background: url(images/nightsky.jpg) no-repeat center center fixed; background-size: cover; height: 200%; overflow: hidden;
Welcome to the

Last Updated     Aug 12 2021
The Characters
The Ship
Campaign History Page
Granted Rights
The Frontier Wars
The Spinward Marches
About Legends
Artist's Credits
House Rules
Recent Updates
Email Me
Karens Everywhere
      You Look

Connecting Dots In Jump
Extolay     Early in the trip, the crew followed Mikah's orders to get their comm dots set up and tested.  Each of the crew had a set of ten dots, and some had bought extras while others bought an entire extra set.  There was no "over-all" lack, while some individuals had to make decisions what to dot.  Jocelynn had fifteen dots and eleven total devices.  Her comms, stent and hand computer took up the first three, even though she was only just learning about the stent.  She next connected three to her visual devices, the data-HUD-goggles, vacc suit HUD and battledress computer.  Doing that, she could use the data-HUD-goggles when wandering without armor.  That left her nine dots to use with the gunCameras she'd bought to integrate her gauss rifle, laser pistol, two snub pistols and her shotgun.  In the end, she had four comm dots spare.

Mikah had decisions to make with the ten comm dots she'd bought.  While Mikah didn't have a stent, she had more weapons to connect, and not enough gunCameras for them either.  Mikah assigned two dots to her comms and hand computer.  She also reserved one dot, to be connected to her data-HUD-goggles, vacc suit HUD or combat armor HUD as needed.  So, that was three dots assigned.  From there, Mikah had seven dots to split between two laser rifles, two gauss rifles, a submachinegun, her laser pistol, an automatic pistol, a gauss pistol and two snub pistols.  One of the snubbies was a six-shooter and the other semi-automatic.

Of the two laser rifles, the first was already integrated to her combat armor and had a gyrostabilizer installed.  The only work she had to do on that one was to swap out the current gunCamera for one of the more advanced cameras she'd bought.  Mikah hadn't yet installed kits for a gyrostabilizer and armor-HUD integration for the second laser rifle, so it wasn't combat ready, and a dot would be useless there.  In the future, she could have the kits installed on that weapon and swap the dot from the first rifle to the second if she needed it.  Or, she could get another dot.  So, with a dot on one laser rifle, she had six unassigned comm dots.

The story was the same with Mikah's two gauss rifles.  The first had been a gift from the Duke of Vilis, and was integrated to her combat armor HUD along with an installed gyrostabilizer.  The weapon also had electronic telescopic sights with light-intensifier and infra-red modes.  She "inherited" the second rifle from Munarshu, and Zimzod had dubbed it the "ass-master 5000".  It had a shining titanium shell with sapphire anti-scratch coating.  She had the kits to integrate it to her combat armor and install a gyrostabilizer, but they'd not done that work.  The chief value of that gauss rifle was its ability to use specialty "100-round" magazines.  Still, she felt the second rifle wasn't yet combat-ready, so Mikah only put a comm dot on the first one.

With the submachinegun, Mikah had no integration kits or electronics so she chose not to waste a comm dot there.  Mikah's laser pistol, gauss pistol and six-shooting snub pistol were also integrated to her combat armor.  She hadn't had her automatic pistol or semi-automatic snub pistol integrated.  Not worried about the automatic pistol, Mikah wanted the integration kit switched from the six-shooter snub to the semi-automatic.  Then, she used three of her remaining five comm dots on the laser pistol, gauss pistol and semi-automatic snubbie.  That left her two spare comm dots and decisions to make regarding the weapons she considered 'not combat preferred or ready'.

Emkir was lucky the number of comm dots he had were the same as the number of devices he wanted to connect.  He started by connecting his comms and hand computer.  Next, he connected his data-HUD-goggles, vacc suit and combat armor HUD units.  He could also swap the dot on his data-HUD-goggles to his sunglasses if he wanted the visibility modes without being obvious.  With five dots left, he had his five weapons to connect.  He could connect his custom rifle's electronics because that weapon was already integrated to his combat armor.  He had his two 9mm revolvers, where one was integrated to his armor while the other was his honor weapon, gifted from Duke Luis.  Finally, he had comm dots for his gauss pistol and snub pistol, along with gunCams for each of them.

Aali had twenty comm dots, because she'd bought two full sets.  That meant one of the dots had to be connected to the mux for the other set.  She connected the next four dots to her comms, stent, portable computer and palm-drone controller.  She then connected three dots to the data-HUD-goggles, vacc suit and combat armor HUD's.  That left her twelve dots for her eight weapons.  That didn't mean she wanted to use all the weapons for combat.  She put a dot on the snub pistol she'd been given by Duke Luis, so she could use it with her data-HUD-goggles.  She also really didn't need to put a dot on her long shotgun because she'd be using her bullpup shotgun.

Fesic and Terin both had enough comm dots to connect up the gear they wanted to have on the network.  Like Mikah, Aiden had more toys than he had comm dots, so he had some decisions to make.  Aiden planned to use only one comm dot situationally, switching it between his data-HUD-goggles or vacc suit/combat armor HUD's as needed.  He also didn't want to bother connecting the Patchwork ACR and Target-shooting gauss pistol he owned.  That let him connect his comms, stent, hand computer, LAG, Snub pistol, Snub Rifle, Submachinegun, 9mm autopistol and bullpup shotgun.

A problem Zimzod ran into right off was that he'd bought a suit of combat armor to use only when he couldn't use his battledress.  Because of that, he never bought a HUD for that armor suit.  That meant he couldn't connect anything to his combat armor.  Outside of that, he could connect all his firearms to his Battledress, vacc suit HUD and data-HUD-goggles with three spare comm dots.

In addition to the comm dot organization, Fesic worked on his lock pick training when he took breaks from working on the gunnery training software with Emkir.  To relax, he hung out with the crew and watched vids.  Fesic also made time for the crew activities Mikah and others came up with.  Aiden did stent work and dug into the research Terin had done on the Extolay system as well as participating in crew activities.  Aiden also floated the idea of turning off zero-g in the ship for short times to help people get used to zero-g.  The others agreed that was a good idea and Mikah and Zimzod said they should do that each day for a few hours.  In his down time, Aiden read and watched vids with the others.

On top of her work in engineering, Aali did stent-work, reading and participating in crew activities.  Mikah said she wanted to set up shipboard action drills when they were in jump so the crew could practice.  She also wanted to throw in obstacles and other issues.  Talking about that, she asked about the laser tag items Aiden had mentioned and he said he still had them.  Aiden said he did have the kit, but it was only for four people.  Aali said it was good to use the toys so no one damaged anything using a real weapon.  Outside that, Mikah kept reading medical journals and relaxed.  Mikah also periodically checked on Rol's progress in the cloning chamber.  Each time she did, the crew joked about adding aquarium toys like little treasure chests that opened and closed.

Jocelynn started doing stent-work, gear maintenance.  In addition, she pulled out the manual file for the TAC missiles they'd "inherited" from Regina to start learning about that weapon system.  And In her free time, Jocelynn did more research on Tremous Dex, and found one note about a personal defense company called "Fantek Personal Defense".  They had operated on Tremous Dex, and what she'd found suggested Imperial sources were happy the company had closed.  But there was no reason why?  At one point, Jocelynn drew googly eyes on Rol's cloning chamber. When Terin joked that the "Rol soup" wouldn't be ready for another fifteen weeks, Jocelynn shrugged and said, "So, he can grow into them."  In-jump, Zimzod continued his physical therapy and stent work while doing gear maintenance.  Zimzod also spent more time with Mikah over the trip now he was more completely recovered.

Terin had a new plan, partly based on experiences on Regina.  So, on top of stent work and sharing the hookah with others, he started working on additional training with his zero-g weapons.  With the cargo bay filled and no place aboard ship to practice 'live fire' with the weapons, he did stance and dry-fire training.  He found small items to balance on the barrel of his weapon while then aiming and dry-firing each of his weapons.  He could test how well he maintained his aim point thanks to the gunCams and the comm dot link to his Data-HUD-Goggles.  This was all part of Terin's decision to improve his weapons skills thanks to an increase in jobs bringing them under fire.  Mikah was happy about that because she expected him to seriously review his firearm skills.

Mikah and Aiden's ideas about cutting grav on the ship for people to get used to zero-g connected perfectly with Emkir's plan to use his teaching suit whenever he could.  So, he did his best to advance his zero-G skills while also working with Fesic on the gunnery training software and relaxing with Aali and the others.  Emkir's plans also worked well with Mikah's plans for 'ship defense drills'.  At the same time, Zimzod was still recovering from his wounds and was not able to take part in the drills except as a fixed point in defenses or as a "controller" during the drills.  Mikah also backed off any heavy activities because she hadn't gotten off light duty that long ago.

At one point, during the exercises, Mikah did get jammed up and thrown against a bulkhead.  Stopping the activity right at that point, Mikah did her best to figure out who'd bounced her into the wall?  In the end, she couldn't find out who was at fault, and she announced that everyone would be flogged!  Emkir only laughed as he called out, "A flogging!  A flogging!"  Zimzod called out, "Flog me!  Flog me first!" as the others all laughed.  After taking a break to check herself out, Mikah confirmed it was nothing more than some bruises, but she was more careful moving forward.  Also during the jump, those tracking events would know word of the book deal would have reached Rhylanor and an auction date would be set.  Additionally, D'Ganzio University would have responded to Fesic's x-mail.

Arrival in the Extolay system
     Soon enough, the ship's computer gave the alarm they were about to leave jump.  Grabbing vacc suits and manning their positions, as had become habit, Aiden and Terin immediately worked to fix their location as the Update emerged from jump.  When they got their bearings, Terin had hoped to arrive 22.5 hours away from the main world but they'd emerged 25 hours out.  Much of that was the math surrounding the jump shadow of Harbinger, the system's primary star.  The mainworld orbited only 0.1 AU's from the M2-class star.  The good news was that Pariah, the companion, orbited 154 AU's out and didn't really have an effect.  Still, it wasn't long before they started getting signals from the system relays.

Ships belonging to the Al Morai, 'Uakye Transport Partners' or Oberlindes lines fleets were asked to identify themselves for specialized routing.  Ships arriving from systems within the Imperium who would be departing to other Imperial systems were told to contact the Destination port for berthing, in geo-synch above Extolay City.  Ships arriving from or expecting to depart to systems outside the Imperium were told to contact the Transit station, orbiting Ensky, Extolay's inner-most moon.  Ships intending to land at Extolay-Down on-world were told to contact the main port for instructions and regulations while all ships were warned to steer well clear of the restricted space around the system's military bases.

Not far off, Aiden saw early sensor hits that looked like a small cloud of x-boats and a tender.  What he didn't see were any signs of ships assigned to the 18th fleet, headquartered in-system.  Still, they were more than a full day out from the mainworld thanks to the jump shadow of the local star.  Still, because of the system's location, there could be visiting elements of the 23rd, 193rd, 213th or 18th fleets.  Outside the lack of "nearby" military hits on the sensors, they saw some commercial traffic.  The system starports could handle just under 100 ships in berths or docks while larger cargo haulers would simply deal with the ports using shuttles and small craft.

Extolay was more popular with traders from systems outside the Imperium or trading along the spinward main than Regina because that system could be more expensive.  Extolay was a market world.  Tidally locked with the primary star Harbinger, the world was a dark, urbanized world dominated by a post-industrial culture.  Vast domes acted as greenhouses in the twilight and at the end of rail lines driven into the world's starside while some manufacturing with exotic materials was carried out in more habitable dark regions.  As much as possible of the twilight band was given over to farms, trying to feed the system's hundreds of millions.  Extolay was not affected by Harbinger's binary partner, Pariah, which orbited further out in the system.

