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Welcome to the

Last Updated     Mar 7 20244
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Fun With New Toys
        And Embezzlement

An Art Job
     In their berth in the Denotam downport, the crew of the IMS Upgrade were now burning time until the work on their starship was finished.  That work was being done thanks to a favor granted to them by Arch Duke Norris, though he'd left the system along with Prince Lucan only days ago.  Zimzod was pushing into his physical therapy, having had massive reconstructive surgery on the bones, muscle and tissue making up his torso.  That had been demanded thanks to his foolish and thoughtless combat actions fighting pirates in the Tremous Dex system.  And made even worse thanks to ill-advised actions in the Arden system.  His crew mates worked or played at their own interests while a system on their ship was cloning Sir Rol, who had died fighting an assassin in the Regina system.  He would be decanted in exactly five weeks' time.

Mikah planned to practice her computer skills, but the berth had limited systems, and the ship was docked at the shipyard for the work to be done.  When she asked for ideas, Colinne said she could set up some practice exercises for her.  Mikah was happy with that, and worked the rest of the day at the problems Colinne set up for her.  Zimzod continued his PT for the rest of the afternoon.  Given the options he had, and having been stuck in a hospital compartment for so long, Zimzod wanted to go out and wander outside the berth.  So, he called the port and explained his situation, saying he needed his battledress for support.  When they approved him "not being armed", he snapped into his battledress.  Still, he was allowed an honor weapon, so he brought a snub pistol.  After that, Zimzod went out for a walk in his armor, and would keep doing that daily.

Fesic picked up his lock picking training again while Jocelynn planned to go to the naval base looking for tips on what tattoo parlors were good on-world?  Sekea wanted to sit down and write his mother an x-mail about Denotam's cold-environment evolved plant species, and added a list of those plants, along with contact data he had for organizations on Denotam.  Sekea added some explanations of the Ice Berry cider they'd found.  Without more of a sample than his crew, he suggested it seemed 'universally liked', which was a massive statistical over-statement.  He suggested possibly adding that to the trade value of drinks made from the Meldo fruit would help improve Carse's trade income.  And adding them as a saleable fruit food, he suggested his they might be interested in them as trade goods.

Aali started preparing a report on the work being done on the Upgrade for Mikah, now that the ship should be close to being finished.  While she did that, Aiden wanted to get in another work out with his new toy.  While he did that, he wondered if there were virtual reality or training programs available for sword training?  Since Denotam was a low end world, his hopes to find that locally were more of a joke.  Still, he set aside his exercise, logged into the local network and checked with InstellArms.  On line, they had tutorials and offered "canned" VR instructor-led holographic programs for sale.  But the higher-end classes depended on how powerful his computer was?  And if it had holographic or other peripherals?  Aiden wasn't certain how well the Upgrade's computers could handle the classes, not to mention the computers in the berth.  And, he didn't have a pell to practice against.  Realizing that, he looked into hiring a sparring partner from InstellArms.

While checking into that, Aiden reminded himself the rest of the crew had various blade skills too.  Especially Sekea, who, Aiden remembered, had bought three adjustable practice blades just the night before.  Aiden considered that and decided to ask Sekea and the others if they wanted to take part in sparring sessions?  While he and Sekea talked about that, Aali wondered if she could get a training weapon that would let her take part?  Aali knew there'd be some things she wouldn't be able to do with a sparring weapon that wasn't laser, like her sword.  The cutlass had been Emkir's and would be mounted on her stateroom wall and not "for use".  Still, a practice sword would let her take part in the sessions they had.  Mikah also heard the conversation in the berth, and asked Sekea how many sparring blades he'd bought?  Sekea told her he'd bought three from InstellArms.  Hearing that, Mikah called to see if they had more?

When Mikah identified herself, she was connected to a concierge who was pleased to hear from her.  Mikah said what she wanted and the man said they had enough to supply her with practice blades.  He asked how many she wanted and Mikah said they wanted six.  While Mikah talked to the concierge, Sekea wondered if the blades he bought could be reconfigured to match cutlasses?  Looking them over, he saw they couldn't.  They could be made longer, but not as long as a cutlass.  And the blades were only straight, where the cutlass was curved.  Mikah asked the concierge if the sparring swords were configurable and he said they were, "within limits".  The sparring swords could be extended from a short sword to a full sword, or even a two-handed sword.  Various sections of the "blade" could be "pushed out" or "retracted in", to simulate the characteristics of various sword types.  But, they couldn't bend to mimic the curve of a cutlass.

Mikah ordered six and the concierge said they would cost her Cr 150 each.  Not wanting to over-pay, Mikah asked Sekea how much he'd paid for his blades?  He said he'd paid Cr 150 each for his three practice weapons.  Happy that was the same price Sekea'd spent on his. Mikah agreed to buy the practice blades.  She was told InstellArms would deliver the weapons later that day, for a Cr 20 fee.  Aiden overheard Mikah's conversation and said that he had a custom sword.  He asked if anyone else had custom blades, and suggested anyone owning a custom blade should get a customized practice blade too.  He also planned to buy a practice blade he'd have customized to match his sword.

Aali had a customized laser sword, but that opened up different issues.  She'd said earlier that a physical practice weapon would help her, but wouldn't let her practice a number of maneuvers the laser sword could be used for.  And, Colinne had a customized dagger.  But none of the practice weapons was that short and she couldn't do much more with her dagger than block attacks.  And Jocelynn had a custom cutlass, but none of the practice blades would be curved like that weapon.  Sekea had both a custom and standard blade.  So, there were some in the crew who could go the extra light year and order a customized practice weapon.  But, Aiden was the only one interested in taking that extra step.

When Aiden asked, Mikah put the InstellArms concierge on speaker and he asked about customizing a practice blade.  He was told he'd have to bring his custom sword in to spend time with their experts and technicians.  Since they'd started talking about have a sparring session in the berth right then, Aiden said he'd bring his sword in after dinner.  When the sparring started, Fesic even squared away his lock picking and joined in.  During the sparring, Aali got a call on her comms.  Reading the note on her comms, Aali saw it was from the X-mail system.  It was a reply from her parents, to the x-mail she'd sent on 019-1114.  At that time, she'd written about their adventures in Tremous Dex and Arden before arriving in Denotam.

Downloading and reading the letter, the response to their adventures was what she'd expected.  Reconstruction of "the estate" was going well, expecially with the Duchy paying for much of the restoration.  They confirmed the one wall to the left of the main entrance, was being left with the bullet scarring, 'as is'.  That would speak to the assault the crew made on the building.  They also confirmed Aali's middle sister Dalia was resigning her position in the Imperial Navy and returning to help their parents run the estate.  Aali chuckled because of the stink her younger sister, Engesdur, made over her position aboard the cruiser INS Tamesha Kargaa.  Since that was a Regina Navy role, they saw her often and her assignment was going very well.  Aali's parents also wrote of their experiences, fitting in with the system nobility, since they'd been granted titles by the Duchess.  Those were positive.

Jocelynn left for the naval base looking for tips on where to get her tattoo repaired?  Looking for the best chance to talk with average grunts, Jocelynn went to the enlisted club despite her recent rank.  Visitors to the base were allowed to get passes to the various on-base clubs.  Spending time there, she ran into a number of grunts who had tattoos and were willing to talk.  While most had tats from off-world, enough of them had added new ones on Denotam.  One she talked to had a habit of getting a new tat for each world she'd served on.  That woman also enjoyed showing off her tat's and telling short stories for each world represented.  Jocelynn soon learned there weren't any worthwhile tattoo providers off the base.  On-base, there were two parlors.  She also knew she had to get on-base 'visitor' credentials, because base facilities were only meant for military members, families and their visitors.  Asking opinions, eight of the ten she spoke to pointed to one specific shop.

For credentials, Jocelynn went to the base visitors center to show off her Ident and rank as a Knight.  They spoke to her and checked with the base command chain before setting her up.  Jocelynn then got the comms code for the parlor that was recommended, and called to set up an appointment.  That done, Jocelynn got directions and even a ride over to the building housing some of the base's entertainment venues.  Arriving, she saw the two artists working.  Three customers were waiting for the one and the one she had an appointment with had a customer on her table.  When it was her turn, Jocelynn showed the woman her wounded tattoo, and the bullet and surgical scars.  Nodding, the artist joked, "Someone has to learn to duck."  Jocelynn chuckled and said, "And that was through my battledress too."  Hearing that, the artist decided Jocelynn wasn't just the regular grunt and got more serious.

Checking over what she had to work with, the artist asked Jocelynn what she wanted to end up with?  She also said Jocelynn could get a doctor to repair the skin first.  Jocelynn said she wanted the black sun to be cleaned up as much as it could be, and wanted the scar left visible.  In front of the black sun, and incorporating the bullet scar, she wanted to add a smokey cloud incorporating the bottom half of the black sun.  Jocelynn specifically asked if the bullet scar itself could be enhanced by a swirl in the cloud?  Jocelynn then wanted to have the forward section of the Regina's Storm Emerging from the bottom of the cloud.  Beneath that, she wanted the calligraphed word "Storm".  The Storm had been a Wind-class vessel, so the artist could get the images she wanted to copy.  Jocelynn made it easier, saying she wanted the tattoo in black and white, not colored in.

The artist first said she'd draw out the art and let Jocelynn confirm it, before inking it permanently.  After Jocelynn agreed she wanted what was drawn, the artist would finish it in permanent ink.  Jocelynn also told her she could use as much skin as she needed.  After the first step, Jocelynn approved the drawing and thanked the artist.  Jocelynn then sat for hours while the artist did her work.  Done with the ink, the artist explained the do's and don'ts and sprayed on a dermal growth compound to encourage the skin to heal from the needle-work.  In the end, she charged Jocelynn Cr 750 for the tattoo and Jocelynn, very happy with the work, gave the artist a Cr 200 tip.  After that, the artist hung the new picture with her other works on the wall while Jocelynn went back to the berth.

While they sparred, and Aiden talked about having a practice sword customized for himself, Sekea decided to "go with" Aiden and have his "on-loan" vacc suit looked at and maintained.  So, he called InstellArms and set up an appointment to arrive with Aiden.  Sekea was very pleased when the person he spoke with said they could replace his vacc suit if desired.  Because he'd asked about combat equipment, which wasn't much sold on Denotam, Sekea had assumed they'd not be able to sell vacc suits.  That was built on when he couldn't buy executive armor in-system.  So, he jumped on the chance to replace that suit.  Sekea even said he'd want to sell the old suit, which was for someone else and didn't fit him properly.  He'd just leave with the new suit.

Having made his appointment, Sekea suggested to the others that they might all want to have their vacc suits checked at InstellArms.  He pointed out they'd been near-constantly using those since arriving on Denotam.  Mikah said she'd have Sekea carry her vacc suit to InstellArms.  Zimzod and Colinne also said they'd hand over their vacc suits.  Aiden figured he'd have his suit worked on, since he'd be there anyway.  Fesic decided to go with Aiden and Sekea, and help carry the multiple vacc suits.  Fesic would also have his vacc suit worked on while he was there.  The vacc suits each cost them Cr 3,000.  Fesic planned to bring his combat armor too, and that cost him Cr 5,000.

