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Tremous Dex
The Afterglow Of Victory And Treasure
     After a very long day, the crew faded off to get some sleep.  They'd spent the day escaping from pirates or mercenaries, then attacking them.  They finally got back to the port after wrecking their cutter and capturing the damaged pirate ship they'd been aboard.  Zimzod put Mikah in the autodoc and Rol was still between 11 and 12 weeks in gestation.  Mikah wouldn't be 'fully cooked' until 7pm the next day.  Docking the Cedna, the crew moved the loot from that ship to the Upgrade's locker.  There, they planned to divide it up after Mikah was out of the autodoc.  The only plans they had were to meet with the port master in two days to discuss what they would trade for the Cedna?  Aiden set his alarm to wake him at 7am.  Aali did the same in the stateroom she and Emkir shared.

That loot included:
      The Cedna's nameplate, which Aali had cut from the ship using a welder they found aboard
      The arc welder Aali found, and would add to gear in Engineering
      A large collection of electronic parts found loose all over the Cedna, which Aali would be moving to engineering
      A hand-held medical scanner Mikah claimed and would investigate
      Some sort of computer diagnostic tool Emkir took and would investigate
      A very high-end chip-fabricator, used to create chips with embedded code, which Emkir took
      Some kind of control panel from an unidentified device
      A fold-out "plasma" riot shield in good condition but with empty batteries which Aali would have to figure how to recharge
      A small portable laser-aimable antenna array
      984 rounds of ball ammo for snub pistols
      A small snow globe with a navy-blue cube inside, from the Cedna's captain's safe which Mikah wanted
      A Crimson-glass bead from the Cedna's captain's safe which Mikah wanted
      Palm-sized orb, seems inert until touched, then glows and levitates - force will push a hand
            (Other sensations not investigated) (Mikah wanted)

      Hard Currency from the Cedna's captain's safe:
          Imperial: KCr 172 in Physical currency: 30% in Bank "notes", 70% precious metal coins
          Arden: KCr 80 in Physical currency: 40% in Bank "notes", 60% precious metal coins
          Zhodani: KCr 24 in Physical currency: 90% in Bank "vouchers", 10% precious metal coins
          Sword World Currency: KCr 14 in precious metal coins from Tizon, Gram, Sacnoth Dyrnwyn and Entrope:

      Hard Currency from the Cedna's staterooms:
          Imperial: Cr 6,000 in precious metal coins
          Zhodani: Cr 5,000 in precious metal coins
          Arden: Cr 7,000 in precious metal coins
          Sword Worlds: Cr 4,000 in precious metal coins from Tizon, Gram, Sacnoth Dyrnwyn and Entrope

      Jewelry from the Cedna's staterooms:
      A ring with an egg-shaped setting created using pale pink beads, done in what may be an old style - Estimated value: 1,000
      A wide beaten copper bracelet - Estimated value: Cr 10
      A gold pin shaped like a cat, in a style evocative of tribal glyphs.
            It was accented with an assortment of iridescent lemon-lime gems - Estimated value: Cr 1,500 to 2,000
      A wide copper ring set with a small transparent azure oval-cut gem surrounded by transparent dusty
            blue gems - Estimated value: Cr 500
      A pair of earrings shaped like snakes made from pale turquoise beads, and designed in a style evocative
            of an unknown fashion - Estimated value: Cr 200
      A silver pendant set with a large transparent bright green tapered baguette-cut gem.
            The pendant was surrounded by transparent dark brown gems - Estimated value: Cr 2,500
      A silver pendant set with a large opaque bright purple heart-cut gem, surrounded by opaque dark turquoise
            gems. - Estimated value: Cr 2,500
      What looked like a gold chain with a pendant of the same metal holding a faceted transparent clear blue stone, cut
            in a circle and appearing to be costume jewelry - Estimated value: Cr 50


Getting A Perspective
     Despite the alarms set, Fesic was the first to wake, and he went through his morning routine before going out to the ship's lounge to make what he called his "famous french toast" along with caff.  Because he'd woken so early, Fesic was able to both cook and serve himself without anyone else waking.  So, he turned on the news to watch while eating.  Not surprisingly, only a quarter of the news was on other events or matters while the bulk of news coverage gave information, updates and opinions on the fighting between his crew and the pirates led by Smiljan.

Side coverage still discussed the fight between Upgrade and Krama Vjera the day before.  Despite some clips of Lady Mikah's crew claiming they defended themselves, the only available media proved Mikah, herself, invited the pirate commander to dock.  Then, it can only be surmised Lady Mikah's crew ambushed the pirate boarding team while sensor data showed the Upgrade opened fire without warning.  While the Krama Vjera only seemed to be trying to flee, Lady Mikah's gunner(s) only poured on the fire until that ship was entirely disabled.  And, that was only side coverage!

More up-to-date reports covered the stunning events or discussed the capture of Mikah and some of her crew by Smiljan's people.  That was followed by reports on their escape and attempts to retake their captured cutter and the Cedna.  To that, reports added the EVA assault made by Sir Zimzod and Dame Eikusdi Piirirshu to also the Cedna.  This was an especially daring tactic used by the most daring of units in the Fifth Frontier War.  Needless to say, such tactics being used by one of the idle Imperial rich in their backwater orbits was as unexpected as it was unheard of.

During the reports, Fesic learned more about Smiljan's fleet.  Along with the four starships under his "command", it seemed Smiljan also led a small fleet of spacecraft armed with jury rigged fixed point weapons.  That meant his in-system power was even greater as long as his captains followed orders.  But the port now made public the data they'd had on the Rumen the day before, which made it clear that ship's crew had not come to the aid of Cedna and Xefe.  Talking heads expected the small ship crews were now scattering as questions rose if Smiljan had even survived the fight which took out Xefe and left Cedna in Lady Mikah's hands.

Speculation now centered on the commander of the Rumen, who still commanded an undamaged raiding ship, and had turned it back to the pirate station.  With the wreck of the Krama Vjera there, and repairable, it was possible that pirate might try to claim the wreck.  That would either be as a repairable raider to be part of a fleet, or as spare parts to be scrounged and salvaged to keep Rumen operational.  Or, as "wealth" to use in cutting a deal with other pirate organizations to 'buy in' to another pirate group as a senior captain.  Of more importance, the reports discussed seven other pirate groups currently in-system!

That made sense, since the pirate cargoes being traded and sold from the system were a large part of the working parts of the system's economy.  So, there would have to be a large number of ships.  Piracy meant many ships in port under repairs so the number of ships actively raiding had to be large enough to keep the cargoes flowing.  Especially when Imperial or Zhodani navy patrols periodically came in and laid waste.  Still, Smiljan's fleet had been one of the largest, at four starships.  Most other groups had two or three ships with some lone captains not mentioned in the report.  The reports pointed very sharply to the void they'd created at the top of the local pirate food chain, and screamed there would be fighting to fill it.

Where Lady Mikah's ship and crew were concerned, the port still labeled them 'belligerent Imperial tourists' and their behavior was as unpredictable as would be any possible outcomes if anyone chose to interact with them.  The port recommendation was to 'treat them with care where they could not be avoided all together'.  Supporting that, the port had moved to block access to the section of the docking torus where the Upgrade was docked and the zero-g docking stanchions where Cedna was docked.  News vid of the Cedna, taken while she docked, and when she was moved closer to Upgrade's bay, showed the savaged hull sections and deformations suggesting entire collapsed fuel and other compartments.

Trapping A Rat In A Can
     After her morning routine, Jocelynn came into the lounge to see Fesic had eaten and was now watching the news with a mug of caff.  Grabbing chow, Jocelynn sat and watched the news cycle while Fesic excused himself.  In his pocket, Fesic had an electronic component and he needed to return it where it belonged.  When Smiljan had pushed about them paying a toll at the bar two days before, Fesic had mentioned the naval drone as a stalling tactic.  Sadly, he'd was wrong about how little time the act would buy them.  They had been forced to promise sending him the drone's manual the next day.  And, Fesic was sure the man would want the drone badly.

Worried about that, Fesic checked the manual's troubleshooting data until he found a procedure which started with: "The Drone will not power up at all..."  Isolating that section, the day before, he'd gone to the cargo bay and followed the procedures to open up the device, expose the component and he'd removed it.  The component had even been in his pocket during all the events of the day before.  So, if Smiljan had gotten hold of the drone, it wouldn't have been working until one of the pirate's technician went through "every" procedure before that one, and finally hit on "why" it was dead?  Then, they'd have to find a replacement for the part to get the drone working.  Now, before too many people were awake, Fesic wanted to go and reinstall the part.  He'd spend the rest of his free time reading the manual and start devoting some time to do that each day.

Jocelynn was nearly done eating when Zimzod came into the lounge.  Seeing Jocelynn watching the news, Zimzod asked, "Anything good on?" in a cheery voice.  Grimly, Jocelynn told him, "I think we have a big problem."  First saying, "We created a power vacuum."  before hedging, "I'm glad we did, because we'd be dead otherwise.  She then continued, "But now, they're gonna be scrambling to rebuild the pecking order and the way to build a leader's reputation is to take out the people that killed Smiljan.  So, we have to get out of here as soon as Mikah wakes up and we can get our business done."  Zimzod nodded and said they had to keep their eyes on the factions until they could leave.  Jocelynn pointed out the news reports on the factions and watched again with Zimzod.

While Zimzod and Jocelynn talked about that, alarms had gone off and Aali, Emkir and Aiden came into the lounge to grab breakfast.  That only further disgusted Jocelynn, who was annoyed she'd woken before 7am.  Aali joined Zimzod and Jocelynn watching the news while trying to take in enough caff to get herself thinking again.  Looking up at Aiden and Aali, and including Zimzod, Jocelynn said they'd done great work the day before, since that was the first chance to really say that.  About that time, the port channel switched to coverage of the uncontrolled re-entry and crash of the Xefe.

While there wasn't much of an atmosphere around Tremous Dex, there were still sparks and fireworks as the ship dragged its way into and through what was there.  Thanks to the laser damage the ship had taken, Xefe also had structural issues.  The physics of reentry and increasing gravity played havoc with that when the ship did break up, into major sections, before impact.  Thanks to the very thin atmosphere, the chunks didn't separate much before impact.  So, the crater created was a single event rather than a string of impact points.  Still, as replays were shown of the vid-recorded re-entry and crash, live vid showed the crater still glowing in real time.  That made it clear that, while the port master had told Xefe's survivors the port couldn't send rescue before the crash, they could certainly send ships to film the event of their deaths.

Those awake watched the coverage and realized there had to have been a number of ships filming from different angles, allowing for directorial discretion in 'milking' the awe of the view.  Sidebar reports from interviewed geologists talked about the formation the wreck had likely hit and what was expected from the formations.  Of course, that new crater was increasingly becoming known as "Smiljan's Folly".  Watching the vids, Aali mentioned she'd need Jocelynn and Zimzod to get into their battledress, so they could help with the airlock repairs.  Aiden offered extra hands with the tech work, but also planned to start doing test math on the out-system burn even though they wouldn't be leaving for days.

