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Between Break And Entry Jobs

Equus World Map     After having talked to the Lieutenant sent by the police captain, Terin and Munarshu went to a museum for the rest of the morning.  Having returned, they had lunch at the consulate and planned to rest throughout the afternoon, in order to be awake for their planned "excursion".  Before bedding down for the afternoon, Munarshu called the number the police captain gave him, to ask if they could be issued non-lethal weapons that night, instead of the .38 pistols from the night before?  He also wanted to know if the police could provide them with a thermal scanner of some type to use as well?  Munarshu wasn't surprised when his comms went to voice mail, figuring the captain was sleeping in preparation too.  With that, Terin set his comms to wake him around time for dinner and the men grabbed an afternoon nap.  Around them, the consulate staff looked on disapprovingly.  But Terin and Munarshu were at least not causing more trouble.

When they woke for dinner, around 5pm, Terin talked up the idea of going out for food at a decent restaurant.  But they'd also been told they could get free food from the consulate staff and the quality of that wasn't that bad either.  And since Terin didn't have lots of cash, they decided to talk to the staff and order dinner and some beers brought in.  Waiting for the food, they made sure they were alone and Terin asked, "So what are we going to do about this op?"  Munarshu bluntly answered, "Go."  When Terin asked, "Do you really think it's going to help you?" Munarshu said, "It doesn't matter if it helps me or not.  What matters is that it makes them happy and if they're happy..."  Terin interrupted Munarshu, saying "They're irrelevant."  But Munarshu reminded Terin the captain made it clear he could legally make their lives very uncomfortable and Terin had to admit and consider that.

As Terin thought about that, Munarshu continued, "So, if we don't cooperate, we might as well find someplace to rent for a very long time."  He didn't guess how they'd make any money to pay rents or how long they'd stay out of legal confinement?  As they talked, the one thing that kept coming up was a question.  They both wondered why the captain was so intent on finding something to tag this company with?  Both agreed it appeared to be important and personal to the officer.  On that theme, Munarshu checked for any answer from the officer on the message he'd left earlier, and found he'd not called yet.  When Munarshu told Terin that, Terin suggested they go out on the town and blow off the operation that night, to show the police they still had a say in things?

Not liking being a pawn either, Munarshu also viewed the downside as he challenged, "You really don't want to leave this city, do you?"  Terin reminded Munarshu he had his Ident, and could leave the city any time he wanted.  After a brief silence, Terin said he really wanted to get some word from the ship, with more information about what happened in space?  But when he called the station, they said they had no direct communications with the California.  When Terin asked if there was any more information on the thief, they repeated their last update, that he'd either boarded or delivered something to the rogue ship before it broke port.  If he was not aboard, he had disappeared.

The last update they had on the California was that she had burned out-system chasing the rogue, to take her into custody.  Despite the close proximity of the jump limit, the rogue had tried to burn for a pirate point between the orbits of Equus and her nearest gas giant while trying to lose the California.  So the ship was prevented from jumping by the fighting, which also damaged the California.  They were now waiting in the outer system for the arrival of an on-coming Imperial Navy Cruiser who'd arrived at that pirate point. While Terin was also aware there had been casualties, they had no report from the ship or Navy about those.  The station apologized that this was all the data the port officials had.  When Terin asked them to transfer him, said they could not just patch him over.  He had to call the Navy himself.  After he ended the call, Terin decided to call the Scout command rather than the Navy, given his past.

Once he'd connected to the scouts and identified himself, Terin got some additional data.  He learned the crew of the Hotel California were ok, but there was only one survivor from the crew of the IIS Skygge Sturek.  Terin gave the officer he spoke to his condolences on the loss of the ship and crew.  Terin was told his crew had control of the rogue, and it seemed there'd been "significant casualties" from the crew of that ship.  Terin was happier because "significant casualties" meant survivors . That meant there would not be accusations of vigilantism.  Terin was also told, as the station had said, that an Imperial Naval cruiser was on the way to the scene and was estimated to be ten hours from rendezvous.  Terin confirmed the scouts were in communications with the California and asked if they could relay his request for updates to the Scout administration?

The officer said he would, and took Terin's comms information.  Terin also asked if they could ask the crew of the ship if Munarshu's Ident had been found on the rogue?  That got a snort from the officer.  The man then got better control of himself and confirmed Terin had been involved in ship to ship combat.  When Terin said he had been, the officer reminded Terin of the very low odds of finding one small hand-held item in the debris of a combat-damaged ship.  Terin agreed, but also said there might always be a chance, to which the officer agreed despite the smirk on his face.  Once he was done with the scouts, Terin updated Munarshu with the new stuff he'd learned.  After that, Terin leaned back to see if he could get some more sleep  And, despite the rest they had gotten, he was able to drift off to sleep with the practiced ease of a military veteran.  Munarshu also grabbed more sleep, uncertain what they'd end up facing later that night.


The Clockwork Of Break And Entry

     At 11:15pm, Terin's comms started to alert just before Terin had set it to.  Answering, he found it was the police captain, confirming they were getting ready to meet the car sent for them?  The captain said he'd gotten Munarshu's message and made sure they had pulse guns available.  The officer said they used an electronic module to create a directed shock wave that would be aimed by the person firing it.  The wave was effective out to ten feet and would knock any average Human targets off their feet if in range.  It would also most likely knock anything out of the grips of any targets hit unless very tightly held.  The captain recommended they take both those and the .38's, though.  He also said they couldn't provide the team with any thermal detection tools.  Terin accepted that before trying to dig into just why the officer hoped something would be found about this particular import/export firm?  But try as he might, the captain answered with generic answers, saying he'd been following the case where it led.

And while Terin knew the man was lying through his teeth, he saw no way to get through the lie.  Changing his direction, Terin tried to dig into the beginnings of the case.  But the captain easily stuck to the facts as they began to exist after Munarshu's Ident was stolen.  He had certainly shared some records with Terin and Munarshu showing the firm had a clean legal record until then.  Still, those might not be all of, or even accurate, records.  Terin couldn't break through the well-built walls that kept him from what the captain was hiding?  Or even put any light at all on if he was hiding anything?  As Terin verbally fenced with the man, Munarshu's paranoia flared and he felt an unjustified fear he'd be leaving Equus alone after Terin invoked the man's wrath.  Terin wasn't concerned on that score, as long as they survived the coming night.

Soon, Terin had no more questions he could ask that wouldn't turn accusatory, so he thanked the captain and updated Munarshu on what he could.  Munarshu wasn't surprised the captain was lying to get what he wanted, and accepted moving forward to get through the situation with the best outcome they could reach for themselves.  He honestly had no clue why Terin was verbally thrashing around like an animal caught in a cage?  They could both see and recognize the cage, and deal with the situation more intelligently.  For Munarshu, that meant getting done with what they had to without getting shot or arrested.  Preparing what little they had to in order to be ready, Terin and Munarshu discussed things.  There was very little left of Saturday was slipping to Sunday, and that hopefully meant the business cycle had wound down.  It was possible the person in Kelly's office might have left for the weekend, or might be catching up on sleep if he was indeed living in the office?  So there were "some" hopes.

Once they met up with the police techs and the rest of the team, Terin was disappointed to see they had not gotten any additional backup.  As the techs connected up the network to Munarshu's glasses, Terin brought up the idea of using the side-door, that entered the office space next to Kelly's office.  That meant they could almost move directly to the office they were targeting.  After the captain and detective agreed, they spoke with the specialist on how they'd be approach the office so he'd open the right doors.  But after the team were in place, and the doors opened, hope faded.  Looking through the door adjacent to the wall of Kelly's office, they saw the lights still on in the same areas they had been the night before.  So much for the hope of a settling work week.

Terin's first reaction was to listen in the relative silence, but he couldn't hear a thing.  They could see the open shipping area was not occupied.  Scouting past that, Munarshu checked the break room as Terin listened at the door of Kelly's office.  What he could hear was some kind of movement, as if some person were walking or pacing inside.  He couldn't tell more.  Munarshu verified there was no one in the kitchen area and came back to where Terin and the others stood.  After updating Munarshu in whispers, Terin stepped back and gestured with his arms as he said, "Well, Captain Door Crasher, go for it."  Despite the "one person door" and simplicity of the situation, Munarshu interrupted, and started to whisper the sketch of highly elaborate plans where he'd scan left and Terin would follow scanning right as they tried to cover the whole office.  The detective simply kicked back on his heels thinking, 'It's just an office.'  As they discussed it, Terin finally turned to the detective asking his thoughts.

The man simply said they should enter and deal with what they found.  If they ran into trouble, he'd come in and arrest everyone.  When Terin asked, "Arrest them for what?  And arrest who?" the detective ignored the first part and said "Everyone in the office."  That didn't comfort Terin as he and Munarshu would be in the office.  When he pointed that out, the detective calmly said, "No.  According to the captain, you're not even here."  Considering the first question, the detective suggested the first man in should kick the door and scan the best arc he could rather than limiting himself.  After that, he could step in and to the right while the next man could step in and left, to present a broader line.  Terin said, "Before we kick anything, why don't we see if it's open first?"  With that, he gently reached forward and turned the door knob, which turned despite having been locked the night before.

They then agreed Munarshu would open the door on the count of three, and do as the detective suggested.  As he opened the door, Munarshu stepped in and did a wide scan to see a man, dressed in simple business attire with no jacket, standing by a desk.  He had been leafing through a stack of flimsies.  The office was a basic set up, with a desk to the right, against the wall and a larger desk in the middle of the left end of the office.  Both, and much of the furniture, were made of metal-strengthened, but hollowed out coral stone which sold well as "fashionable" out-system but was generically available for a stone locally.  The man had noticed Munarshu as he entered, and asked, "Who are you and what are you doing in my office?"  The question was not a demand, or even in more than a conversational tone, but something in his inflection commanded an answer.

