Art is a mirror which should show many reflections
Oasis -> New Light
Sophia, Ace, and Eva fall out of the sky into the intersection of several alleys. Another Sophia runs by and trips over Sophia - she takes the tent of invisibility, drops a wristwatch of some form with Sophia, and starts to run off. She turns back for a moment to comment: "When in doubt, tell him you're not a traitor," and then continues to flee.
The intersection they're in seems to be a junction of six alleys, like the center of a large hexagonal block. The trio quickly heads down an alley chosen at random, to be out of the center. Eva, putting together facts in her head, says to not eat the food and not kill your duplicate. A beeping sound starts coming from down one of the other alleys.
Sophia takes some samples of the trash from nearby, and wonders about chiral reversals. A hovering robot comes into view, but doesn't quite spot Ace. Eva speculates that it's the other Sharra looking for the other Sophia. The group investigates the end of the alley, cautiously. A sign labels the block as "The Hex: pleasant and affordable housing." The assumption is jumped to that this means it's a horrible slum, but it doesn't seem to be so bad. Across the street from the entrance is a produce stand, where Janzur stands, eating an apple.
The hovering robot reports back to Sharra that there was a hit - they're in the hex somewhere. The group contemplates how to sneak past - try to climb up to a window? Eva will likely have trouble with that. In the spirit of experimentation, Sophia turns her wristwatch on. Sharra notes one of the dots on her scanner has vanished. When she reports this to Janzur, he grows impatient and tells her to "send all of them."
Time to bluff. Ace draws his gun, covering Sophia, as the rest of the robots converge on the group. Eva pops her head around the corner to announce to Janzur: "Got her!". This seems convincing enough, and Sharra rappels down from the roof.
"I'm not a traitor!" -SophiaSophia explains that it was all Citizen Cain's fault - he's really very compelling. It still makes sense if she thinks about it... Janzur is not mollified.
"Yes, yes, you keep saying that." -Eva
"What was it this time?" -Janzur
"You could still fix the cannon if you didn't have any legs."Eva says that Cain's mind control will fade gradually now that she's not in his presence. Janzur thinks this is a bit of a convenient excuse for Sophia, but she's always full of those. He didn't know that Eva and Bishop were in on the "retrieve the wayward doctor" plan, or he would have... in any case, now that everyone is there, they can finally do the plan with the satellites. What did Bishop do with his ship, anyway? There are some hints about having lost it in a game of chance.
Everyone heads back to the ship. Sharra's robots assure her that whatever the glitch was that caused them to lose track of one of the targets, they're working on it and will figure it out. No reformatting is needed! Sophia turns off the watch again when no one is looking.
On the way back, the people of Oasis tend to be friendly until they see Janzur, and then they're spooked. The spaceport is labeled: "Efficient Production Facility 7 spaceport", and the Elite shuttle and a Hector fighter are the only armed ships on the pad.
Ace gets to fly the fighter; Janzur sends over the coordinates. On the Elite shuttle, Eva checks the logs - the ship got dropped off by Hector, flew to the Palms, flew to the little city with the Hex in it, and is now flying back to the Palms (which is a city on the opposite side of Oasis from the Hanging Gardens).
Landing at the Palms spaceport, Janzur and Ace are given claim checks for their ships. The clerk remarks that he's glad to see Janzur got the stolen ship back - did he ever find out who took it? Janzur ignores him, frostily.
Ace starts acquiring money here and there, and finds that asters are the same in this dimension. The group proceeds to their hotel - the friendly clerk hands them their keys, and wonders cheerily if they worked out their troubles. Janzur ignores him, frostily. The clerk wonders if they need anything. NO, says Janzur. Sharra tips the clerk, ending the interaction.
Sophia asks to be reminded about the plan again - all the mind control made her a little fuzzy. Well, all right. Janzur's Thanatic Guard codes will let him get a ship to the orbital satellites without being blown to bits. Ace will head down in the fighter, dropping relay satellites, and then a team on the satellite and a team on the ground will coordinate making changes. The long-term goal is to make the pacification lasers on all the time, not just when the Hector is here.
