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Day Two On Inthe

The Second Morning

Inthe     The 152nd day of 1112 began early for Zach.  Cooking breakfast for everyone, he hoped he could pick up information from them as they ate.  Zach checked the morning news early, and saw a picture broadcast of Aiden Radetsky.  It was also plastered across the main-page of the port news network channel!  The article the picture was most commonly attached to covered the two "Hero" scouts, who had rescued a mugging victim on one of the city's maglev trains.  There was also commentary from many witnesses who said the Scouts were lucky to get out of the ill-advised adventure with their lives.  While Radetsky was mentioned by name, Emkir was generally referred to as "the other scout" or "another scout" in the coverage.  Zach was thrilled to be part of a "hero crew", although it bothered the others.

Ms. Vik, Dame Mikah and Sir Zimzod figured there wasn't enough data in any set of hands to link the crew and break their undercover status.  They were comfortable it would take too much work, and no one would go that far.  Having gotten up early, Inger planned to visit the port offices and meet with her new boss in her role as a "Port Security Consultant".  She hoped to discuss the requirements of her job before getting started.  Drinking extra water and an analgesic, to help her rehydrate and recover, Inger asked Mikah if it were possible to get an "epipen", to counter alcohol?  Mikah said she'd come up with something, but also said she had more work to do to find something effective on all the drugs in the Vargr drink.

That done, Ms. Vik used her personal comms to call the port.  She asked for a car to pick her up at the crawler station nearest the ship and bring her to the terminal.  Mikah and Zimzod planned to find the Police Department, and check on the ground car the Police Chief promised them.  Zach figured that, after cleaning up breakfast, he'd go to the port terminal to "get a feel for the place" and check out the merchant exchange.  Rol also wanted to go to the terminal and get a feel for the port.  After he finished cleaning, Zach prepared a light gear kit and left with the others, making sure to appear as separate groups leaving the harbor.

Zach and Rol went to the port on the crawler while Ms. Vik enjoyed the port car her position afforded her.  The knights took the ship's air/raft.  Awake and having free reign of the ship, Brian could finally check some of the systems as he fixed himself breakfast.  After eating, Brian checked the ship's status and the processing logs of their various systems.  Satisfied with the ship's situation, Brian thought about the rest of his day.  Considering the mission, Brian felt the best thing he might do was try to track down any trace of the black market for weapons.  Unfortunately, he had no idea how to do that, and figured he could get direction from Ms. Vik, with her port knowledge.

The Knight's Morning

     The knights parked the air/raft at the port terminal and went in, to call the Police Chief from a commercial phone.  They planned to keep the ship from being connected to them.  At the same time, Aiden Radetsky, who'd stayed with the ship recovering from the day before, read the news for himself.  As he did, Aiden saw an article on the third page of a daily network periodical.  Calling Mikah as soon as he got the gist of the story, Aiden was not pleased.  After aiden's call, Mikah and Zimzod checked for the story on a local terminal.  They saw that the article had quoted 'an anonymous source' claiming Imperial forces were present in the city of New Port Dunslade!  The apparent intent, according to the claims, was to take over the city before taking over the entire country in the name of The Imperium!

Mikah and Zimzod were ready to bet the rumor was based on their arrival, and Mikah was extremely upset the secret meeting the day before had been leaked to the press.  She decided that, after they'd called the police, they should also try to talk to the Marquis too.  The first call went well, and the knights were told they could come check on the promised car directly at the main municipal Police HQ.  The second call got a less direct answer, as a functionary told them he'd call them back with an appointment time.  He also told them the Marquis' offices were near the capital of The Republic of Inthe, which was some distance from New Port Dunslade.

Ready to head to the police department while they waited for the call from the Marquis' office, the two returned to the air/raft.  On the way, they called the ship for Aiden and told him to be ready to possibly fly them to The Marquis' office in the ship's cutter.  Aiden was only too happy to help, and started getting his combat gear ready.  Then, he sat down at a workstation to prepare a flight plan to the capital of the Republic of Inthe.  Aiden concentrated on public general aviation infrastructure information.  He researched flight restrictions, rules and requirements as well as filing local flight plans.  He learned the Republic mandated the use of flight beacon stations for air-navigation.

