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Waiting To Leave

Making After Dinner Plans

Risek     After eating, Ms. Vik decided to dig into the station's cultural life instead of randomly sightseeing.  Checking a station-net link on the ship's computer, she checked through a wide array of opportunities and decided to see a concert.  Her choice was a classical orchestral performance, on one of the nearby entertainment concourses.  She checked the tickets, finding decent seats cost Cr 150 each.  Preparing to buy herself a ticket, Inger asked if anyone else was interested?  Sir Brian, who'd planned on researching the day's finds, decided to join her.  Putting his data aside, Brian changed into his tuxedo for the concert and night out.  Ms. Vik wore her slinky green party dress with the gold bangles she'd gotten from the Quasar Viper.

As the two prepared, Emkir finished cleaning up and hit the rack.  Rol also decided to take a nap while Mikah, holding down the bridge, made use of the time giving herself a pedicure.  As Zimzod and Aiden discussed their evening plans, the former marine said he was heading for a club.  Aiden told Zimzod he was planning to check out the "Hall of Weapons", and might go to a club after.  When Zimzod said he wasn't interested in the weapons, Aiden said they might meet later.  Zach joined the conversation saying he was thinking of clubbing too.  Zimzod asked what kind of club Zach was headed for and made sure they weren't looking for the same kind of place.

While Zimzod checked the station for a merchant bar, Zach set aside Cr 500 as he checked for interesting advertisements in the list of clubs.  While the two researched clubs, Aiden grabbed his gear and went to see the sights.  Zach left before Zimzod, who finally left with a menacing smile and a plan to raise a little hell.  Ultimately, the last to leave were Inger and Brian, who paid Cr 20 for the ride to the concert.  Once they'd changed, they booked a station taxi and agreed, to speed things along, Inger would cover the costs and Brian would pay her back when it was convenient.

Zimzod's Bar Adventure

     Zimzod's chosen bar was fairly close to the Pilot Error's berth, so he walked the docks for a cover of credibility with the other spacers.  He also took the time to deciding just what kind of trouble he wanted to get into?  Wearing a generic ship suit gave him as good a chance as he could get at fitting in with merchies, after a lifetime of Imperial military service.  Of course, he didn't plan to spend a lot, nor plan to make any friends.  The bar was exactly what he expected, with a small crowd of spacers hitting the docks spending what was left of their pay after prolonged quarantine.  They were cutting loose and burning off their frustrations with out of place stationers in the mix for a night of exotic adventure.  Both to Zimzod's fortune and misfortune, his plan unfolded.

After a few drinks and some relaxing 'target selection', he overheard some merchanters laughing about something involving marines.  He sipped his drink quietly as he focused his attention on the seven, all merchanters.  But from where he was, he couldn't learn more.  Finally, to huge laughs, one of the spacers jumped up, pantomiming someone, as he yelled out comically, "Where's my FGMP?"  Zimzod considered getting more information.  If they were talking about "this" system, it was a hell of a place to lose something like that!  Not to mention, that an FGMP was a hell of a prize for someone to find if they could.  Ordering another beer, Zimzod finally made his way to the group, intending to "accidentally bump the table" and spill the beer on one of them.  Then he'd give them the usual "Oh!  Oh, I'm sorry.  You should watch where you're going."

But the experienced spacers had marked him almost from the moment they noticed his approach.  Zimzod did give the guy telling the story a shower, and splashed the gal next to him.  But he also swiftly caught a hard elbow to the kidney.  The guy swinging the arm also hook stepped a foot behind Zimzod's left ankle and he was on the way down!  Zimzod almost had time to think, "He's been schooled" before hitting the ground himself.  He only reflexively pulled in his limbs to take the hit.  The merchanter mocked, "Oh!  I'm Sorry!", as those in his group shifted between grim laughs and other "preparations".  But the guy held a hand down to Zimzod after taking his empty glass.  Of course, Zimzod ignored the fact they were on to him and thought that might be his chance to get even.

