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Regina Plans And Preparations
     Except for Terin, the crew were gathered for dinner at the suite after a day of differing activities.  Aali spent much of her time helping Jocelynn understand the manual on stent use.  The rest of their time, they spent sparring in zero-G, where Aali was certainly the student, after which they relaxed.  Emkir and Fesic spent their day working on the gunnery training software, completing a fourth day on that project, until they all returned to the suite.

Mikah had relaxed through the morning, as she was still on light duty, and spent the afternoon having her used thruster pack tested in Credo City.  Aiden and Zimzod discussed the particulars of the sniper rifle before doing stent work.  Aiden had explored the grounds and ordered fiber-optic camera units while Zimzod did gear maintenance and Terin visited nearby museums.  As it came time for dinner, Terin was still at the museum while the others were gathered at the suite.

After eating, Aiden first wanted to hit the Instel-Arms network application and order four new magazines for his shotgun.  He also ordered three magazines for the submachinegun he'd bought on the station orbiting Dinomn on 291-1113.  Past his orders, Aiden investigated explosives the crew could use to blow doors open without getting close to the doors, like when using breaching charges.  Exploring the options, Aiden first focused on det-cord, but quickly realized they would have to get to the door and set that up too.  Added to that, Aiden also checked and found they had a quarter pound of plastic explosives and two detonators.  Still, every option required a crew member set them up, unless they got a robot or android to do it.

Seeing Aiden was on an I-A site, Emkir asked if he could add a few items.  Aiden agreed so long as they split the Cr 50 delivery fee.  When they agreed, Emkir added a plastic shin scabbard for his plastic blade.  Emkir also ordered shoulder holsters for his two 9mm pistols.  At the same time, Aali asked Zimzod if she and the rest of the crew could use his new gauss needle loaders.  When Zimzod said they could, she decided she didn't need to buy her own.

Done ordering, Aiden settled in to do some stent-work before relaxing to read.  Emkir and Aali talked about going into their bedroom for an evening of fun.  That was cut short when Mikah called a crew meeting to talk about the fact the Prince and Arch-Duke would be arriving the next day.  When she was reminded Terin wasn't there, she got him on the comms in the museum cafeteria and told him what was up and to get somewhere private so he could join in.  Agreeing, Terin went looking for somewhere private while Mikah put the comms on speaker-mode so he could hear and be heard.

Starting off, Mikah reminded them all the Prince and Arch-duke were arriving the next day and they were expected to be involved, though they'd not yet been told how.  Mikah then said, "I want everyone to be prepared for shit to hit the fan, because you know that will happen.  And when it does, we'll be blamed.  And, somehow, all the other authorities and troops will disappear and the situation will fall on us.  So, I want everybody to be absolutely on their game tomorrow."  Terin cut her off joking, "So, we should all go in our combat armor?"  As the others laughed, Mikah said, "No" and then admitted, "I wish, but we can't.  You know how these things work."

As they then went over the dress code, Fesic joked, "So, how many breaching charges should I have in my pocket?"  Aali got in first, asking how many he could fit in the pocket while the others laughed.  When Terin asked what time the ship would arrive and if they knew other details, Mikah decided to use a ship's comms and call the seneschalate to ask, because they'd not updated her.  When Mikah's call was answered, the operator asked how Mikah could be helped?

After Mikah said she and her crew were to be part of the greeting party the next day and needed information on the event, the operator asked her to connect her Ident to the comms.  When Mikah did that, the operator confirmed who she was and said the crew should arrive at the seneschalate by 11am the next morning in 'court dress'.  As far as weapons were concerned, they were told they should bear honor weapons only.  Thanking the operator, Mikah cut the line and went back to the meeting.

Mikah was reminded Jocelynn had the right to bear arms for the rest of their visit on-world as Aiden asked for a refresher on what honor weapon was?  Mikah told them honor weapons included a single blade and fire arm reasonable to the situation.  And combat weapons were not reasonable to a welcoming party.  Mikah also warned Aiden about handing his custom snub pistol to anyone of rank or importance.  Emkir also reminded everyone to wear their executive armor when they dressed the next morning.  Mikah hammered the point that they all had to keep their eyes open for anything and everything because she expected them to be blamed for anything that went wrong.  Responding to what she'd said, Mikah was asked if they should bring a video-drone to put up?

Mikah had forgotten they had any, because they had not used them since they were bought.  Aali said she had a palm-drone and no one remembered Rol had also bought some drones, which were stored in his gear on the ship.  Terin asked if they'd be allowed to have drones and several of the crew reminded him the media would have thousands of drones in the air, so one more wouldn't matter.  The talk of drones reminded Emkir of his data-sunglasses and he decided to wear them to the event.  That would let him capture an image of who he was looking at and search the local network for information on them.

Since Emkir would have his glasses, Mikah decided he'd wear the wrist unit and control the drone too.  They all nodded and Mikah asked if there was anything else the others wanted to talk about before the meeting ended?  Emkir said he needed to practice with the drone if he was going to be the person controlling it, and Aali agreed.  So, when the meeting ended, Aali went to their bedroom to get the drone and they went outside the building to play with it in the night sky.

Mikah went to her bedroom and got out the clothes she planned to wear the next day.  She also planned to bring her laser pistol, with a spare clip in the bag matching the gown she'd be wearing.  Mikah also got out her coral sword, because everyone would assume it was only decorative.  She'd wear executive armor, so it was good her gold and black court gown hung down to her ankles and no one would see the executive armor underneath.  In her bag, Mikah put some "just in case" medical supplies in.

Jocelynn planned to continue reading the stent manual through the evening while Fesic also sparked up an Instel-Arms order page and ordered a spare power pack for his laser rifle.  That cost him Cr 2,000.  After ordering his pack, Fesic sparked up a screen and looked for any horticultural vids on Regina's flora to watch.  Aiden had gone into his stent-work and would read after that.  Before hitting the rack, Aiden prepared his clothes for the next day and loaded magazines for his snub pistol.  He loaded one magazine with HE and Tranq rounds and another with HE and ball rounds.

Zimzod also did stent-work before settling in to watch vids with Mikah.  While they sat, he asked her if his new short sword would be an appropriate honor weapon and she said she didn't think it would.  The spikes and crude nature of the weapon made it more of a tool for the badlands.  Others over hearing the chat, suggested it might be appropriate for a Vargr court and the rest agreed it would be perfect for dealing with the Vargr.  Zimzod nodded and said he'd wear his cutlass the next day.

Learning At The Museum
     At the cryptographic museum, Terin had dinner at the cafeteria and taken part in Mikah's meeting by video link.  When that was done, he continued enjoying the displays and information he was seeing as he wandered the halls of the place.  Eventually, Terin came on a special display of 'Prismatic encoding'.  These were codes which were not only made of encrypted print, but were also printed so they could only be seen using certain custom-made prisms.  Those would be designed with dichromatic reflecting shifts internal to the crystal which would control the spectral sensitivity of the prism.

Because of that, anyone trying to read the data would need prisms designed to match the wavelengths for the colors used.  This allowed data to be encrypted into images which could be handed off without notice.  The example being used was a counterfeit Zhodani bank note for a lower tech world.  The note would be encrypted by a machine which was not on display and would have multiple layers of encryption printed into it.  One agent would pass the note only to other agents who asked for change of another note, so the counterfeit was never in circulation.

Then, the receiver would use an optic device equipped with the correct crystal.  The device would scan the note with each side of the prism installed, and then merge the images to present a final cryptogram.  Any message delivered was commonly also subject to another cypher 'just in case'.  And the display of this note was setup in four parts.  The first was from the point someone would walk up to the display, and had an explanation and a direct and magnified view of the note.  From there, the note seemed unremarkable.

There were then three more stations, each of which showed the view from a different facet of the prism, and through a different dichromatic reflecting shift.  That way, a visitor could see each of the specific "parts" which would make up the whole image.  Past that, visitors could see a "normal print" view of the entire encrypted image, which in this case was the front facade of the museum.  While Terin was very interested to see the different views, he saw there was a crowd being held in queue because one apparent visitor was hogging one station while he worked with a stylus and electronic art pad.

Looking the man over, Terin could see he was wearing Vilani-style robes and would be "very tall" if he stood up from the viewer.  He looked to be in his 40's and had the tanned complexion Terin would expect of a spacer.  The man also had brown hair and when he turned to answer Terin's address, his eyes were brown.  From a tactical point of view, Terin also noted the man seemed left-handed.  When the man politely refused to move until he was done, Terin decided to be "super-nosey" and start working to peer around the man's arms or over his shoulder to see what he was doing?

At a point where Terin had gotten behind the man to try and peer over his shoulder, the man took a quick half-step back with a slight hunch before straightening up to bring his shoulder up directly under Terin's jaw.  Pushed back, Terin had his mouth suddenly slammed shut and was lucky his tongue was clear of his jaws as he backed off from the man.  As Terin backed off, the man quickly spun and began apologizing for 'accidentally 'bumping into Terin and became "hyper-polite" about the accident.  Terin decided to take things up a level and suggested the man be more careful in the future.

Engaging in verbal fencing, the man shrugged and said Terin shouldn't have been so close behind him.  That was a valid score because those who'd been watching had seen Terin appear to intentionally crowd the man.  Changing tacks, Terin went for his 'soft-spot' and said the man should move out of the way to let other patrons view the display.  The man waved that off, saying "The display isn't going anywhere so you can circle back."  Terin countered that he and his ship would be going somewhere and he shouldn't assume on the free time others had.

Indicating with his chin, Terin asked if the man was done with the display so others could check it out and the man dismissively said, "No.  I am not done.  You can come back later."  Terin said, "No" with a shake of his head and finished, "I don't think so." as he stepped up to lean toward the viewer and cut the man off.  In doing so, he neglected the basic history of the system, which had very recently been under siege and seen the need to exploit every resource for military or combat support.  So, most of Regina's citizens had either worked on defensive supplies and construction or served in combat.  And it would be easy to mistake that in any generic person encountered, say, in a museum.

Being very blatant about giving the man his shoulder as he stepped in, Terin was mostly looking for the sort of change in posture that suggested the man would draw back a hand or foot for a punch or kick.  And while the man did very slightly feather his stance, to present a more thin target, and raise his right hand slightly, that was just the misdirection.  With Terin now maintaining awareness of the man's right, he made a very simple and quick gesture to reach out with his left hand and grab hold of Terin's left pinky finger.