As they'd seen when they researched the system, the atmosphere was "thin", which meant you could wander around without a vacc suit if you didn't climb to much higher of an altitude.  Thanks to the limited habitable regions on-world, the population live in highly-urbanized zones.  Most habitable regions were restricted to large semi-automated farms with a large effort being made to create "greenhouse domes" in the regions referred to as the "Twilight Rim".  The system had both a downport and highport, though the highport used gravitics to maintain a position over the world's capital, "Extolay City".  Because there were few attractions for off-worlders dirtside, most visitors to the system remain on the highport.

The highport stood a small chance of being crowded with crews and passengers from the ships docked there as well as port workers, system authorities and Imperial personnel.  Extolay was not only a market for the needs of the system's population but was a market world for traders who preferred it to Regina, Jenghe, Dinom or Phlume.  That meant customs would be a fun experience too, given the trade volume from outside the Imperium.  And, as they got in closer, they would certainly expect to see the rather large shadows of in-system large liners and military ships closer to the system's bases and mainworld.

The early broadcasts included electronic paperwork to complete by any ships not yet recognized as merchants, if crews planned to trade there.  While this wouldn't block buying fuel, food and consumables, Fesic decided to get those done as soon as possible, as well as sending in the Cr 150 fee to register as a merchant.  While everyone was pleased an early broadcast suggested the government was 'forward looking and working' in dealing with paperwork, Fesic was more cautious after it took him nearly three hours to complete the electronic forms!

It wasn't long before they had scan data indicating several large Imperial cruisers in-system, which wasn't a surprise.  The Extolay naval base had a regularly assigned CruRon assigned to anti-piracy operations, given the system's proximity to the pirate haven of Tremous Dex.  Of course, the crew planned to visit that system next so this was less of a concern.  Data received showed the Destination port managed traffic control in-system as well as the port authority tugs, tenders, repair ships and SAR(search and rescue).  Both the Destination and Transit ports provided berthing, warehousing, security, emergency/medical, brokerage, fuel, lodging, entertainment, and inter-station services.  Shuttle services were available on both stations and TAS had facilities on both highports as well as dirtside.

The ship also received warnings and notices.  Due to "local population issues" and concerns that crewpersons from outside the Imperium might jump ship, security patrols on both stations and on-world were high.  Any sophont found without housing or identification will be removed to a spartan (and some would say, brutal) holding facility ironically located dirtside, on Extolay itself.  So, visitors are often reminded not to lose their ID's.  A notice warned that visitors would find food and items created from natural fibers come at a greater expense because of the rarity in-system.  Tech goods and other consumer novelties waver in pricing depending on local manufacture or import-status.

Research said trade with the system was dominated by goods from Regina, though systems like Vilis or Arden, and the worlds between, also shipped imports to and exports from Extolay.  There was a significant flow of higher tech goods from D'Ganzio, Rhylanor and Imperial worlds in the Deneb sector.  Extolay was a mining world, providing ores, chemicals and gasses, both normal and exotic.  The world also exported local tech goods and consumer items.  Imports were dominated by higher tech goods to support the world's needs and food, to feed their millions.

The habitable zone, or 'hab-zone' on the tidally locked world, averaged 100 miles wide.  With population housing and commercial structures eating more than fifty percent of that land, the government did it's best to maximize land for agriculture.  In a new effort, less than two centuries old, they were driving above-ground Mag-rail lines out beyond the edges of the world's "starside face".  At the distant ends of these lines, large agro-domes were being built or worked, to increase the world's growing fields.  Despite the constant sunlight and lack of "off season" weather periods, growing fields had to shift "out of production" while growing crops that restored them.  Opening fields to livestock was not an option financially.  Because of this, more than sixty percent of the world's plant output was devoted to "vat-food processing".  This created the vat-meats and vat-vegetables generally available to the population.  So, food imports would always sell well in-system.

After broadcasting their trading registration forms and payment, Mikah had Aiden signaled that they wanted to land on world, largely because she felt it would be the best place to sell the cargo for the most cash.  When the port asked for reasons and an explanation of the crew's plans, Mikah sent an explanation they had trade goods and said she expected them to best sell on the world itself.  She also had Emkir send the port a ship's manifest detailing their 'Cargo for sale'.  The only cargo pod not included on that was the container in which Jocelynn's battledress was stored.

Closing on the world, they received updates to the library data on the world which had not been updated in Regina's files for reasons they didn't know.  Data updated Terin's to tell them the starward half of the world was dominated by a heat-blasted wilderness unsurvivable without specialized hazardous environmental gear.  The transition was characterized by 'stringy' elongated seas, connected by many thready rivers.  Those were fed from rivers which crossed the hab-zone from similar seas formed by the extreme ice melt in the interface between the Hab-zone and spaceward face of the world.

On-world conditions also included very-active tectonics and volcanic activity and significant hot and cold atmospheric currents.  Breathing support and sealed structures were needed at 2,000 meters and above, and were recommended for out-doors activity above 1,500 meters.  Building codes assured all structures at, or rising to, higher altitudes included sealed environments.  The buildings on-world were large, trapezoidal buildings built to a standard.  They were dug at least ten levels below the surface.  There were only a small number of non-trapezoidal structures on-world.  Since the world had no "day" and "night", the local government built lighting structures which were fed power from solar collectors.  Those lights were active during the 12-hour "day hours" and regimented calendar days to the 24-hour standard clock.

The building designs were buffered between the outer and inner structures to dampen tectonic vibrations.  Reports from spacers who'd visited the surface said the housing and facilities for the population varied in quality based on the wealth of the residents.  Where the smaller percentage of older structures were purpose-built as residential or commercial, newer structures blended commercial, entertainment and vending concourses within residential structures.  Amenities were more available to visitors in the world's capital city, Extolay City and the downport.  Still, even spacers would feel the closed spaces, due to the world's overpopulation.  Mean space was only available at a premium on-world.  As with the stations, law enforcement sweeps of all structures looked for any sophont found without housing or identification.  They would be removed to holding facilities on-world.  So, visitors are often reminded not to lose their ID's.

Citizens tend to be friendly and open, but poor and often under-fed.  The government promotes grav ball competitions, even providing playing facilities in almost every residential structure.  Competitions on-world are constant and the world fields a team named "Lesunda Nidak Aliigim" which is competitive in the Subsector and Sector circuits.  Membership in the team is earned and comes with perks such as being moved to the world capital to train and compete. This is also seen as a primary vector to changing one's social and financial status.

While there were the usual track and field activities outdoors and at lower altitudes, the only universal outdoors activity on world were competitive kite flying and fighting competitions.  Kite flying was so important on-world that a kite could become a family's most valued asset after the money spent on materials to build, fly and upgrade it.  Competitions ranged from "Pattern flying" and "mirror flying" to stunt and challenge flying.  Often, the most exciting events were the kite fighting events.  As with grav ball, there was also government sponsorship for kite-work and there was a cultural kite team that traveled out-system at government expense.

Commercial careers could be made in assembling low-end tech goods and software or raw material recovery(mining) and processing.  This included the extremely deadly role of "storm pilots".  Pilots trained and chosen for the role, flying what were intended to be unmanned grav-Drones into the hotter parts of the atmosphere.  There, and guided by satellite and tracking data, the craft would open doors to exposing internal crucibles to "catch" molten liquid metals in a near-pure state.  Target levels were determined by satellites tracking precipitation and "air currents by heat level", mapping where pure molten metal would fall as rain.  Because the unmanned drones couldn't handle the extreme air currents and electromagnetic interference, the government switched to live pilots rather than cutting loose the costs of creating and testing the system.

Vetting the information the ship was getting, Mikah had to ask why such freely given information wasn't available in other systems?  Some reasons were suggested by Zimzod and the others, but they couldn't answer the question.  Emkir suggested they record data from the system, and try to sell it elsewhere.  Zimzod agreed with that.  Terin said the system might be so 'unexciting' that no one cared about sharing data about the system.  When the ship got close enough, they got clearance to land at the downport.  That came with an updated package of data about the heavy and sometimes dangerous wind currents they'd have to navigate.

They also got a port request asking what types of facilities they wanted to rent once they landed?  The port offered everything from unprotected landing pads to berths in parkbays, to various underground secured berths with differing levels of amenities.  Mikah eventually asked for a "high-end" underground berth to which the ship would be moved.  So, once they settled on the landing pad, the ship would be moved onto a tractor and shifted to a berth with security and other internal services.  The port said that was available and would cost them Cr 600.  Mikah agreed and paid that from ship's funds.

Extolay Downport The rest of the approach rested on Aiden and Emkir until they set the ship down on the indicated landing pad.  That would lower them below the port's surface, where grav projectors would be used to move the ship onto a subsurface tractor.  The tractor would then move the ship through transit passages until it reached the berth in which the ship would be placed.  Grav projectors would again move the ship from the tractor onto the berth pad before port workers in the berth would connect up the needed power and data cables as well as preparing connectors for lines to pump fuel and other consumables if the ship ordered that.  One item which came free of charge was a connection to the world's data net, because that was ruled to be 'Universal' by Extolay's world government.

A New World And More Work
     It took nearly an hour to move and secure the ship once Aiden and Emkir fought through the wind currents and landed.  They could all see they were landing in darkness, and a check said that they were in the middle of a 'local night', which would last until the region's lighting activated.  So, the port would remain in darkness for at least for four or five more hours.  That would be followed by a twelve-hour day, during which the city would turn on massive lighting structures to signify it was daytime.  Not long after the workers in the bay finished their work, a port agent arrived to begin the customs check.

Mikah met the man and handed over the ship's manifest, and he began reading.  She saw the man raising an eyebrow and guessed that had been when he'd read of the lone cargo container listed as "sealed on the personal orders of Prince Lucan".  Especially since the orders attached to that container said it was not to be touched or inspected.  His attitude then did a complete 180 turn when he saw the cargo container involved was marked as "Pass through".  That meant it was not being opened or shifted from the ship's cargo bay until after it left his port.  So, his job was just to mark that it existed.  Someone else would make sure it wasn't tampered with before the Upgrade left, and that was all anyone on Extolay had to care about.

Still, that was only for one of the cargo containers in this ship's bay and they had thirty six tons of other cargo that it was his job to check.  And while these people might be the most important people he'd ever met in his life, they would be his bitches if he found issues with that cargo.  So, he activated his team of androids, sent his orders and then proceeded to do a 'very detailed' check of the containers for the farm equipment and vacc suits.  Even better, the detailed level he devoted to his work would eat into his work shift and perhaps make sure he didn't get assigned new tasks before the end of his work day.

While the port worker was doing his job, Mikah got a comms from port administration and found they wanted to review the credentials of those aboard the ship and see if they had any specialized needs?  Which only meant to Mikah, "They want to know if they could sell us things and generate income?"  Still, there was enough of a hint of urgent earnestness in their efforts that Mikah realized bells had rung in the port's central offices.  The Prince's name had most likely been filtered by some computer system, and some high level administrator had done the math.  Prince Lucan was on Regina and the Upgrade had just come from there.  It didn't take a theoretical jump space meta-mathematician to connect the dots.  The Administrators wanted Mikah to be happy.

Since Mikah felt the normal state of the Universe should be set to make her happy, she wasn't shy in helping the caller assume she had a direct relationship with the Prince as she talked.  While Mikah did not ask for or order any services, she did tell Emkir to send the port a dump of public data on their crew.  After that, the administrator thanked her and signed off the call.  Past that, they only had to sit and wait for the cargo monkey to do his job because 'keeping Mikah happy' didn't mean not following the rules.  So, it was a while before the port worker signed off on their customs inspection and told them he would now move their cargo to a vault in the mercantile exchange so they could list it for sale.

