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Last Updated     February 11 2017
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Shifting Identities

Risek     At the ship's berth, Emkir was working at his studies when he got a buzz from the entrance to the berth.  Checking the camera feeds, he saw three men in coveralls with various port services patches and carrying various belts of gear.  Opening a comms to them, Emkir asked how he could help them?  They told him they'd been sent from the port ship's services department.  They had a work order to change the ship's name and ID details in the transponder.  At the same time, one of the techs plugged a thumb drive into the port comms and fed the work order file to Emkir.  After the Admiral pulled the file up and checked it, he called down to the team saying he'd not been told about this.  He said he'd check with his Captain.  Still, Emkir was apologetic for the delay, and stayed friendly because it never hurt to make a friend.

Then, Emkir opened a comms channel to Mikah.  In the executive offices, Mikah excused herself, saying she recognized the call was coming from their ship and answered.  Emkir explained the situation and said he just wanted to confirm it was all supposed to be happening?  When Dessie Mikah's side of the conversation, she confirmed it was a team from port technical dispatch.  Mikah passed that on to Emkir.  Emkir thanked her and signed off before jumping back on comms with the tech team and letting them into the berth to do their job.  As they started, the team leader returned the favor of being polite by explaining to Emkir more or less what was involved and what alarms he would see on his boards as they worked.  Emkir thanked them and went back to his studies while keeping an eye out for the expected alarms.

Finishing Up With Dessie and Having Lunch

     In Dessie's office, they'd spent two hours answering questions about what happened on the Podesti arcology?  The port Security Chief thanked Mikah and said he had enough to get his people working.  Once he left, Director Wortman got as serious as she had been during the meeting, saying, "You said there was Zhodani information.  You said you have a crewman who, recognizes Zhodani writing?  How much connection would you say he has to the Zhodani?"

Mikah dismissively said, "Probably none at all.  He is a merchanter and is part Darrian."  As Mikah was answering her, Dessie pulled up her copy of the files on Shaslu Kishman.  When Mikah looked to see what file was opened, Dessie said, "This is the file I gave Inger a copy of earlier.  Given what's happening, do you think he is still operating in this space?"

Mikah first said, "I have no idea", but then reconsidered and said, "Opinion?  I think if he is not now, he will be back.  I mean, it was a safe place for him and he has a lot of stuff here."  Then, with an ironic grin, "Well, not as much stuff anymore."  The ladies shared a laugh and Ms. Vik added in, "Well, he doesn't know that", and both the other ladies agreed, as it was a very good reason to return.  That brought the conversation back to Kishman's leased cargo bay, and Dessie asked questions about what the bay contained?

Mikah first admitted to not really knowing a great deal about what was there, but recalled one item of note saying, "Actually, the one thing we did find was a container of radioactive rocks."  Surprised, Dessie asked, "Really!?" and Mikah said, "Yes.  They were inside one of the containers we opened."  Dessie asked, "You wouldn't happen to know where they were going to?  Or see any labels indicating how they got there?"  Mikah apologetically said, "Nope.  Nothing."  When Dessie asked, "Can you describe the container?" Mikah gave a basic description of the shipping container, which did match the description of the one to have been sold to SuSAG!  With that, Mikah broke out, saying "Well, there you go!" in a voice tinged with no small amount of victory and justification.

Mikah then asked, "Is there a reward for that one?"  Dessie said, "There is a reward for capturing the thief, but not for finding the cargo."  Mikah answered, "Well, when you capture him, you can send me the money".  More seriously, Mikah said, "That was the only shipment of stones we saw."  Dessie considered that, saying, "That would suggest he's still in local space." and Mikah agreed.  Still, she added, "But I can tell you, in the last week no one has been in there but marines.  After we were hit by the warbot anyway."  Dessie thought about that for a bit and then thanked Mikah for the information.

As they were getting ready to leave, Dessie said they should enjoy the rest of their stay on the station and hopefully the port would get them moving soon enough.  Before they were out of the office, Mikah asked Dessie to recommend a good restaurant in the port?  When she asked what kind of restaurant, Mikah said she was looking for something "very good".  It had been a long time since she'd really dined well, and Dessie pulled some names from the port directory.  Mikah checked it and selected one that sounded good to her.  Dessie commented they were known for their Cr 300 lunches in a warning tone.  Once she had the list, Mikah asked Inger if she'd like to join her for lunch?  Inger, who'd heard the conversation with Dessie said, "At Cr 300 a serving, I'll pass." and Mikah said she'd pay.

So Ms. Vik agreed, and suggested they ask Dessie if she'd like to join them?  The Director thanked them, but admitted with a bit of regret, that she had to get some work done.  Then, they went to get a taxi to the restaurant.  As a taxi arrived for the pickup, Mikah got a call from Emkir saying the work on the transponder was done and the ship was officially renamed the "Hotel California".  Emkir finished the electronic sign off on the work and she thanked him for the update saying, "Keep up the good work Emkir!"  Emkir answered, "Thanks Ma'am", in a voice of mock self-importance, and cut contact as the ladies got in the taxi and headed for the restaurant.

Arriving at "The Garden Spot", which was one of the upper echelon restaurants in the port, Mikah and Inger were not treated to the most stellar level of service.  Eventually they were escorted to a table that was acceptable and someone came to take their drink orders.  Mikah decided it was time to wake the staff up, and placed her Ident on the table for payment as she ordered a light cocktail.  When the waitress saw she was titled nobility, things sharpened up a bit, but they still were obviously not treated as well as those who were obviously important visitors.

Lunch At The Ship

     At the same time Emkir was notifying Mikah the work was done, Aiden's alarm woke him and he headed into the ship's lounge to scrounge some lunch before grabbing a shower.  Heading back into his stateroom, Aiden cleaned and dressed, preparing to head out to look for hand gun dealers on the port's concourse.  Just after the port tech team left, Rol returned to the ship and stowed his newly bought gear.  He then concentrated on lunch and looked around to see who else was aboard, besides Zimzod?  Hard to miss even when trying, Zimzod was sitting in the ship's lounge watching news and info-tainment in his skivvies and bruises.

