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Desperate Plans And Executions

Arden
Settling Dust And Rising Alarms
     Finishing up for the day, Aali was about to leave engineering for dinner.  Jocelynn was done getting ready and came out of her stateroom looking for Mikah, for the extra set of comms she'd been told to take with her.  Both were unaware Mikah was in an e-shielded vehicle on her way to the Imperial Embassy after the Ambassador had called.  Jocelynn and Aali were also unaware Emkir was in a car with Nour and Biangud, who were also taking him to the embassy.  Neither did they know about the explosion and escape in the Lila marketplace.

Zimzod, Aiden, Fesic and Sekea had escaped the explosion with Finerd, Kuagmii and his shop man.  They'd made it through a labyrinth of passages and work spaces to a safe location in the under-city.  Unlike they had back in the Tremous Dex system, the four hadn't heard Emkir's message saying he was being brought back to the embassy after the explosion.  Not having any information from the others, Sekea had tried to call both Emkir and Mikah.  And while Emkir didn't answer his comms, it seemed Sekea couldn't connect to Mikah's at all!  In the embassy car, Emkir decided to call the ship directly since he'd not gotten any answer on the team's generic frequency.  Nour and Biangud let him call because they thought most of the ship's crew were likely dead so it wouldn't matter.

When the ship's comms started to buzz, Mikah was already gone and Aali was shoulders-deep inside a filtration system she was cleaning.  In her stateroom, Jocelynn was finishing up getting ready for her first meeting with Yur and rolled her eyes in annoyance.  Finally, she hit the all ship and demanded, "Is someone gonna get that?"  A handful of seconds later, in an equally exasperated tone, Aali answered, "I'm a bit busy with this filtering system at the moment."  That made it clear the call was Jocelynn's problem.  Her shoulders slumping, Jocelynn answered, "Upgrade" and Emkir said, "Um, Hi.  This is Emkir and we have a situation."  Jocelynn only shook her head and said, "Of course we do."

Emkir continued, "I'm enroute to the embassy at the insistence of our two chaperons, who have let me know this was not a voluntary thing."  Jocelynn cut him off, asking, "What did you do?" in a tone that was both despairing and a little accusatory.  Emkir answered, "It's not what I did.  Unfortunately, Zimzod, Aiden, Sekea and Fesic were investigating a shop and the shop blew up.  I don't know where they are."  After a pause, Emkir continued, "I don't know...they may be dead.  I'm not sure.  But..."  Jocelynn said, "That's a problem" in a matter of fact tone since what Emkir was saying hadn't yet sunk in.  Emkir nodded and said, "Yeah.  I've tried to get in touch with somebody and I can't get the Captain or anyone else, so..."  Not knowing Mikah had left the ship, Jocelynn volunteered, "Mikah is here.  I'll go find her."  Emkir only nodded and said, "Yeah, please do.  Find her and tell her we have a situation here.

After that, they broke the call and Emkir felt better about things as he rode on.  Aboard the ship, Jocelynn went looking for Mikah, expecting to quickly find her.  Leaving her stateroom and moving through all the ship's common spaces, Jocelynn didn't find Mikah anywhere.  Stopping to pull her comms, Jocelynn dialed Mikah's comms but didn't get any connection at all.  Not even a chance to leave a voice mail.  Glaring at her comms as she began to worry something was wrong, Jocelynn muttered, "What the hell is going on here?"  Jocelynn made a more detailed search of the ship's compartments looking for Mikah which stopped at the Captain's stateroom door.  Coming up empty, Jocelynn checked the stateroom and the door wasn't locked, so she went in.  Mikah wasn't in the stateroom or the fresher, and Jocelynn realized Mikah wasn't on the ship at all!

Just to be sure, Jocelynn went down to engineering to ask Aali about Mikah but Aali said she'd been working on the filter unit for the last forty minutes, and hadn't heard from or seen Mikah.  Now completely confused, Jocelynn stepped out of the ship into the berth to look around but saw no one as she made a circuit around the craft.  Annoyed at the disappearance, Jocelynn went back into the ship, calling Emkir back and told him Mikah seemed to have disappeared.  Emkir grunted in surprise when she next told him she'd been changing and preparing for her meeting when Mikah apparently disappeared.  Suddenly, Jocelynn joked, "Maybe the Zhodani teleported in and took her!" but Emkir said, "That's not funny." in a near-angry tone.  He was remembering many things including their recent fight with the stranded Zhodani teleport commando in the Dinomn system.  That had been a nasty scrape and Mikah had been shot in the gut before it ended.

Asking Jocelynn to hold on, Emkir told Nour and Biangud, "We can't find our Captain" in a tone that said he hoped for some help.  They told him not to worry about it and to relax.  They assured him they would start investigating this new event after getting to the embassy.  In the meantime, Jocelynn logged into the ship's computer and started looking for the few logs she knew about and understood.  In this case, the ship's communications logs.  In that, she saw the call that had come from Emkir, but she also saw another call some twenty minutes earlier.  Checking the data on that call, Jocelynn saw it had come from the embassy!

Thinking back, Jocelynn knew she'd not taken the call and Aali said she'd been working on the filter unit.  So, she couldn't have taken the call.  And, since the log said the call had been answered, Jocelynn realized Mikah must have answered it.  Checking the ship's access logs, Jocelynn saw someone activated one of the ship's exit hatches shortly after that call ended, and that "someone" had to have been Mikah.  Lining up the call and access logs with a time and location, Jocelynn then checked the security camera footage for that hatch and saw video of Mikah leaving the ship through the hatch.  So, now she knew "who", "when" and some of the "where", but had no answer to "why" Mikah had left or where she was now?

When Emkir came back on the line after talking to the others in the car, Jocelynn told him what she'd found in the computer system.  For reasons she didn't explain, Jocelynn said, "I'm guessing she's heading there to meet you."  Emkir nodded in confusion and said, "All right.  I wonder why she didn't call me?"  Jocelynn agreed, saying, "She didn't call anyone."  Continuing, Jocelynn told Emkir, "Still, I have an important meeting to get to and I have a feeling we're gonna need these people's help.  So, I'd better get there."  Emkir was now flustered, with the situation dangling, and said, "OK...  Um, I guess I'll see when I get to the embassy."  His tone was not at all certain or happy.  Not happy herself, Jocelynn grumbled, "We need to microchip our pets" and Emkir quickly answered, "I'll get on that right after I get back to the ship" in the mock-ecstatic tone of someone so pleased that both Nour and Biangud wondered what had happened?  Emkir just waved them off as Jocelynn told him to keep her updated on what happened at the embassy and he said he would.

Done with that call, Jocelynn decided to look for the spare comms Mikah wanted her to carry.  Going back into Mikah's stateroom, Jocelynn didn't want to rifle through too much, but wanted to follow orders too.  Not finding the comms sets in the stateroom, Jocelynn then went to the ship's locker to check there.  Looking there, Jocelynn quickly found the spare sets and folded one up to stuff in her pocket.  She hoped anyone listening would be able to hear what was going on when she activated it.  Still, she also had to wonder who would be listening thanks to the information she'd learned?  After that, Jocelynn headed for the hatch, to leave the ship and meet the car she was told would pick her up on the other side of the port terminal.

Certain she had everything she needed, Jocelynn decided not to turn on the spare comms until she was sure it was time to.  Leaving the berth, Jocelynn started moving towards the port's terminal buildings when the ever-expected security agent saw her and moved in.  When he asked her for her travel papers, Jocelynn said she had only just left her ship and was going to the terminal.  Nodding, the man said that was fine while bringing up his hand computer.  When he asked and she said she was from the Upgrade, he paused and then said, "I may need to investigate a bit here."  But, as he lowered his computer and reached for his comms, another figure came up behind the security man.  Suddenly, the officer's eyes went wide and he went into spasms before collapsing on the tarmac!

Figuring Out How Things Stood
     Directly behind where the officer had been standing, another man stood, putting what was obviously a high-powered taser into a pocket.  After that, the man looked up at Jocelynn, who was obviously very shocked, and said, "Yur thought there might be a problem here given what's happening out in the city.  Why don't you come with me?"  Finishing up the invitation, the unknown man leaned down to pull the officer's comp, comms, weapons and other gear from him quickly and efficiently.  The man even grabbed the officer's badge!  Looking up to make sure Jocelynn was ready to follow him, the man had a look on his face which suggested, 'Waste not, Want not'.

Having missed the man's use of Yur's name, Jocelynn said, "Thanks for your help, but I'm actually waiting for a car."  In a patient voice which suggested she might be a bit slow, he answered, "Yes.  You're waiting for a car to go meet Yur, right?"  Suddenly catching up with the conversation, Jocelynn stuttered a bit as she said, "OK, I'll go with you."  Now that she was on the same page, the man handed Jocelynn a travel document tab and said, "Follow me."  Each time they were stopped by other officers, they presented their travel tabs while Jocelynn let the stranger do any talking.  They were passed on by each officer and Jocelynn found she was a bit disappointed there would apparently be no more tazing.  Just before they reached the terminal proper, alarms started going off which suggested someone had found the unconscious officer.

Hearing that, the man took Jocelynn's right arm and started to pull her to move faster while saying, "OK, we're going to have to get moving a bit faster to get off the port before it locks down."  Sure enough, they had to move quickly to get to the customs check point.  There, Jocelynn was even more surprised when the customs man looked at their travel tabs and passed them through from the port side of the terminal to the planet-side!  Still, they weren't out of the woods yet, while alarms started sounding even closer.  The man pulled Jocelynn along until they made it out the doors into free air outside the terminal.  There, Jocelynn could see what seemed to be a privately owned ground car parked next to groups of official ground cars and a small handful of gravcars.  Gesturing to the ground car, the stranger invited, "Get in."

Behind them, as Jocelynn and the stranger got into the car, the port terminal exits started locking down and they knew no one else was getting out of the port until an investigation was done.  The car got moving and Jocelynn grabbed her comms to call Aali.  Getting the engineer on the comms, Jocelynn warned her to be aware because the port was going into a security lock-down.  Nodding back to Jocelynn, Aali said, "Isn't that special."  She then continued, "I think I'll secure things here and move to the bridge, just in case."  After Aali thanked Jocelynn, they cut the line and Jocelynn relaxed in the seat, waiting to see where she was going, and hoping she'd get good news there.

Somewhere in the under-city, Zimzod's team and Finerd had been brought to a 'safe place' by Kuagmii and his shop worker.  There, Finerd told them how it seemed someone in the embassy was pulling data from his team's reports and feeding it back to the local police.  Because of that, people were being arrested or even disappeared based on what they'd been sending back to the Imperium.  He continued, saying that it was after they stopped sending the sensitive data through the embassy that the police attacked.  He and Aasimar Flore were the only ones who survived, because they were not with the team.  Further, he refused to leave the world until they either rescued Aasimar or confirmed where she hid the data the Arch-Duke would want.  And, if they couldn't rescue her, he wanted to get information from her and kill her so they couldn't torture her.  But wasn't willing to leave her behind alone.

From Zimzod's point of view, the crew's mission had been achieved.  They'd been told to find out what happened to the team and report back.  Not to rescue anyone or dig for further information.  He could have sparked up his comms and turned Finerd into the authorities or embassy then and there, in exchange for his crew being allowed to leave the system.  But, he also wasn't sure what the deal was between the embassy and the local government?  If he chose to turn in Finerd, he couldn't be sure they wouldn't kill his crew off too.  And, it wasn't as if he was the kind of person who might just leave people behind either.  So, if they were going to try and rescue this woman, Zimzod knew they had a lot of questions to answer.

Right off, Fesic asked if they knew where she was being held and Finerd said he knew exactly what facility she was being held in.  Sekea misunderstood Finerd's comments about either rescuing her or killing Aasimar, and asked if there was a reason why Finerd had wanted to kill her?  Finerd made it clear he did not want to kill Aasimar if they didn't have to.  But he was not going to leave her behind to be tortured for information.  So, he explained, if they couldn't get her out, they would be forced to get her to give them the location of the data cache and then kill her.  Sekea was much happier with that explanation.  Getting things back on the subject of information they needed, Fesic asked what Finerd could tell them about the holding facility?

Finerd said the location was a police holding facility called the "Shaplu Eguuan Corrections Center".  Finerd then made it clear this wasn't a prison.  It was a police holding facility, so most of the people there were being held until they could be put before a court or have their cases adjudicated without a court.  Still, he said, it had varying levels of security so they could hold those suspected of more significant crimes in increasingly heavy security.  Finerd and Kuagmii made it clear this was only a temporary holding facility, and most of the people there were released after a short stay or a brief appearance before a legal review.  Describing what he knew, Finerd said it had a public approach, which was the semicircular opening in the center of the building's southern walls.  Entering there, people would find a public lobby which is where people would come to pay fines to get their loved ones released.

While Finerd said his data was accurate, he admitted he wasn't sure where Aasimar was being held?  People didn't linger there because arriving police teams came there with arrested persons, to hand them off to the correctional officers.  So, being "in the way" was a good way to accidentally get arrested yourself.   He assumed she was being held in the most secure part of the facility.  Fesic considered that and sarcastically asked, "So, how many armies will we need to get her out?"  Kuagmii answered, "For that, we're gonna need more friends.  He then continued, "Since we're only safe here for a short while before they start investigating, I suggest we should move somewhere else."  When it appeared Finerd was ready to move on Kuagmii's word, they looked at Zimzod's people to see if they wanted to come along or had other ideas.  Zimzod only shrugged and said to the others, "They know this planet and we don't."  His tone said the answer was a forgone conclusion.

When Fesic asked if Kuagmii had the resources to break Aasimar out and get everyone to their ships, Kuagmii said, "We don't know, and, as I said, we need to gather our friends and find out."  His tone suggested that should have been obvious since they had only just escaped a police raid and were currently on the run.  Finerd had to bite his tongue not to say they had to call their resources together before they knew what they had to work with.  When Fesic pushed, asking if Kuagmii thought they might have to try and recover resources from their ship, the merchant interrupted him to answer.  Speaking as if he were instructing a four-year-old, he again said they did not know what they had, so they could not yet guess what they needed.  "So", he continued, "we need to gather our friends and find out what we need."  Kuagmii's final tone said the man hoped that saying things twice would finally get through to the spacer.

Before they could get moving, Aiden then pointed out that only Kuagmii, Finerd and the shop worker had weapons.  He then asked if they thought it was safe for them to leave the location they were in, which ignored the fact Kuagmii had already told them "This Location" would not be safe much longer.  So, Aiden seemed to not understand the simple logic of 'If you don't move, you will likely soon die'.  There was a second's pause while Finerd, Kuagmii and the shop worker had to wonder how these people had survived to start with?  Amazingly enough, Aiden then added to the stupidity of the situation by asking if they should be armed...despite the fact they had no more weapons to share out!  Kuagmii had to stop himself from asking the spacer if they expected him to magically make spare weapons appear?

