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Dinner And Shots

     After having tested and saved the Baronet, Saved the Baroness and solved the prison killing, the team were finally enjoying a moment of peace. More, they were enjoying the newly granted estates of the esteemed Sir Rol Kaihvos. With two more days work to be done on the ship's air raft bay and the local good will, the crew could relax for a bit. But not before dinner. As they toured the estate's kitchen, they were very appreciative and let Rol know they expected him to be able to cook good things in his own kitchen.

But as they began to look to using the kitchen, the kitchen master stepped forward and suggested it was the staff's job to serve his guests. Accepting that, Rol asked them to have the staff cook up "something interesting for us". At his nod, the rest of the staff moved in with the kitchen master and asked each of the visitors questions about their tastes and interests. They then went to the task, preparing almost individual meals for each of the diners. Despite the danger of giving the staff their lead, the kitchen seemed to enjoy the challenge and rose to it. Once done with the meal, Emkir managed to find the estate's wet bar! As he prepared to enjoy breaking that in, Rol considered other options as Fesic suggested they lock up the chairs!

Coming up with a better idea, Rol invited them all to try out his new firing range! Since they were all armed and interested, they followed Rol into the basement leaving the staff to clean up. Especially Aali, who led Emkir while letting him keep the tumbler of scotch he'd poured. Zimzod agreed largely because Rol's bar didn't come with cigars. The range included small hovering androids which not only deployed targets to points in the range but also carried them while creating moving targets, for additional challenge. When Rol tried, he found he could not shoot down the minimally intelligent but well-armored devices. On the range, they spent several hours firing at targets from the well-stocked supply of basic ammunition types. As they started shooting, Rol quietly told his head of house Emkir was limited to three drinks.

During the range-shooting, Terin separated from the team and had the staff bring him to the estate's "study". Not a devoted library, the room had shelves of datapads and a central data storage system from which to reload them. More importantly, it had a network-connected research station. That was the prize Terin hoped for, in order to continue his research. He understood he couldn't connect with his session, and already completed work, back at the Duke's palace, but could do additional side research. Any data he developed from that could be emailed back to his account at the palace to be added in later. So while the others enjoyed the range, Terin worked in what the staff referred to as "the reading room."

By 9pm, they started talking about returning to the Duke's palace. Especially Aali, who wanted to work with the engineers on the California's air raft bays the next day. She and Munarshu also had to check the 'droids and work on the ship's engines. Terin said he wanted to get back so he could get back to his research on Sonthert. After they decided to return to the palace, they let the driver know and he moved the grav car out of the vehicle barn. All aboard, the trip was quick and they found their suites ready and waiting. Most of the crew went to their suites while Terin and Fesic went to the library.

As Terin reactivated his session, he began recovering the data he'd sent to himself via email and realized it would take him several hours to see what he could integrate into his main work. Of the other work done, he discarded what turned out to be duplicate data and put the other data into side files to use, if possible, later. When Fesic offered to assist, they discussed Terin's strategy regarding the work and how he could help? Since sharing the shearing down of additional data and adding it to the main would slow Terin down, he assigned Fesic to work on an adjunct research project he'd hoped to add to the main thesis.

After freshing up, Aali checked on the work that had been done on the California as Mikah suggested the crew see a movie together before bed. While Munarshu begged off, saying it was past his bedtime, the others decided to see a dramatic horror flick. As they left, Bhreker remained behind to do Instel-Arms paperwork and then turn in. Paying Cr 5 each, those who went to the movies got back before the 2am "stopping point" Terin and Fesic planned on. So the two were the last to bed.


Finding Peace Or Death

     As the crew began waking Sunday morning, they found that the rolling food service was indeed a natural feature of life for guests in the palace. Once done eating, Aali went to where the ship was parked to work on the engineering systems and monitor those working on the raft bay. Fesic had planned to sleep in, so he could get a full night's sleep before returning to his work. Rol decided to check to see if he could see anything in the news of his homeworld.

On the frontier's edge, the amber-zoned Keng system was part of a cluster of three systems near the Vargr border coreward of Regina. Of the three systems, the Shionthy system's main attraction was its asteroid belt, but that system was interdicted. As Keng was amber-zoned and very dry, its E-class starport was not much of a draw. So the Moughas system and its C-Class port was the most popular stopover for ships making passage back and forth between the Regina and Aramis subsectors. As a result, ships visited the world on average once a month, so packet news from home would start with that delay at best. From there, it was still weeks before carried data would make it back to a Scout base or x-boat route, with the most reliable being the Feri system Imperial Scout Base.

From there, it would take the six-week old news another nine weeks to arrive in the Lunion system. So the newest word Rol could hope for was 63 days old! With less than nostalgia, Rol recalled that lined up with the time the crew of the Hotel California spent in the Equus system, setting up for repairs after the battle with the blockade runner. Rol spared a moment of reflection for the crew of the Skygge Sturek. Digging into the news he could bring up from Keng, things seemed to have been grim as the last year was coming to a close. A regressed colony at the best of times, the Keng colony never managed to attract trade or industry. It was further condemned by its high Oxygen atmospheric taint.

Ruled by a class of rail barons, the world's population remain in clusters around the worlds lone water source. Connected and driven by steam power, the world is a "wild west" of patchwork laws and poisoned hope where only exploratory and hunting tourists bring money in, outside the rare scientific effort. But even these had been cut off with the advent of the Fifth Frontier war. The only good news was the booming independent economy which grew up around serving and pleasing the spacers as Imperial naval ships moved in to secure the system against vargr invaders. But as the war ended, so did the bubble. And worse yet, the rail barons moved to take back what was theirs. Often with a vengeance.

And with official and unofficial crime on the rise and no outside investment, the current outlook for the Keng system was dismal. Rol found quite a bit of commentary on the situation in the news, including commentary on pre-war investment from Regina and even other wealthy local systems. But there was no drive to renew that at the moment. The best hope the system's population had were the months being spent travelling back and forth, and the investigations which were being done by members of the Regina Subsector Senate. So while there was something happening, it was happening at a snail's pace while lives were being lost much faster.

Once he was completely depressed by the news from his homeworld, Rol decided to return to his estate and enjoy getting to know the property. Calling to the Duke's motorpool, Rol found he could get a driver to take him to the estate. Once he was welcomed back by the staff and head of house, Rol spent the morning walking sections of the area around the main house and discussing plans to plant trees and grow the forest he could not find in place when he first looked at the list of estates. Rol was happy when it turned out to be inexpensive to plant trees and likely to be well-planted and growing after only five years or so. This was possible due to the atmospheric taint and fast growing breeds of some trees native to the world.

Rol learned that, due to the taint, the life cycle of a number of tree varieties grew fast and died fast, but re-seeded over their lives. This insured a thick and verdant forest anywhere forests were not managed. This was a vastly different world than the oxygen-rich environment he was raised in. With little water to spare on his homeworld, wildfires were often wide ranging and devastating with only concrete barriers and fire-proof buildings providing safe zones. Ironically, the only forests on Rol's homeworld were those agricultural preserves grown by the rail barons. After discussing options with his head of house, Rol spent the day relaxing and exploring.

Mikah also returned to her estate to discuss more of the specifics of the security system she ordered. She also decided to take a more complete inventory of what was present. Once she arrived, her Head of House presented her with the drawings and paperwork for the planned construction. As she worked with the Head of House to confirm everything, Mikah idly wondered if she could make a business of the place while not in-residence. But then, she recalled she had been told such things needed to be approved by Duke Luis himself. So she discarded those thoughts.

