Thunderchilde Season One
Thunderchilde
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Episode One: 9-22-2007
We are introduced to the main characters.
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Josiah Farmer
Soon to be captain of the Thunderchilde, He is a man who likes lemon drops.
He offers them to just about anyone he meets.
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Lester Camp
He is to be the pilot. He is a workaholic with somewhat of a bad temper.
This can be quite bad as he REALLY likes guns.
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Regina Marianis
Ships Surgeon. She is a Companion academy dropout. She is on the run from a powerful coreworld politician who wanted to add her to his harem, as she is a striking beauty. Also a bit of a gun aficionado, she owns a 40mm grenade launcher.
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Geena Goodspring
Ship's Engineer. Wanted by the law, she thinks living on a tramp freighter is a good way to hide. A brilliant technician with good looks and a gambling problem. She's not looking for Mr. Right, although she IS looking for Mr. Right-Now.
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As the episode begins we see the crew negotiating with a ship salesman on Boros. They offer the 40,000 credits they have managed to scrape together for an "02" class Firefly (The 02's tend to shake in atmo, and at rest the engines fold upward.) Since an 03 in good condition would probably bring 33,000 at auction, the salesman allows that he might be able to sell it to them for that.
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The crew is pleasantly surprised to find that their new ship, re-christened "Thunderchilde" is in excellent shape for a 89 year old ship. As the crew clean the interior and repaint the name, Captain Farmer goes in search of a cargo. The Captain locates a shipment of industrial robotics that are needed on Lilac, a moon of New Canaan. With a promise of payment of 920 credits, the Thunderchilde sets off on a month long journey out to the Rim. Once they arrive on the frontier world, the crew temporarily splits up. Captain Farmer goes to arrange delivery of the cargo, Lester goes in search of a new payload, Geena stays with the ship to give it a thorough going-over inside and out, and Gina goes to the nearby (right across the street!) gun shop to arrange the purchase of grenades for her launcher. The gunsmith, a friendly fellow named Michael Valentine asks her to take word back to the captain that he'd like to offer a bit of business to the Thunderchilde. Before returning to the ship, Gina goes by the local greengrocer and purchases 10 credits worth of fresh produce to supplement the iron rations that the crew has been eating so far. She brings it back in a shiny new "Radio Flyer" red wagon.
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The industrial robotics having been delivered, Captain Farmer goes to see the gunsmith.
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Mr. Valentine allows as how there's been such a run on polymer-framed weapons of late, he's been running short on the raw materials for his microfac to make into plastic. He offers a hundred credits if the Thunderchilde will enter the gas giant "Fury" and descend to a level where the atmosphere is nearly pure formaldehyde, chill and liquefy a cargo-bay full and return it to Lilac.
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After discussing the idea with the other owners of the ship the mission is accepted. Rather than expose the cargo bay to formaldehyde, however, Geena buys some sheet steel and builds a scoop to fit inside the front hatch. After running through the chillers, the liquefied formaldehyde will be stored in a flexible fuel bladder. The Thunderchilde heads for the gas giant.

The ship settles into the hydrogen atmosphere of Fury. True to the design of the "02" Firefly class, the Thunderchilde shakes considerably. Creaks and groans are heard as she sinks down into the high-pressure zone of formaldehyde. Geena's design works flawlessly as the liquefied formaldehyde pours into the bladder.

After about thirty minutes, the bladder is full and the cargo bay once again resealed. Lester throttles up to climb out of the atmosphere when all are startled by a "WHUMPH" from outside the ship and the sound of alarm klaxons. The engine pods have shut down. The Thunderchilde instead sinks lower.

Sweating mightily, the crew watches the external pressure gauges until the ship reaches the point of buoyancy. Since the pulse-drive field is still in place, the ship's effective weight is much lower than it would otherwise be. So long as the field is up, they can float indefinitely. Geena determines that the problem is a clog in the hydrogen line leading to the starboard engine pod. Unfortunately, she must leave the ship to effect a repair. The ship's vacuum suits are not armored, and could not withstand the pressures at that depth.