Munarshu continued moving in, as planned, and ordered, "Drop everything in your hands!" as he raised his pulse weapon.  Threatened against using the deadly stack of flimsies in his hands, the businessman didn't look at all disturbed by the pulse gun.  Hearing the words and seeing Munarshu step in as planned, Terin considered just closing the door and walking away, if ever so briefly.  Then Terin peeked in, doing his best imitation of "Kilroy was here" to see if the person in the office was complying.  He saw the businessman in the opening stages of what appeared to be a staring contest with Munarshu, the sheaf of flimsies still in his left hand.  He certainly did not appear to be concerned at all about Munarshu's leveled weapon.  Having satisfied his curiosity, Terin turned the man's view of "a disembodied head poking through the door" into a second office invader as he stepped in, to Munarshu's right, and raised his own weapon.  Kilroy was, at last, fully here.

As Munarshu briefly continued the staring contest, Terin visually cleared the rest of the room and saw, behind the businessman's desk, a wall dividing the back of the office from the expected space unaccounted for in the office.  There was a door to the left of the desk as they stood examining it, which lead back, behind that wall.  From what they knew of the available space it was, at best, a walk in storage closet or hidden safe.  But they had to go in to find out.  With the man still between them and the desk and door, Terin said, "Be a good sport, turn around and put your hands against the wall please." as happily as if he'd ordered a beer from a friendly bartender.  As Terin said that, the carefully laid plans in Munarshu's head evaporated in the moment and he stood there mentally trying to grab his plans back to something he could remember and use.

Grasping on the businessman's demand, Munarshu said, "My name's Munarshu and I'm here to relocate resources", surrendering legally usable information for his prosecution.  After he said that, the businessman casually set the flimsies on the desk, appearing to ignore Terin, and said, "Well, Munarshu, I have this funny feeling we're going to have to deal with the local police on this matter", in what continued to be a completely reasonable voice.  As Terin watched, the man seemed as concerned as if he'd just suggested they continue this as a business meeting in a local restaurant.  He continued, "So, why don't you put down your weapons while I call the authorities?"  Terin said, "Um, No.  Because you're gonna turn around and put your hands against the wall, please.  Because I'd really not rather blast you."  This time, his tone was flat and more direct.  That got him an 'OK, they're not getting it' look as the man said, "Well, gentleman whose name I don't know, I've already called the authorities." In a tone of stated fact, not 'Gee, I hope they fall for this.'

In what would appear to be an obvious show of bravado, Munarshu shrugged and said, "That's fine."  And while he was truly not concerned about the police, due to his own back up in the hall, the businessman had no way to know that.  So Munarshu's display had no effect on the man's very obvious cool self-assurance.  Something neither Terin nor Munarshu were taking into account or even appearing to take note of.  Munarshu made a decision grimly and said to Terin, "You cover him and I'll clear the other room."  Terin leveled his weapon as he stood ready for Munarshu to move.  But, as Munarshu started, and before Terin could stroke the trigger of his weapon, the business man moved with a speed that was alarming and swung a blow at Munarshu!  Belatedly, Terin fired.  Munarshu took the hit as he realized this guy must have some implanted cyber-tek!

Expecting a fight, Munarshu's sudden thought of implanted enhancements didn't stop him from getting hit, but did allow him to brace.  Still, the blow was much harder and more painful than he expected, and followed up by Terin's shot.  Since the pulse weapon was an area affect weapon and they were both nearly ten feet out, both the man and Munarshu were hit and knocked back.  Munarshu was bounced against the wall hard, but was able to catch himself and remain standing.  He still knew he'd be sporting pretty-colored polka-dot bruises for several days at the least.  Ironically, while the businessman was knocked from his feet, he was thrown back to the floor just in front of the door Munarshu meant to investigate.  And while he'd remained standing, Munarshu had also lost control of his pulse gun, which was on the floor, just too far for him to quickly recover it.  So it was 'try to grab it before the bad guy recovered' or 'deploy the .38.'

Before Munarshu could decide, the man was rising back to his feet, ignoring the weapon and straightening out his clothes again!  This only cemented in his mind his assumption the man had had some surgical "enhancements" installed as he ignored the ridiculous possibilities.  As that ran through Munarshu's brain, Terin's voice ran through the open door as he called out, "A little help?"  Munarshu simply bowed to the inevitable and drew his .38 to level at the now standing man.  Again suddenly, the man went from casually standing and self-grooming into a flat out charge at Munarshu.  Terin fired his pulse weapon as Munarshu fired a slug.  At that range, Munarshu's round couldn't help catch the man square center as he aimed at center mass.  So the round caught him right between the lungs before Terin's shot bounced them both against different walls.  But the man not only did not fall, but only briefly glanced at the 'not bleeding' hole in his shirt before starting to advance on Munarshu again!

In the face of this, Munarshu and Terin fired again.  As they did, both the detective and specialist entered with their .38's at the ready.  Terin's fire struck just after Munarshu's, bouncing the man against the wall again after Munarshu's round caught him in the abdomen.  And despite the fusillade, the man again remained standing and turned to start advancing!  Terin said, "Police are here", because the officers had entered screaming, "Police!  Everyone Freeze!"  As the man again started to advance on Munarshu, they all fired with Terin playing rope-a-dope bouncing the man off the wall with his pulse gun.  At the same time, Munarshu's shot took the man in the chest while the detective hit the man in the head and the specialist got a clean shot into the wall some four feet from the attacker.  With that, the man crumpled to the floor but was still not bleeding at all.  As things ended and they looked closer at his collapsed form, they could see the detective's shot had ripped open a section of the man's face to reveal the "head" was entirely an electronic device!  It appeared the "man" was an android!

There was silence as the room was stunned.  While androids were commonplace in most of the places the crew worked, this level of work was far beyond that.  Just the cost of making a Human-replicant android was a massive expense.  But creating one which could also act convincingly like a human being was an expense that only the top earning companies could afford.  And then, there were the Shudusham Concords, signed before the founding of the Third Imperium.  While they held no legal force, they were a guide to laws regarding androids across the Imperium, whose laws this android had certainly violated.  To make things even more complex, the cost of building such a device was astronomical.  And as insane as the high cost was the extremely small number of firms who "could" build it, much less do so in secret.  And those questions didn't do anything to suggest why it was playing the role of a manager in an undersea import and export firm?  Given all those impossibilities, Munarshu decided the creature had to be a cyborg rather than an android.

His belief was logical, and would be much more legal, as it would cost less to relocate a sophont's brain into their chest or abdomen while building a biomechanical replacement body for it to live in.  It was still beyond ridiculous in cost, but much more reasonable than creating an android which could perform as they had seen this device do.  Still, Munarshu's belief didn't stand up to the complete collapse of the device once it suffered a single critical head shot.  There should have still been some sort of means by which the relocated brain could communicate with the outside universe.  So the others were more willing to go with the android theory.  Add to that, they had hit the device in its chest and gut too, before the head was shot.  So, an armored brain case should have been damaged as well.  As they considered the device, Terin fired his pulse gun again and the "man" shook and bounced as it slid against the wall before further sprawling on the floor with Terin's hearty approval.

Being even more cautious, Terin asked if the detective had zip ties, just in case?  As Munarshu suggested zip ties wouldn't do the job if needed, the detective stepped forward and actually used metal cuffs to secure the device's wrists.  Seeing that, Terin finally made the move he'd wanted to and headed for the door to the hidden space.  As Terin entered, he saw the entire back of "Kelly's office" turned out to be a walk in closet sized "tech cubby" with spare parts, maintenance supplies and a charging station presumably for the humanoid robot on the office floor.  This included already flesh-wrapped replacement arms and leg that had connective joints.  Scanning the parts and containers, Terin looked for any kind of device which could replicate Idents.  While he didn't see anything like that as a "stand alone" device, Terin had to admit that any computer with a connector that could mate with an Ident "could" do the job with the right software.  Disappointed at first, Terin decided to check deeper into the parts, and while they were of interest he saw they could not likely use any of it.

As he looked for an Ident burner, Terin did see a great deal of very very high tech goods.  And while it would be illegal to own, he also recalled that the world government was a Feudal Technocracy!  So while he was certain the local government would confiscate the tech, he could not be certain what effect handing the stuff to the locals would have on the world government?  But he also had zero say in that at all, and knew there'd be very little survivability in trying to get involved.  At least Terin was no longer worried about being arrested for being involved in the situation.  He just had to continue to follow the orders of the local police.  While Terin searched in the back closet, Munarshu watched as the Captain arrived and stepped forward to examine the device.  Removing its clothing and pulling at its synth-skin, he even pulled out a pocket knife and started cutting the skin away.  And after half an hour exposing the systems and mechanisms beneath the skin, he would confirm it was a human-replicant android.  But as he worked, Terin returned from the closet and asked the detective if he'd had any idea they might find an android?  The detective admitted having no idea.

Coming out of the closet, Terin began exploring all the drawers and storage in the office itself in search of Munarshu's Ident.  They did find a large amount of flimsies, office supplies and administaria, but they didn't find anything related to Munarshu's Ident.  In fact, the only thing they found at all was a blank Ident.  When Terin asked who would want a blank Ident, Munarshu pointed out it could have records burnt to it, but wondered where the burner was?  Munarshu waited a bit as those in the room silently regarded him before suggesting the android had it built in.  It was becoming apparent that the android might well have been serving as a number crunching management system for the business despite the bizarre cost to create it.  Still riding their theories into the ground, Terin asked the captain if he thought the android could copy an Ident?  Not even aware there was an android moments before, the man said he had no idea.  At the same time, other police had arrived, having been called by the android, and were confused to find other officers already there.

When Terin asked if the captain could call in computer specialists, the officer said he was certain he could in a tone that made it clear that was all Terin would know about it.  He and Munarshu had played their parts and this was now an internal matter.  Realizing their time in the office was closing rapidly, Terin visually measured the space in hopes of finding a possible hidden storage space while Munarshu asked if the captain could get them a densometer to test the walls?  The Captain told Munarshu the police department was not a starport in a cool tone, suggesting Munarshu shouldn't continue to view them as a magic bag of everything.  At the same time, Terin's visual math was now adding things up since he was able to see the maintenance closet.  As a final gasp towards finding any information on Munarshu's Ident, Terin asked for and got permission to try to hack the locked terminal the android had appeared to be using.