Having ordered everything he could get the crew to buy, Bhreker faced his free time and growing credit account with the surprised delight of one who rarely has either. Without an interest in spending his cash here on nick knacks, Bhreker looked for a vid to watch and broke out his needlework for a relaxing morning. Terin jumped back into his research with Fesic helping him. When Munarshu broke out his shotgun and decided to go hunting, Zimzod decided to go with him, to Munarshu's surprise and mild annoyance. Zimzod brought his automatic rifle, set on single shot, and a .45. So it cost them nothing but ammo. Because they had access to the palace services and motorpool, they could choose a local hunting reserve and be dropped there with a pick up on-call.

As they looked at the choice of hunting game in season, Zimzod surprised Munarshu by going with the engineer's choice. While Zimzod did grill him a bit on why the choices were made, he didn't push or argue. What Munarshu didn't know was that the day was going to become a test. While Munarshu wanted to have a fun and relaxing day hunting, Zimzod wanted to have a fun and comedic day laughing at Munarshu. He admitted to himself that the engineer just might be qualified after all, but that would be a happy surprise if it worked out that way. The moderate experience Munarshu chose was a preserve well stocked with various types of edible antelope herds. Still, they were warned there were predators out there which fed on the antelope and might well target a human too. So the pair were warned to be alert.

Once they had a location selected, the men were brought out into the Lunion wilderness on a gravCar and dropped at a set of coordinates. There, they were told they could call for pickup when they were ready and given an emergency comms code to call to get rescue should things turn sour. From there, Munarshu realized just what Zimzod was up to as he made the former scout make every decision. While Zimzod provided no input on which to decide, he questioned everything as this was clearly a test. And the more Munarshu slipped or sputtered, the more of a laugh Zimzod got. While the questions were always at least partly a joke, they had an obvious edge. Zimzod kept a friendly demeanor, but the poking and prodding was obvious.

At one point, When Munarshu ventured to try and quiet Zimzod down, Zimzod loudly yelled out, "Quiet! You're gonna scare away the deer!" At another point, when Munarshu was scanning between the trees to see if he could spot something nearby, Zimzod joked, "Dude. Didn't you expect there to be trees?" with a laugh. Finally, there was some action as a lone antelope broke from some foliage and bolted across their path. With almost a relaxed calm, Zimzod grabbed the shoulder strap of his auto-rifle and pulled, spinning the weapon around and miraculously caught the trigger and fire selector just right. Fully expecting to miss, because of his less than complete training in auto-weapons, Zimzod was surprised when he blew the creature's head off in a single shot! And if he was surprised, knowing his secret, Munarshu was simply stunned at the "Vid-Star" style trick shot and single kill.

Recovering before Munarshu, Zimzod just nodded and said, "That's how it's done! Bitch!" as he advanced on the carcass keeping an eye open for anything that might have separated the animal from its herd and have chased it into the local area. Using the list of services provided by the preserve and the Duke's palace, Zimzod called to have the beast bled and butchered since the head was not gonna be mountable. Not long after the beast was picked up and Zimzod given his game tag, they came on another antelope and Munarshu got the shot off. Unfortunately, his shot only wounded the animal, which had taken off at the report. So it had moved fast enough the men could not tell how badly wounded the animal was.

Shaking his head, Zimzod muttered to himself, "I hope he's better at tracking than he is at shooting." Taking some time to re-adjust their packs and loads, the pair headed off as Zimzod repeatedly asked Munarshu why they made any changes in path or other actions. When they did not soon come on the carcass of the creature, the men realized Munarshu had only lightly wounded the animal and the trek was going to be an all-day affair. Zimzod's only comment on that was, "Glad I knew to wear comfy boots when I went hunting with you!" After an hour, Zimzod asked Munarshu, "That thing's got to be in pain. Shouldn't we have found it and put it down by now?" with an almost leering smile on his face.

As the two followed the trail Munarshu was tracking, the engineer felt a vibration from his comms. When Munarshu answered, he found it was Aali calling. Letting Zimzod know, he asked what she needed and Aali explained her and Emkir's plans for their trip. As she spoke, she told him they would be away overnight so Munarshu would have to oversee the engineers working on the California the next morning. She estimated she and Emkir would be back mid-morning or so the next day. So she told him to have fun for the rest of the day, but he needed to be back at the ship the next day. With that, the line was cut and the two returned hunting.

Eventually, the pair started hearing the sounds of brush being crumpled and slowed down with their weapons ready. Scanning the area, they realized that whatever was making the noise, it wasn't an antilope. And, given the brush, it was much smaller in size. As Munarshu began making hand signals in Zimzod's direction, Zimzod stood a bit more straight and said, "Dude. I'm not gonna put a ring on it." with a look suggesting he was disturbed by Munarshu's gestures. As they moved on, in a spread-line formation, to flank the animal on both sides, a hunter suddenly popped up from Munarshu's side of the log and fired! Zimzod's view of the hunter was still blocked by the log as the man both pulled the trigger and realized what he thought was an animal was another hunter. Munarshu had the self-control to dive for it and not return fire.

A Day At Loose Ends Before Unravelling

     At the palace, Emkir decided to research the Risek glyphs until lunch, since Aali was working with the engineers on the ship. After lunch and the end of the movie, Bhreker got permission to use the palace's weapons range to get in some practice. After he was done with that, Bhreker decided to check out the one system left before they arrived at D'Ganzio. Since Bhreker largely knew what the story was on the D'Ganzio system, he re-did the research Emkir had done before on the Rabwhar system. A backwater, border dictatorship, the only value the system had to the Imperium was as base for the Interstellar Scout Service to watch the Sword Worlds from, and launch covert missions from.

But, since the end of the Fifth Frontier War, the base's main mission had begun being realigned. With the Sword Worlds split in two, the system was just outside the newly-formed Border Worlds Confederation, which systems were Imperial Navy occupied for now. So the base became a stepping-off point for missions into Border Worlds space while still maintaining the mission of working to bring the dictatorship more fully into the Imperial society. One result of the realignment was a wave of construction building out the infrastructure to support three parsec jumps between the Imperial border and the riftward worlds of the Border Worlds Confederation.

Beyond that research, Bhreker checked for local gun shows or other events of interest, but while there were some distant shows he could not reach, there was nothing local. With nothing too exciting out there to lure him, Bhreker checked out the palace's entertainment and gaming room. What he found there kept him entertained for the rest of the afternoon. While Bhreker was exploring the Duke's game room, Mikah was finishing up at her estate. Having spoken with her Head of House, and approving the drawings and plans from the architect, Mikah decided to head out to more museums and enjoy herself for the afternoon. At Rol's fief, the knight decided to relax and enjoy his estate and solitude for the day.

Once lunch came at the palace, Fesic ate and then hit the gym. After that, and cleaning up, Fesic took a nap before returning to the work he was doing to help Terin. After eating, Terin continued working the day through. And while the others ate at the palace, Emkir called Aali and asked if she wanted to go out for lunch? Since the techs were two days into a four-day operation and were obviously well qualified, Aali thought it would be OK to take a break. When she said yes, Emkir promised to be "right there with our driver." Soon, the air raft arrived and Emkir said, "Hop in! We're going to lunch!" Then, they were off to a high end and high priced restaurant for lunch. The lunch itself cost Cr 70 and during the meal, Emkir made his interests in soiling some new high-end space well known to Aali. But Aali figured that could wait til they got back to their suite.