In the cargo bay, Fesic had reinstalled the part in the drone and grabbed the manual to check for any diagnostic routines he could to test the drone and be sure it was working.  That meant, he had to do some reading to find the section and steps he needed.  While the thought sounded easy, doing that in a manual written for naval-trained engineers instead of random readers was much more difficult than it sounded.  Ironically, he thought Aali would have been better to do the work since she "was" a naval-trained engineer who had done some training herself.  At the same time, Aali was saying she wanted to get moving ASAP, and get done fast.  Jocelynn agreed with that, and filled her in on what she'd said to Zimzod about getting caught in a pirate turf war.

When they talked about leaving the system, Aali said they also had to get the jump engine resets done, which she thought would take three more days.  With no interruptions, they could get the airlock repairs done in two days, so they didn't have to rush that.  And, Mikah wouldn't be awake until later that day, so they still hadn't even started talks with the port on what to do with the Cedna and getting certification papers on Jocelynn's battledress.  That meant they weren't sure how long that could take?  One good piece of news was that Aali was finding it much easier to reach out to the 'droids through her stent.  That made it easier for her to simply "think" her commands and actions to the androids.  She had them working on the resets so she could concentrate on the airlock.

The others with stents, except for Jocelynn, had become more adept at connecting to systems and from one system to another.  They were also more able to navigate file structures, and their biggest challenge came from identifying commands and manipulating them.  Opening and understanding file data was still near impossible for some.  Jocelynn was still in the early stages of learning to use her stent.  Another advantage Aali had was that the androids she was talking to had some level of communications translation programming.  This was needed to use a voder/vocoder because the ones and zeros needed to be mapped to many languages.  So, the 'droids could map to the data streams created by Aali's thought-based variables too.  That meant they were working to understand her too.

With the work getting started, Emkir woke to find Aali had woken and left.  Grabbing his comms, Emkir called to find out where Aali was and she told him.  Emkir and Terin then did their morning routines while Aali got working.  With the heavy work done, Jocelynn and Zimzod didn't need to be in their battledress until Aali needed to start re-assembling the outer mechanics and facings of the lock, so they worked in ship suits.  When the ship's comms started to buzz, Aali said Emkir should answer all calls and be "the voice of the ship."

Answering the comms from the ship's lounge, Emkir was greeted by a manager from a restaurant near the ship's bay.  They asked if the crew wanted catered meals delivered, instead of relying on shipboard food?  Because Fesic was cooking, Emkir opened a second comms and called him to ask if they wanted catered meals?  Fesic only asked Emkir, "Do you want to be poisoned?" in a blunt tone.  Fesic hoped that tone of voice said more about how stupid he thought the idea was?  Emkir happily answered, "Not particularly.  I was wondering how you felt about that?" and Fesic said he thought they should stick to food they knew.  Emkir then told the caller they didn't want the service but would keep them in mind before cutting the call.

Emkir was not long off that call when another call came in from someone saying she was calling from a local hotel.  In her most inviting and half-professional/half-sultry tone, she offered suites to the crew, so they could get out of their cramped starship quarters for a bit.  The offerings from the hotel ran from 'several hundred credits per night' to 'several thousand per night'.  After she got done making her offer, and using the tones of her voice to 'enhance' the alure, Emkir told her the same thing she'd told the restaurant.  He could only imagine what could happen if the locals got the crew off their ship and away from their weapons and gear.

Hoping that was it for the calls, Emkir was surprised when yet another call came in!  He began to consider that beating the pirates and becoming more popular in-system may not have been worth the effort.  Still, he answered the call to find it was an agent from port operations.  He was calling to say the Port Administrator wondered if there was an update on Lady Mikah's condition?  The port also wanted to know if the crew wanted any additional support from the port, like medical technicians?  Nodding, Emkir asked the agent to hold and then called Zimzod to ask what he should tell them?  Zimzod only said to tell them Mikah was fine.

Back on the agent's line, Emkir told the agent they'd checked and she was still healing.  She would be able to contact the Port Administrator the next day, as they'd agreed the previous night.  Emkir asked if they wanted to leave a message and was told the port had only been concerned about the crew's needs?  After logging that call, Emkir went out to see if Aali needed extra hands?  Done with his breakfast, Terin decided to go check on the Cedna, claiming he only wanted to check and make sure it was secure.  Despite his claims, the others were certain he was going back over to look for 'residual looting opportunities'.  Still, Terin told Zimzod he was going over to check the ship and "make sure we didn't miss anything."  Which confirmed his intent to do more looting.

In Upgrade's cargo bay, Fesic had been reading the manual and was finally certain he knew what he had to do to run diagnostics that would tell him if the drone was working correctly?  First, he had to power on the drone and wait for it to step through all its internal processes.  When that was done, Fesic stepped through the process, checking the datapad between some steps, and finally got the response asking him to confirm he wanted to run the tests?  Saying he did, Fesic got one more warning the drone would be inoperative while the tests ran, and punched past that to start the test.  Those would run for the next hour, so there was no more he could do until he came back to see the results.  From there, he went to help Aali with any electronics work on the airlock.

In the ship, Emkir had offered to be on-call as extra hands for Aali, but wasn't needed.  Because of that, he played vids, relaxed and planned to take any calls that came into the ship.  Out in the bay, Terin left the Upgrade dressed in his combat armor without consideration that the local law enforcement might not like a tourist wandering around in extreme combat gear when they were already labeled as belligerent and dangerous.  That was why he was the only one surprised when the guards at the bay door stopped him.  Asking Terin what his intentions were, boarding the station, Terin tried to say he only intended to cross to the Cedna.  Not getting the simple fact that he could go anywhere on the station once out of the bay, Terin spent a brief time trying to tell them his promises actually meant anything.

Sadly, the back and forth took some time to get it through Terin's thick skull that they couldn't stop him going anywhere he chose after he left the bay.  His promises meant nothing.  And, having geared up in combat armor, they had no reason to even try and care.  And, since he was a tourist and they were "The Law", they didn't have to.  When Terin suggested one of them follow him, they couldn't believe he was that stupid.  Still, they pointed out they had a post to man and couldn't just walk away because Terin wanted what he wanted.  And, like a child, Terin didn't care.  He wanted what he wanted and wasn't ready to give in.  So, Terin offered to wait until they could call for someone to be his escort.

Of course, that meant he wanted them to get someone else to 'not to their job' while playing baby sitter for him, all because he wanted what he wanted.  Terin actually saw one of the men roll his eyes in derision while the other said they could call to see if an escort could be found?  Especially under situations where people likely had to be called in to cover extra posts because of the emergency.  But that man also said they would much prefer that Sir Terin reconsider his clothing options before trying to leave the bay to wander their station.  Terin then tried to lie, saying he was concerned they didn't have Cedna's entry guarded.  He planned to use that as a reason why they should let him go in armor.  Sadly, he had no information to base his lie on, and the man cut Terin off, saying that ship and the entire section of the station were all being guarded.  Which was why they would not likely be able to get an escort for him.

Terin next tried to say the fact there were security throughout the station section meant they should have no problem with him being in combat armor.  He also lied, saying he knew the Cedna had been compromised and wanted to be in his combat armor to protect himself from being injured.  When Aali called over to say that Terin should change into a vacc suit because they'd find that more acceptable, Terin only responded like the baby he was, saying, "I don't really give a shit what they find acceptable."  This ignored that They were the law and had no reason to "give a shit" what a pissant like him wanted?

Finally, they offered to call for an escort and Terin would have to wait there to see what happened?  But, what Terin had ignored was that he'd been told "that ship and the entire section of the station were all being guarded".  If Terin had bothered trying to think about that, he would've realized the station didn't normally have that many security troops on shift at once.  Which meant they'd likely called in every off-duty trooper and had no one free to play baby sitter.  Which meant he should likely stop being an idiot and perhaps follow the rules the local law were telling him to follow.  They also told him he might consider changing into a vacc suit.  Ignoring all that instead of considering the situation, Terin said he was more comfortable in his armor, as if his comfort mattered at all.

When Terin asked if he "had" to wait for the escort, they told him he did.  Still ignoring the issues he'd not even bothered to consider, Terin asked for an estimate when an escort might arrive and was told they had no idea if one would be available?  Terin again went back to asking if the escort was needed, since he claimed he only wanted to go to Cedna.  That didn't work any better than it had the first time he'd said that.  It only showed he was an idiot who wasn't paying attention.  Proving he was a true ass, Terin then generously said he would wait for thirty minutes because "He" considered that enough time for them to get him an escort.  The men just told him they had no estimate on if anyone would come and didn't say they were happy letting him cool his heels for the entire week if he wanted?  They would have simply preferred to arrest him and put him in a cell.

When Terin decided to spark up some small talk while he waited, Aali noticed from where she was working and joked to the others, "Ah!  He's trying to bore them into sleep."  The others working with her laughed at that.  Still, the men were interested in the Imperium and talk of his homeworld when Terin tried.  Terin did try to be vague, and stick to fun things.  One of the troopers only asked about the difference in laws about throwing people out airlocks, because that was fun.  Terin ignored the obvious edge in the man's voice that suggested the person going out the lock might be him.  When Terin asked about what things were like on Tremous Dex during the Fifth Frontier War, they told him it was a hell hole with both the Zhodani and then the Imperials invading because they had to cross those systems to strike at each other.  That made life extremely hard for those living in orbit, with an economy based on cargoes brought in by pirates.

One of the men said he'd traced his linage back to people who'd come to Tremous Dex from the Aramis system.  Terin immediately assumed the man meant the capital world of the Aramis subsector, and Aramis County.  But Terin knew Aramis was a world with an exotic Methane/Ammonia atmosphere where all cities were underground.  And, the man told Terin his grandparents had told him of a world mostly covered in oceans with a less-than-standard but breathable atmosphere.  So, there was obviously something off there.  Time ticked away while they talked, and Terin finally realized the man was talking about the world named Aramis, in the riftward, spinward corner of the Trin's Veil subsector.  Still, Terin either kept the man talking or even told some stories of his own while time passed.

Word finally came that Station Security didn't have anyone to send as an escort and they preferred Terin change into a vacc suit if he was concerned about any conditions aboard Cedna.  Accepting he'd likely get arrested if he pushed the issue, Terin agreed to change into his vacc suit and returned to the ship, having only managed to waste his own time and annoy people in the effort.  What he didn't know was that the pirate leader Smiljan had not died in the taking of the Cedna.  Blown out the cargo bay lock, he'd managed to use is maneuvering pack to grab hold of Cedna and ride back to the station on the ship's hull.  Since then, he'd been planning his revenge!  When Mikah delayed transfer of the ship to the port, that meant the station couldn't put people aboard it.  So, the ship should be empty and ripe to be stolen back!  They'd only have to kill those securing the boarding hatch, and they were prepared for that...