After an hour in which Munarshu did his best to stick his nose into everything, Terin finally admitted defeat.  Once Terin gave up, Munarshu had to admit he'd found nothing not related to the business.  They did search the larger office and found another standard main computer, but there was no data to provide any relationship between the android and their computer.  They also found a lone security camera in the reception area.  When Terin and Munarshu worried about their break in the night before, they were told the captain had it covered.  With that, the Captain made sure they had a ride back to the consulate after they turned over their weapons.  Once there, the night shift worker let the pair in and they exchanged pleasantries.  Then Terin and Munarshu headed to the day room, at 2:43 am, Sunday morning to grab some sleep.


Seeking Keys And Finding Locks

     Aboard the rogue ship, the crew had loaded all the free floating items in the ship into the ground vehicle in its cargo bay at Zimzod's order.  They expected him to orders the truck moved from the rogue to the California.  But Zimzod had didn't want to make it look like they had looting the ship, though they'd done exactly that.  So he said that everything found was to be put in the vehicles cargo bed and that it be left there.  Including the vehicle mounted VRF gauss gun, which even Aali wanted.  Aali agreed to leave everything else, except the PRIS goggles.  Those, she planned to keep in the California's engineering space, for general use.  This would mean she'd have her own personal set, a set for her armor which had been given to her by Lady Seldrian Aledon, and this set from the rogue.  Fesic wanted to discuss things in a bit more detail, to make sure they considered all options before leaving everything for the Navy.  Especially the few boxes of grenades.

As they talked, Zimzod said there was nothing in the pile of goods, including the VRF Gauss gun, that they couldn't buy themselves.  And he really didn't want it to appear they were looting the ship.  Done talking, Zimzod asked Aiden and the others about trying to reach any other spaces in the rogue which had not been crushed.  But, while the sensors showed there were passable corridors, they were all beyond access thanks to the scout wreck.  Cutting through the ship's hull wasn't an option either.  It was possible someone was caught in one of the voids, but certain they hadn't survived if they did.  When Zimzod considered the very small odds Munarshu's Ident could be in one of them, he had to accept they wouldn't get it without a shipyard.  That went double for the remains of the scout ship.  That meant, with five hours left before the Navy arrived, they could only kick back, relax and wait.  The only thing they might have left was cracking the rogue's computer.  But when Zimzod asked Emkir about that, the Admiral said he didn't feel the time was worth it.

Aboard the California, Mikah had woken and gone through the messages she'd gotten from those working the rogue.  When she heard that Zimzod had asked Emkir to work on the computer, something clicked in her memory.  Grabbing her collection of data crystals, Mikah snagged one and loaded it into a port in her stateroom computer console.  When the crystal's file structure opened, Mikah saw what she remembered.  A complete copy backup of the stolen Stepozhevaci hand computer!  And that had the computer hacking software they'd used to hack the Quasar Viper's computer.  Mikah's timing could not have been better as she called Zimzod to tell him what she'd found.  As Emkir was telling Zimzod he wouldn't be able to crack the rogue's computer, Mikah was telling Zimzod she'd found the Stepozhevaci cracking program.  Not aware of Mikah's comments, Emkir did his best to ignore a brief moment as Zimzod's eyes glazed over.  Then, he was completely surprised when Zimzod leaned forward and said, "It's OK.  We have this covered."

Emkir just shrugged and said, "Well, that's nice." as part of him had to wonder why he'd wasted so much time trying?  Over the active comms link, Mikah heard Zimzod tell Emkir it was covered and got dressed to head for the med-bay.  There, Mikah checked on the two sleeping not-dead guys only to notice the guy who claimed to be scout Lakminer and survived the ram, was no longer secured.  He had accepted being secured when she sedated him that morning, after she treated the prisoner from the rogue.  Now, he was still asleep but someone had unsecured him.  Mikah checked the prisoner, who was still a 'sleeping not-dead' guy.  Mikah smiled at that, because she wanted someone for the authorities to question so there were no charges aimed at her crew.  She did make sure the prisoner's bonds were still secure.  After her basic checks, Mikah called Zimzod again, to ask about the scout.  Zimzod told her the IISS had sent them files which had his picture, so he was who he claimed to be.

Mikah checked the bandages and saw she'd have to spend an hour or more cleaning the wounds and such.  Since scout Lakminer was only bruised and battered, Mikah woke him so she could send him out to help the others.  Once he was fully awake, Mikah congratulated him on becoming a temporary member of her crew as they'd proven his identity.  She then called Zimzod to tell him she had another worker.  Zimzod said they were actually done aboard the rogue, so Mikah told Lakminer to find the ship's lounge and relax.  After he left, Mikah started to work on cleaning and re-dressing the prisoner's wounds.  When she told Zimzod she planned to work on the prisoner for the next hour and a half, Zimzod asked where the cracking software was?  Once he'd helped the others cross back to the California, Zimzod went and grabbed the crystal before realizing he needed a computer tech to find and use it.

Accepting he'd have to let the secret out, Zimzod found Emkir before he started to relax.  Handing him the crystal, Zimzod said, "Here.  Use this to crack the computer."  Surprised, and with no clue what Zimzod was on about, Emkir sparked up the crystal in his hand-comp and watched as a directory structure played out.  Not sure what he was looking at, Emkir began exploring until he realized I was full of Stepozhevaci governmental data.  Operations files, financial files and other data high-power stuff.  He also found a directory listed as containing computer cracking software!  Zimzod watched Emkir's face and realized there was a lot more than the cracking software on the crystal.  So he told Emkir to download "Only" the cracker before returning the crystal.  Emkir did download only that package, but launched and tested it before returning the crystal.  And now, he knew they still had a copy of the pocket computer they'd turned over to Lord William.

With the software, and having handed back the crystal, Emkir got back into his vacc suit and went back over to the rogue.  In the computer core, Emkir jacked in with his hand computer and started working on using the software to access the rogue's computer.  Half an hour later, he was in!  Not only that, Emkir read the report and saw the program had reset the passwords for all administrative and system level user accounts.  He OWNED that ship!  As Emkir began to browse the file structure of the ship's computer, he comm'd Zimzod and said, "We're in."  When Zimzod asked how long it would take to figure the ship out, Emkir considered the system and estimated he'd be able to sort out the major sections in three to four hours or so.

Back in the California, Zimzod considered what else needed to be done?  Aali wanted to join Wall-e on the hull, investigating the ship's hull and sensor damage.  As she considered the expanse of hull, Aali suggested it would be easier with more people helping.  When Aali asked for help, Fesic asked Zimzod if he wanted someone over on the rogue to cover Emkir in case of surprise?  Zimzod said they were pretty sure they'd checked the whole ship and nothing was getting out from the crushed parts of the ship.  So he had everyone who was able gear up and head onto the dorsal hull, as Aiden ran diagnostics in the bridge to see if he could provide guidance.  Despite their wounds, even Rol and Zimzod joined in along with Lakminer.  As they worked, Zimzod asked Rol about the damage to his battledress from the shoot out.  Rol also considered the damage to his own armor.  He also knew he'd soon have to take the full week to do a complete maintenance on the Battledress, which hadn't been done in some time.  And, inside the ship, the rest of the androids aboard were working from one end of engineering to the other, running diagnostics to see if anything had been damaged internally.

It took those on the hull between sixty and ninety minutes to map out the damage to the best they could.  Aali estimated they'd lost twenty percent to a quarter of their sensors.  The bad news aside, the good news was that the ship's jump grid wasn't damaged, keeping repair costs down.  Still, there were some seriously damaged hull plates and the rest of the affected surfaces were blasted and should be replaced just because of that.  Once done, Aali said they'd need to spend some time in a ship yard for repairs to the hull, sensors and ship's electronics.  She told Zimzod she'd have a more detailed list and cost estimate after she had time to crunch the numbers.  Lucky for them, one of the chief parts of Equus' interstellar economic makeup were ship yards.  So, they went back inside to recharge their suits, eat dinner and continue what work or hobbies they wanted to.  Direct contact was also made with the cruiser INS Midindir Kada.  As Mikah relaxed after cleaning up, she learned from the cruiser's captain that they could be due some share in the salvage rights to the rogue ship.

As that news broke, and before Aali settled down to start crunching the numbers, the chief engineer suggested some down time.  When Mikah said that sounded like a good idea, Aali also offered to help lubricate it with a small amount from her and Emkir's collection of alcohol.  Mikah liked that idea a lot, and enlisted some of the crew to help deploy bottles, while reminding them the Navy was coming to visit.  So she warned them not to get too tipsy.  The ironic thing, as Aali declared "The Rule of Transport 18", was that Emkir would be the only person not able to take part, as he was in his vacc suit in the computer core of the rogue ship.  Aiden was also warned to drink with care as he'd still be driving when the Navy arrived.  Aali planned on sipping from a glass of cognac herself.  Mikah suggested Aiden get a lemonade when Aali broke out the booze, to match the still lingering lemon-vanilla scent of his cockpit.  So, they found him a hard lemonade and Aali pulled out an air freshener to attach to the bottle's neck.  When it was delivered, Aiden considered killing the inertial dampeners and hitting the thrust.

Eventually, the Midindir Kada sent a request for an official report on the battle between the California, Skygge Sturek and the rogue.  When Aiden said he'd start compiling his report, the naval officer dryly said they needed the "official report", from the California's Captain, which would include his report as subordinate data.  Aiden simply shrugged at the stiff assed navy twit and passed the message back to Mikah.  Feeling a bit more relaxed than normal, Aiden activated a comms to Mikah and said, "Oh, Captain Darling?"  Having only just started drinking, Mikah heard the comms and could only think, 'Really?  Someone's cut off.'  But she answered, "OK person looking for a whipping.  What's your problem?"  Aiden said "The Navy would like to talk to you." and Mikah said, "Ok, I'll talk to them in private."  Mikah then went to her stateroom with Zimzod following her as Aiden told the navy man to hold and bounced the call.  The couple discussed how to properly punish Aiden as they made their way into the stateroom.  Once the door was closed, Mikah answered the call and said she had her XO with her.