Eventually, Aiden, Sekea and Fesic called a mover and rode off to InstellArms.  Arriving, they turned over their vacc suits and those they'd carried, for maintenance.  Aiden said he was looking for a practice sword customized for himself.  He was told he had to buy the Cr 150 sword itself first.  He'd then work with a team of their specialists to customize the weapon.  That would cost him an Cr 1,000 more.  While Aiden worked with his concierge on that, Fesic wandered the space and browsed.  Because he said he wanted a new vacc suit, Sekea was brought to one of the many suit sales rooms.  InstellArms sold so many suits on Denotam that they had rooms to bring their customers to privately customize the suits they wanted.

Sekea's concierge explained the various parts of a vacc suit despite the fact Sekea certainly knew the information already.  The "base" of a vacc suit was the suit itself.  The most "basic" option was a standard pressurized suit.  Options included suits that could self-seal when punctured, or which had a chameleon surface along with the self-sealing option.  They also had vacc suits that were harder to damage, manufactured more as a hazardous environment suit.  But those didn't offer the same options a standard vacc suit did.  And the options offered were more expensive, like the specialized suits themselves.  Completing the suit, but sold separately were a selection of helmets.  The basic unit was the standard gold fish bowl, and came with a boom mic comms adaptor and a some other add ons.

Other options were more contoured, with a "forward-only" viewing visor.  They varied with other helmet specializations, but most involved the devices integral to the helmet.  Options centered around the viewing aperture.  A helmet could be fitted with a plain transparent steel visor.  Other options included a "face shield" made with layers allowing for IR, LI and telescopic vision.  They even had helmets where the face plate could be opened, folding up to show the face behind while still sealed.  Finally, Sekea could install a HUD, that would let him see data broadcast from other devices.  Especially since Sekea knew all the other members of the crew had HUD's, and used comm dot networks to share and exchange data.

Moving past the helmet, they then went through a list of devices that could be added to the vacc suit.  Aali had devices added "after the fact", they had to mount them outside her armor.  What Sekea bought could be installed inside his vacc suit instead.  Things like inertial locators were common, and there were whole catalogs of other such devices.  After spending some time working with Sekea on that, they moved on to the Portable Life Support System(PLSS).  Like the vacc suits themselves, the PLISS had a wide variety of options.  The standard PLSS was a basic device giving the user eight-hours of breathable air.

Everyone on the crew, including Sekea himself, had seen situations where more air was needed.  While he'd not been through a crisis demanding he abandon his ship until the King George, Sekea knew anyone in that situation might have to wait more than eight hours for rescue.  So, there were PLSS rigs that gave forty eight hours or even seventy two.  Sadly, they didn't have any seventy two hour units on Denotam, because those were too expensive for anyone to afford.  Those had to be ordered and shipped in from other systems.  There were also rebreather systems that ran the air through filters removing the carbon.  Those often added half again more time breathing clean air than the unit was rated for.

Beyond that, there were add ons like a PLISS "encasement", surrounding the PLSS in case the user fell.  It protected the PLSS from damage.  And that was just one of a catalog of third party items, including a fold-out collapsible breather "buddy extension".  That would let the user seal a collapsable transparent bag around the head of a person without a helmet and let them breath.  Of course, it wouldn't protect the second person from other effects of space on their body, so they'd have to be moved into a pressurized space very quickly to limit damage.  Of course, each option added raised the cost.  So they started with a basic vacc suit and gold fish bowl, with 5 patches thrown in, costing Cr 20,000.

Listening to the conversation Sekea was having with his concierge, Aiden got on his comms and called the others to ask what their PLSS units were rated for?  When he told the others he had a twenty four hour PLSS, Mikah said hers was forty eight.  Fesic said both his combat armor and vacc suit had twelve hours.  Aali's vacc suit was rated for twenty four hours.  Colinne was also borrowing a vacc suit from the ship which had a twenty four hour limit.  Zimzod had forty eight hours and Sekea was only just buying his.  Aiden asked if anyone wanted to upgrade theirs, and asked for the prices on the different classes of forty eight hour PLSS systems.

Aiden was told there were three general classes of PLSS with forty eight hour persistence.  The standard PLSS-48 was a basic unit which had no bells or whistles and cost Cr 10,000 on Denotam.  The PLSS-48-R had a re-breather, so it scrubbed the air and extended the unit's performance to as much as sixty hours.  That would cost Cr 16,000.  Then there was the PLSS-48-H, which didn't have a re-breather but was made of hardened materials that made it more compact.  That made it more maneuverable in tight spaces, or situations where a bulky suit could cause a problem.  That cost them Cr 20,000.  With that information, Aiden bought a rebreather unit for KCr 16.

Before Sekea decided what to buy, he asked about maintenance and was told that, undamaged, the different suit types would largely need the same basic maintenance.  Of course, he was reminded this was a suit he'd be using to protect his life.  So, it should be kept at top performance.  Annual maintenance was heavily recommended, and owners could bring their suits in more often if desired.  Looking over the history InstellArms had with his crew, Sekea was told the more 'punctures' a suit got, the more work it needed, until the owner might as well replace it.  She told Sekea that was even more important, given the frequency his ship's crew got themselves shot at.  When Sekea pushed for a comparison between the basic suits and more expensive suits, he was told the more basic, the more maintenance would be needed, because of the less expensive components it was made from, and how easy it was to damage.

Making decisions, Sekea started with a self-sealing vacc suit, and added a chameleon skin.  Sekea asked about adding camouflage for other worlds and locations and was told he'd have to buy add-on capability for each location that sold such a kit.  Next, the concierge asked about the PLSS, and how many hours Sekea wanted the PLSS to be rated for?  Sekea said he wanted a 48 hour unit.  Next, the concierge asked about a helmet.  Sekea said he wanted a self-sealing 'two seventy degree' helmet with a visor.  That would have an added HUD.  Sekea also asked about options and bought a telescopic visor layer, so he could zoom in on items half a mile out.  For another Cr 1,000, the concierge offered night vision on the telescopic option, and Sekea bought that too, for a total of Cr 44,000.

Sekea also said he wanted to sell off the vacc suit he'd been using, which had belonged to Sir Terin.  He said he wanted to keep the PLSS from that suit, so the ship would have a spare.  The concierge nodded and offered him Cr 8,000 for the suit without the PLSS.  Because that suit belonged to the ship, the money for that was reverse charged to their ship's account for Mikah to deal with.  When she heard the ping from her comms, Mikah checked and added that to the ship's funds.  They currently had just above 7.5 million credits.  Done with his main suit, Sekea said he also wanted a basic suit, like they'd first discussed at the start.  Nodding, the concierge sold him a basic goldfish bowl, suit and 8 hour PLSS for Cr 20,000.  Being "very nice", the concierge threw in two "5-patch" kits for free.  It was ironic that Sekea had already grabbed 9 patches from the ship's locker.

During the evening, Aiden and Aali reminded Mikah they wanted to back up their neural images, since they had access to the ship now.  Aali also said it was important because they wouldn't have access to the ship during the computer operating system upgrade.  When Mikah said they'd do that 'one per day', Aali suggested they get both done the next day, and muttered about annoying the technicians working on their ship.  Aali also more clearly said, that when they moved the ship and started the OS upgrades, all the computers would be shut down.  So, they wouldn't be able to do anything on the ship at all.  And might not be allowed to visit the naval base except to recover the ship.  Even Rol's gestation chamber and the required cloning computer would have to be shunted to an 'off-system' power source and cut from the main computers.  Eventually, everyone returned to the berth and they bedded down.

Trade And Entertainment
     During breakfast, Jocelynn considered bringing her gear to InstellArms for maintenance, because she was only starting to learn some of the many things she had to learn.  And, Rol wouldn't be 'back' for more than a month.  With her battledress cared for by the local navy techs, Jocelynn planned to drag her vacc suit and combat armor to InstellArms, since she hadn't the day before.  When she said so, Mikah said she wanted to go with Jocelynn, but she had to fly the cutter to the shipyard and take care of the neural scans.  So, Mikah agreed she'd have to go another time to get her vacc suit worked on.  She still gave Jocelynn her combat armor to have maintenance done on it.

That conversation moved into talk about the cargoes they had to carry to pay for the ship's fuel and needs.  That brought to the ton and a half of goods from the tailor shop Mikah bought the contents of, and the half-ton of furs she'd bought.  Fesic suggested trying to sell them on Denotam, before they bought a real cargo and launched.  That might work because they were already trade items on Denotam already.  Still, they'd paid real money for the loads and weren't guaranteed to make that money back.  They didn't know the local trade networks.  And, hiring a broker would cost them a percentage off the top.  So, doing that could cost them.  They also had no idea where they'd get good percentages on what could, at best, be called "Rustic Clothing Items" and "Natural Fur Skins" on the interstellar market.  Those goods had some markets, like the rich worlds looking for quirky items or the barren worlds, looking for natural goods.

When Fesic asked Mikah for permission to get rid of the stuff, Mikah said, "If you can sell it, go ahead."  Still, he had to remember they'd spent KCr 50 on the tailor's shop contents and KCr 18 for the furs.  So, the job Fesic faced was to make a profit, not just "get rid of them".  When Jocelynn asked if they could go through the stuff first, Mikah said everyone should go through it and grab what they wanted before Fesic sold it.  After eating, Jocelynn went to the furs first.  She wanted something she could throw on her bunk, to give the stateroom a rustic look.  Sadly, the one fur she "really" liked turned out to be an Iron Buck skin, and was both very thick and heavy.  She also found a much more forgiving skin that would suit for her bed.  She took both while trying to figure out what she could do with the buck skin?

While the others started going through the furs and clothing, Zimzod asked "what all the shit was?"  Mikah reminded him she'd told him about the village they'd attacked.  She also reminded him they'd played trader in the village for a day, while gathering information.  When Zimzod nodded, she told him about the tailor and the furs she said she bought.  The women also mentioned some jewelry, and Jocelynn and Sekea mentioned blades.  Aiden kept quiet about his pistol, because it was likely nothing more than a curio.  Especially after he'd had to pay extra for the ammo the weapon needed.  Zimzod shrugged and figured he'd check out the stuff, but eventually said, "This stuff is garbage.  I'd shoot people wearing this."  He did like the idea of enhancing his armor with the Iron Buck hide, but Jocelynn had that first, so he let it go.  He did say it could be used for leather plates glued over a battledress suit's surfaces.

Mikah, Jocelynn and Colinne wanted fur-lined gloves, mittens, hats and boots.  They were each able to find pairs for themselves and testing showed they were surprisingly water proof.  After the fabric-fest ended, Jocelynn grabbed Mikah's combat armor and went off to InstellArms while Mikah flew the cutter to the shipyard to backup Aali and Aiden's neural images.  At the same time, Fesic didn't think the fabrics and furs were worth anything.  So, he went off to the gym before coming back to the berth to pick up his lock picking class.  Done with the fabrics, Colinne went back to her computer work.  Zimzod did his PT and took a battledress-augmented walk around the neighborhood.