On the bridge, Emkir was keeping a watch on things and continuing with his sensor training.  Everyone else seemed to be off ship.

       Turning to Zimzod, Rol asked, "What happened to you?"

       Zimzod's first response was, "What?"  After a pause, he said, "I haven't done laundry yet."

       Rolling with it, Rol asked, "Good show?", before seeing the crap on the screen and changing
             his tack to ask, "Is anything good on?"

       Zimzod sighed and said, "Ah, the same old shit.  Every planet is the same."

       Seeing an opportunity to get more connected to the Knights, Rol asked, "Wanna catch a trivid?"

       Zimzod joked, "I just want you to know, I'm not that easy".

       Without missing a beat, Rol answered, "I would never..."

       After a pause, Zimzod nodded and got up saying, "I have to get dressed if we're leaving the
             ship." and headed to his stateroom.

       About twenty minutes later Zimzod emerged, all cleaned and dressed, and the two headed
             out to see what trivids were available on the station.  Rol and Zimzod eventually settled
             on a military adventure flick which cost them Cr 15 each.

Her Ladyship's New Dress

     Lunch cost Dame Mikah Cr 500 and the ladies returned to the ship afterwards, to be in time for Mikah's appointment with the dress designer.  During that time, Emkir had been sitting on the bridge with a snack and his studies.  He had the port comms open and was listening into the flow of general comms traffic when his attention was grabbed by the sudden buzz.  Seeing it was the call button from the berth's entrance, he checked the camera to see a bizarre collection of people.  Dressed in Haute couture and carrying multiple boxes, they seemed to be led by a woman who was wildly outfitted and made up to the extreme!  Emkir didn't recognize them at all, and the only thing he could relate them to were those people who went to very high-class fashion clubs.  Not sure what was going on, Emkir buzzed back to Mikah to ask her about the group?

Mikah said she was expecting them.  Once he confirmed they were authorized, Emkir unlocked the berth entrance as Mikah said she'd meet them at the ship's lock.  At the lock, the designer said, with a flourish, "Hello MY Dear!  I am here to finish the fitting", and Mikah led the entourage into her stateroom. On the bridge Emkir just muttered, "Damn!"  It took about an hour to ninety minutes to complete the fitting and final work, and Mikah finally paid off the Cr 2,500 bill and escorted the designer and her assistants from the berth.  As the designer arrived, Ms. Vik decided to evaluate her wardrobe for any needs, now that she had an idea what she'd be doing for the foreseeable future.  After that, Inger got changed and went out to update her make up supplies and buy some wardrobe items.  She also considered possibly hitting a tourist attraction too?

Once on the port's main concourse, Inger looked for shops selling the higher-end items that were more her style than those standard business items she'd specialized in recently.  She did consider the practicality of losing items in space as she shopped.  Inger found two pant suits and a new business suit she liked.  When they asked about tailoring, Inger said she'd prefer they did the work if possible?  They happily offered the service, while she continued to shop or waited.  Happy about that, Inger posed for the fitting and set up to have them tailored to be picked up the next day.  Along with two sets of shoes and her make up needs, she ended up spending Cr 1,000.  Inger then bought two more "jeans and tee shirt" casual outfits for Cr 200.

Aiden's Afternoon Adventure

     On another section of the concourse, Aiden was walking the shops and looking for hand weapon dealers.  Despite his hopes, Aiden continually found shops offering the 'latest and greatest'.  Not being weapons museums, they rarely had interestingly stylish weapons for sale, and those they had were extremely expensive.  Eventually, Aiden started hitting the periodic pawn shops, curious to see what deals he'd find in the possessions sold off by desperate spacers and travelers?  It was in one of these shops, Aiden was gazing fondly at a highly priced weapon when another apparent shopper asked him, "Are you looking for something in particular?  Something, special?"

Taking him for a store clerk, Aiden said, "Umm, Something a little more...stylish and techy."  When the man asked, "How techy are you looking?  This system tends to build up things as people pass through."  Aiden explained a bit more of his interests.  As he did, he noticed the man didn't work for the shop.  When Aiden finished, the man suggested he had a collection, not open to the public, which Aiden might like to check out?  Aiden asked some more questions adding up to "why me", and the guy said he'd noticed Aiden's interest in hand guns which a spacer might like.

When Aiden asked if he should meet the guy somewhere, the stranger said he could take Aiden to see the collection right then.  When Aiden agreed to follow the man, he also said he wanted to contact his ship first.  As the man waited, Aiden comm'd the ship and reached Emkir on the bridge, saying, "I'm doing some additional shopping and I'll check in regularly."  Emkir said, "Roger that.  Don't get hurt."  Aiden broke off the conversation saying, "Hope not."  Once done, Aiden followed the man and they moved a short way down the concourse before taking a feeder corridor off the shopping causeway.  After fifteen minutes of walking, the man led Aiden off the corridor onto another feeder passage.

The signage said it was a residential block of compartments.  From there, he led Aiden a distance before cutting into one of the many smaller low traffic passages that cut through residential units.  Figuring they'd gone far enough from the point they started, Aiden comm'd the ship again and read Emkir the data off the signs identifying the passages.  As he did this, the man stopped and waited for him to finish before asking, "You a cop?"  Aiden answered, "No, I just had a bad experience with one of my shipmates who decided to take me into a firefight without letting me know in advance."  The guy looked him up and down again and said, "Oooh kay".