Grabbing that, and before Terin could react, the man twisted the finger just shy of breaking it, but also in a way that sent a line of pain arching up the nerve from his finger to his shoulder.  The man then took advantage of that pain and the specific grip he had on Terin's pinky to twist.  The result was that Terin involuntarily arched his back a bit, and so that Terin felt he couldn't react with his other hand without causing broken bones and more pain from his left hand.

Rendered essentially helpless by the man's move, Terin did the only thing he could and loudly started calling out, "Ow!  Ow!  Ow!  Stop it!  Stop it!"  He hoped the man would back off or museum security would come running.  What Terin didn't know was that there was a person watching who wasn't in uniform.  That woman would step in if someone tried to improperly touch or interact with any of the displays and call for uniformed help if needed.  And she had been aware of events as they unfolded while giving others a running commentary.  As a result, one uniformed man soon arrived, but made no move to intervene.

Before the uniform arrived, the man holding Terin's pinky asked, "Are we going to move on to another display and circle back later?" in a very condescending tone.  Not willing to give in, Terin continued his loud cries and watched for security to come help him as the person being attacked.  Through the ring of observing bystanders, some of whom were filming on personal devices, Terin finally saw the guard arrive and called out to ask for help.  The guard told Terin, "Sir, he is our curator and you should follow his instructions."  He also made no move to intervene.

Hearing that, Terin did his best to relax in hopes of reducing the pain as he asked, "Will you please release me?"  The curator asked, "Are you now willing to bypass this display and come back in a bit, after I am done?"  When Terin emphatically said, "Yes I am", the man said "Wonderful!" and let go of Terin's finger before noting the honor weapon on Terin's hip and saying "I hope you have a pleasant evening at the museum My Lord."  The tone of his voice showed no regret or concern for what he assumed was Terin's nobility.  With that, he turned back to his work as the uniformed guard stepped a bit closer to be sure Terin would move on as he said he would.  Since Terin couldn't think of any laws the man had broken, and taking a que from the guard who apparently didn't think so, Terin moved on.

Not much later, as Terin wandered the displays, he was approached by another uniformed guard who told him the display was available again.  Terin thanked him for the update and asked if there was a reason the curator didn't take displays out of public view when he was doing work with them?  The officer simply shrugged and suggested Terin ask the curator.  Not finding any value in that suggestion, Terin thanked the man and continued his visit to the museum until he decided it was time to return to the suite.  When he got there, he found the others were relaxing or had disappeared into bedrooms.  When Mikah saw he she told him to set his alarm for 7am.


Hurry Up And Wait
     As the crew woke to their alarms and did their morning routines, this was Zimzod's fourth day in the gravChair and the first day Mikah was not on light duty.  Everyone got into their executive armor before dressing in shipsuits for the moment.  After breakfast, Mikah had all the crew check their equipment, do a comms check and make sure things which needed to be charged were.  They would wait until they had to before changing into their "good clothes" and got into the gravCar to transit to the seneschalate.  They each then dove into their wardrobes to decide what to wear if they hadn't already laid out clothes.

Zimzod wore his 'classic styled' formal Suit, bought on Rhylanor.  He still wore his Imperial Marine's Dress Cutlass from his belt on the left side while having his engraved gauss pistol on his right.  Jocelynn wore her emerald green gown with her emerald pendant, and loaded her semi-automatic snub pistol, belting the holster on her right hip and cutlass on the left hip.  She put two extra magazines for the snubbie in her handbag, one of ball ammo and the other of tranq.  Fesic wore the suit he'd been given by Duke Luis, and hung his blade scabbard from his belt before grabbing one of the stun pistols they'd brought up from the ship when they'd armed up for the assault.

Mikah wore her court gown in the Deneb colors along with her domain earrings.  She had her laser pistol on her right hip, with a spare magazine in her carry bag.  On her left hip, she had her coral sword.  Terin wore his dark Green and Maroon suit and belted the gauss pistol and dress sword he'd gotten as gifts from Duke Luis.  Emkir wore the silver outfit he'd gotten from Duke Luis while Aali wore her new charcoal grey gown.  Aali had her snub revolver pistol loaded with tranq, and had six spare rounds of ball in her handbag.  Emkir brought the engraved 9mm he'd gotten from Duke Luis and his blade with the fire arm on his left side because he was left-handed. 

Done getting dressed and ready, the crew got into the gravCar and lifted for the seneschalate buildings.  As they got close to where they would normally land, they could see three 'very large' grav-transports grounded outside the buildings and a very large gathering of people in all colors of outfits.  Soon after they could see that, the vehicle was called by security demanding they identify the occupants of the car.  After Mikah did that, they told Mikah to surrender control of the vehicle to a ground operator who would bring them in.  Giving up control, they rode as the gravCar turned away, north of the seneschalate complex.  Eventually, the car settled into a space on a vast 'vehicle park' from which attendees were being ferried to the muster site.

There, each of the crew were checked and passed by security before being directed to a grav-Tram for the ride back to the seneschalate complex.  As they rode into the crowd, waiting to get to the check in, they heard a particular set of voices.  They looked out to see Aali's parents, decked out in their best clothing, calling to them and waving.  Few in the crew were surprised how quickly the new Lord and Lady were integrated into events as they waved back.  Finally arriving, the crew underwent another security check before being allowed to wander into the massive stew of "everyone who was anyone" on Regina, but was also not important enough to warrant special treatment.

Checking in with their Idents, the crew were told they'd be part of "Honor Guard C", and sent off to where that group were mustering after being told they'd get their further instructions there.  Getting to the proper muster area, they saw a huge number of people wearing lapel pins or other jewelry indicating one chivalric order or another, from members of the "Order of the Arrow", "the Scepter" and other orders including a number of Knight Defenders of the Marches, etc...  Some, but fewer of the knights were members of the Order of the Emperor's Guard, meaning their unit had been brought to Capital(Core subsector) and served four years in a regiment of the Emperor's Guard!

Finally being directed, they got to the group directing the organization of Honor Guard C, and saw it was someone they'd been introduced to before.  Just the once.  And a number of the crew were neither happy nor comfortable with that.  The woman was Dame Elane Shankarr Muudashir, C.E.G, and Grand Duchess Delphine's Grand Niece!  Dame Elane was also the ruler of Mora, in her Aunt's name, and Heir Apparent to the Grand Duchy, which included the entire Spinward Marches Sector.  Feeding this information to Jocelynn, it was explained that "C.E.G." stood for "Companion of the Emperor's Guard" and meant she was not a simple member of the order but had been an officer in her regiment.  Ranks went from a simple "K.E.G." or Knight of the Emperor's Guard, to C.E.G.  Next would be "KCEG" for Knight-Commander of the Emperor's Guard and then "KGEG" Which was the lone Knight-General of the Emperor's Guard, who reported directly to the Emperor himself.

Despite the fact they'd only met briefly, more than a year before at a reception on Rhylanor, Mikah wasn't surprised when the other woman recognized her, Aiden, Zimzod and Emkir right off, and called them over.  Dame Elane didn't seem at all surprised at Aiden's new youthful appearance and Mikah was happy to let him take the lead in, because Delphine had knighted him.  Once they were all checked in and Elane had met Jocelynn, the Knight checked out their weapons and what equipment they'd brought with them.  Seeing they had a drone, Elane ordered that connected to a core unit of drones so they could add it to the visual security network they had set up.

Dame Elane then explained there would be three tiers of security ranging from visible to non-visible.  "Honor Guard A" would be those two columns of people who'd march up the processional path to meet the disembarking VIP's.  They would be visible and their one job would be to protect them or get them out of harm's way if things went pear-shaped.  Next would be "Honor Guard B", who would appear to be banner carriers and other ephemera.  Their role would be to line the processional path and be part of the immediate visual security.  Should anything go sideways, they were tasked with the combined role of supporting any members of Honor Guard A in their sector while also counter-attacking any aggressors.

Finally, we are "Honor Guard C", and our role will be to move through the open corridors between crowd segments.  In the event something happens, we will be required to directly join in the attack on any aggressors while Honor Guard B creates a wall to hold the path and Honor Guard A gets the VIP's out of danger.  Until then, we are to wander as security and work to spot the threat before it goes operational.  If that happens, our jobs are not to defend or protect anyone but to end the threat, or die trying.  Our lives are forfeit to that goal. Hearing that, Mikah turned to the others and said, "Told ya." before turning back to Dame Elane and saying, "We can do that" with a smile on her face.  Elane nodded and said, "I know.  That's why you were given to me."

Because he was in a gravChair, Zimzod was separated out and assigned to a group of grav-assisted security members who were there to police and observe the many grav-assisted members of the media covering and filming the arrival of the Prince and Arch-Duke.  While Zimzod was tasked with observation and overwatch along with the others, he was also told he could be called on to force another grav-assisted unit from the air if need be, even if that called for ramming them.  He was told to try and prevent the bulk of any debris from falling on the crowd if that were possible but his primary goal was to take down any threat he saw or was ordered to target.

Once Dame Elane said the unit was mustered, they had a briefing and everyone was made aware of every segment of the event's expected schedule.  They were also told of a number of contingencies and emergency routines.  The Imperial Navy had technical control of all security and the entire space around the continent was enclosed in Naval security.  The local venue was surrounded by Imperial Marines and many were air-capable, so Zimzod might actively interact with a number of them.  If anything went wrong, Dame Elane promised each of them there was enough media and security coverage they would know who failed to do their jobs if all hell broke loose.  So, she advised them, don't fail.

A Bang Of A Job
     What followed was almost two hours of waiting while the further preparations were finished and the rest of the crowd arrived.  One of the last groups to arrive were Duchess Seldrian and her party, due to the assessed threats believed potentially targeting her.  Still, her arrival evoked cheers and a happy response from the crowd.  Some, out of support and many more out of relief because her arrival meant things were likely about to get under way.  Finally, a number of speakers began hooting in the signal which meant the arrival of the Prince was imminent.  Searching the skies, the dot which was the on-coming craft was spotted.

As the crew scanned the crowds and watched the incoming ship, more than one of them expected it to erupt in a sudden explosion.  Despite that, the ship simply approached until those very well trained in visually identifying craft could tell it was a special design of ship's boat from a Tigress class dreadnaught.  In fact, those trained as engineers could see the lanthanum-grid traced across the ship's hull which meant it was, itself, a starship!  More than a few who realized that also accepted that rank hath its privileges.  Soon enough, the ship landed and docking and debarkation work had started so there was no time for idle speculation.

