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Last Updated     August 23 2019
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Deals And Leads

Arrogance At The Gas Giant

Wypoc System      Early in the afternoon, the IMS Upgrade emerged from jump near the gas giant Paliwo.  In the ship's part stores, Jocelynn had discolored the outer carapaces of her battledress and half-covered the pile with parts of a dead android "killed" in the misjump.  But that thin "stalk-like" main chassis "hid" nothing and they were relying more on luck than anything else.  That meant she was more on edge than most of the others as the bridge crew worked out where they were and she worried if they'd see customs or inspection craft?

The work done, they'd come very close to the actual plot point Terin had aimed for in his nav plot.  Announcing that got an acerbic comment from Mikah.  Aiden plotted courses to the nearby bodies and saw they were a day's flight out from the gas giant's orbit.  The world was a small gas giant with a handful of moons.  So they now had to set course and move in to scoop fuel before turning their ship for a six-day run to the system's main world, refining the fuel as they went.  And, the next day would be Terin's birthday!  With the helm answering after jump, Mikah gave the order to make their approach and plot their passes to scoop fuel.

That meant closing with the gas giant on a rough course to skim into the edge of the planet's atmosphere while also tracking other traffic.  While a gas giant, even a small one like Paliwo, was monstrously huge, each pass would cover a large area of space along the edge of its atmosphere.  If everything went correctly, other ships would just have to give the craft making such a pass a clear space.  But, intelligent crews gave them even wider berths 'just in case" something went wrong and the "event area"..."widened".  Potentially disastrously.  So, Mikah stood by while Aiden made his settings with Terin in the co-pilot seat.  Emkir stood by, ready to slip in when Terin's shift was done.  While they waited or worked, the Upgrade was suddenly hailed by an Imperial Navy Lieutenant Commander introducing himself as the commander of the system defense boat squadron assigned to operations around Paliwo.

After Mikah greeted the officer, the man politely requested she broadcast the ship's data, crew information and manifest prior to a possible boarding and inspection.  The Upgrade was a small enough ship that everyone knew what was happening and Jocelynn was Not happy.  Knowing there was nothing else to do, Mikah broadcast the data she had ready because it was standard enough a request most ship computers had an automated routine to cover it.  The waiting after that lasted only twenty minutes before they were granted permission to approach the gas giant.  At the same time, the Commander asked Mikah what their business was in-system?

Mikah told the man they were there both as merchanters and seeking the family of a deceased crew member.  He waived off the search for Brian's family while absently saying, "I'm sorry for your loss but we're just here to protect those refueling."  The Commander then asked if the Upgrade planned simply jumping through the system along their way or were stopping in-system as either was possible.  When Mikah said they were planning to visit Wypoc after refueling, the officer handed her off to his second, who took care of scheduling and non-Naval operational matters.

Speaking to that officer, Mikah was told the Navy had set coordinates for a number of 'skim zones' and were administering hydrogen skimming from the atmosphere.  They had a queue to enter the giant's atmosphere and the Upgrade was 'number three' in line.  They were given a holding orbit at which to wait until they were prioritized for their fueling run.  When Mikah asked for an ETA, she was told it would be a couple of hours and was happy with that.  She was reminded one of the ships ahead of them could suffer a system failure or develop another problem with their run so that was only an estimate.  Still, Mikah was happy enough with his answer.

With Terin still second-seating Aiden, Emkir handled other random tasks on the bridge while Mikah also waited at her station.  Aali worked in engineering while Fesic manned the main gunnery station, keeping only the sensors hot and the rest of the station powered down.  They waited in that configuration for nearly half an hour before Aiden suddenly noticed something on his screens and let out a startled, "What the hell is this?"  His tone was a mixture of anger and surprise covered mostly by confusion.  Not seeing anything on his screens, Fesic started trying to make adjustments on his screens while Terin leaned over to see what Aiden had?

Soon enough, Fesic could see the blip Terin had also started tracking as Aiden tuned in the scanners to trace its vector towards the local traffic pattern.  It seemed to be a single ship moving at a rate of speed "faster than expected" for the region and proximity to the gas giant.  Most disturbing, the projected vector for the vessel suggested the crew intended to pass directly through the Navy's assembled traffic pattern and actually tangent the giant's atmosphere to make a skim run!  And they didn't appear to be slowing down either!

Mikah watched as everyone on the bridge began to frantically take scan shorts and calculate data, to figure out the ship's intention.  While Terin and Aiden confirmed the bogey wouldn't come "too close" to the Upgrade, it would be passing through the traffic pattern, which was close enough to start.  While Aiden and Terin were concerned with the ship's approach speed on tangenting the atmosphere, Fesic had other concerns.  Not certain what the intruder's intentions were, he worried about being engaged while sitting defenseless at null vee.

Acting even as he warned the others on the bridge, Fesic announced he was lighting up the ship's weapons!  Mikah's sharp demand, "What are you doing?" came back to him only as the gunner's station lit up to resemble the demonic holiday setting only weapons of mass destruction could.  Looking back at Mikah with his systems done coming on line, Fesic got ready to start actively tracking the ship.  Fesic told Mikah, "Preparing for battle." in a matter-of-fact tone.  Mikah instantly snapped back, "Why?" with her tone sharp and demanding.  Before he could answer her, Mikah continued, "You do know the Imperial Navy is right out there?  Right?"  As she spoke, Mikah pointed abstractly at a bulkhead indicating the space outside the ship.

As if invoked by her question, the pair could hear the voice of a naval officer hailing the ship as Aiden ack'ed the call and did his best to tap dance until they made a demand or Mikah settled things locally.  When Fesic admitted he was aware of the Navy ships, Mikah further prompted, "So...  Maybe They should be handling this?"  Her tone was a mix of anger, demand and a disbelief that Fesic couldn't do that simple math in his head and come up with the correct actions to take.  Fesic did say he wasn't stopping the Navy from handling the situation.

Before Mikah could respond to that, the officer on with Aiden demanded to speak to Mikah and he began to tell her so.  Mikah cut Aiden off angrily, snapping, "No kidding!"  The event was so comedic most on the bridge couldn't hope to stop the smirks or even giggles the action caused.  Adding herself to the conversation, Mikah instantly commanded, "Yes, I know.  I'm talking him down right now."  Not really sure what that meant, the Naval officer on the SDB end had to control his reaction to being berated by a merchanter crew who dared to light up their guns and sensors in a Naval AO!

Finally schooling his own face and tone, the officer very officiously told her, "Well, thank you very much.  Make sure your ship secures all weapons and stands by.  Take no action or your actions will be responded to."  His tone left it clear that what response they could expect was obvious and could well escalate to a lethal exchange.  Still in the conversation with the naval officer, Mikah turned to glare at Fesic and simply demanded, "Turn it off!"

Adding to the voices passing through everyone's heads, the comms picked up another broadcast coming in the open.  This one, in the cool and measured voice of an Imperial Naval bridge officer at work, called out to the 'unidentified incoming vessel - configuration 'Animal class', Safari Type K.  The orders came out crisp and clear, "Counter your vector and bring your vessel to zero vee and prepare to be boarded for inspection."  The tone of the officer left no doubt of the iron will behind the orders, the active posture of the naval force or the likely outcome if the intruder did not comply.

Intruder ship While that order crossed local space, those watching their screens aboard the Upgrade noticed a ripple of updates as the ship's transponder data began reaching them.  Even as Fesic moved to comply with orders and shut his guns and active systems down the scanner blip was identified as the IMS Umarre Gakha.  The ship read as a 200 dTon Animal class safari yacht which, if not internally modified or upgraded, would match the details of a Type K yacht of that design.

Following the instant after that moment, a firm and strident voice joined the conversation, almost cheerfully saying, "Don't worry about it!  We've got this.  I've got a great pilot aboard and we'll make the run without disturbing any of your organized fueling patterns!"  A sub-data feed identified the speaker as a 'Baron Sir Mukhar Kanudushush'.  Fesic shut down the Upgrade's weapons even as sensor warnings suggested the Navy wanted to "be sure" by locking the Upgrade up on sensors too.  After that, they watched events as the Baron's "great pilot" managed to thread the traffic pattern and dive for Paliwo's atmosphere.

While Mikah was sure the Commander would have ordered his ships to fire if he could find an excuse, the Navy showed amazing restraint watching the safari ship begin making fuel runs.  Still, one did not flaunt the Imperial Navy lightly and they could be sure the ship and Baron would end up paying for their actions sooner or later.  It was just likely the officers couldn't find a legal excuse to open fire on them.  In position to combat pirates or hostile forces, they had not been prepared to blockade the safari ship even after it had refueled.  During the actions, the Baron kept up a continuous 'verbal fencing' with the SDB Commander using the illusion of his noble authority to fend off Naval demands.

Everyone also realized that the Navy would probably solve the situation without shooting after the safari yacht did manage to slow down enough not to crash into the gas giant's atmosphere.  Especially when the refueling pattern they selected didn't interfere with the ships under Naval guidance.  And also when everyone knew "who" the ship was.  Their ID and actions would be communicated to other units until one of them could face down the Baron's bluster with an unavoidable blockade of one sort or another.  "Then", the Baron could be assured of paying fines and other penalties.

In the end, the Naval Commander must have been left fuming when the Baron finished with the offer, "Well, we've finished refueling and we're off to Wypoc.  If you have any further problems with our runs, meet us there and I'll buy you a drink."  So while he couldn't order his command to open fire, the Lieutenant Commander now knew where the Baron was going and there was a Military legate and Imperial governor on Wypoc.  That meant they would see the Baron's sins were paid for.

Staffing In Transit

     Beyond the drama, the actions of the Baron's ship did delay the Upgrade's own refueling run for almost an hour.  After they were given permission to make their runs, Aiden accepted Naval guidance and settled the ship in for the hours of skimming needed to fill the ship's fuel tanks.  That would have to be followed by nearly a full day of refining before the fuel could be used but was largely filling the ship's jump tankage.  They had enough fuel in their normal space systems to continue on to Wypoc.

Still, they'd now been awake at operational stations for over ten hours before having been awake in jump space, so everyone was tired.  Mikah held a short conference with the crew before deciding they would make their burns to continue onto Wypoc.  One person would stay up and handle bridge duty and they'd start standing a three-shift bridge schedule.  Breaking it down to day, alter and night shift, Aiden got the "day shift", so his work day was now officially over.  Terin volunteered to take the alter-day shift and volun-told Emkir he could take the night shift.  Ignoring Terin's "dictates", Emkir did agree to the shift as Fesic said he could work the alter-day shift with Terin.  Mikah said she'd also sit in from time to time on the mainday ship.

As Aiden began getting ready to hand over the ship to Terin and Fesic, Zimzod pointed to them and faked a stern warning to be careful not to run the ship into any garbage cans or anything.  That got laughs as people remembered the events with the police and the rental car on Inthe.  Hearing Zimzod's words, Jocelynn suddenly said, "Oh!" in realization and continued, "Now I know why you two wanted to be on the same shift!" in a tone of amused discovery.  Hearing that, Mikah exclaimed, "Oh!  You're right!" as she pointed first to Jocelynn about her comment and then at Terin and Fesic.

That led to an explosion of laughing at the suggestion of romantic motives and other "secret motivational lusts".  Mikah then announced, "Anybody going to the bridge, knock before you open the hatch!" and got even more laughs.  Emkir even asked, "Who's bringing the two-headed dildo?" in a taunting and comedic tone.  Soon enough, the laughs settled down with Terin and Fesic getting to work as the others secured their stations, cleaned up and went to sleep.

Getting ready to leave the gas giant traffic pattern completely, Mikah called over to the naval ships to offer anything they could provide.  She was thanked for that, but quickly realized the Upgrade had been dealt with as far as they were concerned, and just was a statistic in their operations reports at this point.  Mikah did offer the Upgrade's sensor logs and data regarding the Baron but was told they had that in hand.  Still, she did get their thanks for the offer as the yacht made her burns for Wypoc prime.

The Transit to Wypoc Prime

     The next day, the crew had a small party to celebrate Terin's thirty fifth birthday.  They also decided they'd have a larger party after they made it to the port and had more resources to play with.  While Terin wasn't up for a big deal, any party was a good thing for a crew spending so much time isolated with each other.  During the near-week in transit, Aali also made use of the extra time she now had to get a jump on the system resets she had to get done.  She hoped to get much of the work done before they made port, if not all of it with the help of their androids.  The extra time also let Aali "choose the hours" she actually spent in the engineering compartments.  Using her stent connectivity to manage her hours, Aali could spend more time with Emkir over the week, despite his night shifts on the bridge.  Still, they could only shift hours so much.