Not sure what direction this was going, Aiden said, "If you find this makes you uncomfortable, Sir, I am quite...  I apologize, I did not mean to imply anything like that and I will gladly...head home."  Aiden's guide again considered things before saying, "Yeah, that might be best."  Backing away, Aiden said, "Very well Sir.  Thanks for the offer though."  As Aiden started moving away, the man very quickly turned and moved off in a direction opposite to the former scout's path.

Back on the concourse, Aiden decided to look for a firing range where he could pay a fee to practice, figuring he'd ask about getting his weapons through customs at the range.  He checked one of the many concourse directories and soon found a place that might suit listed there.  After getting there, Aiden found they specialized in renting their weapons and selling ammo to spacers and other "adventurous types".  Not pleased that he couldn't practice with his hardware, this did offer a simple solution to the issue of getting his gear through Customs.  After that, Aiden spent some time firing a variety of weapons.  Some were weapons he couldn't afford to own himself, and he ended up paying a Cr 100 bill before heading back to the ship.

Zach and Brian Explore

     Heading out, Brian led Zach to where he saw the inscriptions after they picked up some quick food at a kiosk for Cr 5 each.  They then spent some time trying to puzzle out what it could mean or what language it was before searching for other artifacts.  Having given up trying to decipher the wall inscriptions, Zach and Brian explored on, for signs of artifacts not changed or removed from the port's days as an Octagon Society station.  That, or anything else that did not fit the arcology's history.  Still interested in seeing if they could cross the line at some point, they remained in the station's unrestricted spaces early on.

While most of the crew returned to the ship for dinner, Zach and Brian didn't.  They spent Cr 20 each on dinner in a break while exploring.  During their further searches, they found more wall inscriptions in a section of the station Zach had found was used as the Octagon Society passenger gallery in centuries past.  The two men had no better success interpreting these new glyphs than they did with the first set of inscriptions.  Still, one set did seem familiar to Zach.  But try as he might, he couldn't come up with anything that made sense, so they took more pictures and moved on.  Once they decided to slip into a restricted area, they kept an eye open for opportunities.

When the time finally came for them to make "the slip", they chose from areas Zach had researched earlier that day.  They chose a dock section where a lot of the station's infrastructure broke up long avenues from easy surveillance.  They cut in between several watch positions and managed to find what they saw as the perfect shadow.  It even seemed to block the station's security cameras.  From there on out, they had to look twice for cameras or crew and then sneak along.  After that, Zach and Brian spent the rest of the evening and night searching.  Behind the public scenes, they found things were much less modified, including a lot of remaining decor from the centuries gone Octagon Society.  Interesting and likely "artsy" design features like Octagonal plates and knobs, etc.  But nothing really worth investigating.  They took pictures, but that was about all the expedition was worth.  Eventually they made the cut back into public areas of the station and returned to the ship.

After The TriVid Was Over

     Once their trivid ended, Zimzod told Rol to follow him to a bar he knew for a few drinks.  Zimzod tried to bring Rol back to the same bar he'd had his fight in, but the bouncers recognized him and wouldn't let them in.  Feigning insult, Zimzod said, "Why?  What happened?  Why won't you let me in?"  One of the bouncers answered, "Please move on before we have to call station security Sir."  As the two turned away, Rol quipped to Zimzod, "I'm sorry my sterling personality is rubbing off on you."  After a pause he continued, "Know another hole?"  When Zimzod said he didn't, Rol said, "Let's go find one", and they went off looking for a new bar to desecrate.

In a bar called "The Port Thruster" Zimzod found himself a lady's point of interest and moved in to have some fun, while Rol hung back to watch the "courtship".  That evening was more mellow than the one before, as the pair and the third wheel hung out.  Eventually Zimzod realized his "date" not only wanted to spend the night with him, but wanted them to spend it aboard Zimzod's ship.  When Zimzod told Rol, he was against it but left the decision in Zimzod's hands.  Rol went back to the ship, and his stateroom, then returned to his sensor training on the now unmanned bridge while Zimzod stayed in the bar with his groupie.

Dinner On The Ship, And Making Plans

     Aboard ship, everyone was forced to cook for themselves with Zach not aboard.  As they ate, Aiden brought up the alterday bridge watch and Ms. Vik asked why they were even bothering with bridge watch?  Others pointed out they weren't in flight, and they had not only the ship's security systems but the port's berth security systems too.  Faced with little cooperation, and unable to provide a very convincing argument for it himself, Aiden agreed that bridge watch wasn't really needed.  But he did point out that someone had to man the ship's comms.  He was then reminded that the comms could be piped into every compartment of the ship as Emkir asked for permission to secure the bridge?  Mikah agreed, and they piped the comms and alarms into the lounge and staterooms.

Ms. Vik said, "Assuming we get clearance tomorrow, when would you like to undock?" and Mikah answered, "As soon as possible."  Inger said, "OK.  I have some things on the station I do have to pick up."  Mikah agreed, telling her to let them know when she went, and Ms. Vik said she would.  With the life of a spacer catching up on her a bit, Inger asked, "And where are we going again?"  Mikah said, "The Jae Tellona system."  Once finished with dinner, and with a satisfied feeling over the settled bridge issue, Mikah headed out to shop for personal needs and spent Cr 50 on her supplies.

As they talked, Rol returned to the ship and put his gear up in his stateroom before grabbing his study material and heading for the bridge.  Having left the bridge, Emkir grabbed some chow and headed to the shooting range Aiden mentioned, to get some revolver practice in himself.  He planned to spend Cr 100 on the range before heading to a bar.  As he left the secured bridge, Emkir ran into Rol heading there.  Rol asked, "All done?" and Emkir answered, "Yeah, they're putting the bridge on automatic.  Why?  You inbound or coming out?"

