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Last Updated    October 12 2017
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What Next, Rol?

Lanth      A bit stunned yet firmly dismissed, Mikah and the crew wondered what options they had now?  The Seneschal for Rakaa Kiraarri, Duke Lanth, had said the crew would have to leave for the Regina system in no less than fourteen days, so Sir Rol could face his accusers and stand as accuser against Sir Jeremy Lewis.  This capped a process just over half a year long, beginning when Sir Jeremy published his book, "Crossing The Line".  That work claimed to examine atrocities and war crimes committed during the Fifth Frontier War.  It included an entire chapter devoted to a unit Sir Rol commanded.  While soundly dismissed by some, and with significant support lining up behind Sir Rol as a Starburst for Extreme Heroism awardee, authorities in the Jesedipere system supported the charges.

Because of that, the system government sent officials and lawyers with documentation of their claims when it was announced Sir Jeremy had been turned over to authorities to be tried for his unsubstantiated claims.  When the Hotel California also entered the region, that gathering of pieces on a very local board promised an explosive outcome no matter what the judgement.  But, with that judgement still in the future, the Duke's office had gotten a request from the Seneschal of the Arch Duke, pending the elevation of the now announced Duchess-Presumptive of the Regina Duchy.  That request said the Hotel California and its crew should be delivered to the Regina system with all reasonable dispatch, should they arrive in any system so notified.

Understanding the crew still had to finish their business, Duke Rakaa's seneschal did give Mikah and her crew two weeks to get their permits and deliver their cargoes.  Beyond that two-week period, Mikah was told the Duke's offices had a jump-4 cargo hauler standing by with the capacity to take the Hotel California as cargo.  That ship would then carry the jump-3 limited California across the gulf from the Lanth to the Ghandi system and then on to the Dinomn system.  From there, the Hotel California could make her own jump across the two-parsec distance to arrive in the Regina system.  That, or arrive under conditions eerily similar to their arrival in that system on 131-1112.

Then, they had arrived in Regina aboard a Regina naval cruiser after losing their ship to combat, they arrived to be judged and were possibly under the penalty of execution!  Now, depending on how the decisions of the court judged the evidence, Sir Rol might stand or fall.  And the great powers that would protect him, even if just to protect the estate of the awards he had earned, would be forced to step back and observe so they could reduce any further possible damage such a judgement could create.  Rol and the crew knew that everyone who might have formerly stepped up to support him would possibly be required to take a large political step away from him as he fell.  At the same time, the crew had to worry they could either be caught in the back-splash of events or even caught up as co-conspirators in what could be described as an attempted cover-up over the months since the release of Sir Jeremy's book.

N in Low, with their dismissal on Lanth, the crew had to simply accept that and return to the on-going battle with the port.  Now, they needed a 'Cargo Permit' just to deliver their carried cargo and get paid for delivering it.  They'd been told they lacked a cargo valuation form to get the cargo permit.  The odyssey of getting that form alone ate nearly three days of their time.  Returning to the first office, the crew updated their permit application and had to wait up to three more days before learning the outcome of that application.  Added to that, the crew hadn't been able to find any description of the process they still faced beyond that application.  Even more of an assault on logic, the import and export laws of the Lanth system suggested any attempt to circumvent or evade those laws through loopholes or expediters could be seen as an attempt to circumvent the defenses of the Lanth system, on the bleeding edge of the Imperium's border with the Sword Worlds.

Considering their situation and the summary dismissal of the seneschal's team, they knew that a failure to deliver would mean not getting paid.  And they were expecting Cr 370,000 in payment for their three cargoes, not to mention a chance to sell the lot of precious metals they'd taken on in the D'Ganzio system.  With a new clock counting down on them, and an uncertain path of steps to in-system trade certification, this was now very much in doubt!  Adding concerns, the lot of administraria they'd taken on from the IMS Illiesh Shakhik in the Equus system had to be delivered within the coming 55 days.  Something that wouldn't be possible if they left for the Regina system before making that delivery.  That would trigger automatic fines, ironically, because of Lanth governmental regulations!  As a cherry on top of these issues, Fesic was concerned they might not get a chance, after potentially emptting out their cargo deck, to contract to carry new cargo lots to the Regina system.

Laughing at Fesic's concerns, and with nothing else they could do but use the door the seneschalate team had shown them, Rol just wanted to return to the ship.  When he said as much, Zimzod asked Rol about the brain-scan update he'd undergone because his last scan was also significantly dated.  Overhearing the comment, Aali also leaned in because regular updates were recommended to prevent the loss of memories due to post-mortem cloning and restoration.  Several of the crew joked about the fact Aiden wouldn't remember anything beyond being ordered out of the Rhylanor system by Duke Leonard.  So, he'd not remember the messages from the Duke, which showed the crew that appearing to "force them out" was in their own best interests at the time.  He would also not remember the events in the Equus system or the mission to the Sohturn Behemoth.

Rol said he'd gotten his scan at an extension campus of the University of D'Ganzio's science labs in-system.  Rol also told the two the cost was double that they were told to expect in the Rhylanor system when they'd first bought their cloning insurance policies.  But due to the common technologic level of the Lanth system, this laboratory was the 'only game in town', and they could charge what they wanted.  When Zimzod mentioned waiting until they got to the Regina system, he was told Lanth had a slightly higher technologic base than Regina.  Their floating cities and other high-tech goods were imported in to make them look more advanced than they were.  If he wanted to wait, Zimzod would have to wait until they might get to one of two worlds in the subsector.  And they'd just left the D'Ganzio system, which was one of the two.

Considering that, Zimzod decided he might as well bite the bullet and pay the cash.  Aali agreed and they both set appointments up for the next afternoon.  Those with cloning insurance talked about the cost of updating scans, and that reminded Terin that Mikah was qualified to handle the technology.  When he asked if there was any way Mikah could do the scan updates, he was told she couldn't because they didn't have the specialized systems needed aboard the ship.  But they could buy the systems and have them installed the next time they visited a system of the appropriate tech level.  Of course, Rol joked about having Mikah doing anything inside their heads, but that fell flat.  Mikah just quietly wished she could alter their memories, but did say she could handle that as well as installing stents in everyone in the crew except herself, if they bought the needed hardware.  Those who'd realized there were many uses for a stent agreed that might be a good idea in the future.

They left the seneschalate offices while Mikah re-confirmed they had all the data needed to contact those they were delivering cargo to.  The only serious concern she had was delivering the administrative cargo before the crew were forced to pay fines.  Mikah also hoped they'd have a chance to try and sell the two tons of speculative precious metals they'd bought in D'Ganzio.  But they could also keep carrying that until they sold it elsewhere.  And, given they were looking at a maximum of two more weeks in Lanth before up to six weeks in transit to Regina, they knew they'd have to send an update message to Aiden, telling him where to travel to meet them after he was decanted.  When they decided where that would be?

Seeing they had the rest of the afternoon free with nothing they had to do until the port called, Rol considered writing a book of his own, which rebutted Sir Jeremy's chapter on him.  Of course, deciding to go in that direction was an idea, but Rol knew he'd have to turn that "idea" into something of substance.  And now he had a time limit of between five and eight weeks at maximum.  Rol also knew there were ghost-writer A.I.'s which were dumb enough to be legal under the Shudusham accords, so writing a polished book wasn't entirely on him.  Still, he figured he'd start by organizing the facts and data he remembered and work on the ability to simply present that with some level of context before they arrived in the Regina system.

Of course, that left Rol with a second issue.  The simple truth was that Rol Kaihvos had been a glory hound.  He'd not only sought out the action but had, when he'd had the ability, committed the unit under his command when he felt he could.  And while that helped the troopers under his command to rack up decorations and promotions, it also had a cost in lives.  A cost which was likely added to in civilian terms because his unit had been careless in battle.  They were more aggressive and less surgical as long as the target was taken down, which was "the job".  The rest was just collateral damage during a war, even if the actual war was parsecs away.  And that played right into the claims from the Jesedipere system, which were the basis for the chapter in Sir Jeremy's book.

Another problem was that Rol was already on record in the Rhylanor system, having denied exactly the first issue.  If Rol hadn't been available to face Sir Jeremy "head on" in Regina, his published statements would have been the position against Sir Jeremy, with the backing of both the Imperial Military and the Sector government.  Now, with some unknown evidence from Jesedipere, Rol was going to have to not only gather the facts and data he had but engage in an amount of creative writing to counter what Sir Jeremy had said, what he guessed the delegation from Jesedipere would present.  The only good news was that much of the data from Jesedipere could be inferred because Sir Jeremy's accusations largely came from that system too.  That meant Rol could use that data as the basis for his claims and Rol could assume "much of" their data was the same.  It was "the rest of the data" Rol would have to guess at.

And the bad news was that if Rol failed, he didn't fall by himself.  And he wasn't simply facing a prison term.  If Rol went down because of his failure, he hurt Duke Leonard, Arch Duke Norris, the Imperial Marine Corps and the Imperial Government.  He stained the estate of those honored soldiers who had earned the Starburst for Extreme Heroism without otherwise tarnishing their records.  Or, at least, not letting those less honorable actions take over the narrative.  If he'd accepted the charges in the period after being removed from the Jesedipere system, before he'd earned his SEH, he could have been a fallen officer who'd redeemed himself and his command.  Sadly, the SEH had only allowed him to white-wash his past actions and that act now threatened to overtake those who had supported him.  So Rol was looking at some creative writing indeed.

Another question Rol faced was which laws would be used in the case?  If they used Jesedipere law, Rol was certainly guilty, and would hang.  But none of the authorities in the Regina system were likely to even consider allowing the use of local system laws from an outside system, even if the charges did stem from that system.  Even Regina laws, which could be quite harsh when carelessness in battle was concerned, were unlikely to be used.  And the legal system to be used was also likely not going to be a Regina court, which was good because their legal system was known for its significant level of bureaucratic procedures and processes.  Rol could best guess that, because charges from the Aramis subsector were being tried in the Regina subsector, those laws enforced by the Spinward Marches Sector Senate and Grand Duchess would be in question.  So that was something else Rol had to research.

News, Blues And A Thump!

     While most of the crew could think of nothing more than returning to the ship, with Terin wanting to continue his studies and Rol deciding to start writing, Munarshu wanted to find a bar and get a drink.  Not wanting to argue at the moment and not willing to let the engineer head off on his own, Mikah simply said, "We'll come with you", quickly followed by Emkir's happy call of "Capital idea!"  Mikah's tone made it clear they were all going to baby sit Munarshu.  Not pleased but not seeing options, Fesic acerbically said, "Since this has worked out for me so well in the past, why not?"  Mikah snapped at him, "If you want to go back to the ship on your own, that's fine but we have to keep an eye on him.  But Fesic said he accepted they were going as a group and he'd go with them.

Rol flatly said, "If I don't go, I have to pay my own taxi, don't I?"  When Mikah said he would in a tone which acknowledged Rol's out-of-place thriftiness, Rol agreed to join them.  No one commented on the fact the cost of a taxi ride was a joke considering his personal funds, or that an afternoon drinking was likely to cost more than a cab ride.  True to their word, Mikah and Zimzod nursed a single drink as long as they could before the venue leaned on them.  So, as the rest of the crew relaxed more than them, the Captain and first officer were ready to kick ass and take down lists of infractions.  While Emkir drank, his own past had given him a level of immunity.  At the same time, Aali figured she had weeks to get the ship in proper trim and, for one of the few times since joining this crew, felt she could cut loose and get truly trashed.

Rol and Munarshu didn't get quite as drunk as Aali, but were not far behind her.  Terin had more than a real good buzz on so it fell to the 'happy but functional' Fesic and Emkir to help Mikah and Zimzod move the drunks.  Finally, the clock had moved far enough along that Mikah thought it might be good to try and get some food in them, to counter all the alcohol some had swallowed.  Checking the bar's menu, Mikah found it lacked anything she'd approve of as worth eating.  Even for Munarshu, which was saying something.  It was simply 'fast and easy to prepare' junk food with a number of added spices and flavorings which would make it 'seem real' to spacers who just wanted to drink.  So Mikah announced they were heading out to fast food, to get at least some protein into them.

While they couldn't find an Astroburgers joint in visible range, they did find other slab-meat providers serving "barely healthy on bread" that included real protein.  And that was all Mikah wanted as they ate and worked to get food into the more inebriated of the crew.  By 6:30 that evening, the crew had each spent about fifty credits on food and drink over the afternoon.  The good news was that the food had taken the edge off the worst of the drunks.  Of course, Emkir wanted to get Aali back to the ship to get her into bed before she either recovered too much or succumbed to her inebriation completely.  With Terin, Rol and Emkir wanting to return to the ship and Munarshu and Aali too drunk to care, Mikah agreed and covered the Cr 40 trip back, arriving just before 7pm.