Zimzod reached for the hand up, planning a surprise counter attack.  He also reached to grab the chair the splashed woman was sitting on, to flip her down too.  But the spacers were nowhere near that green, and he found he needed to try to come up fighting.  Five minutes later, Zimzod's class on the close quarters fighting skills of veteran spacers ended when station security moved in and detained everyone.  Eventually, the spacers were sent back to their ships with a warning to not deviate or they'd be delivered to their various captains.  This threat was more than enough to sober the merchies up, and they moved off.  For his part, Cr 50 lighter in the wallet, security escorted Zimzod back to the Pilot Error and made certain he boarded.  For all his excitement, Zimzod was the first to return to the ship and he didn't check in with Mikah as he hit his stateroom fresher to wash off the blood.  He then hit the rack trying to find a position that didn't press on his emerging bruises too much and didn't set his alarm to wake him at any given time.

Zach's Pleasant Evening

     Zach's bar was very different than Zimzod's in almost every respect.  Having taken a station-taxi, Zach entered a packed bar filled with dancers, drinking revelers standing at bar tables or sitting in booths and bright and scantily dressed partiers on the dance space.  Some of that was on the bar's ceiling thanks to gravitics and the lack of space on any station.  The feel of the place screamed "Stationer bar", as it lacked that awareness ship crews tended to have, even when drinking, in unfamiliar places.  The party went on with complete abandon and he became a part of the scene, as an obvious novelty who'd wandered in from the docks.  Relaxing, Zach ordered a drink as he looked around and let the party absorb him.  He soon found himself adopted by a cluster of stationers who were out seeking the exotic and felt he qualified.

Soon the attention got to be a bit much for Zach and he used his height advantage to find a place where he could control the flow of adventure seekers.  It seemed everyone wanted to be close to him, but not too close.  Eventually Zach found a spot near a protruding bulkhead which created a gap between it and the bar.  He saw he could get some cover there and fought through the waves of dancers.  When he finally got there, Zach found a lady in spacer coveralls in the spot, with her back to the wall and belly to a standing bar table she'd pulled into place.  Being female and looking more "normal", she had many "suitors".  Her face brightened immediately as she saw Zach's ship suit and realized she had spacer back up.

Waving him over, she quickly forced a man who was uncomfortably close to her on the right to shove off so Zach could move in.  What started off as a safety net turned into a gaming partner as Zach teamed up with her.  He learned she was Leeandrana, from the Subsidized Merchanter, IMV Rocinante.  The two quickly settled into a game, playing the stationers for the fools they were with wildly spun tales.  The game always inflated the self-importance of one of the stationers until it was time to stick in the pin.  While they played, there was always some risk someone would get too angry or stupid.  But the two soon had a wall of disgruntled suckers around them and the table to themselves.

This suited Leeandrana just fine, and they spent a bit more time talking ships and ports just like any other Merchies.  Soon, they decided the bar was just too loud and the people there too useless.  Zach threw down Cr 100 to cover their bill as they headed out.  Once out in the solvent and chemical laced air of the docks "Lee", as she told Zach to call her, said she wasn't ready to return to her ship and had liberty until the next day.  Not surprised or unfamiliar with this habit of spacers, Zach admitted he wasn't familiar with the port and Lee led him to a layover where they grabbed a Cr 50 "tube" for the night.

Tubes were circular micro-rooms stacked so the round rooms made columns serviced by stairs and wire frame lifts.  Once inside one, the ceilings were somewhat low for Zach but he didn't plan on standing a lot as they closed and locked the door.  Later, as they relaxed, the two got to talking about why they ended up in the bar.  Lee admitted she'd been there looking for a friend from the IMV Tradewinds.  When he asked why, she said she'd made plans with the "friend" from the ship's crew in the last port they shared.  Knowing their ships would meet up in Risek, they planned to meet again.  But the friend had added, "...if we don't get caught."  Her friend said he'd have a bit more to spend in Risek port if their "less than Imperial cargo" sold well.  But the ship was overdue if they'd run the course they'd planned.

