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Welcome to the

Last Updated     21 May 2023
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Pieces On The Board

Planning A Yard Sale
     Most of the crew sat in their berth and discussed where to go for dinner, and what to do after, from their berth in the starport?  Zimzod, had been taken aboard the INS Maadashmim Zikheaa and was being prepared for major surgery.  The Imperial Navy ship's medical staff were preparing for a two-day long marathon operation.  They would remove the damaged structures in Zimzod's thorax and replace them with cloned parts which the Navy labs had grown using genetic material gotten from him when the whole crew had arrived on Denotam over a week before.  The soft organs would be replaced first while the bone graft material would have more time to grow.

Aali was on the orbital shipyard station where Imperial Navy engineers were working on fixing the cloning station permanently in the low berth compartment.  Another team was installing external video cameras to the ship's hull.  She'd gone upwell to deal with her emotions on her own the day before and intended to stay on the station for two days.  But, she'd changed her mind after a day using comms to talk to the crew and decided to return to the planet surface the next morning so she could go with Mikah to take part in setting up Emkir's funeral.  While the various crew dealt with their actions, Rol continued cloning gestation in the tank now fixed into the ship's low berth compartment.

Side chatter during that led to Sekea asking about how to refuel the Upgrade using chunk ice?  Aiden told Sekea he'd been discussing that issue with Terin, before that man's death, and they had come up with a number of issues to find answers to.  That had been one of the questions they had.  Sekea asked if they had pick axes or shovels to smash and move ice if it came to that?  When Aiden said they didn't, Sekea suggested they should buy some of that gear and the others agreed.  When it came back to where they'd order food from, Mikah suddenly called out, "Aiden is buying!"  In a 'heavily put upon' tone, Aiden said, "Fine.  I'm buying."

With a decision made, and while they organized the order from an on-line menu, Mikah told the others she'd been speaking to Aali and the engineer had decided to come back the next morning instead of the day after.  She also said Aali had been OK with adding Emkir's Vacc suit and combat armor to the sales list with the two suits they already knew about.  When she asked if there was anything else to sell, Jocelynn told Mikah she thought they should go over the list of what to sell because she had a list of things in the ship's locker.  Hearing that, Mikah called the others together for a crew meeting to decide what they wanted to sell?  During that, the food came, Aiden paid Cr 110 and they ate.

From the gear already in the ship's locker, and crap left by Terin, Munarshu and even Zach, they talked about who wanted what and who had stuff to get rid of?  When Mikah jokingly mentioned Terin's hookah, Jocelynn possessively said, "No!  That's mine!" and the others laughed.  Mikah also told the others she'd spoken to Aali and added Emkir's combat armor and vacc suit to the sales pile.  Eventually, they ended up with the following list:
    Terin's Duster reinforced with metal mesh(TL 9), which made the duster stiff and which Terin had bought for Cr 550 on Inthe
    Terin's Dark Green and Maroon Darrian-styled suit, which had been a gift from Duke Luis of Lunion
    Terin's two Darrian-style Suits, bought on Inthe for 5,000 and a third bought earlier in life for Cr 750
    Terin's "dated" basic suit, also bought earlier in life
    Terin's 2 sets running footwear, 1 set casual footwear, 1 set dress footwear, Hiking boots
    Zach's Nomadic style Robes from Jae Tellona
    Comm Unit: TL 13 earbud comm unit (50km range)
    TL B Multi-Channel Scramble capable Long range Comm Unit
    Sun Glasses (2 cheap pairs)
    Generic Vacc suit without PLSS for 5'7" person of average build
    A separate 'snap-in' HUD overlay that will fit most vacc suit helmets, adding the device's control and sensor data to the user's vacc suit
    Control panel from an unidentified device found on Cedna In Tremous Dex
    Camping Cot: "Hunting World - Regina" branded in silver thread
    Munarshu's Sealed Combat Armor w/HUD 5 ft 3 in, 140 lbs
    Terin's Sealed Combat Armor w/HUD 5 ft 9 in, 165 lbs
    Emkir's Sealed Combat Armor w/HUD 5 ft 10 in, 150 lbs
    Auto-rifle x2 (Taken from the Pirate boarders in Tremous Dex)
    Blade x3 (Taken from the Pirate boarders in Tremous Dex)
    Sword, Customized and scabbard (customized for Terin)

Added to what was in their ship's locker, they also had to decide what to do with the gear the Arch Duke had given them, now they had decided not to land on Laurasia or Oseaan?  Those were the 2-ton snowcat, 8 hazardous environment suits, one 10 ft cubical collapsible emergency shelter, 1 portable heating unit, 2 wheel-mounted ice cutters, 3 portable densometers and portable fusion plant.  They could keep the portable neutrino detector, because it didn't take up cargo space, but they had to decide on the rest.  Either sell or trade it off, or devote cargo space to keeping it.  They were certain they could find buyers on Denotam for the snowcat and fusion plant.  The rest of the gear was certainly usable on-world.

Story Time
     After dinner, Aiden wanted to work with Sekea on his navigation studies, and talk further about planning for Sonthert.  Sekea also wanted to learn more about starship flight management and piloting, so the two spent their evening working together.  Colinne wanted to spend the evening continuing her work on the lock picking software.  Mikah had told Aali to bring down the gaiter Terin had been given, which was in the ship's locker, and grabbed Emkir's from his gear.  She gave the one gaiter to Colinne and told Sekea he'd get Terin's when Aali arrived with the boxes of gear.  On the shipyard, Aali recovered the gear from Mikah's wish list before continuing to work with the engineers until she hit the rack.

Mikah checked the network they had for the port city and looked for what there was to do for entertainment?  She saw they had Tri-vids, live shows, including on-ice performances and every type of entertainment a small town supporting a naval base could expect.  When she decided she wanted to see a 'musical comedy' play, she looked and found there were no musicals.  Looking at what there was, she went to see a play billed as an 'action comedy'.  After the meeting, Fesic reminded Jocelynn they had planned to go out to hit the bars and see what they could find or learn?

Looking at their options, Fesic and Jocelynn saw they could leave the port and go looking for bars or pubs in the town which had grown up around the port and naval base.  That would let them possibly connect with the locals and get a scent of what was happening locally?  They could also go to the bars and venues in the startown in the port, which would likely be more raucous and active with crews on leave from their ships and burning off steam.  They could also try to sign onto the Naval base, or Marine base to wander around the various venues open to visiting civilians, looking for a club there to rub shoulders with military members.  A last option would have been to borrow the ship's air raft and travel out to territory claimed by Clan Arnstruther, to see if they could find a place to drink and meet them.

When Fesic asked where Jocelynn wanted to go, and if they should go as themselves or Kane and Zoey, Jocelynn said they should go as themselves because she wasn't in the mood to get in trouble.  Jocelynn also started to suggest they call The Glas, and see if they could come out and visit, but then remembered, "Oh no.  They have shitty alcohol."  That got a laugh from Fesic.  They decided to just find a bar in the town outside the port and geared up for the evening.  Wearing a ship suit already, Jocelynn wore her belt hanging one snub pistol from it while wearing the other in her thigh Holster.  She also had her dagger hanging off her belt, and Ident in her pocket with her Lockpick set and handcuffs.  She also clipped on her comm unit and had her Hand Computer on.

Fesic changed into executive armor and casual clothing and hiking boots with his Ident in a pocket with a pocket toolkit.  He also slipped his locking adjustable pliers into his pocket.  Instead of his regular comms, Fesic grabbed a low end comms which was set for some of the same channels the crew used.  Fesic also wore his hip holster with his snub pistol, and brought his sword cane.  After a short walk to the port buildings, they passed out across the extrality line from port property into the local village.  There, they wandered a bit until they found a bar that was open and seemed to have customers.

The place they found had a main room in which the bar extended up the wall to the right of the entrance.  That room extended back in a relative rectangular shape.  To their left, a large open passage replaced much of the left wall and connected the main room to another room.  There were tables filling both rooms, but those in the left room seemed to be groups sharing meals or in personal discussions or such.  Looking around, the two could see a few empty tables closer to the door, which would catch the cold air each time the door was opened.  Shrugging, they took the one that would catch the least cold if the door wasn't pushed all the way open.  It had the advantage of also being closer to the bar.

Walking in, they could see many of the locals looking up to "evaluate" them before dismissing them as "not us".  Dismissed by the locals, they stepped to the bar and ordered drinks.  Sitting down at their table, the two started sipping and look around to get a feel of the place.  The 'music' in the place was not what she considered music.  Ironically, it was Exactly what Fesic considered music.  Though not a song he'd ever heard, the style of music was what he'd been raised with and enjoyed.  Still, they sat and nursed their drinks for ten or fifteen minutes before another spacer arrived.

Kennoth He stepped into the bar and they could see the man was a spacer of average build.  Looking him over, both Jocelynn and Fesic got the feeling the man had just come into the place to get out of the cold, and might also not be familiar with the town.  Leaving the entrance, the man stepped to the bar and ordered something which, when it was given to him, was steaming.  So, it had to be a heated drink.  While he'd moved and they'd looked him over, both Jocelynn and Fesic could see he was a spacer, and spotted noticeable "bulges" to either side of his hips, suggesting dual hand guns.

The guns suggested he was someone to watch and the couple did while the man turned with his drink and seemed to scan the crowd.  Shortly after that, he stepped over to their table and asked if he could sit with them in a gruff voice.  Shrugging, Fesic invited, "Go ahead." with no real emotion one way or the other as the man set his drink down and made something of a process of sitting down.  Jocelynn played the silent observant type while that happened.  Part of the man's 'process' of trying to get comfortable in the seat was to reach down into his partly opened jacket towards the 'lump' on his right hip.  Tensing slightly, Jocelynn let her right hand slip toward the edge of the table so she could quickly grab a snub pistol if needed.

