Not All Who Wander

S01E05: Into the Light
Will Kwon Find Meaning To His Path?

Responding to an emergency call from Xavier in the engine room, Kwon Lo Shi ran back to find the young lord fighting an electrical fire. He immediately called for Evelyn and went about fighting the fire.

As Kwon was putting out the small blaze, a burst of electricity arced out and hit him square in his chest.

The next thing that he knew, he was in the middle of a class at his first dojo, facing off against his master Lee Chen. The dojo was clean and well-lit and padded mats lined the floor and mirrors were on many of the walls.

Sparring against Lee Chen as they talked, both took their turns coming out on top in exchanges of punches, kicks, and throws. They talked about how he’d been picked on and eventually decided to learn to defend himself, but wasn’t sure about where he would go from there. Kwon definitely liked the idea of protecting others – he knew that much.

After a final “Find your path,” from his old teacher, the scene swirled until Lo Shi found himself walking into his second dojo. Quite a chance from his former training hall, this one was hard, with bare concrete floors and walls stained here and there with blood. The lights were dim, and there were certainly no mirrors. Looking around at those training and constantly slamming others and getting slammed into the walls, it was obvious why. This wasn’t a training hall for simple martial artists – these were combat fighters. The was the next level.

Taking a few steps in, training bag in hand, he was waved into the main office by an overweight old man with dark hair and a beard. He wore loose pants and a white, sleeveless shirt stained by food. “What do you want?” the man asked. It was Lao Feng (Old Wind), his second fighting arts instructor. The old man swiveled in his seat, sitting in an overly relaxed fashion with a cup of tea in front of him on his desk.

Explaining that he was there to train, Kwon explained that he’d left his old dojo and that Feng’s had come highly recommended. He’d decided that he wanted to learn to better not only protect himself, but others. His path was that of the bodyguard. The old teacher stated quite firmly that Kwon wouldn’t survive a single day of training.

Feng casually picked up the cup of tea and threw it at Kwon’s face. The young man was able to raise his bag up in time to block the scalding hot water, then throw the bag itself at the old man. After the bag hit Feng and rolled off of him to the floor, he shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe you have some potential,” the old man said. “Today you’ll clean the floors – the blood gets a little thick and it’ll help you work those weak arms.”

The scene swirled again and Kwon found himself years on in his training at Feng’s hall. He’d become hardened and saw everything as a potential weapon and everyone as a potential opponent whenever he would walk in.

Lao Feng entered and called for everyone to stop and simultaneously dropped half a dozen long, metal piped on the ground. With just a few words of instruction, the students around Kwon picked one up and formed a circle around him. “Are you ready to be tested?” the old teacher asked. “Actually, it really doesn’t matter.”

Like a swarm, the six other students descended on Kwon who dodged, blocked, and struck, fighting for his life. The old master stayed on the periphery of the fight. After sending one other student to the ground unconscious, Kwon was mobbed by the others and forced to the floor.

Feng got down on his hands and knees to look his student in the eyes. “Here is the lesson of being a bodyguard. Are you prepared to die to protect another? Are you willing to go to hell so that another can avoid it? If you can answer those questions with a yes, there is nothing more that I can teach you.” The master stood and turned, taking a step away. “Except this,” he said, landing the kick on the young man’s face that sent him into unconscious oblivion.

When Kwon opened his eyes again, he was walking into the Shield Protection Agency to interview for his first professional job as a bodyguard. The office was the picture of sterility and style and he was quickly let into a conference room where a corporate interviewer sat down across from him and started out.

It would seem that Lao Feng had sent a letter of recommendation to the company on Kwon’s behalf, saying that they would be literally crazy fools for not accepting his student amongst their ranks. As it turns out, Feng’s recommendation carried quite some weight, not only in the bodyguard community, but with mercenary groups as well. The interview went well. Kwon stressed that he felt a drive to protect others and that this was his calling. After just a few minutes of consideration, Kwon was brought on board and assigned to a bodyguard team.

Kwon’s mentors at the Shield Agency were Anton Vargas and Brie Stephanopolis. They trained him for another two years before they took the young man into an office and had them take a seat behind the desk. They explained that it was his new office and that they had both signed off on Kwon being fully certified and ready to go solo. With a few words and a couple of jokes, the two left the man to enjoy the news.

Moments later, a very attractive woman walked in with a smile. She explained that she had read his files and found him both attractive and intriguing enough to come to meet him. She then asked if he had ever spent time with a Companion before that.

The scene swirled and Kwon found himself in a room of blackness.

Lee Chen appeared and stepped forward into a beam of light. “You were a good student. You started your path with me, but where will you take it?” The light illuminating the teacher faded.

Another light brightened to show Lao Feng. “I asked you if you were ready to die for another. Are you also prepared to live for others? Death is our final destination, but it is the path that is important.” His second teacher’s light faded also.

