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Last Updated     Dec 26 2023
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Dinner And Delayed Drinks
     On world, in their berth on the starport grounds, Mikah, Aali, Colinne, Jocelynn, Aiden, Fesic and Sekea were deciding on dinner?  Aboard the INS Maadashmim Zikheaa, Zimzod was working through his third day of cleansing after his second Slow drug injection.  He leaned into it because he knew he had only five days until he got that last injection.  After that, and a day cleaning his system, he'd be returned to the crew, to do PT on his own as he finished his recovery.  The clock also kept counting down for Rol, who's clone would be decanted in six weeks, five days

The engineers in orbit had guessed they'd be done with the Upgrade around the 51st day of the year.  Depending on how accurate they were, Rol could be fourteen days closer to decant.  If that was the case, the week in jump and reset time in the Ghandi system would eat two of those weeks as would the weeks in jump and reset in Lanth.  So, they could be leaving Lanth two weeks and five days before they decanted Rol.  That meant Mikah would be quite busy not only with the decisions she'd have to make in the Sonthert system, but also caring for Rol's decanting, recovery and physical therapy.

Suggesting they should eat, Sekea asked if they wanted to go out to dinner that night?  Aali suggested they go to a restaurant instead of a fast food joint.  Jocelynn agreed with that, and also suggested, "Why don't we go celebrate properly?"  Asked what she thought they were celebrating, Jocelynn said, "Our elevations and stuff."  In the end, they finally agreed to look for something "high end", and hit the local network.  They soon found a place called, "The Duke's Feasthall".  The vid-page had imagery suggesting then Duke Norris when he was a younger man.  The imagery were also stylized, to insure there'd be no issue with 'permission to use'.  Fesic wondered if they'd need reservations, so they called the place.  A "very Cheery" person on the far end said they didn't, and offered directions from wherever they were.

When Sekea suggested they check the pricing, Colinne only snorted since they were mostly rich or well off to start with.    Aali simply told the others, "We can just go, and trash them later."  Sekea joked, "We can go and blow their minds since we're mostly nobility."  Colinne's voice was less than tart when she reminded him they were all nobility "now".  Jocelynn could only shake her head and sigh, "The stars help us."  Mikah volunteered Fesic to pay the cab fare after they crossed the extrality line and left the port terminal.  Arriving, they looked around to see what had likely been built out as a tourist trap that had fallen on hard times, if it had ever seen good times.

Soon, they were seated and checking out a menu which offered fully curated "Feast Menus" rather than selections of entrees and other food types.  Those ranged from Cr 50 to Cr 80.  They came with a drink menu that was "all one could drink".  The most expensive feast menu had been "created" around an Iron Buck steak, advertised as the best meat on-world.  The intent of the place seemed to be to impress the locals with Imperial power, economic and more.  The crew were less than impressed.  When they ordered dinner, everyone but Aiden ordered the Cr 80 meals.  Aiden chose to save his money despite his wealth, and ordered the Cr 50 meal.  He also made the excuse that he didn't trust the iron buck meat, and people giggled at that.

They'd all placed their orders and were sipping at their drinks when the woman at the greeter podium suddenly stood a bit straighter.  With the night's business slow, she'd been watching some vid on a device built into the podium, and had seen something that caused her to furtively look towards their table.  Turning back to what she'd been watching, the woman quickly picked up a small communications device to whisper into it.  Suddenly, from a back door, a group of people came following the shift manager.  Each were carrying glasses and tableware as they confused the other diners and the manager came forward to greet Lady Mikah and her crew.  In a cheery voice, the manager thanked them for coming to dine there, and said they should celebrate with champagne.

Popping the cork, the manager also asked if they could take a picture of the crew together at their table?  Hearing that, Sekea proved there was some undetectable link between himself and Terin when he asked if they could get the meal for free in exchange?  Aiden even said, "He's fitting in just like Terin."  While they didn't get the meals free, they did allow the picture.  That, and the fuss, outed them to all the other diners in the place.  Afterwards, they received a number of visits to their table while they ate.  They noted that some of the diners who'd approached had been eating when they arrived, while others had "arrived quickly" after they'd been outed.

Of course, while they ate, Mikah had been taking images of the cheesiness of the place.  Documenting how unimpressive she felt the place was.  She meant to use those to give the place a Zero when she got the chance to show the Arch Duke himself.  Each time a small group came to their table, they had to wonder if the people were simply struck by, or hoped to be seen associated with celebrity?  The good news was that they found no paparazzi at the door when they'd finished eating.  That was because everyone leaving would have to be in a vacc suit, so no real pictures could be taken.  Still, they sat and chatted for a bit before leaving.

Jocelynn opened, saying, "Now that I've gotten my favor from the Count, I just didn't want you guys to forget that we're all owed something.  The crew is owed something as a whole, and, maybe we should talk about what we could get?"  Hearing that, Mikah nodded and said it was a good idea.  Jocelynn then asked, "So, what do you think we can get that would be good for us?  Or, good for the ship that isn't so outrageously expensive that he won't look at us and say 'Yeah, right'?"  When she asked if Aali could think of something for the ship, Aali said that they'd pretty much been stuffing the ship full and couldn't think of anything new.

Aali added that anything they could do to the ship would add to the time it would have to stay in the shipyards.  Or, it might be something that might not be able to be done in the Denotam system, but she'd look into it if they wanted?  Sekea asked about more androids and was reminded they were getting two more as part of the Arch Duke's reward.  Colinne decided to break the crew's fixation on the ship, and suggested a small item of value or use for each of the crew?  Jocelynn agreed, but first suggested some kind of live-instructor training class, before realizing they didn't have the time for that.

Jocelynn also talked about a "blade training android", which they could install in the ship's cargo bay.  That could help anyone train with a material blade.  Of course, laser blades would only destroy the droid.  Mikah mentioned asking for some advanced medical tech, but doubted they'd have anything like that in the Denotam system.  Sekea mentioned asking for a supply of seed-stock to bring as trade goods to any world with the same conditions as those found on Denotam.  Sadly, a full bay of that wouldn't be valuable for many jumps.  And that would keep them from being able to transport any other trade goods to sell anywhere nearby.  When Sekea suggested a small amount of seed stock, he was reminded that any system that so desperately needed to trade for it would need massive amounts to feed their needy.  And a handful would take generations to grow enough to have any affect.

Stepping past that, Jocelynn suggested they all consider what she'd gotten from the Count, or what InstellArms had to offer.  When Mikah reminded her InstellArms didn't have much locally, Colinne reminded them the Count, Arch Duke and Prince had brought forces with them.  That suggested the Count might be able to beg on the others for a loan if needed.  While Jocelynn cautioned them not to think quite so large as something from the Arch Duke or Prince's fleets, Sekea admitted his needs would be a simple set of combat armor that fit him.

When Aali brought up the idea of an armored grav vehicle, she was reminded that would take up cargo space.  So, the cost would be the tons of the cargo bay they couldn't fill when trying to make money.  Jocelynn considered that, but also suggested they bring Zimzod in on the decision, since he was their XO.  They also decided to call up to the medical ship and set up a group visit the next day.  So, they could talk about it with him and get some ideas.  While they discussed that, Mikah's comms began to buzz.  Answering it, Mikah found herself talking to a seneschalate officer from the Count's offices.  He hoped to set a time with her when his people could discuss the elevations with her crew in the coming days?

When Mikah suggested the next day, the man was good with that and asked what time they'd be ready to meet?  Mikah suggested they arrive around eleven the next morning and the man thanked her and signed off.  So, Mikah told the others about the meeting the next morning.  Mikah then called the INS Maadashmim Zikheaa, and explained they wanted to come upwell and visit Zimzod in person.  When asked what time they wanted to arrive, Mikah said they'd dock around 2pm on the 38th day.  Done eating and still chatting, they went back to the berth where Sekea was given the package he'd been expecting.  That contained the fentanyl he'd ordered.

While the others relaxed inside their berth, Sekea carefully opened the package to see a "safety layer".  Opening that, he saw the vial and carefully removed that.  He then spent some time working with his med-kit to safely store the sample.  The others noticed a message was left on the berth's comms system.  Checking the message, Aali found it was Lieutenant Commander Kiarmur Giushda from the Prince's staff.  The Commander told Aali there would be a memorial ceremony in two days' time for the officers and troopers lost in the raid on Apkope.  He said the Prince wondered if their crew would be present to honor the fallen?  After Aali explained the call to Mikah and she said they would, Mikah had Aali return the call and say they'd be there.

Fesic also got a notification on his comms, and checked it to see he had a delivery pending.  The alert was from starport security and asked if Fesic wanted the delivery passed through to their parkbay and berth.  When the delivery was made, Fesic got to check over the booze he ordered.  He got two single liter bottles of Cr 125 Blended Whiskey, one liter of Cr 100 Scotch Whiskey, one liter of Cr 50 Ice-Berry Cider, one liter of Cr 30 "Top Rating" Gin which looked like a cheap import, one liter of Cr 40 Clan Select Vodka and one liter of Cr 30 "Stellar Label" Bourbon.  After checking the bottles out and approving of what Cr 500 got him, Fesic set them up in the general open space that was their living room.

