The crew were getting ready to leave Mars after making an art delivery when Captain Baldric initiated a meeting in the lunch room. Once the crew was gathered, he shows everyone an educational video called “Blasters in Space”, which demonstrated the dangers of using blasters on a ship. He tells everyone that PPGs are available for the crew if needed, and emphasized that they should seriously think of trading in their blasters for them. Kit pipes in, saying that she doesn’t want to die, so everybody should get PPGs whether they want to or not, so that the ship doesn’t get damaged. Captain Baldric was obviously charmed by her concern for his ship.
As the commotion continues in the lunch room, Shu gets a message to meet in yet another virtual chatroom. The same bald man was waiting for him, telling him that the SJG had a new mission for the group. It appears that the target this time is one Donald Drumpf, known for owning slum properties all across human space. He runs it out of Ganymede, where the rules can bend anytime as long as one has enough money. The goal of the mission is to somehow discredit him – rumors have it that he is one of several groups that is trying to overthrow the current rulers of Jupiter, which does pose a problem for some groups.
If the mission is accepted, the group would need to find a hole through his defenses. Drumpf has two kinds of defenses – one physical by the name of Big Joe, a former US Military soldier that is more parts than man at this point; the other, Little Joe, is his electronic defense by being able to outhack anyone. Drumpf is also often accompanied by his number 2, Mike, who is smarter and scarier than Don, as well as his daughter, Ivanna. Rumors have the two dating.
Shu accepts the mission, and begins thinking about how this plan will come to fruition. He tells Baldric to find a cargo for Ganymede, which he does; a load of slot machines for the casinos. Several days later, Baldric notifies Shu that the Earth Alliance has ask the Blackadder to investigate a ship that had gone silent. The ship is currently floating dead in space not far from the Blackadder’s intended course. Since their spaceship is the closest, they were flagged to do initial investigating until EarthForce ships can come and pick it up. All the Blackadder had to do was investigate and offer assistance to the ship as needed.
Once the Blackadder got closer, long-range scanners found that the ship was spinning end over end and that there were able to see little holes all over the ship. Lincoln Lavigne predicted that the holes were made from the inside, and the crew fired blasters at someone or something, causing the damage. Due to smart piloting by Nathan Gill, the Blackadder was able to stop the spin of the ship very easily. Once the ship was still, it was also easy to see that something had scraped against its side, causing additional damage.
Lincoln led a team into the ship, and was met with a ghost town. The crew was dead from blaster fire and there was damage everywhere. Some pieces of the ship, such as the computer core (surrounded by a titanium core and welded into the ship’s frame), were gone. Lincoln found the remains of a very large egg that had hatched in a special cradle behind a wall in the engine room, with two more empty cradles next to it. He messaged the Blackadder about their findings and Shu ordered a few egg shell fragments to be brought back for observation.
Shortly before the Blackadder was going to leave, Kit came to Shu saying that there is a person still alive in there and begs him to go and save her – the person has been talking to Kit and has been trapped in there for days and does not have much time left before the air runs out. Shu said that he will not send anyone in there without proof, and Kit runs away to look for some. She comes back a couple hours later with some logs, showing that this was a smuggler ship, that it may have come in contact with the famed Ghost Ship, Morningstar. She is also able to describe the other ship’s galley, saying that there is a safe room in the galley, and the person is trapped in there. Shu gives Kit a pep talk, saying that while she is very smart and capable, she needs to work on presenting her ideas in a more reasonable manner – that way, more people would take faith in her words.
Shu decides to do just that and orders Lincoln to go back into the ship to investigate, and to set up a quick air lock for the mystery person to come out safely. Lincoln found the safe room and after some repair work to the door, manages to open it. Inside was a small girl and a dead body, the girl was a Quaddie, huddling in the tiny space of the safe room. She was initially too scared to actually leave, so they had to wait until she fell asleep to actually take her out of the room.