Kuagmii simply snapped at Aiden that they didn't have weapons to share with his people and they either got moving and gathered more friends or they were screwed.  And, he hoped that was it for wasting time so they could get moving.  As if on que, Fesic suddenly said, "We should probably get a message to Emkir.  They might think we're dead."  Before anyone else reacted, Sekea asked Kuagmii, "Can we use our communications devices safely or might that help the authorities track down where we are?"  Hearing that, Kuagmii started to hope thanks to the intelligent question, and told them, "Not if they don't have your comms frequencies on file.  But if they do have your frequencies on file, they can be listening for them."

When Kuagmii asked if they'd turned their comms over to any of the authorities on-world since they arrived, they said they didn't remember doing so but someone else in their team may have.  So, it was possible the locals had all the frequencies on their comms and could listen in to them.  Sekea listened to the others before saying it wouldn't be smart to try using the comms, because no one was certain if they had the team's frequencies or not.  When he said that, Fesic agreed not to try calling anyone.  With that agreed, Kuagmii hoped it was finally time to get moving.

Ending Up In The Dog House
     Riding in the shielded car, Mikah watched as they arrived at the large glaz-steel barrier and entered through the vehicle portal onto Imperial territory.  The car then turned to the right and passed by the front of the embassy proper, continuing to the right side of the structure.  There, it turned left along the side of the building and started descending a ramp Mikah hadn't noticed before.  The ground car descended that ramp and then made a left turn into what Mikah realized was a basement garage.  There, Mikah could see a rising staircase built into the center of the space.  Looking around, Mikah saw another ground car and two gravCars in the forward section of the garage.  She also saw two armored fighting vehicles parked to the rear of the garage!

Doing her best to eye the AFV's while the car parked, Mikah also tried her comms.  She found those were still jammed.  Two battledressed troopers stepped up to the door, opened it and got her out.  Mikah could see the vehicles looked like armored personnel carriers, and she didn't see any obvious weapons.  Still, she saw places where weapons could be exposed to allow attacks.  Out of the car, Mikah stood before the pair of armored marines and demanded to know why she'd been brought to the embassy and why her comms were blocked in an angry and belligerent stream of anger.  When she started waving her arms angrily, they stepped closer and held her arms, using the enhanced strength of their armor to control her as one said, "Ma'am, you are here to report to the ambassador.  She is waiting in her office for you.  Are you going to go calmly or will we have to shackle you?"

Not having any of it, Mikah demanded, "I will go calmly, but I want answers to my questions first though!"  Standing like menacing statues, the one trooper said, "The ambassador will answer all of your questions.  We do not have the answers you are looking for."  Frustrated, Mikah snarled, "Fine!  Take me to the ambassador."  With that, one trooper led her while the other followed and they made their way to a structure in the middle of the garage.  Those were a set of ferroceramic stairs which led up to the first floor of the embassy.  Making their way up the stairs, Mikah found those put them into a short passage at the back of the public-entry lobby. Stepping through the door, they made a quick left and right down the hallway to the ambassador's office.

Turning left into the outer office, they were passed through by the Ambassador's secretary and made their way to the ambassador's inner office to find her waiting behind her desk.  Despite the difference between humans and vargr, Mikah could see the ambassador was fuming but she didn't stop as she moved directly up to the desk, leaned over and demanded, "You're gonna tell me exactly what the fuck is going on, why my comms are jammed and what the hell is going on on this world where you abduct me!"  Pointing to a chair next to Mikah, the ambassador almost hissed, "Sit and I will tell you..."  Mikah cut her off, saying, "NO!  I am not sitting!  How about you Sit, bitch."  Ignoring the direct insult, the ambassador only nodded to the troopers.

Taking control of Mikah's arms, the same trooper asked, "Will you sit or will we have to shackle you?"  His voice seemed polite but firm and left Mikah no doubt they would act if needed.  Seeing that, Mikah again snarled, "Fine!" and sat as the troopers took a half-step back.  While she did that, the ambassador activated a wall display and they could see it was the scene of a shopping mall-like area.  Mikah could also see it was a playback, and the speed had been turned up.  While she watched, Zimzod's hoverChair led Sekea, Fesic and Aiden across a space and into a shop called "Signwheels".  The coverage had a label saying this was filmed on the main level of the Lila shopping concourse.  The ambassador let the video play until the store front exploded, with the camera covering the chaos, terror and injuries.

Even more angry, Mikah demanded, "So, you're treating me like a criminal when my crew if obviously dead?!  Killed by a planted explosive that they didn't even know was there?  And you're treating us like the criminals?"  In a controlled tone, the ambassador stated that those kinds of explosives are not generally available on this world so she wanted to know what Mikah's crew might have done to bring them into that shop?"  Mikah firmly and angrily told her, "We did nothing to bring those explosives there!  We have nothing to cause that kind of explosion" in a continued loud voice.  After a brief silence, Mikah demanded, "And, how the hell would they have gotten it into the store and set up and all that shit when the police are everywhere?"

Still in an even tone of voice, the ambassador said, "This is going to be investigated in an..."  But Mikah angrily interrupted her, saying, "Fine!  then start investigating and stop treating me like a criminal!  I need to talk to my crew!"  Firmly, the ambassador told Mikah, "You are in protective custody right now until we prove that you are not guilty of any involvement in this..."  Mikah again interrupted saying she had the right to try and contact her crew, and the ambassador said she had no rights at the moment.  Mikah angrily shrugged and snapped, "Fine!  The Arch Duke is going to be very happy to hear about this!"  The ambassador waived away the threat saying the Arch Duke would hear about the incident from whoever reported it, which Mikah may or may not have registered as a threat.

The ambassador continued to say her people were compiling that report as they spoke and telling Mikah she would stay at the embassy when Mikah erupted, "I will speak to my crew!" in an angry shout.  Appearing to ignore Mikah's outburst, the ambassador only nodded to the troopers and one of them stepped forward to ask Mikah if she would behave or not?  Ignoring the troopers, Mikah demanded, "Are you going to cooperate?  Are you going to let me talk to my crew?"  With that, the troopers began shackling Mikah before they led her out of the ambassador's office.  From there, they led her up the embassy's stairs and into a corridor to the right of the stair head.

A short distance from there, they turned her into a room which looked like an average hotel room.  It had all the amenities except, as Mikah would find, a comms unit.  While they force marched her to the room, Mikah shouted questions and demands to be able to contact her crew.  Each of those demands was answered by the one trooper, saying the Ambassador would say when that was possible.  Threats to let her contact her crew were ignored.  After she was unshackled and locked in, Mikah checked what paperwork she could find in the room and saw it was largely directed at people being kept safe until they could be returned to an Imperial port.  So, the room was a safe room of sorts.  Seeing that, Mikah had to snort in derision.

Like the ride Mikah had, Emkir's ride also ended in the embassy garage where he was also met by battledressed troopers.  Unlike Mikah, Emkir's comms gave off static as they crossed through the glaz-steel protective barrier around the embassy.  When he tried to make a call after that, he realized the comms were blocked for some reason.  Having been told Mikah had presumably gone to the embassy, he hoped she was there before him and everything would be explained.  But, without the complimentary visit to the ambassador's office for pulse-boosting souvenirs, the troopers each took one of Emkir's arms and led him up to the embassy's second floor.  There, they put him into a room they explained was a safe room, used for people the embassy needed to keep safe before evacuating to the Imperium.  They further told Emkir he would be held there while the explosion was investigated and the fault determined.

With his comms dead and no idea where Mikah was, Emkir accepted that he was stuck and had to look for a chance to act when it came up.  With nothing better to do, and not stewing so angrily that he had to settle himself like Mikah, Emkir decided to check the vid-screen to look for a news channel.  Finding a round-the-clock news station, Emkir saw that most of the screen time was coverage of the unexpected and unprecedented explosion in the Lila shopping district.  While the reporting was certainly filled with hyperbole, Emkir recognized the blast scene and could take time to examine things he hadn't had the chance to at the time just after the blast.  The reporting did suggest as many as fifteen people had died, including those presumed in the shop and several in front of it when the blast occurred.  He also learned more than thirty people had been injured by the blast and flying debris.

    Arden (B5549CB-9  Hi Ga  G  810  FA  M4 V  M5 D)                                                 Date: 008-1114
      ALERT!       ALERT!       ALERT!       ALERT!       ALERT!       ALERT!       ALERT!       ALERT!      
    Law enforcement continue to secure and investigate the site of a large explosion in the Lila
    Market District in Arden City.  The blast devastated several shops, both on the main market
    level and on the shopping levels directly above and below the site.  While there is little
    known at this time, it is believed the shop owner, one Kuagmii Garkar and an employee were
    in the shop.  At the same time, it is believed a number of crew from the IMS Upgrade were
    also in the shop, including that ship's Executive Officer.  All are believed to have perished
    in the explosion.  The current location of the ship's Captain, Lady Mikah Kirlim, is also
    unknown and government agents are not commenting on attempts to contact the surviving crew.
    It is expected the port security forces will secure the ship, located in the Capital's downport
    harbor, until the crisis has been better understood.

    Returning to the explosion itself, many witnesses were available to augment that data collected
    from official camera and other sensor arrays in the area.  While nothing has been officially
    released as yet, rumors suggest the blast might have been directional in nature.  With no intent
    to create or boost rumors, this reporter notes that such a blast would only be possible if the
    explosives used were directional in nature, and of an advanced technologic nature.  And, while
    our Federation Military does purchase such from our Imperial and Zhodani neighbors, it is certain
    no government explosives were used in this case.  Adding that possible note to the presence of
    five members of the Upgrade's crew, all believed to be Knights of the Imperium, the rumor
    raises more questions than it might settle.

    Word from the Imperial Embassy on-world has stated that Ambassador Zugoukh and her staff will
    cooperate entirely in any way they can to help understand this event and any involvement by
    the Upgrade's crew.
                

The Idea Of A Plan
     Having finally gotten the spacers moving, Kuagmii and Finerd led the way with the shop worker taking up the rear.  They could only guess the reason they ran into so few police teams was that the locals knew the city very well.  Because of this, they only ran into small one or two-man groups of officers while they guessed they moved in the undercity.  In those cases, they either saw the danger from around the corner or had to suddenly rush the officers in surprise encounters.  With the advantage of surprise, and given Kuagmii and Finerd had nothing left to lose, the vicious assaults left the bodies of the officers behind them stripped of all gear and insignia.  Collecting weapons, they first armed Zimzod and Aiden with pistols, because they were skilled with handguns.  They also handed out truncheons to everyone as they collected them.

After some time on the move, the group finally came into a space only for Zimzod's people to realize it was secured by four armed police officers who were entirely alert and ready!  Before anyone could act, Kuagmii told them all to stand down and told one of the officers, "The zebra will deliver goods on thursday."  The officer then answered, "The bicycle tires are over-inflated."  But, even as the officer said that to Kuagmii, the other officers had already started lowering their weapons or returned to securing the compartment against anyone who might have followed Kuagmii's group.  This was the best signal to the spacers that the officers were either were some of Kuagmii's people in disguise or supporting them.  While everyone else had a chance to relax after the brief march, Kuagmii had a hushed chat with the officer who'd exchanged pass codes with him.

After that chat, Kuagmii and the others shared the hardware and other items they'd stripped from the officers they'd left behind.  Next, the man who appeared to be the lead officer said, "OK, here's the deal.  Right now, most of the city believes you are dead.  Congratulations."  He then made it clear they were real police officers, so their plan was to get the crew back to the port and their ship and wash their hands of the matter before they got caught and incriminated.  That said, they wanted to know what Kuagmii and the crew needed from them?  Kuagmii was quick to step up with a grimace and say there was a complication to that plan.  Both Kuagmii and Zimzod explained how Finerd had said he wouldn't cooperate with any escape until they'd contacted Aasimar and either rescued her or confirmed she'd not given up information and killed her to prevent that happening.

The officers weren't happy to hear that and asked Kuagmii, Finerd and Zimzod if any of them knew anything about the Shaplu Eguuan Corrections Center?  When they all admitted they knew nearly nothing except for the schematic Finerd had shown them.  Being honest, they were even surprised Finerd had managed to get the schematic, but they still said there was quite a bit more to the place than just its layout.  The leader of the officers said the facility could easily hold well over five hundred prisoners in two-person occupancy cells.  He added that there were differing "prisoner zones", from low priority and "pre-release" holding to extreme security cell blocks.  He also discussed the heavily fortified nature of the facility to the detail he knew of, and admitted he didn't know everything there was to tell.

After that, he asked again if they were set on trying what his tone made clear he thought was an insane plan or not.  Before anyone else could speak, Finerd very firmly said he would be making the attempt no matter the risks.  Accepting that, Zimzod nodded and said they'd need to know the layout of the place.  Surprisingly, that was something the police officers could help with.  While they were not corrections officers, and said they didn't know much about the internal operations and management of the place, they did say they had a schematic they could share.
                  Shaplu Eguuan Corrections Center

When Zimzod and the others looked over the map, the officers said the circular markings in the walls were reinforcing structures.  They then pointed out the small slot-like openings that lined each of the walls and said each of those was a cell able to hold two people.  The officers pointed out the least secure of the cells, meant for those who would be fined and released (Area 1 on the map), and the sections increase in security as one proceeded clockwise around the facility from there.  The most secure area was not actually marked, but was the south east most corner on the map (Below the area marked 6, and right of the area marked 7 on the map).

While the map the officers had did not describe a lot of the central business sections of the facility, in the building's center, it did show the bulkheads between sections.  Each of those had white-dashes indicating where secure gates were located.  So, anyone in any section could make their way around the facility from gate to gate if they had to.  But, the most efficient way to get into any section of holding cells was to use one of the several direct passages leading from the business offices to the desired section of cells.

Looking the structure over, Zimzod joked, "You ain't getting through that with a breaching charge." and one of the officers simply said, "Nope."  Fesic asked if there was a centralized office from which guards could open any or all of the cells and was told there was.  While the officers admitted they'd never worked inside the facility, what they'd heard was not only that there was a centralized control station, but each section of the facility had its own local control station for the cells in that section.  One of the officers said he'd been told the officers in each section had specially coded keys which slotted into the controls to open each cell.  That said, the officers pointed out that none of them knew where the central office was, and finding and using that would require the team they sent in to break up and operate in different locations.  So, that was an invitation for things to go wrong.  They advised using the local panels and any keys they could find in whatever section their prisoner ended up in.

Zimzod suggested that if they got to that office and opened all the cells, there would be chaos.  While the officers agreed with that, they said Zimzod's team would still have to find the office and open the cells.  And once they did, they'd have to work their way through that chaos to find their prisoner and lead that person out through whatever rioting was sparked off.  Especially if they were wearing police uniforms at the time, and became targets of the rioting prisoners.  Nodding, Fesic asked what resources they had to build a plan around because that was help decide how they tried to reach Aasimar?  The police made it clear they didn't want to expose themselves as working with an underground group, so they preferred Zimzod and the others just let them return the team back to their ship.