The first to return to the berth was Jocelynn.  While she relaxed, Mikah and the others eventually got back, in the cutter.  Mikah decided to work on the computer exercises Colinne made for her for the afternoon.  She figured, if she needed a change of pace, she'd go back to reading up on medical journals.  Zimzod was shifting to 'fine-dexterity' physical therapy.  When Sekea told the others he wanted to go into town to look for bottles of Ice Berry cider, Zimzod said he'd go along.  Hearing that, Jocelynn went along with them, to watch after Zimzod.

Fesic worked on lock picking until it was time to leave for his appointment with the broker.  While he was leaving, Aali sat down with Colinne to plan out how they should handle starting up the ship's systems, and the shakedown cruise after getting the ship back.  Colinne admitted she only had responsibility for the ships primary and sub-computer systems.  So, the "startup" was all on Aali and her 'droids.  Colinne also admitted that none of the computer systems would start until power was flowing.  That would come from the ship's reactor after Aali got that running and opened those resister gates.  Following that, they had three things they had to care about testing?  First, was the new operating system, and that was all Colinne.  Next would be the ground camera systems, and that would be for the bridge crew to test.

Finally, when they were in space, they could test the sensor system.  Both Aali and Colinne agreed it would be nice if they could find a way to buy, or rent, a sensor drone missile.  That way, after they were far enough out of Denotam's traffic patterns, they could launch the missile and see how far, and under what conditions, they could track it?  They'd have to to look into that, and perhaps check both InstellArms and the other specialty weapons venders.  A lot rested on what had been changed in all the work, and what they could test?  They obviously couldn't make a "Test jump" without actually making a micro-jump at the least.  Yes, Aali could trickle power to the lanthanum grid while the engineering computers mapped how the power flowed.  But that was something you did sitting in the berth before even asking the port for flight priority.

A last issue would be any list of civilian device drivers that the naval techs couldn't recover from the backup they'd make of their ship's "arrival state".  With so many tricked out or specialty items built into the yacht, there was a good chance at least one or two drivers wouldn't be installed until they hit the closest Class A port and got those installed.  That would likely be things like the drivers controlling the specially comfortable crew seats or the like.  Primary and control system drivers were generally widely broadcast and the navy had them.  After that chat, Aali told the others she hoped to have a stent class that evening, and Colinne said that was likely.

While eating lunch, Aiden talked about bringing his combat armor to InstellArms, because he'd been going to orbit when Jocelynn had left that morning.  Despite that, Aiden asked those staying in the berth if they wanted to spar?  When Mikah and Aali agreed to do that, they broke out the practice blades and began beating on each other.  At the same time, Fesic had gone to the offices of Forlu Penan, who welcomed and sat Fesic down.  He reminded Fesic he was a trade broker, not a financial adviser.  He continued that while he had financial skills, he was not registered or constrained in the ways a financial adviser would be.  That said, he made it clear he'd charge the same broker fees for whatever financial deal Fesic wanted to carry out.

When Fesic realized he'd be paying 20% of the value, meaning Cr 4,000, for what he wanted to do, he complained it seemed excessive based on what he'd paid investment brokers before.  Nodding, Mr. Penan reminded Fesic he'd spent a good deal of time reminding Fesic he wasn't an investment broker.  Accepting that, Fesic asked if Penan could recommend an investment broker to deal with?  Mr. Penan recommended a Mr. Nigan Dolenwhre and actually called the man with Fesic in his office, to make an appointment.  Nigan said he could see Fesic the next day, and asked what time would be good?  Fesic chose the morning so Nigan suggested 10am and Fesic accepted.

Fesic agreed with that and they ended the call.  Fesic then thanked Penan and told him the entire crew appreciated the work he'd done for them on the sales.  Leaving the man's office, Fesic didn't thank him for not charging for the time wasted in the meeting they'd had.  Penan had only said he was happy they were satisfied and asked Fesic to spread the word.  Getting back to the berth, Fesic dove back into his lock picking classes.  At the same time, Zimzod, Sekea and Jocelynn had gone into town looking for Iced Berry Cider.

By the time Fesic finished his very short meeting with Penan, they had reached the village and wandered a bit looking for a new place to ask for the stuff.  Sekea told them he only wanted one or two bottles, but didn't say "why" he wanted them?  So, his continuing education would happen later.  Sekea also surprised them by announcing he'd be looking for anyone selling packets of seeds for the plants he'd focused his research on when Fesic told him to give up the trade idea.  All Jocelynn and Zimzod could do was roll their eyes because Sekea obviously hadn't learned any lessons from that conversation.

When Sekea said he planned to spend the next three hours searching for what he wanted, Zimzod worried because he had to be careful not to over-load his system.  Sekea waived that off, saying they could take breaks when Zimzod needed, so they were all good.  Jocelynn also volunteered to help care for Zimzod's needs whenever he had to stop.  So, they agreed to take it slow and steady, and spend the stopping points considering their search patterns.  Not long into their wandering, Jocelynn and Sekea decided to take him to the bar where they'd seen the knife dueling machine.  Along the way, Jocelynn described it to him and Zimzod liked the idea, so he looked forward to seeing the machine.

At the bar, they sat and watched the light traffic in the bar, and using the machine.  They each bought a Cr 5 drink and waited, so they didn't seem eager when they asked about the cider.  Zimzod liked the place because it was half bar and half arcade games.  Eventually, while nursing their drinks, Sekea asked the bar tender if they had any bottles of Iced berry cider?  The guy tending bar said, "Yeah, we sell a few bottles regularly."  Because he knew the name right off, they could guess it was common enough and might be popular at that bar.  When the guy asked why Sekea had asked, Zimzod asked how much for a bottle of the stuff?  After considering things a bit, the man offered Cr 42 a bottle, which was a good price.

Turning back to the others, in a voice he thought the guy at the bar wouldn't hear, Zimzod asked how much they'd paid at the last place?  Jocelynn said they'd paid Cr 40 a bottle.  Ignoring the fact they'd gotten that price because the man at the other place recognized Fesic as a 'repeat customer', Zimzod turned back to the bar man and asked how many bottles they had?  The man scratched his head and asked if they wanted him to check?  When Zimzod asked him to, the man checked and said he had five cases.  Ignoring the fact he was already getting a good price, Zimzod asked, "What kind of a discount will you give me if I buy all five cases?"  The man smiled back and asked why he should give them a discount at all, since he'd already offered a low price.

Jocelynn smiled and said, "Your loss."  The bar man didn't like that, because he'd been friendly and started with what he felt was a good price.  And these people seemed to just be turning into assholes.  Still, the bar had more than they needed in stock.  So, when Zimzod said, "I guess I look someplace else." the man offered, "I'll give you forty one per bottle."  When Zimzod then said, "How about forty a bottle." the guy was done being nice.  He decided to be an asshole too and said, "How about forty three a bottle."  At that point, he didn't care if they bought the stuff or left.  While that change of direction and 'nasty' knocked Jocelynn back a bit, Zimzod said, "How about we go back to forty one a bottle?"  The guy figured his boss would be happy because they did have an overstock of the stuff and this was still a profit.

When Zimzod agreed to pay forty one a bottle, and asked to have it moved to his ship, the bar man was good with that.  He even threw in a sixth case, to clear more space.  By no means was he dumping the stuff, and he was still making a profit.  So, the final bill, with a Cr 50 fee for delivery to their ship was Cr 3,000.  Sekea reminded Zimzod he wanted two of those bottles for himself and Jocelynn said he could have a whole case to himself.  Still, Zimzod said Sekea could bounce him Cr 82 for his two bottles.  The buy ended up costing Zimzod Cr 2,918.  With that very early success, Zimzod figured they'd ask about the booze as they wandered, but they'd concentrate on helping Sekea find the seeds he wanted.

The afternoon continued with the group wandering about the village and taking rest stops for Zimzod.  They did find more places with various stocks of the Iced Berry cider, but the prices they were offered were much closer to, if not over, Cr 50 a bottle.  With six cases in hand, they passed those by.  They also stopped in places because Zimzod had never visited the village before and wanted to check them out.  So, they'd also had a few more drinks while wandering.  After three hours, Sekea was eventually able to collect thirty packets of various seeds for Cr 40.  When he checked, five of those packets were for the plant that grew the fruit used to make the Iced Cherry cider.  After that, they decided to catch one of the free carts to InstellArms, to get in some shooting practice.

Toys And Payments
     The one thing that impressed Zimzod, right off, was that InstellArms was so concerned about making their profits that they had free trams and other busses moving people to the venue.  It suggested the venue was perhaps too large to support itself on Denotam.  Thanks to facial recognition on the tram, there was a concierge waiting for each of them when they got to the entrance.  Two of the three concierges turned to Sekea and Jocelynn asking what more they could do, because she'd been there that morning and Sekea the night before.  Zimzod's concierge looked forward to helping him with what he needed, because he'd not visited for some time, so she hoped today was her pay day.

When she asked Zimzod what she could help him with, he said he wanted a practice cutlass.  Jocelynn told her concierge she was just there helping Zimzod and Sekea said he was with the other two Knights.  He did say they all planned to do some practice shooting after Zimzod shopped.  So, two of the concierges were disappointed but helped as the three knights were loaded onto a cart with Zimzod's concierge.  When the woman showed Zimzod their options, the blades were non-adjustable wood or hybrid plastic/ceramic weapons and Zimzod bought a wood practice cutlass for Cr 40.  When Zimzod decided to browse and see what he wanted, Jocelynn asked if he wanted to talk to them about upgrading his battledress?

None of them noticed the "Credit symbols" that suddenly appeared in the concierge's eyes when Jocelynn said that.  When Zimzod said he thought that was something the Count did for her, Jocelynn reminded him he could always ask what they had in stock that he could buy?  And have installed?  Almost vibrating with glee, the concierge could have kissed Jocelynn as she wondered just how high she could jack her commission?  Jocelynn also said the location had a small number of Battledress suits, but they were all older and possibly a bit broke down.  Nodding, the concierge said they could go to the battledress section of the shop while also reserving a practice range for them.

Zimzod had his snub pistol with him, and planned to burn through Cr 200 worth of rounds.  Jocelynn had her gauss pistol and planned to burn through Cr 300 rounds.  Sekea had his snub pistol with him and planned to burn through Cr 1,000 worth of rounds of ball ammo.  Jocelynn paid for the rental on the range.  But first, there was battledress to shop for!  The concierge had the driver take them to that section while asking Zimzod what he'd like to add to his current battledress?  She also asked him what model he had, which was, like Jocelynn, another LSP TL F model.  Only his was a ground trooper model rather than a ship's trooper model.  Still, there wasn't much difference.