For that, he had his androids and a grav mover platform.  It would take his 'droids some time to move the cargo containers onto the platform.  Then, they'd move it to an available vault and secure the cargo there.  Once that was done, the ship would get a message from the exchange telling them where the cargo was secured and giving them the links needed to offer the goods on the exchange.  Since they wouldn't be involved in that at all, and everything was essentially automatic, that left the crew free to check out the port and relax a bit.

With nothing else to worry about for the moment, Mikah decided to check the local network and look for things to do while they waited.  What Mikah found were a large number of local listings that were private, limited or directed at specific residence groups.  Filtering through those, Mikah found there were a number of local grav ball and night-time kite flying competitions.  Looking for more detail on just what the kite flying thing was about, Mikah found the following explanation:
            Pattern Flying Competition:
            Teams would be judged in their skill matching the flight pattern
                set by a guide kite in several rounds.  Points would be earned
                cumulatively while competing groups would be shifted to insure
                a proper challenge which prevented advancement by isolation.

            Special Difficulties: This event will be held during ours of
                darkness so all participating teams must field kites outfitted
                with visual illumination.
            Teams must track and mirror the flight of the guide kite through
                multiple patterns and some illumination pattern changes.

When Mikah told the others about the competitions, Aiden was up to go watch the glow-in-the-dark kites.  Fesic reminded the others they should make sure to hold onto their Idents when going out.  When Aali said she was also interested in the kites, Emkir chose to split the difference and watch the kites for a bit before going to catch part of a grav ball match if they could.  Since he could connect his hand computer to the world-net, Emkir realized he could actually watch the grav ball matches "while" he was with Aali watching the kites.  That was a bonus since he had to watch his and the ship's accounts for the receipt from the cargo vault system.  So, everything was good with them having an evening out.

While Mikah had been looking up events to check out, Fesic had gone looking for horticultural sites to visit.  What he found was disappointing because the world government so stringently controlled land use to maximize the use-value of each square meter.  That meant land reserved for agriculture was heavily managed and the growth types tightly managed in regimented orchards and fields.  People didn't have free access to land and agro-management had to balance food production and open forestry to protect the atmosphere.  The end result of that was there were no real expanses of open nature to visit and the fields and orchards were considered work sites.  Not walking parks.  Especially where those wandering an orchard might "steal" fruits or other food items from a given field.

Still, Fesic did find two offerings specifically gear to visiting spacers who wanted to get out of their ships and breath.  The first was an organized tour of a number of agro-sites, which included the appropriate level of security to prevent unintentional "poaching".  The other item Fesic found were "Work-Cation" opportunities where even Extolay's citizens could take a break from the tech in which they lived or worked to go out and work a agro-site.  Sadly, the Work-Cations tended to be day's long of not a week or even a month, and Fesic didn't have that time.  When Fesic looked into the tours, he found the least expensive of those cost Cr 500!  That annoyed Fesic but was an obvious move to bring in as much hard currency as they could from tourists.

Turning away from his search, Fesic joined up with the others going out to watch the kite competition.  Eventually, everyone in the crew went to see the kites except Terin.  Mikah told him to guard the ship as they left.  Like Fesic, Terin had gotten onto the network so he could search for his interests.  But his search was for herbalists and home-gardeners.  While Terin spent a number of hours searching, he ended up disappointed for the same reason Fesic had.  The bureaucratic land management rules really did reach down into local and "small plot" land use.  So, his search showed up that there really was no herbology community, for that reason and one other.

As Terin searched the network, he suddenly found himself being "guided" by network moderators.  Tracking his activity as part of the local network flow, Terin found legal moderators recommending things to direct him to more fruitful searches.  When Terin brought up the idea of homeopathic medicine, he found himself being warned against activities of that type.  The government had very strict laws against any amateur attempts to practice medicine in any way.  So the practice of herbology was considered 'practicing without a license' at best and quackery at worst.  Quackery which carried with it very nasty punishments if one was convicted.  And, disturbingly, Terin learned his own searches could be pulled into court to help convict him!

Those who went out to kite-watch learned quickly there was no real comfortable seating if you didn't bring that yourself.  And many of the world's citizens did.  Even more of a surprise, they could find no one who had 'gotten the clue' and started up their own folding chair rental stall.  Looking more specifically at what concessions were visible, they saw all of those had noticeable documentation of "Right to engage in commerce" having been granted by the government.  And there were a LOT of police about.  Eventually, some of those developing cricks in their necks tried things like laying out on the grass and a few of those got kicked or stepped on accidentally by those watching the kites as they walked.  The message was to come prepared with a folding seat next time!

While Emkir did take vids of the kites, he was less thrilled with standing to watch or risking getting stepped on.  Zimzod eventually started talking about the idea of connecting someone's hand computer to the network and downloading episodes of the reality show about storm pilots.  Eventually, Emkir floated the idea of going back to the ship to spark up a season of the show's episodes to watch while they got drunk.  Zimzod was all for that.  So, the group started heading back to the ship as they planned the last part of their evening.

While they walked, Fesic asked Emkir if they'd heard anything back from the port about their cargo?  Emkir admitted he hadn't heard anything back but said he could check with the port as he held up his hand-computer.  When he did check, the record had not yet been updated.  Shrugging, Emkir did remind them they'd been told, "Tonight or tomorrow morning", but he also set up an alert that would sound a chime when the receipt arrived.  At the ship, Fesic, Mikah, Zimzod and Emkir were committed to doing some hard drinking.  Aali said she'd have a few drinks and Aiden committed to only "one" drink.  Hitting the ship, Emkir pulled the lone bottle of tequila from his and Aali's collection.  Beyond that, the crew relaxed until they faded to sleep.

Relaxing And Ignoring Issues
     While Aiden had set an alarm for 8am in his stateroom, and Emkir and Aali did the same in theirs, Fesic and Jocelynn woke in their staterooms before any alarms had gone off.  After getting done with their morning routines, the pair arrive in the ship's lounge to realize there was no one there to cook breakfast!  Eventually, Fesic decided to boil some caff and cook his self-described "famous" french toast, even though he couldn't tell you who the "french" are or were?  When Jocelynn made it clear she wasn't sure how that would work out, Fesic assured her it was hard to mess up french toast.  Nodding, Jocelynn volunteered to help and it was Fesic's turn to wonder if she would help cook like she helped with first aid?

After chow was ready for the entire crew, along with caff, Jocelynn and Fesic sat and chatted as they ate.  When Fesic asked her what she had planned for her day, Jocelynn admitted she had nothing she had to get done until they arrived on Tremous Dex.  Fesic nodded and asked if she had any thoughts how she was going to do things there and Jocelynn considered the things she'd not told the crew.  She'd agreed to deliver a box to someone on Arden for Sir Makxel, so it didn't matter until they got to that system.  But she also had a crystal Sir Makxel had given her which was supposed to have data on people he had worked with on Tremous Dex.  And, while in his private office, Sir Dan Sapiil Shas had given her actual paper letters of introduction for people the Order had worked with on that world.

Jocelynn admitted she'd have to find the right people there and she had some information to go on, but nt much.  As far as Extolay was concerned, she said she had nothing but sight-seeing or shopping.  Then she asked Fesic if he had something in mind?  Fesic shook his head and said, "I'm not enjoying this planet so far."  Jocelynn laughed at that, because Extolay didn't appear to be a world designed for people to like.  She did apologize for laughing and also said she was sorry he wasn't enjoying his visit.  In the end, they both admitted they had nothing to do and were each asking the other in hopes the other had an idea.

When Jocelynn said they could see if there were more kite competitions to watch, she didn't notice the slight grimace on Fesic's face because he'd not found it that exciting the first time.  Jocelynn then brightened up and said, "Time to hit the Bars!" with a laugh.  Fesic simply said, "I guess we'll see what the day brings." and Jocelynn agreed.  They did both agree they hoped they could sell the cargo quickly, and after Fesic finished eating he decided to check on the status of the cargo.  To see if they had a receipt from the vault?  And when he checked, he saw they didn't yet have any word from the port.  While Jocelynn and Fesic chatted in the ship's lounge, alarms went off in Emkir and Aali's stateroom as well as Aiden's, and those three began their morning routines.

Aali soon followed a "Caff-Seeking-Emkir missile" into the ship's lounge to find Fesic had cooked for everyone.  Aiden came in and tuned the vid screen to find a local news station and see what was going on before sitting to eat.  While they ate and watched the news, they saw that there was some coverage of interstellar events outside the system, but those reports had no enthusiasm.  So, it was a good bet no one cared unless it was going to affect them here in-system.  The bulk of the news was local, and covered legal events, economic news, government notices, sports coverage and announcements as well as upcoming events.  Each item was followed by a published network link to follow for more information.  On the whole, nothing that the five of them cared about.

Out of curiosity, Aiden decided to check how old society was on Extolay and learned that the system had been settled as an early colony from the Regina system around the 100th year of the Third Imperium.  At the time, it was settled as "Llaravi" and the "Llaravi Company" kept the colony in contact with Regina, which had only been a growing colony itself at the time.  In the 250th year of the Third Imperium, Regina and her colonies had become full members of the Imperium and part of that agreement was that Regina make Llaravi an independent world.  The people on Llaravi immediately changed the name of their world to "Extolay".

As he checked that, the schedules announced in the sports news said there would be several intra-municipal grav ball matches played that day.  Other announcements said a music festival would be held in Extolay City and a number of residential buildings were having "Open invitation gather days" where people from other housing blocks could visit.  Other schedules spoke of skill demonstration workshops and an electronics design competition with children's, Teen's, Collegiate and adult levels of competition.  Rather than a "combative" competition, the electronics tests were more cooperative or more a set of races than teams fighting each other.  Categories included raw design, task achievement and optimizing existing designs.  When she heard about that, Aali was interested in checking those out.

Aiden was also interested in the electronics competition.  Emkir was more interested in the music festival while Fesic said he'd like to do both.  As everyone who was awake decided to join in, Emkir decided to leave a message for those still asleep saying they were heading out to the electronics competition.  He didn't mention the music festival because it would start later and the others would be awake and in contact by then.  When Mikah and Zimzod came out of their stateroom, they saw cold food laid out on the dining table in the lounge and noticed there was a flashing light on one of the comms panels.  While Zimzod first moved toward the food, Mikah checked the message and heard what Emkir had left for them.  Overhearing that, Zimzod stopped and asked who else was on the ship?

Given the list of people on Emkir's message, Mikah said that Terin hadn't gone with them.  Making a guess, she suggested he was still asleep.  Figuring she and Zimzod would go to meet the others, Mikah then recorded a message for Terin to stay as ship's security.  She then joined Zimzod and ate before cleaning up and going to find the rest of the crew.  At the competition, the rest of the crew not only enjoyed watching the events, but also learned how much the world government were putting into training students in technology and engineering.  The egalitarians nodded at how forward thinking and open the education system was where the cynics pointed out how hard the government worked to grow nice, obedient and cooperative employees for the future.

When Terin finally woke, he found the remains of the "very cold" food and the message from Mikah.  He first sparked up the comms and called Mikah to remind her he could secure the ship so he could go out.  When Mikah told him she wanted him to play security, he said he'd wanted to go out shopping.  She then said, "You're the indentured servant, so stay with the ship."  Accepting that, Terin decided to spark up a terminal, connect to the world's network and do some shopping that way.  Of course, there was only so much shopping Terin could do and he soon started working on mock jump plots to Tremous Dex and from there to Arden.

