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Last Updated     July 14 2018
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If I Only Had A Brain


Regina     Hard at work in his training, Zimzod would continue working at learning tolerance for psions until dinner time that day, and for the rest of the week.  Aiden got back to the suite around dinner time, after hitting the gym, pool and relaxing to 'wash off' his appearance in the Duchess' court.  Before that, Mikah had been returned to the suite after her medical "ride along" was ended, thanks to her using her laser pistol.  Still, she was annoyed instead of feeling any blame whatever.  Emkir and Aali were scanning star charts and the White Star Order database.  Similarly, Rol and Terin were studying data from the Sonthert system, to see if they could identify where a lost base might be hidden there?

In a distant hunting lodge-style hotel, Munarshu was waiting for Fesic to return from the hunting jaunt the engineer had paid for.  In the grasslands, Fesic's endurance was flagging thanks to his carry load, and the distance of the trip.  The rest of the day separated the entire crew from learning which of the outstanding bets would pay out?  While he didn't yet know it, Terin had already won Cr 100 from Munarshu, because he bet the engineer wouldn't make it through the first night.  Still not back to the suite, Munarshu had bet some of them Cr 100 he'd come back alive.  Aiden bet Cr 10 that Munarshu would be thrown and suffer a fatal chest injury.  And that could still happen.  Fesic bet Munarshu that he'd come back with new rib injuries, Mikah bet Cr 100 Fesic and Munarshu wouldn't return with anything they'd hunted and killed.  And Rol bet Cr 100 Fesic and Munarshu would come home early.

The Raw Results

     The others in the suite were finishing lunch when Mikah arrived, after the police vehicle returned her.  Despite her plans to do more medical ride alongs, Mikah had been invited to "not" try to sign up again.  It seemed her efforts were seen as heavy-handed and unacceptable to the local authorities.  Walking into the living room after being greeted by the butler, Mikah saw Aali and Emkir working on one set of work stations and Terin and Rol on another.  She knew Zimzod was still at his "training" and Munarshu and Fesic were out hunting.  But she had no idea where Aiden was?

Seeing everyone present working hard, Mikah stopped and was surprised at the promise of peace and quiet.  Glancing at the work each pair were doing, Mikah saw there was a large amount of data on Aali and Emkir's screens while Terin and Rol were digging into a solar system.  Mikah was sure that was the Sonthert system, given the recent "gift" from the Arch Duke.  Seeing no crisis after her morning fun, Mikah decided to hit the building's pool and do some swimming.  When she returned just more than an hour later, having missed Aiden in the pool a bit later, Mikah decided to sit and watch vids until or unless one of the others came to her with anything.

Aali and Emkir had nothing ready for Mikah when she'd returned, so they hadn't called her over or more than greeted her before she went for her swim.  Since getting up that morning and taking care of their personal business, they had been digging into the fob data Aali had in hopes of finding more local systems which might have been used by the White Star Order.  And while there had been wisps of information and suggestions of hints, they had nothing firm.  There was also nothing official in any of the records they had access to, so there was no way to measure their chances of success.  That left them with a detail read of every record from the fob, to see if any data from the more distant systems even mentioned any locations in the Spinward Marches?

Lucky for Aali, Emkir's computer skills let them literally suck all the data from the fob into a database.  He then set up a filter which compared each word with the names of each system in the Marches.  Doing that let the couple select each hit found and then track it through the raw data to see if it meant anything?  To that point, the only thing they found suggested the Order had carried out exercises in the 871-438 system.  That was independent space two parsecs beyond the spinward Imperial border in the Jewell subsector.  The ship's Library Data listing on the system said it was little more than 'a worthless iceball' where the IISS maintains only a nav-beacon.

The listing said it was a 7,000-kilometer diameter iceball with a very thin atmosphere which was somehow tainted by a pollutant and twenty percent covered by frozen sheets of some fluid.  The IISS had a nav-beacon on the "world" warning ships visiting the system that conditions on-world could be hazardous.  The binary system, with two red stars, had one gas giant and no asteroid belts.  While the Scouts were believed to land there for undefined "operations", there was little else inviting traffic to the system.  Two parsecs from the Extolay Imperial naval base, the world's sole obvious oddity was that it was an Earth-sized ball of ice.

Checking the astrographics, Emkir first said the system was relatively close to Regina, being only four parsecs away.  And, both liked that it wasn't an interdicted system.  In fact, it was marked travel code "Green" even though it was in independent space and technically an "Amber Zone" because of the atmo-taint.  Beyond that, there was nothing to explain the Scout interest in the world, or the listing of "strange properties" the world was noted to exhibit.  When Mikah got back, Emkir put on a humorous accent and greeted her with, "Hello my Captain!  How was your swim?"  having firmed up what they knew, they called Mikah over to tell her about what they'd learned.

Still, they stressed this was just a place listed as having hosted exercises for the Order.  Mikah found it interesting and agreed they should add it to the Hotel California mystical mystery tour.  Seeing the conversation Emkir and Aali had started with Mikah, Rol and Terin decided to also share their results so far.  The first body they'd found interesting had been designated "Sonthert I Iota" and had been named "Oseaan".  A 5,000 km diameter world with a tainted but otherwise standard atmosphere and ninety percent covered in fluid oceans and icepacks, it was unpopulated.  That made it odd because the stellar data on the world said it had a "Good Quality" spaceport!  When they said that, Mikah asked, what an uninhabited world was doing with a spaceport?

Terin agreed that she'd asked the big question they came up with.  And, why was such a comfortable looking world, as far as the statistics read, not settled?  Terin said he felt that might be one of the best sites to investigate first.  After some other comments, Terin introduced them to "Sonthert I Lambda", which someone had named "Laurasia".  A world slightly smaller than Earth, but with a standard atmosphere and covered over seventy percent of the sphere with oceans!  This was surprisingly nearly a twin for Humanitii's homeworld!  While the world didn't have a port of any kind, it also had no population and that made no sense to Terin or Rol at all.  Rol also said the world was the furthest out from the system's stars, so it would be the best place to put a covert base.

That brought up the unspoken question.  When the Order had been building bases and facilities, there may have been no reason to make the base covert.  Any facility had certainly been built after the Zhodani had begun their attacks, so that wasn't entirely true.  But, there was the very good chance the base had been built in the open for easy access and had been supported by other facilities or even orbital structures.  Still, the base could have been built in some form of covert site.  Without any historic data, they'd have to spend quite some time scanning the surfaces of each world they chose to explore, and seek out any signs of former habitation.

Of course, that was from a visible point of view and not an archeologic stand point.  They all knew that advanced societies left a mark when they settled anywhere.  The issue was the time between the fall of the base, if one existed in the system, and the current day.  How much erosion and other natural forces had worked their results on and over the site?  Even tectonics could have sunken an oceanside base, settled for ease of water-use, into the depths.  Of course, if there had been a base out on the open plains, it should be easy to detect.  That meant it might well have already been found and looted well before the current day.  The hope there was that such a site hadn't been simply because there was little reason to look to hard if anyone went there.  And the crew had a reason to look harder than most thanks to the fob.

More concerned with a hidden, or subsumed base, Aali had to ask what the ship's sensors could do if they put the Hotel California in a low-planetary orbit and scanned the entire surface on successive passes?  While Emkir and Terin were qualified pilots, and could speak from some level of training, Terin was the only one there with any real training on sensor use.  So, when the question came to him, he suggested they had to talk to Aiden about it.  He was both their most skilled pilot and their most skilled sensor operator.  After an orbital course had been plotted, anyone qualified to drive a starship could sit in the pilot's seat.  But, it would have to be Aiden running the sensors.

Talking about the pattern they'd have to fly, Aali suggested a molniya orbit, who's highly elliptical orbit would let them to scan one section of a target world in detail when they approached each perigee.  Of course, when Aali was asked to explain that maneuver, they all realized the time it would take for each scan to be completed, to spin back out to apogee and set up for the next run.  The good news, from what Aali could tell them, was that they only had to figure the orbital inclination due to the size and geometry of each planet they scanned.  Still, some very basic math showed them that scanning even one planet would take quite some time.  After that conversation, they decided to hold those questions off until Aiden came back to the suite.  Especially, since the base could be covert.

Moving on, Terin pointed out he and Rol also noticed a system of moons orbiting the gas giant designated "Sonthert I Theta", that was named "Ajoit".  While the planet had seven moons, Terin said two looked promising and one looked almost promising.  These were designated "Sonthert I Theta See", "Sonthert I Theta Dee" and "Sonthert I Theta Ee".  Terin said Theta See was five thousand kilometers in diameter with a very thin atmosphere and was forty percent covered in what was likely icecaps.  Other than that, it had no population or spaceport, but it looked large enough to be habitable.  Theta Dee was a desert moon, 3,000-kilometers in diameter with a thin, tainted atmosphere.

Next, was Theta Ee, with a 5,000-kilometer diameter moon, a very thin atmosphere and ninety percent covered in fluids or ice.  Terin did say that ice coverage could mostly be miles thick.  This meant a former base could have been built in an ice cavern and still be there, or be buried under a subsequent ice collapse.  Terin also pointed out that ice, if it was water-ice, could be used for fuel and other needs given the time they'd spend searching.  After they covered their targets, Rol said the only place there was any population, other than the interdicted main world, was a licensed Imperial mining colony.  Rol had discounted that world, designated "Sonthert I Eta", and named "Vlei".

Reviewing their preferred targets, Rol also said he liked Oseaan and Laurasia most, because they could support a population.  Especially since the fob data had said the base not only supported the Order and its ships, but their families too.  Rol also reminded them that any of the modern data on the system might be incorrect for reasons the Imperial government may not have made public, or want made public.  Rol was also concerned about the worlds with listed spaceports but no population.  To him, that said people had been visiting those worlds, and might have already found anything on those worlds and looted the sites.  Another downturn was that this didn't mean what had been looted was exactly the base they'd be looking for either.

Terin mentioned the licensed Imperial mining colony on Vlie, and designated "Sonthert I Eta" again.  He started wondering just "what was mined there"?  Wondering 'why the Imperium would license the colony at all' came up and they talked about investigating that too.  Rol was leery about that, worried about hiding their true interests if they went there.  Rol also asked about being able to visit the colony, but was told they only had to ask for permission to land and pay any fees the locals would charge.  When they got into discussing a "pecking order", based on their preferences, Rol also said it would depend on where the planets were in their orbits?  And that would depend on when they could even leave Regina.  Something else they didn't know.

Digging For Data

     Talking about information they didn't know, Terin suggested they could look for more data on the Sonthert system.  When asked who, he suggested they take the permission given by the Arch Duke and try the Scouts.  Terin suggested playing on Norris' permission might let them ask for more support or authority than they actually had.  Rol asked how many people they wanted to tell they intended to go to that system, ignoring the fact that the secret had apparently gotten out.  At least, to the Arch Duke.  And, he was half a sector away!  Still, Terin figured they could get the astrogative data for the system, just because they had permission to go there.  They'd be charged, but they could get that.  He just didn't know how much more than that he could get?

Considering what they "might have", Mikah suggested they poll everyone who had been part of the crew when they had visited Duke Leonard's library.  Sadly, she missed the fact that, while likely more comprehensive than most data sources, that library was open to his family and staff, and wouldn't contain, or release classified information.  And the Sonthert system's secrets, if they were known, might likely be classified.  Still, she learned Rol had gotten a huge glut of mercenary periodicals.  Emkir had gotten linguistics material and Aali had gotten genealogies and histories of the noble families.  Mikah had grabbed medical data herself.  That left Aiden, Brian and Zimzod's collections, because Zach had been getting reamed by the Duke at the time, and got nothing.

While Terin continued to concentrate on data about the solar system, Rol brought up a new consideration.  He got everyone's attention and said, "If we're going down to any of the planet surfaces, we'll need to see if we can learn what the climates are like?"  Everyone nodded at that, especially the scouts who'd done planetary surface missions.  Rol got bitter and nervous laughs when he quipped, "I mean, everyone has arctic gear.  Right?"  After the pause that followed, Rol continued, "I mean, we're gonna have to know what we need to pack for.  Right?"  Everyone knew they'd need vacc suits for a very thin atmosphere, tainted or not.  And they'd need some sort of pressurized breather system for a thin atmo, plus filters for the taints they'd be facing.

Nodding at Rol's points, Terin said, "That's why I want to hit the libraries and Scouts."  Mikah suggested they would have to hit the Duchy's library if they hoped to find anything new, and turned to a comms unit to make the call.  When her call was answered, Mikah asked if they could provide the crew data, or allow the crew to search for information on the climates of the Sonthert system's worlds.  She also asked for any information they had on the ecologies of the worlds?  After she finished, the person who'd answered the call quickly realized it was above her pay grade and asked Mikah to hold while she determined who to transfer the request to?

Mikah waited until she was connected with someone else who then bounced her to a worker in the Duchy's 'Department of Sector Affairs'.  That woman listened to Mikah's request before offering a friendly smile but saying that wasn't handled by her people.  Before Mikah could become annoyed, the woman then said that group got those kinds of request often enough she knew where to route them.  Mikah hoped that was good news and not bad.  Still, before the woman passed her call on, the woman checked out her information on Sonthert and asked, "That is an interdicted system, My Lady.  What is your interest in it?"  The question was pointed enough Mikah knew this would start ringing bells no matter how she answered.

Deciding to face the alarms 'head on', Mikah firmly said, "Well, we have a writ from the Arch Duke giving us permission to visit that system..."  Mikah was gratified while continuing, to see the woman's eyes get just that bit wider and her attention become even more sharp.  And Mikah continued, "...and we're trying to study the herbology and flora of the system's outer planets."  Mikah hastily added, "We're not going anywhere near the system's interdicted society or their world." in a precautionary tone.  After giving Mikah a firm and most accepting nod, the woman said, "Let me get you to the right department, My Lady." in a friendlier tone.

After another brief pause, Mikah found herself transferred to the IISS liaison to the Duchy government.  Connected, the Scout asked Mikah how he could help her in a tone which made it clear he saw her as just another customer and nothing special without even asking who she was?  Mikah could also see the man's Scout uniform appeared to have some stains, presumably from what he'd eaten for lunch.  Or, "mostly" eaten.  That exacerbated the appearance of uniform items Mikah realized the man was wearing in a style which was 'not necessarily' correct for the IISS uniform.  Surprised at the man's appearance and lack of attention, Mikah waved a hand to summon Emkir to the comms, saying "Admiral!" with a firm tone.

Saying, "If you insist, my Captain." as he left the data he'd been working on, Emkir stepped to the comms to see exactly what he'd come to expect from a member of the IISS Field Service.  Even if he was for some reason flying a desk.  It was well known the IISS was divided into two sections with the "Administration" handled by the service's officers while the Field handled all the 'action' with specialists.  The result is that officers rarely went into the field except in times of crisis.  That meant the military bearing of those in the field had 'degraded' over time.  Still, those often slovenly and disrespectful bastards had too often saved his life or his mission during the war.