When Finerd made it clear that wasn't going to happen, everyone turned to look to Zimzod's people for a plan.  Zimzod didn't have any options since the police didn't want to do this and Kuagmii and his worker were shop keepers.  Before Zimzod could speak, Sekea asked if Finerd had any reserves of explosives like those used to blow up the shop?  He suggested they could use that to blow a hole in the facility's wall.  Finerd said they didn't and pointed to Kuagmii saying his friends had planted those explosives years before, when the space was refurbished for the signage shop.  That was back in the days when the underground movement was just getting started and they expected the police to come kicking doors in any day.  It had also been very risky and difficult to get the materials to make the explosives for the charge.

Without saying why he asked, Aiden asked if there was a way to securely call their ship from where they were?  One of the officers said he'd assume the port had set up listening stations to intercept any signals sent to the ship.  So, they could possibly listen in or track the signal if they had multiple stations to triangulate with.  He did say they could make the call and then move to another location to prevent the government back-tracking the signal to them.  Jumping in, Sekea suggested they try to sneak into the facility using supplies their police friends could get for them and the officers agreed that was the beginning of a plan.  Nodding, Sekea suggested he might be able to forge some transfer documents if the officers could get him samples to work with.  Then, he suggested they get into police uniforms and try to use forged documents to say she was being transferred to a more secure facility.

While the officers were leery of the idea of forging documents, they pointed out no one would order her moved.  They explained to Sekea that she was intentionally being held where she was, and that is where the government leadership wanted her.  So, any attempt to try and convince the guards she was being moved would fail.  They did say such a plan was more likely if they claimed to be bringing another prisoner into the holding facility for some reason.  And, they were willing to give Sekea whatever documents they could get for him to examine or copy.  Happy with that, Sekea said they had to decide who would be the prisoner, but he suggested he would try to forge papers saying they were transferring a prisoner to the facility's high security lock up, and that they had to escort him there.  One of the officers said, that was assuming Aasimar was locked up in the high-sec block, which reminded them they didn't know where she was in the facility?

Sekea shrugged and said that was the only reasonable guess they had.  Sekea then asked the officers, "Do you have any contacts inside the facility that could help us find out more correctly where she is?"  He was told they didn't know but they were reaching out to all of the people in their organization since this was sort of a 'rug-pulled-out-from-under-us' type of situation.  So, they said they hoped to get some information but couldn't make any promises.  That said, Sekea started working with the police to find any documents he could use so he could start playing with the idea of drafting a forgery while the rest of the plan was left to the others.  At the same time, Aiden started asking the officers what they knew about procedures and processes inside the facility and they reminded him they'd said they didn't know much about that.  Still, he pressed so they gave him what guesses they could make.  The rest of the team worked on building out the plan they had started.

Allies And Obligations
     Having gotten into the car she'd been led to, Jocelynn saw that Alef was the driver and immediately relaxed.  As he pulled the car away from the pick-up zone, he asked Jocelynn if she'd brought the box with her?  He nodded when she said, "I did." and he said, "Perfect.  Obviously, things have shifted a little bit and Yur wants to have a little talk with you when we get where we're going."  Hearing that, Jocelynn asked, "What is going on?" because things had been getting steadily stranger.  She then continued, "The Captain of my ship kind of disappeared without telling anyone and no one can raise her on comms."  Catching her breath, Jocelynn finished by saying, "I don't know what's happening."  Alef only asked, "You haven't watched the news recently have you?"

Jocelynn admitted she hadn't since before dinner time, because she'd been getting prepared to meet him and then had left the ship after dealing with the mystery surrounding Mikah.  Introducing the man who'd come to help her on the port as "Neff", he asked the man to show Dame Jocelynn what she'd been missing.  After Neff expertly activated the viewscreen in the back of the front-passenger seat, Jocelynn got to watch the same coverage Emkir was watching from the embassy.  And the coverage was attention grabbing because there were multiple replays of the store explosion.  As she watched coverage of Zimzod, Aiden, Sekea and Fesic entering the ship before the blast, she suddenly remembered Emkir on the comms earlier, telling her "Unfortunately, Zimzod, Aiden, Sekea and Fesic were investigating a shop and the shop blew up."  Somehow, in the mystery over Mikah's disappearance, she'd missed that comment and was only remembering it now.

In shock, Jocelynn sat back in her seat, sighed and said, "Well, at least I know where Mikah went."  This added a "why" to the "where" being the embassy from the ship's call log.  Alef gently asked Jocelynn, "With more than half your crew dead, do you still have a job?"  Jocelynn couldn't accept that they were all dead and weakly asked, "Did you see the bodies?"  They let a pause play out until Jocelynn was ready to speak and when she did, she said, "Honestly, I don't know anything at this point.  This is....all new to me."  For another moment or two, Jocelynn and Neff watched the coverage as parts of the city were in an uproar.  The explosion was so unusual an event that they could see the police were calling in all their officers and pulling out all the stops.  They could certainly bet no one was stuck behind a desk unless that task was absolutely needed.

Considering her options, Jocelynn wasn't sure what to do?  When she asked Alef if he felt she could risk a call on their comms, Alef said anyone tracking them wouldn't likely be able to catch anything if she kept it short.  That made sense to Jocelynn and she decided to try to call Fesic.  In the space they were hiding, Fesic noticed his comms beginning to buzz and checked the caller ID.  That said Jocelynn was calling, but even as he mentioned it to the others, Fesic said he didn't feel he could answer because the authorities might trace the call.  So, he let the call go to voice mail and Jocelynn disconnected.  She next tried to call Emkir but the comms didn't even connect!  No voice mail, no nothing!

Not connecting to Emkir bothered her even more than being bounced to Fesic's voice mail!  She had spoken to him twice earlier, when he called and she called him back.  She remembered Emkir had said he was in a car on the way to the Embassy, and she had agreed with him when he said he'd likely meet up with Mikah there.  But now, there wasn't even a connection with his device!  When Jocelynn said she'd tried reaching some of her crew at the embassy and the comms seemed dead, Alef told her they were not dead.  Alef told her, "If their comms are not even connecting at the embassy, then they are shielded so the comms are being intentionally blocked."  Hearing that, Jocelynn realized things were even worse than she'd thought, and now they had to possibly rescue Emkir and Mikah too!  Jocelynn was so annoyed she mumbled, "Shit!  I knew we shouldn't have trusted them."

Alef nodded his head and said, "Yeah, no.  We know you can't trust them.  They've been working with the local government for a couple of years now."  When Jocelynn asked what the deal was Alef said he was certain the ambassador was only trying to line her retirement accounts.  He then speculated the ambassador was helping the local government with things the Imperial government wouldn't be happy about.  Jocelynn only growled, "I'm gonna shave and put a collar on her." in an angry tone.  Looking at Neff and Alef, Jocelynn said, "Sorry for meeting like this but this happens everywhere we go.  There's always some problem."  Neff only gave her a conspiratorial smile and said, "it happens more than you think and we get some of our best recruits this way."

Since both men knew the city much better than she did, Jocelynn laid things out saying she had no information on if the guys in the store survived and now she had to look at rescuing Emkir and Mikah.  So, she asked if they had advice?  The first option they said she did have was to just cut ties with her past and join up working for Yur.  Jocelynn thanked Alef for his confidence in her and said it was a nice offer but she couldn't leave her crew to be killed or lost without any trace.  She also said she couldn't stay on Arden though she offered to free-lance for them and help out where she could.  Of course, after the job with the MS Tagund Edanse, she had no idea how deep in she already was?  Without knowing what the outcome of that was, an agent of Yir could always pop up, tell her they needed her to do a job and threaten to make what she'd done public if she didn't agree.  And, without knowing exactly what she'd done, that would remain a mystery hanging over her head.

Jocelynn continued to chatter about what she could and could not do, and Alef only said that additional decisions would have to be left until they met with Yur, because they were above his own pay grade.  Accepting that, Jocelynn decided to try calling Zimzod.  And in their small hiding space, Zimzod checked his comms when it started to buzz to see it was Jocelynn calling him this time.  Zimzod figured he could let the call go to voice mail and then check it in a few minutes, to get whatever Jocelynn wanted to tell them without compromising their position.  When the call went to voice mail, Jocelynn complained into the recording, "OK, now I'm oh for two."  She then corrected herself, "Oh for three.  I hope you guys are out there.  If you can contact me at all in any way, my comms are open, Just...try."  While Zimzod waited and then checked the message Jocelynn left, Aiden changed the outgoing message on his comms voice mail to their clik code for "Communications compromised" in case Jocelynn called his comms.

Hearing Jocelynn's message, Zimzod knew she'd called Fesic and him.  But she'd said 'Oh for three', so that meant someone else wasn't answering too.  Considering the situation, Zimzod wanted to let Jocelynn know his team were alive, just in case, but he also wanted her to understand they couldn't communicate at the moment.  So, Zimzod called Jocelynn back and she was thrilled to get the call from him until she only heard a set of clicks and a disconnect.  Given the situation, it took her a beat or three to realize the clicks had been their code for compromised communications!  Realizing that, Jocelynn nearly sighed, "They're alive.  That's all I needed to know, that they're alive."  The tone of her voice spoke to the amount of tension that evaporated from her body.

When Jocelynn said she thought that meant they were being held by the authorities, Alef said they wouldn't able to communicate if they were being held.  Hearing that, Jocelynn realized they had to be in hiding and said so.  Alef only said, "That would be my guess."  Sitting next to her, Neff smiled and said, "More recruits" in a nearly serene tone.  Jocelynn joked, "I don't know if you want this bunch."  Neff answered, "They're not captured yet", suggesting they still showed promise.  Jocelynn was about to answer when she got another call from Zimzod in which he used the clik code to use their third alternate comms frequency.  After resetting her comms, Jocelynn called Zimzod.

When he answered, Jocelynn immediately demanded, "What is going on?" and Zimzod smiled widely as he answered, "We got blowed up!"  Jocelynn quickly answered, "I saw that.  Was it good for you?" and they both laughed.  When Zimzod asked how Jocelynn was doing, she said she was in one piece and asked if Zimzod's people were alright?  He nodded and said they were.  Jocelynn then said, "This whole city thinks you're dead." and Zimzod said, "That's good.  They should."  Jocelynn agreed they should keep it that way for the time being and asked where they were?  Zimzod said he couldn't discuss that on the comms.  Jocelynn said, "I'm going to take it that since you're someplace where you can call, you're someplace safe."

Jocelynn then told Zimzod Mikah had disappeared and explained the circumstances.  She also told Zimzod she couldn't connect to Mikah at all.  Jocelynn then told Zimzod about Emkir and brought that around to say she'd realized they should not put any trust in the embassy.  Zimzod only answered, "No shit" and figured he'd tell her what they learned when he had a chance.  Hearing that, Jocelynn said they should only use the current frequency on their comms and asked what was happening with Zimzod's team?  When Zimzod said, "We're planning a prison break" Jocelynn stopped and asked, "Why?" in a shocked tone.  Zimzod told her they had to get to a person being held by the police who had data they had to get to the Arch Duke.

Surprised, Jocelynn asked if they'd found members of the Arch Duke's team and Zimzod said they had.  Jocelynn was even more surprised to hear that because none of them expected anyone from that team to have survived.  Muting her comms for a moment, Jocelynn asked Alef and Neff if they were up for some fun?  Alef simply said they could be ready for anything Yur approved of, making it clear they had a boss to answer to.  They did not, at the moment, point out that Jocelynn "also" had the same boss to answer to.  Getting back on with Zimzod, Jocelynn told him to hang tight and she'd see if she could get him some help.  She also said she had to start figuring out what happened to Mikah and Emkir.  Hearing her say that, Zimzod told her he'd been told the embassy could be shielded and blocking comms.  Jocelynn nodded, saying she'd been told that too.

After the call ended, Jocelynn rode out the drive until they pulled into the garage for a block of apartments.  Those were larger and more open than the more 'urban' sections of the city.  Because of that, Jocelynn assumed this was the city's version of "the suburbs".  After she was moved from the car into the living part of the apartment, Jocelynn saw a number of people and items.  Central to it all was a man who she assumed was Yur, because he was closely attended by two obvious body guards from the moment she entered the room.  There were five or six others, now joined by Alef and Neff, and there was a sideboard with a rich selection of foods and drinks set out along with glasses, plates and flatware.  Looking Yur over as they brought her forward and introduced him, the man was five foot five, and had long dark hair down to the back of his neck.  Beyond that, he was what Jocelynn would call a 'pencil-necked geek' type.  Not impressive at all.

Despite that, his eyes were cold hard slate and she could almost see him weighing her value to him in them.  Still, his voice was friendly as he said, "Welcome to Arden Dame Jocelynn.  Do you have something for me?"  Before she offered the box, Jocelynn said, "First of all, it's an honor to meet you and thank you for meeting with me."  She then continued, "Yes, I do have something for you" as she handed him the box and said, "This is from Sir Makxel ia Kiin."  Taking the box, Yur thanked Jocelynn while putting his thumb on the contact point.  When he did that, the box opened and he took the data crystal out before handing it to one of the others and saying, "Deal with this" in an all-business tone.

Turning back to Jocelynn, Yur joked, "I see you are visiting our city during a very eventful time.  I hope you're able to visit all the tourist attractions?"  Jocelynn only gave a half-cough/half-laugh and said, "You can say that."  Nodding, Yur said, "Your situation seems to be fluid at the moment."  Jocelynn answered, "Well, Sir, with all due respect, I just found out my crew is still alive but in hiding.  I'm still missing two of my crew mates, including my Captain, who we currently assume are being held at the embassy and out of contact."  Continuing, Jocelynn said she'd seen vid-coverage of the explosion and wasn't sure what had happened or how, but those of her crew in the shop survived.  So, she thanked Yur for what she felt was an offer of employment but said she was willing to be an envoy or agent for him only after she'd located and rejoined her crew.

Nodding, Yur said, "It is unusual that someone comes to me with more information than I have, so I am impressed with that.  And, I am glad to learn those members of your crew have survived their situation."  Yur then said, "I would be very interested in learning how they survived?" and Jocelynn only answered, "So would I."  Jocelynn then again said she'd be willing to help him or work with him either on Arden or off world and would make sure he knew how to contact her.  Nodding, Yur asked what she would expect from him for her work and Jocelynn said, "Well, people like us deal in secrets and information, don't we?"  Yur nodded and asked, "Are you sure there's nothing more immediate and specific you would prefer?" in a tone which said he knew where the conversation was going even if Jocelynn didn't.  Nodding, Jocelynn admitted, "I think I'm in a bit over my head but I could use some help in trying to get my crew back together and help them finish what they have to do."  When he let her continue, Jocelynn explained that she had to find her crew, rescue the two crew at the embassy and help with some kind of prison break!