Eventually, the crew comes up with an idea. They run the pulse drive at full power. This lightens the ship enough that it pops up out of the atmosphere like a fish jumping above the surface of a lake. In the twenty minutes that they are in freefall Geena is able to go outside and clear the blockage. She makes it back in just in time, and the engine pods ignite, sending the Thunderchilde soaring up and away.
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Episode Two: 10-6-2007
As the Thunderchilde returns to Lilac, Geena informs Captain Farmer that she has discovered that the ship has little in the way of spare parts and maintenance supplies. Once the ship lands across from the gun shop, the crew notice that a team of workers are installing a radar-guided 30mm turret on the roof of the tallest building in town. As the cargo ramp opens, Michael Valentine is unrolling the last of an armored hose up to the cargo bay. He is wearing a black armband and the Captain inquires about it. He is informed that the magistrate has just died, and that the whole town is in mourning. The gunsmith then adds that, confidentially, the magistrate was not very well liked anyway and that his son will probably do a much better job. The Captain then asks about the gatling turret and is informed that about a month and a half ago the settlement on the other side of the mountains was hit by reavers. Josiah realizes that the turret was built by the industrial robots that he himself had brought to Lilac.
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With the formaldehyde transferred, the gunsmith and the Captain return to the gun shop. There Michael pays over the hundred credits, and offers Captain Farmer a box. Inside he finds a Schofield pistol, similar to the one he's wearing. The differences being that the new one is slightly longer through the cylinder and has stag-horn grips. It is chambered to take not only the 45 Schofield cartridge of his other one, but will also take 45 Colt and 454 Casull. The Captain asks why he is being given this pistol and is told it's an attempt to encourage more visits to Lilac. The last ship to land was a month and a half ago, and they only came to rob the place. As Captain Farmer leaves, he is asked to remind Gina to pick up her thousand rounds of high explosive-dual purpose grenades. The next morning as the crew are loading several small cargos bound for Whitefall, the ship gets a call from Mr. Valentine. He inquires if they have room for a passenger. Getting an affirmative answer, he agrees to send her right over. A Chinese woman of about 23 years arrives wearing a white outfit, carrying a white parasol, and towing a small plastic container on two wheels stands before the crew and inquires in somewhat stilted english if this is the Thunderchilde. The Captain charges her double the standard fare, and she pays it over without blinking. Thus are we introduced to Li-Jing Goldfarb.
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Roughly forty-five minutes after breaking atmo, the Thunderchilde is hailed: "Shut down your engines and prepare to be boarded. You have someone we want on board. If you hand her over, you can be on your way in a matter of minutes. If not, we'll blow you out of the sky. The choice is yours." He identifies himself as Captain Lorillard of the A.V. Bad Dog. Li-Jing gathers her belongings and goes to stand at the main airlock in the cargo bay. Geena hides in one of the smuggling hidey-holes she has been building. When the Captain finds Miss Goldfarb he asks what they want with her. She shrugs and says that there is no telling. She says that the Thunderchilde should run for it as, once they get clear, she's not going to go quietly. The Bad Dog docks with the Thunderchilde and eight troops in Alliance "purple-belly" armor come in behind shields, clearly expecting trouble. Captain Lorillard asks about Geena by name and shows a print of her face. Lester claims that the picture looks like the woman they left on Lilac. Captain Farmer concurs and suggests that they search the ship. Li-Jing stands very still, trying not to be noticed, now that she knows that they are not looking for her. She goes back to her cabin, pulls out her datapad and watches an episode of the Winkie Weasel cartoon show.

Eventually the troops conclude that Geena isn't aboard and go back to their own ship. The Thunderchilde resumes its nine day course to Whitefall. Talking to his crew and the passenger, Captain Farmer is surprised to discover that everyone but Lester is wanted by someone for something. Li-Jing never tells him for what if anything she may be wanted. She has been looking rather oddly at Gina and finally asks if she knows her. Gina says "Mrs. McGillicuddy." Li-Jing says "Tea-Ceremony class!" It turns out they had been in the companion academy together. Li-Jing had been thrown out at age fourteen for being too hard headed. The two spend much time catching up on old times. When she finds out that Gina doesn't have an ident card, she retires to her room to get her tools. By morning she has a convincing forgery. She warns Gina not to use it on any planet that has a branch of the Bureau of Vital Statistics on it, because it won't match the computer records and she'll be caught.

Eventually they reach Whitefall. Li-Jing hustles off to some appointment. Josiah and Lester go to deliver cargo to their various customers. Geena gets on the cortex to find if anyone locally has spare parts for a Firefly. The crew decides to make a return run to Lilac. It's only a seven day journey back, and having just been there, they know what kind of cargo is in demand. They buy industrial detergents for the mining work that goes on there, biocide for the farmers, and even several tons of disposable diapers. The ship also takes on a pair of passengers. One is a museum curator transporting a statue, the other is a federal marshal.

Minutes before scheduled liftoff, a large group of bicycle and motor scooter riders escort Li-Jing Goldfarb riding in a tricycle rickshaw to the airlock of the Thunderchilde. Farmer says "Double fare." Li-Jing says "Done"
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Episode Three: 10-20-2007

Li-Jing insists that if she is to pay double, she should at least get the one remaining unoccupied crew bunk instead of the paper-screened passenger quarters. Besides, she adds, they smell musty.

Once the Thunderchilde reaches space Li-Jing calls a meeting. She points out that the crew had been complaining that they didn't have any method of personal radio communication. She hands out boxes to all but the captain. Opened, they reveal small handsets with frequency hopping and gigabit encryption. Not only are they uncrackable, they're nearly undetectable. She says that she was going to give one to the captain as well but when he decided to charge her double the fare that was already doubled to start with, she changed her mind. Maybe he could pay her for it. Or maybe the other three could sell theirs and buy a REALLY big ship. They should be able to get thirty thousand each for them. Geena comments that they couldn't accept such expensive gifts. Li-Jing states that they hadn't cost her anything, that she had only called in a favor. Finally she offers the high tech communicator to the captain in exchange for multiple passages. He agrees.

