As usual, the party members start the day with a breakfast meeting. After their success yesterday, Sinclair and his canine chums are going to the conference to give some moral support to Dr. Ramguteran and Miss Fontaine. The others, plus Helmut, are going to the Institute of Pharmacology to see if they can find themselves a chemist.
They spend the entire morning hanging around the Institute trying to speak to as many people as possible. By lunchtime they seem to have found a good prospect. One of the professors recommends Dr. Charles Seymour, who has just finished his PhD. and so could be interested in the type of position that they are offering. Splinter gets Charles’s number and gives him a call. Charles is interested in talking and they agree to meet at Starbucks on Ramshill Road at 16.00.
The party members have lunch at the University canteen and then drive over to the Starbucks, which is located just ten minutes away.
They have just parked the air/raft and are walking towards the Starbucks when they hear the sound of breaking glass before the area in front of them is strafed with automatic weapon fire. A cop who was standing in front of them is gunned down, and Esra is also hit in the leg. The driver of a passing air/raft is also hit, sending the air/raft colliding with a parked car.
The party members all duck down behind the parked car and the crashed air/raft. They drag the unconscious form of the cop into cover and check him for weapons. He’s carrying an SMG and a snubbie in a side holster, plus two smoke grenades and a couple of concussion grenades.
Helmut takes the SMG and fires a volley towards the gunman in the window of Starbucks. He only manages to inflict a minor wound upon the gunman though. The gunman retaliates by bringing Helmut down.
Dev throws both the smoke grenades into the centre of the road to give them some cover. While Splinter tends to Helmut, Nick runs to the south towards where it looks like the gang has a getaway car car waiting.
Sin-Sasha takes the dropped SMG from Helmut and runs to the edge of the smoke and sends a volley at the gunman. She hits, but the gunman refuses to drop. She leaps into the smoke and crouches down as a hail of fire erupts just above her.
Nick reaches the getaway and opens the door. Inside another member of the gang is reaching for a snub pistol. Nick is faster though and hits him with a tranq round and the driver crumples as he falls unconscious.
Sin jumps out of the smoke onto the hood of a parked car. The badly injured gunman can’t get out of the way in time and Sin easily brings him down. She sees another couple of gunmen inside. together with three hostages. Dev comes up behind Sin-Sasha to give him some support.
Sin leaps through the window, tosses the SMG to Dev and grabs the ACR which the first gunman dropped. Quickly she manages to drop the other two gunmen. There’s one more inside. Sin-Sasha drops behind a table to get cover, but the final gunman tosses a grenade at her and runs out of the door. The grenade falls short of the target, but Sin-Sasha still blacks out from the concussion.
Nick and Dev both rush into the coffee shop, but they are too late to stop the fleeing gun man.
The air is filled with the sound of sirens. The party members drop all of the weapons so as not to be accused of being involved.
Three police squad/rafts and a couple of ambulances land and the street is filled with cops and medics. The party members fears that they might be implicated in all this are allayed when the Police Chief tells them that they saw the whole thing on CCTV and that the party members are heroes for their swift actions and the assistance that they provided to the downed cop. The Police Chief scans the face of the dead gunman.
“Just as I thought,” he says. “Members of the Flaming Torch. They’re an extremist group that are tied to the Ine Givar – tied pretty loosely though as they are too extreme for most of the Ine Givar members. Religious nutters if you ask me.”
While most of the party members are dealing with the cops, Dev goes over to have a word with the hostages. The three of them are still petrified as a result of being in the middle of a firefight. Dev casts his eye over the table where they were sitting to see that there are several contracts on it:
DISPOSAL OF ASSETS FROM NAASIRKA CORPORATION TO JEWELL INVESTMENTS LLC
His eyes alight onto the plan of a mining base on an asteroid that forms an appendix to one of the agreements. The contract itself is heavily marked in red pen.
The executives come to their senses and one of the senior members quickly stuffs the paperwork into his briefcase.
He introduces himself as Martijn Thalareissen, Naasirka’s President for the Jewell Subsector. He thanks Dev and the other party members for all their help in rescuing him and his colleagues. He tells the party that he will ensure that the party is well rewarded for their quick thinking and asks Dev for his contact details, which Dev gives them. The three executives are then asked to go with the police to give statements.
While this is going on, a visitor arrives at Starbucks which turns out to be Dr. Seymour. He waits a while as the police ask the party members a few questions and then they are free to go.
Dr. Seymour suggests that they go to a small bistro to discuss matters in more detail.
After half an hour of chit-chat and generally dancing around the issue, they get down to business. Charles seems to be the right candidate for the job – very intelligent and knowledgeable about the pharmaceutical business. He asks many questions as to the party’s intentions and asks Splinter to tell him all that he knows about the chemical compound. Splinter and Charles talks a lot of mumbo-jumbo for a while that means nothing to the others. Charles then nods and says that the compound will be very expensive to produce outside Zero-G. He also says that such research and production would be illegal on Jewell and most planets. For that reason, he suggest that they rent a labship or else they find an out of the way asteroid.
Dev smiles, knowing exactly who might have just the right location for them. Having gone as far as they can for the first meeting, they shake hands with Charles and tell him that they will call him to join them when they arrange a meeting.
They head back to the hotel. Sinclair and the Vargr are celebrating once more. This time the excuse is that Miss Fontaine is through the first round of the competition. Miss Fontaine and the doctor are not part of the celebrations, however, having gone to get an early night in preparation for the second round of the competition.
“I did all of the trading that we discussed yesterday,” Sinclair says. “The ferritanium is sold and delivered and I used some of the money to buy the vacc suits and put the deposit down on the gauss rifles. Gaan has handled the delivery of the ferritanium and the collection of the vacc suits and so they are onboard already.”
He keys over the profits from the day’s trading to Dev via his datapad.
“Just let me know when you want me to arrange the collection of the weapons and I’ll arrange it. They have asked for 24 hours’ notice to get everything ready.”
The party members join in with the celebrations for a while before heading in for the night.