We were walking down a quiet street near the spaceport when a running gun battle broke out in front of us. Two humans, a larrokite and a sparrial were firing on a lone human woman, who was doing her best to return fire while staying behind the cover of a car.
Ogier and Serron immediately raced to the rescue, while Spanners and myself stayed back to assess the situation more carefully. Unfortunately, Ogier was shot in the leg as he tried to run across the road and collapsed. With Serron's help, he dragged himself to cover and they began firing at the assailants.
By now, Spanners and I had picked our targets, aided by the fact that two of them were shooting at us already. We managed to take them out with blaster shots, and Serron and the woman took care of the others, though most of us sustained some wounds to the arms or legs. Luckily there were no law enforcement officers present, or in fact anyone to witness this incident.
With some rather severe wounds, we were in need of medical attention. Fortunately, Sirene Song, as the woman introduced herself, knew the local area well and found us a clinic where we were tended to. She then invited us to her home for a meal to thank us for rescuing her. Mostly human food of course, but she picked up some rather good pinchilekki on the way home.
When we got to her home, we found the place ransacked. Sirene searched for a few minutes and declared that her map had been stolen. She explained that her uncle had bequeathed her a map showing the location of a large cache of emeralds in the hills outside Justin, and that she was planning to mount an expedition to retrieve them once she could afford it. However it seems her uncle had made some enemies who knew of the map, and went to some lengths to take possession of it. Sirene also believes the thugs we dispatched on the street were hired by the same people who stole the map.
We are now pondering our next move. Sirene is obviously in some danger, and is also emphatic that she must recover the map.
We returned to the scene of the shootout in order to see if we could identify the bodies somehow and from that determine who had hired them. Unfortunately the street cleaners of Justin are more efficient than the police force, and there were no remains to be found. We are now combing the streets for lowlife who may have an idea who may have been hiring killers recently.
We have decided that a quick raid on the building is our best chance to recover the map before the company goes out and finds the emeralds. Since it is near the middle of the 20 hour long night, now is the perfect time. We will have to be careful, however, since the business district is much more heavily controlled and policed than the starport surrounds.
I think Iki Piki is going to create a small diversion with the help of some plastex B. He's planting it now on the corner just outside the building.
Iki Piki: Well someone had to do something. The security guards are still outside checking the explosion site. We'll keep you posted.
Sirene: Thanks guys, I really appreciate this. Ooh, heads up, the lift doors are opening.
Reception robot: Welcome to Bartrame Crystal Mining. Our office is closed at present. Would you like to leave your name and a contact method?
Ogier: What was that?
Serron: Robot receptionist, damn. Sirene, you take that door, I'll try this one.
Reception robot: Please take the lift back down the lobby and come back during office hours, or I shall contact building security.
Spanners (in Chatka): Don't worry about that, they're in no place to be contactable at the moment.
Sirene: Maybe we should just take this thing out.
Serron: Good idea.
[Sounds of blaster fire]
Serron: Damn! That thing's armed! Get down!
Iki Piki: What's happening?!
Sirene: It's bouncing lasers off the mirrors up there!
Ogier: Guys... there's an alarm going off down here. The security guys are running back in.
Serron: Okay, that's taken care of. Now how do we get into the offices?
Sirene: We've done enough damage in here, a little more won't hurt. I'll blow this door.
Spanners: The guards are calling corporate security police. You're going to have company up there soon.
Serron: Right. We're searching the offices. Any ideas how we're going to get out of here?
Ogier: Er... go up to the roof!
Sirene: Yeah? Then what?
Iki Piki: Forget that. Use the fire stairs. We'll create another diversion down here and you can get out the fire exit.
Serron: Is this it?
Sirene: Yeah! Oh, damn!
Sirene: This record here says the map data were transmitted to a Bartrame Mining field operation in the Green Hills. Two hours ago.
Serron: Get the coordinates and let's go! Talk to us guys!
Spanners: Go down the fire stairs. The exit will be clear by the time you reach the bottom. There are armed patrols going up in the lifts right now.
Sirene: On our way!
Ogier: We're going to have to move the car... there are security people everywhere down here. We'll pick you up at the exit.
Serron: We're down to the 12th floor...
Spanners: Some guards are going into the fire escape. Iki, now!
[Huge explosion, slightly muffled]
Sirene: What was that!?
Iki Piki: Your diversion. Hurry up and get out while the guards are distracted.
Serron: Nearly there...
Ogier: There they are! Over here guys!
Sirene: Phew... are we glad to see you.... wow! Some diversion!
Spanners: Okay, let's get out of here.
The helicopter cost us about Earth$500 to hire, plus 10% for insurance, which we decided was worth the expense. Serron managed to bargain hard for a free side-mounted gatling laser, which may come in useful in the lawless hills surrounding Justin. A pilot would have cost an extra Earth$300, so we are relying on Ogier's flying skills.
The emerald cache is about 50 kilometres from the city, so we should make it within 15 minutes or so. Although it would be good to avoid drawing attention to ourselves in the hours just before dawn, we are legally obliged to fly with running and navigation lights. Additionally, we have breathing masks on because of the thin atmosphere over the mountain range we must fly over.
While flying down a valley to this location, we were fired on from a ground position about halfway up the side of the valley. We sustained three hits with a gatling laser before I managed to hit their position with return fire. A single hit stopped them firing at us, though in the dark it is not clear what was firing at us, or what damage it took. Iki Piki attempted to hail the firers on a broadband radio transmission, but without any response.
Ogier: Okay, don't take too long out there. Serron has an itchy trigger finger in this darkness.
Iki Piki: I've found it! A little sack, under this rock here.
Sirene: Here, let me see! Yes, that's it! My emeralds!
Spanners: We're on our way back.
Ogier: There you are, I can see your lights.
Sirene: You can start the engine up - we should be there in a few minutes.
Spanners: I can hear something... high-pitched... sounds like an engine whine.
Iki Piki: I can't hear anything!
Spanners: Over that hill... it's getting closer.
Sirene: I can hear it now! From over there! Quick... run!
Iki Piki: What? I can't hear it!
Serron: You're hard of hearing Iki! Just run!
Ogier: We're ready to take off - as soon as you get here.
Serron: I see lights, coming over the hill!
[Sounds of gatling laser fire.]
Spanners: What are you doing?!
Serron: Covering fire!
Iki Piki: They might be friendly!
Serron: Not any more.
Sirene: Okay, we're here. Iki, Spanners, get on! Ogier, take off! Now!
Serron: See! They're firing back!
[Impact and wrenching metal.]
Ogier: They've hit a landing skid! Hold on! We're doing some manoeuvring!
Serron: What are you doing?! I can't hit them from here!
Spanners: They can't hit us. I think that's the idea...
We have decided to buy up as many emeralds as we can with our free cash, since emeralds form a lucrative export from Bollux and also in order to mix up and dilute the cache belonging to Sirene. I have given some of the recovered gems a cursory examination but can detect no micro-engraving or any other distinguishing marks which might serve to identify them.
Serron has arranged a gemstone purchase and, as soon as we receive delivery of those and the 5 grams of antimatter fuel we have also bought, we shall be on our way. There was a brief difference of opinion between Serron and Ogier and Iki Piki. The latter two wanted to use the spare cargo and passenger space to generate some additional profit from this run, but Serron set the price too high to be reasonable for any takers, so we have none.
Our next destination is to be Earth.