Seeing the booze, Aali asked what the bottles were for and Jocelynn asked, "What's the occasion?"  Fesic smiled at Jocelynn and said, "Well, someone's got a birthday coming up." as Jocelynn realized he'd bought the stuff for her.  Surprised, Jocelynn asked, "Is this all for me?" and the others laughed while Fesic tried to find a polite way to say it was to share during a party he planned.  Fesic finally came out with, "Well, as much as you can drink."  Jocelynn said, "Wow.  Thanks!"  Looking over the bottles, the conversation switched to having the drinking party that night or the next?  Sekea said they could do some light drinking and not wake up after getting plastered for the seneschalate officers.

Aali suggested that if they got started drinking, they'd never stop and Sekea accepted that.  Ignoring that for the moment, Jocelynn mumbled, "Technically, my birthday starts at midnight you know." while her eyes glossed over the bottles.  Finally, they decided to do their drinking the next day after they got back from visiting Zimzod.  That meant relaxing for the rest of the evening before they secured the berth and hit their racks.  Still, there were the jokes about "Jocelynn's Birthday Eve" and other comments.  Eventually, they all racked out.

Paperwork And Parties
     The morning of Jocelynn's birthday, and Zimzod's fourth day of cleansing, began early for both Mikah and Zimzod.  While the medical staff began their work with Zimzod, Mikah did her morning routine and pointedly made caff without making a move to make herself toast.  She was committed to going nowhere near the toaster.  Even after having demanded the parkbay's technical personnel replace the pranked unit.  Of course, she also swore that if anything happened to the caff machine, "someone" was going to die!  After she had the caff machine going and was OK with it working, Mikah turned on the vid and switched to the news.

    Mirriam (E472300-8  N  Lo Ni  G  110  Im  F5 V)                                                                                          Date: 030-1114
    The courier ISS Laarka Daai entered the system earlier today broadcasting emergency codes, and was placed under immediate
    blackout.  More recently, Lt. Commander Adgim Miikgamga released a statement regarding news from the Mirriam system.  The
    system is under lock down by order of Lacis Carol, Marquis of Mirriam after events of the day, with courier craft sent to
    all systems.  All systems are to be on alert for the presence of the refugee Katja Rigg, wanted as an accused member of
    the Ine Givar.  There are a number of warrants out for her detention and arrest, and she is presumed to be armed and

Katja Rigg     The events of the day, based on those investigations completed, indicate that Ms. Rigg seems to have
    entered the system at an earlier date.  Following that, she appears to have made contact with some
    remaining resources of the Ine Givar terror movement.  This movement had largely been devastated, and
    hoped eradicated, thanks to their support of Zhodani military actions in the Fifth Frontier War(5FW).
    It is expected the plan the cell began work on was to create an explosive device which could be
    smuggled aboard the flagship of Prince Lucan's fleet.  When detonated, the terrorists hoped to
    assassinate both the Arch Duke and the Prince in a single action.

    Due to a lucky stroke, local investigators in the Mirriam system became aware of the cell and began
    counter insurgent operations.  Sadly, the cell's resources were operational enough to deliver the bomb
    aboard the INS Esagar en Shalash.  While most of the cell were killed holding off Imperial Marines, Ms.
    Rigg and several others prevented investigators determining which ship the device was shipped to until
    it detonated.  Sadly, the Shalash was destroyed by the explosion, and all hands aboard were lost.  Ms.
    Rigg and two unidentified terrorists are believed to have escaped the system in the confusion.  The
Sloan Class Fleet Escort     Shalash had been assigned to the 186th Battle Squadron.

    Lt. Commander Adgim Miikgamga completed his statement by announcing that the few ships
    which had arrived in the past day have been searched and it is confirmed none of the
    fugitives were aboard.  The Imperial Navy will enhance searches of all ships arriving
    in-system as well as those who depart for the Mirriam system.  The latter, in the
    event they might have crew or passengers sympathetic to the Ine Givar cause.
    As yet, TAS have not received comment on this news from the Arch Duke or Prince.
    Local Imperial base and facility commands have stated they will be on alert in the
    event fleeing members of the Mirriam cell, or support cells here in the Denotam system, are uncovered.

    Extolay(B45589A-A  N  G  110  Im  M2 V  M4 D)                            Date: 017-1114
    A spokesbeing for the Naval base command stated that the Oberlindes liner Voureiel had arrived in the Phlume system
    carrying those passengers rescued from the wreck of the IMS King George by the crew of the IMS Upgrade and Lady Mikah
    Kirlim.  In a brief release, the ship's master stated they had left the Arden system on the 8th day of the year and
    made no contact with the ISS Ranaza.  It was also reported they had left before the IMS Upgrade, and did not contact
    that ship's crew since it seemed they had become involved in some political mischief in that system.  Further reports
    from the Voureiel were blacked out by Imperial authorities in that system until the ship could complete its transit to
    the Regina system and the matter be properly managed there.

By ten that morning, the whole crew were up, fed and ready for the seneschalate team to arrive.  While Jocelynn watched the news cycle, she saw the image of Katja Rigg.  Looking over the woman's tattoos, Jocelynn remembered she had to get her own tattoo "fixed" or augmented after having been shot in that shoulder.  At the same time, Fesic got on the comms and ordered Cr 300 in food, snacks, appetizers and a birthday cake.  There were some jokes when Aali heard the order and asked if there'd be anyone inside the cake.  Jocelynn heard that and asked if Aali was volunteering.  The jokes went downhill from there and the crew relaxed until the officials arrived.

When the officers arrived, there was a member of the team to work with each of the crew present.  Mikah was also told that Zimzod's paperwork would be handled with him and the Arch Duke's legal team had managed Rol's paperwork.  Aali's Imperial stipend was augmented with an additional Cr 5,000 and she was granted the additional Right of Appearance to the Count of Denotam's Court.  The same was granted to Aiden.  Colinne had no existing Imperial stipend, so she was granted one in the amount of Cr 10,000 per year and the Rights to Bear Arms and Appearance to the Count of Denotam's Court.  The same were granted to Sekea and Fesic, except that they already had the Right to Bear Arms.

Jocelynn was granted 10,000 per year and the Rights to Bear Arms and Appearance to the Arch Duke's Court.  Mikah received an additional Cr 5,000 and the Right of Appearance in the Arch Duke's Court.  Zimzod and Rol each received an additional Cr 5,000 to their stipends.  When he worked with his officer, Fesic asked if they could redirect his new stipend to his investment account in the Lunion system.  The officer said they couldn't redirect the initial payment but worked with Fesic to get the data on his account so they could redirect all future payments.

The paperwork done, the officers again congratulated them on their elevations and then left them to the rest of their day.  That let the crew change if they wanted before boarding the cutter and blasting to dock with the INS Maadashmim Zikheaa.  The lift to orbit took half an hour before Aiden could orient the cutter on a vector to align and dock with the medical ship.  Those who watched were surprised how large the ship was given the more compact ships in combat effective formations.  Of course, this ship was combat capable, but was more "luxurious" in that it was more scientifically advanced.

During the docking, Mikah was told they'd made the PT technicians aware of her arrival so they could cycle down their work with Zimzod and help him clean up to be ready for the visit.  They were then escorted through compartments aboard the ship until they came to a space that was entirely devoted to caring for Zimzod.  As they walked in, Zimzod looked tired, but in much better shape than he'd any right to be in after the wounds he'd suffered in Denotam.  Seeing Mikah, Zimzod called out, "Yo babe, what's the body count up to?"  That confused the crew, who answered piecemeal that they'd lost count.

Zimzod could only give that answer a thumbs up as he smiled and showed off how well he was coming along.  When Aali asked, "So, you're in full working order, huh?" Zimzod answered, "I'm getting there."  When Jocelynn asked what he'd thought of her battledress, Zimzod smiled and said, "Just wait until we get somewhere with a well-stocked InstellArms and we'll see who can buy more toys!"  Aali shook her head and sighed, "Great!  An arms and legs race."  That got laughs from everyone in the compartment.  They were allowed nearly an hour to visit with Zimzod and talked about his coming treatment and release.  They also asked Zimzod about the "favor" but he said his head was a bit too fuzzy to consider that at the moment.

When they had to leave, Mikah was pleased with Zimzod's recovery and his range of motion.  She'd laughed when he showed off his scars and refused when he asked if she wanted to kiss them all to make sure they'd heal.  Feeling better about Zimzod's treatment and coming release, they boarded the cutter and burned for Denotam's orbital plane, before descending to the downport and berth.  While Aiden shut down the cutter, Fesic said it was party time and checked to see if the food was delivered.  Mikah didn't care about the food while she eyed the bottles and called out an elongated, "Party!"

The caterers arrived shortly after they landed, because the port security were waiting for them to be in-bound.  With the crew cracking bottles open, they smoothly moved in and laid out a healthy spread of foodstuffs from snacks and palate cleaners to side and main dishes.  To Fesic's approval, there was even a birthday cake in the center of a small display of other desserts.  Seeing the cake, Aali joked, "Is that a wedding cake?" and got lots of laughs.  When things got moving, Aali, Jocelynn and Fesic made plans to get more than a bit smashed while the others planned to manage their drinking.

