With the addition of Felix, an intel operative who’d been HP’s handler/monitor a few years ago and is known to the group already, several things were accomplished by splitting the team and working in detail on a few different tasks.
- HP helped Shara repair some equipment around the ranch in preparation for the Nobble harvest, coming in six days.
- Syd set up a communications monitoring system using the captured air/raft’s comm system and the ranch’s satellite connection. Doing so enabled the team to get a sense of messages being sent from the swamp to a location in Evander, and air/rafts in transit between the two.
- Felix’s interrogation of two of the three captured goons yielded key information about who hired them (a cut-out), how they were paid (dead drop), and what they were actually doing (picking up sealed barrels at various sites upon order, delivering them to a warehouse in Evander, and keeping people out of the swamp). Why they were doing these things was a mystery to them, and remained so for the team.
Once in Evander, Hal and Felix broke into the warehouse and found that the barrels were being delivered to a storage container that itself contained a secret entrance into the building next door, where a processing/packaging room was found, although they were unable to explore it due to the presence of an alarm system. Given residue found in four empty barrels, they were confident that whatever was being smuggled was from the swamp, and seemed to be some kind of plant or soil.
The two also identified the shipping company, Schmidtsohne, that was moving the processed stuff to another spot, in the capitol of Newland, thousands of miles to the east. A shipment was due to head out the next day.
Additionally, through Felix’s digging, the pair identified the guy who ordered 1000 sonic stakes – Tomas Barryster – and learned that he’ been fired about a year ago from a local surveying company for running off-the-books work, most notably the purchase of those stakes. Barryster was found living in a much nicer neighborhood than he’d come from, and when confronted was forced to provide some extra information, connecting the shipments to SuSAG, one of the larger interstellar corporations, which has a small presence in Newland. It seems that the shipment from the Schmidtsohne warehouse would be headed to a SuSAG facility in Newland, and soon.
Barryster was a shady character, but did not strike Felix as a murderer or one who’d turn to violence first. He struck the operative as a crook, but of the ‘shady dealings’ sort.
The group left off considering whether to return to the ranch or head to Newland, while HP and Syd were still back at the ranch with Shara, preparing for the Nobble hunt, now only five days away.