Intrigue on the Orient Express

By their fruits you shall know them.

Oasis -> New Light

At the last that we saw our heroes, they had been heading into Certain Peril, and then were flung into the swirling mists of multi-dimensional spacetime, with Max's advice ringing in their ears: "If something goes horribly wrong, meet at the place we had the bachelor's party, or if it's not there, the nearest City Hall."

Janzur, Jim, Hippocrates, Eva, Mirris, and Max come to in what appears to be a space port lobby. Janzur has been further damaged since the battle in Cain's base, but also bandaged up a bit. Jim has been pretty healed. Hippocrates is more damaged than expected. Mirris and Eva have some insignificant scrapes here and there, and Max has a truly massive headache in addition to six second class tickets to New Light on the Oasis liner Orient Express (departing in 95 minutes). Apparently, whatever happened recently was no one's problem.

Max takes some Green/Gold for his headache while others interrogate Hippocrates about what's been happening. He apparently didn't get the beginning of the story. When he first met up with this group, they were already five, and running from a combat with Cassandra's shatter-rock goons. The tickets are a way to get everyone back to the rendezvous in order to get back to the real world.

The party balks briefly at the starport customs area as they consider how to get the Hippocrates robot and plasma brand through Oasis security. Eva thinks she can handle it and walks up to a security guard and talks to him a bit. The guard then waves Hippocrates over and usher him through (with Janzur's plasma brand) behind the security area. Good job Eva!

While waiting for the liner to board, people check the local events on the news. It appears that planetary productivity is up another 5 percent. Also, the Hector has been sighted in system, but everyone should remain calm. Contrary to rumors, there aren't that many of them, and the local authorities expect to have the situation under control shortly. More generally, the Red Hegemony is still battling the Tarn in the outworlds.

Locally again, Cassandra Lyrae is having a concert scheduled for a couple of days hence. Cassandra and the Vegans is expected to draw a really large crowd of mostly young people, now that the rumors that the lead singer, Cassandra, was once with the Hector have been dispelled.

Max, disturbed by this revelation about the false Cassandra decides to start checking the crew with his talents to make sure they are all real, but doesn't turn up anything conclusive against anyone.

Hippocrates spends the time gathering intelligence from the net on the crew of the Hector. Apparently, they came out of nowhere a couple of years ago. There are lots of media shots of "Archon Therive" standing over this or that scene of slaughter. Janzur keeps his head down to avoid being "recognized."

It's finally boarding time. The flight is listed as full, so everyone is instructed to stay in their assigned areas as much as possible. The gate agents do a double take when encountering Jim. "Second class? Surely that's a mistake." Jim assures them that he's traveling with a group and would prefer to stay with them in second class. As the flight is full, the gate agents aren't able to upgrade the entire group, and so leave it alone.

Second class is small 2-person cabins, so the team splits up into rooms. Mirris and Eva in one room, Hippocrates, Janzur, Max and Jim split the other two. There still don't seem to be any third class passengers boarding however, which is strangely suspicious until the Captain makes an announcement about that after everyone is strapped in.

"Welcome aboard the Orient Express, and a very special welcome to our arriving third class passengers, the members of Girl Scout Troop 1. Please stay seated and prepare for launch." -Captain Friendly
"Nooooooooo!" -All
During the launch, people investigate what public knowledge there is about Girl Scouting on the web. Apparently, there's not much, as it's a recent organization. It was founded by Dylanna Riser as a means of training young women to be productive member of society. (Like anyone believes that.)

After launch, people head to the dining car. People mostly order tea and sandwiches, except for Jim who orders Sparky Cola. It is here that folks generally find out that the food of this world doesn't agree with them. It's all bland and tasteless, and if you eat too much of it, you get frightfully ill.

Jim passes out some granola bars to hold people over until they can come up with something to do. Meanwhile, folks practice their eavesdropping on various conversations around the dining car. There seems to be quite a political discussion between Mr. Perot and Mr. Green, about the proper conduct of governments.

They are also introduced to Ms. Scarlet, who assures everyone that only the finest ingredients are used in food, and folks should just send it back and get more if they are unhappy with their meals.

Hippocrates starts thinking about blood tests and chemical tests on the food, but while Jim has in fact brought along a small chemistry kit, he doesn't have any reagents, so it's going to be difficult.

