"To kill a man is an action which can never be undone.
-Ozymandias, Advice from my Enemy, private printing, 2765.023
Tyrell's Folly -> Crux
The Hippocrates lands on Conalia, where the Garrity's are from. There are several people who have been waiting, and come up to the airlock. Kith does a quick emotion-check on them: they're impatient and annoyed. Hippocrates heads out the airlock, and one of the people runs up to shake his hand: "Welcome back, Dr. Kye!" A flying robotic softball whooshes around, and there are a number of flashes as the other waiting people close in. Then, a voice from the air says "Cut! That's not Dr. Kye!" The little group goes back to their starting positions, while Hippocrates asks the guy shaking his hand who he is with. With an air of stating the obvious, the guy tells him "Jove." Sharra recalls the name as a director of high-production-value low-enjoyability movies.
<helpfully> "He's shooting some sort of film."The floating voice suggests that Kye come down, looking grave. He'll shake hands, offer condolences, and let it play out from there. Kye agrees to play his role. (Sharra and Sophia note a second softball, and decide that the two are generating the floating voice through surround-sound interference technology).
<pause> "Well, okay, that was obvious." -Sharra
Jove asks for some exhaust, as if the ship has just landed. Ace makes a starship acting roll, and there's whooshing exhaust everywhere. Kye comes down the ramp, looking somewhat menacing, which is perhaps in the same ballpark as grave. Hands are shaken and condolences are offered to the "bereaved family", and then the scene cuts. The little group of "bereaved family" heads out again, stopping to check if Dr. Kye is going to mail them their paychecks. He tells them to call the local IPX office.
Kye himself calls the local IPX office, for good measure. The office manager is very excited, and pleased that Jove caught him. The famous Jove has recently decided to become a documentarian, just as IPX was looking for someone to make a Kye documentary! Jove's guiding philosophy for this piece is "You can't achieve versimilitude with reality", and hence he is shooting the documentary with a lot of paid extras.
"Haven't you people been watching 'Survivor: Blasted Planetoid'?" -KyeThe group finds out that Andrej has somehow brought in a Brochoan lawyer, and it doesn't sound like Dylanna is being transferred anywhere any time soon. Jim, and the Tinoori family, are still back on Genereis, and plan to stay for a while yet to teach Power Projection.
"Ooh. Survivor: Sundown"
"That's next season."
Kye and Sharra head to the IPX office to look at the contract with Jove. It looks like Jove himself is not costing them very much at all, and there are no expenses listed for either film or cameramen. However, there's a large budget for catering and extras, and IPX has agreed to fulfill all of Jove's requirements.
The IPX manager offers to bring Kye and Sharra to meet Jove, while Kith makes plans to visit the actual bereaved family. Ace offers to come with her.
<dubiously> "You can come if you want. Try to be tactful." -KithKye and Sharra and the IPX manager head to the studio. In the center of a big sphere of video monitors is the director, Jove.
"I'll try not to be noticed." -Ace
"Dr. Kye is here." -IPX managerJove is finally convinced to talk to Dr. Kye in person - he extends his arms and a fleet of flying robotic softballs hovers up and away around him, rotating like a miniature solar system.
"I don't need him now, I have him on film." -Jove
"Glad to meet you." -Dr. KyeSharra suggests to Jove that the softballs play background theme music for his entrances - he finds the idea somewhat appealing.
"Excellent." Jove, turning to leave again
Meanwhile, Kith and Ace head to the Garrity household to speak to the actual grieving family. There's Leonora's husband, and some girlfriends of the sons. One of the girlfriends thinks that Kye and the Hippocrates probably stole the archeological stuff, but everyone else is polite.
Hippocrates and Sharra rent some Jove movies for reference. Hippocrates really doesn't like them. He asks Cassandra about Jove's body of work - she isn't a fan herself, but says that it is very visual, so that is frequently somewhat lost on her.