While reaching under his jacket, he almost grunted, "Name's Kennot."  Nodding slightly, Fesic answered, "I'm Kane and this is Zoey." while jabbing his right thumb at Jocelynn.  Not noticing Jocelynn's hand moving, Kennot seemed to twist something and then pull with his hand coming up holding a holster in which was a snub pistol.  Putting that down on the table firmly but without threat, Kennot then started twisting and reaching to try and grab the holster on his left hip, and both Jocelynn and Fesic realized they must have "quik-release" twist off belt mounts.  Not a good thing if you were in close foliage like a jungle, or in a melee where someone could grab them...

That holster too ended up on the table as the man grabbed his mug, took a sip and greeted them both more politely.  With a glance down at the seat he was in, the man muttered, "Damn foreigner chairs." while seeming to ignore he was the visitor there.  Looking back at them, he then said, "Sorry.  Didn't mean to be rude or nothin'."  While nodding back politely, Jocelynn relaxed and moved her hand back to her drink.  Jocelynn did her best to sound relaxed while asking, "So, where are you from?"  Kennot only shrugged and said, "Here and there.  I track things."  When Jocelynn asked, "track things?" he just nodded and said, "Yea."  Shrugging, Jocelynn asked what brought him there and Kennoth only pulled an electronic widget from his pocket and activated it.  The device projected a holographic image above it for them to see.

Holographic Bounty Image Fesic and Jocelynn looked at the image of a bearded man's head hovering holographically over the table while Kennot said, "This guy."  I'm tracking him."  Neither Jocelynn or Fesic recognized the guy and Kennoth only very briefly hoped they might have before his face changed and he asked, "You guys have any dealings with the clans here?"  Jocelynn said, "Not particularly."  Then asked, "Is this person hiding out with them?"  Kennot nodded and said, "Well, that's what I think is happening.  He's wanted for running around with some pirates and stuff, and...  Apparently, their ship got shot up and he fled.  The Imperials gave me this image of him.  And, I think he's hiding here because he came from here, I think."

Fesic shrugged and moved, giving the impression he was looking at the image again, and said, "Well, we haven't seen him." in hopes that would end things.  At almost the same time, Jocelynn asked, "Do you know what he's wanted for?" because she wondered if there was more to the story then simple piracy?  Telling the truth or not, Kennot only shrugged and said, "Yeah, he was part of a pirate crew."  Nodding, Jocelynn asked, "And the Imperials want him?"  Kennot nodded and said, "Yep.  They've got a bounty on him and I'm gonna bring him in and collect on the bounty."  Suddenly more interested, Fesic looked the image over again but realized it was no one he recognized from Tremous Dex.  So, his interest cooled again and he sat back.

Still, Jocelynn suggested they could ask around for him and Kennot accepted that with a smile.  She added that they didn't know a lot of people so there was less value in the offer, then turned to Fesic asking, "We've been here how long?"  Both of them considered, and realized they'd been there eight days.  Saying that, Jocelynn also said they'd only met a few people and no one of note either.  Trying to be casual, Jocelynn then asked, "How much is the bounty?"  Pausing while suddenly giving the two a glance, Kennot then cautiously asked, "You two aren't bounty hunters are you?"  Seeing the concern in the man's eyes, Jocelynn had to hold back a laugh before saying "No."  To her side, Fesic said, "We're spacers" with an almost forced joviality.  Only after he said that did Fesic realize how little that meant.

Relaxing, Kennot nodded and said, "That's why I came over here.  You guys obviously didn't belong here so I figured I'd come over and see what you knew?"  Both Fesic and Jocelynn could tell there was more he could add to that.  Like, he perhaps hoped the man had been a passenger they'd carried, or perhaps they'd run into him after he arrived while he was escaping the port.  Leaning back in her seat, Jocelynn only said, "We're traders.  Cargo movers."  Relaxing a bit more, Kennot said, "The bounty is Cr 50,000", which was a large pay day for someone who was just crew on a pirate ship.  Especially, a ship that had already been shot up.  Sensing that in the looks Jocelynn and Fesic gave him, Kennot added. "I guess he did something really bad to make them want him."

Jocelynn asked for a copy of the hologram, and again suggested they might be helpful and ask around.  She added that they'd be in the system a while with their ship getting some "repairs".  Kennot agreed and bounced her a copy of the image along with his comms code.  When Jocelynn looked at the data the image came with, it had an ID of "Entarzul".  Suddenly passing through the same wavelength Fesic had, Jocelynn asked, "Is this bounty from Tremous Dex?"  Kennot only said, "Nope.  The Imperials thought he came from here, which is why I'm here.  I'm figuring he went back home and hid with his parents and his clan."

Nodding, Jocelynn asked, "You don't know which clan do you?" while quietly worrying the man may have been with Clan Glas.  Kennot only answered, "Nope.  You know any of the clans?"  Not willing to give any information away, Fesic started mentioning some of the clan names at random saying those were names he heard.  At the same time, Jocelynn was thinking about her familiarity with Clan Glas but not sure she wanted to give this guy any information.  Jocelynn worried that if the pirate were from Clan Glas, and the bounty hunter moved on them, it would complicate her relationship with the clan leader.  Especially if they learned from Kennot she'd pointed her finger at them.

Fesic did mentioned they'd run into Clan Arnstruther people working in the town because...   Jocelynn thought about throwing Clan Druie into the thrust for laughs.  Soon, she did add the Druie and Fesic threw in the Erskin 'just because'.  Nodding, Kennot asked, "Have you had any conversations with these people?  They're tougher to get into than a porcupine steak."  While his voice suggested some frustration, both Jocelynn and Fesic were thinking how much more they'd like trying to eat vat-food than something called a 'porcupine steak'.  Fesic only said, "Nope" in a satisfied tone while Jocelynn again argued with herself how much she wanted to reveal?

Just after Fesic doubled down, saying, "No, we haven't had any dealings with the clans." Jocelynn said "I may be able to help you. as if the words were being dragged out of her.  When Kennot looked up with a glint of hope in his face, Jocelynn then added more firmly, "If we get a share of the bounty."  With raised eyebrows, Kennot asked, "What kind of connections do you have with these people?"  Jocelynn admitted, "Not much, but..."  Then she added, "I could try."  Nodding, Kennot admitted he wasn't getting any closer to them and said he'd agree as long as they'd bring him along if they went out to visit any of the clan villages.  Stepping on that, Jocelynn said she couldn't bring him out on any visit with them, but promised to show the picture around and ask if anyone knew the pirate?

Kennot nodded and agreed they'd get some of the bounty if it led to a capture and Jocelynn asked how long he'd be in system?  Shrugging, Kennot said, "As long as it takes at this point."  His tone suggested he didn't see himself making any headway and didn't have any other hot prospects to work on.  Nodding, Jocelynn said, "We'll stay in touch, and we'll see if we can get any information on this guy?"  Nodding again, Kennot raised his mug and asked, "Do you guys have any idea where I can get anything better than this rock gut?"  Jocelynn only said that night was their first time there themselves, though she didn't make it clear if she was talking about the bar or the town?  Fesic only looked at the whiskey in his glass, smiled and said, "I like their rock gut."

While Jocelynn suggested they could also try another bar, Fesic looked around and noticed the locals had moved themselves to widen the 'stranger's bubble' they were in.  Both Fesic and Jocelynn were as friendly as they could be while they said they'd been enjoying their drinks.  Fesic's whiskey was nice and mellow while Jocelynn had asked for something with a cinnamon flavor and what they'd served her was on track with that.  Kennot accepted that with a nod, and looked around the room also giving a few people a nod if they looked his way.  After that, he raised his glass to them before gulping down the rest of the contents.  Kennot then set the mug down, stood while he picked up his pistols and thanked them for their possible help.  Snapping his holsters back to his belt, he re-wrapped himself against the cold and left the bar.

Non-plussed, Jocelynn shrugged and said, "I guess he didn't want to try another drink." with a 'his loss' twinge in her tone.  Shrugging, Jocelynn said, "Well, we have the bounty's name and picture and if we see a chance to make money will let this guy know." and they turned back to their drinks.  Not more than ten minutes later, one of the wait staff came to ask if they could freshen the drinks and was pleased when Jocelynn leaned back and said, "Sure." in a relaxed tone.  When she came back, she leaned a bit closer and quietly said, "Just so you know, that guy Kennot has been around here a bit and it might not be good for you folks to be associated with him while you're in town."

Surprised, Jocelynn asked, "Why?"  Is he causing trouble?" while Fesic just brushed the warning away, saying, "We don't know him.  He was just asking us some questions."  Nodding at Fesic and perhaps answering Jocelynn, the woman said, "Just to warn you, when he gets his back up, which he has, it can get pretty shouty and start fights."  With a smile, Fesic said, "Good to know!  Thanks."  Jocelynn asked, "Has he caused major problems before?" and the woman said "Not major, but he's not allowed in a couple of places and almost got himself kicked out of here so far."  After a pause while gathering up the used glasses and mug, she muttered, "Couple of times, the owners got real close. while shaking her head.

Before the woman left the table, Jocelynn tried to covertly show her the image Kennot bounced to her and quietly said, "He said he's trying to look for this guy.  The waitress made a face that wrinkled her nose and said, "Nobody I've seen around here."  From what Jocelynn could tell as she said, "OK", it didn't look like the woman approved of the appearance of the person in the image.  Jocelynn then doubled down, asking the woman to let them know if she saw the man in the image.  Shrugging, the woman said she'd think about it but, given the way Kennot had acted, she was more likely to tell the guy Kennot was looking for him so he knew.  Trying to keep the waitress' attention and keep her for just leaving the table, Jocelynn mentioned that Kennot had said the man was a pirate, and that Imperial authorities were looking for the man.