There's some discussion as to which of the techies should be up with Janzur, and which down with Eva on the ground. Sophia dithers, and Eva noodges her into choosing the data-analysis side, on the ground. Ace heads out "to refill his supplies", having picked up the idea that Bishop is something of a drug connoisseur.
"Be back in an hour. Can you do that? No, I don't care if you can do that. Be back in an hour." -JanzurAt one hour and one minute past, Bishop is not back. People begin to wonder if he had the claim check to the shuttle. Janzur calls the spaceport, to ask about the ship. Does he have his claim check? Er, no, he's misplaced it. Well, that's all right, they trust him anyway. The shuttle is still there.
Meanwhile, Ace has been off checking out the landscape. It turns out that it's a pretty dull landscape. He manages to find a drugstore that sells nutritional supplements, so he buys some of those, but can't find any sign of an underground worth mentioning. After a bit though, he does find that he's being followed. Leading his pursuer on a merry chase, he manages to lay an ambush. Catching the guy, he's dissappointed to find that his shadow is actually a fairly inept guy, not so good at this following thing.
After the interrogation, it becomes clear that the young man "will never betray his people to an evil such as you!" Of course, as he's not very bright he betrays them fairly quickly and passes Ace a contact device in case Ace wants to get in touch with them later. He runs off when it appears that the two of them are now being tailed... by Janzur and Sharra, who have headed off to look for Ace, while Eva is left to guard Sophia.
Eva does some research on who everyone is, and gets names - she's Eve, and tends to dress a bit more provocatively than Eva does, Ace is Bishop, and Janzur is generally referred to as "Archon Therive".
Sophia works on the device to analyze the readout from the pacification lasers. She adds a gravimetric analyzer, and a Jacob's Ladder.
Sharra finally finds "Bishop" and everyone heads back to the hotel room. Ace gives Sophia a little blue pill, "to help her think better" (it's actually homeopathic herbal stuff), and Sophia embarks into a long digression over how recovery from drug effects works. The digression is cut short when Archon Therive declares that it's time to start. Oh, but, before he goes - he locks a gold armband around Sophia's upper arm. She asks what it does, but he's pretty sure she knows what it does and is just mocking him.
After he leaves, everyone investigates it - it seems to include a location tracer, an audio bug, and a large explosive. Ace also notes there's a Sharra-bot on the couch watching them. Eva makes faces at it.
Eva reaches over to turn Sophia's wristwatch on again. Sophia looks worried, and turns it off again. Sharra's robot notes to Sharra that Sophia must have been in the kitchen for a moment there, and Janzur notes that his splodey-armband was briefly unlocatable. Okay, that's no good - Sophia must have made a new device. Janzur turns the shuttle around again.
Ace communicates via notes that he's "found the Resistance," but it's not really clear yet what that entails. Sophia makes up a shopping list for the things she'll need for dimensional physics mad science, and gives that to Ace. Eva trades wristwatches with Sophia, which is good, because Janzur and Sharra reappear at the door.
Janzur announces the new plan - Sharra stays here, Sophia comes with him; "The doctor has been playing ghostie with the surveillance equipment." Eva says she took the device away from Sophia, and Sophia is no good at zero-G.
Everyone but Sophia goes to argue in Janzur's room. Janzur needs someone to convince him that she's not going to pull a ghost again. Eva demonstrates the watch, turning it on. How many people does Sharra's robot see now? It says it's fine - is this a trick? No, it's not a trick. The robot says it says it sees all three people, it's fine, it doesn't need retuning. So it's clearly the watch.