When he'd gotten to the station, Smiljan had started pulling together the people he had on his payroll.  Spies and moles.  He'd had them gear up and use their access to clear paths through security.  His plan was to send two small groups to attack security teams far enough away from Cedna to draw off security.  Another team would attack the bay the Upgrade was in, because that would really get the attention of station security.  If everything went well, no one should be looking at Cedna when his team attacked.  And, they'd have the ship powered up and fighting before anyone could react.  So, when Terin had finally got changed and gotten moving, he only had to give them his comms data to receive updates.  At the same time, Smiljan's teams were preparing to strike.

When Terin hit the hatch leaving the bay, he was given directions that would quickly get him to Cedna's boarding hatch.  They also warned him the team guarding that ship's entrance were geared up for combat, so he was not surprised.  Terin only nodded and checked the snub pistol he'd holstered with a clip of ball and one of tranq ammunition.  When Terin got to the boarding hatch, he saw the troopers there were in sealed suits.  They seemed to be some kind of reinforced vacc suit "faced" with sections of thin ceramic plate.  This was less than "Combat armor" quality but much better than a plain vacc suit.  It was also better than the descriptions Terin had of the pirate armor, where they had partial ceramic plate strapped over some sections of the pirate vacc suits.

After checking his Ident, the troopers let Terin aboard Cedna, and he could see the ship was a complete mess.  Looking at the mess in front of him, and not having real bearings because he'd never been aboard before, he turned left.  That turned out to be moving forward.  His thought was to turn left and 'keep going until he got somewhere'.  Moving directly forward, that led Terin to an open valve.  Terin was surprised, as he stepped in, to see he'd entered the ship's bridge!  Having been told that space had been voided by Zimzod using a breaching charge, Terin looked up and saw the port had put a temporary seal over the hole.  That explained why they could pressurize the compartment and keep the valve open.

Looking around, Terin could see all the freeze dried blood which had been floating in the space had defrosted and soaked points around the compartment.  Those were in the process of drying out more completely, but were still bright and glistening enough to be noticed.  Trying the computer stations, Terin found everything aboard was powered down and any lighting came from power piped in from the station.  Starting to move to the aft, Terin started checking each compartment for anything the crew might have missed in their looting.  First, to his right was the ship's computer core.  Going through that compartment, Terin found nothing he could even pry loose with a crowbar.  So, that place was a waste of time.

Next were doors to the left and right.  Checking the door to the right, Terin found a storage compartment filled with generic shipboard items.  Spare deck flooring, replacement seat cushions...  Stuff they could use for general management of their lounge, staterooms and 'nickel and dime' supplies.  Nothing worth stuffing in a pillow case.  The door to the left was the Captain's stateroom, and it was wrecked.  Not only were the former occupant's clothing and other items strewn about, but Terin could see where Zimzod had found and ripped open the safe.  Still, there could have been things missed when everything had been thrown around because the search seemed to have been wild and energetic.

In the berth, Aali got a message from the station offering to hire out to them additional engineers to help the crew with their work.  Aali's first thought was to wonder how much help more engineers would be?  How much less time they'd have to spend in-system with their help?  That led to what she might hire engineers for?  Would they work on the airlock or the engineering resets?  Zimzod said they pretty much had the airlock in hand and there'd be too many people working on the lock if they hired more.  When she didn't think they'd help much at all, Aali also worried about how much the "cut rate" would be from a cash-hungry station?  So, she politely said "No thank you."

Exploring Cedna, Terin had just finished fishing through the debris in the captain's cabin and found nothing.  His next stop were a row of staterooms just aft of a transverse passage which formed a "T" where the passage from the bridge ended.  Just starting to move, Terin got a comms from a station officer who seemed to be out of breath or distracted.  When the man asked Terin where he was aboard Cedna, Terin described where he was and asked why?  Ignoring Terin's question, the station man only recommended Terin seal the compartment and wait there for instructions.  Considering secure locations, Terin was just down the passage from the bridge, which he thought would be one of the most secure compartments on the ship.

Turning forward, Terin bolted for the bridge and started looking for a way to control the iris valve.  Seeing the automated controls for the valve, Terin slapped the control to close the iris and stood there while it did nothing.  It took Terin a moment to remember there was no power on the ship, so the automated controls wouldn't work.  Thinking about his situation, Terin spent some seconds thinking about how long it would take to get the power up and the fastest he remembered the process taking was half an hour.  What he didn't consider was where he'd have to have been on the ship to do that, which was the ship's engineering compartment.  That would cost him later.

Terin next looked for, but didn't see, any manual controls at all for the iris valve.  He next tried to think if he'd seen any manual controls for doors in the areas of the ship he'd been in, but did not recall looking for that.  So, he hadn't noticed their existence or lack.  And, not being familiar with that class of ship, he could only guess that the engineering compartments would have manual controls because every Imperial ship does.  But, he knew, the engineering spaces would be in the aft end of the ship, so he had a lot of terrain to cover.  Shrugging, he got moving.  Just before he did that, Terin called Emkir, to try and update him about his situation.

Fade To Black
     Aali and "her crew" worked on the airlock while they were periodically entertained by Terin wasting his time trying to get out of the bay in his combat armor.  They all giggled when Terin finally had to give in and change to his vacc suit, but kept working after he left.  Sometime later, a few of those working saw as the security team at the bay hatch suddenly stood up straighter, seemed to converse and then closed and sealed the hatch!.  Then, one of the troopers came over to say, "Excuse me.  We understand Sir Zimzod is your ship's executive officer.  Can I speak to him?"  When Zimzod asked what was up, the man said station central would like them to secure from the work they were doing, move into the ship and secure themselves there.

When Zimzod asked, "OK, what's going on?" the man said he was not yet able to say.  Nodding, Zimzod said, "OK.  Can we have Sir Terin back?" and the man said, "No.  He has not yet returned."  Nodding, Zimzod ordered everyone back on the ship and told them to armor up.  He also said Fesic should man the ship's laser turrets.  It was mentioned that preparing the laser turrets was a bad thing inside an enclosed berth so Zimzod backed off on that.  When Jocelynn asked what was going on, even though she'd been there and heard the same thing Zimzod had, Zimzod told her he didn't know.

Sitting on the ship, playing video games and waiting for calls, Emkir was suddenly swamped!  He had traffic coming in from Zimzod's comms "and" from Terin!  Sidelining Terin for Zimzod, he heard as Zimzod said everyone was to armor up, seal the ship and grab their weapons.  After he was done with Zimzod, he said "Roger that" and then opened the call from Terin, asking, "What's going on?  Terin said, "Hey Admiral.  I'm over on our prize ship, just checking things out, and I was told to find a secure location and barricade myself so, something's going down.  I don't know what it is, they're not giving me any information, but..."

Caught by surprise, because he'd not been told what Terin had done, Emkir asked, "First Question.  Why are you over there?"  Terin simply answered, "I'm checking things out.  Why not?" which was no answer at all.  Emkir only said, "All right, I'll get back to you."  Cutting the line with Terin, Emkir called port central and asked what was going on?  The operations tech he got tersely said there was an advanced security situation on the station and he was not at liberty to explain.  What none of the crew or senior station staff knew was that the first two attacks in Smiljan's plan had begun.  And, they were planned to do nothing more than create confusion.  So, at the moment, they were having the desired effect.  The third confusion attack, on the Update's berth, was about to start, as was the move on the Cedna.

When Emkir pushed, asking, "Does this involve any of our possessions at the moment?" he was told "No", which was accurate...at the moment.  Thanking the port, Emkir called Terin back to say, "Outside Bogey.  Keep your head down." which really told Terin nothing more than he already knew.  Emkir then called Zimzod saying, "It doesn't involve us or any of our crew.  We don't know what it is and I am leaving the comms now, to get into my combat armor."  Aboard Cedna, Terin made it aft, to the engineering spaces and just as he was arriving he heard a loud "boom".  The sound did not sound like it came through hull plating.  So, it wasn't transmitted into the ship...it was IN the ship.  At the same time, Terin felt the entire compartment around him shake and he had to grab hold of a fitting to keep from being knocked off his feet!

Getting to the engineering compartments, Terin wasn't pleased he couldn't guess which direction the blast came from?  Inside the engineering hatch, Terin did a quick survey of the space to see if he saw anything out of the ordinary.  When he didn't, Terin started cranking the hatch closed with the manual wheel.  Unfortunately for Terin, he only had the door halfway closed when he heard an angry voice yell, "FREEZE!"  Looking up, Terin saw a figure in a vacc suit with a haphazard pattern of ceramic plates connected, covering strategic body parts.  The man was absolutely not one of the port security people.  Standing still, Terin asked, "Can I help you?"

The figure with the raised snub pistol snarled, "Hands in the air." as another figure came into view and turned to cover the first figure's back.  Accepting his situation, Terin simply raised his hands and hoped.  Which wasn't worth anything, because the figure with the raised gun only pulled the trigger!  Lucky for Terin, the round was deflected off the half-closed door between Terin and the armored figures.  Since Terin couldn't stand there cranking the door closed while the two moved closer while firing, he grabbed his own snub pistol to take a snap shot, which might have done more for him if he'd ducked for cover behind the door first.  From what Terin saw, he seemed to hit the man in his left arm.  But, Terin was also hit in the lower right chest and things went black for him.

Off To Adventure!
     Aboard Upgrade, Zimzod was already in his armor so he connected to the ship's comms when they went off, because Emkir had stepped away to armor up.  When he did, the call was from Port command and they told him they had determined a small team either were moles on the station, or had snuck aboard, and they seemed to have forced their way aboard Cedna!  Nodding, Zimzod simply said, "OK.  We're on it."  When the tech asked what Zimzod meant when he said they were on it, Zimzod said, "I got a man over there."  The port man said they were aware of the crewman Upgrade had aboard Cedna and were sending security.  He wanted to know what Zimzod had in mind as a plan of action?  Zimzod said, "A team mate of mine and I will come over and re-take the ship." in a tone of voice that brooked no disputes.

In a tone of mild disbelief, the man asked, "You and one other member of your crew?  What equipment will the two of you have that will allow you to do that?"  When Zimzod said, "Battledress, and specialized weapons" the man was shocked and surprised, because it wasn't general knowledge the crew had that level of armory.  The man first put Zimzod on hold and then When he came back, he simply said "OK" and that they would notify their people about the planned actions.  Zimzod cut the line as he said, "OK, Jocelynn.  We have a mission.  Everyone else, protect the ship."  Hearing that, Fesic asked, "You don't want any further backup?"

Zimzod told Fesic, "I don't want to leave the ship unguarded to where that can be easily taken."  Since Zimzod was leaving the ship, that meant Aali was the next ranking ship's officer because she was the Chief Engineer.  Left in charge of things at the bay, Aali started deciding how she wanted to use her limited resources?  Aali first thought to back up the port security people in the bay but realized she had very few resources.  Because of that, she decided to seal the ship and defend it from inside.  That would make planning and any defensive actions easier for them to do.  That left Aali considering all the airlocks and hatches passing through the hull.

