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Last Updated     June 24 2018
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New Adventures In Learning

Reunions And Revealed Secrets

Regina     In the late morning, Aiden rode to the berth where the Hotel California was waiting for scheduled repairs.  Watching out a window of the vehicle when it pulled up, Aiden saw the crew were assembled outside the hull of the ship.  After the car pulled up, Aiden got out and most of the crew moved over to greet him.  Some, like Fesic held back because the gunner really didn't know Aiden that well.  Fesic had only been aboard for a handful of weeks before Aiden had died, aboard the Sohturn Behemoth.  That had been nearly seven months ago.  Joking when Aiden stepped out onto the tarmac and said, "Morning you all", Fesic pointed and said, "Look.  It's Akin.  He's back."  Pretending he'd forgotten the pilot's exact name.

Rol was the first to say, "Welcome back." and Aiden stretched a bit from the ride then asked, "So.  What'd I miss?"  Aali jumped right in and said, "Well, you didn't miss a certain lift shaft", forgetting Aiden wouldn't remember how he'd died.  When Aiden decided it had to do with how he'd been killed, he asked, "And who do I have to blame for that?"  Aali said, "Inertia" at the same time Mikah said, "You can blame Munarshu." while pointing to the engineer.  Munarshu defended himself, telling Aiden, "You share the blame as much as the rest of us."  Not having been through the master class on Munarshu the rest of the crew had lived, that only told Aiden Munarshu knew how he'd died.

Turning to Mikah, Aiden said he had to have a talk with her, to get caught up.  He also said, "I also have to talk to you about this."  With that, he held out the message container he'd been given to deliver.  Checking out the small nearly square metal container with rounded edges, Mikah saw it had nothing else on it but a thumb-reader.  When she pressed her right thumb to the reader, nothing happened.  Surprised, Mikah thumbed it with her left and got the same response.  When Mikah was ready to toss it, Aiden realized he'd grabbed the wrong one.  Saying, "Ah, that one goes to the Duchess"  Aiden then swapped it for the other container he had.

Aiden took the first one back and gave her another one, saying, "Here.  Try this one."  Mikah glossed right over the 'for the Duchess' comment and thumbed the next one.  That opened to show a data crystal inside.  After pausing to think about the situation, Mikah realized she had to go somewhere private with a reader so she could see what was on the crystal?  Shrugging, Mikah said there was a reader on the ship so she figured she'd go back aboard and see what the message was?  When Mikah walked off to do that, Aiden turned to Aali and asked what the ship's status was?

Pausing to organize her memories, Aali told Aiden, "We were on a mission to ferry a technician out to service one of the system's surveillance satellites.  And, it blew up on us.  Then, a ship who we're assuming rigged it to blow up attacked us.  That's what did the damage to the cargo bay and tore the door off."  While Aali said that, she also walked Aiden around to the aft section of the ship where he could see they were missing the cargo bay door!  Aiden took that in while Aali continued, "We've got some damage to the jump drive and fuel tankage and so forth.  But we got back here OK, and the Duchy is gonna fix it for us."  The last part was what pleased Aiden most.  Still, needing to desperately reach for a joke, just to hear himself trying to be funny, Aiden pointed at Emkir and said, "Let me guess.  He was driving." while pointing at Emkir and hoping to get laughs with the mock-blame.

To say the least, the fact Aali had already told Aiden the satellite was presumed to have been rigged to explod meant the joke fell flat, and only managed to become a sad attempt to insult.  Nodding past that, Aiden said he assumed his gear was in the ship's locker and Aali pointed to a cargo bin in the bay saying his stuff was in there.  The crew had done that to make room for Bhreker to rent a stateroom from Equus to D'Ganzio.  Looking over the container, and then glossing over the entire bay, Aiden saw everything seemed to have taken a good battering.  Thanking Aali, Aiden moved up to start recovering his stuff.  While he did, the ever present Seneschalate officer stepped up and said they could move everything he wanted to bring with him to the suite in which the crew were living.

The man also told Aiden they would very much prefer he not bring any combat-rated weapons or equipment off the ship.  He also told Aiden they would move everything he wasn't moving into the suite back into his stateroom, where he could spend some time re-organizing it.  When Aiden opened the container, he saw that the separate classes of gear had been stored in individual casings.  That would make it easier to go through things group by group.  When he first did a general sweep, Aiden saw he didn't see a carry case for combat armor of any kind.  That meant it was a good thing he'd bought a suit in Rhylanor before leaving for Regina.  Aiden would later learn they'd "buried him in space" with his armor, because no one was willing to clean him out of the suit after he'd died.  He'd also learn he'd been wearing the magnetic soles.

After Aiden said he'd need to replace the magnetic soles, he was told not to bother.  Asking why not, he was given a number of dramatic displays of how badly the devices slowed people down.  Which made them excellent targets in a combat zone.  Aiden decided to consider that thought and the others started talking about the 'crazy armored bears'.  Some of them pulled out idents to show Aiden pictures.  Nodding, he continued to go through his gear there in the cargo bay.  Aiden realized his IISS belt buckle wasn't there, and decided he'd have to talk to someone at the scout base and get a new one.  On the plus side, Aiden did find the five sets of executive armor Mikah had bought him, along with two shipsuits made with ballistic cloth.

Aboard the ship and in the lounge, Mikah plugged the crystal into a reader and found it was sent by the Arch Duke!  Watching the message play out, Mikah was told there were two sets of files on the crystal for her use.  One gave her 'Limited Use' to pass through interdicted systems.  The second set of files gave the crew of the Hotel California permission to carry out operations on the uninhabited planets of a chosen interdicted system.  While that was good news for their interest in the Sonthert system, it fell enough in line with the plans the crew had thought secret.  Thanks to the things that had happened to them, Mikah was beyond caring that the Arch Duke may know their secrets.

Tolerance Training

     After the past two days, Zimzod's morning had been going about as he'd expected, given what he'd been told and been through.  While they hadn't really told Zimzod much, they had made it clear they wanted him to be more open to psionics.  Over the first day, they'd spent a huge amount of time working with Zimzod to upgrade his security clearance.  While that was for the limited area of Imperial psionic activities, it took a lot of time to complete the documents and details for investigation.  Especially given the Quasar Viper affair, which they knew about.  He was then provisionally upgraded while the added investigations would take some time.

The most unsettling thing Zimzod experienced before the "actual training", other than this whole thing being about working with psions rather than killing them, was a comment about the clearance investigations.  It was an unexplained comment that, should Zimzod's clearance not work out, they could always redact his knowledge.  That didn't make Zimzod comfortable since it was a promise to mess with his brain, if the clearances didn't come through.  Starting late on day one, and all of the second, a large part of the training was to convince Zimzod of the benefits of Imperial psionic operations.  That meant they spent a lot of time going over both the history of key psionic operations and the benefits those operations gave Imperial forces and security.

They showed him mission reviews focusing on operations where the core operatives, or those who "saved the day" were psionic, and the good their work did for the Imperium.  At the same time, they had him dealing directly with psionic members of the unit and military officers and enlisted who were being individually called in from local positions.  The message was that this was controlled, and larger than Zimzod had ever thought.  With that phase of Zimzod's anti-psionic 'deprogramming' moving along, they began teaching Zimzod about the history of Imperial Psycho-historical actions.  The new steps were helped because Zimzod had researched much of this as a teen.  So, he knew about the actions of Empress Paula II.

What Zimzod didn't know about that period were the actions taken by the Imperial government.  This included the Imperium's greatest experiment in psychohistory: turning the Imperial populace against psionic citizens.  Ironically, during this "tolerance training", Zimzod was educated on the Order of the White Star and some of their history.  He was told that Order had even been created by Empress Arbellatra in 640.  That was after the Imperium became embroiled in many major conflicts involving the Aslan, Sydymic, Zhodani and Vargr.  That move, as supported by a number of 'Counter-Cultural' social historians, was to strengthen Imperial forces by harnessing its psionic citizens.  Empress Arbellatra passed away of natural causes in 660 TI.

After reaching its height in the Imperium in 770 TI, psionics research was suddenly attacked from within.  The year 772 saw public opinion shifting against the Psionic Institutes.  Historic documents show that a series of financial, ethical and moral scandals erupted within the Institutes.  What those documents didn't show, and what Zimzod was presented, were documents covering a psychohistoric experiment the Imperium undertook at the orders of Empress Paula II.  This program promoted the ideal that all psionic citizens of the Imperium would be brought into the direct service of the Imperial government and military to protect the privacy of Imperial citizens.  The data Zimzod had, which he had to admit could have been faked by this possible Regina military splinter group, suggested many of those historic scandals were created as part of the Imperial experiment.

What bothered Zimzod was that some of what they were showing him matched what Zimzod had dug up himself, while in his twenties.  In fact, Zimzod now had to wonder how much of the investigations he thought he'd kept secret might have been noticed, and how it affected his military career?  Did he have so many problems "because" he'd been seen as possibly disloyal and subversive?  Had he been forced out of two Imperial uniforms because of his curiosity?  When he asked about that theory, those working with him couldn't answer Zimzod's questions.  The data they could show him were either more historic or specific examples of military and intelligence operations.

What made the Imperial experiment go "sideways" wasn't something they could pin-point.  The Zhodani suffered political reversals in both the Spinward Marches and other sectors and the Imperium learned the Zhodani government were ruled by a psionic elite!  This fed a wave of panic and hysteria as rumors spread the psionic institutes were no more than intelligence and subversion operations funded by the Zhodani Consulate.  Especially because the Consulate did actually provide some funding to Imperial psionic institutes, which were seen to promote a joining of cultures.  It was sadly determined, secretly and more than a century later, that the support had been innocent of intent.

Still, the flames had been fanned and exploded into full-blown public hysteria.  Covert Imperial agencies found themselves rescuing and relocating those psions they could save from the populace.  Zimzod then learned why revocation for the last two psionic institute charters had themselves been revoked.  While they were not in their original home systems anymore, Zimzod was told both institutes had been "saved", and were operating under Imperial intelligence cover.  At the same time, they didn't try to white-wash things.  While Zimzod still had no solid evidence the data they gave him was real, they did cover a list of what they claimed were real crime statistics.  That showed psions were no "angel class" either.  Zimzod was inclined to take them at their word without knowing if it was his real desire or someone playing mind games to adjust his point of view?

Clean Ups And Clearances

     Mikah considered the message from Norris' office while leaving the California.  She knew there was a patchwork of what everyone in the crew knew?  Aiden had just arrived and knew nothing.  Mikah knew his reaction would get exciting real fast.  She knew Aali, Emkir, Rol and Terin knew everything, as did Zimzod.  But Zimzod wasn't there.  Fesic and Munarshu only knew they had "an interest" in visiting Sonthert, but they had no idea why?  When Mikah got out into the cargo bay, she was instantly hit by Aiden's request for a debrief, while he was still going through his gear.  When he asked, again, for a debrief, Mikah told him he'd get one in an annoyed voice.  Aiden had already been bouncing off every wall he hit, asking one person questions and then turning from them to the next action on his list in a way that made her very sorry he was physically eighteen years old again.  Still, she was sure she could slow him down some by shooting him a bit.