The waitress only shrugged at that and said, "We'll see what happens." and left the table without seeming very concerned at all.  Quietly, between each other, Fesic said they had no evidence if this guy was a pirate or if anything Kennot had told them was the truth.  Jocelynn nodded and admitted she had no idea if the waitress was telling the truth.  She also nodded when Fesic suggested this guy could be an assassin or something and have nothing to do with piracy.  Fesic said he didn't think Kennot sounded very trustworthy, and they only knew what he'd told them.  Jocelynn nodded and said he did seem to be a bit shady.  After that, they finished their drinks and decided to find another place.  They'd spent Cr 15 each.

Drinks, Bets And Blood
     Bundling up, they went back out into the cold themselves and wandered.  They saw the village was essentially a bedroom community outside the port where so many of the people worked.  The rest of the storefronts and other venues were mostly daytime shops and services or those night time venues that hosted to the needs of the evening or entertainment.  Because the village was of a small size, the selection wasn't large nor was the walk to view it all.  Still, they soon came to another bar which gave every appearance of a sports bar.  Deciding this could be interesting if not educational, the two stepped in to check it out.  Stepping in, the two looked around to see the bar's vid screens were largely set to a what looked like coverage of some kind of survival run competition.

Looking closer, they saw the screens had a number of smaller picture-in-picture displays of various competitors while one of those sub-views was enlarged for the commenters to focus on.  Checking the side screens and some video likely from computers seeming to display the rules, they saw each "run" was a combination of other sports like marathons, human-powered vehicle races and other "physical challenge courses".  Added to that, the danger of some stages of the competition were sometimes even potentially lethal.  To assure coverage, each of the competitors was being followed by small anti-grav cameras filming each participant from many angles, to cover just what happened to them.

Looking over the route the competitors had to cover, they realized the runners would be entering territory claimed by Clan Arnstruther.  And, if the advertising was to be believed, this race was being carried out "without" permission from the clan.  So, while that spoke to the safety of the competitors, it also said something quite clear about how the clan's laws and rights were viewed by some of those in the port enclave.  And what it suggested about respect wasn't polite or even pleasant.  Added to that, some of the event passed through lands known to be inhabited by wolf packs which could be very hungry about that time of year.

Most entertaining of all, were sections of the course where all those competing had to share if they arrived at the same time.  If they did arrive in the same part of the course at the same time, they were not allowed to help each other but were encouraged to obstruct their opponents.  While the viewers could see what was happening to each of the other competitors in the smaller pictures surrounding the enlarged "main view", the larger vid showed an apparently healthy if ragged adult male competitor who seemed surrounded by four very hungry wolves!  Making matters worse, the sound system was currently devoted to that scene, and they could hear there were likely more wolves off screen.  Looking more closely at the people in the bar, they were both drinking and arguing about the odds the man would escape, including trading bets!

Taking the time to get a feel of the place, it seemed more of the people they could hear were arguing or betting the man wouldn't survive that encounter.  And they were excited not only by the betting, but the prospect if that failure.  When Jocelynn asked if they should bet anything, Fesic was mostly concerned with not knowing anything about the guy which would suggest he had an advantage, or even a chance.  Still, he decided, 'in for a credit, in for a deal' and announced he'd bet Cr 5 the man would survive.  After he said that, Fesic was swarmed by six people who all wanted to take that bet and wanted him to put his money up.  Fesic realized he could dock his Ident against a system on the bar that would "handle the money" until the bet was done.

When Fesic agreed to cover all six bets, they all stepped to the bar and he entered in Cr 30 of his cash on the line.  Jocelynn joined that bet too, and each of the six others also bet her the man would be taken down by the wolves.  With Cr 60 on the line between them, Fesic paid Cr 20 for some bar food to share and both ordered a drink.  Then, they turned back to the screens.  And they didn't have to wait long when the competitor drew something from a pocket, tapped it in a sequence and threw it down in front of him.  For a moment, there was an almost painfully bright glare which whited out the video while everyone in the bar flinched back, then leaned towards the closest vid screen to see what happened?  At first, the wolves flinched back but quickly recovered with the fading of the glare.

Still, the man used that glare to start a charge at one of the wolves, and it actually skittered aside from the sudden assault.  Sadly for the man, two of the wolves behind him had also recovered in time to see him as a fleeing target.  So, the cameras above widened out the view while the wolves charged and managed to get their jaws on his arms!  Over the scene and the suddenly diminishing sounds from that video, the color commentor's voices came in to lament the fact that man looked to be out of the competition.  To match that, while the wolves struggled to take their prey down and more wolves came rushing forward, that vid went dark and was then deleted while the other images adjusted in size to fill the screen.

Of course, the voices of the color commenters redirected the viewers to other competitors and the program continued.  Some twenty minutes later, one of the commentors told viewers more about the man who had been attacked by the wolves.  The commenter cheerfully said, "You don't have to worry about Khai Shida folks.  Earlier, he got himself into some trouble with the wolves but we got a team out there to rescue him.  He'll only spend a short stay in the hospital.  Certainly, no more than a few months."  By then, the cameras were following a woman named Kishkha Arkhi, who had gotten herself across an ice field, but come to an ice river she had to cross.  Even worse, the ice verging along the "banks" of the river looked to be very thin.

The video had enlarged while one of the commenters said, "Let's take a look at what's happening here!" in a gleefully menacing tone.  While the commenters gleefully urged Kishkha further into danger and the viewers watched, the woman was using a stick she'd found and was bashing at the ice in front of her to test how thick it was?  She was working to see if she could find a path to one of the less wide sections of the ice river, where she might be able to jump the flow.  Seeing that, those in the bar started making bets on all manner of items.  Would she make it to the river edge?  Would she fail the jump?  Would she make the jump only for the far "bank" to shatter and dump her into the river?  Would she make the jump, go sliding and bash her skull on the ice, or fall and break a bone?

Hearing that build up, Fesic turned to Jocelynn and said, "I gotta get my money back.  She's going down!"  Jocelynn wasn't sure if it was the emphasis Fesic placed on his certainty or the glee with which he'd pronounced the woman's doom.  But, whatever it was, she decided to bet the woman would make it.  When Fesic gave her a look demanding how she could say that, Jocelynn said, "Well, they can't all be losers." and he enthusiastically answered, "Oh yes they can!"  After a beat of silence between them, Jocelynn had to admit they could all be losers, but she was still betting against Fesic, literally and figuratively.  Four of the other drinkers at the bar wanted to bet Cr 10 Fesic was wrong and Jocelynn bought into that, so Fesic was on the line for Cr 50.  At the same time, four wanted to bet Cr 10 against Jocelynn while another wanted to bet Cr 20!  And Fesic stepped up to say he wanted to bet Cr 10 too.  When Jocelynn told the one guy she'd only bet Cr 10, he called her a wimp but took the bet anyway.  So, Jocelynn had Cr 60 on the line.

Over the following ten minutes, the crowd in the bar were treated to any number of "close calls" and near disasters, shown in ways that demanded the viewer's attention.  Even cutting away at one moment, to another competitor when it seemed Kishkha had sat down to rest and marshal her energies.  The coverage then came back just at a moment after Kishkha had smashed at a span of ice in her path.  Coverage came back just in time to see her sway and struggle with her balance on the shattering ice.  Then, she got her balance back and dodged further from the shattered edge of ice.  They then watched her maneuver as best she could around the broken edge while staring at the ice thickness revealed.  She then started moving forward again in a different direction which finally led her back to the crossing she'd been trying to reach the whole time.

Then, to the cheers of all in the bar despite any bets, the woman posed to bunch her muscles up for a spring jump and even propped the stick she'd been using to leap.  The cheers rose along with her body as the producer and cameras milked the moment.  Added to that, the camera angles made certain not to show the ice edges or any item which could let a viewer guess how far she'd jumped or how likely she was to cover the distance?  Sliced video selections were added in to draw out coverage of the jump as much as possible.  They drew the viewers' attention to a breaking point while they milked the need of their audience to know how this leap of faith turned out!!  And then...

She landed.  The jump had been far enough, the ice held and her landing was firm!  She'd made the jump!  And despite the bets for or against, the bar was suddenly very quiet.  That was because, beyond money or any other drive, most sports enthusiasts were there to see blood.  And there wouldn't be blood spilled on that challenge.  They wanted failures so they could walk away claiming they would have made it.  But there'd be no Monday morning self-superiority promotions from that leap.  Of course, that moved on to the next moment while bets were called or paid off.  Jocelynn then collected the Cr 60 for her bet while also collecting Cr 10 from Fesic from his failed bet.  And Fesic paid out Cr 60 for his bets including paying her for her winning bet.

A Bit Of Local News
     So, with Jocelynn up Cr 40 and Fesic down 90, they looked around while the competition continued.  One of the villagers, an older man in his sixties or seventies looked them up and down and said, "You two are really getting into the spirit of things.  Most of you spacers don't."  His tone suggested he approved of their adventure and disapproved of weak-spined losers who didn't have any a backbone for adventure.  Fesic smiled and said, "Well, it seemed like an interesting show."  Jocelynn only said, "When in Rome." which had the man wondering if she meant a system or city named "Rome", because Terra was too damn far away for her to mean that.  Still, he nodded and said it was a good way to make or lose money, but it was also good fun.  with a bit of a hangdog expression, Fesic said, "Well, you guys have been making extra money tonight."