At first, he relied on the data he had and what he could get from the port.  Eventually, he started looking for more sources of data and checked port records for lists of ships that had come to the world from outside the Imperium.  He found two ships which had arrived from Tionale and one that claimed to have arrived from the Rangent system but said they had data to sell from Tremous Dex.  Not that he asked, but he had commed for the ship's navigator, to exchange information and talk.  Eventually, the data from Tremous Dex came up in conversation.

At first, they wanted to sell the data, but finally found another deal of interest.  The first spark of interest came when the other navigator found Terin pointing out things on other plots that he'd missed.  It wasn't long before they both realized Terin was a more accomplished navigator than he was.  At that point, the man was more interested in working out a better plot to Regina because that was their next stop.  Finally, after learning more from Terin about the Regina plot than he could have from a computer, the man offered Terin the Tremous Dex data for help plotting system entries to Regina's mainworld and gas giants.  That took up the bulk of the time he was alone.

Another benefit of the event was that they got a feel for the culture, and learned what that world's population viewed as "high-tech" or innovative.  Aali watched because anything she saw could be kept in her mental back pocket for times she needed a low-tech solution to a problem.  About mid-day, Emkir noticed he'd not gotten a ping from the port to let him know the cargo had been delivered.  He was enjoying himself enough he was OK with waiting for them to get their work done, but, when he mentioned it to Aali, she suggested he call the port to check on things.  Saying that was probably a good idea, Emkir called the port and asked about their ship's cargo?

The operator taking the call asked for some information about Emkir and his ship and then checked the boards.  What he saw there surprised him, because the agent who'd collected the cargo the night before had not checked in, sent a data update or finished his shift!  Keeping his face marshaled, to keep from alarming his caller, the operator told Emkir what he had to before suggesting they would call Emkir once they had an update.  Emkir wasn't happy about that and asked for the name of the agent involved, even though Mikah already had that.  When the port operator would not give him the name, because they did not need spacers harassing their workers, Emkir accepted the offer to set up a call back when there was an update and ended the call.  Emkir updated the others as the electronics events started getting a bit boring and they decided to see if the music festival had gotten started yet or not?

At the very least, where there would be a music festival, there would be food to eat.  When they got there, they found a number of food and drink concessions and were not at all surprised to find the prices for the concessions were all on the steep side.  Especially after they learned, to their chagrin, that the food was essentially all vat-food.  They each spent Cr 25 for a lunch meal and those who actually finished their servings didn't even think about any of the advertised "desserts".  There'd been items made of actual real chopped meats, but they'd been priced so high some servings cost in the triple digits!  Still, the music was good and they stayed around for that.  They even spent Cr 50 each for dinner servings that had real vegetables and a hint of real meat.  Eventually, they returned to Terin at the ship.

Rising Concerns And Worries
     As with the day before, Aiden set his alarm for 8am, as did Mikah and Fesic.  Despite that, Zimzod woke about 7:30 and slipped out of bed to do his morning routine.  He did have to swap out physical therapy for his more intense workout.  In her stateroom, Jocelynn woke up on her own at 8am, as alarms woke Aiden, Mikah and Fesic.  They got into their morning routines a little after Zimzod finished his own.  Since there was no one to cook, Zimzod had begun doing stent work while he waited for others to wake up.

Seeing that, Fesic said he'd cook and started working on pancakes and sausage.  After Fesic had started to cook, Zimzod pointedly asked about the cargo.  It was already a day past when they should have received their notification where it had been stored?  Since Emkir wasn't awake yet, Mikah decided to call the port herself.  When Mikah got an agent on the comms, that woman checked and said the man who'd moved their cargo was yet to have checked in.  She also said his supervisor had put demerits on his record as if that meant something to Mikah.  The woman did say his supervisor was investigating why the man had not shown up for work or reported in?

After the woman promised an update once they resolved that issue, Mikah asked who was looking after the safety of the ship's cargo?  The agent first looked at Mikah as if it were obvious the cargo issue would "obviously" be solved once the man was located.  That was how the port's procedures worked.  The woman's expression turned to "Not my department" when Mikah also asked, "And who's going to replace the cargo when it turns out to be stolen?"  Nodding as she schooled her face, she assured Mikah the cargo hadn't been stolen with absolute certainty, and offered to start an audit of the vaults to locate where it had been stored.  Off handedly, the woman assured Mikah the audit would only take a week, because that was reasonable to the port worker.  Hearing bits and pieces of the conversation, Fesic bemoaned, "And this is how we get stuck on this planet."

Realizing she was facing a bureaucratic mess, Mikah asked if there were any ways they could help the port locate the cargo, as she said the ship had a schedule to meet.  Issues delayed ship often enough across the Imperium that this agent only gave Mikah a sympathetic look and said that Mikah and her crew had no authority in system or with the port.  So, they would have to wait for port workers to take the required steps and promised the job would get done.  Mikah then surprised the woman by asking how her crew would go about getting credentials from the port?  The woman politely but firmly said, "You don't." as she realized this was going to be one of "those crews".

Hoping to offer Mikah another option, the woman suggested she could contact the local police office and see if they could help?  Mikah acerbically said, "Yeah.  That might be a good idea considering the value of our cargo."  The woman went about calling the police while not responding to Mikah's last comment.  Listening in as Mikah spoke, Fesic suggested, "Should we do our own investigation?" and Mikah told him, "It looks like we might have to." in an annoyed tone.  She then told the others to wake the rest of the crew "now".  After the worker connected with the police and got that process rolling, Mikah got off the comms and waited for those waking up to get dressed and hit the deck.

When Emkir and Aali arrived, he asked what was up and Mikah angrily said, "It appears our cargo has been absconded with."  She didn't make any comments about waiting an extra day since it disappeared to start looking for it.  As the others reacted, Mikah continued, "The port is no help and the police will take a week to get back to us.  So, we're gonna have to go sniffing around and find it ourselves."  Zimzod suggested they could open fire on the port if the cargo wasn't found before they had to leave, and was reminded they'd scream for the Imperial Navy.  And because the port was under attack, the Navy would come in hard and they would be labeled as pirates.  If they survived.

Mikah just reminded him that wouldn't get them back any of the cash they had tied up in the cargo.  Aiden asked what would happen if they announced a departure time and requested the return of their cargo?  When he did, he was lucky others in the crew didn't laugh at him outright.  No matter what they did, the port had said they didn't know where the cargo was.  Posturing and making demands wasn't going to change that.  The port would only tell them they were free to abandon their cargo if they chose to do so, or wait until the proper procedures located it.  Aali asked why they didn't know which vault the cargo had been moved to and Mikah said she was told the agent had not checked in or updated the records at the end of his shift.  So, there was no way for the port to know that information.

When Aali asked about any records the port would have had, Mikah reminded her she'd been told the man did not update the records.  When Aali asked about checking the vaults, Mikah told her the port had started an audit of the vault systems, but that could take up to a week.  Emkir immediately jumped to the conclusion the agent had been working for smugglers without any real evidence of that.  Aali suggested he might have been robbed, which left the inference he was dead or badly wounded "somewhere" on the port.  Fesic got sick of the speculation and then started in a tasking tone, "Or got sick.  Or something else.  Because there's lots of different explanations."  His comments did have the effect of making it clear none of them had any information on which to base the conclusions they were jumping to.

Grimacing at Fesic, Emkir then suggested they sue the port for the value of the cargo as he saw it.  Of course, that ignored the fact that any court case would take a lot longer than the week-long vault audit.  And, any court would then use the local legal definitions for any award granted to make the ship whole again if they found in the crew's favor.  So, if a court found the farm machines or vacc suits were not worth what the crew had paid, they would be forced to take a loss.  Also ignoring how long a court suit would take to be decided, Zimzod didn't want to sue because the cargo would belong to the courts if there was a judgement before the cargo was found.

Fesic said he wanted to check the data they had from two nights before, to see what data they already had?  Like the trade agent's name and picture.  What he found was that they had the man's name, picture and a specific time frame when the agent left their berth with the cargo.  He looked for data on the androids the man had with him, but they looked like generic dumb-bots which would take voice commands and handle jobs moving heavy weights.  Hearing that, Aali suggested they call the port and asked if the man in the picture was actually the missing agent?

The port operator who took the call checked their ship's information and linked to the open case before checking the image and confirming that man was their missing agent.  The operator's response was puzzled because the port "was" looking into the situation and it would be solved.  They didn't understand why the crew were panicking because these things happened.  As they ended that call, Fesic decided he was going to start looking to see how communications information was stored and see if he could find a list or registry of citizens.  From there, he would look to see if he could locate the man's home address.  Of course, this assumed his name was listed accurately, or not listed with an initial instead of a name, or was not listed because he lived with generations of his family.  Or, that he simply wasn't listed at all.

When Fesic did find a registry of contact data, he learned that it covered the entire world population.  All one hundred and three million of them.  There were tens of thousands of persons with that name, and he couldn't get a count of those people with the right first initial linked to the last name.  Still, Fesic dove into the impossible task he'd set for himself.  Not seeing the task as daunting enough, Fesic then loaded the man's picture into a screen and started a brute-force image search for any chance it might match his face.  Even at the start, the search screen indicated hundreds of thousands of possible hits.  And the first page on display showed only pictures which perhaps matched thirty to fifty percent of the properties of the man's picture.

Emkir said he'd see what he could do to monitor the port and make sure no one was listing their cargo for sale.  That was easy enough to do because they had a merchant account to buy and sell with.  So, he was able to use the search tools available to any merchant to narrow down his search.  What he found was nothing, so he set the search to repeat six times a minute, so he'd know as soon as anything popped up.  Every so often, he did get hits on farming gear, but not the machines they'd been hauling.  That decision plugged him into the computer unless he wanted to log in from his hand computer and recreate his work.  That would have let him keep checking the port while he moved, but he chose not to.

Thinking about what she could do, Mikah decided to check which police office the port had contacted and go speak to them herself.  Hearing that, Jocelynn said she'd go with Mikah.  Aali started to talk about seeing if they could get footage from the security cameras in the port, but then decided she'd go with Mikah and Jocelynn.  With that, they looked at Aiden, Zimzod and Terin to see what they'd do and Aiden outright asked, "Is there anything I can do?" in a tone which told the others he had had no idea at all.  Zimzod only looked him up and down and said, "I can't see what."  Terin then took his chance and told Aiden, "You can stay with the ship while I go to the police with Mikah."  The others laughed as Aiden found himself hoist on his own petard.

Zimzod said they didn't need him until they had a target and needed to move in on someone, and he wanted to be ready for that.  So, he was staying with the ship and would be ready if the call came to armor up and move out.  No one commented on the dim view the police and locals would take of that if it happened.  The others on the ship made sure they could get ready if they were called but didn't expect to be called.  Especially since the laws were so strict they couldn't carry any weapons at all.  Not even honor weapons.

Search Instead Of Panic
     Arriving at the police station, Mikah went to the duty sergeant and said that she was there because a port worker was missing and had disappeared with her cargo.  Looking her up and down, the sergeant asked her who'd told her someone was missing and Mikah said, "The port." as firmly as she could.  Having been a sergeant for years and having dealt with his share of nut jobs off starships, the man decided to slice through to the core of things.  He asked her if she had a copy of the statement declaring the worker missing?  Realizing she had no documentation at all, and that nothing got done in a bureaucracy without documentation, Mikah admitted, "We don't, but if you called the port, I'm sure they would confirm it for you."

