"No, I'm fine. I just need a gun."-- John Crichton, Farscape
Trevor takes the bracelet and bones (that Whiskers found in the air vent) to the nearest police station, and tells them where he found them. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it doesn't take long to find out that the bones, while human, had been in the air vent for some time - over a hundred years. So, while it may be evidence of a crime, or at least a missing person, it's long past the point when anyone is going to really care. There is nothing in the system to connect the bones to, so once everything is properly researched, and after he's already gone all the way home, Trevor is called back in to the station and given the bracelet. He gets a receipt and everything, so it's all proper. But then it's time to run to make his date with the larcenous redhead.
Trevor goes to the Sundowner Pub and gets a table. The Sundowner is one of a chain throughout this part of the Rim, is very large, and caters to the "middle class" sort of clientele. After turning down a number of offers of companionship, from a variety of genders, Trevor sees the redhead at the bar, looking around nervously. He goes up to join her.
Trevor: "Hello. Glad you could make it." Redhead: "Look, I showed up because you didn't turn me in to the police, now what do you want?" Trevor: "I'm new here, and I thought a local could show me the ropes." Redhead: "What do you want? I know you didn't do it out of the goodness of your heart, so you had to want something." Trevor: "Did you hear what I said? I'm new to this planet, and" Redhead: "Do I look like I work for the Tourist Board? Buy a guidebook." Trevor: "If you'd let me finish...I'm a private detective. The kind of contacts I need to develop here are not going to be in the official guidebook. I'm more interested in meeting the sort of people you work with." Redhead: "That could get me in trouble. The people I work with...they like their privacy. Besides, you look like you bleed easily." Trevor: "I frequently bleed, but not easily." Redhead: "Yeah, I guess I could help you, but that's time I'm not working. I've got my expenses." Trevor: "That's time you're not in the tank." After some discussion, Trevor hits upon an acceptable amount of compensation - $50 Solars. Redhead: "Hey, for $50 Solars, I'll take you anywhere you want." After seeing the color of Trevor's money, the girl agrees to take Trevor to the part of town he shouldn't go to. Redhead: "Okay, it's your nickel." Outwardly she may be blasé about it, but inside, she's going "Yes!!" Trevor: "For $50 Solars, I'm going to want a cell number." Redhead: "You think I'd be doing this if I had a cell number? Do you think I'd be doing this if I had papers?" Trevor: "Yes. And my name's Trevor." Girl: "You can call me Jess. That's all you need." An uneasy truce, but it's workable. For now. Jess is willing to reserve judgement, but it will take time to arrange things. She'll contact Trevor tomorrow night.
Trevor goes home, showers, and gets some rest, unconcerned since the apartment hasn't apparently been trashed.
Trevor takes Whiskers out for a walk, and to see about getting some cash for the bracelet. He finds Solomon Brothers Pawn Shop, and the older Solomon offers him $250 Solars. And boy is that guy old looking! Even with advanced Solomani medicine, the man looks really old, and talks about "before the war", like he remembers it. But back to business. Not being able to find any better offers without waiting a month, Trevor accepts the $250 Solars, and leaves, even though the Solomon guy obviously thinks the bracelet is stolen, and Trevor's receipt of ownership is a "great" piece of forgery. Sigh.
Trevor, with the extra money on his card, takes Whiskers to the kids' department of REI, and buys him a rather rugged vest with zippered pockets. This way Whiskers can have some money of his own. Trevor gives Whiskers $35 Solars, in cash, keeping the rest of the money "in trust" for him. Trevor figures Whiskers found the bracelet, so it's his money, really. Whiskers also buys a baseball cap with the Freemantle Falcons logo on it. This gets Trevor the sort of looks usually reserved for people who dress their poodles up in foofery. Trevor ignores it.
The day passes uneventfully, with Whiskers getting lots of exercise, and no one trying to kill him or Trevor. When they go back to the apartment, Trevor finds the All Grav-Ball Channel. All grav-ball, all the time.