Aiden's Quiet Adventures

     Aiden managed to quickly find the weapons display hall, and paid the Cr 5 entry before spending most of his time examining the variety of weapons and some of his time cleaning the drool.  The collection was divided into sections such as historic, Imperial, foreign and mock ups of prototypes.  He saw many hand guns he'd love to add to his collection and mourned the lack of real weapons at the gift shop as he left.  The "highlight" of the display was a case of captured Zhodani and Vargr weapons, from the various frontier wars and raids, that had made their way to Risek.  Mostly they came as booty, grabbed by a navy spacer or marine returning to the Risek base, but a few were purchased for the collection.

Another noted display were the simulations of weapons from around the Marches, created from images and descriptions available in library data.  In this case were mock ups of weapons reputed to be used by various historical groups and figures, including the ceremonial weapons worn by such Nobility as Duke Norris, Duke Leonard and The Emperor himself.  Aiden took the time to study the pictures of each, even though their images were familiar to all those in the Spinward Marches who were not blind.  Eventually Aiden made his way to a concourse where there were bars and sat down in a nice quiet pub-like bar to relax.  The mood of the place was a subdued "do not disturb", along with the fortunes of the spacers as they wondered when they'd get clear of the port or quietly discussed their various bits of business.  Eventually, after Cr 20 and a few pints, Aiden decided to head back to the ship for some sleep.

The Over-Night Quiet

     Rol woke from his nap and cleaned up a bit in the lounge before deciding it was time to finish getting a full night's sleep.  Hitting his stateroom, Rol set his clock for 6am and racked out.  Aiden was the next to return, and he did some figuring before setting his clock to wake him two hours before Mikah's bridge shift ended, to be prepared to relieve her.  Having enjoyed the concert, Brian and Ms. Vik returned to the berth and headed their separate ways.  Brian set no alarm, figuring his body would wake him at 7:30 am as he'd always trusted his biological clock before.  The next day, he planned to do some more work on his vacc suit skills before exploring the station further.

In her stateroom, Inger set her clock for 8am, to give herself time to prepare for the 11am appointment with Dessie and Mikah the next day.  The last person to hit the rack was Mikah, who decided she was bored around 2am ship time.  Deciding her shift was over, she buzzed Aiden's cabin until he woke and answered.  Once he was on speaker, Mikah told him she expected him to take the bridge so she could sleep before her meeting with the port director.  Not happy, Aiden did as ordered and relieved Mikah before starting on his system checks.  By six in the morning, Aiden was bored but worried because Zach hadn't yet returned to the ship.  Still, he chose not to raise any flags 'just yet'.


A Morning In Split Perspective

     As Aiden considered Zach's continued absence, Rol's alarm clock started ringing and the former marine woke up.  Rol woke quickly, looking around his stateroom for any evidence of an alarm or emergency.  Not seeing anything immediately, he checked his personal comms and the state of the ship's internal comms before checking outside his stateroom door.  To his surprise, he actually woke up to his own alarm clock and there was no disaster to respond to.  Not having an emergency with this crew was new to Rol, and he gave a satisfied smile at the empty lounge before beginning his morning routine.  By 7am, as Rol was finishing his morning routine, Aiden decided it was time to do something about Zach.  Aiden linked comms with her stateroom and used a gentle tone to wake Mikah.  As she woke, Mikah barely moved or opened her eyes as she saw it was easily an hour before she planned to get up.

       In a warning tone, Mikah said, "This better be good".

       Aiden answered, "Um.  You know, Zach didn't come home last night?"

       Now annoyed, Mikah responded, "So?  Why don't you comm him and see
             where he is?"

       Aiden stumbled over his response as he said, "Umm, well, no.  I just wanted
             to inform you.  That's next on the agenda."

       Still annoyed, Mikah answered, "He won't be missing for twenty four hours.
             I mean, he is a grown man."