Rol suggested a long-running poker game to the crew.  Because he, and most others, were on the "day shift" they decided to have the sessions in the lounge, straddling the switch from day to alter-day crews.  Those on-shift the bridge at the time could pipe alarms to the lounge and even run a few limited flight control panels in the lounge, for operations.  Sadly for Emkir, he could get up early in the late alter-day shift or stay up late into the early day shift but couldn't be awake for the sessions, so he couldn't play.  The best hours for the game were the interface between main day and alter-day shifts.  That fit with when Rol would be awake but Emkir would have to be asleep during those hours, to be awake for his shift.

So, Emkir had to miss out.  Still, Emkir's back was improving as he weened himself slowly off the grav belt when he could.  This made Mikah happy because she found the stock of med-resources in the autodoc's supplies were dwindling.  While the scouts had checked up on the system, they had not topped off the supplies, nor were they medical device experts.  So Mikah knew it was a good idea for them to have it overhauled by experts.  And, she knew she needed to restock the machine's meds as well as her own supply.

Because of that, Mikah cut off Emkir's visits to the system before smiling with an evil grin.  She then told him he'd have to start physical therapy too.  If he pouted when told he couldn't use the autodoc for his back anymore, Emkir was horrified at the torture to come from that process.  Still, Mikah wrote out a schedule and Emkir agreed to follow through.  Beyond this, Emkir meant to do his computer work, check into his translation work and relax while not doing his PT.  Checking in with Jocelynn, Mikah officially bought the now-working grav-shoe from her for Cr 3,000.  That pleased Jocelynn, who was running very low on cash.

Rol planned to use the time, as did others with stents, practicing his stent-work while he and the others did their best to share sessions to improve everyone's skills.  Keeping up his workouts and gear maintenance, Rol offered to let anyone else in the crew join his workouts, despite there being no large area to do this, thanks to the cargo load they had taken aboard.  On top of the other things he planned to do for work or fun, Rol also worried they could hit a customs inspection on arrival in Wypoc port because of Jocelynn's battledress.

Having made it past the gas giant because the SDB's didn't seem interested in them, he, Aali and Mikah had seen what Jocelynn had done during the jump and knew it wouldn't work for a real search.  He did say to Jocelynn, "I like the effort" but she knew that was little more than a nod to make her feel better for the failure.  Mikah delegated the task to Rol as the ship's armorer to find a better way to hide the armor.  Rol's problem was that he could break down the battledress and make it less identifiable, but then it wouldn't be available to be used if needed.  And the more he broke it down, the more time it would take "now" as well as when they did need Jocelynn to use the suit.

In talking about the issue, the idea of forging a certificate for the suit was raised, but that meant finding and hiring someone to do the forgery.  At a point, Terin pointed out they were headed back towards the D'Ganzio system and that government owed the crew a favor.  With new crew aboard not read into all the secrets, no one mentioned the androids at Equus and D'Ganzio.  He did say it wouldn't be hard for the InstellArms overlords of that system to "create" papers for the suit because they also had the legal right to sell battledress.  So, that would be their "easiest" and least expensive answer.

Everyone liked that idea, but Rol pointed out they still needed to get the battledress "To" D'Ganzio or no plan would help.  Mikah's plan to put the suit in a cargo pod would work only if the pod were sealed and their cargo sealer was dead.  So, an honest search left a good chance the suit would be found even if it was one of the best ideas they could carry out with their resources.  Lackluster or bad customs searches should miss it and corrupt searches might be bribed to ignore it.

Rol and Aali were still in favor of parting it down to look like spare parts for Zimzod's battledress.  Especially because he had the spare computer boards for Zimzod's suit which they'd been given in Rhylanor.  The question that again brought up was how long they wanted to have to go without the use of the suit if they needed it?  So, how far down would Rol disassemble the suit and how many hours it would take to reassemble.  To better explain this to the others he gave examples of systems broken down to "reassembly plus 24 hours" or plus 48.

That meant they knew what they had and how soon it could be brought up to ready status with no mistakes.  When asked, Jocelynn said she'd err on using a 48 hour rebuild as the limit.  Rol reminded her that she'd have to go into action in the borrowed vacc suit if something more immediate happened.  Jocelynn shrugged that off and told the others she was entirely comfortable with her combat skills and abilities if that was needed.  That also begged the question how the parts would be stored?

Mikah suggested a cargo pod, but it was pointed out that would look even stranger to any investigators.  It would be less odd to set the parts out in an organized and proper way than simply lock them in a cargo pod.  Especially if the stored parts could appear to have been placed in a space which could be used to work in.  That would be where one would expect to find spare parts, and raise less questions.  The suggestion came from Zimzod that they use the ship's locker.  That space would have all the needed lock-downs and shock drawers needed and would be a secure location, because it opened off the bridge.

Accepting that, it was decided Rol would lead Zimzod and Jocelynn in the task of carefully disassembling the battledress suit and storing the parts.  Rol decided the slow and careful process they'd follow would take up five days of their transit to do the work.  That guaranteed they were not rushed, and had the time to not be careless.  Overhearing the conversation, Terin suggested they take videos of the disassembly to protect against something happening to Rol before they had to rebuild the suit.  It would also let Rol review the process to check for mistakes.

They all knew mistakes made in reassembly would be another hazard introduced into their reaction plans.  That and the fact there were parts like the actual armor surfaces and body molds which could not be broken down at all and would remain obvious.  Considering the delays on the battledress and the "instant" nature of emergencies, Rol also recommended they look for a suit of combat armor for Jocelynn.  Mikah acerbically snapped, "Well, we're not gonna get one here." because Wypoc was not even a system with basic interstellar tech much less the tech needed for that.  If anything was on sale in the Wypoc system, it would be hideously expensive.

Of course, that side-tracked the conversation when it was asked what Wypoc was known for, aside from the insidious nature of the world's atmosphere?  Aiden muttered the obvious, mentioning the Wypoc Dragon.  Something some of the others would have laughed at except it was well enough documented.  Some of them had even seen images of the dragon during the holographic zoo tour on Inthe.  What no one seemed to know was "how" the dragons, and other native lifeforms of Wypoc managed to exist?  Something that, strangely, not even the megacorporations seemed to want to investigate.  If so, they would surely get enough income from the corporations to upgrade their starports or even install a high port.

While working on the issue with Jocelynn's armor, Mikah figured she'd take part in the poker game while also standing some bridge shifts with Aiden.  Given his skills, she would be able to step off the bridge when needed for other things.  Mikah also planned to do a complete top down scan of the medical bay and surgery to make sure nothing else surprised her in the future.  What she would find after the drift was that, like the other "Nobility-facing" fittings of the ship, no expense was spared in the medical tech.  Past the high-end quality, Mikah would find the consumables running low.  She also tagged each of the devices they'd do best to have medical device experts do a "tune up" on.

Telling the others about that during the week, Emkir got so worried he offered to refund the ship the cost of medical supplies for his treatment.  That surprised everyone, because the ship and its supplies was there for them all.  But when he asked if she wanted him and Aali to pay back the cost, Mikah got huge laughs for saying "Yes" with a straight face.  She kept her face so serious that Emkir was, at first, confused about her intentions.  After a pause to draw out the joke, Mikah said she was kidding because she knew the ship would get a lump of flesh or more from all of them in service.

Outside of that, Mikah watched vids, helped with the battledress and "suffered" being stalked by Zimzod to be dragged into one of their staterooms from time to time.  Terin worked on his stent-work while also keeping some work going on what he recalled from his computer classes.  Terin also stepped into the ship's machine shop to print a small 'post and mailbox' toy.  He connected that to a vent cover he selected and labeled it "Munarshu's Home".  That got laughs from everyone except Jocelynn, because she had never met the man.  Terin also worked on ship familiarization too.

Fesic had few of his main pastimes to follow up until the ship could get him to where he could replace his training software.  On top of working at his gunnery job, Fesic decided to get into everyone else's business over the crossing and have fun driving people nuts.  When that came to bothering Rol, the armorer reminded Fesic they had an entertainment library aboard.  And Rol very much suggested Fesic try it out.  Mikah made a bid to get Fesic interested in the "Hiver - K'Kree wars" series.  Despite his interest in horticulture, or because of it, Fesic wasn't interested in those vids at all.  Aiden had his bridge work, stent work and physical therapy.  On top of that, Aiden planned to relax and read but also decided to try sitting in on the poker game when he heard the buy in was only Cr 500.

As a practical joke, Mikah spent some time over the week of travel finding any and all old clunker vids she could that featured plants attacking.  And because she was the captain, Fesic spent a bit of time "trying on" each vid before saying yes or no.  Flipping the coin, Fesic made sure to visit her along with the others, and often pushed his nose into their work.  Actions which had Mikah pulling one of the stun guns from the ship's locker when she was on shift in case she had to teach Fesic a "real" lesson.  Not that she was the only one who was 'border-line' not talking to Fesic at the end of the transit.  Zimzod spent his week on gear maintenance, working on Jocelynn's battledress and relaxing or watching vids.  He also chased Mikah whenever he could and manned the guns when needed.

Early in the week, Jocelynn started talking up dealing with the gear in the ship's locker after she'd spent time in jump working through it all and categorizing everything.  When Zimzod asked her if she wanted to have a crew meeting to talk about the gear, Mikah was all against the meeting until Emkir announced, "I'll bring the scotch."  After that, Mikah and her mug were 'right there and ready' for the booze, if not the meeting.  As crew members started asking questions, Jocelynn told them she had a list, holding up her hand computer when she did.

Going through the gear with Jocelynn playing a cross between curator and auctioneer, the crew looked at each item in the locker.  Mikah took the laser carbine and power pack, which came with a HUD Integration kit.  She planned to talk to Rol about hooking that up but Rol had lots of work for the moment with Jocelynn's Battledress.  Mikah also took the TL B Electronic Binoculars w/LI and range finder, Inertial Locator and one of the Infrared Goggles.  Mikah took Zach's old hand computer and considered Zimzod might like copies of the files on it.

Jocelynn took the Shotgun.  She also took the ammo that came with it because she had no shotgun ammo of her own.  When they saw Munarshu's combat armor, they thought it was perfect to break down and add to the "spare parts" disguise they were creating for Jocelynn's armor.  So, while that would add more work to the parts process, it would make it easier to smuggle the suit.  The problem was that Rol, Jocelynn and Zimzod were already taking five days just to break down her battledress.

To solve that, other members of the crew chimed in with extra skills and hands to get both the combat armor and Battledress broken down before they reached Wypoc orbit.  After her suit was legalized, they'd reassemble and sell off the combat armor when they could.  Rol also suggested Jocelynn could use the thermal-meteoroid garment with the vacc suit she was borrowing until she had armor she could use.  Not that the garment would have any combat value.  Jocelynn also took the Coin Duke Leonard had given Zach commemorating Rol's knighting.

Fesic took one set of the Infrared Goggles and the backpack from "Hunting World - Regina".  The eReader Datachip storage binder was moved to the ship's computer room and the liter of Wild Ride bourbon moved into the galley.  Zimzod took the holographic projector encyclopedia of known and theorized artifacts in the universe Zach had left behind.  The crew agreed they would hand over Sir Brian's Sealed Combat Armor to his family once they found someone to give the suit to.  They also planned to give the family the solar still Brian had made on Jae Tellona.  The Individual Survival kits, they would move into staterooms now that they could move their weapons and ammo to the cargo bay lockers. 

Remaining in the Ship's Locker

     After their review, the following items stayed in the ships locker, for general
        use or disposal later...
Weapons and Ammunition:
     24 Rnds Snub pistol Tranq (loose ammo)
     100 Rnds Snub pistol Ball ammo (in 5 20-round Magazines)
     4 Sonic Stun Pistols with holsters

     1/4 Lb Plastic Explosives and 2 Detonators
     Ship's Breaching Charges x2
     Fesic's Breaching Charge
     25 Concussion Grenades w/10 Anti-Personnel jackets
Space Operations:
     PLSS[4 UHP 48 hrs(recycle)] - Jocelynn using this
     Generic Vacc suit without PLSS for 5'7" person of average build - Jocelynn using this
     TL F PLSS 14B [24 hours]
     5 packages of Suit Patches [5-count 10cm sq]
     5 Magnetic Grips
     Oxygen Tank(TL F) x2 [12 hrs ea]
     4 generic Oxygen Tanks(UHP)
     Grav Belt - Emkir using this
     Vargr Language Program
     Two Vargr Language Translators
     One set of Infrared Goggles
     Eight Filter/Respirator Combo masks
     Eight Protective Face Masks (Cloth masks)
     Atmospheric Tester( TL A, 1104 )
     Emergency Beacon (1kg, long-r commo and transponder, monitors S&R channels and
        warns users help may be close. Sends a distress signal, range 500 km, works for 30 days.
Emergency Supplies:
     TL D Survival Bubble( 2M Diameter, 1104)
     Four Rescue balls
     Emergency crash landing kit
     Tow Ropes/Cables
     1 Crew level Survival gear kit
Tool Kits:
     Electrical tool kit
     Metal working tool kit
     Mechanical tool kit
General Gear:
     Backpack (TL 4, 1104)
     Generic Backpack (TL 7)
     Holding to Market Elsewhere: Nomadic style Robes (Zach -Jae Tellona/Rhylanor)
     Camping Cot: "Hunting World - Regina" branded in silver thread

Put In the Galley (Listed here for convenience)
     1 liter bottle: 'Wild Ride'
        rock gut bourbon supposedly based on an old Terran recipe
        101 proof (Cr 30 per bottle on the Inthe SPA highport )

They also talked about the antique copy of some family's "Code of Ledriasda"...a religious text Brian took from the Quasar Viper.  Everyone was in agreement that it was old so it could be used for a profit if they could find a book collector who didn't know it wasn't worth much.  It certainly hadn't been thought to be valuable on Rhylanor.  The same thoughts were raised about the Crystal paperweight with the bushing inside which Zach had left behind.  Some of the crew decided it was a wide universe and someone in it might be gullible enough to pay large for a "real Ancient artifact".  While others were against using it to cheat someone, Mikah's take was, "Why not?  It happens every day to someone."

