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Adventures Private And Public

     As it came time to cook, Rol set aside the work he was doing with his stent, checked the bindings on his wounds and made his way to the ship's galley systems.  Mikah and Zimzod were off ship, so he made he planned for that.  Aiden had gotten back from the station after spending the morning looking for sealed combat armor.  But the pickings were very slim and he decided not to waste money on a second-rate suit.  Aali was also disappointed that there were no facilities in-system to update her neural scan.  She realized, a short time before, the many memories she could lose if she were killed and cloned.  Unfortunately, as she checked, Aali wasn't finding anything.  Thinking Rol might have checked up on it with TAS, Aali called Rol to ask?  When he said he hadn't, they both checked with TAS.  TAS said there wasn't a listing of any facilities in-system.  But the Concierge would do a more complete search and call them if they found a place that could do the job.  After that, Aali returned to working until called for lunch.

Fesic was in the cargo bay, studying the container sealing system, dedicating five hours a day to study it when he could.  Aiden had spent the entire morning working on his stent course-work while Munarshu was opening access panels to squeeze into the ship's tight spaces.  He worked to get to and disconnect any feeder cables to hull access points ahead of the work to repair the ship.  Emkir was in the lounge with Rol, though the Admiral had spent the morning working on a terminal.  He dedicated hours to running a filter program on all the data he'd sucked out of the Kakishuu's computer.  Perhaps a bit more infected with Munarshu's 'conspiracy fever', Emkir fed words, names and phrases from the crew's recent(and "not so") history through the program he'd written.  He looked for any points of correlation but found no matches through the morning.  The blockade runner just wasn't part of some vast conspiracy sucking them into illegal activities in every system.  Emkir also planned to work on the cipher the Kakishuu's Captain had used in his log.  But soon enough, the call went out and everyone squared away their work for chow.

Having booked a tour through the port that morning, Mikah and Zimzod had been given a free shuttle ride to Equus downport before boarding a tour-submarine.  More of a specialty tour, the submarine was smaller than they'd been on.  It's spaces tighter.  But the tour was advertised as a chance to get in close to some of the true monsters of Equus' oceans and perhaps see them in action!  That was worth the "KCr 2 each" fare they'd spent even with a discount.  As the small boat set off, the tourists were settled into an the most "open" space on the craft, which was also well-appointed.  All metal fittings were padded and the floor and ceiling of the compartment had soft but water-safe "carpeting" to pad impacts.  The compartment extended across ship from side to side, and the bulkheads were made of a vis-steel, which was as transparent as glass.  There were many grab bars and loops as well as seats, so passengers could strap down as they were warned there could be significant turbulence.  Especially if they found their prey, which was not guaranteed.

After a few hours cruise, and some "really nice scenery", Mikah and Zimzod were very disappointed as the crew began to serve everyone a decent lunch.  Served in a box-type container which could snap closed in response to sudden turbulence, they were shown how to eat with extended utensils and "snag-sticks".  This helped assure they, or their neighbors didn't end up wearing meals.  It also made sure no one went starving if a meal "went flying".  While they hadn't seen any sea monsters yet, they did see some very spectacular seascapes while listening to the sub's crew drone on about the scientific facts of Equus' seas.  The meal was fairly good, made from some of the more unusual fare on Equus, so they were told.  As they ate, the sub's captain made course corrections, saying they were headed for another part of the region, where sea monsters might be chasing schools of feed creatures.  They sat and ate as the sub listed into the turn.

After lunch, Aali grabbed her husband and 'dragged him' to the stateroom for a bit of fun, working off the meal.  Rol had some more sedate exercise after cleaning up, going onto the station to shop.  While Rol planned to stroll and shop all afternoon, Aiden planned to spend that time working with his stent studies.  Terin, who'd spent the morning working with his stent, decided to spend a few hours wandering the station to see what he found?  Munarshu returned to his assigned work, as he was both on punishment detail and had no Ident to do anything or access his accounts.  Having spent three hours working on the cargo sealer, Fesic returned to do two more hours work on it before turning to something else.  After that, Fesic spent time on a data terminal to shop for a number of items he'd decided he needed.  Eventually, Fesic bought just over Cr 5,400 on personal supplies which would be delivered to the ship over the next days.  Still, there were items he'd hoped to buy but couldn't find.

Despite having a number of shipyards in-system, no one seemed to be selling emergency decompression gear(EPMS bags) at a price he wanted to spend.  Fesic also didn't find a hand-held personal maneuvering system he liked.  And the selection of hand computers in-system were, disappointing, so he didn't buy one of those either.  Fesic finally spent Cr 5,425 on his buys and the seller sites promised delivery to the port in a day or two.  While he worked at that, Emkir and Aali finished trying to knock the ship on its side and cleaned up.  After that, Aali got on-line to look for some items.  The first was a necklace-like container for rings like those worn by people involved in sports to protect jewelry.  The second item was a basic "quart-capacity" fanny pack, and she also decided she needed a few flashlights.  After half an hour shopping, Aali had ordered everything to be delivered to the ship for Cr 15.  After that, Aali went looking for Emkir again.

Once he was done cleaning up, Emkir felt the need for a little "after lunch and nookie" snack and went to raid the galley.  As he ate, Emkir relaxed and recovered from his recent exertions.  Taking the time to just relax, he had finished his snack and not gotten on to anything else when Aali came looking for him again.  Only, this time she had a different plan for him.  She suggested they use the filter program he'd mentioned to her to check for historic correlations with the data from the mystery fob.  Emkir considered that and saw the large amount of data they'd be working with would cause a great many deep-diving queries.  The program would have to run for quite some time.  This was going much more than the manual work he'd done before.  With the idea of the job in mind, Emkir and Aali spent the rest of the day setting up the data links for the filter program he already had written.  That way, he could run the program, select the data sources and just let it run as it spit out possible correlations.  Since the program was not that smart, those would have to be checked individually.

In the meantime, Rol had been shopping and checked out a number of concourses.  In one electronics store, the worker turned out to be the shop owner and had a sharp eye.  He saw the stent behind Rol's right ear.  Seeing a chance to make a sale, the man asked Rol, "Looking for add ons?"  When Rol looked up, the man put a finger behind his own ear, making his meaning clear.  Not sure where this was going, or what the man meant, Rol said "Possibly, Yes."  Still, Rol's tone was guarded and he wanted to keep things open for the moment.  Guessing Rol's caution, the man invited him "in the back" to look at the "selection"?  Seeing the display-board "front" enclosing the store's sales floor was pretty flimsy and he wasn't being led into a space that could be sealed, Rol agreed and followed where the man led.

In the "back", the man revealed a small display of cyber-tek goods Rol knew couldn't be a major part of the man's sales.  Rol also knew none of the items, if real, had originated in-system.  So the questions started with, 'Are they real?'  If so, where did he get them and how little would he let them go for?  As Rol examined the offerings, he checked packing materials, seals and anything that might tip him off to the authenticity of or tampering with the items.  Rol asked about an item that claimed to connect a neural stent and its processer to the owner's retina via the optic nerve.  Visual data received from the optic nerve would used by the unit's software to interpret infrared data the human brain no longer parsed.  This would be fed to the user's brain and the user would, by mentally switching a mode on their stent, be able to shift from normal light visibility to infrared!

Granted, it was a "clunky" model, where a neurosurgeon would run a micro-connection (or in societies with advanced med-tech a grown neural connection) from the unit to the user's optic nerves.  These things usually either ran up and over the scalp to both eyes or on opposite paths directly to one eye from the stent while circling the back of the neck to the other eye through the cheek.  When Rol asked, the man first asked Cr 35,000.  Rol asked if he could examine it, to be sure it was sealed and correct?  When he was allowed, Rol lifted it and the package responded by presenting self-mounted electronic advertising.  Without the skills to really understand it, Rol still gave it the critical eye.  He could see the package was sealed and intact.  The on-package electronics had obviously not been mucked with.

Rol considered the price and the likely cost of the medical procedure.  Rol considered either discussing the kit with Mikah or waiting until the ship reached a system where he could pay for the installation procedure at a qualified hospital.  After considering the price and packaging, Rol decided to take the risk and haggled with the seller.  They eventually settled on Cr 30,000.  Despite the one find, Rol didn't see anything else of value, though he continued shopping until it was time to return to the ship to cook dinner.  Terin also shopped, and found himself in an electronics shop.  But he was looking at an add-on kit for a HUD.  The kit offered infrared and light intensifying support, which Terin had, but also offered telescopic vision that Terin's HUD did not have.