Before the drinking got too advanced, Fesic announced there were presents.  That surprised Jocelynn even more as she looked to see what loot she'd gotten?  The first was a non-flowering green plant in loam, planted in a "sticky pot" that could be affixed to any surface in a starship stateroom.  That came from Fesic, who'd bought the plant just before he'd been joined by Sekea.  Seeing Fesic giving Jocelynn a gift, Sekea moved to his bedroom and grabbed the plant he'd initially bought for himself and then returned to give that to her as another gift.  Like Fesic's, it was planted in loam and a sticky pot, but Sekea told her this was a flowering plant.

After the presents, the crew lit into the food and booze at full scale.  Shortly after that, Mikah got a call and was told the funeral services would start at eleven the next morning.  After the call, Mikah announced that to the crew.  In the end, both of the whiskey bottles would be essentially killed off.  More than half the scotch whiskey was gone and Jocelynn had very much enjoyed the Ice-Berry cider.  So, that was pretty much gone too.  Nearly half the gin was gone while very little of the vodka was drunk and just more than half the bottle of bourbon was also gone.  In honor of her birthday, those awake to clean up set the ice-berry cider aside for Jocelynn to finish when she was able and wanted to.  The last to finish cleaning up finally racked out.

Unexpected Visitors
     For monday morning, the crew had either set up alarms to wake themselves or woke those who'd drank deeply the night before.  Mikah made sure they knew the Count was sending a vehicle to pick them up.  So, they were all up earlier than usual in order to be ready.  Aboard the ship, Zimzod began his fifth day of cleansing and physical therapy.  After Mikah and the gang were on the road, they arrived and were led to a place where they would sit or stand as the ceremony required.  They were in among officers from both the Navy and Marines, and on a partly raised dais from which they'd be able to see the event.  This time, despite being on a dais, they were buried deeply enough in the crowd that they were certain they'd not become part of the ceremony.

Taking their seats, the crew learned that one entire fireteam had been killed off, with two troopers from another team.  At the same time, the Lieutenant who had led the devastated fireteam was in hospital with wounds so serious his survival was doubtful too.  Added to the dead were the captain and lieutenant who'd flown the one cutter which had been targeted by the Erskin gunnery vehicle.  Those two officers had turned their cutter into the vehicle's fire dead-on, which saved the officer and troops in their cargo section.  Because of their valor, they had both been killed by the murderous fire even as other teams opened up on, and destroyed the vehicle.

When the ceremony started, the first order of business were the recognition of the dead.  Following that came the recognition of the survivors.  During that part of the event, they learned that every man who'd taken part in the operation and survived was being submitted for an MCUF, along with Purple Hearts if that trooper had been wounded.  Next came individual recognition of the dead.  In that part of the ceremony, it was announced the two officers who'd died protecting their teams would be submitted for MCG's as well as Purple Hearts, posthumously.  The rest of the dead would all receive posthumous awards as appropriate to their actions.  In the end, the devastated squad would receive replacements and a unit commendation flying the MCUF.

It was near the end of the ceremony when a military support vehicle drove quickly into the edge of the parade grounds, where an uniformed officer jumped out.  That man rushed to the position in the stands where the base commander was sitting.  After that brief moment of silence, the base commander rose and took the comms, saying he needed all personnel to move to their combat positions and stand by as they were receiving a visitation!  The entire ceremony turned into a boiling army of figures grabbing their gear and moving in many directions.  Still on the speakers, the commander then said, "Lady Mikah, I would like you and your crew to join me."  With that a number of the commander's support officers made their way to escort the crew.

Not knowing what was happening, Mikah and the others moved with the officers until they were in a vehicle with the base commander.  He said, "We are being approached by someone who has stated they want to land at this base and meet with myself and the Arch Duke."  He mysteriously continued, "Under the circumstances, you and your crew are invited to join in."  He didn't clarify what he'd said as they rode a short distance to a building which turned out to be a field tracking center.  There, he told them they were tracking that appeared to be an aircraft stolen from an Clan Erskin airfield!  The technicians there confirmed the aircraft was approaching the base in a non-threatening manner.

Not immediately informed who might be aboard, more than half the crew were willing to bet the pilot was Kennot Watalo.  When that was confirmed, they were also told he had with him the merchant, Cenawo Adsi.  Hearing that, Mikah was all for letting Jocelynn loose on the merchant until she was reminded he might still be in his battledress while Jocelynn wasn't in hers.  Given that, the Naval officer demanded they stay near his side while he had his marines handle the aircraft's arrival.  Especially since they would be in battledress and very ready to greet the men.

After the aircraft came in, they could all see it was a fixed wing craft, and even looked like a civilian model.  From the field command center, they watched as the pilot managed to bring the craft in for a proper landing and roll it to a stop on the runway.  After that, Marine forces in battledress moved in backed up by formations of troops with gauss rifles and short range TAC missiles.  After a period of commands and replies, the aircraft hatch opened and they could all see Kennot stepping out to start descending the stairs.  A battledressed figure followed behind him, which they assumed was Cenawo Adsi.  Things got tense when they could hear transmissions demanding Adsi stand down to be stripped of his armor and the man refused.

As much as Jocelynn wanted to be out there to help strip the man from his stolen armor, Jocelynn was as surprised as the others when alarms in the center indicated weapon systems had gone hot!  Still, the faceoff was very brief and Adsi must have realized that he was out gunned and under-armed despite being in the best gear he could find.  So, he must have done the math before he decided to power his weapons down.  At the same time, Kennot had done the math and dove into the arms of his captors to get out of the center of Imperial aim.  He was quickly put in cuffs and led away while the opening behind him was filled with advancing marines.  As soon as Adsi powered down, the marines moved in to begin stripping him of weapons and armor.

In the end, a field transport came out and both men were loaded onto it while their gear was scanned and secured.  The men were moved into holding and interview cells to be questioned about a number of issues which had come up while they were on-world.  Jocelynn was specifically invited to observe the questioning of Adsi, and looked forward to any answers they might get about the armor he'd worn.  Of course, the interrogation team didn't start with the battledress.  They worked their way through events, learning quickly that he and Kennot had made plans and back ups.  One of those were a pre-set pressurized structure they'd landed and set up before moving into the village.

When things had "gone bad" with the locals, Kennot fled out to that and started scoping the area for air fields to surveille.  By the time Adsi met him, Kennot had already set up a plan to steal the aircraft they'd flown back to the port on.  When asked why he'd not cut Kennot loose, Adsi admitted he needed the pilot to get aboard the man's ship when it was time to leave the system.  That led to questions about the booby traps on the cargo pod they'd recovered, and presumably would find aboard Kennot's ship.  Reacting to that, Adsi refused to speak about what he referred to as his property, legal and proper.  He was firm that he'd broken no Imperial laws and there was no legal basis for him to be questioned on that.

Of course, that led to the battledress, which Adsi claimed he'd bought legally, and should be returned to him because he could prove that transaction had been legitimate.  At that point, Jocelynn was all for ripping her way into the room and questioning the man while squeezing his throat.  A thing Jocelynn was certainly forgetting is that the serial number on the armor had been scrubbed from the Naval records.  So, once the navy files searched for that suit's serial number, they'd come up empty.  That also meant they couldn't confirm Jocelynn's claims the suit had been assigned to a Marine in her team from the Regina's Storm.  All they'd be able to prove was that the man had no rights, as granted by any Imperial organization, to use or own such a suit of armor.

So, while the suit itself promised to become a mystery, the claim he'd legally bought the armor would become a noose that could be slung around Adsi's neck.  Realizing that, Adsi refused to back off as he demanded the Navy recognize and license his ownership since he'd legally bought the armor.  Angry as she was with the situation, Jocelynn was missing how very similar his legal situation was to hers.  The difference was, the Arch Duke and Prince were on her side and no one was on Adsi's side.  Standing up, the interrogator said, "Why don't you just wait here a few seconds and we'll see what happens next."  The man then left the interview room and came to where Jocelynn stood.  As she watched, he asked, "Dame Jocelynn.  Would you like to come discuss the legality of the armor with the prisoner?"

Having been ready to rip through tempered steel to get at Adsi, Jocelynn was ready to explode and managed to give a controlled "Yes" before following the man into the room.  Walking in the door, the man said, "Mr. Adsi, I'd like to introduce you to Dame Jocelynn Guerrek, only survivor of the Regina's Storm."  When the man finished, he knew he'd pushed as many as two buttons he hoped were in the man's mind.  First, he'd mentioned the ship because he hoped Adsi knew where the armor had come from.  Next, he'd mentioned her last name because he knew Adsi would have seen it light up on his HUD just like she'd seen Cadman's name on hers.  So, even if he had no idea what the Regina's Storm was, he was certain to know her last name even if he'd never heard of her.

After the pause in his introduction, the man continued, "She would like to discuss with you the provenance of your battle dress claim."  The last was delivered with the whisper of a smile on his face which screamed "We've got you" even if he never actually said the words.  Watching the man as he started squirming while locked into his seat, Jocelynn saw Adsi's eyes go wild while he still claimed to know nothing of Dame Jocelynn or the Regina's Storm.  But Jocelynn knew his struggles meant he damn well knew something.  And what he knew scared him enough to fear them finding out.