When she answered, Mikah was told the commander of the cruiser was waiting for reports on the battle and their current status and needs.  Mikah gave a general verbal report on the battle and promised to fill out the proper forms once they were sent to her.  She also said they had searched the rogue and collected all the evidence and material found aboard into the cargo bay.  Mikah gave the officer a general run-down of the condition of the rogue and said they had one "semi-alive" prisoner in their medical bay.  At that, the officer asked, with a raised eyebrow, "Semi-alive?" and Mikah explained the man's medical condition, followed by a quick cover of the battle in the rogue's engineering section.  Once Mikah was done with her verbal report, the officer said the cruiser would arrive in an hour and a half, and asked if the California would need any assistance?  When she said, "We need repairs", he asked her to elaborate and Mikah verbally sketched the hull and sensor damage.

The officer said the engineering staff of the Midindir Kada would be standing by to help the crew and asked if they could fly in-system on their own?  When Mikah said they could, he confirmed the rogue was also able to move back in-system under its own power too?  Mikah said it could, if it had a prize crew.  Once Mikah and Zimzod were done talking to the cruiser, the whole crew had two hours to consider what they'd like to do with the 30 minutes left in Mikah's drinking limit.  Rol certainly didn't want to start a drinking contest and feared waking up as the Hotel California's hood ornament!  Mikah also had to continue caring for the wounded, including Zimzod and Rol.  Especially since they'd had time to relax.  As they organized for that, the comms started to buzz and they saw it was a message for Mikah from the Ulir city Imperial Consulate on Equus!

Again, Mikah took the call in her stateroom and brought Zimzod with her.  As Mikah read the message, she saw it was from the official Imperial Minister representing the Imperium in Ulir city on-world in the Equus system.  And he didn't miss the chance to use any of his various titles.  The message warned Mikah that members of her crew were possibly preparing to violate laws, local and Imperial, and she might want to prepare for Imperial charges on her return.  As Mikah read the message more completely, she realized the charges would be lodged against Munarshu and Terin, so she wasn't at all concerned.  Not wanting to blow the minister off, Mikah replied that she'd be in touch with him once they returned in-system.  Eventually, an hour out from when the cruiser was set to arrive, those still drinking switched to either water or juices as preferred.  Still, it was time to start tracking the cruiser more seriously as it approached.  And it was time to plan, or not, for a meeting party.  In this case, Mikah wanted to keep things completely casual.

On the rogue, Emkir explored the ship's computer and found one thing he wanted...the log.  When he opened it, he found the captain had used a personal cipher.  He didn't encrypt the entire message but replaced all key words, and possibly some non-key words with code words.  At first, Emkir did his best to test for relational matches, where a code word was related to the actual word represented.  But nothing seemed to fit and match with the plain text at all.  Emkir realized he'd have to put more time and energy into the log.  Still, enough was not encoded that Emkir could verify that "someone" had paid the crew to come to the Equus station.  They were then to wait on-station until they received a signal.  And when that signal came, they were to transport "something", represented by an encoded word, to "somewhere" also represented by an encoded word.  That confirmed the ship had been sitting and bleeding money as it waited for the signal.  And the person who'd stolen Munarshu's Ident had sent that signal before either boarding or delivering something to the ship.  And if he simply delivered the item, he had then disappeared.

The next step was computer forensics 101, as Emkir checked the user accounts listed.  He considered that if they had someone new sign on-board the ship, there would be a new account created that day.  Even as a guest.  But there were no new accounts.  Of course, that meant nothing because the person who was dirtside could have been an existing member of the crew.  Or, an account could have been pre-created because they knew who would be boarding.  One other thing Emkir learned was that the chief engineer was also the ship's First Officer, confirming Zimzod's guess.  But, disturbingly, the chief engineer was female.  Since none of the bodies they found were women, she either died in the ram or may have escaped the ship herself, before they broke dock.  Beyond that, the rest of the work would be "blunt force trauma" as he began the search through non-system directories for anything of value.  In order to reduce the task, Emkir wrote a quick script to scan all the directories for all file names and filter them through any terms he entered into a search file.  That took him fifteen minutes before he was out of terms he could think of.

Secrets And Meetings In Space

     As the crew relaxed on the California, Emkir worked on the rogue, spending the next hour or more searching through the ship's computer files for anything of interest.  While he didn't have the software to find anything hidden, he could search the files for what was visible.  Using his root access to force hidden files out and then hunting for them would take too long.  After an hour of blunt force trauma, Emkir had found two executable files which he couldn't identify a purpose for.  After every test he could run outside of launching them, Emkir was down to launching them or storing them unexplored.  The risks he considered in launching them were minimal except for one.  With the ship largely disabled, the only really bad thing that could happen would be an eraser.  If he launched something like that, it could erase all the data on the ship's computer leaving none of the evidence there able to be recovered.  Emkir didn't want that!

Considering that, Emkir also had a list of preventative measures he could take.  Top on that was to open a link between that computer and the California's computer.  Then, he could create a secure and firewalled directory in which he could store archived copies of all the programs he could find that were not just ship's operational garbage.  That way, he'd have copies in case anything went completely into left field.  Emkir knew he wouldn't be able to ID or copy any hidden or covertly named files, but it was a step forward.  After he did that, Emkir cut the links between the computers, so the California would be safe.  Once he did that, Emkir comm'd Aali and went through the steps with her to see if she could suggest anything else to try?  When she agreed with Emkir's steps, it was down to which executable Emkir wanted to try first?  And, with no data one way or the other, Emkir decided to go in order, executing the program he'd mentally labeled "A".

Having set up process trackers, memory traces, sniffers and other utilities, Emkir saw the program start.  He watched as it immediately spawned sub-threads before each of those threads created sub-instances of other sub-processes.  Once it reached a level of activity, a console appeared and Emkir was presented an error message saying "Unable to Connect Communications Device".  So the program had tried to get to some device and failed to get a response.  After that, the program crashed.  After he was sure all the sub-threads and processes died, Emkir searched through his logs and other diagnostics.  One of the capture logs he'd set up presented a list of the hardware addresses and ports called by any of the processes run by the threads or the main program.  Emkir then ran a few procedures which queried the computer's main hardware tables.  After that, he played pick and match until he found the hardware address.

The program had activated the ship's communications system and sent a message.  Emkir could only guess it was waiting to receive a message back and then dying when it didn't get an answer.  From its performance, Emkir could only guess it was some kind of computer-managed communications process.  Since this was in the captain's personal directory, Emkir guessed the captain used it to make contact with some unknown "other party" and the channel opened could even be encrypted so the rest of the crew had no access.  After he was done exploring all the logs and recording or capturing all the data he could, Emkir copied his results to a secure crystal and then cleared the registers and cache before preparing to launch the second file.  That one was in the chief engineer's directory.  Once Emkir ran it, he watched as it appeared to try to access every system aboard the ship.  Where it got an answer, it reported connectivity "Functional".  Where it failed to get an answer, it logged the address and port "Non-functional".

Emkir watched and tracked the program as it executed, and could only guess it was a very high level diagnostic program.  It looked to have been written to test basic connectivity of the ship's main computer to all the major and minor sub-systems in a sort of quick "What have we lost" test.  Emkir thought that was a neat idea, but knew it had been written custom for this ship.  It even had the hardware addresses, ports and data for that ship's hardware.  And he couldn't find a pre-compiled version of the program, nor could he find any data file feeding the program its addresses.  That meant that, while he could write a program like it for their ship, he could not copy the version from the rogue to re-write.  Checking in with Aali, as he had been doing periodically, Emkir told her about the program and she agreed it would be nice to have.  She did ask if there might be a decompiler, but Emkir couldn't even say what language the program had been written in?  So, he had no idea what decompiler to look for and one was not obviously there.

Since Emkir had already archived copies of all the files from the crew's personal directories, there was nothing left for him to do.  And he did want to go back to the California and have a drink himself, with just over two hours before the Navy cruiser arrived.  After he got back and set his vacc suit to recharge, Aali handed him a snifter and his bottle of 200 year old whiskey.  Emkir was pleased, since Mikah had laid down the law they should stop drinking at least an hour before the cruiser arrived.  That meant he had a fair enough bit of time to relax with his drinks before things needed to be squared away.  Most of the crew had been relaxing and watching vids from the ship's entertainment system or exchanging what stories they could with Scout Lakminer.  Aali spent her time doing the math, based on the data she'd collected or downloaded from Wall-e.  On the bridge, Aiden was manning systems and drinking lightly as he passed the periodic messages from the Midindir Kada to Mikah.


Hail The Long Awaited Cavalry

     Once the cruiser was in close comms range, the ship's captain wanted to speak directly with Mikah.  For that, Mikah went to the bridge and strapped into her console as they started to talk.  After the greetings, the captain nodded to someone off-screen as he said, "It's about time I got a good close look at this blockade runner."  They waited for the results to come in from the cruiser's scans before the captain said, "Daaaayuum!" in a surprised and very impressed tone.  Mikah nodded and said, "The scouts did a bang up job!"  The Captain nodded and said, "I wanna hire you as the person who buys our missiles from now on."  When Mikah said, "No thank you", out of respect for the lost lives, the captain said, "Understood.  So what are the status of your crew and casualties?"  Mikah said she had minor injuries among her crew and one scout survivor from the Skygge Sturek.  She also briefly mentioned the prisoner and their "salvage property".