So, Emkir was happy to give the man his due and ignore the image presented.  He was also sure the man was none too pleased to be working in an office rather than being in space.  Emkir was certain Mikah was scandalized by the man's appearance and attitude and deportment, but it only made Emkir more comfortable with the man.  At the same time, this Scout was likely very rarely in contact with "the public" while still likely having the best skills for that job.  Field leadership was almost always decided by skill needs even over time in service, actual rank or any of the other standard military methods.  This often led to scouts in the service under four years commanding other scouts who'd been in ten or more years.  Something the other Imperial military services couldn't understand.

Data Mining In Left Field

     When Emkir and Mikah introduced themselves, the scout realized his day had certainly taken a turn for the worse.  Rarely dealing with the public to start with, he now found himself dealing with a Lady of the nobility who seemed to have an attitude.  And to make his day that much better, she'd called in an IISS Admiral, even if he was out of uniform, who she seemed to have tied around her finger.  Just Fracking Great!  Fixing Emkir with as close to a glare as he could likely get away with, the scout clipped each word as he said," Yes, Admiral.  How can I be of Service.  Sir!"  And both Mikah and Emkir could hear the capital letters in his pronunciation, as well as the displeasure.

Knowing they'd already stepped from the grav vehicle into a twenty-foot deep puddle, Emkir slipped himself into the friendliest and accommodating of his tones and did his best to put the scout more at ease.  Sadly, the man's initial impressions had formed quite a wave and Emkir couldn't overcome it with just a good opening volley.  And the scout was very happy to do the needed paperwork to submit their request.  That "promise" was no more than to do the minimum and would likely result in yet another request lost in the red tape sea.  And there was nothing Mikah or Emkir could do about that, since his offer was well within regulations.

Emkir evaluated the scout as he spoke and one thing struck him about the man.  The uniform the man wore, regardless how poorly, had orange piping.  That said the man had been in the IISS for less than eight years and possibly even barely over four!  If this man had so little time in service and had been chosen for this role supporting the Duchy government, there had to be some reason.  So this scout had to have something special about him.  And Emkir made no mistake that the position the man held, as the liaison between the IISS and the Duchess' people, was a powerful cherry of an assignment.  That had been something that hadn't occurred to Mikah at all.

Of course, Emkir also knew that this was a 'Field' scout.  That would mean the assignment, no matter how much of a plum, had to be killing the man.  Emkir was sure he'd rather be the lowest crew aboard the most ramshackle ship than be trapped behind a desk on a rock.  Emkir also guessed that the worst part was that he'd likely been granted the award because of some great skill or talent, if not as a reward for some action he'd been involved in.  What that action could have been escaped Emkir because the Fifth Frontier War had ended just under four years before.  So, if the man had been involved in something heroic, he'd have had to have served in the tail-end of the war, or been involved in something so classified there weren't even rumors.

Choosing a tactic, Emkir foolishly asked, "Is this a secure channel?"  Of course, he knew it was foolish because he'd placed the call and would have known if it were secure because he'd have to have set it up that way to start.  Playing along with the stupid officer, the scout said it wasn't and asked why the Admiral had asked?  With the man's attention, Emkir hoped to hook his sense of adventure and perhaps forgot that "tell a Scout" could translate to "tell everyone".  Still, Emkir mentioned in a lower and perhaps more conspiratorial tone that his people had an interest in the Sonthert system which had nothing to do with their stated reasons of herbology studies and research.  Standing next to him at the comms, Mikah could only do her best to hold her horror when she realized what Emkir had said, and how much he'd screwed their communications security.

On his end of the conversation, the scout had a mask on his face which completely covered the fact he now had the best story of the week when he got to the mess hall!  'An Admiral and a Lady of the Noble Courts comm'ed me today' was better than any 'Hiver and K'Kree walked into a bar' tale.  And, the best part was that he could see Lady Mikah knew it even if the clueless Admiral didn't...Yet.  Still, the man had to wonder if the Admiral Did know what he was about?  Was this a trap?  Officers were stupid but not often that stupid.  So, the look he turned on Admiral Emkir could only have been described as 'cautious and reserved' before saying "OK.  I'll bite.  Can you give me more information?  Just then, Rol quietly stepped up to Emkir and said, "A word please." and Emkir excused himself and froze the screen.

This crew lived in a universe where bullets flew close to skulls, asteroids skimmed planetary atmospheres and missiles exploded much too close, however Mikah, Emkir and Rol never realized just how close they'd come to their own personal media armageddon.  When Rol stepped into the view of the comms, and with Mikah and Emkir having already given their names, it was an amazing event that the global population did not hear a click snick in the bored scout's brain when the man missed the connections waving in front of him.  Perhaps, that would happen later, but that would be far after the three had forgotten their massive faux pas.  And, it would make what might follow them in even more of a surprise.

With the comms frozen, Rol 'leaned in' as he said, "OK.  Why don't you just tell him that we have been tasked with a mission in the system...  That we are doing research in the system, under the orders of the Arch Duke, and we need this information for the success of our mission.  And, by the way, these are our orders from the Arch Duke...personally."  When he said that last, he prompted Mikah to connect the message box to the comms and show the permission from Norris.  Rol then continued, "And, if you don't give us the information, we will have to take this up with one of your superiors."

Agreeing with Rol, Mikah and Emkir turned back and unfroze the conversation while following his advice.  Suddenly, the scout watched as the situation become insane!  If these people had the permission they claimed to have, why in the stars had they not come straight out and said it?  What was with all the amateur-hour attempts at skull-duggery?  The permission had to be a fake!  It had to be.  But fake or no, he had to be more certain than a ship commander whose last damaged laser had to be locked on the fusion heart of the ship coming to kill him dead.  That meant the scout took a good deal of time examining the "permission" data for anything he could identify as fake.  But such messages, even sent covertly, had safeguards.  And even when he had to log the interrogation of the message file to confirm it, the message did prove real!  Or, a really really good fake!

The bad news was that these people who seemed connected directly to the Arch Duke had come to him politely, and then shown him the dice before they asked him if he really wanted to roll them?  And the situation was still so crazy it couldn't actually be real.  That's when it hit him, these people had to be part of a badly trained covert operation of some sort.  And their ID's held up, so they were at least covert Imperials for all their stupid wanna-be-spy moves.  So, he was interested, even if only for the amount of free beer the story would get him.  And he had no doubt they thought they'd scared him straight from Human through Vargr to Hiver.  He was also happy to let them think that until he knew what they wanted and how bad giving it to them would be?

When it came down to that, he saw the couple wanted whatever they could get for the Sonthert system.  That system, from what he could tell from the data he had, was nothing but a backwater system containing a piss-ant world with a 'global philosophy' which was considered dangerous.  Whatever that meant?  Searching the system data as much as he had the permission certification to do, the man couldn't see anything that might be dangerous at all?  So, he decided he did want to roll the dice he was looking at, which weren't even nearly the same as the dice the Admiral thought he'd offered.  He figured he could earn some good will even if those who were 'on high' might also 'be high' too.  One never knew when that favor owed might come in handy, if it was real.

Having made that decision, the man electronically dumped everything his office had access to onto Emkir's deck.  Emkir was pleased even while Rol worried at the sudden turn of events.  Emkir was certain the news was good even though he knew the transaction would end up being logged.  That meant it would be entered into the records of the office's activity, which didn't worry Emkir for one reason.  Given the number of offices in Regina's government, and the number of actions each office took, it would take a hell of a lot of programming to set up search and alert programs to seek through all of that for this specific transaction unless someone were looking for exactly that.  So this transgression wouldn't likely be noticed until the crew were asking for forgiveness.

Thanking the scout, Emkir killed the conversation and then copied the data to Terin, Aali and Emkir's accounts as well as Mikah's.  Emkir did regret how much he'd given away to get the data, but he was OK with it while Mikah and Rol were concerned he'd given away the homeworld.  Mikah was just happy neither Munarshu or Aiden had been present, because one of their heads would have exploded from pure panic if not both.  After the files were shared out, the five of them gathered to see just what Emkir's loose lips had paid for?  The first answer was a letdown as much as a hope, because it said the mining colony was digging radioactives.  The 'hope' was that reports had suggested a minor vein of Lanthanum!

Still, the suggestion there might be a find had been chased for decades, so there was no real promise in the chance.  And the colony did pay, if not by much, while still putting out disappointingly small amounts of lanthanum.  Reading the reports, they could see that other limits kept things quiet, like the inability of the colony to bring in the hardware to really scan for sub-surface minerals and ores because of the interdiction.  Outside the mining colony, Terin wanted to know the "real reason" why the system was interdicted?  Sadly for him, the data they'd gotten only echoed the known reasons.  The "protected society" on the specific interdicted world, with a tech level that was firmly in the age of muscle-power and black powder muskets, fostered a "philosophy" which had been labeled as "dangerous", and "had to be contained".

Of course, the data they got didn't go into what that philosophy was?  But a good study of the data didn't stomp out the chance there could have been a base in the system in the past.  Nor did it provide any evidence.  The data gave them a significant update to the system's astrography, so Terin had more than enough data to forward extrapolate accurate data on the position of all bodies in it.  In fact, there was speculation the "base" and its surrounding society, created by the Order, may have been bombed back to the stone age, but not wiped out.  And without committing an Imperial Army ground unit to "mop up", the survivors may have clawed back to a population now in the millions.

That led to more looks at the main world, just for the sake of curiosity.  What they saw of that didn't make much sense.  The nearly Earth-sized world was in the zero orbit of a K class(Orange) star, yet it still had an atmosphere even if it was "very thin and tainted".   Beyond that, it had a population over three million who had reached black powder level technology!  Those facts made no sense at all.  And, none of it was explained in any of the data provided in the packet.  On top of that, the world had only twenty percent of it's surface covered in fluids or ice-caps.  That meant interior areas on the surface, away from the surface waters, were likely deserts of burning hell, too close in to the furnace of the world's primary star.  Bets were this "protected society" lived below the surface, like that of the population of Aramis, the Aramis subsector capital.  That also begged the question how the IISS monitored them at all?

Turning their attention to the other bodies in the system, things got exciting when they saw two of the worlds and one of the moons which were marked as having "good quality" spaceports, on the new data but not marked that way on public data!  One of those was the world named Laurasia, and the other was named "Mynbou", designated "Sonthert I Kappa".  The third was the moon "Sonthert I Theta Gee".  Mynbou was a 4,000-kilometer diameter airless world which still appeared to have ice covering ten percent of its surface.  And Sonthert I Theta Gee was just a 1,000-kilometer diameter rock, which mostly appeared to be an asteroid gone wild.  But that moon of the world named Ajoit seemed to have a good quality spaceport on it for no reason at all.  Both were marked for future investigation by the IISS.

Comparing the new data showed there looked to be more evidence of space travel in that system than expected, or reasonable.  Terin considered the implications before telling Rol, "Now, I think Laurasia should be moved up to number one." meaning he thought they should check there first.  Another odd thing was that the other worlds that had good quality ports for no reason were not marked for future exploration, suggesting there may have been a follow-on report on the Sonthert system which hadn't been given to them.  Anything in any of those reports was data they didn't have and didn't know how to get if they could?

When talk shifted to having Emkir call the Scout back and ask about any follow-on reports, Rol suggested there had already been enough damage done.  That led to more talk before someone said it was getting to dinner time, meaning it was near the end of his day.  That meant Emkir's call could come in when the man was really just wanting to close up shop and leave for the day, if he'd not cut out early already.  Of course, when Emkir did call, the scout's face dropped on seeing the Admiral back on his workspace screen.  He still caught it quickly and pushed back on his professional mask asking, "Yes Admiral?  We're just about to close up shop, but what can I do for you?"

After Emkir said some of the data he'd gotten suggested there were additional reports on the system, or that there were pending missions for some sites which weren't included, the scout apologized and checked for more data.  Shortly after that, he apologized, admitted there was at least one follow-on report he'd found and sent that to Emkir.  That done, the man emphatically asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you, Admiral?" emphasizing the words "anything else".  Emkir heard, in the man's voice as he spoke, the tone of, 'I really wanna close up and leave!'  Hearing that tone, Mikah leaned in and asked to be sure if there were any more reports and the scout answered, "Your Ladyship, let me check.  I will make 100% sure."  She thanked him as he moved off-screen for a moment.

When he came back, he confirmed he had no more reports or related files to that data.  They thanked the scout again, and then cleared the screen before looking at the new data.  Sadly, it was only a detail report of an Octagon society shelter which had been built on Laurasia.  The report said the shelter was still present, and actually said it was part of the "spaceport" present on that world.  Notes in that file said that an IISS inspection of that side had been done, and signed off on.  That interested Emkir, who wanted to check and see if the data showed more glyphs like the ones which Brian and Zach had taken pictures of in Risek?  The others weren't happy about the shelter because it meant there had been no population in the system at all, when the shelter had been built.

Terin said the Octagon society had been founded in 342 TI, and the Order of the White Star hadn't been created until 640 TI.  So, the two were not related.  Still, the shelter did suggest there had been traffic in the system in the 300's.  And that must have been before the system was interdicted.  Outside of that, Terin checked and confirmed the astrogative data for the system was only collected once a decade for the report they had.  He knew Naval offices would have more up-to-date data, because they maintained the interdiction fleet.  But, he also knew he could accurately update the data in the report using the ship's navigation software.

The thing that bothered Aali most was that there was no information on the taints in the various atmospheres.  She'd expected something, at the very least, and the lack of anything bothered her.  It bothered the others when she mentioned it, and they all knew either someone didn't do a complete job or a follow-on mission had been planned but no one really cared and the missions were not mounted.  When Mikah asked about special equipment they'd need to deal with that, the scouts said they'd need some atmospheric testers.  Aali spoke up first, saying she had one and Mikah realized they had a lower tech unit in the ship's locker.  Terin thought he had one in his survival gear, but when he checked, that device was not part of the kit.

Mikah nodded her head and told them to start working on a list of the things they may need to do the work.  Things seemed about to break up when Terin asked if they still needed to do a horticultural study of the worlds?  When Mikah firmly said, "No!" because the Arch Duke had given them permission to enter the system, she was reminded they did promise several Dukes they would be doing just that.  So, while no one knew if they could get around that, there were many jokes about dumping Terin on one of the worlds in-system alone while going off to look for the base themselves.  Some even said they might try to remember they left him there.

Meanwhile, Back At The Base

     At the base where Zimzod was being "trained" in Psi-Tolerance, he'd woken that morning to new sensations.  The most noticeable was the "fuzzy feeling" he got at the back of his brain when he was close to those using psi-talents.  He was warned not to get too used to that, since they weren't hiding their efforts and psions in the "real world" would be masking at the least.  Of course, that brought up a new worry.  Now that he'd know when people were using unshielded psionic abilities, who could he warn, or tell without outing himself?  Without getting himself arrested, shot or lobotomized?

Zimzod got his morning routine done at the same time as others in his cadre, and then had the morning briefing while they had breakfast.  That day, they would continue to work with him on tolerance, but would also start working with him on a "shield" ability, to hide the fact he was psi-active.  That would be critical for him to not be outed by chance encounters with other talents, either wild and dangerous, attached to an Imperial internal security organization or a foreign agency.  When they mentioned that, Zimzod considered the meeting they'd "almost had" with the Darrian Embassy on Rhylanor.  How much more of a surprise would such a meeting be now, since they accepted psionics in government service and almost certainly had psions in their embassy staffs?