Eventually, Eustace Danforth, the federal marshal starts getting nosy. He asks to see the Thunderchilde's registration papers and the captain's ident card. Li-Jing overhears that he is on his way to Lilac to investigate the death of the magistrate. He says that he thought he might have been delayed due to the death of mayor Imogene Patience but the medical examiner said it was clearly a lightning strike. She intercepts him, telling him that he needs to talk to her, since she was there. She worked as a servant for the magistrate. She leads him off down the corridor telling him that the magistrate wasn't a BAD man, not like they say. He didn't hit her often; just when she really messed up, like the time he wanted tea and she brought him coffee…

Coming up the stairs we see Li-Jing Goldfarb followed by Marshall Danforth. Geena tries to get out of the way, but Li-Jing bumps into her. She says to Geena "Hi Violet. The marshal here needs to see your ident card." She gestures toward Geena's pocket. She reaches in and pulls out an ident card that hadn't been there a moment ago. After running it through his reader, the lawman thanks her and returns the card. Later, after he has gone somewhere else, Li-Jing asks for the card back. Geena comments that Violet is a very pretty name. Li-Jing thanks her and says it is her real one. Her original card was the only spare she had with her.

Finally the stress is over. The Thunderchilde arrives once again at Lilac. As it enters atmo, the sensors detect targeting radar. The turret is obviously complete. The Thunderchilde settles into its usual spot. The only other vessel is over in slot 13. It is the Bad Dog. Geena decides to stay inside the ship while on Lilac. The Captain and Lester start making calls to sell their cargo and make a tidy profit. Captain Farmer insists on setting up shop in the cargo hold to sell the disposable diapers directly to the mothers of the consumers. He misses out on a lot of profit that way but he gets a lot of flirting done. Gina threatens to kill him.

Investigating the source of the musty smell near the passenger quarters, Geena discovers another hidey-hole. This one contains a body mummified by long exposure to vacuum. According to the medical data pad found with him, he was an Alliance doctor serving on this Firefly back during the war. The crew had found a hidden independent base on Shadow. In the base, they found crates of gold bars. The Captain and crew decided to keep quiet about what they'd found, and come back after the war to get the gold. On the way back to base, several of the crew started meeting with "accidents". When there were only three left, the corpsman came to the doctor to get a hypo with something to take down the captain who was obviously the one eliminating the crew. The doctor gave the corpsman a suitable poison then retired to the secret compartment he had discovered some time back. He had no way of knowing that the corpsman had struck true, but before the drug took full effect the captain let him have it with a shotgun. After about a day the doctor figured it might be safe to come out. Unfortunately there was no way to open the secret compartment from the inside. The recordings he left on his datapad were terrible to hear. He went ahead and left detailed instructions on how to find the hidden base. After all, it certainly wasn't going to do him any good.

That night the crew gets together to discuss whether or not to try to retrieve the gold. Unanimously they decide in favor. Geena also suggests that they bring Li-Jing in on it. Lester says that they might as well sign her on as crew anyway, considering how useful she has been so far. They call her into the room and tell her about the hidden base. She suggests taking passengers and a load of cargo to a deep space station known as Grangers Garden. It's on the trade route to that part of the black, and nothing screams NOTICE ME! like a ship with no cargo. They all agree. The Captain wants to sell out of diapers first, so it will be a couple of days.

The next day Li-Jing rents a grav-vehicle and asks Gina if she wants to go out into the country, set up some targets and practice shooting. She agrees, and invites Lester and Geena along. Lester agrees, but Geena refuses to leave the ship as long as the Mad Dog is still out there. They go by the gun shop where Li-Jing buys two boxes of 10 millimeter ammunition. At the range, Li-Jing proves herself to be slightly more accurate than the others, but at the expense of speed. Gina and Lester prove to be quite skilled at fast draw. Then Gina brings out the grenade launcher. She teaches the basics to Li-Jing. Who knew that blowing things up could be so much fun?

Having determined that Grangers Garden is basically one big farm, they decide that fertilizer is a safe bet for cargo. They buy 460 tons of ammonium nitrate at ten credits a ton. They also pick up a couple of passengers. One is a young fellow named Hiram Grant who is going to Beaumonde to go to flight school. Another is a fellow who just can't get the Fruity-Oaty Bar song out of his head. When a Deputy Cannes calls about passage Captain Farmer tells him that they have no more room left. He's had enough of lawmen on his ship for a while.

Li-Jing goes out carrying the black grav-assisted suitcase that she bought on Whitefall. She returns just before liftoff still carrying the suitcase, but also carrying a white cardboard box. She says she brought donuts. The Captain calls dibs on an apple fritter.

It's a short trip, only 14 hours, to Granger's Garden.
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The passengers are unloaded, and the Captain seeks out the station's load master, Eshwardutt Patel He informs Mr. Patel of his cargo and the latter consults a computer screen to see what the station is currently paying for ammonium nitrate. He seems a bit surprised as he offers one hundred credits per ton. Captain farmer excuses himself, steps outside, closes the door and shouts YES! at the top of his lungs. He reenters the room and allows as how they can probably do business.