When Emkir pouted, Aali thought about the opportunities and suggested they go to the ocean and rent a boat. That got Emkir's enthusiasm up until they checked distances and realized the trip would have to be an overnight one. Still, she had a junior engineer and they had time, so Aali called Munarshu, before he'd gotten himself shot. Emkir talked to the driver of the air raft and they went back to the palace to drop off the driver and borrow the raft outright. After that, it took the couple two hours driving into the afternoon before they reached the shore. Soon, they had a parking space and room set up and headed out to the resort's "craft lagoon".

There, they rented a watercraft and bought some supplies before heading out on to the water. Stocked with the supplies to drink, cook and eat dinner and relax, they cruised off the shore and enjoyed the late afternoon and sunset. After enjoying their meal, they drifted as the night deepened and the stars came out. They spent some time gazing at the stars and trying to identify and connect the constellations they grew up with from a very different perspective in a vastly different sky. But they eventually turned back into shore and retired to their hotel room for more intimate fun. And while the room was much less opulent than their digs at the palace, it certainly served their needs. At the end of their adventure, Emkir ended up spending Cr 300.

When dinner time came, Rol returned to the palace to eat. Mikah ate at a restaurant, having spent Cr 70 on tourism and another 25 on dinner before she returned to the palace. At the palace, Fesic had slept longer than he meant to and checked in with Terin before dinner. As they looked to see who was local for dinner, they found Rol had returned from his estate. Bhreker was also local, having spent the afternoon in the Duke's gaming rooms. When Bhreker asked where everyone else was, Fesic put on his most philosophical and suggested they had most likely all come to a bad end. That got a laugh from the other three. Rol answered, "I'm sure they're being attended to." Once the four settled down to dinner, Fesic asked what everyone wanted to do that evening?

Rol joked that the movie they'd watched the night before might have a sequel. Fesic suggested they go to a bar and Terin made a joke about chairs before begging off to continue working on his research. After a short discussion on the value of over-working a project, Rol said he'd go with Fesic. Bhreker agreed to share one drink with the others. Without Terin, the three men hit a bar called "the Fusion core". There, Fesic quickly ordered Bhreker a "five-foot beer", making sure that the salesman's 'one drink' was of a quality he approved of. As the drink was delivered, Fesic taunted, "you said one drink. Here ya go!" Bhreker just asked for a straw, not realizing that would accelerate the effects of the alcohol. As the other drinks also arrived, Rol just sat back and watched the good-natured bickering over just how much Bhreker would or should drink?

Eventually, Bhreker settled on nursing the drink until he'd finished a fifth of the serving while the other two widened their interests to finding female companionship. Aiming for the space between buzzed and proper drunk, Fesic certainly did reach a proper buzz and a bit more. Rol had aimed to nurse his drinks and enjoy being out, but misjudged the potency of the alcohol in the drinks he ordered, and was certainly 'very happy'. Bhreker managed to nurse his chosen drink size as he people-watched and was largely bored with his evening. He didn't even get to enjoy watching stupid drunk tricks as no one pushed their evening that far. Eventually, the three made their way back to the palace, to pour Rol into his bed.

A Shot At the Dork

     As Munarshu went down, he felt pain in the flesh of his upper left arm! Seeing Munarshu go down and knowing there was another gunman in the area, Zimzod dropped low to hide in the groundcover until he knew what he was facing? That didn't take long, as the other hunter panicked and rushed to see how bad the wound he'd caused was? He got halfway to Munarshu, who was sputtering mad and obviously not dead, before Zimzod popped up and ordered the man to freeze. His fire selector was now set to fully automatic and he let off a three round warning burst to punctuate his order. But soon, Zimzod had the hunter in custody and zip-tied, and had checked Munarshu to find the engineer had only been grazed. So Zimzod called the emergency code and began treating Munarshu from his medical kit.

When the paramedics responded, they further treated Munarshu as the law enforcement officers took the other hunter into custody, charged with careless and reckless endangerment. When they asked if Munarshu and Zimzod wanted to return to the lodge and call for pickup and home, both men said they still needed to track down an animal Munarshu had wounded. So the lead Officer gave Munarshu the data on the pending legal actions in case the engineer wanted to sue or lodge more charges? After that was done, the men were back off to the hunt. Eventually, they did track down the animal, shortly before dinner time, and killed it. As Munarshu was calling to have the animal recovered and butchered, Zimzod broke out his comms and called Mikah to say they were coming back to the palace.

Having gotten back to the palace, Mikah found the crew had scattered to their interests. As she was planning to settle in and relax, her comms began to buzz. She answered to see it was Zimzod, and he was in good spirits as he told Mikah they were planning to come back to the palace soon. When Mikah asked if he had fun, Zimzod told her Munarshu had gotten himself shot! She immediately asked if he'd shot himself and was told it was another hunter and Munarshu hadn't dived right. Asking for more details, Zimzod told her about the other hunter and the arrest. Mikah asked if Munarshu was going to live and Zimzod said he'd only been grazed.

As she talked to Zimzod and heard Munarshu's off comms comments, Zimzod said Munarshu had to learn how to dive right. When Munarshu said he'd be dead if he had dived right, Zimzod said, "Right! You need to learn how to dive right" and laughed as Mikah did too. Ignoring Munarshu, Mikah asked, "So, we got meat for while?" and Zimzod confirmed meat was on the menu. Mikah said, "Alright! Get it here, get it all wrapped up and in the freezer." and Munarshu said they had two kills to have butchered. Once the call was done, Mikah decided to play with Munarshu's mind and did her best to get the largest medical kit she could find and put it square on the dining table. When he got back, she was gonna have fun. As she set up, Mikah was asked by the palace staff if there was anything they could do and she waved them off.

After that, Mikah made herself some hot chocolate and searched up a vid to watch until the mighty hunters returned. As she was settling in, a more senior member of the palace staff arrived to tell her they'd had a report on one of her crew members. As she listened, Mikah was given the official version of the report on the shooting. Her only reaction was to ask, in a disappointed tone, "So, he's going to live?" Confused a bit, the worker confirmed Munarshu would. Mikah said she'd check him out when he got back and indicated the medical kit she'd set up on the table. They also gave Mikah the information they needed to press charges against the other hunter, but Mikah played that down. She felt it had just been an accident.

When she was told that there would be charges like "inattentiveness with, and endangerment of another using a fire arm", Mikah accepted that. But she still felt they did not need to add to the official charges. Mikah did confirm she would talk to Munarshu and ask his feelings on the situation. Accepting her decision, Mikah was given a datapad with all the official data on it and provided for their options. As this happened in the lounge the crew shared, Terin's comms began buzzing where he worked in the library. Checking the comms, Terin saw it was the office of the Duke's Seneschal.

Answering, Terin was told he would present his case before the Seneschalate the next morning at 9am. Glad he'd decided to stay in and continue working, Terin accepted that order as he began reviewing the project. As the call ended, Terin considered the work he'd done and knew it was nowhere near even properly begun, much less finished. He also realized that he now had to trim it, to cut out those passages and even pages which would lead to deeper data he had not had the time to develop. But he knew that he would have to rely on what he had learned and "wing it"!