With the airlock, cargo lock, hatches and air-raft bay, they had five access points on the ship's lower deck.  There were also "technically" four access points on the upper deck because borders could force the empty cutter bay, then the upper deck valve in order to get into the ship.  And, she had four people available including herself.  Aali first told Fesic to heat up their ship's weapons but not start up the fire control.  This would have them in a Ready-Inactive state, in case someone had a ship out there and tried to blow the bay doors to get at them.  Next, she posted him in the forward section of the ship's lounge.  That would let him defend a bulk of the hatches and locks coming into the ship's upper deck while also letting him sprint back into the bridge to man the guns if needed.

Aali next decided she would man the engineering spaces, to keep an eye on all access points from outside the ship into that compartment.  Finally, she decided she would cede the cargo bay to invaders and put Aiden and Emkir at the intersection of all passages in the forward lower deck.  That would let them react to any attempts to force entry on the lower deck except the engineering spaces, where Aali was.  And, she could call them for backup if needed?  Jocelynn had grabbed her gauss rifle, snub pistol laser pistol and two anti-personnel grenades.  Zimzod grabbed his gauss rifle along with three flash-bangs and pain and misery.  After they geared up, Zimzod called the port team guarding the bay hatch, and told them to open up for him and Jocelynn to leave.

At the portal, the team leader gave Zimzod verbal directions to reach the hatch connecting to the Cedna.  He also said Zimzod and Jocelynn should meet other security teams along the way because a lot of teams were in motion.  After the pair left the bay, the security team closed and locked it behind them.  On his way, Zimzod radioed back to the ship and recommended they find some way to get eyes on the bay the ship was in.  He also reminded them, they could fire the sandcaster if anyone breached the bay, as a desperation move.  Those back at the ship knew he was right even if it took them some time to stop laughing at the idea.

When they did stop laughing, Fesic said Zimzod did have a point.  Then, they started talking about finding cameras and Aali said they should use cameras with infrared or heat-sensing technology.  That would let them detect anything thermal being used on the far side of a bulkhead to try and breach the bay.  After a few minutes chatter, most of the crew were thinking this would have been a good thing to prepare for before they ended up in the situation.  Rol's box of toys was mentioned, but no one had checked into that and it was too late start searching for usable gear in there now.  Then, while they talked about finding options, Emkir asked if they could use some of the 'droids?

They all cheered the idea even as Aali mourned the lost time working on engineering, since they'd also already had to stop working on the airlock.  But, she admitted, the engineering droids and Wall-e all had infrared and other engineering-based energy video modes.  While she tried to decide which 'droid or 'droids to send, someone remembered they also had the five house-keeping 'droids.  Everyone remembered they'd bought those small 'droids because they were small enough to get into and through the piping and ducts, so they'd make hard-to-hit targets even sitting on the bay floor.  They were deck-metal grey and would even be easily missed if not looked for.

Aali was also happy because those 'droids were much less expensive to replace.  When she said to send one of those because they could afford to replace it, Emkir suggested they send two.  He also asked if Aali wanted him to monitor what they saw?  After Aali sent the instructions for two of the 'droids to roll out where they could access the bay, Emkir connected to them wirelessly.  He set up a pair of on-screen windows and had them broadcast what they saw to one each.  He then sent them out into the bay under the ship, and had them set up back to back, to give him the best view of the bay they could.

Charging through the very empty passages on their way to the Cedna's hatch, Jocelynn and Zimzod began approaching an intersection when they each got a 'sensor alert' on their HUD's.  The warning said sounds consistent with a small group of bipedal entities were present at some distance around the corner.  As they paused and waited, the sensors said the group were moving and getting closer.  Both Jocelynn and Zimzod new whatever group was moving had to be heavy footed because soft shoes or light feet could get much closer before being detected.  Especially if the flooring was padded.

Zimzod raised his gauss rifle and snapped into a guard stance while Jocelynn took a half-second to scan the passage for hatches, doors or even recessed spaces into the wall they could use for cover.  Not seeing any chance to take cover, Jocelynn also snapped into a guard stance while the two waited for whatever was coming.  Prepared to fire, Zimzod also keyed his comms and called the port, asking if they had a detail headed his way?  Sadly, that assumed they knew where their wandering units were at any given time or where Zimzod was?  Yes, they knew where Zimzod had left and was going, but not where he was at that moment?  And, where they knew where units were when they checked in, there was no way to maintain a constant location marker on all the units they had deployed unless they were holding position.

Since they were working together, the port tech gave Zimzod a polite version of that answer and Zimzod prodded, "We don't want to shoot your guys."  The man nodded at Zimzod's words but apologized, saying they couldn't track everyone.  Trying to do so would take almost as many people as spreading out their security forces had.  And, there were simply limits how many troopers the station could muster?  Because Jocelynn had been jacked into the conversation when it started for her to hear, Jocelynn was able to ask if they'd be able to tell if people were station security or not?  Nodding, the port tech made sure they recognized the description of station security uniforms.

Waiting, with all the advanced information they could get, the pair suddenly saw a trio of troopers come around the corner and literally skid to a stop in the passage.  In the eyes of the one man with a transparent faceplate, they could see the look of pure surprise and terror.  It took all the two could muster to not break out laughing as they saw the three wore station security uniforms.  Thanks to the surprise, the three began to raise their weapons while Jocelynn opened her comms and broadcast, "No.  No.  No.  You're with us."  Taking a breath, the man who's face they could see called out for them to identify themselves while he and his team still held their weapons raised.

Zimzod told Jocelynn to ID herself as he hit the release that broadcast his ID from his battle computer.  Familiar with that order, Jocelynn did the same as she also called out they were from the Upgrade.  Getting that data, the troops very quickly flattened themselves against the passage walls with weapons safely drawn back and an attitude of 'This is not our fight, it's yours' as they let Zimzod and Jocelynn pass.  When Jocelynn got on their comms and floated the idea of bringing that team along with them, Zimzod shot it right down, flatly saying "No."  When Jocelynn asked why, she was told that team couldn't keep up with anyone in battledress and had to admit that was true.  The station security team would only slow them down.  Zimzod also pointed out they'd meet more teams on the way.

Moving on at their best speed, it wasn't long before they came around a corner and heard a shocked male voice yell "SHIT!"  They had only just looked up when the first shot was fired!  A bit of armor composite was chipped off Zimzod's left thigh as he and Jocelynn saw two figures in vacc suits covered by a patchwork of ceramic plates!  With the speed of battledress, Zimzod raised his gauss rifle just as Jocelynn raised hers and they both started shooting.  The two figures they were facing had also raised snub pistols started firing.  It was entirely by luck that Jocelynn and Zimzod each chose a different target, so they fired on both men.  At the same time, the men shot back.

When Jocelynn fired, she saw meat and blood, meaning she'd scored, but Zimzod's rounds bounced off his man's armor.  On the flip side, Jocelynn's target dropped and his weapon went skittering away after his round did no damage.  The second man's shot bounced off armor and went flying.  But, locked in their perceptions, Jocelynn continued firing as she tried to chase her target down with her rounds.  In the next exchange, a slug from the one standing figure took a composite chunk from Zimzod's left shoulder armor while he drilled needles through the ceramic plate over the man's left lung.  Jocelynn's continued fire caught her target along his left arm and caused enough damage to traumatically amputate it just above the wrist!  Snapping her laser pistol, Jocelynn fired a blast into the face of the one figure still raggedly breathing.

The Bleeding Edge
     Manning his position aboard Upgrade, Aiden decided to slip into his "Coward 1" vapor-armor while calling Aali to ask if she thought the port could send more troops to protect their ship?  This despite the fact they'd been told the port had flooded that section of the port with troops and were fighting actions they'd only suggested at.  So, Aiden's imagination let him pretend the port had unlimited forces to send to protect them when they were in a sealed bay, with a security team AND in a sealed ship with better weapons and armor than anything they'd seen on the station.  It was a rather sad reaction, but Aali wasn't going to say that at the moment.

With a more realistic grip on the situation, Aali said she'd ask, but expected they had so many people deployed they wouldn't have the spare troops to send to guard a ship who's crew damn well should be able to defend themselves!  The answer Aali got said they'd sent as many people as they could spare to guard the bay.  The port had also heard from a team who'd run into Sir Zimzod and Dame Jocelynn, so the crew had more people to spare than the station did.  Aali was also told that any further spare people their crew had would be appreciated in helping defend "their bay" against attackers likely coming "for them."  While the tone was professional, the element of 'are you flipping serious???' couldn't be missed in the wording.

Moving on from the scene of the brief shootout, Zimzod regretted he didn't have the time to stop and rip the heads off the two bodies.  Jocelynn had stepped on each throat and fired a laser shot into the face of each before they left.  And, while she did that, Zimzod called in the location for a cleanup and gave a quick description of the shootout.  Moving as fast as they could, the pair finally got to the boarding hatch for Cedna to see it was closed and sealed.  The deckspace around it had been decorated with the bodies and body parts of a dead station security team.  The area had blood and gore and showed the signs of at least one decent-sized explosion.

Considering his options, Zimzod knew he and Jocelynn would never be able to rip open the airlock, even if they teamed up.  He knew there was a hole in the bridge, but he knew he'd have to find a hatch letting them crawl out onto the station's hull.  Then, they'd have to spider-walk back to a point where they could cross to Cedna, and then spider-walk along the ship's hull until they reached the hole in the bridge.  Then, they'd be facing a sealed iris valve anyway.  So, even if shortcuts could be taken, like an EVA-leap, they'd still need a breaching charge to get in.

Wondering if the port had set up some kind of remote system, Zimzod called to see if the port could open the airlock?  With their team dead, they had to ask him to describe the situation at the lock, and the circumstances he and Jocelynn were in.  After that, they said they had no connections to the ship's computer since Mikah still owned it and they had no rights.  So, without anyone being aware of it, Smiljan's plan had been well served by Mikah's demand to hold off the trade until she was ready.  The port did tell Zimzod they had thought the hatch couldn't be closed or locked because the ship had been entirely powered down.

Not pleased, Jocelynn turned to Zimzod and said, "That means someone's powered up the ship."  While she made that realization, Terin lay unconscious and bleeding out.  Having gone out looting on his own, driven by his own self-serving greed, there was no one to help save him when the shooting started.  And, there was no one to even try first aid in hopes of stopping him from dying.  The only positive note was that he was out cold, so he didn't feel it as his life continued to slip away.  Nor was there anyone to tell Zimzod and Jocelynn where he was, what his condition was or what they'd need to do to save Terin's life?

Being proactive, the tech Zimzod had connected with had worked with some others to try and redirect neutrino sensors to get an idea what was happening aboard Cedna?  They didn't get a lot of details but they could tell Zimzod the ship was not powered up.  There were sections of the ship that were emitting energy, meaning some sections of the craft had power.  But, what devices that power was charging and how it was being used they could not say.  They could say there was a considerable amount of power in the ship's engineering spaces, which they guessed meant someone was trying to restart the ship's power plant.  If they could do that, those aboard would be able to maneuver the ship and operate its turrets!  The tech did say more security people were coming and they were bringing breaching charges.