While Zimzod considered that, the concierge was again pleased when Jocelynn stepped in saying she could tell him about her upgrades, or give advice too.  Zimzod first asked what weapon systems they could add to his armor?  Checking her noteputer, the concierge said they had a kit in stock to add a blister on the arm, above the elbow, so they could mount a laser pistol there.  Zimzod liked that idea, but said he was hoping for something with more punch.  Pointing to the battledress suits they had on display, there were three "trooper" models, one "Sapper" model and an "Assault" unit.  The last suit had a damaged but repairable back-mounted rocket launch system on it.  Jocelynn and Sekea had seen those back on the 29th day of the year, when they'd visited InstellArms.  Back then, Jocelynn had considered trading her suit for the sapper unit, only to find out she'd need MCr 1 more to make the trade work.  She hadn't gotten more pricing for them at the time.

Unfortunately, that was only a small arms kit, where Zimzod wanted something with more punch to it.  While the concierge checked her stock again, Jocelynn looked at what they had on display.  She knew every InstellArms had a few suits "just in case" someone had permission and could afford them.  Or, supposedly, could bribe them to sell the unit and a way of smuggling it into whatever service they planned to buy it for.  Jocelynn asked Zimzod if they should consider buying the sapper or assault armor for Rol, even if it was last used a century before?  Still, they were old enough that modern upgrades wouldn't work, and they'd have to search through antique arms collectors for working components or software loads.  That meant that even if they did buy one of those suits, it could end up being a money pit.

The concierge told Zimzod the only thing she could find was a grav-harness they felt certain they could retro-fit into his armor.  That would give him a good number of hours of flight capability.  Jocelynn reminded him, the Count's people had installed one of those in her suit.  As she sidled up to him, Jocelynn poked Zimzod in the ribs and stage-whispered, "I made a bombing run with it.  It's fun."  Zimzod turned to see the sparkle in her eyes and big smile on her face.  The concierge was glad Dame Jocelynn wasn't asking for a share of the commission on this sale as she hoped the knight would bite.  Then, Zimzod nodded and said he'd buy the system, asking how much it would cost?  The concierge told Zimzod the system itself would cost him KCr 30, and after he brought the armor in to be worked on, they'd charge him KCr 20 for the week of work it would take to install it properly.

The concierge wasted no time getting Zimzod to authorize the work and schedule to deliver the battledress the next day.  While he was signing the work order, he asked about grenade launchers and the concierge told him they had none in stock.  Jocelynn also complained a bit about them not having grenades for her launcher either.  That led to Zimzod asking about training to use the weapon.  And the concierge said that wasn't an issue.  She explained that, after the weapon system was installed, it was managed by his suit's battle computer.  All Zimzod had to do was designate a target for the weapon.  Then, the battle computer AI would take a 'thumbprint' of the target's characteristics.  Everything from IR heat levels to physical data.  It would then do it's best to determine firing solutions and aim/fire the weapon whenever it had a working solution.  The AI could also block that fire in the event the identified target displayed behavior associated with surrendering, like raising hands or dropping weapons.

Hearing that, Zimzod said, "That sounds damn useful!" and agreed to buy the weapon kit and have it installed.  Both the buy and install would cost Zimzod another Cr 10,000.  Hearing the conversations, Sekea stepped over to the concierge and asked if there was something he could use, with or without armor, that could provide him grav-assisted flight?  The concierge was both pleased at the question and Really happy the other concierges had assumed Sir Sekea and Dame Jocelynn weren't planning to buy anything and peeled off.  Sticking that thought in a corner for now, she started explaining his options to the knight for a personal grav-belt.  She told him of grav-belts he could put on his body and grav-harnesses which could raise him and his vacc suit or combat armor.  When he asked how much the harness would cost, he was told Cr 15,000.

When Sekea decided to buy the belt, he asked about using it to prevent falls, like in crevasses.  The concierge stopped him and said the harness couldn't help him unless it was active and properly set.  So, as it was, it wouldn't save him from falls.  Sekea listened while she explained that nothing will save a person "after" they started falling, unless they had a very long fall.  She then said he'd have to be wearing the belt and have it active and on a setting that would maintain his "walking altitude" in case of a crevasse.  She did offer an add-on sensor that would keep him suspended if the ground suddenly dropped out from under him.  It would alter his position only if he intentionally moved to a higher or lower ground position.  That would cost him an additional Cr 5,000.  Sekea thanked her for explaining that caveat and bought the harness and sensor.  The concierge then asked if Sekea would wear the harness back to the berth or want it shipped for Cr 20?  Sekea had it shipped.

After the three got back to the berth from InstellArms, they had time for those with stents to have a shared stent training session.  To that point, Colinne had first been doing needed computer work.  And, she mixed in some "fun work", because they were staying in this system longer and longer.  So, part of her fun was spent invading different networks, to see just how far she could get.  Added to that, she'd recently started doing the work to hack into Denotam-local systems, even including some of the low level banks.  She also hacked a number of ships on the port, so anything "she" did would come from one of those ships instead of theirs.  Or even from their berth.  The furthest she'd gotten so far were a number of fake bank accounts in several Erskin banks.  That was done for the day when they started the stent class.  And, after that was done, people went to sleep.

Antiques And Information
     After they woke and while they were eating breakfast, Aali brought up the idea of raising a bonus to pay the shipyard workers.  When she was asked why, especially by people like Mikah who seemed to be enjoying making the ship worker's lives harder, Aali pointed out they didn't want the techs making "mistakes".  Especially "accidental" mistakes that weren't really so accidental.  Especially since Mikah seemed to be going out of her way to make their lives more difficult.  Things were always fun until some key system went out, or they were stuck in a misjump.  So, Aali wanted to do something to lower the temperature on the ship yard.  Especially because the techs would be done with the ship soon and their window to act was shrinking.

Nodding, Mikah decided Aali might have a point and said they'd see what they could do later.  They joked about bringing the techs chocolate and other physical bribes but those got smacked aside.  When Zimzod said to give them a case of the Ice Berry cider, Jocelynn said, "Oh no, no no." and made it clear there were lines she wouldn't let them cross.  Finally, everyone agreed that money was the right way to go in this case.  And not money for a leader to hand out, but cash for all of them.  At that point, they started wondering how many technicians they'd have to pay off?  They guessed there had to be at least 100 technicians working on the ship.  When Jocelynn wondered how they'd get the money to the techs, Colinne suggested they get the foreman to call the techs together, then start handing out the cash.  Mikah said they'd be ready to hand out cash the next time they went into orbit.

Done discussing the "tip", Colinne then reminded Mikah she'd downloaded three 'K'Kree vs Hiver' movies because Mikah had said she wanted to wait for Zimzod to get back from medical.  And, now Zimzod had returned.  Colinne didn't say she wanted to watch the movies too.  Before Mikah could answer that, Zimzod said he had to hump his battledress to InstellArms and wondered if anyone else wanted to go with him?  Jumping on the bandwagon before anyone could answer him, Jocelynn said they'd seen a suit of battledress for sale at InstellArms, and they were considering trying to get Rol "permission to own" and buy it for him.

Fesic said he'd also been quietly thinking about how to get Rol a battledress suit himself.  So, now that Jocelynn and Zimzod were on it, he wanted to join in and help.  When Fesic started asking about costs, they reminded him they'd seen the suit at InstellArms.  So, they already knew how much it cost.  Nodding that off, Fesic started talking about any favors they had left, and was asked if he'd been paying attention over the last month?  In fact, Jocelynn had used her favor to get her battledress upgraded.  And the "crew favor" had been used to get the ship's computers upgrade to work on a military operating system.  So, he should know they'd used up all their favors.

Talking cold hard cash, since they had nothing else to offer, there were three basic "Trooper suits", like the ones Zimzod and Jocelynn had.  Still, they were over 100 years old and had last likely been used in the Third Frontier War.  That had ended in 986 TI.  One of the suits was a "Ship" trooper's suit while the other two were "surface" suits.  The key difference were small things like the ship suits having wearer-controlled magnetic boot soles.  The forth suit was an "Assault" suit, which had a repairable or replaceable backpack missile launching system.  It also had a grav-system and hip-mounted grenade launcher, along with a shoulder-mounted integral laser carbine.

The last suit was the sapper unit, designed for infiltration and intrusion.  That suit had specialized counter-measures, electronic intrusion and specialist computer modules allowing an operative in the armor to defeat a large number of security obstructions.  This ranged from short-range mine detection to the tools needed to defeat mines to on-building security systems to...whatever.  As simple as barbed wire cutting to code-segment libraries to defeat electronic sentries.  On top of that, it had a grav-system.  So, while they were all tech level D or E, the trooper suits were going for between MCr 3.5 to MCr 4.4.  The assault suit went for MCr 5.3 and the sapper was priced at MCr 5.9.  Ironically, Aali remembered being in Frank's with Rol when she was buying her combat armor.  Back in that shop, they had at least two Third Frontier War suits for under MCr 2.  Different System, different prices.

Done discussing theoretics, Jocelynn joined Zimzod when he brought his battledress to InstellArms.  Fesic had a 10 am appointment with his money man and didn't want to miss that.  At InstellArms, they gave each of the battledress suits a more complete eye balling, along with checking into all the 1000 IT vintage hardware and software packages InstellArms had, not to mention the one's they could guess the Ghandi InstellArms might have.  The three concierges were understandably very excited.  The final decision was that it'd cost them too much to get Rol a 100-year old suit that had to be "up-teched" from there.  And that would cost well over MCr 12 and still be over 100 years.  So, they decided they could go to the naval base and start sniffing around getting Rol permission to own a suit.  They could find and buy later.  So, they disappointed the concierges and left for the base.

Back at the berth, Mikah was still working on the computer problems Colinne had set up for her.  She planned to watch the K'Kree vs Hiver movies when Zimzod got back from InstellArms.  Sekea planned to spend the day working on his forgery and computer work unless called on for something else.  Aiden decided to continue keeping his father in the loop some weeks before.  Part of that was keeping "raw" notes in a journal file on his hand-comp.  He'd filter out of that things his father didn't need to know, or that he shouldn't tell anyone.  The filtered data went into a draft x-mail, which he'd eventually send to his father.  With the others busy, he sat down to do that and planned some exercise before lunch.

While Aiden wrote, he also wondered what was on the news, and turned on the vid in the berth's common spaces.  He set it to one of the interstellar news settings, then listened as the stories rolled:

    Porozlo (A867A74-B  Hi  G  201  Im  M1 V  M9 D)                                                                   Date: 365-1113
    A financial crisis has exploded within the Private Ownership nation of Stepozhevac, on the balkanized world of Porozlo.
    This issue had apparently been quietly growing from events earlier in 1113, when that nation seemed to suffer mysterious
    financial shortfalls.  More recently, when failures cut funding for large government programs, the ruling council apparently
    split into factions.  Each faction appeared to be accusing the others of being to blame for the sudden issues.

    Things have recently come to a head, with the military moving in to seize a number of major national banks.  In an event
    similar to the 1105 coup where junior military officers brought down the previous free-trade government, high ranking
    officers did not bring down any of the factions but did seize a bulk of the nation's hard currency and precious metal
    stores.  Those nations bordering Stepozhevac have raised alert statuses and moved some military units to their borders.