Looking over the others, Mikah announced, "It looks like we're gonna do that thing on Sonthert."  Looking up, Munarshu asked, "What thing?"  Aali said, "Looks like we're going on a field trip sooner or later."  Rol asked, "Are we actually cleared to leave yet?"  Fixing Rol with a glare that told him his question was a stupid one, Mikah snapped, "We don't even have a door to our cargo bay."  Emkir sparked up, saying, "If we're allowed to go, it would be a lot of fun to continue our research."  That got him some odd looks from others who wondered at the Admiral's sense of fun.  Mikah sarcastically snapped at him, "Sure!  It would be." while wondering if Emkir remembered what he was talking about?  Hearing all this, Aiden only knew he'd heard of Sonthert because it was an interdicted system.  Like, "You arrive there without authorization or a good excuse and you get shot dead.

Confirming what he wanted to know by actually asking the question he meant to, Rol asked, "Once we get all our repairs done, we still need to get authorization to leave the system.  Right?"  Mikah nodded her head and said that was correct.  Smiling a predatory smile, Mikah pointed at Rol and continued, "But that's your problem.  That's totally your problem."  Not answering Mikah, Rol had to admit he had no idea what was going on with the case against Sir Jeremy?  Or, for that matter, the possibility of a case against himself either?  Aiden fixed Rol with a glance and asked, "I don't want to know.  Do I?"

Rol told him, "Let's just say, the love has been spread around."  Not having any clue what that meant, Aiden just nodded and went back to looking through his gear.  Rol told the scout's now turned back, "Let's just say there are security concerns."  Looking into an ammo container in one of the boxes in his pod, Aiden noticed an ammo clip which seemed to have ballooned out, with the panels rounded and pushed out past the structural members.  Looking closer at the magazine, Aiden realized it was the refrigerated clip that held the white phosphorous rounds he'd bought!  And the LED that showed the cooling unit's battery status was dead!  The power had completely drained and the coolant unit had stopped working.  And the rounds were 'reacting'.

Doing the quick math, Aiden asked, "Aali?  Do you have a small sealable container?"  Not knowing what Aiden was on about, or what the issue with his gear was because he hadn't said, Aali thought about the question.  Asking Aiden, "What's the situation?" to get a better idea what he needed?  Aiden said, "The battery system that kept the refrigeration unit on my white phosphorous rounds died a while back..."  Aali interrupted him in a very concerned voice, saying, OH!"  Picking up again, Aiden knew before he asked, "I wonder if the port's first responders have a hazardous materials response unit?"  Terin acerbically asked him, "Shouldn't you call them?" while stating the obvious but not doing anything himself to help the situation.

Too bizarre for anyone else except Aiden, the scout actually wondered outloud about the risk of getting arrested for having white phosphorous rounds when he might soon be in the middle of a cook-off blast.  Still, the port administration would only be a teensy bit less happy about them announcing a HAZMAT-EOD issue on-port than they'd like learning about it after the explosion.  And that because waiting until after the blast to call for help likely meant some of the idiots who caused it were killed in it.  After Aiden made the situation completely clear, Mikah started to order, "Call InstellArms.  Tell them we have a problem and we need them to come down here..." only to be cut off.  Aali said, "I think we should probably call the port."  After Mikah agreed with Aali, Aiden called the port.

On the comms, Aiden connected to the port and tripped through explaining he'd been dead for a while, had been cloned and met up with his ship only to find his collection of white phosphorous rounds had, or were in the process of cooking off.  While the port technician was excited, she was certainly not happy while getting his location in the port.  She lit all sorts of alarms and said emergency response units were on the way.  She also had the presences of mind to tell Sir Aiden to make sure everyone was off the ship or outside the affected area.  She then told him that all costs would be billed to the ship.

When Aiden echoed that detail to the others, Mikah snapped, "Already!?  You just got back five minutes ago."  Answering her, Terin pointed out, "We're the people who stowed it all and packed it away, so we could make space for Bhreker."  Hearing that, Mikah said, "We did.  Didn't we?" in a more conciliatory tone.  Not knowing who this "Bhreker" was, Aiden just let things play out now he was already in the fire.  Reacting to what he saw happening, Fesic decided to get himself a laugh and logged into the port-net to shop.  After a bit of pricing, he found a crowbar at a cost he liked and bought it for Cr 25.  Fesic then set it up to be delivered to Sir Aiden at their suite.

Fesic finished up while port security units started arriving, to evacuate the ship and berth, and get the facts for follow-on units.  When those teams, including the EOD and security teams, got there, the first team turned to start taking statements and get details from the crew.  Some of the crew watched as the EOD team arrived and set up.  It was apparent, from what could be seen, that the team were quite busy despite the years since the war had ended.  They pause to get a SITREP and were told the short form:
        In his paranoia, Aiden had bought white phosphorous rounds.
        After Aiden was killed, the crew packed away his gear
        When they'd done that, they'd grabbed all his gear without noticing the magazine
        So, they forgot to keep the magazine's refrigeration unit charged.

That meant the batteries died and the uncooled rounds had, at least, begun to cook off.  Perhaps they had cooked off and the magazine had held the reaction, but no one wanted to take that risk without the proper gear.  Nodding at the report, the EOD team leader asked Mikah if the crew had any more uncared for specialty packages that could suffer from neglect?  Pausing to think, Mikah remembered Zach had bought some acid-tipped rounds for his snub pistol, which had been stored in the ship's locker since his death.  In for a pinch, in for a pound, Mikah told the EOD sergeant about those too.

Thrilled with the new challenge, the sergeant nodded and made sure there were no more new items before moving his team in.  The process would be detailed by HUD-cams and even some tool-cams, both so the crew could be shown exactly what they were being billed for and so surviving team-mates would be able to learn from the mistakes of their fallen.  The team had also asked where each hot item was, with the white phosphorous in the cargo bay and the acid-tipped rounds in the ship's locker.  Having everything they needed, the EOD unit huddled up and set up their game-plan before taking action.

Splitting into teams, the cargo bay team sent an investigator in to scan and test the white phosphorous magazine while the rest of them moved into the ship, to the locker.  After the inspection, the technician said that removal would be simple.  First, they moved in an 'explosive force containment' box.  Then, a robotic unit moved in, monitored by its operator and team leader.  The robot had an arm with a blast deflector and a 'grab hand'.  The grab-hand was specifically calibrated for fine movement and provided pressure feedback to the operator so they could feel and not over-squeeze the grip.

The arm cameras also showed multiple angle views from both direct-mounted and stand-off cameras.  With the crew watching on a remote screen, the robot moved up, gingerly grabbed the magazine and slowly lifted it out of the container where it had been sitting.  Then, the robot backed off before executing a turn and, just as slowly, lowered the magazine into the containment box.  Using the robot, the operator then closed the containment box and activated it.  This first sealed the containment box before heating up its internal bay enough to entirely incinerate every component of the magazine and rounds.  All watched when there was a brief flinch as something in the box caused it to move slightly.  Finished with that, the team in the bay moved in and recovered or cleaned up their tools as much as they could while storing the incinerator box in the berth until the second team completed their work.

In the weapons locker, the second team found the acid rounds had been "weeping" for some time, with a minimal amount of acid leeching out to burn the clamp holding the magazine.  Since the crew very rarely even went into the compartment, it hadn't been noticed when the clip fell onto other gear and spread the love.  When the butcher's bill was all told, there were two other clips of Zach's, which had contained HEAP and HEAT rounds, which the team recommended be disposed of along with a damaged set of web gear.  When Mikah looked at the video and agreed, they brought the recovery robot into the ship's locker to move each item into another disposal box.  After the three items were put in the box and destroyed, the port official turned to Mikah about the acid cleanup in their ship's locker.  Mikah agreed they should go through that space too.

That space contained:
       A Laser Carbine with power pack and HUD Integrated Hip (Brian)
       A Snub Pistol (TL 8, 1103)
       A Snub pistol (semi-auto, Generic ) (Zach)
       Snub Pistol Ammo: 100 Rnds Ball (5 Mag's/20 rnds ea),
                                        24 Rnds Tranq (4 Mags, 6rnds ea) (Zach)
       A snub pistol side arm Cleaning Kit (Zach)
       4 Sonic Stun Pistols with holsters (Ship)

       Brian's sealed Combat Armor

       One Quarter pound Plastic Explosives (Breaching Charges) and Detonators
       Ship's Breaching Charges x2
       Fesic's Breaching Charge

       TL F PLSS 14B[ 24 hours ]
       OxyTank( TL F ) x2[ 12 hrs each ]
       5 Magnetic Grips
       Suit Patches [ 5-count 10cm sq ] x5

       Electronic Binoculars w/LI and range finder( TL B, 1111 )
       Vargr Lingo Program
       Eight Vargr Language Translators
       Three sets of Infrared Goggles
       Eight Filter Masks
       Eight Protective Masks
       5,000 km range TL E Ear piece ComUnit( TL E, 1104 )
       Hand Computer with integral eReader(TL B, 1104), Processor & Memory module
           with built in functions
       Pictures of mysterious glyphs from the Risek system Starport and former Octagon
           Society station eReader Datachip storage binder
       Holographic projector encyclopedia of known and theorized artifacts in the
           universe[Spinward Marches Museum of Mysteries and Research Center, Mora - Cr150 ]
       Atmospheric Tester( TL 7, 1104 )

       TL D Survival Bubble( 2M Diameter, 1104 )
       A Home-Made solar still (Made by Sir Brian, on Jae Tellona)
       Four Rescue balls
       An emergency crash landing kit
       8 basic Individual Survival kits
       Tow Ropes/Cables
       Crew level Survival gear kit (Desert Survival kit, Camp cooking gear, Tents, Water
           Filtration / Distillation unit)
       Duffel-based survival kits ( One in most staterooms and engineering, two in Emkir and
           Aali's, none in Terin's )

       Electrical tool kit
       Metal working tool kit
       Mechanical tool kit

       Backpack ( TL 4, 1104 )
       Nomadic style Robes ( Zach - Jae Tellona / Rhylanor )
       Silver cuff-links
       Collar stays (Silver)
       Boutonniere (Silver)
       Tie Tack (Silver)
       Paper Money clip
       CredChip Holder (Silver)
       Chronograph (Silver)
       Watch Fob (Silver)
       Men's Belt with silver buckle
       Crystal paperweight with an embedded bushing suspended in it
       Duke Leonard of Rhylanor's Commemorative Coin from the Knighting of
           Sir Rol Kaihvos (given to Sir Zach)

Catching Up On History

     Beyond caring for that gear, the port ordered them to do a HAZMAT Cleanup of the ship's locker.  When Mikah asked, they said it would be a day-long job so anything the crew had planned would be delayed that long.  That meant handing the ship over for repairs would be delayed, and the port was charging them Cr 2,000 for the entire situation.  When she was told that, Aiden sparked up, "Don't look at me!  You're lucky I caught the leak when I did.  You should be thanking me."  When Mikah had no answer for that, Aiden went back to deciding what to move back into his stateroom and what to have the seneschalate move to the suite.