She snapped awake once she was out of there and immediately vanished, which surprised Lincoln – nobody else in the crew was able to figure out where she went. It wasn’t until Kit came into the room where the girl randomly appeared again, clinging on to her. It took a lot of force just to get the small girl off of Kit, especially since she was clinging to the point of choking her. After some coaxing, she was able to give some information. The girl, nicknamed Fred, was born on the ship and had lived her whole life there with her father. On the day of the shipwreck, there was a lot of commotion starting in the engine room with crew dying unexpectedly. The remaining crew started to panic and fire their blasters everywhere. Her father was able to get them into the safe room before he died of wounds he had sustained, and she had been in there ever since.
Once everyone was back on the ship, Kit took the girl to wash the filth off and get her some clean clothes. Shu sent an updated report to the SJG about the girl, along with information on the Morningstar, as well as the strange egg that was found. Lincoln came to the conclusion that there was some sort of tripwire that was part of the egg, which was triggered by some unknown entity. The SJG said that they will take the girl off of their hands and give her a place to stay, and to send the egg shells to them as well for further examination. Shu confirmed, then signed off.
The group sat down as the ship continued on course for Ganymede, and began to plot how they were going to take down Drumpf. After some discussion, they decided that the best path would be to publicly humiliate him in a way that would lose him a lot of money. Since Ganymede is known for its many casinos, the group settled on horse betting as a way to do as such. They would find a way to get FTL communication from Earth to place their bets, curry Drumpf’s favor by gaining his attention, and broker a deal with him to win him a lot of money, only to have him lose it at the very last second.
Once they land on Ganymede, Shu and Drew and met with a Centauri embassy member to see if they have FTL communication technology, since the whole plan hinged on it. The spokesperson says that they do, though the technology is under contract with Earth Alliance for several years. However, he says softly, that if they “twist his arm”, he would be able to rent the technology for a “small sum” of 100,000 dollars per day of use. The group agrees to the deal, and work on their plan to start getting Drumpf’s attention.
Kit whips up fake personas for Patterson and Leonie to go to a public event with Mr. Drumpf – the opening of a new underground golf course. He took the very first shot, and the ball landed on the green with the very first shot – miraculously, since the ball appeared to go a very different way when he first hit it. Drumpf’s number two, Pence, comes up to Patterson, asks who he is and if he’s new here. Patterson, going under the name “J.R. Weil” says that he is, and he’s here for vacation – rest and relaxation. Pence says that Drumpf Casino has the finest services, and for a small fee they can set up anything for him. Pence hands him a black card for their limited edition high rollers’ club, saying that he thinks “Mr. Weil” would have a great time at his casino. Afterward, three other casino owners do the same thing.
Drew walks into Drumpf Payday Loan, the sign above with a big smiling Drumpf “It’s on Us or It’s on You!”. Drew found it interesting that Drumpf Security is next door. As Drew walks in, the manager walks out in high heels, telling her employees that she can handle this one. She drags him into the office while the employees whisper to each other on what’s going to happen to him once she’s done. The manager asks what his name is and what he wants. Drew says that he’s here for a loan – she warns him that the interest rates can be high. Drew says that it’s not an issue, she suspects that he must be coming into money. He takes a loan of a few million, and negotiated it down from 180% to 160% interest rate, as well as an offer of a date plus more. As he leaves, Drew hears a bit of bragging from the manager in the background.
As Drew makes his way back, he runs into two large men that ask if he wants “protection” for his new debit card – they don’t want anything to happen to it after all. Not wanting to cause too much trouble, Drew accepts. On his way, they spot a man who is following them. The two bodyguards confront the man, and while they confront him, Drew doesn’t notice the card being stolen from his pocket. The two security guards catch the young woman who stole it and beat her, but she seems to likes it. They also notice an old lady who is packing serious heat and believes that she will open fire on them, so Drew instructs them to go another way. Drew finally makes it to Drumpf Casino and uses the card to start playing.
On the casino floor, the casino manager looks furious – the slot machines seem to be continuously winning. He started playing himself and won ten times before the machines suddenly went back to normal. Drew began to enjoy playing the slots as he waved to Patterson, who just entered the building. Drew gives him the card so that Patterson can begin to make his bets on the horse races.
