Arion, Episode 8: The Preserver of Life

In which Arion and I find out just what is going on here…

-o0o-

Working through the sequence…

Where to Next? Metropolis. Advance the Story: Find an object, last seen with an Exotic Pilot in a bank downtown.

Travel scene: Move two areas. No encounters. Day part is now Late.

Advance the Story scene: Two PEFs, both in section 3; easy to avoid so I won’t bother.

Defining moment in the target building: Party of five; Shaker Attorney Rep 3, 2 Shakers (Rep 3 Accountant, Rep 4 Political Assistant), 2 Criminals (Gangster Rep 4 BAP, Working Girl Rep 3). Big Bad not present.

Rep 4 PA leads Talk the Talk 1 success; Arion 1 success. Exchange pleasantries.

Search for clue: Difficulty 3. Object passes 1d6, Arion 3 – solves 2 clues, now has 7. I suppose I’d better work out what this is about then, because next time he solves a clue we move to the final confrontation.

-o0o-

The metal spider on Arion’s shoulder speaks in the Dolphin’s warm contralto voice. “Call for you, Captain. ID withheld.”

“OK, put it through. Hi, this is Arion, how can I help?”

“Arion. You were just in my room, I think. Did you find anything?”

“Yes, Ms Huff. It looks like a key.”

“Yes, but it’s not what you think. Be at the Pilots’ Guild Savings and Loan on 14th at ten PM tonight. It opens a deposit box. I’ll call you when you have what’s inside.”

“How will you know…” Arion begins, but the line has gone dead.

It’s just before ten when Arion and Roger arrive at the PGSL.

“Why here?” Arion wonders. “Maybe the box belongs to a pilot?”

“It could just be that not many banks are open twenty-four seven,” Roger suggests. “Can’t legislate for when a ship lands. Or lifts.” Arion nods.

In the lobby, a group of five people, three obviously members of the elite and two equally obviously not, one a woman with a bruised face, are talking quietly. One of the suits gives the woman’s companion a briefcase, and he hands over a small package in exchange.

“What’s that all about?” Arion wonders.

“Stay on target,” says Roger. “We have enough trouble chasing us as it is.”

“You know what your trouble is? You have no spirit of adventure.”

“No, but I have a girl, and a steady job, and a nice place in midtown. What have you got, Arion? Besides your spirit of adventure, and some guy you owe dangerous favours?”

“The key to a safe deposit box. And more curiousity than is healthy for me,” Arion grins.

They swipe the key on a lift and descend. Below, a robot scans the key, motions them into a small room, and leaves them alone for a moment. With a pneumatic puff, a hatch just big enough for an attache case opens in one of the walls, and a box emerges. Arion takes it out and swipes the key over its sensor.

Inside is a battered leather notebook. And a commlink.

“Man,” breathes Roger. “Old school.”

The commlink beeps softly, and Arion answers it.

“Ms Huff, I presume,” he says. He puts the commlink on speakerphone and motions to Roger to stay quiet.

“Yes,” Huff replies. “You should have a book. It’s a diary, or maybe a logbook, written by Captain Utnapishtim of the – well, it’s not really pronounceable by a human throat, but it translates as Preserver of Life. You ever heard of it?”

“Not as such, no.”

“It’s a sleeper colony ship. A long time ago, it was used to evacuate an entire population before their planet became uninhabitable. If we can put together what’s in the diary with what’s on the data store, we can find out where the wreck is.”

“OK, but why bother? I mean, space is full of wrecks from who knows how many civilisations.”

“This one is special. These guys were supposed to have discovered an immortality treatment, or maybe a rejuvenation serum. Can you imagine how much that would be worth?”

“Frankly, no. More than enough for three of us, I think.”

“Quite. Now, you have a ship, the data store, the logbook and one of the two decryptor keys. I have the other, and I’ve done the research to put them all together and find out where the ship is. Shall we work together?”

Arion looks at Roger. Roger draws a deep breath, and nods.

“We work together,” Arion says. “What next?”

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