The rest, they'd just try to sell locally to raise ship's funds.  They'd have to stop in and ask about selling two handguns, a TL-8 six-shooting snub pistol which was new in 1103 along with four speed loaders and a generic semi-auto snub pistol.  Along with those, there was a cleaning kit.  They could also sell the hard bubble Helmet from Munarshu's vacc suit, which had a HUD installed.  Along with those, they wanted to dump the silver "accessories kit" Zach had left, including a Cuff-links, Collar stays, boutonniere, Tie Tack, Paper Money clip, CredChip Holder, Chronograph, Watch Fob, Men's Belt with silver buckle.

From their spare electronics, they would sell Six Vargr Language Translators, Eight Filter Masks and a nine-year old TL E Ear piece Comm Unit with a 5,000 km range.  They also had a spare 500 km range Video Communicator the locals might want.  They could also hope to get good cash for the spare hand computer they had.  Since the locals were also understandably hyper about making sure there were no leaks anywhere, they figured they could also off-load the TL 7 atmospheric tester and radiation counter too.

After all the decisions had been made, Aiden shocked the others by announcing he could risk a Cr 500 buy in to Rol's game and would try it.  With all in, the big pot was Cr 3,500, though no one figured they'd get it all.  The idea was the game might shift one way or the other but it would roll through the week and the payout would come while they wrapped up and got ready to enter Wypoc-prime orbit.  During the week, Rol, Terin and Fesic had very big hands but each led to 'also big' brick walls.

During the gaming, Jocelynn also gave Zimzod Cr 1,000 from the money for the grav-shoe, toward her debt.  At first, Zimzod was pleased but confused before Jocelynn explained.  Then, with a look on his face, he shrugged and complained, "You're treating me like I don't trust you."  In a tone that said that wasn't the case, Jocelynn said, "No.  I owe you a debt.  And I told you I'd pay that debt whenever I got money.  Nodding with a smile, Zimzod said, "OK.  Why don't you...  Ah, have a beer and chill."  Of course, he took the cash.

By the time Wypoc prime grew in their vis-light sensors, Aali was very pleased with the time spent getting her post-jump work done.  The break down work on the suits of armor had been done and Emkir's work with sorting and organizing left them with a map to what was what which would let them rebuild everything again.  The poker game ended with the winners and losers as follows:
Player:         Total          Minus Buy in
   Rol             Cr 90        -410
   Jocelynn    Cr 310      -190
   Terin          Cr 360      -140
   Aiden         Cr 440      -60
   Fesic          Cr 580      +80
   Zimzod       Cr 740     +240
   Mikah         Cr 980     +480

Arriving At Wypoc Prime

     Finally, the light smudge the crew were heading towards grew into a dot and then into a giant ball in space.  Closing on the world's outer precincts, they started getting communications which were less and less remote.  They finally made their orbital approach during the bridge day shift, so Aiden was at the controls and Mikah at her station.  That meant Mikah answered when the authorities started calling.

Thanks to the pauses and gaps due to light-speed comms delays, Mikah's request for orbital entry and landing permission were worked out at a leisurely pace.  Mikah was also able to get in a word toward looking for Sir Brian's family, which also served as a smooth and near-sneaky method for introducing herself as an arriving noblewomen.  The first answers gave them the frequencies for orbital satellites that gave them the needed approach and arrival flight data.  Closer contact let the port tell Mikah there was a data packet waiting for her once the ship landed.  And that was the turn of the screw.

Just having the ship's data, the Wypoc officers didn't know if Mikah wanted her ship to land, and so they used the data packet as a hook trying to "make" her land.  Sadly for them, this wasn't Mikah's first frontier landing.  After a brief exchange, Mikah got the code to unlock the packet via comms and read the data.  Thanks to requests to look into Sir Brian's family from both the Countess and Duke Vilis, the Wypoc government were able to give them a few new details.
   Per their records, Sir Brian's mother had died a year before the request arrived.
   Sir Brian's father was still alive, as were two siblings and one spouse, plus four grand kids
   One of the Siblings was scheduled to go out-system on an off-world contract
   Records said he "might" have left Wypoc, or delayed that to join the family on what might be a big prospecting score.
   Regrettably, that was fifteen days ago and just after the family signed out a recovery vehicle for prospecting

With a status fifteen days old, they asked for details about the brother who was supposed to go out-system.  They were told he'd been scheduled to buy passage to the Denotam system for his contract.  While they had no records of him leaving the world, that may have happened outside the port's notice.  The crew were reminded the port was 'Class E', which meant minimal services at all.  About the same time he might have left the world, the family filed a 'Resource Discovery' prospecting plan, rented a recovery vehicle and struck out in search of a big strike hunting chemical deposits.  And that was five days before the requests for information on them started to arrive.

Along with the data packet came requests from the port and city officials asking why Lady Mikah and her crew were interested in the family?  Outside of them being the family of a fallen crew mate.  The news certainly complicated settling the selling of Brian's books.  If they couldn't find the family, there "might be" an heir off-world.  But they'd never know until they traveled to Denotam to check there.  And if he hadn't traveled there, they'd be stuck with returning to Wypoc or writing the books off.  Shrugging, Mikah decided they'd get the family's last known address on Wypoc and check that for any family left behind before choosing a next step.

Still, before they could do that they had to put boots on Wypoc first.  Mikah thought of that while reading the post script from the port.  That hoped she and the crew were happy with their efforts and would be remembered to Her ladyship's patrons.  Mikah laughed at that until she remembered that the Arch Duke "could be" considered one of her patrons.  With Norris back-filling a front line clearly led by Countess Athkazuk and Duke Vilis, Mikah realized many might assume she had much more power than she actually did.  And that could lead to a lot of demands, or a steep fall when she failed to live up to the assumptions of others.

Getting closer to planetary orbit, Terin tried to call down to the port and start making contacts to sell their cargo.  What he found disappointed him, but wouldn't have surprised a seasoned merchant.  The port was small and barely staffed.  Dealing with the megafrieghters, very likely kept them happy with payoffs for expedited "handling and transport", so the port staff were stretched thin.  That meant the staff didn't have the people to do things like set up a 'Trader's market' structure they could use to connect incoming ships with planet-side merchants or markets.

When he next tried to get any contact data to connect with any businesses, he was no more than a strange voice on a comms with no credentials.  So, they were happy to tell him to land, meet with them and see what happened.  Soon enough, the ship was called on to stand by for boarding and inspection.  Some of the crew were unable to stop their laughs as Jocelynn heard this piped to all quarters and let out a loudly hissed "Shit!"  They knew she was young and would learn if she survived long enough.  Turning to Aiden as she looked for the source of any inspection, he focused the scanners on a cloud of small craft in the world's orbital space.  Those turned out to be a small fleet of cutters, seeming to be thirty ton craft which could be armed.

Beyond the cutters, there were no orbital services and only what looked like a handful of emergency orbital "shelters".  Those appeared to be flimsy, but enough of a refuge to hold survivors until a cutter could reach them.  Scanners also located a small number of satellites owned by either Imperial services or Wypoc.  Aiden worked the sensors while they closed in, and finally spotted, intercepted and docked with a cutter.  He collected as much data on the locals and system as he could while he worked.  Clear of the cutters, the orbital plane also had its share of megatraders, large cargo carriers bringing in the contracted loads of foodstuffs, consumables and trade goods the population needed to survive.

Mikah met the customs team at the air-lock, and found the whole team looked like locals.  She didn't know what that meant for their skills, but decided it showed Wypoc wasn't "worth that much" to the Imperial Navy.  Leaving the lock, the team were interested in the crew's Idents, the ship's papers and performance data, their cargo manifest and lading data.  To Jocelynn's ultimate relief, they could care less about anything else.  The team made a cursory tour of the ship and very obviously had with them some kind of high-tech sniffer.  While the device did cause a pause at the entry to Terin's stateroom, they passed that and found nothing else they looked for.  They also looked at nothing that would have worried the crew.

After that, the crew got approval to enter low orbit and request landing permission.  On top of the landing permissions and port requirements, the crew also had to look into getting the ship under cover after landing.  That was because the port itself owned some warehouses, which were most likely of questionable quality and in less than full repair.  Any other "cover" or hanger bays would be large spaces with bay doors into which the ship might fit.  Annoyingly, if these existed, they'd be under private ownership.  Aali had spent quite some time working to figure out what would happen if they left the ship out in Wypoc's version of 'the elements'?  She felt the hull could take two days without some damage, maybe three.

Aali'd had a decent amount of time, before they arrived, to consider the damage the acid atmosphere would cause.  She'd worked out exposure schedules to figure when the atmosphere might damage seals.  Then hull-mounted systems and devices.  Following that, hull fittings and the hull itself.  Aali also considered the damage to the Probe's hull if they took it down, to save the ship any exposure.  Her calculations suggested the chameleon skin of the cutter might get seriously damaged depending on how long they had to leave it exposed?  And it would take a day to a day and a half of hard working to make transfer runs if they wanted to open their cargo bay to space and zero-g transfer the cargo to the cutter bit by bit.  They'd also need crew to handle zero-g operations.  And they'd have to bring port officials up to the ship to supervise defrosting the passengers.

A Visit Down-Well

     Mikah eventually decided they'd take the cutter down and get the lay of the land, as it were.  Along with her, she took Terin and Rol.  With Terin in the pilot's seat, they made their way down to a landing and stepped out to board the rickety ground transport which came to bring them into the port "offices".  The first order of business was to charge the crew Cr 100 for the cutter's landing fee.  When Mikah asked about a bay to move their ship into, they were given the comms link data for several people who might have space.  Mikah was happy about that until they suggested she was unlikely to actually find space.

When she asked why, she got a number of status answers for most of the bays, which meant they were full or under repairs.  Then she was told the last bay available seemed to have recently been hired out by a ship belonging to some off-world Baron who arrived hoping to hunt a Wypoc Dragon.  So, his Safari-Class ship had taken that last bay.  Hearing that, Mikah half asked, half demanded, "A Baron?" while remembering the events near the gas giant.  At the same time, Terin muttered, "With a Safari ship."

Nodding, and uncertain what was going on with this noblewoman after having dealt with the recently arrived Baron.  He didn't tell her the Baron had been more than a bit of a blowhard because he worried this Lady was about to blow her cork too.  Still, he answered, telling her it had been a Baron Sir Mukhar Kanudushush.  When Mikah's tone suddenly turned inquiring and friendly they didn't expect her to ask, "Is there a bounty out for him?"  Confused, the port worker answered, "No.  Why would there be a bounty out for him?"  Mikah then gave them a thumbnail description of the events near the gas giant and the port man said the navy had already covered that.  The Baron had, apparently, paid what the man described as a 'huge fine'.

Done with that, Mikah sent Terin off to see if he could find cover for the cutter while she dove into finding out about defrosting their meatsicles and unloading their cargo, not to mention selling it.  They did that while Rol wandered a bit and did his best to get the lay of the land.  Wypoc "port" was more or less a "come in from the chemicals" open bay which had been converted with alcove and small-room office and operations spaces.  A blast barrier was present on the assumption that "something" could blow in the exterior bulkheads if things got nasty.  The space was full of workers and those trying to get through one way or the other.  Beyond that, the bay fed out onto what he found out was referred to as 'Spacer Row'.

That was a single open passage. with kiosks down the middle and along certain stretches of side walls between display windows and the doors of multiple shops.  There was anything from packaged food stores carrying what Rol felt was less than appealing quality foods to local electronics and other goods.  An obvious pawn shop didn't seem to have much to lure in his crew if he went by what they put out for visible display.  And the denizens of the space had seen the hope beat out of them if the lackluster glances and wary appraisals he was getting were any indication.  So they were there to sell if he wanted to spend the time to look for anything he might buy...much less find something that fit.  Wypoc was no luxury port indeed.