Doing the math, Zimzod and Jocelynn knew the port team would get to them long before they could do an EVA and across the hull to find a hatch that was powered down and unsecure.  So, they decided to wait for the team.  That also meant they'd have back up forces when they popped the hatch and went in to hunt the pirates.  After some time, both Jocelynn and Zimzod got a call on an open channel, saying, "This is Sergeant Elish a Gudir from Port security.  We are a team of six and we are coming into your view soon.  Zimzod answered saying they were expected.

Despite the call and fact they were expected, both Jocelynn and Zimzod took guard stances with weapons ready in case it was a trick.  That brought the station troops to a sudden skidding stop as they looked down the barrels of automatic-fire capable weapons in the hands of Imperial battledressed troopers.  After Zimzod confirmed they were station troops, he told them to blow the lock so he and Jocelynn could get inside the ship.  When the Sergeant asked if he wanted them to follow him in, Zimzod said they should clear the ship.  He and Jocelynn planned to move for the engineering compartment to stop anyone from powering up the ship.

The team had planned for a fully secured airlock and brought two breaching charges.  So, when the hole in the first hatch showed the sealed inner hatch, they moved in to blow smoke out of the lock tube and set up the second charge.  When Zimzod said he wanted to be prepared to charge directly in after the blast, the Sergeant told him to pull back.  He told them the 'blast back' from this second charge would possibly be more powerful and deadly than the first.  So, it would be very bad for Zimzod and Jocelynn to get close up.  Not to mention the chance the pirates had guns trained on the inside of the airlock...

When the Sergeant told Zimzod he and his men would step back and let Zimzod and Jocelynn board Cedna first before following them in, Zimzod told the man to leave two of his people as guards in case there was a second team on the station.  The NCO agreed to do that.  While the blasters set the charges, Jocelynn asked to confirm, "Now, the bridge is inoperable.  Right?"  Zimzod corrected her, saying, "Not inoperable, but they still need to get people into engineering to power the ship up."  Nodding, Jocelynn said, "So, we should probably go to engineering.  Right?"  When Zimzod agreed, Jocelynn suggested they not split up until they knew what was happening?  Zimzod agreed to that too.

After the second hatch was blown, the station troops were as good as their word while Zimzod led the way onto Cedna's decks.  Stepping through the second hatch and into the transverse passage beyond, Zimzod immediately came under fire and was hit in the chest!  It was only after he was hit that he registered the figure standing with a double-grip on the pistol in a weaver stance.  Despite the pain Zimzod felt, his battledress went right into pumping drugs into his system and treating his wound while sealing over the wound.  Hurt, Zimzod didn't faint and kept moving on his now terrified target as Jocelynn got several warnings on her HUD.  The first was a threat report saying a fire arm had been discharged.  The second said Zimzod had been wounded and, while not critical, the wound was a bad one!

Jocelynn was now frustrated while Zimzod kept moving but blocked her from joining the fight, or acting at all.  In the next exchange of fire, Zimzod hit a wall, as did his target because he'd shot Zimzod and expected him to drop and hit the deck plating.  During the exchange, a strategy circuit 'forced' the suit's medical unit to hit Zimzod with a dose of combat drug!  That would keep him going for the next minute and then hurt him even more, but could help him get to his target and achieve his mission.  While that didn't please Zimzod, it was done and nothing could change that.  Neither was Jocelynn happy when her battle computer, linked to Zimzod's, popped up a tag telling her a dose of combat drug had been injected.

In pain and annoyed his target wasn't already dead, Zimzod pulled his trigger while charging the guy.  The terror of Zimzod's charge, combined with the fact Zimzod had pulled his trigger just that much faster, meant the second round the man fired missed both Zimzod and Jocelynn.  At the same time, Zimzod's stream of fire drilled the man and knocked him back and down so Zimzod could stomp on him like a door mat as he passed over the pirate.  That satisfaction was dimmed because Zimzod now had a small one-minute timer on his HUD telling him how long he had before he took the punch which came after the combat drug wore out.  Already in pain, Zimzod knew he wasn't gonna be a happy spacer at the end of this fight.

Now knowing Zimzod's time was limited, they both rushed to the intersection in the passage that let them turn aft towards the ship's cargo bay.  Being on the lower deck, they didn't have to worry about vaulting down to the cargo bay floor but they did have to move around the wreck of their old cutter, which had been left in place.  When Jocelynn yelled, "Grenades", Zimzod grabbed a second flash-bang and popped it before throwing it over the cutter.  Jocelynn had popped one of her anti-personnel grenades and thrown it as she'd yelled.  Both went off before the pair managed to get around the crumpled cutter's nose.

Moving clear of the cutter, they could see one body on the deck and another figure who was pressing against the bulkhead to keep from dropping.  That figure was obviously bleeding while trying to raise a rifle.  Both Jocelynn and Zimzod sprayed him with needles as he tried to raise his weapon and both man and rifle dropped to the deck.  Reaching the entirely open hatch to the engineering section, Zimzod threw his last flash-bang while Jocelynn held back another anti-personnel grenade to see what happened?

After the fireworks, Zimzod peeked in while Jocelynn watched on a pop-up on her HUD.  The corridor past the hatch led straight down a number of meters to where a single engineer's work station was.  In that dead end, there were two people pressed as much as they could into the curves of the space for cover.  Closer to the hatch, on the floor, a body wearing a vacc suit lay in a spreading pool of blood.  One thing both spotted was that the body didn't have any ceramic plates.  So, this wasn't a normal pirate.  Both were curious, but neither wanted to stand in the stream of in-coming fire to check the body out.  So, they both took what positions they could and started firing into the space.

While they both leaned past the hatch flanges to fire in, one of the men in the hole managed to hit Zimzod, because shooting someone coming in was easier then hitting anyone using cover.  With the additional damage taken, Zimzod collapsed and Jocelynn realized it was up to her.  Leaning back from the opening with fire still coming out of it, Jocelynn popped the pin from another grenade and gave it a one-count before throwing it.  Thanks to the video captured on her HUD, and distance details from her in-built laser range finder, Jocelynn's throw was nearly dead on.  When the grenade went off, it was directly between the two gunmen, and only the engineer's seat at the position ate damage-causing bits of anti-personnel flak.

As soon as the blast hit, Jocelynn moved into the space firing as she moved up on the two.  She wanted to make certain they were dead.  Moving in, Jocelynn was careful to step around the closer body, because she wasn't sure if that was a station tech, Terin or any other potential innocent?  After delivering a coup de grâce with her laser pistol, Jocelynn turned back to check on Zimzod.  Trained on battledress, Jocelynn knew not to even try to help as she checked what the suit was doing to help save Zimzod's life?  Satisfied Zimzod was in as good condition as he could be, Jocelynn then checked the other body and found it was Terin.

Checking Terin over, she saw the man was in very bad shape.  He'd been shot in the lower right torso, and was bleeding out and barely breathing, which suggested at least one of his lungs had collapsed.  Jocelynn first reviewed and checked any of the gear she had on herself to see if anything she had would help her do anything to save Terin?  Seeing she didn't, Jocelynn started carefully looking over and pawing at Terin.  She remembered that Terin had usually carried a first aid kit, from when he'd used it in Atora a month before.  When she found the kit, Jocelynn then started checking him to see where he'd been hit?

The wound to the lower right chest was obvious and she'd noticed that earlier.  Quickly checking his body, Jocelynn found no more wounds, so she had to assume that was it without undressing the navigator.  And, she wasn't doing that because she didn't feel she had the time or could safely do that without injuring him even more.  The first thing Jocelynn checked for were pain killers like morphine, which wouldn't help since Terin was already out cold.  Checking through the kit, Jocelynn came on a strip she remembered Terin putting on the forehead of one of the wounded in Atora.

Not sure how that worked, Jocelynn put the strip on Terin's forehead as close as she could remember Terin doing with the other man.  She then tried to figure out how to turn it on and make it work?  Jocelynn had also pushed aside several rolls of gauze while looking for the drugs and finding the strip.  She figured she'd get to that in a bit after she tried the strip.  To her actual surprise, the unit activated and started doing its thing!  Jocelynn then tried to make sense of the readout, which was mostly very 'red', and flashing in some places.  While some things were obvious, most of the readout was technical enough that Jocelynn had no clue what it meant?

Obvious data came up, like heart rate and blood pressure, but Jocelynn wasn't sure what were the good, bad and critical ranges for those.  Other things, even as simple as blood/Oxygen levels came up but Jocelynn wasn't familiar with that at all, so that did her no good.  The fact the blood pressure stat was flashing wildly certainly told her Terin's tank must be running low enough to be critical.  But, she had no blood for him, or any method to deliver it.  Remembering she'd heard CPR used as a buzz word, she knew it meant doing chest compressions and she didn't want to accidentally crush Terin's chest in thanks to the strength of her battledress.  Not to mention, she didn't know how to do CPR anyway?

Coming to a decision, Jocelynn started grabbing the gauze and working to pack the wound.  She hoped to, at the least, slow or stop the bleeding.  It was while she worked at that when Jocelynn got a comms from port security.  They were asking for an update on her location and situation?  They didn't say they'd been unable to reach Zimzod.  Jocelynn reported she had two friendlies down and added she and Zimzod had cleared the path from the ship's airlock to the engineering compartment on the lower deck.  She reported one of the friendlies was in battledress and stable while the other was in a vacc suit, bleeding out and nearly dead.

Jocelynn added what she was doing to stop Terin's bleeding and they asked if she needed medical support?  She said she did and they said medical support was coming in along with additional troopers.  While waiting for backup, Jocelynn kept packing Terin's wound and also checked the readouts on Zimzod's armor while grabbing for more rolls of gauze.  As she wrapped the wound, Jocelynn grimly looked down at Terin's closed eyes and asked, "And, what did we learn?" in a tone that was both taunting and questioning as if she were taking him to task.  Soon after that, station medical teams arrived with more security troopers.  Jocelynn's job switched to helping get the battledress off Zimzod, because she was the only person trained on the gear.  She also made certain to collect both Terin and Zimzod's gear to make sure nothing "disappeared" in the confusion.

Jocelynn also kept half an eye on her suit sensors in case anyone else came at them.  That was buffered by the fact there were now more station troops in the area.  So, anyone coming through would have to be an imposter or mole.  Despite the wounds and situation, the medics were able to quickly stabilize Zimzod, and that was thanks to the first aid provided by his battledress.  Working to get Terin stable enough to move was much more difficult.  The first team started preparing Zimzod to be moved to proper medical services even as actual doctors arrived to work on Terin.  It was some more time before they could finally claim they had Terin stable enough to move to medical services.

