Gone to Hell
Season 2, Chapter 2
// Withstand Damage
Taking -2 damage, bringing us to 3.
+3 => 7 vs 8, 10. Miss.
Ouch. We're just gonna lose 2 momentum  instead of taking any more damage. It's too early for us to actually crash!
The alarms blared their usual cacophony.
Blah, blah, blah.
I wasn't nearly as phased as I should have been. At this point, I had gotten used to it. When wasn't something going wrong in Saffron's orbit?
Landing wasn't easy, but we eventually broke through Saffron's atmosphere into better air, somewhere between Portent and Sirius. John did his best to hide it, but it was there: the fear of crashing again. Before I could reassure him all was fine, he was seemingly back to his old self again. Whether it was the truth or not, I couldn't tell.
That Designated Eye should have been safe.
Normally, I'd have taken the thought and shoved it in the box in the back of my mind, the one where I hid all of my unwanted thoughts and feelings. But, apparently, I'd done some "self-improvement" during my time with Ira. Not true therapy, but it was a start—my past self wouldn't recognize me if it could see me today. I decided to sit with the thought. Take it in.
I came to the conclusion that, perhaps, something bigger was at play. Maybe it was an omen of what was to come. Shoving it away wouldn't help me. No, if this was a sign of what was to come, I needed to take that in and be ready.
Besides, I wasn't an expert in Designated Eyes or the science that made planets work. Maybe it wasn't that bad. Surely this wouldn't be the only oddity I would face while I was in Portent.
After landing in the desert somewhere, we took a moment to breathe before making our way to Portent. A short while later, we touched down in my reserved spot at Baker's Shipyard.
"Remember, I'm Ripley Slater," he said casually as he prepared to exit. He reminded me every time we went out together. I didn't need the reminder, but I knew that despite his air of carefreeness and childlike glee, he was deathly afraid of the truth about who he was getting out. It was a secret he could not afford to let slip. His real name was a death sentence to him. As always, I reassured him that I would call him by the correct name. I could joke about other things with him, but I dared not joke about this.
The first thing I noticed was the smell. I had gotten used to it when I lived here, but being gone for so long had reminded me that Portent had a distinct smell. I had to remind myself that Saffron had a corrosive atmosphere, and this smell was all we had to deal with—proof that the air inside of Portent was safe to breathe, thanks to the power of science. It wasn't too bad, and I knew given an hour or so, it would fade into the background of my conscious thoughts.
I took my first steps out on the familiar compacted soil and took a better look at my old home. The Scarlet Adler had kicked up loose particles into the air, though not enough to obscure my vision.
For better or worse, Baker's Shipyard was exactly as I had remembered it. Ships were spaced out somewhat evenly for miles in all directions. I'd gotten a modest lot for the Scarlet Adler, enough that I wasn't directly next to my neighbors. The lots near the entrances, however, were a bit more compact. Mostly smaller ships and guests used those, and they tended to rent those out by the hour.
Despite the Eye being off, the weather on Portent was pleasant. There was a light breeze. Perhaps, I thought, the Eye had been an anomaly.
"Well, look who it is." The friendly and familiar presence of Hudson Baker approached us, a smile spread across his face. Watt hovered past and greeted Hudson with a hand-wave emoji. Hudson waved back and said to me, "Boy, am I glad to see ya."
I hugged him and John nodded politely, his SPD uniform on display. Hudson nodded back. "And jus' my luck, a man with some answers—hopefully. Say, what's the S.P.D. looking fer? Y'all been pestering us and ain't gotta clue whatcher lookin' fer," he said to John.
John was in full Ripley mode: colder, less relaxed, stiff. He spoke like a seasoned officer. "I'm afraid I'm unsure of what you're referring to, Mr. Baker. I have not been in touch with my fellow officers in some time. I've just escorted our friend Mr. Holmes here back from New Bohemia."
"Ah, so that's where ya been. Damn."
"What did the S.P.D. want?" I said, curious. Perhaps this had something to do with what Ira was talking about.
"Ah, shit." Hudson scratched his beard. "Well, they been all up and 'round Portent. Especially here. They asked ta' see my resident list, but I didn't let those S.P.D. fuc—I mean, I told 'em to come back with a warrant. Something tells me they will, though. Can ya' least tell me what 'appened to Lestrade? She was nice."
My heart skipped. "Hudson, what happened to Lestrade?"
"I dunno. That's what I want the boy to tell me. Do ya know that, at least?"
John looked at me and shrugged.
Hudson rolled his eyes. "Anyways, good to have ya back, Locke. See if you can find out what the hell has happened to Portent, would ya? Shit's gone to hell. Been wanting you to poke around for ages but you been away."
I fiddled with the black iron coin in my pocket and nodded. "Anything for you, Hudson. I swear. I'll figure out what the hell is going on around here."
// Swear an Iron Vow
+1 (heart) + 1 Hudson connection = +2 => 8 vs 4, 4. Strong hit AND A MATCH!
+2 momentum 
Let's mark progress on our Hudson relationship, bringing us up to 4 boxes on this Dangerous connection.
What’s the nature of this benefit? Descriptor+Focus: 67, 62: Mysterious Person.
Trying to think if I have any new—
Yup. There is. Oh, this is perfect. Damn, this is almost too perfect for me.
Hudson nodded and headed back to his home within the shipyard.
Once Hudson was away, John broke character. "What happened to Lestrade!? I liked her! A lot!" Watt hovered around him, a shocked emoji displaying how he felt about Lestrade missing.