At the sound of a bell, the third class passengers start coming in to eat. Yup, it's a sea of Girl Scouts as far as the eye can see. Many are quite excited to meet Jim Powell, and ask for autographs. (They're quite surprised he's here as they "didn't expect to see him until the end.") Finally, their leader, Dylanna arrives. "Well. I guess they weren't making it up; you really are here."

Dylanna explains that she's taking the girls to the Blue Imperatrix to form an alliance, and coldly asks if that meets with Jim's approval. Jim nods his assent and Dylanna returns to maintaining discipline among her charges.

"Mandy, don't practice how to sign Jim's name, at least not in public." -Dylanna
Meanwhile, Mirris has been extracting her background. She gives a report. Dylanna skipped ahead to prepare for the charismatic leader, a Boy Scout. Powell has arrived here too early and now she's irritated with him. She's also mourning some lost love, but that's less clear.

Max hits upon the idea that well-equipped girl scouts probably have a stash of chemical reagents in their bags somewhere, and goes back to talk to them about it. So begins the long piece of the voyage in which Girl Scouts amuse themselves by ordering pizzas and sending them to Jim's cabin, setting up paintball bombs in the corridors, and attempting to get everyone in sight to sign something so they can "practice".

Max manages to acquire the reagents from some helpful girl scouts, though he does have to sign a receipt, and Jim sends the pizzas back for the girls to enjoy.

Hippocrates starts collecting blood sample so he can do some analysis tonight. Everyone except Eva gives a blood sample, since she's in the shower at the time.

When Hippocrates finishes his analysis, he discovers that Jim, Janzur, and Max are all chirally reversed compared to the available food, but Mirris isn't. She's compatible with the food.

"That sounds bad, on the surface." -Janzur
Could it be? Is Mirris an imposter? And what about her cabin-mate Eva, the only one who didn't give a blood sample. Very troubling indeed. Max heads out to do some investigation, but gets sidetracked by Girl Scouts who are doing investigation of their own...

It appears that in first class, one of the passengers is dead! Mr. Hercules Perot is clearly visible though the walls of his cabin on Cindy's bicorder in infrared mode. But his body temperature is only 70 F, so that's it for him.

Meanwhile, "Eva" and "Mirris" are up all night considering their next move.

"They had to look up the crew up the Hector on the web" - Jessica, mockingly.
While Max informs the crew, and begins an investigation of the murder, Eva has a note sent to Janzur saying that they need to talk.
"I call Jim." -Janzur
"Chicken!" -Kate
"The evil manipulatrix and the abominator? Not a chance." -Eon
The men stall for a bit as they consider what to do, prompting the women to send more notes asking if they should stay up, or just go to sleep.

Sides seem drawn. Hippocrates, Janzur, and Jim head into the women's cabin to talk, while Max tries to keep some order among the girl scouts investigating the murder.

Mirris and Eva, er... Jessica and Eve explain that they were simply trying to escape from the Hector. They're not really sure what to do about their Black addictions, but really want to leave.

"You try having Katya use you as a hand puppet!" -Jessica, on reasons to flee
As to their actual powers and abilities, it seems they are similar to Eva and Mirris, just hyped up by Black.

Negotiations continue while Max has his hands full:

"Do you have your forensics merit badge?" -Girl Scout to Max
"That's my job, I'm a detective." -Max
"Ooh! Can we talk for an hour or so about forensics and how it's important to your job?"
Dylanna interrupts at this point to take Jim aside and ask if the murder was his. She wouldn't want her girls interfering if he had an agenda. She'd really prefer if he gave her a heads up on that sort of thing, though. Jim looks surprised and says no, he has nothing to do with anything, confusing Dylanna a bit. She heads off to ponder.

Max and the girls have determined that the poor Mr. Perot was poisoned and shot. They think he was probably shot after he was dead. Some consultation with other Girl Scouts indicates that the poison was quite rare and only exists in the outworlds, Sundown, and Highguard.

Meanwhile the girls are making a pest of themselves, as one of them attempt to seduce Jim, fairly ineptly. Jim sends her away and is once more visited by Dylanna who is here to ask if there was someone else he'd prefer. Jim demurs and sends Dylanna away confused again.

Eve and Jessica have put their heads together to figure out the murder and report to the party.

