Ten Days of the Smeerp

"When a man knows that his life is in your hands, he is both dead, and helpful. At that point, actually killing him is wasteful."

-- Ozymandias, Advice from my Enemy, private printing, 2765.023

Crux -> Rupert's Hole

Sharra decides that the Mad Engineering version of sunlight in Hydroponics is a little too mad, and instead installs the Environmental Engineering version. Hydroponics now has a Crux-level light source which moves about the room on tracks.

On the other hand, when setting up the Acid Races (an experiment in the gel munition research project), she does use a lot of Mad Engineering, and the acid tracks through dirt and charcoal and jello and other tubes, snake throughout the ship. Sharra advises that the experiment would best be done in space - that way if the acid breaches the hull, it won't get onto nearby civilians or destroy the planet. Er, what about the atmosphere, if it breaches the hull? Well, that's what engineers are for.

Cassandra offers, to the winner of the acid races, a painting on the subject of the winner's choice. Ace adds into the pot the ability to decorate the Dancer for the next while, and Kith puts up a jar of lemon marmalade (this gets declared to be the second place prize).

The acid races commence! After much herding of acid around the ship (a few lucky breaks prevent Dr. Kye's affection stash from being breached, as well as minimize some other damage), Ruehan wins. Katya's acid comes in second, Sharra, Ace, and Kye tie for next, and Kith's acid trails in last. Damage to the ship includes:

Kye helps Ace clean out his room; his bed seems to be particularly acrid, although nothing in particular seems to have been damaged by the acid. Still, the bed just smells so bad they start moving Ace's furniture out into the hallway.

Meanwhile Katya helps Linnet clean out her room; she's unhappy at Yet Another Bad Thing happening to her, the most recent of which has been her mom and Hippocrates talking to her about their "courting." Katya tries to convince Linnet to want her mom to be happy, and Linnet sulks a bit more, when the conversation is interrupted by a red alert.

Linnet wants to know if they're going to die? Katya says no. Linnet asks if she can go with Kith. Katya sends her off to Kith. Kith reassures Linnet that they probably won't die.

Ace has called the red alert, because the Hippocrates is moving. Nobody is piloting the ship, nor are the engines on. Sharra is sent to Engineering, where she reports that the engines are, in fact, off. Ace suggests maybe she should turn them on, so that she can turn them off better. Ruehan notes that the ship is in a big psi field.

George calls in, in a panic, with another emergency. (Much of the crew is confused and wonders who George is - turns out he is one of the scouts in Smeerp Patrol.) It takes a little while before George is coherent enough to explain all the details: he's in sickbay, and all the lights on the incubator are blinking and it's beeping. And more things are going wrong.

Ace dashes for the bridge to try and brake the ship, while most everyone else runs for sickbay. Sure enough, all the emergency lights on the incubator are blinking; Ryan is running towards the incubator but appears to be frozen, several of the other Smeerps are doing first aid on each other, and George is by the door buzzing on the intercom. Ruehan's psi detection is blinded by the psi-ness coming from the incubator.

Katya reads thoughts on the baby - it is also very loud, somewhat deafening her, and it doesn't want to, aaagh, it's terrible! The baby's thoughts are somewhat incoherent, but it doesn't want to come out. Kith tries to make it drowsy, but it isn't really actually awake yet.

Kith and Sharra both head towards the incubator, but get stuck in the same time-halt/TK field that Ryan is in. Ruehan manages to vampirically drain some of the TK, and they get out again.

Meanwhile, the Hippocrates is still accelerating wildly. Ace manages to careen it off several dust-cloud walls without smashing, though the strange light shows encompassing the ship now and again are quite distracting. He barely misses smashing into what may have been Bastion, but it was moving too fast to be sure.

"Things are getting worse." -Ace
"Katya's giving birth, hold on." -Kith
The ship careens past what might be Sparta, and off another dust wall. This time, Ace is not able to completely ameliorate the damage, and everyone slams into the bulkheads for sixty-six points of damage. This puts most people down; Katya and Ruehan are dying. The inflatable protection balloons around the incubator inflate. Ace tells Kye it's up to him to deliver the baby.