"No idea, but we're definitely going to find—"
Someone bumped into me. I couldn't see their face. They apologized, mumbling a quick apology.
And something else. I'm sure they weren't talking to me, but they kept speaking in a low voice. All I could hear was something that sounded like "iron." And before I could think to inquire further, they were gone, much farther away than I expected them to be in those few seconds.
I was already one conspiracy deep—two if you count the Eye—and had literally just arrived in Portent. The conspiracy that literally bumped into me would have to wait another day.
Surely it'd have no trouble finding me later anyway.
The dice demanded, so I’m setting up something to use for later. This must be thee perfect moment for it, so… here we are. I'm worried that it's too early in the season but...
I want to ask more oracle questions, soooo here we go!
Would either one of them know where Lestrade lives? She doesn't strike me as the mixing business with pleasure type, but Locke may have been to her place once on a previous case.
Unlikely (25-): 88… no… but extreme.
Maybe it’s my next train of thought: no one knows where she is at all.
"We need to talk to Lestrade," I said.
"Do you know where she lives? I mean, she's cool and all, but she never invited us over for drinks after our shifts."
"Actually... no. Don't tell her I said this, but I kind of always thought she worked 24/7 and lived at the base."
"You wouldn't be wrong. I feel like I never saw her leave," John said. "Would Watt know? He knows a lot!"
I shook my head and Watt flashed a shrugging emoji followed by playing a set of beeps that seemed to indicate sadness. I tried to recall a moment when we would have come across that information but kept drawing blanks.
John shrugged. "Was worth a shot. I'm going to see if any of my contacts here can point us in the right direction."
He began reaching out and I took a moment to examine the damage done to the Scarlet Adler. It wasn't terrible. She'd run smoothly for a little while longer. I placed a hand on the hull, taking a moment to admire her. Watt floated over, no doubt cataloging the experience in his database for later.
It hit me at that moment that at one point I referred to them both as "it." My ship was a vessel, and Watt was a tool. I don't think I ever treated them as such—just things—but... maybe I had? It hadn't dawned on me until John kept referring to Watt as "he."
Maybe that was why they seemed to bond so quickly.
"Going to get you patched up once I get a chance, girl," I said, rubbing the hull. "I guess I never asked. Are you a girl?" I looked over the Scarlet Adler immediately embarrassed. One day, I was going to have to install an A.I. and let them designate for themself what they wanted to go as.
A few minutes later, John rounded the corner. "Okay, bad news. There's no sign of her anywhere. It's like she's vanished from Portent."
"We can't figure out anything without her, so let's split up and look for her. Meet back here in a few hours."
// Gather Information via Sleuth
+2 (wits) => 8 vs 6, 8, 10. Yikes, not the best rolls but we can deal with this. Removing the 10, we have a Weak Hit.
+1 momentum 
Where is Lestrade? Descriptor+Focus: 75, 58: Powerful Outbreak.
……….. there is ONE powerful outbreak I can think of, but am I really doing this?
Is Lestrade at “that” place? 50/50: 28. FML. Yes.
I'm really doing it, aren't I?
In an investigation, it was good to remember to check every crevice. Nuggets of information could be found in the most unexpected of places.
"Oh, she was fired," Jessica Usagi said as she poured me a cup of tea.
"There was some mission," Roger Usagi said, holding their newborn, Herman. "I heard she was all for it, pushing for it really hard, but the new guy in charge said no."
"I have a cousin who works with the S.P.D. She says they haven't seen her for a few days, ever since her and—can't think of his name—had a yelling match. Well, more Lestrade than the new guy," Jessica added.
"I hope they didn't kill her." Roger shuddered, bouncing baby Herman in his arms. "I hear the new guy is a hard ass. Emotionless. And they've been looking for someone. They came by and talked to us, too, actually. Super vague, though. Mostly about my case. I gave them your card. Thank you again, by the way."
The people who actually lived in the city always had the best info for me. I finished my tea and thanked the Usagis for their hospitality and information, and made my way back to the Scarlet Adler.
I couldn't help but stare at the sky on the way back. I wondered just which of those dots in the sky was New Bohemia. Could I even see it from where I was? I made a note to talk to Ira about what was going on later when I talked to him.
John was pacing by the time I got back to the Scarlet Adler. "We gotta go, quickly."
"What'd you find?"
"Lestrade is definitely off-planet." He recounted some of what I already knew, about her and her new superior not agreeing on a particular point. "So when he wouldn't do it, she just...did it. That's why she got fired."
"She went to do a mission by herself? Won't she need some kind of backup for that?"
"Apparently there was some distress signal. I know the S.P.D. here wouldn't disobey a direct order. We love Lestrade, but an order from up above is an order, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. She probably didn't have an option but to go by herself."
I sighed. "Great. So I guess we're going to go chase her. Did you get the name or coordinates of where she went at least?"
"Yeah. It's a settlement not too far from here." He gestured for me to follow him inside the Scarlet Adler. John made his way to the cockpit and inputted the coordinates.
Before us on the screen was a settlement that I could only describe as a giant floating metallic whale. A deep space settlement that looked like it had existed forever. On the side of the settlement was the name in faded lettering.
"Guess we're headed to Shiningstar."
I mean, I wanted to do this (in the opening chapter, mind you) but decided against it. But when I got that Weak Hit, the oracle pushed me to it!
Next week, Locke and John make their way to Shiningstar to find Lestrade. I wonder what else they'll find once they get there?
Wanna know what's in store for Locke and John on Shiningstar?
Check out Eric's playthrough over at The Dragon's Den!
And go through the adventure yourself here:
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