Comforted by the thought, Jocelynn calmly sat down across the table from him, smiled a vicious smile and said, "Your body language is telling me something very different."  That came out so smoothly even the interrogator had to admire it, even though he knew she had the advantage of really hating the prisoner.  And, while Jocelynn knew she didn't have the training to intimidate the man, she hoped the raw hate would convince him she'd rip his head off for fun.

Outside the room, Mikah watched the screens both because she looked forward to any bloodshed that might happen, and she hoped that Jocelynn would somehow get better results than the failure of a interrogator on her crew.  Mikah also noted a buzzing in her head and looked around to see Colinne leaning over to whisper something into the ears of one of the detention officers.  Mikah kept watching as the man heard what Colinne had to say and then turned to have a whispered conversation with her.  Very soon, while she watched, Mikah saw the man nod and then step around so he could enter the room where Jocelynn was verbally fencing with the prisoner.

He then said, "Mr. Adsi, not to interrupt Dame Jocelynn in her questioning, but We've become aware that your legal transaction took place in a starship compartment decorated with bright blue and orange highlighted decor.  And that you were dealing with two specific people.  Perhaps, you might want to start dealing in actual facts here?"  Jocelynn knew she didn't have to be psychic to read the look on Adsi's face while he was screaming inside his head just how in any of the Universe's hells they'd learned any of that?  The man then gave up.  His posture slumped as he said, "Fine.  It's all on the financial history on my Ident.  You can check that and you'll find everything you need to know."  And they could all see the man had broken on the subject of the battledress, and they'd get any questions answered from then on.

To say the least, the interrogator had also been caught flat footed when the man had come into the room and was willing to leave with her as the man gestured to the open door and said, "Dame Jocelynn, I think we can let the prisoner stew for a bit in his own juices."  His gesture clearly meant he expected her to leave with him and the interrogator.  At the same time, Adsi demanded, "I am not a prisoner!  I affected my own rescue from hostile territory and have broken no laws!"  The man who'd come into the room only fixed Adsi with a glare and said, "Illegal possession of battledress armor carries with it a ten year maximum sentence" and didn't have to confirm that if he was convicted of wearing armor from a lost naval vessel, they'd absolutely get the maximum.  Of course, Jocelynn had forgotten why they'd never prove that in a court.

There was a moment's sudden tense silence before the Navy man finished, "I would say, Sir, that you are a prisoner."  He then again looked to Jocelynn and said, "Dame Jocelynn, if you would like to accompany me?"  He again gestured to the door as he spoke, and she rose to go with him this time.  After they joined the others, the man told them, "Well, we don't currently have anything on Kennot Watalo, but we've secured his ship.  If he has a crew, none of them have made themselves noticed.  And we plan to make certain he unlocks his ship so that we can search it good and proper before he can access it again."

Jocelynn nodded and the man continued, "And, we're also going to make sure we get full access to all of Mr. Adsi's cargo pods and find out exactly what his business is, here on Denotam, before he gets sentenced for illegal possession of battledress.  But, at this point, why don't you come down with me to the computer section?"  The man also invited Mikah to come down with them.  Arriving in the computer section, Jocelynn saw they had Cenawo Adsi's Ident wired up and said, "I can't wait to see this!"  Pointing at one of the feeds as they got closer, the man said, "It appears Mr. Adsi has been very active in Imperial, Independent and even Zhodani space."  When Mikah and Jocelynn gasped, he made it clear that many traders crossed those borders regularly, so that wasn't of much value.

What they'd found that was most interesting about his activity was the fact he'd been very active over the past three years, even without a ship of his own.  Added to that, they'd found one transaction they felt might have happened in a Zhodani port "during" the Fifth Frontier war!  While he still held out there could have been a reason that might be legitimate, it was very doubtful.  He also said that could be treason, too.  What he felt might be more important to Lady Mikah and Dame Jocelynn was a period of time after the Regina's Storm misjumped when Adsi appeared to have spent ten million credits on a single purchase.

The purchase was made from a trader aboard a starship and was not certified by a port official.  That only meant the buy was not certified by an Imperial port.  It still could have been made in orbit of an Imperial world in open space.  So, that meant little by itself.  What the deal did give them was an identifying code for a starship which was supposedly a salvage/scrounger ship.  When Jocelynn tried to get more information on the ship or anyone aboard, or whatever else was sold along with the battledress, it became clear they weren't going to give her those answers.  Deciding to push for "something", Jocelynn demanded the ship's name, and was told it had been the Sadeid Ig.

The name was Vilani, but there was no IMS, IMV or even ZMS.  So, the name claimed no registry with any empire even if it did suggest Imperial origin.  The man did suggest the data from the sale said the ship was a 2,000 dTon salvage vessel.  So, she'd make her living jumping out into the dark black spaces where nothing "should be", hoping to locate and salvage items drifting items, like a life-less shuttle.  Jocelynn said she thought it would take more than the contents of one lost shuttle to rack up a MCr 10 charge, and was reminded it depended what a buyer would pay.  The man said that Adsi may well have paid MCr 10 just to get the battledress.  So, it depended on what Adsi would spend MCr 10 on?

Jocelynn groused about the odds Adsi would confess to what he'd bought from the salvager and the navy man smiled.  He then said, "Right now, he's reconsidering a number of his life's decisions."  He then repeated that Adsi could spend a decent chunk of time in prison just for having the battledress alone.  Jocelynn nodded and said she'd like to see Adsi again after he's been allowed to sweat a good bit.  The man nodded and said that, by that time, they'd moved Adsi and Kennot to different and separated cells.  Both had been told that everything on Watalo's ship would be can-opened if they didn't cooperate and turn over the codes for the investigators to use.

When Jocelynn was finally led down to Adsi's cell, she first glared at him while he did his best to answer the look.  Finally, Jocelynn said, "I want to know who it was you bought the battledress from?"  Her tone could have been mistaken for neutral if Adsi could ignore the flame of anger in Jocelynn's eyes.  Adsi simply leaned against the back wall of his cell and said, "That's something you're gonna have to learn on your own." as if he didn't really care.  It may have been that giving them the ident data closed all his doors with him locked in.  So, Jocelynn had to admit he might not, because he knew he was stuck.  Still, Jocelynn gave him a laugh that suggested she just might rip the front of the cell from the wall and beat him to death with it, and said, "No, I don't think you understand me."

Adsi shrugged and pointed out they were on different sides of the bars, and Jocelynn said, "I can change that" in a tone that almost suggested there was glee in her mind at doing just that.  She then added, "I have friends in very high places, so I can make this a lot worse for you.  I suggest you just tell me."  Adsi only shrugged her off and gave her a look which said he was unconvinced her threats were even close to real.  Jocelynn eventually turned away because they had everything the man had in his cargo pod and aboard Kennot's ship.  When Jocelynn asked about being present when they forced his ship's portals open, the base commander was willing to discuss that with her.

Unexpected Detours And Revelations
     When she accepted the base commander's offer, he also told a junior officer to have the others transported back to the berth while the conversation went on.  After the others left, Jocelynn was invited to board a transport that moved them to another open conference space.  There, she and the base commander joined a number of other officers.  The one thing Jocelynn recognized when she scanned their uniform hardware was that the four each wore "medical" brass on their uniforms.  When she looked at the base commander, he said, "Dame Jocelynn.  These officers have told me they have business with you and would like you to go with them."

Not sure what was going on, Jocelynn agreed and followed them into their wheeled vehicle.  When that got moving, one of the officers smiled like a clinician hoping to comfort a patient and said they could start talking soon.  Watching out the windows, Jocelynn saw them cross off a road onto a tarmac and then drive up to a shuttle's ramp and then up into the belly of the shuttle!  After the vehicle came to rest in the shuttle's bay, they said they had a conference room set up and could talk there.  Following the officers, Jocelynn was just settling into a seat when she suddenly felt the vibration of the shuttle's engines sparking up!

Not sure what was going on, Jocelynn again scanned the man's uniforms and remembered she'd been "handed over to them" by the naval base commander.  So, she decided whatever was happening couldn't be that bad.  She also did her best to keep calm when she felt the shuttle begin to lift and shake as it clawed up into the atmosphere.  After the turbulence died away, Jocelynn realized they were out of the atmosphere, and was unsure where she was being taken?  When they were ready, the senior of the officers asked Jocelynn to 'come with them', and led the way from the compartment.

Not far away, they moved into what looked like a compact treatment room.  Before entering, they had Jocelynn hand over her snub pistol and dagger.  When Jocelynn asked, she was told she'd get the weapons back soon enough, "when it was safe to do so".  They then told her to calm down as she reacted, and invited her to take a seat in front of a desk in the space.  Sitting at the desk opposite her, the senior of the officers nodded to one of the others, who then stepped next to the desk where Jocelynn could see him clearly.  The man then took a relaxed stance with his hands behind his back and seemed to concentrate lightly on one of the compartment's bulkheads.

While she tried to make sense of what was happening, the senior officer told Jocelynn, "So you understand what you are seeing, all the gravitic controls in this compartment are locked.  So, what you see will be entirely controlled by the Lieutenant's mind.  Immediately after he said that, some items which had been scattered on the desktop in front of her rose into the air.  While she watched, the items quickly moved into a formation with a number of them rotating around each other.  After a brief display, the senior officer told the other man he could let the items drop and they did.  While a number of things ran through Jocelynn's thoughts, not the least of which was the precise movements of the objects, the officer sitting opposite her said, "That particular talent is called telekinesis."