As Terin thought about the cost, about half what he had in his accounts, he also thought about having to ask Rol to install it.  Wanting the device, Terin tried to haggle but got nowhere with that.  Still wanting the kit, Terin paid the cash.  Unlike Rol, Terin needed to watch his dwindling funds so he went back to the ship with his new toy, to find Rol.  But Rol was not aboard, or in the berth when he checked.  With nothing better to do, Terin sparked up the news to see what was happening?  The only reports he specifically noticed covered the capture of the Kakishuu.  But, as Mikah had been told by the port master, the news on that subject was very minimal and almost no real details had been released.  Having little else to do as the ship's navigator, Terin decided to relax until dinner, watching the news and exploring the many entertainment channels.

Fesic had spent an hour shopping for his personal gear.  Seeing it was nearly 3pm, he decided to wander spaces that made a station feel less like a metal box in space.  Sadly, there were also few venues devoted to "showing off" scenes from down-well.  Fesic's attention wandered more to the shops, and he too found himself in an electronics shop when one of the workers rushed past him yelling, "Hey!  Stop!" at someone who Fesic had seen leave the shop very quickly.  Realizing there might be at least a shoplifting incident happening, Fesic suddenly joined in the chase.  Fesic was the rear most person in the chase early on, as he dodged others on the concourse and poured on the effort.

Being in much better condition than the store clerk, Fesic quickly passed that man as he did his best to skirt the crowd and visully track the fleeing man.  Fesic was also satisfied, as he passed the clerk, to see he was also gaining on his prey.  Since he was as used to the enclosed spaces of a ship as they were to those of a station, Fesic had to chalk it up to exercise.  Closing in, Fesic pushed a bit harder to move up on the man before the criminal realized Fesic was getting close.  Still, Fesic's footfalls gave a late warning and the man showed off some of his skills.  Using a bend in the wall to "bounce off of", The man used the rest of his momentum to spin himself to face.  He also used some of the spare momentem to throw a punch as the fight began.

Fesic didn't expect the move and plowed into both man and fist.  Fesic realized the man had some kind of fight training, because he'd chosen just the right spot for his attack.  But the turn also cost the crook most of his momentum, so there wasn't much added strength to the strike.  Taking the punch, Fesic had managed to dip his shoulder and turn his move into a full body check.  Despite Fesic's momentum, the man had positioned himself so the check did little damage while showing off more of his skills to Fesic.  Both dealt with issues as Fesic and the man each tried to recover.  And skill told as Fesic tried to use his position to throw some gut punches.  But his target had spun side-on, putting his body into a knee to Fesic's hip   While not a groin shot, the kick pushed Fesic back and gave the crook more room to work with.  As Fesic's opponent caught a breath and prepared for finesse, Fesic just went with the brute force of a sudden round-house punch.

The satisfying contact showed his opponent hadn't expected that and completely failed to block.  But the blow was as little expected to strike as it was to be swung, and so Fesic didn't plan the attack.  The result was that Fesic caught the guy along the man's shoulder with little effect.  Fesic tried to reset as the man followed him with a set of well-planned strikes.  Fesic absorbed those as the thought continued to play in his mind..."this guy has training!"  Still, neither man had gained an advantage as they continued trading blows, and fought to a more equal footing.  Everything changed then, as the shopkeeper came slamming into both of them!  Having fallen quite a bit behind the two, Fesic created a delay that let the shop worker catch up and deliver his own high-speed slam.  Sadly for Fesic, he'd only heard the man coming from behind at the last second.  His opponent had reacted to what he saw coming and braced.  So Fesic became the meat in a human sandwich smashed against the wall.

Because the man had braced, Fesic ended up taking most of the impact as the three of them were crushed together.  The impact still signaled more than another combatant joining the fight.  Even Fesic could hear the sounds of others reacting, including station security.  That told the would-be thief it was time to give up the fight and he surrendered.  As an apparent personal statement, as the man raised his hands in surrender, Fesic tackled the man to the ground and pinned him down, to the surprise of the others standing around.  Still, as station security began to arrive, Fesic happily raised himself away from the crook and let them take control.  Once the situation stabilized, Fesic was quietly asked to come to central offices and make his statement in security.  Fesic agreed, and spent the rest of the day dealing with the bureaucracy, leaving him the choices of returning to the ship or hitting a restaurant for dinner.


Adventures Fade To News

     Aboard the tour submarine, Mikah and Zimzod's afternoon eventually managed to earn every credit they'd paid and more!  During lunch, the Captain had announced a course change into what they hoped were more exciting waters.  That decision was dead on, as they encountered what became a feeding frenzy and then became "Sea-monster Armageddon"!  The frenzy turned to a virtual kraken-nado of all out monster warfare.  The action threatened beasts and submariners alike in a battle royal!  Emergency restraints were deployed to the relief of the weak at heart as the crew worked to control those who panicked.  At the same time, these annoyances faded into the background for Mikah and Zimzod, as they enjoyed the blood-lust fueled frenzy that, more than once, nearly ended their lives!  Even as they tried to capture the events, they were told the scenes were being captured by the sub's videographer, and a professional cut would be sold after the cruise, for Cr 50.  The couple didn't need to hear that twice as they ordered their copy.  Eventually, the frenzy faded and they were served dinner as the crew announced they were headed back to port.  From the end of the tour, they would board a shuttle back to the highport by 8pm.

At a restaurant, Fesic was seated and handed a menu before he quickly ordered to feed the hunger that had slowly grown into the boredom he'd endured.  The resturant was one of moderately high quality, and Fesic enjoyed his meal before heading back to the ship.  Aboard the California, Rol had stowed the cyber-tek he'd bought and cooked for everyone who was home.  After cleaning up after dinner, Rol planned to do more work with his stent before watching the news and relaxing.  During dinner, Terin asked him to upgrade his HUD, and showed Rol the electronic package he'd bought.  As Rol checked out the kit, Terin said he already had built in devices for IR and LI, but those didn't have telephoto capabilities.  After considering the work, Rol agreed to install it when he could.  After that, he hit his stateroom as planned.  Aali and Emkir had spent the time working on Aali's fob and managed to harvest all the names from the fob's records with a simple query.

Emkir wrote a database connection for his filter program, and started processing all the historic data Aali had.  Once they started it, the two spent the rest of the time relaxing and chatting until hitsbegan to be spit out by the search.  By the time dinner came, the search had barely made a dent in the data Aali had.  They checked those hits that had been spit out beforechow and would come back to check mor later.  So they locked the terminal and let it run as they went to eat.  Still, they found some interesting data in that the few identified names correlated to Imperial citizens or locations involved from the Second Frontier War, in the early 600's.  And none of the families or bases appeared to figure in the Third Frontier War in the in the late 900's.  And none of them appeared to figure in the Psionic Suppression Wars, fought in the early 800's.  That was strange, as all the names identified had held titles, some of them being hereditary.  Still, at dinner, Aali and Emkir kept the secret between themselves.  After dinner, Aali decided to get some of the engineering maintenance work done until nine, and then watch the news.  As she worked, Aali wondered about using the repairs for a partial sensor upgrade, and decided to research it and write up a proposal the next day.

After eating, Emkir asked Munarshu about advice for apps to use with the data glasses he'd been given as a wedding gift?  Emkir showed Munarshu his glasses and the engineer realized they were much more expensive and capable than anything he'd be able to afford.  All Munarshu could do was say, "Yours has options I've never dreamed of." in a pouty voice.  They worked together as Munarshu suggested some apps Emkir could locally download.  Munarshu also gave Emkir a list of apps to download when they got to a system where those might be available.  After that, Emkir played around with his glasses and tested some of the new apps until Aali was done working.  Some very handy things Emkir found were apps like a connectivity suite.  That connected his organizational software to the glasses.  He also spent the time to set blink codes to activate features.  Aiden decided to watch vids as Emkir and Munarshu worked on the glasses, and was joined by others to watch the news as the evening wore on.