When Jocelynn said the only resource she had was her battledress suit, Yur reminded her she would have to get back to her ship to get that before she could claim that.  While Jocelynn complained about the simple problems of moving through the city thanks to the large police presence, Yur reminded her getting to her ship would be more difficult thanks to the alarms they had set off while getting her off the port to start with.  Yur didn't mention the fact the embassy and Arden government had obviously started moving against her crew and those active operations would make things much harder too.  Jocelynn also turned to Neff and thanked him for his help taking out the port security trooper at the time.  Nodding, Yur pointed to some of the tables and the food and invited Jocelynn and the others to sit and eat while things settled.  Then, they would be able to consider what they actually knew or could guess, and what they could do with that?  Nodding, Jocelynn decided to relax and see what happened next?

Road Blocks And Blood
     After Zimzod ended the call with Jocelynn, one of the officers suggested they shift locations in case the call had been tracked.  When Zimzod agreed, they started getting ready to move when Sekea remembered the data crystal they'd found.  When he asked Finerd if that crystal was the data he was worried about, Finerd said that was old data.  While he said that crystal was important too, it wasn't the cache they had to recover.  Finerd told Sekea Aasimar had uploaded all the data into Jase's artificial eye.  Sekea and the others remembered that was Jase Pryante.  Sekea told Finerd they'd found the box for the eye at the hotel but not the eye itself.  Finerd nodded, and said Aasimar had the eye with her, as a backup plan, when the others separated off on the way to the embassy.  Before they were killed by the police.  And only she knew where she'd hidden the eye.

Nodding to Finerd, Sekea mentioned the encrypted data on the crystal they'd found and asked if Finerd had the key for the encryption.  When Finerd said he did, Sekea asked for it so he wasn't the only one with the data.  At first, Finerd asked if that was really the time for it but eventually let Sekea record the key to get it done.  Sekea also made sure the others knew the key, just in case.  Sekea also asked about a key to the cybernetic eye and Finerd said he didn't know how Aasimar stored the data in the eye and they'd have to get hold of it before they knew anything.  Hearing that, Sekea realized why Finerd had been so keen on getting to Aasimar "alive".

Just before they left the compartment to move, each member of the team was given a revolver if they didn't have a weapon.  They were also told to keep their truncheons at the ready while moving, just in case they had to fight.  They then got moving through the passages on the way to another location, turn after turn.  Not sure where they were going, Zimzod's team weren't sure how far they had to go when the officers taking point for their group warned them to stop.  Sadly, they didn't stop soon enough and came fully into the view of four of the city's police.  The two officers who'd been leading their group charged in quickly before the alarm could be raised.  Their attack was quickly followed up with Kuagmii and his shop worker, who opened fire.  Kuagmii with his pistol and the other with his shotgun.

Seeing that, Fesic charged in to help in the melee while Aiden drew his pistol and looked for a clean shot.  Sekea raised his weapon and took a defensive position since it wasn't the type of guns he'd been trained on.  Zimzod first looked to see if he could ram the officers in his gravChair without hitting anyone on their side.  But the passage wasn't that wide or tall enough for him to get above them.  Still, he could get above everyone else to get a clear shot into the furball if he wanted to.  He certainly couldn't target a single combatant without risking shooting someone on his side.  He considered driving in fast and hard and taking the fighting officers down but knew he couldn't miss the people on his side.  So, like Aiden, Zimzod drew his revolver and looked for a clean shot.  The two officers who'd been taking up the rear of their group also launched forward into the fight.

One of their officers knocked down one of the four they attacked while Kuagmii also shot another and he dropped.  Still, the shop hand fired and hit the other of their lead officers in the back!  Fesic was trying to knock down and pin anyone he could identify as an enemy.  With more combatants moving in and the action becoming even wilder, Zimzod could see one of the enemy officers drawing his pistol and decided to try and take a shot even if it wasn't as clear as he'd like.  Aiden also noticed the action and tried to sight on the weapon-drawing officer.  Engaged in a fist fight, Fesic was doing his best to hit a soft spot on the man he was fighting.  Sekea maintained his defensive posture looking for a clear shot to emerge from the melee.  On top of that, the two remaining friendly officers dove into the fist fight and Kuagmii and his employee fired off shots.  The shop worker using the shotgun.

Fesic wasn't doing well to start with, but doggedly kept at it since he kept someone engaged, stopping them from doubling the attack on someone else.  Sadly, his situation got worse when the shotgun blast partly hit him from behind!  Pellets from the round hit him in the back of his chest and abdomen while his luck meant the wounds didn't penetrate into his thoracic cavity.  So, he was still breathing despite the pain.  Fesic also wasn't knocked down, but chose to drop to the ground to let any incoming fire have the right of way.  Sadly, the friendly officer fighting on his side was also shot in the back, and he fell right off.  Zimzod and Aiden managed to hit the enemy officer drawing his weapon and that man was also knocked down, dropping his pistol.  Because of that, Fesic and two of his friendly officers were down while the two enemy officers who'd been knocked down in the first attack had risen.

With two more friendly officers having moved in on what was the flank of the fight, they were attacking from the side while those behind the friendly line all had weapons drawn.  The three enemy officers had either just risen or had been fighting and had no weapons drawn.  As they moved to attack with fists, Zimzod, Aiden, Sekea and the shop worker all fired weapons.  Ironically, the lack of coordination meant Aiden, Zimzod and the two shop keepers fired at a single officer while Sekea fired at one of the other standing enemies.  And, with the roar of gunfire resounding loudly in the restricted space of the corridor, the one man went down hard as he was hit with three rounds, while one went wild.  The second officer was hit and also dropped, but wasn't likely dead.

After those rounds were fired, the odds had certainly shifted and the two enemy officers still standing had to decide what to do.  One, with some space between himself and the nearest attacker, broke and ran.  Reacting to that, those with weapons ready opened fire on him while Fesic even tried to draw his weapon and shoot the fleeing man.  Only one shot hit the man while one of the other many shots hit the second officer while he tried to surrender.  Sadly, the one shop keeper with the shotgun fired another burst which spread out and even hit Fesic a bit!  The additional damage put the man who was trying to surrender on the floor as well as adding to the damage the fleeing man took.  So, both were now on the floor, and Fesic needed medical attention.

With combat done for the moment, Zimzod and Sekea rushed forward to check on Fesic and begin evaluating his wounds.  They also had two friendly police officers who were down without considering the four downed enemy officers.  Aiden moved to secure the fight space and secure all the weapons.  When Sekea opened his medical kit, the quality of it surprised and pleased Zimzod.  While he got to work, Sekea noticed what Aiden was doing and told him to grab any blades they might have so he could use it.  Aiden reported they only had pistols and truncheons.  Aiden and the still healthy officers removed all gear, electronics and insignia from the downed officers and delivered a coup de grâce to the downed enemies.  Sekea had considered possibly getting some information from one of the downed men but they were all dispatched by Aiden and the other officers.

When Aiden had asked the two able-bodied officers what they should do next, meaning with the downed enemies.  The officers only said, "Get the hell out of here and leave as little sign we were here."  When Aiden made it more clear he was talking about the wounded officers, one of the friendlies pulled out a pocket knife and started slitting throats.  Aiden then asked how they would go about making the scene look like an accident but the officers said they didn't have the time for that.  Checking the friendly wounded, they found that one of their wounded officers was too badly wounded to move.  Getting ready to move, the two able-bodied officers carried the other man after Sekea and Zimzod treated them while Zimzod let them drape Fesic over him on the gravChair.  The one man they couldn't move said he'd stay behind and delay anyone who found the scene.

In the embassy, a battledressed trooper opened the door to Mikah's room and told her there had been some updates from the investigation.  He told her the official investigation had verified there were no human remains in the exploded store.  That suggested they had to have known about the explosives in order to escape the blast.  And that meant they were very likely involved.  So, Mikah was being held while the investigation continued.  Hearing what the trooper said, Mikah challenged, "And that's the only answer you can come up with?"  When the trooper answered, "Until the investigation yields more facts" Mikah firmly said, "No, I'm sure that's the only answer you'll come up with."  Her tone made it clear she felt she and her crew were being railroaded.  After he closed and locked the door, the trooper then went to tell Emkir the same thing.  Emkir could only say, "Well, I know as much as everyone else."

A Cell By Any Other Name
     Relaxing, Jocelynn had eaten and had drinks while she waited.  During that, people periodically came and whispered comments to Yur.  Soon, Yur surprised Jocelynn by saying, "OK.  You told us that your people survived and I told my people to go out and look for them."  Jocelynn was shocked because she hadn't been aware he'd taken any action on her information.  Yur continued to tell her they had nothing to report yet, but he reminded her such a search would not be easy on a world with such pervasive security.  Yur also said he people assumed Sir Zimzod's group were on the move after talking to Jocelynn, because the police may have tracked a non-native communications frequency.  That was something Jocelynn hadn't considered, that any communications on Arden would be locked into certain frequencies and anything outside those bands would be noticeable.  Jocelynn wasn't surprised when Yur said the local authorities had methods of tracking the origins of unidentified transmissions.

Yur finally smiled and said, "The longer they stay alive and free, the more likely it is we can come to some sort of arrangement.  And, since you're here, the basic fact of your presence means you are their spokesperson."  While Jocelynn found that sadly comedic, Yur asked her if she'd been given any description or details about this "prison break" Jocelynn had been told about?  Jocelynn admitted, "I know why we came here in the first place, but I have no idea what has happened since with the away team, for lack of a better term."  She continued, "I don't know what they found or who this person is that they're trying to free but I will take their word for it that because they usually don't get involved with anything they don't have to unless it was very important."  Jocelynn then made direct eye contact with Yur and said, "I assume we trust each other at this point, so I can tell you why we're here, but can't really tell you much more than that."

Yur nodded and said, "Well, why don't we start with that then." in an encouraging voice.  Nodding, Jocelynn then told him about their mission to look into what had happened with the Arch Duke's team?  She also said that she'd agreed to deliver the box for Sir Makxel after he'd learned her crew were coming to Arden and asked her to make the delivery.  Jocelynn then continued, "I can tell you I am guessing they found a lead or something that is driving them to break someone out of a prison.  And, now I know we have to rescue our Captain and another crew member from somewhere, which we believe is the Imperial Embassy."  Hearing the storm of words Jocelynn let loose, Yur nodded and said, "that sheds light on some things and further shadows others."  Before he could say anything else, Jocelynn told him, "I guarantee whatever you and I speak about will not be revealed to anyone except with your explicit instructions."

Accepting that, Yur switched from what he was going to ask to ask Jocelynn what Sir Makxel had told her about his arrangement with his organization?  Jocelynn explained that Sir Makxel learned they would be coming to Arden and asked her to carry the box for him.  There had been nothing else.  Nodding, Yur then asked her if the name "Finerd Talthan" meant anything to her?  Jocelynn hadn't heard the name and said it meant nothing to her.  Yur nodded and said, "I have a feeling this Finerd Talthan comes into the mission your crew has on the other side somehow.  When Jocelynn nodded, Yur said, "We've not had much contact with that man and his people but we did deliver some things to them because it seemed their objectives matched some of ours."  Jocelynn thanked him for that information because she felt it might be helpful.

When Jocelynn said she'd like to let her team know but worried about compromising their locations, Yur said he hoped they could help with that when his people found out where her team had moved to.  Yur then said, "But let's talk about your offer.  You offered to be a courier for us, at the least and potentially an ambassador."  Jocelynn agreed, "If you need that, yes" without considering who a criminal like Yur might want to work with off Arden?  Yur smiled and said, "We're always interested in people helping us communicate and achieve our goals.  And, provisionally, I think, we can work out something between us.  The question at the moment is how much, and to what extent, we're going to put our operations at risk to help you?"  When Jocelynn admitted that was reasonable, Yur said his people would keep "an eye on the situation" while Jocelynn stayed there with his people.

When Jocelynn asked, "You mean, here at your house", Yur smiled again and said, "This is not my home but it is a safe place and you would stay here."  He then said, "We can provide you with a comms system which varies its origin data, so it would not easily be traced back, that you can use to call your ship.  Their comms will almost certainly be monitored and the ship under surveillance by now."  Jocelynn thanked him and said she'd like to update Aali on what was happening.  Using the comms he provided her, which was a device wired to systems in the room, Jocelynn got through to Aali, who challenged who was calling?  When Jocelynn identified herself, they talked and she updated Aali on everything she'd learned.  Aali wasn't pleased and only commented, "Isn't that peachy?" before asking what could be done to help Emkir and Mikah at the embassy? Aali also pointed out they couldn't use the ship or their cutter, because the city was an enclosed set of layered levels, and the embassy was nowhere near the top-most floors of the city.

When Jocelynn reminded Aali their motto had been, "Every Fucking Planet", Aali agreed and suggested they might have to actually blow their way out of the port.  Aali told Jocelynn she could start instructing the androids to ready some of the systems as best they could for a "hasty departure".  She was also glad the hired engineers had finished work on the ship the day before and said she'd check to make sure there had been no sabotage.  Jocelynn nodded as she realized the engineers may have been told to disconnect something that wouldn't be noticed until it was too late!  While Jocelynn considered that, Aali told her to make certain they got Emkir and Sekea back, because they'd need a pilot along with Sekea's navigational skills to survive their escape.

Jocelynn only sighed and said, "We have to rescue not only them, but Zimzod's team and some unknown person they were breaking out of jail for some reason?"  Aali smiled grimly and said, "Well, no one would want us to get bored."  When they cut the line, Aali started mapping out several plans of action.  The first was to change the orders she'd given the 'droids, and have them start preparing the ship for a quick launch.  That included heating up the ship's power plant and checking the fueling levels.  Next, Aali went back over where she'd had the engineers working and what those were close to.  With that map, Aali started going over the systems she needed to check for any sabotage the engineers might have been able to carry out.  In the meantime, Jocelynn could only sit and wait.

Shoring Up The Plans
     Zimzod's team arrived at another location where those they were following said was safe for the time being.  While the others settled down, Zimzod and Sekea started working on Fesic and the wounded police officer.  Fesic's wounds were largely buckshot injuries across his back in the area of the chest and abdomen.  While he was being treated, it became clear the executive armor he was wearing saved him from even worse wounds.  As soon as they were sure Zimzod could handle the medical issues of the wounded, Sekea had to get back to preparing to try and forge legal documents.  Fesic was mostly out of action while Aiden devoted himself to standing guard and helping secure the locations they stopped in.

While he stood guard, Aiden examined the revolver he'd been given.  While the tech wasn't primitive and the weapon wasn't an older relic fire arm, the technology of the weapon was rudimentary at best.  Examining the weapon, it seemed the government knew they had to arm their police but didn't want to give them the best weapons for their role either.  Aiden realized this weapon would be easy to make in any machine shop and not much different than so called 'Zip guns' made by criminals.  At a point while things seemed to be quiet, Aiden went through the arms and ammunition they'd gathered from the enemy officers.  He distributed the ammo among those in the group except for the shop worker.  Approaching that man, he took the shotgun away from the worker and sternly told him he needed to learn how to be safe in combat with the weapon.