The Hippocrates is hailed by the Turtle - whoever is there sounds angry: "Come in, you rat bastards! You leave me on the Well to take the rap? We have to have a talk. I'm coming down... er, where are you berthed?" Ace tells Watts (as it seems to be) where to land.
Back at Jove's studio, Kye is assigned a softball camera to follow him around, and is given a homing beacon token to pass around if the softball should follow someone else interesting instead. Upon getting back to the ship, Kye politely avoids all the secret areas while letting people know about the softball. It mostly orbits him, but occasionally will zoom up and down a hallway, doing strange pans.
Ace explains Watts' history to Kith:
"Watts stayed behind on the Well to take the rap..."Watts and Juliana show up at the Hippocrates. Kith makes tea for everyone, and there are hugs all around. Watts is very pleased to meet Hippocrates; Hippocrates is a little chilly towards Watts.
"How noble of him... did he volunteer?"
Kye manages to trap the softball in his room, and heads to the conference room as Watts starts his briefing. (The conference room is still decorated in red velvet and eagles, but Sharra puts her robot minions to work de-installing the iris doors and swapping them with the normal sliding doors from her room.
Watts tells people that the news back in the outworlds is that the White King lured Camus to the inworlds to ice him. Watts thinks this is good news and bad news. For the good news, Camus's brother has sworn vengeance against the killer, so he'll be looking for the White King instead of Ace. But on the other hand, the White King himself will probably be looking to off Watts and Ace before they can blow his story.
Ace confesses that he's working for the White King, actually. Watts boggles. So... the White King did lure him to the inworlds and kill him. Sort of. But it wasn't a setup, was it? Watts was there after all. Poor Watts is quite confused.
Anyway, in other news from the competition - one of the other major players, Judas Cain, got taken down by the Corinthian, who put his head on a pike. Cain was replaced by one of his lieutenants, a guy named Lazarus. Oh, and there's a whiterunner who's been following Watts for weeks the whole way here - whoever he is, he's good.
First Frost of Autumn turns up briefly to pick up some things - he wants to know if Hippocrates knows that there's a rogue perceptor wandering around in the vents. It hasn't seen him yet, though. Sure enough, the softball isn't in Kye's room any longer. The party lures it out of the vents again, and Sophia puts it in her black hole of unpotentiality for safe keeping.
In any event, it seems like the Hippocrates will be heading to the outworlds soon. Jim (off in Conalia) has been planning to stay behind for a while on Tyrell's Folly, and there has been some mention of dropping Geoffrey Oxford back on Stannis Law or keeping him. Kith thinks her treatment is faster than just leaving him to get better on his own, but Jim's idea of having him do useful humanitarian things is good. Ace thinks that "track down the Terrans" would be a useful humanitarian goal, but no one else is sure that Oxford will be up for that just yet. Hippocrates ends up telling Oxford that they'd like him to stay on board. Oxford says he's working on a report on what happened; Hippocrates has a look over it, and thinks that there's not enough fact and too much apologizing. It'll be something to work on.
Hippocrates looks for the ship Watts said was following him - it's docked three slips over. Ace and Sharra start sneaking towards it. Sharra thinks that it's vaguely familiar-looking but has been highly modified; Ace has no idea if he's seen it before. Watts heads back to the Turtle to make sure nobody is sneaking up on Juliana, and is nearly shot by her for his trouble. (She's quite nervous.)
The blaster fire is noticable for several ships in the area - Kith hails the Turtle to make sure everyone is okay, while Marina (disguised but not unidentifiable) sneaks out of her ship and over towards the Turtle. Ace, even more sneaky, recognizes and then creeps up behind Marina and taps her on the shoulder "because that's always fun".
As Ruehan might have recalled, Marina suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the war with the Tarn, and is sure that she's been grabbed from behind by a Tarn, who she promptly starts to neural disrupt. Ace manages to dodge some, but not a lot of it, and tries to convince her that the Tarn are in some other direction entirely. Sharra manages to get Marina to snap out of her fugue before she finishes draining all of Ace's Pre of Body.