Snarking at Fesic, Jocelynn smiled and said, "I just made Cr 40.  What are you talking about?"  Fesic said, "I just lost, uh." He then paused to do the math and came up wrong saying, "Eighty?  Seventy?  Something like that." when he'd lost ninety.  Nodding as they laughed, the older man asked, "So, you guys gonna be in town for the shooting competition?"  Hearing that, Jocelynn asked, "What?" and Fesic asked, "Tell us more about that?"  Nodding and perhaps shifting to a more serious expression, the man said, "Well, we figure the base locals pissed off the Arnstruther clan, so we figure the Arnstruther clan are gonna try and make some statements soon.  So, there'll probably be a shooting competition."  He paused and then said, "Stakes are a little bit more stiff though."

Not understanding the man was talking about a small shooting war in reality, Jocelynn asked, "How could we get in to this?"  Confused by her reaction, the man asked, "How can you get into it?!" in a confused tone.  Nodding, Jocelynn asked, "Yeah.  How can I get into the competition?"  Not sure she was sane, the man told her, "Talk to the base commanders and see if they need extra defenders to volunteer.  I'm sure they'll get you right into that competition real fast."  Looking at Jocelynn, Fesic said, "Yeah, stakes are stiff though.  You might want to ask more about that."  When his comment showed he'd been listening a bit closer to what the man said, the old man nodded and said, "Stakes are stiff, like blood or worse.  Then again, you get to drain them if you hit them hard."

Eventually, Jocelynn realized the man was using euphemisms while referring to what he thought would be a real shootout battle.  When they asked him about the situation, he explained he'd been told that officers newly stationed at the base decided to do some testing.  That included 'ground attack exercises' so they needed a range to bomb and strafe.  The Imperial Navy claims there was a misunderstanding between the officer's command and the base command.  In the end, land which the Navy could "use" but not damage was bombed and blasted.  And when that led to a demand from Clan Arnstruther to hand the responsible officers over to them for trial, the base commanders had refused.  So, he and his friends figured the Arnstruther would come riding in guns blazing like they'd done in the past.

He finished up saying that how bad it will get for the Clan depends on if the Navy feels they have to bring in the big guns or not?  The man held no illusions the Clan could win the fight they would escalate, but he was certain a lot of people who didn't have to would die or be torn up.  Shaking his head, Fesic said, "Yeah.  I don't think we want to get involved in that, do we?"  He and the older man were surprised when Jocelynn answered, "Says you." in a tone that suggested Fesic's position disappointed her.  Fesic sat up a bit straighter and asked, "Oh yeah?  You feel like getting involved?"  Thinking about it a beat more, Jocelynn changed her mind and said, "Nah.  I guess not."  Still, she sounded like she was actually disappointed, which made the older man wonder just how much she'd been drinking?

Now chuckling, Fesic nodded and said, "Yeah, that's not the kind of shooting competition you want to be involved with."  Having lost cash that night, Fesic was up for the next bet while coverage of that competition was nearly done for the night.  Still they were covering the second to last of the contestants they would cover when the three of them looked up.  The vid was centered on a man who was looking at his route map, as if to confirm what he'd seen with his eyes.  Next to him, on a cut out, the producer had the control room post an electronic copy of his route to show the viewers what the man was looking at too.

They could see the man was standing at the foot of a rock face rising seventy feet above him.  And the route, confirmed by the chatter from the color commenters, was straight up the rock face!  So, the challenge was to free climb the rock face unless he'd brought some tech goodies within the rules which would help him.  While the commentary continued and the man considered his situation, another pop up showed that the man had not brought any climbing gear with him, nor anything that could be re-tasked to help in that.  Of course, the betting in the bar was if the man would be able to make the climb without injuring himself or not.  And if he were badly enough injured, he'd be scrubbed from the race like the man with the wolves.

Jocelynn did her best, from what the video showed, to examine the wall and see if there were natural hand holds and projections to stand on?  From what she could see, there was some vegetation and other things obscuring the wall from viewers.  Added to that were the designs of the producer's team, who were paid to use camera angles and make it look more challenging that it was, to hold viewer's interests.  Because of that, the answer Jocelynn came up with was, "It might or might not."  Having been out in the vegetation a bit more thanks to his interests, Fesic thought he could see a good enough number of hand and foot holds so he had a good feeling about the climb and went with that.  Fesic decided to cover Cr 50 of bets the man would make it up the cliff.  When Fesic didn't cover all the bets people offered, Jocelynn stepped in and covered Cr 50 more of those.

Thanks to the color commentary, the camera work and the difficulty of the climb, the next seven minutes were an exciting watch while the man made it more than three quarters of the way to the top!  Things were looking strong for this guy to beat the cliff.  Then, he suddenly seemed to start beating himself with one hand before he appeared to panic!  Despite the fact he knew he'd fall, the man let go his only hold on the cliff to beat himself with both hands while the cameras focused in and the color commenters tried to figure out just what the hell had happened?  And, all that was made even more difficult thanks to the man's sudden drop nearly sixty feet to the ground while he continued to flail his arms and seemed to beat himself.  Of course, much of that flailing ended suddenly, when the man made an unprepared and very hard landing at the foot of the cliff.  With the color commenters as confused as the viewers, coverage cut to the last of their scheduled competitor coverage while they sent teams in to evaluate and possibly treat the fallen man.

Eventually, it turned out to be the situation was that the man had reached into what he thought was a hand-hold.  That was actually a burrow made by some kind of critter they were still getting reports on.  When he disturbed them, the creatures came flowing out of the burrow to start biting at him while he started trying to brush or fight them off.  Or, to even squash them!  One of the commenters eventually told the viewers the man was being moved to medical support with a large number of bite wounds and several broken bones, but was out of the competition.  That said, the bets had to be paid off and Jocelynn and Fesic both lost Cr 50 each.  So, Jocelynn was ultimately down Cr 10, all said, while Fesic was down Cr 140.  With all his luck seeming to have abandoned him that evening, Fesic said it was time to go home and Jocelynn agreed with him.

After they left the bar and started walking back towards the port, Jocelynn decided she wanted to see if she could contact The Glas himself?  While they walked down now mostly empty village streets, she hit the comms code for one of the contacts she'd gotten from the members of the clan.  When she connected with someone, she introduced herself and said she "needed" to speak to The Glas.  Asked if it was an urgent issue, Jocelynn very obviously considered that before answering, "Sort of".  When her answer didn't inspire confidence, she was asked to hold on.  Just as the person on the comms was asking that, Jocelynn said, "I think it would certainly be of interest to him."  The man again asked her to hold the line.  After a bit of a wait, a man picked up the call saying he was an aide to the Glas and asked what he could do to help Jocelynn?

Disappointed, Jocelynn asked, "I can't speak to him directly?" and was told, "Not at the moment.  No."  Accepting that, Jocelynn said, "OK.  Please have him contact me when he can."  The man simply said he would and cut the call.  While they were getting close to the port, to go through security and re-cross the extrality line, Jocelynn got a buzz on her comms.  Answering that, Jocelynn found herself talking to the same aide, who asked her what her call had been about?  So he could tell The Glass.  Annoyed, because she'd wanted this to only go to the Glas himself, Jocelynn explained about "a man" and the person he was looking for, and the charges she was told the man was facing.  She said she wanted to find out if the man was known to The Glas, and to warn them a man they'd met was hunting for the guy, if the target turned out to be one of theirs.

The aide actually seemed to not know what to do with what Jocelynn was bringing him, but asked what data she had on the situation?  Jocelynn said, "I have a name and a holo-image." and the aide said, "Ok.  Send them over."  When she said she'd send the data, the aide asked for the name of the person hunting the target.  Jocelynn only said he was a bounty hunter and said she didn't have his name.  After he confirmed her data had arrived, he said he'd get in touch with her if they knew the guy and needed to update her.  Jocelynn added that the bounty hunter said he'd believed the man was from Denotam and from one of the clans, but didn't know which one.  Nodding, the aide said "OK" and was about to continue when he first turned his head briefly and then told her, "Hold on a second."

The man then asked, "So, you said you were going to try and get us a sit down with the Imperial authorities.  Did that go well at all?"  Jocelynn said, "Yes, actually.  They did agree to speak with you.  We just have to set it up."  That was a step further than Mikah had gone with the Count, because Mikah had gotten the Count to agree to meet them.  She then seemed to expect that the Count would have people call The Glas clan and set up the meeting.  Now, Jocelynn had committed her crew to setting up that meeting for them all.  Nodding, the aide said, "OK.  Well, let us know when you set it up and we'll join in the talks."  Nodding, Jocelynn said, "Alright.  Sounds good."  After that, she said that when they'd spoken to the Count, he said he was even willing to sit with all the clans in council, and the aide waved that off dismissively saying, "We don't need the other clans."  Jocelynn could only laugh and said she figured he'd say that.

Fading Lights And Making Plans
     Over the evening in orbit, Mikah had called Aali and given her the list of things to bring downwell with her.  So, she'd collected that gear and asked for a gravDroid to move it all when she shuttled dirtside the next morning.  In the berth, Aiden and Sekea had been working together.  Aiden first asked Sekea about looking into the math they'd have to consider for micro-jumps in the Sonthert system.  Sadly, Sekea was still focused on their refueling needs, and treated Aiden to a repeat of much of what he'd said in the crew meeting after dinner.  Aiden also seemed to have forgotten everything he knew about the separation of jump and normal space fuel systems in starships.  He also appeared to forget the repairs to the Hotel California when they had been attacked near Regina's second gas giant, Elazair, which orbited the system's binary star, Darida.  During those events, the crew had to get back to Assiniboia from Elazair without using their damaged jump systems.