Terin had eaten before looking for a gym, or other place where he could do some running.  He found many local facilities willing to sell him a membership for a day, week or even month.  After mentioning the port discount bulletin, Terin quickly found a local gym that would let him use their track and shower facilities so long as they could bill the port.  And, freed of the financial tethers, Terin didn't care who got billed as he grabbed his gear and headed out.  At the gym, they had Terin sign in so they could prove the billing.  After an hour's jog and a quick shower, Terin decided to do some shopping and see if he could find any virtual reality classes on stents?  But after an hour browsing some stores, Terin found this was not something he could find easily in this port.  And the few wafers he did find, for their various non-educational purposes, were much more expensive than they should be because they were rare locally, or had been meant to reach other systems and ended up on local shelves.

Along with the wafers, Terin searched through every shop he could for books or virtual teaching systems to increase his programming skills.  When his interest was noticed, Terin was invited into a shop to see a selection of goods "not for the average buyer."  Terin followed the man across the sales floor of the shop until they reached a back corner.  There, the man pulled a few packages out from cabinets where they were kept "off display".  Terin began to check out the items, but what appeared to be the right things turned out to be targeted-purpose "maker kit" programming aides.  Each targeted one type of specific program and mostly appeared to use code and concepts he was already skilled in.  While he might learn some concepts, it wouldn't be very much, and certainly not at the prices that shop keeper wanted.  None of the targeted programs were of any interest or use to Terin, so he thanked the man and moved on.  After an hour, Terin returned to the ship two and a half hours from when he left.  When he arrived, most of the crew were watching the news in the lounge.

By the time Mikah and Zimzod returned, Aali was finishing up in engineering.  Munarshu had gone to his stateroom to study, spending two hours with intelligence training and another of robotics training.  Despite his intent, the lack of time he devoted to robotics made it more like background reading.  Getting back, Terin decided to ask Emkir for advice in improving his skill with computer programming and operations?  Terin explained what he was hoping for to Emkir and the Admiral asked if Terin was asking for a teaching program?  Terin admitted he'd been shopping for one on the station and couldn't find one.  Emkir said he could help tutor someone who had such a virtual class, but wasn't set up to teach one.  Nor did he have such a program in his collection.  After a short chat, Emkir said he really wanted to work on the settings for his glasses but he' be happy to talk with Terin the next morning after breakfast.

Initially, as they watched, the news was very much based on happenings in-system.  Stories included the details on the shifting of Imperial Naval squadrons.  The 212th fleet would shift it's squadrons from their currently assigned systems to one of the systems another squadron had been assigned to.  Half the crew were familiar with that, having seen the beginnings of it in the Risek system during the medical crisis there.  This was still big news in those systems where ships were stationed and lesser news, but still important, for the rest of the Rhylanor subsector.  Economic stories covered activity in-system as well as how that was affected by interstellar trade and traffic through the system.  The crew were happy coverage of the Kakishuu affair was minimal and they perked up with coverage of events outside the system.

    Rhylanor (A434934-F 2 Green Hi Cap 910 M2 V6)                 Date: 315-1112

The Office of Duke Leonard's Seneschal has announced a multi-point
economic and social program aimed at working to resolve the instability
in-system.  The rising instability was, of course, related to the Sword
Worlds attack and destruction of an in-system archology.
  

As the crew listened, and kept mostly quiet given the new crewmembers and what they didn't know, the commenters continued on discussing the different facets and conspiracy theories causing ripples in the Rhylanor system.  Of course, their angles on the story were colored by the views of the media in the Equus system.  Still, those who knew better than the commenters or even the TAS news kept quiet.  Of course, the story led to yet another discussion of the attack on the salvage station and efforts to recover the remaining hulks adrift from that attack.

    Rhylanor (A434934-F 2 Green Hi Cap 910 M2 V6)                 Date: 315-1112

  Vice Admiral Dagirral Ezamga Karkim, Spokesperson for the 212th Fleet
  command, announced variations of the deployment.  This included a
  detachment of vessels assigned to the blockade of the Natoko system
  under Senator Lord Sir Umdi Kudila.  These forces added to the growing
  stand off in that system as the Knight and Senator investigations
  seemed to be turning into a possible Imperial Intervention.  As
  forces continued to build in the Natoko system, Natokan representatives
  both protested the action while also calling out for allies in in
  comments that were border-line treason.
   

The story droned on as the crew considered their former options and reflected on the loss of Inger's skills.  Making powerful friends and earning nice toys by getting involved in the Natokan affair was no longer much of an option.  They'd had the chance to infiltrate with Inger in the lead.  Now, they'd have to sneak or fight their way in if anything.  So the chance of making a score without too much of a fight was pretty low.  Added to that, getting revenge on Mr. Mattin and his friends.  That would have to wait now, as half the crew had no clue who he was or why he needed to die?  And they couldn't know the real reasons either.

    Rhylanor (A434934-F 2 Green Hi Cap 910 M2 V6)                Date: 315-1112
  In a formal ceremony at Rhylanor's main downport, Duchess Muktheswara of
  Glisten said her farewells and was wished a safe and quick passage by the
  Arch Duke and Duke Leonard as she left to return to the Glisten system.
  The Duchess' flotilla of jump-four ships have plotted a transit which
  was not being released to the public for security reasons.  Still, the
  Duchess is expected to be back in the Glisten system in under
  three months.
                       

    Risek (A325579-A N Ni 401 M5 V M3 D)                                   Date: 308-1112
  Representatives of the nation of Podesta and the Imperial Navy have
  released a statement on the continuing recovery of that nation from a
  disease outbreak earlier in the year.  The system's Marquis, Admiral
  Marquis Salil Gratian, was working with the Imperial Naval forces in-
  system to manage the crisis after returning from the Rhylanor system.
   

As the brief comments about the recovery morphed into casualty and cost numbers, the crew turned to personal interests until the story changed.  The next story, the 'winding down' saga of the cloned singer Ardella Mestler, had devolved into reports from court room testimony and judgements.  Comforted that the rights of clones were being investigated and enforced, those in the crew with cloning insurance could care less who was being convicted of what and going to prison.  But they did perk up at the next story because they had a continuing interest.

    Regina (A788899-C A Ri Cp 703 F7 V M8 D M6 V)              Date: 280-1112
On 278 1112, Sir Jeremy Lewis was formally remanded to the authorities in
the Regina system.  He was accused of the crime of spreading false claims
that the Imperial Military had committed abuses and atrocities while
fighting to defend Imperial citizens against the invading Outworlds
Coalition forces.  The Knight had been granted permission to use a
retreat in the Lewis system, which is owned by the Tukera Family.  The Arch
Duke's Seneschal, Mr. Branj Dilgaadin, laughed away any suggestion Sir
Jeremey's sudden turn of fortunes was an attempt by the family to curry
favor with the newly elevated Arch Duke.

When questioned about how the Arch Duke's orders required Mr. Dilgaadin to
proceed, the Seneschal said he'd had firm instructions from His Grace as
well as from the Imperial Admiralty.  The complaints against the Knight
would be investigated while he was held in a minimum of comfort, as due his
station.  Regarding the charges, Mr. Dilgaadin said that this crime would
be investigated by the Domain of Deneb, as it was a crime against the
Imperial Military and potentially against the authority of the Iridium
throne itself.  As that was the domain of the Emperor, this case
demanded that level of response.  This reaction set off its own rising
level of back chatter in Law Enforcement and Government.
        

Of course, that didn't stop some level of conversation about the involvement of members of the Arch Duke's own team.  The talking heads mentioned Major Sir Rol in some angles of this story, but didn't mention his presence in-system, to his relief.  The potential for charges of outright sedition pleased Rol, Emkir, Aiden, Zimzod and Mikah as did their not having to deal with the sudden press.  And that pleased the rest of the crew too.  The final twist provided by the report was that Sir Jeremy was going to be tried by a Military tribunal.  While unusual in the Imperium, and regarding a member of the Nobility, this was not unheard of.  But it did not bode well for Sir Jeremy.

    Glisten (A-000986-F A Hi Ag In As Cp G 821Im K9 V)           Date: 256-1112
The Church of Pavabid Choir have completed their scheduled performances in
the Mertactor system and are now preparing to ship to the Glisten system.
En route, they would stop and perform a set of concerts in the Egypt system
highport as their transport is undergoing between jump maintenance.  The
choir director said he expected them to be in the Glisten system in four
weeks' time.  The diplomats from Pavabid were clearly disappointed that
Glisten's Duchess was in the Rhylanor system, and would miss the
performances.  They still hoped the choir's outreach would foster more
trade in food goods to the Imperial systems bordering the District 268
subsector.

