The journey to Newhouse, the main settlement on the moon Beylix, was pleasingly uneventful. Newhouse was the junkyard for the core worlds, and as a result was furnished with many scrap dealers and reclamation specialists, so Johan decided to take advantage by selling off some of the salvage from the ship they stripped on Lulabelle while Gracie and Jesse joined the town representative and went to contact the prospective Sheriff, Pearson. Minnie was still in bed, obviously tired from her previous exertions, but finally stirred herself to tinker with the ship.
On previous visits to Newhouse, Johan had dealt with a dealer named Dallin Peaches, so he returned to his yard, and with some good natured banter and bartering, Johan managed to negotiate a good deal for the unwanted spares, swapping them for parts that they actually could use on the Persephone.
The delegation to Pearson were initially met with some hostility, however, the people they were speaking to soon changed their demeanour when they heard that the group were there to offer DEPUTY Sheriff Pearson a job. Indeed, they seemed very keen to impress on the deputation just what a paragon Pearson was.
The town representative made the offer of employment and Pearson took a couple of seconds to think about it, before accepting, clearly with the blessing of the Sheriff, and arrangements were met for him to join the Persephone.
As Pearson left to collect his belongings, Gracie spoke to the Sheriff, who still seemed like he was not being completely open about the nature of Pearson, and finally settled on “He’s not one who likes to compromise on the letter of the law…”
The Sheriff tipped his hat to Gracie, smiled a weak smile and returned to his office. Gracie and Jessie discussed this new knowledge, and decided they should return to the ship to “reorganise” any illicit firearms and other goods into less obvious places of concealment.
As Johan left the scrap dealer, he witnessed Sloat running from a neighbouring building, followed by cries of “Stop! Thief” Johan leaned on a wall and watched with interest.
From across the green a figure stepped, drew a pistol, and shot the unfortunate Sloat dead. Two men emerged from the building, collected the box that Sloat had been running with, nodded nervously to the figure, “Thanks Deputy Pearson”, and returned to the building. Johan moved over to the newly dead Sloat, and began to drag the corpse back to the ship, but was interrupted by the Sheriff who asked him what he was doing. Johan explained, and the Sheriff asked whether he was the Captain of the ship that would be transporting Pearson to Frisco. Johan nodded, and the Sheriff warned him to be careful, wished him luck, and shook his hand. He also offered to have Sloats body boxed, and delivered to the ship.
Johan was waiting on the ramp of the ship when Pearson arrived. He outlined two rules; on the ship Johan was the Captain, and therefore the law, and everyone had privacy in their own rooms, and that was to be respected by everyone. He then offered his hand which Pearson ignored and boarded the Persephone.
Just before departure, Sloats’ coffin arrived, and Johan explained what had happened, much to the shock of the surviving Frisco men. There followed an uncomfortable two days as Pearson watched everyone with interest, and seemed to cause disquiet in everyone except the Captain, who took to ignoring Pearson in return.
As the approached Frisco, the Persephone received a message “Captain we’ve had a wave from Sam Hawkes at Lulabelle. He was wandering whether you could collect him so he could pick up some supplies for the damage his life support system suffered in you last, er, visit? We also need more supplies if you could collect some for us.”
Johan agreed, but insisted on completing the current contract first. He did not fancy a smuggling run with Pearson on board, but agreed to collect Sam. There were now six Alliance gunboats orbiting Frisco, and the Persephone was stopped and searched, but as there was nothing to find, they were let through with just the usual hassles and inconvenience.
Once the Persephone landed and the passengers disembarked, Minnie ran off to meet her paramour, Sackett, but noticed that Pearson, Brigit, and Jimmy Blake exchanged nods and glances, with Jimmy tapping his pocket, meaningfully. Minnie, quickly disentangled herself from Sackett, and dodged back on board to tell the Captain.
Johan then negotiated the next ice carrying contract, this time with the Council rather than Brigit, getting double the rate of the last one with half in advance, and then settles back in the cargo hold to play cards with Jesse. Minnie and Gracie decided to take advantage of the shore leave, and headed to the bar, with Johan’s warning ringing in their ears.
“You’ve seen Pearson, and seen what he’s like. Behave yourselves. If you get in to trouble, I’m not coming to bail you out…”The giggled, and then Grace spoke, “Minnie?”
Gracie held her hand out, “Shotgun.”
Minnie groaned, but retrieved a short shotgun from her trouser leg and handed it to Gracie, who threw it to the Captain, and the two ladies left.
In town Pearson made his mark early on, breaking up a street fight, and when the perpetrators turned on him, shot them all dead. He turned and from the dead men, and strode into the bar, the same bar that Gracie and Minnie had chosen to visit.
Pearson noticed the two ladies and strode over to them, tipping his hat. “Evening ladies. Isn’t it a little dangerous for you to be out in a bar like this?”
He appeared to be flirting with Gracie.
Grace smiled weakly, and Minnie giggled nervously, and then Gracie answered. “Oh, we can look after ourselves, I think. And anyway, I think you’ve made an impression already, so I think we’ll be safe, don’t you?”
Pearson nodded, focussing on Gracie. “Well, if you need anything, you know you can ask me for any help you need.”
“Oh, I think we’ll be fine Sheriff, thank you.”
Pearson tipped his hat and left the bar to patrol the town, as Sackett arrived to join Minnie. Both Gracie and Minnie had made the decision to return to the Persephone for the night. Neither wanted to be in the same place as Pearson.
As they left, Sackett got aggressively amorous with Minnie, so Gracie restrained him, just as Sheriff Pearson arrived. Sackett drunkenly talked his way into trouble, admitting that he had attempted to force himself on Minnie. He foolishly attempted to lunge at Minnie, and Pearson shot him dead.
“Ladies, I think you should head to your ship. It’s safer there…” Pearson tipped his hat.
“Safety depends on what’s stalking the night, as whatever’s stalking vermin is not necessarily on your side.” Gracie spoke in a tight, clipped voice, and they turned and left.
As they arrived at the ship, before the Captain even looked up Gracie spoke; “It wasn’t out fault boss!” She explained what had happened.
“What was the last thing I said before you left?” Johan asked, pointedly.
The discussion rolled on for a few minutes, and then Minnie left to take a shower. Both Jesse and Gracie asked Johan whether he was comfortable with having brought Pearson to Frisco. He responded that he was.
“It was their choice. The hired him, even after he killed one of their own at Newhouse. If they don’t like him, they can fire him, then he can’t go around shooting people, he’d be breaking the law…”
He turned back to his game of cards with Jesse.