Stephanopolis and Vargas then appeared. “You have what some would call a family,” Vargas said. “If you let them become so,” Stephanopolis finished. “Are you prepared to call them family, to live for them, and die to protect them?” the two said in unison before disappearing.

Suddenly, the room of darkness lit up all around Kwon until the light was blinding.

Kwon jerked, his chest rising off of the floor, his eyes opening to their fullest width, taking in a sharp and deep breath.

Evelyn sat over him with a set of medical paddles. “Kwon, are you alright? I thought that I’d lost you. You were gone for twenty seconds.”

Shaking his head, Kwon was able to sit up and look around. He was still in the engine room and the arcing electricity was gone.

The young bodyguard had a lot to think about.

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S01E04: The Young Lord, Part 1
The Rabbit Race

Sebastian gets word from an old contact – a Lord Winterbourne – with a job. Transport the lord’s son Xavier and his heard to a mid-rim moon to start his own business, train him in the skills that he may need on the way, and accompany him to the negotiations with the local nobles.

The money was right and after discussing it with the rest of the crew – Atticus, Evelyn, and Lo Shi – they accepted the job.

As it turns out, the “herd” was not cattle as one would think, but in rabbits, which were immediately packed aboard in uncountable cages in the cargo hold.

Following shortly thereafter was the young lord himself – Xavier Winterbourne – and his assistant Gregory. Xavier immediately talked down to the crew and treated them as mere peasants in his presence. Gregory, though, was happy to serve any who needed him.

After a trip to the engine room with Evelyn to show him what several of his chores while aboard would be, he returned to the dining table, sat down, and immediately and humbly apologized for his treatment of the crew. The way in which he treated them was all that he knew. He had always gotten everything that he wanted and he figured out in the brief engine room stint that he was lacking in the skills that he would need to survive as a businessman and bowed to their knowledge. He would do whatever they wished in order to learn what he needed to in order to succeed and make his father proud.

There did appear to be a slight catch, though. Addy, upon hearing the Winterbourne name and seeing the man, knew that he knew him from somewhere. It wasn’t until the ship was in the black that he realized that he’d done business with Winterbourne years ago. The lord was trying to smuggle something and came to Atticus for assistance. Addy set him up with a way of smuggling items within the human body using a kind of flesh pocket. Winterbourne then sent his sister-in-law as the first to try out the pocket. Unbeknownst to Addy, the small items that Winterbourne was smuggling were packets of chemicals…and this one in particular reacted badly with body heat. The result was that Winterbourne’s sister-in-law died. So why did Winterbourne select this crew for this job, knowing that Addy was specifically aboard? Did he have a grudging respect for Tuttle or was it some kind of revenge plot?

Whatever the case might be, the crew set about doing their job and teaching the boy what skills that they could on the two week trip. Kwon taught him, not so much how to fight but how to basically defend himself without the sword and how to best work with bodyguards as they did the main defending for him. Evelyn taught him a bit about engines – enough to do very basic maintenance and get him by with understanding what the various parts were. It was Addy’s job to teach the boy to sell his product and to convince the nobles that he would contact that rabbits were the thing to buy.

The trip goes on with Xavier in charge of cleaning the rabbit cages as well as a multitude of menial tasks around the ship.

Closing in on the destination moon, the episode ends, to be continued…

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S01E03: Double Identity
Wherein an old client of Kwon's shows up unexpectedly

Having just completed a job and earned a nice amount of money, it was unanimously decided by the crew that some rest and recreation was in order. Stopping on a nearby planet, a bar wasn’t difficult to find. On the first night, Atticus had a little too much to drink and paid for it the next night, leaving Evelyn, Lo Shi, and Sebastian to keep the celebration going. Beside of a man getting a little handsy with Evelyn, a problem that Kwon averted with some pleasant reasoning, things were at least briefly quiet for the crew.

About to indulge in the next round, Kwon saw a flash of a familiar face dart through the crowd. Following up on it, he saw that it was indeed an old client of his – Amanda Cole. Amanda had been involved with a bad man, had seen too much, and a black mark was put out on her head. Kwon was able to protect her long enough to get a new identity for her in place, helping her disappear. The look on her face at the bar, though, was not one of security.

Lo Shi excused himself, with Evelyn following along out of curiosity, leaving Seb to finish their whisky.

Watching from a distance, they saw Amanda in a heated discussion with a man at a corner table and her expression of desperation wasn’t changing. Accidentally knocking a glass out of another patron’s hand, it made enough noise even in the crowded venue that Amanda noticed and didn’t turn tail when Kwon and Evelyn approached her.

At first Amanda though that Kwon was there to kill her, but after he explained that the crew that he was with was just passing through by chance, she calmed down and explained what she was doing there. Her ship was an older model that required a lot of maintenance to keep it going and she needed to keep going because she was always just a step or two ahead of those trying to collect on that black mark. Her engine had problems and she had no choice but to set down and try to get repairs. No one would take it for her.