On the bridge, Ace decides that using the next upcoming planet to brake the ship is a better idea than to continue going on at ever-increasing speeds, so he pulls the ship into a semi-controlled crash landing. It's a hard crash.

Deirdre and Kye manage to keep anyone from dying, but Kye is the only person conscious and functional in sickbay, when the baby is finally automatically ejected from the incubator for him. Ace rushes to sickbay to take the baby away from Kye before he puts it out an airlock or sells it or something, while Kye heads up to the bridge to find out where they are.

Kye notes that they appear to have created a two-inch-deep Hippocrates-shaped footprint, neatly centered in the middle slip of a small spaceport. He announces "Welcome to Rupert's Hole." Ace is not pleased to hear this, and decrees that "Everyone who's not Ruehan should start wearing disguises."

Sharra, in Engineering, reports that the main plasma lens has been cracked. Kith, reporting for duty with her duct tape after having healed everyone in sight, is disappointed that this is not something that Starship Damage Control can fix. Ace thinks they should turn on the Dancer's holo-disguise to make it look like a different ship crash landed on the planet. Sharra explains that it will be very difficult to get local help repairing a ship under a holographic disguise.

Kye and Ace go back to investigating the funny smell coming from Ace's acid-splashed bed. They examine the bed carefully, and find that it seems intact, but the acid has soaked in or something, because it smells terrible. Everything Ace owns ends up in the hallway, with Kye poking things with a stick, and Kith labels it all with a hazardous-chemicals sign.

Meanwhile, Ruehan and Sharra have gone outside to survey the area - off in the distance, there's a lone rider heading from town towards the spaceport, about twenty minutes away. They spot, just barely caught under the edge of the ship, a manila envelope. Opening the packet, they find a few pages from the journal of Jeremiah Conklin, a bullet list of how to stop the flood, some small labeled manila envelopes and two blue cards:

The stash: Walk away from dinner after eating it all, but skip dessert.
Walk an hour towards the Githslayer. Then look at the second sun and dig under the tree.
Purple Things: By the base of doom, the Tarnations stashed their broom!
Ruehan reads everything out loud. Well, this is somewhat mysterious. Ace puts on his battle armor. Ruehan is getting ready to open the small manila packets when the rider arrives - it's Cassie! She is glad to see the crew of the Hippocrates again, but is worried about the crash landing. Is everyone okay? Cassie invites everyone into town, though they won't be able to go any further, since recent earthquakes and landslides have blocked the passes and everyone is stuck for the nonce.

Ruehan says they'll be along to town as soon as they've packed together their stuff, and then promptly opens and reads all the memory packets. Ace worries about having to make a quick exit. The Dancer will fly, but the shuttle bay doors won't open yet. He asks Twig to work on it. Then, everyone heads into town, Katya carrying her baby.

The town seems strangely empty, though it's the same place as last time the crew was there. Cassie declares that they should see Boss Man first, so they troop to his house. He's happy to see them - he's making a list of everyone in town right now. Can he get their names? Everyone gives their names, until they get to Katya and the baby. Boss Man asks what the baby's name is, but nobody can help him with that. He decides that the baby doesn't need a separate entry on the list, writes "Katya's baby" on an index card, and tucks it into the baby's blanket. Kye gives Ace's name as "Deuce."

The party asks Boss Man about newcomers in town. Well, the most recent newcomer, Ghier, isn't a newcomer, because he came back. He's more of a new oldtimer. How about "old newtimers"? Well, there's Ozzie and Harriet. They're probably around the bar about now. The Boss Man also tells them that in a couple of days, there's going to be a Festival, when everyone takes the day off and doesn't do any work.

