After the unprofitable fiasco on Qing Long, which the crew barely got out of with their skins intact, it was time to get away from it all…in the Outer System. The Fastball Special docked at Extropia, the free haven where hypercorps could rub shoulders with anarcho-capitalists, where a new body or a microgravity steak dinner could be had…for the right price.
First things first: the team refreshed their backups. Just in case. Then Billy treated his teammates to said steak dinner in a restaurant where the cows came floating in giant tanks like the fishtanks in seafood restaurants back on Qing Long. After dinner, he turned to the business of finding new business for Fastball Express.
Billy’s old autonomist contact Dave hadn’t changed much. Dave had a proposition for the crew: steal a secret recipe from a neo-avian colony called Lexington, located on the asteroid Mr Spock. Said colony was guarded by the infamous mercenaries known only as the Iron Chefs, who were led by the enigmatic Colonel. The prize was a recipe dating back to Pre-Fall Earth: The Secret of Eleven Herbs and Spices for a fried chicken dish.
The team did some research on the matter and dug up an eyewitness report of the Iron Chefs’ attack on some Barsoomian moisture farmers on Mars. The witness excitedly related how “cool” and “awesome” the armor-suited Iron Chefs were as they destroyed his home and killed him and his family (his stack was later recovered, of course).
Asteroid Spock looked like a daunting target, since it would be hard to blend in with the neo-avian locals. However, once the team found out about the colony’s supply schedule, Billy toyed with the idea of sending in a single operative to perform reconnaissance. If they just got a single neo-avian sleeve for the infiltrating team member, the operation would be a “Go.”
Billy tried to get Dave to cover the costs of the neo-avian body by appealing to his most cherished fantasies. Went something like this: “Dave, you’re still wearing that Wesley Crusher sleeve, I see. I happen to have found a long-lost beta fork of Marina Sirtis in a salvaged data core…I’ll have her sleeved in a hot body and give you an evening with her if you can provide us that neo-avian sleeve.”
Then, to Quill: “I’ve got a mission for you…” (explains)
Quill: “Who’s Deanna Troi???”
Billy: “A pre-Fall science fiction character also known as Counselor Cleavage.”
Quill, masquerading as the fork of Marina Sirtis, met Dave at the steakhouse, both of them in Star Trek costumes. Dave wanted to indulge in his snuff fantasy of slowly throttling the life out of -
- then Quill turned on the psychic mojo. She hacked his brain pretty thoroughly leaving only a hypnotic desire to give us what we wanted and to forget the horrific mental trauma she had just inflicted upon him.
Now, the team had a raven-feathered neo-avian sleeve. But who would wear it on this dangerous solo mission? Bishop-Six, with his infiltration specializations, would seem to be the logical candidate. “It’s just a reconnaissance misson,” they told him, as he underwent the mentally strenuous resleeving process…
Some time later, the neo-avian tourist arrived at Lexington, armed with only his wits and a number of entirely legal devices and tools. After a quick tour of the colony, using his new ability to fly in low gravity, Bishop learned that most of the colony was perfectly normal and open to tourists, with the exception of the facility at the very far end of the cylinder, which was guarded by a contingent of Iron Chefs, as one might expect.
After looking into the best possible infiltration route, Bishop recontacted us and asked for further instructions. Cable naturally betrayed all of Bishop’s trust by ordering him to move in for immediate infiltration of the Iron Chef facility. Meanwhile, the Fastball Special approached Mr Spock, launching Kay as an independent flying object designed to distract Iron Chef patrols and draw them away. Kay went to his duties with great relish, ejecting from the ship with a metallic “GERONIMO!”
Bishop stood before the guarded door, feeling more vulnerable than he had in a long time. After all, he was in a new body, without any neurachem or other combat enhancements, and he was supposed to snatch the two guards’ guns and use them to blast his way through all resistance. He had the element of surprise, but not much else. His new feathered body seemed to move in slow motion compared to his regular Ghost form. He launched his ambush with deadly bursts of submachine gun fire…ripping into the Iron Chefs…and somehow, despite the odds, he succeeded!
(interlude: Somewhere, the duckling son of the dead merc asks his mom “where’s Dad? He promised he’d be here for my birthday. He promised…”)
By now the rest of the team had arrived, dispatched from the Fastball Special to help Bishop once he had gained access to the vault. With Kay’s distraction and the customary brilliant hacking skills of Cable, nothing could stop the team, as they prepared to open the vault lock…
…which was, amazingly, non-electronic. In fact, it was made of dumb matter. An old-fashioned combination lock. “But how do we hack it?” wondered Cable, dumbfounded. Quill tapped once more into her psi power, using Pattern Recognition to understand the inner workings of the lock. She just barely managed to open the vault, which swung open to reveal an old-fashioned piece of paper with the Eleven Secret Herbs And Spices recipe! Mission Accomplished, and so we buggered off out of there!
Back safe and sound in his main sleeve, Bishop would not let Cable forget. “Just a recon mission? You call that just a recon mission?!?” We all had a good laugh.