Zach's Morning

     After the near-hour ride to the port on the crawler, Zach arrived at the terminal and began wandering around.  He was 'getting a feel' for the section of the sprawling facility he was in.  To understand the scale of the port, Zach found a general advisory map of the entire facility and a detail map of the specific section he was in.  This space in the terminal was filled with kiosks, stalls, monitor stations and general commercial outlets.  The monitors displayed wide ranging information on everything from flight and boarding data to informational notices and security advisories.  The many people in this section's spaces seemed to be moving with purpose rather than milling or wandering.

Getting his bearings, Zach started locating key facilities in that section.  Checking into other terminal sections would have cost a lot of time in a facility many miles wide and long.  There were organized short and moderate stay facilities for travelers on lay-over from ships or job hunting nearby.  Sprouting out around these hotels were all manner of service facilities from food, cleaning and supply services to live or video theaters and performance venues.  Interspersed with these were purely mundane convenience shops, conference space rental and temporary office facilities and services.  Spaces like these connected the "real meat of the port", including ticketing, travel advisory and services.  From there, security check points for those boarding or returning from vessels led across the extrality line, and were busy with customs inspections.

While the harbor entry security checkpoints were a less stringent Customs stop, the staff investigated credentials and/or tickets to access ships.  They checked for contraband and legal compliance and managed access to any part of the harbor.  Zach realized some level of wandering would be noticed by port security personnel.  Still, he was able to wander where he wanted without a check point if he didn't try the field transit gates serving ships in the harbor or pass through customs.  Eventually, Zach went to the exchange to see what he could learn there?  And stepping into the cargo exchange, Zach was immediately "at home".  Entering, he stepped to the side, just past the door, to not block traffic as he took in the environment and activity.

The space was more crowded than the terminal, with large and small clots of people.  These clusters were islands in the foot traffic which filled an area several levels high.  The area was surrounded by walkways and small offices.  The exchange's bottom floor was largely filled with kiosks.  Each stall had a digital electronic readout scrolling the name of the current renter or the label "For Rent, Low Rates".  In the space, there were all manner of activities, from small conversations to excited crowds shouting bids and those watching various displays placed throughout.  Monitors on the walls, hanging from the building gridwork or even on tablet computer displays held by staffers advertised all manner of trade information.  Service offerings for transport, warehousing, brokering, and speculation forecasting.  Everything was for sale at a price, from material to data.  And, several major trade data outlets were advertising heavily.

As Zach explored and listened to the flow of information, for rumors or snippets, he learned service by laborers was a very very inexpensive commodity at this port.  Suddenly Zach heard something very different!  As he maneuvered through the forest of merchants, agents and kiosks, he'd heard the angry snarl and growl of a Vargr!  The wolf was stridently and very obviously giving someone a warning!  Moving around the end of the kiosk row, Zach didn't see more than the retreating fur of a Vargr, quickly lost in the crowd.  Realizing he couldn't catch the sophont without being noticed, Zach turned toward the threatened vendor.  That Human male seemed to be straightening plastic flimsies of data and shoving them into a satchel.  Unable to catch any details from the papers, Zach tried to engage the merchant.  He asked, "What was that all about?" but was brushed off.

The man said, "Just a misunderstanding.  Don't worry about it."  Gently pushing a bit more, Zach checked the renter's name on the kiosk, Haroyce Associates.  Zach asked, "So what is your business involved in?" as he slipped sideways.  The man continued loading his materials into his briefcase and said, "I am sorry.  We are closing this kiosk for lunch, please come back later."  To Zach, he seemed very nervous or upset and distracted.  The man missed it as Zach grabbed a business card, slipping it into a pocket.  Zach tried again, in as friendly a manner as possible, but was again told to leave and so he backed off.  Zach went to grab lunch from one of the many food kiosks outside the exchange as he continued people-watching and planned to try to contact the man again later.

Rol's Morning

     Rol got to the terminal at the same time Zach did, though they appeared unrelated.  Rol wandered with less focus than Zach did, and paid more attention to the people passing him by.  Like Zach, he noticed that, at least in this part of the port, those passing through seemed to move with a purpose.  Rather than uniforms or service clothes, they wore an eclectic array of clothes, meaning they were civilians.  There was a mix with some military, security and service people.  Stopping to look at the structure of the port facilities, Rol recognized the near-circular shape all ports tended to start with.  Surprisingly, this port had maintained that, though it was not very much of a surprise if he were honest with himself.  The port reached out north and west of the city into badlands and towards the distant mountains, where there was little restriction to growth in those directions.