    In response to these events, Marquis Insadshiir Manerdagur has requested additional defensive forces from both the Imperial
    Navy and Colonial fleets of the Rhylanor subsector.  Emergency requests have been made to the office of Duke Leonard and
    the Rhylanor subsector Senate.  When asked about the situation, Marquis Insadshiir said it was hard to know exactly what
    was happening between the Stepozhevaci factions?  He commented on numerous reports of low level shootouts and other actions,
    but confirmed that no actual combat had broken out as yet.  The Marquis was unwilling to guess if that kind of event might
    be in the offing.

    On the ground, our reporters have sought to question those officials they could in the various governments.  Reporters in
    Stepozhevac have only been able to get bombastic and accusatory statements.  There is some level of comfort gained because
    none of the statements rose to threats or ultimatums and it does seem the factions are talking.  Still, the leaderships of
    the surrounding nations are quietly preparing and only making statements of willingness to aid and provide friendly support
    to prevent harm coming to the Stepozhevac nation and their citizens.  Still, one high ranking officer who spoke on the
    condition his nation, name and rank be redacted, suggested his nation already had done the work to map out which sections
    of the Stepozhevaci population on their shared border might accept his nation's rule if the borders suffered an "adjustment".
    To say the least, the situation on-world is very tense.

Hearing that story read out, Mikah suddenly recalled the computer files she still had from Brian's copy of the Councilor's hand computer.  She also remembered those files had the data needed to locate and access all the Stepozhevaci nation's banking accounts.  Moving to dig that crystal from her gear, Mikah rushed it to Colinne and called out the her name.  When Colinne answered, "Electronic pool.  Hop in and get a shock", Mikah said, "I have a job for you."  Looking over her shoulder, Mikah happily called to the others, "We might be able to afford that armor for Rol."  When Colinne asked, "Oh really?" Mikah already had her interest.  Colinne looked forward to the coming explanation.  They then chatted while the more news stories played out.

    Ivendo (B324659-A  2  Ni  G  112  Im  A9 V)                                                                           Date: 028-1114
    In an unexpected move, the command staff of the Ivendo Combat Command called an unscheduled press conference.  With the
    press gathered, Spokesman Commodore Mouhus Stostofi called the gathering to order.  The Commodore said he served Fleet
    Admiral Stvi, and was there to brief the public on a matter of interstellar concern.  Calming a brief interruption, the
    Commodore said squadrons of the 18th Imperial Fleet were detached from duties based out of the Ivendo and D'Ganzio naval
    bases.  He continued that those fleet elements were combined into a task force ordered to follow up on intelligence
    determined by units of the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service.

    The Commodore reminded the media that Imperial Navy and scout units had been working, since assaults began in the Natoko
    system, to check space local to brown stars and other space not recorded on interstellar atlases.  In an area of space
    roughly two parsecs trailing of the D'Ganzio system and two parsecs spinward by spinward-riftward from Ivendo, ISS crews
    identified an unknown base operating in orbit of a brown star.  With the data they gathered, the Imperial Navy acted,
    dispatching Task Force 136.  Commanded by Commodore Urtri Yerepin, the task force made "entry at speed", and were able
    to tangent the base while avoiding the local star.  This allowed naval ships to disable or degrade the combat capabilities
    of most vessels in the system.  Several hours of maneuvers allowed the ships assigned to the task force to take control
    of all craft then able to flee the site.

    Commodore Mouhus reminded the media this was the second time such a covert base had been discovered since the end of the
    Fifth Frontier War.  Naval inspectors and investigators were working to determine if this newest event was related to the
    Natoko violation of Imperial Edict or was a separate event, as had been the discovery of the Sword World Bryn Avgrunn
    Station.  For those who did not know the reference, the Commodore reminded all of the covert base.  Explorers from the
    Narsil system discovered a sun-less gas giant in 883 TI, keeping that discovery a secret from other Sword World governments.
    Naming it "Kolsvart" they first planned a fueling station, making it cheaper for civilian traffic to get to and from Enos.
    Later, once they'd revealed it to a Gram-based government, it was used as a secret jump-off point for attacks at
    Caladbolg, to cut the Imperium’s lines of communication during times of war.  It was discovered during the Fifth
    Frontier War, when the Imperium destroyed it.

    Since the discovery Natoko might have been building one or more shadow fleets, the Admiralty have decided to make public
    the search of dark spaces in the skies for such bases.  Given the composition of the ships encountered, it was the stated
    opinion of the Commodore that this collection of craft would likely be found to be related to Natoko.  Further
    corroborating data is hoped to be found once data systems now in Imperial hands provide data on such fleets and bases
    from Natoko government records.

    Mora (AA99AC7-F  2  Hi In Cp  G  112  Im  M5 V)                                                                           Date: 358-1113
    In a press release today, Admiral Yenfe Stofen announced that the post-war realignment of fleets in the Spinward Marches was
    completed.  While there had been minor issues with staffing and coverage, especially during events like the Podesta Plague in
    the Risek system, the Admiralty are pleased there was no significant confusion.  The Admiralty were also pleased no non-Imperial
    actors had made attempts to take advantage of the reassignments.

    Continuing, the Admiral said that the following fleets would maintain this list of responsibilities.  The Imperial 208th Fleet
    remains assigned to management of the Five Sisters Subsector, though under the new command of Fleet Admiral Elphinstone.  The
    Imperial 212th Fleet has been moved from the Rhylanor subsector to the Jewell Subsector.  The Imperial 193rd Fleet was shifted
    from the Regina Subsector to the Vilis Subsector.  The Imperial 151st Fleet had served in the Deneb sector, but were relocated
    into the Marches with the Deneb Core Fleet.  They now remain in the Marches, assigned overwatch duties in the occupied Sword
    Worlds Subsector.

    The 213th Imperial Fleet was shifted from the Lunion Subsector to the Regina Subsector.  The 18th Imperial Fleet also served in
    the Deneb Sector before the war, and is now assigned to the Lanth Subsector.  The squadrons of the 43rd Imperial Fleet had been
    serving detached duty backing up the Spinward Marches fleets before the war.  It now serves as a cohesive fleet assigned to the
    Lunion Subsector.  The 100th Imperial Fleet, formerly a cadre formation, had been assigned as an Imperial Fleet during the
    Fifth Frontier War, is now retained as the Imperial Fleet assigned to the Glisten Subsector.

    The 214th Imperial Fleet was shifted from the Glisten Subsector to the Aramis Subsector.  The 23rd Imperial Fleet was shifted
    from the Vilis Subsector to the Rhylanor Subsector.  The 207th Imperial Fleet was retained in the Trin's Veil Subsector and the
    73rd Imperial Fleet has been retained in the Mora Subsector.

    Regina (A788899-C  2  Ri Cp  G  703 Im  F7 V  M8 D M6 V)                                                                           Date: 035-1114
    Imperial Naval command in the Regina system have revealed that the Oberlindes liner Voureiel had arrived from Phlume several days
    ago.  Per standard orders, the ship had been intercepted and placed under blackout when it emerged into Regina's local space.
    Following that, the Imperial Navy spent time treating and debriefing all those rescued from the King George in the Tremous
    Dex system.

    During the debriefing and treatment, it was confirmed there had been significant loss of life.  Only one hundred and two passengers
    and crew had been rescued from a total of Three hundred passengers and two hundred crew.  Given those numbers, the loss of life has
    been extreme.  No word of further survivors has been returned from Commander Peser Tindesu's task force while the commander
    continues executing his mission.  Indeed, the only word from that system is that the Commander expects to wrap up their deployment
    soon and return to their base in Extolay.

    Now released from blackout, Baron Aluu Murema made a statement of gratitude he and his daughter survived the ordeal.  He
    announced a memorial for his late wife, who had not survived the misjump and destruction of the King George.  Baron Aluu
    further said he planned a wider ceremony, which would memorialize all those lost aboard the cruise liner.  Baron Aluu also
    announced the creation of a fund which would place memorials in downports located on the homeworld of each lost passenger
    or crew member..  In addition, he said he hoped that fund would help create an organization to return regularly to the
    Tremous Dex system, in hopes of locating and recovering any remaining survivors and, perhaps, any bodies left drifting
    in space.

Getting Rich
     Hearing the last news story, Jocelynn was the first to say she'd like to donate to the Baron's fund.  That was easy to do, since the news story had links letting donors scan it and pay.  So, they lined up near the berth comms and connected to the ISS message center.  When each connected, a pre-recorded message announced that the page line was related to support the relief fund.  It continued to say any donations made using that comms would be transmitted by the ISS at no charge.  Stepping away from where she'd been talking to Colinne, Mikah logged in and donated KCr 50.  Zimzod also donated KCr 50, which suddenly made him just less than a millionaire.  Colinne donated Cr 5,000, and then went back to talking with Mikah.  Jocelynn, Aiden and Sekea donated Cr 15,000 each and Aali also donated KCr 50.  Fesic donated Cr 10,000.

Mikah had surprised Colinne when she slotted a crystal in the computer station and then pulled up a document from one of what seemed like a great many file folders.  Regardless of everything on the crystal, it seemed Mikah was most familiar with this one document.  When Colinne started looking at the displayed data, Mikah gleefully said, "Go looting!"  Stopping first to look back at Mikah, Colinne then read the document closer, and from the top.  What she saw was that this was a 'launch document' having links to other documents on the crystal.  And all the links she saw seemed to be to some kind of bank account!  Mikah left her after saying, "We want as much money as you can loot.  Some for Rol's battledress, and the rest to be donated to the King George fund or the survivors of the Fifth Frontier War in the Emerald system.  Mikah then said to donate more to Emerald than the King George fund because those who went on the cruise could afford it but the survivors on Emerald had a world to rebuild.

Selecting a few of the links, then returning back to the main document, Colinne realized "all" of the accounts seemed to belong to the Country of Stepozhevac!  The same Stepozhevac that had been discussed in the news.  Moving out of that folder to the next level up, Colinne selected a folder at random and it contained high-level government documents and notes directed to a "Councilor Helmik".  The latest date she saw on the few files she'd checked was 050-1112.  So, the files were at best two years old.  Checking another folder, Colinne found some files listed as "Classified" and "Extreme Security" or "Eyes Only Communications"!  Checking one of those, Colinne realized the country of Stepozhevac was run by a council of people who each had the title "Councilor".  That meant this data had to have come from the personal computer of one of the ruling council members of that country!

Colinne then moved back to the folder with the bank accounts and investigated the main document.  From there, she jumped to one of the account pages.  That seemed to be "Fleet Operations Funding".  Colinne checked the various accounts to find that document had the Account number data, Account Owner User IDs, Account Owner passwords and the banks holding all the accounts to support a number of fleets!  Colinne realized the documents on the crystal held the keys to the kingdom on what appeared to be "Every" account the nation had on the books two years before!  If she were on one of the worlds where an account was held, she could have walked to a branch and emptied it of all funds before just walking away.  It was then Mikah's words struck home!

