Spanners has shown me something he has found hidden in a corner of the cockpit area - a small surveillance camera and microphone, attached to a radio transmitter. To my knowledge this has never been on the ship before, so we conclude that it is a bug that was planted somehow when we were off the ship for the quarantine inspection. This is a disturbing development.
The Argonaut has not been approached during the sunlit night. Apparently we are just going to sit here waiting some more.
Spanners: About time. I don't think our old friend is going to show up.
Serron: Hey guys, I'm bored. I'm going to head into the city for a while and see if I can get some inside tips on the stock market. Maybe with a few judicious investments, the right contacts, a few mild threats here and there, we can gain some sort of control over one of these minor corps. Then we can contact the Royal forces and offer them a deal, and through some sort of manipulation eventually take control of the planet and get ourselves an engine that way.
Iki Piki: Well if you're going to go to all that trouble, why don't we just steal ourselves an engine?
Serron: Look, I said we should do that back on Arawne. Since we decided not to, I'm going to try and take over the planet.
Iki Piki: It's always good to have a back-up plan...
Serron: Anyway, I'm going. Anyone want to come along?
Spanners: I'll stay here and see if I can find any more evidence of people tampering with the ship.
Iki Piki: Sounds good to me.
Paris: Well I need to go take care of some port business, signing forms, paying docking fees, etcetera. I'll be back in a while. Don't mess the ship up while I'm away.
Smythe: Hello! I know you're in there. Come out and give yourselves up!
Iki Piki [from inside the ship]: No!
Smythe: You may as well. I have evidence of your criminal activities.
Spanners [also inside]: What? You're the criminal!
[Paris can be seen sneaking up behind Smythe.]
Voice [external, off-camera]: Look out!
[Paris jumps Smythe, grappling him around the shoulders and pointing a laser pistol at his head. Another man jumps up from behind a nearby crate, pointing a pistol at the scene.]
Paris [to man near Smythe]: Drop the gun!
[Smythe gestures, man drops gun.]
Iki Piki: There's another one behind you!
[Paris turns around, sees other man, aiming gun at her.]
Paris: You fire and your boss is dead. Iki! Spanners! Someone want to tell me what's going on?
[Airlock door opens. Spanners stands in doorway with two laser pistols pointed at Smythe's associates.]
Spanners: This is Professor Smythe, the guy who hijacked our ship.
[Serron is seen sneaking up behind the man near the crate. He leaps into the air and lands on the man, injecting him with something. The man falls unconscious.]
Serron: One down, two to go!
Smythe: You won't get away with this! I have evidence of your criminal activities!
Serron: Which ones?
Smythe [desperate]: What have you done with Melissa and Sam?!
Serron: We spaced them, and we will you too!
Smythe: You killed them?
Paris: What? You didn't tell me that part of the story!
Spanners: Don't listen to Serron.
[Several uniformed guards approach rapidly, weilding blasters.]
Guard: Okay everyone, drop your weapons! C'mon, you're surrounded! Drop 'em!
[Paris, Spanners, Serron slowly drop weapons.]
Serron: This man's a criminal!
Guard: Yeah, tell it to the judge. C'mon, let's go!
Smythe: Finally justice will be served. You lot will pay for what you've done.
Paris: What is he talking about?
Smythe: Didn't your new friends tell you? They kidnapped me and my companions on an archaeological expedition, abandoned us in the wilderness on Lyrane, and stole the priceles artefacts we'd recovered!
Spanners: He's lying. They were the ones who hijacked our ship.
Serron: Yeah! You ditched us on a collision course with the planet!
Smythe: No I didn't!
Paris: Calm down guys. Let's consider maybe Smythe is telling the truth...
[Guard enters room.]
Guard: Okay, you, Sparrial, you're first for questioning. Let's go.
[Guard leads Serron out of room.]
Paris: Look, Spanners, don't you think it's possible both you and the Professor here have been duped by these Melissa and Sam people?
Spanners: I don't know about that, but I know we can't trust him.
[Another guard arrives, motions to the man Serron had knocked out.]
Guard: You, Surmik. You're out of here.
[Guard leads the man out of the cells.]
Paris: Hey, is he being released?!
Smythe: Probably being questioned.
[Another guard arrives, escorting Iki Piki into the cell with Spanners and Paris. Guard leaves.]
Spanners: Iki! What happened?
Iki Piki: I was just making some inquiries into legal practices here on Rubilith - looking things up on the local net, making a phone call or two to law firms. I think they were looking out for any communication from the ship because they came and got me right away.
Paris: Oh great.
Serron: Professor Smythe!Serron: Hey! How'd he get that?