Rol realized, as he checked the map, that the docks formed the north-western edge of the port.  These were a section of the port devoted to small ship construction and ship maintenance.  Given the technical level of this world, Rol figured some MegaCorp owned the dock concessions and shipped in those components they couldn't make locally.  He also noted the Pilot Error was parked in a section of the harbor furthest from the docks.  The harbor spread from the southern edge of the port north, reaching a wall of warehouses and support buildings between it and the docking wings of the freight terminals.  The passenger terminals formed a line, north to south, containing a seeming hodge-podge of services for every apparent need.

An explanation for how the people around him were moving might have been the number of corporate towers on this side of the port.  Those towers housed the offices of the MegaCorps with a staff on the world, while remaining inside the Imperial extrality line.  Not needing to live in native soil proper, the workers had no need to repeatedly cross through customs.  So corporations maintained suites and apartments in the towers.  There, employees lived inside the customs ring.  Of course, some terminal sections extended beyond the extrality line.  There, customers and possible travelers could reach travel services, buy tickets, purchase services and shop at venues on the planetary side of the line.  Those venues outside the line conformed to local laws, while shops inside the line could handle products reflecting a broader interstellar legality.

Rol spent time walking and listening, as he moved towards the travel sections of the terminal.  He wandered by the security gates, leading to actual ship service gates, serving scheduled commercial ships berthed with boarding passages linked to the building.  Listening as he went, Rol hoped to see what he could hear?  As the morning wore by, Rol heard nothing of significance, even though he passed many Humans and Vargr both in groups and singly.  As he continued, Rol felt a buzz from his comms and answered, to be greeted by Sir Brian.  The knight asked where he was and what he was up to?  When Rol said he was in the port terminal, Brian said he had an idea to search for black markets and asked where they could meet?  Rol suggested the entrance where the shuttle crawler dropped all people coming from that section of the harbor and Brian agreed.  Once they signed off, Rol considered how much more wandering he could do before he had to return to the gate to meet Sir Brian?

Ms. Vik's Morning

     Arriving again at the terminal, Ms. Vik again went to a reception station and got very eager help after identifying herself.  The tech gave her access to a comm panel and linked her into Executive Director Niebel's office.  Expecting her call, Mr. Niebel picked up quickly and gave Ms. Vik directions to his door.  Having been to the administration tower before, Ms. Vik quickly found her way to the lifts and the Director's outer office.  On the way, she made no effort to check on Administrator Vougazgi, figuring she'd keep the role of "Beta".  That would let the Vargr maintain his role as the Alpha Dog in the pretense of the relationship she was leading him into.

In Niebel's office, the talk was wide ranging, and included her responsibilities and the details of her position with the port.  And her date the night before.  Inger found she was largely independent, reporting only to the Executive Director himself.  Her 'results' were expected to be data used to improve port security.  He certainly planned to shut down contraband flow into, or through, the port in either direction.  The Director gave Ms. Vik a data drive with as much data as his security people could prepare since their meeting the day before.  He was confident the data was fairly comprehensive.  A brief look at the charts and tables in the database showed "crimes committed on the port" retrievable by vectors from "the description" to "known and suspected elements and personalities".

Also included were "descriptions and biographies" from the most up to date listings of suspects.  It included "background" and "port activities listing" for the many sophonts port security suspected of possible involvement in "wrong doing".  During the meeting, Director Niebel discussed Administrator Vougazgi with her, saying he was well aware of the Vargr's activities.  He said he wanted Ms. Vik to "hold off" on going after him, saying he planned to take Vougazgi down after getting far more evidence by letting him operate for the time being.  When they'd finished talking, Director Niebel told Ms. Vik where her office was and she made her way there.

In that space, Inger checked out the fittings and workstation.  She was pleased to see it overlooked the harbor.  In the further distance, she could also see the small traffic launch and landing pads, backed up by the mountains beyond.  Satisfied the office was suitable, Ms. Vik checked her ability to secure her door and her office comms information.  She also set the electronic desk lock to a code she'd remember and checked the drawers, assuring they were clean and undamaged.  Then, adjusting her seat, Inger sparked up the workstation and set her passwords before investigating the computer system to her best ability.  Ms. Vik also encrypted the system files area of her workstation in a way that wouldn't prevent the "Administrator" and "System" user from working with them.  She then created a user for herself, that could assume administrator properties when needed.