When Mikah was done with the port, she commed Terin who was having no luck finding cover for the cutter or the ship.  The port wasn't prepared to have someone ride up to orbit and supervise defrosting the low berthers until the next day, so that meant staying the night or returning to the ship and coming back down the next day to get an official.  Because the cutter would have to sit out in the acids if they stayed overnight, Mikah sent a recall for Terin and Rol and planned to come back down the next morning for a port officer to deal with the passengers.

While he'd been out looking for space for the cutter or the ship, he'd had no luck.  A few people showed interest but no one had space as Mikah sent her recall.  Just as he was leaving, one of the locals asked what they had as cargo?  When Terin said they had thirty tons of luxury foods, he finally got a sign of life.  Picking at his teeth, one of the locals said, "We could use that."  Nodding and working to keep the "Duh!" out of his tone, Terin said, "That's why we brought it here."  Nodding, the man continued, "Normally, when we move cargo like that, we do it under cover.  But I got some fancy-pants guy has his ship in my space."  Terin could tell by the man's tone he was not happy with his current customer.

After Terin nodded and said he'd heard about that ship, the man asked, "So, if we could get your ship under cover, you could give us a break on your cargo?  Terin turned to ask what kind of break the man was talking about as he considered options.  When the conversation moved into negotiations, Terin got Mikah and Fesic on the comms so things could be done properly.  When Mikah was told the man wanted a cut in price for putting the ship in some kind of parkbay she wanted to know what kind of cut the guy had in mind?  The man told them he wanted ten percent cut off the top, whatever that total cost turned out to be.

Mikah said they hadn't yet figured out what the sales price would be and the man waived that off.  Whatever it was, if they wanted him to shelter their ship, they'd accept or have to stay out in the acid.  During the back and forth, Mikah and Terin were reluctant to agree to a discount when they hadn't even set a sales price.  Another thing the man muttered about was having to tell some Baron he was ordering the man's ship back out into the acid to accommodate their ship if they cut the deal.  Not willing to believe he'd go that far, Mikah disbelievingly challenged, "Oh yeah?  You gonna do that?"

Shrugging, the man said, "Yeah.  If the cargo's worth it."  Figuring she'd call his bluff, Mikah agreed to his offer to see what would happen?  Surprising Mikah, the guy grabbed his coms as soon as she agreed and started telling someone on the other end to get Baron Kanudushush's pilot on the horn and tell them an emergency situation had come up and they had to move their ship out to the port tarmac.  And while the guy on the other end could have just been a friend faking it, the conversation sounded real.  It also sounded like the guy on the other end was looking forward to calling the ship's pilot too.  Terin snarked about getting even for his actions at the gas giant, and Mikah and the others realized 'His Baron-ness' hadn't made many friends on-world either.

Suddenly much happier with her deal, for reasons that had nothing to do with money, Mikah called the ship and told them she'd hired a bay to keep the ship under cover and they should start landing operations.  She also told Terin to head out and move the cutter into the bay once the Baron's crew got out of their spot.  While she gave her orders, the man on the comms shifted from giving orders to happily ignoring the fact that someone on the other end was shouting and cursing at him.

Of course, it all seemed like water off his back and Mikah had to wonder just how much worse the man and his friends could make things for the Baron?  It was, after all, their neighborhood and they had all the connections.  Especially for a tourist bringing nothing but money to the table.  With her crew working on her orders, Mikah got that "extra sense of satisfaction" when she could hear a voice in the background of the comms that sounded like the Baron himself.  And to her pleasure, the Baron didn't sound happy.

Hoping to get in on the whupping herself, Mikah asked the man, "Are you having a problem with this Baron?" but the man just shrugged with a smile that suggested he owned the world.  In a calm tone that even sounded a bit pleased, the man said, "No.  Not at all."  His look almost asked why she was asking?  When she noticed there might actually be a glint in the man's eyes, Mikah understood and said, "Oh!  You're enjoying this.  OK." and backed off to listen as the man continued his "conversation".  The hits kept coming as Mikah listened to the bay owner recite from memory a section of the Baron's contract citing chapter and verse where it said the needs of the system override any contract and do not require a refund.

As much fun as Mikah was having listening to the "discussion", she knew full well this man could just as easily turn on them too.  But Mikah wasn't too concerned because she didn't plan to stay on-world that long.  Mikah then updated the port that she'd hired a bay so the ship was landing and they could meet her and the crew at the bay in the morning to handle the passengers.  As expected, the port charged the ship a new landing fee because the first had been for the cutter.  Mikah paid the Cr 200 because it could have been a lot more.  And in a more active system, it would have been.

Making A Sale

     After an hour's wait, the Probe and Upgrade were in the bay being hosed down and the Baron's ship was out on the tarmac melting.  The port also charged them Cr 300 for anti-acids and other cleansers.  Aali's estimate was that the ship had to stay under cover or, in 2 to 3 days, could suffer seal and other damage.  She still needed to do some investigative work on the Probe, after the acids and corrosives were completely cleaned off, to see if any damage had been done.  While some groused, it was better to get both vessels cleaned off than to let pooling acids sit and eat.  While that work was underway, Mikah told her "merchant types" to get to work because that was what they were getting paid for.

The bay owner, a Mr. Lau Nilaka, had a beaming smile while walking over to friends he'd called in.  Having been there to direct where the ship ended up let him call in his friends "first".  And, try to funnel where the cargo went.  Some other merchant contacts would show up late and out of breath, but the damage had been done.  He could also tell whoever bought the cargo they owed him ten percent off the top if he wanted.  Or, hand them a 'ten percent off' coupon and leave them owing him the favor unasked for.  Either way, the deal Mikah agreed to gave him more local power than it gave him any money.

Speaking of money, the crew had bought the thirty tons of luxury food for Cr 3,400 a ton.  And while Emkir's repeated characterizations of the food as 'Klingon Kale' might hurt the sale price (because no one pays extra for kale), they "wanted" Cr 5,000 per ton.  Terin figured they should start with their ask at Cr 7,000.  Mikah countered that and told Fesic to start at Cr 6,000.  Sadly, while Fesic had little experience and started laying his positions out just like it said in the book, the Wypoc merchants had played this game before.  After the first set of talks, the merchants offered Cr 4,000 per ton.

Politely but firmly saying that wouldn't do, Fesic made it clear his ship couldn't sell the cargo for that little so they started another session of negotiations.  During that session, at least one of the locals was heard to whisper, "These would be real valuable in the city's tech sector" a bit too loudly.  That spilled the beans the locals could make good money from the cargo despite any posturing they might try.  And some of the merchants actually looked back at the man with a frown.

Fesic answered the comment, saying, "They'd also be valuable on D'Ganzio."  Terin looked at the locals and said, "Excuse me" as he pulled Fesic aside.  Before they could move off completely, the locals upped their offer to Cr 4,200 per ton.  Putting Terin on hold, Fesic told them the ship would come down to Cr 5,000.  Waving Terin off, Fesic sat down for more talks and eventually the locals came up to an offer of Cr 4,500.  When Fesic, aware of Mikah's deal with the bay owner, did his best to try and push for another ten percent the locals held firm and said they were happy at Cr 4,500.

Stuck there, Fesic wasn't the only one who knew they were in danger of the deal falling through and the ship being kicked out from under cover.  Asking for and getting a break to talk to his captain, Fesic conferred with Mikah.  her opinion was that Cr 4,500 was a rise of thirty percent so they'd still make a twenty percent profit.  And, they'd keep the ship under cover while they were on the ground in Wypoc.  Nodding because they were in agreement, Fesic went back and agreed to the sale.  After that, the locals told Fesic to call his ship and tell them their people would be there that night to receive the cargo.

The sale came to Cr 135,000, with a net profit of Cr 33,000.  With thirty percent going to the ship's funds, each of the crew was paid Cr 2,566.  An income that Jocelynn and Fesic appreciated more than most because they'd both been getting close to skids.  Enough for Jocelynn to give Zimzod another Cr 1,000 toward her debt.  And with all that new cash preparing to flood into their hands once the accounting was done, it was time to kick back, relax and enjoy Wypoc.  Or, as others call it, HELL WORLD!  Thanks to the time spent crossing from the gas giant, even Aali was looking forward to a lot of time off while on-world.  Having squared away the ship, Emkir and Aali took stock of the booze and found they'd drunk out two bottles of the whiskey and the one bottle of Absinthe.  Replacements would be needed.

That meant wondering what at all there was to do on Wypoc?  The 'wider-than-most' corridor which ran from the port deeper into the city was known as "Spacer row".  Still, there was not enough regular traffic for the shops and bars there to exclusively serve the spacer community unless one of the mega-freighters needed to ground a large percentage of their crew for some reason.  That meant all the venues blended service to the locals with efforts that might appeal to spacers.  And all of it had the run-down feel of economic depression.

New Friends And Information

     Looking at their options, Aali and Emkir checked the port-crawl data and did find one place advertising a "display of adventures with Wypoc's chemicals".  Past that, there were the usual bars and even an excuse for a casino.  Between those were stores selling general sundries and items popular on Wypoc as well as some small hotels and even some personal sleeping pods topped off with a scattering of restaurants.  Of course, the specialty dish here on Wypoc was Imported food, because it beat the local molded protein.  Specialty shops sold various locally legal narcotics and provided 'crash pad' space to stay until one was no longer under the influence.  Especially since punishment for any safety violation was seriously ratcheted up if you were on a drug at the time.

Having checked out "the sights" when he landed with Mikah and Terin, Rol wanted to explore.  When he started to ask the others if they wanted to go with him, Jocelynn said she would go with him so quickly she actually interrupted him.  When Jocelynn then stopped and asked Mikah if she wanted them to try and sell anything?  Mikah said that was up to Terin and Fesic.  She'd let them know that, as late as it was today, she expected them to spend the next day making money for the ship's funds.  Especially after the disappointment with the cargo sale.  She mentioned that and Aiden muttered, "Makes you wonder why they'd get more handling our junk sale?"

Shrugging while the others chatted, Aali and Emkir asked the others if they wanted to go "see the show"?  Despite having been on the bridge all day, Aiden had heard the buyers were coming to get their cargo that night and volunteered to stay with the ship and handle that.  Everyone else who was aboard decided to go see how to have fun with acids?  Some made jokes about learning how to 'create crew vacancies' or deal with passenger issues.  So, before they left, Mikah created a message for Fesic and Terin telling them to "relax tonight" before giving them orders to sell the ship's spare gear the next day.

Going out to the venue, the crew were well aware of the increased amount of exposed ceramics, composites and metals which made it clear this was not even a Class C port.  The other thing which caught their attention was the extreme level of safety management in place.  There were even safety monitors in every level of the city's police forces.  Added to that, so many generic actions in other systems were legal infractions on Wypoc.  So much so that every move they made off their ship was under the observation of two or more sets of eyes.

The "Show", when they got there, ended being a mix between a mad scientist's and an industrial scientist's wet dream.  But more, it was an advertisement they had each paid Cr 10 to get into.  Because it was an advertisement, it was also a bit more academic than the group really cared for.  A good part of the final bits of the show were devoted to showing off their acid containment systems too.  That was because the final stage of the show turned into a sales pitch in hopes of selling a lot to the spacers as speculative cargo.

The crew did learn that Wypoc's specialties were acids, acid transport systems, acid-based battery systems, basic ores and raw materials as well as the chemicals and minerals refined from their atmospheres and fluids.  After diplomatically disentangling themselves from the "buying opportunity" and out on spacer's row again, Rol said, "Well, we came on this adventure to see different places.  Let's see this different place."  Then he said, "I wonder what kind of bars they have here?"  Everyone else in the group agreed a bar might work and they moved off.

Wandering spacer's row, they saw the handful of bars available all had an eclectic vibe, catering to a mix of port workers and locals out of their neighborhoods, spiced with spacers and those who looked like they wanted to connect with the spacers "commercially".  Checking the drink menus of some, they saw drink names inspired from mundanities like "Spacer on Acid" to the "Burning Hell Brew".  Emkir wanted to check a bar our and see what the chatter was like, figuring there had to be some spacers there.  Jocelynn asked if they shouldn't try to find Brian's family and Mikah reminded her it was night time for the locals and they could do it tomorrow.

After selecting a bar and walking in, the group could see the bar crowd was definitely polarized.  The largest group was the bunch of locals at the bar.  Past them, were a few very obvious spacers at a couple of tables who played the role of the "border" between everyone else and the table of marines near the bar's back wall.  When Jocelynn saw that table, she gasped in pleasure because these were her people!  Heading off to the table to say hello, Jocelynn didn't see when the others "started" to follow.

Before they could, Zimzod held Mikah back and nodded in the direction Jocelynn went and said, "Let's hold back and see if this turns fun." with a smile on his face.  Seeing they'd stopped, Emkir and Aali also waited and Mikah suggested they just grab a table in 'neutral territory'.  Zimzod agreed and pointed to Emkir saying, "Watch how you swing any chairs!" in a mock-serious tone.  That got a laugh and Emkir very primly said, "I intend on occupying one.  Don't worry."  His tone was 'mock hurt' while the two couples sat down and watched Rol follow Jocelynn.