Zimzod was also told, very clearly, that his skills and ability wouldn't protect him against a directed force search using concentrated thought.  That meant psions actively using telepathic powers to search for him would find him if he were in their range, regardless of what they were able to teach him.  At the same time, this would be the third day Zimzod was working with the same teams.  While there had been no new friendships, there was a developing camaraderie.  People were getting used to each other and working together more smoothly with Zimzod when they worked with him.  It was increasingly easy to put things in terms he could understand or accept.  And, they knew better how to relate their data to his experiences and outlook.  That would improve their speed and abilities from that day until they were to wrap up on Friday.

An Early Exit

     By mid-day, the hunting tour company had gotten Fesic's group to a place where teams had arrived in advance, like the day before, and prepared a "field lunch".  The group settled and Fesic took stock of his aches and pains and considered telling the guide he might need a "dust off" to be returned to the hotel because he might not be able to make the rest of the trip on his own.  Fesic had decided to dump the spare water he was carrying when he realized it wouldn't be needed, and that was half his starting load.  But, he'd seriously overloaded himself to start, and pushed his body quite a bit before coming to that decision.

That meant quite a bit of the damage had already been done.  Since he didn't step out of the hike then, it also meant he didn't recover much at all.  The damage only persisted or got worse.  The build-up of lactic acids in Fesic's muscles was getting close to the point of actual damage and muscle loss.  Despite that, Fesic chose to do his best to relax and recover during the lunch break and push on, to see if he could suck it up and just make it the rest of the way?  Especially knowing they'd have a mid-afternoon rest break too, if they didn't find anything to hunt.  The mood in the rest of the group was good because there had been some game and some of the hunters were coming home with trophies.

Back at the main hotel, Munarshu was trying to burn off time watching vids and being moved from place to place as the venue staff needed to clear spaces for arriving tourists.  Out on the trail, shortly after the afternoon break, the guide saw that Fesic was failing, and something had to be done.  Checking on the location and distances, the guide called to have a buggy sent out to pick up Fesic and his gear.  They'd drive him back to the hotel and give him some time to relax and recover.  He would also be checked out by the hotel's doctor before being returned to Credo port.  This gave Munarshu a surprise when Fesic was driven back to the venue nearly an hour before he and the rest of the hunters had been expected.  Fesic's gear was moved off the buggy and stowed for him while the staff helped Fesic into the doctor's office and Munarshu tried to find out what had happened?

Both Fesic and Munarshu, who'd been allowed to accompany his crewmate, were surprised at the hotel's medical facility.  It looked to have all the newest and most advanced tech it could get!  Also there to receive Fesic, the doctor was emphatic that he would run all the tests he felt proper to assure nothing was missed.  He didn't add verbally that this was to prevent something missed from becoming the basis for a negligence lawsuit for damages later.  Checking "everything", was a process that took just more than half an hour.  The examination showed, and the doctor explained in some detail, the build-up and damage from lactic acid in the human muscle systems.

Explaining to Fesic his built-up levels, the doctor recommended he return to his ship or hotel and relax for the next week, doing nothing strenuous.  He also said it might be beneficial for Fesic to consider an elevated oxygen therapy, saying it should be no more than 5 to 10 percent.  The doctor also pointed out Fesic's current acid levels had risen "to the border" of damaging levels.  While the doctor made it clear nothing was seriously damaged yet, he also made it clear the damage done could result in muscle mass loss throughout the body, including heart and vascular damage!  Fesic nodded and accepted the doctor's advice and the physician admitted that if he behaved how Sir Munarshu did, he expected Fesic would be dead inside a month.

After the checkup, Fesic was released to join Munarshu in waiting for the rest of the hunters to return so they could start wrapping things up and get back to Atora and the suite.  When Munarshu moved up to try and help Fesic, the gunner waived him off, saying, "Get the fuck out of the way."  Seeing this, the doctor only gave a snort of disbelief and shook his head while putting his instruments away and cleaning his diagnostic gear.  With the other hunters still not back, the transport wasn't yet on site and wouldn't arrive until the group returned and their kills were mostly cleaned, butchered and packaged for transport.  So, the two had some hours to wait.  During that time, the hotel staff prepared both Munarshu and Fesic's gear.  Since Fesic had burnt half a clip of ammo while in the field, he was offered replacement ammo at Cr 100 a clip but refused that vastly over-inflated price.

The others returned in time, and the two men got to watch as kills were registered and processed.  Souvenirs were bought and gear cleaned and repacked.  During the latter part of the process, the aircraft which would bring the hunters back to Credo airfield, part of Credo-Down starport, arrived and gear was moved in on an "as ready" basis.  Fesic was assured they'd stow his gear, along with Munarshu's, as "first off".  That would let them get him off the aircraft and back to his home quarters quickly to better continue his recovery.  Again, they didn't mention that this special treatment was meant to prevent any possible lawsuit due to delay-related damage or injury.  They then set up special seating for Fesic so he could lay down aboard the aircraft and even sleep through the brief flight.

Dropping A Credit

     While those in the suite started getting ready for dinner, and the chef and his staff arrived, Aiden also returned to the suite.  He'd gone to the building's gym for his continuing physical therapy, arriving after Mikah had finished her swim.  Then, he'd used the pool before coming back to the suite in time for chow.  Aiden got back and greeted the others, asking how their days had been in a tone which let them all know exactly how "fun" he felt his visit to the Duchy Court had been.  Mikah reacted to his suffering tone saying, "You poor dear!", in a mock tone to let him know just how much of a martyr she thought he was being.

Still, they sat and talked and Mikah asked Aiden about events in court while he tried to be as circumspect of events as he could.  When Aiden complained about politics and plotting and other court intrigue, Mikah got interested and pumped him a bit more for details.  Finally, she got the story about the pair of men who'd talked about funding mercenaries by possibly looting.  She also got him to admit the men had talked about having already put up the cash to send a unit to the Gougeste system with the SuSAG force.  When Mikah asked what he meant to do with the information, Aiden firmly and emphatically said, "Nothing!"  He could see only danger in the crew's future if they spilled the beans.

That annoyed Mikah because she knew it was driven by Aiden's unreasoning paranoia.  Perhaps, he worried they'd get sent to deal with it themselves, as if the Duchess or anyone else could send them anywhere while their ship was in a yard being repaired.  Or, he feared "someone" might get upset and want to take revenge, though who that might be was up in the air.  The Duchess and her people would be pleased to get advanced intelligence on the group and their intentions.  SuSAG would love to know, in advance, that someone planned to rob them and the idiots Aiden had overheard had been whispering loud enough in a crowd at the Duchess' court for Aiden to make out what they were saying.  That clearly meant others could have over-heard too.

Convinced that meant Aiden was just being a cowardly old woman, Mikah decided she'd do something with the information since he wouldn't.  Still, she gave him a chance, demanding, "How would we share the trouble?"  Aiden insisted that nearly everything they did blew up in their face somehow.  Mikah knew that for the obvious incorrect score of their track record and decided it was time to ignore him.  She even considered not paying him a share of any reward they got for reporting the information, because he didn't want to be involved anyhow.  Still, she told him sharply, "I was hoping the cloning thing would re-arrange your brain cells" while glaring at her demented coward of a pilot.

Turning from Aiden, Mikah had gotten all the information she could from the pilot.  That included the name of the company the men proposed, so she checked the news for SuSAG.  The big item there was the task force building in the Jewell system, intent to drive out to Gougeste via the Emerald and Plaven systems.  There, they would engage the hobbled Sword Worlds cruiser if that crew hadn't repaired their jump systems and fled beforehand.  That news also speculated on what SuSAG was producing there, given that Gougeste was outside the Imperium.  Out there, they could make drugs and products there which were illegal in the Imperium, then sell them in non-Imperial markets.  Officially, anyway.

Whatever the interests in Gougeste, Mikah figured the best path to take was to call the seneschalate.  Of course, Mikah made sure she was out of Aiden's hearing when she called, because she didn't need him going all coward-master on her.  Getting someone on the line, Mikah said enough to get her bounced to the correct office.  Connected, Mikah explained what Aiden had told her about his experience.  The more Mikah explained, the angrier the man she was speaking to got.  Detail after detail made the whole plan worse.  Before she was done summing up what she'd learned, he'd pulled up their incorporation application on his screen and confirmed the people she was talking about.

Mikah was even more pleased with his reaction when the data the man had even listed their backers.  With Mikah's information, the man did more investigation and found the group had hired three merc units.  All of the units hired were ground units, not space-borne.  Still, they had their own organic heavy-lifting shuttles.  The man murmured about stock ownership by the high Nobility including the Imperial family themselves while continuing to dig.  Thanking Mikah very much, the man told Mikah he could take it from there and the Seneschalate would advise Her Grace and resolve the issue.  When Mikah returned to the others, and Aiden asked what she'd done?  Mikah smiled and said, in that soft and confident tone that many found threatening, "The mercenaries are going to come in the night.  After you go to sleep." with an evil smile.  She then relaxed and ignored Aiden's stewing.

Bets And Bytes

     It was shortly after those in the suite had dinner that Munarshu and Fesic got back.  To the surprise of everyone, Adventure World: Regina had actually sprung for the cost of transporting both men back with their gear.  Especially since it would insure the two got home without any injuries for which they could have been blamed and sued.  After a buzz saying 'we're back' from the building entry, everyone waited to see whose bets would be paid off?  Those in the suite watched as Munarshu limped and moaned his way into the apartment and was followed by Fesic, who seemed to not feel very well either.

Mikah had been waiting at the door when they arrived.  Entering in with a limp and other aches, Munarshu announced, "I live!"  Mikah muttered, "That's a surprise" while Rol and Terin both asked, "Why are you limping?"  Trying to save face, Munarshu grumbled, "Badger hole, damnit!"  Terin didn't miss a beat when he asked, "So, you were that horny?" and got laughs all around.  Even the folks moving luggage for the pair.  After the laughs calmed a bit, Terin asked when Munarshu had found the gopher hole, trying to narrow down time frames to match bets.  Munarshu just answered, "First Day."  When he got hit with more, and more specific, questions, Munarshu protested the bets only said he'd not come back alive.  And while that was not true, he made his point that they could resolve the bets after he and Fesic had managed to return and sit down.

Despite that agreement, it didn't go very far.  The gear was delivered and the workers helping left while Munarshu and Fesic were sat down at the dining room table, fed leftovers from dinner and grilled about the hunting trip.  Mikah tried to get some more information from the workers moving the luggage but they said they were just the porters.  Even after Mikah offered them Cr 50 each to 'dish', they had tour groups that had arrived earlier that day they were supposed to be working with, and had to get back to work or lose their jobs.  After they left, the bets were resolved.

     The first covered was that Munarshu was bet he would not survive.  Turning that around, he bet everyone Cr 100 he would come back alive.  And he did.  But not everyone had taken that bet.  Zimzod wasn't there, and Terin and Aiden didn't cover the bet.  Mikah did, and Rol.  So, they owed Munarshu Cr 100 each for that.  So, Munarshu was up Cr 200 on that alone.

     Aiden bet Munarshu Cr 10 he'd be thrown and suffer a fatal chest injury.  Munarshu covered that and didn't get thrown or die, so Aiden owed Munarshu Cr 10.

     Fesic bet Munarshu the engineer would come back with new rib injuries and Munarshu covered that.  Still, Munarshu claimed the aggravation wasn't to a "new" injury.  When Fesic argued, Aiden said they needed a medical opinion and pointed to Mikah, as the medical authority.  Mikah just smiled at Munarshu and said "Pay up" while Munarshu shot Aiden an acerbic glare.  So, Munarshu had to pay Fesic Cr 100.

     When it came to Mikah's Cr 100 bet that Fesic and Munarshu wouldn't return with anything they'd hunted and killed, Fesic argued that he'd gotten video of Munarshu's "Gopher hole battle".  That got everyone excited because the gunner had forgotten to tell everyone about the footage.  Annoyed, Munarshu scowled while everyone cheered and Fesic set up the feed and played the laugh reel.  Despite the fun of the video, Mikah stood firm neither Fesic nor Munarshu had "killed" the video.  And that was part of the bet, so Mikah demanded payment, which Fesic didn't mind as much because he didn't have to pay.  Only Munarshu did.

     Despite Munarshu having been pulled out of the hunt early, both he and Fesic had come back to Atora and the suite as scheduled.  That meant Rol's Cr 100 bet that Fesic and Munarshu would come home early was blown and he had to pay Munarshu.  Despite his surviving, Terin had bet Cr 100 Munarshu wouldn't make it through the first night of the hunt.  Since Munarshu had been pulled back to the hotel on the first day, Terin won that bet and Munarshu had to pay up.

The crew spent the next hour and a half to two hours laughing, trading cash and relaxing while Mikah also realized she had two patients to manage.  Mikah was happy both men had come back with chips loaded by the resort doctor with all the data he'd been able to give.  What Mikah did see from the data was just how dangerously close to critical damage the acidic level in Fesic's muscles had risen to.  Seeing that, Mikah knew she'd have to help Fesic get those levels back down again over the coming days.  One thing she did do was grab some powdered drink mix for him, to replenish minerals, bio-chem, carbohydrates and electrolytes.

After spending half an hour looking at Fesic, Mikah decided to wrap Munarshu's ankle in a 'HUGE' wad of padding, just to punish him more.  While she did that, she periodically carried out "Munarshu's Ribs diagnostic test #1" with good hard pokes.  Mikah worked on Munarshu while Aali, Emkir, Rol and Terin went back to work on their Sonthert data. When Mikah was done with him, Fesic said 'screw it' and went to grab more sleep.  With Mikah working on his ankle, Munarshu asked what had happened while he and Fesic were gone?  Mikah said, "Nothing much.  Just going through some data, and I beat up a crook." with a nasty smirk.  Mikah didn't mention using her laser to drop building parts on others.

Mikah worked on the "walking wounded" at the same time the others worked on the Sonthert data.  The evening burned on and when she was done, Mikah decided to relax and watch vids.  Some hours into their investigation, those working on the data from the scouts found a link to an internally located "include" file.  Happily, that file had come across in the first data dump, so they didn't have to hope they could get the file if it had been missing.  The File was so well hidden it wouldn't have been apparent to the Scout who'd given it.  OPening it, they saw it contained images of the Octagon Society shelter.  Emkir dove in, hoping to find more information on the runes from Risek, but didn't see any.  This shelter was bare of adornment.

The extra file and pictures explained one mystery away.  Most Octagon Society shelters were just that.  Small, Octagonal shelters with several sub-divisions and emergency supplies allowing a stranded ship's crew and passengers to hold out until some other ship happened to pass into the system.  This one had a spaceport and several warehouses because it appeared to have been used as a staging facility by the society for operations in the Lanth subsector.  The images showed the shelter itself, on a high peak above the spaceport and other associated structures.  It was a small time-worn and under maintained site.  Still, nothing seemed to have collapsed across all the intervening centuries.

