The Curious Case of the Agent and the Cat
Relena and her crew received a commission to deliver a number of artworks to a dealer on the planet Atlor - a small frontier world with little in the way of amenities. They set down about half an hour's walk out of town and set off to find their contact. The man's name was Josiah Potter, and they found him in the pub. He arranged for his men to come and collect the cargo from the Shark in two hours. Meanwhile, Relena and Kelda wandered around town trying to find out more about the place. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to know.
Upon the arrival of the delivery team, Potter tried to discreetly suggest that he might have a job for Kelda. A certain person in town needed to "disappear under the ground". He asked for Kelda by name. Kelda was not impressed at this, but he was offering a reasonable amount of money.
A member of the delivery team appeared to be Potter's younger brother, wearing a new leather jacket and with chunky rings on his fingers.
Relena gave her tentative agreement, and a meeting was arranged. Relena and Noumalia would attend the meeting, but Kelda would hide in the area. Unity called the Captain and advised that the odd goo that had been found on board ship exhibited some interesting genetic properties. Its DNA was a triple helix that appeared highly unstable - any peturbation could set off a cascade of mutations before it settled into a new configuration. It had changed colours several times already. Unity was keeping it in stasis. With this disturbing information, Relena and the others headed to town while Unity continued to study the goo. Lance's stateroom door remained locked.
At the meeting, Potter indicated that he believes that there was an Imperial agent in town, and this agent had been having inappropriate relations with Potter's younger brother. He wouldn't reveal how he knew this, and Noumalia was not able to read it from his mind. Relena wanted to clear it with Kelda before agreeing. Kelda was still annoyed that he knew who she was, but reluctantly agreed because it was an Imperial. However, the money was not enough. Relena negotiated for the suggested payment plus one or two of Potter's artworks. The final condition was that Potter tell them how he knew of Kelda. He had said that she came "highly recommended" and when pressed, said "A mutual fr... acquaintance - I don't really think she has friends". Relena and especially Kelda knew exactly who he was referring to.
The mark was one Jordan Viniston, an odd character - seen occasionally about town, sometimes left town for a short while, but no-one seemed to know where he was at the present time.
Relena and Noumalia hit the pub for information while Kelda staked out the man's home. Relena got absolutely nowhere, but Noumalia started to do better once Potter's younger brother Cody came in and offered to buy her a drink. Since he was underage, Noumalia bought him a lemonade instead - which he subtly spiked with a slug from a hip flask.
Cody, it turned out, was not very bright. He liked pretty things, like the jacket and the rings. Apparently he provided Viniston with what he wanted, and in return Viniston provided him with bling. When Noumalia asked about what it was that Viniston wanted, Cody became agitated, denied that he was having sex with Viniston, and stormed out of the bar.
That was enough for Relena. She went to Cody's house, cut the door open with her plasma sword (Noumalia having failed to blow it open with her mind) and drugged the boy. She took him to Viniston's apartment and knocked on the door. There was no answer. She asked a neighbour, who helpfully told her Cody's address.
Noumalia, however, smelt a bad smell. A dead smell.
The three of them returned to the ship, convinced that they had been set up by Karla Krace. They contacted Potter, who tried (unsuccessfully) to convince them to find out for sure tht Viniston was dead and how he had died. They refused and departed the planet, with only the payment for the original delivery. Lance emerged from his quarters, looking quite relaxed and cheerful, and they set course for the nearest civilised planet.
Unity continued to study the goo, suggesting that the mutations in the DNA could, with appropriate stimuli, radically change the organism's form. He requested, but at this time did not receive, permission from Relena to experiment further.
Meanwhile Noumalia chased dust bunnies. She was convinced now that they were alive. Relena, cautious as always, ordered one captured and sent to Unity to study. Unity put a sample of the dust bunny under the microscope, and pointed out to the Captain that it was just dust. Dead skin cells, dirt and rock carried in on the crew's shoes and clothes, and Noumalia's fur. That was all. He returned to his study of the goo.
24 hours later, however, he called Relena back to the lab and directed her to the microscope again. The sample was identical - it hadn't even been moved. The container that was used to capture the dust bunny, however, was now completely full of dust. The dust had been, for the lack of a better term, reproducing. Relena ordered it contained in stasis.
WTF was actually going on here? (spoilers!)
Quotes of the week:
Noumalia: My shoes got all dirty
Relena: Go dip them in the blob.
Relena: Honestly, and I never thought I'd say this, I'm more worried about the dust.
Noumalia: I can kill you with my brain!
Relena: Yeah, but you can't knock down a door!