The Mertactor system authorities said, in a statement, that they were
pleased at the over-all control exhibited by the system's population.  When
asked, the Commissioners of the several locations where the choir performed
admitted to several incidents and arrests including a number of actions
against threats.  Most of the latter, it was quickly pointed out, were
baseless but it was unwise not to be cautious in that regard.  When asked
for a comment, Lady Sihshe-Kom Gasii stated, "It is never more amazing
where art comes from than from the hearts and voices of a people with
so differing a point of view on the rights of Sophonts."  The comments
gave an interesting view into the reactions of the Imperial
Nobility with her position in the Court of Duchess Muktheswara.  There
was no comment on Lady Sihshe-Kom's comments from the office of the
Seneschal of Her Grace and Her Ladyship's Seneschal simply stated,
"We believe the comments stand for themselves."

Beyond the politics, the music critics of the Mertactor system had to admit
the choir's performances had a 'transcendent quality'.  While there was a
lot to discuss about the system's politics, it was generally agreed
by the critics that the choir was worth the price of a ticket to see.
  

As the story continued to cover the various points of view in the Mertactor system, the talking heads noted it was ironic the Pavabidian mission thought they'd miss the Duchess.  It was estimated they would begin their performances in the Glisten system in six weeks' time.  At the same time, released information on the Duchess' travels put her back in that system in eight weeks' time.  So it was possible she might attend one of their last performances.  Or advanced news of her impending arrival might cause them to extend their performances to assure their abilities to perform before Her Grace.

    Jewell (A777999-C A Hi In Cp 623 Im G7 V)              Date: 245-1112
The Imperial Admiralty of the subsector and Jewell command are nervously
watching events in the Thanber and Dekalb systems.  Once Imperial systems,
these became independent space as part of the Second Frontier War treaty.
Due to losses in that war, the Imperium was forced to withdraw the border
trailing.  The situation in the Thanber system has mostly calmed as the
system government has worked to get ahead of and to control Pro-Imperial
protests and fight back drives to force an initiative to re-join the
Imperium.  Analysis of the situation from experts at the University of
Regina suggest the system leadership don't oppose re-entry into the
Imperium.

However, they fear a reactionary move by the Zhodani to prevent the
Imperium gaining an offensive port "right on their doorsteps."  Such
a move would not be one the Imperium could react to without triggering
a wider post-Fifth Frontier War conflict while forces are only now more
fully drawn back and the region is recovering.  Opposing points of
view point out that the Imperial base maintained in the Retinae system is
much closer to the Zhodani border.  Supporters of the move also point
out re-admission of the Thanber system would create an "in-borders"
route to that key defensive base, which is also rumored to be the home to a
secret Imperial research station.

Indeed, the mood of the Imperial Admiralty is one of waiting to
see how things develop so that a new conflict is not ignited.
Additionally, no one has speculated, publicly or privately, on the
reaction of the nascent "Federation of Arden" as that polity begins to
expand their influence in the region.

The situation in the Dekalb system, while slightly similar, was even more
grim.  While there is not as much a drive to re-join the Imperium, and
while they are closer to the Entropic worlds and the newly re-extended
borders of the Darrian Confederation, it appears resistance from the
current government has turned bloody, with assassinations and the
uninvestigated murders of government officials.  The concern of the
Admiralty is that moving in would rubber stamp the hunting down and
murder of those seen as having acted against the will of the system population.
    

    Mire (A665A95-B M Hi Cp 110 M3 V)                                         Date: 252-1112
Authorities in the Darrian Confederation have released a new report on
recovery operations in the Entropic Worlds.  Darrian forces continuing to
repair, rebuild and secure the three systems have been facing increasing
resistance from elements of the population.  It has been recognized that
many biologically Darrian citizens of the systems had grown into lives as
loyal and happy Sword World citizens.  As a result, the Darrian Admiralty
admit they are facing a not-unexpected backlash after generations of
being ruled "by the enemy."

Against the hopes of the high Admiralty, a number of Darrian government
officials have admitted that they might need to repatriate a number of
biologically Darrian citizens to one of the Sword Worlds systems as the
last two generations saw themselves as Sword Worlders under occupation.
Anonymously, some members of the Darrian government and Admiralty
have admitted to concerns of trained Sword Worlds spies coming from
those ranks.  Despite off the record comments, the speculation couldn't be
verified, nor could any authority in the Confederation capital comment on
the question and few officials will entertain meetings on the subject.
   

    Mire (A665A95-B M Hi Cp 110 M3 V)                                          Date: 251-1112
A spokesperson for the Confederation Admiralty have confirmed the
discovery of ruins in the Entrope system, which pre-date all known
sentient settlements in the Spinward Marches sector.  The Lieutenant
Commander confirmed the discovery was made while clearing debris
left behind by the withdrawing Sword Worlds garrison.  A claim denied
by all present government representatives of the various Sword Worlds.
It was confirmed the Darrian Navy had contacted the University of
Zlodh, who had already dispatched an initial team to begin researching
the site.  A spokesperson for the University confirmed they would be
inviting other accredited organizations to assist in the research.  When
asked about the possible identity of the race which had created the
ruins, Professor Zihbh Iaeheheh said that remained to be seen.

In the face of additional questions, the Professor reminded all present
that the only known settlements in the sector before the Major races
were the Ancients.  He was quick to point out that the reports he'd seen
suggested nothing so dramatic as he worked to calm the over-reactions
of some.  The professor then said there was nothing to suggest the ruins
were a fraction as old as that.  He did admit to some excitement at the
potential discovery of another Major race, despite its "apparent loss to
history."  When asked about a number of minor races in the Marches
which could have devolved from this race, Professor Iaeheheh insisted
it was far too early to make such drastic statements of speculation.  The
Professor also refused to speculate on which research organizations
would be invited to participate, though he felt comfortable accepting
that some Imperial researchers would certainly be invited.
       

    Mire (A665A95-B M Hi Cp 110 M3 V)                        Date: 252-1112
A Darrian spokesman for the Darrian Navy's Special Branch released
comments on the situation in the Nonym system.  The released statement,
which included no answers to questions from the media present, stated
conditions in the Nonym system were calming.  As the new system
government assumed it's powers, negotiations with the Confederation
were in the early stages.  Topics expected to be discussed would likely
include subjects like construction of a permanent Darrian naval base in
system and the granting of official Confederation membership to the
system.  Imperial diplomatic and military representatives present refused
any comment and the Confederation government did not provide any
further details at this time.

News from the Nonym system indicated those who had opposed the
establishment of a naval base and supported the former government
had been completely discredited.  After investigations large caches
of compromising data were discovered, including long term goals
and plans for public guidance which might have actively created a
conflict with the Confederation and created the risk for devastation
on a scale no one could have guessed at.  The news from that system
did not include any motives for those claimed initiatives, but as
things settle down, trials have been promised.
           

    Regina (A788899-C A Ri Cp 703 F7 V M8 D M6 V)                       Date: 280-1112
In Credo City, Gelamid Mome was briefly arrested during a public protest
which he claimed began as a peaceful fund raiser.  According to legal
authorities, documents recovered at the scene indicated the event was a
fund raiser, but the intent was certainly not peaceful.  In displayed data
and confiscated flimsies, it was made clear supporters should give to raise
'the Free Payan Navy'.  Other vid-evidence from media coverage clearly
supported this accusation.  Despite these very obvious moves, Mr. Mome's
councilor made it clear these were just the "unfortunate lunatic fringe",
which could be seen with any cause.  He was clear Mr. Mome could not be
held responsible for the lunatic fringe and suggested the Reginan
authorities might have allowed those elements more room to operate
exactly so they could taint the Payan network's cause.

In the face of this activity, the Payan government refused to dignify the
claims with an answer.  An unidentified member of the government did say
any assault on the system would be met with deadly force.  Imperial Naval
authorities made it clear they were working to resolve the issue without
bloodshed.
                         

    Hammermium (A5525AB-B Ni Po 535 M3 III)                         Date: 280-1112
The Hammermium Corp Mining and Minerals Division have issued requests
for increased security from the system government.  The corporation stated
their facilities were being increasingly targeted in the unrest in-system.
With the relative peace of the system, insulated from the war, and the
increased profits the war caused, the corporation's citizen workers were
demanding increased shares of that wealth and access to consumer and
luxury goods.  Government forces in-system have been ordered to step
lightly, to this point, because some claims are directed at the Count of
Hammermium himself.  Both he and the Hammermium Corporation are
blamed by many for not allowing the population to share in the lifestyles
they have been making possible.