While the armored heavy transport settled into a cradle and was being secured, her significant fighter escort peeled off and started circling the city in an orbit.  That let them to react or respond to any number of threats while also showing off for those watching below.  In his "orbit", Zimzod's biggest challenge when checking out the media rigs was doing his best to see if any of those very elaborate pieces of floating equipment hid a weapon or weapon mount?  At one point, Zimzod had to get so close to one rig that he buzzed the crew and they started calling complaints to him about air safety and such.  When Zimzod said he was security, the crew went back to filming but made sure they kept their distance from him.

On the ground, Jocelynn was both in and entirely out of her element.  She was used to walking ground patrols whenever her ship had entered a system and her unit was sent on patrol.  The differences here were both the type of crowd and what could possibly go wrong.  Added to that, she was not only not in her battledress, or with her unit, but looking up from the bottom of a very deep barrel at all the nobility surrounding her.  For all she knew, she could be the only commoner within two kilometers of her personal space.  And "She" was security.  She and her friends used to laugh at the losers who ended up guarding bases and government buildings because there were always bored officers moving past who needed someone to screw with.  Now, her only protection was that none of them knew she was a commoner.

Still, she had a job to do and she was moving along and scanning everyone she could see.  At one point, Jocelynn spotted a man in a horrifyingly garish outfit which might have made sense to the Vargr.  What she noticed was that the man was digging deep into one of his pockets and he came up with just the sort of round "ball-like" thing to be a grenade!  As he started to manipulate it, Jocelynn got and directed Mikah's attention.  As Mikah turned to look, she first saw the man playing with the object, and then she saw it rise up into the sky!  Instinctively, Mikah drew her laser and fired at the object, missing it by some distance.

As she pulled the trigger, Mikah told Jocelynn, "Take that man down.  Take him into custody and tell those around him that he is injured and you are helping him to medical support."  Instead, Jocelynn calmly approached the man and said, "Excuse me sir, I'm going to have to ask you to come with me please?"  His reaction was much different than she was used to when she used to do this in battledress.  The man looked down on Jocelynn and angrily demanded, "Who in the stars are you?  Do you know who I am?!"  Very plainly, Jocelynn told him, "I'm security.  And no, I don't know who you are.  But I have noticed you are launching objects into the air in a highly secure area."

After a second of glaring at her, the man said, "Yes.  That's my drone." and extended his arm so she could see the device display on his wrist.  As Jocelynn realized this might not be a security issue, the man began telling her he was Asharsi Shushu Kumdaal Irmigi, Lord of the town of Cysio Pethe.  The anxiety in Jocelynn's gut which had started to build now relaxed a bit because this guy was only local nobility, and she had Mikah backing her up.  Partly hearing what was being said, Mikah told Jocelynn to proceed with her orders as Mikah balanced her arm and took another shot at the object the man had launched.

Sadly for Mikah, the further away the orb got, the less likely she was to be able to hit it because pistols were not suited for longer ranges.  Thanks to the sensors set up over the entire event, Mikah's first shot had activated a number of protocols and responses.  So, just after she fired a second time, Mikah got a ping from Dame Elane herself while other uniformed team members started to arrive.  Mikah was asked what was happening and explained a man had thrown an unidentified object into the air and Mikah was trying to take it down.

At the same time, Jocelynn got on her comms as other security were arriving and said, "This is Lord Asharsi and he has shown me he was launching a drone camera.  Is this permitted behavior?"  While she did that, the uniforms came in and checked Lord Asharsi's Ident and other credentials.  All this data fed to Elane's board and she evaluated everything before ordering Mikah and Jocelynn back into formation and told them to let the situation go.  Jocelynn apologized to Lord Asharsi and pointed out they were simply making sure everyone was safe.  Behind her, Jocelynn could hear one of the troopers telling the Lord he should flag someone in security down the next time he wanted to launch something.  Despite that, she could hear the angry sputtering of the Lord as she said to herself, "Just push it until someone does arrest you."  She'd seen that before.

As he walked his patrol, Terin noticed a man on a grav unit hovering outside where he should have been.  Watching, Terin saw the man seemed to be moving his gravSeat in a circular motion forward and up then backward and down.  Looking closer, Terin could see the man had no media gear or other equipment which would explain what he was doing there?  When Terin called it in, Dame Elane alerted all her fliers and asked who had eyes on the target Terin described?  Zimzod said he could see the man, but only from a distance and he wasn't anywhere near him.

Zimzod's read of the situation was that he was too far off and covering his own space, so he said he'd observe and react if needed.  At the same time, other closer units responded and moved in on the man.  As three security troopers closed in, the man broke his circling and buzzed off in a direction diagonal from Zimzod.  His path brought him a bit closer to Zimzod, but not really in his direction.  Seeing there were three people chasing the man already, and others responding, Zimzod held off and continued watching his sector of the event.  Especially because, in his judgement, he could certainly chase the man but it was very unlikely he could intercept him.

With other security chasing the man down, Terin was most concerned with the chance the fleeing man was moving towards someone of importance.  But when he could see the man wasn't, Terin went back to searching his immediate area.  Around him, he could see some of the crowd were reacting to the activity as if it were some kind of performance and were giving off cheers.  Terin shook his head because who does pre-game crowd warm-up before the arrival of royalty and important political figures?  From his position, Zimzod continued to check the spot which should have stayed empty or been taken by a media platform.

Instead, he soon saw another person with a hover rig move in so Zimzod watched the new arrival.  As Zimzod watched, this newcomer took the position and held still, not moving to cover or pan the crowd, not reacting as events shifted.  Just steady in place.  Deciding that was odd, Zimzod called that in and Dame Elane called for spare units from Honor Guard B.  As some of those people came in, the newcomer turned their rig, fired a shot at the closing people with some weapon Zimzod could not see, and then fired a heavy burst of thrust to blast himself out of the area in a direction that didn't bring him any closer to Zimzod or anyone else in their team.

Both Zimzod and Terin raised their weapons and tried to gauge the risks and odds of taking a shot with a solid round over a large crowd.  Where Zimzod decided the risk was too dangerous, Terin decided to roll the dice and pulled the trigger before watching his target for any reaction.  When the target simply continued to flee with no reaction, Terin wrote off the shot as a miss.  Meanwhile, in the crowd, a man fell to the ground with a sudden pain to his right leg.  But pain and surprise soon turned to fear and terror as the man pulled up his pant leg to see why he felt pain and realized he was bleeding from two points on either side of his calf!

Things then escalated as those around him realized something had happened and started calling for medical support.  Security arrived just before medical support, and cleared the area around the injured man just because it was a sensible thing to do.  When the medics arrived, they brought their own gurney and supplies, and got the man off the ground because the wound was in the lower leg and there was no risk moving him.  After that, the team got into investigating and understanding the wound.  It would be minutes later before they could only say that it looked like a needle wound of some kind, but had no evidence of any weapon.

From that point, they could only work on suspicions.  Further securing that area, they brought in a forensics team and tasked them with finding any evidence of a needle.  If they could find any trace of the shattered needle, that could be tested to determine what kind of weapon was used to fire it?  From there, they could canvas all known events and video of the area to see if they could find the shooter?  But that investigation would take hours while the medical team rushed the man, a well to do franchise owner, to hospital.

As Zimzod and Terin followed reports on the two fleeing gravRiders, the second one had pushed enough thrust to bring himself high and out enough that one of the orbiting aerospace fighters was able to try him as a target of opportunity.  With his computers and other automated systems guiding his aim, he was able to lock and fire.  That target was struck and killed.  The first man was still fleeing but had been hemmed in by Regina military forces.  They were simply trying to decide if they still wanted him alive or would just kill him outright.  Even some of the media drones had realized "something" had happened and moved off to try and cover that story.

Prince Lucan As things progressed, the Prince's "boat" landed and settled into its cradle.  From there, the docking systems secured the craft and a boarding passage was extended.  It wasn't long after that when the speakers boomed a welcome to Prince Lucan Alkhalikoi Alkhalikoi and Arch-Duke Norris Aella Aledon.  This announcement came as a wave of Imperial Royal guards moved up to secure the boarding/disembarkation space and begin moving forward to start taking control of spaces which had been controlled by the Honor Guards from Regina.  As that played out, the crowd got their first views of Prince Lucan and Arch-Duke Norris.  The two men advanced into view waving as those nearby saw directly and the rest saw on a massive broadcast hologram of the men.  People could hardly miss the differences as the nineteen year old Prince walked with the fifty three year old Arch-Duke.

After some moments taking in and waving to the crowd, the group led by Duchess Seldrian moved forward and were recognized by the Royal guard.  Behind Lucan and Norris, another wave of assistants and other members of the entourage followed from the ship as the two men advanced and greeted Seldrian.  She was directly accompanied by Mr. Dilgaadin, with a small entourage following behind them.  After another pause, the line turned as Mr. Dilgaadin stepped back to join the entourage as Lucan, Norris and Seldrian waved to the crowd some more.  They then advanced as a line waving to the crowds as the passed and moving further into the center of the assembly.

This went on for some time until those who'd been briefed on it began checking for the expected gravCar.  When that car came in, flanked by protective escorts, it landed in the center of the processional corridor and the Prince, Arch-Duke and Duchess boarded.  After they were joined by a handful of others, including Mr. Dilgaadin, the gravCar then lifted and turned away to be escorted to the Ducal Estates ahead of the many sets of meetings that Lucan and Norris had planned before the ceremonies the next day.  After the car faded into the sky, the security announcements and broadcasts shifted to directing the crowd how to leave the assembly in as organized and orderly a method as possible.

A Surprise Ending
     The crew continued working with security as much as they could until sometime later, when Dame Elane contacted them.  She told them how to withdraw to a pick-up site from which they'd be taken to their gravCar so they could return to the suite.  Unfortunately, things didn't go that smoothly as they reached the pickup site.  A small detachment of law enforcement stepped forward and asked to speak to Sir Terin.  While Terin had put his attempt to shoot down the grav-Rider in the past, most of the crew didn't even know about it and the discussion that followed was a shock to them.

When Terin stepped forward, the lead investigator greeted him and explained that his gauss pistol shot had been captured on security video recordings.  They then told Terin they had identified one man in the crowd who had been wounded by a gauss pistol needle and had managed to recover very small remains of the round.  Added to that, initial computer data indicated that the angle of the man's wound very closely matched the path of travel from the round Sir Terin had fired.  As a result, they asked to be permitted to take a needle from his gauss pistol for testing and they were charging Terin with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon along with several other charges.