Not surprisingly, Aiden first grabbed for his custom snub pistol.  But, when he grabbed the weapon by its grip, with its battery LED still lit, Aiden didn't consider why that weapon was still charged?  He didn't give one thought at all to looking before he leapt, a habit that had helped get him killed to start with.  The weapon was still charged because Mikah had teamed up with others to change the DNA signature on the security system, to get a laugh when they welcomed Aiden home.  Immediately, Aiden felt the release of taser-based electrical energy and his right arm went numb before he dropped to the deck shuddering.  Standing off the side, Munarshu just watched and chuckled.

The crew watched while Aiden first dropped to the deck shuddering and then even pissed himself.  The whole while, Munarshu, who'd been told this would happen, was recording a vid of the event while chuckling and feeling a decent level of vindication.  Fesic also filmed Aiden's suffering too.  Made of sterner stuff, none of the watching crew pissed themselves laughing.  Munarshu's chuckles were interrupted when his comms started to buzz.  Answering the call, Munarshu learned it was the doctor who'd been in charge of his care and recovery when they'd returned to Regina prime.  Making an assumption, Munarshu asked the doctor to give him the bad news.

And it was bad news.  The doctor told Munarshu repeated aggravation of his rib cage injuries had resulted in permanent damage.  The ribs would never completely and correctly heal.  Added to that, he still had to spend some time on light duty.  This time, it would take six weeks to heal as completely as he could.  Asking if there was anything they could do to fix it, Munarshu was told his options were few and expensive.  A first option was to have Munarshu's ribs medically cloned and then replace the damaged structure with new.  The second was not directly considered legal, but if he were to die and be entirely cloned, that would resolve the issue.  Other options included major thoracic surgery to remove Munarshu's natural bone structure and replace it with a bio-composite.  But, none of these solutions were cheap, and most also demanded a lot of recovery time too.

When Munarshu spread the news, he walked into a gauntlet of jokes.  Fesic was up for re-breaking the bones until they re-set regardless of the doctor's words.  From the ground and starting to recover, Aiden was all for shooting Munarshu in the face to see if that cured the engineer's ribs?  What followed were comments about Munarshu's options and the costs in both time and cash.  Munarshu admitted he didn't have enough of either and Rol suggested Munarshu turn himself over to Mikah for medical experimentation.  That got a lot of laughs.  Aiden, who had recovered and was grabbing a change of clothes, jumped in saying, "I'll pay to see that", getting laughs too.  Terin said Munarshu had already turned himself over for experimentation just by joining the crew.  Fesic disagreed, saying that only made him a plaything for Zimzod.

Interrupting, the seneschalate representative stepped up to Aiden and said they were ready to start moving his gear.  So they asked him to start pointing out what was to be moved where?  Aiden was getting ready to change clothes and paused to ask about carrying his snub pistol legally.  He'd decided, assuming and surprisingly not blaming the crew, that the weapon's battery failed and he had to recalibrate it.  Aiden was told he "could" carry it with ball ammo but the Duchy would prefer tranq rounds.  Aiden also decided to leave his laser sword with the ship while wearing his custom sword when appropriate.

Outside personal defense, Aiden asked for all of his non-combat clothing and accessories, his hand-computer, Duke Leonard Commemorative Coin from Rol's Knighting, a basic magnetic compass, his first aid kit, his personal grooming kit, a travel toiletries and grooming kit, a sleeping bag, a canteen, a mess kit, water distiller, an extending metal rod with adjustable mirror on the end, his mica-silicate books on 'General Astronomy' and 'The Astronomy of Runips'(From Jae Tellona) and his collection of E-Books on crystal.  When he considered his various comms, Aiden saw what he remembered as his most up-to-date unit was missing.  Another thing apparently not recovered from his death.  Aiden added two of his five handgun e-books from InstellArms to the list to be moved.  Turning from the seneschalate worker, Aiden told Mikah he needed a set of comms from the crew to replace his lost unit.

Done dealing with his goods, Aiden was offered a paper outfit by the seneschalate officer, if he wanted?  Aiden brushed that off and said he had all his clothing there and grabbed a change of clothes before going into his stateroom to clean up and get changed.  While Aiden changed, the seneschalate officer started managing the move of Aiden's gear.  When he returned, Aiden told Mikah he had to speak with the seneschalate, because he was acting as a courier to the Duchess for Duke Leonard instead of telling the seneschalate worker directly.  Mikah suggested Aiden go with the seneschalate officer to get his gear settled and then work with that officer to schedule his delivery as a courier.

When Aiden did tell the man, the seneschalate agent moved over and asked to see Aiden's credentials.  Realizing what he was seeing as he read it, the agent saw Aiden wasn't just the 'incompetent, reactionary, pissy idiot' he'd been watching as the crew cleaned him off the floor.  He was the 'incompetent, reactionary, pissy idiot courier who had not stepped up and told the seneschalate agent he had a message for the Duchess'.  And, while Aiden tried to make excuses like the issue with the taser-grip, he had obviously spoken to the agent before that.  So, he was obviously not paying attention, and so...incompetent.  But, this was nothing new to a crew whose motto could be, "It's not my fault."

In any case, Aiden worked with the agent and set up an appointment to the Duchess' court in two days' time.  After that, the agent confirmed with him that his gear would be moved to Sir Zimzod's fief.  That Zimzod had a fief on Regina seemed to surprise Aiden for some reason and he asked the rest of the crew, "How long have I been gone?" in a confused and shocked tone.  Mikah reminded Aiden that Zimzod had the fief long before they'd met, and actually shared it with herself and Sir Brian the last time they were in-system.  She also had to wonder if there was any brain damage or a failed data transfer to this clone of her pilot that she should be concerned about?  At the same time, Rol said, "When we go to Lunion, I'll show you my manor house."  Mikah taunted, "I wouldn't fall for that if I were you."

That conversation wound down and the crew returned to the suite to have a late lunch.  While they boarded the gravCar, they told Aiden they'd rented two grav vehicles for getting around.  Aiden watched as they flew and eventually approached a taller tower which looked residential.  It had a number of flat floors, extended into decks where grav-vehicles could land and park.  Arriving there, they secured the air-car and showed Aiden to the suite, introducing him to the butler as Rol called the chef.  Aiden took in all the opulence and perks and had to admit life here was far different from life on a scout ship.  The central living space opened to a connected dining space.

There was also a kitchen off the dining space, and a number of bedrooms, each with a private fresher.  There was also a public fresher off the living room.  The others started settling in and Fesic asked Aiden what was up with his pistol grip?  Figuring it had to do with the battery, Aiden said he'd have to get it reset and started thinking about calling InstellArms.  Considering the cost, Aiden said he could reset the weapon and Fesic laughed and asked permission to film it if he tried.  Thinking about that, Aiden said he'd ask Rol first, to get his advice.

When Aiden did ask Rol, the armorer took the weapon by the barrel and asked what issues Aiden was worried about?  Aiden explained what was supposed to happen, which Rol also already knew.  What Aiden didn't know was that Rol knew why it wasn't working too, because Mikah had gotten him to reset the DNA data.  Still, it was an easy job and Rol guessed it'd take him half an hour.  Looking at Aiden, Rol said "Cr 200 and I'll get it done for you."  Aiden agreed.  The whole time, Rol stayed quiet while Aiden blamed Munarshu and suggested all manner of dire revenges for what he'd done.

Aiden cut his deal with Rol while Mikah sat and thought about being able to bring Aiden up to date on things.  She knew she had to deal with getting the butler out of the way for a number of things and had to decide what, of those subjects, she wanted to fully fill in Aiden, Fesic and Munarshu on?  The butler was the easy part, because they could send her out on errands.  Calling the crew in for a meeting, Mikah explained how Fesic signed on to the crew and told Aiden about Terin and Munarshu's adventures on Equus.  Figuring the android there wasn't related to them, Mikah told Aiden about that unit.  Aiden only shook his head and said, "First a Zhodani warbot and now this."

Aiden grumbled about needing some kind of EMP device which could take androids out, missing the fact that millions of government labs and billions of their scientists were spending hundreds of trillions of credits on exactly that.  But, of course, in his demented mind this motley crew would magically be able to do it without the requisite skills or tech because he thought it possible.  Ignoring that, Mikah also told Aiden about the battle with the IMV Kakishuu, the loss of the ISS Skygge Sturek and the "special repairs" they gotten after that.  Taking a break from the excitement they'd had, Mikah showed off her coral sword.  Just like the others, Aiden assumed the weapon was "pretty", but useless for combat.

When Mikah had him draw his own sword, and swung the weapon, Aiden was sure there would be a mess.  He was as surprised at the others, except Terin, when the coral didn't shatter.  Asking about the blade, Mikah told him it was a property of Equus coral.  The seneschalate officer helping move Aiden's gear looked on in discomfort after seeing the sword perform.  Aiden wondered what they did to the growing coral to give it that strength?  Terin jokingly suggested he could always research it in the tone of a jibe.  Hearing that, Mikah told Aiden about the experience he no longer remembered with the government of Equus when he'd tried to research some of their in-system military hardware.

On his old Ident, which Mikah had saved for him Aiden saw some screen captures of very odd and interesting grav-vehicles that looked like they were submersible.  He checked that out while Rol snarked, "Don't worry.  It won't all come back to you."  About that time, lunch was served.  Over the meal, and a good part of the mid-afternoon, they got Aiden back up to speed on all the non-classified information.  In the living room after the meal, Mikah sent their butler out for Cr 250 of "better quality" booze.  Waiting to be sure the butler was gone, Mikah explained their Sonthert plans, which was also the first time Fesic and Munarshu had heard the "almost" full explanation.  Mikah still kept quiet about the Order of the White Star, saying it was 'an old and forgotten Order of Knights.'  Psionics was kept entirely out of things for the moment.  The possibility there had been a lost and abandoned base was key.

After that, Mikah told Aiden about the events in the D'Ganzio system and those events matched up with some of what Aiden had seen in his news reading from Rhylanor.  Not surprised at all that they'd been involved, Aiden thought about that before asking where Zimzod was?  Mikah quickly said he was on vacation and Aiden asked in a mock-shocked tone, "You let that man out on an unprotected world?"  Terin joked suggestively that the only person who needed protection was Mikah.  Fesic suggested, "He's having his ball hair removed."  That got laughs from most people when Aiden, for reasons no one could explain, said he hoped they were being removed one hair at a time.

When Fesic asked, "Are you saying you want to do that?" Aiden said, "No.  But I'd love to have a recorder there catching his screams."  That suggested to Fesic that the reason Aiden had so much to fear from his crew mates was because he was such a presumptive and paranoid asshole, spewing nothing but snarky remarks and assumptions out about them.  Eventually, the butler returned with bottles of alcohol, and was followed soon after by a delivery person from InstellArms for Sir Aiden Radetsky.  When he checked the mystery package, it turned out to be a brand-new crowbar, which explained nothing to him.

