale and Osolo hit the streets looking for cargo and freight. Before the search was done, both Bubba and Nanika had helped, but it became clear that the crew didn’t have the ready cash to buy most available cargo. Nevertheless, they managed to pick up several lots of freight for Mimas, including 49 tons of scientific equipment for an orbiting research station.
On 31 August 2517, the newspapers reported the assassination of an important Core Worlds politician, François Météore. He had been making a speech in Botany Bay the night before.
Comparing notes at breakfast, the crew realized that they had found all the readily available freight for the Mimas run. Also, most cargo was beyond their combined means. Attempting to shake things loose, Osolo spent the morning at Ceres & South Africa Acceptance*, a bank which was offering discounted loans in celebration of a recent acquisition, getting approved for a $3 million loan. Meanwhile, Samale sought out the underbelly of Botany Bay, locating a supplier of illegal drugs in wholesale quantities. Both came away considering the terms of their deals, but without making any firm plans.
As it turned out, this was for the best. That evening, government agents showed up at the door of the Cabra, along with a squad of uniformed policemen. They arrested the crew, took Rahne into protective custody, and allowed the passengers to return to their beds.
For the rest of the evening, the crew was interrogated. The agents weren’t giving out any free information, but it became clear that they were suspicious that the Cabra had something to do with the elf that had assassinated François Météore. Dr Nanika, despite her well-known inability to tell a lie, didn’t spill the beans, because her interrogators never asked her the right questions. When told that Bubba had already sold them all out (a lie, of course), Osolo broke down and admitted to running cockfighting shows in interplanetary space, leading to a fine and the confiscation of all the boat’s chickens. Samale denied having any interest in smuggling, while congratulating himself on not returning with a truckload of contraband. And Hal was dropped back into the crew’s cell, beaten to within an inch of his life.**
On the morning of 1 September, the authorities turned the crew loose. They apologized – mildly – for the trouble, explaining that they had been suspicious due to some odd maneuvers the boat had made during its landing approach. However, their forensic specialists had gone over the Cabra during the night, and found no evidence of unexplained personnel on board any time recently.
Later, Osolo was congratulated on his housekeeping skills.
Back at the boat, Hal was put to bed and the crew swung into action, making ready for departure. The healthy crew members made a final sweep for freight that turned up a load of electronics parts. While out and about, Samale discovered the boat’s chickens, for sale at government auction, and re-bought them.
The Cabra departed Ceres on 5 September 2517, setting out on a 3+ month voyage to Mimas.
* Old-school geek points if you get that one.
** In case you haven’t already picked up on it, Hal suffers from Unluckiness.