An attached report covered the materials which the IISS found on the site.  Those were the expected survival supplies and some remnants of goods left behind by a rescued starship crew.  While it likely didn't matter much, they had a location code which they could decode.  If they did, they could likely find the depot in which the un-named starship crew's belongings were most likely stored.  The only really good news was that they didn't have to visit the shelter, which would save them a trip into left field.  The foliage which appeared in the images didn't appear to be anything special either, so there was nothing that told him he should visit the site.

After dinner, Aiden had gone into his bedroom to do some stent-work.  Before he did, though, Aiden got permission to use the smaller of the team's rented grav vehicles and called the IISS base, to reset his appointment to have a new belt buckle made the next day.  He also figured he'd pick up the Cr 100 for his Silver Asteroid.  Aali considered going with him but backed off when she realized she'd spend half the day there while they created Aiden's new, and largely meaningless, buckle.  Ironically, and for reasons Aiden wasn't certain of or happy about, Munarshu decided he wanted to go to the IISS base too.  Even though he'd been told to rest.  He got permission to ride along with Aiden from Mikah, because she'd prefer he killed himself.

Aiden wasn't certain why Mikah let him, except perhaps to make his own life that much more difficult.  They decided to take the smaller air car.  Rol had to meet with his lawyers and attend meetings about the case against Sir Jeremy.  When he spoke up, he got permission to take the larger of their rented grav vehicles to go there.  Before he went to sleep, Rol even set out his Vilani suit to wear to the meeting.  Rol also planned to have his regular side arm on his hip and figured he didn't need to bring anything because the lawyers already had everything they needed except him.  Also, during the evening, Aali called an order in to InstellArms to have 60 rounds of tranq delivered for her snub pistol.  They promised to deliver that at a cost of Cr 300.  Terin spent the time after working on the Sonthert data looking for a museum to go to the next day.

He preferred one that was close, because he knew he'd have to walk or pay cab fare to get there.  What Terin found was a museum, called "The Tattdyrel Museum", comprised of art donated from private collections.  More eclectic than the "high art" museums, the museum had collections showing "movements" rather than art by specific Masters.  It had started, some centuries before, as a private set of galleries, and eventually came into the ownership of the Duchy.  Since then, the Duchy had worked to expand it and increase the collection.  When it was taken over, the museum also began to benefit by philanthropic donations of art and endowments.  When Terin said he planned to visit the museum, Mikah said she'd join him.  After that, Aali and Emkir also decided to go.  having permission to use the large garvCar, Rol said he'd drop them off.

Starting The Day With A Bang

     Munarshu's alarm went off, as was his habit, at 5am that morning.  Despite his less than intelligent decision to say he'd ride with Aiden to the IISS base, and his need to just relax and recover, Munarshu felt like crap!  He didn't want to even move.  Still, he was pissed enough at having to wake up that he grabbed the thing nearest to him to shut the clock up.  Sadly, that turned out to be "Patty", one of the .45 caliber auto-pistols he'd brought from the ship.  Against Seneschalate censure.  Seeing the weapon in his hand while still more than half asleep, Munarshu gave a mental shrug, pretended to aim the weapon and fired.

Sadly, Munarshu was half asleep, which most of those who knew him would later say wouldn't have mattered at all.  He was also laid out on his back with the alarm clock "above him", where his relative "up" was the room's back wall, not its ceiling.  And while trying get the weapon aimed at the clock, he'd had to rotate and twist his arm.  He used his best guess to aim because he didn't want to move his head while guesstimating his aim point.  The others in his crew would have argued there had never been a chance his common sense could have beaten his sleep and pain driven impulses, but that became academic when he'd pulled the trigger.

The fired round didn't "miss" the alarm clock because it was never aimed near the device, nor did it even pass close on an "aimed shot" scale.  At the same time, the "explosion" of a .45 caliber round woke EVERYONE in the suite!  It also woke those in some neighboring suites.  Everyone else in the crew, along with all those in neighboring suites, were blasted out of their beds.  While they began reacting to something they didn't even remember actually hearing, Munarshu tried to focus on what had happened and understand what the small hole in the wall to the right of his bed meant?

In the bedroom he shared with Aali, Emkir didn't wake because of the gunshot.  That was superseded by the sudden an amazing pain!  Aali woke because of a combination of the shot's report and the sudden cries of agony from Emkir.  Trying to figure out what had happened, Aali could see Emkir holding his left arm and a lot of spreading "red" color.  It took a heartbeat before that all came together and she realized Emkir had somehow been shot!  What made it worse was the fact Emkir's left arm was "bent" at an odd angle while he tried to hold it tightly with his right hand.  Aali didn't know what was up with that, but she knew it wasn't good!

Now used to some of the foibles of the crew, the butler had woken and prepared herself for her day.  She was just about ready to move into the suite's public spaces when the weapon fired.  Knowing that sound by heart, she quickly slapped the "panic button" in her quarters and spoke a short phrase softly into the speaker as she deployed her body pistol.  She then began carefully moving into the closet-sized passage from her quarters into the suite's public spaces.  She did that while Mikah had rolled, and grabbed her comms to loudly called out, "What happened?!"  Sadly, she'd acted much faster than all the others, and none of the crew were on the comms.  So, no one answered.  That happened while things got worse for Aali when Emkir lost consciousness.

The time to think had long passed for Munarshu and now Aali was taking a short vacation from it too.  Frozen, with Emkir limp before her and his blood spreading, she screamed, "Emkir's hit and he's bleeding!"  This, at least, prompted her to action and she began exploring where the blood was coming from?  It took more than a few heartbeats for Aali to even start digging in the right place because she was first concerned with Emkir's chest.  Soon enough, she found the wound to his left arm and realized the "round" may have broken the bone since it didn't "explode" out of the arm.  If that was the worst of it, that was good, because his chest wasn't wounded.  Still, she now had to figure out if it hit an artery too?

The other thing Aali needed to find spare time and extra hands to do was look for "other holes".  In her bedroom, Mikah heard Aali's scream and started her run while she grabbed her medical bag.  Still sleep addled, Munarshu also heard Aali.  Now a bit more awake, said to himself, "Oh shit!  Who did that?" in a concerned tone.  Hearing Aali's scream after being woken, Fesic grabbed his snub pistol and moved to his bedroom door to crack it and begin looking into the darkened living room.  While he looked for any attackers, Fesic saw a shadowed figure moving in the space.  With no idea what was happening, Fesic drew a bead and used that line of sight to try and better ID what he could just shoot.

Tracking the figure, he saw it was Mikah, sprinting across the room with her medical kit.  Hoping to make sure no one else made a mistake, Fesic stepped out to grab for a light switch.  Mikah, who'd just sprinted past the butler, reached the door as she spotted Fesic.  Just before going inside, she realized who he was and demanded, "You didn't shoot me?" because the shooting had already started and Fesic was just playing target.  After snapping at Fesic, Mikah pushed through the door, hit a light control and saw Emkir in a spreading stain of blood while Aali applied pressure and anything else she could think of.  Mikah quickly put a tourniquet on the arm, to stop the bleeding, and started exploring the wound.

Fesic wasn't aware Terin and Rol also watched Mikah slip into Emkir and Aali's room after snapping at him.  Terin had grabbed his snub pistol and comms right after the shot jolted him awake.  Rol grabbed his pistol and moved to his room's door to look out.  They both stepped more completely out of their rooms after Mikah went into Emkir and Aali's.  Still in the living room, Fesic had turned to look at Mikah and then started looking for a light switch.  Out of his door, Rol saw a figure groping at the walls and dropped to a knee, raising his weapon and demanding, "Identify!"  Standing up a bit straighter, Fesic said "Fesic" as clearly as he could.

Hearing someone else move, Rol swung his weapon and could tell that was Terin.  The scout said "Lights" and the space lit up.  Looking around, the three men saw the butler, who was 'uncoiling' with her targets identified and confirmed they were the only ones in the space.  Terin was the first one to break the pane and start asking what happened?  While he asked that, Munarshu's door opened and he came out.  Completely nude.  Ignoring the useless engineer, those in the space were still looking for an assailant.  Finally awake enough to realize he'd completely screwed the pooch, Munarshu moaned, "Oh Shit." in a dejected tone.  This wasn't the first time he'd shot a crew member, and he briefly remembered mistakenly shooting Rol in the Rhylanor system.  At least, that had been a tranq round.

Before going out to face the music, Munarshu removed the clip from his weapon and cleared the round from the chamber.  Leaving the weapon behind, he moved into the living room.  Seeing those in the room with weapons and looking for a target, Munarshu said, "Stand down."  Fesic asked what Munarshu meant and the engineer more firmly said "Stand down!" in a louder tone.  In a more bitter tone, Munarshu continued, "It was me."  Now confused, Fesic asked, "What do you mean, 'it was me'?"  Munarshu insistently answered, "It was me!  I made the shot."  Not able to believe what he'd just heard, Terin lowered his weapon as he advanced on Munarshu and asked, "What do you mean, you fired the shot?"

In a tone showing the bitterness of his self-opinion, Munarshu said, "I fired the shot.  I panicked."  There was even a hint of 'What are you not getting here?' in his tone.  Rol asked, "What caused you to panic?" and Munarshu said, "When I woke up.  I heard a noise." even as a small voice in his head asked why he felt the need to lie about something so stupid?  Especially given the results.  After that, Rol and Terin gaped at each other in incredulous silence until Terin shook his head and said, "I don't know!" to the unasked questions.

Moving into Munarshu's room, to see if a visual check could give ANY of the answers Munarshu didn't appear to have, Rol saw the space lit and heard the alarm clock still in alert mode.  Terin followed Rol in while Munarshu stood naked and impotently in the living room.  Both men could see the only items out of place were the alerting clock, the hole in the wall and the magazine and round stripped from the weapon.  Returning back to Munarshu, Rol demanded, "What were you shooting at?" in a firm tone.  Munarshu again said, "I don't know" in a tone which was almost defensive.  More firmly, Rol demanded, "There's nothing in there!  Why did you shoot?"  Having also followed Rol back out after turning off the alarm clock, Terin had enough of Munarshu and slugged him dead in the chest.

Despite his military record, Terin was no one's champion boxer.  But, at that moment, the single punch Terin threw was perhaps one of the best shots in the history of Humanitii.  Munarshu was caught completely unaware when Terin struck.  Not only did that punch do "new" damage to Munarshu's ribs, but it also re-aggravated the existing damage, and they saw as Munarshu's eyes rolled up into his sockets and the engineer collapsed.  After that, there was a minute of complete surprise at the results before Rol grimly told Terin, "You got him before I did."  Terin handed Rol his weapon and asked "Put this in my room, please?"  When Rol was confused what Terin wanted, the navigator just asked Rol to do it.

Still inside his bedroom, Aiden had first grabbed his snub pistol and checked the door.  Confirming it was locked, Aiden then moved back to grab and get into a set of executive armor.  After that, he started unpacking his combat armor, stopping regularly to listen and make sure no one was near or trying to open his door.  Eventually, he was completely geared up and realized that he didn't have a HUD interface for his weapons, so he'd have to do 'iron sights' aiming through his suit helmet.  Not optimal.  Ignoring the actual situation, or the fact someone might need help or support, he decided to get a HUD and interfaces soon, assuming he survived this.  Finally geared up, Aiden took a defensive position in his room and waited as time burned.  He did activate his comms and waited for an update from anyone on the team.

Grabbing her med scanner, Mikah asked Aali about other wounds and the engineer said she'd not found any more.  A combat experienced medic, Mikah was ready to bet the bone had been hit and scanned for that damage.  She quickly confirmed the bone had taken the round directly and shattered.  The serious news was that the round had nicked the artery, explaining the heavy bleeding.  Mikah knew she had to finish up the diagnosis faster, because she had to get on the arterial damage.  While she could fix the current damage quickly, the pressure of blood passage from the vessel could start to tear it, making it more possible she'd need a transplant section.

Next, she'd have to clean the wound to be sure she didn't miss any fragments.  Finally, she could start working on the bone damage.  After she completed those, she'd be able to inject regeneratives and other growth enhancers.  Finishing the diagnosis, Mikah got to work, right there on the bed.  Rol moved Terin's pistol to his room while Terin went into Munarshu's room and recovered all three handguns there, and all the ammunition.  Before Terin moved, he looked at Fesic and pointed to Munarshu saying, "Make sure he doesn't die." with a tone of disgust.  He then moved those weapons to Mikah and Zimzod's room for "safe keeping".  The butler continued watching the show and waiting for backup.

Rol came out of Terin's room to see Terin carrying all of Munarshu's weapons out of the engineer's room and moving toward Mikah and Zimzod's place.  Fesic was giving Munarshu what Rol hoped was first aid.  Rol asked Terin what he was doing and Terin said, "You don't want him to have weapons and neither do I!  They were still in his room.  They're not gonna be there when he wakes up!"  Rol could only back up at the raw anger bubbling up in Terin's words.  At the same time, Fesic had started worrying about Aiden.  They'd heard and seen nothing from the pilot and his door still appeared firmly closed with no sounds coming from beyond.

Rol gave up trying to make any point with Terin as he said Terin had already gotten his fingerprints all over Munarshu's weapons.  That happened while Fesic moved over to Aiden's door and yelled out that the shooting stopped.  Unfortunately, Aiden was in his sealed combat armor and listening to his comms, so he heard nothing while hiding there shivering.  Fesic turned back to look at Munarshu again as Terin snapped at Rol that Munarshu had confessed to everyone in the space already, so his fingerprints wouldn't matter.  Rol had to admit, Terin had a point if the Marine had stopped to think about it.  With that settled, Fesic again knelt over Munarshu's body and tried to remember all those "Emergency first aid and you" vids he'd seen in years of mandatory training.

Not...The Cavalry

     Fesic didn't actually do more than try to check Munarshu's vitals because he didn't want to mistakenly kill the man.  He did confirm Munarshu was breathing and had a pulse.  He had no obvious bleeding wounds and that was all Fesic could do, other than direct medical responders.  In fact, when Fesic considered events, he decided he should stand guard to make sure no one got so angry they killed Munarshu!  With Fesic 'guarding' Munarshu's body, Rol glanced into Emkir and Aali's room to see Emkir on the bed and Mikah doing something surgical.  Fesic looked over to the butler, to see what she was doing and heard someone on her comms ask "SITREP!" in a commanding tone.  She responded quietly and he assumed the woman was updating an in-bound team.

When she appeared to report, 'Shooter down, Friendly fire', the person on the other end snapped "What?!" so loud that Fesic could hear it clearly.  Within seconds of that exchange, the suite's outer door opened and response teams began arriving. They all heard that and the butler firmly called out, "Clear To The Livingroom!"  Armed teams of building's staff quickly started moving in.  Fesic, Rol and Terin watched and these weren't the lobby management, who'd seemed to be a "before" version of 'collateral civilian combat victims'.  These people had the building management's unit organization on their shoulders but were both well-armed and obviously trained in room to room operations.  Preventing any accidents, Rol carefully set his weapon on the floor.

