Born on Lilac, fiercely independent, Asante fought on the side of the Browncoats as a member of an elite force sent out on secret missions. When the War ended, Asante considered her options. She knew for damn sure she wasn’t goin’ back to the farm on Lilac. She’d developed a taste for adventure and danger. Nothin’ like that good old adrenaline rush to make you feel alive. She let it be known to a certain favored few that she was on the market, in need of a job. She was willin’ to do dirty deeds, but they would not come dirt-cheap.
She was hired by the Blue Sun Corporation and sent to work in their Corporate Espionage division. When Templeton Steele interfered with Blue Sun’s plans to purchase the mineral rights on the planet Deadwood, Blue Sun turned to Asante to handle the matter. While Blue Sun would dearly love to see blood oozin’ out of Steele’s orifices, they need him and his genius inventions. They want this marriage stopped and, if possible, his lawsuit against them dropped. If Steele’s bride goes missin’, maybe he’ll take the hint.
In order to facilitate the kidnapping, Asante arrives on Persephone in the guise of the wedding planner. Her plan is to take Lilianna from LIBERATION under cover of a pirate attack from the crew of the HARD BURN. If that doesn’t work, she’ll figure out another way to accomplish her mission. Even if she has to crash the wedding, and kill everyone on board the Rim’s Dream.
While the crew is busy, Asante slips into the Control Room. Asante isn’t in contact with her Hard Burn crew, but the previous attack was a signal that they were nearby so she’s armed and ready for action. After incapacitating both the Captain and Quinn with injections of very heavy sedatives, she allows orders one Blue Sun Operative to stay with her to aid in disabling the ship’s navigation systems. The other two were instruction to report to Shuttle Two and prepare it for a quick escape. Also, she has them drag the two unconscious dupes to the cargo bay to stash them in a hideyhole.
However, before she can finish sabotaging the nav systems in the cockpit, Randa and Mack show up. Gunfire erupts, and the Blue Sun agent goes down. Asante sits up and fires wildly into the hall, missing both Mack and Randa. The Blue Sun Agent starts to return fire with his combat shotgun, but Asanta orders him to stop.
There’s a standoff. Asante tells the Crew she doesn’t want any killing. She’s no real threat to them anymore. Her cover is blown. It’s obvious that the crew isn’t going to allow Lilliana to be kidnapped. Asante guarantees that if they allow her to leave the ship that she will give them the antidote for the poison she’s injected into the Captain and Quin. She also informs them that her comrades are Elite members of the Independent Liberation Front and that they’ll be real upset if anything bad happens to her.
They let Asante go, and she tells them where to find the Captain and Quinn. Believing her story that they have been poisoned, they inject both with the “antidote.” Although this is just simple saline, the crew move Benjamin and Quinn to the MED BAY to recover.
The Baron Optimus Fairchild makes a few waves to Lilly, and the crew is able to listen in to glean some information. When Lilianna developed into a remarkable beauty, the Baron realized he had a marketable commodity. He started showin’ her off, taking her with him to visit his powerful and influential friends in the Core worlds. He lavished her with jewels, designer dresses, gave her everything she wanted, but rarely ever paid much attention to her. He was a mite displeased when Lilianna began to work for her mother’s charities on the Rim, until he saw how this made her even more popular. He heard that folks started calling her “Princess” and they meant it in a nice way. He liked that, as it enhanced his status. To add to his good fortune, any number of powerful men sought Lilianna’s hand in marriage. The Baron eventually chose one of them, a fellow name of Templeton Steele.
Edwards told the crew what he already knew, helping to fill in the gap of intel. The Baron was a minor government functionary with the Bureau of Terraforming who saw the potential to make lots of money out on the Rim. He acquired the 900,000 acres of land he owns on Persephone in return for setting up certain influential politicians with some very sweet deals on other planets. Though he didn’t serve in the War, his influence within the Alliance is not to be ignored.
As for the reason the Baron chose Steele, it happens that when the Baron was staking his claim to those 900,000 acres, he was thinkin’ of what was above ground. He wasn’t thinkin’ of what was below. Turned out that was a mistake. He recently learned from a secret surveyor’s report that a parcel of land adjacent to his property is stuffed to the gills with platinum. That land belongs to Steele. He refuses to sell it, but he’ll be glad to give it to the Baron in return for the beautiful Lilianna.
Like his distant ancestor, Samuel Colt, Templeton Steele invented a weapon—the MPE40 (Managed Pulse Energy Gun)—that gained immense popularity during the War due to its comparatively low price and an interchangeable high-yield battery. Also like his ancestor, Steele had no scruples about selling his weapon to both sides during the Unification War. Both sides considered him a traitor, but they kept buyin’ his gun, so he didn’t mind. Steele was probably the only winner in the devastating War, emerging as one of the wealthiest men in the ‘Verse.
The crew gathers and talks about what’s be going on since they left Persephone. They talk with both Seth and Lilly to figure that Lilly does not want to marry her fiancé Templeton Steele. She despises and fears him. The arranged marriage is a deal between the Baron and Steele. The Baron gets the mineral rights to his huge ranch on Deadwood, and Steele gets Lilly who he’s lusted after for several years. Lilliana promises to pay the crew with a large blue diamond necklace if they help rescue Daniel and help in their escape from the Baron and Steele.
Lilly finally admitted her part through sobbing gasps. Daniel and Lilianna talked about runnin’ away together, but they had to face facts—there’s really nowhere in the ‘Verse the “Princess” can go without being recognized.
So, she devised a cunning plan. The wedding is going to be held aboard a luxury cruise liner. This is the wedding of the century and the press is clamoring to know all about it. She invents a kidnapping plot, complete with fake threatening letters. The Baron has always been paranoid about kidnappers and he swallows the story— or seems to. She suggests to the Baron that it would be safer if she could travel to her wedding in a nondescript transport ship. She hopes to try to convince someone among the Crew of the transport to help her find a way out of this fix she’s in. Still, the desperate plans ended when Badger and his thugs abducted Daniel. If they end up together, the Baron will use his Alliance influence to keep them on the run as long as it takes.
The crew begins to hatch a thrillin’ plan to help Lilly. Seth is willing to help by contacting a few of his remaining trustworthy friends in the Alliance. If the plan works, they will be Big Damn Heroes.
NEXT: THE RIM’S DREAM