By the time they'd returned to the ship, Munarshu had regained some level of functionality but only wanted to get back to drinking.  So, he went right to the locker in the lounge where the crew kept the spare liquor.  Mikah sat to relax and watch the news while Zimzod stood near her, trying to figure what he wanted to do?  When Mikah suggested he get a wine bottle and relax, Zimzod asked if she wanted to "go to the bridge and have some 'bridge-head'?"  Standing close by, Terin just shook his head and hoped he wouldn't get stuck having to clean the bridge afterwards.  Fesic had gone to his stateroom to research places to visit on-world to commune with nature.  He hoped to enjoy a couple of "Fesic-days" in the wilderness, away from the crew and their concerns.  Inside the liquor cabinet, Munarshu saw the wide collection of "lower quality" booze the crew had picked up along the road.

He also saw a somewhat larger clear bottle that was one third full of "something" liquid.  When he asked, Mikah saw Munarshu had taken a shine to her bottle of doggie-shine and said it was 'Vargr juice' in a voice that half-dared him to try it.  The thoughts running through Munarshu's mind were, "Ooooh!  I've heard about this!"  And as Zimzod watched, and Mikah and Terin both asked if he would, Munarshu enthusiastically said he was going to try some!  His actual answer was one word, "YEAHHHH", drawn out as he pulled the stopper from the bottle and took a full-mouth swig!  The juggernaut of liquified drugs burned down Munarshu's throat like the thrust from a solid rocket booster, exploding in his gut while the leading edge of drugs acted with the speed of cyanide!  As a result, the three others watched as Munarshu raised the bottle to his lips and drank, only to have his body continue the movement started by his arm while he completely collapsed backwards to the carpeted deck of the lounge.

And as he fell, Munarshu released the bottle, which fell to the deck on its own and shattered, spilling the rest of the fluid.  Mikah's first reaction was an angry, "Son of a Bitch!  Now, I'm gonna have to make more!"  Terin looked at the downed engineer and asked, "Didja ever hear of a glass?"  Turning to Mikah because of her comment, Terin asked what had been in the bottle and Mikah told him.  And that explained the sudden crash.  Rol missed the entire episode because he'd gone directly to his stateroom in his drunken state to start that book he'd committed himself to.  Seeing him go as Munarshu had approached the liquor storage, several people wanted to see what he wrote that night to see if it made any sense at all the next morning?  Emkir and Aali also missed the show because Emkir dragged his drunken wife off to their stateroom for some debauchery.

As they activated the house-keeping androids to clean up, Terin asked if they planned to pick up the glass before dragging Munarshu through it?  Mikah made it clear they should just drag the engineer through the glass as a lesson while Zimzod stood by laughing.  So Terin decided to lift the engineer and spare Munarshu the cuts by carrying him to his stateroom.  Still, a five-three dead weight at 140 pounds was thin but not easy to lift, and it took some work for Terin to get the drunk off the ground while Mikah and Zimzod cheered for them both to fall on the glass and get what they each deserved for their stupidity.

After Mikah and Zimzod let Terin alone with his load, Terin carried Munarshu to his stateroom and dumped the sleeping man in his fresher, in case he got sick before waking.  After that, and still a bit buzzed from the afternoon's fun, Terin decided he wasn't tired.  So he asked Mikah for permission to go out again.  His plan was to perhaps grab a few more drinks while looking for some female companionship.  Mikah looked him up and down and, against her better judgement, told him he could as long as he left ALL his weapons behind.  She also nearly demanded to velcro his ident to his body before Terin reminded Mikah that was Munarshu's gig.  Into that silence, the three all suddenly heard the voice reading the news mention Ambassador Inger Martinusdtr Vik!

Turning to scroll the news back a bit and listen, they heard the coverage, which turned out to be the discussions of a small number of commenters.  The topic of conversation seemed to be a reaction to the moves to establish a diplomatic mission on-world in one of the most rabid of the Sword Worlds Confederation systems.  In fact, during the commentary, it was said the Sacnoth system had sometimes been the capital of an enthusiastically anti-Imperial Confederation and had led the Confederation to war against the Imperium once.  There were no ground facilities at all to house a diplomatic mission to that world.  Because the Imperial government would need to buy land on-world, demolish any and all surface and sub-surface structures and build a new structure to house the embassy, this would take quite some time.  And that added the additional "rub" of where to house the embassy while this was all happening?

The result was that very early speculation centered around moving a massive modular space station into orbit around the Sacnoth mainworld!  And that would have to be accompanied by an appropriate security force for the Ambassador, which meant moving a naval flotilla into Sacnoth's sovereign space!  None of those on the news panel thought they'd see the day when the Sacnoth government would go so far as to allow the Imperial Navy a foothold in their home space.  The only comment released by the Ambassador's staff was to state: "Lady Inger certainly had never expected this to be the nature of her first interstellar negotiation.  Still, Her Ladyship embraces the challenge of bringing both cultures together and looks forward to learning more of her host society once she takes up residence."

"Holding back a giggle, Mikah got on a terminal and sent a message to Rhylanor addressed to Lady Inger with the private sentiment, "Every Fucking Planet!" after paying the Cr 15 charge.  More ironically, Mikah was in the process of sending that message to Inger when the news moved on to cover the comment Emkir had released to the media from Lady Mikah and the crew congratulating Lady Inger on her elevation and appointment:

    Lanth (A879533-6  2  Ni Cp  710  Im  F5 IV M9 D)                    Date: 065-1113
    In a statement made by their spokesperson, Admiral Sir Emkir
    Meshrumiikiim, Lady Dame Mikah Kirlim and the Knights aboard the Hotel
have congratulated their former crew mate, Lady Inger
    Martinusdtr Vik on her Domain elevation and Diplomatic assignment.

    In a brief statement released to TAS news, Sir Emkir stated that the crew
    were "Very pleased" for Lady Inger and hoped her assignment was as
    exciting as she hoped.  Sir Emkir also commented fondly on Lady Inger's
    work as a crewmember of the California.  The Admiral also lauded the Arch
    Duke for his choice as Lady Inger was a highly skilled administrator with a
    demonstrated ability to think on her feet and resolve issues.

    The Admiral declined to take any questions after dictating his statement on
    behalf of Lady Mikah and the ship's crew.                             

After the three chuckled and snickered through that story, they sat and listened as the news ran through its cycle and came back around to the initial story on Lady Inger's mission to Sacnoth:

    Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)                Date: 038-1113
    Requests for extensions to attend the Arch Duke before his grand tour are
    apparently turning to bouts of panic as the Seneschals of distant Nobility
    appear to be acting to bolster the circumstances in those systems the errant
    peerage represent.

    In the Dictatorship which ultimately is the Imperium, it is often difficult
    for the average Imperial citizen to recall that those noblepersons granted
    any fiefdom hold that rank at the pleasure of the Iridium Throne, and are
    technically little more than representatives of the Emperor in those

    And where such appointments are made, it appears the Arch Duke
    feels it needed to remind the landed peerage that they are expected to
    work towards the improvement and expansion of those grants.  As a result,
    it appears more than a few Seneschals are moving to create the case for
    their liege lords and ladies in support of maintaining their fief

    Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)               Date: 038-1113
    As the structure of the Domain government begins to take shape, and
    following orders to route all decisions for the Regina system to Lady
    Seldrian Aledon, the Arch Duke's office have announced the departure
    of the Duchess Presumptive to the Regina system.  The announcement
    electrified political observers throughout the sector for a number of

    First, the use of the term "Duchess Presumptive" marks the
    first time the Arch Duke has acknowledged his intent to create Lady
    Seldrian as the next Duchess of the Regina Duchy.  Also included in
    the announcement were undated plans to schedule an investiture
    including officiation by Prince Lucan!  This is the second mention
    of the Prince's otherwise unannounced and highly secure plans to
    visit the Spinward Marches.                            

    Skull (C2237C7-9  N  Na Po  601  Im  M1 V M0 VI)               Date: 035-1113
    Continued reports from the Skull system confirm that counter-insurgent
    operations in that system have escalated.  This includes the entry of
    elements of the 358th Imperial Army Corp in actions on that world.

    Additional Imperial assets are presumed to be involved, to include IISS
    assets providing a system-wide search for possible hostile support for
    the planetary operations.  The Imperial Navy have temporarily designated
    the system an Amber zone and activated additional fleet assets from the
    local Imperial Naval base.  Still, the Admiralty have assured the Duke's
    court in Lanth the move is simply for security while the issue is resolved
    by local forces supported by minor Imperial Army assets.                           

    Mora(A99AC7-F  2  Hi In Cp  112  Im  M5 V)                            Date: 023-1113
    A great deal of economic activity and excitement have been sparked by the
    announcement to carry out port-improvements in the Tureded and Gothe
    systems.  Further details on these decisions state that project management
    teams will proceed to the Courts of Tureded and Iderati, from which
    contracts will be let and by which those projects will be over-seen.

    News from the Court of the Count of Tureded state His Excellency was
    honored to be granted this responsibility as well as humbled by the chance
    to further personally work toward increasing the level of trade in his
    County and in the Spinward Marches too.  In an unexpected addition to
    the comments on the plans released from Mora, His Excellency also made
    unsolicited comments suggesting the work might further provide for security
    in that region of the subsector.  When asked about the possible plans
    to create an additional Imperial Naval presence in the County, the
    Admiralty had no comments.

    In addition to the controversies and reactions in the Lanth subsector,
    observers talked about the likely reactions to the move in the Five
    Sisters subsector.  There, Admiral Lord Elphinstone commands the Imperial
    Naval administration of the subsector as well as the Gothe system.  While
    that system is a baronial fief held by the County of Mirriam, the Admiral
    might well be called on to create a Marquisate fiefdom as the world
    gains in economic prestige.

    Of course, this is only the most significant of rumors given the planned
    expansion.  More quietly, experts on the region have speculated on the
    possible advancement of Imperial Naval forces into the independent space
    between the Imperial border and Darrian Confederation.  This increases
    speculation the Arch Duke might spend some of the political power gained
    in the recent war hoping to bridge the Imperial reach to the Bularia system,
    two parsecs coreward of the Gothe system.  More significant political
    observers suggest this was no time to speculate on Imperial expansion with
    the events in the Thanber and Dekalb systems.                        

    Frenzie (A200436-A  N  Ni Va Cp  110  Im  M2 III M3 D)                    Date: 303-1112
    Following the arrival of a self-proclaimed Imperial Naval vessel from the
    Dekalb system declaring the system an Imperial Member state, Admiral
    Kukakhumum-Lisen scrambled to organize and dispatch a squadron of patrol
    ships to the system.  While not hoping to encourage similar events and
    actions in the Thanber system, the Admiral's office did state the flotilla
    was composed of jump-3 vessels and would need to transit the Thanber

    A further statement on the composition of the force added that the element
    commander carried orders which would be received and acted on in the
    Quare system, an Imperial Client State.  It is expected the Admiral
    commanding supporting forces helping in recovery and reconstruction in
    that system may be tasked with lending assistance and extended security
    to the Dekalb mission.                             

    Lunion (A995984-D  2  Hi In Cp  810  Im  M3 0 M7 D)                Date: 031-1113
    Details continue to be released by the office of Duke Luis' Seneschal
    covering the selection of an appointee to be the first Baronet of the Sharrip
    system.  With many local nobility gathering in the Lunion system, it
    is considered likely a number of those attending may make
    a combined passage to Rhylanor to comply with the Arch Duke's
    command to attend him there.

    News of the continuing selection process have become more mundane
    and generic as the process continues behind closed doors.  Still, multiple
    outlets in the region are happy to speculate on the outcome and lend
    handicaps to each candidacy.                             

    Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)                Date: 037-1113
    Following on the Imperial Navy announcement halting landings in
    the Kegina system, a number of ships have been intercepted and
    boarded.  A spokesperson for Admiral Lord Sheduug Uknisiir has
    said that those innocent persons aboard the affected vessels are
    being cared for appropriately as the officers of the fleet deliberate
    their responses to those civilian officers who refused to comply
    with naval orders or had tried to make a landing in-system.

    In keeping with naval policy, ships impounded for willful violation
    of orders will be confiscated after the appropriate legal actions are
    forfeit.  While the new provisional government have sent a protest
    to Rhylanor over the actions of the Admiral and his officers, that
    representative was ordered held pending a more complete inquiry
    into events in that system.  This is seen as the firmest rebuke yet
    of the Bevey-friendly government and its actions.                           

    Regina (A788899-C  2  Ri Cp  703  Im  F7 V M8 D M6 V)             Date: 044-1113
    In a release from the Regina system, the office of Seneschal Branj
    Dilgaadin have confirmed they have requested the presences of Sir
    Rol Kaihvos in-system!  Observers learned the Seneschal had found
    the Hotel California and her crew were bound to the Lanth system,
    several jumps away.  This promises to be an explosive development
    in the case of Sir Jeremy Lewis.