In the end, the pair of men got little new work done.  The one new item they decided was that they could fill the cargo bay with water in containers, to crack into spare hydrogen.  The down side of that was that they couldn't store enough water to crack into fuel for a single-parsec jump.  So, storing water would only extend the time they could spend on-station, scanning a planetary body for a possible abandoned base.  They also concentrated on storing water so completely they ignored storing actual hydrogen instead.  That would, at least, get them more hydrogen.  Still, filling the cargo bay with fuel meant they couldn't carry any of the extra food and other supplies they'd need.

Another item they had to repeatedly remind each other about was that they couldn't jump out of the system and return.  They only had a "one-time" entry permit.  So, they couldn't jump to another system to refuel and return to Sonthert.  That meant they would have to spend two weeks making micro-jumps to and from a body in-system to refuel for every month they spent in-system.  Adding a day or two to insure they would have the power needed to refuel meant they'd actually have only a week or so of scanning time per month in-system before having to refuel.  After working that out, Aiden asked Sekea if he had data on where the worlds were in the Sonthert system?

Sekea said they didn't have any data and Aiden said they had to find a way to get that before they jumped into the system.  Without that, they'd have to waste time scanning for the system configuration and refueling before they could even start their hunt.  When Aiden asked what they could do with what they had, Sekea said he could do his best to extrapolate from what they had to calculate estimates where the worlds in the system would be when they arrived, but that wasn't a guarantee.  Still, Sekea shrugged and said that was better than nothing if they couldn't get more current data.  When Sekea then asked if they could go back to the Arch Duke's people, Aiden reminded him they were considered the experts on the Sonthert out-system.

The two then talked about how to get more details, they agreed the only people who might have better data would be people who had been in the system.  Thinking about that, they realized the interdiction fleets were the only ships they could identify regularly visiting the system.  That meant the Imperial Navy would have the data from those ships.  So, they'd have to visit the naval base which managed the interdiction fleets for that system.  The offices managing the interdiction fleets would maintain that data, so their ships could rotate in or out of the system.  Aiden was pleased with that because he knew that the fleets operated out of the Ghandi Naval base, and they were going to the Ghandi system after leaving Denotam.  So, that base was on their route.  After those discussions, Sekea and Aiden got into sharing their navigation and piloting skills for the rest of the evening.

While they worked in the berth, Colinne was also working on the lock picking software and had found that lock picking was only one of the functions the package had!  The lock picking section of the program was only one part of a system analyzing package!  Sadly, Colinne quickly saw that was a very dangerous process.  Checking in her logs and sniffers, she saw when it self-activated and started scanning through the entire virtual system she created.  Then, before it could escape the virtual environment, she shut it down before it hit the berth's native hardware and she risked the port becoming aware of the software.  After crashing all the processes on her virtual box, Colinne then dove into the logs for the rest of the evening, hoping to learn as much as she could.  Because the application had started automatically, Colinne planned to spend the next days understanding it before she tried reactivating it.

Mikah had gone into the local village to see a play which turned out to be "OK".  The production was professional and the acting was good enough to fit what she expected.  The writing had been acceptable and the performance well enough that she didn't think she'd wasted her money.  Still, she wouldn't be recommending the play to others.  At the same time, the operation to restore Zimzod's body had begun after spending the night in the hospital.  Mikah knew it would be continuing into the third set of medical teams who would be working on Zimzod throughout the night and through the next day.  She was certain nothing would go wrong given the high ranked eyes and expectations on the medics.  Nothing at all.  Still, she wanted to be there when he first woke up to ask why he'd had the surgeons do the sex change operation?  Then, she'd have to try real hard to keep a straight face.

Jocelynn and Fesic got back to the berth and were ready to rack out after an evening of suds and financial loss.  Sekea set his alarm while planning to get up and try to make breakfast for the crew again.  His last attempt hadn't gone as well as he'd hoped.  Jocelynn didn't want to get up "very" early, but she did want to kick start the morning in time to call the Count's office and set up the meeting between him and The Glas.  Before that call, she wanted to sit and talk to Mikah to get her permission.  Mikah had racked out, but set her alarm for nine the next morning.  Aali had her plans set and the shipyard command told her a shuttle would be ready to bring her down to the planet, so she racked out.

Different Interests And Directions
     When Sekea's alarm went off, he rose and went through his routine before moving out to the lounge to cook.  He'd done some research in his free time on where the others had come from and what little he could find on what they liked.  So, he was going to take a crack at cooking what they'd like.  His attempt would be interesting thanks to the very diverse set of tastes he was trying to please.  After his work, Aiden was the first person to try Sekea's 'creation of the morning'.  Aiden thought it was "OK".  Mikah was next, and she was already annoyed because her comms had started going off before her alarm clock.

Grabbing her comms, and nearly snarling, Mikah answered "Yes?"  On the other end, Aali was calling to tell her she was up and preparing to get all the gear to the shuttle.  She said she'd be landing in the downport in nearly an hour and a half.  Thanking Aali for the heads up, Mikah did her morning routine and went out to eat knowing she had to get things done to be at the shuttle port in time to pick Aali up.  And, perhaps drag her under the air raft for waking her so early.  Despite the small size of the downport on Denotam, the shuttle port was a separate section of the facility from the harbor and interstellar operations.  That was her state of mind when she suddenly found herself facing another culinary attempt by Sekea.

Trying the food because there was no schedule-saving alternative, she tasted the meal and decided it was "food".  She didn't like it or dislike it, but she could eat it.  Not really having the time to do it or not, Mikah wondered if a bottle of red or white wine might help the flavor?  Or the texture?  Or, something?  Fesic also thought the food was OK, and the same with Jocelynn.  Finding Mikah at the table finishing her food, Jocelynn asked Mikah about making the call to set up a meeting between the Count and the Glas.  Mikah was pleased when Jocelynn offered to take that thing off her hands, because no one was doing that regularly while they all stood around looking pathetic and asking 'what should we do?'  Nodding to Jocelynn, Mikah just said, "Sure.  You can." with a smile.

Watching this parade of mediocre reactions, Sekea had no idea what the problem was with these people?  He'd tried it after cooking and thought it was pretty good even if he knew it hadn't been the best thing he'd ever cooked.  Colinne even agreed with him, because he seemed to have hit her taste buds right on the mark!  She enjoyed it so much that Sekea took notes on her reaction and what he'd used to evoke it for the future.  After eating, Fesic went to work on his lock picking class while Mikah went to grab the air raft and pick up Aali at the shuttle port.  Colinne went through her meditation and other morning activities before jumping back into the logs from the lock picking software.

Sekea decided to go into the port shops and village looking to buy clothing and replace gear he'd lost while also looking for new toys.  Before he left, he asked Aiden if the pilot wanted to come along?  Aiden agreed so long as they could stop at InstellArms so he could by some ammo.  Sekea agreed with that and they geared up for the trudge to one of the harbor crawlers taking people to the terminal for Cr 2 each.  While they got moving, Mikah had landed at the shuttle port and was waiting for Aali to land.

While Aiden and Sekea left, Jocelynn got on the comms and called the Count's seneschalate offices.  When she got an operator there, Jocelynn explained that The Glas agreed to come to the Count's court for a sit down to talk.  Hearing that, the operator immediately saw this was above their pay grade and reconfirmed who Jocelynn was before bouncing her to someone with authority.  The man who picked up the line next introduced himself as "Lord Arnama", and said he was a direct aide to the Count.  Lord Arnama then confirmed with Jocelynn that she'd called because she'd gotten an agreement from the Glas to visit with the Count and wanted to schedule that?  Jocelynn agreed and was happy the man had been updated and didn't challenge her credentials or intent.

Lord Arnama checked his screens before nodding and saying he had to check some data and asked if he could put her on hold?  After she said she was good with that, her screen froze while she waited.  When he returned to the line, Lord Arnama said he'd just checked with the Count on this.  The Count confirmed he could meet with The Glas in two days time in the afternoon.  Jocelynn agreed to that, knowing that would be the 28th day of the year.  After that was agreed, Lord Arnama said the Count had asked if she and Lady Mikah would also be present during the talks?  Jocelynn quickly nodded and said she and Mikah would be there.  Lord Arnama said they would fine tune the timing after The Glas confirmed he could present himself at that time.  That agreed to, the call ended and Jocelynn did an hour of stent work before returning to her armory studies.

At the shuttle port, Aali's shuttle had finally landed and Mikah went to help her with the load of gear she should be carrying.  Mikah was surprised when Aali was trailed by a palletDroid which was loaded down with gear-filled boxes.  Seeing Mikah, Aali waved and said, "Hi Captain.  I'm back." and Mikah asked if she was doing OK?  Aali just nodded and said "Yeah", though her face showed she was on a journey of many steps.  Mikah decided not to push and simply said, "OK" herself.  Taking some of the items Aali was carrying, Mikah told her they had a meeting at two in the afternoon with the clergy on the naval base, and they'd set everything up.  Mikah then suggested, "And we'll set the ceremony up for 'very soon from now'?"  Aali nodded again, and said, "Yes.  Best to get this done."

After a few steps, Aali asked, "In the meantime, what have we got planned for all these toys?"  Mikah started saying, "Well, we're gonna..."  Then she changed her mind and said, "We hope to trade, sell or whatever, this stuff either here or on Ghandi."  After a pause, Mikah added, "And, uh, maybe get an APC out of the deal."  Surprised, Aali looked up at Mikah and asked, "APC?"  Mikah nodded and said, "Yeah.  The clan has an old APC that...  Um.  Needs a little work by the way.  And..."  Mikah chuckled when she said that, and Aali asked if Mikah had pictures of this thing?  Having taken pictures when they'd been in the garage, Mikah showed Aali the images.  Aali looked them over and only said, "Well, isn't that special?"