       Rebuffed, Aiden said, "Well, OK." and cut the connection to Mikah's
             stateroom before reaching out to Zach's personal comms.

In her stateroom, Mikah shrugged off the message and tried to get back to sleep.

On the bottom of a very cheap tube in a low-rent place called "The Spacer's Bunk", surrounded by a pile of his and her clothes, Zach's comms merrily buzzed unattended as Zach and Lee happily slept away the early morning.

Not happy, but with few other options, Aiden decided to let things sit for half an hour before trying again.  Five minutes later, Aiden saw a power indicator flashing from the crew lounge as Rol left his stateroom looking for food.  Shortly after that, Emkir joined Rol in the lounge, trying to knock the wool from his head.  When Rol realized there was no one cooking breakfast, he started looking for cookware and ingredients.  After exploring the food storage, Rol wanted to see if he could duplicate a dish Zach had cooked before, to see if he can do it or even improve on it?  Still on the bridge, Aiden tried to raise Zach again and still got no reply from the still sleeping merchanter.  He decided to check for a way the ship's systems could trace the location of Zach's comms unit.

By 8am, the clocks in Mikah and Inger's staterooms went off and they began their morning routines.  Inger started with an "up and at 'em" perspective, and the music from the night before stayed with her.  Mikah had a more specific goal in mind.  After she finished her shower and preparations, she'd head to the bridge, where nothing would save Aiden.  Whether she saw Zach in the crew lounge or not.  By the time the ladies completed their morning routines and emerged from their staterooms, Rol and Emkir had eaten breakfast and were sitting in the lounge.

The food that had been prepared very much seemed like a dish Zach had prepared, raising Mikah's annoyance level even though she didn't see the trader.  After taking a plate of food and tasting the food to make sure it was something Zach had cooked, her anger was validated.  She ate quickly, considering the many ways to disassemble a starship pilot before cleaning up and heading to the bridge.  Once through the entrance, she found Aiden checking on the various active ship's systems and "finger flicked" the back of the pilot's head to get his attention.

      Aiden turned saying, "Morning Captain.  How are you this fine day?" with
             forced cheer.

      Mikah asked, "Can I ask why you are worried about a grown person?" pausing
             to describe Zach's absence before continuing. "Being out all night?"

Aiden didn't want to admit he was worried about the spacer because he had no real reason outside the man's absence.  So, he said, "Because I don't wanna think about all the paperwork and bail money that might ensue."  But Mikah cut him off, snapping, "That's not your concern."  She continued, "He'll show up, somehow.  In Some fashion, or not."  Aiden punctuated each statement with "uh huh".

Aiden tried to joke, "Should we put a 'To Let' sign on his stateroom door and Mikah answered, "We might want to."  With that, Aiden said he was going to get something to eat and locked his screens before he and Mikah left the bridge.

Once done with her daily routine, Ms. Vik wanted to get some chow before her day got too hectic.  There was little to do before their meeting with Director Wortman, and she expected Mikah would do the talking.  That left Inger a more or less leisurely morning.

In his stateroom, Sir Brian woke to the realization he had overslept.  Looking at the clock, he realized it was 9am.  Still, he wasn't too worried since it just delayed his plans.  Rising, Brian went through his morning routine which included special care for the few remaining patches of skin that still had a bluish hue.  Finally, he went out into the lounge to find breakfast cold but prepared and ate as he planned to do several hours of vacc suit studies before exploring the station more.

As the members of the crew sat eating or relaxing, Aiden asked who would take
       the next bridge shift?

Mikah snapped back, "I don't know.  I have to go out."  After a pause where no
       one spoke up, she acerbically joked, "Call Zach."

Ms. Vik realized he wasn't in the lounge and, assuming he was in his stateroom from
       the night before, said, "I am sure he'll be in great shape to take the
       watch." in a satirical tone.

Mikah said, "Buzz Emkir.  He's been sleeping long enough."