Malcolm has gone off on his own for the day, seeing the sights and watching people. And he picks up an inexpensive, old-fashioned cane. He's old. And canes don't have built in safety devices like the baseball bats Trevor warned him about. The inexpensive cane is eventually found, in the back, after much discussion about what it is and why one would want one, by the corner shop's staff.
Late that night, Trevor heads out to meet with Jess, dropping Whiskers off to visit with the Rescue Squad people.
12 midnight, 85, 1121.
Trevor wants to find out to whom he would speak to find the "word on the street", so Jess takes to an odd place with lots of people whispering in shadows. Sort of park-like, but without grass. Jess is hassled for bringing a "suit" (although he's not in one), and a black skindye job gets into Trevor's face, and pokes him in the chest. Trevor remembers these guys from the incident on the mall, and goes for him. The feeling is mutual, and the fight is on. (That didn't' take long.) Fisticuffs are exchanged, but the dye job has a metal pipe in his hand, so yes, he's cheating as he tries to bash in Trevor's brains. Trevor gets in a couple of good hits when suddenly a bright light shines on the area and a voice says "Halt! Police!!" The dye job rabbits, instantly, staying away from the anaesthetic splinters with his speed and athletic prowess. Trevor is really starting to get perturbed about that.
The bad guy gets away, but Trevor stays put and cooperates with the authorities. This, as usual, leads to him being taken "downtown". If this keeps up, he'll have his own coffee cup.
Cop: "And just what brought you to that part of the arcology, Mr. Cavernon?" Trevor: "I found a date at a bar.." Cop: "Would that be this woman?" The cop throws a security photo onto the table. Trevor: "Yes, that's her." Cop: "How long have you known this woman?" Trevor: "I met her in a bar, last night." A detective in a suit has taken an interest in Trevor's case. Detective: "You seem to be getting into a lot of trouble since getting to Vantage, Mr. Cavernon." Trevor: "This place seems to be positively crime-ridden. I'm shocked and appalled." Detective: "Uh-huh. And what was it, two days ago that you pushed somebody into the flywheels of a slidewalk?" Trevor: "I didn't push, I just let go. And that was after he'd killed a cop." Detective: "I don't know what your game is, Cavernon, but I've got my eye on you." Trevor: "Good! Could you make sure I've got a couple of officers following me at all times? It would help make me feel more secure if I had backup." Cop: "Sergeant Gerard? You've got a call on line three." Detective Gerard: "I'm watching you." He goes over to the phone. Not a small man. Fairly large, probably played grav-ball, has a nasty looking scar on his face that he hasn't bothered to get fixed yet (it looks reasonably fresh), and walks with a quiet air of restrained violence.
Trevor: <to a uniformed cop> "So what's with these paint guys? Are they as big a pain in the ass as they appear to be?" Cop: "I'd suggest you stay away from the gangs." Trevor: "Well, it helps to know they're a gang! I'm new here, guys, any information you can give me would help a lot." Cop: "I suggest you stay out of the lower levels. You don't need any more information than that." Trevor: "There's a thing called 'money', gentlemen. It's cheaper to eat on the lower levels, it's cheaper to live on the lower levels. If, on the other hand, I could get some information on who the bad guys are, or where to avoid, maybe I wouldn't be here so often." The police suggest Trevor do his own research, since that's not what they're there for. He is released, since there's no one to press charges, and a judge would probably just let him go. So, Trevor has been hassled, kept up, wasted his $50 Solars (so far), and hasn't even been offered bad coffee. He goes home, showers, and goes to bed.
Fifteen seconds later, Trevor's alarm clock goes off. Okay, so it only seems that way. Now he'll need to make contact with his partners in crime, um, not crime, no sir, just partners. Companions. Travelling companions, that's it. Trevor rings Malcolm and Mitchell, to arrange a meeting before they head out to the Rainbow Commune.