Patterson first bet 3 to 1, the second bet 5 to 1, the third bet 30 to 1, and managed to rack up millions in winnings. The third bet catches Pence’s attention, who comes up to him and is surprised to see its the same man from earlier. Pence remarks at how well Patterson is doing with the bet, with a raised brow. Patterson simply says that he’s lucky with the horses, and that his youth was spent raising them. Due to the experience, he can tell a good one just by looking at a picture of it. Pence leaves to talk to the “boss”, and Patterson was surprised to see that it was Ivanna that came back, not Drumpf. With a smile on her face, she says that if he wins another bet he’ll have to buy her a drink. Once he does, he is immediately whisked to Ivanna’s penthouse. As he’s leaving, he sees Kit walking out of the general casino.
Drew drops everything to run after Kit, who tells him that during the trip she had switched all of the casino machines in the hold to let people win a lot then start losing, and that it was fun to watch people go nuts. Drew reprimands her and gets Tawny Larsen to escort her back. When he comes back, the security team has already left except for the one who hung back to tell him that the loan has been paid off, and that he says “Remember to use Drumpf next time you want to get screwed!”
When Patterson gets to the penthouse, Ivanna is on the phone with Ambassador Molari, negotiating with him on something. She says, that she’s sorry that he was denied access to the High Roller’s Club, but they only accept winners. After hanging up, she tells Patterson that Drumpf Industries finds it interesting that he cleaned them out for today and she asks if it’s something that he has a talent for. He says while he’s not perfect at it, his background with horses makes him correct a lot of the time. As the two of them speak, Shu’s monitors on Patterson suddenly gets hit with an electronic sledgehammer and he loses contact with him.
Ivanna smiles saying, Drumpf Industries is for winners, and she says that they’re always looking for winners, and sharing information – insider information being the best kind. She wants some information on how Patterson has been accomplishing this. He says, that he doesn’t perform any illegal acts. They have a discussion on the ethics of employees. She mentions that they’ve been trying to get Centauri technology but her father had upset them somehow and the Centauri were unwilling to share. Ivanna asks if Patterson wants to be an even greater winner, and he says that he does. Smirking, she reminds him that ambition is good, but he shouldn’t expect to always win – only Daddy dearest does. She does mention that she thinks sometimes he even cheats.
Ivanna hands him a card with a phone number. If Patterson does decide to share some of his information, please call the number on the card. In return, the Drumpf organization has access to resources that he can’t even imagine. She gives a second card and says that this one has a magnetic strip on it, with her personal address on it – if he wants to make a personal plea, he is free to do so. She wants to make measure of a man’s pleasure. She reminds him that he needs to make sure that she is happy too. Patterson thanks her for her time, she says that it’s her pleasure and looks forward to future pleasure if he goes to that address. On his way back, he notices that he is being followed by Drumpf Security, and a hotel was quickly arranged for him to go to.
Nathan notices on his monitors that a ton of Earth Alliance ships are near Io. Shu looks into it – the SJG contacts saying that they’ve been collecting for about three weeks now, and it’s officially being called a military exercise with nothing else known. Shu looks into various radio messaging. The Jupiter military has no idea, while all the people of Io have been evacuated off Io, with marines on the ground. The people of Earth have been told that these exercises will be good for the folks of Earth and Mars and they should not worry.
One interesting lead is Shu finds a paper published three months ago describing gravitational stability points being researched for hyperspace travel. The day the paper was published, the guy who wrote it vanished. The paper was retracted, apparently by PsiCorps, and is impossible to find. Shu tried to get access to it but found that previous people who have tried do so have hit Black Ice so he decided to stop while he was alive.
Shu then sends message to Cathay Media saying that the group may have information for Cathay Media in a couple weeks, talks about military exercises to them and sends information from blogs. Two hours later, a very polite man from Cathay Media comes in to the ship. He tells them that has not been followed and Mr. Lim sends his regards. Shu’s information has attracted Lim’s attention and that he is here to discuss it. Shu describes that they are on an independent mission, that will interest Cathey Media once they get the information. The Cathay Media representative mentions that he saw Mr. Patterson in a picture at Drumpf’s golf course launch, and wonders if it has anything to do with that. If anything seems to happen to him, he is to report it to Lim immediately. They can’t publish it immediately – he mentions that news seems to shift around Drumpf, and that they have published inaccurate information on him in the past, which damages their credibility. They pride on not being first, but best. Shu promises that they definitely have something to wipe that smile off Drumpf’s face. The representative gives a contact card that can only work for Shu, and would love to hear more once there is more info.