After Mikah made sure to mention salvage rights, the captain made it clear they'd start the paperwork to process that claim soon too.  His tone also didn't suggest he considered that something hard to do.  The captain also said he'd assign a Lieutenant Commander to take custody of the prisoner, along with a team from the cruiser's medical section.  When the captain offered medical help for her wounded, Mikah said the prisoner was the only casualty seriously wounded.  So she was not worried.  The captain then asked about the blockade runner itself, wondering what Mikah could tell him from their explorations aboard?  Mikah gave a basic description of the ship's layout and said they'd gathered all the possible evidence into the bed of a ground vehicle in the ship's cargo bay.  When she said they'd also gotten access to the ship's computer, the captain seemed surprised again.  When Mikah saw that, she proudly said, "We have a really good computer guy." with a smile on her face.  The look on the captain's face as she told that was something akin to his being in the presence of skill levels he was not used to dealing with directly.

Mikah said she could get Emkir on the line and they could set something up, and the captain said he would connect one of his data tech specialists.  He and Emkir could then work together to share what needed to be explored.  With that, they briefly cut the line so Mikah could buzz Emkir, who was coming down off his whiskey buzz.  Emkir answered and Mikah said, "The navy would like to speak to you about what you discovered and how to set up a link between their ship and the blockade runner?  You take care of it."  Emkir agreed, and asked, "Are they going to board the California or am I boarding their ship?"  She told him he'd work with them on the comms while they were still approaching.  When Emkir comm'd the frequency he was given, he was connected to a Lieutenant Commander backed up by an entire IT section!  Their mission was to set up a computer network with the rogue and start exploring the ship's computer and, to the extent they could, remotely explore the ship itself.  Emkir worked with them and quickly had the network running so the navy techs could start their work.  When Emkir did ask that they turn over any information about Munarshu's missing Ident, the Commander said "Absolutely."

Once Emkir was done with the techs, the comms past back to Mikah and the captain as the cruiser continued its approach.  Eventually, the conversations came to an end and the crew of the California continued to relax until the cruiser got close enough to start launching boats.  Some of those boats launched were a third of the size of the California herself!  Aiden sat in the bridge of the ship watching as the arriving cruiser blocked out the stars behind its massive form as the 30,000 dton vessel arrived.  It was the epic crescendo of every "evil empire vs the good guys" tri-vid or other entertainment ever filmed.  Watching on a secondary screen, Fesic considered how the view looked from the other side of this encounter.  At this point, as a battery commander in countless battles, he'd be listening to the orders of the ship's chief gunnery officer about then, as they planned how to turn the smaller vessel into a colander.

One of the boats launched from the cruiser docked with the California and, after the pleasantries, took custody of the surviving scout and, after a medical review, the prisoner.  Mikah spent much of her time working with the medical people as they checked over the prisoner.  A Scout officer also came aboard from the cruiser to work with Scout Lakminer.  The Scout officer turned out to be an IISS Liaison to the Imperial Navy who just happened to be assigned to the cruiser for a year of cross training.  Finally, a member of the cruiser's command staff came aboard and sat down saying, "OK Captain Kirlim, we now need to deal with the legalities of the situation."  Despite his pleasant demeanor, Mikah was sure this was going to be every bit as uncomfortable for her as it sounded.

Referring to his handcomp as they sat, he began, "So, whereas this rogue ship, the IMV Kakishuu, illegally broke dock, caused significant loss of equipment and some loss of life, and whereas you were deputized to pursue the ship, and whereas your ship was damaged in the legal pursuit of the IMV Kakishuu, you were hereby deputized properly.  The Imperial government recognizes this.  But you need to authorize and acknowledge this report.  Put your thumb print there and there are no legal charges against your crew and ship for the aforesaid action."  The officer spoke in the almost completely disinterested voice of someone who was speaking from rote memory.  Mikah knew the Navy and government had set out salvage bounties as a method of co-opting civilian spacers to act against pirates rather than flee.  But this was the first indication how successful that program might be if this officer was that bored with awarding salvage rights.  When Mikah leaned in and put her thumb on the reader, the officer actually showed some emotion.  Pleased, he said, "OK, that's part one."

"Part two", the officer nearly announced without raising his voice, "We had, as we approached, not only scanned the blockade runner but we've also scanned your vessel and we have cataloged all the damage we can determine was recently battle-caused."  When Mikah simply said, "OK." he continued, "And we noticed a couple of things you should probably have looked at anyway."  With a wink, the man said, "We're classifying all of that as recently battle-caused damage."  Mikah caught on they were being given freebees and this suddenly got a lot more interesting!  After the quick pause, the man said, "We had determined that your ship's boat bay is empty?"  Mikah confirmed this as she briefly wondered where the man was going with the question?  But he then said, "We assume you deployed that boat in your ship's defense and it was destroyed in the action?"  The question was more of an assertive statement, demanding she agree with it.  And after a brief struggle to get to the exact same page as the officer, Mikah simply said "Sure" with a big grin on her face.  The officer nodded and said, "We'll list that as a combat loss."

After he made those notes on his datapad, the officer set it aside for the moment and said, "What will happen now is that you have partial salvage rights against the IMV Kakishuu.  It will be hauled back to port and a determination made if it will be ripped apart for parts, sold off as is or repaired and sold off.  Either way, we can come up with a rough estimate of the value of the ship and we can compare it to your repair costs.  In addition, we've been in communications with the ship yards in-system and found an open repair bay from those reserved for military service, in which capacity you were acting.  So we have estimated, based on the opinions of my chief engineer and other professionals, that you may be in-system here for another month or so.  However, when you leave, you will do so aboard a fully repaired ship with a replaced ship's cutter."  As he said that last part, the man winked and Mikah figured 'in for a penny...' and asked what they'd do with the old cutter?  He nodded and said, "I see" as he made a notation on his datapad and continued, "I see you'll be taking the cash value on the new cutter." as if that were the most natural response to the question possible.  Mikah sat back with a smile because...it was.

Before the man could pack up, Mikah decided to see how far this gravy train could run and said Sir Zimzod Egosion's battledress had been damaged in the action.  Reopening his datapad, the officer joked that he did forget a section before asking, "Does your ship have an armorer?"  Mikah said they did.  The officer said he'd have an armorer from the cruiser's marine contingent speak to their armorer and they'd see what could be done?  He also asked Mikah to have a list prepared of any crew whose armor was damaged in the action, so that could be considered too.  When Zimzod joined in and asked if they had a spare breaching charge, the man considered the request and said he could look into that.  Zimzod said, "Good, because we used ours to get into that ship."  Hearing that the officer said, "I'm sure we could give you two." as if two were the number of charges to be replaced.  Soon though, the interview ended and the officer left.  Before they started to burn back in-system, an armorer visited the California to confer with Rol.  After that was done, they said they could deliver all the supplies Rol would need in order to repair the various suits of armor.  They also restocked Mikah's medical supplies as a matter of course.  When Zimzod asked about browsing through the gear they collected into the cargo bay of the Kakishuu, he was told they had no idea what piece would provide the clues needed to unravel what the ship was doing and for whom.  So, no souvenirs.

The cruiser's chief engineer also came across, to consult with Aali and Mikah.  He brought the cruiser's scans and diagnostic data with him, to be given to Aali.  The Naval prescription for repairing the sensor and hull damage was to just rip out the dorsal hull plates from the blasted section and replace them.  Aali and he both knew you could remove the plates from the lanthanum grid, which would not need repair, and replace the plates and all the electronics regardless of battle damage.  This just needed the crew to crawl into the near-hull spaces to detach wiring harnesses and couplings.  Then they could just re-run all the cabling and connect and secure the new plates.  It was the fastest way to get the ship back on her thrusters.  The largest part of the job would be scanning the hull, to design the custom plates before they were made.  After that was done, they'd just unweld and disconnect each plate and swap it fairly quickly.  The ship could even operate normally until the plates were ready.  It would take about a day of scanning to prepare for that before largely being left to their own devices for a few weeks.

Once the plates were done, they'd have to have the ship moved into a dry dock for the removal and replacement process.  But they'd be able to leave the system fully repaired after a month's time.  When Zimzod asked Mikah about their cargo, she said they would only have a time limit if they made the deal with the Illiesh Shakhik to haul their cargo.  They'd then have six months to make delivery in the Lanth system, where they were going anyway.  The repairs would only cost them a months' time, so they were good.  When Mikah asked about taking something from the blockade runner as trophy, she was told she and her crew could have a name plate from the ship.  Since they already had one fused to the bridge wall for the GNS Lilmett kin Vyste, Mikah liked that idea and the cruiser's captain said he'd have his engineers raid the Kakishuu for a name plate souvenir.  Mikah thanked him very much and was very pleased at how things had played out.

After four more hours of shuttles, visits and some field repairs and rigging, the last visitors left.  As the cruiser's prize crew boarded the Kakishuu, the officer of the deck comm'd the California to say, "We'll meet you back in system."  Sensors showed the cruiser was waiting until it recovered its one remaining boat before moving back towards the port.  It was 4 am Sunday morning by the time they started plotting a flight plan.  The California had spent fourteen hours at a high thrust burn chasing the Kakishuu, so it would be twenty two hours more before they returned to the port again.  Once he was sure they were not going to have more teams aboard, Zimzod went back to his battledress and pulled out the KCr 100 he'd found in active Imperial currency.  He got Mikah alone and revealed the cash as he said, "I pulled this off the ship as payment for this shit and everyone is getting a cut."

And since no one else was there when he found the hidden drawer, Mikah was surprised when Zimzod revealed the ten KCr 10 certificates.  Because Terin and Munarshu were not aboard, Zimzod said they'd miss out.  Their long standing rules said KCr 30 would go directly to ship's funds.  Another Cr 14,000 would pay back some of the over Cr 160,000 debt still owed to Mikah since fitting out the first ship in Regina.  Finally, each of the seven aboard would receive Cr 8,000.  When they talked about being "legally" required to send Dame Inger a share, Mikah said "Fuck her!"  Zimzod suggested they buy her share of the ship out but Mikah said the ship was worth something like MCr 160 or so.  As a result, and since there were now only seven shareholders in the ship, they'd have to raise nearly MCr 9.  And that was even if she was willing to sign on the dotted line and sell her share.