One Born Every Minute

     Aiden stood there puzzled for only a moment before Fesic said, "I think you're going to need that to get into your room tonight."  While that explained "who" sent the crowbar, Aiden hadn't had nearly enough stuff moved to his bedroom to make getting in and out difficult at all.  So, the "why", or joke hadn't been explained at all.  Still, Aiden was pleased and said, "You don't know how happy I am to have this.  And you don't know how Munarshu's gonna hate me having this."  Terin snarked, "Hear that Munarshu?  Aiden has a crowbar, so you need to order a whole bunch of K-Y jelly."

Munarshu only asked, "Why should I worry about a crowbar?  I didn't do anything wrong." in a confused tone.  Mikah only shook her head and said, "Still denying." in a tone that said she knew what was coming if not when?  Turning away from that, Rol called his lawyers to get an update on his legal issues, because it had been 45 days since he'd gotten any information.  Having tracked his situation as proper, the team were happy he was back and had some time to spend with them.  They were happy to tell him they'd continued working on the case even though it seemed, at times, that Sir Rol might not survive.  Still, Sir Jeremy's legal team had been served with a court date.  Rol asked when that was and was told it would be on Tuesday the 155th day of the year.

On the other side of the coin, Rol's lawyers had also been told to set a date for a fact finding meeting with the Jesediperei, to see if there would be charges against him?  Not yet aware of anything for the coming week, Rol set that for two days, on the coming Monday.  After the scheduling was done, Rol's lead advocate said they believed the outcome for Sir Jeremy was that he would be placed under 'quarters arrest' until he could be shipped to Capital.  There, they'd expect the Emperor to deal with the issue personally, because he was Jeremy's patron.  Shrugging while hiding his personal pleasure, Rol said, "Well, we'll see how things go."  Still, Rol realized at that moment that Sir Jeremy must somehow be a member of the Imperial household!

After being caught up by the others, Aiden checked on the local scout base and found there were both orbital and down-well base facilities.  And the down-well base was on the other side of Credo City, outside Atora.  So, a bit of a ride.  Seeing that, Aiden called the base to see who to talk to so he could order a new belt buckle?  After a few transfers, Aiden finally got to the right office.  There, he was told he could get a buckle for Cr 5,000.  When he asked if he had to go to the base to get the buckle, he was told he would and it would take him half a day to complete the process.  Wanting to not waste time, Aiden scheduled to visit the base the next day.  After that, he figured he'd wait til his gear arrived and spend the time organizing his bedroom.

Mikah decided to hit the building's gym and pool, relaxing for the afternoon.  When she sat back, Munarshu asked who would be interested in taking a hunting adventure?  Looking around, he saw that Mikah, Aali and Aiden were interested.  Aiden had heard the question just before he'd gone to organize his bedroom.  After a brief pause, Fesic said he'd go along to capture the misadventures on video.  When Munarshu was asked what he had in mind, he said he wanted to go see what wildlife was out there and shoot some of it, forgetting he should be on light duty for the next six weeks.

Hearing that, Aiden backed out but Rol said he might be interested, saying he could at least shoot straight.  Doing his moral duty, Fesic did ask, "Isn't Munarshu the one who's supposed to be on light duty?" and got general agreement from everyone on that.  Fesic then asked if he was worried about his rifle kicking back into his ribs and Terin said, "Yeah.  He's hunting brain cells." which got laughs.  That left Munarshu and those interested with a decision on what to hunt, and where?

When Munarshu looked into it, he saw there were hunting trips which would take them to the grasslands of Regina.  Those hunted running and jumping grazers like elk, deer and antelope.  There were jungle hunting trips, which took more time, travel and cash, and also added in more adventure and more danger too.  When Mikah heard there were some breeds of big cats in the jungles, she recommended Munarshu choose that option.  Still tongue in cheek, Aiden recommended Munarshu borrow some of his frag-grenades and go to a fish hatchery.  Munarshu was planning on taking a nice and easy hunting trip, and didn't want to end up with something hunting him.  Even by accident.

While Munarshu was interested in a moderate level of effort in his hunting, he also didn't want to have drivers and beaters to reduce the challenge.  Looking through the packages, Munarshu chose a two day trip through a wilderness area of wooded grasslands where he hoped he could avoid the predators.  Realizing just how much work Munarshu was talking about, Mikah said, "Let's just go to a supermarket." and Terin joked, "You know you can only do that once per supermarket until they catch onto you."  Munarshu said he would hire a guide, and pay to be driven to the middle nowhere in a grav-car.  But, when he started talking 'days', Rol realized he couldn't go.  Mikah said she thought he was just gonna go out and shoot at things.  So this now sounded like too big a production and she was out too.

When things started to look like they were gonna fall apart, Fesic said he was still in so the game was on.  With Fesic in, Munarshu began to sign in and book the hunt, and told Fesic it would cost Cr 3,000 each.  Shocked, Fesic said he couldn't afford that and began to back out and Munarshu started worrying about having to cancel the trip because he was grounded and didn't have a chaperone.  When Fesic apologized, but said he didn't have the cash Munarshu decided to pay for Fesic, to keep him on board.  So, while Munarshu started to pay for the trip, Mikah made sure Fesic knew his job was to document everything when Munarshu screwed up, however it happened.

Munarshu confirmed his payment while the others started a pool to bet on how the trip would end up?  Mikah first suggested they bet on how long it would take for Munarshu to get himself killed?  Terin bet Cr 100 that Munarshu wouldn't make it through the first night and Munarshu covered that bet.  Even more, Munarshu said he'd bet all the others that he'd make it back alive and Mikah wanted to see cash up front before she covered that bet.  When Aiden tried to put Cr 10 on a bet Munarshu would be thrown from any beast he was riding and have his chest crushed, Munarshu called Aiden a wimp and told him the bets were a Cr 100 minimum.  Aiden said Munarshu didn't have to take the bet if he was that frightened?

When Munarshu said he wanted to cover the bet but Aiden had to bring it up to Cr 100, Aiden said, "I'm basing the value of the bet on how much I value you." in a sappy-sweet mocking tone.  Rol bet Cr 100 that the pair come back before they're supposed to, rather than making it the entire two days.  Mikah bet Cr 100 they didn't come back with anything they'd hunted and killed.  Fesic bet Munarshu would return to the ship with additional rib injuries, and Munarshu covered that too.  Aali bet Cr 100 Munarshu would suffer some medical issue during the trip which would be short of death but require medical treatment.  Terin then made a second bet of Cr 50 that their guide would walk off in the night and leave Munarshu to die.

The plans set, the tour company would send a ground car to pick up Munarshu and Fesic, to take them to a local airfield.  From there, they would fly out to a remote lodge and stay the night.  Early the next morning, the safari would begin and the group would move out into the savannahs and forests all day long.  They would eventually come to a site with pre-set tents and camping spaces, where they would bunk and possibly do some night hunting.  After that, they would follow an alternate route back to the lodge before returning to the city.  Done setting the plans, Munarshu and Fesic had to hit their gear and pack for the trip.  When Mikah called out, "Don't forget your tutu", Fesic looked at Munarshu and added, "And your ass-less chaps", getting huge laughs.

While the two were in their rooms packing, Terin joked about contacting the tour group to bribe the guide and make sure Munarshu didn't come back.  Hearing that, Mikah said it was a good idea.  For weapons, Munarshu decided to bring his ACR, the Shotgun he'd named 'Eibon' and his survival knife.  He brought his snub pistol for a backup, with three clips of tranq rounds.  He didn't have any camouflage clothing to bring, so he planned to buy that at the on-site venue.  Munarshu made sure to bring the custom boots he'd bought in the Rhylanor system.  Munarshu also grabbed and fitted his web gear, which would let him carry more weight.  For ammo, he brought his ball ammo clips for the ACR and twenty rounds for his shotgun.

Munarshu realized he didn't have a first aid kit, and planned to buy one of those when he got his camo-gear.  Munarshu also packed three sets of executive armor, survival watch, binoculars and his combination IR/LI Goggles.  Before he packed, Fesic did some research on the climate in the area they'd be going to.  The region the lodge was built in was, as expected, a large expanse of grassland with stands of forests.  Weather projections from the region said the weather would be fair with mild temperatures and small chances of scattered showers over the two days they'd be in the field.

Checking on their "prey", Fesic saw they'd be hunting a gazelle-like creature called the "Juoksu".  Along the way, they could be menaced by small and medium sized vulpine animals and carnivorous mammals.  In the air, there could be anything from carrion birds to hive bats.  When Fesic said the Juoksu didn't sound dangerous, Terin reminded him they likely weren't unless you got caught in a stampede of them.  Or, if they were attacked by something hunting the juoksu.  Mikah added, "Don't get in the middle between a gazelle and its predator."

After his research, Fesic packed rations and water for five days, his flashlight with extra batteries, his emergency comm beacon, and his survival kit, binoculars and first aid kit along with rope.  Along with the rope, Fesic brought his cord, spikes and hammer for climbing.  For a primary weapon, Fesic brought his accelerator rifle and machete.  Fesic also brought this snub pistol with ball ammo for both the pistol and rifle.  He packed clothing appropriate for the trip he expected to take and also packed all five sets of his executive armor.  Seeing he didn't have a wilderness knife, Fesic planned to buy one when he could, and packed what he had in his leather satchel.  Fesic also grabbed the duffel with his survival kit in it.

After making their bets, Emkir and Aali decided to spend the afternoon relaxing with each other while Terin dove into his computer studies.  Mikah left for the gym as planned while Rol went off to work on Aiden's snub pistol.  Aiden read until Rol returned, under an hour later, with his recalibrated pistol.  When Aiden tested the grip, it worked as expected.  With Munarshu and Fesic about to leave, Aiden asked the engineer if he wanted to help test the grip and Munarshu refused while the others laughed.  After dealing with Aiden's weapon and his legal team, Rol decided to relax until dinner after doing some calisthenics.  Aiden spent the time organizing his gear in his room and checking out the suite's amenities.  After spending much of the afternoon in the gym and pool, Mikah came back to the suite to relax and watch vids until it was dinner time.

Soon after that, the car arrived for Munarshu and Fesic and they were off.  The ride to the air-field was quick enough.  There, they boarded a grav-jet, a compact composite-built craft that got into the air using grav modules and then generated forward thrust and supporting lift with jet engines and small wings.  After just more than an hours' flight, the craft landed at what seemed to be a frontier airport which had slips for the landing of small spacecraft too.  They had to guess that was for emergency evac craft and the ultra-rich.

From there, it was another ride in a ground car called a "geep" from the airfield to the "frontier bunkhouse".  That was half a multi-floored log cabin bed and breakfast, and half high-end sales glitz.  And two hundred percent advertising overkill, with a huge sign welcoming visitors to 'Hunting World - Regina'.  The car pulled up and they saw what must have been the entire staff outside to welcome them while they started unloading their gear.  Inside, the place was something out of some old "adventurer's club" vid.