When the office of the Seneschal was asked for a comment from Her
Excellency, the Countess of Hammermium, the response was that Her
Excellency had no comment on the current state of affairs.  When the
Seneschalate spokesperson was asked about Her Excellency's health
and whereabouts, the officer also gave no comment.
                         

    Rhylanor (A434934-F 2 Green Hi Cap 910 M2 V6)                    Date: 315-1112
Duke Leonard's Seneschal has announced the Duke has ordered a flotilla
of his own vessels to the Kegina system.  The statement made it clear
his commanding Admiral was to use those forces to investigate claims
of forced colonization of that system by the government of the Bevey
system.  When questioned on the likelihood of naval or ground action,
the Seneschal made it clear no decisions had yet been made.

The media were reminded this investigation was just beginning.  TAS
adds to this report an available file on the situation in the Kegina
system.  Two parsecs apart, the higher tech and over-populated Bevey
system had begun what they claimed to be free immigration, supported
by the people of the Kegina system.  Conditions had reportedly degraded
to the point where mock governments had been set up in cases of "Might
makes Right" which now appears to be forcing the citizens of Kegina to
guerilla responses.  There were no comments made by representatives
of both sides.
                

    Jewell (A777999-C A Hi In Cp 623 Im G7 V);                     Date: 252-1112
Imperial Military authorities have announced they have let a contract to
construct permanent Imperial Naval and Scout bases in the Denuli system
(formerly the 567-908 system).  Adding to the surprise of the move, the
Admiralty said the action was being taken with the full approval of the
system's native sentient population, where no data on any such population
had been documented.  Nor were the spokespeople forthcoming when asked
"what sentient population?" leaving the subject open for rumor
and speculation.
                  

As that story droned on, stating the contract had been granted to a consortium of LSP, Imperialines and General Products, LIC, Mikah speculated that they may just have found a new sophont race.  The crew discussed that as the next story covered the growing wave of nobility making their way to the Rhylanor system to meet the Arch Duke's command.  A second wave of protests was also being raised by the Seneschals of many nobility stating the six-month limit imposed was less than realistic.  The crew watched as the coverage went from official statements to the speculation of the talking heads, who largely believed this was about re-distribution of the fiefdoms in the Marches.  That story faded into light coverage of the newly hot war in the Porozlo system.  Most recently, forces of the "free trade" nation of New Jindabyne have engaged those of its "private ownership" neighbors Sertao Forros and Ko Qiquiang with mercenaries streaming in for tickets.

Reports from the Porozlo system said the main fronts have formed up and there were no reports of any offensive penetrations yet.  While long range bombing and missile exchanges were likely, the Imperial Navy has cautioned all belligerents against the deployment or use of orbital weapons platforms.  Regardless of that warning, there is some speculation what might be possible given the varied off-world alliances maintained, even by the private ownership nations.  As the news continued, and the crew watched in between their own conversations, there was a small note on a rogue vessel in-system.  The report stated that the vessel was captured by system authorities and the Imperial Navy would be investigating and questioning all survivors.  While the suggestion there were multiple survivors grated, the report did not give details and Aali joked about the one survivor, "In the brief window between his medical recovery and his execution."

At nine, when he was done, Munarshu called the port to ask about the status of his missing Ident?  When he called the port, he was told that issue was in the hands of the authorities on Equus, and gave him a planet-side number to call.  But that required Mikah's permission so he could call downwell to check on the case.  When he asked Mikah for permission to call the number planetside, she realized he'd very quickly find out they already had his Ident and that they were somehow involved in his treatment by station security.  At first, Mikah thought about prolonging things as she carelessly said, "No you can't." and considered her options.  But she quickly realized the game would get harder to play and deliver less fun, so she said, "well, wait here."  With that, as Munarshu realized he had no idea what was going on, Mikah got up and went to her stateroom.  When she returned, Mikah had the package Munarshu saw the port security man give her when he was returned to her custody.  He also remembered the security man showing it to the Consular Minister on Equus.  Reaching into the package, she pulled out an Ident.

Mikah casually said, "I guess we forgot to give this back to you." as if she'd forgotten to turn out the lights in a compartment.  Munarshu did his best to swallow his reaction and say, "Thank you, Ma'am."  Mikah sternly told him, "Try not to lose it this time." That got laughs from the rest of the gathered crew. And with that backdrop, as Munarshu confirmed the Ident was in full working order, Mikah reminded him he was still grounded. Accepting that silently, Munarshu asked Mikah if he could move from his berth to one of the staterooms in the ship's berth and Mikah asked him why? When Munarshu said, "So I could have a change of scenery." Mikah said he could. But she said he could not shop without a chaperone, which could not be Terin. In the laughs that followed, Terin said he didn't want to. With that permission, Munarshu checked his Ident to find the thief did not spend any of his money while he had the Ident. After that, Munarshu went to move his gear, set his alarm for 5am and hit the rack. And once he'd moved, Mikah had Rol lock the ship's portals and disable Munarshu's access codes. Eventually, the rest of the crew also faded off to sleep.


Scans, Scams and Target Shots

     At 5am, Munarshu began his regular schedule, waking up in the berth stateroom he'd moved to, and completed his morning routine by 5:30am.  Planning to start a container of caff for the crew in the ship's lounge, Munarshu headed to the ship's air lock and hit the open stud, but got no reaction!  Checking the portal's status, Munarshu saw it was locked.  Shrugging, Munarshu entered his passcode as a crew member, and that didn't work either!  Returning to the stateroom, Munarshu decided to wait for someone to wake up as he turned on a vid and watched a 30-min news cycle.  Deciding to wait until 6:45, Munarshu also used the staterooms terminal to search for a sonic probe.  Once he realized he wouldn't find one, he moved to the air lock hoping to get the attention of someone in the crew.

At 6am, Rol's alarm had gone off and he began his morning.  When he got into the lounge, Rol was surprised to not find Munarshu waiting for him.  The lights were not activated and there appeared no activities aboard.  Recalling Mikah had specifically asked him to lock the ship's portals the night before, Rol checked the air locks outside, however Munarshu was in the stateroom he'd used and was waiting until 6:45 to try to get anyone's attention.  Once Rol confirmed everything was as expected, he returned to the lounge to cook breakfast for the crew.  While Rol did this, the alarm went off in Aali and Emkir's stateroom.  Eventually, at 6:45, Munarshu sparked up his comms and asked "Is anybody up?" on one of the crew's general channels.  As Rol cooked breakfast, he heard Munarshu's voice come out of the comms.  Sadly for them, so did Terin, Mikah, Zimzod, Fesic and Aiden.  As he was woken by the sound, Terin simply grabbed his comms and cut the transmission before trying to return to sleep.

Mikah grabbed her comms and asked, "Rol, Are you awake?"  When Rol said he was, Mikah told him he could let Munarshu back in the ship in an exasperated tone.  As she said this, Zimzod snapped, "Would you let mister clean in?" as Munarshu heard all the replies to his request and realized his carelessness had woken most of the crew.  Rol simply demanded, "What are you doing out there?"  When Munarshu said, "Sleeping.  I figured I'd get a change of scenery, since I'm stuck on board ship."  the last said in a pouty voice which ignored the fact he was confined to ship due to his own actions.  When Rol asked why he didn't use his ID code, Munarshu said he had.  Nodding to himself, Rol set the meal to warm and went to open the air lock and let Munarshu in.  In their stateroom, Mikah and Zimzod decided they were awake and might as well get up.  As Rol asked Munarshu how long he'd been outside and the engineer said "Since about 5:30", Zimzod and Mikah began their morning routine.  Rol mentioned to Munarshu that he'd woken everyone up and the engineer said he "could have" woken them up at 5:30, ignoring the fact that recognizing basic common sense did not win you prizes.

Aali and Emkir had been going through their morning routine when the drama began.  Catching on quickly, Emkir turned the sound on the comms up and laughed and snickered at the episode.  By 7:15, they were in the lounge to find the food ready and Rol and Munarshu eating.  As Emkir and Aali greeted them, Aiden had also been woken by the show and gotten up.  He eventually got to the lounge at the same time Fesic did, after Emkir, Aali, Mikah and Zimzod.  Terin had tried to get the last fifteen minutes of sleep back, but just lay there until he got up.  He would get to the lounge after Aiden.  By 7:45, the whole crew were eating or had eaten as they displayed various attitudes toward Munarshu.  As he arrived and Munarshu was just leaving the lounge for engineering, Fesic asked Munarshu to start working harder on the classes he'd been taking to increase his general intelligence, getting a laugh from almost all present.  When Munarshu answered, "It's something I work on every day", Fesic gave a sharp nod and said, "Work a little harder." in a tone that suggested every little bit might help.