When Fesic, Bhreker and Rol returned, Bhreker and Fesic got Rol settled in his bed before deciding what to do. For Fesic, that meant making his way back to the library to help Terin with the research. As he arrived at the workstations they had been using, Fesic found Terin madly working on the document he had on-screen. As he saw the navigator editing at a wild pace, Fesic asked, "How's it going?" Terin answered, "Oh, Just peachy. How was your evening out?" Joking, Fesic said, "Great! We got smashed!" After some giggles, Fesic admitted they had just gotten buzzed. As he wondered to himself what, if anything, he could trust Fesic with, Terin told the gunner he'd been told he had to present the argument the next morning at 9am. Fesic's answer was a sudden "Oh! Shit!"

Fesic said he'd look for the staff to get something to sober up? Lucky for Fesic, the noise he'd been making insured there was a staffer nearby. So Fesic asked for a an oxypill to detox before turning back to what Terin was saying. Terin went over the scope of what he had to do in order to make what he had readable. As he did so, Fesic staggered and nearly slipped, also nearly hitting the power stud controlling the workstation! Lucky for Terin, who had been working so rapidly he had not been saving his work, Fesic avoided Terin's worst nightmare.

Wanting to be safer than sorry, Terin first suggested Fesic wait for the pills to arrive. Then, he said it would take some time for the pill to have its effect, so he said Fesic should take a nap for a few hours. Then Terin doubled down, telling Fesic to just go to bed. Stubbornly, Fesic asked about the project piece he'd been working on? As he asked, Terin realized that was effectively gone. As he could not even cleanly include much of his core research, Terin realized what Fesic had been working on could be saved into the research archive but could not be used in the presentation. When Fesic was faced with Terin's request to go sleep it off, Fesic decided he'd wait for the pill and return to his suite to continue his work.

Once the pill arrived and he was told it would take some time to take affect, Fesic realized he was not just going to jump back into his work. So he planned to sleep for a few hours and let the pill take effect before getting up to work. Terin also planned to sleep, but only after working until midnight. Then, he'd sleep for four hours before waking up and going back to work. As they worked, Zimzod and Munarshu arrived, after an enforced stop at a medical station to be checked out. They had also tracked down and killed the animal Munarshu wounded, and had both bled with pressure tubes. Then, they were butchered and packed to be delivered. So the meat was easy to pack into the ship's galley. Once they were done managing that, they arrived where Mikah was waiting.

As they arrived, Mikah could see the blood-stained fabric tear as well as the cuts made by the medics as they treated Munarshu. Looking under the torn and cut sleeve, she could see the adhesive bandage slapped over the inches-long wound. Under that, Munarshu told Mikah they had sprayed the wound with "new skin" and estimated the skin would heal over in a couple of days. The full healing would take a couple of weeks. Munarshu was OK with that as they'd be spending at least the next week in jump space. What disturbed Munarshu, on their arrival, was the size of the medical kit Mikah had sitting on the table where she was waiting! As he looked at the kit, Mikah leaned towards the wound and poked it hard, asking "How does that feel? Does it hurt when I do that?"

Obviously flinching as she repeatedly poked, he gritted his teeth as she worked. Wanting to visually inspect the wound and the work done, Mikah grabbed the corner tab of the bandage and ripped it away! The used bandage had a small trace of blood on it but was largely protective, given the new-skin spray. She then cut more of the sleeve away and hit it with another dose of new-skin. Mikah then dug into the kit until she found a kid's bandage covered with animated kitten characters and slapped it over the wound before pronouncing him, as Captain and Ship's Medic, fit to work. Playing the stoic, Munarshu gritted his teeth through the process and then grunted out, "Thank you ma'am, may I have another?" A request to which Mikah happily said, "Sure!" as she slapped the wound again, getting a very enjoyable groan from Munarshu. As Mikah then started to prepare a huge hypodermic needle, Munarshu asked why he needed that?

Mikah shrugged and said, "Ok, if you want to be in pain..." Eyeing the needle, Munarshu said, "I don't mind" and Mikah shrugged and said, "Alright" without telling the engineer it was nothing but water and a put up job. As she started cleaning up the wrappings and used supplies, Munarshu moaned, I am never going hunting with Zimzod again! When Mikah asked, "Why? He didn't shoot you." Munarshu said, "No. But he wouldn't shut up in the woods!" Zimzod smiled and said "Learn to focus! A skilled hunter knows how to focus. BITCH!" At that, Mikah turned to him and asked, "Did you have fun Zimmy?" Zimzod let his smile relax a bit as he said, "Yeah. Too bad he couldn't hunt but I had fun. I mean, he only wounded his animal on the first shot. What's up with that?" After she checked Munarshu over, she told him to hit the rack. Once he did, she and Zimzod also went to bed.


The Defense

     As alarms went off in Terin and Fesic's suites, Fesic woke to a much more clear head. Clear enough to remember why he'd set his clock, though he'd planned to set it for 2am, and clear enough to wonder why he was still plugging away at the effort? Still, he dressed and stumbled to the library while meeting Terin along the way. As he'd walked to the library, he reviewed what he was doing and recognized the futility of the effort. So he decided to start a new line of research. More concerned about the money than the research, Fesic decided to hit the pure statistics on the ratio of systems which paid out after being explored.

Sadly, the numbers were significantly against him in that realm. Any significant volume of data on any sector in the Imperium showed many more worlds which failed to pay out compared to those which turned out to be treasure troves. As he researched, Fesic did find limited examples of treasure worlds, but the raw numbers showed him it was similar to walking a beach picking up every stone found in hopes of finding diamonds. In the end, Fesic was forced to present an approach which highlighted those treasure world examples he had found while trying to frame the challenge "take a chance". But he had to find a way to say that which was not only not obvious, but was a sales pitch rather than a challenge.

Finally, as the hours burned down, Fesic came to Terin and explained his idea to promote the exploration based on the few wildly successful financial treasure worlds he had found. Terin recognized Fesic had missed the mark, as this was about substantiating data from the initial exploration rather than exploiting the world. Admittedly, Terin hoped he would be able to find something to exploit, but that was the White Star base, and no one in the crew wanted either of the Dukes to know that. Still, they would have to know there were resources on the world before they started talking about exploitation, and what Terin had proposed was several steps before that. Still, Terin accepted the data Fesic presented and would include it in his packet.

Terin still had a monstrous task to cut back those extensions in his document to data he would no longer provide. He did what he could, based on the time he had before he had to clean up, dress up and stand before the team the Seneschalate had designated to hear his proposal. Fesic just went back to sleep. At the same time, some other members of the crew were waking up. Concerned about fatigue, Terin went looking to see if Mikah was awake and grab a stim tab from her. When she wasn't awake, he asked the household staff for a tab which would keep him awake for eight hours. Terin got dressed and took the delivered pill as he prepared his final package to present to the Duke's team.

To his surprise, Terin found he was not presenting to a team of Seneschals, but the Duke, his Seneschal and two doctors introduced as leading members of the Duke's scientific council. Once he'd arrived, he was given the materials he needed to give his presentation and the Duke invited him to take the floor. As Terin shoved his personal ambition into the data and tried to sell what he had to the Duke. As he worked to convey the ideas he was presenting, everyone on the panel seemed to just lean back and watch the show. Terin certainly saw, from early on, that they were not challenging anything he said. It was as if they didn't care, which was hard to fight against.