Normally one to step in, Mikah was surprised by the near 'open and shut' nature of the case as Terin Admitted he had fired a shot at one of the fleeing grav-riders.  Nodding, the investigator said that his people had talked to their best sharpshooters because most of them had been assigned roles in the day's event.  The man told Terin they had said they could not have made that shot, and asked Terin why he chose to take his shot?  Terin then responded, "Yeah.  I didn't go through that thought process.  I saw someone shooting at us and tried to shoot back."  They then told Terin the extent of the wound had put the man in hospital where he was being treated.

Terin became more upset as the results of his actions came home to roost.  In the end, the officers told Terin they would be passing their investigation details on to the courts to handle.  They then left Terin in the custody of his captain since they were not currently allowed to leave Regina because of the Duchess' decree.  While the police left, Mikah stepped up and her voice was deadly serious as she said, "First off, you had better lawyer up!  And that's gonna come out of your cash, not anybody else's.  The ship's not paying for it."  Terin nodded and said, "OK."

Mikah then continued, "I want you to seriously evaluate your skills, which do not include "sharp shooter"."  She stressed the words 'do not'.  Mikah then finished, "And, from now on.  Stop trying to act like the hero."  At that point, Zimzod stepped up and asked, "Can I add something else to that?"  When Mikah nodded, Zimzod told Terin, "You are gonna spend the rest of this fuckin' visit to Regina wearing the poopie hat."  What followed was a moment of, 'Um....Did he really use the word 'Fucking' and then feel the need to use the word 'poopie' instead of 'shit'?  Really??"  Then, despite the situation and whoever was in earshot, the entire crew burst out laughing.

As they recovered, Terin tried to defend himself, saying, "I wasn't trying to act like a hero.  I was trying to do my job."  Zimzod shot that down saying, "Terin?  I had a better line on him and I didn't take it."  Trying to wipe that comment aside, Terin answered, "Well, I didn't know who had a line on him and who didn't."  but Zimzod interrupted him.  "No!  It was just too risky to take that shot so I didn't."  Zimzod's tone conveyed that the same thought should have stopped Terin from pretending he had a chance to hit the target.  Nodding, Terin said he understood.

Zimzod pounded in the final nail, reminding Terin they had enough security surrounding the site that someone would have got him.  Which turned out to be the case in spectacular style.  Again, all Terin could do was nod and say, "Ok.  Understood."  After that, they still had to get back to the suite, clean up from the day's adventures and have a late lunch.  Their cooking staff had been and gone with a meal safely laid out and waiting for them buffet style.  After he changed, Terin took his food over to one of the terminals and connected to the Order House to get the advice and assistance of the Order's concierge.

After Terin was asked and explained what he needed legal assistance for, they reminded him the charges should be considered a very grave matter.  Still, they gave him the contact data for three different firms whom members of the Order had used satisfactorily.  Terin would spend the rest of that afternoon contacting each of the firms to see who he would end up hiring for his defense?  Aiden spent the time after lunch in gear maintenance before looking to see who wanted to do group stent studies?  Zimzod and Aali said they'd join in.  Jocelynn was not ready, Terin was 'otherwise engaged' and Rol was spending the next few months dead to spite his assassin.

Since everyone had to do gear maintenance and put things up, Aiden, Aali and Zimzod were ready to do their stent-work about the same time.  While they did that, Emkir decided to dig into the local cargo scene and see what materials and prices he could find?  While Emkir did that and the others did stent work, Mikah, Jocelynn and Fesic decided to play a competitive target-shooting holographic game.  Emkir planned to join them after finishing his scan of the cargo boards.  After the stent-work, Zimzod called the Duchy's concierge for a line on a jeweler to create for him a set of lapel pin and cuff links that displayed his coat of arms.

When Zimzod connected with a jeweler, he told the person answering the comms what he wanted.  After that, he was transferred to a jeweler, who got into the specifics.  First, he had Zimzod send him a copy of the coat of arms.  Then they talked about metals and Zimzod selected a yellow gold face with a backing of gold-one steel.  When the man asked Zimzod about the shape of the face, Zimzod said it should be round.  Since the arms were in the shape of an escutcheon, there would be empty space to either side.  When asked, Zimzod said he wanted a pair of gryphons as supporters.  The arms themselves would be done in a mix of cloisonné and in-lay enamel.  The lapel pin would be similar but not have supporting animals.  After the decisions were made, the man said he could deliver it in a couple of days for Cr 2,000.  Zimzod thanked him and they ended the call.

While Emkir worked the boards and came up with some speculative cargos he felt might be good depending on where they went, he and Mikah talked, and agreed they had no idea where they were going?  That meant, they couldn't buy a cargo tailored for their destination, so they should wait.  After that, Emkir joined in on the shooting game while Terin was still on the line with his potential legal representation.  Off the mark, one firm was luke warm on the idea of defending Terin while the two other firms really didn't like the case to start with and were not really interested in taking the case.  Terin decided their positions made his choice for him as he went with the firm that had been luke warm about the case.

Nodding, the lead lawyer for the team they were giving Terin explained the case they planned to dig into the case and make sure all Terin's rights were protected and that he would get the best outcome.  They did require a Cr 1,000 retainer up front, which would be followed up by a charge for billable hours when the case was resolved.  But, they did make sure Terin knew this case could turn against him, especially due to the comments he admitted he'd made to the police.  By the time the call ended, none of the participants was particularly happy and the fact that most of his crew were moving about the suite shooting holograms only served to mock him.

It didn't help Terin's mood that Emkir had also broken out his last bottle of whiskey and it was quickly being emptied.  During the talk with his lawyers, Jocelynn had broken out her chocolate fountain and Mikah her funnel cake maker.  After some discussion, during which the suite staff reminded her Ladyship she did have a cooking staff, the ingredients were gathered and the crew now had funnel cakes to dip in melted chocolate while they drank and chased down holograms.  Seeing the party that had formed around him as he got off the comms, Terin accepted it and joined in.

Thanks to the drinking, Jocelynn, Emkir and Mikah were "Very happy" by dinner time, while Aiden and Aali had only sipped.  As they were seated, Mikah's comms began to buzz.  Not pleased and not behind her usual filters, Mikah answered with a "Yeah, what?" to find herself looking at Dame Elane.  Realizing who was calling, Mikah then said, "Oh.  Hello."  Dame Elane was not in a good mood to start, and she said she wanted to speak with Mikah and her executive officer along with Terin.  Asking Elane for a moment, Mikah called Zimzod and Terin and guided them all to an empty room.

In a cross tone, as she watched Mikah's behavior on the comms, Elane asked if she'd called at a bad time?  Mikah just shrugged back and said, "As good as any" in a tone showing how little she cared.  Waiting a beat, Elane asked, "Are you sure?" and Mikah straightened up and answered, "Yes."  Thanks to bad timing in the moment, they heard Fesic yelling "Finish him!" as those going after a hologram from the still-running game took it down.

Being on world as a representative of Duchess Delphine, Dame Elane told them she had been placed in charge of an office and given temporary authority to resolve the various legal events which came out of the day's ceremony.  Not surprisingly, the top case on her desk was the investigation of Sir Terin Yundis Geryen's accidental shooting of an event attendee.  Elane said she'd been further informed Sir Terin had retained legal counsel.  Hearing that, Mikah looked at Terin as he confirmed he had.  Turning to address Terin in the comms, Dame Elane asked, "Sir Terin.  What have you to say in this matter?"

In an uncertain tone, Terin answered, "Well, I witnessed someone on a grav platform firing on security personnel and I returned fire."  After a pause, he continued, "I took a shot and I missed.  Terribly.  And, unfortunately, my round did not clear the crowd and an attendee was injured."  Nodding, Elane replied, "Well.  You seem to have the facts straight." in a tone that said that had not improved her mood.  Elane then continued, "Still, I have good and bad news."  Terin got in a quip, saying, "They do seem to come in pairs like that."

Nodding, Elane said, "We have talked to the police and your attorneys as well as the wounded man.  He'd not yet spoken to legal counsel himself, and he has agreed not to have you charged.  He chose to recognize this as an accident in support of the Arch-Duke."  Nodding, Terin said, "Wow.  Well, that's a relief.  What about the City of Atora?"  Nodding once herself, Elane said, "The city legal officers have no plaintiff, and the powers that be would like this to 'go away', reducing the issues rising from the ceremony.  So they are willing to wave any charges and you won't face any legal repercussions."

When Mikah asked about the bad news, Elane told them that Terin was required to not attempt to contact the Prince, Arch-Duke or Duchess unless they initiate said contact for the rest of his time on-world.  When Terin said he understood that, Elane also told him that in the events where Terin is contacted by them, their security will make absolutely certain he is not armed "before" he was in their presence.  When Elane said, "Thank you for your time" and prepared to end the call, Mikah made it clear the rest of the crew would make certain he was disarmed the instant they knew any visit was imminent.

No sooner did Dame Elane end that call when Terin's comms started to buzz.  Answering that, Terin found himself talking to his senior lawyer.  After congratulating Terin on the surprising outcome of his case, he reminded Terin they had been preparing for the case.  So, there was still a cost for that work, and the lawyer said his firm would be sending an itemized bill in case Terin had questions about the charges?  The total cost was Cr 1,800, covering the hours paralegals had spent gathering precedents and spent by the other lawyer on the case.  He'd called various offices to see how low this could be reduced to a variety of pleas?  Waiving off the itemized bill, Terin thanked them for their time and work, and paid them.

Shaking his head after the payment was made, Terin considered that he might be better off going unarmed for the rest of his stay on Regina.  He also announced that he felt it would be a good time to break out the hookah.  That got cheers from the others because the whiskey was half gone.  After that, the party rolled right through dinner, past the death of Emkir's bottle and into the evening.  They were all having a better time when Mikah's comms started to buzz.  Sighing, Mikah moaned, "Never a day off" as she reached for the device and answered it.  This time, it was a caller from the seneschalate.

After Mikah's greeting, she was told they would like the crew to take part in a meeting the next day at 10am.  As Mikah was saying they would be there, Emkir called out, "What's the dress code" because he'd overheard.  Mikah was told dress would be 'business', and she thanked the caller and cut the connection.  Once off the line, Mikah called out, "OK guys!  Party over!"  After that, she explained the call to those who had not been eavesdropping.  Since it was just half past eight, Emkir announced they should all start drinking water while Mikah said they should watch the news.  Jocelynn agreed and said they might find out what the meeting was about?