Rol said he was going to do some studying and the Admiral said, "I am gonna do some shooting at the range."  Caught by a good idea, Rol said, "Oh really?"  Sensing Rol might be interested, Emkir asked, "You wanna come?"  From his seat, nearby in the lounge, Aiden chimed in, "You can play the target." which got a laugh from the others there.  Following the laughs, Aiden finished his joke saying, "He's a marine.  He can take it."  Ignoring Aiden, Rol asked the Admiral, "Are you looking for help?"  Not sure why he'd need help on a range, Emkir asked "Help?  No.  The plan is to go shoot first and then go get drunk."  Rol said, "I think I'll stay here." and continued into the bridge.

Evenings Of Success And Failure

     After shooting, the Admiral found a merchanter bar to have fun.  as he listened to the chatter, he overheard a group of spacers complaining about the increasing number and difficulty of customs inspections.  Emkir joined in, spinning a story that was part based on the recent issue with the safe and part whole cloth, ending up with a small audience.  As they started swapping stories, Emkir heard a bit more about the increase in customs inspections.  The group were pretty much in agreement that "something" was happening out there.  The bitching soon turned into card playing and Emkir had no trouble getting a seat at the table.  Unfortunately, he had lots of trouble getting the cards he needed, and ended up losing Cr 20, in addition to having spent Cr 10 on his drinks.

Following her successes of the night before, Ms. Vik searched the port listings for entertainment and found a performance of the ancient Terran play "Macbeth".  She searched for the performance data, finding she could easily make it to the theater for Cr 20 in taxi fare, and booked a Cr 100 ticket before dressing and calling for the pickup.

After his afternoon on the range, Aiden spent his evening surfing hand weapon catalog and informational sites on the port network.  He eventually found an on-line message forum discussing stylish mechanical slug throwers.  At first, he tried to find any specific topics that sounded interesting, but the topics were changing position as they updated.  Realizing this, Aiden relaxed at the terminal and enjoyed reading the conversations.  Zimzod eventually took his "girlfriend" to the ship, and they locked themselves into his stateroom.  While he would be tired the next day, there was nothing special for him to do.  They were leaving port and he was not a bridge rat.

Waiting For A Taxi After The Theater

     Once at the theater, Inger enjoyed what she thought was a very good performance of the play, and decided to drift with the crowd and grab a drink at a nearby pub before grabbing a taxi back to the ship.  With a mug and a table to herself, Inger sat intending to keep to herself, until a man approached.  His appearance was of the better than average looking, very "polished and dapper" type you'd usually consider a dandy.  She guessed he was in his forties or fifties.  He said, "A lady such as you shouldn't be drinking alone."  Amused by his approach and line, Ms. Vik replied, "That's very sweet.  Would you like to join me?"

Saying, "That's very kind.  I'll definitely join you", the man grabbed a vacant chair and sat.  As he did, he asked how she was and how she liked the play? Inger said she liked it very much and asked his opinion?  Eventually, they exchanged names, and he introduced himself as Samuel.  As she introduced herself, Inger made sure to let him know she was on a ship which was scheduled to leave port the next day.  This surprised him a lot, as all the ships were quarantined.  But she explained they were leaving under naval contract.

She asked if he was from a part of the station near the theater and he said he was a conservator, managing some of the port's many displays.  Inger asked if she might have seen any displays he'd done recently, and learned he was currently in charge of all of the gemological and mining displays!  That meant he'd done the displays Mikah was most interested in.  Surprised, Inger asked him about the displays and research about the gems that went into doing the work?  She said one of her crew members, an Imperial Knight, was very interested in gems.

He was pleased as he asked, "Really?"

Inger replied, "Yeah.  She might actually get a kick out of hearing about the background and
           work that went into it."

As she spoke, Inger reached for her comms and Samuel tried to wave it away, in hopes of keeping the conversation between her and him.  Catching the Knight before she went to sleep, Inger asked the redundant question, "Are you still awake?"  Mikah said she was, and paused, waiting for Inger to continue.

Inger said, "Umm, I'm having a drink with a gentleman..."

Mikah interrupted her in a very encouraging voice saying, "Good for you!"

Despite the situation, Ms. Vik burst out laughing and then told Samuel, "I'll explain in a second".

      Getting control back, Inger told Mikah, "He happens to be a conservator who recently worked
           on the Hall of Gemstones."

      Mikah said, "Oh.  Yeah.  I did see that."

      Inger said, "So.  That was kind of it." and Mikah asked "Oh, OK.  Is this a date for you guys
           or what?"

      Not certain, Ms. Vik answered "No, I think this is...I don't know.  Umm.  I thought you'd get a
           kick out of it."

      Again, Mikah said "OK.  You want me to come out and...hang with you guys or what?"

      Inger answered, "Nah, I don't think so."

      When Mikah turned serious asking, "Does he seem legitimate?" Inger replied, "I think so.
           But, I'll keep you up to date."

      Mikah said, "OK.  Let me know if he seems on the up and up.  Let me know if you get
           anything out of him"

Inger said, "Sure" and broke the connection turning back to Samuel and saying, "I am so sorry, but I knew she'd get a kick out of knowing that I was talking to the guy who put this together.  And the laughter...  We've been having some rough missions lately.  So, that I have actually met someone with culture and an ounce of class is amazing."

Rather than grabbing onto the compliment, Samuel said, "Mission?  That sounds kind of interesting." in a questioning tone.

"Oh, " Inger replied, "I recently retired as a port administrator.  I was asked by a friend to escort some Knights and we've been having adventures ever since."  The more she said, the more interested he appeared.  Inger sat and enjoyed the conversation despite the fact that Samuel kept trying to keep her talking about herself.  Eventually, around 1 am, Inger realized the area had become pretty sparse and it was very late.

Finally, she said, "Well, I need to catch a cab because we are going to be departing tomorrow most likely.  But, thank you for keeping me company and do you have a..."

Interrupting her as smoothly as he could, Samuel began to ask, "Last night in port, want to..."

Inger got even, interrupting him, "Do you have an Ident?  We can trade contacts", holding up her Ident as she spoke.