Jocelynn and those aboard Upgrade then heard as station security teams started calling all clear throughout the docking quadrant of the station torus they were in.  Some stations had not seen any action and it turned out there had been secondary attacks against others.  So, they were starting to piece together Smiljan's plan to sow confusion before stealing back the Cedna.  Reaching out to the Upgrade, where Aali was now in over-all command, they told her there had been a number of combat events but the station was now secure.  They recommended the crew keep up a high level of security even though they felt certain there would be no more attacks in their direction.  They said they couldn't give Aali an update on her people who'd left the bay except to give her a brief description of bodies found who were presumably going to attack their ship's bay.  Details of how those bodies died were still not available.

When Jocelynn felt she was able to do it, she started investigating the dead pirates and even leaned down to pull at some of the gear and check the bodies out.  Seeing that, one of the security troopers asked her not to remove anything from the bodies because they had to investigate the situation.  Backing off on looting the bodies, Jocelynn was disappointed because one seemed to have a very high-quality wrist computer on his right arm.  Looking to see if there was any way to get the unit off his wrist without being noticed, Jocelynn saw she couldn't.  She also noticed this body had a better over-all quality of ceramic plate armor which covered more of his body than the others.  He even had more obvious gear than the others.

Shrugging, because she had to get "something" out of it, Jocelynn reached down and ripped the face of the man's vacc suit open.  After that, she stood in mild shock because she'd seen that man's picture.  That was the face of the pirate leader, Smiljan!  But, he was supposed to have died, according to what Zimzod and the others had said, in the fight to capture the Cedna.  So, she wondered, what was a dead man doing fighting and dying here?  Putting things together, she realized he must not have died when everyone had written him off.  Jocelynn pointed out who the man was and what that meant to her crew, and then asked if she could take his computer.  She was told she couldn't because it would be important to the investigation.

When they finally started moving Terin, enough troopers had arrived that they told Jocelynn she should go with the team moving her crewman and get herself checked out by the doctors too.  Over in Upgrade's bay, the station updated Aali, telling her that all known combatants were now dead.  They said all three of her crew were being treated for combat related issues in the station's medical services and asked if the ship had a doctor available?  Ironically, Mikah, Zimzod and Terin were the ship's medically trained crew.  And while Terin and Zimzod were being treated by the station, Mikah wouldn't be done in the auto-doc for another six hours or so.

Aali reminded the caller Lady Mikah had been shot in action the day before, aboard Cedna, and wasn't yet done with her treatment.  This got a pause from the tech as he wondered how could Lady Mikah be "under treatment" if the ship didn't have another doctor, but he let that pass.  The man only told Aali that two of her people were in extremely critical condition and on operating tables at that time and their third person would be able to return to the ship on her own.  Since Jocelynn was the only 'her' in the group, that answered one of Aali's unasked questions.

Time eventually passed as the crew maintained elevated security on the ship and kept up communications with the station and with Jocelynn.  Jocelynn was certified as healthy and not of concern, and offered a bag large enough to stuff all of Zimzod and Terin's gear into.  With that, she was offered a security escort when she returned to her ship.  She was also given a ride on a small electric cart while the troops of the escort surrounded the wagon.  Along the way, Jocelynn realized she'd have to clean the blood and other contaminants off the gear before putting their stuff in Zimzod and Terin's staterooms.  Taking that a step further, she also figured she could go into Rol's gear for his armorer's kit and try her hand at making some fixes.


All Coming Home
     After Jocelynn finally got to the ship's bay at the center of a security detail, Aali met her and let her aboard the ship.  Back aboard, Jocelynn gave the others her side of what had happened to her and Zimzod, giving her best guess what had happened to Terin.  She also told them about discovering Smiljan had survived the first fight for Cedna, and had been leading the move to steal back the ship.  There was some comfort when Jocelynn confirmed Smiljan was "very sincerely dead" this time.  Jocelynn also told them every pirate who'd boarded that ship to steal it had also been killed.  So, all they had to do was wait for the station's medics to do what they could for Terin and Zimzod.  Hearing that, Aali told the others they could relax but they would keep the ship sealed and she asked Emkir to keep watching the bay through the eyes of the 'droids.

Not long after Jocelynn told them what she'd seen, the Port Master himself called to give them an early report on what they knew so far.  He confirmed they'd identified the man at the lead of the fighting as Smiljan, and gotten a computer from his gear.  Based on data from the computer, it seemed he'd used maneuvering jets on his vacc suit to push himself back into contact with Cedna's hull after he'd been flushed from the ship's cargo bay.  He'd then moved so he wasn't crushed when Cedna rammed Xefe.  He then rode the hull of the ship back to the port when their crew brought it in to dock.  When he was close enough, he'd done an EVA jump to the station, found a hatch to use and called moles he had in the port to let him board and hide.

The port master said he expected that Smiljan then called in all those he thought he needed to prepare to take his revenge for what happened aboard Cedna.  The port master did say they were looking into the situation to see if there might be other pirate moles or turncoats still at large on the station who hadn't been involved in the shooting.  Then, Mikah's decision not to let the crew sell or trade the Cedna became critical.  Because the ship still belonged to Mikah, station engineers shut it down but did not otherwise work aboard the ship and all station personnel were pulled off it in respect to Mikah's ownership rights.  That left the Cedna guarded but unmanned, and open to be stolen back.

The plan to re-take the Cedna and get revenge took the form of a number of coordinated attacks.  There were four known attacks planned including an attack on the Upgrade's bay.  Simply by luck, it seemed Sir Zimzod and Dame Jocelynn ran into that team in the station's corridors.  So, that attack was prevented when Zimzod and Jocelynn killed those pirates.  Another team of pirates attacked station security near the station's alternate control centers.  The Port Master said that had been a heavy and drawn out shoot out.  Eventually, ten of the station's security people died in that battle.  In the last known attack, pirates opened fire on station personnel and killed three while wounding ten more before the pirates were killed off.

Of even more concern, the port Master told them he'd had some of his engineers board Cedna to shut her down after the fighting.  The system logs showed the pirates had first worked to get the ship's power plant and engineering powered up.  But, he said, at some point they changed what they were doing and were trying to set the ship's plant to overload and explode!  Hearing that, several on the crew gasped and they considered the damage that kind of a blast would have done.  Such a blast would have destroyed that arc of the stations low-grav docks and blown a chunk out of the docking torus which was the stations largest non-residential ring.  The port master said the blast might have actually been large enough to engulf or damage the bay in which the Upgrade was berthed.

More important to the station, it would have been a massive amount of damage the port could not easily repair.  Without bringing all the factions in-system together, there would be no cooperation to get repair materials and technicians into the system.  So, any damage done, no matter how massive, would have simply had to have been sealed off and left unrepaired until the port found a way to make a deal bringing those into the system.  And, with a potential pirate turf war about to start in-system, the port would likely have to just accept the damage and move on.  So, stopping the blast had been a big deal to those in the port.

Along with that, their security command had less 'rat catching' to do since a good number of their moles had been killed in the fighting.  Still, there would be a lot of funerals as the dead and dying were dealt with.  Like Terin and Zimzod, there were a number of wounded who were in extremely critical condition.  If they'd survive or not was not yet known, which brought them to Zimzod and Terin.  Terin was in worse shape than Zimzod but both were still on operating tables and in extremely critical condition.  After that, they killed the connection and Jocelynn said she wanted to get Rol's armorer kit and work on cleaning up and repairing all the gear.

While Jocelynn did what she planned, Aiden made the crew sandwiches and Fesic went back to the ship's cargo bay to finally check on the diagnostics he'd run on the drone that morning.  Getting to the device, Fesic read the readout and checked it against data from the manual.  Not an expert, or even a trained user, what Fesic saw told him things were good as best he understood them.  Happy with that, Fesic shut the drone down and closed up the cargo container.  Fesic also decided to make some time in each day to read through the manual and understand using the drone, in case they actually needed it.

In the ship's lounge, Emkir figured he could keep watching the screens showing the 'droid points of view for another two hours before he'd need to trade off to someone else.  Aiden agreed to take over if they needed that.  While they talked, Jocelynn asked about cloning insurance and they said Zimzod had a policy but Terin hadn't had one.  Sadly, it was then when the ship's comms began to buzz and they answered to find it was the port calling.  They had just gotten word that Sir Terin Yundis Geryen had died despite the best efforts of their medical staff.  The news hit the crew hard, not only on a personal level but in the loss of their main navigator.  Aiden had passed his level-1 certifications and could plot jumps for them.  But, he couldn't do fancy things like plotting to hit a pirate point like Terin did coming into the Tremous Dex system when they arrived.

Nearing seven in the evening, after eating dinner, Aali said she and Jocelynn would go into the medbay to be there when Mikah's treatment ended.  They would speak with her and bring Mikah up to date on events over the last day.  In the autodoc, Mikah's mind wandered through a blur of odd dreams which were suddenly intruded on by a soft but insistent beeping.  Opening her eyes, Mikah realized she was inside a device and it took her a short time to remember being shot and put in the autodoc.  It wasn't a perspective she wanted to become used to.  The casing opened and she felt the bed rolling out of the enclosure as she saw Aali and Jocelynn looking down at her.  A part of her mind wondered why Zimzod wasn't there too?

Mikah decided there was an odd look to the eyes of the two woman, and knew it wasn't because she was naked, or that she had a new and angry wound stiched together and still healing on the front of her right hip.  As Aali reached down to take Mikah's hand and help her sit up, Jocelynn mustered her most solemn voice.  She then said, "I hate to tell you this, but...  You shot Terin."  Not being warned what she was going to say, Aali had to suddenly fight every instinct to not let go Mikah's hand and burst out laughing as she looked askance at Jocelynn and wondered what the hell the Marine was doing?  It took a moment for Mikah's mind to gain traction, before she suddenly demanded, "I shot Terin?  And I Missed It?!?" because she couldn't recall having done that.

Getting control of herself as Mikah sat up, Aali said, "You've missed rather a lot actually." and Jocelynn became even more solemn while saying "Yeah, you did miss a lot."  Mikah just looked between the two and said, "Seriously.  What's going on?"  With that, they threw her some coverings while the machine checked out Mikah's vitals and Mikah ran a few tests on herself, and Aali started the explanations.  She first told Mikah about Smiljan's survival and how he grabbed Cedna's hull for a ride to the port.  How the port felt he had likely organized groups of his moles and spies, and used them to try and steal back Cedna.  Aali then told Mikah how Terin went to the ship to do some "free-lance looting" and blundered into the plan.

Continuing on, Aali said, "They shot him fairly quickly, from what we gather."  Mikah interrupted asking, "He?  He went alone?"  Aali nodded and said he did while Jocelynn said, "He did not survive his injuries."  About then, Mikah started realizing this was not an elaborate prank.  Suddenly, Mikah said, "I missed it." in a crestfallen tone.  When Aali said she did miss it, Mikah repeated, "I missed it.  I'm heart-broken."  Internally, she railed against a universe which had killed off one more of the targets she wanted to personally kill!  After a brief pause, Mikah continued, "I wanted to kill him!  Thanks A Lot Emkir!"  Confused and worried about Mikah's healing, they asked what Emkir had to do with it and Mikah said, "He killed that other bitch on the cutter before I could." in a petulant voice.

