The episode begins with a montage of the main characters doing what they do best.
Atticus “Addy” Tuttle – former Browncoat and professional fixer. If you need or want something, he knows where to get it. On occasion he’s sent in as a negotiating agent.
Finding himself on Tongyi, a moon of Jiangyin, he sat in the darkened office of a man named simply Leng – financial agent of the moon’s Tong gangs. His job was to acquire the Silver Talon from them – a necklace consisting of a chain with a silver dragon’s claw clutching a crystal on it. The item not only had monetary value, but it was considered a Tong artifact with the ability to bestow luck in business on its owner.
Negotiations started with simple money. When Leng said that he would part with the item only for the money plus a schematic of the club where Addy would meet with his other Tong contact to turn over the item, the former Browncoat agreed. When Leng took it a step further and said that he intended to use the information to kill the other gang boss, Addy cut down the deal. Information was one thing – information that would be used to betray his client was another entirely. Unbeknownst to Tuttle, one of Leng’s goons was standing behind him with a wire garrote and would have used it had he answered incorrectly and betrayed his client. After all, a man would do this would gladly betray anyone – Leng’s Tong included. The negotiation ended in a drink of plumb wine and a successful transaction. The client would be pleased.
Evelyn Tsun – former Alliance officer and engineer, decorated for bravery during the War. While a passenger on a liner that had inadvertently flown through a small meteor swarm, and being the only qualified engineer left alive on the ship, she headed into the engine compartment – filled with fire and smoke – and battled to repair the three parts that needed to be in working order if the ship had any hope of being able to maneuver again and get out of the path of the next volley of meteors. After some trepidation, smoke inhalation, burned hands, and inspired skill the engine was repaired and the ship back on course to safety.
Kwon Lo Shi – martial artist, bodyguard, and hacker. Guarding a corporate executive named Maxwell Stuart on Londinium, Lo Shi was the head of a three-person team. Back from a meeting, and returning Stuart to his apartment, he left the other two outside the main door to be on guard duty as he swept the apartment. Finding no intruders or anything awry, he did take a second look at one of the Cortex security monitors next to his charge’s bed. There was a glitch at one corner of the display that he recognized as a sign that the apartment’s security was being hacked.
Kwon immediately ordered Maxwell to take cover in the kitchen while he made contact with the other two guards outside. The guards were killed in that instant, Lo Shi diving behind the door as the would-be assassins came in. In a matter of heartbeats, both assailants were on the floor with collapsed tracheas. With the room clear and building security on the way, Mr. Kwon’s reputation remained intact.
After each of these incidents, the trio received individual waves from a sherriff on Blackwood that Sebastian “Seb” Falk was being held on a murder charge and had requested their presence. Each made their way immediately to Blackwood and then to the sherriff’s office, entering at the same time. After talking to the sherriff they figure out that, though strangers to each other, they all knew Seb.
All three were allowed into the holding area to see Falk, who was elated to see them all. As it turns out, each of the three had a history with the man in the cell – enough history that they’d set out across the ’Verse with no questions asked to help him, it would seem.
As it turns out, a man had been murdered in the stables behind the local hotel and three witnesses (stable hands) were prepared to testify that it was Falk who pulled the trigger. According to Falk, though, he was taking a bath in his room at the time and didn’t even know the dead man. His best theory is that he was being set up by a fellow trader named Lucas Muldoon. While Muldoon had a broad set of goods that he traded in, he was mostly known for being a gun-runner and didn’t have the best of reputations on Blackwood. That being the case, Muldoon was losing out on good trades to Sebastian and that was costing him a great deal of money. Getting Seb out of picture was the easiest way to get the trade opportunities to swing his way.
With only a little information, the trio set out to the hotel to get settled there and start asking questions. The man at the front desk was happy enough to fill him in on what he knew, which wasn’t much beside the fact that the three stable hands who witnessed the crime were working that day.
Atticus borrowed a camera, figuring that a more indirect and subtle mode of questioning might be best to start out with. Once in the stables, he offered to take Lo Shi and Evelyn’s picture at the site of the heinous crime for just five credits. Going along with the act, the other two were even able to get the three stable hands in the pictures with them. Lo Shi, as they were in the process of taking the photos, noticed a bullet hole in a beam nearby and directed Addy to take a picture of it in the background of one of the photos. The three workers didn’t waver from their story that Seb had killed the man, but the place that they put the dead man as standing at wasn’t consistent with the bullet hole in the beam.
Their next stop was the doctor’s office where the dead man’s body was being held. Addy went right in, but Kwon and Evelyn were stopped first by Muldoon’s men and then by Muldoon himself, letting them know that bad things would happen if they kept asking questions. Both took note that while Muldoon wasn’t wearing a gun, it was obvious that he had at one time by the lack of fading on the leather where his holster would normally have been.
After all three were in the doctor’s office, Atticus was able to influence the doctor into letting them take a look at the body after he was able to find a contact that would sell the doc a laser scalpel for a good price. Seeing the wound, Evelyn recognized the tell-tale key-holing of the wound that was indicitive of an Alliance officer’s pistol.
Heading back to the hotel, the three were stopped by one of the stable hands that would only talk to the “Picture-Taker Man.” While the other two went on to the hotel, Addy talked with the man who was nursing a guilty conscience about the murder. He admitted that he’d been in the stables when the murder happened. He heard the shot and went to see what was happening and saw Lucas Muldoon, pistol in hand, standing over the body. Lucas them paid off the three stable hands to keep quiet and clear up the area for him while he went off into the darkness. When Lucas returned, the pistol was gone. He said that he would recant his statement only if Atticus was able to get him off-planet. That was good, though Addy had been using his camera to record the whole thing unbeknownst to the witness. It was just a matter of some quick sweet-talking in the bar before Addy found a ship that would take the witness.
Atticus sent the witness to the nearby space-port, Kwon arriving not long thereafter to guard him, which was a good thing, as Lucas’ thugs showed up to take the witness away. Kwon made short work of them, only the second man even aware that he was being attacked before both lied in heaps on the ground. Soon thereafter, the witness embarked on the ship and was safe.
Meanwhile, Evelyn was out behind the stables searching for Muldoon’s gun. He hadn’t been gone long enough to head very far, so the weapon had to be nearby. Aided by only a flashlight in the darkness of night, she searched as well as she could, tripping at one point and spraining her ankle. In the pain, nursing her sprain and lying there on her back she caught a flash of a glimmer of metal in her flashlight’s beam up on the roof of the stable. Getting up to take a closer look, it turned out to be the murder weapon.
By the time that Evelyn, Atticus, and Lo Shi met at the sherriff’s office, Muldoon was already there to report what had happened to his men. Confronted with the evidence of his recovered pistol and the recorded recant of the witness statement, the sherriff took Lucas into custody and released Falk immediately. As the group left, Lucas could be heard screaming at them how he would someday get his revenge.
Sebastian invited the three to his ship where they could become crew if they wanted or get dropped off anywhere in the ‘Verse that they liked. His ship had been having registration problems for the longest time and they’d need to name it when they pulled into the next port, so Sebastian had the others think on that.
As the crew-for-the-moment left Blackwood’s atmo, a feeling of endless possibility rushed over all present as they looked out the canopy of the ship.
Anything could happen…