Sadly, their attitude told Terin they'd either already made of their minds or did not care about his data and were judging him on something else entirely. If either of those were true, Terin was sunk as he had no idea which way to go to breathe life into their interest. It was two hours into the presentation when the Duke finally stood and raised his hand to stop Terin. As Terin was silenced, Duke Luis said, "It was never about the data that you developed Sir Terin." Looking at those gathered, he continued, "To be honest, we already know all the information you were going to find to present. And we knew there was not much to find. It was about how much effort and interest you put into developing the information and how you proved your interest to us."

Continuing, Duke Luis said that, based on the work Terin had done and the obvious interest he had displayed, he would lend his authority to a recommendation Terin be given permission to do his research on the worlds in the Sonthert system. And if ever Terin needed a validation for depriving himself of the fun he could have been having, that was it. Duke Luis had been watching him work, directly or, mostly, through his staff. And the Duke approved of his drive and interest regardless of the data.

Threads Rejoining

     As the few of the crew in the palace woke and enjoyed their breakfast, they all noticed there was no sign of either Terin or Fesic. They also didn't see Munarshu but they knew he likely had woken early and was over at the ship, working with the engineers there. And they knew Aali and Emkir had gone to the coast for the night. Mikah joked about getting the four who were there to sweep into all their suites and scramble everything, leaving a mess behind in each room. Hearing this, Zimzod cursed about having gotten rid of the military dye packs. In the pause after that, Mikah confirmed they would get the ship back soon and should start moving their gear back to the ship.

That decided, Mikah went looking for Fesic and Terin, to tell them to start moving their gear. Mikah was quickly told Terin was called to present his data and shrugged. There was nothing she could do to help him in that, so she asked about Fesic and was directed to his suite. Newly asleep and sinking deeper into the warmth of his bed, Fesic was awakened by an insistent buzzing. Looking up and around, he realized it was from the entrance to his suite. When Fesic moaned, Mikah took that as an invitation to crack open the door to his sitting room and shout in, "Start getting yourself packed. We're gonna be leaving tomorrow." Fesic just grunted "OK" as she closed the door.

Eventually, as they worked to move their gear and prepare to return to living in the ship, Emkir and Aali returned. As they did, they were told the same thing, and Emkir began moving as Aali went to check on the engineers. Finally, as they worked and even Fesic had dragged himself out of bed and gotten dressed, Terin appeared with a large smile on his face and eyes glowing from a huge stim-tab recently taken. As they looked him up and down, they saw the knight was all dressed up in his fancy duds. Mikah's first thought was suspicion and she asked, "What'ja do?" in that tone between anger and caution. When Terin said, "I had a meeting with the Duke." she asked again, "What'ja do?" Terin continued, saying it was about his request to land on a world in the Sonthert system and Mikah showed her confidence in him by saying, "OK. So we're not landing?" That got a laugh from those close enough to overhear it.

Dusting that comment off by replying, "Ye of little faith!" He then continued, "The Duke has listened to my presentation and he has agreed to back my request to land with the Duke of Lanth. Mikah was surprised as she happily said, "Oh! Very good." Terin told those gathering that he'd get an electronically verifiable message to carry to Lanth and provide to His Grace, Cialdini Va'Manto of Lanth providing Duke Luis' support. Word of another gift came from the engineers, who had been told that the Hotel California was to be fully fueled by the port. Given this could have cost them nearly KCr 40, that was a hell of a gift.

With the crew back together and Terin now free of his project, he announced he wanted to go out and relax. Have some fun before they lifted off the next day. When Bhreker asked if they really wanted to risk creating an incident that would delay them, Zimzod said, "Terin wants to paint the town red and he doesn't care if he comes back in a paper suit!" That got laughs from most of the crew, including Munarshu. Despite the exchange, Rol, Fesic, Mikah, Zimzod and Munarshu joined in. When he heard of the trip, Emkir was on-board and so Aali came with him. Bhreker connected with the local Instel-Arms to tell them the California had a flight plan and he asked for any last minute information. They simply wished him a good trip, as he had one hop before the jump to D'Ganzio.

When Mikah decided to go, her idea was to relax, have fun and not get too buzzed. She also planned to keep an eye on her crew, to make sure there was not a major disaster. Terin was one of those crew who hoped to find female companionship. Catching up on his drinking as well, Terin was a bit buzzed and also less classy about his interests. As the evening passed, and Terin got more and more obvious about his quest, a local got annoyed at the knight and his attitude and took a swing at him! And while the slug did not knock Terin out, he was tipsy enough that he allowed himself to be laid out on the floor. He'd also have a nice bruise on his left cheek.

Standing up in the sudden silence, Mikah loudly announced, "One of you moves and I will shoot you!" This drew all the attention in the bar away from the combatants and to the holster on her hip! And them to the holsters on the hips of most of her crew drinking in the bar. The reaction following that was a sudden internal "Oh Shit! That's not an idle threat!" As Terin sputtered, "What the hell, man?" Mikah walked up to him past the statue which had seconds before laid the knight out. Looking at Terin's attacker, Mikah civilly said, "Sir? Go away." Dismissed by Mikah, the man left quickly. He left the fight, the bar and possibly even the city. Leaning down, Mikah then grabbed Terin by the pointy tip of his right ear and pulled until he followed the pain to stand before her.

As he stood, she angrily said, "You're going home. Back to the palace with you!" Pointing to the crew in a general gesture, Mikah continued, "All of you guys. With me!" And, still dragging Terin by his ear, she led them out of the bar. As they began to leave, the bar tender protested that the tab had not been paid and Mikah pushed Terin towards the door while she went back to pay the bill. Cr 200 later, Mikah followed her withdrawing crew to their ride. As they left, Rol leaned towards Terin and sniped, "You should have ducked right." Terin shrugged and claimed, "One less beer and I would have." Overhearing, Zimzod pointed at Munarshu as he said, "You must be taking ducking lessons from numb nutz over there." and got a laugh from Rol.

When Munarshu complained, "Hey, I didn't end up flat on my ass." Zimzod pointed out, "No, you got yourself shot, stupid." Unable to realized he'd lost, Munarshu complained it was just a nick and Terin pointed out Munarshu had been sober and still could not duck. Zimzod just looked at Munarshu and said, "You got shot, And, you ended up flat on your ass. Stop acting like you have a clue." As Terin and Munarshu tried to trade jibes and failed, the rest of the crew ignored their prattle.

Once back at the port, the crew had the double whammy of realizing this was their first night back in the ship. As he entered his stateroom, Munarshu's view of his bunk suffered heavily from scale. He also had to fight off a wave of claustrophobia. When he got to his stateroom, despite it being around dinner time, Terin hit the sack. And once Terin was settled, Fesic suggested they go to another bar. Mikah firmly shot that down, flatly saying "No!" As Munarshu returned to the crew lounge, he oddly complained "My stateroom in the palace is bigger than the ship." Zimzod taunted, "Your bed in the palace is bigger than your stateroom." and Aali added, "And it's much larger than your duct." That got a huge laugh from everyone. As they sat, Rol remembered he had to cook, as it was nearly dinnertime. As he started preparing starship-standard chow for them, Emkir regretted the loss of the roast beast station. He was reminded they had the butchered meat of two antelopes in the galley freezer.