Looking over the images, Aali noted the significant damage before half-joking, "And, we expect this to eventually be replaced by a real APC?"  All Mikah could say was, "Uhhh, maybe.  We'll see what we can do." with a smile.  Aali nodded and said, "Well, it is an APC so that tracks." and Mikah laughed at the pun.  Taking a closer look at pictures of the interior, Aali critically asked, "And we're trading for parts for this thing?"  Mikah corrected, "We're trading whatever we think is a good deal for that thing."  Aali only nodded and said "I can see us ordering a lot of tooth brushes." with a wry grin.  After that, the two women loaded the gear into the air raft before Aali gave the 'droid instructions to return to its rental office.  Then, they lifted and flew back to the berth.

During the short flight, Mikah asked about the ship and Aali said she had high confidence they were getting the job done and everything would be working.  Aali also added that the people doing the work were Imperial Navy engineers and not locals.  Mikah nodded and liked that.  Mikah then asked if Aali had sent any messages to her mother in law regarding recent events.  Aali had to think back to remember the last time she'd sent an x-mail, and that had been seven days before, and to her family.  So, she hadn't sent anything to her mother in law at all, and decided she should get about doing that after they got to the berth.

Back at the berth, Jocelynn and Colinne helped Mikah and Aali unload and stow the gear before Aali went to her bedroom to spark up a terminal and send x-mails both to her family on Regina and her Mother-In-Law on Roup.  Since both letters were only text, the letter to her parents only cost Cr 2.  She mostly copied the first letter, before editing it to be correct for her Mother-In-Law and that x-mail cost her Cr 3.  Both letters were simple and honest, with the letter to her Mother-In-Law perhaps more cushioning, because the woman had recently lost her husband.  While she did that, Mikah watched vids, played games and relaxed after grabbing the gaiter Aali had brought from orbit and put it in Sekea's room.

Lunch And Shopping
     Getting to the terminal, Sekea and Aiden walked the shops there and found these were mostly departure or consumer goods and the prices were a bit on the shocking side.  Another thing they saw was that any clothing shops tended to have pre-fab generic stuff.  So, while the fabrics made from interstellar materials might have a better quality, the styles were not anything Sekea liked.  They also saw many displays advertising free shuttle rides to the dirtside InstellArms facility, with glitzy images of hunting or generic self-defense and outdoors gear.  Making their way across the extrality line and into the planetary government's jurisdiction, they made their way to the local town's shopping streets.

The first impressions of both men was positive.  Having expected frontier style, the town looked like any modern suburb of a larger tech-using city.  There were mostly ground rolling vehicles and very few grav cars, but there were still fixed wing flights that might be either passenger or cargo.  There were storefronts, traffic and people going about their business as they'd expect in any small town.  Stepping into the shops, Sekea found everything from casual wear to formal wear and tailoring.  Other shops sold everything from curios to consumer goods, outdoor and sports goods, along with household and other generic items.  One thing they noticed was that the population was too small for the malls which dominated sales on other worlds.  Even the "mall-like" venues in the port were not powerful enough to dominate the village.

Making their way through the shops, Sekea was looking for one week of casual wear and two suits along with the footwear to match those.  Still, not as happy as he could be with prices that were higher than he wanted, Sekea bought outfits he liked to cover his needs.  Seven days of casual clothing cost him Cr 560, with a pair of casual shoes.  He then spent Cr 300 on two suits with a pair of shoes that matched both.  Sekea also spent Cr 100 on a pair of hiking boots.  Eventually done there, Sekea was happy to find off the rack items that didn't cost extra for tailoring.  Still, as they moved from shop to shop, Sekea kept an eye out for placed where he could look at loose gemstones or similar items.

While Sekea shopped for clothing, Aiden looked for winter hats with ear flaps, to help keep warm while on Denotam, and keep for future cold weather worlds.  Happily, there were many types of hats with ear flaps, from less expensive grote-hair sock hats with sides extending down to cover the ears all the way up to cured-hide hats with ear flaps and lined with fleece-like material from whatever local animals were shorn on Denotam.  Seeing the hats Aiden was looking at, Sekea decided he wanted one too, and the shop sold them the hats for Cr 50 each.  Sekea also bought a groat-wool facemask to go with his hat for Cr 20.

Happy with his buys, and bustling along with his packages, Sekea then told Aiden he'd like to check out a jewelry store and see what they had?  The man and woman in the shop perked up when Sekea and Aiden entered and asked how they could help the men?  Sekea said he was interested in any stones they might have which were unique to Denotam, and that pleased both shop keepers.  One of them pulled out a local geology chart, because the chemical makeup of every planet was essentially different.  Thanks to the fact the milky way galaxy had high contents of specific elements, those could all be expected to be part of every world's make up.  But each world had different percentage compositions of elements, making each world's mineral makeup unique and creating specific minerals which were endemic to that world.

Sekea and Aiden were reminded Denotam was largely a frozen world with iced over oceans, with a number of mountain ranges where the peaks of mountain ranges rose high above the ice.  In various places, mining was carried out by either the locals or Imperial facilities, and one could find anything from generic basaltic rock to both rock and gemstones that were the result of volcanic activity.  And, there were also more rare kinds of stones which were translucent or clear.  When the sellers began showing Sekea stones and explaining each of them, they held up various pieces of jewelry in which the stones were fixed.  Most of those were in the orange-red to yellow range but others darkened into the brown range.

When Sekea said he was more interested in loose gemstones, the gentleman behind the displays said, "I think I have just what you want."  The woman turned and stomped away with a sour look on her face.  They waited while the man went back to his bench and got a small jeweler's stone case holding the stones to be mounted in settings.  The way the man managed the few tools before pulling out stone suggested he was the jeweler who made most of their items.  Both Sekea and Aiden knew that would be almost everything in the shop, since it was so expensive to import anything to sell locally.  Opening the layers of the box, which seemed to fold out of itself, he pulled out a few actual gemstones.  While polished, the stones he pulled out were uncut and not yet faceted.

Sekea watched the man pull multi-carat stones he could obviously cut down before pulling out small polished slabs.  Some of those were minerals and some crystalline slabs.  When he laid the stones out, there was a good assortment of stones the man said were all chemically native to Denotam.  Sekea was most interested in stones with a deep and rich color and a clear level of translucence.  Of course, he also knew those would be the more expensive stones because "Color" and "Clarity" were two of four properties which drove the price of any given stone.  When Sekea asked for stones with a beryllium makeup, the man showed him a stone with bands of a rich yellow-green appearing from the stone's depths to blend into each other.  Sekea could see the stone's color was rich, and gave way to a smooth and deep translucence.

The man also pulled out two orange colored stones he said were dioxide-based stones which had a "hydrated" molecular structure.  The orange and yellow bands in the stones shown brightly thanks to both the chemical makeup and the way they'd been polished.  When Sekea asked what they cost, the man pulled out a scale and calculator to weigh the stones.  He said he could give Sekea the orange stones at Cr 120 a gram and said the smaller orange stone would cost Cr 1,200.  The larger one would cost Cr 14,400.  That meant the smaller stone had been 10 grams and the larger one nearly 20 grams.  He also priced the yellow-green stone at Cr 720, because it was less expensive per gram.

Hearing that, Sekea said he wanted "a small stone of each type" even though the man had only offered him three stones with only one of them being yellow-green.  Confused, the man asked if Sekea wanted him to cut some of the stones, making it clear cutting and polishing would take time and add to the cost.  Eventually, Sekea made it clear he wanted the smallest "of each type", which meant the only Yellow-green stone and smallest orange stone.  Nodding, the man put away the larger orange stone and processed the sale for the two other stones.  Sekea could see the orange stone was sold as a 10 carat 'Denotam Opal' while the Yellow-green stone was labeled as a 12 carat 'Epidote'.

Wrapping the items, the man asked if there was anything else Sekea wanted, perhaps something for his wife?  When Sekea said he wasn't married, the man made a joke about going to some of the clans who might sell him one.  Sekea only laughed and said he didn't think it would be practical given his profession, which confused the man but he didn't follow that up.  When Sekea asked if he wanted anything, Aiden asked about high-function crons.  While they did not have feature watches, the man was eager to show him expensive and well-crafted watches but they were only fancy.  They were electronic only in that they incorporated digital timers and displays.  Disappointed, Aiden thanked the man but they moved on.

From there, Sekea and Aiden found a place to grab lunch for Cr 30, which was a bit expensive but it was real food!  After months of eating on the ship or being stuck with over-priced vat-grown food, it was well worth it.  While they ate, they watched traffic on the main drag and saw more than one InstellArms shuttle picking up people, showing the corporation was doing their best to squeeze every credit out of Denotam.  When they eventually finished eating and boarded one of the shuttles, they saw the runs were more frequent during the "heat" of the business day.  The runs tapered off in the early and later parts of the day but they could see there was also a "call to ride" code available too.

Arriving at the venue, Aiden was well prepared for the "special treatment" his crew had gotten.  Sekea had only been subject to the rush of concierge and support staff once before, and flinched at the sudden rush of InstellArms employees.  Of course, no one had explained the sequence of shooting and electrocuting which had earned them that "coverage".  In the experience of InstellArms, it was better to take control of visits from this crew rather than either ban them from their facilities or end up all over the news.  Especially after Sir Rol had been shot and nearly killed, given how high his political connections ran.  During the ride, facial recognition had identified the two and alerted those waiting at the venue that members of the Upgrade's crew were inbound.