INS Staupers They watched while much of the local news still covered the terror attacks days before.  There were still a lot of jitters and even some celebrations greeting the increased security a visit by the Prince would bring.  Of course, the lead story was on the arrival of the Prince and return of Arch-Duke Norris.  Multiple network links were available on both men and the many news stories related to their visit.  Another story covered a number of the ships in the fleet, including the highly advanced hospital ship, INS Staupers.  Suddenly, what had been a filler news story became of interest to Mikah because she knew she'd be hearing more about the ship.  When it was time for people to rack out, Mikah ordered the crew to set their clocks for 6:30.

Eight parsecs away, the xmail Fesic had sent to the University of D'Ganzio on Lanth had reached the Ghandi system and been transferred to a boat outbound to Lanth.


The First Shoe
     After the alarms went off and everyone finished their morning routines, had breakfast and dressed, they had two more hours before they had to leave for the seneschalate complex.  This was Zimzod's fifth day in the gravChair, so he was really looking forward to getting to walk again.  Mikah was pleased to no longer be on light duty!  As far as they knew, Prince Lucan and Arch-Duke Norris would be in meetings and visitations all that day.  There was no expectation they might call on the crew but Mikah did have her request submitted.

Fesic chose to relax for the next two hours as he considered aloud how he might help them bind Terin's hands.  Mikah laughed at that thought but reminded them all very loudly that Terin would be disarmed before he left the suite.  Mikah also joked about teaching Jocelynn how to set a bone using Terin's hands and real plaster.  There were even volunteers to make sure Terin's hand were really broken.  Mikah and Zimzod soon sat to watch the news but told Fesic she'd change the channel to an entertainment vid when she got bored.

Aiden did an hour of stent-work and then spent the next hour reading.  Jocelynn did gear maintenance.  Terin was in favor of passing on the whole 'breaking hands' and 'plastering' things.  He settled in to do stent-work before joining those watching vids.  After drinking as much caff as he could take, Emkir and Aali also joined those watching vids.  The crew relaxed for nearly an hour, when the news was broken into for a special report!  There were many jokes about Imperial actions to be taken against Terin or something of that nature.

Soon enough, the report began against the backdrop of a podium set up somewhere in Credo City, near Credo-down port as a reporter said that Prince Lucan was about to make an announcement.  While they waited for the Prince to appear, the media figures speculated the Prince might be about to announce a major new Imperial Navy project based in the Regina system.  After some time with the media talking in circles, the anchor broke in to say the Prince was approaching the podium.  On the screen, they could see the Prince followed by the Arch-Duke and Duchess Seldrian.  Soon, the Prince had begun his opening remarks as the local crowd settled down.

Getting into his speech, Prince Lucan announced the creation of a new Imperial Navy Command center to be based in the Regina system.  This new command would be considered a "Forward control" command.  This act hoped to shorten the time required to carry out any act of war which might be triggered by future Zhodani or Vargr moves.  The command center would be based on new ground based and orbital facilities with significant defensive power against the chance of another direct strike on the system.

Additionally, the Imperial Navy would commission the Regina shipyards to build out new slips and manufacturing centers to support a naval shipyard.  Once operational, those shipyards would be granted the contract to build a new class of cruiser for the Imperial Navy.  As the crew got caught in the excitement of the moment, Fesic was saying he'd like to see the designs of the new cruisers.  Mikah hoped out loud that, with all the excitement and coming construction, they might not miss a 'Happy Fun Ball of Death'.  Sadly for her, several people said the Navy would not miss something as large as a Tigress-class dreadnaught trying to sneak off...

Prince Lucan spoke for a total of fifteen minutes before he and Their Graces left the stage to continue their meetings, travels and visits.  Immediately after, each network had their paid military and economic experts begin the spin!  Each group, and sometimes competing groups where a network was large enough to pay out that much, had coverage going about how this would affect and improve the Regina system and her economy.  There were even those who complained such projects would only demand the Zhodani hit them harder the next time, and possibly even devastate the world.  Some responded diplomatically to such claims while others blatantly said they would, if only because they failed to take the world in the last few wars.

Finally, the time came to get into the gravCar and go to the seneschalate.  Preparing to board, Mikah checked everyone over and stopped Terin to make certain he was unarmed.  While she checked Terin over, a small group from the crew quietly chanted, "Cavity!  Cavity!  Search!"  On arrival at the complex, they were met by an android who said it would handle their vehicle and gave them directions to where they would be met.  There, they were met by another android which led them into the complex and to a 'boardroom-like' room.

After a wait of twenty minutes, a group of people came in with a mix of military uniforms and civilian clothes.  When it was time for introductions, they saw that those in civilian clothes were representatives of the Seneschalate while those in uniforms were from the Regina Navies except for one officer from the Imperial Navy.  Their spokesperson was a member of the seneschalate, and she told the crew the assembled representatives were there to thank the crew for their service to the system.  She also told them the Duchess would again allow them to leave the system in a few days, after the ceremonies were over.

Each of the representatives had data files with official seals to award them in thanks for their work.  Beyond that, the Seneschalate said they hoped that Sir Terin would go unarmed until they left the system.  Following that, the group spent the next two hours going over things they felt the crew had a need to know after their actions.  This included a number of actions they had not heard about as the larger picture of terror strikes and government counter-actions played out.  One of the main reasons they were updating the crew was that it had been decided to release a more complete update to the public and hopefully calm more nerves.

They also wanted the crew to understand the situation because they wanted the crew to remain prepared to respond if called.  This was because they were fairly certain they had broken all the remaining cells on-world and demoralized any surviving terrorists.  Still, there was the chance something new might break once the government came clean on what they planned to announce.  It would not be everything the crew were told, but it would be enough to possibly trigger the hold outs.  Especially with the Prince and Arch-Duke now on world.

As they talked, Zimzod asked about the one guy who flew off from the welcoming session on a grav_scoot.  They said they had captured the man and gotten him to talk under extreme pressure.  As a joke, Mikah asked if the man still had all his toes and got laughs from some of the crew and puzzled looked from the officials.  When one of the officials said that didn't really matter anymore in his current state, Mikah leaned back in her chair and said, "Oh!  He's with Munarshu." and got more laughs and confused looks.

When the meeting was winding down, Mikah had only one question.  She said she'd requested a meeting with the Arch-Duke and wondered if they could help her get that meeting?  She made sure they knew she wouldn't be picky about when or where, and that she wasn't trying to be pushy.  The woman from the seneschalate took that one and said, "As you can understand, there are a great many demands on the Arch-Duke's time and the primary people he will be dealing with are the Prince and Duchess.  Beyond that, she confirmed they did have Mikah's request for an audience and said they could try to "bump it up" a bit while also admitting none of those present had any real control over the Arch-Duke's time.

All Mikah could do was say "OK" before repeating, "We'd very much like to see him and pay our respects."  When Jocelynn then added, "And bug him" Mikah added, "Yes.  We do have a boon to ask."  Nodding, the woman said there was also someone else who'd arrived in-system for the ceremonies and wondered if he could meet with them?  Blindsided that someone would go through the seneschalate to meet them, Mikah asked, "OK.  Who would that be?" and was told it was His Grace, The Duke of Lunion!  That got a positive reaction from everyone except Aiden and Jocelynn.  Aiden was still being cloned when they'd been on Lunion and Jocelynn was still in cold sleep.

Mikah told the woman they would be very happy to meet with Duke Luis, and asked if the Duke of Vilis was on world too?  When she was told he was, she said she'd try to look him up too, not mentioning she was surprised he had not contacted them himself.  After that, Mikah was given the contact data for Duke Luis' representative so she could contact the aide and set up a meeting.  As they left the room, Fesic sarcastically quipped, "Wow!  We got out of that completely free!  We're completely safe now!"  That got a few laughs as they moved and the crew looked about, checking the place out now they were less worried about what was going to happen to them?

While making their way back out of the building, both Zimzod and Emkir looked down a corridor to see a particularly striking woman walking towards them.  The moment was very brief, perhaps even less than a second, and both of them had the feeling they recognized her.  The moment ended as she turned into a room off the corridor and left the two still walking and thinking about what they'd seen.  Not much further down the corridor, they could almost hear the 'CLICK!' as they realized the woman had been Duchess Muktheswara of Glisten!

Having already passed the hall down which they saw her, Emkir told the others, "I believe I just saw the Duchess of Glisten down that hallway."  As Mikah said, "Oh!" Jocelynn added, "Everybody's here."  That was because she had just heard that Dukes Luis of Lunion and Bondal a'Plena of Vilis were on-world too.  The only person they knew was "not" on-world was Duchess Delphine, and she had tapped Dame Elane in her place.  When the puzzle came together for Mikah, she agreed everyone was there and gave the hall they were in a closer look up and down as she rhetorically asked where the Duke of Rhylanor was?

Back at the suite, with lunch laid out for them, Mikah called Duke Luis' office on-world and that aide asked if she could be at the Duke's offices in an hour and a half?  Mikah also let the aide know about the crew changes they'd had since visiting Lunion.  After that call, Mikah told the crew not to get their clothes dirty while eating, because they had another meeting in ninety minutes.  Mikah then called the Seneschalate to see if she could get in touch with the Duke of Vilis?  When she got an answer, Mikah was told His Grace was in system but quite busy with affairs of state.

When the operator said they could get a message to His Grace, Mikah asked to have him told she wanted to thank him for all the support he'd given them over the years and those of her crew who knew him would like to see him again to pay their respects.  After they ate, Fesic said he wanted to take a short walk outside and Terin said he'd go with.  Mikah, Aali and Emkir went out to the back patio and relaxed in the furniture as they watched Assiniboia turn above them.

Unhappy Surprises
     Having eaten and relaxed for a bit, Mikah got everyone back in the gravCar and they left in time for their appointed meeting with Duke Luis.  Dropping the gravCar into the vehicle park outside the complex, they went into the main public reception and were directed to an android which was waiting.  That android led them further into the complex and ultimately to a set of offices which were obviously rented.  Added to that, they noticed pins with different livery on the people moving through the halls, so the offices there were not only rented by Duke Luis.

Finally, they were led to a room which had two sets of seats across an open floor.  On the one side were a line of seats for each of them.  On the far side were a number of seats in an arc.  As they sat where they were told, Mikah decided this meeting might not be as fun as she'd first thought.  While they waited, Mikah counted the five seats and tried to do the math based on everything she could guess.  She also wasn't the only person doing that.  Still, after some time, a gentleman opened the door and stepped in saying, "Please rise for His Grace."  The man then stood to the side of the entrance.

The crew all rose as Duke Luis walked in.  Followed by Duke Leonard, Duke Bondal of Vilis, Duchess Muktheswara of Glisten and Duke Rakaa Kiraarri of Lanth.  Once the Dukes and Duchess entered, the seneschalate worker closed the door.  After their Graces took their seats, he told the crew they could be seated too.  He then told the crew their Graces were glad you could meet with them.  Following that, he turned and gave a half-bow to Duke Luis as that man rose from his seat.