When Aali idly asked how much meat they'd gotten, she was told it was something between 370 and 400 pounds. Rol did cut some meat before it was frozen, to try a test dish with it. While Aali, Emkir and Rol decided to relax on the ship, Munarshu wanted to go out in search of a lay-over companion for the night. Knowing how Mikah would react if he asked her for permission to use one of the air rafts, Munarshu called the palace services number to ask them for a ride. They were fine helping out, so now he had to ask Mikah for permission to go? When Mikah reminded him he was restricted, she decided to ask if anyone would chaperone him? Since Fesic wanted to hit another bar to start, he chimed in and Rol agreed to go too.

The Boy's Lost Night Out

     So after their ride came and they'd cleaned up a small bit, the three men rode off to the starport. Behind them was the minor concern they had each had some drinks beforehand. Still, Mikah was sure one of them would notice if the other got in trouble, most of all, Rol. So the three headed out to the spacer-heavy sections of the port's startown and looked for action. Munarshu was the first to find a lady to chat with. Pleased to have found a nice looking gal early on, he invested in a few drinks for both before he started getting a bit more suggestive. At first, Munarshu was even more happy when she matched his interests with her answers. But eventually, she started discussing cash compensation and he realized she was a rental unit.

This brought Munarshu's spirits crashing down, as he didn't want one of those. Once he made it clear he was not looking to pay for sex, the lady thanked him for the drinks and wandered off leaving the engineer out Cr 15. As Rol wandered the bar, he also picked up some interest. But as he started talking to her, it became clear she'd seen Rol in news coverage of the Duke's court. She both knew he was someone and knew Rol had been given rewards by the Duke. So she was not only interested in being with a famous person, but she was very interested in getting invited to his fiefdom! And if giving Rol permission to use her body was the price, many women had paid that price for much less in history. And Rol wasn't complaining as he called for a cab.

"Paying for the sex" in a different way, Rol agreed to cover the cab costs for the night when they left the bar. Rol payed Cr 70 for the ride out to his estate and realized he'd not only need to pay to get her back to her vehicle at the port, but also to get himself back to the ship the next morning. Still, his partner's willingness to please him 'for the pleasure' was better than being with someone who was just doing her job. And as he was having fun, Munarshu continued to strike out and Fesic had gone to find a nice place to sit, drink and relax, not that he'd say no to attractive company. But the last thing he remembered was sharing some drinks with a pretty face.

As the evening continued, Munarshu's comms began to buzz. Never anything good, he answered to find it was port security! When he asked how he could help, they said they understood he was on the port with some other members of his ship's crew? When Munarshu said he was, they said they had one of his crew members. When Munarshu asked, "Huh?" they continued, "He is unconscious. We wonder if we can pick you up and bring you in to help us?" Still trying to organize his thoughts, Munarshu was only able to get out a staggered "Uh, Sure." Once Munarshu told them where he was, they said he should wait at the bar's front door as a car was on the way.

At the station, the officer led Munarshu to a location where Fesic was laid out, fast asleep. On the ride over, Munarshu had asked if Fesic had done anything to get arrested and been told he hadn't. The officer had explained Fesic had been found in a bar, out cold. When they'd checked, they found he no longer had anything else he was carrying, including what had filled his now-empty sidearm holster. Munarshu quickly realized Fesic had gotten rolled, and most likely drugged if not encouraged to drink too much. When Fesic eventually woke, he'd realize the pretty face or her accomplice had stolen his comms, his scout belt buckle, a bag of marbles he had and the engraved snub pistol the Duke had given him in court. The police confirmed there was an amateurish attempt to hack his Ident, but nothing had been lost that way.

Because it was not bluntly obvious, Munarshu didn't notice the missing comms or buckle and didn't even know about the marbles. He focused on the snub pistol, because the police pointed out the empty holster and asked if it had a weapon in it or if Sir Anfertirkàsmokt had come to the port with the holster empty? And as annoyed as Munarshu was to have to tell the officers about the snub pistol, it was not as annoyed as the officers were to be told a firearm was now unaccounted for on the port campus. Asking further, Munarshu estimated Fesic would have had two spare clips with him, in addition to the loaded weapon itself. Once that word was out, the officers began escalating the investigation into the robbery as well as putting out a port-wide notification about the weapon. When asked, Munarshu could not identify what kind of ammunition Fesic had, and hoped it was just simple ball ammo.

As the officers did their work, it sank in that he was there and Fesic was there. But Rol wasn't. Grabbing his comms, Munarshu called Rol, who was in the middle of having lots of fun with his date as they broke in the bed in his estate's master suite. While he really didn't want to bother with the comms, Rol knew no one would be calling him unless it was important. So doing his best to keep up with his partner's pace, Rol grabbed the comms and answered Munarshu's calls. And Munarshu couldn't mistake the sounds he was hearing or their meaning as he heard Rol answer the line. When Rol demanded, "What?" Munarshu asked, "Are you alright?" When Rol answered, "Yes. I'm busy, what's up?" Munarshu said, "Fesic got rolled."

Forgetting his crew history, Rol asked, "Again?" Munarshu corrected him and said, "No. Last time, it was me." After a pause on Munarshu's point which was punctuated with the sounds of passion from the other, Munarshu just said he wanted to make sure Rol was not 'missing'. Rol confirmed he was right where he wanted to be and they signed off as Rol told Munarshu to get Fesic back to the ship. Happy he didn't need to report another missing crew member and another weapon, Munarshu told the officers he was going to get Fesic back to their ship.

Back To The California

     After the officers had Munarshu complete the needed paperwork, he called the driver and had the man help him pour Fesic into the gravCar for the ride back to the port. As they rode home, Munarshu sparked up his comms and called ahead to let Mikah know what had happened. When Mikah answered and heard Munarshu's voice, she muttered, "Oh God!" Still, she asked what happened, dreading the answer, and Munarshu said, "Fesic got rolled." Mikah asked if he was alive and was told he was. Relieved, she asked about his state and Munarshu said Fesic was out cold. Mikah said that was good and asked Munarshu to bring Fesic back. Munarshu said they were already on their way.

Once the grav car landed at the ship, Munarshu enlisted some extra hands and they dragged Fesic's inert body into the ship. Mikah supervised the none-too-gentile transfer to make sure they didn't do any actual damage past the odd bruise or two. Still, there was a cranial bounce or two before everything was organized, and she had them move Fesic to the ship's sickbay. Once there, it was not long before Mikah ran some tests and confirmed Fesic had been drugged. She then ran more tests, to see if the drug was anything she could, or should, counteract? Finally, she decided to let him just sleep it off. But she did completely secure him to the gurney so he wouldn't roll, flip or otherwise throw himself off the table in his sleep.

With the medical work done, Munarshu told Mikah about the snub pistol. Mikah confirmed the police had been told and, turning back to re-examine Fesic, noticed his Scout belt buckle was also missing! That device could be used as a 'last ditch effort' single-shot close range firearm. And if the wrong person tried to wear it, they'd get shot in the abdomen very quickly after it was put on. Turning back to Munarshu, Mikah sharply asked, "Do they know his scout belt buckle is missing?" Munarshu repeated the question back as he finally had the time to pay attention to more than the emergency at hand. He then realized Fesic's buckle had been taken too, and cursed. As he did, Mikah called the port to update them on the additional weapon. After that, she notified the Duke's Seneschalate.

