Food is running out aboard the Starlight. Ula and Bigs have started working on the Garden Ship to earn some supplies, but they haven’t been seen for a couple days. Trade is slowing down and people are disappearing from the marketplace. Farley hires Manfred as ships cook. The guy wears a stop sign for a mask and carries a massive machete, but he knows his food, having lived on a small garden ship named Dent. Everyone is very happy to have him aboard. Manfred is unimpressed with the galley’s lack of locks and supply of cat food.
Midnight’s followers are somewhat in higher spirits as he puts on another great show at the Raz.
Landers, Gale, and Brace discuss their next steps. Gale wants to make sure she can get brain-scanning equipment up and running before infiltrating the Nexus of the White Guard. Everyone agrees that calling White to them would not end well for the group. Landers says she can get them inside the Nexus, but she seems nervous. Brace asks if they can trust Landers not to tell anyone. She hedges, saying there are people on their side, but ultimately, of course she can be trusted. She came to him, after all. It’s decided that Gale will contact Landers when the machinery is working and that Brace will likely go in with his “borrowed” guard uniform.
After Landers leaves, Gale notices Brace’s awkward movements and asks him to remove his shirt. As she tends to his ripped stitches, she tensely asks what happened to the people who “did this.” Brace is harsher after his rejected advances and demands to know what she means. Gale baldly states that people like that shouldn’t be free just to walk around, and Brace declares that they won’t be. The two are interrupted by Tally and Sun, and Brace slips out of the infirmary.
After months of high stress, Nightingale and Sun go to get drunk. A nice, grizzled guy named Pip starts to chat with Gale, bragging about all the work he’s been doing mending Megaton. Apparently someone managed to get a grenade past security and blew-up one of the guest quarters. Gale is interested in his story but soon declares that she is not looking for nice guy tonight. She leaves Pip and Sun at their table and sits another guys lap. This mean bastard isn’t happy about this, dumping her off. Gale is just as happy to fight as fuck. She begins to size up the situation for a protracted brawl, but notices several pirates from the Nevermore who have been tracking her and are now beginning to move in to take advantage of her position. She smoothly changes tact, incapacitating her opponent with a quick flurry of blows, and then flees room by backdoor (which Sun has already used). Gale times her exit so that the door slams into Cage’s face as the bar slams down to lock it tight. Gale returns to the ship feeling a bit more calm.
Midnight is worried about Vivek and some of the other missing crew. As he is heading out Main Stream catches him in the hanger. She has been researching the nightmares of the White Guard and thinks there could be a connection to the The Legend of the Redoubt. As proof, she offers an old Bible, which has been bleach washed to reuse as a hand-written memoir. The Extraordinary Adventures of Captain Campbell- is marked where the captain claims to have rescued a ship which survived passing through a black hole, only to have the crew tortured by ravenous nightmares. Main Stream suggests that this could be the same Redoubt that many claim as the first Reavers ship. Midnight goes looking for Nightingale, to ask her opinion.
Nightingale manages to track down a merchant who has exactly the brain scanning equipment she needs. However, he sets a firm price that is too much for her purse. She returns to the ship, hoping Brace will make good on his offer of finances.
Brace is chatting with Manfred while he prepares his first dinner for the crew. Brace is looking for help to take over a ship and thinks Manfred is just the man to help. They begin to discuss a price when Midnight enters with the book. He offers it to Brace, but Brace is dismissive, hiding his bad feelings and visions of Reavers beneath a mask of disdain. Midnight shrugs and is reminded to offer Manfred the live yeast culture he was given by Snail. Manfred takes it with a grunt as Rum runs in with a letter for Gale.
Brace quickly claims the letter but does not examine it. He returns to his negotiations with Manfred when Gale enters. Midnight quickly offers to help pay for the brain equipment when he hears of her dilemma, to Gale’s plesant surprise. Gale approaches Manfred and Brace, but only hears discussion of the dinner plans. The men have already struck an agreement and made plans of when to strike. Brace silently offers Gale her letter. Her hands shake when she recognizes a stylized bluejay on its seal. The note on crisp, new paper promises that her brother, Bluejay, is near and will see her soon. She is shocked and asks how it arrived, but Rum can only answer that an old, scarred man gave it to him in the marketplace. Brace slips out of the room. Also missing from the dinner table are Ula, Bigs, and Shiv.
Gale wastes no more time securing the brain gear and arranging its delivery to the ship. She then goes in search of the guy who knew a guy who could get her the extra medical supplies she wants. The Good Trip is gone and no one has seen Lunch since last night. She asks around and learns that his ship was impounded by the White Guard. Searching further for medical supplies, she finds that a guy named Mech has bought up a great deal of them. She is turned away by the people who know him, assured that she doesn’t want to get caught up with that guy. Nightingale returns to the Starlight fuming.