Aiden considered out loud, "Let's see.  I came on watch around two so I been on
       for seven hours.  I have an hour left on my shift so I'll wait and then buzz him."

After Breakfast

     Once done eating and enjoying the morning show, Rol grabbed his duster, fedora and hooked his knife scabbard to his belt before heading out to shop.  He was specifically looking for fifty feet of reinforced line, a collapsible 10 ft. pole and climbing spikes.  As Rol left, Mikah sparked up one of the terminals in the lounge to read the news and see if there was anything interesting happening on the port?  The only thing she found was a news story about yet another gem theft.  The system wide jeweler's guild reported a theft overnight which brought the total to Cr 350,000 worth with the most recent crime being a hit on a gem collection on that station!

System wide authorities admitted that the lack of a pattern to the thefts was making investigation of the crimes more difficult to follow up.  Comments from one investigator indicated the conditions involved in that theft were such that few people could have even pulled it off.  And the stones stolen, mined from the surface, must be significantly radioactive.  When Mikah mentioned this to those in the lounge, it sparked talk of hand held radiation detectors.  Aiden said the ship had sensors for detecting radioactivity but that couldn't be carried around.

Zach Returned As Others Woke

     In "The Spacer's Bunk", Zach and Lee woke around 9am and prepared to return to their ships.  With many ships crewed by families, pairings like this were frequent as spacers found partners dockside.  After cleaning, dressing and paying for the room, Zach headed back to the ship.  By 10am, he'd returned as Aiden was buzzing Emkir to wake him and switch shifts.  As Zach entered the ship and lounge, Mikah looked up from what she was doing to say, "Zach!  Aiden was just so worried about you.  You'd better go check in with him."

Wondering at the syrupy tone in her voice, Zach said "ok" and headed to the bridge as Brian headed into his stateroom to pull out his vacc suit training materials.  In his stateroom, Emkir woke saying, "Huh, it's morning." and answered the comms asking, "What's going on?"

       Aiden told him, "You've got about an hour before your shift on the bridge begins."

       Surprised, Emkir asked "What?  I'm taking on day shift now?"

       Annoyed, Aiden said, "I took the night" and Emkir resignedly said, "OK.  I got ya,
       I'm coming up."

After breaking off the comms, Emkir started his morning routine.  On the bridge, Aiden saw Zach and asked, "What have you done now?  And do we need to beat feet?"  Mystified with Aiden's assumptions, Zach answered, "I haven't done anything.  I was having a good time.  Isn't that what leave is all about?"  The conversation ended quickly and Zach returned to the lounge where he found food cooked already.  He took a plate and tasted it, finding it very similar to something he'd cooked before.  At that, he wondered who else knew how to cook on the ship.  He even admitted to himself it was a bit better than what he'd made.  Finally Zach asked, "Who Cooked?"  In his stateroom, Zimzod had waken at 10:30am to his various aches and pains.  He lifted himself off his rack carefully, showered and did his best to cover up his bruises as much as possible before leaving his stateroom.

No one answered Zach's question as Zimzod entered the lounge.  Looking around, Zach asked, "No one knows who Cooked?"  He saw some of the crew were not in the lounge and asked, "Is Sir Brian aboard the ship?"  Mikah said, "He's in his stateroom."  Mikah was waiting for the car from the starport.  Shrugging, Zach went to ask Brian what he had planned?  When the Knight said he was working on his vacc suit studies, Zach asked if he'd like to team up to explore the station?  Brian said he did, but asked Zach to wait a few hours for him to get some studying done.  Zach agreed, and headed to a terminal to do some more research on the Octagon society and the station itself.

As they relaxed in the lounge, the ship got a comms from station offices saying a taxi had been dispatched to pick up Mikah and Inger.  Twenty minutes later, the taxi arrived and the two ladies went off for their appointment.  Soon Emkir left his stateroom and grabbed a plate of food before heading onto the bridge.  Twenty minutes later there was a brief hand off, as nothing much was happening.  Emkir only needed to monitor the ship's environmental, power and basic engineering systems.  So, he soon decided to work on his ship's sensors studies.