After the call from Munarshu, Rol decided the adventure had to end once they were satisfied. So when it came time to relax and cuddle, that was replaced by Rol telling his lady friend he could only ignore his duty so long. So he got her into a taxi headed back to the port at his cost and prepared to return to the ship. By the time he got back to the ship, most everyone else was asleep. The few remaining awake didn't stay that way long before racking out themselves.


Communications Of Varying Types

When Fesic woke in the morning, he'd had a full night's sleep and was refreshed except for the pounding in his head. The second thing he noticed, as he tried to reach up to massage his head, was that he was tied down and could not move! Looking around in the space, lit only by the readouts and lights off various devices, he realized he was in a medical bay. Looking around even more, he realized it was the med-bay aboard the Hotel California. Trying to remember how he'd gotten there, all Fesic could recall was looking into the blue eyes of a very lovely lady he had been sharing drinks with. And with no one else in the compartment and the lights powered down, Fesic scanned the devices and saw none of them were plugged into him. He also did not see anything indicating what time it was so he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

When Rol woke, he was very satisfied as he stepped through his morning routine and went out into the lounge to cook breakfast. As she woke and completed her morning routine, Mikah decided to check on Fesic after she ate. So she sat and let Rol serve her before she began eating. But she didn't get far before her comms began to buzz and she found out it was the Duke. As she greeted him, Duke Luis said he understood one of his gifts had gone astray and Mikah had to agree it did. After that, Duke Luis nodded and said, "I wondered if I should have given the gift at all. I guess one learns from one's actions." As Mikah tried to apologize, the Duke told her there would be paperwork for Fesic to deal with and she said she'd wake him up.

Looking at the others in the space, Mikah said she was going to wake up Fesic. In the medbay, Fesic had managed to slip back into sleep so he was surprised when Mikah roughly woke him. She activated every light there was and kicked the gurney. She also snapped, "Wake Up!" Looking up at Mikah, Fesic had an issue focusing on her at first, but soon realized she was on her comms, speaking to someone else. As Fesic wondered at Mikah's weird revenge for whatever he had done, Mikah stepped to the compartment's environmental controls and started lowering the space's temperature. Seeing Fesic was awake, she asked him "Do you have any recollection what happened last night? Thinking before he spoke, Fesic said, "The last thing I remember was this beautiful face in front of me."

Thankful the gunner didn't speak of the bait in the dreamy voice of someone still smitten, Mikah said into her comms, "Your Grace, I'll deal with this and see he comes to fill out all the paperwork necessary." Duke Luis nodded to her and said, "Thank you very much Captain." As that played out, Fesic made the connections and realized she was speaking to the Duke of Lunion himself. But he could not work out "why" nor could he connect the missing dots between the beautiful face and waking up in the medbay. What he could work out was that there were missing points and they somehow connected to his being secured down and the Duke calling his captain.

Looking down at Fesic, Mikah asked in a disappointed tone, "You got drugged?" incredulously. Fesic responded, "I don't know, Did I hit someone with a chair?" shaking her head, Mikah told him, "You got drugged. They stole your belt buckle and the snub pistol the Duke gave you." As she spoke, Fesic moaned, "Oh. Damn." Mikah continued, "You have to go and fill out paperwork with the Duke's Seneschal." Once she released Fesic and they returned to the lounge, they could see Fesic's night out was the talk of the ship. As they noted Munarshu's pleasure that it was not his fault this time, Aali snickered that it was sad when Munarshu was the responsible one.

As Mikah ordered Fesic to eat and then cleanup, Rol shook his head and said, "I blame myself." Having expected him to be the chaperone, Mikah snapped back at him, "You should." Rol sighed, "We really will need a lot more training with this crew." Mikah agreed and asked if they still had the plastic sex doll aboard? As the conversation settled down, the crew ate and continued their jokes. Terin got off a clean shot as he asked how they'd forgotten about the buddy system? Zimzod darkly said, "That was his companion's fault." After eating, Fesic cleaned up and dressed to visit the seneschalate, leaving after he notified Mikah.

     Once he was ready, Mikah escorted Fesic to the seneschal's office. Aali and Munarshu had to return to their regular duties in the ship's engineering. Emkir needed to start setting up things on the bridge while Terin could take his early readings and start doing the base maths to prepare a jump plot to the Rabwhar system. While that happened, Rol and Zimzod got out their gear to have a GI party and prepare to leave the system. Zimzod also had Rol help him as they made a check of the ship, top to bottom, for general readiness. Bhreker finished up his notifications and paperwork and said his goodbyes.

When Terin had a moment, he called the port security to ask if there had been any breaks in Fesic's case? But when he made his call, Terin was asked if he was the ship's Captain? Rather than lie and risk they would not check the records for such a basic request, Terin said he wasn't. And when he was not, they said they couldn't release any information to him. As he tried to work any angle he could to get a response, the only answer he got was that he had no authority and would get no information. As they worked on the ship, Mikah frog-marched Fesic to the office where they sat Fesic down and discussed the gravity of the situation. Fesic's lack of personal security had allowed a firearm to go missing among the general population.

They also discussed the belt buckle, which they classified as a weapon too. They made a point of the fact that Sir Fesic should consider the security of combat firearms when going out in the general population. Especially when planning to drink or possibly getting drunk. After they'd covered the base points on what Fesic had done wrong, they then got to the meat of the matter. They said the Duke had high expectations of those he'd elevated. Thanks to Fesic's actions so far, he'd seen his expectations corrected in that case. As they continued, Fesic was told his right to bear arms in the Lunion system were being revoked. After that, the staff had Fesic sign paperwork stating he'd been notified of that change. He also was stripped of his honorary rank in the Lunion Navy.

The Seneschal said the Duke had ordered he maintain the award of the Shalah-Kar and had ordered he retain his Knighthood. But they made it very clear the grant made Fesic His Man. So the Duke owned Fesic, and should bear that in mind should he consider any additional, misbehavior. The rank also gave Sir Fesic a future to aspire to and a level of honor to achieve. Beyond that, they spent two further hours going over and signing paperwork as Fesic acknowledged his loss of rights and reduction in status. As this happened, Mikah was told to talk to the former scouts on her crew. To impress on them that the belt buckles were weapons and will be considered that way. She was told she should impress on them that the buckles should not be generally worn in public any longer. Especially as there will be systems where the authorities were not as forgiving as those on Lunion.

Once that was done, they were sent back to the California. As they walked, Fesic asked if there might be time for him to replace his lost comms? That reminded Mikah that she had an issue with what had become a patch-work of devices across the team. Brian's had been lost with him and Ms. Vik had taken hers when she left. Zach's had been given to Terin, and Aali, Munarshu and Fesic had their own units, which weren't up to the team's standards. And other units had been damaged or destroyed on Skull, forcing some to use secondary units. She had, for some time, considered buying a set of upgraded and unified units. With a sigh, Mikah realized this was the time. She only wondered how long that would take and if they could get out of the Lunion system that day, as planned?

