Ignored and Interfered With Equally
“Compromises are for relationships, not wine.” —Sir Robert Scott Caywood
At Rip’s command and despite Knives’ protests, Roy powers the engines back down and waits for the Marshals. Soon enough, two armed soldiers escort in the Marshal that Knives saw talking with Mr. Sellers earlier. He reads from a tablet while he silently walks into the open cargo bay. Scanning the room, he approaches Rip and introduces himself. “Captain van Winkle? My name is Agent Sanders. You have quite the knack for finding trouble. May I ask why you flew halfway across the ’verse to take this particular job?”
Jamven watches the soldiers as they move among the pallets of wine and notices that they are only half-heartedly inspecting them. Instead, their attention is focused on Agent Sanders and the crew. Knives was twitchy when they first stomped up the ramp, but she’s getting a fairly neutral read on these Feds. She was certainly expecting more hostility than they’re giving off. In fact, Agent Sanders seems genuinely puzzled and not at all accusatory.
As Jet and Crash fly back to the port, the shuttle’s newly upgraded sensors pick up something odd. In orbit above Greenleaf sits an Alliance Cruiser. The “IAV Erickson” is the size of a city and carries enough firepower to lay siege to a planet. They usually only use the big ships to patrol the core, so what’s it doing way out here on the rim?
- Rip: To Sanders: “Well, sir as you are so apt to point out, we got a knack for finding trouble. As most people want their cargo delivered without such, we tend to find it a bit hard to fill the hold, much less our pocket. Got a good lead there was a job here, crossed our fingers and touched down no more than a couple hours before you, and if all checks out we’ll be dusting off as soon as you’re done. Got to fly back across the ‘verse to make the delivery, and I’d like to pick up my bird before we do.”
“You’re quite right, Mr. van Winkle,” Agent Sanders replies. “Jobs are scarce these days. A man finds a job, he might not look too closely at what it involves as long as it pays. Unfortunately, I think Mr. Sellers is paying so well because you’re his unwitting mules.” He nods to one of his armed escorts who taps the nearest wine cask with the butt of his rifle. After a few taps, a concealed panel on the oaken barrel opens to reveal a hollow space. Reaching in he pulls out some grapevine stuffed in as packing and a plastic bag, which he tosses to Sanders.
“You see, this is what he’s so interested in moving offworld quickly. This is what his regular crew was most likely killed for.” He opens the bag to reveal thousands of credits worth of the most beautiful yellow diamonds you’ve ever seen. “The Tong control the diamond mines on Greenleaf and they don’t take kindly to competition. Whatever he’s paying you to haul these isn’t near enough. We’ve got enough evidence here to seize this ship and send you all to a hole that makes Perdition look like a nice resort world. But I don’t believe you knew anything about these or you’d never have let me come on board.”
“Instead, I think we can work out a deal. Why don’t you go ahead and take the job. Make sure the wine is there on time and no one suspects you know anything about the diamonds. When the deal is done, you say the phrase “Good as gold” within earshot of this pair of earrings and my boys will take care of the rest. Do anything to mess this up and we’ll add on interfering with a federal investigation to that list of charges. So, what do you say?"
- Jamven: Surprised at the diamond load, I look over the crew with an arched brow, then back to Sanders. “Well, it seems to me we don’t have much of a choice anyway, but I’m in so long as we aren’t getting locked up again.”
- Roy: To Sanders: “You think any one else suspects Sellers is up to something like this? Carrying this kind of load makes me nervous…”
- GM: As Agent Sanders to Roy: “You should be nervous. The last crew that was carrying Sellers’ wine got jumped out in the black. The Tong seems the most likely suspect, but there’s no proof because there’s no trace of the ship or the crew.”
- Rip: “Mr. Sanders as you have us knowingly committing a felony, Id like some assurances we won’t run into any alliance trouble on this trip. Maybe a couple of your men may need a ride. That-a-way if we get into any trouble they can vouch for us, or maybe lend a gun should the trouble come form the other way.”
“Also, (I lean in an whisper in his ear.) so what do you think? Couple of your men to not only keep an eye on us, but to lend a hand if needed, and we be the bait in your trap.”
- GM: As Agent Sanders to Rip: “I’m afraid it would seem a little out of place to have armed Federal agents on your ship when you land on Osiris. I can’t risk spooking the buyer. Besides, I’m sure the Tong has been scrutinizing you since you arrived. They would certainly notice an addition to your crew this late in the game.”
“I’m confident this ship can avoid most patrols between here and there. But if you do run into one of our more diligent forces, I’ll give you a command phrase that proves you’re operating under my orders.”
“When you arrive, there will be several agents posing as serving staff at the party watching for you. If you fail to show up, we’ll know you either skipped out with the goods, or the Tong killed you. Either way we have enough to get Sellers to talk.”
- Knives: “We were promised $9,000 to make this delivery. Any chance that we’ll see that money if you arrest Sellers? We are taking a big risk to help you so is the reward equal to the risk?” If Sanders isn’t going to pay us, we should tuck away a pocket full of diamonds for our trouble.