Patterson manages to resist the temptation to call Ivanna’s personal address and call the main number instead. The responder sounds like Drumpf and says that Patterson called him later than he thought he would, and asks to either go to his place or neutral ground. They agree to go to neutral ground, at a high end restaurant. The two of them discuss initial plans in regards to rigging horse betting, with Drumpf saying that Patterson’s part of this will be to give back the 800 of 900 million that he won in his first day at Drumpf’s casino. Patterson says that’s alright, if they’re willing to fund their concept of placing bets around casinos. Drumpf says he knows how they’re doing this, by describing exactly what is happening – using Centauri technology. Patterson butters him up by telling him how smart he is. Drumpf suggests that they go into the Kentucky Derby at the Luxor, a rival casino run by some mobsters from Earth where no bet will be turned down. With his help, Drumpf wants to place a bet at the Derby and has been telling everyone that he has a good feeling on this, including Cathay Media. Patterson is to make the demo bets, and Drumpf is to listen in, so he understands how it all works. Patterson is to win some and lose some, but needs to lose most of that money back to Drumpf so that he can use that money to buy the Luxor. In return, Patterson can have ten percent of what Drumpf is planning to bet – $2 trillion. The two shake on it, and will work on further details before the Derby takes place. Afterward, Patterson went in and blew 800 million at Drumpf’s casino to complete his end of the bargain. Once he was finished, he receives a call from Ivanna, who mentioned that she was disappointed that Patterson didn’t answer her second card. The two of them make an appointment for a time before the Derby.
Shu receives a knock on the door from the shortest man he has ever seen who is not actually a dwarf, from one Admiral Nysmith. He says that he hears that they may have a problem. Behind him is a woman who is nine feet tall, with fur and long hair. Shu thinks that she wouldn’t feel comfortable on the ship, so he suggests that they go out to a bar instead. Once there, Nysmith slides a card across for their mercenary crew, which specializes in daring escapes. Shu and Nysmith hash out details and found out that the mercenary company was secretly hired by a branch of the SJG, so he was much more willing to go through with the plan to use them to get Patterson out after the Derby.
Baldric tells Shu afterward that they got new cargo – chocolate flavored shrimps – that need to go to Titan in a month. Shu gives him the Kentucky Derby date, and tells that the crew needs to be in there that day. Baldric thinks that the crew will want to know why, and would need to be convinced by money. Shu agrees to $50 a person.
Patterson takes advantage of Ivanna’s offer, and meets her at her penthouse for their date. When he gets in there, she commands her rather large contingent of bodyguards to cut his cloth off. Before they do that, he says that he can take his clothing off himself, but she says that this more about her winning. Two hours of abuse later, Patterson fled from the apartment, mostly naked and bleeding – she was about to cut his hand off, but luck managed to save him. Ivanna orders three of her bodyguards to run after him to finish the job. Patterson chooses to run through the main street with underwear is on his head, to better hide his identity.
One of the crew members, Saben, sees Drumpf security run by. He hears that they are chasing a beautiful man, puts two and two together and goes after Patterson and Drumpf Security. Saben has troubles navigating the narrow back streets on his motorcycle and has to take the long route around.
Patterson turns into a separate alleyway, which turns into a dead end. He sees an air vent, and a drunk. He pries off the air vent cover but is stopped from going in bythe drunk, who points out the sewer entrance and helps him into it. The three men come into the alleyway and the drunk points to the air vent. The security person shoots into the air vent several times and are convinced that he is dead. When Patterson comes out of the hole, the drunk is no longer there but Saben and his motorcycle arrive.