Looking over the crew, Luis smiled and waved as he happily said, "Hi!", and the crew half-heartedly returned the greeting.  When that died down, the Duke continued, "We've all had some time to watch your crew operate and we must admit you are very colorful people."  Jocelynn managed to catch her own response in her throat as she held in the words, "That's a polite way to put it."  Into the pause Duke Luis had not meant to leave open, Mikah spoke up and pointed as she said, "Your Grace, this is Jocelynn Guerrek and she is new to our crew.  And you did not get a chance to meet Sir Aiden Radetsky, as he was being cloned on Rhylanor when we visited your court."

Sitting back down again, Mikah felt her comments had ended well, hammering down the fact the crew would give their lives for the Imperium...even if he hadn't died in anything like Imperial service.  As she sat, Duke Luis nodded and Jocelynn chimed in with, "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, your Grace."  After also nodding to Jocelynn, Duke Luis told Mikah, "It's definitely been interesting getting to know you and your crew."  Turing to Jocelynn, he then said, "Congratulations for surviving the "Regina's Storm".  Nodding back, Jocelynn thanked him.  Standing straighter, Duke Luis said, "It has come to our understanding that you have certain interests which you are working towards."  As he said that, he gestured to the rest of the nobility behind him.

Duke Luis then continued, "And it has come to our attention that you are harboring a criminal."  When he stopped speaking, Mikah asked, "You mean Terin?" because of the shooting.  After the Duke shook his head and said "No", Jocelynn asked, "Rol?" and he turned to look her in the eyes as he answered, "No.  Sergeant."  The crew continued to guess while missing the fact the Duke's eyes never left Jocelynn's face.  As their responses faded into confusion, Mikah asked, "Who?" and Duke Luis asked, "Sergeant?"  And while Jocelynn asked, "Me?" in a tone of complete surprise, Mikah's mind went 'click!' again, and she suddenly said, "Oh!  No!  before then saying, "Um.  Yeah.  In a way."

Still entirely confused, Jocelynn listened in dawning horror as Duke Luis continued, "We understand there was a misappropriation of Imperial Navy equipment."  In a fading voice, with little confidence, Mikah said, "There was.  That's what we wanted to talk to the Arch-Duke about.  If we could get her 'assets' certified for her to keep, so she could help us more productively while we act in the name of the Imperium."  Smiling as Mikah finished, Duke Luis said, "It is interesting you should ask that favor."  At that point, Jocelynn panicked a bit and asserted that she wasn't a war criminal.

Both Duke Luis and Mikah corrected her as Aali suggested the crime was petit theft at best.  Duke Luis continued, "Setting that aside for the moment, we are aware of another interest you've been pursuing.  This one, a more legal if less likely one, shall we say."  As Mikah figured out that puzzle and said, "OK", Duke Luis said, "Sir Zimzod."  Before anything else could be said, Mikah shook her head and said, "Yeah.  You're not getting that."  Duke Luis took the floor again and asked, "Sir Zimzod.  Let me ask you a question."  As Zimzod nodded, Duke Luis asked, "Do you really want to fire a weapon aboard your ship that might not only blow out the compartment you are in but blow a hole in the ship?"

When Zimzod smiled and said he'd planned on using it on other ships, he was reminded it was not a "ship to ship" weapon but a man-portable weapon.  Zimzod suggested, "Some of our missions are a bit more colorful than others."  Nodding, Duke Luis said, "We, and I believe I can speak for all of us assembled, would like to tell you that will never happen."  Zimzod smiled and answered, "Yeah, but I can dream about it."  Accepting that, Duke Luis told them that Zimzod would have any FGMP he even managed to get legally taken away from him.  Fixing Zimzod eye to eye, he promised the Imperial Navy would board their ship to remove the weapon and any supporting equipment.  Including Zimzod's battledress.

When Zimzod simple answered, "Understood", the Duke turned and said, "Now, Sergeant Guerrek.  With regard to your misappropriated Imperial equipment..."  The pause in his words was filled when Jocelynn gave a half-chuckle of fear mixed with concern.  Despite the tension in the room, a number of the crew including Mikah broke out laughing.  Getting the floor back, Duke Luis asked Jocelynn, "What have you got to say for yourself?"  When Aiden tried to make some kind of comment, he was sharply told to let Sergeant Guerrek speak for herself.

Looking first at Luis and then at the others, Jocelynn said, "I was quite distraught and out of sorts when I was brought out of the low berth, and I had literally nothing on me and I needed to escape from where we were.  So, I just escaped with what I had and I didn't..."  Looking up at Duke Luis, she admitted, "I don't have a good excuse."  And that was true because the use of the battledress could have been excused until they made it to the Inthe system.  After that, keeping that and her weapons became an intentional act.

Asking permission to make a statement, Emkir told their Graces, "I would like to provide corroborating evidence in that, when we rescued her, as the sole survivor of the Regina's Storm, that she was actually in stasis and we woke her up.  We had to remove her, as the only survivor, and she became an asset to our crew and has been putting herself in danger in very good order."  Despite herself, Jocelynn said "Aww, thanks Emkir" in a very heartfelt tone.  Emkir added that Jocelynn had proven to be honest and fair as well as being good at what she did.  That was expected because what she did was Imperial Special Forces, the Duke felt she'd better be good at it.

At that, Aali jumped in uninvited and said, "To be fair, we would not likely have cobbled together the Coronal Flare and returned to Inthe without her help."  The Duke felt that was another good character reference which didn't address the crime.  Emkir jumped back in saying, "And, to add to that.  Having Jocelynn and her gear with us really helped us with the safehouse raid.  So, if your collective Graces could allow her to continue to use the contraband marine equipment, I am certain it would be a favorable addition to our ability to serve the Imperium."

Letting Emkir finish his statement, Duke Luis thanked Sir Meshrumiikiim for a very well stated case.  He continued, "And, thank you Sergeant, for your statement as well.  We do recognize that you are being honest with us."  Jocelynn readily admitted hers was not much of a statement.  Going a bit overboard, Emkir added, "As an honorary Captain in the Lunion Planetary Navy, I am duty-bound to protect the interests of yourselves."  With that, he gestured at the assembled nobility.  Emkir then continued, "And I feel she would be a significant asset in protecting those interests."  Despite himself, Duke Luis had to nod at Emkir's use of the commission Luis had personally conferred on him.

Despite the testimony to Jocelynn's honesty and effectiveness, Duke Luis told them her fate was not up to him as he nodded to Duke Leonard.  Leonard stood as Duke Luis sat down, and Duchess Muktheswara also rose.  Some in the room were surprised the ground hadn't shaken when half of the major powers in the sector rose to gaze at them.  Addressing Jocelynn, Duke Leonard said they needed one more person to join them and that person had been listening from outside.  With that, the man standing by the portal opened the door.

When the door opened, Dame Elane came in and instantly her rank overshadowed the rest, because she was the voice of Grand Duchess Delphine.  The only way they could increase the power in that one room at the moment was to have Duchess Seldrian walk in.  And, of course, either the Arch-Duke or Prince walking in would trump them all.  While the crew watched, Leonard, Muktheswara and Elane walked to the back of the room to have a hushed conversation.  Eventually, the three came back to the front of the room and the Duke and Duchess sat back down leaving Dame Elane facing the crew.

Dame Elane then addressed Jocelynn, saying, "Sergeant, in the current circumstance, you are to remain provisionally in custody of your equipment and reconstruct the battledress prior to a final decision being made on this matter.  That final decision will be made by the Arch-Duke in two days' time.  Not sure what she should do, Jocelynn bowed as she said, "Thank you, your Grace."  After that, Dame Elane thanked the crew for their attendance and cooperation before all of them except Duke Bondal left.  Once they were alone, the Duke smiled and happily said, "Hi!  My people said you wanted to meet with me?"

Mikah smiled herself, thankful he still appeared to be a friend of theirs as she enthusiastically said, "I did!  How are you?"  Shrugging and letting some of the wear show on his face, the Duke admitted he'd been having a time of it and Mikah said she could imagine.  Getting more serious, Mikah said, "I just wanted to say thank you again, for all your help in the past.  Especially to me and Sir Brian and Zimzod."  Mikah then continued, "I don't think you've met the newest member of our crew." and went ahead to introduce Jocelynn.  The others, he'd met the last time they were on Regina.

When Mikah said it was a pleasure to see him and thank him again, he reminded her his offer to visit his court in the Frenzie system was still open.  Mikah thanked him for that but said she didn't think her plans led in that direction.  She didn't say that she and the crew hoped to go rimward, towards the Sonthert system.  Duke Bondal did say they could be more relaxed so long as...  Mikah interrupted him joking, "So long as Terin doesn't have a gun with him?"  Bondal laughed and said, "So long as things don't get interesting, but when your crew is around, things have a habit of becoming interesting."

Taking a look at Mikah, Duke Bondal said, "Speaking of which, I had a bit of a conversation with Duke Luis."  After Mikah only asked, "Yes?" Jocelynn complimented the Duke on his mustache.  After the Duke thanked Jocelynn, Mikah took up the conversation and promised the Duke they would not only reach out if they were coming to visit, but would send warnings in advance so he could hide.  They all laughed at that and he told Mikah he'd make sure his people knew to treat them well if they visited.  No one seemed to notice the Duke's earlier comment about his conversation with Duke Luis was never finished.

After that, the Duke left and Jocelynn said, "So, I can put my armor back together."  She was then reminded he was ordered to do that.  As Mikah told Zimzod he'd have to help Jocelynn because they'd been working with Rol to disassemble it, they remembered that they had taken three days to do that.  And now, they only had two days and no Rol...  Recognizing Jocelynn had even less time thanks to any ceremonies and formations they had to attend, it was not long before Mikah asked who could help?  Aali was the first, and soon enough they all planned to help.

Mikah then suggested they go to the ship and recover the suit parts as well as they charging station and bring those back to the suite to rebuild.  Told the charging station could not be brought, Mikah said they'd find some other way to charge it once they had the suit back together.  In the middle of discussing what they "had to do" Emkir asked if Mikah had an idea where they would be headed, so he could start looking for a cargo to load, so they'd be ready.  Considering Fesic's question, they pulled up a chart of the Spinward Marches and threaded the path to Sonthert.