Since Samuel worked for the port, he did, and pulled his from his pocket as they both hit the transmits.  Fingerprint activated, the devices exchanged contact data as Inger asked, "Could you help me call a cab?"  Being the gentleman, Samuel showed why it was good to have local contacts as he hit a programmed button on his port issued comms and got a local dispatcher.  The two shared small-talk until the port taxi arrived and, with a slightly disappointed look on his face, he helped her into the cab.

Inger thanked him as she was getting into the vehicle and said, "If it turns out we will be here longer than tomorrow, I'll be sure to give you a call and maybe we can get together.  He answered, "That would be very nice." as the door of the electric taxi closed and Ms. Vik gave the automated system the ship's berth number.  As the cab started moving, Inger planned to set her clock for eight so she could be up to get her business suit before they might leave dock.

Gatherings Before Bed

     Aboard the Hotel California, Mikah decided to wait up and see how Inger's "Date" went.  She also wanted to see when Zach and Brian would finally return?  The men found her in the ship's lounge, going over the day's news and dispatches from out-system.  Aiden was also there, scanning through discussion forums.  Seeing them awake, Zach asked if Emkir was aboard the ship?

When Mikah and Aiden said he wasn't, they decided to wait up for him, working on the collection of pictures they'd taken.  Zach and Brian hoped Emkir could apply his linguistics training to the inscriptions they found.  The pair transferred their pictures into the ship's computer and Zach tried to run an OCR capture of the characters so he could put together a comparison search.  Brian applied his engineering knowledge to the port's available deck plan data in case they got to explore more the next day.  When Emkir eventually returned to the ship, he was surprised to find the handful of people still awake.

The others looked up when Emkir gave a disgruntled grunt and said, "The cards weren't kind tonight."  Looking up from his computer, Aiden snarked, "I am trying to recall a time when the cards were good to you?"  Mikah commented, "They were until...", and continued over Aiden's attempt to interrupt with "...til he joined this crew."  She finished with, "til he made his own cult."  Sheepishly, Emkir admitted, "I did real well until then...yeah."  Calling Emkir over to the terminals they were working at, Brian and Zach began to show the Admiral the inscriptions they had.  As Emkir looked at them, Brian asked if he recognized them at all?  Emkir scanned the pictures, while Brian and Zach told how and why they came across the inscriptions, and what they hoped to find out.

Emkir examined the writing to see if there was anything familiar with the characters.  Something tugged at his memory, but he was not 100% sure.  Emkir said, "Looks like...  I've seen it somewhere before, but I can't put my finger on where?  Maybe if I put in a few hours on it...Maybe the gambling debts can be helped?" suggesting Brian and Zach might pay for his services.  Sir Brian replied, "OK.  Well, we'll come up with something."  Once he had an agreement that he'd get something, Emkir said, "Well, I'll fit it into my busy schedule." which sounded like a brush off.  Still, the look on his face showed he was interested.  Once that was done, Zach asked Mikah how her evening was as Emkir, Brian and Aiden headed for their staterooms to sleep.  Mikah said, "It was good." and Zach said, "OK.  I'm going to bed." and moved off for his stateroom.

Mikah went back to her news surfing in the crew common until Ms. Vik finally returned.  When Inger saw Mikah, she said, "Hello" and Mikah answered with a "Hello" that was more of a welcoming announcement and a grin on her face.  Mikah suggestively asked, "How was your date", extending the "a" and Inger said, "It was fine.  I mean, He seems like a nice enough guy.  He doesn't seem slimy.  He doesn't...  But, if we weren't going to leave tomorrow I'd bring him by to chat about the gems."  Mikah pointed out, "We don't know exactly when we are leaving tomorrow.  It could be later in the day."  Ms. Vik started to say, "Ok.  He gave me his...", and Mikah cut her off, saying, "In fact, we don't know where everybody else is?"  Inger again said, "Well, he gave me his comms information.  Tomorrow morning, we'll see how it goes?  If you think this is something that is investigation-worthy, I'll call him and ask him over for lunch or something."

Mikah considered that, saying, "OK.  And we can see what we can learn about him on the port web."  Inger just said, "OK", and started to head off to sleep before she turned and said, "I guess I don't know how much you want to get into this.  I mean the robberies and all."  Mikah, who was standing to go to her stateroom too, said, "No.  I wasn't going to get into that right away.  We'll see what happens in the morning."  Inger got the last word saying, "If nothing else, it seems you have a genuine interest in this stuff, so..."  After that, the two ladies headed off to their staterooms and slept.

Today's Prep And Last Night's Tales

     At 6am, Rol's alarm clock went off and he woke and did his morning routine as usual.  Once done with his stretches, shower and other needs, Rol dressed and headed into the lounge.  When he found the lounge and galley empty, he pulled out the supplies he liked and started cooking breakfast.

At 7am, alarms rang in Mikah, Zimzod and Aiden's staterooms.  Mikah and Aiden went through their morning routines as normal, but Zimzod was surprised because he was alone!  He was also annoyed that the girl left and that no alarms were set off.  Zimzod realized any alarms they had were not set to alert on those leaving the ship.  As a result, it would only have been noticed if the bridge had been manned.  So Zimzod checked over what was missing and spent the entire morning going through things in detail in order, to determine if anything was missing?

Right away, Zimzod saw that his KBar and its sheath were missing from the chest plate insert of his battledress.  After continuing his search for another hour, he found the knife was the only souvenir she took and went into his morning routine.  While Zimzod was still searching, Mikah and Aiden finished dressing and came into the lounge to find Rol was finishing cooking a breakfast that, at least, smelled very tasty.  Seeing him, Mikah gave a drawn out, "Ahhh" in discovery.  As Mikah got close and took in the aroma, she said, "Wow", and didn't say what she was thinking, which was: "Upgrade!'