The man again looked her up and down because "the port" was an organization where thousands of people worked so you just couldn't spark up the comms and say "Hi port, what's happening?"  Still, he knew he wasn't just going to be able to say "go away", and had to do something to get this small group of spacers out of his station.  Giving Mikah his most polite and patient smile, the man asked, "OK.  Who did you work with at the port?"  Mikah dredged up the name of the person she's spoken to earlier and gave that woman's name.  After checking a directory built into his desk, the sergeant saw the woman Mikah named was a low level operator in the port's comms section and decided to shoot a bit higher.

Choosing the name of the woman's section leader, the sergeant made the call and got someone on the line.  After a brief conversation was had, the sergeant cut the line and told Mikah, "You're right.  He is missing."  The sergeant stressed the word "is" as if he was surprised this was really happening.  He then told Mikah it was early hours yet, but they could open an investigation for the missing person even though the port had not made such a request.  With that, Mikah told the officer she really didn't care about the missing man but was very concerned about her missing cargo.  That didn't surprise the sergeant as she told him her concern about a Human life was worth less than some boxes of crap.  Still, he mention that it was a sentiment he didn't share with her.

He ignored her whining about the millions of credits and how she couldn't afford to lose a cargo while not caring if a man could afford to lose his life?  Finally, he asked Mikah if she'd asked the port to do a vault audit?  Mikah said she had, but complained they'd said it could take up to a week to complete.  She then adamantly said, "We don't have a week." without realizing he had been given no reason to care what schedule she was on.  Waiting until Mikah came to a pause, he repeated that they could open a missing person's investigation and asked what she would like the police to do?  This was because she might have gotten the ball rolling for her own reasons but she wasn't related to the missing man so her rights were limited.

At that point, Aali said it would likely be the best if they could check the cameras in and around that area of the port to see where the man had gone and, possibly, what had happened to him?  Especially if he'd been attacked or left the areas covered by cameras and they needed a direction to search in?  The seargent nodded at the obvious investigative step, not surprised these people were not skilled investigators.  He then told them a request would have to be made before a court.  He explained they could not just pull camera data without getting clearance from management, because of privacy restrictions.  With that, he said they would have to talk to a detective seargent who would make their request for them.

Happy to be getting past the lower levels to someone who could actually do something, Mikah and her group were sent to what turned out to be a squad room.  The room was similar to rooms across the universe, be they wooden boxes with beaten wood desks and typewriters, dura-plas tables and computer networks or open spaces with wireless terminals and electronic forensic kits.  On the walls were multiple items of either decoration or visible artifacts related to any number of cases.  Mixed in around them were maps of Extolay City divided up or marked in various ways.  As they walked in and looked around, Terin noticed at least one map of the port that interested him.

The detective seargent called over to the desk seargent and got details on why the spacers had actually been sent to him before asking for Mikah's side of things.  And what Mikah said was largely the same.  After she was done, the man said he'd write up a request and submit it for them.  Then, he'd call them in twenty four hours to let them know how the courts decided on their request and if the police could use the camera data to investigate?  He continued, telling them if the court decided in their favor, the police would start pulling data from the cameras and reviewing them for evidence.

Beyond that, he asked Mikah if there was anything else they hoped for from the police on the matter and she asked him to see if he could expedite the vault audit?  The officer told her that was entirely in the control of the port and the police had no authority to do that.  Turning away from Mikah and the detective, Aali quietly commed Emkir and suggested he might want to get a law suit started after all.  Back on the ship, Emkir had been regularly watching the port merchandise listings when his comms went off.  Answering, he found it was Aali and she explained the situation to him.

Emkir said he'd get on the computer and try to find the best lawyers to handle a law suit for them, and considered the best search model before letting the call with Aali go.  Then, he came up with an idea and suggested he keep her on the line while he called the TAS offices in system, so she could use her membership to get the TAS concierge to help them.  When Aali thought that was a great idea, she waited while Emkir connected the call to the TAS offices.  With that connection, Aali took the lead at first, to step through giving her membership data to the android operator that answered the call in a very aggressively welcoming tone.  After that, the android asked how it could help them and Emkir explained their needs.

With the data, the android asked them to hold while it connected them to someone who could help them more directly.  Shortly after that, the screen shifted to a Human female in a business suit who greeted them.  She then said, "If I understand your situation correctly, an entity has lost your cargo and you would like to sue them for the value of MCr 6."  When Emkir offered to send her their manifest, she thanked him for that but had other things to ask before they dealt with the details.  First, she wanted to know if they were crew aboard a ship or had disembarked with their cargo to sell it?

They said they were crew aboard a ship in port and had a schedule they needed to keep, and also told the woman the last person to have control of their cargo was a port worker who was now AWOL.  Nodding, the woman asked how much time they could take from their schedule to spend in court?  Emkir asked the TAS agent to hold, while he commed Mikah to bring her into the call.  When she got on the line, Emkir asked how much time was the most they could spend in the system?  Mikah was leaving the police station and bluntly told Emkir they could only spend a week there, and this was already the second day on-world.

Hearing that, the agent nodded and said, "Let me explain how things work on Extolay."  She then told Emkir and Aali that the government was a very organized bureaucracy.  Issues started at lower levels and worked their way up as high as needed in a very organized and carefully managed way.  Which meant they did so slowly at best.  She then continued, "If you initiate a law suit, you have no chance to see it finished in the week you have to spend on world.  She then asked if they'd spoken to the local police and Mikah said they had.  The agent asked what the police were doing and Mikah said they were getting permission from the court to pull camera data but it would take them twenty four hours to get that decision.

Mikah then again pushed how tight their time limit was even though that meant nothing if they couldn't make things happen.  Nodding, the agent admitted that was all she felt they could do at the moment given what she understood of their situation.  Looking at them, the woman said TAS was also limited in what they could do but they could contact the office of the Imperial Legate in-system and ask them to lodge a protest on behalf of the rights of Imperial citizens.  She said that always was more effective from the legate, because that was a military office.  She also said that TAS could lodge a protest themselves, on the crew's behalf.

Mikah thanked the agent and said they would be very pleased with any help TAS could get them.  Nodding, the woman then said they had Dame Eikusdi Piirirshu on record as the work was being done on her TAS account.  But they also needed the names and details of the others who were party to the action.  As each of the crew were introduced, the agent was increasingly impressed and even more so when she learned Mikah was a Lady of the Deneb Domain.  Seeing the effect that had, Mikah couldn't help name dropping as she said their ship was on business for the Arch Duke himself.  The agent nodded and told them she had what she needed for what she could do and would give them updates every three hours until the issue was resolved.

After that, the agent promised to be on with the legate as quickly as she could and hoped their protests would speed the port and police in their work.  Despite that, after the call ended, Fesic said, "We're going to have to sweep the halls ourselves, just to see if we could see anything?"  As Mikah, Aali, Jocelynn and Terin walked, Terin asked if anyone noticed anything outstanding in the squad room?  When they looked at him, Terin mentioned he'd seen a listing of bars on the wall where there had been brawls the night before.  When he'd said that, Mikah quickly turned and snapped, "Jocelynn!  Where were you last night?"

Jocelynn started to talk about the music festival before she realized Mikah was joking.  Still, they realized it was possible their missing port worker had gone to a bar for a drink while he was supposed to be working.  Or he could have been passing by the bars and become caught up in one of the brawls, and been knocked out.  While Terin couldn't remember much about the bars, he did remember they were named 'Poison', 'Liberated Libations', 'The Three Cripples' and 'The Spent Youth'.  When Zimzod wondered which of the bars the man might have passed, they realized they had no idea which direction he would have been going, either to or from the vaults.  In fact, they had no idea where the vaults were.  Any of them.

When they started speculating about that and how they might track the man, Mikah said she'd been told the man had been working with a data pad from the port.  She was also told the pads had a tracking signal which had been turned off in this case.  When she'd asked, they had no explanation why that had happened?  Considering that, Mikah called the port and asked about where the beacon from the pad was last found?  She was told they'd checked that and it had not tracked anywhere that would indicate which vault the cargo was stored in but they were still certain it had been stored properly.  When Mikah pushed, she was told the workers often turned off the beacons when they did side work.  It wasn't an issue because they had always finished their shifts correctly.

Mikah then asked if they'd tried the hospitals and was told a request had been sent to each hospital and they would be processed and returned.  The answer was delivered with the absolute assurance and certainty of a professional bureaucrat.  Mikah thanked the operator and ended the call before telling the others she was going to check the hospitals in the area.  Before doing that, she sparked up a screen and mapped out what facility was close enough it would be used by all four bars.  She found the closest and copied the address information to her hand computer.

Emkir was still tracking port data to see if anything looking like their cargo went up for sale, and had seen nothing.  Also not having come up with any solid data yet, Fesic wanted to continue his search on the communications and social media.  He did recommend someone from the crew start combing the grounds in the areas around the bars where the brawls had been and also the halls of the port leading away from their berth.  Terin was absolutely up for a visit to the bars!  Since Zimzod and Aiden were still on the ship and not doing anything else, Mikah suggested they go sweep the halls outside the berth.

Meanwhile, she told Aali, Jocelynn and Terin to check out the bars and look for signs of a brawl or anything scattered outside them.  Especially since the sweep of the halls should lead out to where the bars were.  Then, except for her and Fesic and Emkir, the whole crew would be gathered and able to completely check the bars.  Once everyone was in motion, the crew decided they would meet up then split into groups to more quickly cover each of the four bars.  They talked as they tried to work out which bars would be most likely to have been involved, or even set a timeline of when the brawls had happened, but they just didn't have any information to work from.

Searching the news for mentions of brawls, they only got the most vague of mentions because brawls were not important events.  Not unless a celebrity was involved.  The only detail had been that the brawl at the bar named 'Poison' had been larger than the others.  Mapping the bars, 'Poison' and 'Liberated Libations' were both closer to the ship than the other two.  Aali wasn't pleased that they had no information on the vaults, so there was no way to narrow down the search area.  When they tried to locate the vaults, they found there were clusters all over the port, so they were not a target all clustered in one location.

Dividing With Delusions Of Conquest
     On the way to the bars, the group talked about how they would divide into groups and which bars each group would check out?  When Mikah got tired of how many times they agreed and disagreed about what they would do, Mikah told them to all go to Poison, because it was the bar closest to the ship, and then split up and hit the other bars.  When they got to the first bar, they could all see the staff of the bar had cleaned up very well!  There was almost no sign there had been a brawl at all.

Accepting that, Zimzod went in and up to the bar to ask about a dropped datapad while the others looked around.  He said he'd lost one the night before.  He wondered if they'd found anything?  Since he suggested he'd been part of the brawl, they were not happy with him but told him any electronic devices that had been dropped would have been swept up by the police when they'd responded to the situation.  Zimzod then figured he might as well try and flashed a picture of the port worker asking if they'd seen the man the night before?  He was told there were a lot of people involved and they were not sure.  They said he could ask around and suggested he buy some drinks if he did that.

Jocelynn took another tactic and came in with her best "Marine on a mission" attitude and asked the bartender if she could talk to the head bar tender or manager from two nights before?  She was told both of those people were off shift and sleeping, and they asked her what she needed?  When she asked, in an annoyed tone, if that meant she'd have to wait until that night to talk to anyone from the night before, they decided she was an angry veteran with an axe to grind because of something that happened in the brawl and they were none too happy with her either.  So, they suggested she check out the people in the bar now for bar flies with bruises.

As they fanned out, and the bar staff realized how big a group they were and got a bit worried, the crew realized some of the patrons were bruised up.  The bartender was ready to hit the button and call the police as the crew started flashing the port worker's picture and asking if anyone thought they'd seen him?  Jocelynn was quick to assure anyone she talked to that he was not in trouble and they were just trying to find him and help him out.  Zimzod was more direct and Aiden suggested buying people some drinks to get them talking.