Seeing how close the Sonthert system was to D'Ganzio, Mikah was reminded they had wanted to find some places along the way, where they could get extreme weather gear or other equipment to work in the hyper-cold of worlds, where every-day gasses froze into solid ice masses.  Looking at the trail of systems, they saw they had to go through the Dinomn and Ghandi systems before they had a choice to make.  From there, they could either make the direct jump to Sonthert without specialized supplies or continue through Lanth to the D'Ganzio system to buy supplies.  Then, they could turn coreward to Sonthert.

That meant their next stop would be returning to the Dinomn system headed for Ghandi.  When Terin asked about traveling to the "Dinom" system rather than the "Dinomn" system, because they were the same distance from Ghandi, he was reminded that world was a desert world owned by a company.  Checking the charts, they saw again that Dinom was a desert world and company-owned.  That meant it would be much harder for them to get fuel cheaply where the Dinomn main world was a water world.  So, Mikah made the executive decision that they would pass through Dinomn on their way.

Retail Therapy
     When they got back to the suite, they found Instell-Arms had delivered Aiden's fiber-optic cameras along with Zimzod's ammunition and gear order from the day before.  They had also added to that the shoulder holsters for Emkir's 9mm pistols, Aiden's magazines and Fesic's spare power pack.  Included were Zimzod's repaired battledress leg unit pieces.  To Zimzod's inspection, they looked as good as "used but undamaged".  Wanting to check the work, Zimzod spent the next fifteen minutes snapping into his armor to do a pressurization test.  That worked out properly.

After spending what was left of the afternoon talking about trade destinations and forgetting about Jocelynn's armor, the crew were ready for dinner.  Standing up, Zimzod said he'd like to visit the order house in the city and have a good meal.  The last time they'd visited Regina, they'd seen the Order House had been a modest one.  The facility had support and assist functions, and also provided concierge services at need.  Mostly, they tied those who needed them with directions to venues or services the Order recommended or had vetted.  Still, they were able to get and sell things not regularly found on Regina, and they did have inexpensive rooms for rent and a top notch restaurant.

Zimzod's idea caught flame as Emkir and Aali said they'd go, along with Terin.  When it looked like all the knights wanted to go, Fesic reminded them he was not a knight of their order and Jocelynn wasn't a knight at all.  They just shrugged and said they could sign the two in as guests.  When she was asked, Jocelynn said she wanted to work on her armor, and said she could follow the videos even if it was just her.  Hearing that, Mikah reminded her they had to go to the ship to get both the videos and the armor parts.  So, they had to leave the suite anyway.  Realizing that, Jocelynn agreed to go with the knights.

Next, they talked about the order they'd do things in.  They decided they didn't want to have Jocelynn's battledress parts sitting in a duffle bag in the gravCar while they shopped, had dinner and possibly got drunk.  Mikah finally ended the discussion when she pointed out Aiden never got drunk.  So, they could go to the Order House and have their fun.  Then, Aiden would drive them to the port so they could pick up the battledress and videos and return them to the suite.  They felt they could work hard on the armor the next day, though they also had forgotten about the coming ceremonies.

Sadly, they had gotten distracted by the trading discussions and lost half a day of work, when they had to have the armor re-assembled in two days.  So, they only had one day to work.  Still having forgotten that problem, the crew piled into the gravCar and flew to the Order House.  Arriving, they got a rather large surprise when they found the building sitting in the shadow of a looming construction project!  It seemed the locals had received a significant amount of support, funds and goods over the past six months since they'd visited.  They were even building what was advertised to be a one hundred and fifty floor tower that would dwarf the older facility!

Even more of a surprise, the lower levels were already in place and operational!  Including increased sales venues supporting the increased traffic of nobility who had started flocking to the system both after the war, and after Norris' elevation.  On arrival, Mikah and the others could see how events had increased the prestige of the Regina Order House.  Among the other obvious changes.  After signing in, they were asked how the house could be of service and Mikah explained about the Order-based pins they'd seen on members of various orders including their own.  Smiling, a member of the concierge team asked them to follow her as she led them into the House's new shopping space.

Because some of this had in fact been shipped in all the way from Rhylanor, the new shopping mall which had replaced the small shops was even a treat for those who had visited months before.  Some of the tech in that mall, and being built into the new tower would be the only tech of its kind, unless there were more secret facilities Seldrian had hidden.  One of the new shops was a scan-based "clothiers and fabricators" venue.  Mikah and Aali had enjoyed those while on both Rhylanor and Mora, and were pleased to see one on Regina that was not owned by a monstrously expensive fashion house.

As a joke, Aiden asked if they had Terran coffee for sale and the concierge woman admitted it was an unusual request but they could sell the crew a pound of the beans for Cr 10,000.  Almost gob smacked by the mall of wonders she was seeing, Jocelynn nearly gagged at the price offered and was not surprised when Aiden waived it off and no one else stepped up to waste their money.  As Jocelynn looked around at the other items, she could even see a specialty shop that worked on re-tooling, customizing or even making custom weapons.

When Jocelynn pointed the weapon shop out, they all decided to check out the place and see what they could find.  While most of the crew browsed and checked on prices for customization services, many of those services took a week or more.  So, they weren't something the crew had time for.  Emkir was looking for a small 'hold out' sized pistol that could fire tranq rounds.  The weapon Emkir wanted would have been a smaller and more-short-ranged version of a snub pistol, which would fire tranq rounds.  The shop staff said they could likely design one for Emkir at a cost of Cr 1,500 and ship it to him once he was done.

Eventually, Emkir settled on a more standard existing model of a snub pistol for Cr 500, and also bought three magazines and two boxes of ammo.  One hundred each of tranq and ball ammo.  The weapon came with a hip holster and Emkir bought a shoulder holster too.  Zimzod looked at the bladed weapons the shops had but most of the clients sold to wanted mainstream blades.  Hunting for something more exotic, Zimzod was disappointed at what they had on offer?  They did have a small collection of wavy or "flowing" blade designs, all of which had been forged in High-grav steel press shops.  But, nothing that caught his interest.

Zimzod's new trench knife The closest thing Zimzod saw to his interests were a seax-style blade with a set of knuckle-busters as a guard.  But it didn't have the butt-spike he wanted.  So he asked if they could customize the blade, to be more completely what he wanted?  After a discussion to understand what he wanted, and doping up an image of the desired weapon, they said they could create the blade he wanted in the next two days for Cr 600.  Zimzod was good with that, and paid for the blade to be made but still did mention it was costing him more than Emkir's snub pistol.  Hearing that, they reminded Zimzod the snubbie had been "off the shelf" and his blade was a "customized piece" where they had to modify High-grav forged carbon-steel.

Jocelynn started asking questions about having a power pack that would be able to feed to two laser pistols at the same time.  The techs said they could modify the power pack for her current laser pistol so it could connect to a second pistol at the same time.  But they also told her that would deplete the battery faster.  So, instead of getting fifty shots with one pistol, she would likely only get between thirty three and thirty eight total shots using both pistols.  When Jocelynn asked about improving the battery, they told her that would require technologic advances they couldn't provide.

While Terin wandered about the shop, he checked out the "accessories" section.  One item he noticed was a "snap-on" gyrostabilizer unit that seemed to have been made for pistols like his gauss pistol.  Terin already had a larger unit on his gauss rifle, to help him keep the weapon stable.  But he had no advanced electronics on his gauss pistol.  Checking the price, he saw it would cost him Cr 750 to get one.  With his last less than spectacular shot still on everyone's lips, Terin decided to buy one.

As he did, the staffer that helped him explained how to mount and dismount the unit from any weapon.  He said it was certified for any slug-throwing pistol and would help with aim-stabilization and even recoil mitigation.  They also explained a small software crystal which should be loaded onto one of the computers Terin had access to.  He would then have to run the software, which would connect with the stabilizer and activate it as well as letting the user 'tune' the unit.  The device was swappable between weapons, although it should be powered down when that was done.  Finally, a plug-in unit made any outlet a wireless charging point.

Enhanced TL B Goggles When he finished up, Terin asked if they had a line on sunglasses which had an integral HUD system?  And while the weapons shop didn't have that, the concierge said they had a personal electronics shop in the complex.  Since everyone else had been browsing or finished their shopping there, the woman led them off to the next shop.  There, she told the shop staff that Terin had asked for sunglasses with the tech to paint a HUD on the inside of the lenses.

The shop keeper showed Terin a somewhat bulky TL-A unit that certainly let everyone know there was something happening behind that lense.  Still, it was more cutting edge than anything they might find on the economy for less than a small fortune.  While it was obvious, it didn't have issues with "shine-through", showing those looking at you what you were seeing.  There had been a minor scandal in the Inthe system when an Imperial Navy captain taking part in a panel was caught viewing pornography behind what he thought were no-bleed data-glasses.  Still, the device was nowhere as sleek and contained as Emkir's glasses.

Despite the appearance, what seemed to be red LED's on the slanted forward corners were sensors able to pick up vis-light and some other bands to provide a complete one hundred and eighty degree arc of vision.  That would be supplemented with some variations of augmented reality as well as being able to connect to any general model of portable computer.  So, a user could superimpose maps or other visual data as well as readout information from various sensors into their view.  Another augment was the fact that a 'back of the head' sensor cluster could provide an 'on-command' rear view popup.  The only downside was that so many features like that could lead to an overload of pop-ups which could confuse a user.

While the unit was a lot more bulky and "obvious" for Terin's tastes, they did assure him that add-on capabilities could be added.  They had crystals with software to add a number of features like light-intensification or infra-red modes.  When Terin passed on the unit, Aali stepped up and asked a few more technical questions, being the engineer in the crew.  She also asked the price and was surprised to be told Cr 1,500, which was much less than she expected.

Asking about integrating the broadcast view from a drone into the unit, the shop worker told Aali how that could be done and how any popup could easily be adjusted with an 'opacity setting'.  Reducing the setting would make the popup more transparent, so that it would not interfere with viewing other overlayed popups or what was actually in front of the wearer.  Aali finally asked about not only the LI and IR modes but the software to allow the device to operate in "PRIS goggle mode", and was told that would cost her a total of Cr 1,100 more.  Deciding that was worth it, Aali made the buy.

Everyone laughed as Terin, after listening to the answers Aali had gotten, changed his mind and also ordered a set for himself.  As they all listened, Fesic decided the PRIS capability at such a low price was too good to pass up since the last set of actual PRIS goggles he'd seen was on sale for Cr 20,000!  So, if for nothing else than using for technical work, Fesic wanted a set and bought one too.  Having had her interest peaked by all the buying, Mikah asked to see what she could when a set had the PRIS functionalities loaded in and her only comment was "Whoa!" as she pulled the goggles off.  While the momentary sensory overload was an experience, she knew it was because she wasn't used to it.

