Whatís in a Name?
On discovering Blue Sun is causing shippers to avoid them, PCs can use Friends in High Places and a Formidable Influence roll (due to compartmentalized nature of the company and the fact that the Highleaf operation is unsanctioned) to verify the lead given them on Whitefall. If successful, the contact does verify the lead, but can only say that the ship is flagged, who exactly flagged them is unknown.† Friends in Low Places with a Hard success roll will also verify same lead. Verification is easier due to low places resources do not access corporate structure, again the only info gained is that ship is flagged, but not by who. Accessing a Blue Sun network is an Impossible Hacking roll and even if successful, will not help since the cell is unsanctioned, no data on the operation is stored on official Blue Sun computers.
Since the lead given on Whitefall does identify that it was disrupting Highleaf Operation that lead to the flagging, the PCs do have an idea of where to start. As they know the two ends of that operation are Persephone and Greenleaf. The PCs are welcome to attempt to track down the Blue Sun source, but due to the additional problem with Darius Nightblade, investigations involving travel to Persephone will be particularly difficult. The only safe way is for the ship to remain hiding in the system while one of the shuttles make planet fall and keeping Li Ming out of sight will it possible to move about Persephone.
A Hard Streetwise and Friends in Low Places will lead to a broken down pawn broker that the Highleaf Group uses as their go between. It will take a Formidable Intimidation roll to get this man to talk. He will only crack to save his life or prevent crippling injury. A simple beating will not work. Once properly cowed, he gives up the name Lloyd Flannery. A check of the cortex quickly finds Flannery is a mid-level Blue Sun attorney on Santo working in the Legal Department. If the PCs get the pawn broker to talk, the next time they come by the pawn shop this broker has disappeared. A Formidable Streetwise will discover he booked passage on the first out bound ship and has vanished.
Any attempts to contact Flannery via legal open means will not get past the administrative assistant who will very politely rebuff any request beyond taking a message. Even if PCs decline to leave a message, if a public terminal is used it will log the callerís ID and revealing the PCs to Flannery.
Friends in High Places and a Formidable Social skill roll (Seduction, Fast Talk, Negotiation, Bargain, etc) will obtain more information on Flannery. A success will reveal his next visit to a trendy restaurant. A Heroic success will learn Flanneryís home address on Bellerophon.† Confronting Flannery discovers he is abject coward. He reveals the name of the thug that he represented when he was a very young attorney that is blackmailing him to assist. In actuality he controls the thugs and will trigger his Emergency Signal Ring as he snivels and stalls. Unless the PCs flee immediately a big fight with marshals will ensue.
Setting up surveillance on Flannery will be a tedious process as his legal and illegal activities are completely separated and he never uses Blue Sun resources for illegal activities. He does use Blue Sunís influence frequently and will have company personnel perform support functions (shipping, security forces, etc.) without their knowledge. Persistence in surveillance will eventually see Flannery stop at Cigar Shop and pass something to a man below his station as he leaves the shop. Following the man will lead to another pawn broker on Santo. The man, Sun Ming Kuan will have a data disk on him, but he will have to be unconscious or dead to get this disk. When the disk is scanned, the crew discovers a complicated algorithm of unknown purpose. No other data is on the disk.
Unknown to PCs the pawn broker is supposed to use a special cortex ID to contact Flannery within30 minutes of Flannery leaving the Cigar Shop. When this doesnít happen, Flannery leaves his office and drives to a public access terminal to send a signal. On reaching the space port, Blue Sun security is conducting a security sweep. They donít know specifics, but are shaking down any non-commercial ship crews. A Hard Influence roll gets past them and off world. The PCís lack of money is now a serious problem and all they have to go on is the unknown algorithm.
Cracking the meaning of the algorithm, it is an Incredible INT + Hacking complex action with each roll taking one hour. Once deciphered, the disk proves to be a Military grade password authentication sub-routine. The exact purpose is still not clear, but it is all the crew has.