Starport security heads over - they immediately fixate on Sharra as the one likely to be causing trouble, as she's the one dressed in a ninja suit. Everyone denies that Sharra is causing them trouble, and the group heads back to the Hippocrates. Ace picks up some of the good booze from the Diversity; during the unloading, Marina manages to surreptitiously flash a white king icon at Ace, and he nods.
Ace tells everyone else that there's going to be a meeting of the Underoutworlds in the conference room, and asks if Hippocrates wants plausible deniability. Hippocrates is more concerned with the idea that whatever happens is going to come and bite him later, so not knowing about it isn't so useful for him, and nobody is going to believe any denials he makes that he doesn't know what's going on in the conference room.
Ace wonders if Marina has more information for him. Well, that depends on if she's found the person she's looking for - she has something for the right guy. Would it be projectile and lethal, Ace enquires. No, not so much. After several more rounds of fencing, Ace finally admits to being the White King (which surprises Watts too), which means Marina has a message for him:
I didn't want you to miss the ending, so consider this my service, doll. -BelleWell, this is a little odd. It's a contest of sucking-up? Or is it just a Clever Trick of Belle's to try and get Ace to do something for her? And Ace has done lots of sucking up to humanity, as it were, by saving the world a couple of times - does that count? Or does the service have to be to the Organization as a whole, or the other contenders? Well, Belle seems to indicate that her service to Ace is sending him the message, so that seems to be a hint.
The other Tests have been competitive. But this is not an Organization devoted soley to internecine rivalry - those of you who do not rule, I expect to serve until your time comes to advance. Thus: your final test is the test of Homage, to provide assistance to your brothers in this organization. When only power has yet to serve all his fellows, the Trials shall end and you shall appear before the Eye.
So as to fit the Turtle and Marina's ship in the Hippocrates, the Clarke's Honor gets left with Jim and the Tinoori. Marina hears that they still have their Tarn prisoner, which must mean that they're not interrogating it hard enough.
Before the ship leaves, however, Jove's assistant shows up with another softball camera, as it seems there has been a malfunction with the first one. (It's still in the hole of unpotentiality.)
Ace and Marina argue over who gets to fly copilot in a fight. Marina beats Ace at a space-piloting video game, much to his chagrin. The Hippocrates heads out, stopping at Riden to pick up the Red ambassador Eva arranged to get them to the outworlds, through Gateway.
Kye starts up a poker game, and Ace, Watts, Sophia, and the Red ambassador play. Ace cheats to throw the game towards Kye, while the Red Ambassador apparently can be offered other people's successes if they want to suck up to him. Watts does so, so the game ends up being titanic and dramatic between the Ambassador and Dr. Kye, which Dr. Kye wins by a hair, all recorded by the softball. The Red Ambassador congratultes Kye on a well-run game, and now likes Watts.
The softball camera, alas, does not survive much longer, and is disassembled by Sharra and Sophia.
Once the Hippocrates arrives in the outworlds, email arrives:
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Jump-fees: outworld --------- We noticed you not many associates White should a Queen at a. When finally those will you them Us we verify loyalty you offer in and. To Our, merely your to Chorus near Crux building have order toast
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Jump-fees: outworld --------- have that do have close. A King have White, or least court you find who serve, send to and will their to. We this trust friendship accept offer send servant the Cafe the Parliament and them Gemini.