Arriving at the closest hospital to the bars, Mikah presented both her medical credentials and titles, and asked to speak to the hospital administrator.  When she was brought to the woman's office, Mikah was asked how they could help her?  After she explained who she was looking for and gave the administrator a copy of the port worker's picture, the woman had her staff check.  Eventually, the word came back that no one matching that image had been brought into her hospital two nights before.  Still, she told Mikah there were two other hospitals they might have been brought to.  When the administrator gave her the information, Mikah asked to be sure they didn't have anyone in the morgue?  When she was assured her man wasn't in the morgue, Mikah thanked her and left.

Back in the bar, the tension had dropped a bit as they flashed the picture and got little back.  Some of the drinkers ignored them, some simply said "no" if they looked at the picture or not, and some stared intently at the empty glasses before them.  After Cr 60 of drinks for the others, and Cr 15 each for themselves to keep the bar happy, it cost them an hour and a half to get someone to admit 'he might have seen someone who might have looked vaguely like that guy in the picture'.  Maybe.  Zimzod made Aiden pay for the 'on the house' drinks because he'd suggested it in the first place.  With more drinks, the bar fly told them he thought the guy had been cold cocked and had no ID when the police came, so he thought the guy was dragged off.

Jocelynn figured that was good news for Mikah to hear and called her to let her know that.  On her way to the second hospital, Mikah called the Administrator for the first hospital and asked if they had received any john does over night?  At the same time, Jocelynn checked her hand computer and located the nearest police station.  She then called them and explained she was "Dame Jocelynn Guerrek", working on an issue for His Grace, Arch Duke Norris and she was looking for a person who might have been detained by officers from that station.  For the first time she had tried to name and title drop, the reaction Jocelynn got was gratifying.  Very gratifying.

The officer she contacted was very pleased to get the information from Jocelynn because he'd had heat from his command.  Apparently, the Imperial Legate and other in-system authorities had been coming down hard on the police over something and he'd been warned they were looking for a person.  The picture he'd been flashed by his command matched the image Jocelynn had, so he was very pleased to answer any questions if he could help.  Especially if he could close the case and get rewarded by his supervisors for it.  Hearing what Jocelynn had for him, the officer told her such a person would first have had a level of emergency treatment.

Once the person had been woken up, and not shown any continuing medical needs, any claims they made such as being a citizen would have been documented.  But, if he didn't have an ID key and could not immediately prove his status, he would have been sent to a holding facility until his claims and identity could be tested via DNA and other tests.  That was because anyone could make a claim, and checking those usually took three to five days.  It could take as long as a week if the facility were backed up for any reason, because the paperwork must be done even though the actual DNA test took less than a day.

When he said he could give her the location of a number of facilities, Jocelynn said she'd like that.  Nodding, the officer sent Jocelynn a list of four holding stations and their addresses.  He said those would be most likely to have received people from that section of the city in recent days.  After Jocelynn got off the line with the officer, she commed to update Mikah on what she'd learned.  Mikah had just gotten done calling the hospital she'd visited to ask about john does.  She was told they had checked the image Mikah had against the john does, so while they had some unidentified people under treatment, none had matched the image.

When she heard what Jocelynn had to say, Mikah was happy.  She said, "Good!  You and Aali track that down.  Leave the bars to the boys.  And Terin."  That special pause got a laugh from Jocelynn as Mikah again paused before saying, "I'm sorry.  Did I say that out loud?"  Mikah continued, saying she was going to keep hitting the other hospitals while they checked out the detention centers and wanted them to keep her informed.

On the ship, Emkir hadn't had any hits to investigate in data from the trading system and thought it might be good to find the local order House for the Knight Defenders of the Marches to see if they might be able to help?  When he checked the comms listings, Emkir found there was a contact code for what seemed to be an Order House, but it wasn't specifically for his order.  Emkir made the call because he figured they would at least help him get the right code.  What he found was that there was no specific order house for his order alone.  The contact was for a group that worked to support the members of any order who needed help in-system.  The advantage of that was an increase in information sharing locally.

The Knight who answered Emkir's call first reviewed the crew's situation and what they had done so far?  The Knight was able to tell Emkir about a number of the detention centers where a person was taken when found without identification because they sometimes had to recover members who'd been robbed or "lost their ID".  The knight also recommended the crew forget about any lawsuits because they would neither help the situation nor be resolved any time soon.  So, that would just cost the crew money for no gain.  The next advice Emkir was given is that he wouldn't see their cargo listed in the port's systems if it had been stolen.  In that case, it would be sold off in a black market or underground venue if it were sold in-system at all.  And if they wanted to move it, thieves would have to forge paperwork to get the cargo out-system past customs inspections.

As Emkir nodded, the Knight told him the fastest way to get the cargo out of the system where thieves wouldn't need forged papers to sell it and just needed to smuggle it out of Extolay.  That could've been done by rushing it onto a shuttle or small craft that would carry the cargo out to a departing ship which had already been inspected.  Finally, the Knight said that if the cargo had been stored in a vault, the only way they could speed up the process was to find the missing man and get him back to the port.  With that done, the man could log into his account, connect to his hardware anywhere on world, even in a police property room, and upload the data on the work done.  That would tell the port where the cargo was and they would then tell the crew.

Very pleased, Emkir thanked the Knight and cut the call before calling Mikah to update her.  After updating Mikah on what he'd learned, he suggested he start looking to see if he could track ships leaving the system for anything that might be suspicious?  Mikah agreed with that and came up with the thought that if anyone had rolled the missing man, they might be using his credentials to travel on or commit other crimes.  She suggested Emkir call the police and ask them to put an official trace on any use of the man's ID key or other credentials just in case.

When Emkir commed the police and identified himself, the officer recognized him as being a member of the crew that had created the issues his department were scrambling to deal with.  So, while the smile on his face was polite, and his manner courteous, the man's eyes showed he was not pleased at all to be dealing with "these people" himself.  After he asked how he could help, Emkir suggested that the police begin a check of the missing man's credentials to prevent someone from using them to smuggle goods off world or out of the system.  The officer was very proud of himself for nodding and staying friendly as he thanked Emkir for the information even though it was obvious that the port and police would freeze the man's accounts once the missing person process had been started.

Unaware of the officer's thoughts, Emkir thanked the man and cut the line before calling the port to give them the same warning.  They were just as friendly if less circumspect than the police.  They told Emkir that they'd had all the data he offered on the man's name because he was their employee.  And, they said they had locked down his credentials and run scans for attempts to use them ever since the man was declared missing, including back-checking any use of his port credentials.  Still, the operator did not use the nickname 'Captain Obvious' when thanking Emkir for his information.

Mikah got yet another update from Emkir on his calls to the police and port just as she was arriving at the second hospital.  Meeting with that administrator, Mikah had to wait while they did the same check of their departments which the first hospital had done.  When the report came back much faster than at the first hospital, it said the police had not brought anyone in during the entire night Mikah was asking about.  So, they wouldn't have received anyone for care under those circumstances.  When Mikah asked about John Does, she was reminded she'd given them a picture to work off of.  None of the unknowns looked like that image and the only person who's face they could not see, due to bandages, was female.  So, not Mikah's man.

After Cr 50 each for a taxi ride, Jocelynn and Aali got to the first of the detention stations.  Used to non-police visitors arriving to reclaim relatives or other associates, they asked how they could help the ladies?  Jocelynn showed she was really getting into laying on the titles and name dropping as she introduced herself and asked if the man had been brought in two nights before?  She said he might have been drunk or in need of medical attention.  When she added that he had no ID key on him when he would have been brought in, that was obvious because that was the main reason people were brought to the center.  He didn't tell her that because it was the sort of thing people always thought they had to explain for some reason.

The officer agreed to send the picture back to those managing the prisoners because they had taken in quite a number of detainees over the night Jocelynn asked about.  When Jocelynn suggested he might have been brought in from a brawl at a bar called Poison, the officer told her they weren't told where detainees came from.  All they were concerned about were people who had no way to prove their identities.  If the man had committed a crime, they'd be turned over to the correct court only after it was determined if they needed to be tried in-system or deported instead?

Thinking ahead, Jocelynn then said, "If this guy is not here, is there any way you can connect us to the other detention sites so we can check without having to go there too?"  She was disappointed when the officer told her he'd have to get authorization to do that.  Still, after her angry internal voice said, 'Of course you would.' she asked who they needed authorization from and was told they'd have to get it from the senior officer managing the center.  When she kept looking at him, he explained they would have to submit a request to their captain.  Once the captain had the time to review the request, he would take the steps he needed to take before either being given a decision from above or making his own decision.

While Jocelynn did hear everything the officer said, a smaller part of her mind translated it to, 'We need to ask and will get an answer next year'.  Taking a quick breath, Jocelynn decided to push as she asked, "Can we speak to your management?"  That was shot down as the officer told her the best they could do was call and make a verbal request.  But that only meant the captain would be notified of the request right away, not that any further action would be taken as fast.  Jocelynn could only guess that if the captain were having a bad day, they might react badly to being pushed and intentionally put the request on the bottom of their 'to do' pile. Still, the die had been cast, and they had the picture and needed to get the officer working on explaining that to his team if they were going to check for her.

Ten minutes later, the officer told her the verbal request had been made and they would update her once they got a response.  Aali and Jocelynn went back to waiting for another fifteen minutes before the officer called them over.  He told them they might have the person the ladies were looking for in their facility.  Both ladies were very happy when the officer said they were bringing the man out.  Still, it took ten more minutes for them to bring the guy out and ask if this was their missing person?  When Jocelynn and Aali check the image against the man before them, they had to admit the resemblance was close but not close enough.

Saying this wasn't the man they were looking for, they watched as the officer told the guards to bring the man back to lock up.  While that happened, the prisoner started to struggle and called to the ladies saying, "Get a message to my captain!  Get a message to my captain that I'm here!  They're holding me against my will!"  He then shouted out a ship name, the IMV Kana Iisha, and again asked them to call his captain before they dragged him through a door which was then closed and locked.

Jocelynn did try to get the man's name but he'd been dragged out before she could, so she only had his description and a ship name.  On top of that, they had asked for permission to connect from this center to the other three, to save on travel so they could wait for that or leave.  Jocelynn asked Aali how she felt about waiting for the decision and they both agreed to wait a bit for that to happen.  In the meantime, Jocelynn sparked her comms up to call the port and ask about a ship named the Kana Iisha, to see if such a ship was even in port?  Reaching an operator, Jocelynn explained she'd been told to call a ship with that name and wondered if it was in port?  The operator said the ship was in port and happily reminded her all port listings were publicly available on-line.  She then asked if Jocelynn would like her to connect the call to the ship's comms.  Jocelynn said yes and thanked the operator.

When the connection was made, the voice of a woman asked, "Kana Iisha.  Officer of the deck.  How can I help you?"  Jocelynn immediately jumped in, saying, "Yes, this is going to sound odd, and you don't know me but, is your captain aboard?"  Sounding uncertain what information she should give out to that, the woman said, "Yes.  But I'm the duty officer.  How can I help you?"  Accepting that, Jocelynn said, "Well, I'm Dame Jocelynn Guerrek and I'm here at one of the city's detention centers on a completely unrelated task and they brought out one of your crew members, who looked similar to the person I'm looking for.  When he was brought out, he asked me to call your ship and tell your captain he was being held against his will.  Unfortunately, I didn't get his name."  After that, she gave her best description of the man she saw.  Hearing that, the merchant officer asked, oddly, about the man's voice.  After Jocelynn described the man's voice, the woman said, "That was our man!"