Rol said, "I just thought I'd try out a few things." and Mikah answered, "Cool."  She then moved on to a seat, not wanting to prevent him from finishing and feeding her.  Mikah remembered Zimzod had brought home a "date" as she'd heard sounds from his cabin.  She commented to the others, "What's going on in there?" with a suggestion in her voice of the bizarre, and a nod in the direction of Zimzod's stateroom door.  The question was met by the silence of the unknowing and uncaring.

Not getting an answer, and deciding to take the higher road, Mikah asked Aiden and Rol, "What'd everybody do last night?"  Rol quietly shrugged and said, "I was on the bridge trying to make sense out of the sensors."  Confused, because she remembered him having left the ship before she got back from lunch, Mikah said, "You weren't on the ship."  Rol answered, "Later on in the afternoon I was."  When she said, "I thought you went out with lover boy", with a thumb towards Zimzod's stateroom, Rol said, "Oh, I did.  But he came back with something else though.  What can I say?  It's between marines.  I can't say anything more about that.  Ask him."

Mikah grinned and answered, "I will." and Rol asked, "What'd you do?  Mikah said, "Just some shopping." then more mischievously, "Inger had a date."  Rol asked, "Really?" with a tone of surprise.  He then continued, "With or without Brian?"  More mischievously, Mikah said, "Without", as her smile widened and Rol just grunted out, "Hmm."

To the unasked question, Mikah said, "Human", recalling the Vargr dating jokes from the Inthe System.  Rol slowly said, "Wooow." before continuing in a more conversational tone, "I'm stunned."  The former Marine then asked, "Where is he?" and Mikah said, "I don't know.  She didn't bring him back."  Rol grunted, "Oh" and Mikah said, "We might call him later."

Rol quipped, "We could lease rooms in here and start to charge." and Mikah joked back, "Well, we could.  We need money."  Rol added, "We are a hotel now." stressing the word, "are", and Mikah said, "Yes we are."  Having beat that joke to death, Mikah turned to Aiden, who'd been sitting back enjoying the exchange and asked, "So what happened to your great weapons hunt?"

Aiden said, "I found some interesting articles on the port web but nothing that really sparked my interest...unfortunately.  It would have been nice, but...  I did check out the local pawn shops and they had some basic stuff.  Maybe I'll check them for armor today, instead of weaponry."  Rol said, "You're looking for weapons and you're looking for armor.  Planning on getting into a fight?"  Aiden responded bluntly, with a bit of satire in his voice, "With this crew?  Always!"

Soon enough Rol finished cooking and put the food on a platter for all to take from.  He then served himself a plate full.  As he sat and ate, Rol reached for a nearby terminal and started going through the ship's library, to see how up to date it was?  Shortly after that, the alarms in Zach, Brian and Inger's staterooms went off and those three began their day.

In the lounge, Rol asked Mikah, "So what's on the bill for today?  Are we getting out of here?" and Mikah said, "We are waiting for word on when we can leave."  Thinking about that, Mikah called station security and the call was answered quickly.  Once she identified herself and her ship, they routed her to the on-duty officer for the group handling the investigation.  After a brief conversation with that officer, and his checking of the paperwork, he said they expected to have the matter cleared so the ship could lift port by noon, station time.

Very pleased, Mikah thanked the officer and disconnected.  She then announced their potential launch time to those around her and Aiden echoed, "So, we boost at noon."  Settling in to finish her meal, Mikah planned to spend the morning surfing the news and the port network.  She also wanted to talk to Ms. Vik, to find out if Inger wanted to pursue the guy she'd met?  Or even call the Baroness to have him checked out since they didn't know much about him.  When Inger emerged from her stateroom, she said she didn't really think they should have him checked out, as he did nothing wrong and there was no reason to get the guy in trouble.

Inger had dressed quickly, knowing most starport concourse businesses operated around the clock.  That was because of the usual constant flow of arriving and departing ships, despite the port being in lock down at the time.  Once she cleaned and dressed, Inger was ready to call the shop to see if they were open for her to pick up her clothes.  Because of that, she was quickly out to join the others.  Taking a plate and sitting down with her comms, Ms. Vik called the store to find out when she could pick up her clothes?  Inger was told the store was operating on a modified schedule and she could pick up her suit at 11 am.  She thanked the clerk and disconnected.

Zach emerged from his stateroom a bit before a disgruntled Sir Brian, who was kept awake longer than he planned thanks to the "noise" from "next door".  With a dark look at the door to Zimzod's stateroom, and dismissing the sounds coming through it, Brian stalked to the breakfast platter as Zach was starting to eat.  As he served himself, Brian did thank the stars that it ended much earlier than he feared it would.

At nine, Emkir's alarm woke him and he threw himself in the shower for a quick clean before putting on enough clothes to be polite and heading into the lounge.  The first thing he looked for was food, and he saw the well abused platter as the others sat at terminals or chatted in the lounge.  Taking a healthy snort of the aroma from the food, Emkir enthusiastically said, "It smells better in here than it usually does."  As he said this, Emkir started scooping large amounts of food from the platter onto a plate.

While Emkir did that, Brian looked over to Zach and said, "Alright.  Are we gonna head out?  Have you eaten?"  When Zach said he was done, Brian addressed the others, saying, "We're gonna head out."  As they left, Brian told Zach he wanted to hit the shops on the concourse to find a few things, and Zach nodded as they left.  Both kept in mind the likely deadline to return to the ship.  As they made their way through the shops, Brian found what he wanted for Cr 125, and they headed off to explore some unrestricted station areas.  And if Zach had any questions about the purchases, he kept them to himself.  Especially the inflatable sex doll...