Jocelynn could see the marines were involved in some sort of complex activity based on something on the table when she stepped up.  She got their attention, saying, "Greetings brothers and sisters.  What unit are you in?  I'm Jocelynn Guerrek, formerly a Seargent in the Black Star Commandos."  Looking up at Jocelynn, three of the marines suddenly shot bolt up-right and at attention before shooting razer-edged salutes past Jocelynn at Rol.  The rest of the bar came to a sudden silence accented only by chairs the three marine's let fall!

Used to this treatment, thanks to his decorations, Rol returned their salutes as the other marines quickly rose and caught up with the sudden event.  Assuming parade rest, one of the older more grizzled marines said, "Greetings Major Sir Kaihvos!  You and your companion are welcomed at our table."  As he said that, the men and woman who'd been clustered about the table moved as a unit to make space.  Having returned their salutes, Rol nodded and said, "Thanks guys.  Let's be at ease, huh?"  He also gestured for people to start sitting down.

Sitting next to Rol, Jocelynn said, "You're handy to have around.  I should drag you out more often."  Rol just shrugged and answered, "Say the word and we'll have some fun."  Rol and Jocelynn got a better look at what appeared to be a game, perhaps of the marine's own devising, while sitting down.  To both of them, there was something familiar about it though neither had seen that board configuration before.  That wasn't surprising because half the "board" had been scribbled on a placemat in removable marker.  The diagram drawn had multiple compartments, if the pair were reading correctly, and could have multiple levels.

Watching from the other table, Zimzod pointed and said, "Look, Jocelynn's gay wingman Rol is helping her get into bed with someone again." and those at his table laughed.  Zimzod followed that up by calling over to Rol, "Hey Rol.  Make sure you get the best man for yourself!" with a smirk on his face.  Looking up with some frowns and curiosity, the marines asked if the folks at Zimzod's table were friends of theirs?  When Rol said they were, the marine's attitudes changed as someone said, "Well, bring them over!" and the others started to get up and move tables and chairs around to make a larger space for them all.

The bar waitress had just stepped up to take orders for Zimzod's table as the marines exploded into activity and a number of arms and voices called for them to move over and join the group.  The rest of the bar again lapsed into silence until they could figure out what was happening and if it was going to suddenly turn into a brawl?  The others followed suit when Zimzod stood and asked for a bourbon to be delivered to him at the marine's table.  Swaggering over to the table after placing his order, Zimzod pointed at Rol and joked, "I'm glad you liked our front man.  It looks like we can hang out and have fun."

Introductions went around again and the others settled down and drinks were raised in welcome or delivered.  The marines had several open bottles and a pile of spare shot glasses on the table so they started pouring out shots too.  They obviously had a tab running when bottles that had been emptied were very quickly replaced by the wait staff.  Finally, when everyone had a drink, the marines all raised their glasses and called out, "Oooh-rah!" as a toast.  The crew were not slow to follow suit, if only because they were now guests.

To Aali's critical eye, as she sat and checked it out, the schematic on the table was obviously some kind of building floor plan.  Not having been a ground pounder, Aali couldn't be sure but it seemed some sort of action had been being planned before they met.  Not only was it a floor plan, but it was an enclosed and likely sealed structure.  Jocelynn had also noticed that and now she'd had a chance to examine it more and closer, she was thinking it was some kind of military facility.  Taking the direct route, Jocelynn pointed and asked, "What game you got going here?"

The man who seemed to be the marine's spokesperson(and likely the NCOIC for the group) smile and said, "Oh!  We're just trying to figure out how to assault our position!"  That told Rol, Jocelynn and Zimzod everything they needed to know because each of the had seen and even done the same thing in the past.  When marines in a position get bored and their officers don't hold a GI party or 'short hike' for them, they play, 'How would I assault and take this place?'  Only they usually don't play it in a public a bar.  Especially, as the crew would find out, not when the facility is a classified one!

In this game, they had figured out "affects" for the environment which would cause a fog of war.  Then, they would take turns playing mercenary force leader and coming up with methods with which to take over the facility.  Hearing that, Mikah and several of the others suddenly realized this must have been the Imperial Marine's Hazardous Environment laboratory.  Supposedly, they were working to design improved suits but no one had ever heard of any advances coming out of that lab.  So, there were quite a number of questions being whispered about the facility and what was really going on there?

Jocelynn wanted in on the game, because she liked them when she'd been in service.  Rol bought a round of drinks for everyone at the table because he said he wanted in too.  When Jocelynn asked if Zimzod was buying drinks too, he answered, "I'm a marine!  I get drinks bought for me." and the other marines cheered him.  When Mikah started, "Technically, you're not..." he interrupted her saying, "As long as Rol's buying drinks, I'm a marine!"  The marines at the table thought Mikah was talking about Zimzod being discharged and shrugged her words off as a teasing between the two.

Not explaining anything about the facility, the marines told the crew the marine role there.  Then, the senior marines stepped through the various defense features in surprising detail for the public nature of the bar.  Those who looked around saw that didn't matter much because the locals did their best to completely ignore, and be ignored by, the marines.  No one could catch any of the spacers paying attention if they were?  Things continued, and they talked about the marine staffing shifts and resources before comparing that to various possible mercenary assault forces that could be justified based on public knowledge of the facility.

Limits included things like the danger of "cracking" the place and opening it up to the atmosphere, which might very well destroy the objective equipment inside.  Hearing that, Mikah joked, "So, breaching charges are out of the question?" and got chuckles.  Discussing assault options, they separated compartments which had access to the outside environment from those inside a second "internal hull" and the crew noticed there was no detail at all there.  They had assumed those were large open spaces inside the facility but now realized the marines had drawn no detail into those spaces.

The crew mostly sat back and listened to see what they could learn while the marines brought Jocelynn, Rol and Zimzod up to speed.  Covering the spaces on the map, there were key compartments and then places like the barracks, which someone joked no one cared about.  That was interrupted by a marine named Gulahgak, who said, "Unless you ruin my collection.  I will kill you if you ruin my collection!"  Despite the savage assurance in the man's voice and eyes, the other marines waved his words off.  It was clear this was a regular and expected response if not behavior that had sparked many inside jokes for the rest of his team.

In fact, the jokes started right off, when one of the other marines jibed, "Yeah, you're gonna have to get another duffel bag to haul that load of garbage at this point!"  Into that, Mikah asked, "What do you collect?"  Without batting an eye, he said he had a collection of datachips holding every electronic cooking book he could find.  Despite the giggles and chatter from the other marines, there was a moment or two of completely surprised silence from the crew.  More than one head in their crew turned to look at Rol.  Recovering a beat before Emkir, Mikah raised her hands to point at Rol and said, "Well then.  You should meet our ship's chef!"

It was now the turn of the marines to stop in surprise and catch up to what had just been said.  Marine Gulahgak only sat there with eyes gone saucer-wide in surprise.  After Mikah spoke, Emkir sputtered words to try and catch up to her and only managed to catch his breath so he could fill that silence, saying, "Yeah.  He's a chef." with an emphatic nod.  Gulahgak could finally get out an almost strangled "Really?" in a tone of disbelief after which Emkir gushed, "He makes a damn fine grilled cheese!"  The next pause of silence was broken as Gulahgak almost whispered disbelievingly, "I would love to see your cook books!"

With even more of a surprise for the marine, Rol said, "Fine.  What'a you got?"  At first gushing about the huge list of titles he had, the marine was finally cut short when Rol gave the man his comms id so they could exchange files over the local network.  The marine said he was certain his "LT" would give him permission to set up a computer connection to swap data.  He added that he wasn't sure if his LT might not discharge him for not calling the man down to the bar to meet Sir Kaihvos personally.  Zimzod just shrugged at Mikah and said, "They're gonna need a bed soon."

Tuning out the cook-fest, Zimzod turned to the NCO's and asked how duty on-world was and was plainly told "Duty sucks!" in a 'you should know that' tone.  Mikah asked, "How long are you here?" and was told, "Been here four months and we cycle out in eight."  Nodding, Mikah said, "That's not bad" as she considered her own service aboard naval ships and on Imperial bases.  Mikah asked, "Are you going to a better place?" and another marine shrugged, saying, "Don't know.  They could send us someplace good, could send us someplace bad."  After a pause, another marine said, "They could cancel our orders and leave us here." in a glum tone.  Into the silence following that, one of the NCO's said, "That's what happened to the people we replaced.  Twice."

That comment sent a shiver down the spine of everyone at the table because they'd all been screwed by bad orders.  Rol let out an "Ouch!" and Mikah just shook her head and said, "Wow." in a mournful tone.  One of the marines just slammed down an empty glass and snapped out, "Needs of the service." before he grabbed a bottle to recharge his drink.  Rol nodded and essentially repeated, "You go where you're needed, go where they say.  Shoot anything that moves."  One of the other marines took a gulp and almost recited, "Deal with the egg heads back in the box, deal with the bars here." as if that was a mantra for survival.

Mikah asked, "So, the egg heads don't travel with you?"  There were shaking heads as the marine said, "They're not marines.  They have their own orders and stuff."  In an almost indignant tone, Mikah asked, "They don't share?" and was told, "They're not allowed."  Even more indignant, Mikah almost demanded, "What do you mean, they're not allowed?" even though she was well aware of all the military non-fraternization rules and such.  One of the marines, just said, "They're egg heads!" as if that explained everything.  And it sort of did, because the "egg heads" were either officers and ratings from a different military arm or even civilians.  And the "Keep clear" rules would be very clear from higher headquarters.

Getting past the lack-of-party environment, Emkir asked, "What kind of work gets done at this facility?"  One of the NCO's got the floor as he shrugged and honestly said, "You know...  They told us it was an experimental lab for hazardous environment suits but they don't work on those." in a conspiratorial tone.  Lowering her voice a bit, Mikah asked, "What do they work on?"  The NCO shrugged again and said, "We don't know.  They got really specialized computers and stuff.  We're not really sure what they do?  It has to do with the planet, I think."  Nodding, Mikah seriously said, "Oh.  Maybe they're trying to turn it into a giant battery."

No one else at the table could tell if she was serious or joking with the ridiculous idea until she broke out laughing herself.  When some of the marines started talking up the idea of a planet-sized weapons battery, Mikah snapped them down saying, "Not that kind of battery.  I meant a power battery.  You know, like the bunny?"  Sadly, no one knew what she was on about with the 'bunny'?  Rol jumped in, asking, "So they don't allow you to play with what they do?"  The marines said "no" or shook their heads and Rol said, "Well, that's not nice of them."

Shrugging, one of the NCO's said, "Shit happens.  You take the CrImp, you do the job."  Getting back into things, Jocelynn asked, "So, you just guard the place?" and was told "Yeah".  Mikah asked, "Ever had anyone try to work their way in?" and was told, "No, but we did have one jackass LT who wanted to go on a dragon hunt."  His tone was an amused one, suggesting either the idea, the LT or both ended badly.  Not catching the 'past history' vibe, Mikah mixed past with "now" and asked, "Oh yeah?!  Was he with the Baron?"  The marines, who had no idea about the Baron, waved that off as one of them said, "Naw, he came up with that idea on his own.  He wasn't with no nobility."  His tone left little doubt about the officer's intelligence.

Mikah said, "Wow, is he out?" just as Rol asked, "Did he ever come back?" and the marines all chimed in that he hadn't.  Most of them were smiling about that point too.  Another marine said, "We don't think he's ever coming back." and Mikah agreed, "Probably not".  Another marine joked, "He was an egg head adjunct." suggesting he thought of himself as a junior scientist himself.  Shaking her head, Mikah asked, "Somebody gave him a map, huh?" and got laughs as one of the NCO's said, "That would be a probability" in a taking-to-task tone that suggested the officer got what he deserved.

Changing speeds again, Rol asked, "So, what do you guys do for fun besides this?" as if there was a "besides this" on the rock.  That thought was hammered down as Rol was told, "There is no 'besides this' on this rock."  Of course, the small population of 'rental girls and guys' suggested there was a 'little' more than drinking and games, but a look or two and the rental units in the bar said that was "very little" indeed.  Nodding at the map on the table, Jocelynn asked, "Can you get us a look at that facility?"  The rest of the crew went quiet because that was a bit further and more direct than the others might go.

The silence broke very quickly when one of the NCO's firmly answered, "Not us.  No.  But you might asked the egg heads."  Most of the crew at the table had to fight to keep from laughing when Jocelynn, missing the fact the marines didn't have the authority for that, asked, "Your lieutenant wouldn't want to show the great Rol Kaihvos around?"  The other marines did laugh when the NCO admitted, "My lieutenant would actually shit if he had to try and break regs enough to do that."  They suggested the crew could try their Colonel, if they wanted to see the place, but not the Lieutenant.  When Mikah asked about their Colonel, they gave her the officer's comms data.