The walls were covered with maps, shelves of artifacts, hanging skins, trophies, animal hide rugs and furniture.  There were displays of creatures like the SeaBear from the Thanber system.  Both Fesic and Munarshu were certain they could find a stuffed La'Belle armored bear if they looked for one.  When Munarshu mentioned his crew had taken down two of those bears, he got a nod from those in the group who'd seen him shopping before.  So, they ignored his attempt to build something to hang a reputation on and walked on.  In fact, the group they were part of had several regular hunters, which meant they were wealthy enough to frequently buy these package tours.  Their one concern was that this idiot hadn't somehow scored enough cash to buy into the package they would be leaving on.  They had nothing to worry about on that score.

First, Fesic, Munarshu and the others arriving with them were shown to their rooms and told to leave their gear there briefly.  Called downstairs before they settled what gear they'd need for the ride to the overnight camp, they were all told they had to watch a brief video on the expeditions in general, and safety and survival tips.  The video would also highlight prominent sights the hunters wouldn't want to miss if they were in that part of the preserve.  The 45-minute show ultimately went over all the do's and don'ts while also covering a very large list of items they recommended the hunters bring with them into the wild.  All of which, of course, they could provide on-site if the hunters hadn't brought them from home.

Having planned to by a camp knife, Fesic also thought it would be smart to buy some 'bug-off'.  He also considered buying some 'musk scent' with the idea of sneaking into Munarshu's tent after the engineer was asleep and spraying him down before waiting with his camera to see what happened?  But, Fesic was none too sure how bad that would get for the whole camp site, and there was no way in hell he was going into Munarshu's tent at night.  He was too frightened of what he might find if he did.  Still, Munarshu got an advanced preview of the pricing when Fesic was charged Cr 15 for a Cr 5 knife and Cr 10 for a "can" of 'bugoff' that really should have been complimentary based on its size.

Digging into the list of gear he planned to buy, Munarshu wanted a big, floppy camo-hat but balked at the price of Cr 150!  Not daunted, the sales clerk explained all the very many great features of the hat, which Munarshu would absolutely need in the field, and pointed out where it was even branded!  Not impressed that "Hunting World - Regina" had been stitched into the fabric of the hat in silver thread, Munarshu realized it was that or nothing, so he bought the hat.  He was then charged Cr 200 for a set of camo-coveralls.  Munarshu was happily surprised when a flashlight only cost him Cr 10.  Munarshu also checked their belt-gear to see if there was anything better than his web gear, but saw there wasn't.

Munarshu also bought three days field rations for Cr 60, along with a 1 quart canteen for Cr 15 and a packet of water purifier pills for Cr 25.  He was then charged Cr 50 for a belt-mountable first aid kit.  Munarshu also bought a sleeping bag for Cr 150 and a cot for Cr 250 along with a backpack for Cr 500.  Already disgusted by the prices, Munarshu said "Sure" when he was asked if he wanted camo-spats, to go with the camo-coverall he'd bought?  Then, they rung up the Cr 50 price on those!  Fesic could only shake his head in disbelief while Munarshu rang up a Cr 1,460 bill in goods labeled or stitched with the "Hunting World - Regina" logo.  After the shopping spree and a brief meal which was included in the transit, the hunters and their staff boarded the car to ride out to the forest camp.

Separate Evenings

     When it came around to dinner time, those working with Sir Zimzod squared away his 'Tolerance' training and told him that he'd begin "testing" the next morning.  Shrugging when they didn't explain what that was supposed to mean, Zimzod simply said, "Outstanding!"  He was told he could spend the evening relaxing even though Zimzod already knew there was not a lot he could do there which would be entertaining.  In the field, Fesic and Munarshu were being served a "more complete" dinner at the site where they would camp the night and set off on the hunt the next morning.

  Bright and early!  At the suite, the butler knocked on Emkir and Aali's door to politely ask if they wanted food or to continue their festivities?  After taking a shower and cleaning up, everyone at the suite gathered for chow.  After dinner, Rol decided to relax and watch vids for the rest of the evening.  Aiden started the evening sharing vids with Rol, but eventually decided to read one of his e-books.  At Mikah's insistence, they checked the news to see what was happening locally?  A good part of the local news was still consumed with the investiture, not surprisingly:

    Regina (A788899-C  2  Ri Cp  703  Im  F7 V M8 D M6 V)                  Date: 151-1113
    More than a month after the inauguration, the celebrations have faded
    and reorganization continues.  While much of her father's administration
    remain in place, changes have been slowly evolving as the administration
    of Duchess Seldrian Aledon are fitted into place.  While there has been
    some dislocation, the most significant notice has been an increase in
    orders to strengthen the system's sensor envelope.  While not an increase
    in military power, this move does suggest possible future military needs.

    Answers from the Regina Admiralty and the Seneschalate have suggested a
    military concern was laughable.  Still, Lord Sir Shaksiin Kakeag did point
    out events such as those in the Rhylanor system in past months.  The media
    have been reminded that the end of the Fifth Frontier War have caused more
    complications for the vargr and other privateering organizations who had
    more free range during the war.  Following closely on those themes, the
    spokesperson moved the briefing into discussions of funding to modernize
    the system's sensor and other envelopes.  The Admiral also suggested
    consideration of an increase for the bounty paid to civilian spacers who
    managed to interdict or even destroy unlawful vessels.  With that comment,
    the Admiral used the recent string of events surrounding the IMS Hotel
with a vague description of the bounty that crew could

Caught completely by surprise, the crew looked up because they'd not been told anything about a "bounty".  Sadly, even as they sparked up terminals and tried to research the comments, none of them could find any information on what they might expect to be paid?

    Regina (A788899-C  2  Ri Cp  703  Im  F7 V M8 D M6 V)                  Date: 152-1113
    Quiet for some time, the Seneschalate has released an investigative
    update regarding the events surrounding the gunman captured at a party
    for Baron Meshrumiikiim one and a half months ago.  The Admiralty have
    stated that investigation of this issue has led to the inescapable
    conclusion that unknown forces have been succeeding in making covert
    and untracked entry to the system.  Admiral Kkharuka has cautioned the
    media and public against speculation regarding planet-side crimes and
    murders, or even post-war espionage when specifically questioned.  Still,
    along with the realignments ordered by Duchess Seldrian, the public
    should feel comforted Regina's Navy, in concert with the Imperial Navy,
    are resolving the gaps identified.

    Regina (A788899-C  2  Ri Cp  703  Im  F7 V M8 D M6 V)                  Date: 151-1113
    Following much investigation of the attempted assassination of Sir Jeremy
    Lewis, there had been much discussion of the events and their meaning.
    And while nearly every other angle has been covered, little has been
    said about the location of Sir Jeremy himself beyond his survival of
    the attempt and was well.  In response to questions at a press briefing
    today, the media were told that Sir Jeremy remains well and under house
    arrest as the law enforcement organizations work with the evidence they
    gained from the event to track down those behind the action.

    Side stories include responses to any event which could possibly be
    related to the attempt.  There are, of course, always additional side
    stories from Sir Rol Kaihvos and the crew of the Hotel California,
    who have become hopelessly twisted into Sir Jeremy's own.  With the
    crux of that entanglement being based on accusations from the Jesedipere
    system, it seems those at least will come to some resolution.  Reports
    state Sir Rol and his lawyers expect to meet with the Jesediperei
    delegation on Regina hoping to move those accusations to some kind of
    resolution.  The only questions which remain are if that issue will
    move, and if so, in what direction?

    Jewell (A777999-C  2  Hi In Cp  623  Im  G7 V)                              Date: 117-1113
    In a press release from the Jewell system, the SuSAG corporation said
    it had succeeded in hiring a number of key units desired to support
    elements of the force which would operate in the interface, Trans-Orbital
    and Orbital elements of their planned operation in the Gougeste system.
    Under the current circumstances, the Megacorp spokesperson suggested
    they might be ready to launch their strike so soon that the spreading
    of his announcement could be considered a 'final call' for mercenaries
    interested in taking part in the operation.  The release had, appended
    to it, a list of performance parameters units applying to join the force
    should be able to meet.  While there were no operational details released,
    experts examining the requirements suggested the SuSAG force would not
    be interested in going in slow and light.

    Trin (A894A96-F  2  Hi In  Cp  101  Im  M0 V)                          Date: 068-1113
  The Lanth Void  In news from the Trin's Veil subsector, an announcement has come from
    the Trin system, stating they will be staging the Second Spinward
    Marches Point-To-Point race.  That story was followed by commentary
    on disappearances, like that of Sir Yaricht Fruenelle.  He disappeared
    in his private jump-4 yacht while taking part in the competition,
    which required starship crews to "race" from system to system receiving
    time-marked tokens as they arrived.  The winner would be that ship
    and crew who managed to complete the course in the least time.  The
    original course included one system in each of the Imperial settled
    subsectors of the Spinward Marches Sector.

   Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)                               Date: 102-1113
    Updates being released in the Rhylanor system discuss the on-going
    creation of departments in the forming Domain government.  Currently,
    the announcements have covered higher level department leaderships
    and have caused very little in the way of surprise or reaction other
    than positive comments.  Still, the meat of creating entire departments
    from whole cloth will be more interesting and, perhaps, give a view
    inside the intent behind the decisions.

    Skull (C2237C7-9  N  Na Po  601  Im  M1 V M0 VI)                            Date: 103-1113
    Reporting from the Skull system continued to cover the fight against
    identified insurgents and the effort to further root out criminal
    elements.  Some of the worst images and stories were starting to fade
    as further data emerges from security operations and the beginnings of
    recovery.  Responsibility for the system, at this time, rests in the
    hands of the commanding military officer, Admiral Lord Edward Montcroix,
    as the Arch Duke's Seneschalate remain quiet on replacing the sacked
    nobility of that system.

When Fesic and Munarshu reached the hunting camp, it was something out of a travel advertisement.  Tie-down campaign tents, animal hide rugs and animal skin furniture, yet fully stocked and most likely protected from all outside creatures by any number of high-tech systems.  They rubbed elbows with those who'd not already been torqued off by Munarshu's earlier acts and one turned out to be a zoologist.  He quietly warned them about a specific hunter.  He said the man was Baron R. Bruce Oakenheart, and he had people who would insure the Baron got "the best kill" by blocking or distracting other hunters.  He also suggested that sometimes, people got shot "by accident."  Fesic could feel the odds of those who'd bet on Munarshu's demise rising as the man spoke.

Thanking the man for the warning, Munarshu and Fesic mixed with the others and were happy to learn the Baron and his people were signed up for a two-week hunt rather than their two-day jaunt.  Judging by the large amount of servants the Baron was gathering from the tour company, it was clear they'd pulled all the stops out for his expedition.  And, the Baron made it clear he hoped, someday, to hunt "the most difficult prey out there."  Interpreting that as sentient creatures, Munarshu only hoped their hunting grounds were far apart.

At Least The Morning Worked

     Munarshu and Fesic were woken at the crack of dawn, and told to gear up and be ready to get on the trail.  Fesic's main "carry" was his survival kit, worn as a backpack.  He packed his clothing, executive armor, rations, water, emergency comm beacon, first aid kit, cord, spikes and hammer in his leather satchel, which he wore off one shoulder.  His flashlight hung from his belt with the batteries in his satchel.  His binoculars hanging from his neck and the coil of rope hung from his belt, along with his knife scabbard, machete and snub pistol holster.  Also off a shoulder, he carried his accelerator rifle, but was definitely massively overloaded, and would be feeling it while they hiked.