Relieved Mikah's mind was working as usual, Aali started to add more information, saying they'd gotten a warning that things had gone wrong and they should button up here.  Then, Zimzod and Jocelynn got armored up and went over to Cedna.  Zimzod got very shot and he's basically barely still alive.  Jocelynn stepped in, saying, "He's in surgery now and in very critical condition."  Hearing that, Mikah said, "Then, take me over there!"  When that caught both Aali and Jocelynn by surprise, Mikah said, "I'll get dressed, but I want you to take me over there now!"  In the end, Jocelynn went with Mikah to help as she got dressed while Aali reset the autodoc.

Jocelynn also called station central to ask for a port car to get Mikah to station medical services.  They said they would have someone waiting at the bay hatch.  Because the passage leading to the hatch was small, they had a small cart instead of a port car, but they'd cleared all traffic to move Lady Mikah and Jocelynn.  At medical services, the senior physician was glad to see Mikah.  He told her he'd felt they had done everything they knew and would have been guessing if they'd had to move forward with Sir Zimzod's treatment.  In fact, they'd been preparing to continue working on Zimzod when they got the word Mikah was coming.  Then, they closed Zimzod's wounds and made him ready to move because she had more skills and her ship had an autodoc.

While Mikah supervised a transfer team, she was also given all the records, notes on drugs administered, etc...  In the end, Mikah also got the feeling they were happy to hand off Zimzod because she would be the physician of record when he died.  There wasn't much optimism, especially after Sir Terin had died on one of their tables.  While Zimzod's transfer was being set up, Jocelynn asked for Terin's body too.  When they were surprised, she said they had low berths on the ship and would be able to deliver the body to his family in the Lysen system.  Ironically, at the time, they were only four parsecs from Terin's homeworld and could have jumped directly there if they had the time for a side trip.

Having been flooded with information from the surgeon leading Zimzod's team, Mikah checked him out after they'd closed his wounds for transit.  She could tell he'd been hit in the lower left chest and might have had damage to both his left kidney and diaphragm.  He's also been hit in the right chest just diagonally inward from the shoulder, likely suffered bone damage as well as a collapsed lung.  Given all that, Mikah decided she had to get him to the autodoc because his wounds had just been closed up and she didn't want to re-open them just to check things out.  So, they had him loaded up and set up to have Terin's body delivered to the ship later.

At the ship, Aali worked on the controls to set the autodoc to neutral while also knowing Mikah would have to enter in a lot of data from Zimzod's medical team before the machine could start working on him.  Her one consolation was that Zimzod had an active cloning insurance policy, so he could be cloned even if he died.  When she tried to recall when it had been the last time they'd taken a mental issue of Zimzod, she thought back to a morning in the Regina system over a month before.  Remembering that, Aali also suddenly remembered that Duchess Seldrian had also let them take an image of Terin's mind!  Aali realized they could clone Terin if the cost wasn't too high.  After that realization, Aali called Mikah to mention that.

Getting back to the ship, Aali had hit the reset so the autodoc was ready for Mikah to put in the treatment data.  While Mikah and Aali worked to get Zimzod into the machine, Jocelynn supervised putting Terin's body into one of the ship's low berths.  While that was usually done with a doctor in attendance, Terin was already dead, and frozen so treatment wouldn't matter at all.  Still, Jocelynn wasn't sure if they'd be able to get him clone or if they'd be delivering Terin's body to his family in the end?

Once the autodoc started running, Zimzod's condition was so critical the device estimated it would need twenty minutes to complete a diagnosis.  So, it advised the treating sophonts to stand by for that long while it worked while carrying out any acute procedures its sensors required.  After it began actual treatment, it first estimated forty eight hours would be needed before it was done.  Throughout it all, Zimzod's condition remained critical and near-fatal, so there were not nearly any hints of good news yet.

After all that activity, Mikah had to rest because she was only just out of treatment herself.  So, she sat as the others gave her the details of what had happened over the day before.  All the grim details and facts they had, had gotten from the port or guessed at.  All Mikah could do was shake her head and mourn, "Leave you alone for twenty four hours..."  That got laughs from the others.  Mikah then asked where they were on the repairs and engineering work?  Despite all the fun and excitement, Aali felt she was ready to start re-assembly of the airlock.  That would take another day.  The engineering resets hadn't really been interrupted because they were being done by the androids.  So, that should be done in two more days.

After talking everything out, Mikah asked Emkir to call the port and tell them that Mikah would be ready to talk with them at 10am the next day.  But, she had him tell them they had to come to the ship to talk, because she wasn't ready for all the field trips yet.  Emkir did that, and had a confirmation the Port Master and his people would come to Upgrade and handle moving the meeting there.  When he cut the line after talking to the port, Jocelynn looked at him and said, "Emkir?  It's time to drink!"  Emkir agreed they should drink to the memory of Terin and to the crew's continued success.  Aali asked if Emkir didn't mean 'continued survival'?

Things settled down as Emkir pulled bottles out of the case of Maakham Zuuker and passed them around.  They also broke out Terin's bottle of Genya Tang (Cherry Brandy) to share around.  While they relaxed, they talked about the loot pulled from Cedna, and Mikah said they should keep the cash available to the ship for the time being.  Since it wouldn't fit into the ship's safe, Mikah decided to get some boxes to keep it in the ship's locker.  When it came to the jewelry,
      Jocelynn got: a ring possibly done in an older style with an egg-shaped setting made with pale pink beads, a wide beaten
            copper bracelet, a pair of earrings shaped like snakes made from pale turquoise beads, in a style evocative of an
            unknown fashion and a silver pendant set with a large opaque bright purple heart-cut gem surrounded by opaque
            dark turquoise gems.
      Aali got the gold pin shaped like a cat but in a style evocative of tribal glyphs accented with an assortment of
            iridescent lemon-lime gems.
      Mikah got a wide copper ring set with a small transparent azure oval-cut gem surrounded by transparent dusty blue gems
      Emkir took a silver pendant set with a large, transparent bright green tapered baguette-cut gem, surrounded by transparent
            dark brown gems, saying he might want to give it to Aali as a gift later.  Since Aali didn't seem to want it at the moment,
            the others said it would be a "cheap-out" gift which Aali would remember the origins of.  Still, Emkir wanted it and no one
            else did, so he got it.
When no one wanted what looked like a gold chain with a pendant of the same metal holding a faceted circle-cut transparent clear blue stone which might be costume jewelry, the crew said they would keep that for Zimzod when he came out of the autodoc.  That got some good laughs.  In the end, they agreed there was no need to keep watching the bay for intruders because the station was secure and there were still guards on the bay hatch.  Mikah also wanted Jocelynn in battledress to help Aali put the airlock back together.


Open For Business
     Despite setting his alarm for 7am, Aiden woke at 6:30 so he and Fesic both finished their morning routines at about the same time.  They chatted while Fesic cooked and, at seven, the rest of the alarms went off and the rest of the crew came out for food and caff.  By the time they'd all eaten and dressed, it was nine am and they only had to wait until the port people came to talk about the Cedna.  So, they were surprised when the ship's comms went off.  When Emkir picked up the call, he was told they had a delegation at the bay hatch who were looking to speak to them.  When he asked who the people were, Emkir was told it was a delegation of Imperial traders who had made the transit from their operations on the planet's surface.

Mikah had the guards let the group into the bay and decided she'd go out to meet them with Emkir and with Jocelynn in Battledress.  Aali also got into her combat armor and went too.  After Mikah welcomed them, they thanked her for meeting with them and some were surprised how mobile she was given they'd heard she'd been shot in the chest two days before.  They first delivered their condolences on the death of Sir Terin, The leader of the group then asked if there was someplace less public to talk with a glance back at the port guards.  Not sure what was up, but accepting they were Imperials, Mikah invited them into the ship's lounge.

There, the first thing the traders did was give Mikah a list of the Imperial citizens who'd contacted them and sent their condolences for Sir Terin's death.  Their spokesperson then said they had been disappointed how quickly events swept up Mikah's crew when they arrived in-system, or they might have been able to help the crew.  The man then asked how much longer they planned to stay in-system?  Mikah said, "We're going to be leaving as soon as we possibly can.  Two days at most."  Nodding, the group leader thanked Mikah and said, "We are the command staff of the IMV Ashidi Ke, and we happen to be here in system.  We generally have an operating crew here in-system when we're not.  Keeping everything running and our facilities safe."  Mikah knew that had to mean they had combat troops in place to protect what would certainly be a ripe pearl for any other faction to take.

The man continued, "But, we also have other responsibilities to the Imperium.  And, we would like to make you aware of that so we can help you in the future, if you pass through this system.  We are also attached to, and have resources as an auxiliary of Imperial Naval intelligence."  Mikah nodded as she said, "Oh" and continued, "once we leave here, I can guarantee you we will never return."  The man nodded and said he could entirely understand that.  Mikah then told him, "The only thing that would make us feel a little bit safer is, when we leave the system, if you can provide some sort of an escort, or just some security so we can get to the jump point unmolested."

Hearing that, the man nodded and said, "I think that can be done."  Nodding in thanks, Mikah continued, "And, if there's any sort of intelligence you can give us about the Arden system, that could help us in our mission."  The man shrugged and apologized because they only collected what they heard.  So, they had what they'd collected for the Navy.  They rarely knew the value of the information, because it was almost never enough to make sense without the massive databases the Navy had.  While the navy pays them for the service, they don't get quid pro que back in the form of usable warnings and information.

When Mikah asked about anything they might specifically have collected on their own, they said they had nothing from Arden.  But, he admitted they were curious about the Ardeni ship which was in port.  The MV Takouhe was listed as a merchant ship, but had been in port for two weeks but does not seem to show any signs of trading or leaving.  Added to that, their "very well paid" spies in the port staff said the ship's cargo bay was near full, but they'd not carried on any trade at all.  Mikah considered, and asked for any information they got on the ship over the next two days, because it might help with her crew's mission.  She had no idea how, but you never knew when odd information came in handy.  All the trader could give Mikah at the moment was a crystal which had a rundown on each crewmember of the Takouhe.

When Mikah asked if they thought the ship had anything to do with the Federation's expansion interests the trader only said they had no information on that.  Mikah shrugged and admitted she wouldn't care of Arden came in with gunships to take over the system and her tone of voice showed how much she cared about the good of the locals.  The man nodded and said he understood her feelings.  Still, Mikah decided to give him something in return.  Especially since she didn't know if they'd been told about the Scarlet Tree or not?  She then said, "Just so you know, the Scarlet Tree is harboring the terrorist who smuggled a Zhodani warbot into the Risek system at the time of the Podesti plague.  We don't know if he had anything to do with the plague itself, but he's a good person to watch closely.  If you could, let the Navy know he's in this system."