In the sudden pause, Jocelynn realized all the officers were now watching her.  Nodding, Jocelynn answered, "Yes, I'm aware of the term."  As she spoke, Jocelynn did her best to return each of the officer's expressions.  Jocelynn then gave up holding back and, in a confused tone, demanded, "You're Imperial?"  The senior officer, nodded and said, "Yes we are.  We are part of the officers corp. leading psi-talents in support of Imperial operations against Zhodani psi-trained forces."  Surprised how direct his answer was, Jocelynn nodded and said, "That's quite a particular talent you have."

The officer smiled and said, "I don't actually have any talent."  He continued, "Some of the other people in this compartment do.  And some of the other people you will meet over the coming week do."  Letting that sink in for a second or two, the man continued, "What we are going to do over the next week is educate you on exactly who we are and what we do."  When Jocelynn answered, "Anything that helps fight the Zhodani", the officer nodded.  Then he pointed out, "The Zhodani have telepaths for covertly stealing secrets, jump troopers to teleport into secure and critical spaces, and clairvoyants seeking to determine our plans, at times before we know what we plan to do."  Pausing briefly, he then asked, "How is the Imperium to defend itself against those kinds of forces?"

Jocelynn had to stop suddenly, when she considered the question.  The obvious answer of 'we kill them' just didn't apply when you couldn't tell who they were, or defeat a precog who might be several steps ahead of you.  While she struggled to come up with an answer, the officer held up a hand and said, "I know.  You're just a Marine and not saddled with overall strategies."  Jocelynn could tell the smile on his face was meant to be comforting.  When Jocelynn nodded, the man told her, "The answer is that you have to have telepaths of your own.  And precogs, and all the rest."  And his answer made it clear Imperial anti-psionic laws created a gap when it came to fighting the Zhodani.

When Jocelynn agreed the Imperium had to fight the Zhodani on their own level, the officer asked how the Imperium could fight psions on their own level without Imperial psions?  He let Jocelynn consider that for a few beats before saying, "If we had revealed our psions out on the base without taking precautions, what would have been your most likely response?"  Nodding, Jocelynn said, "I'm sure you know my record, but I fought in the Fifth Frontier war near Lanth.  While I never encountered the Zhodani personally, we were fed quite a bit about them.  So, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't suspicious of them, so..."

Nodding, the officer accepted her words and told her, "There are members of your crew who we'd not do this with unless they were restrained."  Unprompted, Jocelynn admitted, "Yeah.  Fesic would be one."  The officer admitted he expected some of her crew would want to kill his officers flat out despite the Imperial need for psions.  Jocelynn nodded and then added, "After having met a couple of them and listened to their story, I became biased, I guess, is the best term.  So, I am willing to listen and willing to learn... At that, the officer interrupted her, asking, "You met a couple?  A couple of what?" and Jocelynn said, "Zhodani."

Hearing that, the man admitted he was surprised and asked Jocelynn to tell him about the encounter.  Nodding, Jocelynn then told the officers about the dinner they'd shared in the Tremous Dex system, with the crew of the ZMV Chatstoshe.  While she spoke, Jocelynn told them Lady Mikah had handed out psi-shields to everyone, which Jocelynn also admitted had slightly disappointed the Zhodani.  Nodding, the officer asked, "Would you mind if one of our people shared that memory of yours with the rest of us?"  When Jocelynn quickly said that would be OK, it surprised them.  The officers wondered if they had to worry Jocelynn might be some kind of trap?  Most Imperials wouldn't as easily submit to a telepathic invasion.  Even with people they trusted.  And Jocelynn had only just met these men.

Still, Jocelynn stood while the officers silently decided to proceed.  Unaware of the questions her behavior raised, Jocelynn assumed one of them was scanning her and tried to feel for any sense of what was being done.  And she couldn't feel a thing.  She did notice a sort of glazing of the eyes of the men around her.  But, aside from that, she felt nothing unusual.  When the officers came back to themselves, the senior man admitted that learning about that encounter added a bit of understanding to Dame Jocelynn's feelings, and the situation at hand.  He even admitted it might shorten the time they expected to need to train Jocelynn, and thanked her for volunteering her memories.

Jocelynn was told the "normal process" often took a week or a bit more, but they felt she was further along the path than they'd expected and that could shorten the time needed.  Jocelynn said she was willing, though she was certain she didn't have any psi-talents.  They nodded but laid out a course of discussion and training where she would learn the history of psions in the Imperium, and come to learn how valued they are to Imperial anti-Zhodani defenses in addition to others.  One officer reminded Jocelynn that while the Zhodani were the only race to specifically harness psionics, the Imperium was alone in not only not seeming to use psions, but to actively suppress them.

Turning to a different discussion, they then spent some time talking with Jocelynn about the odds someone would survive even if they were simply accused of being psionic.  This wasn't new to Jocelynn, even if the officers leaned a bit on the horrifying outcomes.  People outed as psions, even if they turned out not to have been a talent, faced sudden mob violence even including loved one's and close friends.  She was presented cases like a woman who suddenly developed an irrational fear her husband of decades was telepathic.  Having been caught on video, the case was well documented as others began to react to her actions.  And, after a brief outbreak of emotions, the woman was filmed grabbing a nearby knife and stabbing her husband in the chest while the mob held him and cheered her on.

When Jocelynn asked if they could prove the man had been psionic, she was told there were genetic markers.  But, the genetics of psionics were still not as well understood as they were in the Zhodani Consulate, so the markers were only suggestive and not definitive.  They did tell Jocelynn there was an entirely covert organization within the Imperial government who were responsible for tracing genetic lines in hopes of finding the stronger talents before some event led to them being killed or maimed.  So they could hopefully be safely tested and trained.  Still, the heavy hand of 'horror' was that accused psions rarely survived to fall into "official hands", and those who did were most often lobotomized for their own safety.  Jocelynn shuddered at that.

She was told that was another reason for reaching out to persons like herself.  Even if, as she'd claimed, she had no psionic potential, she was now in a position to act to save someone if they were accused of, or confirmed to have, psionic talents.  She could, as a Knight, step in and work to help those accused to escape into the hands of teams like the one she was meeting with.  She could then help to save those who might later be of significant service to the Imperium.  Eventually, as they talked, the shuttle docked with a ship who's name Jocelynn didn't know.  They transferred to less cramped compartments on that ship, and Jocelynn was shown around the space they'd work in, as well as a stateroom for her.  That was smaller than her quarters aboard the Upgrade, but she was happy she'd not be there long.  They also gave her sets of clothing to wear while with them, which were terry cloth like jumper and slacks with all the other necessities.

Now in the place they'd be working from, the officers became less formal as they got started.  The first thing they had to teach Jocelynn was how the present situation had happened?  They explained that the Imperium had been open and accepting of psions throughout much of its history.  They started an explanation of how Imperial leaders and scientists had begun looking into more completely understanding psionics.  And, perhaps, harnessing psionic citizens for the good of the empire.  They then started teaching Jocelynn about the "great psycho-history experiments of the Imperial 700's.  How those programs hoped to drive the Imperial population to fear psions, so the Empire could organize and manage them "for the good of all citizens".

The eventual goal of the project was to create a demand that all the populace be tested for psionic talent.  That would also lay the groundwork for an Imperial Psionic Registry, and the creation of a Psionic Service, which would serve the throne.  During those years, there had been psionic universities across the Imperium, and there was even funding allowed from the Zhodani Consulate.  They explained their interests as hoping to close the cultural divide between their nation and the Imperium.  Still, the Imperium had only really become aware of the Zhodani in the Imperial 100's.  And, there hadn't been much interaction between the empires until the Imperial 400's.  From that point, things started to worsen as it became obvious both empires were looking to settle and control the Spinward Marches.

While things had finally come to a head in the First Frontier War(1FW), the Imperium still had no real understanding of how the Zhodani empire worked?  And, despite another war, the 2FW in Imperial 615, the Imperium still really had no idea how the Zhodani empire worked?  It was late in the Imperial 700's that Imperial sources learned the Zhodani empire was run by Nobles of whom many were psionic!  When that hit the Imperial media, it had a dramatic effect on a series of news items which had cast Imperial psions in increasingly bad roles.  Some had been fake stories, or items that had been "punched up" to frighten Imperial citizens, thanks to the psycho-history programs.  Others had, unfortunately been real situations because being a psion didn't change how evil a criminal might be.  So, there was a wave of fear rising across the Imperium.  Many media outlets suddenly ran stories of a psionic ruling class using mind control, and mental subversion controlling an empire of Zhodani servants!

How the Zhodani rulers used their mental powers to strip all of their citizens of freedom of thought much less freedom of action.  This turned much of the rising fear into waves of panic across the Imperium.  Coupled with those stories, there were exposés of Zhodani funding sources for the Psionic Universities.  That even ignited some mob actions and much of the population of two Universities were devastated.  Even worse, responding law enforcement and even military units "pacified the crowd" by capturing and killing anyone identified as being related to the universities.  In one outstanding event, the mob had surrounded a group of particularly powerful psions using their powers to keep the crowd at bay when a team of military snipers opened up to kill all the psions.  Only after that did a military officer tell the crowd to disperse and return to their lives because the military were stepping in to protect them.  Those were the ignition points of the slaughter as the Imperial Psionic Suppression wars began in Imperial 800.