Malcolm has been playing with his cane, and discovers that it comes apart - sort of collapses. Cool! This way he can carry it along more easily. Meanwhile, Mitchell, and the lucky young woman from the night before have an early breakfast. You can take the man out of the Navy, but.... He waits until after breakfast before calling Trevor, since Trevor is a soft non-military type. He also takes the time to separate the links on the bracelet
The group meets up, and go to the grav-vehicle rental shop. Trevor and Malcolm both have licenses. Mitchell, upon realizing that Gabrielle isn't there, decides she should be, so they trek back to her place and bang on the door. "Want to come with us? It'll be fun!" She agrees to go along, not really knowing what the hell is up. Probably for the best.
The weather should be beautiful, and the grav-car is a convertible. Based on Mitchell's research, he has a general area to look for the Rainbow Commune, and knows that it's got a sort of touristy, hippy-fair kind of atmosphere. It's not exactly where it 'should' be, but after a few minutes of searching they hear music and head that way.
The Rainbow Commune is a very brightly-colored conglomeration of floats and balloons and gravs and God only knows what else. They land and are hustled for a $10 Solar "donation" for parking. Trevor: "If I give you the $10 Solars, you will be responsible for my vehicle, and should anything happen to it, I will take it out of your hide." Hippy: "Hey man, chill! What are you some kind of tough guy? Here, try one of these." Trevor declines the offered pharmaceutical stuff, and the group heads into the melee.
The new faces are mobbed by people wanting to sell them watches, or herbs, or souvenirs, etc. Trevor: "No thank you, but I'm selling suppositories. Want one?" There is one taker, but only if Trevor "inserts it yourself". After a few minutes, the group is mostly left alone.
Trevor is starting to wonder what the guy on the phone meant by meeting in "the usual place", when a large bar appears. It's call "The Usual Place". Oh. The group pauses outside to consider the next step, and whether or not everyone should enter together. Trevor: "I don't want to scare the guy off by showing up with too many extra people." Mitchell: "I don't think he's expecting you to show up with anyone at all. Why don't Gabrielle and I go there together." Malcolm: "Good idea. You go as a couple, I'll go in separately as well." The Usual Place is interesting. They have some "house specialties" for drinks, as well as the normal stuff. Trevor sticks to normal stuff, since he doesn't want to fail his next drug test. Mitchell gets a table for him and Gabrielle, and a waiter comes over and wipes the grease around. Ew. Mitchell decides on the house beer, and Gabrielle decides to do the same. It's rather dark beer, but still beer-colored. It's just sort of more beery than regular beer. And there are things with many legs scuttling along the floor; Gabrielle keeps her feet up on the rungs of her chair.
Trevor is at the bar when a Vargr walks in, goes to the bar, and orders "the usual". He looks nervous, and keeps touching something under his coat. Trevor approaches the Vargr, the very familiar looking Vargr (videotape, photo from same), as Malcolm takes a seat at a table near the bar. The bartender is a perfect looking blond human with blue eyes. Very attractive, and male. The Vargr rolls an eye at Trevor. Vargr: "Yeah?" He lights up a very smelly cheroot, right in front of the "No Smoking" sign. Trevor: "You're here to meet Rebecca. She's not coming." Vargr: "Oh yeah? And who are you - some thug her daddy hired to scare me off? I'm not scared." Malcolm observes several men in civilian uniforms, with short hair and aviator shades. They're watching the Vargr and Trevor rather intently.
Trevor: "It's too late for that." Vargr: "What? <sarcastically> Are you going to hurt me?" Trevor: "No, some one already hurt Rebecca." The Vargr grabs him by the lapels. Vargr: "What do you mean? What happened to Rebecca?" Trevor: "She's dead. I'm here to find out what happened." Vargr: "Sons of bitches. They'll pay for this." He touches whatever he has under his coat. Trevor: "Who would do that-" Trevor is interrupted by the Vargr exploding rather suddenly. A blonde female waitress calmly drops the shotgun she used to blow the Vargr's head off, and saunters out the back amid stunned silence and the beginning of panic. The two short haired men calmly leave through the front door.
For about fifteen full seconds, there is no sound in the room. Trevor feigns checking his 'friend', and takes the revolver off the body, then goes after the waitress, as does Malcolm. The female is walking steadily towards the vehicle park, as the bar's patrons leave in panic. Mitchell waits until the majority of the crowd has left, then heads outside after the others, with Gabrielle in tow (she doesn't know what else to do).