She'd been handed the nation's bank accounts and told to loot what she could!  Suddenly, Colinne was very happy she'd been creating all those accounts and ID's on the local network.  Colinne also knew there was a lot more work to do before she started funneling funds from the accounts.  Digging in, Colinne started to map out her ideas how to send calls against the accounts without them being traced back to her.  The better news was that the accounts she'd created in the local banks could be used along with hacked ID's in other ships on the port.  Colinne first planned to increase the number of accounts she had on local banks.  She could then break any cash up into smaller bits and bounce them around.  She was certain the Clans of Denotam wouldn't have top-level forensic data hunters.  So, even if she looted a local account, they'd spend months if not years tracing the work.

Now, she had to bounce the calls around the stars, by first sending calls to the local branch of the 'Bank of Rhylanor'.  First, she started making new accounts and ID's where she'd already hacked access.  After she got that started, she mapped out a wide ranging number of nodes in what she already had, and made a script that would connect to one "base" ID on another ship or native computer, and send a data request to the Bank of Rhylanor.  Those would bounce into one of the Erskin banks she already had a fake account on to ask for a balance on one of the accounts.  She'd use a file with rows of data, and an "if-in" script.  That would eating the file, row by row and bounce from source account to source account.  The script would also insure each request went out on a time delay, randomized by the script.  That way, there wouldn't be a flood of demands in a small time window.  After she scripted the read/send script and started it off, Colinne went back to her running scripts to start escalating the "detect" data looking for network addresses she could get into.

No script could do the rest, and she started creating ID's where she could.  Moving forward from that point, Colinne spent some hours creating structures before the first data started coming back.  Thankfully, every bank in the Imperium reported all their accounts to internal organizations.  That created the secure data dumps which were shared to make interstellar banking possible.  In order to know if "Joe's vat meat" on Rhylanor had money in an account on Equus, The branch of "Bank of Rhylanor" on Equus would receive the data-load.  And, every bank in the Imperium reported their book of business to the local Bank of Rhylanor branch.  That branch then shares the data dump with all other branches of BoR on other worlds in the subsector and sector.  So, if you wanted to make a transaction from any account on any world, your transaction was routed through that world's local BoR branch.  At worst, the data would be two months out of date, thanks to the routing, and any fraud discovered was fixed locally or turned over to a skip tracer.

The bad news was that many of the accounts she started with had already been emptied by "someone".  That wasn't a surprise, because the news story said funds had started disappearing some months before the news story broke.  So, she had to wait until she hit a substantial percentage of the accounts.  Even so, while she looked at the incoming data, she saw two accounts with several million credits in them!  So, there were big pockets to empty.  Now she was certain some of the geese were golden, Colinne knew she had to create as many points for misleading money transfers as possible.  Then, She had to break up blocks of cash into random values and bounce those to any number of accounts, with those ending up in a number of common accounts.  There, she'd break the cash blocks up again.  Making each new block from blocks coming from various accounts, so no new block of cash equaled a block that account received.  Those blocks would then be routed through different systems to other accounts where the process would happen again.

Most difficult, Colinne had to hack into active business accounts and run the payments through those.  Any investigators would have to get the companies to audit the payments, to see which were legitimate or not?  Added to that, Colinne wanted to run the cash blocks through Erskin or Arnstruther corporate accounts, because they wouldn't cooperate with Imperial authorities in any audit.  They'd thank the Imperials for notifying them what was happening, but not let them watch their audits.  And, when the Clan authorities realized none of "their money" was being touched, they'd try to lock down the flow of money orders to trap any outside funds in their systems for their own use.  But, since any Imperial authorities wouldn't be asking questions for a few months, at the best, all the money would have left Clan systems long before they knew what was happening.

The news report told Colinne that "someone else" was dipping into these accounts.  And, Stepozhevaci government operations were also using the funds.  So, Colinne knew she didn't want to just "grab it all".  If she overdrew an account, that would certainly trigger the hiring of skip tracers to chase down that specific action.  Other withdrawals which left cash in the accounts could be legitimate, and create even more confusion.  So, Colinne felt she was good breaking up half what was in each account she found and pumping that down the pipe line.  Later in the evening, when the reports all came back, Colinne told Mikah they could safely syphon off Cr 3,600,000,000.  And, while Mikah would tell her to only shunt MCr 10 to their ship's funds for the battledress, she also wanted Colinne to dump MCr 500 into their funds for "ship's operations".  The rest should mostly go to the Emerald survivors with the rest to the King George fund.  It was entirely up to Colinne "how" to move the funds?

Money, Stories And Applications
     Making sure he had time, Fesic left the berth before his appointment and arrived at Nigan Dolenwhre's office.  The man welcomed Fesic, had him sit down and asked how he could help?  Fesic said he wanted to invest KCr 25 in a retirement annuity, and was prepared to pay the fees to do that.  Dolenwhre nodded and had Fesic hand over his Ident before working through the basic steps.  Those were basics like confirming his identity, the existence of the funds, and other steps.  Dolenwhre then said his fee would be Cr 3,000, which surprised Fesic.  Based on other financial deals he made, the fees the advisor wanted to charge him were excessive!  So, he thanked Dolenwhre and said he'd think about it before leaving the man's office.

Stepping out of the office, Fesic logged into the Imperial network and looked for banks in the system.  The first he saw, and largest, was the on-world branch of the Bank of Rhylanor.  There was also a branch for the Bank of Mora, nearly as large and as prestigious.  There were also branches for the Banks of Vilis, Regina and Lanth on world.  He also saw the main site for the Bank of Denotam.  Added to those big banks were a handful of local banks, and branches for each of the Clan banks.  Because he already had accounts in the institution, Fesic went to the Bank of Lanth branch.  Ironically, given the small geographic size of the Imperial reservation, all the major banks had been raised in one location, now named "Bank Street".

In the bank offices, Fesic was seated with an official so he could have his business taken care of.  Fesic was asked if he wanted to roll the money he was depositing into the existing account he had?  Fesic said he wanted a new retirement annuity.  During the process, they checked his Ident and saw he owned a 'one-seventh' share of the Upgrade(Because all the crew except Sekea and Colinne were partial owners).  On his retirement, he was reminded he'd either maintain that share and any profit due through it, or sell it for Cr 39,481,142.  Despite that, Fesic was firm that he wanted to move KCr 25 from his spendable account to an annuity.  After the banker agreed, Fesic was charged a Cr 300 fee to create the annuity.  After that was done, Fesic returned to the berth with the digital documents.

Fesic had heard the news, and heard Mikah start doing something with Colinne, but hadn't heard what Mikah told the computer tech to do?  Bored with the news, Fesic relaxed until Mikah was asked about what she told Colinne to do, by someone who remembered the computer Mikah turned in to IRIS.  Mikah said they'd found a backup Brian had made.  Hearing that, and not wanting to be involved with their "relationship" with IRIS, Fesic asked if he could be excused?  Mikah agreed and told him to go away, so he went into his bedroom to do lock pick studies.  Getting more confused looks about what they were talking about, Mikah realized Sekea and Colinne had no idea IRIS was something real, and to be feared.  And Mikah worried about what Fesic referred to as his "streak of morality."

So, she looked around and made sure Fesic had left the common area.  Then, she decided to call the others all together and read them all in on the crew's many secrets.  Because, like the Stepozhevaci, any of them could rise up in the future and demand actions be taken.  Especially regarding IRIS.  When she was done, only two of them "had" believed IRIS was a boogieman parents used to scare their kids, if they'd been taught about it in school at all.  When Mikah was done, those two newly educated crew members realized they lived in a much darker universe than they'd thought.  Even Colinne, who knew a thing or two about intelligence agencies.  Sekea was concerned about figuring out if IRIS was involved in anything, and Mikah said they'd make their presence known.  When Sekea asked how, Mikah said, "Don't worry about it." in a tone that was not to be denied.

About then, Mikah's comms started buzzing.  Answering the call while the others joked it was IRIS calling, Mikah saw she was being called by the work foreman on the shipyard.  When Mikah asked how she could help, he said they were done with their work.  They needed her crew to move the ship to the naval base for the operating system upgrade.  When Mikah asked, "You're done?" Jocelynn asked the others if they wanted to deliver the bonus when they went to move the ship?  Zimzod said they were done, and they'd take the cash but it wouldn't do any good anymore.  Colinne said that if they took the money and said, "Hold on a minute, we need to fix one thing." that would out them for breaking something on purpose.  So, she continued, no one was gonna ask for ten more minutes, or another day.  They'd just take the cash and let it go.

Mikah told the foreman she'd have her crew up to the yard in two hours, then cut the call so she could call the Navy, and ask where to move the ship to?  After identifying herself, Mikah was bounced to an officer.  That man asked how they could help Mikah and she told him the shipyard had called and they were done with their work on the Upgrade.  So, she had to move the ship to a naval berth to have the operating system upgraded.  Nodding, the officer checked his screen and gave Mikah a berth.  He also gave her a beacon frequency to guide her ship in.  The man also told her to contact the base as soon as they'd left the shipyard.  Done with that call, Mikah said, "Come on Aiden."  Aali also said she was coming along.

Hearing they were leaving, Jocelynn said she and Zimzod were going to the dirtside naval base, to look into asking for permission for Rol to own battledress.  Jocelynn also told Fesic it was safe to come out again, and Fesic signed up to go to the naval base with her and Zimzod.  Arriving at the base, they said they'd come to talk with someone about permission to own battledress.  The guard stepped out of his role and mentioned both she and Sir Zimzod had battledress already.  Jocelynn said the request was on behalf of Sir Rol.  Soon, they were sitting with a Commodore who'd offered them drinks and had word from the gate.  He asked if they were looking for permission for Sir Fesic?  Jocelynn answered, No.  We're looking for permission for Major Sir Rol Kaihvos."

Jocelynn then said that Rol was currently being cloned and the officer waived away her further explanation.  Nearly everyone in the sector military had heard the news that Rol had given his life to save Duchess Seldrian of Regina.  Added to that, many members of the military had long memories when it came to SEH winners and the actions that made them famous.  So, the Commodore knew what Rol was doing "at the moment".  Jocelynn thanked the Commodore for taking the time for them to see him.  She then asked what could be done to get permission for Rol to own a suit?

The man said they could fill out the request forms, pay the investigation fee and submit it to the Imperial Navy.  The "fee" was actually based on the costs of the investigation and non-refundable.  The three crew knew that wouldn't be too bad, because the Navy pretty much knew most of what they'd been up to, and worried how far "most" was?  The Commodore said they also had an advantage since two other members of Sir Rol's crew had and were currently using battledress suits.  Of course, they were all aware he was talking about Jocelynn and Zimzod.  The Commodore also said he didn't think the investigation would be more than the basic work, given the subject.  The Commodore still warned them there were times where additional funds were required to complete the investigation.  And all he could do was insure the forms were properly completed and submitted with the payment.