Inger then opened the reader program under administrative rights and opened the data drive the Director had given her.  As she first explored the drive, to check what software she'd need to read the various data files, Inger found they responded to an on-drive database reader.  She closed the reader program, changed the properties of the data drive to "administrator only", sparked up the database reader and began pouring through the very detailed data.  Inger couldn't resist the urge, and checked the files on one 'Assistant Administrator Vougazgi'.  She then read, learning some minor but interesting things she could use during her next "date".  This included his known haunts, so they could pre-check locations before he brought her to any of them.  Ms. Vik also got a look at some of his known associates, and found a picture of one of the other Vargr she and Vougazgi met at the club.

He was listed as a business owner, operating a clothing outlet with several locations in New Port Dunslade.  Estimates were the Port Administrator was of a lower status than that associate.  Also listed, were a significant amount of port workers.  Mostly Vargr, but some humans too.  Inger continued pouring through the data until she got a call from Sir Brian.  He asked her opinions on good places to look for black market activity in the port?  When she asked what he had in mind, Brian said he'd bring a weapon component to look for shady arms dealers.  Ms. Vik suggested he contact Rol, to ask for the former Marine's help, because he'd been an armorer.  She also asked Sir Brian if he'd fixed her stateroom door yet?  Without thought, Brian said he'd not gotten around to it before a brief pause.

That punctuated the fact, apparent to each of them, that he'd implicated himself in "damaging" the door, as she'd not reported it to him.  After Brian promised to fix the door, Inger signed off with him and returned to her research.  Ms. Vik perused the data until nearly lunch time, before pulling her comms and calling each of the team members to see what was happening?  Brian and Rol were in a section of the port terminal complex as was Zachariah Woods.  Emkir and Aiden were with the ship and the other two knights were at the city hall tower.  What she'd learned was not of much help and Dame Mikah told her a number of things they should talk about later.  Ms. Vik also told each of the crew about the port database.  After that Ms. Vik went to lunch, finding it free because she held 'Executive Director' rank.

Rol And Brian's Foolish Adventure

     After calling Ms. Vik for advice, Brian called Rol about meeting to hunt weapons dealers.  After agreeing to meet, Brian considered how to go about it?  His first plan was to disassemble a weapon of his, illegal in the Republic.  This would let him prove he had an illegal weapon to lure potential dealers into revealing themselves.  But Brian decided against that, and let the others know he was leaving the ship after checking the port's data page to see where the crawler was?  At the terminal, Brian found Rol waiting as expected, and the former Marine suggested they sit and discuss Brian's plan.  The knight suggested checking the port for shops likely to sell illegal arms.  He felt Rol would be valuable for his opinion of what shops might have the facilities to do that?  At a shop, they'd go in and make suggestive comments, hoping a weapons dealer would bite.  Again, Brian hoped Rol's weapons knowledge would help them there too.

Rol considered the ideas and pointed out a number of issues.  First, he said, illegal arms dealers were just that, "illegal".  If it were that easy to turn them out, the police would have found most of the dealers already.  Dealers, Rol continued, rarely did "walk in business" if they dealt with unknowns at all.  Expanding on that, Rol said most underworld venders not only dealt with only those they knew, but also tended not to do their dealing in places where they were likely to be watched.  Or under video security, like starports.  The best way to find an underground economy, like a black market, was simply to put in your time looking and listening.  He used his morning as an example, describing some of the things he'd overheard and what those could mean.  He ended his 'lesson on the black market' by pointing out the two largest hazards that looking could lead to...

First, black marketers break the law, so they'd have no problems protecting themselves in illegal ways.  and, if they didn't know you and you were getting too close, they might well just shoot you, no questions asked.  Second, there were the thieves to consider.  If you went around saying you had a high-tech illegal weapon and were looking for a part, you could well get invited someplace shady with the weapon for "service".  Only the "service" might just be a group in hiding with weapons to ambush you.  Then, "your" illegal high-tech weapon became "their" illegal high-tech weapon and you were found later, battered abd brused.  Or, perhaps just your body.  Brian admitted he hadn't considered the hazards of looking and should reconsider his plan.  With that understanding, Brian suggested they go back to the ship.  Back aboard, after another hour's crawler ride, Brian returned to inspecting and servicing the ship's engineering and performing maintenance.  Rol did more studying on computer operations.