As they returned to the ship, Mikah found Bhreker and sat him down to set up the order. As the rest of the crew listened, Fesic accepted his role in the recent situation and offered to pay for the new comms units. But with one for each of them and five spares, the order came to much more than Fesic had to spend. So he gave KCr 12 of his cash to the purchase. The remaining KCr 72 came from ship's funds. Mikah did offer Fesic the chance to pay for the whole order and work it off, but he did the math and saw he'd be indentured to the ship for 11 years. So Fesic said "No thanks." Starting with a basic two-channel unit, Mikah worked with Bhreker to upgrade the design and give them additional capabilities.

When they were done, the TL-D multi-Channel devices had continental range (5000 km) with the ability to scramble any of the channels. There was a small amount of in-built defense against external attacks and hacking. It was mountable on the belt, wrist and in armor and used either an 'earbud and mouth boom' or handheld screen. They were only video-capable hand-used or HUD-connected. The units also had an additional add-on kit that gave them surface to orbit capabilities. The good news, as Bhreker connected to Instel-Arms, was that they had the gear needed to make the units. The bad news was that the comms units couldn't be assembled and delivered that day, so they'd have to wait until the next day to leave the system. Mikah accepted that even though she was not happy.

As that made the rounds, Terin mentioned that the extra time might give the port authorities more time to track down Fesic's lost gear. He also told Mikah the police would not release any data to him and she should call if she wanted to know the status of the investigation. Before dealing with that, Mikah looked around and said "So we have another day here on the port. Everyone is confined to the ship." But as they discussed the last minute checks Aali and Munarshu might have to make, she amended that to the area around the ship on the tarmac. And then, the meeting broke up and the crew went about their work.

Aali and Munarshu went to work in engineering. Fesic told Rol he'd bought some interconnect devices for some of his gear and his HUD, and wondered if Rol could install the gear? Rol not only agreed to do the work, but offered to teach Fesic a few things about women when they hit a port where they weren't under restriction. As this chatter was happening in the lounge, Emkir had moved to the bridge to undo the settings that now had to wait until the next day when the ship got a comms! When he answered, it was a rather fashionable female caller looking for Fesic! Thinking they may now have a lead on the crime, Emkir announced to the ship that Fesic had a lady friend calling.

Fesic's Dating Game

     Mikah immediately said, "Oh really?" in an almost excited voice and then ordered Emkir to trace the call if he could? As the call came back to Fesic in the ship's lounge, Rol stood nearby while Mikah also called the police to say the girl from the night before might be on the comms. But when Fesic saw the caller, he knew she was not the woman from the night before. When she came on screen, the woman smiled and said "Hi! I see you have a cute friend and you're looking for an out-call." There was a pause in surprise as the woman finished what passed for her introduction, while everyone tried to understand what was happening? Realizing this had nothing to do with his drugging and robbery, Fesic disconnected the call.

As Mikah got to the police, Fesic told her it had been a false alarm and the caller had not been the woman he remembered. As Mikah explained the call and they gave the police all the information they'd gotten from the comms ID, the officer on the line checked the data and said the call had come through a scrambler. So the data they had was completely useless. After dealing with that, they updated Mikah that there was no new information on the drugging and robbery of her gunner. They did ask if Fesic was awake yet, so they could get a description of the woman who had played bait in the crime? Mikah said he was and put Fesic on the line to work with the officer.

Once they had the description, they confirmed this was a known criminal who, with varying different hairstyles and colors, was believed active on the port. So this was not her first time. They were at least less displeased when they learned both clips of Fesic's ammo had been ball ammo rather than something more combat-specific. As they talked, and that call was about to end, another call came into the ship. When Mikah answered, she found it was an entirely different woman asking for Fesic. After she put the call on hold, Mikah updated the officer that they were getting yet another call for Fesic from an apparent prostitute. Mikah then told Fesic she was sending the call to his screen and he was not to hang up and to keep her talking for as long as possible.

As Fesic answered this call, the woman greeted him and said "Your ad says you're looking for an outcall." Off to the side, Bhreker asked, "Ad?" to no one in specific. As the chatter went back and forth, Fesic asked her about herself? He also asked for her to wear a white/platinum wig and spiked collars and jewelry. As Mikah put the call on mute and told Fesic to just pick a place and tell her to meet him there, Terin started trying to do a search of the many chat and other boards to see if he could find an ad with Fesic's name or the ship's contact data. Of course, this assumed the ad was in a public place on a network which they could search. Emkir wondered why Fesic's fantasy girl sounded so much like Aali?

For a location, he got something cheap and nearby from Terin who was already doing searches on-line. Once Fesic gave her the address, she signed off expecting to meet him there in half an hour. As the call ended, no one considered that prostitution was legal on Lunion nor did anyone consider the legal results of making a verbal contract given what some of them should have recalled from their time in Jae Tellona. But once they had a meeting place, and the call ended, Mikah asked the police if they wanted to pick up Fesic and head out to deal with the girl? The officer wanted to know why they should? He pointed out that prostitution was legal on Lunion, so what had been done was not a crime. And there was no evidence that she had anything to do with the crimes committed the night before. So there was no reason for them to be involved.

When Terin said, in an annoyed voice, that he was not getting anywhere with his search, Mikah suggested everyone get on a terminal and start looking for different boards to search. Rol said they had two options. Either find the ad and get it taken down or change the comms number for the ship and never use that number again. As they discussed how to find the ad, both Bhreker and Terin suggested they'd get another call in minutes and be able to ask the next woman.

And sure enough, they did get another call within seconds. This time, Mikah told him to ask what board she saw the ad on? When Fesic played dumb and asked where the ad was, the new call girl gave him the link to check out. When they looked at the link, they found it said "Fesic" from the "Hotel California" was "willing to pay anything for a girl who was willing to do anything". And, the ad also included, "Men too." And the more they read, the more Mikah thought this was a prank Zimzod would pull. But while he was laughing more with each new piece of information, Zimzod said it wasn't him. Once they had the link, Fesic told the woman the ad had been a prank and hung up on her.

With the link, they had to try to contact the firm who owned the site and try to get the ad taken down. In the meantime, they had to answer the calls and say "no thanks". Eventually, Terin suggested they take turns prank-answering the calls and see how much they could draw out or mess with the callers. And they did get a few men calling among the many women. They even had Munarshu bring out "sally" so they could use her as a puppet to prank one of the prostitutes. But when they tried to inflate her, they found a hole on the seam! So they had to melt the seam to seal it temporarily, and inflate the doll. When they used her as a puppet, it was the first time the prostitute ended the call on them. Of course, the crew all wanted to take turns faking the voice of the doll, so they got more hang ups.

Once done with the doll, "sally" was thrown out due to the damage. And as hours passed, they finally got through to the firm support line for the advertising forum and had the ad deleted. And once that happened, the calls tapered off and then stopped. They did get a call from Instel-Arms scheduling the delivery of the new comms units forthe next morning.


Where everyone is at the end of the session:

    Mikah: In the ship's lounge after resolving the dating ad issue
    Munarshu: Working in the ship's engineering
    Terin: In the ship's lounge after resolving the dating ad issue
    Aali: Working in the ship's engineering
    Emkir: In the ship's lounge after resolving the dating ad issue
    Fesic: In the ship's lounge after resolving the dating ad issue
    Rol: In the ship's lounge after resolving the dating ad issue
    Zimzod: In the ship's lounge after resolving the dating ad issue
    Bhreker Kraiowa: In the ship's lounge after resolving the dating ad issue
    Aiden's Clone: 5 weeks into the cloning process ( 13 to go)

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Next: More Fun Then you Can Shake A Station At