When it came to Sekea's attempts to forge documents, the officers he was with couldn't really help him much.  They repeated that they didn't much have experience with procedures inside the holding facility.  When Sekea suggested they reach out to anyone who could help them, he was reminded they were on the run and couldn't risk a lot of communications.  Still, they could show him options with the hand computers which printed various official documents and help him find the correct sections of the device to use to create mock ups and test documents.  From there, he had to test and experiment with changes to get what they'd need.  So, while he was doing his best, Sekea honestly told the others the documents would be a risk.

Beyond that, they also had to consider the fact they were wanted and on the run.  So, they had to be in disguise when they went to the holding facility or they'd all be arrested no matter how good Sekea's work was.  Except for the person who they'd be 'bringing in' as a prisoner, they would have to be dressed convincingly as police officers.  One of the officers suggested that Fesic should be the prisoner because he'd been shot and really couldn't do any more than that.  Aiden liked that, because it meant the corrections officers would have to take him to an internal medical unit rather than just putting him in a cell and sending the escorting police away.  Fesic also agreed with the idea and mentioned that he'd be fairly useless in combat at the moment.  Taking things a step further, Fesic called Aiden over and showed him how his sword cane lock worked, because he knew Aiden was skilled in the use of a sword.  That way, Aiden could bring it in as "a possession of the prisoner" and convert it to a weapon if needed.

Aiden was both pleased with the new weapon and horrified at the risk Fesic had been putting them all in!  Still, there was little they could do except consider when the weapon might be needed?  At the same time, the able-bodied officers started carefully connecting with others they could safely call.  They started calling in what help they could ask for, and asking for them to bring the supplies they'd need to "dress up" Zimzod's people.  No one yet discussed what they could do about Zimzod, because he was in a hoverChair which made him very easy for those hunting the group to identify.  At the same time, Sekea considered the odds he would have to plot an "escape jump" from the system after they'd completed the jail break and fled to the ship.

Despite their need for him to help with the medical situation, and the fact that forging their documents depended on him, Sekea asked if it might be smart for them to split up when it was time for the group to hit the holding facility?  He asked if they thought it smart for him and an officer to try and get him back to the ship, to start his navigational work?  The others pointed out that doing that would weaken the team they would be bringing into the facility while also putting Sekea at risk with only a lone police officer to help him escape to the ship.  Especially when they had to assume the ship had been secured by Aali while the port had to have the ship ringed with their own security forces.  Given the complexity of the idea, it was decided Sekea would stay with the others and return to the ship together after they rescued Aasimar Flore.

After more than an hour with Zimzod working with the wounded and Sekea working on his forgeries, other members arrived from other resistance cells. Some brought with them uniform items to try and get as many of Zimzod's people dressed and equipped as police officers.  Of course, that didn't include either Zimzod or Fesic.  Zimzod could walk, with an obvious limp, if he had to impersonate an officer, but knew that meant they'd have to leave the gravChair somewhere and possibly leave someone behind to guard it.  Considering that, Zimzod decided he'd do best staying outside the facility to provide covering fire and support if needed.  Hearing that, others joked they'd now have the universe's worst designed gravtank supporting their invasion and there were laughs.  Zimzod did ask if they could get better weapons and was told that wasn't possible.  Some of the arriving officers did bring food, since it was getting later into the evening.

The news the new arrivals brought with them started with the continued broadcasts that the crew from the Upgrade were suspected of some role in the bombing, but most of that ship's crew had died in the blast.  The news had started announcing that the rest of the ship's crew were safely in custody as the investigation continued.  Beyond the public news, word was being spread that some of those in the shop "may have" escaped and all the descriptions and images were being distributed to every police organization within the city.  Police had also added extra security checking everyone who entered or left the city, under the excuse of public safety.  So, while the people didn't know the crew were still at large the police search was intensifying.  Thanks to their initial flight from the shop, the police seemed to be concentrating on the undercity, which were largely industrial and services spaces and more often than not, less well secured.

During the talking, Zimzod's people realized they actually weren't in the undercity anymore.  They had, during their movement, been shifted to a location in the surface city proper.  And talk of what had happened slowly shifted to planning for the assault to come.  With Zimzod staying outside, and Fesic playing the role of the prisoner, Sekea and Aiden said they'd be going into the holding facility dressed as police officers.  Finerd, Kuagmii and the shop worker would also be going in dressed as officers.  Sekea began his work on a final version of the documents they'd need, so they could get moving.  While they talked, the police said they'd located a prisoner transport vehicle the team could use and Fesic joked about a breaching charge.  Zimzod laughed but made it clear a breaching charge wouldn't get through the walls of that facility.

With planning now in full swing, Aiden worried that the alert state of the city might not be the best time to attempt the rescue?  The unspoken alternative was to keep shifting locations and trying to hide until someone got lucky and there was more shooting, because the alert status wouldn't end until they were captured.  The officers pointed out the short-sighted thinking and said the state of high alert was actually the best time to try the jail break.  When they were asked why, the officers said everyone was being pulled for the search.  Even they were believed to be part of search teams that had apparently not found anything.  So, the entire police force was spread thin and there would be holes in coverage and desk officers not monitoring surveillance systems.  They hoped there might also be fewer corrections officers in the holding facility if they'd been called out to join the search.  Zimzod also pointed out that none of them would expect wanted people to attack a jail!

When Sekea suggested using their identities to create a disturbance, the officers told them that was a bad idea.  "Because" all the city's police were scattered searching for them, announcing they were at the facility would likely draw all those forces in to concentrate on the jail.  That would mean they'd be unable to leave the jail after carrying out the jail break.  And it would increase the odds Zimzod and anyone with him was found and captured by arriving forces.  Accepting that, it was decided they'd come in claiming to have found another criminal while sweeping their search area for the crew, and were bringing that man in for treatment and incarceration.  With that, they had to ask who the leader was?  Sekea said he'd prefer someone with more ground combat experience lead, and that threw things into Aiden's lap.

The officers weren't willing to lead, and were only supporting this because Finerd wanted it done.  And Kuagmii and his man were supporting the action because they couldn't simply show up and say they'd survived the blast.  They'd be arrested as soon as they were spotted, and arrested as part of the conspiracy.  And everyone was concerned about Finerd's demands and the risks he could create as he demanded they reach Aasimar.  The only advice Fesic offered Aiden was to put Kuagmii and his assistant up front so no one else got shot in the back.  The assistant, a man named Jaelu, only blushed and tried to apologize.  That brought up questions if bringing them would be safe or not?  In the end, it was decided that Kuagmii and Jaelu would not be going with the team, and would stay behind with the rest of the officers.

So, the two unwounded officers agreed they'd go with Zimzod's team along with two additional officers, from those who'd arrived after the fighting.  That meant they had a team of seven people not including Fesic.  Having decided that, the officers asked Aiden what steps he'd like to see the operation move through as they proceeded with the rescue attempt?  Fesic joked that he'd like it to work out as if they were storming a resort beach with beers and snacks.  That got laughs before Sekea said he assumed the best way to begin was to try and bluff their way into the facility.  Aiden said he wanted to keep things quiet and not raise any alarms or alert anyone to their presence if they didn't have to.  And while that wasn't an actual description of "what to do", everyone agreed with the sentiment.

When Aiden tried to take a step back and asked the officers what they could expect inside the facility, he was reminded none of them had worked inside it.  So, as they had told him previously, they couldn't answer those questions except to guess.  When Aiden desperately asked for guesses, they were very unhappy doing so and the little information they gave him was very sketchy.  Fesic suggested they make sure everyone was familiar with what Aasimar looked like, and what she could look like after possible beatings, starving or other bad treatment.  Possibly, even torture.  When Fesic pushed for someone to try and find an application for their hand-comp that might age, change, and modify Aasimar's picture in case she looked different, one of the officers asked how long Fesic wanted to wait while they looked for such an application, loaded it and made altered appearance images?

Zimzod stepped into that, saying they'd have Finerd with them and he'd recognize her without makeup and with bruises or other markings from mistreatment or torture.  While this had been argued, Sekea recognized there could be a good chance that they might not be able to get Aasimar out of her cell.  Because they didn't want to leave her behind to suffer even more, or possibly tell the authorities where they'd gone to, he realized they may need to kill her.  So, he started investigating his med-kit to see if there was anything he could do to create a "quick-kill" medication.  What he came up with was the ability to overload an injector with a significant pain blocker to the point it stopped all brain, heart and lung function.  While there were counter-agents, the odds anyone would be able to identify what was done and what drug was used in time to save her was nearly impossible unless they had a Zhodani mind reader with them.  And, in that case, all their efforts would be meaningless anyway.  Continuing his forward thinking, Sekea loaded up all three of the injectors he had, in case they had to clear some people out of their way.

Along with Sekea's 'lethal injectors', each of those people dressed as an officer would have a truncheon and a revolver, along with spare ammunition.  From there, Aiden broke the operation into four parts as he saw it.  First, they would have to get into the facility.  Then, they would have to locate and get to Aasimar.  The third part would be optionally incapacitating everyone in the facility somehow if they had to and the fourth part was getting out of the facility to make their escape.  As with a great many plans, there were many moving parts which were glossed over, because of how much they didn't know or would have to take control of at the moment.  Zimzod said Aiden should also plan to try and locate the central cell control office, so they had control of all the cells at once.  When Zimzod suggested that, Sekea again mentioned opening all the cells to create chaos in the facility, despite the answer Zimzod had gotten when he'd suggested the idea earlier.

Fesic reminded them all they'd discussed the fact the chaos would work against them as much as it might help.  Fesic especially reminded them they'd be in police uniforms.  So, some of the newly freed prisoners might attack them because of that.  Fesic's tone was disappointed that they were discussing this again.  Fesic also said they'd have to split up so some of them could find and take over the control office while others got to Aasimar's cell to get her out.  He said it would be much better if they stayed together and tried to use the local controls in whatever cell block Aasimar was held in.  Finishing his point, Fesic reminded them all they'd discussed the idea of taking the control center earlier and decided not to use that plan.

Stepping backwards, and hoping to add more detail, Aiden said the first step was to present their forged papers and get inside before getting to the cell where Aasimar was being held.  But, he stopped there and asked, "How do we find out where she's being held?"  Sekea said the assumption was that Aasimar was in the high security area, and he was working to add that to his documents.  They would require "the escorting police" to proceed with the prisoner until he was secured in that block of the facility.  Aiden nodded and agreed the corrections officers might let them do that if they'd lost enough officers to the city-wide search.  One of the officers present said that was not how the place worked.  He explained that city police brought people they'd detained to the main public entrance.  From there, they are allowed into an in-take room where they hand off any prisoners.  From there, the police return to their duties while the corrections people further manage any prisoners.

Considering that, Sekea again pushed the idea of finding their way to the centralized cell control point and unlocking all the cells.  He suggested that they could wear the police uniforms over their street clothes and strip the uniforms off while looking for Aasimar.  He said that would solve the problem of being attacked by the inmates, even though some rioting might start which would have nothing to do with the police.  Fesic also pointed out that Aasimar could also get out of her cell if they did that, and be lost in the crowd.  If that happened, they could be stuck for hours searching through the inmates and officers without an idea where she was?  They could even be captured while trying to find the woman while Aasimar was free of the site and wandering just because they had no idea where she was?

Fesic suggested they bring him in as a prisoner and then follow him into the hand off room.  Then, they could incapacitate that team of officers and start looking for a way to find Aasimar.  Fesic also said they should all stick together, because if they let the corrections officers take him away, they would then have to find and rescue him too.  At that point, Finerd said the priority needs to be getting Aasimar out regardless of who else gets taken.  That didn't win him any consideration from Zimzod's team or the locals.  Still, Aiden was good with the idea of bringing Fesic in as a prisoner and taking out the in-take team before finding where Aasimar was held?  The next step would be getting to that location and then getting her out.

Having a sudden thought, Aiden asked the police if the corrections officers wore different uniforms than the city police?  He was told they do and Aiden asked if it might be a good idea to change into their uniforms after incapacitating them?  The officer shrugged and said, "If you want to burn the time looking over the uniforms and having everyone try them on, sure" in a sarcastic tone.  His unspoken point was that everything they did burned time, and time was not a resource they had a lot of.  And, if they wasted too much of it, they'd end up being captured or killed.  Fesic added to that saying, "And the more you go around knocking people out, the more bodies you leave lying around.  And the more time you waste, the more they might find the bodies and realize something's wrong."  Nodding, Aiden accepted that and then asked, "Once we find her, how do we get to her?"

Fesic only snapped, "Aiden.  you're asking about things that we have to improvise." in a tone that said Aiden should have known that.  Aiden only defensively answered, "I know but I'm trying to come up with a few scenarios."  Of course, that ignored the fact he couldn't come up with any plans until they had information.  And, they wouldn't get that information until they were inside the facility.  So, there was no way to come up with any scenarios yet.  Letting that pass, Aiden asked to look at the map they had and then talked about ways to get from any intake rooms to the high security cell block.  Looking at that, they talked about the best ways to get around, but also admitted they had no idea where any corrections officers might be stationed or working?  Where there might be offices filled with them?  That was another unknown they couldn't plan for until they went in and got answers first hand.

Adding to the mountain of issues, Fesic also pointed out they were only assuming Aasimar was being held in the high security block.  So, he suggested they do their best to try and find some system that might tell them where they had Aasimar held?  To verify or correct their assumption.  Nodding, Aiden decided to start from the top, again, and started with the forged documents.  He said they would use those to get in with their "prisoner" and get to the point where they were expected to hand Fesic off.  Fesic suggested they push the idea that he was so dangerous they had to escort him to the high-security cells and make sure he was locked up safely.  That comment showed he'd forgotten that Sekea had designed his forgeries to say the same thing.

When no one argued that, Aiden said they should try and get the corrections people to let them escort him into the cell block.  If that didn't work, they had their truncheons and Sekea had his lethal injectors as a backup option.  When the injectors were mentioned, Fesic asked if those could be passed around and Sekea said they had to keep one aside for Aasimar, if they couldn't rescue her.  Sekea also said he could give one away because he couldn't inject two targets at the same time.  When they agreed on that, Aiden then said they'd go in with their civilian clothes under the police uniforms.  That way, if everything went to crap, they could try to find the main cell controls and let everyone out as a final backup plan.  Getting some play from the officers, one of them said any questions could just be answered by saying they had under-uniform armor because the city was getting crazy.

With that settled, the plan was to then get Aasimar free and run like dogs for the police vehicle.  While everyone else was nodding, Sekea then asked, "What do we do when we do get her out?  Is there a safe house we can go to after we get her out?"  At the same time, Fesic looked at the officers and asked what he'd be wearing?  He wanted to know if he'd be secured with zip ties, metal handcuffs or something else?  Somewhat tongue in cheek, one of the officers said it was up to Fesic.  He then went on to explain the wide range of items from zip-ties to handcuffs to full 'hand and foot' manacles.  Fesic told the officers they should lock him in standard handcuffs and then give him the key.  That way, he can get free on his own when the time came.