Watching that exchange, Aali simply shook her head sadly and sighed.  Munarshu did ask her if she had any special jobs for him other than continuing to disconnect hull sections.  She added that she'd join him at some point in the morning.  From there, Munarshu went to work in engineering until lunch.  Once Rol finished cleaning up, he checked the list of work items he had to do and considered the armor to be repaired after their most recent shootout on the rogue ship.  Once he was done with that, Rol started to work on repairing his armor for the morning.  This was entirely "composite repair" as he only had combat armor.  He'd have to investigate the damage to Zimzod's battledress to make sure no internal components were damaged in the battle.  As he arrived for chow, Terin asked when they expected to have the ship moved to dry dock for repairs and Mikah said that would be in a few weeks.

After they ate, Aali and Emkir checked on the filter program they'd left running over night.  Thanks to the run-time, they found there were a decent number of hits which they could start investigating, but it was still processing.  Once they'd checked on that, Aali went to engineering while Emkir saw Terin coming to eat breakfast and sat to talk to him about his interest in computers.  Surprised he remembered, but pleased with the Admiral's interest, Terin explained that he was looking for advice in improving his computer related skills.  When Emkir said that would be something he'd get from a class or teaching software, Terin agreed and said he was looking for Emkir's advice on which classes to take.  Emkir had to admit he had nothing like that in his possessions to loan Terin.  But as he talked to the scout, Emkir got the feeling that Terin was a good investment.  Not to mention, improving Terin's skills would also improve the overall team.  So an idea was growing in Emkir's mind.

Once Emkir explained that he might be interested in laying out some cash to get Terin an actual virtual class, the two men moved to a terminal to shop.  They looked for something appropriate for Terin's existing level of skill an appropriate for the IT systems aboard the ship.  After a good half hour shopping and comparing, the men found some packages that would suit Terin's needs.  The least expensive of the packages was Cr 4,000 and the most expensive was Cr 6,000.  Once downloaded and installed on the ship's computer, Terin would have to complete a given amount of hours study and work each week until he completed either course, which estimated a length of 18 months to two years.  Of course, this would have to be balanced with his stent-work and his work for the ship.  As the compared and contrasted, Emkir offered to help buy Terin buy the Cr 4,000 class!  Emkir also pointed out that this would give Terin a structured course with which Emkir could tutor him as well.

When they discussed the price, it turned out Terin had much less cash than Emkir thought, so he comm'd Aali.  In engineering, Aali listened as Emkir pitched buying the class for Terin outright.  As she listened, Aali agreed the idea was worth the expense and they had more than enough cash.  So with Aali's approval, Emkir said he'd buy Terin the class and left the Scout with nothing to do but say "Thank you."  With that, Emkir plugged his Ident into the terminal port and began the hour-long download.
       TL B Computer class Details:
           ( covering concepts from 201 level to 250 level:
           Data and Algorithm Structures, Discrete Mathematics, Processing System
           Architecture and Hardware Design, Pizo-Electronic Theory, Introduction to
           Chaos Math, Computer Architecture and Organization, Design & Analysis of
           Algorithms, Introduction to Heuristic Systems ) - 2 year class
Once the download was started, Terin settled in to spend the hour working with his stent.  With Aali working in engineering, Emkir decided to do something new with the morning.  So he went to Aiden and asked the pilot if he wanted to go shooting?  When Aiden asked "where?" Emkir said there had to be a local range and Aiden agreed.  As they checked the port-web for a range, Terin joked, "Make sure Emkir's in front of you."

After 7:30, Mikah and Zimzod had shared food, conversation and news with those awake at breakfast.  During the news, Mikah checked what, on the station, might be of use or entertaining.  As she checked, and Zimzod suggested some shopping, Mikah saw she'd gotten a message from station central, to be read "at her earliest convenience."  When she checked it, there was a request to call the station master when she might have the time.  Sighing and deciding there was no better time, Mikah called and was connected to the port master.  Once the pleasantries were over, Mikah was told they needed her to move the Hotel California to a shipyard to scan the hull and begin fabricating the hull plates.

When they asked how soon she could move the ship, she and Zimzod both asked, "How about now?"  They quickly corrected, saying they could get moving as soon as they could batten things on the ship down.  When Mikah asked how long they'd be leaving the ship in dry dock, the station master said this would be a half day task to scan the hull to model the plating.  During that time, they would also have technicians board and test the ship's sensor systems and electronics to get a better understanding of the parts needed.  As others in the compartment began moving to secure items and possessions or prepare for the move, Mikah comm'd Aali to let her know what was happening.  In engineering, Aali was preparing for her day's work along with Munarshu.  Considering the situation, Aali realized this meant nothing to her until they got to the archology so she acknowledged the information and began her work.

As Emkir and Aiden heard of the move, they considered their options.  They had been planning to go and get some shooting practice in, but with the ship moving they had to decide if they'd still do that?  Eventually, they realized they could still spend the morning shooting and then have lunch at a restaurant and, if needed, shop until the ship returned to the port.  As the two men talked about the gun practice, Zimzod asked if they wanted to take Munarshu with them, as he wouldn't be needed during that work.  When Emkir comm'd Munarshu and asked if he wanted to come, the engineer said, "Nah".  When Aiden heard that, he joked, "I'll let you use my gun", as if that were an incentive.  Everyone in the compartment who heard that broke into laughter.

That left Mikah to decide who'd pilot the ship to the dry dock, and as she asked herself, Fesic volunteered.  When questioned, she learned that Fesic had spent most of his Scout career moving ships from one point in-system to another in the Flammarion system.  So he was very uniquely qualified for this repositioning work.  With that, Mikah accepted Fesic's offer but also planned to be his co-pilot.  She then added his flight credentials to the crew listings and security authorizations.  As Mikah planned to do that, Zimzod decided to join Aiden and Emkir in shooting practice.  Terin had been monitoring his download when he got the word the ship was going to be moved.  He first checked the download, which was almost done, and saw that they could keep the computer connected to the port-web for enough of the distance that the process would complete properly.

After that, Terin offered to pilot the ship and Mikah told him that Fesic would do it, which left Munarshu as the only qualified ship's pilot without authorizations to work any bridge stations.  Once things were put in motion, and as Fesic flew, Mikah and he chatted and she got to know his history a bit better.  Once at the station, the ship was positioned and the bay was secured before the work began.  Once they started their work, Fesic excused himself and went to the cargo bay to get in a few hours study with the cargo sealing device.  As he did that, Mikah read up on some medical journals.  Aali had a different experience because, as the ship's chief engineer, the shipyard engineers came looking for her.  As they spoke, Aali tried to investigate how much wiggle room there was for any kind of upgrades to their sensors?

The yard team leader made a few points.  He said they could do some 'under the table' upgrades for cash, but the work couldn't inordinately extend the work time.  So if they did agree to something that improved the ship's sensors, they'd have to work on "all" of the hull rather than just the damaged section.  Once Aali agreed with the restrictions, they asked what she was looking for in an upgrade?  Aali admitted her golden wish would be full military capabilities for a ship the size of the "Hotel California", based on the desires Mikah had expressed.  Aali also admitted what her captain wanted might not be possible.  As she and the team lead talked, the man's back-staff were working on datapads, considering the work needed to upgrade the ship's avionics.  They told their boss the "easy way" to get away with that was to fake an increased damage report for a wider section of the hull sensors.  This would give them the chance to replace more of the hull and give them full working access to the avionics to swap hardware.

As the crew were likely paying for this from their share of the salvage Kakishuu and the repair was already rubber stamped by the Imperial Navy, no one would bother to check their data.  The second consideration would be replacing the sensor surface-mount technology.  As Aali realized this work would encompass the entire ship's surface and worried about the additional time, she was told this wouldn't be an issue.  The team boss pointed out that, with a well-trained and experienced team, this could be done very quickly.  He did admit there would be a lot more man-hours over the same work days, but said that would not be an issue because he could claim to be working teams hard to get the ship closer to shipping out to service contracts.  That was entirely believable and would not be back-checked.  That brought them to the most difficult part of the effort.