    Given the sudden involvement of both a team of officials from the
    Jesedipere system and Sir Rol, lawyers from Aaskimi, Uigdi and
    Iidiikhuu have refused to comment and not granted any statements.
    Nor has the office of the Duchy of Regina, outside stating the
    request had been made.  Observers are lining up to learn if there
    has been a response from the Hotel California or its controversial
    Captain, Lady Mikah Kirlim.

    Viewers will be reminded Lady Mikah and her crew, at the time, had
    spent time in the Regina system in mid-1112.  During that visit, now
    Ambassador Lady Inger Martinusdtr Vik had been a member of the crew
    along with Captain Kyle Van Ryddoth and the late Sirs Brian Montgomery
    and Zachariah Wood.  Sir Aiden Radetsky, also a crew member,
    is said to be in the process of being cloned after losing his life
    in the Equus system in undocumented actions.

    While the activities of this crew appear highly dangerous, there
    is little actual data on their activities.  That has sparked quiet
    speculation by unidentified commenters that an investigation of
    the crew's activities might possibly affect the case for or against
    Sir Rol.                             

    Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)                  Date: 038-1113
    news of her appointment, Ambassador Lady Inger Martinusdtr Vik
    continues to prepare to depart on her mission to the Sacnoth system and
    Sword Worlds Confederation.  Her Ladyship has been largely unavailable to
    the media due to her need to prepare to assume her position in that system.

    Released data on Her Ladyship's schedule since her appointment shows
    large blocks of time in briefings and what are likely educational seminars
    regarding the policies, needs and initiatives of the Imperium, the Arch
    Duke and the Admiralty.  Decisions on the date Her Ladyship expects to
    depart the Rhylanor system to take up her mission are not yet set as other
    assets are being organized to support her.

    To that end, Admiral Lord Fenteglish Niltarnat announced the Imperial Navy
    are organizing an ambassadorial security force.  Early in Her Ladyship's
    mission, there are many issues such as the lack of surface and orbital
    support facilities for the mission.  As a result, the Imperial Navy were
    involved in negotiations with the Ambassador from Sacnoth regarding
    placing a mobile space station in the system mainworld's orbit along
    with a defensive fleet element.  When asked for a comment on this action,
    Her Ladyship's spokesperson said, "Lady Inger certainly had never expected
    this to be the nature of her first interstellar negotiation.  Still, Her Ladyship
    embraces the challenge of bringing both cultures together and looks
    forward to learning more of her host society once she takes up residence.     


    Natoko (B582211-8  N  Lo Ni  801  Im  M2 VI M6 D)                       Date: 036-1113
    The forces maintaining a system blockade of the Natoko system were
    attacked by a number of unidentified warships today!  In a brief press
    conference, Rear Admiral Uuela informed the media that a squadron element
    tasked to deny access to the Natoko system's fourth gas giant were
    attacked by unknown forces.

    Apparently expecting such a move, the Admiral's press officer revealed that
    standing orders were to give way and preserve assets while gathering
    intelligence on the aggressor force.  While further steps in reaction to the
    attack were not discussed, expert commenters have speculated that forces
    from the IISS will be acting quickly to scan all nearby parsecs of space.  This
    will likely include regions of deep space, searching for possible mobile port
    or tanker formations.

    It is the opinion of TAS that the commanding Admiral hopes to track the
    attacking warships to their primary strike base or even home port.  Beyond
    this basic statement, the Admiral's spokesperson did not describe the
    attacking force in detail.  Damage to the blockade fleet was described
    as minimal, with few Imperial casualties.  The Lieutenant Commander
    providing the briefing did state that two attacking craft had been disabled
    and were being investigated for intelligence.

    When questioned, the officer described the vessels as modified and armed
    merchant-craft with what he characterized as under-trained crews.  The
    Commander also suggested these craft had been lesser "support" ships
    for the main force, but no further details were given.  All media outlets
    will be prepared to bring any updates from the system on any further
    communications from the system as the Imperial Navy has temporarily
    re-designated Natoko a Red Zone.                           

After listening to the major news stories from the interstellar beat, Mikah grabbed a wine bottle and 'a Zimzod' before going into her stateroom for the night.  At the same time, Rol drunkenly worked at his stateroom terminal's keyboard while Emkir worked on his drunken wife in their's.  In his stateroom, Fesic was investigating places to visit the next day or two if time allowed while Munarshu lay crumpled in his fresher.  Because the land masses on Lanth were garden islands, Fesic found a large number of places he could visit either directly or as a package.  The bad news was that the local tech only supported long distance counter-grav or sub-orbital flights at a significant cost.  Preferring to hike and wander in wilderness settings, Fesic spent his evening researching his choices so he'd have something to ask for time off the next morning to do.

As for time off, Terin had "planned" to hit a bar and nurse a few drinks while looking for some female company.  And while he planned to not drink much more, he still drank more than he'd planned and didn't space the drinks out quite as much as he'd planned, which happened when alcohol clouded judgement.  The result was that Terin was more of an annoying drunk than anything else, so he found no ladies interested nor did he make any friends.  The evening dwindled and Terin finally had the sense to find an auto-cab android car and mutter the ship's berth number as he settled in and grabbed a nap.  Sadly for Terin, the vehicle's android pilot software wasn't smart enough to equate "I'm going to my ship's berth" with "Take me to the port monorail so I can use it to get to my ship."  The result was that the car took Terin All The Way back to the berth, adding a Cr 200 cost to the Cr 30 in drinks he'd had.

When he was delivered, Terin woke to the belief that was the best taxi ever!!  This was because his drink-addled brain wouldn't make the connection between the cost and short walk until he'd had a chance to think about it the next morning.  By the time he'd returned, Emkir and Aali had faded off into sleep as had Zimzod, Mikah and Fesic.  Munarshu remained slumped in the dark of his stateroom's fresher.  Even Rol had given up trying to write his memoirs and hit the rack. 

The Wages Of Sin

     In the depths of the night, Munarshu stirred and woke.  This was less to do with his ability to process the drugs in his system as it was to do with the emergency wiring built into the Human animal.  In this case, Munarshu had been sitting slumped on cold and unforgiving tile which had been slowly leeching the heat from his body.  The result was that while the space was not overly cooled, his body had lost significant heat and Munarshu woke to those uncontrollable and continuous shuddering shakes which triggered when the body needed to generate any heat it could!  Added to that, Munarshu's head hurt because of the combination of drugs and dehydration from drinking.  And all his muscles hurt from the hours spent slumped in a less than optimal position.

Slowly realizing he couldn't control his shivering, the engineer also realized he was sitting in complete darkness on some form of hard tile or smooth rock with no clue how he'd ended up there?  Or where "there" was?  Hoping he was in one of those high-class hotels where everything was voice controlled, Munarshu muttered, "Illuminate", but nothing happened.  Not connecting at all, Munarshu decided he'd used the wrong vocabulary and stuttered, "Lights?"  When that got no results, he even clapped his hands together because of some dimply remembered advertisement for some kind of light control system.  Still, no lights.

Figuring there was nothing else for it with his body trying to get him to do something that would support his survival, Munarshu started doing his best to feel around him and rise.  Eventually finding what felt like a wall, other than the one he'd been leaning against, Munarshu finally found something that felt like a panel of controls.  Exploring the panel as best he could, Munarshu was finally certain he'd identified what felt like a switch and threw it in hopes of something good happening.  He was suddenly bathed in a flow of water jetting down at him from the shower head!  And it was COLD water!  Moaning in confused despair and repeatedly muttering "Stop!  Stop!" By sheer luck, as he pawed at the control panel, the lights came on and the water stopped flowing.  Looking around him, Munarshu realized he was in a ship's stateroom fresher.

Still violently shivering, soaked and bone cold, Munarshu realized he was standing in the fresher and soaking wet.  The only good news was that the jet of cold water had washed away the pool of urine which had been left over after he'd pee'd himself in his sleep.  Trying to get a grip on his situation, Munarshu brushed the water from his head and face as he muttered, "Oh...what the fuck?"  Taking stock, Munarshu was certain he was in a fresher in a starship, but realized he had no idea who's fresher or who's starship?  Still, not firing on even half his engines, Munarshu dimmed the lights to stop the blinding assault on his eyes.  Sadly, that only drove the truth home that most of his body hurt even if his eyes were now feeling better.  And he was still desperately shivering.

Deciding it was time to do something more than standing there moaning and dripping, Munarshu opened the fresher door to see the passage between the stateroom entrance, to the left, and the rest of the stateroom, to the right.  Not seeing enough of the unlit space to tell if he recognized the compartment at all, Munarshu simply undressed and dropped his soaked clothing on the carpeted floor of the passage.  Then, he went back into the fresher and activated the warm water controls.  Sadly, he over-activated the heat controls and suddenly found himself in a flow of scalding hot water pouring down on his 'much too cold' body!  Thankfully, for the others aboard the ship, stateroom soundproofing was enough no one heard Munarshu's scream but Munarshu himself.

Leaping for the still open door of the fresher as he screamed, Munarshu half pushed and half slipped out the door and flew into the doors of the armoire on the passage's far side.  Bashing into those head-first, he fell backwards as he crumpled in a now scalded and still shivering mass in the passage on top of the pile of his soaked clothing.  Caught between the fire and ice feelings warring for control of his attention, Munarshu simply started muttering, "Bed, Bed..." as he started to crawl in the direction he knew a stateroom bed would be.  Beyond that, he was completely certain he didn't care whose bed he was crawling into?

He did spare a hope the bed wasn't occupied by someone who would beat him soundly for trying to climb in and share.  Beyond any awareness of his surroundings other than the bed, Munarshu reached his goal and gratefully found it unoccupied.  Crawling in, Munarshu created as deep and complete a nest as he could bury himself in as he curled up in a fetal position.  He worshipped every bit of comforting warmth he could feel or create while settling in.  He shivered himself into a dark and troubled sleep that would claim him well into the next day.  Left still running, the fresher shower filled the space with a light haze of steam before the automated timers in the system shut it off, no more aware of Munarshu's condition than the engineer was of the system's performance.

Exits Of Many Natures

     As Mikah woke with a Zimzod wrapped around her, She realized it was much too early but got up and went into her morning routine rather than fight it.  In his stateroom, Fesic's alarm had gone off at 6am and he also got up and got moving.  Done with his morning routine, Fesic got into the lounge to be surprised because Mikah was the only other person in the compartment.  While he knew he was hungry, he saw Mikah wasn't pleased to be up so early.  Deciding to shift things to "better", Fesic offered to make fried toast and Mikah instantly brightened a bit saying, "Sure!"  So Fesic set about making enough food for the entire crew when they woke.

He cooked while Mikah waited and Fesic brought up his hope to travel for a few days.  But Fesic's idea was that they would be in port for two more weeks.  Mikah reminded him they were not promised any time in the port, and pointed out that they would leave in three days if they could get their cargoes delivered that fast.  So they only had a maximum of two weeks to get things done.  While talking, Fesic decided that trying to go on a three-day vacation wasn't the best idea.  She suggested he find local wilderness parks to visit that were nearby.  That way, he'd be able to get back to the ship quickly if anything happened.

Finishing cooking and cleaning up, Fesic hit a terminal in the lounge to look for local parks and open spaces.  After Mikah ate, she looked for chances to volunteer medically, to learn anything?  What she found was that much of her medical training and experience were of a tech above that common in-system.  Still, she could volunteer, to keep her skills active and looked into that.  When she found and contacted a hospital, they checked her credentials and were happy to have her come in if she wouldn't mind herding interns?  When Mikah said she'd do that, the hospital called a taxi for her.  So Mikah would spend the day not only handling the administrative work of managing interns but also teaching them in situations where a patient's need reached for skills beyond their current experience.

Terin arrived in the lounge as Mikah and Fesic were both on terminals looking for a way to spend their days.  Pleased to see someone had cooked, Terin greeted the others and stepped up to see what was on the table?  What he saw was that someone appeared to have taken bread-like stuff and dipped it in some sort of goo and then fried it until it was semi-solid.  With his pounding head providing a steady beat, Terin scanned the food and knew he'd eaten worse looking stuff as a Scout.  Along with that thought, Terin wondered if there were the makings of a hangover brew?  He knew he could certainly use some himself if there was.