That decided, Sekea was reminded they had all been told the whole reason for this part of the plan was to find out where the prosthetic eye was.  So, after they found that out, they had to next go to wherever the eye was hidden and recover that.  Only then could they high-tail it back to the ship.  At that point, Aiden reminded them all the next step would be to rescue their Captain and Emkir.  Hearing Aiden say that, Sekea responded, "Yeah.  We have to attack the embassy." in a tone suggesting that was 'one step too far'.  Fesic only answered him, "One jail break at a time." and the others laughed.  When Sekea suggested the information in Jase's eye might be enough to negotiate Mikah and Emkir's release, he was reminded that was why the other team was killed.  So, any dealing would only be a ploy to get them to come out in the open to be killed.  No one was being let go.

Finally past all the questions, Zimzod's crew had gotten into uniforms and they were almost ready to leave when a door in the compartment opened and two men in civilian clothing came into the space.  Both had their hands raised and were repeating, "Don't shoot."  They all looked up and Zimzod said, "Alright.  Wasn't gonna but..."  After he let that trail off, one of the men said, "We have something for Sir Zimzod."  Surprised, Zimzod said, "That would be me."  With that, the man stepped up to Zimzod and handed him a data crystal.  Jacking that into his hand computer, Zimzod activated the reader and saw it opened a video of Jocelynn talking to some guy.  And Zimzod had no idea who the guy was?

Seeing what looked for all the universe like a 'proof of life' hostage video, Zimzod could only think, 'Prison break number four!'  But he still listened to what he could hear on the recording, if only to see what details he could learn that might help them rescue Jocelynn later?  Surprisingly, it seemed Jocelynn was doing most of the talking.  And what she was saying was that she promised to be a courier and ambassador for the man but she had to get her crew free first.  The man she was talking to only nodded and said, "OK.  We'll see how we can help you with that."  Lowering his arm and looking at the man, Zimzod said, "OK?"  The man asked, "is there a trust between us?" and Zimzod answered, "Yeah."

Nodding, the man said "Perfect" as he waived the second man forward.  He then held up what looked like a handle with wiring and said, "Let me plug this in and get it set up."  While everyone in the compartment watched, the two men searched the walls of the compartment for something known only to them and eventually opened up a small door covering wiring conduits.  Weapons that had been lowered were then holstered as the men started working to wire up the handle to some of the wiring in the cable conduits.  When they were done, the man held up the handle-like thing and they realized it was a very skeletal speaker/receiver combo.  Handing the unit to Zimzod, the man said, "Now, you can talk to Dame Jocelynn directly."  Taking the unit, Zimzod put it to his head and said, "Thanks, I'll give her a call."  In Yur's meeting space, Jocelynn was relaxing and waiting for the next shoe to drop when something looking like an ancient communications hand-set started buzzing.  Jocelynn watched as Yur picked up the handset and asked, "I assume this is somebody with Sir Zimzod?"

On the other end, Zimzod said, "Yup.  This is Sir Zimzod himself."  Hearing that, Yur asked Zimzod to hold on then held out the handset to Jocelynn saying, "I believe this call is for you."  Jocelynn only looked at Yur with surprise for a second before taking the handset and tentatively asking, "Hello?"  When Zimzod answered, "Hey Jocelynn." she looked at Yur in surprise and said, "It's Zimzod!" before returning her attention to the call.  Yur only nodded and said, "The call is secure.  You can say whatever you want."  When Jocelynn asked where they were, Zimzod said "Well, we're getting ready to break someone out of the Shaplu Eguuan Corrections Center."  He didn't say that he couldn't tell her where they were even if he wanted to.

Now they could talk directly, Zimzod asked if there was any way Jocelynn could organize a move to get Mikah and Emkir out of the embassy?  Before she answered that, Jocelynn asked, "This may be a long shot, but does the name 'Finerd Talthan' mean anything to you?"  Zimzod answered, "Yeah.  He's standing in the group with me."  Looking at Yur, Jocelynn told him, "Finerd is with them" and Yur nodded saying that was good to hear.  Jocelynn then told Zimzod, "Apparently the man I'm with knows him.  I don't know how, and that's between them at the moment."  Considering what she didn't know, Jocelynn asked, "So, are you in the prison now?" and Zimzod said they were just getting ready to go.  Jocelynn then asked if they were OK, or if anyone had been hurt?  Zimzod nonchalantly said, "Well, Fesic got himself shot again." as if that happened every day.

When it didn't sound like Zimzod was concerned, Jocelynn felt it must have been a graze or something minor, so she joked back, "That's nothing new."  Zimzod only said, "He's looking forward to you giving him first aid."  When Jocelynn asked if they needed anything from her, Zimzod again asked if she could do anything to get Mikah and Emkir out of the embassy?  Jocelynn only said she would look into it to see what she could do?  Added to that, Zimzod told her they believed the Ambassador was passing information to the local government, and likely couldn't be trusted.  Jocelynn said "great" in a disappointed tone, and said she couldn't get to them, so she couldn't help.  She also made sure Zimzod knew they'd have to carry the wiring rig with them and set it up to call her and she'd not be able to call them except on their comms.  Zimzod asked Jocelynn to see if the name 'Aasimar Flore' meant anything to Yur?

When she asked, Yur checked with his people and surprised them when he said his people had information on the woman.  It appeared she had been detained months before and was being held in a cell in the 'Pre-Release' section of the Shaplu Eguuan Corrections Center".  His people told them she was apparently held there for 'easy access'.  They also added that she wasn't expected to survive her incarceration.  While that didn't mean she was scheduled to be killed, it did mean they intended to make sure she didn't get out alive.  When Jocelynn told Zimzod that, she said they'd better move quickly.  Zimzod only told her that was the plan.  When Jocelynn told Zimzod to tell Finerd she was with Yur, Finerd only asked Zimzod to find out of Yur could help them?

Yur said the best they could do at the moment was getting her teams in communications.  Despite that, he did ask Jocelynn for the handset and then told Zimzod to give the handset to one of his men there.  After that was done, Jocelynn listened as Yur told them to attach themselves to Zimzod's team and do what was needed.  After the phone set was passed back to Jocelynn and Zimzod, Yur's two men asked what the plan was, to see how they could help?  When everything was laid out, they realized that the plan had no one in reserve except Zimzod.  They also pointed out that he was their only source of covering fire and support after the rescue was started and alarms were likely raised.  Because of that, they said they'd stay with Zimzod outside the facility to improve both of those parts of the plan and be able to report on where more help might be needed.

Considering the new additions to the team, Aiden realized they hadn't talked about communications.  When he asked the others if they'd need some different method of communications between his team and Zimzod's team from the facility?  It was pointed out that their cover would likely be blown and their presence known by that point.  And, if they didn't want to use their own comms, they could always use the police comms, because they had officers with them and the vehicle would have a police radio in it.  Beyond that, they agreed they should stay off their regular comms until it didn't matter.  Zimzod did say the police told them the local government knew which frequencies "should be used", and could watch for frequencies outside those ranges.  So, their comms would stick out like sore thumbs.

After finishing her call to Zimzod, Jocelynn asked if she could also call the ship with the same handset and Yur said she could.  When she connected with the ship, Aali was, at first, not sure if she should answer the strange connection?  Taking the risk, Aali was surprised when Jocelynn was on the other line and she listened as Jocelynn updated the engineer on what was going on.  Jocelynn made it clear she could do nothing to help with the plans in motion and should just keep the ship secure and be prepared to react when the time came.  In a firm tone full of warning, Aali only told Jocelynn to make sure to free Emkir or they weren't leaving Arden.  After that, they broke the connection.  Beyond that, the circus was set and Zimzod's team began to move when the others waited to hear more.

Getting the Mission On
     After checking one last time to make sure everyone knew their roles, Zimzod's team got moving in the police transport.  While they moved through the city, it became clear the manhunt wasn't the only thing drawing in law enforcement resources.  There were apparently disturbances all over the city, as if a large group of people had divided the place up and each started some kind of 'hit and run' disturbance in every neighborhood.  So, even after more forces had been called in to look for Mikah's crew, there was even more demand to deal with acts of civil disobedience and sudden acts of crime.  The resources of the policing system were drawn so thin that the officers helping Zimzod only got clearance because they'd said they'd actually injured and captured someone, and were bringing him in for questioning and evaluation.  Other officers they'd left behind in the safe location had been drawn back into the searches when claims they were on patrol couldn't be continued.

Because of the demands on every officer, their police transport was passed through a number of check points without stopping.  When they were stopped for papers checks, the road block officers only checked the forgery to see if it looked correct.  When it did, they passed the transport by.  That meant they very quickly got to the holding center's entry lot without significant delay.  By the time one of the officers pulled the vehicle up, Zimzod and Yur's two men had found knock-out's which would normally let occupants fire out of the vehicle through.  So, they'd planned to keep the door unlatched and able to be pushed open to let people in while they watched through the knock-outs with weapons ready.  And Zimzod noticed Yur's men both were armed with high-end semi-automatic pistols.

They also pointed out that the ceiling above the parking space was something of a dome so that would let Zimzod use his gravChair to get above any fight and provide close air support to his people.  When Zimzod looked out and considered the space, he realized he wouldn't be harder to hit, but having support in three dimensions would give his team another advantage.  Added to that, one of Yur's men said he'd be their getaway driver, because he knew of places to move to where there were cut off and features he could use to escape anyone following them.  When the others dismounted from the transport, they had Fesic on a stretcher.  Two city officers led the group into the building followed by Aiden and Finerd holding the stretcher and Sekea with his forged papers.  They were all followed by two more city officers.

Center Entrance

Moving into the building entry, they saw two officers still stationed in the public area which was otherwise empty.  That let them move up and address the intake clerk, who was on the other side of a thick glass window at the very center-back of the entrance.  There was a bucket drawer that let them securely pass their forged documents into that space.  After they did that, he would check the paperwork and decide what their next step was?  This would also be the first 'acid test' for Sekea's forgery work.  If the man wasn't too busy, he could take his time to examine the documents they were giving him, and then raise the alarm if something was wrong.  So, the lead officer handed in the documents and they all waited while Fesic did his best to try and shift to a more comfortable way to lie on the stretcher.

When the clerk took the documents, they could tell he had a harried look about his actions, so they were in luck and he was as busy as the rest of the officers in the city.  Still, there was a tense moment while he looked their paperwork over and then told them to move the prisoner into the intake room.  As he spoke, he pointed to the left of his small office and they could see a set of double doors on the wall to the left of where they stood.  They could also hear an electronic buzz as the red LEDs on the door locks turned green.  Aiden and Finerd picked up the stretcher and, with the help of the officers, got the windowless door open and helped them move Fesic into the space.  To the team, things were looking good because there were only three corrections officers in that space and the door would be closed behind them.  So, no one outside would see what happened there after the doors were closed.

In-Take Processing

Checking the exits from that room, they could see one exit on the left right and far walls.  The wall on which the door they entered through had another door.  The one they used was near the right end of the wall and another door was near the left end.  Walking into the space, they saw one of the officers was an NCO and they also spotted some kind of podium with a terminal system built into it.  That device gave them hope because they thought they might be able to use it if they took control of the room.  The NCO was the person who first stepped up and asked for their paperwork.  Since he needed to understand what would have to be done with the prisoner, he would be the first person to look at Fesic's forgeries in detail.

While he did that, and with the doors closed, Aiden, Sekea, Finerd and the four police officers sized up the men in the compartment with them.  Aiden decided to wait and watch while the man read, and to see what his reaction was before he did anything.  Soon, the NCO appeared to re-read the papers before looking up at the officer who'd handed them over.  The NCO then said, "These papers don't make any sense and are not correct.  Where did you get them from?"  Aiden tripped up verbally, saying, "We got them from the hub where we picked him up.  I don't understand how they could be incorrect?"  The story Aiden gave him was wrong because they had supposedly arrested the prisoner, so they didn't "pick him up at a hub".  Aiden continued to speak, adding more jumbled words to the first until he suddenly yelled, "Now!" and jumped at the NCO!  Grabbing his truncheon as he did, Aiden attacked the man.

Having some concerns his papers wouldn't survive close inspection, Sekea had moved closer to one of the other corrections officers while they all waited.  When the NCO started asking questions, Sekea grabbed hold of one of the injectors and realized they'd talked about sharing them out but he still had all three because the talk had never actually come to any actions.  Still, he had the injector out of his pocket in hand when Aiden made his attack.  Using the brief moment of shock and surprise to act in, because he'd been expecting things to fail at that point, Sekea snapped a strike to try and inject the man with the poison.  While the other corrections man seemed to be on the ball, the man Sekea struck at was not, and he only turned in surprise as Sekea injected him.  And the man's confused look very quickly turned glassy as he dropped to the floor dead.

Luckily, two of the police officers were also close to the other corrections officer and on the ball, so they jumped that man and pinned him so he couldn't reach for anything.  Because Aiden was closest to, and dealing with the NCO, it appeared he might have to fight that man all alone because he'd realized something was wrong.  So, he'd been able to back up a bit and defend himself when Aiden came at him.  Because fighting had started, Fesic started working to unlock himself on his cot, which had been set down.  When things continued, Aiden managed to land a punch on the NCO while that man half-fought Aiden and half-reached for something on his body.  Just after that, the two remaining free officers rushed them and took the NCO down, pinning his arms.  Thanks to that, they were in command of the intake room.  The two officers who'd first taken down the one corrections officer were stripping him of gear.

Getting up off the stretcher, Fesic asked everyone to check if these corrections officers had keys or swipe badges or anything that might open doors or cells.  The officers working with them were finishing beating the NCO and other corrections officer into a "cooperative mood", so it was easy to search all of them.  They eventually found a batch of what seemed to be electronic keys on the NCO's body, which they immediately took.  Fesic started looking at the terminal on the podium where the NCO had been standing when they walked in and Sekea suggested asking the two corrections officers which specific cell Aasimar was in, since they only knew the general location of her cell.  When everyone agreed, Sekea asked both pinned officers what the layout was to get to the pre-release block?  Both officers refused to answer with the NCO telling Sekea to screw off.

When Sekea asked, "OK, are you willing to die for that information?" the NCO said they wouldn't get out of the facility either way and killing captives would only make things worse for them.  When Sekea asked, "What if I don't care?" the man did his best to shrug and said, "Then go ahead and kill us." as if he were calling Sekea's bluff.  the NCO certainly seemed secure in his beliefs.  in the meantime, Fesic had checked out the computer screen on the podium and it looked a fair bit arcane to him.  But that was just because it was an application he'd never seen before.  Still, he was pressed for time and couldn't play with the display and take his time to figure things out.  Happily, applications tended to be applications all across the universe.  So, Fesic quickly found a control that gave him a more detailed schematic of the facility.

The Route to the Holding Cell

What Fesic saw was that they should take the door out the right side of that compartment.  From there, they would enter a passage with one door to the right, which opened into the Intake clerk's small office.  Past that, at the far end of the passage, was the only other door.  Through that door, they'd be in another connecting compartment which had doors on each wall.  They'd have to take the door to the right to then reach a short passage leading to the holding cells they wanted to reach.  One of those would be the cell block in which they'd find Aasimar.  At the end of that short passage was a second door, and that opened into a short walk before anyone would get into the actual cell block proper.