Trevor comes up behind the two short-haired men, since they're between him and the girl, takes one man's wallet and tosses it into the crowd. Trevor was not trying to do this surreptitiously, but the man doesn't notice. Argh. Trevor then taps the man on the shoulder saying "Hey, that guy has your wallet!", but the man pivots with a gun right at waist level. Trevor redirects the gun away from him, which works. Unfortunately, Mitchell and Gabrielle are down range, and Gabrielle is shot in the chest by the gauss round. She doesn't immediately go down, but grabs Mitchell's arm as she pales suddenly (except for the large, spreading red stain).
Trevor continues onward, (not knowing who was shot, if anyone) towards the blonde gunner. She stops at a car, facing the partner of the man Trevor had the altercation with. The man draws a weapon, but the female knocks it away and they both drop into a crouch before going into an unarmed combat fight. Both are obviously skilled. The man is heavier, but the female is a bit faster.
The man who shot Gabrielle shifts his aim to Trevor's back, but Malcolm moves up and hooks his gun arm, sending the weapon flying. Trevor takes the revolver out, as the female hits her opponent in the neck with her hand. The man's head flops over at a bad angle, and he falls over the guardrail and out of sight. The other man is desperately trying to get his gun off the ground amid the panicking crowd.
Trevor fires on the blonde, hitting her in the elbow. She glares at him. It's an X-rated glare. She bounds towards Trevor, who wings her again, but it doesn't prevent her from kicking him in the chops in mid leap. Trevor is getting very tired off all the martial artists gone bad in this place. Malcolm tries to interfere with the female's flight, using his cane. He hooks her leg, but the cane's sections expand. This did mess her up somewhat, so she has to flip out of the hold. She's shot again, but this time Trevor sees her outfit go somewhat dull, like armor. Malcolm grabs a large wok full of boiling oil just as Mitchell is yelling "Medic!!" The pool of blood around Gabrielle is widening at a rather alarming rate, and Mitchell is apologizing to Gabrielle between calling for the non-existent help. Mitchell has put Gabrielle's hand over the entry wound in the front, while he applies pressure to the exit wound in her lower back (yup, that round did some tumbling). Malcolm is somewhat divided, but his hands are full so he throws the oil in the direction of the female. Trevor is hit with a bit of the oil on one hand, but the blonde is hit in the torso and face. She stumbles off, screaming. Trevor dives at her, tackling her. She's horribly burned, but she is definitely still fighting, and she knows what she's doing.
Malcolm runs over, planning on using the now empty wok as a weapon. As he raises it, the second short haired man proves that he's retrieved his gun by shooting holes in the wok. Malcolm, who can now see through the wok, drops it and dives for cover. The man fires in the direction of either the blonde or Trevor, or both. They are still thrashing on the ground, so it's kind of hard for either of them to be hit. So far.
Mitchell: "I am so sorry. I didn't invite you here to get shot, I really didn't. Medic!" Malcolm is crawling towards the call of medic, trying to stay out of the line of fire. All he can see of the injury from this distance is a lot of red. Damn. He gets up and runs towards Mitchell and Gabrielle.
Trevor finally applies enough pressure to snap the female's arm, and she loses consciousness. Trevor stands up, and is shot by the short haired man. Trevor falls over, unconscious. The man walks past Gabrielle, Mitchell, and Malcolm, giving them a look of "I dare you to remember this face". They will, don't worry. The man walks over to the downed female, puts a foot on her chest and shoots her repeatedly in the head. Then he gets into the grav-car Trevor had rented and leaves. Damn his eyes.