Li-Jing asks the rest of the crew to strap on their guns (loaded with station-approved pre-fragmented ammo) and accompany her to the Office of Metallurgy. She buckles on her 10mm and grabs the grav assisted suitcase. When it is opened in front of the proprietor Brian Ansel, well over a ton of platinum is revealed. It turns out that she had taken all of her alliance credit notes and bought platinum on Lilac, where it was plentiful and brought it here to convert back to notes at a tidy profit. The suitcase is refilled with credit notes, and the party then travels to the bank. In the bank is an investment office where Li-Jing deposits the credit notes. She says it's good to be broke again. She does, however, admit to still having a little over a thousand credits on hand for emergencies. On the way back to the ship, Gina stops off at the Inner G shop and picks up a case of Hyper-Life energy drinks.

Episode Four: 11-3-2007

Later a team of cargo handlers arrive to unload the fertilizer from the Thunderchilde. They are led by none other than Darnell Granger. He pays for the cargo, and explains that his regular shipment has failed to make rendezvous, thus the high price he's willing to pay. Spotting Li-Jing, he greets her as "Christine". He invites them all to dinner at his casino. After he leaves, Li-Jing explains that he knows her by the name of "Christine Anderson".

The Captain decides that the ship needs a safe. He, Li-Jing and Geena go to Pack N Heat, the local gun shop. The proprietor, Lisa Ling shows them a variety of safes and the Captain chooses one about the size of a footlocker. He pays to have it delivered and mounted on the bridge. On the way back Li-Jing stops by New News. She has printouts made of two news stories. She gives one to Geena. As she reads it she is startled to find mention of her own name. She is reported to have been a passenger on a Dragonfly class ship carrying fertilizer to Granger's Garden. The ship was hit by pirates near Boros. They retrieved nothing but body parts. All crew and passengers are reported dead. Li-Jing tells her that her prints have been removed from the Alliance database. With suitable forged documents, she could now apply for a new ident card, claiming to be from a world where Alliance birth records aren't kept.

Geena picks a new name and henceforward will be known as Amber Tobin. Li-Jing creates a convincing birth certificate and documentation and gives them to the Captain. He will have to take her to the Alliance licensing office and sponsor her. Li-Jing reminds "Amber" that she now comes from the village of Goshen on Jiangyin. Amber knows that in the long run nothing is free. She asks what this is going to cost her. Li-Jing says that if the Captain will let her charter the ship, she wants to go to a place where she has a silver mine. It's run by a computer, and it hasn't been running smoothly of late. Efficiency is down to about 30 percent, and she thinks Amber might be able to fix whatever is wrong. After further discussion the Captain and Li-Jing agree on five hundred pounds of silver per month charter fee. Amber asks about the other article that was printed out. Li-Jing shows it to her. It is a report concerning the death of one of the "Mayors" of Whitefall, Imogene Patience. Apparently she went horseback riding in somewhat stormy weather and died of a lightning strike to the head. Li-Jing comments that the wound from a sufficiently long wavelength infrared laser would be just about indistinguishable from that of a lightning bolt.

The Captain and Amber go to waste huge amounts of time amid the bureaucracy of the licensing office. Gina goes to the local Med-Center to stock up on medical supplies. Later that evening Lester puts on his "good" jumpsuit to prepare for the dinner. Li-Jing wears the same white outfit she was wearing when the crew first met her, that being the closest she has to dressy. The crew arrives at the appointed hour at the casino, out on the rotating ring part of the station. They have to practically drag Amber through the casino. She NEEDS to stop at every slot machine and black jack table. They go to a richly furnished room with a ten foot wide open doorway flanked by two large bouncer-types.

Darnell stands and greets them. He kisses Li-Jing's hand, then introduces the other folks already seated at the table. The Commander of the station: Elizabeth Blackston. Loadmaster: Eshwardutt Patel, Chief Medical Officer: Dr. Patricia Baker, and Chief Engineer: Michael Rowe. The dinner goes well, and the food is magnificent. Amber doesn't really notice, as she only has eyes for the handsome Chief Engineer. She slips beneath the table and pulls Gina down too. She asks Gina to help her pull Mike down to their level. At that point five men with standard Alliance sa-80 bullpup assault rifles step into the room, the leader of whom yells for them all to freeze. Gina reaches up to the edge of the table and retrieves a nearly full whiskey bottle, stuffs her linen napkin into the neck, lights, then throws it. Unfortunately it bounces off of a table leg, and rolls to the far corner of the room, unbroken. Meanwhile, Josiah, Lester and Commander Blackston have drawn their pistols and fired. Captain Farmer hits the center one square in the chest with a .44 Magnum round, and he goes down hard. Lester catches the one next to him in the throat, permanently putting him out of the fight. Commander Blackston points her .357 at an assailant and pulls the trigger, but nothing happens. Li-Jing, who didn't wear a gun, pulls the overlarge hair clip from her hair, looks along the edge of it at one of the attackers, squeezes a bump on it and an explosion at the mans chest leaves a hole one can see light through. At this point Amber pulls the Chief Engineer under the table. He tells her that this is neither the time nor the place. He then smiles and says the time will be soon and he'll show her the place. The two remaining assailants open up with their rifles. Darnell is hit, but fortunately no one else is. Lester fires a second round through the heart and lungs of one of the two. Gina finally draws her pistol and takes off the foot of the last man standing.