Colonel Kamx Ahizam was the overall commanding officer of all marine forces assigned to the lab facility.  With his data, Mikah looked at Zimzod and said, "We should call him and say we want to pay our respects."  Rol nodded and suggested they wait for the next day to not look like a horny little geek virgin trying to get laid.  Mikah said, "Maybe we can finagle ourselves some of those hazardous environment suits?" and Rol and Jocelynn reminded her, "You mean the one's they don't make?" at the same time.

The Evening's "Entertainment"

     After that, the conversation settled into "getting to know you" and basic "hanging out" chatter.  Some time later, that was interrupted by a string of cursing and snarling complaints let out by another drinker in the bar.  Looking up, they could see the man was a spacer, sitting with a small group of spacers in the kind of matching shipsuits that screamed, 'We're all crew on the same ship'.  They could see he wasn't cursing at them, and wasn't even facing them as he spat anger at whatever part of that table's conversation had popped his top?  His seconds dominating the bar's noise level were just enough for Mikah and some of the crew to hear him complain about blah blah blah "...destroying my hull!"

Emkir suddenly leaned in and said, "That must be the Baron's crew over there." and they did look clean and spiffy like some nobles liked their employees to.  The others nodded as they listened but none of the voices was the familiar tone of the Baron himself.  Emkir guessed aloud, "It might be the Baron's engineer cursing the Baron out for destroying his ship's hull.  Sounds like a typical engineer's lament to me."  The man was sitting with three crew mates, none of whom looked particularly happy.

Mikah was just happy it wasn't their problem but Zimzod called the waitress over to their table.  When she arrived, he asked if she'd ever heard of a drink called a dirty nipple?  That drink name caught the attention of a few more of the folks at the table, who laughed when Zimzod ordered one for each of the spacers at that table.  Realizing what Zimzod was up to, Rol suggested it was time to leave "before" the fight.  Mikah said she was sure they'd have marine backup this time, but did turn to Emkir and ask him to sit on his hands.  Her sincerity almost led one or two of the marines to ask what that was about, but most eyes watched the other table until the drinks were delivered.

Things at the table got quiet between the marines and Mikah's people until the drinks were delivered to the obviously confused crew.  When the waitress pointed to Zimzod and they looked up, Zimzod called over, "You're with the Safari ship, right?"  When one of them said they were, Zimzod smiled and said, "We own the yacht.  Thanks for clearing the space for us."  Mikah also sort of half said, "Thanks for moving."  Rol just shook his head and said, "Looks like we're gonna find more entertainment that we thought here tonight."  The marines asked Rol and Jocelynn if they knew the other crew?

Rol shrugged and said, "Well, we may have bumped their ship." in a tone that said he didn't really care about what they did, or the other ship.  Asked what that meant, Rol explained about cutting a cargo deal that got them a bay by getting the other ship kicked out.  The Baron's ship, that was.  One of the NCO's said that sounded like a bunch of whiny little bitches to him and the others laughed.  Mikah then told the marines about the stunt the Baron had his crew pull at the gas giant, which was mostly over the heads of the grunts.  But they did get from the story the fact the other spacers seemed to be getting what they deserved.

At the same time, the "spokesperson" for the other crew and Zimzod had been in a bit of a glaring contest after Zimzod called over his thanks.  That ended when the man picked up the drink delivered to him and poured it on the floor while turning back to glare at Zimzod again.  Jocelynn gasped and said, "Rude!" in a tone of disapproval.  That thought was echoed by Emkir and a few others at the table Smirking back at them, the other spacer said, "Yeah?  Do something about it." in a tone daring them to act.

Things got quieter in the rest of the bar as Jocelynn demanded, "Do you want me to do something about it?  Getting his own testosterone pumping, the man told her to get on the table and spread her legs if she wanted to do something about it.  She rose, muttering to herself, "Oh, You picked the wrong girl." in a tone that said she was looking forward to pounding this guy into snot.  Standing, Jocelynn slowly approached him while assessing his stance and identifiable combat assets.

What Jocelynn hadn't counted on was that every other marine at the table rose and moved with her, including Rol and Zimzod.  While they were happy enough to step forward and rip the guy to pieces for Jocelynn, they were also just as happy to follow her lead and watch as she did the work and got the trophy parts herself.  Not taking a chair in hand, Emkir and Aali lifted their drinks and watched as Mikah also rose.  She trailed the cloud of marines, if only to keep from being accidentally stepped on by the marines in "combat-seeking" mode.

Eyes locked on her target while moving, Jocelynn wasn't the only one who literally saw the four spacers go white at the sight of the sudden rising wave of combatants.  Getting right in the man's face, Jocelynn leaned in and very quietly demanded, "Do you want to say that again?"  Despite her quiet, her voice boomed in the silent bar, where the only other actions going on were the closing wave of marines and the hand of a bar worker punching a security code into a keypad.  After a silent pause, Jocelynn added, "I'd think real hard about it."

Stepping back and doing his best to try and recover a shred of dignity, the man held his hands up to either side and said, "Well...  Since you turned this into a group sport...  Maybe you'd just like to explain yourself?"  Not leaning back, Jocelynn said, "I was just saying how it was rude, to pour out a drink, someone had bought for you..."  The spacer cut her off, firmly saying, "And it was rude for you to steal our bay."  Putting more push back in her voice as she got ready to start swinging, Jocelynn growled, "That wasn't up to me."

Jutting his chin at the rest of her crew behind her, the man snidely told Jocelynn, "Yeah, well maybe you should talk to your masters."  Not sure how she kept herself from swinging so far, Jocelynn again growled, "Maybe you should just sit down and be quiet."  Glaring as she was, Jocelynn knew she had the man's complete and total attention.  So much so that both she and the spacer were taken totally by surprise when one of the marines, who'd stepped up next to the man, swung and cold cocked the guy!  The spacer took the hit on the jaw and went down like a bag of gel, spoojing on the floor with a trickle of blood and a couple of teeth next to his head.

The other three spacers at his table had all of a split second to react before the marines who'd moved enveloped and attacked them.  Jocelynn hadn't wanted to start a fight and did get an apology because there was just so much "asshole" the team were prepared to take from the likes of that crew.  The "fight" didn't last long.  One of the marines looked up at Jocelynn with a smile, to say, "I think they're gonna be quiet for the rest of the evening."  Jocelynn just looked down at the one man and said, "My apologies.  I didn't want to start a fight."  She then turned back to her drink.  Just about that time, local law enforcement arrived.

That came in the form of one obviously uniformed, if slightly out of shape, "sheriff"-type followed by three "frontier justice" types, all of whom were armed.  They entered the bar while Jocelynn and the others returned to their table and Emkir raised his glass and toasted, "Every freaking planet."  The Sheriff's reaction was one of relief and underwhelming surprise at how quiet things seemed and how few bodies were on the floor.  Some of those were just starting to try and lift themselves from the floor at the moment.  But not the one who'd started mouthing off.

The marines were just sitting down again with Mikah and the others while everyone else in the bar either stared at their drinks real hard or worked the bar quietly except for the manager.  Sadly for the marines, the bar had also sent a copy of the bar's security tapes to the sheriff's mobile computer.  That would be reviewed after the sheriff took some verbal statements from the manager and anyone functional among the apparent victims.  They had started getting their fellows onto chairs and had accepted a bill the bar tender had thoughtfully prepared for them during the build up to the brief battle.  There was no comment on the 'damage costs' added to the tab.

While the waitress dealt with their payment, the sheriff had a brief chat with the bar manager.  He followed that up by wandering over to the crew of the Baron's ship and having a brief word with them too.  Those with sharp hearing could tell he had told them to return to their ship and sleep it off so he could take their statements the next morning.  Then, he came over to the marine's tables.  Ignoring the civilians for the moment, the sheriff nodded to the marine's NCOIC and he nodded back.  Next, he winked at one of the female troopers suggesting there might be "something" there...

Looking back at the senior NCO, the Sheriff asked, "So, does this mean your team are cutting their leave short today?"  The seargent just finished his drink before answering, "You know...  You pay for entertainment where you find it." and set his mug down as he prepared to stand up.  The troopers around him had been doing the same.  It became apparent there was an unspoken rule where the marines were concerned.  They were allowed to "come out and play" until they got themselves in trouble.  So long as it was nothing too big, their leaves were canceled and that was it...unless charges were pressed, too much damage was done or someone else got hospitalized or died.

When they saw that, Jocelynn was both saddened and somewhat guilty about the marines getting punished for her fight.  Still, when Rol started to apologize, the NCO waved it away saying he shouldn't be sorry because they'd had a lot of fun.  He pointed out that night had been more fun than they could have had any other way.  Accepting that, Emkir suggested they honor the marine's loss by heading back to their ship too.  A move the Sheriff heartily approved of.  He said he'd get their statements later on too.  Jocelynn suggested they find out when those marines got leave again and plan to take them out for the evening, if the crew were still on Wypoc when it happened.

In the end, the tabs came and Emkir and Aali owed Cr 40 and Jocelynn owed Cr 40.  Rol owed Cr 270 thanks to the round he'd bought the marines.  Mikah owed Cr 60 and Zimzod Cr 60, because of the dirty nipples and his drinks.  After the tabs were paid, they made their way back to the ship as the Sheriff started to review the bar's video.  Making their way back to the ship, Rol smiled and enthusiastically said, "I like this planet!"  Mikah shot him a look and warned him, "Well, you better come up with a recipe book, and fast dude!"  Waving that away, Rol told her he already had a recipe book.

Rol also leaned over to Jocelynn with a smile and said, "Nice job".  That gave her a shot of pleasure on top of the adrenaline running through her veins thanks to the almost-fight in the bar.  She couldn't explain it but fist fights always got her aroused and she wasn't sure what she was gonna do about that?  Still, for the moment, she fist bumped with Rol and Mikah joked, "And that's all the action you're gonna get."  The others broke out laughing.  Zimzod played on that, asking, "So, Rol.  When you get back to the ship are you gonna break it to Terin and Fesic that you now have a marine boyfriend?"  That got laughs and groans.

To everyone's surprise, since they were close enough to the ship, Jocelynn reacted to Zimzod's joke by grabbing Rol by the shirt, dragging him into the ship and into her stateroom!  After closing the door behind them and pushing him down on her bed, Jocelynn began to undress, looking Rol in the eyes and saying, "So you know, you're the bottom."  Outside the stateroom, Emkir and Aali started clapping because they'd guessed something like this was coming eventually.  Zimzod shook his head as he said to Mikah and the others, "She's gonna be really disappointed when he comes out of the closet."  Because of the circumstances, the joke got that many more laughs.

Before she settled in, Mikah checked her comms and found she'd gotten a message labeled from the local law enforcement community saying:
     Lady Mikah
         Thanks to your crew, the town will be marine free for the next week.

Sadly, Mikah couldn't tell if the comment was honest or wry?  Certainly, any bars or shops that worried about marine fights would be happy.  But those who would have made money from the marines might be annoyed.  So it could be taken either way.  Even from law enforcement.

Those who relaxed before bed took a tour through the channels on the local entertainment networks and could only find that life on Wypoc was grim.  It was a single city of just over three hundred thousand people tied to resource recovery and processing jobs in a single set of enclosed arcologies.  One set of channels they noted were devoted to tracking the transponder signals of vehicles out in the field.  It even included an "alert box" in the upper left corner into which emergency beacon data would be displayed if someone in one of the vehicles hit the panic button.  Hearing of that, Mikah wondered about getting the beacon data for the vehicle Brian's family took into the field?

When she checked for that on the city-net, she found a link to connect to.  That office let her ask for the beacon id.  Along with that came what turned out to be their "standard disclaimer" to off worlders.  That was that the beacon ID display was not "automatic and all-seeing.  If the people in the vehicle think they're on the way to a "big strike" or something special, they may have turned off their beacon transmitter to protect their claim against poaching.  On top of that, they may have filed an incorrect or out-right false travel plan.  And the world's atmosphere and weather both conspired to break their signals at various ranges, which were also affected by any intervening terrain too.

Punching the various beacon tracking screens up on various displays in the ship's lounge, those who didn't go to bed after the bar spent several hours looking for the Montgomery family beacon.  Alternatively, they also tuned into the local news, which continued to impress them with how grim life on Wypoc seemed to them.  Surprising the crew, the Baron's dragon hunt was spoken about on the local news as an additional hazard to those working outside the city.  The report didn't seem over-concerned with the safety of the hunting expedition itself.  While they watched, Mikah also called the authorities to ask for a "last known address" for the Montgomerys so they could check there.

Another report centered on the fact there was a merchant ship in port!  Despite the sale having been made, there was still nothing on the official network about their cargo.  There were reported rumors that an auction was being set up for some kind of "luxury" foodstuffs with reports bidders were starting to line up.  Out-system news centered on continuing deals and negotiations with the IISS to maintain the city's external acid and corrosive defenses against the continual atmospheric assault.  On top of that came reports on efforts to get Imperial engineers to actually come in-system for upgrades to the city's buildings.