She then confirmed from Jocelynn where the detention center was and said they'd send a team to recover their missing man.  She did say he'd gone missing after a pub crawl the other night.  Aali quipped, "There's a lot of that going around." in a less than pleased tone.  Jocelynn muted her comms and asked Aali, "Why do I get the feeling this is the ship that stole our shit?"  Unaware of the unjustified accusation, the officer thanked Jocelynn and they ended the call.  Some time later, the police officer came back to them and said they'd confirmed no one else they were holding matched the image.  He also said their captain was unable to make a decision on their request.  That meant they couldn't let the ladies connect to the three other centers from the location.  With a shrug, Jocelynn turned to Aali and said, "I guess we move on to the second center." 

Arriving at the second bar, the team with Zimzod found a scene similar to the first one.  Taking a que from the first bar, Zimzod went directly to looking for bruises and asking them questions.  After nearly an hour, and Cr 40 more in 'liquid talk' along with another Cr 15 of drinks for themselves, to keep the bar happy, no one said they'd seen anything.  This time, he made Terin pay for the free drinks because he was the one who wanted to go to the bars before they had a reason to.  When Terin tried to argue that, because everyone on the crew liked going to bars, but Zimzod shut him down right away.  After that, they went off to find the bars that were further away.

Hip Deep In The Swamp
     At the second hospital, Mikah was told they didn't have anyone matching the image Mikah presented.  Updates came from the other teams as they moved on or reported no findings.  Fesic had come up with so many hits to explore that he realized he could be sitting in the chair for a year and not make any progress.  Because of that, he was good with the idea of checking the third and fourth detention centers when Aali brought the idea up.  Jocelynn was good with that because they couldn't use one of the centers to connect to the others.  So, Fesic got the addresses of the last two centers while Aali and Jocelynn traveled to the second facility.

Eventually getting to the second detention center, Jocelynn and Aali saw the officers there had been tipped off that they were coming.  It was very obvious they were not pleased but were putting up with the situation.  Sadly, that didn't mean they had gotten a jump on the search.  Instead, it meant they were going to follow the rules to the letter.  And if the important nobility didn't like waiting, that was their issue because rules were rules.  At the same time, Emkir had taken the comments from the Order to heart and stopped looking for their cargo on legitimate sales venues.  He set up a search using the port's public data, to see what ships were leaving the system or arriving?  He hoped to notice any ships behaving oddly.

While he did that, Emkir also reviewed the data he'd collected while watching the sales data.  As he reviewed what he'd tracked, Emkir realized this port appeared 'very clean'.  Nothing he could see looked out of the ordinary.  While he did see farming equipment sold over the exchange, he didn't see any mention of vacc suits.  Eventually, Emkir called the port and asked them for a line on ships trying to leave the system early.  The operator he reached said that wouldn't be possible because Emkir had no legal authority in the system.  After a discussion, the port worker helped Emkir optimize the shipping scan he'd set up based on public information that was free to anyone.  Still, it wouldn't tell them anything anyone else would not be able to know.

At the second detention center, Jocelynn and Aali were told they thought they had the man the women were looking for and they were bringing him out.  As the two reacted to that news, they warned the women the man had been screaming and raving so they'd had to sedate him.  They were also warned the man had some contusions and bruises, so he'd been in a fight at some point recently.  For Jocelynn and Aali, that was a positive finding because they thought their man had become embroiled in a bar room brawl.  Still, that didn't mute their surprise and joy when the guards rolled out a man on a stretcher and the picture matched the face!

Jocelynn wanted to see if he was coherent, and he was, even if he was groggy and a bit out of it.  After thanking the officers around her, she asked if there was a room where she could talk to the man privately, and was told that wouldn't be possible.  Rules were rules, and they told the women the man was still a detained prisoner until his identity was properly validated and they had orders for his disposition.  Accepting that, Jocelynn decided to tell them the man was now considered a suspect in the theft of a cargo valuing MCr 6.  The lead officer nodded and smiled before asking her for documentation from the police of the charges she claimed were being prosecuted.

Jocelynn backpedaled, saying she knew they had worked with the police and there was an investigation, but she had no documents.  When she said she knew they were looking for that man, the officer asked her if she had anything they could use to prove his identity legally?  Because they wouldn't be able to release the man or reduce restrictions on him until his identity was proven and his case decided.  Hearing that, Jocelynn asked what case that was and was told it he to be decided if he would be deported as a non-citizen, handed over to the police for prosecution for other crimes or released with a new ID Key and a fine?

When Jocelynn admitted she couldn't prove his identity, they told her he would remain in their custody and they couldn't assume he was the person she wanted to charge, even if she convinced them he was the correct suspect.  Rules were rules.  Stuck facing a brick wall, Jocelynn changed direction and called the port to tell them she'd found their missing worker.  Of course, when Jocelynn managed to connect, her statement was met with surprise and suspicion.  Being from off world, they were certain the spacers couldn't cut their way through the bureaucratic steps any faster than their administrators.

When they asked how she claimed to have found the missing man, Aali grumbled "Leg-work", and Jocelynn repeated, "Leg-work your local authorities were dragging their feet on."  Still skeptical, they asked if she could prove her claim or show the man to them?  Responding to that, Jocelynn only started shooting a video broadcast and aimed it at the man on the stretcher.  Despite his being groggy, he still responded correctly when she said, "Say hello to your boss."  And while the detention center would certainly want a lot more done to validate the man's ID, the port was satisfied and said they'd start the paperwork to have him remanded back to them with a new ID key.

They further said they'd get the man back at work once that paperwork was completed and approved.  When it was asked how long that would take, they were told that it would take as long as the process took.  Disgusted with the continuing delays, Jocelynn asked the man if he'd had his ID key with him the night he'd been taken into custody?  The man said he certainly did, because no one went out in public without an identity key!  But, he complained that everything he'd had was lost when he'd been attacked.  When she agreed his electronics were missing, the man pointed out that was obviously why he was being held.

Finally 'going for the gold', Jocelynn said, "You were in charge of securing the cargo from our ship.  Do you know if that was done?  Or were you attacked before you could do that?"  She also told him the name of the ship.  He defensively squeaked out, "It's done!" and Jocelynn asked, "It was done?" as he added, "It's in a vault."  Jocelynn first asked, "Are you sure?" before asking which vault?  He told her he didn't know which neatly side-stepped the fact that vaults were named digitally in the system, not with sophont-friendly names.  When Jocelynn asked him where the vault was, he told her he could tell them exactly where the cargo was if he could log into his work account.  That didn't help the crew as Jocelynn admitted there was no way to get him somewhere where he could log in.

Jocelynn hadn't realized she'd said that out loud until he said she had to get him back to the port.  Jocelynn knew there was no way to get him to the port, but she also knew she didn't want to let the port just come and sweep the man away into the darkness.  When she asked if he could use any computer to log in, he said he had to use the port's equipment, and that datapad had been lost when he was attacked.  Fixing on that, Jocelynn asked if he remembered where he'd been attacked and he said it happened "outside some bar".  Hoping for details, Jocelynn asked if he'd gotten a look at his attackers and was told it had just been a wave of people.  She asked if he felt he'd been targeted or was just caught up in something and he said, "I was just taking a short cut back to the bar.  He then quickly corrected himself, saying, "Er, back to the port.  To finish my shift."  He continued that a wave of people had come out of a bar and he'd gotten beaten up.  Jocelynn continued asking questions, to see if he'd been targeted or not but he only answered with the vague details he remembered.

Running out of ideas, Jocelynn settled on getting background information when she asked how long he'd worked for the port?  When he said it had been twelve years, she asked if anything like a worker being caught in a brawl had happened before, and he said it hadn't happened to him.  When she probed that, the man shrugged and said it was likely, but he couldn't say for certain.  Aali then asked if there was any way anyone with his equipment and ID key could to the port data?  He said it would only be possible for someone who worked for the port and had their own log in, but they'd be routed to their own account.  Not his.  To get his data, they'd have to have his pass code.

While they were casting about for anything helpful to ask, the man said he could log in if he had his port datapad, but that was gone.  When Jocelynn asked if they'd taken away his gear when he was attacked, he admitted he didn't know because he'd been knocked out.  Looking at the officers, Jocelynn asked, "Did this man come in with any possessions?"  They told her anything he'd had on him would have been used to establish his identity by the police.  And anything on the ground would have been collected by the police and stored in lost and found until it was claimed.  Nodding, Jocelynn decided to call the others and update them.

When she got on the comms, the first thing that happened was that Fesic realized his trip was redundant, and he had the cabbie turn around and bring him back to the port.  Mikah and everyone else also started back for the ship.  Next, as Jocelynn and Aali let everyone in on the good news, Jocelynn asked if Zimzod and the guys should go to the police and ask them for the man's datapad?  Mikah was all for that but Aiden said that wouldn't work.  When Jocelynn said they had the man right there, she was reminded that Extolay law considered him a legal nobody until he was identified.  So, his word counted for nothing under the circumstances.

Zimzod then asked why they didn't just call the police and tell them they'd found the missing man and let them handle picking him up and officially confirming his identity?  Jocelynn agreed they could do that but said the port was already filling out the forms to do that too.  Zimzod was certain any police action would have more authority than an action by the port and the others agreed to that.  Zimzod also told Jocelynn to ask why the man had turned off the tracker on his datapad?  Remembering that, Jocelynn asked why he'd turned the tracker off and he said he didn't.  She then asked if he'd known the tracker was off and he said it must have been a fault in the pad.  Still, the speed with which he'd answered gave her the impression he was lying.

Now listening in with the rest of the crew, Emkir muttered that he felt the man was "in on it", because he was certain a crime had been committed.  Jocelynn gave up on that line of questions because they couldn't be answered without getting hold of his datapad, and that was just wasting more time.  Considering her assets and very limited connections, Jocelynn decided to call the police station she'd called earlier and hoped to get the officer she'd spoken too before because he had been cooperative.

Lucky for her, the man had been so cooperative that he'd given her his name.  That was because he really wanted the credit for closing this case, but that didn't matter to her.  Not to mention any reward from command for the man who got these people off their backs.  Jocelynn managed to get the officer on the comms and said she'd found their missing man and told him what facility he was in and what his status was.  When the officer was surprised by the announcement, Jocelynn leaned down so her face was next to the man's and showed the officer a selfie of her face next to the port worker's.  Then she asked the man to say his name and that he wanted to get any equipment back that the police were holding.

The officer told her they likely had a pile of unidentified electronics and devices, and couldn't likely identify any single device without the proper serial numbers and markings.  That was even if they could simply grab something from property storage and hand it over to anyone.  The proper steps and forms had to be handled and followed.  Accepting that, Jocelynn asked if it were possible for her and Dame Eikusdi to accompany the man when the police came to take custody of him?  The man said it would be difficult to get permission for that but he'd ask, and made sure to let her know they still had to officially re-identify him legally.  Nodding because she had no other options, Jocelynn did tell the officer she and Dame Eikusdi planned to stay at the center until anyone came to recover him.

The officer nodded and said the police would be coming to the center to investigate and move things forward now the man had been found.  That was good enough for Jocelynn.  After that, Jocelynn called everyone again and started updating them on events, and her plans to wait with Aali until anyone arrived, so she could try to ride along with the port worker.  Hearing that, Mikah asked, "Where are you?  Does he need medical attention?"  Jocelynn said they'd sedated the man so she didn't know more than him being groggy but responsive.  She had no idea if he was in pain or anything?  Mikah decided to call a cab and go to the center to give the man a medical checkup.  Jocelynn then cut her call and told the man she and her crew woman would stay with him until someone showed up.  She explained he was the last person to have control of their cargo and they needed his help to figure out what was going on?  Ironically, just after she'd told him that, one of the officers said the man had been removed from holding for too long already, and had to be put back in lock up.