Finally, the local equivalent of medical personnel show up, after the fighting stops, and take Gabrielle to the "clinic"; Malcolm goes with them. A doctor and a spiritual healer will be available to help mend body and soul. Mitchell goes over to the grav-car the blonde was near originally, and finds a partially destroyed security envelope, smoking on the back floor of the vehicle. The fire retardant carpeting evidently interfered with the self-destruct mechanism. He puts out the little fire and cuts away the melted bits. He then gets into the grav-car, slumping low down to stay out of sight as much as possible, since he's covered in Gabrielle's blood. He looks through the contents, and finds a bunch of flat photos. Pictures of the dead Vargr, of Trevor speaking with Captain McNaughton, of Mitchell speaking with Captain McNaughton. And a key with a plastic head that's been partially melted. He puts the key in his pocket. Then he goes in search of Gabrielle.
Malcolm checks on Trevor, who is being attended to. Mitchell shows up at the hospital, excuse me, "Place of Healing", asking for Gabrielle. He's asked if he's a "relative, significant other, or travelling on the same karmic plane", and of course he is, so he's told to "follow the chanting". They're trying to heal her metaphysical being as well. Mitchell ducks down the hall and places a call to Tabitha, who's at work judging from her outfit. Mitchell: "Can I show you something?" Tabitha: "I don't know, can you?" Mitchell shows her one of the pictures of the Vargr. Tabitha: "So? It's a Vargr." Mitchell: "A dead Vargr." Tabitha: "Boo hoo. It's a dead Vargr." Mitchell describes the man who shot Gabrielle. Tabitha: "That's a bit vague don't you think? Dark hair, 5'10" to 6'..." Mitchell: "He was definitely a trained martial artist." Tabitha: "Well, that makes it much better. We'll just pull in every registered martial artist shall we?" Mitchell: "You remember my friend, the woman from the hospital?" Tabitha: "Yes?" Mitchell: "He was her contact." Tabitha: "The Vargr?" Mitchell: "Yes. At least I think he was." Tabitha: "I'll see what I can do, but you're not giving me much to work on." Mitchell: "I know, but I'm giving you all I'm getting." They ring off, and Mitchell goes to Gabrielle's room.
Malcolm is also checking on Gabrielle, who is evidently very lucky, and does not have organ damage. Trevor is still unconscious, but the doctors are not too concerned given his physical condition. They won't worry for at least 24 hours, if he doesn't regain consciousness. When she wakes up, Gabrielle feels a burning pain in her chest, around the inside of her chest, and in the back.
Mitchell takes Malcolm off to one side, for a little chat. Mitchell: "I don't know why Trevor asked you along on this trip, but I'm glad he did. However, we still have a problem - one person still knows that all four of us saw him." Malcolm: "I know." Malcolm finds the rental car receipt on Trevor, and calls to report the car stolen, but is told that it was turned in 30 minutes ago, by "Trevor Cavernon". Uh, right. Malcolm: "He was looking into something that had him run into some people I had some experience with, a tong called the Paints. He wasn't sure exactly what he was going to run into, but he was expecting trouble. I don't know why the hit was just on the Vargr and not on Trevor." Mitchell: "I don't think Trevor was the target. The Vargr was shot in the head."
Malcolm goes out to check the vehicle area, and run into the attendant, Rroyd. Malcolm strikes up a conversation with Rroyd, who everyone mostly ignores. They discuss the "fracas", and the fact that some one took off in Malcolm's rig. Rroyd's sorry, but he can't refund their money. He did see the cute blonde in the sportster, who was a good tipper - "Gave me $20 Solars to park it right up front there." After some more conversation, Malcolm discovers that the keys to the car are on the key board, and the alarm control is on the key chain. Rroyd excuses himself when another car pulls in and a couple of men in off the rack suits show up and shove a badge in his face. They walk off and Malcolm tips Rroyd a $10 Solar coin to "make up for the cops - some people have no manners". Rroyd is able to tell Malcolm that the little sportster is a rental car, but only the transponder can tell you which company. Rroyd: "Well, seeing as you're such a good friend of the blonde's, I suppose you'll want to take care of her car for her, so I think I can give you the keys." Malcolm: "Why thanks, but I'm sure they'll be a re-parking fee, so I'll just take care of that right now, shall I?" He gives Rroyd $10 Solars. Rroyd directs them to a parking space in the far back upper area, well out of sight.