Meanwhile, With Mikah and Zimzod

     Getting to the police department, the knights were very annoyed to find themselves led to their "liaison", a Lieutenant Grath.  They were told he'd help them in all matters between the themselves and the municipal Police.  Angered at the perceived slight, Mikah immediately moved to widen the breach, asking what the Lieutenant thought about the news?  Assuming they were asking about Aiden and Emkir, Grath said he thought the knight's work was a bit flashy for undercover work.  That further angered Mikah, and got a few negative comments from Zimzod too.  Eventually, it became clear the Lieutenant was talking about the front page item where she meant the story on the third page?  Admitting he hadn't seen it, they paused to let him read it before pressing for an answer.  The Lieutenant was used to so called anonymous sources, and gave her the properly political answer for something he felt they could do nothing about.

Dame Mikah said, if that was the best they could do, it would be taken up with the Marquis later that day in a tone Grath saw as haughty.  Still, the comment didn't get a reaction from the Lieutenant.  Grath ignored it, saying he understood they were there for data on the Vargr gangs and gang crime in the city?  As he spoke, he reached into a drawer and pulled out a data chip to give to Mikah.  He described the data on the chip as a complete database of gang related activities, notable suspects and background data on the gangs, their leaders, the neighborhoods and suspected fronts.  Pleased for the first time in their visit, Mikah asked about the ground car from the department?  She was told he'd checked the vehicles available as he gave them a stack of images.  Each vehicle looked much too official.  Mikah decied that was an intentional insult, given her specific request for a "non-police" like vehicle.

Taking this as a direct slight, Mikah demanded to see vehicles with a more civilian appearance and was told those were all the department had.  In continued questioning, they were told all non-official vehicles were turned over to the municipal government for impound and "disposal".  Finding this more and more annoying, Mikah asked what department of the city government had access to cars of the kind she wanted?  As an answer, the Lieutenant printed a form for her.  Handing her the blank form, Grath pointedly told Mikah of the department she needed to reach out to once she'd filled out the form.  Expecting the Lieutenant to not only assist in filling in the forms but also escort them to the proper department, Mikah found the conversation "on hold" as Grath got a call.  It was soon apparent something was up by his responses.  That was confirmed when the Lieutenant hung up and told them they'd have to leave.  Attempting to push the Lieutenant's attitude, they found they couldn't make him budge.

Unhappy, but unable to do anything else, they agreed as the Lieutenant turned back into his office.  Looking around before leaving, it was apparent that whatever the significant event was, the entire floor of the HQ was involved.  Most of the people there were involved in sudden "organizing" activities.  Looking at each other, they decided to grab an 'out of the way and unoccupied desk' and sit there to see what they could overhear?  It didn't take them long to learn the activity was based on an on-coming visit from someone described only as "The President".  Learning this, Mikah called back to the ship and got Emkir.  Emkir was able to find, through a simple search, that the Republic of Inthe was run by a Democratically elected government, including an elected President.

Still, despite his searching, Emkir couldn't find any hint of a planned visit to the city or the police department.  Confused at a lack of coverage on something that was obviously newsworthy, the two knights were interrupted by a khaki officer.  The officer insisted they leave, as the department had 'some important work to complete'.  On their way out, the two decided it would perhaps be a good idea if they were not in the area when the President arrived.  That way, there could be no blame if something "inappropriate" were to happen to the President.  So, they headed for the municipal building not far away, to see if they could meet with the Mayor.

Once in the municipal building, the knights were greeted with double talk at reception when they asked to see the Mayor.  This cleared up as they identified themselves, and an aide was called to assist them.  They were told the Mayor was indeed not available, but they could have an office to wait and work in until he was.  The first office they were led to was one with windows looking out over the city, including the Police Department.  Dame Mikah saw this and asked politely if they could perhaps have a different office.  Without a window.  After being taken to another office, they made it clear that they should not be disturbed, even suggesting anyone opening the door might be interrupting an 'intimate encounter'.  Once alone, the pair began looking at the data chip they'd gotten from the Lieutenant.  And that seemed to be exactly as described.