The group heads to the bar. There's a guy there with a string tie, drinking with a woman. Having opened their memory packets already, they realize this must be Ozymandias. Ace gets a drink from the bartender, and brings it to their table. Ozymandias is nonplussed by being brought a drink by someone in Matrix battle armor, and tells Ace to take his damn helmet off. Ace does. Ozymandias recognizes Ace, orders him to sit himself down in the chair, and a somewhat surreal conversation ensues.

"What the heck are you doing here?" -Ozzie
"I crash landed." -Ace
"Well, crash land on someone else's planet."
"This was the only one available."
"You was warned, but I'm a generous man. I'm not going to kill you. I just need you to do me a little favor."
<Ozzie passes a strange, complicated weapon across the table>
"Now, you find Danny Boy, and you walk up behind him, and you gack him. Then you tell him 'Any time the boss wants.'"
"Shouldn't I do that in the other order?"
Katya gets a refill for the baby bottle from the bartender. Then, the group proceeds to the Inn, where they meet Ma, the innkeeper. She's happy to see everyone, and asks if the big spider critters are back too. No, the spider critters are staying on the ship - they're not very fond of Rupert's Hole. Except that First Frost of Autumn appears to not be on the ship any longer; he may be sneaking around town.

The inn doesn't have anyone else staying at it. People ask where all the other townspeople are - Ma says some are camping, there's the annual caravan to the other towns, there's a hiking trip, that sort of thing. Of course, some of them may be delayed getting back because of the earthquakes that closed the passes.

Ace, Sharra, and Kye investigate the strange and complicated weapon. It appears to shoot small wooden pellets, which, when they hit someone, fall harmlessly to the ground. Hmm.

Kye spends some time wandering around the town - it's not very interesting, from an archaeologist's point of view. Ruehan asks Ma about the "Base of Doom" - she doesn't know what that would be. How about the "Tarnations"? Ma says they showed them right good! Oh, right, that's what people call the Deciders here.

Ace wants to check out the Firsttown warehouse, while Sharra (who has appointed herself Keeper of the Greensheet) wants to check out the river. Katya stays back at the inn, and everyone else heads to the river. Sharra gets a sample of river water, and ponders how to get a soil sample from the bottom of the river. Perhaps that will be a job for tomorrow.

Katya tries to contact Ghier telepathically, but he's not very familiar and not close enough.

Then, it's up to Rupert's mansion, and the warehouse underneath. Ace, Sharra, and Kye sneak forwards. There's a sign labeling it as Rupert's Mansion, with an extra line of sign that says "Ozzie lives here now." Another sign indicates the warehouse entrance is that way, but there again is another line of sign saying "Keep out." The warehouse is built into the hillside that the manion is on top of, so there's no obvious back way in.

Kye notes that the path to the warehouse entrance is filled with Cunning Deathtraps, but manages to get everyone past. The door is padlocked; Ace gets the lock open. Kye thinks that actually opening the door will trigger something that doesn't actually matter. Ace doesn't think whatever it is is dangerous.

Opening the door, in fact, causes a sign to swing out saying "Keep Out. Ace, this means you." Hmm. This mostly serves to make it more illegal, which Ace prefers. A purple glowy light ball floats up, much to everyone's consternation; it claims telepathically to be Ruehan, and then shapeshifts into a smeerp and starts hopping around.

Ace finds a early draft copy of "Advice from my Enemies", by Ozymandias. Sharra and Kye find a box labeled "Macroplasma Lens", but it's empty, with a note that says "If you need this, come talk to Danielle." The smeerp finds a box, and hops about on top of it. It proves to be full of the strange exotic weapons that Ace has one of. A second pass of looking for purple widgets and brooms doesn't turn up much useful, though Ruehan finds the light switch.

Team Sneaky starts heading back out of the warehouse. They make it past the deathtraps, at which point Ace realizes he didn't lock the door. He sneaks back, locks it, and sneaks back out, but is hit by one of the deathtraps - a spring-loaded lever which... hits him in the head with a bunch of grapes, coloring his helmet bright purple. Ace resets the deathtraps and continues out.