Brace dons the White Guard uniform and meets Manfred at the exit of the ship. They manage to get all of their weapons through the automated security, but they draw the attention of one alert Guard. Brace quickly bluffs, pulling rank over the watcher, claiming to be escorting Manfred to lock-up. He orders the guard to go. The guard apologizes to his “superior” and complains that all the uniforms look the same. The two men continue, without further delay, to the Nevermore. Brace orders the pirate to let him inside for a White Guard inspection. Cage gruffly does so, and then proceeds to take Brace, the White Guard, to his captain. Manfred stays outside of the ship. As they move through the galley, they spot a large man cleaning his nails with a knife, but none of these people seem to be a major threat to Brace.
Waiting outside Cipher‘s room, Brace opens his brain to the incipient battle. He sees Cipher’s head explode, then turns his mind to the injured Cage, frying his brain and watching him collapse in a quiet heap. The door opens revealing Cipher and the smell of cigarette smoke, but no trace of the to whom person she had been talking. Brace throws his mind at Cipher, who manages to slams the door closed and set off the alarms throughout the ship.
Manfred gets his signal and breaks through the front door. He fells the guy at door with a single swing of his machete. Four more men run at him with smgs, and two more fall in a flurry of flying bullets and bloody slices. Their weapons have no effect on the masked man. The rest run in terror of the faceless man who calmly takes up his assigned position at the door.
Brace guns down the crowd forming in galley, though he realizes the big guy with the knife is gone. As he reloads, a grenade lands at his feet, and Bug slams door closed. Brace out runs blast, but is thrown into a firefight with Cipher and last of her crew. He advances on them without mercy, cutting them down and shrugging off the flesh wounds. He reaches Cipher and delivers a bullet to her brain, fulfilling his earlier vision.
Brace returns to the ship’s entrance. Manfred is sent to clear the rest of the ship while Brace attempts to “close” the door. Manfred ignores a dying man’s plea for help, but accepts Rat’s surrender. He rounds a corner and comes under fire from Crypt. Manfred punches through the wall and snaps her arm, tossing the gun away. Recognizing her pregnant condition, he picks her up to bring her back to Gale. As he finishes sweeping the ship, he notes that both escape pods are long gone.
Gale makes the last adjustments to her new brain scanning device, then hooks up Tatters. As she follows the traces of his brain waves, she finds herself drawn deep into the maelstrom, and back to the Ruined City. The church is full of echoes of the tolling bell, empty except for the transparent form of Tatters. He cries when he sees she has returned and admits that the shadow man took his doll. He isn’t complete without it and can not leave. Nightingale tells him not to worry; she will get the doll.
Gale climbs to the top of the church roof. She hears the sound of Reavers in every direction but far off. Shaking her head, she focuses on the city around her, keying in on a likely hiding place. With preternatural skill she begins running, jumping from roof to roof, bouncing off of exposed rebar, sliding down poles. She reaches the room, jumping through a window, rolling to her feet in front of the doll’s small bed. She swings the small blanket in the air, wrapping the doll tight and tying it as a sash around her waist without stopping her movement. As her feet hit the roof outside, she hears the cry of the Reavers, angry, on her scent, closing in. Gale pivots back towards the church, running on ridgepoles, leaving a small scatter of stars where her feet fall. The Reavers fill the square around the church when she returns, but her momentum is too great. She bounces from roof, to pole, to fountain, and finally off a tall Reaver onto the church roof.
She presents the doll to Tatters who glows brightly and vanishes in a flash of starlight. Gale is momentarily blinded and turns to realize she is not alone. Her shadow self stands there, full of grief and hurt. The shadow punches her hard across the jaw, but she expects such abuse and smiles grimly. Gale spits her blood back in its face before she wakes up in the infirmary.
Many of the crew answer Gale’s page, coming into the infirmary to welcome Tatters back. During this confusion, Manfred comes in with Crypt, dropping her carefully by the door as Gale looks on in shock. After quickly stabilizing the unconscious Crypt, Nightingale follows him back to the kitchen and finds him unpacking a large box of new food supplies. The markings on the box mean it could very well have come from the Nevermore. She questions him, but Manfred never did ask the name of the ship. Gale discovers that Brace paid him to help take the ship. She heads out the door.
The White Guard demand those still inside the Nevermore – Rat and Brace – leave or be vac’ed. Rat runs out screaming, while Brace strips off his abused uniform and calmly exits. He bluffs that he owns the ship and mentally threatens Rat into backing him up. Rat does, with tears in his eyes. The White Guard are appeased and enter the ship to confirm that it is safe.