Morning On The Ship

     Rol found the ship's library wasn't up to date and said to Mikah, who was spending her morning watching the news, that the media pack should be updated.  She gave him the OK to spend Cr 250 from ship's funds to do that.  Mikah didn't get anything new from the news.  The stories, from the plague to the gem heist, were being incrementally updated, and the only new story came from the Imperial Navy.  Admiral Hoheluft Chauss had announced the coming rotation of Imperial Naval fleets in the Spinward Marches.  He announced that the 212th Fleet would be rotating out of the system in the coming months.  What followed were the many talking heads that wanted to spin the announcement and the effect it would have locally.  But Mikah already knew about that so the new news was old already.

With some of the others off in their pursuits, or just relaxing, Emkir sat in the ship's lounge and pulled up the pictures Brian and Zach had taken, to see what he could make of them as he recovered from the night before.  As Emkir ate, Zimzod emerged from his stateroom and passed him into the galley, to grab some juice.  Seeing Zimzod cross the area, Rol muttered, "Hail the conquering hero."  Then, in a louder voice, Rol asked, "Have a Good night?"  Grabbing a juice bottle from the cooler, Zimzod guzzled it half way before looking at those still in the lounge and saying, "What'd you guys do last night?"

Laughing at his performance, Emkir turned the question around and asked, "What did you do last night?"  As Zimzod stood smiling in the pause that followed, Mikah asked, "So?  Where is she?" and Zimzod said, "Oh, I kicked her to the curb."  Mikah looked at what he threw on and asked, "Need to go shopping?"  Zimzod said, "Yeah, I might." as he stretched.  After he finished the juice, Zimzod went back into his stateroom to get some coffee beans, to grind and make himself a cup before finally going back into the stateroom to clean up, shower and dress for the day.

Permission To Depart!

     At 10:30, Inger went to get her clothes and take care of the final fittings at 11.  That would let her return to the ship as soon as possible.  Aiden also went out shopping for body armor and found augmentary mesh plates for cloth and combat armor.  He quickly realized he didn't have the cash to spend on the combat armor, and investigated the mesh plates.  Once he was certain he could augment his cloth armor with the plates, he bought the chest plate for Cr 100.

Having picked up her purchases, Ms. Vik returned to the ship and found Mikah to ask, "So when are we leaving?"  Mikah said, "Hopefully soon." and Inger asked, "So we haven't got the call?"  Mikah nodded to show they hadn't.  As they sat in the lounge, Inger asked Mikah, "Do we wanna talk to that guy or are we good?"  Without needing to think at all, Mikah said, "Nah we're good" and Inger agreed, "Alright.  I'll hang on to his information."  Not wanting to just sit and wait, Inger stowed her gear and prepared to head for jump.

Closer to noon, everyone had gotten back to the ship and Brian stowed a wrapped package and bag in his stateroom. Those who looked may have noticed the bag seemed to hold several items. When the crew started to get hungry, Mikah volunteered Rol to cook. The former marine was happy to take the duty, and took the chance to cook up one of his personal specialties. So, the others chatted and speculated while Rol pulled the spices and ingredients he needed and started cooking. They made everything from fair guesses to crude jokes about what he was making until the smell started to fill the lounge. When that started to happen, everyone decided it was going to be good whatever it was!

Things had quieted down in anticipation when the ship's comms begin to buzz.  Mikah answered to find it was Port Security on the line.  The officer calling first apologized for the delay, then thanked Mikah for remaining in port to let them complete their investigation.  He told her they recommended having the entire ship inspected at another port soon, in case the Duke had them carrying anything else they were not aware of.  He also said he'd sent a complete report of the investigation's findings to the ship's computer.

When Mikah thanked him and asked when they could lift, the officer said they could request clearance from traffic control at any time.  Pleased, Mikah hung up and was not off the comms seconds when the comms buzzed once more.  As Aiden moaned about the doom of the sudden second call, Mikah answered to find it was Baroness Director Dessie Wortman.  Mikah put her on speaker and Dessie wished the crew good luck, and better luck than they had in the Risek system.

Not wanting to wait for something else to go wrong, Aiden rushed to the bridge and called traffic control, asking for clearance to lift and depart the system.  Traffic control was both very friendly and very cooperative as they sent over the clearance and asked the pilot to let them know when they wanted the umbilicals detached and the bay door opened?  Aiden said he would let them know momentarily, when he was prepared to file a flight plan.  As he signed off, Aiden knew the flight to the 100d limit would take 48 hours.

Aiden passed the news on to Zach, who knew, from his prep-work, that they could jump to a point which put them two hours out of near orbit in the Jae Tellona system instead of targeting orbits for the gas giants or asteroid belt.  Inger remembered that the port wasn't run by the SPA.  Others remembered the system had been under Imperial Naval administration since the Third Frontier War.  That meant ships approaching Jae Tellona Prime had to file in-system flight plans by the 50d limit.  These included their ultimate in-system destination, Corporate ownership, Mercantile credentials and a declaration of cargo with intent to buy, sell or speculate.  If they had issues in-system, the ruling Marquis was an Imperial Rear Admiral Baron Sir Eliisje Shariikh.

Finally, just after noon on Monday 170-1112, the crew were cleared to depart the system, complete with Naval permission they'd had since leaving naval station 371.  Many angry ships in port comm'd them, asking how they got clearance as Aiden piloted the ship towards the star's 100d jump limit.  They had two days of burn before they could jump, so Zach confirmed where to plot their jump to?  Mikah told him to plot for the mainworld, so they could dock and refuel at the naval base in orbit.  After that, Mikah announced her decision on ship-wide comms, to make sure there was no confusion.

Zach reminded her they also had to dock with the civilian starport, to try to sell the eleven tons of machine parts they had in cargo.  When Aiden brought up shifts to man the bridge, Mikah only said she wouldn't be taking shifts.  Once things got moving, Mikah decided to first do maintenance work on her combat armor and vacc suit.  Then she worked to reorganize her stateroom, stowing her new gear and finally decided to jump into the medical journals she'd collected but not yet read.  Like minds making like decisions, Ms. Vik ripped her stateroom apart to air them out and reorganize things before jump.  She also spent some time maintaining her gear and disassembling and cleaning her weapons before relaxing with some video games and vid-watching.