Later that night at the Inn, Ace can't sleep, there's too much cheeping outside. Kith says most people find crickets restful, but tucks him in and zots him until he falls asleep.

Everyone wakes at noon, has lunch at the inn, and heads to the plasma cannon building. Sharra asks after plasma lenses - they only have the macroplasma lens. Ace asks after brooms, and is told to try the broom closet. Sure enough, in the broom closet there's another little blue card:

Purple Things: Have a drink, then go stink.
Then, it's back to the bar. There's a guy in the corner, drinking pretty thoroughly. He claims to not be there, and he's too smashed to get much else out of. Katya makes a cursory pass by the outhouse, but doesn't really want to search it.

Ace reports to Ozzie that he ain't found Danny yet. Ozzie disbelieves that he can't find him - has he even tried? Hasn't Ace ever been here before? He can just go look for Danny, and it always works.

Kith asks the bartender about the drunk. The bartender hadn't even realized he was here. Ace checks the outhouse more seriously, and finds:

Purple Things: Don't go Outt! And then don't shout!
This is a little puzzling, but Ace and Ruehan start looking for libraries. People tell them that Ma keeps a small library in the inn. Ahah! Outt is the opposite of Inn. In the library, Ruehan finds a box labeled "Ole Stampy's Purple Things" with twenty-four purple widgets in it.

Now there's just the "stash" clue left. They could go walking after dinner - or they could walk now, assume that the second sun has to do with a reflection, assume where the sun will be, and find the stash sooner!

Ruehan, Ace, and Katya start walking, while Sharra and Kith fasten a container to the end of a stick and try to get soil from the river bottom. The stick escapes in the current, but a short chase later and Sharra has a soil sample. Sharra isn't able to find any rainwater, though. The town runs on well water, and river water, so they don't have much in the way of lot of rain cisterns.

Kith asks Ma to make some mint cookies to take to the Tinoori. Kith leaves a few on the stairwell windowsill for First Frost of Autumn (the stairwell window being smaller and sneakier than the room windows), and walks back to the ship with the rest.

Sharra looks for Danny - he's the first person she bumps into on the street - and asks how he's doing. He says he's doing okay, but he's clearly lying. She tries to find out what his problem is - he says he needs to find some alchemical affection and some magic corn and an ACME erlenmeyer flask, to make a love potion. Sharra wonders why he needs a love potion, and he rolls his eyes at her. Well, she might be able to help him. But she's wondering if there's some trouble he might be in with Ozzie, also. Er, yeah - he owes Ozzie some purple things. He borrowed six, and with interest he owes nine. Sharra says finding magic corn could be hard, though.

The party confers. Ace thinks that Affection is dangerous, and you shouldn't give it to kids. Ruehan notes that this is Rupert's Hole, and it probably won't hurt him. Ace says how about they give him some fake non-alchemical stuff, and some corn, and tell him it's affection and magic corn? Sharra thinks it would be nice to actually help him with his game goal, and not sabotage it.

Ace calls back to the ship - Kith is on her way, but don't let her have any glitter! Ruehan is confused - is the plan to sell the kid glitter instead of affection? Moment Before Dawn says that the glitter is stored in the bridge weapons locker, so only watch officers can open it. This doesn't include either Kith or the Tinoori, and Moment Before Dawn thinks it would be inappropriate to break into the weapons locker to hide the glitter. Ace also hears that Twig has been reparing sludge reprocessing instead of the shuttle bay doors, and tells him to ignore sludge reprocessing and work on the doors instead.

Kye, in his persona as Stampy the Black Marketeer, corners Danny in an alley.

"I hear you're looking for some affection." -Kye
"That sounds so inappropriate." -Brian
When Kith arrives at the ship, sludge has overflowed onto the Level 4 decks, much to Linnet and Ruthie's consternation. She helps dam the corridors, and gives the kids permission to stay in the Jeffries tubes for the duration.