While beginning to go over the data, they got a call from Ms. Vik, asking how things were going?  During the conversation, they learned she had some information for them, which would have to wait until they were back at the ship.  Shortly after that, Mikah called all the team members and told them to be back at the ship that evening.  During dinner, they would discuss the data they'd all received and make plans.  Unfortunately, they didn't get long, after that, to comb through their data as they heard a knock at the door.  Saying "come in", they were greeted by the timid face of the aide who'd assisted them as she told them the Mayor was available.  He also wanted the knights to join him in his office.  Wrapping up their work, the pair followed the aide to the Mayor's office where they found not only the Mayor and his aides but the Marquis and his entourage as well!

Introductions were made quickly, largely by The Marquis, who was glad the knights were there, due to their meeting later in the day.  As they were introduced to the Mayor, Dame Mikah brought up the ground car.  The Mayor confirmed that the municipal government had all "non-service" cars in civilian impound.  When Mikah challenged the Mayor to help her resolve the issue, he said he was only too glad to help.  He promised that he'd connect them with an aide who'd get them a car matching their needs after they got back from their next appointment.  He joked that one could be impounded if one couldn't be found.  Happy with the progress, the knights agreed to join the Marquis' entourage and faded into the background.  Mikah did call Aiden, telling him they wouldn't need him to fly them to the capital after all.  Aiden jokingly told them to make up their minds!  With his gear laid out and still looking into the general aviation rules and flight plan requirements, Aiden saved what he'd learned in case it became needed and started securing his gear.

The entourages all waited together, and shared food delivered for them, until the Marquis and Mayor got moving.  The knights found they were set to proceed back to the municipal Police Department for a last-minute organized summit.  The Marquis' people would meet with the police and the Inthian President over how the national and Imperial government could help the city?  As they basked in the irony of the event, the knights went down to street level with the rest and rode over to the police HQ in grav-limousines.  In the plaza, they were greeted by a small honor guard and escorted inside and introductions were made.  Again, the knights were introduced to the Chief of Police.  They were then led on a department by department tour, eventually reintroducing them to Lieutenant Grath.  Sir Zimzod took direct pleasure in "lording it over" the Lieutenant.  He even went so far as to smudge some of the Lieutenant's brass and scuff one of his shoes.  Until The Marquis noticed and stopped him.

As Zimzod left, the Lieutenant was smiling, thanks to the apparent support from the knight's superior.  With the tour done, there was a brief moment of conversation for the VIP's, including the knights, in the Police Chief's office.  Mikah made no attempt to hide her disdain for the man.  But soon enough, the call came and they all trooped out to "greet the President".  Taking their places in the Marquis' honor guard, Mikah realized only too late that there would be press coverage, no matter how hasty.  The legal beat reporters had apparently seen the Marquis arrive and "called for backup".  As the cameras clicked away and recorded, Mikah and Zimzod knew their faces were the next to appear on the front pages.  Not happy about it, Mikah and Zimzod were all grace and deference as the introductions wave reached and passed them, before heading into the building.

Different Afternoons for Zach and Ms. Vik

     After an inexpensive and tasty fast-food lunch, Zach checked the exchange, to see if his target had returned to the kiosk?  He only found the empty kiosk with the readout "For Rent, Cheap Rates".  Disappointed, Zach went to one of the register displays and looked up Haroyce Associates on the freely available data-screen.  All he learned was that they were listed as "Trade Advisors".  Any further information, if available, was only available at a cost.  Zach tried to use the comm-link information on the card, but only got the message, "This comm link is in transition.  Please try again at a later time."  So it seemed the man had cleared out after being warned.  That ending that, Zach decided to find a gym where he could continue his workout regime and ask about memberships?

Exploring the habitation section of that terminal section for a short while, Zach found a number of choices.  Sadly, all cost more than he wanted to pay.  He was told there might be more reasonable memberships off the starport property.  Disappointed with the jaunt so far, Zach considered walking across the harbor to the ship for a workout.  But he quickly realized the distance involved and the chance of security issues rising were a bad idea.  So he returned to the crawler lounge and presented his credentials for the Pilot Error before waiting for, and boarding, a crawler back to the ship.  At the ship, Zach continued his research, on a lounge workstation, and found there was very little to learn about Haroyce Associates.  Listed in New Port Dunslade, and reachable only by a call to provided comm data, the firm was not operating under any laws requiring it to identify its primaries publicly.  So, there were just the few advertisements about "assisting in facilitating interstellar trade issues" to inform anyone of their business.