If they didn't have the fixings, Terin had been on Lanth enough to know where to get them so long as none of the stores had shut down?  And one thing Terin had was notes from his past experience, doing his best to document each version of "Scout Brew" he'd come across, what it was intended to do and what it actually seemed to do?  The brew Terin found himself wanting was one which very effectively masked or anesthetized the pain of a hangover while also re-hydrating and punching the drinker's energy levels.  The trick was to do that without the sudden energy crash that usually followed the energy burst.  So Terin wanted a high, fast-burn drink with a carbo-protein "time release" which gave a timed release of energy extending out the energy burn and keeping the drinker from suffering a crash.  And so did every drink manufacturer in the universe.

Sadly, Terin could only drink a lot while eating before he went shopping for the supplies to make a brew at the moment.  While eating, Terin did log into the net and order enough for a "right now" brew to be made for Cr 20.  After he was feeling more alive, Terin would have to go pick up his bag of ingredients.  Then, Terin ate while he waited to feel any better and less likely to end up doubled over somewhere in the port.  Terin talked to his contacts while Mikah was finishing up her deal with the hospital, and Mikah overheard Terin.

When Terin ran down his list of ingredients, Mikah recognized a number of fairly interesting psycho-active items.  Mikah then asked, and Terin said his brew was, "gonna be good stuff" with a thumb's up sign.  Mikah considered that she'd have to do some investigating when the stuff was made.  After his search, Fesic found a local package he liked and saw he could order an automated taxi to pick him up there at the ship's berth, or take the port's monorail from their berth-cluster to the terminal to catch a ride there.  When he checked the prices, Fesic saw the huge cost of door-to-door service and chose to hit the monorail after paying the Cr 150 for the tour.

Before he left, Fesic packed water and protein bars into his satchel along with a flashlight.  Thanks to the more open legal system, Fesic was allowed to carry a non-military specific weapon so he holstered his snub pistol on his hip, loading it with ball ammunition.  For footwear, he laced on his hiking boots and function tested his breather mask.  When Mikah left the ship, she'd also taken the monorail to her waiting taxi, paying Cr 15 to get to the hospital.  About that time, Rol was stirring awake and his first cognizant thought was, "My head hurts."  Reaching up to grope his head, Rol wanted to confirm it was all still there, as was his hair.  He then checked to make sure what his head was on and felt the pillow beneath him.  Carefully opening his eyes, Rol found he was in his bunk in his stateroom.

Looking across to the terminal on his stateroom desk, Rol saw the screen saver active on his workstation.  He figured he'd left it powered on and logged in the night before.  He watched the screen saver replay a clip of Munarshu peeing himself after Aiden tazered him in the InstellArms, back in Rhylanor before they'd been told to leave that system.  The screen saver then transitioned to footage of Aali and Emkir in the jewelry store shootout and Rol could only try to relax himself and quietly sigh, "good times".  Rolling over onto his side didn't make his head hurt more but also didn't make it hurt any less.  Rol considered the distance to his fresher as his experience reminded him hydration was the best and only possible cure for his hangover.

Gathering his strength, Rol got his legs down and rose up to stand more steadily than he'd expected.  Looking around, Rol confirmed he had no drink containers any closer and had to go to the fresher for water.  In the smaller space, Rol turned the faucet on and cupped his hand to catch and drink the water.  While he started drinking, Rol also grabbed an oxy-adrenal tab, hoping that might help him deal with his dehydration.  Sadly, oxy-adrenal tabs drove the body to release adrenaline into the bloodstream and increase the oxygen there, to help burn off the alcohol in the blood.  They were not to be used after the alcohol had been processed, when the body was dehydrated and suffering as was Rol's situation after he'd fallen asleep.

So the pill he took only made him feel that much worse as the adrenaline constricted his blood vessels and forced his heart into overdrive, to pump underhydrated blood in his system to fluid-starved tissues.  For the next forty-five minutes, as Rol got cleaned up, dressed and left his stateroom to begin his day, he did his best to drink as much water as he possibly could.  Still, in a shipsuit and having not shaved, Rol made his way into the lounge as he suffered.  There, he saw Terin finishing up some kind of deal on the comms while "someone" had created some sort of 'neo-solid, semi-congealed...something in slices spread over the serving area of the galley.  Scanning the cooking area, Rol could see a dirty cooking skillet and mixing bowl as well as utensils.

Ironically, some of the diners had cleaned their eating gear and stowed those in drying racks while no one had cleaned up the cooking gear.  It was almost as if someone had said, 'Here is your reward for sleeping in and not doing your job.'  Fixing Terin with a glare, Rol asked, "Who's been eating in my galley?"  Terin answered, "I don't know who made it but it's not half bad.  It looks a lot worse than it actually tastes."  Rol reached over and grabbed a fork to prod a slice, which didn't protest or attack in the way some gazebos might when forced1 ).  Stabbing a slice, Rol raised it up and looked it over before asking Terin who'd cooked?  Terin shrugged as he said, "Either Fesic or Mikah, I don't know." while he really wondered why Rol cared?

Terin told him both Fesic and Mikah had left the ship earlier that morning as Rol looked around.  Rol realized only two of those who'd eaten had cleaned their plates while one of them had left their plate and utensils in the sink for someone else to clean!  Grabbing a clean plate, Rol slammed it down and dropped the slice of food on it as he decided to let the mess go for now.  Cutting at the slice of egg-fried bread, Rol managed to get a slice down and was working on his second slice when he suddenly gagged.  Taken by surprise, Rol was unable to move until after he suddenly barfed all over his breakfast and the table space about it.  Shaking his head sadly, Terin just left the compartment, heading out to get his scout brew ingredients.

After a free monorail ride to the terminal, Terin paid Cr 10 for a taxi ride to the shop where he was to pick up the bag of goods.  Terin left the ship as Rol realized that having barfed did nothing for his pain or re-hydration.  In fact, it did make him that much more hungry and thirsty.  So, Rol turned to the sink and began running the water.  Initially, Rol cleaned out mouth and washed his face before grabbing a mug and grabbing more water.  Ignoring the reeking pile of barf and the serving under it, Rol grabbed another plate and serving of food.  Settling himself in a separate and clean space, Rol made a second attempt at breakfast.  While he contemplated his meal, Aali and Emkir appeared at the entrance at the galley.

Seeing and smelling the situation in the lounge, the couple stared briefly in abject horror before Emkir turned to Aali and said, "I'm taking you out for breakfast."  Despite still having to deal with her own hangover symptoms, Aali had to agree.  With that, and not even bothering to greet Rol or ask any questions, the couple left the ship for the terminal.  Likewise, Rol had simply looked up to briefly watch them wordlessly as they turned their backs on him and left him alone with the mess.  Later, in the terminal, Aali and Emkir would spend Cr 30 on breakfast in relative comfort as Aali continued to recover.  While they sat, Emkir made it clear they'd decide when to return to the ship, later.

Back at the ship, Rol managed to keep his second serving down.  He did that by slowly and deliberately chewing and carefully swallowing everything while liberally sipping at water and regularly breathing deeply.  In fact, Rol was feeling pretty full because of both the food and the liberal amount of water, which was also seeming to finally have an effect.  Not sure what might come next, Rol decided to start cleaning up the space a bit until he was more certain.  Soon enough, Rol felt the urge to hit the head and start relieving himself before returning to cleaning up.  While that had been happening, Zimzod had woken to find himself alone, with no sign where Mikah had gone to?  Still, he'd enjoyed the night before and smiled as he rose.

After going through his morning routine, Zimzod stepped out of his stateroom into the companionway.  But as he did, Zimzod came face to face with a bleached and pale looking Rol facing him.  In fact, Rol even looked a bit wobbly as he stepped out of his own stateroom.  Looking Rol up and down, Zimzod joked, "Hey Rol, you look good." with a cheerful tone.  Rol considered moaning, 'Brainz!' while Zimzod continued around the passage past the bridge toward the lounge.  There, he was first hit by the reek of something not right.  Zimzod also knew it was not Rol, because he'd run into the cook well before the smell, and Rol was now behind him.  When Zimzod made the turn around the corner into the lounge he saw a number of things.  The food laid out to be eaten was obvious.

Not far from the food, Zimzod noted what had likely been a place setting which seemed covered in barf!  There were also a number of dirty plates and utensils visible at some points.  Casually looking at the scene before him, Zimzod muttered, "Yeah.  I think I'll skip breakfast.  Walking slower and missing the comment, Rol broke the silent moment which followed and asked Zimzod, "You want breakfast?"  Rol continued to mutter, "It's good stuff." but Zimzod said, "Nah, I think I'll pass."  Turning to Rol, Zimzod said "It looks like it didn't agree with somebody.  Is that your handiwork?"  Rol just quipped, "It was a good party."  Shaking his head as he started laughing, Zimzod just turned and walked away leaving Rol alone with the mess again.

Taking a place in the lounge as far from the mess as he could, Zimzod settled down and watched the news.  While he heard a repeat of much of the news the others had heard earlier, those stories were islands in the middle of commentary on the main news story.  And that was the mystery attack on the blockade fleet in the Natoko system.  He watched the news while Rol cleaned up at the same time Emkir and Aali decided to go window shopping and get a better feel for the port terminal.  In the hospital, Mikah was wrangling interns, which often meant stepping down what she knew to what they could do with their tech, or understand with their education.  It also meant she was on the other side of the coin where she'd brought her personal instruments.  So she had to keep positive security on those high-tech items the locals couldn't get and might try to "snatch".

In the terminal to pick up his ordered bag of goods, Terin was in a shop which was essentially "Herb Be Us".  The place was an established shop with which Terin had dealt in the past.  So while the current staff were new, the atmosphere was comfortable.  Because of that, Terin brought his hand computer so he could get specific when talking about herbs and other ingredients.  This made sure he could do his best to dial in what he needed in supplies and buy "exactly what he wanted".  He also had to make sure that "what matches up" or "what is an alternative" was chemically and genetically correct enough to not invalidate his research data.  Terin also decided to buy a stock of ingredients with similar effects, just to use outside his research and be of help.

Finally done "shopping", Terin found he could only get about 70% of what he really wanted for his teas and research.  But he could get those ingredients in abundance if he wanted.  That would assure he had significant stocks of well-preserved stuff when he found places to fill the rest of his shopping list.  In the end, his research buys cost him Cr 300.  Lumping the stuff he'd ordered for the scout brew recipe in with what was an eventually larger buy, Terin ultimately paid Cr 80 more for a total of six "lots" of ingredients.  After ordering what he needed, Terin checked into what he used recreationally.

That stock had been pretty steadily used until it had been beaten down, and needed to be restocked.  On top of that, Terin thought ahead to the Regina system, which didn't seem likely to be friendly or all.  So he figured he not only wanted to stock up but wanted a "bumper crop" of those supplies.  So Terin made a Cr 150 buy of those.  After he was finally done shopping, Terin took another cab ride to the terminal and then was back on the monorail returning to the ship's berth.  He returned to the ship while Fesic was on a "drag and drop" tour of a local wilderness area.  The tours were so named because they "dragged" the tourists out and "dropped" them into forest settings to enjoy their days hiking and more.  A map book with an rf-chip kept the hikers aware of concessions, and in contact with legal and rescue services.  Fesic spent Cr 20 on lunch there and planned to have dinner too.

Welcome News And Evil Brews

     Terin returned to the ship to find the lounge clean and even smelling nicely again, with Zimzod zoning out in stent work.  After having cleaned up, Rol had started really feeling both the food and the drink, and decided to grab a shower, shave and generally clean up.  Done with that, Rol sat down and go over what he'd started writing towards his 'book'.  Largely, Rol had just planned on organizing facts and memories at this point, but what he'd actually done was an interesting study in the bizarre.  Given that, Rol decided to spend the rest of the day making a serious start on the work.  At the same time, Zimzod had watched the news with a can of drink and a meal bar.  After that, Zimzod figured he'd work on communing with his stent until lunch.

After Terin had his supplies settled, he spent the next twenty minutes brewing up a batch, knowing it would be very raw for some time, until the brew "settled".  That would get him a pitcher good for 12 or more servings, which he could store in the galley cooler.  While Terin was waiting for the brew to heat up, the ship's comms began to buzz.  Answering, "Hotel California, can I help you", the caller asked to speak to their Captain.  When Terin asked for Mikah, Rol and Zimzod said she wasn't aboard the ship.  Addressing the caller again, Terin said, "The Captain is currently unavailable.  She is out and about, would you like to speak to the first officer?"  When the caller said they would, Terin got Zimzod to grab the call.

Zimzod answered was told the caller was from the cargo permit office!  Even better, Zimzod was told their cargo permit had been approved!  Zimzod repeated that to the others in the compartment and there was a small cheer raised over the apparent victory.  The caller then crushed that emotion by saying they just had to complete their in-system certifications and they'd be clear to trade.  Hearing that, Zimzod was certain there was never a more incomplete statement ever made, because what those "in-system certifications" were, or how to complete them, wasn't even suggested.  When Zimzod asked how he could get that squared away, he was given directions to the office and told he or the Captain and their cargo officer had to go there, and complete the needed forms before paying the fee.