That was the work to, not only disconnect the cables, but actually remove and replace all the cables ship-wide.  This would involve more of the 'crawling through tight spaces' to disconnect wiring but also opening conduit spaces and ripping into paneling and bulkheads, to remove and replace those cables with cables for the upgrade.  The team boss said that would be an issue, as there would be a lot of work away from the hull sections.  But, while that would be a royal pain in the ass, the team boss admitted that they'd save some time as the crew had already pulled some cables and they could "disco" the remaining cables as they removed the hull plating ship-wide.  So some of it balanced out while there would still be more time and cost.  When Aali asked how much they were talking, the team boss asked how much they had to spend?  With a sinking feeling in her gut, Aali comm'd Mikah to explain what she'd learned and ask how much they had in their war chest?

Mikah said they should be getting salvage from the Kakishuu, but admitted she did not know what that would be?  As they needed something concrete, Mikah mentioned the cash they knew they were getting for the cutter, which was MCr 14.  Accepting that, Aali told the boss they could start with the MCr 14 figure the crew had, and use that to determine the actual figure.  With the ball back in their court, the techs did their work with the numbers and systems before the boss turned back to Aali with a smile.  He told the expectant engineer, "We can probably get the systems installed and done in the time we need for MCr 10."  When they told Mikah that, she told Aali she'd be down in engineering to meet the team boss personally.  Before Mikah left the bridge, she called the Lt. Commander she'd dealt with on the cruiser to make sure the money would be available.

When Mikah reached the Lt. Commander, he said the reports had been filed and the funds should be in their ship's accounts within the next two days and gave her a confirmation number.  She thanked him, called for Fesic to join her in engineering and went to meet with the engineers.  As she was introduced around, Mikah shared the evil grins as they conspired in the silent plot.  Once the deal for the new sensor grid was set, the yard team leader said, "This should leave you with MCr 4 left in your spending budget.  What would you like to do with those four million?"  As he asked the question, the man's eyes glinted even more at the hope of continued profits.  Asking about upgrading the ship's weapons, the tech team leader said they had a mount they could replace one of the ship's laser turrets with.  That would allow them to mount a pair of particle accelerator weapons.

At first excited, Mikah and Aali discussed it but Fesic asked if anyone in the crew were trained with that class of ship's weapon?  Not only were there none, but Fesic said the gunners had been at wit's end with six laser barrels to defend them against repeated missile barrages.  This change would give them a slightly longer offensive reach but would be useless in that kind of defense.  If they had made that change before the recent battle, the odds were very high they'd be nothing but space dust, or frozen corpses in a drifting hulk.  Mikah reluctantly admitted that wouldn't be the best choice for the ship.  Once they exhausted the offensive options, and admitted there was no tonnage for new defensive systems or screens, the techs turned to computer assisted capabilities.  And while a number of the packages available were for larger vessels, they did find they could get a "Maneuver 2/Evade" program that would help the active pilot evade inbound fire.  As this all happened, Terin finished his download and started digging into the class after having installed the program.

Mikah was warned this would not be a sudden change, taking thirty to forty minutes to swap standard for evade programs.  In that time, their engineer would need to allow the bridge to manually operate the ship while their computer officer tried to shave time off the dump/load times.  On the station, Zimzod practiced with his AutoRifle, .45 and his gauss rifle.  Emkir specifically wanted to practice with his speed-loaders.  So he used the loaders to re-load his revolver while also working with loose rounds to reload the speed-loaders.  Switching back and forth, he also brought his rifle, so he would not train his muscles to "only" work well with the speed-loaders when he was only using them and no other weapon.  Aiden brought his LAG and his new dual-ammo snub pistol.  Each man ended up paying Cr 240 for the ammo they burned through and had their weapons cleaned at the range for Cr 5 each, to give Rol a break.

Once the negotiations in engineering were completed, Mikah made sure the remaining MCr 2 would get funneled into the ship's funds after having seen the costs to replace even minor systems.  After that, she returned to the ship's bridge and reading medical journals until lunch.  Aali returned to helping Munarshu get work done.  Fesic went back to training with the sealing system until lunch and continued after.  Once it came time, Rol cooked lunch for those aboard ship while the yard techs finished their work.  The crew ate before their departure, and then Fesic returned to the bridge and they flew back to the port.  As they left, the techs had said the ship should perform as normal except for a growing sensor blind-spot as they detached electronics connections.  They also said they'd installed diagnostic systems to the ship's sensors because it was expected for the original repairs.  They told Mikah to have her crew ignore those, as they'd be removed when the rest of the sensor systems were replaced.  They eventually were secure back in their berth by 12:30pm.


An Afternoon's Plans And Play

     Once back at the port, Mikah checked on the guys who went shooting and found they'd had lunch at some up-scale restaurant.  Now, they were on their way back to the berth.  Since they had no plans, Mikah checked to see what there was to do on the station?  As she did that, Aali returned to engineering, planning to do that until dinner.  Rol planned to put two hours into shopping for a virtual combat system to use for training.  As he searched, Rol did come across a system, listed as having been sold to a local pawn shop by the captain of an armed trader.  As Rol checked the details, he found the software came with a strong recommendation it not be used unless the ship was landed in a berth and the computer otherwise not in use.  Reading more, Rol found the software took over the ship's computer to turn the interior of the ship into a virtual battlefield.  Then, with mounts added to the participant's weapons, the system was like a TAG man to man combat simulator.  Checking the price, Rol was surprised to see they only wanted KCr 100 for the software and knew such programs normally went for much more.

Interested, but knowing he needed Mikah's approval, Rol comm'd the captain to ask.  When Rol told her about it, Mikah was, at first, very skeptical.  Still, he sold it to her based on the privacy it provided due to their experiences at the virtual combat venue in the Rhylanor system.  When Mikah asked about the computer usage, Rol admitted the program would take over nearly the entire system.  Rol was up-front about the need to be sitting in a port when the software was in use.  Another down-side to the software was that it only turned the interior of the ship into a virtual battlefield, and the ship's interior was a very small space.  Still, Rol liked the system, so Mikah said they should bring Zimzod into the conversation.  Comming Zimzod, Mikah opened, "Oh Zimmy-poo..."  Walking back to the ship's berth, enjoying the looks on people's faces as they saw him, Emkir and Aiden festooned with weapons, Zimzod answered his comms.  As she called 'Zimmy-poo', he answered, "Yeah cuddle-buns?"

Once he was in the conversation, Mikah told Zimzod about the software with Rol adding details where needed.  Another downside was that the software didn't create avatars, so the entire crew couldn't fight on the same side in training.  While Zimzod liked the idea, he reminded them their ship's interior was a small area.  That was added to the other negatives, like having to be in port for significant time in order to use it.  Eventually, they decided the downsides were not too bad and they all admitted the crew needed some training.  So Mikah decided the ship should invest in the system and spent the KCr 100.  Once Rol contacted the pawnshop, the purchase was quickly made and the shop began the download to the Hotel California's computer.  That would take most of the day, due to the size of the software package, and the shop would send the packet of hardware and documentation to the ship.  After the download was started, Rol went to more personal shopping.

As Emkir, Aiden and Zimzod returned to the ship, Mikah had gone back to looking for fun things to do on the station.  Emkir had settled down to do some work on the cypher the Kakishuu had used in his logs.  He hoped to learn more about the people and plans behind the ship's activities.  Aiden greeted the others and as he checked in with Mikah, she decided to call a crew meeting.  As the call went out, everyone either secured what they were doing or set aside plans as they gathered in the lounge.  Once she had their attention, Mikah said they all knew the ship had been scanned for repairs after the battle.  She then happily announced she'd cut a deal and they'd be getting a new military-grade sensor suite.  She then grandly said "And..." as she told them about the maneuver software.  Turing to Aiden, Mikah said, "So, Merry Christmas Aiden!"  When Mikah asked if anyone else wanted to bring up anything, Rol told the others about the software he'd found.  He said they'd soon be able to run combat drills in the ship.  As they all nodded, Rol said, "I look forward to giving you all lumps."