Of course, when those in the Imperial Government saw what was happening, they realized they'd gone too far themselves.  And, when they started back pedaling, and creating "Psion-Safe" units to dispatch and save who they could, they knew they'd set afire the exact resource they'd hoped to harness.  Now, their mission was to do their best to save who they could.  An advantage was that they could offer the psions they did save the chance to save other innocents, and use that as a back-handed attempt to create a covert Imperial psionic service.  Of course, they couldn't act openly, nor could they step in against the Iridium Throne when Empress Paula II signed 65 suppression orders for the Psionic Institutes, and revoked all Institute charters.  They could only regret not having sought out approval from the Throne before activating their project.

In a moment Zimzod had found ironic when he was in Jocelynn's position, she was told the shifting Imperial government had managed to save two of the universities and all their people.  Those were moved to locations who's secrecy was maintained even to the present.  Added to that, the covert work of finding and training psions was also still being carried out in the present.  Much of this "training" filled the rest of that day, and even a good part of the next morning for Jocelynn.  During that time, one of the officers had reached out to their chain of command, who connected with an officer in the Arch Duke's office.  That person called Mikah to tell her Jocelynn would "be unavailable" for the next week or so.

Accepting what she was told, Mikah reflected on the fact Jocelynn had asked a lot of questions and shown a habit of volunteering to help.  Since she'd stayed behind to ask questions, Mikah assumed she'd stepped in something and it would take a week to clean her off...  Or, return to them a body they could have an open casket for.  On the way back to the berth, there were a few jokes about "not" signing up for the Iron Buck hunting competition.  Sekea remarked on the fact he'd only expressed interest as a red herring at the time.  Aali semi-seriously joked she was the kind of girl who preferred to have someone serve her the meat instead of having to hunt it herself.

Back at the berth, Aali suggested they do a group stent training before dinner, if Colinne and Aiden were up to it?  Jocelynn was off asking her questions as far as they knew, Zimzod in medical and Rol cloning, so it would just be the three of them.  Colinne, who was leaning back in her seat and relaxing, said she was good with that and they asked Aiden if he was interested?  Fesic said he'd do more of his lock picking class, which drew a small but growing set of jokes about his single-mindedness.  Mikah just relaxed until dinner, and Sekea went back to practicing his forgery skills.

After they ate dinner, Fesic kept up with his lock pick training while Sekea did a bit more of his forgery work.  Another thing Sekea did was ask Colinne if he could borrow the book she'd bought on the flora and fauna of Denotam?  Sekea told her he hoped to do more research on breeds of plant life that had evolved on-world.  Aiden spent his evening reading and watching vids until he was ready to rack out.  After loaning Sekea her book, Colinne mostly meditated but hoped to get back to her computer-based projects.  Aali connected with the shipyard and dug into the reports on the Upgrade through the evening.  Mikah called Zimzod to let him know what was happening and make jokes about Jocelynn getting herself "abducted".  After that, Mikah hit what was left of the booze from Jocelynn's party and decided to get drunk.  Eventually the evening wound down and everyone went to sleep.

     The morning began early for both Zimzod and Jocelynn as he entered his sixth day of cleansing and she woke to chimes in her stateroom.  She got dressed and stepped out of her stateroom to see an android waiting to lead her into the small complex of compartments her team had been assigned.  When she arrived in the common space, she found others there having breakfast or preparing for the day ahead of them.  What Jocelynn learned as things got started was that the team working with her had pulled a great deal of data from operations where Imperial psions had worked to save or even been the lynch pins holding things together.

When they started, they actually picked up from where they'd left off the night before.  They first picked up with historic events and data around the psionic suppressions wars, which happened between the years 800 and 820 Imperial.  One of the things that surprised her was when Jocelynn learned the Iridium Throne had rescinded two of the Psionic University charter revocations.  While the team around her said nothing more about those universities, Jocelynn considered the fact two of them may have been saved by the Imperial government after all.  Eventually finishing that subject up, they transitioned to events where Imperial psions had "stepped in" covertly.

Each event was not simply a flat report on a data screen.  The historic and other data gathered for each event showed the situation from all possible sides.  While some of the data was often lost from some part of a point-of-view or other, there was enough data to insure the case histories were not "invented for her benefit".  They had to be honest that, in some cases, the effect had to be assumed, but the data supported the assumption.  In one such case, the file tab described a number of what Jocelynn was told were Imperial telepaths concentrating heavily.  Jocelynn was then given historic details of the battle, which had included a pre-battle forecast on the expectation of Zhodani jump commandos.  A second document from the battle file was a post-attack analysis showing a surprisingly low number of jump commando assaults.  It turned out that battle was a famous Imperial attack on Zhodani facilities in the Zhodani Ninjar system in 1109.

Remembering hearing about that attack, Jocelynn did her best to read as much as she could before the team working with her said it was time to move on to more cases.  Their job seemed to stuff her brain so full of data from obviously actual events to drive her to admit there were a great many Imperial soldiers, sailors and citizens who easily owed many millions of lives to the service of the psions.  And, as she knew, the role the psions had played was always kept one of the deepest of Imperial military secrets.  Even the analysis she'd read from the Ninjar raid had stated there was no data on why the Zhodani didn't commit their jump commando formations?  It was put up to dumb luck and unknown logistic issues on the Zhodani side.

By the end of the 40th day of the year, Jocelynn had a new definition of "Hero" to add to her dictionary.  Despite her acceptance of the facts, it seemed they were monitoring her and not ready to sign off on her beliefs.  So, despite working her into the evening, they told Jocelynn to expect more of the same the next day, before they evaluated her.  Jocelynn accepted that without asking what "evaluating her" meant?  Aboard the medical ship, Zimzod knew he was also heading for an evaluation, but knew exactly what that meant.  He also knew he had one more dance with medical crisis to pass through and the team treating him were worried about it.  They'd already stressed his body through more than they should in their path to the goal they'd been assigned.

And the climb to the peak of that hill still demanded another two days of heavy climbing.  This was 'Day 6' and tomorrow would be 'Day 7'.  And while he also knew there was no break coming.  The next day would be the last chance his PT team would have to get him in the best shape possible to get through the next drug injection.  The untrained and inexperienced thought, 'you get jabbed, sleep for a day and come out of it a month better'.  But the truth was that the body hyper-accelerates.  And when that happened, there was no way a person's digestive and other systems were gonna handle the load.  Because of that, everything he'd need had to be in an injectable form.  So, everything he would eat, drink or breath would be fed to him via a mainline IV.

So, the things his body needed would be mass-injected on a continuous basis.  Other issues he'd learned more about than he wanted to know were how his organs reacted to the flood?  Especially filtration organs, because they couldn't be bypassed without denying them what they'd need.  Because of that, Zimzod would be catheterized front and back along with a small army of in-pulmonary micro-devices.  Along with that, the Human body was constantly rebuilding and replacing as cells die off.  And that's just one of a myriad of things the body had to do which had to speed up or be medically managed by a set of round-the-clock medical staff.

In the berth, Aali checked the work on their ship and found out the resurfacing was almost done.  With most of the hull plating in place, Aali knew the wiring must have been finished too.  That would have been one of the most tedious parts of the process.  Checking on the active work being done, most of it seemed to be devoted to working on the systems integration.  Added to that, the techs were working on the computer wetware such as it was, and software integration.  The key importance of that would be the ability to receive and make sense of the data from the sensors.

Fesic spent a part of the evening at the gym he'd found on the port.  Sekea brought up going to InstellArms to shop and buy some items, and asked if anyone else wanted to go?  Aiden liked the idea of more target practice, so he said he'd go and Mikah also went along.  Aiden brought his snub pistol, auto-pistol and gauss pistol, and he planned to burn through Cr 1,000 of ammo across those weapons.  He'd then buy enough ammo to replace what he'd burned through.  Mikah brought her gauss rifle, and figured she'd burn through 400 rounds while buying 600, to add to her stored ammo at 1,000 rounds.  That cost her Cr 550.  Mikah also decided to bring her snub pistol, because she didn't use it much and needed practice.

Mikah grabbed the magazines and 30 HE rounds she had for the snub, because she figured the InstellArms would have that kind of ammo, given the Iron Bucks and clan disagreements on-world.  That eventually cost her Cr 1,500 in burned through and restocked ammo.  It also left her with 500 rounds for the future.  Sekea brought his snub pistol and two gauss pistols, planning to practice "double fisted" target practice.  Still, while he was ambidextrous, and could handle firing two weapons at a time, he had to learn how to try firing at "two different" targets at the same time.  That was because he'd only really been trained to concentrate on a single target.  And the human brain wasn't designed to track or concentrate on two separate targets at once.

He also didn't have the augmented systems Jocelynn did, to help her designate or guide for him.  So, he'd have to devote significant time to dividing his attention in combat and not getting killed for it.  Even more difficult, Sekea was used to having starship tactical systems and crew to do that for him so he could boil things down to ready decisions.  And before he could do that, Sekea felt he had to make sure he had the gear to do it.  That meant he had to buy an "across the back" harness to scabbard two of his blades in.  He also needed a second snub pistol and holster, because he had two gauss pistols.  Then, he could load up for combat with a pair of blades and guns, after deciding between snub pistols or gauss pistols.