Thanking the caller, Zimzod spent the next hour and a half cleaning up before he looked at his schedule to plan going to the in-system trade certification office.  While cleaning, Zimzod called Fesic to say he had to meet him at the office.  Fesic answered his comms, but was a good distance away from the port, and it would take some time for him to get back.  When Zimzod told Fesic which office they had to go to, so they could fill out the paperwork, Fesic asked, "Oh!  Did we get approved?"  Zimzod said they did and Fesic said, "Awesome!"  Saying he was going to head back to the port, Fesic padded his travel time to be sure there wouldn't be any snarls, and said it would likely take him as much as two hours.

When Zimzod did that math, he realized he'd just be arriving for his brain scan appointment, so that wouldn't work.  Telling Fesic to hold the line, Zimzod called Mikah to see what her situation was?  In the middle of herding interns, Mikah answered, "Yes, Dear.  What's up?"  Zimzod dove right in, saying, "We got approved and we gotta go down and fill out the rest of the forms."  Mikah thought for a bit and said he had to wrangle Fesic, which Zimzod said he already had.  When he said Fesic planned to meet him at the office in two hours, he also told Mikah he had to be at his brain scan appointment around that time.  Mikah joked, "Well, that shouldn't take too long", suggesting he had little to scan.

Mikah asked how long the office would be open, and Zimzod said it was a twenty-four, seven operation.  Mikah suggested they just go after he was done having his scan.  Zimzod and Fesic then decided to set a meeting for three hours from then, giving Fesic time to get back and Zimzod time to get his appointment done.  Despite the extra time, Fesic began heading back right away.  Remembering Emkir had been in charge of the cargo before Fesic took it over, and had been with them when they went to the various offices, Zimzod called Emkir too.  Getting his voice mail, Zimzod disconnected and called Aali.  When he also got her voice mail, he left a message about their plans before disconnecting.

With time to burn cleaning up before lunch and then having to decide when to leave for his appointment, Zimzod knew he'd meet Aali at the scanning lab.  That was because she had a similar appointment around the same time.  Of course, when lunch time came around, Rol had to start thinking about food again.  Saving his work and securing his workstation in his stateroom, Rol went out into the lounge to cook.  While not 100%, Rol was feeling much better.  While he did that, Terin was in the lounge working on his stent-work, having stowed his supplies and made a batch of scout brew that was still "quite raw" and chilling in a pitcher in the galley cooling unit.  Seeing Rol, Terin secured from what he was doing and went to get the pitcher and pour a mug.

Stepping over to Rol, Terin offered the mug saying, "Here.  You look like you still need this."  Looking at both Terin and the mug dubiously, Rol asked what it was?  Terin said "Scout Brew", ignoring the fact that the drink was more famous for its vastly negative PR.  Rol's thoughts ran through the many many stories he'd heard of the stuff, some even suggesting some of the stuff could be lethal.  Still, Rol decided it couldn't kill him or it would've killed Terin already.  Smiling, Terin promised, "This will help fix your hangover, get you going, get...  Rol cut him off, saying, "I just got done dealing with one poison.  Why would you give me another?"  Unaware of the Oxy-adrenal, Terin assumed Rol was talking about the booze and smiled, saying, "Oh.  This stuff's good."

Nearby, Zimzod muttered, "Hair of the dog, buddy.  Hair of the dog."  Looking at both of them, Rol asked, "You still want me to make lunch while I'm drinking this?"  Switching into a salesman's tone, Terin said, "This will help you make lunch.  Much better!"  Rol simply leaned in closer to Terin to see if the navigator's pupils were dilated.  Leaning back after not being sure what he'd seen, Rol asked, "Have you had yours yet?"  Terin said he was only just about to, because the batch was fresh brewed.  Raising his hand in invitation, Rol said, "Be my guest." suggesting Terin drink the mug he'd offered Rol.  That was followed by a comedic set of moves as Terin tried to hand Rol his before going back to get his own, and Rol refusing to take the mug.  Saying, "No. No.  You first."

That made it clear he wasn't even touching a mug until Terin had his share.  Rol watched for any effects, immediate or after, as Terin took a swig from the mug.  And Terin did wince, because the stuff was Raw.  It would take a day or so to truly "settle".  Rol continued to watch for after-effects while Terin continued to sell, "It's not gonna kill you.  It's not toxic."  After Rol finally decided to take a drink, Terin poured him a glass and Rol tried it.  And the taste was truly atrocious!  Rol winced and Terin said, "I said it would help but I didn't say it tasted good."  The others in the compartment just laughed.

Eyeing the glass, Rol looked at Terin and said, "I could make this better." which was a bet he couldn't back up since he didn't know what went into its flavors?  The common thought in the compartment was, 'Good luck with that!'  Terin only said, "Better scouts than him have died trying!"  Still, Terin told Rol, "You don't want sugar", as he complained about the sudden energy drain that led to.  Rol started off to make a joke saying, "But I hate this!  It's disgusting..." Zimzod jumped in saying, "I feel like a monkey just took a shit in my mouth!" and everyone was laughing.  After that, Rol figured he'd try the stuff and finished it off in four healthy swigs.  Surprisingly, by the time he had drained the glass, Rol was feeling better!

Surprised, Rol looked at Terin and said, "You told the truth for once!"  Zimzod laughed and Terin said, "I always tell the truth.  It's just people don't wanna hear it."  After Rol grunted, not trusting himself to verbalize a response, Terin added, "Trust Terin.  Terin knows", which brought up thoughts of the many times Terin had been involved in things which didn't inspire trust.  When the look of self-confidence in Terin's eyes and smile dug at Rol, he had a sudden and irresistible urge to throw a snap punch and deck the navigator.  His resistance hung on a thread, which was cut as Terin again, said, "Trust me." with all the bravado of every wanna-be con man.  And with that, for one of those very rate times, those in the compartment saw what Rol was really capable of.

The snap punch was so fast it was well after it had landed, and dropped Terin to the floor, that the navigator realized what happened?  Even Zimzod was more than a bit surprised at the speed and suddenness of the attack, not to mention the almost complete absence of any telegraph in Rol's body before the shot was thrown!  On the ground and slowly putting pieces together as Rol cleaned the glass and Zimzod laughed, Terin finally demanded, "What the fuck!?"  Not getting an initial answer, Terin demanded, "I help fix you up and this is what you do to me?"  Rol only answered, "Earn trust.  I have to make lunch", coming as close as he wanted to telling the scout he had to earn the trust he wanted.  Rol stepped past Terin's prostrate body to start cooking as Zimzod and Terin respected learning that Rol knew how to use Bigby's invisible hand of 'knock you on your azz!'

Ringing The Balls

     As Rol started cooking, Terin complained more, even whining about Rol having made him spill his mug of brew too.  Zimzod laughed even harder at that while Rol only glanced down at Terin and said, "Trust me, it's for the best.  Clean up your mess.  I have to cook." with a hint of command in his voice.  Outside the ship, Fesic was on his way back to the port and Mikah was herding interns while making sure her own gear was secure.  Munarshu was still out cold in his bunk and Emkir and Aali had gone from breakfast to check out the culture and seen a mid-morning comic play.  Terin had picked himself up off the deck and massaged his jaw as he joined the others waiting for Rol to serve lunch.

While eating, Zimzod's comms began to go off when Emkir called.  Having just gotten out of the comic performance they'd gone to after window shopping, they were going to lunch when he and Aali had gotten Zimzod's message.  Emkir confirmed they would meet him at the university campus for the brain scans and go with Zimzod to the in-system trade certification office.  Cutting the connection, Zimzod was pleased to have everyone he might need on board.  While that happened, in Munarshu's stateroom, "IT" was stirring.  And IT was In Pain!  Munarshu wasn't sure just what hurt, or why?  But the intense dehydration didn't help at all.  Opening his eyes, Munarshu realized he was in his own bed, in his own stateroom, without any idea how he'd gotten there?

His first words mirrored his surprise as he said to himself, "Oh shit!  How'd this happen?"  Propping himself up and grabbing things left and right to steady himself as he made his way to the fresher, Munarshu noticed a pile of clothing on the floor, left just outside the fresher door.  Getting closer, Munarshu realized the pile had been soaked, but had dried a fair bit.  There were still signs of the wet spots on the floor and the fabric still hadn't dried nearly completely.  Then, Munarshu noticed the fresher door was open and the person who'd left it that way had been taking a shower, from the trail they left.

Munarshu could only guess the shower had turned itself off after some kind of timer-dependent control after the person had left the space.  But, despite the pile of clothing looking like his, Munarshu didn't recall taking a shower or even being in the fresher, much less getting undressed.  Something the evidence said he'd obviously done.  At the same time, the various pains started standing out for themselves, including the pain of slight scald-burns on his back and shoulders.  And the demands he felt to feed himself water only increased.  Stepping into the fresher and turning on the tap, Munarshu started sucking down water as quickly as he could.

Munarshu spent the next half-hour sucking in water while staring into his nearly soul-less eyes in the fresher mirror.  Finally, he realized some of the fluids in his body had been there overnight and "needed to escape".  Sitting down, for stability, Munarshu unfolded the toilet from the wall and relieved himself.  Feeling that small bit better, Munarshu rose and walked out of the fresher and his stateroom, without dressing at all.  So he arrived into the lounge as Rol, Terin and Zimzod ate lunch.  Looking up as Munarshu appeared, buck naked, half staggering and looking for fluids, Terin was the first to break the surprised silence.  He said, "See?  That's exactly the reason I made this." as he lifted his second mug of scout brew and pointed out the apparition to the others.

As he spoke, Terin actually rose to pour Munarshu a mug of his own and dared the weird twisted space around the engineer to hand it to him, firmly saying "Drink".  While he did that, Rol simply shook his head in disgust.  Looking into what appeared to be a mug of toxic sludge, Munarshu took the mug and quickly drained it.  Pointing a thumb at Munarshu, Terin told Rol and Zimzod, "See?  That's how you can tell who served as a scout."  Finishing the contents of the mug, Munarshu shuddered in horror at the raw, unaged drink and the sensations it caused him.  Munarshu said, "That!  Is Nasty!" and Terin admitted he didn't say it tasted good.  Still, Munarshu was feeling several variations of terrible and several shades of horrible at the same time.  More familiar with the more recreational versions of scout brew, Munarshu could only hope this would make him feel better.

Terin said he planned a more recreational and hallucinogenic variant of scout brew in the future and Zimzod enthusiastically said he'd try that one.  That led to a bit of time where Terin held the floor in the lounge and commented on a number of recipes he'd collected.  Ignoring everything rather than falling into the pile, Rol began cleaning up after the meal, and certainly ignoring Munarshu.  But when Munarshu had first appeared, Zimzod had started searching the compartment for rubber bands with an evil smile on his face.  Gathering a handful, he caught one with the end of his thumb and drew it tight before aiming at Munarshu's penis!  Releasing the band, Zimzod aimed well, and struck his target!

Munarshu had been standing motionless, except for a bit of swaying, while he tried to decide what it seemed the effects of Terin's scout brew were going to be when he took a hit to his most sensitive flesh!  Feeling a sudden and amazingly sharp pain in his crotch, Munarshu doubled over involuntarily and dropped to the deck in a fetal position.  Around him, there was a brief pause of silence broken only by Munarshu's bouncing mug before Zimzod realized he'd gotten a bullseye and burst out laughing!  Shortly after, Rol and Terin joined in as Munarshu tried to get enough control over his spasming body to scream in pain.  Munarshu's universe shrank down to the incredible pain at its center while Zimzod laughed so hard he almost fell over too.

Finally getting some control over himself, Zimzod said, "It had to be done.  The situation demanded it."  Ever jumping on the popular bandwagon to seem included, or even hoping to use current social positions to heap abuse on others, Terin happily chimed in, "I agree!  Yes."  As the laughter calmed down and comments were traded back and forth, Rol looked to Zimzod and said, "Bet you can't do that again."  Zimzod, who'd hunted enough ammo to take multiple shots took that bet, and simply had to wait until Munarshu recovered enough to start trying to rise before finding a good firing position.  That moment was presaged by a high-pitched whining from Munarshu as he got enough control of himself to consciously make sound.

While his high-pitched wanna-be squeal escaped his lips, Munarshu realized it just might be time to get his ass off the floor, go back in his stateroom and get dressed.  As Munarshu started to follow that thought with action, Zimzod moved as quickly as he could, trying to line up his second shot.  Finally, Zimzod got one quick window of opportunity and fired away!  Munarshu was half-up and bent nearly double as Zimzod saw his chance, and the engineer first saw his tormenter as the pain struck again!  With another perfect shot, the compartment again exploded in laughter as Munarshu again fell into a human-flesh ball on the deck.  Between laughs, Rol admitted, "I owe you a drink."  When Zimzod and Rol started to discuss the 'best out of five', Rol suggested, "You don't think he's gonna be dumb enough to try and stand again do you?"