Paris: What? Who is this guy?
Serron: Can we get a chair with restraints? How about some truth drugs?
Spanners: There is a score to settle with this guy.
Iki Piki: He broke into our ship and planted bugs!
Judge Amarossi: Order! We'll have no interjections from the floor. Professor Smythe has also brought a police document from Lyrane naming Serron, Iki Piki, Spanners and one Ogier Spacebourne, who is not present in this court, as kidnappers and thieves...
Serron: He's forged it! We left the police on Lyrane with a report about how he hijacked our ship!
Judge Amarossi: Order! That's enough! We now have a statement to be made by Royal intelligence officer Jarren Surmik.
[Surmik rises to speak.]
Serron: That's the guy I knocked out. One of Smythe's cronies!
Judge Amarossi: Order! Officer Surmik, you may begin.
Surmik: Although none of you were aware, I am an intelligence officer working for the Queen. I was posing as a mercenary to uncover any information on the destabilising operations of the corporations here on Rubilith when I stumbled into this mess. From what I've learned about Professor Smythe, he is a respected archaeologist, well knoen for high quality work. Hardly the sort of person who would be motivated to hijack a spaceship.
I've also heard the stories of the people he accuses of kidnapping. To my mind, the discrepancy is easily solved if we consider the other two parties, whom nobody seems to have considered, namely Sam Weston and Melissa Green. It seems likely that these two are the ones who really arranged the knocking out of passengers and crew aboard the Legacy, then left Professor Smythe for dead in the Lyrane wilderness and set up a death trap for the crew of the ship while taking off with the alien artefacts.
Paris: That's what I said!
Serron [pointing at Smythe]: Rubbish! He's the one behind it all!
Surmik: Serron, you are a Sparrial. You can smell when humans are lying. Professor Smythe, would you mind repeating your assertion that you are innocent of ths hijacking they accuse you of?
Smythe: Of course I'm innocent! I didn't have anything to do with any hijacking, or setting up their ship on a collision course with the planet.
Serron [sniffing]: He must be lying. He must be masking his scent somehow...
Smythe: Come over here and sniff me, boy...
Judge Amarossi: Order! I've heard enough. Officer Surmik, what do you suggest?
Surmik: Since it seems this is a simple misunderstanding on the part of both parties, and their altercation in the spaceport was simply a display stemming from this mistake, with nobody injured, I suggest this case be dismissed. This will clear the record and save considerable time and resources for the court, especially since any legal action stemming from this is really a matter for Lyrane's jurisdiction.
Judge Amarossi: Agreed. Will the parties put aside their differences and agree to abide by the laws of Rubilith with regards to keeping the peace?
Smythe: Yes, very well. I can see where there may have been mistakes made.
Serron: Well I'm not convinced.
Iki Piki: Shhhh! If we agree they'll let us go!
Spanners: Yeah, just shut up for once.
Paris: I think they agree, your honour.
Judge Amarossi: Very well. Case dismissed!
Immediately afterwards, Jarren Surmik, the intelligence officer, spoke to my passengers, inviting them to an audience with the Viscount Conrad, one of the Queen's advisors. Being interested to see what he had to say, I tagged along.
We were escorted by Surmik to the Royal Palace on the other side of Rheydt city and shown to an audience chamber. Viscount Conrad was a tall, dark man who seemed a bit stressed and worried by the events on Rubilith recently. He said he'd received positive reports from Surmik about our abilities and possible effectiveness as undercover agents working for the monarchy.
The Viscount told us that off-worlders and especially aliens were seen as ideal mercenaries to be recruited by the corporations in their increasingly open offensives against Royal installations. He had received some intelligence that a company called Orionis, who manufacture military ground and amphibious vehicles, are planning an attack on a Royal Guard post near an isolated town towards the eastern terminator. He needs some mercenaries on the inside to relay information back so the Royal forces can be prepared for the attack and have a better chance of holding off the Orionis forces.
He offered my passengers a new fusion engine, and myself a sum in cash equivalent to a third of the cost of the engine (about 350,000 Rubilith sovereigns), if we agree to infiltrate the Orionis mercenary force and feed back information to him via communication gear which will be concealed on our bodies. Once the attack begins, all we have to do is lie low - the mercenaries should not attack who they believe are allied forces, and the Royal guards will be able to identify us from the IFF transponders we will be carrying, so we should be in minimal danger.
The reward sounds great, and my passengers are desperate to get their hands on a new engine, so it looks like we are seriously considering this offer. Viscount Conrad has given us a contact address to communicate with him if we decide to go ahead.