As that faded into silence as some thought back on the exercises on Rhylanor, Munarshu asked for permission to call planet-side.  When Mikah asked "Why", he said he wanted to call a police captain in Ulir city.  As Rol and Fesic asked questions, Mikah again asked, "Why?"  When Munarshu said, "About the case", Mikah was not the only one to ask "What case", as Munarshu and Terin hadn't told anyone the details of events on-world.  Stopping to consider his words, "Munarshu answered, "The folks down on the planet who provided the smuggler with whatever package...  I'd like to talk to the officer in charge of that investigation."  Of course, this was a massive set of assumptions as Munarshu had no idea if the thief was a smuggler, if there was a "package" or how the office workers were involved?  But since Mikah did not know the details, she had no way to know Munarshu was asking for permission to make an idiot out of himself based on his assumptions.

Shrugging, Mikah said, "Alright.  Go ahead after the meeting's over." and Munarshu thanked her.  Then Fesic asked if the cargo sealing system could be moved off the ship so he could continue his studies even while the ship was being worked on?  Mikah reminded them all that the ship would only be in the shipyard for a little more than a week, not the entire month.  So the entire crew had several weeks to carry out their projects and plans.  And once the ship was in the shipyard, the crew could remain aboard.  Those who remained aboard would be stuck on the ship, in the yard.  Mikah did say there would need to be someone aboard as security no matter what.  Those who wanted to volunteer to stay with the ship could stay aboard and continue their activities uninterrupted.  Those who didn't want to do so could move there things into the berth and, once the ship was moved and the berth re-pressurized, continue their activities on the station.  they could even berth the cutter so they could travel from the station on their own.

Fesic said he didn't want to be stuck in shipyard for ten days and wanted to move the cargo sealer into the berth.  Emkir suggested they lock up the ship's systems and supplies and not have anyone aboard as security, to reduce the liabilities the engineering firm would have to deal with.  Mikah reminded Emkir that they didn't have a problem with a crew member staying aboard as that was standard practice when the Admiral said they should not bother the yard crews.  Rol pointed out that, as ship's security, he would be the most logical person to handle that job.  When Fesic suggested they have the entire crew remain aboard so they can use the time using the combat training software, he was told they couldn't do that as there would be workers from the yard moving about the ship.  As a result, running about with weapons and scaring workers would result in bad things.  Rol also pointed out that they had a few weeks before they had to decide it so they shouldn't panic now.  After that, as the meeting broke up, Rol planned to go out to catch a vid in a theatre and started getting his gear in order.

After the crew meeting, Munarshu tried to reach the police captain he and Terin had dealt with in Ulir city.  When he got the captain's voice mail, Munarshu said, "This is Munarshu.  If you could give me a call back, I'd like to offer my assistance with your issue."  With that, he cut the line and returned to work in engineering.  Aiden settled in to do some more stent work until dinner as Terin decided to look and see if there was an amusement park on the station?  He quickly found there were several over the different sections of the station, with one fairly close by.  As he checked it out, Terin found that it had everything from water rides to thrill rides to family entertainment.  The most interesting of rides were "gravitic force exchange" and virtual rides for the most daring.  Caught by the idea, Terin pushed the image onto the lounges main screen and said, "Hey, look at this!"

Fesic had left the crew meeting to return to and get his planned five hours training done on the cargo sealing system as Mikah and Zimzod were looking for something fun to do.  It was soon after everyone found things to do that Terin got on the all ship comms and asked everyone, "Who wants to go to an amusement park?"  Joining Terin and checking the place out on the web, Zimzod asked "What do you think?" and Mikah said, "Let's go." and called everyone on the ship to gather.  When Aali asked, "Including Gladys?" she was told to bring him along by Zimzod.  Grudgingly, Mikah agreed he should come along too.  Because it was on-station, so it was free, Zimzod announced, "My Treat!"  Surprisingly, while Munarshu was reticent to go, it was Fesic who asked, "What am I?  Thirteen?  An amusement park?"  Committed to completing five hours training that day, Fesic asked if they could leave in an hour?  When she heard this, Mikah demanded, "Why?  What do you have, OCD?  Let's go!" and Fesic said, "Finee, I'll go." in that drawn out fashion and stressed "I" that suggested he was perhaps thirteen after all.

Once that was settled, Munarshu decided to put up his won fight, refusing to go because his Ident was stolen the last time he went where Terin suggested.  Of course, this was a complete fabrication as Terin had followed him to Ulir city and, at Munarshu's urging, they had both followed Mak's lead to the bar as Munarshu was certain he could do without sleep.  Terin pointed out the flaws in Munarshu's logic while the engineer stood firm on his demand to remain with the ship.  When Aali said, "What could he do with the ship while we're gone?"  Rol answered "Lock himself out."  That got a few laughs, because of the morning's antics, before Mikah ordered Munarshu to come with them.  And faced with orders from his captain, Munarshu submitted while Zimzod asked why Munarshu was acting so ass hurt?  Once attendance was settled, Mikah called for a transport and they all headed out for the park.  When Mikah announced that the ride, free thanks to the port, was her treat, Zimzod said, "Hey!  Stop stealing my lines." and they laughed.

Getting into the vehicle, Mikah called the park and said they had nine total crew on the way.  The park started pre-processing the tickets while Mikah gave them names.  Realizing this was a group of Imperial nobles visiting the system the park assigned the crew a concierge.  Once they arrived, Mikah gave the driver a Cr 30 tip and the concierge organized them without batting an eye at their weapons.  Despite the apparent safety, Mikah had her laser pistol, Zimzod, Aiden, Aali and Rol had snub pistols and Emkir had a 9mm.  She told them they'd have fast tracks, so they wouldn't have to wait on lines.  The crew were also given a list of restaurants on-park and asked where they wanted to have their meals?  This would include dinner and a "midnight chow" if they stayed that late?  When Mikah asked when they closed, she was told the park is open all the time, every day!

Mikah quickly made dinner reservations at the best restaurant on the park and then they chose a list of rides to hit in order before moving out on electric carts.  As the concierge planned how to hit all the rides, or just repeatedly hit the best rides, Mikah said the team would stay together and try to hit all the rides in the park.  When she was told about Rol and Zimzod's recent wounds, the concierge recommended certain rides the men not try going on.  At certain rides, they had to play "hand off" with their weapons or take a ride in groups so they were never on a ride armed.  This did have the unintended side effect of having hordes of riders passing by heavily armed crew members waiting for the others.  In those cases where Rol and Zimzod were waiting a ride out, they did their best to compare wounds while Rol checked out the girls.

As the afternoon wore on to evening and past dinner, Rol was not surprisingly the first member of the crew to begin fading.  Still, they had been at the park five hours by that time and he'd had lots of fun.  As far as coverage was concerned, the park was huge.  And the crew had repeated on a number of rides, so they'd ridden a fair percentage of the park's thrill rides but not nearly all of them.  Along the way, Fesic made sure to stick his tongue out at those watching the crew cut all the lines and especially targeted the kids.  And as they repeated rides, Zimzod would pick out one person in the crowd and say, "Hey! Didn't I see you not far from here the last time I cut this line?"  When Rol started to fade, he also started volunteering to be the designated gun handler.  A few hours later, Mikah started to fade as well, and joined Rol on the sidelines when she didn't have the energy to challenge a certain ride.  A few hours after Mikah, the rest of the crew started feeling the time, especially Munarshu who was well past his bedtime. At 10pm, they started considering how much of the park they still had not visited.  And which rides they wanted to ride again.

The concierge jumped on this, hyping the parks "twofer" deal, where they paid for the one day and got the second for free, showing she didn't know how the crew had paid for their tickets.  Laboring under the belief they'd paid for tickets and meals in advance, she thought she was getting the crew to spend more on food the next day.  And much to Fesic's disgust, they set up a second day's return to the park.  So while they waited for the cab the concierge called, a map was laid out and plans made for the next day's assault.  When they finally left the park for the ship, they had a drawn out plan for hitting all the new rides and revisiting those rides they'd liked.  The plan also had spare time built in to hit new favorites over and again.  As they rode, it was clear Aali enjoyed everything the most and Emkir thought it had been fun.  Rol thought the park was "OK" and Aiden had fun too.  Mikah enjoyed it, though it was a bit much for her and Zimzod liked it.  Like Rol, Terin thought it was OK.  Munarshu thought it sucked while Fesic had a great time!  Still, Fesic was just as annoyed at going back the next day as Munarshu was.  They got back to the ship by 11:30 and they set alarms as everyone settled down for sleep.


Where everyone is at the end of the session:

     Everyone: Settling down to sleep

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Next: From One Ride To Another