Back in town, there's an explosion near the plasma cannon. There's soot everywhere, and Cassie and Danielle look grumpy. The party asks what's up. They say they're trying to research a better building material to let them support the plasma cannon better, but their most recent version (grey goo with silver flecks) exploded. Danielle shows Sharra her notes - a green piece of paper listing three ingredients, each of which has three different varieties, and they've only tried fourteen of the twenty-seven potential combinations so far. Sharra offers to help. Well, could she find them some magic corn? Danny suggests talking to Farmer McCoy, who raises corn.

Ace, Ruehan, and Katya finish their walk, and find a little stand of trees near a small pond. After a bit of geometry, they find a small stand of trees near a little pond. Some more line drawing later, they decide it's time to dig some test holes. Ruehan expresses incredulity that anyone would ask him to do manual labor, so Ace digs and Katya TK-digs. They finally find a rock, which, when turned, opens a door on the hill. It's a tunnel, with a secret back entrance to the warehouse!

Sharra and Kith head to Farmer McCoy's. The door is shut, and there's a sign on it saying "Keep Out: Hatfields, this means you." Sharra says they're from the Hippocrates, not Hatfields. How can Farmer McCoy tell? Well, Boss Man has an official list... Okay, Farmer McCoy says he'll let them in when they bring him the list.

Back to town where Sharra and Kith head to Boss Man's. He has, in fact, finished his list, which has everyone's name and when not to bother them. Sharra and Kith return to Farmer McCoy's with the list, and ask him about magic corn. He chortles and welcomes them in, to where his still is: you put corn in one side, and get Magic Corn whisky out the other side. Farmer McCoy notes that Phil Hatfield isn't on the list - if they can find him, he'll give them all the magic corn they want. Well, one each, at least.

Sharra and Kith head back into town, and ask after sheet metal and plywood for their damn molds. The bartender recommends that they talk to Danielle to get sheet metal or Cassie to get plywood. Where would they find Phil Hatfield? Well, the Hatfield place is across the street from the McCoy place. They proceed there, and discover a bloody shirt on the front porch! Oh no! This matches Ole Stampy's memory packet - the McCoys got Phil! Except that why would Farmer McCoy want to find him?

Katya, Ace, and Ruehan follow the tunnel to the warehouse. Katya finds a box of Miracle-Grow Baby Formula, just add water. Ace finds a set of red, blue, and black armbands.

Dr. Kye examines the history of the bloody shirt - the wearer went to the butcher shop, and there was a horrible butchering accident and the pig bled all over him. He went home to change his shirt, and then went to the bar to drink himself into a stupor, dropping the shirt on the front porch. Hmm. Well, that does an end run around that mystery. As for the armbands, they identify you as Hatfield supporters, McCoy supporters, and neutral officials.

Kye gets a second drink for the drunk guy in the bar - this confuses him a lot, as he thinks perhaps he's seeing double. Kye searches around and spots the Hatfield Measuring Stick under his chair. Kith tries to persuade Phil to give them his measuring stick. He tries to assure them that he's not there, still pretty incoherent from the booze. Kith cures poison on him, and Sharra persuades him to snap out of it. He eventually comes around: "You're not supposed to talk to people who aren't here, but if you find me a red headband, I might be able to give you my stick."

Ace gives Phil Hatfield one of his red armbands, and he puts it on. Then he declares "Hatfields drunk no more! I'm going to go smash that still!" and stomps off. Ruehan mentions his shirt - he decides to go home to change, first.

Everyone else proceeds to Farmer McCoy's at best speed, and warn him that Phil Hatfield is on his way, no longer drunk. Farmer McCoy says Phil had a gallon of Magic Corn - how can he not be drunk any more?

Kith heads across the street to try and talk Phil out of smashing the still.