Janzur is somewhat placated, but wants the watch. Eva throws it to Ace, with a significant glance. Ace considers a switch, but all he has is a real watch, and while he might be able to swap them, his watch has a dial and hands, not a single button. So Janzur might be likely to notice. He gives Janzur the device, who gives it to Sharra to take a look at. Ace pickpockets it from Sharra as the two of them leave.
Back at the spaceport, the cheery clerk starts to remark "Back aga...". Janzur cuts him off: "Here's your tip, here's my claim check, be quiet." Sharra is pleased, he's learning.
Back at the hotel room, Ace thinks that if Janzur and Sharra come back again, they'll need a plan to fight them. Getting the explosive band off is the first step. Ace thinks it'll require simultaneous lockpicking, security systems, and demolitions, to get it off without exploding and without notifying Janzur. Then, the take-down Janzur plan is to dose him with yellow and take his plasma brand and disarm the bracelet. All at once? That could be tough in the moment after he knocks on the door again.
The bracelet's range is probably in-system (it's a shtick). Ace looks for a helpful local boy, and offers him some cash in exchange for his calling Ace's phone number if the Elite shuttle lands. The boy thinks this is a joke - he wouldn't want to take Ace's money, Ace can just ask the guy at the spaceport to do it. Ace finally explains that it's for a joke, and he doesn't want to let the clerk in on it. The kid agrees.
Ace circles around, checking if it's being tailed (he's not) and then heads off to contact the Resistance, since his conversation got cut short earlier. First, people wonder if they are bad guys in this universe. They're the ones trying to bring Oasis into the Blue Imperium, so maybe they aren't the ones to help with this.
Sophia puts together her dimensional analyzer. Well, the gates will need to be built at approximately the original sites - or the mirror image of them. So either New Light / Oasis, or the Well / New Light. But the site here was slagged by the Hector's cannon, so it's going to have to be the reverse. On the other hand, it also will have to be the case that someone will need to be working on a gate in the other dimension - Dr. Cain?
Eva browses through current events while Ace heads off to find someone who can pick locks. He's distressed to find once again that the Oasis is a vast wasteland, as far as seedy types are concerned. There are no thieves anywhere. He finally finds a locksmith, and explains that he has a friend who has run afoul of the crew of the Hector. Oh, that's unfortunate. When is the funeral? Ace explains that she's not dead yet. The locksmith says he's not doing any rescue missions. Ace explains the bracelet, without mentioning the exploding part. The locksmith is unhappy - he has a wife and kids, he doesn't want to leave them with no support.
(Sharra eventually notes that the watch is missing - Janzur figures that Sharra lost it.)
Ace and Sophia and the locksmith manage to get the armband off, and locked around a chair. Ace also has a replica of the bracelet, which should stand up to a quick inspection. To take care of the audio recorder, they set up a bug on Sophia to transmit to near the chair, for it to hear, so Janzur should never know the difference..
Ace heads out to drop the probes out of the fighter; this requires rolling two successes at ever-increasing difficulties as he gets closer to the planet. He finally finishes the probe set at two 16s, and heads back to the Palms starport.
Sharra and Sophia start working on the programming mechanic - essentially, Sharra is trying to construct patterns to make the signal permanent, while Sophia knows about more patterns, including some to cancel it, and to make the changes viral. But it's hard trying to do all these things at the same time without running into each other or making Sharra suspicious.
Eva wonders what they've missed - the answer is "What was Ace doing when he was late?" At that point, a beeper in Ace's pocket goes off. He goes to throw it out the window, and it opens up, revealing a yin/yang symbol.
Armed men burst through the door, shouting "Enemies of freedom! You shall not prevail!" Sophia tries to explain to Janzur, over the device communicator, that the complication isn't her fault.
Ace shoots a neural disruptor at the freedom-lover. Sharra's robot shoots him too (there is cheering from the other robots up with Sharra for Sparky). Janzur is sure whatever is going on down there is Sophia's fault.
Eva signs in Silent Hunter to Sparky, for Janzur: "Enemy trying to stop us. Play along with anything crazy I say." More freedom fighters come in, and Eva thinks that the Terrans in this universe are the good guys. There's some more shooting.