As Aiden was leaving the bridge, Zimzod emerged from his stateroom while a few of the crew relaxed in the lounge.  Zimzod was carrying his personal "stash" and his only goal at the moment was to brew up a mug of coffee.  Aiden went into his stateroom and set his alarm for three hours to wake at 2pm and went to sleep.  Once his coffee was done, Zimzod heated up some of the available food and looked for any interesting news or info-tainment he could find on the port feed.  On the port's concourse, Rol found the supplies he was looking for and spent Cr 100.  After his shopping, Rol headed back to the ship.

Meeting With Dessie

     Mikah and Ms. Vik arrived at the station offices where the taxi dropped them off.  After showing their Idents at reception, they were sent right up to the executive suites as they were expected.  One more stop, after riding a lift to the right floor, and they were guided by an admin assistant to Baroness Wortman's office.  Having been notified of their arrival, Dessie stood as they entered and Ms. Vik introduced Dame Mikah.  After exchanging greetings, Dessie invited them to sit and said, "Let's get the small stuff done first, shall we?

As she said that, and Ms. Vik and Dame Mikah unknowingly shared a moment of discomfort wondering what Director Wortman found "small".  Dessie pulled out a stack of printed flimsies.  The recyclable plastic sheets, in two duplicate stacks, covered the process of officially changing the ship's name from "Pilot Error" to "Resting Parrot".  As they started going over the document, Ms. Vik said, "Actually, the Captain prefers the name 'Hotel California' if that's not going to be a problem?"  Somewhat surprised, Dessie said it wasn't a problem as she had the electronic version on her deck and could change it on the fly.

It was clear, as Ms. Vik knew, that issues often cropped up during the final stages of many contracts.  Once the name change was agreed on, and the changes were made to the electronic version, Dessie told Dame Mikah this would cost Cr 100.  After that was paid, and she submitted the paperwork, a technical team from the port would be dispatched to make the transponder changes.  The ship's name would be officially changed after that was done.  Dame Mikah agreed, and Dessie printed out a new flimsy which Mikah and Dessie both signed.  Mikah then paid, from ship's funds, and Dessie put the change in the system.  She told Mikah that a technical team would be sent as soon as possible to make the transponder changes.

Once that was done, the Director said it was time to tackle the question of port fees, which fell into two categories.  When Dame Mikah asked which charges these were, Dessie said they could start with the ship's berthing fees.  Not waiting for a response, she explained that a port would upgrade the Cr 300 docking charge from a "short stay" to the Cr 1,000 per week charge when a ship encountered difficulties under normal conditions.  In this case, Dessie explained as she had to Ms. Vik the day before that, that she had intervened and held the fees at Cr 300.  Having had this explained to her before, Dame Mikah said, "Well, thank you very much!"

Dessie smiled at Mikah's appreciation, and let the pause stretch for a moment before moving on the next subject.  Still smiling, Dessie said, "Of course, there will be an additional charge for the emergency services thanks to the, very entertaining lifestyles, you nobility seem to have."  Again, Dessie paused before asking, "Was that why the award was granted?"

       Not sure how to respond, Mikah asked, "OK.  What was it?  What award.  What are you
             talking about?"

       Dessie said, "Your award of Knighthood."

       Mikah brightened up saying, "Oh.  Well.  Yeah, sort of." before giggling and finishing
             up with, "Actually, it was worse."

Still smiling, but shifting back to business, Dessie pulled up a screen and printed it to flimsy so Mikah could go over the port charges in detail.  Again, Dame Mikah paid the Cr 450 charges from ship's funds as she handed over her ident and Dessie completed the payment.  As the Director was completing the process, Mikah asked, "So, do we know what the cloud was yet?"