Moving in, Rol and Fesic heard the team's point man said "Two up, one down, investigating", which was obviously a second wave confirmation and update as follow on forces arrived.  Terin came out of Mikah and Zimzod's room at that point and the team point-man executed a snap-swing and ordered, "FREEZE!"  It wasn't the butler's spin to target him with her body pistol that froze Terin.  It was the new team armed with neat and very functional looking bullpup configuration assault rifles that got him a bit nervous.  Not to mention the converging red targeting lasers just over his heart that turned him into a human sculpture.

Without moving any other part of his body even a millimeter, Terin said, "The unconscious guy is the shooter.  He discharged his weapon in his bedroom." in flat and clipped speech.  After a pause, Terin continued, "I believe he was trying to shoot his alarm clock while in bed.  So, I've taken all his toys away from him so he doesn't do it ever again."  Terin finished off the sentence emphasizing the last five words.  Another pause was broken when the man leading the fireteam suddenly said, "Corporal.  Escort him."  The Corporal moved up to Terin while still targeting him with an assault rifle and ordered Terin to show him where the weapons were?

While the corporal "escorted" Terin to investigate the weapons, another member of the team moved up to an observation position at Emkir and Aali's door.  Glancing in from "barricade cover", the trooper called out, "sergeant.  We have one victim down.  Medical support is on site.  Request additional medical backup."  The sergeant answered, "Acknowledged Private.  One man down, medical backup needed."  Things settled into another pause until the Corporal who'd been "escorting" Terin got into Mikah and Zimzod's room and they all heard the man demand, "What The Fuck?!"  The sudden tension in the room ratcheted up just a bit more as the man called out, "sergeant.  You gotta check this out!" in a tone which could only be described as concerned and bemused.

In addition to his standard .45 pistol, Zimzod had brought his semi-automatic .45's, Darrian gauss pistol and magazines of ammo for both from the ship.  Mikah had grabbed her auto-pistol, with ten clips and her pulse taser.  This was in addition to her laser pistol, which she'd used as her honor weapon since returning to Regina.  And Terin had added to that Munarshu's trio of pistols and pile of magazines.  Moving into the room, the sergeant demanded, "Explain what's going on here?" and Terin said, "Our Captain, that's Lady Mikah, Captain of the Hotel California, you might have heard of us..."  As he trailed off, the sergeant prompted Terin, "Keep going" in an annoyed tone that suggested he wasn't sure if everyone in the suite might have to be arrested or not?

Terin shrugged and said, "This is just our normal gear." leaving out the fact this was actually very little of Mikah and Zimzod's normal gear.  Realizing he should "completely explain" the situation, Terin began, "This is the..." as he reached for the barrel of Munarshu's auto-pistol.  As soon as Terin's fingers took hold of the pistol, the Corporal interrupted him demanding, "DROP IT!" without caring for anything Terin had to say while reaching for a weapon in any fashion.  Agreeing as he released the pistol and raised both his hands in the air, Terin continued, "This is the weapon that he used."  His tone pretended given them that information excused any measure of his stupidity in reaching for the weapon.

When the Corporal asked Terin how he knew that, Terin said, "Because I found the weapon cleared and with its magazine removed and laying on the bed.  It didn't take a scientist to figure out."  This happened while Fesic warned the other armed people in the living room that their crewmate Aiden was still in his bedroom and pointed to Aiden's door.  When the butler prompted Fesic, "And?" the gunner said, "Well, he doesn't know what's going on and..."  One of the fireteam members suggested, "So, maybe you should tell him what's going on." in a 'Duh, you should have considered that yourself' tone.  Nodding, Fesic said, "Yes.  Let me do that.  I just wanted to make sure you didn't burst in before I did that."

They watched while Fesic activated his comms and said, "The situation is in hand, there are law enforcement people here, so, Aiden, don't attack, and come out.  Unarmed."  The only answer he got was Aiden's voice as he bit off the word, "Shit!"  After a pause, Aiden growled, "What happened?"  Fesic, told him, "Munarshu shot his alarm clock and missed."  Despite the situation and because of the absurdity of it, Fesic had to fight back his own laughter before continuing, "and hit Emkir, through the wall, with a large caliber weapon.  Aiden's voice sounded almost apoplectic as he demanded, "What the fuck do you mean he shot his alarm clock and missed?"  Fesic started to say he couldn't explain it and Terin interrupted him because he was also on comms.  Terin tried to clarify, "He attempted to shoot his clock and he missed." in a tone of complete disgust.

In the suite's living room, they could hear Aiden shouting "Who the fuck shoots an alarm clock?  Why was he shooting?"  That said Aiden had at least removed the helmet of his combat armor.  Fesic could only answer, "He's fucked up." and Terin said, "That's Munarshu..."  Aiden cut him off with, "Every fucking planet!"  Not willing to be stopped, Terin said again, "That's Munarshu.  He's even more paranoid than you are."  Aiden snapped back, "Fuck off!"  After that, Aiden said he wanted the law enforcement folks to know he was in combat armor but he was putting down his weapons and coming out.  He didn't want to be shot by mistake.  Fesic told everyone in the living room about Aiden.

A second later, Aiden's door opened and the pilot came out with hands open and raised, in his combat armor but without his helmet.  Aiden called out, "Don't shoot" as he came into the common space and members of the fireteam quickly moved up and checked him to confirm he was unarmed.  This happened while Terin convinced the man holding a gun on him to return to Munarshu's room to look for any blades or other weapons.  Just to be sure.  The rest of the group waited, under the guard of those with weapons until the rest of the authorities arrived to start asking questions.  Something that'd be much more fun with Munarshu out cold.

In Emkir and Aali's room, Mikah's hand scanner had told her everything she needed about the bullet and bone fragments.  That was gonna be fun for the ER surgeons wherever they were moving Emkir.  With everything scoped out, Mikah started with a good dose of local before cutting to get access to the damaged artery.  There, she applied a pressure stent to stop the bleeding and then some quikHeal gel to promote cell regrowth.  It didn't hurt that the quikHeal gel both sterilized on application and created an air-tight seal on the wound site.  Mikah was even able to deliver plasma with oxy-enzymes, to make sure she didn't have to remove the tourniquet before the quikHeal sealed.  Past that, she could really only continue with stabilization and clean-up until Emkir was moved to a hospital.

The Aftermath

     After the initial sweeps, investigation and entertaining interludes in the living room, everyone awake except Mikah and Aali had been told to sit at the dining room table and wait for a debrief.  Fesic was very annoyed at that, because he'd wanted to go back to sleep.  The sergeant had also moved someone over to stand over Munarshu and keep watch, in case the engineer suddenly stopped breathing or something.  While sitting, Terin did his best to describe the injuries Munarshu'd had before he'd hit him.

The team leader wasn't pleased and thanked Terin with a "Fucking wonderful!"  He then reported that up the line.  Everyone knew additional reaction couldn't be far off.  Still concerned, Terin made sure the man knew that damage had been from before he'd hit the engineer.  Stopping to glare at Terin, the man barked, "Even better!  Outstanding!", in a tone that was nearly as sarcastic as it was loud.  After the grunt, the sergeant turned his back on them and began pumping all the information he had up-line to those still coming in.  With his report done, he told them medical support was a minute out before moving to the door to tell Mikah the same.

After the sergeant walked away, Fesic looked across the table and asked, "So.  What's for breakfast Rol?"  Despite their situation, or perhaps because of how bizarre it was, everyone at the table broke out in laughter.  That laughter died down then Terin honestly asked, "Is it bad of me to feel good about punching Munarshu in the chest?" and everyone said it wasn't.  Rol reminded Terin he'd only been the person who got there first, because he'd also wanted to.  They chatted until the follow-on forces and those managing the situation arrived.  With medical responders arriving, Emkir and Munarshu were both given what treatment was needed before transport moved them to medical facilities.  Mikah and Aali went along, with Aali ending up in a waiting room while Mikah was permitted to scrub in on Emkir's continuing surgery.

In another treatment room, the doctors assigned Munarshu's case were looking at the situation grimly because the man's rib cage was even more compromised than suggested by the medical records the man's Captain had handed over.  It was hard for them to accept those had literally been from two days before!  Of course, it also bothered them that the treatment was being handled with a law enforcement representative in the room at all times!  They knew "why" a guard had been placed, but their patient wasn't going anywhere, based on the protective and supportive cage they'd felt necessary to set up to keep the man from moving.

Even minor movement while he was unconscious mattered, and they absolutely wanted to be sure he didn't move even a millimeter when he woke.  They'd delayed that even more by injecting sedatives to keep him asleep while they worked.  They knew he'd been told he'd have permanent damage from his previous injuries, and were certain this new trauma would lead to even more exacerbated and permanent damage.  Even more importantly, they hadn't even taken additional surgery off the table after they were sure what they did or didn't have to work with.

Back in the suite, the armed first responders had withdrawn and left the rest of the crew, short Zimzod who was off in training, in the hands of the Atora Police Department.  Some of the crew were surprised the Regina Seneschalate hadn't stepped in, which didn't last long.  It took longer than expected but a Seneschalate Attachè finally arrived with his own small security team.  With that late arrival, the local police brass and Seneschalate Attachè wanted to sit with the crew, go over the event to understand everything.  Especially troubling were the questions surrounding all the military grade weapons in the suite, despite repeated official restrictions.

Getting the jump on everyone else, after the authorities had verbally "set the table" and laid out the broad nature of questioning, Fesic announced he thought Munarshu was suicidal.  Every member of the crew either thought Fesic was playing a practical joke or went bug-eyed in shocked surprise.  The others simply waited for Fesic to explain his remark.  Fesic said he felt Munarshu had been trying to shoot himself rather than the alarm clock, but said he thought Munarshu had "missed".  The police translated "missed" as "lost his nerve" and considered it may have been a case of 'attempted suicide by law enforcement'.  If that was true, the Admiral had been an unfortunate but accidental collateral victim.  They certainly knew there'd been no way for Munarshu to have aimed at Emkir.

The conversation, while serious, did have its moments.  One of those, while talking about Fesic's theory, was to ask if Fesic felt it possible "his crewmate" might have put the pistol to his head and mistakenly fired the round through the empty channel between his own ears?  A brief silence that followed the comment, where the crew couldn't believe they'd heard something so acerbically accurate about Munarshu from the Seneschalate Attachè, was followed by roaring laughter.  Still, the record would reflect that the investigators disagreed Munarshu had tried to kill himself.  When they turned to Rol, he didn't want to put that kind of language and intent on a recorded statement.  So, he restricted himself to a concise recitation of what he experienced.  Including Munarshu's confession and the engineer's self-incriminating statements.

During Rol's description of events, they stopped him to ask questions from time to time, to increase the detail or confirm accuracy.  They followed Rol's initial statement by asking Terin for his?  That was followed up by Aiden's statement, which was unique since he'd chosen to fortify and shelter in place.  That meant he had nothing to add to the investigation but the fact he'd made himself entirely useless during the crisis.  That was an issue between himself and his crew.  Rol and Terin's statements seriously expanded what Fesic had said, which was limited to Munarshu's "suicidal" tendency.  That made the investigators wonder why Fesic hadn't been more forthcoming to start?  And what he might be trying to hide behind the hair-brained suicide theory?

Still, the investigators had the lay of the land and separated each of the crew to question individually.  During those interviews, they hit Fesic harder and pushed him longer than the others, because he'd not been up front from the start.  His "suicidal theory" had been so completely off the wall that it appeared to be an intentional distraction.  Still, by the time they were done, they only wanted Fesic to tell them why he'd not been entirely forthright from the start?  His data, after they had the complete story from him, and he'd re-verified it several times, matched the others completely.  Fesic could only say he figured he'd be questioned and give the rest of the story anyway, and was waiting for that to start.  Not impressed, he was told that he should just be entirely honest, up front and complete should he find himself in a similar situation in the future.

The questioning went up to lunch for most, and to just past lunch for Fesic.  Finally, the Seneschalate Attachè asked who the ranking person in the suite was at the moment?  Because Mikah had gone to the hospital with Emkir and Zimzod "away", Rol said he was the most senior at the moment.  Nodding, the Attachè asked about the military grade weapons in the suite and reminded them all the crew had been specifically requested not to bring such weapons into the city.  His mood was grim.  When Rol agreed that was true, the Attachè next pointed out that the 'shooting incident' under investigation had specifically been carried out with a combat grade hand weapon.  They all listened while everyone in the room felt the temperature drop.

Those in the suite feared the Seneschalate would take "all" their weapons, but the Attachè said they were only taking Munarshu's guns.  One member of his team give them a receipt and already had the weapons in a locked case.  Still, they started to relax until the Attachè said the Seneschalate would act on their remaining military-grade armory, and they could certainly face a censure for their actions.  He also officially requested the crew return the military-grade weapons to their ship at their earliest convenience.  This made it clear, they were being offered a chance to save themselves before the boom came down on them.

Rol accepted that offer and was told the receipt they gave him would have to be held until Rol, or their Captain, could give it to Sir Munarshu.  When he had it, he could deal with the Atora Police himself regarding the weapons.  The man's tone didn't suggest Munarshu could look forward to anything positive.  In fact, when the Attachè continued, he outright said he didn't expect that Munarshu would get the gear back.  Rol and the others also knew that was likely a warning to them too.  With that, the officials took Munarshu's weapons and ammunition and left those in the suite to recover.

Mikah had been woken too damn early.  Leaving the operating room to clean up after Emkir's surgery, she and the senior surgeon went to talk to Aali.  Mikah had been allowed to scrub in because of both her medical credentials and her rank and position, including the fact she was the victim's Captain and regular doctor.  She hadn't been allowed to take the lead in the operation, despite the man who had being certain of her skills in the case.  Still, they went to the recovery room just a few minutes before Emkir himself would be rolled in.  When they reached Aali, the news was good.  Emkir's upper left arm bone had been broken, but they were able to recover and re-build the shattered pieces and secure them.

That was done with a micro-netting which moved all the bone fragments into place so healing could "recycle" them.  Regenerative treatments would spark recovery and regrowth.  On top of that, his upper arm muscles had been torn up both by the bullet penetration and the burst of shattered fragments.  So, Emkir would be spending two weeks with his arm immobilized, and the rest of the month with it in a sling and pressure cuff while the treatments did their work.  That meant weeks in a sling to start with and likely a month before he was healed enough for physical therapy.  After he'd healed, there would be scanner-visible signs of the wound but the only sign he might have in the future were possible twinges when air pressure changed.

Aali nodded, and was happy, even though she well knew Emkir would experience pressure changes as much as any spacer.  That meant Emkir might not appreciate how lucky he'd been after he'd put some distance between himself and death.  "Only" having to deal with the constant twinges would become a constant reminder that would get tiresome.  Aali murmured, "Just a little something to remind Emkir of Munarshu" while not realizing just how prophetic her words would be.  She was told they would move him to a room after recovery and they'd likely hold him a few days before releasing Emkir into Mikah's care.  From then, he'd have to be careful of the arm and do his PT until he fully recovered.