Returning to her office after lunch, Ms. Vik saw a message alert on her office comms.  Securing the office, she played a message, which turned out to be an invitation from the Port Security Administrator, Burton Wyss, to meet with him.  She called Administrator Wyss back and, after they'd introduced themselves, Inger said she could visit him right away.  After he agreed, and gave her directions to his office, she re-secured her office and went to meet him.  With the introductions done, Wyss closed the door as she asked what he had in mind?  The two quickly got down to discussing her job and port security.  The Administrator made it very clear that he was dedicated to increasing and improving the security of the port, and serving the safety of the people of New Port Dunslade.  He also revealed that he was aware of Vougazgi's activities, had heard rumors of her involvement and would love to bust the Vargr.

In the conversation, it was obvious Wyss was a local.  He'd worked his way up and into the job through, if the conversation could be trusted, his hard work and commitment.  He was disgusted with the smuggling and, while he understood the Executive Director's desire to bust the "Mister Big's", felt it every time an innocent was hurt.  Each time, he said, it could have been a weapon smuggled through the port.  As the talk turned to Vougazgi, Wyss said the Vargr had gotten so comfortable with his activities that he brought a "shipment" through every month, at the same time.  He then told Ms. Vik that, if she wanted to bust the Vargr, the next "shipment" would be moved in five days.  Inger was surprised the Vargr was so bold, but said she needed to get more information and line up much more in the way of force before she could think of acting.

Wyss took a risk to say, he could introduce her to some of his friends on the City Police force if it was force they needed?  He confided with her that he had "worked" with them before, unofficially, to get some of the scum off the streets.  He offered to set up a meet and greet for her if she wanted to meet them too?  After discussing the new information with Wyss, and making no promises, Ms. Vik returned to her office.  She considered what data she had and what might be on the drive she'd gotten from the Director?  But Inger preferred to return to the ship to investigate further, as she had no set work hours.  Calling the motorpool, Ms. Vik ordered a field car to bring her back to the crawler stop and then returned to the ship.  There, Ms. Vik sparked up a workstation and Emkir helped her dig into the data on the drive.  The two worked on the data until it was time for the dinner meeting Dame Mikah called.

The Official Meeting

     After the tour of the Police HQ ended, and introductions were over, Mikah and Zimzod were included in the meeting to follow.  They saw the President's entourage included several National Security officials and a General, along with several military officers and some other functionaries.  The Marquis had only the knights and two advisors, as the Imperial role had been discussed at length before the knights arrival on-world.  Much of the discussion took the form of economic and other aid the National government could provide to the City.  Mikah stepped in, when she saw an opening, to question orbital electronic surveillance?  She learned the entire boarder was under at least electronic surveillance if not manned by sophont guards.  From the National security officials, Mikah learned there wasn't much more the National level could do with orbital assets.  Still, she was interested in a few things she felt they could offer her mission.  They agreed to have the knights visit the Intelligence HQ, to tour their electronic intelligence command and discuss any aid they could provide.

The Presidential Aide handling national security issues passed them his contact data and invited them to call his office as early as the next day, to set up a tour.  This put the knight's mission directly on center stage and Mikah covered a number of things she felt could help them.  One of those was the question of carry permits for weapons in the country?  This was handled easily, as The President asked his General to step up.  The General said they could provide the needed paperwork for weapons permits if they could meet with all the people on the knight's team?  Mikah promised they could do that, at the knight's ship the next morning without trouble.  She gave them the ship's berthing information.  Having the commitment for weapons permits, Mikah moved onto the subject of information security.  Feeling the "Secret meeting" with municipal authorities the day before had been leaked to the media, she wanted to know what could be done to preserve the nature of her mission?

That discussion was uncomfortable for all, as everyone had to admit press intrusion was a never ending annoyance.  Indeed, the higher in rank a person was, the more they were surprised that Dame Mikah wasn't already aware of the realities of information security in anything short of a dictatorship.  And even then, the word got out.  It was just harder for the authorities to find out who knew?  When Mikah pushed for some kind of investigation, she was told that, short of questioning everyone in every department involved in any way with the meeting, there was no way to hunt down the leak.  With that finished, there was a brief commentary on the international assistance Inthe would be getting from neighboring countries.  Once the meeting wound up, the knights spoke to the Marquis.  He confirmed there was nothing more they needed to cover.