To: email@example.com From: <deleted> Attachments: 4 Jump-fees: outworld --------- <The complete blueprints along with all alarm codes and camera/sensor locations for Kels Rouche's estate. (The one Max et al. went to before.)> <The complete blueprints of an apartment in Crux city, including local police routes, and shift schedules.> <The complete blueprints along with all alarm codes and camera/sensor locations for a private home on Lendt in the capital.> <The complete blueprints along with all alarm codes for a pair of manors on Second and Fourth Bastion.>Ace quickly puts the first two together by alternating words: "We have noticed that you do not have many close associates. A White King should have a White Queen, or at least a court. When you finally find those who will serve you, send them to Us and we will verify their loyalty to you. We offer this in trust and friendship. To accept Our offer, merely send your servant to the Chorus Cafe near the Crux Parliament building and have them order Gemini toast." This seems likely to be from the Reflections; Ace recalls some of what Eva had mentioned about them (and the Corinthian):
Reflections: Whatever one knows or sees, the other knows and sees instantly. They have some ability to vanish and reappear, or perhaps to be not fully there. No one who works for them has ever betrayed them. They're very good at manipulation of even large groups. There is no question in anyone's mind that they are to be treated as one contender, rather than two. Believed to be the front-runner.Marina says that Belle is the "Lendt Meddler" that Max had identified as one of the contenders. So, the list is something like:
Corinthian: An Organization man. He's very good at making people vanish, without a trace, including several very competent people who tried to kill him. He's said to have very good information sources, but not a lot of muscle controlling things - he'd be something of a dark horse for an actual leader.
Clerelius and Kattan Quintero, the two Rosicrucians who have been training in Power Projection, head back to the Academy; they're both at 15+ skill.
Ace and Watts head out to search for more rumors in the underground. As Ace leaves, there's a flash from on top of a building nearby and a large gout of blaster fire nearly misses Ace- Marina considers shooting up there, but it's at many range mods. The party heads up to the roof of the building as quickly as possible, and finds what appears to be a sniper, lying dead, and another man with a blaster, also dead. The second man is clutching a Clue, an Eye of Ra on a thong. Ace appropriates the sniper rifle.
Hippocrates radios Ace to tell him to come back and get some medical supplies before wandering around any more.
"It's like having a mother, isn't it?" -MarinaKith reports to the Creek embassy, which asks about the Tarn prisoner. Kith and Hippocrates explain to the embassy that the prisoner can absolutely not be permitted to escape, because then it'll tell its Decision that the other Decision is treacherous (this may in fact be the only reason this Decider hasn't suicided). The Grandmothers at the embassy seem to think they can handle it.
The Red Ambassador disembarks, and tells people to let him know when he's needed for the trip back to the inworlds. And oh, Watts should look him up if he needs a favor.
Back at the ship, Kye has been investigating the eye amulet. There's a camera with a burst transmitter, and a key, and an ID, all built in, and Sophia thinks it's High Hegemonic technology.
With regards to the underworld contest, "Figure out if this is a real test" is deemed to be important, but the Eye of Ozymandias, who might be able to tell them, might be hard to find. Watts thinks that all the "high mucky mucks" in the competition just know how to find the Eye, so clearly Ace should too.
Meanwhile, Sharra returns to the lab to discover that her robot minions are putting the softball camera back together - they claim to her that it's sad that it's broken. She tells them to cut it out. They bring the broken softball along with them (which they've started to call "Bobo") for company while they're working on the doors, until Sharra takes it away and tells them that she's going to use it for something else. They are initially saddened by this, but then decide that that means Bobo is going to be made Better, and cheer.
Watts and Ace do some more reconnaissance around the area, and discover that, in fact, the Eye is looking for the White King, in some annoyance that he's gone missing for so long.
Ace calls Genghis Jones to check in - Jones wants to know where he is, too, and can arrange a meeting with the Eye.
"Boss, I have the Eye in my office every other day. You can't just disappear in the endgame like this if you want me to keep calling you Boss." -JonesMarina mentions that she'd really like to go get paid by Belle, but that when she does so, Belle will likely figure out who Ace is. Well, okay - they can work with that. How about they tell Belle who Ace is, as the favor to her? Ace "pays" her to do so with a dose of Emerald.
Watts, Ace, Kye and Marina to go meet with Marcia, who will take them to the meeting with the Eye. They meet up on a street corner, and Marcia gives Ace a big hug, causing Marina to glower at her. They all get in the car - there is some jockeying over who is sitting where. Marcia offers Ace the seat beside her, but Marina convinces him to sit in back with her instead. People notice that the car is being followed - as it turns out, Marcia isn't really very good at losing a tail. It turns out very few people are interested in driving such mundane things as cars, though Kye and Ace both have some skill. Ace leaps into the front seat as Watts drags Marcia into the back, while the car is still moving. There's a terrible tangle of limbs, but the car doesn't actually crash.