Turning the coin, the officer warned them there might be an issue where a full third of their crew were battledress augmented when their crew's mission profile wasn't military.  Generally, that density of extremely heavy assets were reserved for licensed mercenary units and the like.  Questions might include why the permission and ownership of the suit were needed?  He also admitted some confusion why two members of his crew were permitted to have suits under the circumstances?  Still, that wasn't his job or concern.  So the Commodore offered to help them with the forms, which would take them significant time.  And he said he'd augment the form with the data his people already had on Sir Kaihvos.

Fesic asked if there was a specialized form to get permission for a specific type of battledress?  Like Assault or Sapper?  The Commodore said there wasn't a different set of forms and the fee was also standard.  Calling up the forms on a datapad, the Commodore told them the investigation fee was Cr 10,000 and asked who'd be paying that?  He'd given them that up front, before they'd started form one, because most people look at that cost and backed out unless they had a combat ticket that would pay it off.  Fesic was the only one to answer, and he said it was worth it, which brought them back to who was paying?  Zimzod started to say he would and Jocelynn suggested they split it.  With a smirk, the Commodore recommended one person pay in advance and they compensate that person later.  Before Zimzod could speak up, Fesic said he'd pay for it and had his Ident out to bump the cash.

Cr 10,000 later, the Commodore was helping them through the forms.  For simplicity, the Commodore recommended he call out what he needed and they answer him instead of switching from person to person so the person who knew the answer could enter it.  When Fesic asked if they should contact Duchess Seldrian, so she could use her influence, he was told the Duchess had zero influence on granting permission.  The Commodore told them even the Arch Duke and the Prince couldn't push an approval.  Still, he did say the high nobility of the sector and the realm "could" enforce a veto of permission.  So, any of Rol's friends or their peers could force a refusal or retraction of any permissions.

While they worked, the Commodore mentioned the investigation could easily take a year, which shot down their hopes they could tell Rol he had permission while he was doing PT after he'd been decanted.  They also realized the vetoes of high nobles could take away their permissions if they broke laws.  So they had to toe the line.  If they didn't and they were caught, the first thing that would happen would be the removal of permissions.  And any "notification" would likely happen when Imperial Navy troops boarded their ship to take them into custody.  The next thing the three learned was that even with the Commodore's help, the large chunk of time he warned them about was entirely true.  It took them hours to complete the submission.  They were also surprised what they could and couldn't answer.  Like the fact Rol actually got his start as a bottom feeder in a motor pool company, who nearly got discharged for "over exuberance".

When the three got back to the berth, Colinne was working at her computer station and Sekea had decided to look into sending the bottles and seeds he'd bought to his mother on Carse.  Connected to the Scout service, Sekea found it would cost him Cr 500 per jump.  And from Denotam, the ship carrying the cargo had to make eight jumps.  One of those would be off the x-boat route, so it might well be delayed up to an additional month to be delivered.  So, it would cost him Cr 4,000 to send the package which would arrive between two and three months from the date of departure.  Realizing they'd be two jumps closer to Carse when they arrived on Lanth, Sekea decided to send a text-only x-mail to his mother describing the goods he had and his hopes the items might be useful economically on Carse.  That x-mail cost Sekea Cr 8, and take between two and three months to be delivered.  Following that, Sekea went back to his computer and forgery skills.

Not far from Sekea, Colinne was working at her computer ever since Mikah had given her a data crystal.  The woman seemed to be enjoying her work very much.  She was also frequently giggling at what she saw on her screen, and Sekea was positive her side comments, like "Rolex makes one of those too?!" were aimed at making him aware he wasn't sharing in her fun.  While she was busy, Sekea asked her about help with working on his computer skills, like Mikah had.  Since she'd already created challenge exercises for Mikah, Colinne sent a copy of the same challenges to Sekea too.  He thanked her and got to working on those, though they didn't make him giggle as much as her work cheered Colinne.  Sekea had also heard Colinne's side of her conversation with Mikah and realized there was some computer robbery going on.  But, he also remembered Mikah's comments, so he reminded himself not to talk with Fesic about the theft.

That was how things stood when Jocelynn, Zimzod and Fesic returned from the naval base.  Most noticeable, since it was lunch time, was that no one was eating, nor was any food in evidence.  On top of that, Colinne was periodically giggling in an evil way.  After Zimzod said, "Let's get food" and started cooking, they periodically heard Colinne making comments like, "I wonder how many of those solid gold, diamond encrusted things they could fit in a small ISS package?"  Whatever she was doing, they could all see she was having fun.  After the food was made and eaten, Zimzod asked the others if they wanted to do stent training?  Colinne said she'd get involved in that later, but was still working on Mikah's orders.  She did offer Zimzod a report on her progress so far, and he accepted it.

Jocelynn moved closer, saying she'd do stent practice with Zimzod because wanted to hear Colinne's report  Maintaining his desire not to learn what Colinne was up to, Fesic went into his bedroom to work on his lock picking.  Not far from them, Sekea heard as Colinne reported to Zimzod and Jocelynn that She'd started with an expanded network of ID's and accounts she been building since they were investigating Kennot's ship.  So, some of that was already in place before the looting came around.  She continued that she'd accessed some local banks since then, and created fake accounts and ID's there too.  So, a large part of what she was doing was expanding that farm of ID's and accounts while looking for what was actually in the accounts she had data for?  And, in one case, the user she hacked had the password "zalinim", which was a Vilani word meaning "Password".

Making matters more fun, that got her into an Erskin clan bank!  Now, she could play games in that bank and make official bank requests for data from there to the Rhylanor bank branch on-world.  The BoR was one of two banks that held authoritative databases on all the banks in the Marches, along with the Imperial Bank of Mora.  The BoR information was only six jumps away, or a month and a half old.  So, while she knew some intelligence teams and the Stepozhevac government were draining funds from some accounts, her numbers were still not that old.  Added to that, the requests were coming from the Erskin clan, who would certainly not cooperate with Imperial investigators.

She'd already burned through a large number of the account data from the crystal, and found a large number of the accounts either no longer existed or had their credentials changed.  Still, she'd found five Stepozhevaci accounts and two for Natoko, which she was certain she could raid.  Notably, one of the Natokan accounts was a "fleet management" account, so she was willing to bet that was out there for ship crews of their shadow fleet to draw from in distant ports.  Draining that one could leave their illegal fleets financially high and dry.  But she paused before she said the seven accounts alone had seven point one BILLION Credits total in them!

That shoe dropped, Aali said she'd be done searching the accounts in just over ninety minutes.  Then, she'd start setting up money routing rules she could send to other computers before starting to slowly move the money around.  Because she knew there were others draining funds, including Imperial intelligence, ship crews and the Stepozhevaci themselves, Colinne didn't want to drain more than half what was in each them.  That gave her the best odds of being protected against making an overdraft that would set off alarms.  Especially since the databases were updated daily when the x-boats arrived.  So, she currently had in the area of BCr 4 to play with.  Hearing that, Jocelynn got Mikah on the comms right off!

Mikah doubled down on her orders that the cash be split between the Baron's Tremous Dex fund and donations for the Fifth Frontier War survivors on Emerald.  As ordered, Colinne would reserve MCr 10 in the ship's funds to buy a Battledress suit for Rol in the future.  When Jocelynn asked about repairs and other needs, Mikah first told Colinne to reserve MCr 300 for repairs before changing her mind and asking for MCr 500.  Of course, with a ship worth MCr 276,368, they could almost afford to buy two more matching versions of the unaugmented Upgrade.  Mikah also told Colinne to take "the ship's share" out of the Baron's planned funds because she wanted the bulk of the donations to go to the survivors on Emerald.  Colinne accepted that, and said her biggest issues now were building out baffle accounts to bounce money around in.

The idea was to grab bits, break them up into random Credit amounts, then bounce them to a wide number of accounts using several different computer routes and through other accounts.  When they arrived in common accounts, break each packet up, then rebuild them in different values with parts of other arriving chunks.  Then bounce them to other accounts.  The biggest trick was to bounce a different "total balance" to each of the next wave of systems.  And, to continue bouncing them from one wave to another, in and out of Erskin or Arnstruther territory.  Colinne had just that day gotten her first access to a Clan Arnstruther bank too!  So, that meant she had even more layers she could use to break the lines of investigation.  When the investigations did start, which wouldn't be for at least three months, she was certain neither the Erskin or Arnstruther would cooperate.  And, neither of them would even know they were protecting the Upgrade.

Mikah said, "Just do whatever you need to do and do your best to cover your tracks" and Colinne sat at attention in her chair and snapped off a very crisp salute to the camera while intoning in her best official voice, "Yes Ma'am!"  Mikah saluted back saying, "I knew I could count on you!"  When the call ended, Colinne told the others she'd run a stent class later, after she'd gotten done with what work she could get done that day and had a chance to rest and meditate.  Getting the attention of everyone in the space, Jocelynn began giving a few orders, saying:
    "Number one, no one tells Fesic about any of this!
    "Number two...

Sekea interrupted her asking what the issue with Fesic was?  Jocelynn had to struggle to describe the issue at first.  She eventually said Fesic was 'too good for his own health'.  That he had issues with illegal or under-handed doings, and his honesty has put the crew in danger in the past.  He also doesn't seem to like anything to do with money.  When Sekea asked if this was some kind of religious observance, Jocelynn said, "No.  He's just damaged."  Sekea thanked her for the information and said he'd make sure not to share with Fesic things like what Colinne was up to.  Of course, that was because Sekea knew enough, on top of that day's news, to know the country Stepozhevac were trouble makers.  And, the money being stolen was largely going to donations which would do very many people good.  Especially since every Imperial citizen in the Spinward Marches had heard of the atrocities on Emerald in the last year of the war.

With hours before Colinne would be able to lead a stent class, Jocelynn went into her bedroom and tried to meditate.  That didn't work too well, and Jocelynn soon went out into the berth to see Zimzod was doing stent work.  She joined him.  Fesic continued his lock picking and Colinne worked at building out her network while she started mapping routes and moving money along them.  She knew that any transaction that looked correct and had the right credentials would be paid from assets in-system.  The paying bank would then send a demand for payment to the home bank for the account.  What Colinne found odd about two of those were that they were based in the Lanth system.  If anything went wrong, alarms from those would return first, in four weeks.  Colinne was also sure they looked a bit harder at those demands, because they were coming from Erskin or Arnstruther banks.

Moving The Ship

Standard Engineering Droid For Mikah, Aali and Aiden, the flight to the shipyard had taken nearly two hours.  At first, they docked with the yard structure, so they could meet with the foreman and his team leaders.  The foreman then led the three down the companionways from their docking hub to the Upgrade.  Getting to the open port into the ship's cargo bay, they could see the ship was powered up and fully lit up.  Aali could see that her concerns for restarting the reactor and lighting up the ship's engineering were unnecessary.  The first thing Mikah did was to ask the foreman to lead her on a full inspection of the ship from stem to stern.  While all systems were at resting status, Aali checked everything she could and found it in satisfactory state.  They even introduced her to her two new engineering androids.