A Start To Most Solutions

     During the activity and investigation, Rol was told his lawyers and the Jesediperei delegation had been made aware of the incident.  Since the last meetings scheduled had been canceled thanks to Munarshu waving a gun and Fesic shooting someone at a party, he was told the Jesediperei had been quite upset.  Not only that, but they'd attempted to lodge even further charges that the entire Hotel California crew were a hazard where ever they went.  A charge which the Seneschalate were not pleased to bet they'd have to combat in the rumor mill all too soon.  They'd still been able to head off a Jesediperei demand Rol be immediately arrested as a murderer and war criminal.

Comedically, the Seneschalate also had a request that Sir Rol's name be removed from the rolls as a witness in the case against Sir Jeremy.  The basis of that request had been that Sir Rol's word could obviously not be trusted given his actions and those of his crew.  Shrugging to himself, Rol only thought, 'that's what I have lawyers for'.  Rol's lawyers had sent him a brief message covering both requests and assuring Rol they would sink like lead in Regina's legal sea.  The position of the Seneschalate was that Sir Rol's involvement in the situations was limited to resolution and de-escalation.  So, they were not concerned beyond what would come out next from the rumor mill.  And that concerned everyone.

Before leaving, the fireteam talked with the butler and then approached Terin.  Looking Terin up and down, the man gave every impression he was about to arrest the navigator before he suddenly came out with, "Nice Fuckin' Punch!"  The man then offered Terin a high five, which Terin had to push through his surprise to return.  Thanks to the medical testing before they'd moved Munarshu, they knew the punch had actually caused even more damage.  So, the team leader asked if Terin had come from a heavy world?  While Terin's appearance didn't look it, he could have been from a world with high gravities.  And those folks were built differently, tending to be more dense and muscular.  And, they tended to hit much harder than the average.

Terin accepted the accolades to a point, but admitted Munarshu had already been injured and he'd only gotten lucky.  Still, Terin got an 'acceptable use of tactics' nod from more than one of the fireteam members while they packed up.  The good news was they knew he could get lucky, so the bad news was he was now a 'shoot if engaged' target in their books.  After the law enforcement and Seneschalate pulled out, the crew were left to their own interests.  Aiden just sparked up the news and watched it muttering under his breath while waiting for the next crisis to be spawned in the suite or delivered by the news.  Terin considered that there hadn't been word from the hospital, so he figured Emkir was still in surgery.

Still, the night before, Terin had planned, with Mikah and the happy couple, to visit the Tattdyrel Museum.  Terin decided to go anyway, and asked if anyone else wanted to come with him?  Rol asked, "You're kidding, right?" and Aiden muttered something about Terin making himself even more of a target.  Looking at the pilot, Terin snapped, "Shut up", making it clear he thought the comment was assinine.  Fesic said he wanted to get some more sleep, which was very much what he still needed after his "hunting trip".  Leaving the suite, Terin told them he was taking the smaller of the grav cars because he figured they'd need cargo space if they were bringing Emkir home.  And, even more so if they were bringing Munarshu's coffin back too.  Fesic called out, "Don't do anything Munarshu would do." with a smile while Terin left.

Just before Terin left, he asked Aiden if he was going to the scout base and Aiden cursed because he'd forgotten that in the excitement.  So, Aiden called the base and began the process of explaining events and working to re-set his appointment.  Terin eventually paid Cr 5 to park and another 5 to get into the museum.  While Terin spent the entire afternoon enjoying "some" of the work, Aiden succeeded in setting his appointment for the next day.  When it came near dinner time, Terin checked the prices at the in-museum restaurant and saw they'd served an average dinner for Cr 20.  So, Terin stayed for dinner and then continued viewing the collections into the evening afterwards.

In the suite, Rol decided to just "be available" in case someone needed a point of contact.  He did get asked, by his lawyers, if his crewmate needed legal representation and Rol considered before saying he'd have to go through his Captain to confirm that or not.  When they said the ship would likely not be covering the costs, Rol agreed and said they should contact Munarshu after he was awake, and work with him to see if he accepted them?  Rol was told the meeting they'd had was rescheduled for two days from then, on the morning of Thursday the 157th.  During the afternoon, Mikah had also called the suite to update everyone.

When Rol picked up the call, Mikah had opened with "He Lived!" and Rol asked, "You're talking about the crewmember we care about.  Right?" and Mikah nearly lost it.  She then went over the details everyone should know and made it clear she wasn't checking in on "the other one".  She said he was being cared for by the hospital staff.  Rol brought up the lawyers and Mikah only wanted to make it clear the ship wasn't paying!  Rol agreed but joked about getting them to "throw the trial" and sink Munarshu.  That got a laugh from Mikah.  Fesic, who was awake by that time, told Rol to tell Mikah to visit Munarshu with a pillow, and got laughs.

When Terin eventually called, Rol passed that news on.  Fesic had taken a nap and then watched vids and relaxed after he woke.  By that time, Aiden had gone into his room and buried himself in a book.  Later, Mikah returned to the suite to relax and recover from her morning.  Mikah played annoyed when she found out Terin had gone to the museum without her, but it was mostly a joke to goad Terin with.  After she settled in and figured she'd go to the museum tomorrow, she told the others in the suite about Emkir's wounds and his expected recovery time.

Emkir woke to that foggy, hazy awareness that he'd been on some kind of major high and his first thought was, 'What the fuck?'  That was because he normally remembered the road into his benders and understood his high.  This time, he had no clue.  The fog began to clear and Emkir saw Aali sitting and watching him intently.  For a time he couldn't measure, that was his entire world while he wondered just how damn good those drugs had been?  Then he realized he was in a bed, not "their bed"...  And she was sitting in a chair as she watched him.  Figuring it was time to figure things out, Emkir asked, "Hi gorgeous.  What's going on?" and it came out more slurred than he'd expected.  Even though he didn't really know why he expected it to be slurred?

Aali went for the 'tear the band-aid off quickly' route and said, "Munarshu shot you.  Through the fucking wall."  Her tone was angry despite the happiness of having Emkir awake and not mentally affected by events.  When Emkir asked, "What?" in a surprised tone, Aali said, "He was aiming for his alarm clock."  That was the straw that broke Emkir's control and he started to laugh, then reacted when his shaking body rocked the arm and twinged his wound.  With that, he suddenly protested, "Don't make me laugh!  It hurts!"  At the same time, Emkir felt a weight on his left side and looked over to see his left chest and arm secured against movement.  And his left arm was in bandages and pressure cuffs.

Some of the bandages were red-tinged, suggesting the bleeding wasn't over yet.  And there were tubes and wires in and around the upper arm.  Seeing Emkir notice that, she said, "That's where you got shot.  Be glad the bone stopped it because he shot you with a fifty caliber."  Emkir could only lay there and say, "Oh my god!" in surprise at the news.  Emkir tried to put together the fact Munarshu had tried to shoot an alarm clock with a fifty caliber!  Finally, he got over the incredulity of it all and Aali walked Emkir through the events.  Hearing that, Emkir could only say, "Thank god for the drugs!"  Aali then told him how Terin slugged Munarshu and he was also in the hospital with thoracic complications.  After covering what Aali knew about events, they chatted about Emkir's treatment and recovery until it was time for Aali to go.

Dropping The Other Shoe On The Bug

     When Munarshu finally started coming around, he worked his way up through the fog to learn he'd been pinned down to the bed by a medical apparatus.  In fact, the device secured him in a way which not only held him down but so limited his attempts to move that he couldn't pull on his rib cage.  It didn't take Munarshu long to work out that it used small electric charges to deaden certain nerve impulses, keeping him from trying to move some muscle groups in order to enforce that level of "Lie Still" order.  From there, it wasn't a long flight to "This Is Not Good!"  To make matters worse, alone in his hospital room, Munarshu felt a moderate amount of pain.  The first thought was that there had to be a lot of drugs running through him.

The next thought was a realization that he wasn't alone when he looked up and saw a man.  He was sitting against the wall watching from a hospital chair set there, not far from the edge of the door.  The man was dressed all in black and had a black brief case.  The man sat patiently, watching while Munarshu came around to the universe he was sitting in.  Before he could do more with those facts, Munarshu realized he was in a private room, though he was less surprised he wasn't handcuffed to the bed-frame because his entire upper torso was secured to it.  And the bed he was secured to was modern enough it could deal with all his excretion needs automatically, so they didn't expect him to move any time soon.  Almost at the same time Munarshu asked, "Excuse me sir?" a nurse walked into the room and said, "One moment" to the man as she crossed the room and started checking the various systems hooked up to the engineer.

The nurse then introduced herself to Munarshu and said she was the "on-shift nurse" for his ward.  She followed that with the basic explanations of how the staff there would help with Munarshu's treatment.  Before he could ask any questions about his condition, the nurse said she'd let the doctor know he was awake so the doctor could discuss his condition with Munarshu.  Doing the math since he could only remember things had gone wrong very early that morning, Munarshu knew it wouldn't likely be "the" doctor who had first worked his case but the on-shift for them too.  Now he'd learn if it was a paid and higher level doctor or if he'd been left to twist in the wind with the current intern?

Then, the nurse left and the man in black stepped up and introduced himself and his law firm to Munarshu.  The engineer remembered the firm's name and realized they were the same ones who were hired to represent Rol, so he thought he might be getting some support.  After the introductions, the man showed he was the 'dive right in' sort and said, "I understand you are to be charged with 'Attempted Murder', 'Felony Assault with a deadly weapon', 'Reckless endangerment of Sophont life', 'Illegal possession of military-grade weapons', 'Unlawful use of fire arms within Atora city' and a number of other lesser indictments."  Before he continued, Munarshu could only think to himself the man had a hell of an opening line!

Seeing he had Munarshu's attention, the man continued, "We are just here to let you know we stand ready to represent you if you so choose?"  Munarshu noted the man said 'represent' but didn't say 'defend'.  Not that he expected a defense because he vaguely remembered telling everyone he'd fired the shot before the lights went out.  Munarshu was just a bit fuzzy on how that last part had come about?  When the man admitted representing Munarshu would be an "interesting path" Munarshu simply said, "Keep me out of life in prison or execution and that would be good.  Because I did pull the trigger.  I don't know why?"  The lawyer nodded as options had instantly been removed from the table before he could act to prevent it.

While Munarshu didn't realize it, the good news was that the lawyer didn't simply leave now that he could be accused of knowing the truth if he argued Munarshu didn't fire the shot.  Still, it might be that a technicality existed which could be argued for leniency.  What Munarshu understood was that he needed the lawyer so he agreed to pay the Cr 10,000 retainer fee so the man could get his people moving on the charges.  With that, Munarshu was given a comms unit pre-programed only to call law enforcement or departments of the law firm.  While that happened, Munarshu's doctor arrived and he could tell how much support he was getting based on the level of care he'd been given.

The doctor was the hospital's staff attending, so nothing better than "the basic" care.  More than anything else, so far, that told Munarshu he was on his own.  The lawyer said his people would work with his doctor to see how soon it would be practical to take a full deposition.  Munarshu accepted that and the lawyer left.  The doctor then introduced himself and started explaining to Munarshu his condition.  He said they planned to hold him for two more days for treatment.  The doctor admitted they were still looking at his rib cage, and were still not sure if more surgery might be needed?

Grimly, the doctor admitted Munarshu wouldn't recover completely, even to the extent he had before he'd received these latest injuries.  And after he was released, he'd have to wear a 'hips to neck' appliance which would force him to allow continued healing to recover that much.  They discussed Munarshu's injuries and various possible therapies that could be tried under the legal restrictions.  After that, the doctor administered an injection and Munarshu faded back off to sleep.

Late in the evening, the suite's comms buzzed and the butler answered, telling Mikah the law firm handling Rol's involvement in the Sir Jeremy case had asked to speak with her.  Confused, Mikah answered the call, letting the caller introduce himself and tell her he had been retained to defend her crewman, Sir Munarshu Sidigur.  Mikah listened and the lawyer said he had to ask her certain questions regarding her intentions.  Not sure what he meant, Mikah told the lawyer she planned to leave the ship's position up to Admiral Meshrumiikiim, who Munarshu had shot, and his wife.  Nodding, the man explained to Mikah the options, which were to allow Munarshu to be tried by the local courts or petition the courts to release Munarshu to the ship's "Captain's Privilege".

The lawyer said that if she chose to let him be tried by the local courts it would take a year to eighteen months.  In that time, he said, she and the ship could move on but Munarshu would be held for that time.  That would likely make it impossible for him to continue as a crewman on her ship.  A release to "Captain's Privilege", he admitted, wasn't very likely because the crime had been committed 'off the ship', and under the jurisdiction of the city authorities.  He did say the chances for that were low, but might improve with sponsorship from the local or high nobility.  Hearing that, Mikah fought to keep the smile from her face while admitting the crew were still trying to absorb what had happened.

After Mikah said her piece, the lawyer told her he would keep her updated on his actions while she was in the system.  And he did tell her he was planning to file the initial paperwork the next day, to begin Munarshu's defense.  Mikah said she would update him after Emkir and Aali made decisions about their desires.  The man thanked Mikah and they ended the call.  Mikah also said that she and Aali hadn't been deposed yet, and the lawyer said some others of her crew had, by law enforcement.  He told Mikah she should expect them to be deposed in the next few days. 

Returning to the suite after the museum, Terin decided to stop and shop for a specific toy.  He wanted a spring-loaded play gun which ejected and unfurled a small flag reading "BANG!" when the trigger is pulled.  Not aware of how things were shaping up, he figured that was gonna be the only gun Munarshu would be allowed to carry ever again, so he wanted a "high quality" piece.  During Terin's search, he came across toy guns which fired "gel spots" that "stuck" to the target.  The gel rounds each contained a micro-holographic projector which projected a 3D wound and blood spot on the person it stuck to.  The toys were advertised for younger kids who wanted to run about playing "army man".  Each "weapon" was sold one to a box with a supply of gel rounds.

Each box was sold for Cr 25, so Terin backed off from initially wanting to buy eight of them.  Also, instructions on the box, and presumably inside, said the gel rounds were reusable but died after a bit.  So, they explained how to by replacement gel rounds.  Terin eventually bought four of the toys and figured he'd thank Munarshu for paying for them, after he was back from the hospital.  After that stop, Terin made several more, looking for the toy he originally wanted, but couldn't find.  Finally, he returned to the suite and figured he'd search the market networks for one the next morning.  In the hospital, Aali pushed to be allowed to stay overnight with Emkir despite the doctor's preference to have her leave, to "maintain sterility of the room".  After a short conference, she was allowed to stay and made comfortable.

Coming To Grips

     Thanks to the excitement of the day before, Aali drifted off to sleep earlier than expected in the small cot they'd moved into Emkir's room the night before.  It was the sound of yet another nurse arriving to take blood and check Emkir's monitors that woke her.  Aali first checked on Emkir after the nurse was done.  Then she took care of her own needs before sitting back and waiting for Emkir to wake up.  In the suite, Fesic and Aiden woke at nearly the same time.  After they'd finished their morning routines, Fesic settled down in the living room to watch the news.  Still expecting to spend two weeks recovering, Fesic planned to relax.  Especially after the day before.