Fesic had also spent an uncomfortable night sleeping on the ground, because he'd not bought or brought sleeping gear.  Seeing this, the tour staff gave him two blankets, one of which he'd folded under his head as a pillow.  Munarshu slept well, but would have to hump all his sleeping gear, secured to his backpack.  Still, despite everything he'd bought on arrival, Munarshu had less gear than Fesic and was more mobile and comfortable than Fesic was.  Making issues even worse, living on a starship had made both men soft.

While keeping his mouth shut about it, Fesic was dragging as much as Munarshu was by the time the group made it to lunch, thanks to the heavy load of his gear.  Seeing the tour group planned to feed them much more than he'd expected, Fesic realized he had gone more than a bit overboard with his "emergency rations".  The five days' worth of water had been dragging him down hard during the morning's walk, so he poured off all but a days' worth because he could expect the tour group to keep them fed.  He was still somewhat overloaded and his various carry items didn't lay across the shoulders comfortably enough to not be an issue.

They also hadn't run into much to shoot at either, and the distance walking took its toll on men who walked short distances except the rare occasions they were running on an exercise track.  Sadly, Munarshu wasn't as closed-mouthed as Fesic.  This led to him being assigned a number of negative nicknames by mid-morning, thanks to his continued whining and complaints.  In fact, by the time they stopped for a lunch break, there was more than one hunter who blamed Munarshu's whining for chasing away the wildlife and ruining the hunt.

Zimzod was also woken early by a member of the team he had been working with.  They told him that he'd be spending the day in extreme mental and endurance testing.  When Zimzod asked, he was told the tests would figure what his basic psionic potential was?  They clarified that he wouldn't be trained to use any but some basic talents.  Those would be to shield himself from discovery by trained psions because having even this minimal amount of testing activated his potential and he'd started putting out what they described as "casual mental noise".  The day continued while Zimzod was subjected both to tests he could see some measures of, and others he couldn't even track or see signs of.  And, while the tests weren't physical at all, they were more exhausting than most of the exercises he'd been through in combat training.

One 'side effect' Zimzod did notice after mid-day, was the effect he felt whenever someone with an active psi-talent was in the room with him.  Each time that happened, Zimzod felt a sensation like a "buzz" in the back of his mind.  When he mentioned that, Zimzod was told his "senses" were open, and he was now able to "sense" when someone in his presence was actively using a talent.  On a down-side, Zimzod was told he was now "open" to the psionic world and he would be noticed even if he were in their presence and they were scanning for a psi-talent.  That meant they would have to teach him to shield his mind.  That would also let him mask or block his own emanations.  That "talent" was called 'Shield'.

They also said they would teach him rudimentary mental defenses too.  Before Zimzod could misunderstand, it was made clear to him these defenses wouldn't be any real protection against a trained mental assault, or even a strong untrained attack made by someone who's talent was triggered by panic.  It could still help him until some other forces came into play.  Zimzod was also warned the testing had shifted him into the "psi-active" population, with all of its negative side effects if his status was discovered.  So, he'd have to keep that status protected, even from his crew.

In the suite, Aiden had planned to visit the scout base on-world to get a replacement IISS belt buckle.  That also meant a session with the Scout medical division while they took his biometrics and a DNA sample.  Following that, they'd inscribe it on the hardware and charge him Cr 5,000.  Researching the trip to and from the base, it would cost him Cr 100 each way by taxi if he didn't use one of the rented air cars.  For that, he'd have to get permission from Mikah.  Aiden decided he'd try on a suit or two, before he planned out his field trip.  That was because he was now in a younger and slightly different body than he'd had when the suits were bought or made.

And when he did, Aiden found his body had changed quite a bit to his surprise.  In some areas, collagen had more filled out his form where other areas hung slack, thanks to having been cloned.  That meant Aiden would have to replace all the good suits he'd had before he'd been cloned.  Realizing that, Aiden's first thought was to look for a Knight Defenders of the Marches Order house on world?  When he found their comms data, Aiden called the number and explained his problem to them.  Hearing what he needed, and Aiden's expectations from his experience in the Rhylanor system, the representative said their facility worked differently, and provided services in a different way.

When Aiden asked their advice, they directed him to a short list of tailors and high-end Haberdasheries in Atora city.  They specified certain locations where local government officials and some of the local elite were known to shop.  The one drawback he ran into straight off was that he expected the clothiers to be able to print a suit, like they had in Rhylanor.  But, in the Regina system he was most likely to hire a high-end tailor to manually create the suit.  Thanking the agent, Aiden wondered if he needed a fitted suit or should just look for something off the rack?  For that, he felt he needed better advice and decided to call one of the shops to ask some questions.  This ignored the fact the shops existed to sell a product and anyone he talked to would tell him what they had to in order to encourage him to buy from them.

On the line with a shop, Aiden explained his situation again and asked the advice of the man he was speaking to.  As smooth as silk, the man reminded Aiden he was going to be standing in the Duchess's court while it still held all the attention generated by the recent investiture.  So, it was up to him how he wanted to appear before Her Grace?  If he chose something generic which made him look bad, or got him or his patron laughed at afterwards, that was his decision.  Accepting that, Aiden told the man he'd visit the shop after he cancelled some previous plans he had made.

Disconnecting his call to the tailor, Aiden called the base and said he had to reschedule his appointment there due to his pending appearance in the Duchess's court.  Then, Aiden rented an air car for the day, spending Cr 100, and went to meet with the tailor.  There, the 'Million Credit Question' was what kind of impact he wanted his appearance to make on the Court, and directly on the Duchess?  When Aiden said he didn't understand the question, he was asked if he wanted to 'Wow' the crowd, just fit in or did he want to dress up to 'show off'?  Did he want his attendance to make an impact and be memorable or not?  Aiden answered, "I am not showing off.  I am going in as one of His Grace's couriers."

Nodding, the tailor suggested Aiden wanted something that was "High-End functional" and Aiden agreed.  Further, he recommended a suit that was a blend of military and civilian styles, so it had that formal structure but was making no improper claims.  The suit would also show a level of respect, by appearance, to his employer and the dignitary he would be speaking to.  Finally, the tailor asked if he wanted one suit only or wanted variations made in a handful of colors or style variations?  Since Aiden knew he had two "good" suits from his rushed court appearance in Rhylanor after he'd been cloned, Aiden only wanted the one suit.  Aiden also reminded the man of the time frame involved.

When asked more specific "style" questions, Aiden pulled out his Ident and show the man images of the suits he'd had to buy in Rhylanor before leaving for Regina.  Aiden hoped that would help keep the costs for this suit down by keeping the tailor from getting "too fancy".  The man examined the image Aiden had and said he could work 'down to that level' but was clearly unhappy to be held to a standard he considered beneath him.  Aiden couldn't tell if the man's reaction was because of the actual style of the suits or because of his impression of a machine creating a suit rather than a real living tailor?  Thinking to test the man, Aiden pulled up some pictures of the suits he'd been "pushed into" buying by Duchess Delphine, on Mora.  The tailor was at least a bit more appreciative of those suits.

Aiden committed to one suit at the moment, and suggested he could order more suits when he wasn't under a time crunch.  Understanding that feeling, the Tailor did some math and said they could do a rush on the one suit for Cr 2,000 and do future suits for Cr 1,000 each.  Aiden ordered one suit and, when asked for a color he preferred, Aiden defaulted to 'black'.  Aiden shot the man down when he offered an 'accessory package' for an additional Cr 250.  Finishing the order, Aiden was told the suit would be delivered later that day, and left the shop after spending much of the morning there.  After that, he decided to head over to the InstellArms venue in the city.  What he found there was a venue geared to the sport weapons enthusiast.

Looking deeper, he could see that the firm veneer of a 'weapons shop to the rich' also covered a more efficient and significant shop serving professional weapons users like security and more.  When a worker came to ask how she could help him, Aiden said he wanted to rent a shooting range to practice because he wanted to sight-zero his snub pistol.  Aiden was told they had standard rates and he paid Cr 50 for an hour.  During that time, he also paid Cr 120 for three clips of ball ammo, while he sighted in the pistol.  Not taking the whole hour to sight the weapon in, Aiden window-drooled for a bit before returning the air car to the rental shop and having them return him to the suite.  There, he went to the building's gym to do his physical therapy before relaxing in the pool until it was time for dinner.

After cleaning up from breakfast, Rol had checked with the others to see if anyone had any work they needed to have done on their weapons or armor?  Mikah, Aali and Emkir asked if he could do a "tune up" examination of their weapons and armor?  Rol said he could, and then, jokingly, asked, "Donations?"  Hearing him, Emkir agreed and asked, "What do you need, Rol?"  Rol joked, "How many thousands you got?" and got a laugh for that.  Aali and Emkir said they could give him Cr 200 each, and then Mikah also threw in Cr 200.

Mikah jokingly asked him if he needed a replacement for the special spices he'd used for Munarshu's breakfast over a month before, and they all laughed.  Rol said he had enough of that, and asked if Mikah had someone in mind for an encore performance?  Mikah laughed and said no.  Rol said he could do the tune ups and spent the entire morning working on that.  After lunch, Rol figured he'd get back to the other's gear after he'd gotten his suit ready for the next day.  He was scheduled to meet with his legal team, the Duchy's legal team and the Jesediperei.

During Breakfast, Mikah planned to visit one or more museums.  After she gave Rol all her gear except her laser pistol, she looked up museums that were close to their building.  Searching the listings, Mikah found a museum specializing in arts, crafts and handicrafts.  Pleased with that, Mikah decided to visit the museum.  Hearing Mikah making her plans, Aali and Emkir decided to go with, and asked Mikah if she would be good with them coming along?  Mikah said, "Sure" and they joined up and also talked about going out to eat together afterwards.

Things Going Wrong?

     Fesic and Munarshu were part of a team with six other hunters, moving through broken grassland and stands of forest.  Crossing open grassland, the guide tended to lead them towards the forests where they were near the path of travel.  Fesic made it clear he intended to 'bark up the wrong tree' for comedic effect as he filmed the adventure.  Finally, while they neared a stand of forest, the guide said he thought there might be gazelle in that forest to the happy, if quiet, reactions from the hunters.  He signaled them to form a line abreast with five to six meters between each hunter before they started advancing into the woods.

Advancing slowly and as quietly as they could, Munarshu's right foot slipped into some kind of gopher hole while he fixed his point of view on the forest before him.  Losing his balance, Munarshu did manage to stay standing, but only after wind-milling his arms to do that.  Reflexively grabbing tighter onto the pistol grip with his right hand to keep hold of the weapon as he wind-milled, his finger closed on the trigger!  Having been told there were gazelle in the woods, moving in with the expectation to open fire any second as any gazelle appeared, the weapon was not on 'safe' and a round was chambered.  That meant Munarshu fired a short burst of rounds as he fought to stay standing.  Failing his own intelligence check, Fesic remained standing and filmed almost the entire event while other hunters and the guide dove for cover.