After betting another drink to see if Munarshu would or wouldn't get up again, Zimzod prepared a third rubber band while they watched.  Zimzod looked down on Munarshu and said, "He's gotta get up eventually."  The others had to agree that was true.  Still, Rol held on to his side of the bet as they waited.  And as the pain in his crotch finally started to fade a second time, some small spark inside his head put two and two together, figuring something Zimzod was doing was causing his pain.  So, once he could, Munarshu rolled until he could get to his hands and knees and raised himself up enough to crawl from the compartment.  Seeing this, Zimzod thought, 'Nut Sack!' as he moved in trying to line up a shot.

Sadly for Zimzod, Munarshu was not moving quickly nor was he reaching to grab ground, so his legs were not spreading any real distance with each move.  Try as he might, Zimzod only got two shots off which, while still-painful, only struck Munarshu's ass and left-rear thigh.  Knowing he'd never clear the compartment if he tried to rise and rush his stateroom, Munarshu did the only thing he could and crawled faster, yelping at each of the two painful shots as he went.  Munarshu finally rounded the corner and escaped Zimzod's sight, Zimzod looked at Rol and said, "I guess you don't owe me that drink."  Pausing after he'd made it around the corner, Munarshu took a moment to try and decide what hurt more?  Ironically, outside the sudden pain of Zimzod's attacks, the scout brew was having an effect and there was just the smallest bit less pain in Munarshu's head.

Behind him, Munarshu heard Terin call, "And next time, wear clothes when you come out for breakfast!"  Rol and Zimzod ignored the scout while chatting about Zimzod's marksmanship and practice.  Finally out of the line of fire, Munarshu made it to his stateroom and decided to just crawl back into bed.  Sadly for him, the engineer only managed to waste another twenty minutes suffering his various aches even as the scout brew took the edge off just a bit.  After that time, Munarshu realized he needed a shower and wondered if he trusted himself to get into the fresher and handle his needs?  Finally sitting up and testing his stability as he stood, Munarshu made his way to clean himself up and try to make himself look vaguely human.

Munarshu cleaned up and did his morning routine while Terin returned to his studies.  Rol returned to his writing as Zimzod spent a bit of time preparing before he had to leave for the port terminal and a taxi to the university.  Fesic spent Cr 50 to get back to the port.  Having left early, after a Cr 20 lunch, Fesic had worried about delays and found there were none.  So he got back to the port early enough to return to the ship and relax before having to go out to meet Zimzod at the port office.  He arrived after lunch, while Zimzod relaxed before leaving for his appointment, after cleaning up his gear.  In his staterooom, Munarshu was almost ready to make a more human re-appearance.  When Fesic didn't see anyone except Zimzod and Terin, who was studying, he asked.

Terin said Rol was in his stateroom and what was left of Munarshu in his.  Surprised at the term, Fesic asked what happened to Munarshu and Terin said Munarshu had taken a full swig of vargr juice the night before.  Terin then enjoyed giving Fesic a complete verbal rendition of what had happened earlier that day.  Since Fesic had been in his stateroom the night before, all the events Terin told him about were news to the gunner.  When Fesic complained about not having been told about this sooner, Terin said, "See?  You run right into your stateroom when we get home and you miss all the fun stuff."  Fesic still complained, "Well, you could have knocked on my door and let me know the fun stuff was starting" in a plaintive tone.  Terin only shook his head as he said, "We were laughing too hard." and even started giggling as he relived the comedy in his head.

As if on cue, Munarshu happened to end up making his re-appearance in 'shaved, showered and dressed' form at that moment.  Looking up, Fesic suddenly called out in mock-terror, "Back Undead!  Return to the hell from which you came!"  Cringing at the sudden and loud sounds, Munarshu recovered after the cries to whine, "He shot me in the ass, and in my nuts!  Ow!"  Ever one to pile on someone else's misfortune, Terin complained, "They were only rubber bands man." in a chiding tone.  Fixing Terin with a glare, Munarshu quietly demanded, "You try getting shot in the nuts.  Again!"  Terin roughly snapped, "I'm not stupid enough to walk out in the middle of the room in nothing!"

Having an incomplete memory of events thanks to his condition, Munarshu asked, "Why would I be stupid enough to do something like that?"  Fixing Munarshu with a stare, Terin answered, "We asked that question a LOT!  As he said that, Fesic shook his head and said, "You give vargr juice a bad name."  Munarshu asked, "Is that what I had?" clearly not remembering the lead up to his downfall.  Terin then switched to a chiding tone as he described the step-by-step lead to Munarshu's collapse.  Terin also complained about the loss of "at least a third of the bottle" as if it had been his bottle of juice that had been lost.  After some discussion about the effects and a threat from Terin to make Munarshu drink the stuff nightly, Munarshu said that wouldn't happen because it was cruel and unusual punishment.

Terin then switched tracks and said Munarshu should be thankful his scout brew had fixed him up.  Munarshu then asked, "Is that what that was?"  After a pause, Munarshu asked, "So where'd you get the stuff?" referring to the scout brew.  Terin shrugged and said, "I bought all the ingredients and I just made it." which explained how raw it tasted.  Shaking his head, Munarshu said, "I think I'll get another glass." and headed to the cooler.  Terin thought about that and suggested Munarshu wait and let the stuff settle before he double-dosed himself.  Accepting that, Munarshu decided to sit in the lounge and watch the news.

He watched, and as Terin expected, much of the news was dissection of the reports which had arrived from the Natoko system.  Of course, this was all new to Munarshu and Fesic had seen very little of the coverage so it was of interest to both men.  Another good chunk of the news cycle covered the organization of a hunt for the mystery ships that had made the attack.  High ranking former military officers and well-educated commenters discussed the method of flooding every parsec around the attack with scout vessels and flights with tanker ship support to try and catch the attackers in the act of either fleeing or returning to their home base.

Arriving for his appointment, Zimzod got to the University of D'Ganzio extension campus and checked in.  Truth be told, the campus had been set up to take advantage of the D'Ganzio system's tech-dominance in the region and reach out to the best in the Lanth system as a recruiting tool.  After he'd checked in and was waiting, Emkir and Aali arrived and each was led into a room to have their brain scans updated.  Forty minutes later, the two were done being scanned and were told the scans would be delivered to the IISS to be transmitted to the cloning firms per their insurance terms.  That done, they left to meet Fesic at the In-system Certification Office.

Forms And Future Killers

     When they arrived and organized outside the office, the four could see nothing new in the system's bureaucratic style.  The lines were full and there was nothing they could do but join in and wait.  Assuming the line was an hour to ninety minutes long, they were pleasantly surprised when they got to the front of the line in only forty minutes.  During the time on line waiting, Emkir and Aali told the others about the play they'd attended and shared many of the funniest pieces from the show.  Of course, a good number of the lines they repeated before laughing were only funny in a context Zimzod and Fesic didn't have, so they stood and watched much of the laughs.  Finally at the counter, they were able to take action on their business.

When the obviously uncaring technician looked up and asked, in a half-dead tone, how he could offer them excellent service, Zimzod said they'd been called to complete their forms.  The technician asked if Zimzod was the ship's Captain and Zimzod admitted he was the acting Captain.  Hearing that, the man seemed to almost zone out as if he were staring through Zimzod for a brief few seconds before appearing to return to the moment and ask Zimzod to place his Ident against the reader.  They assumed data was flowing for the technician on a screen they couldn't see while the tech started typing up a storm without any comment what he was doing?  After some time working, the man assured Zimzod he'd confirmed the Marine was the ship's First Officer.

He also said he'd confirmed the Hotel California's cargo permit had been approved.  Pasting a mandatory form-smile on his face, the man said the process for that certification had been completed and the ship's papers would be officially updated with the port in the next day or so, but they had the temp certification listed.  Now, they simply had to complete their in-system certification and they were officially done.  Zimzod believed that as much as he believed the Zhodani had his best interests in their hearts.  Especially having seen many authorities surprise him with "This, which just came up on your record, requires these additional steps to..."  Still, Zimzod listened as the technician directed him to yet another office to complete the 'In-System Trade Certification' forms.  And pay the requisite fee...

Before they left, Fesic asked what the Cargo permit they'd been granted let them to do?  He was told the permit allowed them to get their in-system trade certification.  When Fesic asked, "But, does it allow us to take cargo on?" he was told "No."  Then asking, "Does it allow us to sell or deliver cargo", he was again told "No."  The technician's tone was matter of fact and his expression said, 'This should be obvious by now and you're wasting my time', even if he didn't vocalize the words.  Either way, he finished the statement with a look of dismissal and the four realized 'their audience with his mightiness, the technician' was over and they'd best leave before he called security.  With that, they began their trek to the next office.

A good ten to fifteen minutes later, the four were in the new office, which turned out to be an open space furnished with multiple terminals.  The space was, happily, only half to three-quarters full when they arrived, and a handful of technicians were actually wandering the area apparently willing to help those arriving!  The open and friendly space was almost enough to give anyone who'd fought hard to reach it a heart attack as they demanded why the whole process couldn't have been done that way?  When Zimzod asked a technician for help, the downside of this office became apparent.  The technician looked down his nose at Zimzod as if he wondered how dare Zimzod interrupt his wandering?

As if speaking to a child, because any adult would have seen it for themselves, he explained that anyone of command rank from their ship could create a log in on any of the available terminals.  After logging in, any officer would see a series of screens which each had their own instructions, allowing even the simplest of spacers to figure it out.  And when those of intellect and simpletons alike had stepped through the process, which he estimated would take an hour, the data would be confirmed and the ship would have to pay the fee.  After that, your crew will be notified when the certification was processed and the final files delivered.  Zimzod nodded as he waited for yet another barrier to be presented.

When one wasn't, Zimzod accepted that there would be a surprise waiting for them in a day or so, and stepped up to a terminal to begin "that" process.  What he then faced wasn't an application but a metric ton of forms.  Still, the technician had been straight forward that this was the last step and they'd only have to wait and see if that were true?  Zimzod worked at the forms with periodic help from Fesic and Emkir until, close to the one-hour mark, he finished up.  Then, as promised, Zimzod had to authorize a Cr 1,500 payment to the port and was delivered to a "Thank you" screen after the payment had been certified.  They left that office at nearly 4:30pm.

At the hospital, Mikah had spent her day herding and teaching interns, and saving the odd patient from their incompetence.  The one small perk was that they fed her free food from the cafeteria, which wasn't gourmet level, but was free.  With the shift wearing closer to its end, Mikah had only used her position for entertainment purposes when the intern in question was obviously stupid and did not belong there.  That was down to two candidates who could obviously test well but couldn't perform at all.  The worst part was that they couldn't function at all in a crisis, where hospital emergency services were the definition of crisis.  Even worse, when anything they were capable of handling went sideways, or took an unexpected turn, they froze in the sort of vapor lock a broken program would end up in.  So Mikah had no issues abusing them in hopes of extracting some small payment for the patients they'd eventually kill.

Another class of intern were the politically aware ones, who knew who Mikah was and were, in some cases, star-struck.  Despite being otherwise competent and qualified, their actions and reactions whenever Mikah was near them would turn to stumbles and mistakes as they quite literally stopped paying attention to what they were doing and turned that on Mikah.  One of those even found paper and a pen and asked for Mikah's autograph!  A sin for which Mikah nearly put the intern in her own hospital as a patient when the doctor suddenly started ignoring a patient in cardiac distress.  Mikah was certain her note-keeping was going to serve her well as she roasted some of the interns in her shift-end report to their administrative doctor.

Gathering The Crew And Coming Storms

     An hour before dinner, Zimzod, Fesic, Aali and Emkir got back to the ship.  After lunch, Terin had done some of his studies and worked with his stent.  Rol was still in his stateroom organizing memories and writing as they came got back to the ship.  Munarshu had gone back to clean his stateroom after he'd recovered and was now sitting and watching vids, the engineer asked, "Anyone want to go out?"  Zimzod grunted a no since no one commented that the lack of strength and projection in Munarshu's voice showed he wasn't up to going out.  That was the state of things when Mikah finally got back to the ship, except that Rol had come out of his stateroom to cook.  When Mikah arrived, she asked, "So, how was everyone's day" in a saccharine sweet tone.