The car is moved, and then checked carefully. Nothing in the trunk, the rental papers ("Jane Smith") in the glove compartment, and a 2.5' X 6" space in the engine area; that would be where the shotgun went. Malcolm, finding nothing more than the burned area of plastic Mitchell cut off (Malcolm figures it was from the woman's instructions), and some blood, goes back to the clinic.
Malcolm: "Hey Captain?" Mitchell: "Please, call me Mitchell." Malcolm: "Mitchell, I found something you might want to know about, but I don't think Gabrielle wants to hear this." Mitchell: "You're probably right. Why don't we step outside? Gabrielle, we'll be right outside the door if you need anything." Malcolm tells Mitchell what he found.
They are asked questions by the local police, prompted by Sergeant Gerard. The cops then go into the hall and the yelling starts. Gerard is calling them hayseeds, and saying "She's lying, and you know it, you idiots!" Mitchell realizes they're referring to Gabrielle, and charges in to her rescue. Mitchell: "Now see here! I won't have you maligning Miss Vanek like that!" Gerard: "Listen you, I don't know who you think you are, but this is a serious matter - there have been murders here. I suggest if you don't want to find yourself in serious trouble, you watch yourself. Look, we know you've been hanging out with Trevor Cavernon, and he's already under investigation. I suggest you choose your friends more wisely. You already left the service under, shall we say, less then ideal circumstances Captain?" Mitchell: "How long have you been a sergeant, Sergeant?" Gerard: "This isn't the Navy. You don't have any sway here, but I am in a position to make your life very difficult. You do not want me as an enemy. Don't go poking your nose into matters you know nothing about."
Gabrielle, of course, heard all of this and is not happy. Mitchell may have meant well, but he's probably made it worse. Gerard has left, and Mitchell returns to Gabrielle's room to apologize. He realizes that he may have made things worse, but damn it, he couldn't just let them slander her like that. Gabrielle's doctor comes in to the room. Doctor: "Miss Vanek. You're a very fortunate young woman. I think we'll keep you for 24 hours, just as a precaution. You're responding well to the drugs, but we'd like you to get some rest." Gabrielle: "If you thinks it's necessary." God knows she could use the rest. And new friends, apparently.
Mitchell asks Malcolm to join him for a ride in the dead blonde's car, just for a bit of a cruise before they check in to an inn. They can lead you to great treasure, or danger, and sometimes cellos need to be retuned with one." Mitchell shows Malcolm the key. Malcolm tell it's a locker key, and knows it will take "a cop, or someone with B & E skills to track it down more specifically." Mitchell tells Malcolm about finding the envelope with the key and photos. Malcolm: "Damn, you're useful as well as decorative." They examine the key a bit more, but can't figure anything else out. Malcolm: "Trevor might be able to help." Mitchell: "But he won't wake up." Malcolm: "You and the cop certainly didn't hit it off well." Mitchell: "Yes, well, I just went off on him. I know I overreacted, but he was making statements about Miss Vanek that he shouldn't have been. He's a civil servant, damn it, and he shouldn't speak about a citizen like that."
They discuss what happened, not sure what they're in the middle of. Some one definitely didn't want Trevor talking to that Vargr, and didn't want it enough to pay for a professional hit. And the car was probably set up ahead of time, with the weapon in place, for the blonde to pick up. Much discussion, then they return the car to the back parking space. Malcolm: "Hey, we didn't blow up. That's something." Mitchell: "Definitely. And no pirates showed up....I don't know if it's connected, but Trevor was looking for some one named Zack I think." Malcolm: "Do you want to hold on to the key?" Mitchell: "For now. If you need some funding, let me know." Malcolm: "They drugged Gabrielle, killed a cop, killed the Vargr.... Who are these people?" That's assuming all of these things are related, of course. Mitchell: "Miss Vanek really doesn't know anything about this. I don't know why we invited her along, except for company. She is pleasant company." Malcolm: "I was sort of concerned some one might have gone after her if she was left alone." Mitchell: "That hadn't occurred to me." Malcolm: "She really does seem to attract trouble, doesn't she?" Oh, very funny.