"I think more than one person tried to kill him because I read this book..." -Jessica.
Eve finds the Highguard poison likely as she tells people that one of her sister-in-law's assassins (the charming Ms. Scarlet) is aboard. Max continues his investigation but is ambushed by investigating Girl Scouts. He folds under their assault, but then they apologize.
"You shouldn't sneak up on us!"
"Want us to practice our first aid on you?"
People break up for the next day as Eve and Jessica, under the ever watchful eye of Janzur and Hippocrates, "interrogate" most of the first class passengers, Jim has several long talks with Dylanna, and Max keeps the Girl Scouts distracted with his amazing detective skills.

It comes to pass that they discover:

Jim and Max investigate their various first class cabins. Not much of interest is found until Max breaks into the cabin of Mr. Green, who has a case filled with weapons. Unfortunately, it's also trapped and Max goes down to the invisible gas. Jim heads there to find a Girl Scout also trying to break in to help Max. He moves her aside and starts picking the lock over again. Inside, he gets a gas mask on Max and fans the gas into the ventilator shaft. There's a thump in the shaft as a Girl Scout who was monitoring the situation passes out. The weapons were all clean, but one was cleaned this morning. Looks like Green is definitely the other killer, though there's little evidence, since blasters can't be matched to wounds. Jim stands Max up and they manage to escape before anyone notices.

So when put all together, Eve and Mirris determine that Perot was a defecting red spy heading to Blue. Brown was his handler bringing him in. Green killed him, or at least would have were he not already dead from Scarlet's poison. Why would Scarlet kill him? Eve claims her sister-in-law is probably a traitor to both Imperiums.

Dylanna at this point demands to know where the cameras are, as she can't imagine Jim running around saving people and solving crimes without a news crew somewhere nearby. Again he demurs, and she heads off confused.

Well, now all the crew needs is evidence. Evidence against Green seems easy to get as he's very interested in Eve, so she invites him to her cabin for a night cap. During their encounter, he blabs the whole thing into Eve's hidden microphone in an attempt to impress her.

Scarlet is trickier to ensnare as there's no physical evidence and seems completely uninterested in incriminating herself. Hippocrates makes a valiant attempt, but she mostly toys with him for a bit and then sends him off. Since he's unwilling to escalate to violence without evidence, he leaves.

The party arranges with Brown to give him the evidence against Green if he'll promise to leave them out of the matter when the arrests come. He agrees and is given Eve's tape.

The last loose end is to figure out what's up with Ms. Turquoise, but the Girl Scouts preempt everyone as they've been watching her for days now, and all she does is cry, since Mr. Green dumped her after their one night stand the evening of the murder.

Meanwhile Dylanna and Jim have their heart to heart talk, in which it is revealed that Jim is good and from another universe - though he'll be going back there again and leaving her to deal with this one. Dylanna would like to believe that there's a "better way" than her training has given her, and seems to find this Jim more of an idealist than she had expected to meet (and perhaps reminiscent of her lost Andrew).

Finally, the crew turns to their own problems. What shall they do with Eve and Jessica. Take them to the rendezvous? Send them away? Kill them? Well, probably not that last...

Jessica has some misgivings about letting herself and Eve go over to the other universe with the crew. "If you bring her over, you're going to have to keep an eye on her, because she's scary. Not that I'm not scary too." Jim points out that they're probably the two best liars we know, and they may be bad guys. Hippocrates suggest leaving them behind with more resources and maybe they'll be able to defend themselves against the Hector. Jim isn't thrilled with giving them resources, as he thinks there are better people, but is willing to go along.

The crew asks them for any information they have on how mind control lasers work, and there is much confusion as to why these supposed "good guys" want to build mind control lasers, but in the end Jessica and Eve aren't engineers and doesn't really know any of the important details so they can't help.

"Well what can you give us?" -Jim
"We helped solve the murder!" -Eve
"Sure, but we bought your tickets!" -Jim
In the end, they are given a fair bit of information on possible research projects that might lead to a Black addiction cure, and the crew get a small briefing on current events. Arriving at the spaceport, Brown has Green dragged away and Scarlet walks off to freedom.

The scene ends with the crew heading out towards their rendezvous leaving Jessica and Eve behind, as it begins to rain.