Doctor Baker looks after Darnell while Lester and Gina interrogate the one-footed prisoner. Darnell's ballistic vest absorbed most of the damage, so he'll heal. He thanks the crew of the Thunderchilde and tells them that if they ever need a favor to call on him. The chief of security arrives with a medical team and Lester sarcastically thanks her for her protection. Hand in hand Michael and Amber leave the room.

The next day, Amber's new ident card arrives. Also a thank-you gift of three crates of fresh foods. Of course, Amber is nowhere to be found. Finally Captain Farmer calls her on the handsets that Li-Jing had given them. She returns on the double, and the crew teases her for her tousled look. Li-Jing purchases some wooden practice katanas, and a variety pack from Kamil's Kabobs. They smell delicious and she calls dibs on the shrimp. Soon they undock and head for Shadow.

It is a nearly two week trip to Shadow. Boredom sets in. Gina pulls out the mason jars and starts canning the fresh food so it won't go bad. At one point when Lester and Josiah are on the bridge they hear a repeated double click, as of someone coming down the hall wearing tap shoes. Captain Farmer looks down the hall and is not surprised to see Li-Jing, wearing a tight knit aqua top and jean shorts walking down the corridor. What does surprise him is that she is wearing the magnetic boots from the vacc-suit in her cabin and is walking down the center rib of the ceiling . When she reaches the point where the ceiling goes up another three feet to reach the bridge she stops, turns to face the way she came, grabs the lip and detaches her boots from the ceiling. She hangs right side up for a moment, then swings her feet up to click onto the upper section. she turns and resumes walking onto the bridge. She looks the Captain straight in the kneecap. She then continues forward as the ceiling slopes down, carefully stepping between the transparent panels. Here the ceiling is low enough, and she does a vertical split, momentarily standing with one foot on the floor and one on the ceiling. She then brings the other foot down and stands as if nothing had happened. Captain Farmer comments that he didn't know she was so flexible. She replies that of course she is and proceeds to bend her arms around her back in a way that makes the two men shudder.

Lester comments that he wishes Gina would lay off the canning for a while. Li-Jing asks if they want her to distract Gina. Captain Farmer agrees, and Li-Jing goes to get a couple of the wooden katanas. She practically drags Gina into the now-empty cargo bay and the two women commence sword practice. Gina sticks to standard moves, while Li-Jing throws in a few fencing maneuvers just to trip her up. The crew watches. Amber comments that it looks like fun. Li-Jing replies that there are more swords on the common room table. Come join the fun. Amber comes clomping out onto the ceiling of the cargo bay, using magnetic boots and wielding a wooden sword. Li-Jing sticks her tongue out, then runs and gets her grav-assisted suitcase. She opens it, sits in it, adjusts the compensation, and floats gently to rest a few feet short of the ceiling. She and Amber each take a swing at the other, and the contact of the two sticks sends the nearly massless Li-Jing skimming and spinning wildly.

Days later, when the Thunderchilde is nearing Shadow, the sensors detect faint traces of a radar sweep. Lester fires up the electronic telescope. Orbiting Summerfair, a moon of Shadow, is an Alliance cruiser. Fortunately since the Thunderchilde was not actively pinging, the cruiser had not yet been able to detect them. Carefully the Thunderchilde moves to put Shadow between them. Unfortunately the coordinates for the base place it on the same side of the planet as the Alliance ship. Lester puts his flying skills to the test as he flies nap-of-earth (nap-of-Shadow?) around to the location they have for the base. Due to the rough ride, Li-Jing retires to her bunk with a slight case of motion sickness.

That location is only a few hundred feet from a large crater. The background radiation is at a definitely unhealthy level. Captain Farmer and Amber put on vacc suits and explore the area. Once the base is located, it takes a bit of digging to uncover the door. Amber enters the code from the dead doctor's datapad and the heavy armored doors crank back to either side. Inside they find that the radiation level while lower, is still dangerously high. They find many rooms; an empty bunkroom, a cafeteria, and an armory containing racks of G-36 infantry rifles, service pistols, and even a handheld anti-armor laser. At the end of the hall they find the vault.

It is a huge manually-locking door, and the data pad gives no hint as to the combination. Digging through the records of the original crew that she had researched, Amber tries variations on the former captain's identification number. Nothing. Then she tries the registry number that the Thunderchilde has formerly worn. With a clunk the bars withdraw and the vault door opens. There are stacks of pieces of electronic paper that have gone black from the radiation. These had been Alliance credit notes, now useless. Also there are stacks of Independent's notes. Though still intact, these also are useless. Near the back, on the left, they find a pair of small shipping containers about three feet square and about a foot and a half tall each. Captain Farmer pops the latches holding the lid of the top container. Inside he finds neatly stacked gold bars stamped on one side with the weight and purity of each bar as well as the logo of the bank it came from. The other side is stamped with the familiar star on bar on triangle of the Independents. A quick calculation leads them to realize that they now have two tons of gold.
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Now they only have to figure out how to carry it back to the ship. Over the radio, Gina offers the use of her little red "Radio Flyer" wagon. The Captain would prefer to keep the gold sealed in the containers to minimize contact with the radioactive environment. The gold itself is not hot. Lester suggests a pallet jack. they could just leave it here when they go and buy another one wherever they go next. The Captain likes the idea. Unfortunately, the pallet jack is designed for smooth floors, not crumbled dirt. Another way will have to be found.