Eva tries some fast talk: "You idiots, we're on your side! We're working for Citizen Cain, don't you recognize Sophia? Don't mess up the machine!" The Terrans are not convinced that they're working for Citizen Cain, since they're clearly Hector crew. Sparky shoots another freedom fighter, which also suggests that they're not on the same team. Eva continues: "No, look - he recruited us and gave us this." This confuses them further, since they think this is the beeper that Troy gave Ace earlier - do they have two?
The freedom fighters finally take down Sparky, and Eva shushes the Terrans while Ace writes a note: "Sabotaging it, play along." Ace shoots several walls dramatically, and the rest of the combat is staged for the audio pickup's benefit.
Meanwhile, Eva and Sophia convince Sharra that three dots of the same color is a mad-science way of getting more strength - it's really an extra channel, which is one of the pieces Sophia needs for the anti-control frequency.
The ineffectual but dramatic combat continues, and the Terrans sit down to wait for the mechanic to finish. In the end, the satellites are persistent (on when the Hector isn't here) but also inverted (self-countering) and viral (hard to expunge the changes). The audio pickup for Sophia's bug gets put by a recording of some of the chatter from the past several days, while the party talks with the Terrans.
The party introduces themselves: "We're freedom fighters, from an alternate dimension!" and explains that they've anti-mind controlled the mind control lasers. But they need to get to New Light to get home. Wait, they work for the Imperatrix? No, really, they're from an alternate dimension.
Well, in order to get them smuggled out of the system, they'll want to talk to the Boss. He's in the secret headquarters behind the soda shop. Heading there, he turns out to be Father Emmanuel Stone. He's a little worried at the disappearance of Citizen Cain (their last best hope for peace), but the group assures him that Cain is alive and will probably return.
They wonder whether things got worse for Stone at around the time of the second season finale - well, the Hector had showed up before that, but that was when the Hector overthrew the Oasis government, so yes, things got worse then. But not strangely near-fatal for Father Stone.
They ask Father Stone about the Terrans' goals, and if they can tell them about some successes they've had. This doesn't go over so well: "We don't have successes! The crew of the Hector thwarts us as every turn!"
The Terrans explain: The crew of the Hector has a terrible ritual that they're trying to do to enslave the universe. It has something to do with the governments, but they don't know exactly what. If the party can give them any advice to help their universe from being enslaved, they would be very grateful.
Everyone looks at each other, and is very sorry, but they know nothing, nothing at all about such rituals. Some things don't work the same between universes.
"We don't know anything about any rituals. We're crazed pirates for freedom." -EvaIt has taken Father Stone a little while to recognize Eva (perhaps she was in disguise, or out of it, last time), and he's suddenly sure it's some sort of setup. If this is all part of some cruel betrayal... but Eve is in charge of cruel betrayals! He's not going to talk about it any more. But he'll get them on a ship to New Light.
If the Terrans see any "strangely nice" crew of the Hector, send them to New Light too. One way to tell them apart might be the Hector v. Hippocrates logo - the Hector logo is a little more spiky. Or whether they think Mirris is called Mirris or Jessica. The party gives them a dose of yellow, and they'll see what they can do to research it.
Before leaving, Eva asks about Highguard - it apparently goes on jihads against technology occasionally.
Father Stone arranges for a ship, and Blue Imperium entry passes, and also gives Eva a small hardbound Bibbler book, with a benediction: "May the blessings of the Lord God be with you always."
Ace ponders stealing the Terran's ship - it's a little like stealing from the "real" Terrans, right? No, it's like stealing from the Terran's little old Grandma. His larcenous impulses are curbed.
Eva examines the Bibble for secret messages - it seems to have the meaning of "May this book light the way in the darkness to come."
"Well, it might make a good torch..." -EvaThen, it's off to New Light for the rendezvous...