Especially Sir Aiden Radetsky, who records showed, was behind the electrocution.  When they were asked what they were interested in, Sekea spoke first and said he was interested in ammunition for his gauss weapons including Tranq needles, if they had those.  The concierge who'd stepped to his side checked her datapad and said she was sorry they didn't have Tranq needles in the system.  She did ask how long they planned to stay in-system and if he wanted them to send messages to other systems asking about the ammunition?  Sekea simply waved that off because he knew that the soonest an answer could come would be two weeks out, and actually finding the ammo would likely take longer.  Added to that, he'd have to pay often very expensive shipping fees.

Sekea also asked about the blades they had, and particularly any blades that could secrete poison.  The concierge said they also didn't have that in-system, because their sales were based on what the locals wanted.  So, assassination weapons like that were rare even in more advanced systems.  They were also normally highly illegal in so many systems that they were not commercially sold.  Turning back to the gauss ammo, Sekea was asked how many needles he wanted and said he wanted a box with 1,000 needles.  The concierge said they could give him that for Cr 900 and Sekea agreed to buy that.  Sekea also asked about snub pistol ammo, and they again said they didn't have Tranq ammo.

Still, they had ball ammunition and could sell it in bulk or already packed into magazines.  Of course, paying for pre-packed magazines cost more thanks to the packing service and the cost of the magazines.  In bulk, they could offer him 100 round boxes for Cr 200, and Cr 250 for the same number of rounds already packed into 20-round magazines.  Sekea figured he could spend some hours watching vids and loading magazines so he bought 8 boxes of snub rounds for Cr 1,600.  The concierge then said they also had a box of 100 high explosive rounds for his snub pistol if he wanted?  When Sekea asked, he was told they sold that ammunition because there were big game on world that hunters needed HE rounds to take down.  Nodding at that, Sekea spent Cr 600 to buy one box.

Aiden also asked for 3 boxes of the snub ball ammunition, and a box of the snub HE ammo.  When Aiden asked about ammunition for his LAG, he was told they didn't stock ammunition for weapons like the light assault gun because their customers tended not to buy that.  Reorganizing his stateroom during the jump, Aiden had happened on a target shooting gauss pistol he'd bought and forgotten, but never bought ammo for that weapon.  So, he also bought a 500 needle box of gauss rounds for Cr 400.  Having seen the order flows from both Sekea and Aiden, Aiden's concierge asked Aiden if they had a needle loader to pack their gauss magazines?  Realizing Zimzod and Rol had loaders but neither could share them at the moment, Aiden asked how much a loader would cost?  He was told Cr 350 and asked Sekea if they wanted to go halvesies on one for the ship?

Sekea agreed with that, so they each paid Cr 175 and bought a gauss needle loader they'd put in the ship's locker for everyone to use.  Aiden also bought two magazines for the gauss pistol, but they were only 10-round magazines because the weapon was a specialized design.  Aiden then asked about shotgun shells and was told they had slug, pellets and bean-bag rounds.  They also had taser rounds, but he'd have to show his law enforcement credentials to buy those.  While they knew Aiden was an Imperial Knight, he still had to show his Ident and certify before they decided to accept that as a de facto level of Imperial law enforcement.  After that, they told him they'd charge him Cr 250 for ten rounds.  When Aiden asked how many they had, they said they had 50 in stock, and he bought them all for Cr 1,250.  Aiden also bought 20 bean-bag rounds for Cr 200.

After that, Sekea said he was good with going back to the berth, but Aiden asked the concierge about customized or interesting handguns.  Sekea was good with going along with Aiden when they went looking at the facility's pistols.  While InstellArms had collected a good sized number of customized handguns, most of them were crudely modified pistols captured or traded for with members of the various clans.  While and anthropologist would love examining them to interpret what members of the clans found valuable in hunting or combat, Aiden didn't see anything of interest.  Not really seeing anything of interest himself, Sekea did see an advertisement that caught his attention.

The ad invited people to join in an "Iron Buck" hunting competition.  When they asked their concierges about that, the woman working on Sekea's order reminded him of an earlier part of the conversation.  During that, he'd asked what the locals used HE snub rounds for, and she'd told him there were large local fauna that only reacted to HE rounds.  When Sekea nodded, she said, "Those are some of the animals you have to use HE rounds to deal with."  Her tone didn't suggest HE rounds would guarantee a wound though she didn't say that.  Competitors in the contest would have to find an iron buck and take it down.  The winner would be the hunter who made the largest kill.

Sekea asked what the prize was and was told Cr 100,000!  The concierge also told them there were already a number of hunters in-system, walking the ranges, getting to know the land and preparing for the hunt itself.  Aiden asked when the event was and how long it lasted, to be told it started in two weeks and lasted a weekend.  So, the pressure would be on just to find a buck, explaining why hunters were already out in the wastes looking for signs of their prey.  Aiden asked how to sign up and was given the link he could visit to do that.  With nothing in the handguns to excite either of them, they decided to return to the berth.  Because they had bought more than they could carry, InstellArms said they'd deliver the purchases that afternoon.  One thing Aiden hadn't done was to ask them about the APC he had pictures of.

Business And Bullets
     After her call with the seneschal's officer, Jocelynn had a confirmation the Count could meet with The Glas in the afternoon on the 28th day of the year.  That in hand, she then called Clan Glas to see what The Glas' people said.  Not long after Jocelynn told the people answering the call she'd set up the meeting, The Glas himself got on the call.  He was pleased and said Jocelynn "did him a solid" before asking for the details.  Jocelynn explained she'd set up the meeting in the Count's court in the afternoon two days from then and The Glas made a face at having to go to the court.  When she was done, he asked, "You realize, in order to get there I have to cross through the lands of other clans?"  His tone suggested that could be a big problem with the plan.

That was something Jocelynn hadn't considered and she paused a moment before answering.  She would have asked if the meeting could be moved but having the meeting in his court had been the Count's only condition.  So, he wasn't likely to agree to a move.  Jocelynn then suggested the only thing she could, saying, "We could come get you in our cutter, so you wouldn't have to travel through the other clan's territories."  The Glas nodded and said that would be perfect while his mood cleared up too.  He immediately agreed to the meeting under those conditions while Jocelynn realized she'd just promised The Glas rides on their cutter without speaking to Mikah about it first.  Not to mention a pilot too.

Finishing things up, Jocelynn told The Glas he could bring a handful of his lieutenants but not more, because the cutter was a small craft.  He joked, If you strap some of my people to the side of the ship I can bring more, right?  The look on his face showed he was joking.  Switching directions, Jocelynn asked if his aide had showed him the holo she'd sent the day before and The Glas said the man had.  The Glas also said he had no idea who the man was when Jocelynn asked.  He also told Jocelynn the man was not a member of their clan.  Jocelynn said that meant she wouldn't feel bad if she found the guy and turned him in.  Ignoring the unstated show of loyalty Jocelynn just made, The Glas asked what he was wanted for?

Jocelynn played that off, saying, "They didn't say.  Piracy, I guess." which would be an oddly specific guess to start.  The Glas got a calculating look on his face before he said, "Hmm, maybe we could use a guy like that too."  Nodding that to the side, Jocelynn changed directions again saying, "Also, if you have the time after the meeting, we have some more items that might interest you for trade or sale.  Remembering they'd mentioned combat armor, The Glas sat up straighter and Jocelynn knew she had his interest.  before she could speak again, he asked her for a list and she sent him a copy of the items she'd listed while talking to the crew.

Reading the list, The Glas was pleased seeing the suits of combat armor, and then was less thrilled to see very few weapons.  Still, he said, "OK.  I see you have three suits of combat armor.  I would be very interested in those.  Jocelynn said, "OK" and The Glas asked what the crew were looking for on them?  Jocelynn admitted she didn't know that and had to talk to her crew and Captain to find out."  She did promise to let them know he was interested in the armor suits.  She also suggested they might want something the clan had in trade, while not mentioning the APC.  Nodding, The Glas agreed and told Jocelynn to update him when she could on the pricing and also call him when she was coming to give him a lift to the meeting.  After that, the call ended.

Next, Jocelynn went looking for Fesic, and asked him what price he thought was good for the three suits of combat armor?  Before he answered, Fesic had to look up the configurations of the three suits to remember what they had?
    Munarshu's suit was a sealed set of combat armor with an installed HUD.  So, "New" to the average spacer, that suit would cost KCr 35 to 40.
            That said, "on Denotam" and "to a Clan", Fesic felt they could ask KCr 75 to 100.

    Terin's suit was sealed combat armor with a chameleon skin coating!  He'd also had a HUD with light intensification, infrared and telescopic
                functions, along with an inertial locator.
        Selling that suit, which would cost near KCr 80 new, on Denotam could easily bring them KCr 200 to 250.

    Emkir's suit was also sealed.  that suit not only had a HUD, but also had light intensification, infrared and PRIS visual modes, along with an
            inertial locator.  That meant buying that suit new would cost as much as KCr 50.  He was certain they could get between KCr 125 and 150.

Outside of the costs and profits, Fesic also wondered what the ramifications would be of selling the suits to any clan on Denotam.  When neither of them could answer that question, Fesic suggested they ask a less targeted question in their next meeting with the Count's people.  Still, Fesic said they could make a good amount of money if they just let the clan pay cash for the suits.  Jocelynn reminded Fesic the deal might not be about cash because Mikah really wanted the APC.  Fesic was less than enthusiastic about trading for the APC, and didn't say so but he really didn't want them to end up with the vehicle.  Fesic may have preferred the cargo he could put there without knowing how much cash they might get for the craft on the market?  Even if it wasn't repaired.