Episode Five: 11-17-2007

Lester comes up with an idea. The Captain and Amber bring the containers of gold out onto the smooth apron in front of the doors, and Lester brings the Thunderchilde to a hover over them. Gina lowers the winch cable to the engineer to attach to the containers and they are hoisted into the cargo bay. Another rough ride halfway around the world, and the Thunderchilde heads off into the black. The pallet jack and the mildly radioactive containers are jettisoned, and the gold is stashed in several places around the ship. Gina flushes the cargo bay with water, then air to remove any remaining traces of radioactive dust. The Thunderchilde sets course once again for Grangers Garden.

Immediately upon docking, Lester goes to buy a new pallet jack. Captain Farmer has Li-Jing Contact Darnell Granger. He says he can come by in about an hour and a half. Amber gets a call from her sweetie, the station's engineer. When Mr. Granger arrives, The Captain has two of the gold bars on the common table. He tells him that he is interested in selling some gold, but doesn't know if the Independent's stamp will cause a problem. Granger says that it won't be a difficulty and, after checking with his metallurgist, makes an offer of a little over 824 credits per five pound bar. Farmer then tells him that they have 800 of them to sell. Pickup and payment are arranged, and Darnell takes his leave. 659,779 credits richer, the crew set up a half million credit investment account with debit chips for each of them. The rest is then distributed among themselves in cash. Li-Jing is flattered to be cut in for an equal share.

Amber and her engineer beau head off to spend time together. Lots of time. Two and a half days. During that time, Gina goes back to the weapon shop, Pack N Heat, and buys a mono-molecular edged katana. This is a core-world Newtech weapon, and therefore VERY expensive.
Finally Amber arrives, and the Thunderchilde undocks for JiangYin.

The ship sets down on the open expanse of sod that serves as a spaceport on this benighted planet. Parked next to them is another Firefly; an 03 model, newer, but in not nearly in as good shape. Painted on her neck is the name "Serenity". Li-Jing goes to get her mail and Gina decides to tag along. They go to the Post Office and Li-Jing picks up a handful of paper missives most of which are addressed to "Violet Wu". The oddball is one addressed to "Iole Wu". Gina had always had an excellent memory. She thinks back to when the two of them had shared classes on Sihnon. Yes, she faintly remembers the first day of class. the teacher had called out "Iola Wu" somewhat uncertainly. Li-Jing had answered, but pointed out that she went by Violet. Gina wonders if that was how "Iole" was supposed to be pronounced. Probably not.
Li-Jing/Violet goes to the sheriff's office. He's off duty, and probably to be found in the local bar, the "Gan Bai".
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The Sheriff sits in the far corner. As they work their way over to him, an intoxicated man reaches out and grabs Li-Jing's wrist and says "Hey baby, Where 'ya goin'?" Li-Jing slaps him full across the face and says that if he ever touches her again, she'll kill him. She pushes him backwards which causes him to fall into the booth that he had originally been sitting in. The two ladies finally reach Sheriff Chang.
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The Sheriff is happy to see "Miss Violet". He warns her, though that the spaceship "Purple Dragon" has come back several times since she was last here. She comments that they are still trying to locate her silver mine. She explains to Gina that the Purple Dragon, a Swift Ox class ship, Was the one she hired for her last cargo run of silver. She informs the Sheriff that she'll be back from the mine in a few days with her customary donation of silver for the town. They take their leave. During all this, Lester has come outside to look at the Firefly parked next door. He notices that there is a panel open on the side toward the Thunderchilde, and a young lady smudged with grease working inside the panel. He watches for several minutes until the woman notices him.
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She introduces herself as Kaylee, and asks if he's the engineer of the Thunderchilde. He replies that he's not, but she should be back any minute. He pulls out his encrypted comm unit and calls Amber. She hurries back from the general store and introduces herself to Kaylee, giving the groceries to Lester. He puts them away while Kaylee explains her problem. The connector on the end of an atmospheric coupler has burned out. She's trying to find a way to route around it, since there are none available here, and no one has a microfac to make one. Amber invites her to the engineering section of the Thunderchilde. Kaylee sticks her head into Serenity's cargo bay and shouts to someone she calls Jayne and says where she'll be. In the Thunderchilde, Lester offers her a pickle in passing. Amber looks through the spares drawers and finds a used but serviceable connector to solve Kaylee's dilemma. Kaylee offers two platinum eighth-ounce pieces (bits) for it.

Amber only paid a centicredit for it on Whitefall, and tells her to put her money away. The two of them go back over to work on Serenity. Lester grabs a couple of folding chairs and the jar of pickles and sits in the space between the two Fireflies and watches the women work. About then Captain Farmer returns. Lester offers him a chair and a pickle. He brings the Captain up to date on what has been happening. Then Gina and Violet return. Violet gets another few folding chairs, offers them around, then sits in the sunshine to read her mail. Soon the Captain And First Officer of Serenity arrive. The Captain, an imposing figure in a brown coat, asks Kaylee what'n the 'verse is all this. She introduces everyone to Captain Malcom Reynolds and First Officer Zoe Washburne. Zoe is a dark amazon of a woman with a lever action "mares leg" in a holster on her right thigh. Violet mentions that "Zoe" is ancient greek for "life". After Kaylee explains the circumstances, Captain Reynolds insists that Captain Farmer take payment for the coupler connector. He refuses, saying that Firefly owners have to stick together. Then he offers him a pickle. After a quick huddle, the crew of the Thunderchilde invite the others to a picnic in the cargo bay. Lester starts cooking, and Amber takes a piece of sheet steel from the stored Formaldehyde scoop and places it on some crates in the cargo hold, forming a large triangular table. Against Captain Reynolds' better judgment, they come over for lunch.