Back at the spaceport, Hippocrates is monitoring some police communications which are starting to send officers after the people driving like a madman, but then they all get told to come back to the spaceport, as there's been a massacre of police on a nearby roof. Ace takes advantage of the respite in police attention to steal a new car, into which everyone transfers.
At first, everyone is suspicious of the message, assuming that it is sent by someone trying to do a favor for Ace - the building seems quiet enough now. But as Hippocrates reviews his tapes, he sees a bunch of cops wandering around, presumably looking at the dead sniper, and then there's some flashes of light and the cops aren't visible any more, while a grey shadowy figure goes back into the stairwell. Hmm. Maybe there was a massacre.
Hippocrates, Sharra, and Kith head over to the roof, bringing Geoffrey Oxford with them. Yup, it's definitely a massacre. Two of the police are down but still alive; they're hit with stabilizer packs and will probably survive. Kith examines the wounds and is pretty sure that the victims were chopped by a plasma brand. Oxford points out that all the evidence bags have been gone through - whoever it was was searching for something, but doesn't seem to have found it.
The car of Team Underoutworld gets to the building where the Eye is - Johnny the Voice is outside, "guarding" it. Johnny wants to know who Watts is, but Watts won't tell him. Johnny tries to mind control him into telling him, but Watts thinks Johnny's jedi mind tricks do not work on him and bullies their way in.
The Eye has a message for Ace from Ozymandias. Ace agrees that he's a difficult man to find. The message proves, in fact, to be the message forwarded on by Belle. So it really was a favor, not a nefarious trick. Ace and asks about the standings. The Eye says that he is still in them, unlike some - there are several replacements, who will have a more difficult journey. Ace asks about proof for the tests - the Eye says that he will know. Ace asks how many people are in the trials. The Eye says that as Ace knows, having asked last time, that is for him to find out. Message delivered, the Eye leaves.
Marina emails Belle, to arrange for the payoff, and also says that she's been paid to tell Belle that Ace is the White King. Belle answers her pretty fast - she thinks that makes no sense at all, though begins to suspect that "I've been paid to tell you that Ace is the White King" doesn't actually mean "Ace is the White King" at all, and Marina is conveying something particularly subtle. Belle suggests meeting to talk, in a local garden park.
The party ponders how to do favors for people. Belle's taken care of - maybe they can just tell everyone Ace is the White King. That will make it worth less for Belle (and everyone else) but it'll at least be done. On the other hand, that'll paint a big target on Ace's back for Reynaldo Camus. The group could return the Corinthian's Eye of Ra key thing, possibly after copying it. That would definitely be a favor. Sharra, for the record, objects to doing favors for people who massacre cops. Hippocrates and Sophia agree with that. And giving him his key back would probably be a big favor. Just to confirm that the Corinthian was the one responsible for the massacre, Marina points out that he's also known as the Grey Death.
The eye-amulet is copied with some of the black goo-of-copying, and both are put in boxes to keep them from signalling out.
More brainstorming follows. Sending Camus a copy of the videotape of killing his brother would be dramatic. A self-destructive videotape (so he can't take it to the police) might do, or a TV showing it somewhere, that Camus can be directed to go watch through a window. A message is sent to Camus, directing him to go to a particular phone at 4am to learn who the White King is.
How about Lazarus? Marina says that Judas Cain specialized in blackmail and extortion, but Lazarus was Cain's healer. Maybe he's in it for vengeance? They could try and set him up to get the Corinthian, by luring the Corinthian in with the amulet...
Around this time Kith, Ace, Watts, and Marina head to the park to talk to Belle. Just Marina goes up to the top of the hill where she's sitting, while everyone else hangs out in the park. Hippocrates, Kye, Sharra, and Sophia wait in the van near the park, just in case they're needed.