When Aiden stepped into the living room, he heard the vid sounds and saw Fesic was watching the news.  And he was just in time to see coverage of "the shooting".  Shaking his head, Aiden muttered, "Every freaking planet."  While Aiden settled into a seat, the story reporter said it had been confirmed by the local authorities that Sir Munarshu Sidigur had been arrested for the crime.  Both the men listened as the story played out, and then transitioned into the damaging rumors which had sprung up around the event.  Unfortunately for the crew and Seneschalate, the worst part of the event was Munarshu's continued claim he had no idea why he'd fired the round?  That left a great deal of space for people to spread their lies.

Both men were least pleased because the reports wouldn't only help certain rumors grow, but would still be followed by armies of reporters.  And Aiden knew how he just loved reporters!  While they watched the news, the butler made sure there were snacks prepared and laid out for them.  A short time later, in his hospital room, Munarshu woke and looked about himself.  Considering his situation, Munarshu wasn't very pleased.  After a brief bit of time considering, Munarshu said 'screw it' and went back to sleep.  Mikah was next to wake and eventually came to the living room to see the two men and the laid-out snacks.  Mikah's thoughts were interrupted when the butler asked if she preferred a re-heated or warmed drink, or a cold caff?

Mikah asked for a cold drink and Aiden, having heard, turned to ask, "Didn't we hire a chef?"  The butler reminded him the chef and his people would show up later, since it was still somewhat early in the morning.  The butler prepared the drink while Mikah called over to the hospital to check on Emkir.  After Mikah was connected to the right person, she learned the prognosis was very good.  As expected, it would take a month for Emkir to fully heal but things were coming along nicely even in the early hours.  She was told they'd have to keep the cuff and stabilizer on Emkir's arm for the full month, even after he was released from the hospital.  She was also reminded Emkir would have to stay on light duty for the next month, to be sure of a full heal.

Done with the call, Mikah said she was going to the building's gym to work out and then take a swim.  Aiden decided that was a good idea and asked if Mikah minded him joining her?  After jokingly saying, "Eww!" and mock recoiling, Mikah said she had no issues with that.  So, Aiden went to get his workout and swim gear.  While Aiden got his things and Mikah waited, Rol joked about her having to be careful now Aiden had a "hard and buff" eighteen year old body.  Rol laughed at that and Mikah snorted an "as if"!  The chef and his team arrived just after Mikah and Aiden left, but the two figured there would be left-overs.  Breakfast was served by the time Rol's alarm clock went off.

Rol had breakfast and then did some calisthenics.  He planned to do stent-work after that, and then see if anyone in the crew had planned anything interesting?  Still, Rol went to the building's gym to work out, and saw Aiden and Mikah were already in the pool.  Aiden and Mikah finished off their swims and returned to the suite to shower and dress by the time Terin woke up.  After her shower, Mikah got dressed and ready to go to the hospital.  Aiden settled in to do some stent-work.  Without cleaning up, Terin just put on a shipsuit and stepped into the dining room for leftovers as Mikah went to grab their small grav car from the building's near-landing ring, to go to the hospital.

Terin chatted with Fesic while he ate, and commiserated over Fesic's condition.  When Terin offered some herbal help in relaxing and recovering, Fesic said, "Don't trouble yourself." in as polite a tone as he could.  In his head, Fesic was running through the other things he could say before he had to get downright rude.  Pushing a bit, Terin said he had a number of things that could help, to which Fesic admitted, "I'm sure you do." in a discouraging tone.  At the same time, in his hospital room, Munarshu had only his vid screen to watch when he wasn't trying to relate to his various nurses.  But their friendliness was limited due to of his status as a legal prisoner and the many new rumors about him.

When Munarshu asked if he could have his data goggles delivered, he was told he'd have to call his ship and ask to have someone bring them.  When Munarshu asked if they could get a message to his crew to bring them, they reminded him they were not a messenger service.  Pushed back by that, they said he could leave a message at the nurse's station for any of his crew that visit, and it should get delivered eventually.  Munarshu thanked the nurse and, when Mikah came later to check on Emkir, she got Munarshu's message.  Detouring into Munarshu's room, Mikah told him he was in enough trouble as it was.  She wasn't letting him get on any networks and get in any other trouble.  She did finish by saying, "Sorry" and showed him how to get to the games on his screen.  Mikah then told Munarshu his fate was in Emkir and Aali's hands.

Before Mikah left Munarshu's room they talked briefly about Emkir and Mikah said the Admiral would live, and was in the same hospital.  That soothed Munarshu's mind a bit.  When Mikah left, Munarshu went to sleep.  After Aali had been told where she could clean herself up, she'd gone and returned to be told Emkir had woken briefly and gone back to sleep.  Aali sat and waited until Emkir woke again, and this time he asked her how long he'd been there?  Aali told Emkir what happened after his memory failed and after he'd lost consciousness.  After that, they talked until Mikah arrived.  When she got there, Mikah first said she wanted to check on Emkir's condition and spent some time doing that.

Talking afterwards, Mikah told the couple they had the right to decide on how she proceeded legally.  She told them about the two options and made it clear fighting for Captain's privilege wasn't a guarantee, even if that was the way they wanted to go.  Mikah also said they had time to think about it, though she didn't know how long she had before her options were closed down.  Emkir and Aali knew that if they did keep him aboard, there were all sorts of things that could happen.  Including Emkir shooting Munarshu sometime in the dark out there.  Looking Mikah square in the face, he told her she was well aware of how he felt about their crew.

Mikah nodded and Emkir continued, saying, "You know I think we have two cowards on our crew.  One is Aiden and the other is Munarshu.  And I have no love for either of them."  Looking Mikah in the eye, he went on, "Technically, we would probably be a better functioning crew if we didn't have either one of them."  After a pause, Emkir said, "That's the technical view.  But socially, I've been a miscreant most of my life and had a lot of slack cut for me.  And I've woken up with amazing pounding hangovers, though I've never tried to shoot an alarm clock. 

That said, Emkir also worried he was in a bad situation to decide at the moment.  Having just been shot by Munarshu, he worried it would prejudice his opinion.  So, he asked Mikah, "Do you feel he's gonna be a risk to the rest of our lives if we get into a tough situation?"  Mikah answered plainly, saying, "Well, he's not gonna be able to have guns anymore, or own guns or touch guns or do anything with guns ever again.  Or any other weapon."  She then qualified that, saying, "He's gonna be a liability in combat.  So, all he's gonna be is ship support."  Emkir felt that meant Munarshu would become nothing but carried dead weight.

After a few minutes consideration, Mikah decided to open the conversation to everyone in the crew.  Knowing she couldn't bring Zimzod in, and not wanting to bring Munarshu in, Mikah called everyone else and got a conference call going.  With everyone on the call, Mikah explained the situation and Emkir said he felt he'd been put in a tough place to decide Munarshu's fate himself.  When he was asked, Terin said, "Well, he made a couple of stupid mistakes.  I don't feel that...  If we go on a mission and we need him on a mission, that he can't go and he can't carry a gun.  I mean, he knows how to shoot.  He does some stupid stuff, when not in combat.  But, any time he's been in combat he's been competent."

Aali agreed Munarshu had been a competent engineer too.  Terin then summed up his feelings, saying, "If he's gonna be nothing but a ship's grease monkey, then he's useless to the crew because we need someone who can pick up a gun and get into combat if we need that to happen."  In a leery tone, Mikah asked, "Are you gonna watch him if we bring him into combat?"  Emkir suddenly agreed that keeping Munarshu might take out two people, considering his minder.  Shaking his head, Terin reminded Mikah he'd said he thought Munarshu was competent in combat, so he didn't need a minder.  Again, Terin said, "Yes, he's done stupid stuff.  But, when he's been on a mission, he's toed the line and carried his part of whatever that mission is.  So far. But if you're gonna relegate him to just a grease monkey, you might as well boot him off the ship."

Mikah turned to Rol, who bluntly said, "He's a loose gun.  Personally, I wouldn't have him on my crew."  After a pause, Rol continued, "On the other hand, if he doesn't have a gun.  Ever.  And he will never have a gun, then it comes down to how valuable he is to the ship?"  Throwing it back to Mikah, he finished by saying, "That's your decision."  After another pause, Rol said, "My opinion?  I'd get him off the ship as soon as possible unless he was valuable to the ship somehow."  Knowing exactly what Aiden would say, Mikah turned to him and wasn't surprised.  Munarshu had shot Rol and now Emkir, and Aiden wasn't interested in letting the engineer 'collect the whole set'.  So, Aiden had no reservations and wanted Munarshu gone.

Fesic spoke up, at that point and said, "In Munarshu's defense, he did take a shot in the chest in the incident where we had an assassin come through the wall in a grav vehicle.  And he was the one who took the assassin down."  Having said that, Fesic then said, "In his prosecution, the man is just a fuck up.  But, you already know that.  So, I have nothing else to say."  When everyone turned to Aali, she said she pretty much agreed with what Fesic had said.  She said, "One or two times, he's saved things, and a few of the times he fucked things up, he did so entertainingly."  She did then firm up and say, "This last time was not one of those."

Emkir admitted he was hearing a lot of what he'd been thinking.  Emkir also said, "The guy who came on the ship with his pet guns, that all had names, that he was so lovingly stroking, should have had a better relationship with those guns.  Nodding, Mikah asked, "When push comes to shove, who would trust being in front of Munarshu in a fire fight?"  Aiden snorted and said he didn't want to be in front of any of them in a fire fight, especially Emkir!  Terin agreed with that, pointing out that the only person he'd heard had shot a crew member in a fire fight was Emkir.  Terin then admitted he'd not been with the crew and only heard of the incident.

When Aiden griped about not only being shot but also not having Emkir pay to replace his cloth armor, Mikah snapped, "Aiden.  Go to your room!" and got laughs from everyone on the comms.  Terin jumped in, saying, "I would trust Munarshu in a fire fight.  He's brave and he'll stand there and shoot things out."  Aali thoughtfully said, "So", and then followed that up asking, "He'll always be on point?"  Terin wasn't ready to go that far and said, "I'd rather have someone on point I have confidence in."  Sadly, that comment certainly undercut his earlier positive comments.  Terin still pushed, "He's no coward.  No one can claim he's a coward.  He's got the heart of a lion, but he's got the fuckin' brains of a dinosaur."

Terin said he felt bad for Munarshu because he didn't mean to shoot Emkir, and felt the situation was just a complete fuck up.  Terin also admitted Munarshu was a fuck up who makes bad choices before he also admitted he didn't know if they could change that?  Then said that was the Captain's role to determine and drive.  Fesic piped in, saying, "Bad decisions like pulling a gun at a party, or losing his Ident."  Coming back to the 'can we teach him' point, Mikah asked how old Munarshu was?  When she was reminded he was 38 years old, Fesic sparked up, saying you can't teach someone that old not to fuck up.  Then, Terin admitted it would be up to Mikah to decide if it would be worth it?

Standing on her decision to put Munarshu's fate into Emkir and Aali's hands, Mikah asked, "Emkir?"  Before Emkir could answer, Rol asked how the secrets Munarshu could know affected things?  Mikah pointed out the Seneschalate already knew the state secrets he would have learned while aboard.  Then, Terin brought up the crew's own secrets, and started sinking into his own paranoid delusion the crew had something to hide that no one knew.  Mikah allowed Terin to go on until his arguments got circular, and then stopped him.  It was pointed out Terin had not even come close to suggesting a secret they had which was dangerous in the hands of the Seneschalate.  So the question was handed to Aali and Emkir again.

Aali admitted she'd rather have Mikah punish Munarshu if that could happen.  Of course, that was opposed by the odds of Mikah winning the fight for Captain's privilege?  A pause followed that, into which Fesic said, "Why don't we just vote?"  Emkir said he'd prefer a crew vote to making the choice himself.  When a vote was called, Aali, Mikah, Rol and Terin all voted to keep Munarshu on the ship because they thought it was safer than handing him over to the Seneschalate.  With Zimzod off in training and Munarshu not voting, that was four of the remaining seven.  So, it was a majority, and the others accepted the vote was over, even if Aiden was passionately unhappy about it.

When Emkir asked what Fesic thought anyway, the gunner was blunt.  "I think we should get rid of him."  And Aiden heartily agreed with that.  On top of that, Mikah reminded them all they would have to fight the courts for control of Munarshu.  She also said the courts could just say "No!" and have the force of law in Atora city or on a Regina global scale backing them up.  She also said that starting that fight could bring the Seneschal himself down on them to demand to know why?  Mikah also suggested they call the Seneschal and bring him into the conversation, even if she knew it wouldn't make him happy.

There was a pause while they considered calling Mr. Dilgaadin, and Mikah started to organize her thoughts out loud.  She said, "What happens if he stays in the crew?"  Aiden very quickly followed that up with "Part of the crew, part of the ship." and Mikah immediately and angrily snapped, "Shut Up Aiden!  I thought I told you to go to your room?"  Terin reminded Mikah she kept calling him into the conversation to vote and Mikah didn't care because she'd heard Aiden's useless repetitive comments too many times.  If the man had nothing to add which would help, he should at least try to stop being a broken record.  Adding to that, Fesic muttered, "We already knew how he felt.  We didn't need him to say it."

Shutting that debate down, Mikah sparked up the comms and called the Seneschal.  Getting one of the standard operators and working up through the explanations, Mikah was eventually connected to Mr. Dilgaadin, who answered her call with a look of concern.  When he asked what he could do for Mikah, she stretched her words out while trying to convey the crew's feelings in her explanation.  And, she was suddenly just a bit uncertain how much she wanted to poke the bear?  He listened while Mikah said, "Well, we've been discussing the situation with Munarshu.  And, we took a vote.  And, the vote ended up with the majority saying we should try to fight for captain's privilege, and take care of the problem ourselves."

Mr. Dilgaadin's expression became an unreadable mask when he held up a finger for Mikah to pause.  Having caught him standing, the Seneschal then moved to sit at his desk before responding.  After adjusting the camera on his comms, and flashing a forbearing smile which didn't rise to his pained eyes before his face became a mask again, he asked, "Can I ask why?"  Mikah considered before saying, "Well, he has his issues.  And he's proven he's not really bright.  But he is a very competent engineer, and he has shown that he is quite brave and will fight for the crew.  And the victim, Admiral Meshrumiikiim, feels that this may have been just a crazy thing that just happened, and that goes for the majority of the crew as well.

Accepting her opening statement, Mr. Dilgaadin asked, "You say that you are following the desires of the majority of the crew.  What is your personal feeling on the matter?"  Mikah admitted, "I'm really conflicted.  One part of me says he's gotta go, because...  How do we control something crazy like this?  Dilgaadin nodded and Mikah continued, "We could take his guns away, take his weapons away, keep them in the ship's locker, keep him off the bridge, but, in our line of work, we need people who are competent on the battlefield."  Mikah said that and Mr. Dilgaadin had to wonder why anyone on the crew would even want to retain such a crewman?  But, he let Mikah continue.

Mikah said, "In engineering he's competent.  But socially, not so much.  And, this was just the last thing in a couple of odd things which he's done.  And I'm going with the crew's feelings on this because I'm very conflicted about it."  Considering her words, Mr. Dilgaadin said, "This obviously is a situation where I need a bit more information.  When you said, 'the last thing in a number of odd things he has done', can you enlighten me on that string of odd things?  Mikah paused and then answered, "Well, when we first hired him, he hadn't been on the ship more than a few hours before deciding to go off with his buddies in the scout service to hunt for derelict ships in the Rhylanor system.