Zimzod jumped in and said, "Wonderful.  We got all our permits and forms squared away."  Mikah said "Awesome!" before he continued, "We gotta wait at least one more day and then we're done."  Nodding, Mikah said, "OK" as Rol made a joke about trying to find the best opening line for his proposed book.  Sadly, the joke fell flat since his comment didn't include the context he saw in his head.  Picking up again, Zimzod told Mikah, "Munarshu had some kind of issue where his ass and balls hurt, and his dick.  I don't know if you want to look into that?"  Shaking her head, Mikah said, "Yeah, I really don't want to."  After the day she'd had, she had a good idea which doctors she could send him to so they could kill him and she could sue for malpractice.

Munarshu chose that moment to whine, "He shot my balls!"  After a pause which may have been his brain derailing and then re-railing itself, he whined, "Why'd you do that man?" drawing out half the words to enhance the quality of his whining.  Zimzod just leaned back into his seat as he smiled and said, "Because it was funny."  The others started giggling either at the memories of the event or the mental images the conversation caused.  Turning sour, Munarshu moaned, "It was fuckin' hilarious." and Mikah turned to Zimzod and asked, "You shot his balls?"  The tone of her question showed she'd realized there was a story she'd missed and wanted the details?  Munarshu moaned, "Yes" as Mikah asked "With what?" and Zimzod said "Rubber bands" in a tone which showed just how little he thought of Munarshu.

Shrugging, Mikah announced Munarshu would be alright in a tone which said she knew Munarshu was a wimp.  When Zimzod saw Mikah didn't even consider the situation worth discussing, he asked, "What would you have used?" and Mikah instantly came back with, "Paper clips."  When Mikah asked, "So how was he when he woke up?" Zimzod said, "Well, he walked out here naked so I shot him in the dick with a rubber band, he immediately doubled over and then he went to get up.  And Rol bet me a drink that I couldn't shoot him in the dick again, so I shot him in the dick again.  The very direct and sometimes almost flat delivery Zimzod used as he described events so contrasted with the comedy of the events that people were laughing that much harder.  When Zimzod said Munarshu had doubled over, Mikah asked if they had video and Zimzod admitted they didn't.

Zimzod continued to more laughs, "So he started crawling out of the room and I tried to shoot him in the balls.  But I got his ass cheek and his thigh.  He was just moving his ass around too much.  Terin jumped in then, saying, "I was thinking of videoing it, but I knew you'd just put it up on the screen saver and I don't want to have to see that again."  Everyone but Munarshu laughed and Zimzod said, "But he made great faces!"  Terin then jumped in, trying to brag about his performance with his scout brew and how it fixed people up, tripping over words as he tried to speak over Zimzod.  When Terin complained that he'd helped Rol and the marine had hit him for it, Rol said, "That's not why I hit you."

When Munarshu asked, "Why'd you hit him?  I Missed that." in a confused tone, Terin said, "I think it was because I told him to trust me."  When Rol suddenly leaned forward and demanded, "What did you say?" Terin actually flinched a bit, getting a laugh from Mikah.  Fixing the engineer with a stare, Mikah said, "So Munarshu.  Now I have to make more vargr juice."  As he looked back at her confused, she continued, "You broke the bottle and spilled the rest of it all over the floor."  When Terin jumped in, saying "Make sure he pays for the ingredient's", Mikah nodded answering Terin, "Don't worry."  She then turned back to Munarshu saying, "They're expensive, you know?"  Then Rol jumped in, suggesting Mikah would need someone to test the new batch on, to make sure she had the recipe dialed in.

When Zimzod asked how Mikah's day had been, she said she'd been at a hospital volunteering to manage interns.  Hearing that, Zimzod nodded as he said, "OK.  So you were torturing people too." and Mikah agreed.  Each agreed they'd had an eventful day, and they hung out and relaxed until it was time for dinner.  When it came time, Rol asked if they wanted him to cook or wanted to go out to eat?  When some took both sides, Fesic asked if they could expect Rol to be arrested soon?  That started speculation, and Rol and Mikah joked that no one would be interested in them at all.  Especially any intelligence organizations.  When Munarshu said, "That means we'll all be locked up", Rol and Mikah grimly agreed.

When Terin suggested only one or two of them might be locked up, Rol fixed him with a glare.  Addressing Terin's opinion, Rol said, "Here's a tidbit I picked up from the interstellar news.  People are starting to feel we are causing trouble.  Our reputation is preceding us.  You might want to check the news."  Terin said he'd seen the news and suggested what Rol said was "his spin on it".  Correcting Terin, Rol reminded the navigator about the story from Rhylanor, where a press team had been arrested for suggesting exactly that.  That "a reporter asked a disparaging question about the crew of the Hotel California and how their presence in some systems matched periods of destabilization in those systems."  The exact quote was condemning.

So, while the news item showed there were some people in high places working to protect the truth, it did suggest rumors were spreading.  And the rumors which seemed to be spreading were not "nice" to the crew or their reputation.  Rol also pointed out that there were elements in the media who were trying to suggest links between those who'd been aboard the Dawnstar Horizon and the disappearance of Lady hault-Evers' ship.  While those links were most tenuous at best, it edsuggest there was someone out there who hadn't forgotten the incident and wanted to tie the crew to it.  The questions were, who was doing it and how organized were they?

Still, Rol's warning was that he wasn't the only one who would be going under close inspection at Regina.  Considering that, Mikah and Zimzod just said "Whatever" while Fesic suggested, "Let's blow something up!"  Zimzod nodded to the gunner and said he liked that idea.  After Zimzod told Fesic, "I like the way you think!", Munarshu said they'd have to find something "worthy of being blown up".  When Zimzod suggested they blow up Munarshu, Terin dejectedly said, "That's too easy."  When Munarshu tried to answer, "You can blow me." Zimzod shot him down saying, "I'd have to find you first." following up on earlier jokes that Zimzod had already shot Munarshu's pecker off with rubber bands.  While Munarshu tried to follow that up, his comments were lost in the laughter that filled the compartment.

Dinner And Dice

     After that conversation, Rol cooked dinner and they all sat around and ate.  With dinner done and cleaned up, Mikah said she had to make more vargr juice.  Hearing that, Munarshu said he was feeling much better and they started talking about Terin's scout brew.  This was until Mikah told Munarshu that the vargr juice he'd drank had lasting effects which could manifest up to six months later!  When Munarshu asked what those were, Mikah said, "Blindness, Loss of teeth..."  Mikah then paused to consider what else she could make up and heap on, Terin threw in, "Get someone to beat him up real bad."  Zimzod interrupted, saying, "No!  Ask Rol.  That only happens when you say 'Trust me'."

Looking at Mikah, Rol resumed her comments, asking "Didn't I see a warning label saying castration was possible?"  Mikah continued, "The loss of fingernails for some reason?  Or a big toe?"  Munarshu just nodded and said, "OK.  I'll watch for those side effects." and the others laughed.  After that, Munarshu left the lounge and went to work in engineering until the effects of the drugs wore off and he needed to crash again.  When that happened, Munarshu set his alarm for 5am, crawled into his bunk and died.  Before returning to his writing, Rol logged into the network and researched a ghost-writing software package.  Finding a well-reviewed package that was highly rated, Rol bought it for Cr 1,000.  Downloading it, Rol installed the software and spent the rest of the day writing.

Despite her concerns about the vargr juice, Mikah first wanted to see if she could dial in the odds on when they'd be able to leave Lanth?  With that, she could decide what she wanted to do the next day?  Zimzod just said they'd been told 'any time in the next three days', which seemed to be a standard there.  Mikah considered that and what they'd have to do when they got their permit?  After that, they'd have to contact the receivers for their cargoes and take the steps needed to make their deliveries.  Then, after they had everything delivered and the Baron's signature, they'd have to go and cash in the letter of credit the Baron had given them.  That alone was worth KCr 350 to them, and covered the bulk of their expenses.

Outside that, Mikah knew they had to figure a new meeting point and send that information to Aiden, for after he was decanted.  That way, they could figure out where to meet up?  Her questions also sparked a discussion about trying to carry cargo to Regina?  Fesic brought up filling the x-mail safe, but was reminded that would be for mail off the x-boat route, which wasn't where they were going.  So, they talked about trying to carry cargo to Regina, which presented a few issues too.  They weren't even sure if they'd be allowed to deliver any cargo after they arrived?  So, Zimzod said it was likely best if they didn't try.  They also had the two tons of precious metals they'd bought in D'Ganzio, which they'd done nothing with in Lanth.  So a question was raised if they even wanted to try to spend a few days trying to sell that?

After the cargo talks were over, Mikah decided to just kick back and relax for the rest of the evening, planning to volunteer at the hospital again the next day.  Terin went back to his studies.  Fesic asked Zimzod if he wanted to try a training scenario on the newly installed gunnery training program they had tied into the ship's lasers?  At the same time, Emkir said he wanted to go to a casino.  When people groaned at the idea, Emkir said, "Hey!  If they're gonna hang us in Regina, we'd might as well have fun here in Lanth." and the others had to agree to that.  Mikah first agreed Emkir had a point, then said, "OK.  Let's go."  And Mikah, Zimzod and Fesic decided to go with Emkir and Aali.

After paying Cr 5 each for the cab ride, the five rode to the casino and looked around to see it was a standard casino entertainment venue.  It had celebrity-based shows, gender-based reviews, musical, comedy and drama productions and more.  All to draw visitors in to the gambling floors.  Those included everything from basic games of chance to sports books to, event-based betting.  There were political bets, which even included the choice for Baronet of Sharrip.  Seeing that, Fesic said he had to go into the sports book and see what the odds were that Rol would be imprisoned for life for war crimes?  Hearing that, the others just laughed and followed Fesic in.

Entering the space, it was obvious Fesic was new there, and a staffer stepped up to ask how they could help or guide Fesic and the others?  Looking at the man, Fesic said he was looking to bet on a pending legal case and was asked which case?  When Fesic said, "Sir Jeremy vs Rol Kaihvos", the staffer checked and explained it wasn't a felony case.  He further told Fesic the existing case was a defamation case with Sir Jeremy Lewis as the plaintiff and Sir Rol as the defendant.  There were also odds on an expected counter-prosecution by Sir Rol against Sir Jeremy in response.  A side note suggested a felony case was expected, but there was none yet listed.  The odds on that felony case being opened were low at the moment.

Fesic said he wanted to bet the case wouldn't be opened, and said he was crew on a starship headed to Regina, he was told he'd have to pay a "rider" on the bet, which would cover sending any possible winnings to him in a future port.  When Fesic asked, he was told the rider was Cr 15.  Fesic asked about the odds and was told the odds were not yet set on that line and would settle before the bets would be applied.  Not happy with that, Fesic was about to back out until they offered him another rider, Cr 20, to lock in odds of 1:1.  Agreeing after that, Fesic bet Cr 1,500 on Rol not being charged in a felony case in Regina on the war crimes issue and paid a total of Cr 1,535.  Zimzod also jumped in, putting Cr 1,500 down along with the Cr 15 rider, but didn't lock the odds.

Mikah got huge laughs as she bet Cr 1,500 there "would" be a felony case opened accusing Rol and war crimes.  She also didn't lock in the odds.  Fesic found it funniest of all, because Mikah's bet essentially canceled out Zimzod's unless the sliding odds made allowed one bet to pay off on a massive scale.  The staffer explained Fesic was wrong, because the odds could shift to 10:1 against and the case not get lodged.  Then, the "Against" bet would pay Cr 15,000 with the Cr 1,500 as well, and the "For" bet only lose Cr 1,500.  Ignoring the staffer, Zimzod fixed Fesic with a look and said, "We just have enough money we don't care."  When Fesic asked about lines on Lady Inger's Ambassadorial assignment, the staffer checked and said they had no logged legal issues to bet on where the newly announced diplomatic mission was concerned.

After the sports book, the crew started looking for games matching their own tastes.  Some went to game, but Zimzod grabbed Mikah and headed to the hotel registration desk to get a room and have some fun in a space larger than their staterooms.  Fesic wanted to "read people", so he went looking for card games and eventually found a poker game.  Ironically, when Fesic began sitting down, Emkir stepped up to sit at the same table!  Seeing that, Fesic began to stand and prepared to leave, thinking Emkir would steal away his winnings.  When Fesic started to leave, Emkir razzed the gunner until he decided to stay, sit down and play.  Fesic planned to stay at the table for at least three hours unless he lost his shirt earlier.  Emkir encouraged the gunner to just relax and enjoy.

In the first hour of gaming, as Fesic feared, Emkir did pretty good while Fesic not only didn't do well but did worse than the entire table.  In the second hour, Fesic started to make his come back as the table suffered, while Emkir still moderately increased his winnings.  In that hour, Aali had gone off to see a comedy show and the sights.  In the third hour, things turned on Emkir and he gave back about half of his over-all winnings while Fesic continued to win.  After that, the table turned and ate Fesic while it was also biting Emkir back.  So, after three hours, Fesic had lost Cr 250 while Emkir was still up Cr 150.  After three hours, Fesic decided to try his luck elsewhere while Emkir said he was staying.