Those watching the vids also noticed the advertisements, which often covered standard concepts and needs.  In addition to that, the ads offered deals for taking part in sanctioned controlled substance use.  Through the ads, they learned quickly that the city had a reasonable blend of permissive laws and restrictive safety regulations.  Substance use was broken down into a category of "safe for home use" drugs and those where use required one to book space in a "parlor".  After that, punishment for any crime was made more intense if the criminal were found to be under the influence of any drug no matter how minor.  And simply being under the influence in public was also a crime.

Different Directions, Plans And Payouts

     Eventually, the crew faded off to sleep with a few of them setting alarms to get up early Sunday morning.  Mikah, Terin, Fesic and Aali set wake ups for various reasons which meant Emkir was getting up early too.  Mikah let Zimzod sleep.  Despite his role as the ship's cook, Rol didn't set an alarm, because he and Jocelynn planned to "be up late and sleep in".  While making their own meals, Mikah spoke with Terin and Fesic and gave them a datapad with the list of items they had to sell and rough prices for the value of each item.  While they'd have to be careful selling the snub pistol, and likely the speed loaders too, the rest of the stuff should find some market on Wypoc.  Even Zach's old paper weight.  Aiden had left his report from overnight, and the buyers had picked up their cargo.

Past the crystal paperweight and weapons, they had a handgun cleaning kit, Munarshu's vacc suit with its hard bubble helmet(HUD installed), Zach's old silver "accessories kit"(Cuff-links, Collar stays, boutonniere, Tie Tack, Paper Money clip, CredChip Holder, Chronograph, Watch Fob, Men's Belt with silver buckle), six Vargr language translators, eight filter masks, a 500 km range TL E Ear piece comm unit, 500 km range video communicator, a spare hand computer, a TL 7 atmospheric tester and radiation counter.  So, Fesic and Terin had toys to sell and a reasonable expectation the locals would want a good bit of it.

After having words with Terin and Fesic, Mikah started preparing her gear and preparing to resuscitate the passengers in the low berths.  When she felt it was time, Mikah woke Zimzod because she'd need his help to wake the passengers.  When she did, he tried to pull her into bed for sex, and she pushed him back down.  She told him they didn't have time for that, and also buzzed Aiden awake.  She told him to get to the ship's bridge and watch for a team from the port.  He was to let her know when they were coming, so she could greet them and they could get everything done and the passengers off their deck.

In Jocelynn's stateroom, Rol was first to wake up and had time to reflect on how much better sex was than masturbating.  After a few moments enjoying the view, Rol decided to gently repose her, climb on top of her and wake her up in a fashion that promised them a morning of more pleasure.  Surprised as she woke, Jocelynn wasn't "frightened", but did have to sort through memories from Inthe to remember who she was with and where she was.  Still, she started to respond and Rol got to enjoy being on top this time.

Going into the ship's locker, Fesic decided he should start taking pictures of each thing they wanted to sell.  Terin helped Fesic, and grabbed one of the backpacks to carry the gear in once they got moving.  While they worked, the two talked about where to sell things and agreed that the pawn shop in spacer's row was a decrepit and run-down shop.  Still, they agreed they could check it out.  Because there was little real traffic in Wypoc past the mega-haulers, who's crews rarely took leave here, there was little on offer that wasn't local garbage.  The good news was they were off-loading things the locals would want and those were the pawn shop's main customers.

Terin wondered about setting up a hall kiosk, and they considered doing door-to-door sales in spacer's row because they didn't know where else to go in the city?  They could also log into the city net and see if there were places on-line where locals sold items and how to sell there?  After leaving the ship, the two found a "computer lounge" where they could buy local accounts and log into the city net directly.  An hour of exploring showed them that the entire "on-line experience" in the city had boiled down to one on-line menu of activities.  Selecting from the initial menu list, a user would drill down to find the section they wanted and then post offers or respond to existing posts.

One thing Terin and Fesic saw was that it would take time to sell things that way.  Browsers would have to go into the "For Sale" sections and see something they wanted.  Then, they might select the ad link and respond to that with a message asking questions or saying other things.  After a set of exchanges, the final sale could be made, so it would be foolish to expect more than a few of the things to sell in under a week.  Like every other site on the network, there was the ever-present alert square in the upper left corner of the screen, in case anyone in the field hit the panic button.  The two spent an hour listing their spare gear on the forum and planned to go to the police to ask about selling the six-shooter snub pistol.

Munarshu's vacc suit, with its hard bubble helmet and HUD was listed at Cr 14,000.  The Vargr translators were listed at Cr 750, the 500 km range TL E Ear piece comm unit listed for Cr 3,000.  The hand computer was listed at Cr 7,000 or best offer, which was inexpensive for what was paid for it but would hopefully be within the reach of the locals of Wypoc.  The atmospheric tester and radiation counter were listed for Cr 800 and Cr 400 respectfully.  The 500 km range video communicator was listed at Cr 800, Zach's silver "accessories kit" listed for Cr 1,000 or best offer.  They also played up the silver as the former personal possessions of the Late "Sir" Zachariah Wood, hero of the defense against von Kreden's Sword World's fleet!  The eight filter masks were not listed because the men knew they would never sell on Wypoc.  While Terin was working on one screen, Fesic secretly listed Terin's hookah for sale on another, for Cr 1,000 as a prank.

When it came to the crystal paperweight, the thing had no value unless they lied to the buyer.  Fesic was against cheating someone with it so he decided to leave it in some random shop on spacer's row and be done with it.  Eventually, the men went to visit various shops including the pawn shop.  Because they'd listed their gear, they couldn't pawn it and the shop owner wouldn't take it on consignment.  So, they turned to leave and Fesic took his chance to dump the crystal paperweight.  Seeing him do that, Terin grabbed the paper weight, planning to put it in a pocket and demanded of Fesic, "What are you doing?" in a chiding tone.

Fesic tried to sputter a defense and the shop keeper stepped over to them asking if he could help?  The man was doing his best not to make it obvious he was trying to ID the item in Terin's hand.  The man obviously thought it was something that belonged to the shop and could easily disappear in a shoplifter's pocket...  Figuring that honesty was the best policy for the moment, and just for the moment, Terin told the man his companion had brought the item from their ship and tried to dump it on the man's table and he was just taking it back.  skeptical of the tale, the keeper asked if he could see the item and Terin handed it over.

The man gave it a good stare, and was more comfortable when he saw it was nothing he'd ever seen before.  When he finally asked, "What in the stars is it?" in a confused voice, Terin dropped the honesty policy and told him, "We were told it's an Ancient artifact.  Wanna buy it?"  Fesic's reaction was so sudden he had to choke it back and barely did so without blowing the offer out of the water.  Still, the shopkeeper saw the look on Fesic's face and turned on Terin asking, "Are you trying to pull something on me?"  Despite the words, the tone of the man's voice and look on his face told Terin the man wasn't too sure what was going on there?

Terin decided to try a different tack and continued, "Of course, that's not really an Ancient artifact, but..." dragging out the word Ancient.  But he was cut off by the shop keeper, who demanded, "What do you mean it's Ancient but not Ancient?"  Resetting his tone, Terin said, "Well, we're sure it's not an Ancient artifact, but we think it's a Kursae artifact." in a more certain tone.  Now, the man was less certain what he was looking at and he thought he might be dealing with a mental patient as he asked what the Kursae were?  Terin had learned of the Kursae in school growing up but it seemed that wasn't in the standard educational package out here.  He explained to the shop man that the Kursae had risen in the gap between "The Ancients" and the modern races, and little was known about them just like The Ancients themselves.

All the while, Fesic worked to keep his face a mask of impassivity despite his disagreement with what Terin was doing.  When the shop keeper's face was still puzzled, Terin asked, "You've heard of the Ancients, right?"  The question was redundant but the keeper said he did.  He then explained that the Ancients died off 400,000 years before and the Kursae rose and died nearly 200,000 years ago.  The man told Terin he had to be making this up because no one he knew had heard of any Kursae, but Terin stuck to his tale.

Terin finally thought he was getting the man to buy into believing the paperweight was a Kursae artifact until the man demanded to know why Fesic had been willing to throw it away?  That's when Fesic next tried to strike, saying, "I wasn't throwing it away.  I just found it on the shelf."  That got nowhere as the man pointed at the orb and firmly told him, "Sorry son.  You didn't find that on my shelf.  What game are you playing?"  Playing the innocent, Fesic shrugged and said, "I don't know.  I found it right there."  While Fesic stuttered on with his story, Terin stood behind him making hand signals that Fesic wasn't all there mentally.

Turning back to Terin, the shop keeper asked, "OK.  So, what's the story with this thing?" and Terin explained it had been owned by a former shipmate who'd died.  Backed off and not certain how to respond to that, the man only told Terin he was sorry for their loss.  Terin waved that off saying he had not known the crewman well, but told the shop keeper " Sir Zach" had been a noted artifact hunter before he died.  When the man asked why they were bringing the artifact to Wypoc, Terin said the man was dead and everything else had been shipped to his family.  But they forgot that one artifact.  Then Terin said that the ship needed some repairs and work and they were working to raise any extra money to help out.

Zach "had" been in the news and Terin could hope the name Zachariah Wood might ring distant bells in the man's mind suggesting he had heard of the Knight.  And, Zach had been a Knight.  So when the man asked what kind of repairs the ship needed, Terin gave as generic an answer as he could saying he was the ship's navigator, not an engineer and wouldn't know.  There was a pause while the man thought over everything he'd been told.  Suddenly, he changed direction and asked how much they wanted for the artifact?

Taking a breath before answering, Terin took a risk and said, "Cr 1,000."  Obviously hooked, the shop keeper said, "Sold!" which left Fesic in shock.  Not giving the man any chance to change his mind, Terin stepped up to the counter so he and the man could seal the deal and Terin took the Cr 1,000 as he put together in his mind what he and Fesic were gonna tell Mikah about this?

Seeing Emkir didn't have work to do, and realizing Aiden had been up overnight before she'd woken him to watch for people from the port, Mikah sent Emkir to cover the bridge and ordered Aiden back to sleep.  It wasn't long after Emkir took the bridge that the port representatives arrived to supervise waking up the passengers.  While Mikah and Zimzod had to work with them and Emkir had the bridge, Aali found herself with a free day.  Or morning, at least.  She decided to spend her time reading.

When Rol and Jocelynn emerged from her stateroom, they came out looking for food, and Rol hadn't cooked the crew breakfast.  Seeing no one else had picked up the ball, and seeing it was well after breakfast but not close enough to lunch time, Rol decided to cook the crew a brunch.  While Rol started to cook, Jocelynn sat in the lounge, put her feet up on a table and turned on the news.  Sadly, Wypoc wasn't a very active news market from either outside or within.  Rumors of the luxury food auction had firmed up.  There was a 'police blotter' style mention of the bar brawl, described as a "marines vs spacers" fight.  Still, the news was mostly repetitive or local and meaningless to her.

Hunting The Trail

     Becoming bored, Jocelynn wondered if she could start the search for Brian's family.  Since they had not yet gotten a "last known address" for the family, Jocelynn decided to call the city authorities and ask for it.  Introducing herself as working for Lady Mikah, she said she was following up on the earlier requests from Countess Athkazuk and the staff of Duke Vilis to get the Montgomery family's last rented or owned address in the city?  The port agent first reminded Jocelynn that Mikah had been told the family had gone off chemical hunting.  Jocelynn nodded that off and asked for their last address in the city again, and the agent gave it to her.

Getting that, Jocelynn was also given an app she could use while navigating in the city which would direct her exactly where she needed to go and help her call paid transport or make the most efficient use of public transit too.  After that, Jocelynn asked questions about the prospecting plan the Montgomerys had filed with the city?  The agent said she could give Jocelynn the filed plan but warned her the family may not have kept to the plan or may have even filed a fake prospecting plan.  When Jocelynn asked if that meant it wouldn't make sense to go out looking for them, she was told she could always go out and rent a prospector to try and find them if she wanted.  The tone the agent said that in wasn't encouraging.

When she said as much, the port agent gave her a doubtful look and asked if she could even operate one of the prospectors?  The agent also flashed the specs of a prospector onto one of the subscreens on Jocelynn's display.  All Jocelynn saw was that it was a treaded "tractor" hauling a longer wheeled tanker trailer behind it.  The data said the main tractor had living and housing compartments and the vehicle control or other main components in it.  That included the scanning, drilling and recovery machinery.  The trailer just had multiple storage and transport tubes able to store the acids and chemicals of Wypoc.

Having come across the basics of training for operating treaded vehicles while in the marines, Jocelynn ignored the hazardous terrain and other environmental challenges of Wypoc.  When Jocelynn was certain she could manage to operate a prospector, the agent said that she would have to pass a test of her skills before they'd rent her one.  That was a standard policy before renting the vehicles to off-worlders.  Done with that call, Jocelynn decided to call Mikah to update her on what she planned to do.