Captain Reynolds introduces the remaining members of his crew. First a young doctor named Simon, his sister and Serenity's alternate pilot River, and Ship's Firepower, Jayne Cobb. Violet asks "The hero of Canton?" Jayne says "I ain't no hero." Violet mentions that she heard the song in a bar on Whitefall.

Jayne and Gina share an interest: weapons. They get to talking and before long she's running upstairs to get her grenade launcher to show to him. By this time the meal is winding down. Gina invites Jayne to go try a few rounds with the grenade launcher. There's no place close, but Violet offers to fly one of the shuttles over to the land she owns and there they can fire to their heart's content. Jayne asks his Captain if he can go. Captain Reynolds is undecided until Zoe offers to go along and keep an eye on them. The port shuttle undocks and Violet, Zoe, Gina, and Jayne make a quick thousand mile jaunt.

Violet lands the shuttle in a clearing about a hundred yards away from a pre-fabricated cabin.
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She tells them that anything in the direction away from the cabin is fair game. She goes into the cabin and comes out a few minutes later with Lemonade for everyone. Zoe declines. Gina and Jayne waste grenades and trees. Violet and Zoe chat for a while. Zoe even laughs out loud a few times, quite an achievement considering how dour she's been up till now. Gina shows off her newtech katana. Jayne severs a nineteen inch diameter maple with one mighty swing. He's not much of a sword guy, but he'll make an exception for this one. The tree falls across the shuttle with a resounding crash.

Episode Six: 12-1-2007

Jayne pulls out his favorite rifle, "Vera". Gina recognises it as a Calahan Autolock, the only semi-automatic rifle offered by famed custom rifle manufacturer, Calahan.
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She realizes that it must have cost nearly as much as her new katana. He only brought five rounds, but offers them all to her. She takes aim at a distant tree. The electronic sight automatically measures the distance and adjusts for bullet drop. The round hits, and the shaped charge warhead detonates, blowing a hole through the tree. Impressive. She asks about the projectile's trajectory. Jayne describes the arc, and Gina presses the quick release on the electronic sight. Using just the iron sights, she lines up her target, calls it, then hits it. Jayne thinks he may have found the girl of his dreams. Zoe and Violet ask if everyone's ready to go. Using her newtech katana, Gina clears the fallen maple from the shuttle. Violet takes them up, then lands again a few minutes later in a dry riverbed next to a small neatly stacked pile of silver bars, fifty two in all.
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She asks Jayne to help her put them in the shuttle, then gives him one in payment for his help. Soon they arrive back at the two Fireflies and night has fallen. Lester, for lack of anything better to do has been mopping the decks. Violet gets her grav compensated suitcase and loads the silver inside. She and Gina deliver fifty bars of silver, ten pounds each, to the Sheriff's office. The crew decide that there is no reason to wait. They bid farewell to the crew of Serenity, then lift off for the mine. They pass back into daylight and Violet shows Amber a crater that used to be the village of Goshen. This is of course where Amber is now supposed to have been born. Rumor has it that they irritated someone with a ship, and in return had a big rock dropped on them from orbit. Finally the Thunderchilde lands in the same dry riverbed as before.
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Violet has the crew get out their encrypted comms, and transmits a transponder code to them. Now the doors will open for any of them. Speaking into the comm she tells her computer, Jeeves, to open up. A large false rock panel in the riverbank lifts, and two heavy steel doors slide back. Pulling her luggage behind her, Violet leads them into the mine. After giving the crew a tour of the place, Violet announces that dinner will be in two hours. She goes off to take a real tub bath. No shipboard showers for her! When Gina hears that there is a tub here, she calls second. Amber goes straight to work, calling the mining robots into the repair bay and beginning maintenance. An hour later, Violet re-emerges, scrubbed clean and freshly dressed in white duck jeans, a pink hoodie, and Blue Sun running shoes. Her hair is now chestnut brown with just a touch of red, instead of the glossy black it had been.
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She comments that it's wonderful not to be living out of a suitcase anymore. She and Lester engage in a spirited debate about the virtues of computerized cooking versus a real human chef. Near the meal's end, the intruder alert sounds. The crew goes to the security station and sees an incoming ship on the screens. It is a Kwai Su Nyao or "Swift Ox" class ship.
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Violet identifies it as the Purple Dragon, captained by Gaston Li. This is the ship she used last time to haul away silver, but they proved to be less trustworthy than the crew of the Thunderchilde. Gaston is still trying to find the exact location of the hidden mine. Lester, Gina, and Josiah leave through a concealed hatch above the mine and make their way toward the Thunderchilde. Gaston makes repeated calls for Violet to open up, then finally fires the ship's large autocannon at the Thunderchilde. Amber grabs the microphone and asks him what he's doing. He replies that she's not Violet to which she responds that she bought the mine fair and square. She refuses to open up. He fires again doing substantial damage to the Thunderchilde. He tells her again to open the entrance to the mine. She says she can't just let him take all the silver. He fires a third time, and the Thunderchilde's fuel cells ignite. The ship detonates, scattering pieces of hull over a wide area. only the bridge is relatively intact.

Gina and Lester run toward the Purple Dragon, while Josiah strides purposefully in the same direction. Gaston sees them coming and lifts to about fifteen feet and hovers. Gina takes careful aim and lands two high explosive dual-purpose grenades into the engines. The first is digested with no problem, but the second damages the turbine of the port engine. The turbine begins to make ominous sounds. Stupidly, the pilot throttles up to pull away, and as the ship rises into the air, it begins to roll uncontrollably. It crashes to the ground from two hundred feet up, smashing itself into a useless lump. Josiah strides up.

The three explore the wreckage looking for survivors. There aren't any. Lester uses the camera on his communicator to photograph the faces of the dead crew. They then return to the mine. Violet has tears in her eyes as she promises to buy them a new ship. She sees this as her fault. She should have come straight to the mine, instead of going to the port first. that must be how the crew of the Dragon knew to look for the Thunderchilde. The crew with the help of mining robots salvage what they can from the wreckage. Captain Farmer's safe proves to be worth it's cost, as the money is intact. Also one shuttle is still workable. Violet sends a wave to the crew of Serenity asking them not to leave the planet until they get there. She has a business proposition for them. The crew then beds down for the night.

The next morning they load five hundred pounds of silver bars into the shuttle and return to the port. There they offer them to the crew of Serenity in exchange for passage for the five of them plus a full cargo bay of silver to Granger's Garden, then to Boros. The Serenity crew retire into the ship to discuss it. Josiah goes to the Gan Bai for a homemade cheeseburger, as recommended by Violet. She tells him they make the best on the planet, possibly best in the 'verse.

On board Serenity, Malcom is considering the offer. He doesn't like the idea of so many passengers on board, but all that cashy silver up front is sorely tempting. Zoe, having become friends with Violet, is guardedly in favor. Jayne is STRONGLY in favor. He gets out the bar of silver that Violet gave him and points out to Mal that this one is his, not part of the payment. He carves his initials in it so that there is no mistake. Simon has no strong opinion either way, but points out that since Mal's other deal fell through, they need the money. River says simply "They're good people." With that the decision is made. They'll take the job.

Violet goes to tell the sheriff what all has happened. She passes Josiah who is sitting on the front porch of the Gan Bai eating his cheeseburger and obviously enjoying it immensely. As she comes back out, he is finishing the last bite. He stands , dusts the crumbs from his hands, and offers Violet his arm. She takes it and they head for the port. She tells him that Captain Reynolds has decided to accept their offer.

Suddenly she feels a hand grip her shoulder, and a gruff voice growls "Hey Bitch!" She executes a flawless elbow strike to the assailants solar plexus before turning to face him. Josiah's Schofield is out and cocked. It is the man who accosted her in the bar the day before. He is lying on the ground gulping for air. She holds out a palm towards Josiah, who re-holsters the revolver. She looks at the gasping man who is holding a piece of iron pipe and says "I told you yesterday that if you ever touched me again, I would kill you." She then jumps in the air and comes down putting all her weight onto one knee which lands solidly on the attacker's throat. Josiah hears the cartilage give way and the man tries to scream. All that escapes is a bubbling moan. By this time the sheriff arrives. He admits she gave him fair warning. He heard her himself the day before. Violet extends her elbow. Josiah once again takes it and they resume their walk back to Serenity. Josiah says "Miss Violet, I think I'm going to like having you around." Surprised, she asks him what he means. "Interesting things just seem to happen around you." he replies.

Thunderchilde Season close

The scene opens with the crew on Boros purchasing their new ship, a Mantis class heavy freighter.
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Captain Farmer is called away to the Alliance shipyard and base orbiting above (Cue ominous music). Amber shops for a collection of maintenence supplies for her new charge. Lester lays in food supplies. Gina Seduces a supply clerk and manages to aquire a pair of 20 pounder autocannons (One brand new, one nearly so). She also manages to locate 50 rounds of armor piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot ammunition for them. Lester returns from grocery shopping to find 2 large holes cut in the upper side panels of the ship. Gina and Amber are installing the autocannons into swing out hard points of Amber's own design. Violet is enjoying the winter weather.
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Captain Farmer finally gets in to see the head of the Alliance orbital base, who asks him why he had not made an official report of the destruction of the Thunderchilde. Josiah points out that there was no Alliance presence at JiangYin. Other than a refueling stop at Granger's Garden, this is the first opportunity he's had to report it. Captain Farmer fills out a detailed (and suitably edited) report.

Once Captain Farmer returns to his crew, he is impressed with the concealed Autocannons. The crew sit down to dinner, discussing what to name the new ship, and where they should go next.

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