The good news for everyone was that none of the others were hit by Munarshu's fire.  The bad news was that Munarshu had violated at least one of the tour group's key restrictions by 'intentionally or accidentally targeting or endangering other members of the hunting party'.  The result was that a guide deputized the other hunters to help him disarm and secure Munarshu, even zip-tying him, while he called for an emergency VTOL.  The call made, Munarshu was told, in no uncertain terms, that he would be sent back to the primary tour hotel to spend the night and next day.  Then the tour would end and he could rejoin Fesic for the trip back to Atora.  He was further told all his weapons would be secured and transported in a separate compartment on the VTOL.  When Munarshu tried to argue with that, he found he had no grounds at all to do so.  And he saw the hunter closest to where he'd fired looked disappointed, and may have been hoping Munarshu might manage to stay in the group, and in his sights.

Munarshu's weapons would also be secured at the overnight site, and not returned to him until they reached Atora, and he wasn't their problem any longer.  Munarshu was also told that, because he'd violated key safety restrictions, he wasn't being refunded any of his reservation costs.  He was, in fact, told, he was lucky they were not fining him additional costs, which they were within their legal rights to do.  So, Munarshu shrugged and went along with it, which would make Terin happy once Munarshu got back to the crew.  That was because, while others had talked about bets Munarshu wouldn't "survive", Terin had bet that Munarshu wouldn't "make it through the first night".  That phrasing went beyond being killed, and included being ejected from the tour.  So, while Terin didn't yet know it, he was up Cr 100 and Munarshu's losses would continue mounting.

Still, Munarshu's early departure from the actual hunt didn't mean he was returning early from the tour entirely.  He would still stay in the hotel overnight, and return with Fesic as scheduled.  And, Fesic wasn't coming home early at all, yet.  So, it remained to be seen if Rol's bet that "Fesic and Munarshu would come home early" would prove out?  And, while riding in the VTOL and staying the night at the hotel, Munarshu could still suffer "some mishap", so Munarshu's bets that he wouldn't come home alive were still not won or lost, and wouldn't be until he returned to the Hotel California.  His luck there was that it was more expensive for someone to hire a hitman than lose the bet.  The same could be said of Aiden's bet that "Munarshu would be thrown and suffer a fatal chest injury" or Fesic's bet that "Munarshu would return to the ship with additional rib injuries."

The fact Fesic wasn't booted with Munarshu meant that he could still kill something, putting Mikah's bet with Munarshu that "they did not come back with anything they'd hunted and killed" at risk.  Some could even argue that Fesic having "captured" the video footage he'd intended to "hunt" meant Munarshu had won that bet.  Especially the captured segment where the others zip-tied Munarshu, hand and foot.  Still, Fesic made the most of the opportunity.  Not only did he capture most of the unbalanced wind-milling and rifle fire, but everything that followed from securing Munarshu and his weapons to the formal ejection order, securing of his weapons and loading him onto the VTOL.  You could even see in the vid where Fesic raised his hand and waived as he said goodbye to Munarshu just before the VTOL lifted off and flew into the distance.

The VTOL itself was more of a "whirly gig" and barely a sneeze past any of billions of models of home-made ultra light flying kits.  Still, the machine seemed to be reliable and Munarshu had been in much worse during his scout career.  Secured as he was, he didn't have many options for the hour-long flight to the hotel.  There, he was shown to a room which was made available to keep him, and left to settle into the conditions he was expected to become accustomed to until the following evening.  Checking out the hotel, Munarshu found the staff were pretty sparse between tour groups.  Most of those who had customer-facing jobs while there were tour groups in the hotel had other maintenance and operations jobs while the tours were all in the field.  Or, supposed to be.  So, the most common employees he ran into were the frequently appearing security who would surprise him as they appeared.

Still, outside the many vids, mostly based on adventures others could now pay to go on, but from which he was likely blacklisted, the place was stocked like a museum.  Munarshu had the time, now, to wander through the hotel and locate every display or artifact in the place when he had the interest to do so.  But, there were no activities, planned or otherwise, for Munarshu to take part in.  Trying to get involved with the employees didn't work either, because everyone working there already knew why he was there and no one wanted to offer him a chance to create a catastrophe for themselves.  So, Munarshu's day was turning towards a very boring evening and night during which he couldn't even tuck into his studies.

In Atora, Mikah, Emkir and Aali had a good time at the art museum and gone looking for a good place to have lunch before going back to finish seeing the exhibits they'd not yet gotten to.  Still, they found a nice restaurant and spent Cr 35 each.  They enjoyed the rest of the museum and finished up about mid-afternoon.  When they did, Mikah asked if they wanted to see a movie and Emkir and Aali were both up for that.  So, they linked into the city-net and looked for a good flick to see at a theater nearby.  When Aali and Emkir left the choice up to Mikah, she wanted to see some science fiction.  But, also something dark, where everyone dies.  Eventually, she found that in a movie written by one "Erica Neely".  Mikah especially enjoyed the scene where the troublesome and quirky ship's junior engineer was the first to die.

Fesic's afternoon continued after his crewmate was flown off into the distance.  While he still didn't much enjoy the exertion of the hike, the other hunters were more forgiving because he hadn't been pissing and moaning about it before, and didn't start as the day continued.  Fesic did remind himself that life on a starship had made him soft.  And, he'd taken the chance to adjust his carry load after dumping the bulk of his ration water.  That meant he was still moderately overloaded and his leather satchel strap was cutting into his shoulder, but the afternoon wasn't as bad as the morning.  And the hunters did eventually manage to locate and fire on a small group of antelope.  While there were some kills, Fesic only managed to shoot a tree.

Over the day, since breakfast, Rol had spent his time working on the weapons and armor left in his care.  He cleaned, tested and updated what firmware levels he could, and was finally finishing up by mid-afternoon.  After cleaning up, he decided to relax and read an e-book until dinner time.  Terin spent his afternoon doing a bit more of his computer studies before switching off to relax for a bit before doing a few hours of stent work.

Winding Up

     Fesic had his dinner cooked over a camp fire after the hunters reached their hunting camp.  Munarshu had his well prepared dinner in a very empty dining room while the staff ate in their dedicated space.  Zimzod had his food served in the Regina military chow hall.  Since Aali, Emkir and Mikah returned to the suite after the movie, they joined Aiden, Terin and Rol.  After dinner, Aiden relaxed and watched vids before retiring to read an e-book before bed.  During the evening, his suit arrived and he tried it on, finding it much to his approval.  Before he went to sleep, Aiden set his alarm to wake him in time to prepare for his appointment the next day.

After dinner, Emkir felt it would be good to dive back into the data they had on the Order of the White Star.  That was because of Mikah's announcement their Sonthert operation seemed to be back on, with the backing of the Arch Duke himself.  Having made that decision, Emkir stopped to ask Rol and Terin if they wanted to join in?  Terin had no issues setting aside his stent work and Rol joined in too.  First going over what they knew, they had identified a number of systems where the Order had bases when they were active.  They had also figured out one of those had been on one of the outer worlds of the Sonthert system.  So, they could continue researching into the planets of the Sonthert system or try to identify other systems that might be of interest?  Aali also joined in on the work.

Rol and Terin decided to take on looking for where the Order base in the Sonthert system might be?  Their advantage was that the fob data had listed the numbers when it came to who lived or served there, and how many ships the base handled?  So, they could guess how large the base might be.  That left them with looking for sites which might have hidden such a base, because a base that had been out in the open would have been struck, raided and looted centuries ago and be of no use to them.  And, the ruins would be obvious to their sensors when they got into orbit of the correct world.  Aali and Emkir decided to hit the raw data again, and look for other local solar systems where the Order might have had other bases?  Before he hit the rack, Rol also set his alarm and prepared a bit for his appointment the next day.

After she ate, Mikah looked for chances to volunteer with any local medical organizations.  After the local police checked her credentials on the comms, they offered her the chance to do a medical "ride along" with a Med-Rescue unit.  Those units were air-car deployable with a back-up special weapons unit, because the medics were sometimes deployed to the sites of illegal activities.  When Mikah enthusiastically volunteered for that, they told her the unit would pick her up after they deployed for the night and her shift would run until 1am.  After Mikah confirmed her combat credentials, they cleared her to be 'lightly armed', which included her laser pistol.  So she changed to put on a set of executive armor and waited for her pick up.  Eventually, Mikah worked a number of emergency calls where the victims benefitted from her very advanced training, and she was never in any danger.

On the Regina base, Zimzod felt like he had been run through a marathon of events thanks to the day's testing.  Letting him relax a bit, they spent the evening reviewing missions undertaken by Imperial and supporting psions in the Fifth Frontier War.  That also included cooperative missions undertaken by Darrian units, who still recognized psionics publicly as acceptable and made Zimzod wonder what Terin's attitudes were towards the mental arts?  They took him step by step through a series of events, and Zimzod started to realize the building effects of the particular campaign he was learning about had led to keeping Zhodani units committed to the siege of the Jewell cluster.

If that hadn't happened, and units devoted to conquering the Jewell system had been freed up, the Zhodani may have been able to create an additional assault fleet much earlier in the war.  That could well have let them force an Imperial surrender well before then Duke Norris took over command and pushed the Zhodani back in defeat.  That included reports on the opposition faced from Lord Admiral Santanocheev because he felt their intelligence was fake and they represented a Fifth column in the Imperial military.  Final analysis of the events suggested the intelligence Admiral Santanocheev had tried to ignore wasn't incorrect, only critical of his own conclusions, and might have shortened the war and prevented many tragic losses.

The Regina Sky Of all the evenings, Fesic's went the latest.  Because Regina Prime orbited the gas giant Assiniboia, nights spent out in the open were often the chance for a viewing party when weather permitted.  Despite his many pains and strains, Fesic realized that was something he hadn't had the chance to experience.  He spent some time taking video for his own collection.  The evening was made even a bit longer when the staff seemed to have humped boxes containing telescopes with them, offering the chance to view interesting cloud and storm formations and even atmospheric anomalies.  Fesic was also dragooned into spending some time with the other hunters despite his desire to rest and let his muscles recover.  Finally, Fesic was able to beg off and get some sleep.

A Morning Of Order And Chaos

     The rising sun was the hunting camp's alarm clock and they got moving.  Fesic was awakened much earlier than he'd become used to aboard the ship.  The aches and pains he felt also reminded him of the TON of gear he'd brought with him.  That exacerbated the insult from forcing his muscles to both cover such long distances and match the pace set by the guide and hunting group.  The late evening he'd had the night before also didn't help much either.  Daybreak was also an alarm clock for the staff of the hotel, where Munarshu was being held.  And Munarshu was surprised when he was woken at nearly 4 am, when they started their work day.

He would be out of their hair that evening, but the room he'd used would be needed for other uses and new tours would arrive soon enough they had little time to clean up after an idiot.  That meant that Munarshu had to get moving faster and earlier than he expected.  He also found his ankle was hurting even more than it had the day before.  He saw it was swollen even more, and he spent as much time as he could sitting and letting the ankle rest.  That was just the largest of several aches he had, because his wind-milling had pulled muscles in his back and tugged on his still tender ribs...