In the aft upper deck of the ship, Mikah had been preparing to revive the meatcicles when Jocelynn arrived to tell her what she'd found.  Jocelynn admitted she felt like she had nothing to do while they were there and she'd try and find the family.  She also told Mikah she'd gotten the Montgomery's last registered address in the city too.  When Jocelynn said she planned to go looking for the family because they'd all left that address, Zimzod interrupted her and asked, "Did you check that?"  When Jocelynn only whined, "Aww!  I wanna drive the thing!" Zimzod snapped, "Trust but verify!  Check it out bitch!"

Nodding, Jocelynn said she'd check and verify if any of them stayed behind.  But if they hadn't, she planned to borrow a prospector and go out to try and find them.  Mikah nodded, though she had her doubts the locals would just let an off-worlder "borrow" one of their huge and very expensive prospectors and drive into the outback.  Given permission to go check the address she'd gotten, it took the rest of the morning for Jocelynn to reach the place.  On arrival, she knocked, rang and did everything else she could think of to get an answer at the door.  Only after she was sure there was no one home did she call back to the ship and let them know there was nobody there.

After going back to the ship, Jocelynn called the city central and asked about getting some training on the prospector.  They told her that could be done as a "whole day" class, so she would have to schedule it for the next day.  Nodding, Jocelynn said she could start that class at 9:30 am the next day, and had to arrive by 8:30am.  Once there, she would have to pass a basic skills assessment before she could take the class.  So, they wouldn't register her until she'd passed that test.  The good news was that they were willing to comp Jocelynn the test and class, stating that was because they wanted Lady Mikah and the Imperial government to know they were cooperating with Her Ladyship's needs.

In the ship's aft, everything was prepared to re-awaken the passengers.  Zimzod stood by to move any of them to the med-bay if they had trouble recovering from the low berth.  The port officials had completed their documentation and they were ready to start re-awakening people.  The first passenger, Sule Butsos, woke up even quicker than Mikah expected.  Not just physically, but mentally.  In fact, he came out of low berth sleep so fast and well that bells started ringing in Mikah's mind.

Not having the time she wanted with Mr. Butsos, Mikah had to move on to the next patient thanks to the steps expected by the port officials.  That second passenger, Aagigim Shindar, came out of it well enough but suffered the usual confusion low berthers did.  It was the third passenger, Dirlar Liigamshar, who began going into cardiac arrest during the wakening process.  It cost her and Zimzod an additional hours work to save Liigamshar.  Finally, Mikah was able to move onto the fourth passenger.  After Gingin Nakan had been revived and the passengers had been given their gear and Mikah was doing her final paperwork, Nakan suddenly cried out as he grabbed his chest and dropped to the deck.

After treatment and an 'on-the-spot' autopsy, Mikah found the dead man had a necrotic coronary condition that had to have been slowly killing his heart for years.  Despite coming out of low sleep easily enough, the shock to the heart had been the final straw.  The man had died even as he cried out and was dead before he'd hit the ground.  Mikah reflected to herself that if she'd been in a system with better medical tech, she could have arrested his condition just after he died and the tech available would have let her save the man's life.

Of course, that affected more than the one passenger.  Instead of four survivors, there were now only three and that meant the low berth lottery winners were Aagigim Shindar and the late Dirlar Liigamshar.  With only Shindar surviving, Mikah turned over the Cr 40 in the pool to him.  Mikah also used the man's death as an excuse to do some additional scans on the others, especially Butsos, because of his swift recovery.  But all her scans came back as perfectly normal so there were no androids in this batch.  After that, Butsos went aft to recover his cargo.  Internally, Aiden, Emkir, Mikah and Rol shared the crew bet winnings.  Each of them got Cr 20 for their share of the pool.

After Rol finished preparing the crew brunch, he sat down to organize his recipes.  While he had told Mikah he had cookbooks, the fact was that Rol didn't have a "book" per se.  What he had was a huge collection of personal recipes in his collection.  What he had to do was organize them into a reasonable collection to archive into a single file and then reach out to the marine to see what he had to trade?  Rol also considered contacting Colonel Ahizam, since he'd been given the Colonel's contact data.  Finally deciding, Rol sent the officer his compliments and thanked him for the assistance lent by his marines to one of Rol's crew.

Finishing that message, Rol then turned his attention to gear maintenance.  Forty minutes later, Rol got a message from an obviously military address, that was flagged for him.  Checking the wrapper, Rol saw the name of Colonel Ahizam on it.  Opening the message, Rol saw the officer had thanked him for his comments and made it clear he'd had a report from one of his Gunnys on the incident.  He also said he was both honored and proud his Imperial Marines could be wherever they were needed to support and protect Imperial citizens.  Below his signature, the Colonel included a PS asking after the chance they could meet up later so the Colonel could buy Rol a drink?  Rol answered the Colonel, accepting his invitation at the Colonel's convenience since he was the one on duty.

An Unexpected Contact

     After selling the "artifact", Terin and Fesic wandered the sections of the city closest to the port.  During that wander, they looked for a place to grab lunch.  The food was both "interesting and rustic" and imported, because very little actually "grew" on-world in enclose agro-compartments.  The meal cost each man Cr 20.  During lunch, they continued talking about selling gear until Terin got a 'message ping' from his computer.  Terin told Fesic as he went to check out the message because the only messages he would get on this world would be from one of the ads.  Fesic checked and saw he'd also received the same message, but waited for Terin to take care of things.

Hoping for another quick score, Terin read the message and saw:

           I am interested in your auction item.
           Please contact me at MD-3GKOrkSter

Annoyingly, the potential buyer didn't say what item he was interested in?  Grabbing his comms, Terin connected with the other party and the man on the other end asked, "How much for the hookah?"  At first, Terin was confused because they hadn't listed his hookah for sale.  He asked, "The hookah?" as he realized what must have happened because "He" had not listed it as Terin turned his head to glare at Fesic.  On the other end, the man answered, "Yeah.  Your ad said Cr 1,000."  Trying to be diplomatic to the man, because it wasn't his fault, Terin said, "Sorry.  This was listed by mistake.  It wasn't supposed to be sold.  Sorry." and cut the line.

Quickly after he was off the comms, Terin leaned over toward Fesic and swung an unprepared snap punch at Fesic's head.  In the restaurant, they were the only outsiders, so everyone in the place who could was surreptitiously watching them.  Various observers watched while they ate, and when one of the off-worlders made a call on his comms.  Then, after the call ended, they watched when that off-worlder leaned towards the other and swung a wild and unprepared punch at the other's head!  Fesic was knocked off his chair only because he really didn't expect Terin to throw the punch, and the diners around them reacted to the sudden violence.  The uneaten part of Fesic's sandwich had gone flying and was now decorating the floor.

Realizing what must have happened, Fesic then started laughing hilariously, confusing the other diners and staff as he dusted himself off and sat back in his seat.  At the same time, Terin had gotten another message offering him Cr 1,500 for the hookah if it was in working order.  Sending a message back, repeating that it was not for sale, Terin then got a message reading "Dick :(".  Not realizing he'd already lost the conversation, Terin sent back, "No.  That would be my shipmate."  Still, the buyer answered, "What's his comms data?" and Terin actually sent it to the man.

When Fesic then got a message, he smiled and tried to hand the comms to Terin, saying, "It's for you."  Terin shrugged and said, "It's your comms so it's for you."  Giving up and reading the message himself:

     The dick doesn't want to sell it.  How much?

Answering the message while Terin watched, Fesic sent, "Please wait for an update.  He's being a dick."  When the buyer asked if Fesic had an idea how long the delay would be, Fesic guessed it would take two hours.  After answering the buyer, Fesic called the waitress back over and ordered a replacement sandwich.  The confused staff of the restaurant just shrugged and went back to business.  Of course, that meant Terin had to wait around until Fesic's new meal came and he ate.  After that, they went back to the ship.

Back there, the first thing Terin did was make sure his stateroom was secured.  After that, he relaxed in the ship's lounge and watched vids.  Fesic sat down at a terminal in the lounge and checked all the ads to see if there were any nibbles despite not having gotten any messages.  He did see that each of the ads had listings of the number of views, so people were seeing the ads, but there had only been the one response so far.  After that, Fesic spent some time trying to figure out how the city was laid out outside of the "near port" section, and then looked for a gym he could get to.  Fesic found that services like gyms tended to be communal and an organic part of a neighborhood or facility cluster.

That meant that everyone went to the gym in their neighborhood, in the cluster in which they worked or in the neighborhood of those they were visiting.  There were very few "for hire" gyms and they were restricted to executives or other paying members but none were near or related to the port.  Looking at the maps, Fesic estimated it would be nearly ninety minutes walk to the nearest park.  Since there didn't appear to be any kind of taxi service, he could go to the shops along spacer row and see if he could set up some kind of ride for hire if he wanted?  Shrugging, Fesic decided the walk was good exercise too, and he could text his buyer while walking to discuss the delays needed for the sale.

Evening Plans And Further...

     By the time Rol was serving dinner, Mikah and Zimzod had recovered from working with reviving the passengers.  Fesic was almost back from his walk to the park.  Emkir had been free of bridge duty and was watching vids and relaxing in the ship's lounge with Aali.  Before he secured the bridge, Aali helped Emkir wipe the bridge down with lemon-vanilla scented wipes, "for Aiden's pleasure".  As they ate, Jocelynn gave her report and told the others she'd set up to take training class on a prospector the next day.

The crew now had one question before them.  Did they write off Brian's books or go out looking for the family?  Jocelynn was all for going out in a prospector and going in search of the family.  Hearing her idea, Terin asked, "Jocelynn?  It's a really big planet and we have no idea where they are.  What do you think your chances of actually..."  At that, Jocelynn interrupted Terin saying, "Well, we can get the prospecting plot they filed with the office."  Aiden chimed in and reminded Jocelynn that finding them in the prospector depended on that vehicle's sensors.  He pointed out the chances would likely be a lot better using the ship's sensors instead.  Still, he didn't sound enthusiastic at all about taking the ship out for the search.

Terin then asked if Jocelynn had checked with the port to see if the vehicle the Montgomerys had taken had an active comms link they could call?  When it turned out no one had tried that, Terin recommended they try before going out in the acid.  Despite the sense Terin was making, Zimzod shook his head and said, "What a fucking know it all."  Turning to Jocelynn, who obviously wanted to drive the prospector, Zimzod said, "You should beat him up." with a smile on his face.

Jocelynn admitted that was a good idea and they should try it.  Jocelynn said she'd check with city central on it.  Following on that, Rol announced he'd be meeting with Colonel Ahizam, the commander of the marines stationed at the lab, after dinner for drinks.  Out of the blue, Zimzod got this look of disgust on his face and in his most accusatory tone, said, "Rol!  You two timing asshole!  How could you do that to Jocelynn?!".  And just as suddenly, all conversation froze for a second before they all burst out in hilarious laughing!

After the laughter had died down, Mikah told Rol, "Find out what you can about this mysterious project that's going on out there.  Looking back at Mikah, Rol asked, "You want to know about that?" and when Mikah said, "Yeah", Rol agreed to find out what he could.  With a leering look, Zimzod asked, "So, is Jocelynn going to make it a threesome?"  That confused Jocelynn until Rol asked her, "Do you want to come?" and Jocelynn said she would.

After the meal, Terin called the city's comms center and asked if there was a global communications net?  The operator said there was a network, but it was hardly global or needed to be.  Terin was also told that environmental and other issues often caused interference, but anyone could try to contact a comms link in the field.  The other question would be if the operators of the specific prospector wanted to listen?  If they could be reached, they may well have their comms turned off for whatever reason.  Or the comms link could have been disabled.

Even if they wanted to, they could be far enough out or under enough interference that they couldn't answer back.  That was, of course, unless they decided to burn the battery.  The agent then realized he was an off worlder and explained that "burning the battery" meant hitting the panic button and raising a transponder alarm.  That used all the power remaining except for life support, communications and exterior lights to send a rescue request to everyone would could receive it.

When Terin asked about sending a message to the Montgomerys, they said that was the easy part.  All he had to do was pay them to send a message and they would.  Then, it would be up to the Montgomerys if they wanted to respond, or even if they could...if they had their comms active at all?  When he asked how much it would cost to send a message, he was told it was Cr 50.  Letting Mikah know what he'd learned, she agreed they wanted to send a message and paid the Cr 50.  The operator told them that got them the message and an operator to watch their screens for a response from the comms for the next two hours.  So Mikah had them send the message: "We are Brian Montgomery's crew.  We have stuff for you and we need to meet."

Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     The crew were finishing dinner and Rol was preparing to meet the Colonel for drinks.
     Jocelynn was planning to meet the Colonel with Rol.
     Terin had just paid to have a call sent to the Montgomerys and had a two-hour wait to see if they responded?
     Everyone else had no after dinner plans.

Next: Dropping The Rock!