The next day, Ivanna calls up the Blackadder. She apologies that “Mr. Weil” came to an accident the previous night. Shu says that he finds that interesting, they had breakfast that morning, and sends a picture of the two of them. She laments that she just can’t hire good help, and hangs up. Patterson calls up Drumpf, who found it rather funny and the fact that Patterson survived is a positive mark of his character. Patterson says that he would prefer that she is not there for the Derby party, and Drumpf agrees for a small sum. Before hanging up, he reminds Patterson to think like a winner.
On the day of the big bet, Patterson arrives before Drumpf and waits for his arrival. When Drumpf finally arrives at the Luxor, he announces that he feels lucky that day. Drumpf takes his seat with the Luxor’s owners, who feel its either the worst or best thing they’ve done. Before the big race, the Luxor announces that they are cutting off communications.
Ten minutes before the last race, the Dendarii security detail believes that Ivanna is in the building and is ready to grab Patterson. Patterson turns to Drumpf and warns him about this – he needs to be here for Drumpf to score big. Drumpf is able to convince her to have her back off, and gives Patterson a two minute head start after the last bet is made. Patterson gets the info on the third horse and its odds, and passes the wrong info on to Drumpf. Drumpf asks him if he’s lying, and Patterson looks him dead in the eye, saying that he’s honest to God. Drumpf then makes the $2 trillion bet, then smiles for the Cathay Media camera. Patterson smiles, tells him to “Think like a Winner!” before running off while the cameras flash.
As Patterson is making his escape, Big Joe grab his shoulder, and says “Not so fast, little man”. Patterson takes out a gun that had been left for him in the Luxor by the Dendarii, and puts it to his belly and smiles. Big Joe takes the gun, and Patterson screams, “Unhand me, this guy has a gun!”. Big Joe looks at him surprised before the Luxor guards pile on top of him, reprimanding him for having yet another gun on him (which apparently has been a problem before).
Drumpf calls out for Patterson, asking why he doesn’t stay to collect his money. Patterson says that he needs to make a call to his wife. Drumpf realizes the mistake and tries to recall his bet, but it’s too late, and the Luxor managers look quite relieved. As Patterson runs out, six men in power armor come out with the symbol of the mercenaries. They give Patterson a flak jacket to put on, to protect him. He suddenly hears a scream of primal rage behind him, and blasters started to fire between Ivanna’s men and the mercenaries. One of the mercenary guards slings Patterson over his shoulder and starts running with him. As Patterson lifted his head and flipped the bird, his head hit a pipe and knocks him out. The guards were able to successfully get him on to their shuttle and take off.
The Blackadder on the other hand was stuck to the spaceport by the docking collar used to get on and off the ship without a spacesuit. Nathan resorted to ripping off the cord in order to take off. The Blackadder was followed by two Drumpf Security ships, who fired missiles at the ship. Nathan used some very uncomfortable tactics to maneuver around and spin in semi random directions. Shu and Drew come losing their lunches and their bodies bang around the ship. Shu was knocked unconscious, with Drew barely hanging on. A spacer saves Shu and takes pictures, laughing, while Drew was saved by Lincoln. The missiles go right past the ship and towards towards the Earth Alliance navy. The Starfuries go right past the Blackadder and towards the security ships who immediately plead for mercy from the Alliance, who laughed in return.
Suddenly a shriek can be heard across the universe, through space, from Drumpf who had lost two trillion dollars. One of the owners of the casinos patted him on the back, saying “This is what it feels like to be a BIG loser.”
A ship pops out from hyperspace near Earth, it is radically different from both Earth and Centauri technology. The commander introduces himself as T’Nari from the Narn Regime, who says that they can do better deals than the Centauri. The head of the Earth Alliance believes that they can broker a great deal.
Shu, once he recovers, receives a message from the usual source, saying that they have their next mission for him. It’s coming from the asteroid belt, and it seems that it is an extraction mission. There is a cult that has kidnapped a scion from a wealthy family and they want him back. What the SJG think is interesting, that during negotiations, the family of the missing person will give a 20 percent bonus if the group make it by a certain date. Shu accepts this, then tells the Captain to set course for the Belt, on their way planning for their next mission.