Wandering for a bit, Fesic finally found himself at a techno-gimmick craps table where the rollers had the chance to roll using tech and anti-grav based dice towers or just straight on the table.  There, Fesic figured he'd risk a couple of hours unless the money ran out or someone came to get him, since it was getting later.  After an hour there, the table wasn't doing well against the dice, and Fesic suffered with them.  Still, a few around the rim were piling up small chips.  By the end of the second hour, it hadn't been Fesic's night and he'd lost Cr 100.  Still, the plucky hero decided to keep it going and see if he could turn things around?  In a third hour there, Fesic started pulling more from the table as the others around him lost even more to hungry dice.

Finally, at 1am, Fesic cashed out and was ready to go back to the ship.  Then, Fesic went looking for the others, to see if anyone else was ready to go back?  After a brief time scouting around, Fesic saw none of his shipmates and spent the Cr 20 to get back to the port on his own.  There, he took the monorail back to the ship's berth cluster.  By the time Aali came back to find Emkir, he was up about Cr 350.  After that, he cashed out with Aali's encouragement and they went to the concierge desk to spend his some of winnings getting back to the ship in style!  Of course, that ran them Cr 200, like it had Terin the night before, but they didn't mind at all.  Especially since they were in the care of an android driver.  Zimzod and Mikah didn't leave the hotel room until the next morning.

Marking Time

     As usual, Munarshu followed his daily routine after waking at 5am.  Turning on the news while waiting for others to wake, Munarshu watched the talking heads speculate about the mystery ships which had attacked naval elements in the Natoko system.  This would come to little more than chatter, ultimately, because the ships jumped out of that system.  So it would have taken them and pursuing vessels a week to emerge from jump.  Then, after whatever missions were carried out at their arrival point, it would take Imperial ships at least a week in jump to report back to authorities before any updates might be released.

Since the news was first released on the 36th day of the year, these events had happened just over a month before.  So, the initial jumps had been completed, alng with initial Imperial reactions, and a second jump to report back.  Any news updates would have left the reporting system as early as two weeks back, and likely be on the way to the Lanth system even now.  The continuing coverage of the issue made it clear Admiral Uuela was counting on his lesser forces, including assigned scout squadrons, to spot the withdrawing formation so he could provide his commanders more data to use in hunting down the phantom vessels.

This time, when a reporter asked about a link between the attacks in Rhylanor and Natoko, the Imperial Naval spokesperson agreed there was a chance.  That led to speculation those who attacked the Selat Atrara salvage platform, and killed Sir Brian Montgomery, might well be brought down.  Despite the dispersion of this news and speculation, the office of Duke Leonard on Rhylanor had only stated they continue to use every method available to them in hunting those ships.  Following his orders, Admiral Uuela was widely applauded for his tactics, and there was good hope some intelligence might be recovered.  To say the least, the Natoko system was now almost completely sealed off.  That meant those on-world could only communicate out-system if they knew where a ship would be and could aim a laser comms antenna at it when it was there.

Munarshu got done watching news and went below decks to engineering while alarms rang in Fesic and Rol's staterooms and they started their morning routines.  Rol started cooking breakfast as Fesic grabbed some of the caff left over from the batch Munarshu made and heated it up.  Food was almost ready when Munarshu came up from engineering and Aali showed up in the lounge a bit after it was served.  As Rol raised a plate just out of her line of sight and said, "Here's your french toast." Aali flatly said, "If you're serving that again, we're going out to eat like yesterday."  Holding it up so she could see, Rol said, "This is better.  Trust me", hoping word had gotten around the ship on that phrase.  He was rewarded as everyone else in the compartment laughed.

Still, Aali took the plate and suspiciously picked at it a bit before deciding it was edible and dug in more happily.  Done with breakfast, Fesic went back to the cargo bay to continue his classes on the sealer.  Munarshu went back to engineering and Rol did a set of calisthenics before settling in to stent-work.  Leaving the left-overs on a table top, even Aali eventually went down to engineering before the rest started arriving.  Ironically, Emkir was the first of the late bloomers to arrive.  Emkir planned to go below decks to nuzzle Aali after eating, and then come back up and crack the scan files on the book he'd worked so hard to translate in Rhylanor.

Emkir was nearly done with chow when Mikah and Zimzod returned from the casino hotel.  About that time, Terin also showed up for food.  Tasting the left-over food, Terin decided it was better than what had been served the day before and said, "Rol must have made it."  Having a light breakfast, Terin then changed clothes and went for a run.  After she ate, Mikah called the hospital to volunteer again.  Zimzod decided to have a GI party in his stateroom and clean that and his gear after Mikah set up her day.  People went about their work or chosen tasks as it got close to lunch, when the ship got a buzz on the comms.  Fesic answered and found it was a call from the office of the Duke's Seneschal.

Asking how he could help them, Fesic was told they wanted to speak to the ship's Captain.  Fesic said Mikah was off-ship and asked if they wanted to speak to the first officer, which they did.  When Zimzod got on the line, he was told the office was checking to see if the crew had any update on their cargo situation?  Zimzod said they were told they'd get their in-system certification within the next two days, and then would have to contact recipients and off-load their cargoes.  They thanked Zimzod for the update and asked to be kept informed.  Zimzod said he would and cut the line, returning to his work.

Back at the ship, time wound past lunch and Fesic was getting tired of playing with the cargo sealer.  When he hit the comms, Fesic asked Zimzod if he wanted to do some more time in the simulator?  At a point where he could stop in his work, Zimzod agreed and they spent the afternoon blasting pixels out of digital skies.  This went on as Munarshu and Aali continued working on engineering, Terin on his studies and Emkir on re-organizing his notes and restarting his attempts to translate one of Sir Brian's books.  Eventually, Mikah went off shift as it caoming towards dinner time and returned to the ship.  Seeing Zimzod playing video games, Mikah relaxed and read a book.

In the simulator, Zimzod and Fesic started shooting on an "easy" setting and moved up as they felt more and more comfortable.  Over the afternoon, Fesic averaged thirty-three percent more hits than Zimzod.  Still, the good news was that they were knocking down targets, as Zimzod remembered a past experience with Zach in the other turret.  After hours of battle simulation, Zimzod had to say it was "not as good" as the school he'd taken classes at.  But he still enjoyed it.  The two cleaned up their turrets and then took showers before joining the others for dinner.  After dinner, Zimzod had to finish his cleaning and Fesic relaxed. 

Rol finally saved his work and cooked dinner as Mikah relaxed.  The dinner was relaxed as people came out to talk about the day and consider the next?  After dinner, Rol went back to the book, now that the permits were ironing out and time seemed to shorten before him.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, Munarshu wanted to take a break and go out.  Determined not to drink, since he was still recovering from the previous night, he asked permission from Mikah to go dancing.  When he swore to Mikah's skeptical look that he wouldn't drink at all, Emkir and Aali said they'd like to go dancing too.  Hearing that, Mikah said, "Fine.  Go ahead", in an 'on your head will it be' tone suggesting she actually hoped they'd lose the junior engineer.  Fesic asked Emkir and Aali, "Please take video." with a gleeful grin.

On their way, Munarshu said he was looking for someplace to dance Vilani-style.  Both Aali and Emkir were familiar with that style, being biologic and culturally-raised Vilani themselves.  When they found the right place, Munarshu actually spent his evening Not embarrassing himself.  Sharing the evening with a number of "pass through" partners who all moved on after a time, Munarshu enjoyed himself completely and was exhausted as it got close to 9pm.  He felt it was time to return to the ship and go to bed.  When he found Emkir and Aali, they were having a great time and felt the evening was young.  When Munarshu whined it was time to go to bed, Emkir looked him in the eyes and said, "It's time for four-year-olds to go to bed".

Trying a different tack, Munarshu said, "The last time I stayed up late, we got shot at" and Emkir gestured around and asked, "Do you see any guns?"  Sadly for Emkir's attempt to score a point, with the very open laws of the system, they did.  In fact, they saw a LOT of weapons being worn casually.  When Munarshu said, "Yes" with an air of vindication, Emkir said, "Good!  Then, this time they won't be shooting at us unless you do something stupid.  And then, we'll be shooting at you!"  Giving up, Munarshu declared he was leaving and the couple invited him to pay for his own cab back.  Surprising Mikah by being the first one home because it was his bed-time, Munarshu told her he'd left Aali and Emkir still dancing.

Mikah couldn't stop her laughs as Munarshu said, "I was the responsible one."  Especially because he seemed to believe 'hiding from risk' by coming home early was more responsible than being faced with a challenge and actually making responsible choices.  Fesic asked, "What were you responsible for", expecting some bizarre twist of Munarshu's interpretation of the universe to come out of the engineer's mouth.  But Munarshu disappointed Fesic by answering, "Myself."  Again, Mikah was amazed Munarshu seemed to expect some kind of reward for simply behaving like an adult.  Still, she figured she just might give him some consideration "IF" he could manage that more than eighty percent of the time.  Like most other adults.

As things began shutting down on the ship, Emkir and Aali decided not to return for the night.  They eventually rented a room to enjoy a night of freedom.  Like most of those aboard, they didn't set an alarm or wake-up call.  The last people to get to sleep were Terin and Rol, each working on some personal project.  For Rol, it was getting down and organizing his military past and memories of Jesedipere.  For Terin, it was his classes, though he did round the evening out with stent-work because it was relaxing and like yoga if he didn't over-push things.  And he was getting better at connecting to external device ports, if not completely accessing them, or transiting them.

Yet One More Time

     The 67th day of the year seemed to begin like a repeat of the 66th.  But as Fesic and Munarshu waited while Rol cooked, the ship's comms started to buzz.  When Fesic answered, it was a call from Aali, who said they were coming back to the ship from their hotel room.  After telling Fesic that she asked if they'd missed anything overnight back at the ship?  Fesic joked, "Let me turn on the news and I'll find out!"  When she clarified that she meant specifically on the ship, Fesic said everything had been quiet there.  Thanking Fesic, Aali said she was gonna wake Emkir up and they'd be back to the ship soon.

When Terin woke and did his morning thing, everyone had eaten and the galley was clean, except for the plates of leftovers.  Rol was back on his book, Munarshu was in engineering and Fesic went to the cargo bay to continue his classes.  After eating, Terin decided to flick through the vid selections until he found anything that peaked his interest.  While searching through the offerings, Terin came on a local college which was sharing a chemistry class on-vid.  It was even early in the new semester, so the class was still at "start up" levels.  With his interest peaked, Terin decided to watch that and was still watching when Emkir and Aali arrived.  Back at the ship, Aali went below decks to check the work and maintenance lists to decide what to do?

She was satified that her small army of androids, given the size of their ship, and Munarshu too, the work was getting done.  And, they now knew they'd have weeks to work on the ship from top to bottom because they'd be leaving the Lanth system as cargo aboard a mega-carrier.  That ship would carry them at least from Lanth to Dinomn.  From there, they could make the jump to the Regina system on their own jets.  Still, that gave Aali and Munarshu a large amount of free time.  Figuring Aali was busy, Zimzod went back to his linguistic work.  The others were going about their day when Zimzod woke up first this time, entangled in a Mikah.  Perhaps forgetting how this worked out the last time he'd tried it, Zimzod decided to climb on top of Mikah and wake her up by forcing himself inside her!

Waking to the sensations of an attempted sexual assault, Mikah did the same thing this time she'd done the last time Zimzod tried it.  Mikah switched from "disturbed sleep" mode to full-out combat mode, landing a number of direct blows before Zimzod ended up on his ass, on the stateroom floor and with several emerging bruises in places that would be visible.  When Mikah realized who he was and what was happening, she angrily demanded, "Haven't we done this before?!"  Zimzod managed to start laughing as he said, "I know!  I like it."  Leaving Zimzod laughing on the floor, Mikah got up and took a shower as she started her day.

By 10am, Mikah and Zimzod made it out into the lounge.  Looking around at work being done, Mikah was satisfied her ship worked like a finely-tuned clock which would never show the correct time.  Mikah decided to do gear maintenance before checking out the supply situation in their med-bay. 

Where everyone is at the end of the session:

     Aali: Working in Engineering
     Munarshu: Working in Engineering
     Terin: Working on his classes
     Rol: Working on his book
     Fesic: Studying the cargo sealing system
     Emkir: Working on his attempts at translation
     Mikah: Arrived for brunch at the start of her day
     Zimzod: Arrived for brunch at the start of his day
     Aiden: cooking for another 6 weeks ( Decant Date: 110-1113 )

Next: Delivering Bruises And Cash

Footnote 1: Readers will be directed to do a web search of "The Tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo".