Doctor Argonine threatens to destroy himself and the ship to gain safe passage from the foreign system back to Svarog. Xeus negotiates with Attendant Babalawo Benjamin Wahimbey for payment in return for the data the SS SoS SS had collected about both the foreign system and its passage to it through the temporary wormhole Dr. Argonine had somehow created. This results in the team being flush with credits.
Once on on the other side, the crew is bombarded with media requests seeking exclusive interviews about what was on the other side of the newly formed wormhole. Xeus responds with an anonymous network ID and tells them he’ll get back to them later.
The crew learns that while they have been away the entire Cluster’s economy collapsed. The economists theorize that the trigger for this event was the fact that Svarog greatly reduced its purchase of slipstone from Aurix.
Xeus attempts to transfer a healthy payment to Quandos Vorn only to find that the request is rejected. He calls Quandos who tells him to check his dropbox. Xeus finds a “calling card” containing a drop of his friend’s blood, a location and a time three days hence.
Doctor Argonine spends a few days researching the data and learns that a very large number of wormholes exist in a latent state. The Svarogians had found a way to cause latent wormholes to temporarily open. Dr. Argonine had managed to tap into the quantum fields created by this technique due to a strange interaction between the Nobium92 by products created by Fokker’s realspace drive enhancements. This was how the SS SoS SS entered into the new system and also caused the wormhole the Svarogians had been manipulating to stabilize. It also opened the new wormhole in that system.
Meanwhile, Xeus and Fokker head to the location on Quandos’s calling card for preliminary scouting visit. It turns out to be a seedy bar in Folly’s Pucker, a conglomeration of detritus that formed at one of the LaGrange points in Folly. The bar catered to a clientele primarily consisting of violent racist gang members. Xeus created a fake work order allowing Fokker to plant a sleeping gas bomb in the air recycling system. Xeus memorized the layout of the bar in case they needed to make a speedy exit.
Leyland gets a call and explains to the crew that he has to go deal with a troubling person from his past.
The whole crew then heads together back to Folly’s Pucker to meet w/ Quandos Vorn. Quandos shares a photo of a teenage girl with Xeus. He explains that the terms of Xeus’ debt to him have changed. If he brings back the girl and can explain why she is important to Svarog, the debt will be cancelled. He wants daily updates until then.
Xeus uses his connections with Signal One to perform a facial pattern matching search on the photo. The search yields a few selfies the girl took while on a vacation to the de-commissioned pleasure cruiser which serves as a low end resort in Folly. From this he learns that the girl’s name is Solar and the she lives on Hogan 6.
Hogan 6 is a zero gee construction hab-ring located in Folly. It was managed by Kinetic Konstruction (a Wrenaxis company) until that company went bankrupt due to the economic collapse. The crew purchase relief supplies and food and head to Hogan 6 on a supposed humanitarian mission.
The crew dock the SS and are confronted by a pair of locals claiming to be the Port Authority and demanding the supplies. Seeing through the ruse, Fokker manages to scare them off with a small bribe and a threat to vent the atmosphere in the docking bays.
The crew take the shuttle to the entertainment district which is filled with brothels, drug dealers and bars all doing a brisk business. Xeus starts handing out candy to street urchins and sharing the photo of Solar. One of the kids recognizes her and says he’ll take them to her. They head into Habitat A which is essentially a barrio/slum. The kid says he needs to message Solar but Xeus, wise to his scheme, hacks his terminal and intercepts the message. Sharing the text with Fokker (due to the fact that it was in the local patois) the pair learn that the kid was planning on having his friends jump them. Xeus pulls a gun on the kid and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t take them to where Solar lives. The kid reluctantly agrees.