"I don't see no blue armband on your arm, I don't see why this is your concern." -Phil Hatfield
"It's my mission to ease suffering." -Kith "Well, come with me and we'll put the still out of his misery."
Kye and Sharra, with Ruehan-the-smeerp, go to the plasma cannon building, where the Miracle Concrete research is progressing.

Boss Man makes an announcement, interrupting the research: "Attention everyone in town. I checked the weather report, and it's supposed to rain in a couple of days. We're going to move the festival up to RIGHT NOW." Everyone knocks off what they're doing. Ace tries to convince the Miracle Concrete researchers to continue with their blowing things up, but they are adamant that you can't do research during Festival. It's all about chilling out and talking to each other while not doing stuff.

During the festival, Ma takes the night off and goes to the bar; the bartender comes to the inn and makes dinner. Ruehan throws a cocktail party. Ozzie and Harriet corner Dr. Kye and say they've been watching who goes in and out of the bar with who, and they know he's the new Stampy. So if he doesn't want to get gacked, he really should give Ozzie his cut of the black market profits. Katya talks to Danielle and Cassie about Scouting. Kith talks to Phil Hatfield about Jaylaism and why it's better than drinking. Kith cures his physical addiction, and Ruehan implants a suggestion that he doesn't need to drink.

Ace talks to the Boss Man, about shooting the weird gun at Danny. Oh, Boss Man says - you work for Ozzie? So what's the problem? Ace wants to know how Danny would take it. Well, Boss Man thinks maybe it'd scare some sense into him. But if Ace doesn't think he wants to do it, why is he doing it?

Ace explains that Ozzie has had a big effect on FirstTown, that now it's a lot harder to find stuff than it used to be. Boss Man doesn't really see why. Ace explains: you used to just go to the warehouse to get things, and now you can't. Boss Man says sure, but now you just give someone purple chits for things instead. Ahah, Ace counters - but where did he get the purple chits? From Ozzie. Exactly! Boss Man still isn't convinced that anything is any harder.

Ace suggests to the party that Ozzie is a blight upon Rupert's Hole that the very planet is planning to wipe out via the flood, and that the "game" needs to be stopped. On the other hand, maybe the flood isn't actually real. Katya's intuition tells her that the flood is real, and the way to save the town is to finish their greensheet.

Festival finishes. Kith makes sure to be around Phil Hatfield at noon at the end of Festival, so as to continue the conversation about Jaylaism as an alternative to feuding. Others head over to the Miracle Concrete project, to learn that the researches need jello, charcoal, and magic corn. They give them a bottle of magic corn, and get some sheet metal in return. Then, it's off to the warehouse to get jello and charcoal!

Kye swims into the river with the Hatfield measuring stick, and finds that there's six days left before the river floods.

Danny finds Dr. Kye, and asks if he has the ingredients. Kye gives him the affection and a flask for some purple widgets. Boss Man issues a new list - it turns out that "Strange Guy In the Bar" was actually Phil Hatfield.

Kith persuades Farmer McCoy and Phil Hatfield into a wrestling match. If Hatfield wins, then he gets to smash the still. If McCoy wins, then Hatfield has to leave town. Hatfield wins the wrestling bout, and gets to smash the still. Both of them start considering Jaylaism and competitive suffering reduction.

When the party returns with the jello and charcoal, the Concrete Project is about to try white goo with gold flecks. Hey, wait. Wasn't Ole Stampy's memory packet for grey goo with gold flecks? They try to convince the researchers to try that instead. Well, why not? It'll require ashes, but those are found without too much work by simply checking out a few fireplaces. Sure enough, grey goo with gold flecks proves to be a non-explosive, very strong, very hard building material. Hurrah!