They were impressed the yard crew had apparently done everything including a compartment by compartment scrub down.  On the bridge, Mikah saw the ship's fuel was even fully tanked.  In the low berth compartment, Mikah checked on Rol's gestation chamber and found that was burbling along correctly.  At the point he was in gestation, the "body" form was largely done while the organs were still "under construction".  The final step of the tour led back in the cargo bay again, where the foreman gave Mikah the frequency to connect with their flight control people.  He then asked Mikah to sign off on the work and she did.  They then asked who would fly the ship out and who would fly their cutter out to undock from the station and then dock with the ship.  Mikah said Aiden would fly the ship out and she'd move the cutter.

Not wanting to make things too crazy, Aiden called the yard flight control and got everything set up.  He then went to the bridge to get things going.  But, as he sat down, he wasn't sure if his failing memory or imagination, but his flight couch felt a good bit more comfortable than he remembered?  Starting to working the controls, Aiden was again surprised when an orbital flight path hologram popped up in a rectangle over his console!  That was a trick they'd never seen happen before!  Reaching into the space with his fingers, Aiden realized he could alter the flight path with his fingers!  While he was noticing that, he looked around and all the bridge consoles started lighting up!  Looking behind him, Aiden saw a huge rectangular holotank floating behind his station in front of Mikah's command seat!

The images visible in the tank showed everything their sensors could see, with small floating labels identifying the stations, ships and other items the computer could identify.  The planetary locations were also labeled.  While Aiden was ogling that, he heard Aali calling from engineering.  Answering, he heard her say everything was lit up down there in an excited voice.  All the systems she could see were projecting data and status blocks above or around them, but out of the path any engineer would move through.  Calling to Mikah as he used the ship's SMS systems to drift the ship out of the bay.  Aiden said, "Mikah, you have to dock up and see this!"  Mikah had no idea what was happening on the ship, and asked Aiden to describe what was going on?

With the ship now floating free, Mikah moved carefully and deliberately as she undocked from the shipyard and made her way to the cutter's bay.  When Mikah called for Aiden to do so, Aiden opened the docking hatch and held the ship in position while she secured the cutter into its bay.  She shut the cutter down properly, trying to do so as fast as she could, before she opened the cutter's hatch and got a preview of what was coming.  The hatch control for the portal from the bay into the ship proper was projecting a small rectangular hologram showing her the bay was pressurized as was the passage on the hatch's other side.  It also glowed green and showed the portal was unlocked.

Mikah quickly made her way to the bridge and noted each holographic display as she passed.  Finally on the bridge, the compartment looked like a light festival.  Staring at the holotank for a moment, Mikah moved to her seat and felt the experience Aiden had when he took his seat.  By that time, Aali had managed to run a number of tests and determined everything was operating as expected.  Without Colinne, she could have no idea beyond her own basic testing.  Aali wanted to follow that up with a glowing report on the updates they'd made to the systems when she remembered they hadn't done any upgrades to the computer.  Or the control systems.  That was "coming".  The Navy techs were to work on the computers, so this was there all along!  Just, not activated.

When Aali brought that up, they talked and decided the holoprojective systems had been part of the ship the whole time.  That also meant those systems had been present all along, but been inactive for some reason.  And, whatever the shipyard people did reactivated those systems!  Aali happily said she was coming to realized they had a lot more to learn about the ship than they had.  That pause in the holographic glow of happiness only lasted until Aali spoke up, reminding them they were supposed to take the ship to the naval yard.  Where the Navy would over-write the entire operating system.  And, perhaps, wipe out the controls that provided the holographs!  Realizing that, Mikah's first words were, "Oh.  No!"

Aiden had to get the ship moving because the shipyard was starting to wonder if there was a problem while the Upgrade remained drifting off the station?  Mikah wanted to discuss what they now knew and what they were scheduled to do next, but the ship had to start moving.  Aali reminded them Colinne had said there were other fixes she'd provided and recommended they let her do them, back when she was hired.  Now, Mikah was concerned they might lose all the newly discovered system.  When she said that, Aali pointed out they might not lose any of it.  Answering Mikah and Aiden's questions, Aali said that if the holographic and other software were all 'third party', it would be a layer of programs that sat 'on top of' the operating system, and not part of it.  So, when the military techs replaced the old operating system, they would only have to find and re-install the drivers for the software and devices.

The one person in the crew who could start answering their questions was Colinne, and she wasn't there.  So, Mikah sparked up the comms and called Colinne.  When Colinne got on the line, she first reported to Mikah that she'd determined at least two of the bank accounts didn't come from Stepozhevac or any nation on Porozlo.  In fact, she believed they were related to the world of Natoko!  Hearing that, Mikah only said, "Raid them!" Colinne admitted she'd not yet confirmed she had the correct keys and passwords for them.  That done, Colinne asked Mikah what she was calling about?  After Mikah said they'd found "things we didn't know the ship could do", Colinne asked, "Like what?" with a puzzled expression.

When Mikah told Aiden to show her, Aiden activated station camera to begin broadcasting and got a pop up he'd never seen.  It turned out that On/Off setting let them broadcast camera data that either showed or didn't show the holographic projections.  When he selected "On", the video Colinne saw included all the holographs.  Colinne only responded, "Oh!  Neat!"  Colinne told Mikah it would take them an hour to get to the naval base.  So, they should make the burns to arrive there while Colinne connected to the ship's computers and looked into it.  She could do that because of the links the shipyard had set up for Aali to use.  Now, Colinne was able to use them.  Mikah agreed and said, "We'll fly slow." while Colinne just answered, "Fly casually."

As instructed, Aiden called the base and let them know they were free and flying.  The base officer lit up a beacon and gave Aiden the frequency to follow.  During the transit, the three aboard did their best to try and find other goodies they'd not noticed before.  Eventually, when Aiden started to receive and manage calls from the naval base, Mikah got a call from Colinne.  Colinne first admitted she'd have very little time to investigate.  But, as far as she understood what she'd found, she was fairly certain this was all a third party user package.  She said she'd noticed it had been installed and not in use when she was hired on, and since Mikah wasn't interested in using it at that time, Colinne had more interesting puzzles to solve.

Colinne said she'd found the installation directories for the software, and was fairly certain they had copies of the drivers installed.  So, all the naval techs had to do was re-install the package after they installed the new operating system and they should be good.  Colinne was as certain as she could be without being able to spend more time reviewing the installation logs and examining the currently running application data.  A simple process command told her what it was, and where it lived.  So, she just had to make sure, because there were a lot of processes running on any given ship's computer.

Letting Colinne get back to her looting, Mikah talked with Aiden and Aali about how to instruct the naval crew regarding this software?  When they arrived and secured the ship in the berth, Mikah and the others met the lead officer and tech foreman who would run the job.  Mikah was very careful to say they'd had a third party package in the computers they'd only just seen activated by the shipyard people.  It turns out they very much want it to remain in the ship's computers and remain operational after the new OS was loaded.  Mikah could even see one of the techs rolling his eyes, because the 'no nothing' civilian owners had been surprised by something they owned.  So, when the officer said "Can do!" the techs were more quiet and contemplative of the situation they'd been thrown ordered into.

When the techs said they'd do their best, Mikah apologized and commiserated with their having been forced to do the work.  She even suggested there would be a financial bonus before the officer shot that down.  With a rod apparently shoved up his spine from his ass, the man said that was entirely improper.  He assured her the troops would be taken care of for doing their best work by their commanders.  Of course, right behind the officer, Mikah saw at least one of the techs smiling and raising a thumbs up behind the commissioned idiot.  Mikah apologized to the officer, saying she'd just been working with the civilians and thought bonuses were appropriate for all shipyard workers.  Waiting for her chance, when the officer nodded or looked elsewhere, Mikah did her best to wink at the smiling tech without the officer seeing.

Launching in the cutter, Mikah and her team made their way back to Denotam and their berth.  When they got back, all the others were home and waiting or working.  By that time, Colinne had confirmed yet another account she could loot.  When Mikah went to get the update, Colinne joked, "This is what I'm getting with my share" and showed Mikah an image of an insanely over-engineered Rolex ground car.  Both women laughed at the joke before Colinne went back to work.

Still, Colinne said she was closing in on the end of the account lists, and it would be time to shift to work building out her networks while also managing the movement of money.  The total cash out there was now more than BCr 8, but she still planned to only loot BCr 4 so far.  On top of the one account paying illegal ship expenses, there was another fund which appeared to be paying some kind of bills in the Natoko system.  Since that world was now under Imperial occupation, that was free to raid.  Another fund was supposed to pay for something happening on Lanth!  When she was asked, the fund had far too much cash in it to be made available to the assassin they'd killed.  So it was possible there was an operating agency on Lanth which had used some of that funding to hire the assassin.

Colinne figured Mikah would be interested in that and bounced her the entire data file related to that funding source.  Mikah suggested they could send the Duke of Lanth that data after the financial collapse of Stepozhevac happened the data needed to embezzle the nation's funds.  And, regardless how moral the actions were, they weren't ordered to take those actions.  Nor were they following Imperial direction on where the money went or how it was used.  And raise questions how they got the data in the first place?  No matter how beneficial Mikah's "donations" were, the law was against what she'd decided to do.  And, since Colinne was "the instrument" by which Mikah had the work done, Colinne wouldn't skip past prosecution.  So, Colinne was against telling the Duke.

With a healthy amount of the money now "in motion", Colinne confirmed they'd be able to have a stent class after dinner.  Mikah also got on the Imperial network to check what she could order for dinner for the crew?  While Mikah had gone right to Colinne, Aali and Aiden saw Jocelynn and Zimzod doing stent work and joined in.  Before he sat down to do the stent work, Aiden got everyone's attention and asked if anyone had plans set up for the next day?  When no one did, Aiden asked if they wanted to connect with InstellArms and do some skirmish combat simulations as a crew?  Sekea told them he'd asked about challenge courses where a gunner moved through a gauntlet of pop-up targets and was scored by the percentage of bad guys hit, and penalized for each good guy hit.

Aiden said that wasn't what he was talking about.  He meant actual team vs team combat simulations.  When Zimzod said he wasn't sure he was up to it, Colinne cheerily said, "Sure you are!"  When Zimzod asked about that, Mikah joked he could fly the grav-chair.  Colinne said she was sure he could limp along, maybe drag himself.  He could also move from point to point, hunkering into each location and making himself a hard point until he was able to move again.  He wouldn't nearly be the most dangerous person in any field, but he could take part.  Mikah told Aiden to call InstellArms and set up the exercises.  And Mikah mandated no one but them get to see the recorded vid.  As or "when", Mikah said two hours should be enough time.  Mikah then ordered the same kind of stew they'd had before.

Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Everyone but Rol: In the berth planning skirmish competitions and waiting for dinner to arrive
     Rol: 4 weeks and 4 days until decant

Next: Two Minutes Of Blood, Horror, Comedy And Death