When he explained that to his concierge, she told him they had holsters which could accommodate "either" snub or gauss pistols.  She said that meant he could replace two of the holsters he had rather than one, and didn't add that the extra holster she'd sell would goose her commission.  What Sekea heard was, "more convenient" and bought a pair of the adjustable holsters along with a snub pistol.  That cost him Cr 200 for the holsters and Cr 250 for the pistol itself.  Sekea also spent Cr 100 on a back harness which would let him wear two of his blades in a cross-back fashion.

Sekea also expected to burn through something like Cr 600 in ammunition and had brought two of his blades to the shop.  So, when he asked about practicing ranges, they asked if he also wanted to square against a practice android?  Sekea said he did, and was given the pricing for practice and target shooting ranges.  Since it had been his idea, Mikah said Sekea would pay for the ranges and he did.  Sekea also asked for the staff to roll in a pell android so he could practice with his blades.  When they'd finished with their practice, Sekea thanked his concierge for mentioning the pell 'droid earlier and said he enjoyed the work out.  He also asked if InstellArms sold those?  The woman said IA did sell the 'droids but they had no stock of them in the Denotam facility.

The woman quickly added that she was certain they'd have some models to sell in their Ghandi facility.  She also offered to send a note to that facility so they could have a number of them available for viewing and testing.  Misunderstanding, and assuming they had a stock listing from the Ghandi facility, Sekea asked for a list of the models?  She explained to him that she didn't have that data, but was certain they'd have some pell 'droids for sale, so she couldn't list the models.  Sekea thanked her and asked her to send the message.  Considering his options until they reached Ghandi, Sekea also asked for practice weapons he could use to practice with his crew.

The concierge showed him a selection and Sekea bought three practice blades that could be configured to represent a standard "Blade", or some longer forms of swords.  Those cost him Cr 150 each for a total of Cr 450.  While Aiden, Sekea and Mikah practiced target shooting, Colinne was back at the berth getting to work on her computer projects.  Done with a visit to the gym, Fesic went back to his lock pick studies until he hit the rack.  Aali had relaxed and watched vids for the evening and when she returned to the berth, Mikah grabbed a medical journal.  Aiden joined Aali watching vids until everyone eventually wrapped up and went to bed.

Decisions Reached
     As promised, Jocelynn's day began much as the officers had said the night before.  Going through record after record, Jocelynn could see they'd widened the events covered to non-combat and even non-military events.  These ran from correcting miscarriages of justice to espionage and counter-espionage operations.  Where her mind wasn't getting numb, Jocelynn had fallen into a pattern of investigation with each case shown until just after mid-day.  She was then shown a case which was, again, a war-time event.  While it wasn't a combat event, it still happened during the war.  It happened in the Imperial Fulacin system, and Jocelynn vaguely remembered reading about the discovery of a hidden Zhodani base in 1105.  The data and videos she read were from internal security operations in that system in 1108, during the war, to keep the Zhodani from connecting to the systems there.

But, what really caught Jocelynn's attention were videos of the team working to secure the computers in that base.  And what caught her attention was the fact she could see a younger version of Colinne working as part of that team!  The younger version of Colinne was also identified in the data the team showed Jocelynn, as the former marine realized this was so classified she couldn't even mention what she'd seen and now knew to Colinne herself.  Still, that hadn't stopped Jocelynn from letting out a roar of "I KNEW IT!" when she first saw Colinne on the file vid.  The team around her had specifically fought for at least one record from Colinne Paan's records, because of the power it would have in cracking Dame Jocelynn.  Of course, that had been before they saw how open Jocelynn was to psions.

After giving Jocelynn a bit of a break, they then said they'd be breaking work off early, so Jocelynn would be able to relax and interact with them casually after dinner.  Still, they kept at it hard until dinner, and Jocelynn had to admit they'd given her more than the weight of facts needed to admit a covert Imperial Psionic service had become critical to the stability and safety of the Imperium.  Jocelynn also had to smile to herself how hard she could tell the team had worked in getting her to change her mind.  It would become a polished personal stone of shining pride in her mind that she was considered so strong.  After they did break and have dinner, they also told Jocelynn that the next day would be special.  The next day, they'd test her for her own psionic potential.

In casual conversation later, they did ask Jocelynn what she thought she might have done if she'd found out about Colinne Paan on her own?  Jocelynn had to consider that question, and she noticed a number of those in the compartment were almost studying her.  Jocelynn first hedged, reminding them all she felt her biases had been lowered after having met the Zhodani crew in Tremous Dex.  Still, she admitted she'd have been as wary and on guard as she could because she felt Colinne could have gotten into her head at any time.  Probing past that answer, Jocelynn was asked if she was sure that would have been her only action?  Ironically, as a trained killer, part of Jocelynn recoiled at the idea of reacting violently.  So, she only told them, "I wouldn't have killed her outright, if that's what you're asking?"

One of the officers did tell Jocelynn that would have been within the range of reactions they'd seen.  Jocelynn just shrugged and admitted she liked to break and beat people up as much as the next marine.  But, she wouldn't just do that randomly.  When it was pointed out that wouldn't have been random, Jocelynn still stood by her position.  Some in the room thought it was cute that Dame Jocelynn really did seem to believe she could guard against a psion without a psi shield.  Jocelynn then continued that she'd have heard Colinne out, because everyone had their own story.  And she admitted she knew why Colinne hid her talents.  Jocelynn also said she'd been beginning to suspect Colinne, and didn't say she wasn't sure how far she could go explaining that.

When she tried and verbally fumbled, one of the psions said, "You mean the attack on the house in the village?"  That gave Jocelynn a kick because it was just the sort of thing she had told herself she could somehow hide from Colinne.  Only, she now found she couldn't hide it at all.  Still, she admitted that Colinne's knowledge of things was too dead on for her to just know it from the sensors.  While the chat had both wound Jocelynn up and also allowed her to relax, she did realize she'd been watched closely by some.  So, she figured it was some kind of test when they chose to return her weapons to her just a bit later.  As if that validated she'd passed the test.

The day was also Zimzod's seventh day of cleansing, and Mikah decided the night before they'd just call him and let him get on with PT.  She also knew it was the last chance the therapists had for moving Zimzod's condition forward before he got the last hit of slow drug.  So, she planned to call him and to wait and read the reports she'd get when he was done and they handed Zimzod back to the crew.  Until then, she'd relax because it would be crazy time when Zimzod got back to the berth.  Added to that, there would be even more crazy to deal with from those still in the berth with her.  If not now, then soon enough.

After he'd woken, Sekea read more from Colinne's book, and specifically researched crops the locals had managed to get to grow in their colder environment.  Sadly, one thing Sekea kept missing was that the population of Denotam was small.  So, they didn't have advanced horticultural labs.  Much of what they needed were grown in greenhouses which supported as large a space as each clan could manage.  Imperial horticultural systems were more technologically advanced, but there just were not a large number of lab-evolved flora-forms on the world.  There were a small number of agricultural breeds that had either evolved on the world or been successfully bred for survival in Denotam's various biomes.  One of those, Sekea discovered, was the basis for the Ice-Berry cider Jocelynn had liked so much.

Seeing that, Sekea focused on seeking out items that were more nutritious, or loaded with protein and survival-supporting qualities.  What Sekea hadn't told his crew mates was that he was looking for trade crops that might sell well in other systems that didn't have the technology or ability to grow them locally.  What Sekea was ignoring was that "Denotam" was exactly that kind of system.  They barely had the tech, for the most part, but didn't have the population to take advantage of it.  They had no massive farms, and while they grew in bulk, they grew it to feed their own population.  Sekea had again ignored all the data on Denotam, which said the low population were spread out in subsistence villages with few actual cities.  And that they often imported the high-grade foodstuffs from Imperial sources when they could afford it.

Even worse, Sekea had started his research asking "which crops would suit his plans", instead of asking if the world and its various societies could or would support what he expected from them?  Instead of considering that, Sekea decided to call the port's brokerage hub and see if he could get a meeting with a broker to examine his idea further.  This, of course, ignored the fact that he didn't have certification with the port to trade.  Like the many other things he'd ignored, Sekea was not looking at what he'd been told but what he planned.  In fact, Fesic had gotten his trade certifications from the port twenty days before, but Sekea never asked about certifications.  He was just certain his plan would work because he was certain his plans were correct.

Ignoring what he'd not looked at or considered, Sekea called the port and was told they could book him an hour's time with a broker.  They only wanted to know when, during the day, he wanted the meeting to happen?  Hearing that, Sekea told the operator he first wanted to talk to his ship's Captain about what he'd planned.  And, while the operator wondered why he'd called if he wasn't prepared to move forward, Sekea was told he could call back and set up an appointment when he was ready.  After cutting that line, Sekea went to talk to Mikah about his idea.  But, she only pointed him towards Fesic because he was the ship's supernumerary.  She didn't get involved with trading if she could avoid it.