       Dessie answered in a guarded tone, "I have to tell you, you're very lucky.  If what
             had happened in your air lock had happened at a port where you didn't have
             friends in administration, you'd be in prison right now."

       Not sure how to respond, Mikah said, "OK.  What was it?"

Dessie answered, "Apparently, as best my people can tell me," and here she paused for a second, "and we haven't brought the Imperials into this.  What was in that safe was a plant which is common in the Zhodani Consulate, which is used to create a psi-enhancing drug."  She continued, "The reports said the plant had died some time ago and, in the process of decomposing, it outgassed the cloud that was ejected.  So, the air in the safe was completely unsafe for anyone to be directly exposed to.  Of course, you were also very lucky that the guy who opened it wasn't psionic.  Because the reports said if he was, the spores would have triggered his abilities, latent or not, to go completely wild."

With a smile on her face, Dessie continued, "But on an order of magnitude.  Of illegal substances, these are the sorts of things that cause the authorities to nuke your ship and question the survivors before executing them.  So, if the Imperials had been called in on this, you'd probably be in custody right now."  There was a pause, as no one really knew where to take that comment.  As the pause stretched out, Dessie turned to her terminal and called up another screen of data before looking sideways at the other women.  She then said, "I see, from your ship's registration data, that you don't actually own your ship."

       Again, not sure where this was going, Dame Mikah said, "That's correct." in a
             very matter of fact tone.

       Dessie started slowly asking, "Do you mind telling me how you came.."

       Mikah interrupted, saying, "Umm.  We did a favor for Duke Norris and he granted us
             the ability to use this ship and...do what we need to do with it."

Hearing this, Dessie leaned a bit closer, with a glint in her eyes and asked, "So you actually met Duke Norris?", with a hint of excitement in her voice.  With an ironic tone in her voice, Dame Mikah answered, "Not yet.  We haven't met Duke Norris yet but we're on our way to meet him."

       Dessie then asked, "So how did you, Um, Everyone has read the news releases.  But
             there are no details on how you earned your Patent as a Knight?"

       Dame Mikah answered, "That was for Duke Vilis, and that's classified information",
             with a much more confident voice now that she knew where the conversation
             seemed headed.

       "So, you met Duke Vilis then?" Dessie asked, and when Mikah answered "Yes" she
             asked, "Did you meet his sons?"

       When Mikah said, "No, we didn't." Dessie was a bit disappointed, so Mikah
             continued, saying, "No, but we've met Duke Vilis on a few occasions."

There was a pause after that, which was interrupted by an alarm from Dame Mikah's watch.  Glancing down, Mikah realized it was a warning alarm for her appointment with her dress designer back at the ship.  Mikah realized she'd rather delay her appointment, if possible, rather than leave.  So, she excused herself as she sparked up her comms and called the dress designer's shop to ask for a two to three hour delay.  Since Dame Mikah was paying for the service and ranked very high in the in-system news, they were happily willing to delay and the new meeting time was agreed on.

Once the call was done, the three ladies relaxed and chatted.  Dessie asked questions that mostly related to the team, their travels and what they were doing?  While she did her best to dig into what the team was about, she did tend to focus on the nobility they had encountered.  When Mikah mentioned Insadshiir Manerdagur, Marquis of Porozlo, Dessie just laughed saying, "Porozlo, huh?  Fun place."

Mikah pointed at Ms. Vik with her thumb saying, "Well, that's where she came from.  Where we picked her up", But Dessie just waved that off showing she knew about that.  As the meeting with Dessie ran on, Mikah only wanted to find a way to leave the station sooner.  She also asked if the Navy had made any arrests, or given any more information, on the terror attacks on the Podesti arcology?  On their departure, Dessie said it was just a case of getting the papers taken care of in order and as fast as possible.  As to the Navy, Dessie said they were receiving the same bulletins and reassurances.  But she admitted there were signs some kind of on-going investigation was happening.  The most visible part of that process was the station by station search for the outstanding missing dispensers.