Marina and Belle talk - she thinks it seems implausible that someone from the Hippocrates crew, that dashes around doing good deeds left and right, is the hard-core White King, who offed Camus. Unless the whole Hippocrates good-deed-doer thing is bullshit and a cover. Marina assures her that the good-deed-doer thing is true, but it's also true that Ace is the White King. She's still kinda dubious, and disapproves of killing off your competition. Marina relays messages from Ace saying that Camus tried to blackmail him (Watts keeps pushing for "extort" rather than "blackmail" as the word in question), but Belle doesn't really think that makes it a good deed. Ace wonders about supporting each other, maybe to be extra-good favors, since he likes Belle better than most of the rest of the compteition; Belle isn't yet convinced that she likes Ace better than, say, the Reflections, who are at least concerned with things like loyalty.
Deciding this is all under control, the backup team heads back to the Hippocrates in the van. About halfway back, a man in grey with a plasma brand allows the van to run into his plasma brand, destroying the engine, whereupon he leaps to the top of the van and peels it open, demanding that they tell him where "it" is or die! The party responds by shooting him - this is at least confirmation for him that they know what "it" is, as nobody stopped to say "Tell me where what is?". Sophia shoots the Corinthian with her de-shtickinator, taking away one of his plasma brand shticks and making it more perilous. Kye shoots him with his perilous blaster. The gas tank explodes due to the peril flying left and right (well, mostly due to the plasma brand), but by this point the Corinthian has taken a lot of damage, and escapes in a puff of grey smoke.
The van passengers limp back to the Hippocrates, where all of the plasma brand excitement has caused Kye and Hippocrates to suddenly remember that there's an Eye of Ra in the hand on Janzur's sigil: Belle has started to leave (as Ace and the others ran towards the van to save their crewmates), but they chase back after her to finish the conversation when the crew drives the Corinthian off. This involves something very similar to setting up an ambush to catch her, and tensions are high, but no further shooting breaks out.
Back at the Hippocrates, a message has been left by Kels Rouche offering to broker an exchange between them and a third party "as a favor to you both".
Belle refuses to throw in behind Ace, because she will not support a killer. (Ace confesses that he's only killed one person in cold blood - because Camus made him angry and frightened. Belle says that that'll happen in his line of work, and Ace needs to get over that.) It seems likely that closing a deal where Ace throws in behind Belle will cause the contest to be over, because most everyone else has already done their favors except to Ace, so if he's suddenly not a competitor anymore it would just end. Ace's price for supporting Belle is ten high-Precision of Psi psis; it seems plausible she might be able to get more if she's actually convinced this is saving the world, but right now it's just "for a thing Ace needs them for." Belle would rather end sooner than later, as she thinks the Reflections are the ones still making gains, so will win given enough time. But the Corinthian needs to be dealt with first. Wait, no - if they finish the contest now, the Corinthian will still be trying to kill them. So they can just do that now.
Everyone proceeds back to Fortress Hippocrates, Ace formally gives his omega token to Belle, and then both Ace and Belle vanish with a "pop". The two of them are in a room, which has a medium sized group including all contenders; the Corinthian is there bandaging up his leg.
The Eye says that everyone but one has done a favor for each of their opponents; the one who has not, Kels Rouche, is summarily executed. With that as a start to the meeting, the Eye directs everyone to list their Tests. Of note are the Reflections, who are very good in Subtlety and Cognizance, with an okay Control and fairly poor Greed.
For Belle and Ace, Belle's ruthlesness is junk, but Ace's is better (though not as good as, say, the Corinthian's). Ace's Cognizance (landing agents on ten of the eleven planets in the outworlds, when most people only know about eight) is the best. Ace's Control (having the fate of the Red Hegemony, and the fate of the Blue Heir, in his hands, and the Hegemons knowing it) is probably better than Belle's (blackmail on sixteen of the Crux senators), but is a bit more sensitive, so they use Belle's. Belle's Greed is very good: of all the taxes and tariffs on goods from Nonesuch going to Crux, and all the taxes and tariffs on goods from Crux going to Nonesuch, she gets half of one percent of them.