Hearing that, Sekea proved he'd not been listening to Mikah when he said they could "bring Fesic into it".  Mikah had to make things clear to Sekea, saying, "I don't want anything to do with this.  You guys take care of this.  It's not my expertise."  Finally realizing Mikah didn't want to be involved, Sekea went to find Fesic and told him what he planned.  Fesic patiently waited and listened to what Sekea said he'd worked out and then pointed out their next stop would be the Ghandi system.  Fesic explained that the population of Ghandi lived in orbital arcologies and didn't grow their own food outside the hydroponic compartments they had.  So, the cargo would be worthless there.

Fesic continued, to say that after filling their bay with a cargo they couldn't sell in Ghandi, they'd be going to the Lanth system next.  And, that system was an agricultural powerhouse who's atmospheric taint was a high percentage of oxygen.  That overload of oxygen existed because of the massive amount of plant life on the world.  So, they'd not need any seeds or agricultural products, and certainly wouldn't need seedstock evolved for frozen environments.  Because of that, Fesic pointed out they'd be wasting space in their cargo bay carrying stuff they couldn't sell when they could fill the space with things they could sell.  So, he thought they'd be losing money filling their cargo space with something they hoped to sell somewhere, someday, but couldn't see where they knew they were going.

Even worse, Fesic pointed out that they'd be going to Sonthert after Lanth.  And before they left for Sonthert, they'd want to first entirely empty out their cargo bay and then fill it chock full of supplies to keep themselves alive.  Fesic then told Sekea, "I'm glad you think about these things, but you have to think about where we're going."  Proving he wasn't listening to what he'd been told, Sekea suggested they could keep the seed cargo for a longer time.  That ignored the fact Fesic had literally just said they needed "all" the space for survival goods when they left for Sonthert.  So, there was no "longer time" possible.  Because of that, Fesic shut Sekea down and said, "That's a waste of cargo space at that point."

Despite being shut down by Fesic, Sekea walked away still committed to trying to buy some small handfuls of seed to prove them all wrong.  Since Sekea had made his opinion clear, Fesic suggested the man check into the conditions he had to store any seed stock he bought, to prevent it from being damaged or accidentally germinating in storage.  Especially if they had to be refrigerated or something like that.  Fesic also told Sekea, "If you're planning to make money, you have to consider the planet you're going to more...  Almost more than the planet you're on.  You really have to factor in what's going to sell when you get there."

Escaping early after she got rid of Sekea, Mikah looked to see what Aali was doing and the engineer said she wanted to go out wandering the port, looking to connect with other crews and engineers.  She hoped to get ideas how they'd modified their ships, so she could build thoughts of what to ask the Count for.  Especially since they were running out of time to ask for the favor he'd offered them.  Like Sekea, the disappointing fact Aali missed was that Denotam had little to trade.  That meant the bulk of the ships passing through the port only visited the high port.  Or, even scooped from the gas giants without stopping in the ports at all.  So, the port bars and facilities were filled with naval spacers who'd drawn the straw and had to waste a perfectly good leave in a system like Denotam.

Added to that, space happy ratings on leave had little to do except look for entertainment.  And the male spacers wanted women for something other than discussing drive modifications.  And many of the female spacers wanted men more than they wanted to talk shop.   Failing that, they watched the vids and eventually saw the news.  So, the first reaction of men on leave, was "Look!  Women!" which was followed by, "Wait.  Is that who I think it is?"  And then, they responded as expected when high ranking celebrities arrived, casual conversations went out the window.  The most common encounter were either respectful distances kept or questions about their adventures.  Especially when it came to their recent "visit" to the Arden and Tremous Dex systems.  With Arden agitating to create a new interstellar power and Dex known as a pirate holdfast, there were questions.

After waking, Fesic went to the gym before coming back to the berth and getting back into his lock pick training.  When he finished with that, after having lunch, Fesic looked forward to joining whatever the others wanted to do.  Aiden had spent the early part of his morning plundering the berth's entertainment system and found a flight/combat game he'd spent the rest of the morning enjoying.  He'd also issued challenges to those who had free time to play head to head or in group play.  Colinne had spent a bit of her early morning wandering the areas outside the parkbay and "getting a sense" of the area.  After that, Colinne decided to compare notes with Sekea on what he'd found reading her book? Sekea was up for that, if a bit dejected Fesic and Mikah hadn't shared his enthusiasm for his trade idea.

Having picked up very little in their wanderings, Aali and Mikah came back to the berth for lunch.  While they ate, Aali could only think of one thing she wondered about, and wanted to ask Colinne's advice on.  With their new external security system being installed, Aali had watched some of Colinne's hacking work and wondered if there was a way to increase their electronic and computer security?  Colinne nodded and said there was a lot they could do to improve their security.  She reminded them all she'd suggested a number of updates she could do when Mikah hired her.  At the time, Mikah had suggested they hold off on those, until they could consider them in depth.

With the ship in the shipyard, and the technicians actively working on the ship's software, they couldn't act on that "yet".  But, they could fully install those when they got the ship back.  On top of that, they could look for improvements and upgrades to their civilian systems, or they could even ask for a full military operating system to be installed.  When she said that, it struck a nerve, because they'd have to ask for or bribe some techs to get something like that.  And the more they talked about it, the more they agreed that having a military OS installed would be the best step to improving their electronic security.  With Colinne agreeing, the women went to talk to Mikah about the idea.

When they got to Mikah, she was good with the idea.  She only asked Colinne how long such an upgrade might take, and wondered if they could get upgraded in the Denotam system?  Colinne made it clear that "if" they could get it would be based on them calling the Count to ask for it.  Then, he'd be told what the Navy could do for them, and he'd have to ask their people about how long it would take along with other issues.  Faced with that, Mikah suggested they call the Count and see what happened?  If he said he couldn't offer that, they'd have to go back to the drawing board and look for another idea for a favor.

Mikah then made the call and worked her way through the layers of technicians, aids, and other staff to reach the Count.  With him on the call, Mikah explained what they had come up with and the Count promised to look into it and see if it was within his power.  He reminded Mikah that the Imperial Navy didn't answer to the beck and call of local nobility, but sounded hopeful.  The Count promised he'd have his people check into the idea and get back to them in a few hours with what answers they could provide.  After that, Aali reconnected to her shipyard network and began going through the data there.

Aali hadn't been working at the data long when she got a ping, and saw it was one of the foremen leading the teams working on the Upgrade.  When Aali connected to the man, he instantly demanded to know what the hell she was trying to do to him?  Surprised, Aali asked what he meant and he first complained about the work they had his people doing already.  he then said, "And now I get word from the Count's people that you want us to do something else too?"  Taking a breath before answering, Aali smiled and said, "Yeah.  Is that a problem?" as if it made all the sense in the universe.  The man only answered, "You do realize we don't work for you.  Right?" and then added, "In fact, we don't work for the Count."

Aali nodded and said, "We know that.  That's why we're just doing a bit of research."  Despite that, things had progressed further than "research", and the Count was considering this a settled deal unless the shipyard people couldn't do it.  The tech shook his head and sucked in a breath or two before saying, "I'm gonna get back to my boss and tell him what we'll need, because we're still working on the software upgrades to your sensors."  He also pointed out they couldn't run competing software upgrades at the same time without creating glitches and conflicts.

Nodding, the man made it clear an OS upgrade would have to wait until they'd finished the other work.  That told Aali they'd have to stay on-world longer if they pulled the trigger on this request.  The tech said he'd update his boss on what had to be done, and he'd update the Count's people, who'd let Lady Mikah know what had to be done?  He also groused that he might someday get some vacation after all that work.  When Aali said, "We appreciate your efforts" the man asked, "Yeah, how many thousands of credits does that include?"  That suggested he thought he couldn't spend appreciation even though Mikah and her crew were doing exactly that.  Still, Aali deflected that by saying she'd have to check with her captain.

After that call, Aali went to update Mikah, so they had an idea what they'd be told when someone from the Count's offices called them.  Of course, when they did get the call, the answer had been cut down to, "It can be done but would cost Lady Mikah and her crew another week in port."  They'd also have to move the ship from the shipyard back to the naval base, because the civilian shipyard couldn't do that upgrade.  Eventually, they'd need Mikah and her command staff to visit the ship and take part in the 'codes and keys' section of the work.  But, the crew would not be berthed on the base so they'd have to move back and forth during that.

Considering the situation, Mikah suggested they pull the trigger and the others agreed.  Mikah then told Colinne she could look into "tightening" the security after they had the ship back, and Colinne nodded, and added that to her list of tasks and interests.  Still, Mikah confirmed with the Count's man that they wanted to pull the trigger on the upgrade, and he said he'd get the wheels rolling on it.  They also estimated the repair would be done between the 58ht and 60ht day of the year.  That meant Zimzod would have been released fifteen or more days before and they'd get the ship back and they'd still have three weeks and three days before Rol was decanted.

Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Mikah, Aali, Colinne, Aiden, Fesic, Sekea: In the berth
     Jocelynn: aboard an unknown Imperial Navy ship undergoing psi tolerance training and Psi testing
     Zimzod: Aboard the INS Maadashmim Zikheaa pending the third injection and a day of cleanse and observation
     Rol: Six Weeks and one day from being decanted

Next: Recovery And Reorganization