Ace talks to Cassie about Danny - she thinks he's okay, but he's kinda lazy. Danny shows up, calling for a celebration at having finished the concrete project! He pours fizzy pink drinks for everyone. Ace drags him aside to try and talk him into trying to get Cassie first without the love potion. If you use the drugs, he says, looking at Katya, you'll never know if they would have been interested without the drugs. Kye tries to go over to talk to Danny too, but Katya TK grabs him and prevents him from getting any closer. Ruehan protests: let the poor kid do his plot! He sets up a mind-link to Danny and mesmerizes him into pretending to go along with Ace but not actually giving up on the love potion. Danny agrees to talk to Cassie, so Ace lets him go. Danny promptly gives Cassie a drink, which Ace grabs away from her, claiming she should have her hands free for the conversation. Kye tries to offer his fizzy pink drink to Cassie, but Katya TK-grabs and spills it. Danny offers his flask to Cassie, and she finally drinks it. Danny looms around in her field of vision, and then the two of them start to wander off together.

"This would be more fun if Mirris were here." - Kye
"When are you going to get over her?" -Kith
"Maybe you should help him, he's suffering." -Sharra
Ace sneaks off after Cassie and Danny, and with sleight of hand injects Cassie with some Yellow before they get away. Meanwhile, Katya and Kye have begun to fight over the flask of remaining pink stuff; Kye has a hold on it, but Katya is doing her best to spill it on Kye. Then Kye does his best to get the spilled stuff on Katya, but doesn't quite succeed.

People who are keeping track of these things realize they haven't seen the guy in the black bandanna yet, which would be Joe-Bob. Asking around, everyone expects him to be down by the bar. The party proceeds there, where Ace gives Ozzie one of the purple chits he's collected. Ahah, Joe-Bob is the bartender, but he only wears the black bandanna when he's off duty, which he never seems to be.

Danny is spotted, trudging forlornly back up the street. Ace heads out to intercept him.

"Was it everything you thought it would be?" -Ace
"It didn't work. It was a stupid plot, er, formula." -Danny
Ace turns the subject to the debt that Danny owes Ozzie.
"Someday, someone working for Ozzie is going to come and talk to you, like this, and take out a gun..."
<Ace takes out the weird gun>
"... and gack you."
<Ace gacks Danny>
Danny is aghast. Ace has been working for Ozzie all along! He runs off, close to tears.
"Wow, you've just ruined this kid's life." -Sharra.
Kye heads back to the ship, and brews up a second batch of fizzy pink love potion for Danny.

The Miracle Concrete Project is now willing to trade miracle concrete for magic corn. In order to get more magic corn, both Ace and Ruehan take a blue armband, supporting the McCoys. Ace tries to wear both a red and a blue armband, but various town folk complain to Kith and she gets him to stop that. Ace tries to talk Cassie into giving Danny another chance. She thinks he was a goof, he was talking about love potions, of all things. And he seems kinda lazy.

"Now, all we need to know is where the kissing tree is." -Sharra, reading the greensheet.
"Uh oh." -Everyone else
Ace breaks into the bartender's house, but there's nothing of interest to be found.

The next day, the party considers how to find out where the kissing tree is. Ace suggests that Ruehan could mind control the kids to get together; Ruehan thinks it would have been easier to just use the love potion. Sharra thinks maybe mind control shouldn't be the next option - maybe they could talk them into it? Or mind-ream them for the tree's location. Ruehan goes to talk to Danny, and manages to extract the general location of the Kissing Tree, while Sharra talks to Cassie about giving Danny another chance, and talks to Danny about working with Cassie on something she is working on. Like the concrete. Kye passes the second love potion off to him, and Danny goes off to talk to Cassie. He works on the cement for a while, and then gives her the potion. Success!

Sharra builds test dams. Success! She heads back to the concrete works, to find that Danielle is there by herself. Apparently Danny and Cassie took a walk by the river. Kye sneaks after them and finds the location of the Kissing Tree. Success!

The real dam gets made, and is set to dry for twenty-four hours.