Evelyn offered to take a look and when the trio made it to the ship and inspected it, they saw that the part indeed couldn’t be repaired – a replacement was needed. The planet that they were on was very industrial, so availability wasn’t the problem – it was the price and none of them could afford it, even after the score.

Amanda explained that this planet, out on the rim, had a data node facility that could be used to reinforce her present identity and make it easier for her to stay ahead of her mark. Neither Kwon nor Evelyn was very enthusiastic about the idea (Kwon because a hacker never likes to to into the belly of the beast and Evelyn because she was still loyal to the Alliance who were the owners of that facility.

After some discussion, it was decided that the node was probably the best route. It wasn’t a huge facility, but it was protected by Alliance personnel. Rather than sneaking in, Evelyn decided to use her pull as a hero of the war to talk their way past the guards and do as little collateral damage as possible.

The first set of guards were bypassed by bringing up the name of Admiral Wellington, that Evelyn’s quick thinking and heroism had saved, and explained that they were doing an inspection by the Admiral’s order and they could take it up with him if they had a problem with it. That got them through the first checkpoint. When they were questioned by more guards once inside, who weren’t buying the unscheduled inspection, Kwon brought out the orders that the Admiral had issued for the inspection (that he’d forged for just this occasion), which was enough to get them past the others. Once in the node, the hack wasn’t difficult and they were able to not only reinforce Amanda’s identity, but also get the needed part routed to her ship with a hacked payment.

Getting out of the facility was far easier than entering and they were back at Amanda’s ship in no time. Evelyn installed the part and Kwon briefed her on what he’d done and with a hearty thank you, they parted ways.

Kwon hoped to never see Amanda Cole, er, this unidentified woman, ever again.

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S01E02: Mission of Mercy
Sometimes you get more than you bargained for.

Having received a wave from an old friend, Sebastian proposes that, since they’re along for the ride anyway, the three new potential crewmembers might as well be in on the money-making part of the show. Not having any other plans or schemes of their own, Atticus “Addy” Tuttle, Kwon Lo Shi, and Evelyn Tsun agreed.

Once planetside to meet their contact for the job, Sebastian complained of several ailments acting up and asked that the crew go to the meet in his stead. Addy would handle negotiations, Evelyn would handle any tech-speak, and Lo Shi would keep them safe.

Arriving at the small warehouse, the trio were let in where they met the contact, flanked by two guards of his own, sitting at a table in the middle of it all. He eyed the three and asked that they have a seat, just a bottle of whiskey on the table between them. Kwon decided to stand. As it turned out, the contact owned several trade ships and one of them was stranded not far from the planet Godforsaken and he needed another crew to make the trip out there, deliver the part, and get his crew on their way.

Addy quickly slipped into negotiation mode, offering the contact a cigar. Not the finest cigars in the ‘verse, from Godforsaken in fact, but the gesture was taken as it was intended which skewed the talk in the crew’s favor. The contact when up in the compensation amount for the job, whiskey was drunk to seal the deal, and the crew was on their way with the needed part.

After making the trip to the coordinates that the crew was given, they found the ship unresponsive and spinning at a good rate. The only way to get over there would be to pilot the ship to keep up with the spinning ship while the ship’s airlock was put into place.

Atticus attempted to get the airlock sealed on the other ship, but it wasn’t perfect, which meant that the crew would have to put on space-suits to make it over. The entire crew suited up, made it over to the other ship successfully and entered their airlock, where the crew was immediately fired upon.

Kwon stepped up and subdued the two attackers with little issue. Addy tied them up and the three broke up to explore the ship and get an idea of what was going on.

While the other two found no one, Evelyn discovered the engine room had been locked and was being guarded by one man. A quick throw of her trusty wrench later and the guard was unconscious and it took only moments to unlock the door and open it. Inside was the entire crew of the ship. They’d thought that the men who boarded were the rescue team with the part and let them in without any hassle, only to be taken prisoner on their own ship.

Addy in the cockpit picked up on an incoming transmission from an approaching ship asking for one of the boarders. Kwon was able to tell that it was a small, fast-attack ship, possibly armed. It was decided that they’d allow the boarders to free themselves and answer their shipmates on the other ship. Everyone hid, Atticus following the boarders’ every move using his ghost-suit just steps behind them.

When another three boarders entered from the airlock, the crew was ready for them. Guns were pointed, but cooler heads took control. Atticus made them an offer that they couldn’t refuse – give up the ship and he’d cut them in on a deal here and there that would dwarf whatever they could salvage off of their prize there…and they would get to live.

After some brief negotiation, the boarders accepted the deal and left, leaving Evelyn to install the engine part and get the crew moving again.

Job well done and they’d even managed to create a new asset out of the deal.

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S01E01: The Adventure Begins
In which our protagonists meet and, potentially, form a crew.

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…

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