And with that as the last order of business before the orders were given, the California began her burn back to the port.  As they started to burn, a message came in for Emkir from the cruiser's IT division commander asking to get together in port to talk?  He was very impressed, saying, "I don't know what you did, but you got the keys to the kingdom here in a way I've never seen!"  Of course, this created a problem for Emkir because he couldn’t tell anyone how he cracked the computer without having to explain the software and where it came from.  And Emkir was well aware of the kettle of fish that would open up.  Emkir would need to avoid this officer and his people while stuck in this system for the next month.  And he had no idea how long the Midindir Kada would be staying in-system.  Emkir played it diplomatically, sending back, "All I can tell you is that this method is a trade secret restricted to certain members of the California crew."  He left it at that for the moment and hoped that would stick.

Once the ship was under way, Aiden didn't plot a course to rattle the engines but also didn't set a pleasure cruise.  Aiden also got a stim from Mikah in case he started to feel the hours coming.  As he piloted and they burned in-system, Rol's first objective was to spend some time recovering but also start working on going through the supplies delivered by the cruiser to help with repairs and prioritize the fixes.  As he organized the stuff, Rol grabbed the composite which would add to his stocks after repairing Zimzod's battledress and the combat armor suits.  Digging in, Rol also found a somewhat flat rectangular box he didn't expect.  When he checked the component ID number on the box, Rol was nearly blown away.  Opening the box, Rol found the officer had given him a spare set of the CPU and computer boards for Zimzod's battledress!  Mikah also told Fesic he’d gotten a replacement breaching charge, as the navy had given them two.  She did make it clear that both charges would be kept in the ship's locker.

Emkir quickly started trying to talk Aali into their stateroom for some fun.  Despite his desires, Aali said she had work to do on the ship.  Overhearing, Terin joked, "Come on, it's only two minutes." with a smirk on his face.  The couple debated on what was needed with twenty hours of flight time ahead of them to return to port.  Eventually, Emkir lost, and Aali went to work in engineering while Emkir logged into a terminal and began writing a filter program.  The program would access the ships logs he'd copied from the Kakishuu and scan them for any terms he put in as well as the names of all the systems in the Spinward Marches.  At the very least, he hoped to get an idea of their travels.  And at best, he wondered if he'd find a connection with any of the people they' dealt with, or threads of mystery they'd happened on in their travels.  Since the program didn’t take long to write, he spent the hours of travel changing the terms and words in the filter file to see what he might find?

Mikah just wanted more sleep and Zimzod joined her, leaving Emkir in command of the ship.  As that happened, Aiden said Emkir could write and test his program on the bridge, while manning the flight controls.  Aiden then set his alarm and went to sleep.  Fesic also took the chance to rack out and sleep.  Once he had control of the bridge and knew Aiden was asleep, Emkir pinged Aali in engineering and told her to come to the bridge because he wanted to show her something.  Aali quickly figured out Emkir wanted to leave some stains on the bridge.  She managed to talk him into calling her once he was about to surrender the chair to Aiden, so they'd have more time for fun.  Eventually, everyone took shifts working at chores or getting sleep as time passed.


The End Of The Drive

     As Aiden started receiving direction from the port, while others of the crew started waking up, the port started directing them to an in-station parking bay.  This hold would have pressure doors through which the ship would enter to settle on a landing deck.  Then, the doors would close and the bay would pressurize as workers came out to hook up umbilicals and port service feed cables, etc.  Once it was pressurized, the bay would be their berth, and had a smaller number of staterooms and offices integral to it than the berth they'd had in the Rhylanor system.  But it was not hanging off the outside of the hull like the docking collar they'd paid for when they first arrived in-system.  As the port guided him in, they updated Aiden that the ship could remain in that berth for their entire stay in-system except that time the ship spent in dry dock.  As he acknowledged that, they also said all the costs for the berth had been covered, 100%.  This covered the berth, networks, consumables and other services provided to the ship by the port.  When Aiden got punchy and asked about the OxyAccounts, port control said he could take that up with the port administrators when they get the chance.

In addition to the "official communications", there was the unofficial chatter.  Many in port control wanted details on how badly the crew of the Kakishuu suffered for the damage they did to the port?  Finally, as the ship settled into the berth, port central asked to speak directly to the captain and Mikah, with Zimzod, got on the line to ask what they needed?  The port master said that, during the chase and battle, their workers had patched the station hull and begun clean up and recovery of recyclables and debris.  And during that recovery, they found an interesting item in the debris caught within the docking compartment.  When Mikah asked what it was, they asked if one of her crew members was missing an Ident?  Mikah was so surprised, she could not hold in the laughter and neither could Zimzod.  It appeared that whoever stole the Ident only needed it to get to the Kakishuu's dock, and tossed it aside after that.  Engineers say it was caught in the lacerated metal of the hull as the ship broke dock and remained in the remains of the compartment once it was voided.  Mikah said they'd pick it up when they came to central offices, which was good with the port.

It took another hour to dock the ship and deal with the paperwork.  Then, Mikah was told the station master was waiting on her pleasure to meet with her.  He wished to discuss the deputation and actions the ship had taken on behalf of the station.  He also said the entire crew were free to visit the station any time while they were in-system and their OxyAccounts would all be waived.  Mikah thanked him for that and they set a face to face meeting for an hour from then.  Mikah said she would also be bringing her executive officer with her.  And despite the hour, the station master said that time was perfectly fine.  As they talked, the port workers hooked up the ship so they have everything, even the porn, for free.  As soon as he was awake, Emkir reached out to the Illiesh Shakhik to update them on the pending cargo deal.  When he got to the ship, their super cargo was surprised to even hear from the California again, figuring they'd suddenly left the system.  Once they had their Captain on the line, Emkir gave an edited version of the events since the California left port.  To say the least, their captain was nearly speechless.

Still, the Captain said they weren't getting many takers and had to move the cargo.  So he asked Emkir to call when the California was lifting again so they could decide then.  After that, Emkir told Mikah the Shakhik's Captain was still interested.  Mikah thanked him just before Zimzod asked Mikah if she wanted to do more "zero-g practice."  When she said she did, they went to his stateroom and locked the door before hunting the mighty zero-g spot.  After he was done, Emkir went to engineering and gave Aali a copy of the ship computer cracking software.  He thought she might find it useful to her someday too.  Beyond that, and securing the ship, they had a few hours down time and decided to get more sleep.  Aiden also went back to sleep, as he was one of the crew who couldn't rest during the return to port.  He set his alarm for 10 am local.  Once they were docked, Rol also set the armor work aside and hit the rack too.

As the ship returned to the high port, Terin and Munarshu were sleeping in the Ulir City consulate after a day of recovery.  Having spent the dark hours of Saturday night trying to beat up an android and find Munarshu's Ident, the two slept in hoping the police wouldn't show up again the next morning.  Waking up mid-day, a staffer told Terin and Munarshu the Consulate had gotten messages to the California.  So, they stayed in the building watching local news,avoiding the police and hoping to get any more information from the Minister or his people.  All this, while unaware their ship was returning to local orbit.  Most annoying, while they'd helped the local police in some case they didn't get any data on it and didn't find the Ident or any evidence suggesting the Ident was involved with anything in the office.  Planning to try and connect through the Scouts the next day, if they did not get more information from the Consulate, the two racked out Sunday night.


Meeting To Settle Accounts

     When it was time, Mikah and Zimzod found a driver in small electric cart waiting to drive them to meet the station master.  Despite the hour, the station master was very pleased to meet with them.  As they arrived, he introduced a number of his subordinates as well as the station's local in-system defense coordinator.  This happened while one of the assistant Directors handed Mikah Munarshu's Ident.  It was in perfect working order.  As she took it, Mikah figured the man claiming to be Munarshu had no ID of any sort.  So, unless he could prove he was Munarshu, she couldn't hand over the Ident, nor could she start paying him for work done again.  But future punishment aside, they sat down with the station master to many congratulations for surviving.  And quite a number of apologies up front for the mistakes on the details of the blockade runner.  Because of their mistakes, they were happy to helping the crew manage their repairs and other losses.  Part of that had been the waiving of OxyAccounts for access to the station.

Also, the station had enforced a 20% discount on everything bought on-station for all the California's crew who'd taken part in the battle.  They would also provide free passage on flights between the station and the surface for the time they remained in system during their repairs.  Finally, since they had technically chartered the ship, they were paying each of the crew who'd been part of the battle a month's salary based on their position aboard, and based on the highest commercial rates.  That worked out to:
     Mikah: Cr 10,000 ( Captain and Medic )
     Zimzod: Cr 5,000 ( Executive Officer )
     Aiden: Cr 5,000 ( Pilot )
     Emkir: Cr 2,000 ( Computer Officer )
     Aali: Cr 7,000 ( Chief Engineer )
     Rol: Cr 3,000 ( Security )
     Fesic: Cr 3,000 ( Chief Gunner )
They also offered to send crews to recover both their cutter and Munarshu and Terin, as well as paying off the docking fees the cutter had built up over the past days.  Recognizing they would in-system another month due to the damage to their ship, the station agreed to cover all their food costs on-station.  This offer covered all food ordered to be delivered to the berth or when they went to restaurants to eat in.  Finally, they were setting up a concierge office to help the crew find any and all entertainment opportunities they might be interested in and getting them access to those.  And for on-station entertainment, the station would comp those too, while working to find deep discounts for off-station venues.