Ace goes to talk to Ozzie about the purple chit competition, which Ozzie says ends at noon on Sunday. The winner gets the black market, and Ozzie's ship. Then Ace chats with the bartender, wondering if he wants off planet when Ace's ship is repaired. The bartender says to talk to Cassie about repairing the ship, but no, he doesn't want off planet, he wants to run the black market. He gets out of Ace that Ace wants the purple chits to repair his ship with parts from Ozzie's ship. The bartender offers: "Give me all your purple chips, and I'll give you the ship afterwards."

Ace counter-offers "If you give me all your purple chits, I'll give the black market to you afterwards." About this time, Ace thinks it's time to leave, so he does.

That night, Ace again asks Kith for help sleeping through the cheepy noises. Kith thinks maybe Ace is becoming dependent.

"Have you tried earplugs?" -Kith
"What do I do when someone sneaks into my room?" -Ace
"You sleep soundly."
Saturday at noon, Ozzie, Harriet, and Danny are all in the street in front of the bar. Apparently Joe-Bob hasn't come in today. Danny pays Ozzie the nine purple chits he owes.

The party takes their now-dry concrete dam to the river. They go to the Kissing Tree, put in the Hatfield Measuring Stick, and place the dam at the third mark. Well, at least, they try to. The dam is pretty heavy. After much concerted shoving, the dam slides into place. Hurrah! The town is saved!

Kith wonders what Joe-Bob would do if Ace were to go and offer all the purple chits for the spaceship. She thinks he'd probably keep the deal - but Joe-Bob still hasn't shown up. Danny asks Ace, wide-eyed, if Ace gacked him. Ace was the last person in the bar last night, which means he was the last person to see him!

Ace steers the conversation away from Joe-Bob to Danny's life. How have things been going for Danny recently, after that talk he had with Ace? Great, just great, Danny says, a little suspiciously. So does Danny believe that Ace is trying to help him? Well... hey, wait a minute! Ace gacked Danny! Ace gives Danny the gacker, and tells him to find Dr. Kye and tell him Ace wants to talk to him.

Danny goes and talks to Dr. Kye. He explains that Ace wants Danny to gack Kye, but since Kye did him a good favor, he's going to do Kye a favor and tell Ace that he gacked him. Danny shoots the ground at Kye's feet with his weapon.

Ace calls Kye, who throws a fit. Ace sent Danny to gack him! And gave him the gun!

"I'm feeling oppressed here." -Kye
Ace denies it and says Danny must have gotten confused, but Kye finds this highly unlikely.

Anyway, there's still the purple-chit plot. The party heads back to the Hippocrates to fabricate a bunch more purple widgets; Ace uses his forgery to make them convincing.

"This feels a little like cheating." -Ace
"This only *FEELS* like cheating?" -Kye
Regardless of whether or not it's cheating, Ace is pretty sure it's illegal. Of course, Kith points out, if the party shows up with hundreds of purple chits, Ozzie will be sure something is up.

Saturday night, the Hatfield/McCoy feud has been cancelled. Kith provides tea for the oppressed Kye, with lots of cream and sugar.

The party heads in, Sunday morning, and talks Boss Man into trading "new purple chits for old purple chits". Ace says they're changing one for one right now, but the old ones won't be worth anything after the competition finishes. Boss Man wonders why Ozzie hasn't given him a stipend of the new chits - Ace says that he'll talk to Ozzie, and promptly returns with fifteen new chits for Boss Man.

At quarter of noon, Boss Man calls a town meeting. There's been another earthquake, and the passes are clear again. The river did move last night, and Phil Hatfield's field got washed away. Phil points out that this is good irrigation for the McCoys, which will no doubt RELIEVE THEIR SUFFERING. Two of the young folk, Cassie and Danny, will be getting married next Tuesday. And finally, Ozzie and Harriet have an announcement. They've only gotten purple chits from Joe-Bob, so... er, Ace hurriedly turns in his chits. At thirty-six to Joe-Bob's twenty-nine, Ace wins. Boss Man issues a correction to the playerlist - the guy listed as Deuce is really Ace. Ozzie gives Ace the password to the ship, which is "Gack gack. Gack gack gack!"