The hours drag on as the police continue to question all who were present at the club and everyone inside the cells are starting to get bored and irritable.
As Taeva feared, she seems to be the focus of the Jonkeereen’s attention as they start to make suggestions as to what she might like to do with them. As the night wears on, the Jonkeereen start to get bolder and bolder. They are starting to cluster around her now, forcing her to slap them away. Seeing that conflict is now becoming inevitable, the other party members take up as best a defensive position as they can before Taeva lashes out at her molester and a brawl breaks out.
Taeva quickly brings down the first of them with the yawara bo that she managed to smuggle into the cell while the others square off against the opposition that heavily out-number them. Grim finds himself up against the bouncer from the club, a man mountain who has obviously had a great deal more experience of unarmed combat than he has. The party members slug it out with the Jonkeereen and are giving out better than they are getting in return, but the Jonkeereen have numbers on their side.
Grim lands a number of punches on the bouncer, but it’s two – sometimes three – against one and, although he brings down a couple of them, he is the first of the party members to find himself knocked down.
Will, initially ignored by the Jonkeereen, smacks down one of them, but finds himself totally outclassed by the remainder. Taeva takes down another who has stepped forward to attack Arvor, who seems to have an uncanny knack of dodging away from the Jonkeereen’s clumsy blows. He manages to take a few of them down before finally his luck runs out and he is knocked down by a lucky blow from one of them. Will takes a fair few punches from the others before he too succumbs to the amount of beatings that he is taking. Taeva finally kicks the huge bouncer in the knee and rams her yawara bo into his throat, and the giant falls with a look of surprise on his face.
But Taeva is the only party member still standing now, facing five of the Jonkeereen that are still standing. The Jonkeereen look at her lustfully. Things are looking pretty bleak for her when the cavalry arrives in the form of a drone armed with a stunstick which enters the cell and immediately subdues one of Jonkerreen who has just felled Grim. Two of the thugs turn around to deal with this new threat, while Taeva continues to slug it out with the other two.
With a lucky hit one of them smashes one of its sensors before the drone eventually zaps him with his stunstick. Taeva, almost on her last legs, finishes one of her adversaries just as the drone zaps the other from behind, having dealt with its own foes. That is the last of the Jonkeereen.
Wanting to avoid a zapping of her own, Taeva hits the floor and spreads out in a passive position. The drone covers her while some human backup arrives and start to bundle up the unconscious bodies that now litter the floor of the cell.
Taeva is cuffed once more and led away with the others to the Med Bay that is attached to the station. She sees that Jie is already in the Med Bay. She looks a little groggy but at least is conscious now. The medics start patching up the worst of the injuries caused in the brawl and, one by one, the party members start to come around.
It’s mid-morning by the time a cop comes to get the party members:
“The Guv’nor wants to see you all – together,” he says.
The party members limp and hobble their way out of the Med Bay, grimacing at the pain from their bruises. They are led into a small interview room which contains little except for a plain table and several chairs. The far side of the room is completely mirrored. The party members are forced to wait again for the best part of half an hour before the door opens and a tall, middle-aged man arrives in the uniform of a Chief Inspector. His eyes look over each of the party members in turn. It’s quite obvious to all of the party members that he is a pretty bright guy.
He moves around to the opposite side of the table and sits down:
“Chief Inspector Brian Keebles,” he says by way of introduction.
“And you are?”
The party members introduce themselves individually.
“So let’s cut to the chase,” he says. “Off-worlders don’t just happen to end up in a place like Club Alchemy and no one goes there just for the music. So why were you there?”
The party members look at one another for a brief moment and then Taeva spills the beans. Seeing no point in fabricating any stories, she tells Keebles the truth – that Max is in a coma as a result of taking some narcotic substance and that they want to Club Alchemy to try and find the supplier in the hope that it will lead to them finding some kind of antidote.
Keebles listens to the story without comment, just nodding occasionally. He goes quiet for a few moments afterwards before he speaks again, more softly this time.
“Then it seems as if we are both looking for the same thing,” he says. “That was the reason why we raided the Club.”
“Let me guess – if we help you to find the supplier, then we get to go free?”
“Very astute of you,” Keebles replies. “I’ve been trying to investigate this situation for well over a year now and, every time I seem to be getting close to the source, something mysteriously goes wrong – evidence goes missing – someone appears to have had a tip-off and fled, etc. I am starting to think that there are powers on Egypt that don’t want this situation to be properly investigated. As a result, I don’t know who I can trust on this world.”
The party members realize that, once again, they seem to be the left doing the cops’ dirty work for them. At least this time, Keebles seems to be one of the good guys.
“Did you pick up the damaged hard drive from Ahmed’s handcomp?” Will asks.
Keebles reaches into his pocket and pull out the battered looking harddrive and places it on the table.
“Yes, I did,” he says. “But I don’t know who I can trust with it. If I give it to the wrong person, then I am sure that the contents would end up being erased.”
He looks at the party members:
“Are any of you any good with computers?”
Will’s chest swells with pride.
“Yes, I most certainly do.”
“OK,” Keebles nods. “Maybe we should go to your ship in that case where we can be sure that no one is going to overhear us. I would also like to see your colleague so that I can corroborate your story.”
“I will give you all your possessions back. No funny business though – I will be telling my second where I am going and what to do if I am not back by mid-afternoon.”
The party members all like the sound of this and readily agree.
Keebles is good to his word and, after just a few minutes the party members are heading with the Chief Inspector back to the Princess.
A relieved-looking Autumn is waiting for them, having been worried that she heard nothing from any of the others for the past 18 hours. Jie fills her in on what happened and Autumn rolls her eyes:
“Jeez – can we just spend a day on one new planet without getting busted by the law? Oh well, at least I didn’t end up under house arrest this time.”
They take Keebles and show him Max, who is still in a coma, as he was when they left him. Seemingly satisfied, Keebles retires to the passenger lounge where Autumn entertains him while Grim and Will head to Grim’s lair in engineering to try and see if they can fix the damaged hard drive.
The harddrive is badly damaged and it takes a lot of sweat, solder and time to try and repair the circuits. The first time Grim thinks he has fixed it, the files remain corrupted and so he goes back to have a second try while everyone waits for the results.
It’s late afternoon by the time Grim thinks that he cracked it finally and hands the drive to Will who take it to the ship’s computer. With a quick prayer, they connect the drive and fire it up. It works.
Much of the harddrive seems to be filled with grote porn but eventually Will manages to find Ahmed’s diary. He sees that one of the forthcoming events is ‘Collection – Sunderland Warehouse’, which is scheduled for collection at 0300 on 143-1107. Looking back through the diary entries, Will can see that Ahmed has been making collections from this warehouse every 30-40 days.
They take their findings to Keebles who is still chatting with Autumn.
Keeble sighs and nods. He doesn’t seem terribly surprised:
“SuSAG,” he says. “That’s pretty much what I feared.”
“The Sunderland warehouse is in one of the older garden world domes which does not see a lot of use as there are not so many challenges to colonists there. So SuSAG have been leasing it from MinCol. As a result, it’s not part of my patch and I have no jurisdiction there.”
“Can you get us in there at least?” Arvor asks.
“Plus all of our weapons?” Jie adds.
Keebles thinks for a moment.
“Yes, I think so. You’ll need to give me a while to come up with a cover story and some paperwork in case you are found carrying weapons, but I think I can manage it. It looks as if you need some time to recover from your injuries in any case.”
The party members nod in agreement.
Keebles takes his leave and the party members are left alone. All of them are still suffering from the injuries sustained the previous night and so head for their beds to get some rest, leaving Autumn to take care of them.