Intellectually, Fesic knew there had to be controls to call up data on what prisoners were in what cells and how to get other data, but he didn't see how he could get from the screen he had to those screens?  Knowing they were limited on time and any second could have someone else entering into the compartment, he suggested they get moving right away.  After saying that, Fesic stepped over to Aiden and asked for his sword cane back.  Fesic then asked for all the electronics the NCO had on him so they could try and test each item at need.  At that point, Sekea suggested they try to continue bluffing their way further into the place by having someone change into one of the correction officer's uniforms and play that role.

One of the officers pointed out they couldn't change into part of a uniform because the mismatching items would be obvious.  So, they'd have to have someone entirely change uniforms.  He further said they would have to take the time to find someone the uniform fit.  So, they'd be burning time while each person in their group tried the uniform on until they either found someone who it did fit or realized it fit no one.  And all that time, they would be risking the fact that anyone or any group of corrections officers might walk in on them.  When he asked if they wanted to stand around playing 'fashion show' for as long as that took, Fesic firmly said "No."  When Fesic then started to say, "Knock them out and let's get going..." Sekea cut him off and asked, "Knock them out or kill them?"  Fesic said "Kill them, and grab all their electronics and let's get going."  As he said that, he finally took his sword cane from Aiden and then drew the weapon to deliver a coup de grâce to the two men's throats.

With that, the officers and Finerd nodded and said it was time to get the weapons out.  So, from then on, they would lead with weapons drawn and open fire if they ran into obstructions.  Opening the first door, to the passage which would lead them to the intersection, they saw something very odd.  While the door to the intake clerk's office was closed, the door at the far end of the passage was open!  Something that certainly should not have been the case in any prisoner holding facility.  Still, instead of suspecting anything was off, they asked the police to move up and check around the corners to clear the intersecting room.  Continuing the "odd", they could see there was an officer at a console near the next door they had to pass through and it was closed.  Ironically, the other doors leading out of the space were strangely wide open.  And, there was that officer working at the console.

Pulling back to strategize, Fesic seemed to have taken over the effort and said he wanted two people to charge each open door to check them while two people charge the guy at the podium to take him out.  When Sekea launched into a long-winded play to get them to consider his using the second injector, Fesic got fed up with his wasting time and said two police officers would beat the man down while Aiden and Sekea could check one of the open doors.  The unspoken point was that they no longer had time for complex plans which might or might not work and they had to move before the bodies behind them were found and alarms started ringing.  With that, the troops got moving and the two officers rushing the man at the console quickly knocked him down and started beating him into unconsciousness with their truncheons.

The teams checking the other doors saw each opened into another short passage which ended with a closed and locked door on the far end.  When they reported that, Fesic called everyone to move to the door leading to the pre-release holding cells.  That was locked, and after getting through would be a short passage ending in the final door they'd have to get through to get to the cell block.  Hearing Fesic call them all together, Aiden suggested they leave two people behind, in the passage back to the intake room, to guard their exit.  Fesic agreed with that and sent two of the police officers to hold that passage.  They then tried the door out of the compartment and found it was sealed, which wasn't good since both the doors they'd have pass through had large plas-steel windows.

While Fesic started trying the electronic keys he'd gotten from the NCO in the in-take room, Sekea started searching the man who had been guarding that compartment.  He eventually came up with what looked like a subset of the keys Fesic had.  Ironically, just as Sekea rose, Fesic hit on the correct key and opened the door into the passage.  From there, they had an empty passage and another door so Fesic moved up to check the window and look for any guards in the area beyond.  Because of the narrow walkway beyond the sealed door, he couldn't see much of the open area of the cell block, but he didn't immediately see any guards.  So, he started trying keys and pulling on the door like he had with the previous door.

With the rest of the team catching up behind him, one of the remaining officers with them said there would likely be at least one officer left in that space no matter how short-staffed they were.  Nodding, Fesic told the others to flatten themselves as out of view as they could while he worked with the keys but he could not be out of view himself.  Five minutes in, he still hadn't hit on the correct combination which included using the correct key in the correct alignment while also pulling on the door.  The last part bothered him the most, because that created some noise and someone just might notice that, see what they were doing and raise an alarm.  trying to switch things up, Fesic asked Sekea for the keys he had even though they seemed to be no more than a subset of the keys he'd already had.

The good news was that it didn't take long for Fesic to get the door unlocked.  The bad was news that someone 'had' heard sounds from the door and Fesic saw a guard come around the corner to investigate.  While Fesic was acting, Sekea tried to suggest they prop up the guard they'd just knocked out as cover.  That ignored the fact the approaching guard had "Already Seen Fesic!!!!"  So, doing as Sekea suggested would mean:
    Going back in time
    Wrestling the unconscious man into place
    Grouping up at the now-open door so they could try and hold the man's limp body up
    and then try to play 'Weekend at Bernies' with the body hoping the guard would magically fall for it.

Lucky for them all, no one was listening to Sekea.  They had been listening while Fesic pushed the door open and dove out of the way yelling, "Shoot him!"  They were again lucky when the moment of surprised confusion ended for them about the same time.  Then, the guard could only try to turn and run while the officers with weapons already prepared started shooting.  While that did activate the facility's alarms, the officers opened up and at least one of them hit the guard square in the head!  While the guard dropped, they had to charge forward and see what other barricades might be in their way?  Getting himself up, Fesic yelled that he was going to look for someplace to control the cells and he wanted Finerd and the others to start checking the cells to find Aasimar.

Fesic also told them to have two people hold each of the doors he'd unlocked while Aiden also suggested they have two people in the intersection leading to those doors.  Unfortunately, they had "run out" of police officers and would quickly run out of team members too.  Aiden suggested checking the body of the man they just shot for keys but Fesic was worried about the passage on the far side of the cell block, coming from the maximum security area.  Aiden said they could drag the dead man into one of the door openings to hold it open and free up someone to guard the far passage and Fesic agreed they should do that.  As soon as they had someone freed up, that officer was sent to watch the passage from the other block while they searched or worked on opening cells.

Fesic quickly found a wall-mounted set of cell door controls and those checking the cells for Aasimar also called out that each cell had its own 'emergency' unlock control.  But examining each made it clear that whoever used the controls had been trained how to do so?  They also quickly found Aasimar, and Finerd started trying to get her attention despite the fact she was in what he said was "pretty unfortunate shape".  Each of the cell control mechanisms had obvious ports into which the electronic keys would fit, but no indication "which key"?  Nor were there any obvious steps for which other controls would have to be used once a key was inserted into the port?

Moving to the cell, Fesic started working with the keys and controls to try and open the cell while he encouraged Finerd to ask Aasimar where she'd hidden Jase's eye and the data?  And all this happened to the backdrop of the continuing alarm, which had been active for almost a minute so far.  Nodding to Finerd with more than a bit of obvious relief, Aasimar said she'd given the eye to "Ketswme" back at the port.  She also said there was no key to the data.  Understanding that, Finerd nodded and tried to examine her injuries while Fesic worked to get the cell open.  Eventually, with the keys failing Fesic, Aasimar told Finerd he would be forced to kill her if he didn't plan to leave her in the hands of the Ardeni for more torture.  Hearing that, Fesic stepped back from the controls and called Sekea over to the cell.

When Sekea delayed and asked if they were certain they knew where Aasimar had hidden Jase's eye, he was told they had the information and he should hand over the injector.  When Sekea handed the injector through the bars, Aasimar took it and briefly looked it over.  Surprisingly quickly, she held it up to her neck and, with one despairing look into Finerd's eyes, she injected herself.  There were some very brief seconds where the ringing alarms were the only sounds before she dropped to the cell floor dead.  With that, Fesic said they had to escape the center and get to safety.  Since they had the two doors propped and knew the way, Fesic said they should leave the way they entered.  With that, those in the cell block gathered and returned to the first door out.

Shooting Site Dealing With Consequences
     There, they saw the officer holding the second door had his weapon raised and ready, and was using the door as cover and they could hear the sounds of gunfire further on.  Moving to the second door, they realized the gunfire was coming from the passage leading between the next intersection and the intake room.  When he saw that the two officers he'd left in the passage must be involved in a shootout, Fesic told the others to move up to the door opening and add their fire to the fight, to win the shootout.  Looking into the space from the cover of the door edges, they could see one of the two officers they'd left behind was wounded and both had retreated.  They were closer to where Fesic and the others watched, laying out to make themselves a harder target.  The corrections officers shooting at them held the far door and used it as cover while leaning out to fire.

Fesic and Aiden talked about options, to pour fire at the door so it could be rushed, or so they could eventually kill the corrections officers when Sekea suggested they try to call for reinforcements from Zimzod.  They reminded Sekea that there were only three people in the transport, and Zimzod would have to fight from a gravChair.  Added to that, the other two said they wouldn't be coming in because they worked for Yur, and he had told them to observe support and call in of help was needed.  But, even if they called the men to ask Yur for help, it would be some time before anyone could get past all the police in the city to come and help them.  By the time anyone arrived to help, the fight would have ended one way or the other.  So, there would be no reinforcements.

Understanding that, Fesic told his people to pour fire down on the far door from the cover of the near door.  He hoped the two officers in the hall would understand the fire was pushing the corrections officers back.  So, Fesic hoped they would see the chance to charge the door and kill the corrections officers holding it.  When the heavy fire stopped, the wounded officer was caught by surprise as were the corrections officers.  But, when one of the corrections officers tried to lean forward and fire, the second police officers fired and killed the man.  Now knowing there was possibly only one man behind the far door, Fesic ordered his people forward firing.  He wanted them to rush the door under their own fire, risking ricochet wounds, until they could kick it open and fire on anyone who was in the intake room.  And given the choices were risking that or staying put while the police brought in reinforcements, the police agreed.

Thanks to some amazing luck, none of the charging people accidentally hit anyone on their own team, nor were any of them hit by ricochet rounds bouncing off the walls or door.  Still, the luck didn't hold out entirely, and the corrections officer behind the door did fire into the target-rich mass coming at him.  The shot hit Finerd, who went down when he was hit!  Hitting the door and blasting it open, Aiden happened to be one of the first people back into the Intake room and he could only see one corrections officer, who'd been knocked back on his ass after being hit by the door.  At the very close range, Aiden shot the man in the head and he dropped.  Caught in the passage thanks to the traffic at the door, Sekea moved up to begin checking and treating Finerd's wound.  He also checked the officer who'd been shot earlier, but he'd been hit in the chest and wasn't going to survive.

Seeing Finerd's wound wasn't lethal, Sekea started working on getting him stable and able to move again, because they didn't have the chance of coming back to get him.  Before Finerd was able to move, Sekea asked him about the prosthetic eye and the contact to get it.  Finerd told him the name and location of a restaurant in the port terminal where a worker was.  Finerd gave Sekea a pass code they'd set up to have the worker hand over the eye.  When Fesic said they should send someone back to get the stretcher which had been left in the cell block, there were arguments about risking sending people back into compartments which might have been re-occupied.  Or, behind doors which might now close and lock, trapping people who'd be left behind.  Aiden also pointed out that they still might have two officers to face, out in the public area by the intake clerk's window.  Most of the team recommended they grab Finerd by his arms and half-carry him out until they could all get into the transport.

Agreeing with that, Fesic had them all organize in the Intake Management room and then open the door to the public lobby with all the weapons they could have ready set to open fire.  When they were ready, Fesic said Aiden should open one of the doors leading into the lobby and check to see if there were any officers there?  And when Aiden did, he saw no one!  Not only was there no one in the space, but all the portals out from the lobby to the parking area.  It had the intense smell of a kill box trap!  Holding the team back, Fesic moved back over the to the podium and started checking the terminal to see if he could find a way to kill the alarms.  With everyone else guarding doors while Fesic worked on the terminal, Sekea took advantage of the pause to check all the wounded for treatment needs.  When Fesic couldn't find a way to cancel the alert and open the doors, he decided to call the team in the police truck and ask if they could ram the doors?

That despite the fact doing that could wreck the truck and get them stranded without transport.  Getting the call, Zimzod asked if the doors looked like they were wider than the truck, and the truck was certainly wider than each individual door.  But the facing structure was a palisade of doors.  So, if they rammed them, they'd have to risk the possibility that each joint between individual doors was reinforced.  Or, that some of them were load bearing and they would get lucky and miss hitting one of those.  Because that kind of impact would certainly wreck the vehicle's engine and strand them.  Still, Zimzod told Yur's man at the wheel to ram the doors while everyone in the truck braced themselves for the collision.  Knowing his business, Yur's man didn't ram the doors "head on" like a novice.  He came in hard and side swiped the doors so he slammed and shattered the glass while bouncing off the support barriers.

After the vehicle came to a stop, the driver got out to check the vehicle over and make sure it could still do what they needed.  While he worked on the truck and pulled on some of the body parts to bend them a bit, Yur's man in the back of the truck got out to help the group rushing through the lobby space get through the smashed openings and out of the building.  Comedically, Zimzod found he could set the gravChair down and those boarding the truck could use one of the arm-rests as a step helping them all vault into the truck.  There was a bit of a slowdown with the wounded, who had to be helped and handed up into truck.  After they got everyone aboard, and the able-bodied helped the wounded strap down, they got moving.  Getting loose in the city, the driver said he felt it was about time to listen in on what else was happening in the city around them.  When he turned up the comms sound, some of them realized he'd been quietly listening to the radio while the rescue team was inside the center.

Hearing that, it sounded like less than controlled chaos.  And that was on the official law enforcement channels!  Starting to hear more than a few desperate calls for backup forces, everyone in the truck started to understand why there hadn't been an army of police outside waiting for them after the alarms had gone off?  And, why there had been so few corrections officers in the holding facility?  Zimzod's team started reacting with surprise and Yur's man only smiled and said, "Compliments of Yur."  Zimzod told the man to thank Yur for them while Aiden said, "Jocelynn should do something nice for that man."  The driver then asked, "Where to folks?" and Aiden asked about a safe house they had?  Answering Aiden a bit more slowly, the man said he wasn't sure how easily they could get into that location without being noticed, and also said having the wounded with them would also cause a problem.  Still, he offered that he might have a place to go and got on his personal comms to make a call.

Going Down The Rabbit Hole
     After Jocelynn's calls with Zimzod and Aali ended, she discussed the situation with Yur and he confirmed she knew her team had more than one problem.  Jocelynn agreed and explained to him that they were betting Mikah and Emkir were being held at the embassy.  Jocelynn added that it appeared their comms were being blocked, so she pretty much considered them to be 'prisoners of the state'.  Yur only nodded and said, "That would be a significant problem."  Not expecting anything special from Yur, Jocelynn just nodded and agreed.  Jocelynn then said, "So, I either have to figure out a way to break them out or go in acting like someone important and get them out before getting us all to our ship without getting captured or killed."