Having gotten what she needed from Fesic, Jocelynn told him she had to talk to Mikah but didn't mention the promises she'd made to The Glas.  When she spoke to Mikah about it, Mikah not only said she could use the cutter for the run but also said she felt she had to go with Jocelynn, so she said she'd fly the mission.  Jocelynn said they should bring Fesic, for bargaining and such, and Mikah agreed he could come along.  After that, Jocelynn went back to her armory studies.  While this happened, Colinne had taken time to do her meditation and reach out sensing for any threats.  Those in the berth eventually gathered for lunch while Aiden and Sekea had their lunch out.

After lunch, Aali, Jocelynn and Colinne got together for some stent work while Fesic decided to look for an indoor horticultural park to wonder in.  Sadly, the low population on Denotam meant they didn't have the spare population to maintain sealed horticultural parks.  On what he could find of a local network, Fesic searched and found there were horticultural firms and greenhouses listed.  When he started calling to find out about visiting, most of those he reached wanted to know what company he was with?  Some said they didn't feel he understood their business when he claimed to be crew aboard the IMS Sparrowhawk.  Others asked if he worked in hydroponics aboard his ship?  Pushing the definition, Fesic said it was a hobby of his.

Eventually, Fesic got an invitation to visit a facility and tour the place.  Bundling up as much as he could, Fesic then made his way to a port crawler and paid Cr 2 to get to the terminal.  From there, he was charged Cr 20 for what he was sure should have been a Cr 10 ride to the location.  When he arrived, the building was not the wide-spread bubble-style building which could contain sprawling displays of flora.  It was a tall rectangular building which he hoped could have floors of managed displays.  Seeming to be seventy feet wide and deep, the tower looked to be ten stories high and could easily be an office tower on many worlds.

Even more confusing, the lobby was so small as to be almost claustrophobic and there were no actual plants adorning the room.  There were images of foodstuffs on the walls and the receptionist/security guard.  Next to that man's desk, another man waited.  He was wearing a set of utilitarian work coveralls and certainly looked fit and eager to meet Fesic.  After introductions, Fesic came to realize the man was excited because he hoped to learn something from a spacer who lived and died by the hydroponics aboard his ship.  So, there had been a misunderstanding when he invited Fesic to tour his facility.  Still, he was polite and led the way into a space where Fesic could change into similar coveralls before entering "the work area."  That would be where Fesic learned about his own misunderstandings.

Aeroponics Wanting to wander in a green space, Fesic was happy to change into the coveralls, though he did pause a beat when he saw the word "Visitor" written in large block letters across the front and back chest of the uniform he was handed.  Still, it fit well enough and the man led Fesic out of the changing and break area into the work space.  When Fesic asked about a hard hat, he was told that wouldn't be needed.  Stepping into the growing areas, Fesic realized he was visiting a highly industrialized and automated vertical farm.  Plants were grown from columns in open floors under simulated sunlight and under controlled conditions.  Grown in lots, there were many columns which seemed bare because the seeds had not germinated.  Other groups of columns had plants that were either sprouting, maturing or ready for harvesting.

To support large acreage and growth of vertically-demanding flora or crawling-vine based plant life, the building extended up ten stories as Fesic had thought.  But it also extended three hundred stories down into the ice and rock.  In the lower floors, they housed the machinery to take in water from underground aquifers.  That was then shared between the fusion power generating systems and all other water needs for the large facility.  And, of course, water cracked for hydrogen for the power plants also provided oxygen to be converted to carbon dioxide for the plants.  Oxygen was also filtered and mixed with a constantly maintained amount of nitrogen to maintain an atmosphere workers and plants could thrive in.

Sadly for Fesic, the place was much more industrial than he'd been interested in.  His first thought was how cool the place was but he quickly found it was tight and difficult to move around in.  Everything was moist thanks to the aeroponic nature of nutrient circulation and the tour he'd been taken on was meant to show off each stage of the operation.  As a result, he saw very little "green" except in certain locations and not at all in the machinery-based floors.  It certainly explained how people lived here and why foodstuffs were not insanely priced.  He certainly had to wonder why this couldn't be done on planets like Extolay until he was told the operation needed a ready and vast supply of water.  That was something he remembered they didn't have on Extolay.  And they also didn't have many places on Denotam where they could do it either.

While walking with Fesic, the man asked him about his experiences and Fesic admitted the facility was much more than he'd ever encountered.  That pleased his tour guide, who had worried Fesic wanted to tour the place because he was used to such operations.  When Fesic told him the space seemed amazing to him, the man was relived the universe had not sprinted past what they were doing on Denotam.  Still, he'd hoped Fesic could actually share his knowledge and they could both learn from each other.  While he didn't mind rubbing shoulders with a hobbyist, he'd preferred to meet someone he could at least share with.  Unfortunately, his facility was so far beyond Fesic's experience that the gunner was relegated to being a wide-eyed tourist.  On top of that, he ended up paying another Cr 20 for the ride back to the Cr 2 crawler.  At the berth, he did more lock pick training.

After lunch, Jocelynn had done stent training with Aali and Colinne and was now done with training for the day.  That decided, she said she wanted to go shopping and asked who wanted to go with her?  Mikah and Aali had a meeting at 2pm with the base clergy so they couldn't go.  Colinne said she could shop and asked Jocelynn what she was up for?  Jocelynn said she needed ammo so she wanted to go to InstellArms.  Not aware of the shuttles Sekea and Aiden had used, they considered how to get to the IA facility.  Colinne joked about refitting the gravbike they had so they could both ride on it.  Eventually, they paid Cr 10 for a gravcar to pick them up and drop them into the arms of waiting concierges.

This time, the surprise wasn't the arrival of concierges and the customer care teams.  It was the fact that Aiden was with a concierge in one of the carts and Sekea with his concierge in the other.  And the ladies who had guided them through the facility were working with their people to organize the delivery of boxes too many to be easily carried by two men.  Meeting up, Jocelynn said, "I guess you guys had a fun day" and Aiden smiled and said, "Oh yessss."  With the gravcar the ladies had paid for waiting right there, Aiden and Sekea were able to load their buys into the vehicle and pay the Cr 10 to return to the ship.  At the same time, the ladies were invited to hop on the carts and ride into the sales floor.

When asked, Jocelynn said she wanted to buy ammo.  Colinne also said she could use some ammo, but wondered if they had ranges for rent?  Considering the amount of money Aiden and Sekea had spent on ammo, and expecting similar numbers from the two ladies, one of the concierges said, "Sure.  We have ranges." and told Jocelynn and Colinne they would be free for her crew to use.  Colinne only answered, "Cool.  We can do some shooting and replace our ammo."  Jocelynn said she was also up for that and the concierge said they had loaner weapons when she noted Colinne didn't have a weapon with her.

Jocelynn knew she had to buy ammo for her gauss rifle, and wanted to buy more snub ammo too.  For the gauss weapons, Jocelynn bought a box of 1,000 needles for Cr 900 and also bought a needle loader for Cr 350.  For her snub pistols, Jocelynn asked for pricing on 1,000 rounds of ball?  She then changed her mind and asked for 500 ball and 500 Tranq, but was told they didn't have Tranq.  It just didn't sell well on Denotam.  They could get her the thousand rounds of ball for Cr 200 per 100-round box.  So, Jocelynn bought 10 boxes of that for Cr 2,000.  Colinne borrowed a gauss pistol and bought 100 needles for Cr so she could practice with Jocelynn.

While the ladies burned through 100 rounds on the range, Aiden and Sekea stowed their buys and Fesic was touring the vertical farm, Mikah and Aali had waited until 1:30 before leaving for the offices for the base's temple.  Arriving on the air raft, they were met and led in to meet with Lt. Cmdr. Usdar Shauum and Lt. Sonwe Ghapod.  When they asked what kind of services and support the ladies wanted, Mikah said it was all Aali's decision.  Aali said she wanted a simple Vilani ceremony with nothing unusual.  That was not withstanding the fact that Prince Lucan and Arch Duke Norris would be attending.  And that pretty much guaranteed most of the base personnel and families would attend too along with the Count and his family and staff.

Aali also wanted things wrapped up fairly quickly, because she and the crew had to keep working to prepare the ship and the Prince and Arch Duke had places to be too.  When it came to scheduling, Aali asked for the funeral to happen the next afternoon?  Lt. Cmdr. Shauum said he would call His Grace's and Highness' staff and set things up for her.  Aali had also checked the urn in which Emkir's ashes were placed and saw it was a basic urn.  Aali had wanted a high-end urn, so she paid the Cr 250 for the most fancy urn they had.  With that done, Mikah started making the notification calls.

The Arch Duke's people said Norris and Lucan would be there.  Since much of their work was with the Count, the Count called and said he and his family would be present.  So, this was turning into a high-end funeral.  Perhaps, the only funeral attended by Royalty in the last decade outside the Core subsector.  So, after forty minutes working at the temple, Mikah and Aali returned to the berth to find Sekea and Aiden had returned and Jocelynn and Colinne were now out.  Fesic was still touring the vertical farm.  Aiden told Mikah that he and Sekea had bought the ship a needle loader for gauss weapons.

Mikah thanked them and didn't tell them she could have pulled out Zimzod's because she had access to his gear.  Sekea asked Mikah if, in their next meeting with the Arch Duke, they could ask for him to modify their permissions to enter the Sonthert system multiple times, due to their need to refuel.  Mikah said they could ask but said they may have to rely on micro-jumps to the system's gas giants to mine ice because she didn't think it was likely the Arch Duke would extend their permissions.

Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Mikah, Aali, Jocelynn, Aiden, Sekea: In the berth
     Jocelynn and Colinne: At InstellArms taking target practice
     Fesic: Returning from the vertical farm tour
     Zimzod: Undergoing a 2-day thoracic reconstruction operation aboard INS Maadashmim Zikheaa
     Rol: Cloning: 8 weeks, 2 days until he is decanted

Next: Threading Needles And telling Tales