Brace sees Gale in the crowd and slowly makes his way towards her after making certain not to arouse the suspicion of the White Guard. Gale demands to know what happened. Brace asks if she believes in right and wrong. She scoffs that she does, of course. Brace shakes his head and states that he doesn’t. He believes in good and evil, and this ship was Evil. Its crew had done horrible things, and it needed to be stopped. Gale looks shocked, opening her mouth to say more, when Brace cuts in. He takes her hands and, for the sake of their friendship, asks her to drop it, to leave it alone, and not ask him about it again. This is why he didn’t want her to know about it. Before her tears can fall, Gale turns with a nod and a whispered, “you’re just like him.” She does not see Brace’s stricken expression.
Midnight Storm moves through the marketplace, asking for anyone who’s seen Vivek. He tries to get Snail to help, trying to trade on the success of his performances. Snail is offended, thinking they had an understanding already. Why, he even put down lots of cash for these amazing fruit from the Garden Ship, planning on making the jingle back at Midnight’s show tonight. The fruit is very strange, a bit like an apple, but not really. Midnight does not eat it, but he does accept the one offered by Snail as a peace offering. Snail can’t look for Vivek. He has too much to do.
Midnight runs into Switchblade, a perky young lady in pseudo-fetish wear, who takes him to a casino named Gumbo. The two do some gambling at Switch’s urging and manage to win. Midnight leaves the tables for a moment and asks the guards about drug dealers. He is “invited” to talk to Boss. Boss is a fearsome guy in a barren room who claims to know Vivek. He says he was last seen in Bay 30 something a few nights ago. Midnight agrees to do a show at Gumbo for any further information. Switch has left with their winnings, but she left a note at the entrance letting Midnight know how to find her. After he leaves, he notices he is being followed.
Midnight’s next stop is Snaz. The tough guy is deep into his booze and tears up at the mention of Molly. He sends his friends away and levels with Midnight. He hasn’t seen Molly since day after she met Midnight. He tried being really sweet with her, even bought her some purple flower things from the Garden Ship, and she’d seemed really happy. He left her alone too, and then she was gone. Snaz thinks maybe he got too soft for her, but Midnight assures him that that is probably not the case. Midnight decides to investigate the Garden Ship.
Before he can get back to the Starlight, he finds Toa and his friends antagonizing the White Guard again. He convinces the fan to back down. Toa is upset at how the White Guard are harassing people at Megaton. Midnight tells him he will resolve the problem with them and hint that he knows what might behind their actions. Toa accepts this answer and agrees to back him up if possible. As Midnight leaves he notices that the lead White Guard makes insect noises. It is a wolf of the maelstrom.
Midnight shows the fruit to Manfred but he has no idea what it is. He suggests not eating it. Midnight asks Manfred to come with him to check out the Garden Ship. They run into Switchblade along the way, who is happy for another adventure with Midnight Storm.
They notice a small stall selling fresh fruits and vegetables in front of the Garden Ship. It is doing good trade. Many other people are lined up trying to get into the ship, but the fit young man at the door only lets some people in. The three wait their turn in line and talk briefly to Ganymede. He is very pleasant and very spaced out. He agrees to check and see if Ula and Bigs are on board. When he steps away, he is immediately replaced by a young woman, even fitter and slightly less spacy. Ganymede returns to beam at Midnight Storm. He would be happy to escort them to the missing crew members.
Manfred, Midnight, and Switchblade are led through the halls of the Garden Ship. It is probably the most miraculous ship any of them have ever seen, with bright white corridors, broken by clear doors that look down endless halls of growing green things. Even watermelons hang from the ceilings of some rooms. Deeper inside, a path of running water breaks up the hallway, dotted by floating square pads of peat dotted with green sprouts. Ganymede pauses at a large frosted doorway, completing a detailed security procedure at which Manfred quietly scoffs. The group enters the orchard and are startled to find actual ground with grass and trees growing inside the ship. Switchblade is delighted and turns a few somersaults. The heavy oxygen in the air is a bit dizzying, but doesn’t seem to effect the many people wandering through the trees. Some wear the same soft, home-spun clothes as Ganymede, but others wear garb which indicates they are new on board.
They find Bigs and Ula listening intently to instructions on care for a small sapling. The two are happy to see Midnight, but admit they are thinking they will not return to the Starlight. This ship is too amazing, and they’ve been invited to stay! Midnight spots a flash of red hair and runs after it. Bigs offers one of the fruits to Switch who thanks them, and palms the fruit without eating it. She hides it in Manfred’s pack and shares a dubious glance with Manfred before they move to follow after Midnight.
Molly greets Midnight happily but doesn’t seem to remember Snaz. She tells her new friends about how wonderful Midnight’s music is, and he is quickly surrounded by about six people asking him to do a show. Midnight says that he might, but he needs to talk to Ula. He is able to convince Ula to return to the ship to tell Farley goodbye in person.
As they stand at Farley’s door, about to knock, he hits her hard on the back of the head. Ula turns in wide-eyed shock before she collapses at his feet.