When Zimzod asked if they would grant the right to carry weapons, the Station Master said he could extend their Imperial rights on-station only.  He could do nothing on-world or on arcologies which belonged to the dirtside powers.  Beyond that, the Station Master asked if they had any questions?  Mikah's concerns were more about publicity and she asked if the issues surrounding the Kakishuu had become news yet?  She was told they had informed the media that a ship had broken dock at the port, that it was being pursued by the proper authorities and deputized forces.  They added that those authorities had detained the ship and questioned the surviving crew with minimal casualties.  Mikah accepted that, but asked again to confirm that their names were not included in the media release?  When that was confirmed, Mikah was pleased until the port master said there was one 'troubling item.'  As Mikah and Zimzod braced, the man explained that each city had an Imperial consulate, which was much less important than "The" Imperial Embassy.  He then said the port was repeatedly receiving calls from the Minister running one of the consulates, in a violation of policy to call the On-world Embassy first.

As Mikah and Zimzod waited for the shoe to drop, the station master said the Ulir city Consulate Minister was repeatedly calling the port to reach Lady Mikah.  It had become a bit disrupting.  When the station master said the minister appeared to be very put out about Terin and Munarshu's behavior, Mikah realized this was the same guy who'd sent her the whiny message when they were off after the rogue.  Mikah said she'd give him a call.  The station master said he would be very grateful, as it would take a load off their comms techs.  As he said this, the station master also said they had the Minister's business and personal numbers.  When Mikah heard that, she checked the time, nearing 5:30am in the morning.  Then, she said, "I'll give him a call right now." with an evil grin on her face.  And despite the fact the station wanted this off their plate, they had an ops tech open the comms line for Mikah as they all settled back with grins making sure they were visible to the comms in her background.

When the bleary-eyed minister answered with a static image, Mikah said, "Hello, this is Mikah Kirlim, Lady of the Court of the Domain of Deneb, Knight of the Imperium, Captian of the Hotel California and currently under contract to the Port of Equus and the Imperial Navy." in a very formal tone.  She continued, "Might I assist you in some sort of inquiry?"  Mikah did not have to see what he was going through as the minister worked to reorganize his voice.  He soon came on video as well, still smoothing his hair down and having moved to a spot in his quarters with a neutral background.  The man answered, "Yes, Your Ladyship, thank you for contacting me back Your Ladyship.  I've been trying to reach you because there may be a problem being caused in Ulir City by some of your crew members."  When Mikah asked what sort of problems, the minister said, "Well, I'm not quite sure but I understand that they are interacting with the local police department in a rather unsanctioned way.  And while I don't have the resources to investigate it, it seems to me that they're breaching local laws.  And, ultimately, when it all comes out, they may have breached Imperial laws."

Mikah very quickly realized this self-important and very judgmental man liked to hear himself talk.  And after she heard him say, "interacting with the local police department", she knew he was just a blowhard.  As Mikah simply wished she could fire a missile at the man's location, Zimzod said, "OK.  So, what you're operating on is a whole lot of speculation." in an accusatory tone.  Turning his attention to Zimzod, the man very politely asked who he was speaking with and Zimzod looked down his nose, answering, "Sir Zimzod Egosion, Knight of the Imperium, Landholder in the Regina system and Executive officer of the Hotel California, currently under contract to the Port of Equus and the Imperial Navy."  As they listened(and quietly enjoyed), the port officials could feel the temperature of the conversation drop a few more degrees.  This showed on the minister's face as he said, "I'm sorry your Lordship!  But I must admit that, yes, I am, at this point, speculating on the possible outcome.  But this is what I am trained to do."

Zimzod nodded as he saw there was just too much stuffing this guy's ears for him to hear reality calling any time soon.  Zimzod said, "OK.  Not a problem.  We got somebody coming to pick up our crewmembers and they'll be out of your hair shortly."  As he heard that, the minister carefully asked, "Under whose authority", suggesting the minister had some 'regulatory concerns'.  When Mikah said, "the starport", he again carefully asked, "They've made a new Ident for him?" with his tone still suggesting he might see some regulatory issues.  Mikah decided this was taking too long and snapped, "We found his Ident and they will be bringing it with them."  Missing her tone completely, the minister was very pleased as he gushed, "That's wonderful!  How soon will you be arriving to pick these gentlemen up?"  Mikah did consider saying they had to observe a 30 day quarantine because they'd been slumming with the local diplomatic staff, but knew that was too big a kick in the teeth.  Mikah said, "We'll have them out of your hair by the end of the day.  We haven't spoken to them yet so...there you have it."

The minister said that, as far as his staff had communicated to him, the men were sleeping.  Mikah smiled and said, "Oh Good!  I'll wake them up." as her smile expanded even more.  Pleased with his interpretation of how the interview had gone, the minister happily said, "Thank you very much Your Ladyship!"  After that, Mikah cut the line as Zimzod suggested they pull a prank on Munarshu.  When she said, "Sure!" Zimzod asked the port officials, "Now, he has to have his Ident to leave the planet.  But he does not actually have to be the one holding it to get off world, does he?"  When they said he didn't, Zimzod suggested they give Munarshu's Ident to station security.  Then, they could send a team to the surface with it.  But, rather than giving Munarshu the Ident, they'd then use it to clear things with the Ulir and Equus authorities while placing Munarshu in cuffs and "detaining him" for the trip back into orbit.  When he suggested they treat him badly while he was "in custody", Mikah said they shouldn't actually hurt him.  Zimzod agreed that hurting the crew was her job.

Once that was decided, the port officials began making Zimzod's plan start happening.  Zimzod helped with a call to the down-port, authorizing port workers to recover their cutter.  At the same time, Mikah called Terin's comms.  Having had nothing to do since Saturday night, He and Munarshu had spent Sunday laying low and recovering from lack of sleep.  Still, it was very early in the morning Monday when his comms woke and annoyed Terin.  As he answered, Terin wondered "what now?"  Looking at the caller data, Terin was surprised and answered, "Hello Lady Mikah!  Glad to see you're back."  Mikah said, "Yes, we're back." as Zimzod asked, "What have you two been up to?"  Terin said, "Nothing, really."  Zimzod asked, "Where's Munarshu?" and Terin said he was sleeping.  Zimzod nearly growled, "Wake him up."  Nodding, Terin went to where Munarshu was sleeping and gently kicked his leg to wake him.  When Munarshu saw Terin standing over him, he nonsensically snapped, "Get your dick out of my face!"

Terin said, "It was my foot, but thanks for the compliment."  As Terin turned his Ident to face, Munarshu was already whining, "What do you want?", stretching out the last word.  On the Ident's screen, he and Terin could hear Zimzod ask, "Hey, what have you two been doing?" again.  Suddenly realizing what was happening, Munarshu woke up more as he said "Oh!" in surprise.  Munarshu then asked, "You're back?" as he tried to get his brain in gear.  When Zimzod replied with the obvious, "Yeah, we're back." Munarshu said, "I hope everything went well and everybody's safe?"  Zimzod said, "Uh.  Yeah." before pausing.  Zimzod then continued, "We're gonna be sending somebody to pick you up.  And they will pick you up right where you're at and bring you back to the starport."

After Zimzod told them their ride would get there in a few hours, and they said they were glad everyone got back unscathed, Mikah told them Rol and Zimzod had been shot.  She also told them about the crew of the Skygge Sturek.  That brought down Terin and Munarshu's spirits.  When Terin asked about the cutter, Mikah said the port was recovering that too.  Once Terin said they'd be waiting there, the call was ended and Zimzod made sure the port authorities knew to treat Munarshu "real bad" but not really hurt him.  And the port master assured Zimzod he had no problems with the plan, which had already been set in motion.  An aide had already even picked up the Ident and shuttled it to port security.

Finally, Mikah started looking ahead, to the coming month in system.  She asked the port officials what they would do as far as tourism?  Like all locals who've rarely explored all the local sites of interest surrounding their homes, the executives only came up with the standard answers.  And some of those were the very tours and sights the crew had seen in their day on-world.  When they mentioned the undersea safaris, Mikah thought that sounded good.  After another hour, the conversations wound down and, around 6am, Zimzod suggested they grab an early breakfast.  When he asked, Mikah said, "Why not?  It's free." and they left.


Off To The Big House In The Sky

     After the call, Terin and Munarshu were too excited to sleep and organized what little they had before watching vids.  Eventually, the woman manning the night shift came into the room and said, "Oh!  You're awake.  Good!  The Minister should arrive shortly and some people from the starport have landed.  I understand they have some sort of documentation which should allow you to return to your ship."  She continued, "They've told us you may have an extended stay on the station, as they've not yet found your Ident."  Eventually, the Minister arrived and delivered a speech to them down the line of his nose about the evils of getting involved with the wrong elements.  When Terin said, "I didn't get involved." the Minister said, "You obviously did.  You're with him."  The Minister's air of superiority was such they didn't even bother trying to do anything more than ignore his "wisdom".  It wasn't very much longer after that the team from the port arrived at the consulate.

After they were let in, the Terin and Munarshu saw it was a four-man team wearing port security uniforms.  The same security staff Munarshu had tried to climb up a vent to escape.  And he couldn't run in the consulate.  One of the men looked like a possible officer or Sergeant while the others just appeared to be big bruisers.  And as Munarshu and the bruisers eyed each other, the group's leader walked over to the Minister and showed him something in a case of some sort.  As he did, he also whispered to the Minister deferentially.  Once the Minister nodded his approval, the leader said, "We'll be taking custody of the prisoner from here, Sir." in an accommodating tone.  Of course, that caught both Terin and Munarshu's attention!  As Munarshu literally squeaked, "What?!" the three bruisers moved in to grab and man-handle him.  They forced his hands behind his back and lock his hands in manacles!  As this happened, Terin stood, shocked but waiting because there was nowhere to run.

The Minister watched with obvious pleasure as the spacer got his payback.  As this continued, the leader of the security men came to Terin and said, "Sir Knight, your Captain wonders if you will accompany us back to the station with the prisoner?"  This made it clear the treatment Munarshu had received was directed only at him and wouldn't target Terin.  Relieved, Terin said, "I will be more than happy to"," as he broke out his Ident and started taking vids of Munarshu's treatment.  "Let me just grab what little I have with me."  Pleased things were going smoothly, the security man led his party as he showed all deference to Terin and the bruisers dragged Munarshu along.  The leader then told the bruisers, "I'll escort the Knight to the ship while you take care of the Health and Immigration requirements."  As the bruisers stopped dragging Munarshu along, he had a second to wonder what that meant?  Then, one of the bruisers very quickly pulled out an air-multi-hypo and delivered a number of "vaccines."  In the pause, Terin had made sure to keep the action 'in frame', filming the entire process.