Belle is declared the new leader of the Organization. The Eye announces on behalf of Ozymandias: "I am going to leave the Organization, and retire to Rupert's Hole. Rupert's Hole is mine, and is forbidden to you. If any member of the Organization goes there, I will kill you." Ace tells the Eye "Ozymandias wishes to speak to me before he leaves" as everyone pops back to where they started. Belle heads off, after making it clear that she really doesn't want Ace and the Corinthian trying to kill each other since they are now both her lieutenants, but Ace thinks the Corinthian shouldn't have a plasma brand, he's too dangerous with it. She'll see what she can do.
The Hippocrates is sent into orbit for safety. Two more vans are rented. Marina gives some White to Dr. Kye, just in case, for the combat. Maybe they should go jump him? One of the sets of security plans they were sent by email for a "favor" is probably his house. But Ace did get told to not go try to take him out by Belle, whereas if he tries to take them out he's fair game. The party drives around "scouting the delivery route" waiting for the Corinthian to jump them. He doesn't. They open the shielded box and drive around some more. He still doesn't jump them.
Belle calls Ace with an offer she has brokered: the Corinthian gets the key back, and the Corinthian gives her the plasma brand. The party says no, as this doesn't give them any nummies, and they don't want the Corinthian to have the key either. Belle is a little miffed, as she thought the whole point was the plasma brand. Well, no, the party clarifies it's the plasma brand and the key.
"Fundamentally, we want both." -KyeBelle doesn't think that she's going to be able to swing a deal with the Corinthian such that he doesn't get either the key or the plasma brand, and, honestly, she doesn't think that's so much of a reasonable deal to try to make, either. She owes Ace, but she's still the boss, and she doesn't want to start things out by screwing over one of her lieutenants.
Sophia thinks that saving the world is more important than making sure the party collects all the nummies. In this case, though, it's not completely clear which way "save the world" goes. Having the key to what is presumably some sort of ancient Elite base is probably good, and taking it away from a Bad Guy is also good. But having good relations with the boss of the Organization is also probably good. Well, this is a dilemma.
Ace counter-proposes that he get the key to the facility, and the Corinthian gets to keep the plasma brand. Well, that's sort of the status quo, and the Corinthian wasn't so happy with that. What about Belle holding the key? The party thinks that will mean the Corinthian kills Belle.
Watts, on the other hand, thinks that the Corinthian is probably less dangerous to have the info-gathering spy base than Belle having it is, as she's more of a master at info-gathering and manipulation. Distasteful as that is.
Wilder bad plans are suggested. Kye suggests killing them all and taking all the stuff. Ace (after taking Watts and Marina out of the circuit) suggests giving the Corinthian a jumpgate pass in exchange for both the plasma brand and the facility. Everyone looks at him as if he has gone crazy. Ace says Janzur can give the Corinthian the mojo. Everyone continues to look at Ace as if he has gone crazy.
Belle is not keen on the key leaving the planet with Ace, who is really not in the outworlds all that often. A counter-suggestion is made: Ace and the Corinthian have joint custody of the facility, the key to be held by the Gang of Four (Genghis Jones' guys) who will make it available to both parties, and Belle gets the plasma brand. With an explicit agreement that the party will not loot or destroy the place once they get to look in with the key, this is settled.
Everyone goes to visit the facility. Whoever is wearing the key is able to open the door to what is in fact a Hegemonic Elite Guardstation. A voice says "Greetings Scrutineer. Visual still disabled. Input commands by voice or typing." The party is told: never speak, or the automatic defenses will smite you for your voice print not being recognized. Only ever type commands. The report continues: "17% of the monitoring stations on planet are still functional. The Hegemonic Elite holotraining suite is available for use. And one of the three plasma brands is checked out." Ace and the Corinthian both promptly check out one each - the Corinthian to replace the one Belle now has, and Ace to give to Marina to train with in the holosuite after he leaves.