When one of the traders looked at the others, sighed and murmured, "Our good friend Sam Katz." Mikah asked, "You know him?"  In a cautionary tone, the lead trader said, "We've...had dealings."  His tone told Mikah they were not working together.  Nodding, Mikah recommended they let the Navy know the smuggler was in the Tremous Dex system now.  Just in case they wanted to do anything about it?  The trader said that was already in their data dump for the Navy, and they had been planning their next flight out-system to deliver information to the Navy.  He was also certain their ship could fly to the jump point in convoy.  Mikah smiled and said, "That would be fantastic."

Mikah then added in that the Arch-Duke might have a personal interest in the news from the system and they should relay the message they were on their way to the Arden system.  When they asked about the news Sir Terin had died, Mikah told them to sit on that because it was possible he might be cloned in the future.  Nodding in understanding, the trader then said, "This is for you to give the port." as he drew a crystal from a pocket and gave it to Mikah.  Checking it in a reader, Mikah found it was a blank of the electronic form to be used when generating certifications for Imperial battledress!

Very pleased, Mikah said, "Thank you very much!  We'll used these in our meeting with the port later."  The man also smiled and said, "I thought you might."  Jocelynn also smiled and nodded in pleasure.  Mikah thanked him again and promised to let them know when their ship was going to be ready to lift so they could meet up for the out-system burn.  The man said he'd set things up with his crew and be sure they were ready.  He then turned to look directly into the blank faceplate of Jocelynn's armor and said, "I assume this is the esteemed Dame Jocelynn Guerrek?"  Surprised, Jocelynn removed her helmet and said she was Dame Jocelynn Guerrek.

Smiling, the trader told her, "Mr. Orti would like it conveyed to you that he's glad you didn't get eaten."  Fighting the look of total surprise on her face, Jocelynn asked, "He saw that?"  The man shook his head and answered, "He didn't see it but he heard of it."  Getting better control over herself, Jocelynn said, "Well, give him my thanks for his concern and some day I will be back to meet him."  the man answered her, mysteriously saying, "You never know.  Some day, he may leave the system and come to meet you."  With a chuckle, Jocelynn said, "Fair enough.  But, you can thank him for his concern."  With that, they finished their business and took their leave.

Checking on the autodoc after the meeting, Mikah told the others there had been an update now the device was actually treating Zimzod's wounds and it now said it would take three days, not two.  After that, Aali asked if Mikah still needed her and the others or if they could get back to working on the airlock?  Mikah said she'd need Emkir and Jocelynn, and that Jocelynn would have to be in her battledress.  But she hoped the meeting with the port didn't go long so Jocelynn could come back and help with the heavy lifting.  Mikah also told Aali to let her know about any help they could ask the port for during the meeting?

At ten minutes to ten, while Aali and her crew worked on the airlock and Mikah's three got ready, a lone visitor came to the bay hatch and spoke to the guards there.  They then called Mikah and said a ship's captain was asking to visit and deliver his condolences.  When Mikah asked who he was, she was told the name given was Samuel Katz.  Hearing that, Mikah chuckled as she got on her comms and said, "It would be our honor to host you but we have an important meeting coming up with your port authorities.  Can we reschedule for another time?"  After a pause, When the man had the guards tell Mikah his visit would only take a few minutes, Jocelynn volunteered to see what he wanted?

Mikah considered and then said, "You can come with me."  After Mikah came out of the ship, she and Jocelynn went to meet "Captain" Katz at the hatch.  When they met him, Katz said he'd heard of their crew's exploits and wanted to give them his condolences.  Having followed their travels for some time, and wanted to make them an offer that might help resolve some issues between their crew and his.  With that, he handed Mikah a crystal.  After Mikah took the crystal and thanked him, Katz said, "Thank you for meeting me.  I'll be available in the system until you leave."  Surprised, Mikah said that was short and sweet and she decided to check the crystal before the team from the port arrived.

When Emkir realized Mikah planned to look at the crystal on the ship he told her to be careful, because they didn't know if there would be any viruses or malware on it.  Hearing that, Aali said Mikah should use one of her throw-away datapads to check it.  The offer on the crystal said it was Katz's understanding their crew had been looking for a cargo sealer to replace the damaged one they had.  His offer said he had one he would sell to them for only KCr 25.  Reading that, Mikah said 'no thanks' to the air and said the sealer would probably have a Zhodani warbot inside it.  Or, a plague pod.  When someone said they could meet in neutral space and check it out, Mikah said she wasn't interested.  She didn't want to leave the bay and put anyone else at risk.  Especially their only engineer.  Things had just settled down in the bay when the team from the port arrived.

With the group came the older Lieutenant Colonel, who's unit had saved Terin and Jocelynn in the city.  When the port officials started with their condolences over the death of Terin, the Colonel only said he was sorry they'd not thrown him to the lizards as a distraction to make their getaway.  Sitting down to cut the deal, the port were very interested in having Mikah sign over all rights to the Cedna and all its contents.  Mikah pushed an up-front demand for a replacement cutter and handed the Port Master the crystal with the battledress certifications on it across the table.  In the instant, Mikah also said she wanted the medical supplies to top off their autodoc after treatment on her executive officer was done.  That reminded her of the damaged armor and vacc suits and Mikah asked for the port to send them an armorer to handle repairs.

Dealing with the easy concessions, the Port Master agreed to have an armorer spend the entire next day in their bay working on any damaged gear.  He also asked for a list of the drugs and supplies the autodoc used and how much would be a full load?  Then, he said he'd give them what could be found on the station.  But, he made no promises he could provide high-tech drugs or compounds they didn't have in the system.  When Jocelynn asked if she could work with the armorer, Mikah reminded her she'd be working on the airlock repairs.  But, she said Jocelynn could watch him when Aali didn't need her.

The Port Master said they had to work with the armorer to create and burn the certifications into the battledress.  They were all reminded that every chip in the armor suit had a burned in serial number.  So, all the registers needed to have the certification burned in properly or it wouldn't work.  So, while he'd have his people do that, it would have to be done the next day while the armorer was there.  He did say the work could be done while Jocelynn was wearing her armor, so she didn't have to put anything at risk.  The hardest part of the bargain was actually the cutter.  While they had hundreds of cutters under port control, they had to have a man come in and take measurements of the Upgrade's cutter bay.  Without that, any cutter they gave the crew might not fit the portal into the berth.

Mikah agreed to the architect so long as one of her crew got to escort the tech.  The Port Master said that would be perfectly fine.  Before the papers were sealed, Mikah added that the port would recycle the ship's atmo just before they left, because they were already fueled up.  Then, the papers were sealed with electronic signatures from Mikah and the Port Master.  The only active parts of the electronic document were spaces for both to sign again, when the deal was finished.  As soon as that happened, the Cedna and all aboard it belonged to the port.  The Lieutenant Colonel witnessed the agreement and started talking about his ideas for deals now that he knew the ship and contents would legally become port property.

After giving Mikah an inactive copy of the document, the port team left the crew to their activities.  While Jocelynn turned to help Aali, and Emkir made to help Mikah back onto the ship, a group of four people arrived at the bay hatch asking to meet with the Captain and such crew as she wanted to join them?  When Mikah got the call and asked who they were, she was told they were visiting from the Maakham Zuuker brewery!  Turning back to the bay, Mikah met them in the open bay and asked what she could do for them?  Their spokesperson first asked if they'd tried any of the alcohol they'd sent as a gift?

When Mikah said they had tried some of it when drinking in honor of Sir Terin, they said they were pleased at the honor.  After that, they said they'd checked with the port and the listings said the Upgrade was bound for Arden.  When Mikah said it was, they all smiled and the spokesperson said they had a shipment listed for Arden which had been sitting for some time.  They'd planned on shipping the cargo aboard the Takouhe but that ship shows no interest in selling their current cargo or planning to return to Arden.  They had even offered twice the cargo rate or even three times that rate, and been turned down.  When he finished off asking if they could hire the Upgrade to carry their cargo, Mikah eagerly leapt right in saying they would do it for triple rates.

Mikah did qualify that, saying they would inspect the shit out of every bottle, but the man said they would have the cargo on her deck as soon as possible and with all boxes open so they could inspect everything before it was re-sealed and packed.  They then had their legal officer present a document and asked how large a cargo bay the Upgrade had?  Mikah said they could carry thirty nine tons.  That meant the ship would be paid KCr 117 for the run, and they'd now have a reason for why they were making a call in the Arden system?  Again, this was a two-phase document and they and Mikah thumb-printed it to signify the deal was made.  They would do the same after the cargo was checked and loaded, then the ship would be paid when the cargo was delivered in the Arden system.

When the question of legality was asked, they were told the Arden system government had ordered the shipment.  The legal officer also pointed out a clause in the contract.  Once sealed, if any bottle in the cargo was opened the crew would forfeit payment for the shipment.  So, there would be no poaching from the cases.  With the paperwork done, Mikah asked when they would deliver the cargo and the folks from the brewery asked when Mikah's people would be ready?  Mikah said ten the next morning and one of the brewers produced a bottle of their "black label" as a thanks for agreeing to carry the load.

After that meeting, Mikah had some time to relax and recover a bit.  It was getting near lunch time when the ship got a call for Lady Mikah.  Picking up the comms, Mikah answered to find it was the spokesperson from the group of Imperial traders who'd visited earlier.  When Mikah asked what he needed, the man said they'd learned Sam Katz had offered them something.  Surprised how efficient the spies were on the port, Mikah said they had and she was just planning to call them about the offer.  When Mikah offered to send them copies of the message, the trader said he understood it was an offer to sell them a cargo sealing unit.

Mikah agreed it was and the man told her they had a deal to offer.  If Mikah paid KCr 25 for the sealer from Katz, and had it delivered to the port, they would sell her one of their sealers for KCr 50.  So, the deal would get them a working sealer for KCr 75.  It didn't take Mikah more than a second to agree to that deal.  The man told Mikah who Katz should be told to deliver the sealer too and Mikah thanked him, made the KCr 50 payment to him and cut the call.  She then called Katz and put on her best 'Friendly Trader' face and closed the deal for his sealer.  She sent him the KCr 25 and address where to deliver the device before cutting the call.  The entire time, Captain Katz was very pleased Mikah had decided to work with him.

Katz had said he was hoping to do business with her in the future, which Mikah nodded off.  But, during the conversation Mikah did see at least two crew going about ship's work while they talked.  The deal called for his sealer to be delivered to Port security by mid-day the next day.  After that, it was time to have lunch and relax a bit while Mikah updated them all on what the deals were and what was coming their way?  They felt good because their people hadn't gotten shot up for nothing, and they'd get what they needed and get paid.  Checking on Zimzod, he was still in very critical condition and his survival odds varied widely.


Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Mikah, Aali, Emkir, Aiden, Fesic, Jocelynn: In the ship's lounge after lunch
     Zimzod: In the autodoc for 2 days, 22 hours
     Terin: Frozen - pending possible cloning
     Rol: Cloning Gestation: 12 Weeks and 2 Days left

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Next: Verbal Fencing And Cultural Anthropology