When Jocelynn said Lady Mikah was on her way there because she was a doctor and wanted to check him medically, the officer told her what they wanted didn't matter because they had no orders from anyone in the government.  He said rules were rules and they had to put the man back in holding unless some kind of legal change of status arrived.  Jocelynn worried they'd sedate the man again, or something would happen to prevent him being able to help solve their problem if they put him back in lock up.  And she knew she couldn't go back into the lock up with him because the genders were segregated at the very least.

Jocelynn tried to ask for them to put him in a holding room with them, or wait until the doctor arrived, but he said they couldn't do that.  When Jocelynn leaned in on possible medical issues, the officer reminded her the man had been through a medical checkup before the police brought him in, and he was not deemed to be in medical distress.  She then started asking the man if he was OK in hopes he would catch on and start suggesting he was feeling worse or something.  But the man was groggy enough that tactic went nowhere except that the officers and guards were well aware what was happening.  One didn't work that job for as long as some of them had without coming to understand the tricks played by people who didn't realize they were only insulting the officer's intelligence and making fools of themselves.

The port worker only told them he wanted to go home and Jocelynn said they were working on that as she considered their options.  All that was left was to wait until someone arrived to collect him and see how things played out from there?  That meant it was a race between Mikah or the port or the police to see who arrived first?  Eventually, Mikah was the first to arrive, because she was the only one who didn't have to fill out forms and get approvals before she showed up.  All she had to do was pay a taxi Cr 50.  When Mikah walked in, they told her the guards had put the man back in holding until they got orders to change his status.

The Delays At Rainbows End
     After getting a report from Jocelynn and Aali, Mikah stepped over to the officer in charge, introduced herself with all her titles and said she needed to talk to the port worker because he'd become involved in the business of the Arch Duke.  Despite the reaction she saw in their eyes, the man's tone told her he'd be a lot more impressed if she had any legal document backing up everything she'd just claimed.  Mikah knew she didn't have any such documents, so she showed them her Ident and documentation of her titles and hoped that would be enough power in their eyes for them to take her word for it.  Unfortunately, it wasn't.  So they had to wait to see who arrived next?

The next to arrive were the police, because the port and the upper bureaucrats had told the police to find the man for the port.  So, they had to get fewer approvals than the people at the port.  Even if the port had started on theirs first.  When they did arrive, they expected Jocelynn but were surprised that Aali and Mikah were also there.  And even more surprised when Mikah demanded she be allowed to give the man a medical checkup before he was taken anywhere.  To enforce her will, Mikah held out her medical certifications and dared them with her eyes to refuse her.  The senior officer in the police team could care less, so long as what she did didn't get in the way of his orders.  And, he gave his orders to the senior officer present from the detention staff.

There was, of course, a period of waiting where the detention staff did their work to update the case history and complete all the forms before the guards were sent to pull the man out of lock up again.  When they brought the man out, the senior police officer asked Mikah to explain what she was doing as she took steps to check the port worker out?  Mikah then used her hand-scanner to see if he'd suffered any kind of brain injury?  And soon enough, she could see he was healthy enough if still suffering from the drugs they'd hit him with.  When she saw that, Mikah asked the man if he'd known he'd been drugged and the man said he knew, because it was one of the officers who wouldn't let him go home.

Hearing that, Jocelynn told them one of the detention officers had said the man was sedated because he'd been belligerent.  To prevent anymore headaches, the detention sergeant put the video of the man's in-take on a vid-screen.  They could see the port worker and a few others were putting up a good fight until troopers with hand-injectors had rushed in and doped them to get them under control.  When Mikah asked why he'd been putting up such a fight in a tone that was suggestive but not accusing, the man said it was because he was a citizen and resident of Extolay City.  So, they should have simply let him go home and sleep it off.

Mikah then simply decided the man had no brain, even though her demands for cooperation and information were just as baseless as his demands had been.  In many cases, the only difference between the port worker and them was that they had Idents, so they weren't in custody too.  But so many of their demands were just as unreasonable, and they didn't see that because the demands were "what they wanted" and not what someone else wanted.  With that done, the lead police officer wanted to know if Lady Mikah was Ok with them taking the port worker away?  Mikah said she was OK with that, but then got in the officer's face and said, "All I want to know is where the fuck my cargo is?"  The officer nodded and said that claim was being investigated by the port and they would get an update from them.

Before Mikah could respond to that with words the officer really didn't care about, he asked, "Is there a Dame Jocelynn Guerrek here?"  When Jocelynn stepped forward, she was told the police captain had actually given permission for Jocelynn to ride along with the port worker as they brought him in to process the man.  Jocelynn actually gasped in surprise because that decision had been so unexpected.  Jocelynn did ask if she could bring Aali and Mikah, but was told they couldn't.  Jocelynn leaned in and whispered to Mikah she only wanted to make sure the man wasn't injured or killed once he was in their custody and Mikah nodded.

Getting the address where they were taking the man, Mikah and Aali called for a cab while the police secured the port worker and led him and Jocelynn out to their waiting vehicles.  The three ladies had been surprised when they were told they were taking the man to the port instead of a police station, but they went with it.  The ride itself was quiet and largely uncomfortable for the police and the port worker.  The port worker wasn't happy because he expected bad things to happen at the port.  The police were not happy because they had to be on their absolute perfect pins of this noble woman watching them would report them for sneezing wrong.  They worried she might file a complaint just because she could.

Used to dealing with a world where things only moved slowly when they were not moving backwards, Mikah, Jocelynn and Aali were surprised at some sudden changes once the police arrived.  But the port bureaucrats couldn't punish their man if they couldn't legally identify him.  As a result, they had asked for a summary decision on status which would allow them to have a doctor standing by to do a gene match with the man's legal medical records.  As they did this, the worker was given an advanced taste of his future as he was told he would be docked two days' pay for dereliction of duty for not attending to his work or notifying his superiors of a reason for his absence.  Even worse, he could not use his incarceration as an excuse for his failure under the laws and expectations of the world.

The doctor continued to work with a device that would produce a genetic match result faster than Mikah even expected possible!  It seemed that even the worst backwater had technologic peaks where their needs came into play.  So, while he worked, they listened as the worker was asked why he'd not reported in?  His initial answer was that he'd been overwhelmed and knocked out while he was on the way back to the port and was incarcerated and unable to communicate after he woke up.  This was not given as an excuse but as an explanation, in hopes those details would keep his punishment from getting worse.

When he was told that wasn't an excuse because he shouldn't have been anywhere near the bars, the man admitted he'd been taking a short cut to get back to the port so he could end his shift on time.  Because they said they were certain they'd caught him in a lie, he was being docked another half-day, and they would punish him further if he didn't just tell them the truth.  There was still a bit more of the 'back and forth' before the worker realized he wasn't getting out from under the rock coming down on him.  Accepting that, he came clean and told the truth.

When he'd been on the deck of the Upgrade, he was close enough to the end of his day that he could taste it.  But he also knew he could get their cargo into a vault and get back to the port to update the computers soon enough his bosses might have given him another job.  If he turned off the tracker on his pad, he could claim it was just RF interference or something, and that he was still working.  Then, he could stop and grab some chow and a drink and relax for a bit before he returned to the port.  To prevent his boss checking his jobs, he held back the computer update after he loaded their cargo in a vault, so it would look like he was still working their job.  Then, he planned to finish up his break and get back to the port in time to sign out without having to risk being assigned another job.

Unfortunately for him, he'd gotten trapped in the brawl outside Poison, and someone had knocked him cold.  He guessed the port data pad had gone flying and could only guess someone went through his pockets for credit chits, and threw his ID key aside.  It was automatically a year in jail if you got caught with someone else's key because that was seen as an automatic attempt at using it to defraud someone with it.  Now that he was completely done, they heaped more punishment on him before demanding he log into the port computer and finish his shift.  Mikah and the others learned another bit of good news then.

The world's computer network was pervasive.  So, there would be wireless connections everywhere including the inside of a police holding room.  That meant the worker could log in and send a code out that would be broadcast "Everywhere".  And when it was received by the pad in police storage, it would not only activate, but turn on its locator beacon and connect to the port's computers.  Then, the man only had to issue a set of instructions and the pad updated the port computers.  Not more than ten seconds after he did that, Emkir received a ping on his hand computer as the alert he'd set went off to tell him they'd gotten an update from the port.

Checking that, Emkir saw they had been updated exactly where their cargo was, and had been the whole time, in a port vault.  There was a bit of anticlimactic comedy as Emkir played 'Captain Obvious' and called the port to tell them he'd gotten an update and their cargo had been found just shortly after those in the port had literally watched the man locate the cargo.  Still suspicious, Zimzod told Emkir they should make sure the cargo was there before sounding the all clear.  At that, one of the port administrators stepped in and told Emkir there was a link in his notification which he could use to activate the cameras in the vault.  When Emkir did that, he was pleased to see the cargo containers from their ship stacked properly waiting to be sold or recovered.

When the crew were finally satisfied their cargo had been found and their issues resolved, an administrator stepped up to Mikah and told her the port were sorry for this issue.  To help make up for it, the port was granting the ship the services of a first-level Broker free of charge.  That meant they would not have to pay the broker's ten percent fee for the selling of their cargo, and that pleased Mikah.  At the same time, Jocelynn discretely stepped closer to the port worker and told him, "You're lucky murder is illegal here." with a tone of disgust.  As she did that, Emkir was busy logging into the ship's merchant account to start advertising their cargo in the market place.

Beyond selling the cargo, Aali had her engineering work to get done over the next days until 352-1113, because the port would bill them more for their berth if they didn't leave port in the next five days.  When Mikah called Emkir and told him to figure out what consumables they needed to buy, Zimzod argued they shouldn't buy anything they didn't have to locally.  When Mikah asked why, Zimzod pointed out that the food prices were ridiculous in the system and the food tasted horrible.  While no one disagreed on those points, Mikah was worried that their next stop was the pirate world of Tremous Dex.  Then, they would be headed to Arden.  So, they had to get through at least a month and a half before they could jump back to an Imperial world.

Mikah pointed out they could be forced to pay more for worse in they ran into issues on either Tremous Dex or Arden.  So, she felt they should order an atmo and water refresh at the very least, and they "had to" buy fuel to top off their tanks after their two-parsec jump from Regina.  A check of the charts showed Tremous Dex had at least one gas giant in-system, so they could skim fuel for the jump to Arden, if they wanted to risk being attacked while vulnerable?  Or, they could pay the port there for fuel and know that would be safe until the port had their money.

Beyond fuel and atmospherics, they could make it with the food they had if only because they'd stocked up with a six-month supply of emergency rations in the Inthe system, after they survived the misjump.  Zimzod quickly backpedaled his argument to simply say he didn't want to buy food from anyone in Extolay.  Since they had enough meals they could make it some distance to their next stop, and could see what they could get on Tremous Dex after only a few days of emergency rations, they were good with buying an air and water refresh, along with fuel, from this port.  And if the crew wanted little from the port now, the port felt the same way, as many were already referring to them as the IMV Shipload of Karens.

Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Zimzod: Study and Helping where needed  
     Mikah: Study and Helping where needed  
     Aali: Engineering work  
     Emkir: Working to determine the supplies needed  
     Aiden: Study and Helping where needed  
     Fesic: Study and Helping where needed  
     Terin: Study and Helping where needed  
     Jocelynn: Study and Helping where needed  
     Rol: 3 Weeks, 1 Day into cloning  

Next: The Wages Of Singe