With the meeting done, the Mayor was true to his word in setting them up with an aide who questioned them about the car they needed and assured them they'd have something suitable the next day.  Completing that, the knights returned to their air/raft and headed back to the ship.  Dame Mikah called around, to make sure everyone would be at the ship for a dinnertime meeting, and most of them were already waiting.  As they made their way to the air/raft, Mikah called Aiden, warning him that he'd need the flight plan to the Republic's capital after all, once they got their appointment set up.  Back aboard, Mikah returned to investigating the drug components of the "drink" Ms. Vik was subjected to the night before.

Mikah wanted to figure out just how dangerous a cocktail of drugs and alcohol it was?  She also realized it would be fairly interesting and take some time to develop something, past a simple Oxyadrenal, to ward off the effects of the cocktail.  So Mikah spent much of her free time after the meeting working on it, with supplies from her kit.  Mikah did start before the dinner meeting, and put the work on hold for that.  Zimzod went to his stateroom before the meeting, to work on his gear and prep various items in the event things went south.  He took proper care to not only clean his battledress but verify all the resource storages were properly full before re-racking the gear in the encumbrance station.  They all gathered at about 6pm to discuss the day's events and see what each had learned?

The Dinner Meeting

     While eating, Mikah and Zimzod told the others about their day and commented on the issues resolved or cropping up.  Mikah told them there would be a delegation from the Inthian Army out to the ship.  They would meet with the crew and cut them all papers so they could be armed while on Inthian territory.  That would let them leave the starport armed.  They then told the others about the data chip they'd gotten from the police, and some of the data they'd seen in the limited time they had to look it over.  Mikah also discussed what she saw as a widening issue with being able to work with the police.  On that score, Ms. Vik sparked up saying, "Let me tell you about my day!"  She told them about the data drive she'd gotten from the Port Executive Director and characterized some of what she'd been able to peruse.  She also spoke to Mikah directly, thinking she might have a solution to the police problem.  Describing her day and the things she'd learned, the team realized they had a number of avenues to investigate.

Everyone was also very excited about the information on Ms. Vik's "puppy-mour" and his planned shipment.  The talk that followed ranged over everything from planting tracking sensors on Vougazgi to trying to get a tracker on the shipment itself.  Broader suggestions included breaking into his apartment, even though no one yet knew where it was or what security might exist there, and bugging it.  Or bugging his vehicle, even though no one yet knew if he had or used one?  Eventually, the team decided they needed to find a way to get a tracker on Vougazgi which was programmed to signal its location back via GPS.  The consensus plan that formed, suggested they find some way of tracking Vougazgi until he delivered the shipment wherever it was going.  Then, deciding if that was where to bring the police in?

The questioning turned to Rol and Brian, to ask if something of that nature could be made?  After studying the specs of some of the devices, Brian felt he could create the tracker.  Pleased with that decision, Mikah reminded all of them the army team would be there early.  She said they should all be prepared to meet with them.  Ms. Vik asked Mikah about the epipen and Mikah said the bottle held much more than alcohol.  While she could create something to counter the effects, she recommended Ms. Vik never drink the stuff again.  Inger said she understood, but might have to drink it at least once more.  She did thank Mikah for her help though.  And after the meeting, Mikah returned to her research on a counter agent to the drink.

After the meeting, Brian began seeking out what he needed to complete the work after Ms. Vik demanded he fix her stateroom door.  The Admiral decided to do some research before heading out to one of the more tourist casinos to play some games.  When he heard about this, Rol decided to tag along and see if he could learn something from the Admiral?  Radetsky decided to stay in and work on his navigation studies.  Ms. Vik sparked up one of the ship's workstations and returned to digging into her data drive.  Zimzod started sifting through the data chip he and Mikah had and Zach returned to his gunnery studies.

As they were preparing to leave, Emkir asked if he and Rol could use the air/raft and Mikah said they could.  So they headed out at 7:30 to gamble, but when they arrived at the casino the clocks all said 7:25!!  Checking, their wrist watches also said 7:25.  Calling back to the ship sparked a short investigation after which Brian eventually admitted he'd set the ship's clocks back half an hour.  Mikah and Zimzod made Brian fix the clocks, which he did while grousing.  Later that night, after the others went to sleep, Brian set the ship's clocks back again, but Mikah and some of the others had set their own personal clocks or alarms in their staterooms.

Next: Before The Party On The Third Day