Sitting to recover was easy, since the staff had little time for him.  They let him limp outside and sit in the daylight, watching the clouds and storms of Assiniboia spin by above.  Of course, that lasted only until he started seeing signs of wildlife activity near the hotel and remembered he was unarmed and unprotected.  Considering that, Munarshu moved back inside and sat in a lounge watching adventure vids until Fesic got back and it was time to leave.

Aiden woke to his alarm, like Rol when his went off.  Where Rol simply had to look professional for his appointment, Aiden knew he had to make an impression which wasn't bad for himself or for the fact he was officially representing Duke Leonard of Rhylanor in his appearance.  Rol was told, when he arrived, that the Jesediperei had provided, in their data, a point-by-point account of the history of the 1,266th Imperial Marine Guards Battalion's activities in the Jesedipere System based on the data they were able to collect and document.  That was what Rol had expected, based on what his legal team had said was presented to the Duchy before the ship took the satellite mission.

The team's data had 'after the fact' video documentation of post-battle damage and what 'before the fact' documentation they could provide.  That was less then complete because many of the damaged spaces hadn't been casually documented before a combat situation came up.  That meant many claims were based on local testimony after the fact, and could be subject to review for the validity of the claims.  Along with that, they brought witness impact statements, medical records and a cargo bay load of reported data.  None of which seemed to disturb Rol's legal team at all.  Rol was advised, while all that happened, to keep his mouth shut, so it was a long and boring day spent reviewing all the data placed in accusation.

The process was made even 'more fun' because the lead spokesperson for the Jesediperei delegation appeared to be a legal technician.  That meant he tended to cover each point to exhaustion, digging into each and every possible definition or questionable aspect of each issue and sub-issue.  While this didn't cause any more reason for Rol to get involved, it did cause him even more irritation with the talks grinding on and on.  Still, there were breaks or points where Rol could step out of the room.  And he was repeatedly reminded by someone from his team that none of this data was new to them.  Because of the legal rules on Regina, the Jesediperei had turned this over to the Duchy when they arrived and first lodged their complaints.  And, it had all been turned over to them as part of what was called 'Discovery'.

Rol was reminded the data was estimated to be some sixty percent of the total data, and that the Jesediperei not only didn't have the other forty percent, but may not have known some of that data even existed, due to its classified or military nature.  So, there wasn't only nothing new, but nothing of concern either.  Still, the "fun and festivities" ate up Rol's entire day while he sat and listened to the accusational daggers and ignored the glare from the Jesediperei delegation.  One thing Rol was certain of was that he would likely never be able to safely transit the Jesedipere system in the future.

Still, in the end, they knew their case was incomplete and only hoped Rol's team would agree out of court to request a summary judgement and possible punishment in the case.  Something Rol's legal team were not at all interested in.   When the question finally was put forward to have Rol plead to some lesser charges, his lawyer stood for him.  The man dismissively stated the data the Jesediperei presented was "interesting", but his client would not be pleading to any charges at the time.  He further invited the Jesediperei to bring full charges in an Imperial Court here on Regina and seek any redress they might prove there.  The attitude presented was, "The longer this goes on, the more we get paid and you won't win."  Rol knew this was playing on the key issue the Jesediperei had, and they'd complained about the costs a month before.

Aiden cleaned up and dressed in his suit before catching a ride to the Court of the Duchy of Regina.  There, he checked in with a protocol android, who took care of the documentation and handed Aiden off to a Herald.  The Herald then explained the process and expectations, which were similar to those Aiden remembered from his more stressful visit to the Court of Duchess Delphine.  The result was that, when the time came, 'Sir Aiden Radetsky, late of The Emperor's Imperial Scout Service, Squire of the Domain of Deneb and esteemed Member of the Order of the Knight Defenders of the Marches was recognized in the court on a mission of state in the delivery of messages from His Grace Leonard, Duke of Rhylanor".  A huge mouthful of words during which Aiden was expected to march down the aisle and kneel before the presence until recognized.

Kneeling, He would raise the message packet in an offered hand.  One of the Duchess' people would descend from the dais to take the piece from Aiden and deliver it to the Duchess.  With that done, Aiden would be told to rise, and be recognized for his service.  After that, he was to turn on his heel and leave the presence.  Then, he would arrive at the back of the court and meet with protocol personnel who will mark his service as a courier complete.  Done 'being prepared', Aiden waited much of the day, watching the court proceed while hearing everything from the actual business to random conversational snippets, whispers and gossip.

In one whispered conversation, the speaker was being less discrete than Aiden would have expected.  The man had a conversation with his partner while waiting near Aiden.  Their concerns where that they'd petitioned the Duchess for permission to open an agency supporting investment in out-system military and mercenary operations.  That would let people "invest" in efforts to raise forces by those trying to improve the Imperium without having to depend on Imperial military forces.  They hoped they'd get permission to move forward since they'd leveraged most of their current capital to support SuSAG hiring forces for the planned operations in the Gougeste system.  To Aiden's discomfort, they expected their "returns" to be funded by cash raised from items they might loot or steal during their operations, though it wasn't said that way.

Sitting in the court listening to this conversation, Aiden wasn't sure what he might do with what he was learning?  It seemed to Aiden that the only thing of any real value in the system was what SuSAG had built there.  And his one real interaction with anyone from SuSAG had been the shoot-down of innocents fleeing a perceived plague threat in the Risek system while members of the corporation's management in that system had acted to protect their people and stations.  That act hadn't been looked on kindly by Aiden or the crew, at the time or since.  But Aiden knew his one option was to go to a local SuSAG office and tell them what he'd learned?  He could even get a reward if the information led to protecting anything that was left of their operations after the Sword Worlder's occupation.

What those operations might be was a large question, because SuSAG, more properly "Schunamann und Sohn AG, LIC", held a wide range of chemical, pharmaceutical, and genegeneering works.  SuSAG was also the primary manufacturer of anagathics for the Imperium.  And they were known to operate psi drug manufacturing plants in certain client states outside Imperial borders.  This last item was most important, because the Gougeste system was one such client state, outside Imperial borders.  Thanks to the length of other court business, it was mid-afternoon before Aiden was done with his business and free to decide what to do with the data after he left?  After court, Aiden decided to go back to the suite, get in his physical therapy and do some swimming until dinner time.

While Aiden and Rol were off on their appointments, And with Zimzod off on his 'whatever-he-was-doing', Mikah had enjoyed her medical ride along the night before and volunteered to do it again that day.  The same as the night before, the teams were dispatched on 12-hour shifts, so they directed a team in the field to pick her up after the paperwork was done.  Mikah joined that crew until they handed off to their relief.  She them took up with the next crew while they responded to calls in both Atora and Credo cities.  That included the Credo downport startown.  The startown entertained spacers on leave from the many ships coming and going 24/7, and always promised some incidents.  Wearing a flak-jacket labelled "Civilian Medic" and her laser pistol in her shoulder holster, Mikah was never threatened seriously while working with the teams.

Still, on one call response, the grav-car they were in got a bit shot up and some of the grav-modules died.  Forced down, the crew had to hole up after landing not nearly close enough to the edge of an on-going riot.  Preparing to defend the open car's position against any assaults from outside, the team's driver and other techs worked to pull panels and try to fix the electronics.  Their navigator tried to call in any help or rescue available.  The only other medic not working on escape or rescue devoted his time to jury-rigging a set of pneumatic medical tools and tubing together to "shoot" syringes.  He then set about loading as many syringes as he could with a fast-acting sedative and other tranquilizing drugs.

An attack finally came when a rioter managed to climb above their crash position on a building with a descending roof and jump down on them.  The jumper managed to land right on the medic who had built the 'funk and wagnal' tranq gun.  Surprised, and with her laser pistol under her flak-jacket, Mikah reacted with her hand to hand combat skills and took the bad guy by surprise.  He was nothing more than a street fighter and she was a trained hand to hand specialist who first struck at his legs, then his crotch.  She finally got into his face until he was down and out.  Mikah then secured the thug and drew her weapon while the team's other medic worked on reviving the first medic.  After that, they hit the thug with a tranquilizer before treating him, so they could hand him over to the police.

Until rescue came, Mikah became the team's security.  Initial police response to the area were 'shock troops' there to control and put down the riot.  Their orders to the medical unit were to keep down and out of the way until more support units could arrive to help them.  What most annoyed Mikah were those moments where she could see innocents getting caught in the fray and ending up beaten, robbed or worse.  The only thing Mikah could do was to grab the jury-rigged tranq gun and start trying to take out bad guys.  Something that wasn't very easy because the weapon itself was a hack job.

Not having much success with the pneumatic gun, Mikah decided to "be sneaky" with her laser pistol.  She looked for over-hanging parts of buildings she hoped hung over places where thugs were gathered and started shooting to create debris falls.  Mikah carefully targeted and watched to see if the falling bits of building she was creating were dropping down on the rioters.  Hopefully saving innocent civilians and responding police units.  She did it as covertly as possible, to not get herself arrested for the overt use of force.  Still, laser fire isn't ever covert.  So, while it scared the crap out of some of the rioters, the police responded with firm demands for her to stop firing and explain herself.

When an official air-car landed quickly near the downed medical unit, two police officials of high rank announced they were securing Mikah and getting her out of the conflict "Now"!  Mikah resisted, demanding to know why they were moving her, because this was a page right out of her military past.  Not having any of that, they made it clear Mikah would come with them voluntarily or as an arrested prisoner.  seeing they were firm in their position, Mikah joined the officials in their car even as they dropped off several officers to help guard the medical team.  After that, Mikah was escorted back to a police facility where they made sure she was unharmed.  Then, they sent her back to the suite and told her the ride along was done.  So, Mikah was back at the suite by mid-afternoon.

Where everyone is at the end of the session:

   Zimzod: In Tolerance training on a Regina Intelligence base
   Mikah: Mid-afternoon: back in the suite after the medical ride along
   Aiden: Dinner time: Returning from the building's gym after physical therapy
   Emkir, Aali, Rol and Terin: Mid-day: Studying the White Star Order and Sonthert data
   Munarshu: Mid-day: At the hotel waiting for Fesic to return so they can go back to Atora
   Fesic: Mid-day: With a hunting tour as his endurance degrades due to the load and distance

Outstanding Bets:

   Munarshu bet everyone Cr 100 he would come back alive
   Aiden bet Cr 10 Munarshu would be thrown, suffering a fatal chest injury - Munarshu covered
   Fesic bet Munarshu would come back with new rib injuries - Munarshu covered that
   Mikah bet Cr 100 Fesic and Munarshu wouldn't return with anything they'd hunted and killed -
       Munarshu covered that
   Rol bet Cr 100 Fesic and Munarshu would come home early - Munarshu covered that

Resolved Bets:

   Terin bet Cr 100 Munarshu wouldn't make it through the first night, which Terin won

Next: If I Only Had A Brain