Realizing she'd get nothing new on those fronts, Mikah brought up the news feed on the jewelry thefts in the news and lack of progress.  Dessie admitted she was working on that, especially since the theft on-station.  Dessie said she thought the thefts were increasing, and she had her staff on alert for anything new.  When Mikah asked if there was any sign of a pattern, Dessie said the most recent was the oddest theft yet, because the rocks came from the planet.  Most of the thefts happened in any of the many station-side jeweler shops throughout the system, in what seemed like a random pattern.

       Concerned, Mikah asked, "You haven't found anything in a pillow case, have you?"

       Dessie asked, "No.  Why?  Do you have any information that relates to this?" with
             an odd look on her face.

       Mikah answered, "No.  Just wondering.  I was just wondering when this started and
             if it had anything to do with the virus out there."

       Dessie said, "No.  these events have been happening for well over a month and at
             first they really didn't even seem connected."

       Mikah replied, "That's odd because we found out the dispensers were ordered over
             a month ago so I find it odd that the events line up."

       Surprised, Dessie said, "Really?  The Navy hasn't told us that."

       "Yeah", Mikah continued, "We found the people hired to make them and the place
             they were delivered to and the devices that delivered the virus were ordered
             a month ago."

       Considering this, Dessie asked if she could call her security chief in and Mikah
             said, "Sure".

When the chief arrived, he was introduced around and told the new information.  Once aware of the scope of the information available to him, the chief started asking as many detailed and specific questions as he could.  He was very interested in getting data that he admitted no one seemed to be getting from the military.  Mikah was very pleased to have finally found someone in this system who was willing to listen to the facts.

During the conversations, she suggested they compare the list of locations robbed to see if any corresponded to the money spent to order the dispensers?  When Mikah said this, the chief reached out to one of his people.  He asked to have them flash a copy of the locations known to have been robbed to a screen in Dessie's office.  Once they had that data, they tracked the beginning of the robberies to uncut stones stolen from a locker on a Tarallo Alliance station.

Seeing that, they realized it didn't start anywhere near Podesta at all.  The list of robberies seemed to have started with various different groups of uncut industrial stone caches, before the thieves moved on to cut and finished stones of greater value.  The last change in the nature of 'what was stolen' when they started also stealing industrial specialty stones.  That included one load of highly radioactive stones, which were to be sold to a SuSAG site outside the system.  Indeed, the stones were in racks in a shipping container which, itself, was stolen and had not been found. Ironically, this was a case where Mikah missed the chance to gloat, if only to herself.  Because she failed to recognize the description of the rocks as the radioactive shipment she, Zimzod and Zach had found in Kishman's cargo bay.

As she talked, Mikah brought up the smuggler and everything they found out about him from the bay he leased from the Podesti Port.  She told the security chief about the Zhodani warbot, which led to a discussion of the Zhodani computer files, etc...  The security chief murmured that he would also have his people reach out to the new port staff in Podesti to see what they could learn.

Zach And Brian Explore

     Eventually, Brian got done with his two hours of vacc suit studies and told Zach he was ready to hit the station.  Tying up his research and pocketing his notes, Zach joined the Knight as the two headed out past customs and off the docks.  While he didn't learn anything new, Zach's research did fill in some gaps as well as giving him a better understanding of places to check out.  As they made their way from the ship, Brian filled in Zach on the explorations he'd done the day before.  Brian also showed him the pictures he'd taken, including shots of the strange writing on the wall panel.

Checking the pictures of the panel in more detail, Zach admitted he didn't recognize it at all.  Once on the concourse, they discussed where they'd like to explore and both agreed they'd like to get some chances to explore restricted areas.  But they also agreed it would be safer to start with the non-restricted spaces and not get arrested right away.  As a first stop, they went to where Brian saw the strange writing on the stations walls.  Then, Zach took a crack at the real thing instead of working from pictures.  As they explored, the two had fun sharing their interests while wandering.

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Next: Paying The Bills And Out