The procession then got moving for real, and Terin did his best to film over his shoulder as they left the consulate and arrived at a transport outside.  While Terin was settled in a comfortable seat, he got to film Munarshu being "boarded" into a holding box on the back of the transport.  The chains of his manacles were connected to a snap on the wall of the truck before a bruiser climbed in with him, to sit in the one installed jump seat and assure the prisoner was not injured in transit.  Not comfortable.  But not injured.  During the entire passage, neither Munarshu or Terin had any idea of Mikah and Zimzod's involvement and simply wondered if this was the level of reaction to having one's Ident stolen in the Equus system.  Soon, as the vehicle started to move, the bruiser with Munarshu checked his chrono, looked at Munarshu and said, "So, the first effects should be appearing fairly soon."  Feeling a sudden hollow in his gut, Munarshu asked, "What effects?  I thought you just gave me a.."  He was cut off by the guard, who cheerfully said, "Oh, we have to clean you out before we get you on station."

That added a dimension to what he thought had been butterflies in his stomach.  All Munarshu could do was sputter, "What?!" in a shocked and panicked voice.  The man calmly told Munarshu he'd been given fast-acting laxatives.  And, it did not look like this guy specialized in carefully removing his garments before the drugs took effect.  This did not bode well for Munarshu's week's laundry.  Soon, Munarshu began feeling a bit feverish and the guard said, "You'll be needing this about now."  He started to hand feed Munarshu water from a bottle.  Despite the humiliating circumstances, Munarshu did his best to suck the water from the bottle because it did make him feel better.  Once they arrived at the berth for the port's ship, Terin was comfortably led into the passenger cabin with little chance to do more than film Munarshu being near-dragged into the craft's cargo bay.  When Terin asked to ride in the bay with Munarshu, he was told it would not be appropriate.  When Terin asked if they could set a camera on Munarshu during the flight, he was told that would also be inappropriate.

While Terin was settled in complete comfort for the ride to the station, Munarshu had his manacles re-positioned so his hands were in front of him before the chains were raised (with his hands) to a hook on the wall.  After that, the man very carefully cut away all of Munarshu's clothing, politely sparing him the issue of soiled laundry.  Displaying perfectly timed actions and calculations, it was very quickly after that when the laxatives began to have their "full" effect on Munarshu.  The ship lifted as Munarshu felt the waves of response his body had to the laxatives, assisted by the gravitational effects of the launch.  Midway through the flight, they gave Munarshu more water to keep him from dehydrating.  After that, the man put on elbow-length gloves and started connecting various tubes and roughly but efficiently to Munarshu's body and flushed him out completely.  That was followed by pressure washing Munarshu and the bay repeatedly with ice-cold water.  The last process Munarshu was subjected to was to be sprayed with a foam, from the neck down, that sterilized any agents still on his skin with the side effect of removing all his body hair from the neck down too.

Eventually, the man caring for him slowly dressed Munarshu in that famous paper clothing which prisons gave to their various clients.  After that, it was announced they were arriving and Munarshu had his manacles removed from the hook and transferred so his hands were again behind him.  Once the vessel settled in its berth, they frog marched Munarshu out of the ship.  At the same time, Terin was led out of the ship's passenger cabin and they both arrived at a small electric cart as Terin gaped at Munarshu's new look.  Terin could only guess what they'd done to the engineer and was very glad they had not done the same to him!  Getting close enough, Terin said to Munarshu, "That's a great fashion statement.  You should wear that more often."  Trying to find any way to save any face, Munarshu asked, "You know what the difference is between you and me?"  When Terin said, "I didn't fuck up", Munarshu said, "I make this look good" in a tone suggesting there was anything positive about his new look.  Sadly, all Munarshu's comment did was make him appear even more deluded.

Then, Terin watched as they finished frog marching Munarshu to the cart and used zip-ties to attach his manacles to a back bar on the cargo pad back of the cart.  Terin was settled into the front passenger seat as the leader of the port security team took the driver's seat.  Two of the team members sat, one on each side, sandwiching Munarshu and the other grabbed a second cart to follow them.  Munarshu noted that man appeared to have handgun, just in case.  Twenty minutes after they'd landed, the driver comm'd his HQ to say they were arriving at the California's berth.  The HQ called the crew and Mikah had everyone out waiting for Munarshu's arrival in chains.  As they watched, the cart arrived with Terin riding up front in comfort and holding a drink in his hand as he rode.  On the vehicle's back, Munarshu was chained to a bar in prisoner's paper whites and held by two security agents.

When they pulled up, the leader of the team stepped off the cart and moved to hand the package they'd shown the minister to Lady Mikah.  Terin dismounted as the man turned to him and said, "Sir Terin, thank you for flying with us." and gave the Knight a salute.  At the same time, the zip-ties were snapped off the manacles and Munarshu was made to stand up off the cart.  His "escorts" half-lifted Munarshu by his armpits and half-dragged him to stand before Mikah.  The team leader formally said, "We return this package to you.  The prisoner is yours now."  Mikah said, "Thank you.  Please release his bonds."  With that, the security team released the manacles and let Munarshu stand easy as he smiled to them and saidwith foolish bravado, "Thank you sir.  May I have another?"  Obviously, this was all about appearances to Munarshu, who handn't figured out it was the substance of his actions and not how he thought he looked to others that mattered.  The team ignored him as they had so many other criminals, and stowed their gear on the cart before driving out of the berth.  Standing and watching, Rol answered Munarshu's question, "Yes you may." in a voice that promised swift fulfillment if Munarshu pushed it.

Terin stepped up as he reported in and gave a brief description of what he was able to catch on vid.  Terin complained that the security team had separated them while Munarshu went through the "white wash" in a cargo bay.  Mikah told Terin that was fine before turning to Munarshu and happily asking, "So, did we learn any lessons?"  Again, hung up on appearances, Munarshu lifted his chin and said, "Yeah.  Local constables can be kinda cool."  Mikah simply turned to Zimzod and asked, "Who gave his guy to us?"  Zimzod reminded her Munarshu had presented himself due to a help wanted ad the ship had posted in the hiring hall in Rhylanor and Mikah decided they had to screen people they found that way much better.  Emkir said, "On-line services like that should only be used for porn", and got a laugh.  Then, with the show over, Mikah ordered Munarshu back to work as Zimzod told him to get dressed.  Aali simply said, "We'll talk later."  From where he stood and the ship sat in the berth, Munarshu could see the fried and blistered dorsal surface of the hull, which gave him something to react to other than his situation.

Before the crew wandered off to their interests, Mikah told them about the port's offers and reminded Munarshu he was still grounded.  That added to the fact Munarshu didn't have an Ident anyway.  Munarshu went to his stateroom to get dressed and planned to order replacement clothing when he got the chance.  After dressing, Munarshu grabbed a foil pack for chow and went to work in engineering.  There, Aali made it clear he was on punishment detail as she directed him to work his way into the accessible spaces inside the ship's hull to detach electronics and cabling running to all the hull plates needing to be replaced.  In the meantime, she'd handle regular maintenance and housekeeping after checking why Emkir had been calling her?  Emkir had gone to the ship's lounge to review the result data from his filter program, but decided he needed chow first.  So he called Aali in engineering to suggest they go out and have the most expensive free breakfast they could.  After she called him and they went out, Aali also decided to see if there was anywhere she could have her clone-scan updated?  She didn't find a facility that could do that but figured she'd spend more of the morning looking.  Rol decided to simply relax as he still had very recent gunshot wounds he was recovering from.

Fesic decided to take a short walk to the nicest local restaurant he could find, flash his Ident and get a top notch breakfast for free before coming back to study the cargo sealing system.  Once back on the ship, he studied until lunch time.  Emkir and Aali also returned to their tasks until lunch time.  Aiden decided to spend the morning shopping for any sealed combat armor the shops on-station had after having chow.  After hours of searching, Aiden was as disappointed as Fesic had been while searching for HUD-gear.  Aiden could have bought all manner of underwater gear but there was little in the way of space-borne combat gear.  Terin first uploaded the video he'd captured of Munarshu's incarceration to the ship's computer before he made sure everyone but Munarshu got to see the file.  He didn't plan on leaving it available for long, as he hoped the event had made its own impact with the engineer.

As Mikah watched it, she said she wished he had vid of Munarshu falling asleep and the original robbery in the club.  As Aali and Emkir watched, before they headed to chow, Aali said Mikah might be able to get the video from the police or the club.  When Rol referred to Terin's vid and suggested Munarshu got off easy, Terin reminded Rol that he couldn't see or film what happened in the cargo bay?  He pointed out that Munarshu went in wearing his own clothes and "not very ruffled".  And he came out in paper prisoner's clothes and scrubbed almost white.  After the viewing, Terin went to breakfast and then returned to the ship to work with his stent all morning.  Mikah and Zimzod booked an undersea "Extreme" sea monster safari, which they got at a steep discount thanks to the port's concierge.  That cost them Cr 2,000 each for a full day's adventure along with two meals.  When Aali and Emkir returned from their breakfast, they did bring a doggie bag for Munarshu to enjoy.


Where everyone is at the end of the session:

    Munarshu: Detaching cabling in tight spaces
    Terin: Working on his stent
    Aiden: Returning to the ship after shopping for sealed combat armor
    Aali: Handling maintenance work and housekeeping and looking for a scan facility
    Emkir: Reviewing his results from the filter program in the ship's lounge
    Fesic: Studying the cargo sealing system
    Mikah: On an all-day underwater sea monster safari
    Rol: Relaxing and recovering
    Zimzod: On an all-day underwater sea monster safari

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Next: Sharing Deals And Distractions