Yur nodded and then said, "That sounds like a reasonable description of the situation."  Jocelynn only nodded and said, "Yeah.  I wish it weren't like this, but I am having a lovely time with you."  Yur nodded and then said, "I'm glad you're enjoying our time together.  At the same time, as you say, we do have this thing we have to deal with.  However, as you might guess, I have some light to shed on the subject."  Yur then continued, "I am sure you know it's always good to have low friends in high places."  Jocelynn grunted, "That's for sure" while Yur continued, "And, because of that, I also happen to have a few people in my employ who also work in the embassy."  Jocelynn could only say, "Oh wow!" as she wondered how valuable these people could be to her cause?

Second Floor of the Embassy Yur was able to show some of what that help would mean right away.  He called up, an electronic map of the second floor of the embassy.  He then pointed out the rooms marked as "Safe House 1" and "Safe House 2", saying Your Captain is in room one and your other crewman is in room 2.  Jocelynn joked, "Really?  I would have thought they'd stuff Mikah into a closet."  Pointing out the layout, and the stairs down to the lower level, Yur said they had to reach and breach those rooms, recover their people and then make their way down the stairs to the first level and out the embassy's main level.  Then, he reminded Jocelynn the embassy was secured by Imperial Marines, who wore battledress while on site and on duty.  When Jocelynn reacted by saying, "I used to be an Imperial Marine" Yur answered, "Yes, you did.  So, what could you tell me about battledress?"  Without catching the fact Yur appeared to already know she'd been a Marine, Jocelynn simply told him she owned a set of battledress.

That was a bit of news Yur wasn't prepared for, and he leaned in with a larger smile and wondered if, after things were done, she might consider selling her battledress suit?  Jocelynn only answered, "Sadly, no." which seemed to be the answer he expected.  Yur shrugged and said we'll just have to use other means." before Jocelynn added, "But I do know people who can get you forged ownership documents."  Yur simply raised an eyebrow before saying, "We'll pit a pin in that one for now.  Perhaps, you can be more helpful to me than I thought."  Nodding, Jocelynn said it would also depend on if he wanted to go to Tremous Dex?  Moving on, Yur asked Jocelynn how available her battledress was, and she said it was on their ship.  Yur admitted that was a challenge since the port was certainly in lock-down in a city which was starting to spiral into chaos.  And, the ship itself was most certainly under surveillance and surrounded by what forces they could spare.  Yur's tone made it seem like he didn't much think those last two would be challenges.

Jocelynn nodded and said she wished she could just come up into their berth through a manhole.  Smiling at what Jocelynn didn't realize was a prophetic comment, Yur asked her how many levels of the city she was familiar with?  Jocelynn knew the city was no more than a large area of land covered by multiple layers of enclosed living space, but she'd only been on the one level.  Other than her visit to Yur's location, Jocelynn admitted she'd only really explored part of the starport and the terminal buildings.  Shifting to an almost lecture tone, Yur told her the city had been built centuries ago, with the bottom most layers only supporting construction of support layers and the upper levels.  Reminding her of the plug-in comms unit they set up, he said there were many things and even levels of the city which had been forgotten or were just not used.

Continuing, Yur said that climbing up out of a manhole to get close to the ship was actually quite possible.  Hearing that, Jocelynn asked, "Even in a suit of battledress?" and Yur nodded.  Yur then asked what other assets the crew might have at the ship that could be useful and Jocelynn had to stop and think.  Jocelynn first mentioned the breaching charges, which Yur didn't consider of value, then said she had another crewmember who also had his own suit of battledress.  Yur was both impressed her crew had such devices and pleased they could be used in the current situation.  He was so pleased Jocelynn could see it in the man's face, and hoped that meant good news.  Jocelynn first reminded him they'd need to get in and out of the ship unnoticed, but then asked if they could get into the embassy from beneath too?  Yur said he was thinking about something different.

As Jocelynn listened, Yur first suggested they pose as Imperial Marines with transfer papers.  Jocelynn agreed they could play that part, and Yur said he did have another question for her.  When she waited, Yur asked if she could find out who had created the transfer documents for the team that went into the holding facility?  Jocelynn guessed it was Sir Sekea Sian, because she knew no one in the crew had those skills before he was picked up.  So, she told him that and explained he was their newest crewman, picked up from the rescue of the King George.  Yur nodded and asked if she would per her life in Sir Sekea's artistic hands?  Answering honestly, Jocelynn said, "I don't know enough about him so no.  Not that I don't trust him but I don't know his skills well."

Yur then asked if she'd take that risk to rescue her Captain and Jocelynn admitted she would.  Nodding, Yur invited Jocelynn to come up with a better plan than his idea, but that was what he had in mind immediately.  He was also sure two new Marines would not come marching up in battledress without paperwork and prior notification.  Jocelynn nodded and said she'd spent a career collecting the many reactions to battledress and they were rarely calm and accepting.  Jocelynn knew she couldn't call Zimzod because they were in the middle of launching their jail break-rescue.  So, he was busy.  Jocelynn did tell Yur, "Either way, we'll need our battledress suits regardless if we are attacking or defending ourselves.  So, I have to get to our ship somehow, and get back to here or wherever we launch the operation from."

Yur nodded again, and said, "If things at the holding facility have gone even close to as planned, one of my men will have volunteered to be the get-away driver.  That means, I know where they will end up.  So, if that works out your man Zimzod will be with them."  Jocelynn then asked, "I can get into my armor and bring Zimzod's with me without a problem."  Turning to Alef, Yur said, "Get the people needed to get this done, and get them to the port.  In the meantime, we also need some disruptions in the city."  Hearing that, Jocelynn said, "I don't know what I've done to deserve your generosity and kindness, but I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.  And, as I said, if there is anything I can do for you off world, at any time, then please contact me."  Yur only nodded at the thanks, knowing that pay back is always a bitch and it would be interesting to see how Dame Jocelynn might react to some of the jobs he had people doing.

Yur also didn't mention that there would be chance enough for him to profit from her actions in the current situation.  So, Yur wasn't worried about the many promises she'd made over the past day to honor the markers her actions had opened her up to.  Jocelynn only answered, "As long as you all stay safe." and Yur told her "Tomorrow was never promised to anybody."  Jocelynn simply nodded to that.  Alef then led Jocelynn to a pair of other men who then led her to a box truck.  Looking the vehicle over, she could see it was a random commercial truck with a brand name painted across each side.  She approved of the fact there were no windows through which people could look into the box, where she was told she'd be riding.  So, she was safer even though she wouldn't be able to see what was happening outside the box?

The box had a false face, so anyone opening the truck's cargo door would see a full layer of boxes instead of the area in which she was hidden.  While the ride started out quiet, they started hearing sirens soon enough.  Passing deeper into the city and closer to the port, the sirens increased along with increasing amounts of other sounds as Jocelynn began to realize just what Yur had meant when he said he needed "disruptions in the city".  Jocelynn was comforted that the vehicle wasn't speeding up, racing, swerving or doing anything else that would suggest they had been marked and were being chased.  When the truck finally did stop and they opened the door to let her and the others out, she saw they were inside a warehouse.  After they were sure she and the others were ok, one of the men there said, "Follow me."

She followed him to what seemed to be an industrial trap door in the floor.  Looking when he opened it, there was a descending tube down into the depths below the warehouse.  The man then said, "We're gonna be climbing for some time, I hope you're up on your exercises."  The first part of the decent was long and frustrating as the unchanging tube down which they moved passed meter by meter.  Eventually, they passed a first hatch and then, every five meters, another hatch.  The hatches quickly faded into the monotony while they continued to climb down.  To her relief, the man she was following finally stopped and opened a hatch, saying, "This one, we go into."  Of course, Jocelynn wasn't surprised when they came to a hatch the man opened and he then grabbed onto the rungs of another latter and started climbing up and saying, "Follow me."

If Jocelynn had thought going down that far was bad, climbing back up was much worse!  The good news was that the man wasn't rushing her and was happy to take rest breaks as they were needed.  The one thing that might have gotten her energy up would have been demands to keep moving or move more quickly.  That would have driven her to catch him up so she could pull him off the ladder and send him screaming to his death before she took a much deserved rest.  But, he didn't push so she didn't try to kill him.  And, they soon reached a hatch covering the tube they were climbing in.  The man pushed the hatch up and open and then reached down to help Jocelynn up.  When she was off the ladder, Jocelynn looked around to see they were in some small technical space with very small windows which didn't seem to have been cleaned since the city had been built.  So, there wasn't much of a chance of being randomly spotted.

Looking out one of the windows, Jocelynn realized they were on the starport campus and "in" the harbor.  She could even see a berth not far away from the structure they were in.  As she looked, the man leaned closer to her and shocked her saying, "Just past that berth is the berth your ship is in."  He then said, "Here, take this." and gave Jocelynn a set of coveralls and a plastic travel tag.  He then said, "Just follow my lead and let me do the talking."  Jocelynn nodded because she wasn't about to start arguing at that point.  Jocelynn realized the coveralls had the port insignia on it as she stepped into it over her other clothes.  She then saw the tag was in a plastic slip that clipped to an in-sewn belt.  When she was ready, the man handed her a box of what appeared to be hand tools and such, said "Follow me" and led her out of the structure onto the harbor tarmac.

Jocelynn was, of course, not surprised when they very quickly saw a two man team of port security people moving to intercept them.  When the officer made his demand, the man quickly unlatched his tag and handed it over with Jocelynn only slightly slower while following his actions.  While the officer checked their tags, the man Jocelynn was with pointed to a gantry tower in the distance and spewed a bit of techno-jumble saying they just needed to fix a broadcast node.  The officer nodded away the jabber while finishing his work.  The officer then pointed at the Upgrade's berth and warned them not to go near it because no one was allowed near the structure.  The key thing Jocelynn heard while the officer spoke was a tone of boredom, suggesting none of the port security expected anyone to try to get near it because none of the crew had been detected trying to break onto the port campus.  So, she was so very visible in her work clothes that she was completely invisible.  And thoughts of any risk this deep into the port property seemed entirely discounted.

Despite the low level of attention, Jocelynn cringed when her guide seemed to poke the bear, asking, "So, why isn't there a ring of security around it? in a disinterested tone of his own.  the security officer reacted as if he'd been slapped, demanding, "Are you serious?  Do you hear how crazy things are getting out there?" while pointing into the city in the distance.  When her guide only said, "Whatever", the officer told them, "Move on" as he started walking past them.  Not taking it for granted the security man had already dismissed them from his mind, he leaned close to Jocelynn and said, "We're gonna take some steps that way and let him forget about us.  Then, we'll make the quick hard dash for the berth entrance and your ship."  Jocelynn hoped the security man had stopped paying them any attention and there were no others watching, because that would mean getting back out of the ship would be much more difficult.

After walking a bit and a few cautious glances back, Jocelynn's guide quietly said, "NOW!" and bolted with her following.  They quickly made it to the berth and found everything locked up tight.  Moving over to one of the hardwired connections, Jocelynn jacked into the ship's systems and called the all-ship channel to get Aali to unlock the hatch they were at and let them in.  Not expecting anyone to reach the ship without calling first and making one hell of a show with the port's security, Aali said, "Oh!  That's a surprise.  Did things go sideways?" and Jocelynn asked, "Don't they always?"  when Aali asked, "What can I do for you?" Jocelynn sighed and said, "I have to get in and get my battledress."  Surprised again, and with a bit more concern, Aali said, "Oh!  So, things really went sideways."  Jocelynn answered, "Yes and No.  Last I know, Zimzod's team are now breaking into a holding facility to get out one of the Arch Duke's team members.  And I'm going to go get Mikah and Emkir out of the embassy."

In a mock-joyful voice, Aali said, "Oh!  So, sideways with party favors." and Jocelynn agreed with that.  When the hatch opened, Jocelynn now led the way and eventually met up with Aali coming aft.  Jocelynn introduce the man and said he was with her.  Aali nodded and said, "Any friend of yours is someone I'll lightly surveil until you leave." in a tone that was only mildly sarcastic.  Holding up the box she'd been given to hold, Jocelynn offered, "Here.  I brought you tools." only to realize the mock-tool box had been just for show.  Just before Jocelynn said she was going to her stateroom to get into her battledress, the man said, "You know the way back and which hatch to climb down.  I'll meet you down below."  When Jocelynn asked how she'd get past port security, he said, "Run very fast" because no excuse was gonna get someone in Imperial battledress past security.  So, she'd have to move to prevent herself being shot while getting into the tunnels.  After he left, Aali got caught up with the details of what was happening and returned to the bridge.

Jocelynn first went to her stateroom and got into her battledress, grabbing her gauss rifle and two snub pistols with three spare magazines for each.  Next, she went to Zimzod's stateroom, where he stored his battledress.  Checking that area, it took her some time to find the storage/carry bag for Zimzod's battledress and packed it up along with Zimzod's gauss rifle and the .45 pistols he'd named 'Pain' and 'Misery'.  She also grabbed his k-bar.  Grabbing spare ammo for those, Jocelynn let Aali know she was leaving and slipped out of the hatch into the berth.  Aali sealed the hatches behind her as Jocelynn edged up to one of the berth exits while checking her suit's sensors to see if anyone was around?  Jocelynn was even more comforted because the suit painted icons where it could see port workers and no one was close.  She also saw no sensor warnings saying the area was being electronically watched.

Jocelynn was willing to bet port security got tired of the false alarms from port workers setting off the electronics, and turned them off because they were betting Aali wouldn't try to get out and none of the rest of the crew had tried to get past the fencing.  And most of them weren't even alive anymore.  With the area clear, Jocelynn made her sprint and got around the intervening berth and into the tech shack without any indication she'd been spotted.  The battledress also made it easier for her to grab the descending ladder by the outer rails and slide down into the undercity below.  It wasn't long before she came to the open hatch where her guide was waiting.  From there, she followed him back to the rising ladder and back up into the warehouse.  They quickly got Jocelynn and the others back in the truck, and the driver got them moving.

As she listened, and with enhanced sensors and some electronic visibility, Jocelynn realized they must have been in a secure industrial park.  Coming to stop at the park gate, the driver was trying to get the security people to open the gate and let them out into the city proper.  But, the security people were certain they were acting in the best interests of the driver by holding him up, because of the many disturbances and minor rioting which had started in the city.  So, Jocelynn listened while their driver argued and the security people finally let him go, saying it was on him if his truck were stopped and looted, or he was injured.  Finally, they got clear and made their way to another warehouse.  Dismounting there, Jocelynn was told they would wait there for the other team.  At the holding facility, Fesic and his team were just getting into the transport for their run through a city in chaos thanks to the disturbances.


Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Mikah and Emkir: Held in secure rooms in the Imperial Embassy
     Jocelynn: In a warehouse with some of Yur's men waiting for Zimzod's team
     Aali: Aboard the ship in its berth, having secured the ship against port attempts to enter
     Zimzod, Aiden, Fesic and Sekea: Boarding a police transport to flee the holding facility
     Rol: Cloning: 10 weeks, 6 days to decant

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Next: Surprises, Escapes And Endings