Zimzod's Armor And The Risek Glyphs

     In the ship's lounge, Zimzod talked to Rol about fixing the damage done to his battledress by the warbot.  Rol said he could fix it if he had the materials, and would check as soon as Zimzod let him see the damaged pieces.  Zimzod said he'd be right back and got the chest plate from his stateroom, pointing out the damage to the composite over the abdomen.  Rol said the damage shouldn't be hard to deal with and figured he'd have it done before they jumped.  Happy with that, Zimzod relaxed and continued recovering from the bar room brawl and his bruises.  While he recovered, he continued training on ship's Lasers.

Once Rol had the breastplate from Zimzod, he began examining the damage to the armor.  The outside composite was slightly burned away but he felt confident he only needed to cut a one inch strip from his supply sheet to repair the damage.  Sitting in the ship's lounge as he worked, he watched some sort of "monster vs monster" movies from the new entertainment suite.

Planning to work on his vacc suit training for several hours, Brian first got Zach and they talked to Emkir about working on the pictures of inscriptions.  The three men talked about the level of difficulty and other issues as Emkir reminded them of how much work this would be.  The Admiral followed that up, saying it would be nice if they could throw some credits his way.  When Brian asked what kind of money the Admiral was talking, Emkir ran down a list of costs for translation work on known languages.  Then he suggested Cr 10,000 for him to try to crack the language.

A little more than insulted, Brian said he'd hoped Emkir would take care of things like a shipmate.  Emkir reminded Brian he had to fund a new vacc suit as soon as he could.  Considering that, they haggled a bit and finally Brian, who had more money than Zach, agreed to pay Emkir Cr 200 per hour for a few hours of work.  With that agreed, they would evaluate how far he'd come already and how far he thought he could get?  Once Emkir headed off to work, Brian went over his notes from the station and his past research on the legends he'd researched before doing some vacc suit training.

Beginning The Out-System Burn

     After agreeing to work on Brian and Zach's inscriptions, Emkir also volunteered to work bridge shifts with Aiden.  He figured he could also work on the inscriptions and other things while he kept an eye on the systems.  Personally intrigued with the inscriptions, Emkir actually worked hard to get any handle on the unknown language.  Zach sat with Aiden as they began the out-system burn, and questioned the pilot on where Aiden expected to reach zero vee?  With that information, he could better plot his navigational data, even though he would continue to have to update his data with the flight crew until they were ready to jump.

Lucky for Zach, the burn to 100d was forty eight hours and he had all the time in the system.  Taking ten hours over the two days, Zach was fairly happy with his plot when they got close to initiating the jump.  Working with Aiden also let the pilot continue to work on his own navigational training.  Zach also volunteered to take piloting shifts, making the bridge shifts eight hours on rotation.  He used this time to fine tune his jump plot and relax.  When he wasn't on the bridge, Aiden worked on weapons and gear maintenance as well as furthering his navigational studies.  Eventually, everyone not on bridge duty went to sleep.

Halfway to the 100d Limit

     The next day, Mikah spent her time reading up on medical journals or helping with the pre-jump engineering checks.  When he needed it, she and Ms. Vik helped Sir Brian set up for jump.  Brian continued with his collected notes and data on legends before securing his material to man the engineering section.  For her part, Ms. Vik spent her day playing video games and assisting Brian and Mikah.

Once more, Zimzod spent his day relaxing, recovering and studying ships laser gunnery.  Zach also worked on his gunnery training after he and Brian discussed the previous day's progress with Emkir.  Still not entirely happy about paying Emkir to work on the inscriptions, Brian did understand the Admiral's situation.  He was also very happy when Emkir showed he had made some progress.  They discussed what he'd found and what he thought about cracking the language?  And while Emkir could make no guarantees, he did agree to pay Cr 5,000, which included the work already done.

When he wasn't piloting, or working on his nav studies, Aiden spent his time reading books from the ship's library and relaxing.  Finishing up the last details on Zimzod's battledress, Rol handed it back and Zimzod asked how much he owed the armorer?  Rol waived it off, knowing he'd need Zimzod to back him up at some point in the future.  Rol then spent some time checking the contents of the ship's galley to figure out what he could cook with it?  After that, Rol devoted some time continuing his studies in sensor operations.

The Monkey Throws The Switch

     When the time came, Brian told Mikah and Inger they needed to go below decks to start the pre-jump.  They spent the next few hours checking the jump capacitors and load testing the power plant and transmission subsystems.  They also trickle-fed power to the lanthanum grid, to make sure they had complete coverage of the hull.  After they finished testing the ship's jump systems, they took their pre-jump positions to watch the energy flows.  For the ladies, this meant being at terminals in the ship's lounge.  For Sir Brian, it meant being in engineering with everyone out of his way.

Getting the OK from engineering, Aiden managed the ship's systems until deceleration checks were made and they confirmed their position in space.  Cross checking with Zach's numbers, as the navigator confirmed his math, Aiden waited until Zach said the numbers lined up.  Then, Aiden released the fuel flow to the power plant.  From there, it was a waiting game until both Brian and the bridge crew got the signal from the engineering computers that the capacitors were full and the systems were ready.

With everything reading green, and position and velocity confirmed, Aiden dimmed the lights traditionally and announced the jump on the ship's comms.  He then opened the power flow in a practiced and smooth release of energy to the jump grid.  As space lit up around the ship, the navigational plot automatically fired the thrusters and, just after noon, the ship tumbled into the hole ripped in space.  The experienced spacers braced for any unusual sensations before continuing on with settling into their plans for the week in jump space.

Next: Arrivals, Invitations and a Field Trip