Still, in that brief split-second, Mikah had seen things in a whole new rainbow of colors and was only now realizing some of that had been power lines and even wireless data beams!  Mikah knew she would need to get used to wearing one if she bought it, but it could prove very valuable in lights out situations, or even smoke or haze obscured circumstances.  So, Mikah bought a set and she told everyone who had also bought one that they would have a regular practice with them until they could all get used to the view.  When Zimzod decided he might as well buy a set, attention turned to Aiden with suggestions this could be a good thing for sniper work.

Aiden said he'd do better with a monocular or an enhanced combat scope, like the one Zimzod had already bought for the sniper rifle.  Still, when Jocelynn said she would buy a set of goggles, Aiden caved in and made it unanimous.  Mikah even bought a set for Rol when he was decanted.  Making it unanimous, Emkir also bought a set because they had slightly more features that his existing pair of data glasses.  After that, Aiden asked about telescopic scopes but what he learned about optics told him the scope Zimzod had on the sniper rifle, with its computer corrective system, were good enough he didn't need to spend more cash.

Still, while they shopped, Terin noticed a device designed to be installed into a wall and into which on could put clothing items.  The advertisement for the device said the clothes would be cleaned using a multispectral process which would not only clean out 100% of accumulated materials, fluids, gasses, etc.  It said the device would also restore some materials to increase the lifespan of garments and coverings.  When Terin mentioned it, Emkir asked if it cleaned blood stains?

Checking the data, Terin said that the advertising said it would.  Looking more closely, they could see the device was one of those "new in from the core" and had been ordered in from Rhylanor recently.  The unit was being offered for Cr 15,000.  Not wanting to spend his own cash, Terin turned and said, "Oh, Lady Mikah."  When she asked "What?" Terin told her, "I found this cool device that cleans clothing.  Like, gets rid of everything."  Having led with the worst introduction possible, Terin was asked, "What?  Are you telling her she should be doing your laundry?"

Backpedaling to clarify, Terin said, "No!  I'm just wondering if we wanted it for the ship?  I mean, I'm not buying it myself for fifteen grand.  But I wondered if we wanted it for the ship?"  Mikah considered that and said, "The ship already has laundry systems.  Why would we need a fifteen thousand credit one?"  At that point, Fesic joked about finding a cleaning machine for a rented van, on a space station.  That got laughs as most of the crew remembered their 'activities' on the station in the Inthe system.  As the jokes started, Terin told Fesic, "If you'd stop running people over, we wouldn't have to worry about that."

When it became clear no one was going to pony up the KCr 15 for the cleaner, they looked to move on and Zimzod and Mikah led the charge for Order-specific lapel pins or other jewelry.  They were led to a shop which had the required "Regina-branded" souvenirs as well as Order-based items.  There, they found the lapel pins for Cr 10 each.  In addition, they sold pins, cuff links, button covers and badges which could be sewn onto garments.  Zimzod also got a chest button for Cr 10.

Next, the crew went looking for a store selling spirits.  Emkir was first off the block, asking for Rum and whiskey.  The rum had to be 90 proof and the whiskey, 86 proof.  He also asked Zimzod if he wanted some more 89 proof Feral Bird bourbon?  When they found Feral Bird was below the standards of the shop, Zimzod ended up buying a 12-bottle case of 100 proof "corn" whiskey for Cr 200.  Emkir bought two bottles of 100 proof rum for Cr 25 each.  Emkir also bought two liter bottles of 90 proof whiskey for Cr 35 each.

Terin asked about Darrian Brandy and was told they had 1.5 liter bottles of "Genya Tang", which sold at Cr 250 each.  The analog to Imperial alcohol was something close to a cherry brandy.  Hearing that, Terin bought one bottle.  Adding to the booze, Terin asked about pouches for his hookah.  Since Regina had a healthy biosphere and they were in the capital region, the shop had quite a stock of items both from local sources and from the nearby port.  With many throwing cash in, they eventually ordered many pouches: 21 flavored, 20 Cannabinoids and 20 Hallucinogens for a total of Cr 10,590.
    Who:        Paid:
    Terin       Cr 4,415
    Mikah      Cr 1,275
    Emkir      Cr 900
    Zimzod    Cr 4,000

In addition to throwing money at Terin for Hookah packets, Zimzod also asked about cigars.  The top shelf box they had, without special orders or certain specialty leaf wraps, cost Cr 1,000 for a box of 25.  Zimzod was happy with that price and bought a box.  When no one else wanted anything more, Emkir said they should go to the clothing shop next.  As they were introduced to the shop, they were told it was more than just a "scan and fabricate" shop.  This shop had micro-repulsors and other tech which allowed a person to be scanned "nude but supported" so that outfits with integral foundational support could be designed.  Those would moderately shape the wearer's body.

Separating out to work with the staff, Emkir wanted a silver-laced teddy for Aali.  Aali got even by demanding he get a silver-laced "banana hammock".  Those ended up costing the couple Cr 110 in total.  Zimzod and Mikah had other ideas as Zimzod suggested she needed a sexy cocktail dress.  Mikah wanted something daring while Zimzod wanted something that mixed sexy and traditional.  Mikah's dress would be fabricated from a pink "cling-to-skin" fabric which would allow for both a backless design and an open front shaping her breasts while still leaving just more than an inch open down the front of the bodice.  This exposed her cleavage and belly-button while gathering at the waist into a pleated circle skirt that came down to just below the knee.

Zimzod paid for a second backless cocktail dress made from a shimmering black fabric.  The design was based on a more traditional bodice and elongated tulip-style skirt which better showed off all her curves.  The skirt fell down to just above the middle of her calves.  The shop charged them Cr 200 each for the two dresses.  They also paid Cr 25 each for a set of matching pumps for each dress.  After that, Zimzod asked Mikah what she wanted to see him in and she had to think about that.  Mikah finally decided she wanted Zimzod to get a very well fitted suit in all black.  Black shirt and slacks, black tie and black jacket.  The image also demanded very finely crafted black combat boots and having the slacks bloused at the boots.  That cost Cr 210.  when Zimzod added a black fedora, Mikah agreed and that cost Cr 40 more.

In the meantime, Aiden asked for a bullet-proof trench coat and was bluntly told "No".  The staffer then said they could do "bullet-resistant" but not bullet-proof.  When Aiden said that bullet-resistant was fine, they asked what color he wanted?  Aiden told them he wanted a tan coat and was asked what other features he hoped to have in the coat?  Aiden considered that before he asked for pockets twice the normal size 'front-to-back' so they could accommodate extra items.  Finally, Aiden asked about water proofing and was told that was doable.  They even explained the closing "seal" down the front, which would also be water-proof.  Aiden agreed to buy that and was charged Cr 200.  Aiden also bought a water-proof bush hat for Cr 50.

Jocelynn wanted two pairs of jeans, another two pairs of leggings and four "scoop-necked tee shirts.  She also wanted water-proof civilian versions of combat boots, which had a in-built rechargeable layer which would keep her feet warm and/or dry.  When they told her that would cost Cr 250, so Jocelynn got a second pair of the boots and paid Cr 300.  Fesic already had a set of hiking boots with rubber cleats on the soles, and bought a regular set of hiking boots for Cr 40.  He also wanted a short(above the hips) mix of a bomber and cruise jacket.  That cost him Cr 60.

After Mikah joked about getting Zimzod a second suit in hot pink, Jocelynn decided she wanted a pink sweater that was as fuzzy and fluffy as possible.  She also wanted it to come down to her calves.  That cost her Cr 30.  Hearing that, Aali decided she wanted the same thing in mint green instead of pink.  It was Mikah's turn to order one next, only hers was in royal blue and she ordered matching fuzzy slippers.  So, she paid Cr 60.  While they were finishing up on the order, which would be delivered the next day, one of the other workers stepped up to talk to Mikah.

That person told Mikah they had a special fabric which, when activated, filtered out impurities in the air, which could be used to make a filter mask, gaiter or balaclava.  They suggested this could be valuable in their travels to worlds where filters were needed.  When it was active, it created a seal with the skin and filtered 99.9% of known particles.  Aali and Mikah were the first to take the dive, but eventually everyone bought a gaiter and it was seen as useful enough that Mikah bought Rol one too.

Evening Drinks
     After that, the crew were shopped out and it was time for dinner.  As the others remembered, the restaurant was top notch, and offered the favorite dishes from all the worlds in the duchy.  They also offered noted meals from worlds throughout the Spinward Marches.  Especially from the subsector capital systems.  Aali and Emkir had t-bone steaks with the fixin's and cabernet sauvignon.  Mikah had a chicken parmesan meal, but she also wanted chardonnay from Zila.  Terin had a baked tortellini and poultry dish. 

By the end of the meal, Emkir and Zimzod had imbibed a bit much and were drunk while Aali and Terin were a bit tipsy.  Fesic was also a bit drunk while Mikah and Jocelynn had a buzz.  When they finished, Jocelynn wanted to go to the ship but Aiden suggested going back to the suite to sleep it off.  Mikah agreed with Aiden, and Jocelynn unhappily agreed they could get the armor in the morning.  When they got back to the suite, Mikah mandated everyone set alarms for 8am, because they still had to get Jocelynn's armor put together and now had only the next day to assemble it.  And since the next day would be the ceremonies for the transfer of the Duchy, they might not even have that entire day.

INS Staupers After the drunks were put to bed, and Jocelynn, Mikah and Aali had time to let their buzz fade, they watched the news.  As that played, they saw the expected announcement that Rol would be cloned aboard the INS Staupers as partial repayment for saving the life of the Duchess. The women realized they still had a few hours to go before sleep and they would have to present Jocelynn's reassembled armor in less than forty hours.  They also realized they could well be called on the next day to participate in some events, so they couldn't even count on having that much time.  That said, they needed to go down to the ship to recover the armor so they could work on it.

They talked about that for a bit before Jocelynn and Mikah agreed and they got into the gravCar along with Aali and Aiden to recover the armor.  That run to the ship and back, while collecting all of the bits of Jocelynn's armor and the videos Rol made, took just more than an hour.  Back at the suite, they spent the rest of the evening before bed working to separate the videos into sections so they could be parceled out to different groups to reassemble the battledress.  There would still be more work to do on that before they could work on assembling the suit, but it was a start.


Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Everyone:   Asleep in the Suite
     Technicality: Jocelynn is technically in Mikah's custody until they present the battledress

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Next: Pending the April session