After a pause, Mikah continued, "So he basically went AWOL within an hour or two of being hired.  And, we had to pull him back from his little adventure."  Mr. Dilgaadin listened and his face showed he'd found that incident particularly interesting.  Mikah went on, saying, "And then we arrived in orbit in the Equus system, and were told they would do their normal customs boarding.  And Munarshu panicked and removed the cover of a vent to try and crawl into it to hide."  When Mr. Dilgaadin asked, "To hide?" to be sure he'd heard her right, Mikah confirmed, "To hide.  This is a man who had no record against him in that system, even after spending a whole year there.  So, that was a little odd."  Mr. Dilgaadin nodded and added, "To say the least."

Mikah then said, "And then, we allowed him to go down to the planet with another crewmember, and he made some very bad decisions that got him rolled."  Stopping to think through Munarshu's history with the crew, she remembered and said, "Oh, and he shot Rol, drunken Rol, with a tranq round."  At that, Mr. Dilgaadin raised an eyebrow and asked, "Explain?"  Mikah explained that Munarshu had been grounded for going AWOL in Rhylanor when the crew had a party, and everyone had gotten a bit drunk.  She then explained that Rol had ended up in a berth stateroom and was returning to the ship-proper the next morning, when Munarshu decided he was an intruder and shot him.

Hearing that, Mr. Dilgaadin raised a finger before checking through a number of files on his screen, which they couldn't see.  Finding what he wanted and checking through it, he asked Mikah, "This wouldn't be the same incident which led to Dame Martinusdtr Vik to separate herself from the crew, would it?"  Mikah unhappily admitted, "Yeah.  That was that night."  Mikah then added, "And, on a constant basis, he absolutely refuses to sleep past 5 am, every morning.  No matter what.  Even when the crew had just been in battle and everyone was dead tired.  Even he is dead tired, but he got up at 5 am."  Mr. Dilgaadin pointed out that could be considered another example of bad decision making and Mikah agreed.

Dilgaadin considered that and Mikah said that Munarshu had even sat in the dark on occasion, waiting for anyone else to wake up.  Nodding, he waited until it was clear Mikah was done, and had to wonder what other items she hadn't mentioned?  Dilgaadin then confirmed, "And you would like to request captain's prerogative to punish him?"  When Mikah said she did, he asked, "Again.  Why?"  Beginning her answer even as she had to figure it out herself, Mikah drew out the word "Well".  Then, she continued, "the part of me that thinks that he's brave wants to give him another chance.  And, maybe, hopefully, we can rehabilitate the mental problems that he's having, through either behavioral modification or even drugs."

Off the comms, they heard Terin snicker, "Electro-shock therapy!" with obvious gusto.  That told Mr. Dilgaadin Mikah's crew seemed to have a good will to try and re-orient Sir Munarshu's personal issues.  When Mikah framed it as "trying to save a soul", Mr. Dilgaadin quipped, "Rather than just buying a new shoe." playing on the pun, Mun-Nar-shoe.  Nodding, Mr. Dilgaadin then asked Mikah what she felt the odds were that she could rehabilitate Munarshu?  Mikah admitted that, with the support of the rest of the crew, the odds were likely fifty-fifty and Dilgaadin nodded.  Dilgaadin then asked what Mikah thought the odds were that Munarshu might cause another incident which could cause even more problems for her crew?

Mikah said she didn't think it would be another friendly fire incident because they would have positive control of the weapons going forward.  When she stressed that Munarshu would have no access to any weapons, Mr. Dilgaadin said, "I should hope not."  Mikah pointed out Munarshu hadn't been allowed to be armed aboard the ship since he'd shot Rol.  Dilgaadin told Mikah he'd heard from his own people that they'd hoped she would have the same rules for other members of her crew, but that was just their opinion.  Mikah quietly accepted that and visibly shrugged it off saying, "Be that as it may."

Getting down to it, Mikah admitted that the part of her that thought the shooting was just a really stupid mistake didn't want to see Munarshu spending the rest of his life languishing in prison.  Again, in the background, they heard Terin quip, "All three days of it."  Accepting that, Dilgaadin said, "OK.  Let me put it to you from this point of view.  The crime happened on Regina soil.  In the capital city.  In quarters nominally assigned to Sir Zimzod as his fief.  But it was owned by the Duchess and managed by the Seneschalate.  And, this incident has already caused a small strain because it's Seneschalate property."

Dilgaadin paused to let that sink in a bit, then continued, "And the media would like a lot more information on the incident than we're willing to give.  Luckily, the laws of Regina allow us to give them a minimal amount of information and no more, so we're not really pushed to do anything about it.  Admittedly, if this case goes to court, slightly more information will be released, but we feel we can control that and it won't be a problem.  But, if you fight for Captain's Privilege for someone who has openly, before the media, taken a shot at another member of your crew...  Dilgaadin again allowed a pause for them to consider.

He then continued, "We're looking at how this is affecting the rumors surrounding your crew to begin with.  It won't really help our case if we allow you Captain's Privilege, and we allow an admitted attempted murderer to walk away from the law under the recognizance of his Captain.  Especially when that Captain is rumored, at least, to be trying to destroy the Duchy...  Again, Dilgaadin let that one sink in before he said that he, personally, would prefer to let justice take its course rather than see Mikah fight for something she was not likely to get anyway.  Especially when it would prevent the new stresses the attempt would cause.

Mr. Dilgaadin also said that if Mikah did fight for the privilege, the decision wouldn't be up to him.  He reminded them this would be up to the courts of Regina.  That would mean they would have to remain in the Regina system to argue their case, paying the legal fees, court costs, dealing with the public and media as well as the rumors.  And he pointed out they still had no guarantee, after the weeks or months of legal fighting, the odds were very low that they would win.  So, he had to ask again, "Why?"  And Mikah had to admit she was reconsidering the situation.  And so was Emkir.

The rest of the crew were more concerned they wouldn't be making money the longer they sat there in port.  And, they knew the Duchy wasn't going to be paying their bills if they picked a fight over this.  Like he'd been doing all throughout the conversation, Terin pushed in again to remind Emkir this was his decision.  Finally, when attention turned to Emkir, he said, "We cannot fight an organization that we've supported with our lives.  We have supported the Duchess with our lives.  We have supported the Arch Duke with our lives.  We took a lot of risks for all of those noble people.  We, as a crew, are willing to risk the same to help the Duchess and the Arch Duke."

Continuing, with everyone's attention on him, Emkir said, "I feel it would be too politically horrible.  We're not going to fight the people we support."  After a pause, Emkir admitted, "It feels like a custody battle for a badly behaving child."  Thanking the Admiral, Mr. Dilgaadin turned to Mikah and asked, "Well Captain?"  and Mikah made her decisions, saying, "We will turn him over to you."  Hearing that, Mr. Dilgaadin sat back with a sigh of relief and a very satisfied smile before saying, "Thank you."  Then he asked, "Are we done here?" and Emkir said, "Yes.  Thank you for helping us reach a decision."  Dilgaadin nodded and said, "Thank you for your service to the Duchy." and the call ended.

Where everyone is at the end of the session:

   Zimzod: In Tolerance training on a Regina Intelligence base
   Rol, Aiden, Terin and Fesic: In the suite
   Mikah, Emkir and Aali: At the hospital in Emkir's private room
   Munarshu: At the hospital in his private room

Munarshu's Leftover Gear:

        2 clips Ball (20 rnds ea), 6 clips HE (20 rnds ea), 2 clips
        Discarding Sabot (20 rnds ea)
        160 rnds Ball Ammo, 80 rnds HE Ammo, 160 rnds DS Ammo,
        5 empty clips (30 rnds ea)
        1 Box( 100 rnds Ball), 1 Box( 100 rnds HE), 1 Box( 100 rnds Discarding Sabot)
     Gauss Shotgun Pistol(Uses shotgun ammo)
        NO NEW AMMO (See Shotgun Below)
     .50 cal Auto-Pistol
        8 clips unloaded (15 rnds ea)
        Boxes: 1 Box (100 rnds Ball)
        Shoulder holster x2
     Snub Rifle
        2 clips Ball( 20 rnds), 2 clips HE (20 rnds), 6 clips HEAP (20 rnds)
        Loose: 160 rnds Ball, 160 rnds HE, 80 rnds HEAP, 200 rnds Tranq
        1 Box Ball(100 rnds ), 1 Box HE(100 rnds), 1 Box HEAP(100 rnds),
        1 Box Tranq(100 rnds)
     Snub Pistol Ammo:
        2 clips Ball(20 rnds ea), 3 clips HE (20 rnds ea), 3 clips
            HEAP(20 rnds ea)
        Loose: 200 rnds Ball, 140 rnds HE, 140 rnds HEAP, 120 rnds Tranq
        Boxes: 1 Box Ball(100 rnds ), 1 Box HE(100 rnds), 1 Box
            HEAP(100 rnds), 1 Box Tranq(96 rnds)
     UAC-21 4mm x 5in Gauss Rifle: titanium shell coated by a sapphire coat
            with a 100-rnd, over-wpn, helical-fed Mag
        5 Clips(100 rnds ea) Teflon-coated Tungsten flechette in a plastic sabot
            with steel rings, 5 Clips(100 rnds ea) Mild steel flechettes
        1 Box(100 rnds Tungsten DS ), 1 Box(100 rnds Mild Steel DS )
     UAC PDW-1120 4mm x 3in Gauss Pistol: titanium shell coated by a sapphire coated
            w/over-weapon, 40 rnd, helical-fed mag
        5 Clips(200 rnds ea) Teflon-coated Tungsten flechette in a plastic sabot w/steel
            rings, 5 Clips(200 rnds ea) Mild steel flechettes
        Boxes: 1 Box - 100 rnds Tungsten DS, 1 Box- 100 rnds Mild Steel DS
     UAC Shotgun: blacked titanium shell coated by a sapphire coat, Single-barreled, anti-
            recoil with two ammo feeds holding 7 rounds ea
             The ammo feed allows "auto-alternating" or "selected feed"
        500 3.5 inch, 4 gauge steel ball rounds, 10 3.5 inch, Taser rounds
        490 rnds 2.5 to 3 inch 4-guage shells, 10 HEDP rnds(HEAT and HEAP), 10 3 inch,
        Taser rounds
     Grenades: 25 Concussion w/10 Anti-Personnel jackets
     Blade: Craftsman hand-made carbon steel alloy blade w/very fine-edged blade(flex
        and edge-hardness enhanced by gravitics compressed-metals tech)

     Sealed Combat Armor w/HUD (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     5 sets Executive Armor (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Ballistic Bodysuit (Cloth +1)(5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)

Support Gear:
     LSP Ammunition Loader: Loads magazines for the ACR, Snub Rifle and Snub Pistol
     Custom Ammunition Loader: Loads magazines for the Auto-Pistol
     UAC Ammunition Loader: Loads magazines for the UAC-21 and PDW-1120
     Web Gear: One Set - OD Green

Space Operations:
     General Purpose Vacc Suit w/PLSS[4 UHP 48 hrs(recycle)]
        (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     4 Oxygen Tanks(UHP)
     Hard Bubble Helmet w/HUD
     Magnetic Grips
     Suit Patches Kit(5)
     Thermal-Meteoroid Garment

     Generic civilian: Two week's cloths (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Casual footwear: 1 pair (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Teal Vilani Formal wear: Duke Luis' gift-Lunion (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Day suits: Two teal Vilani formal wear day suits matching the formal wear from
        Duke Luis (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Vilani style suit: "Burnt Umber" w/loose jacket and provision for under-arm
        snub holster[Cr 7,500/Rhylanor] (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Vilani style suit: Civilian w/additional shirt, shoes and basic
        accessories[Cr 1,200/Rhylanor] (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Dress shoes: 1 Pair, black (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     "dated" basic suit and dress footwear (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     4 ballistic cloth Ship Suits: Grey/blue (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Custom rough/natural terrain boots: 1 pair, proof against environmental factors,
        w/ chameleon surface w/10yr warrantee( Cr 400 / Rhylanor )
        (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Hat: Big, floppy camo-hat branded "Hunting World - Regina" in silver thread
     Camo-coveralls branded "Hunting World - Regina" in
        silver thread (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Camo-spats branded "Hunting World - Regina" in silver thread
     2 Class A IISS Uniforms (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     4 Scout Undress Uniforms: Blue piping - 5 terms service )
        (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Two sets uniform footwear (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)
     Scout Belt Buckle: Silver Winged Serpent on an Grey disk coded for Munarshu

     LSP Data Goggles :w/Flash Damping, Targeting Enhancement:Very
        illegal@Law Lvl 5+, Filters bright lights, floats in fluid, connects to local
        entertainment networks if configured for them
     TL D Multi-Channel comms: Continental (5000 km) range, Scramble-capable,
        Belt/Wrist/Armor mount
     Earbud/mouth boom Mic:extended Comms Unit (Video when hand-used only)
     Sonic Probe ("Usually" not illegal)
     Survival Watch: TL-B wrist-comp with a 100-meg database, survival E-book,
        chronometer, radiation counter, magnetic compass, homing beacon(Orbital
        range, fixed freq), voice-activated inertial compass displaying data on
        a tiny, high-res screen, weighs 1/4 pounds)
     Sharurshid datapad (Cr 3,000 )
     Video Communicator: 500 km [NOT part of team comms]
     Set of Commdots (10 Dots w/Multiplexer ) deployed to:
          UAC-21 Gauss Rifle
          UAC Gauss Pistol
          Combat Armor HUD
          Hard Bubble Helmet
          Sharurshid datapad
          Hand Computer
          Headpiece Data-Display/Recorder
          LSP Data Goggles
     Hand Computer
     Headpiece Data-Display/Recorder
     Combination IR/LI Goggles
     Image Converter Binoculars
     PRIS Binoculars - Now owned by the ship per Aali
     Filter Respirator Combination
     Inertial Locator
     Electronic Map (Note: Must load map files in to use)
     Radiation Counter
     Atmosphere Tester
     Emergency Beacon
     Heatsuit and Power Pack (5'3, 140 lbs, Str: 9, Dex: A, End: A)

Tool Kits:
     Mechanical Tool Set - Now owned by the ship
     Metalwork Tool Set - Now owned by the ship
     Electronic Tool Set - Now owned by the ship

General Gear:
     Pocket Tool kit
     Flashlight w/"Hunting World - Regina" name plate
     Rations: 3 days field rations w/"Hunting World - Regina" pkgng
     Canteen1 quart
     Water purifier pills: 1 pack (10 pills) w/"Hunting World - Regina" pkgng
     First aid kit: belt-mountable w/"Hunting World - Regina" name plate and pkgng
     Sleeping bag: branded "Hunting World - Regina" in silver thread
     Camping Cot: branded "Hunting World - Regina" in silver thread
     Backpack: branded "Hunting World - Regina" in silver thread
     Inflatable female sex-doll
     Jar of strawberry-flavored sexual lubricant

Next: Settling In And Taking Count