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Last Updated     February 16 2017
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Fines, Judgements And Measures
Bad News At The Port

Jae Tellona      Mikah returned to the port while Emkir had worked with the sensors and Aiden and Rol measured Zimzod in his battledress.  Rol wanted to finish up so he could go out and ask about buying some binoculars.  Brian was working in the ship's engineering.  In town, Ms. Vik was still working on researching the bulletin boards and finding less about the desert than about those things that were strangely uniform throughout sentient populations.  The same complaints with only different names, the same fights and friendships.  Still, she found some useful references, and printed a number of pages of data on ways to deal with desert survival issues.

After Mikah finished with the inspection, she got to the ship and began giving instructions.  She told those that needed to come with her to get suited up for the trip.  Emkir was told he had to take the bridge watch and agreed happily.  Aiden grabbed his cloth armor and Rol and Mikah brought their combat armor.  All prepared, with their gear and Zimzod's measurements, they loaded into the air raft and headed to the port facilities for another inspection.  As the Lieutenant came out, he and his team were surprised to see two suits of combat armor instead of one.  But they'd already had enough experience with Mikah that the Lieutenant was willing to cut them slack, as they hadn't broken a rule and were complying with the laws.  He was also considering the other events he had to discuss with Mikah.  Once they were out of the raft, the Lieutenant said, "Why don't we step inside because there are a number of issues we need to discuss."

Not sure what that meant, Mikah said, "OK" and followed him in with Rol and Aiden following them.  Once he led them to a conference room, the Lieutenant asked, "Are you in any way related to a person known as Zachariah Wood?"  When Mikah answered yes, with a sinking heart, the Lieutenant told her Zach was currently under arrest for violation of a verbal contract!  She blinked once or twice at the stunning news, and then said "OK.  I hope he is at the same police station where I can pay my fine?"  She hoped, as she spoke, that she was displaying a significant disregard for Zach's situation.

Confused at her cavalier attitude, the Lieutenant said, "Yes.  You can pay your fines at that station..." and Mikah interrupted him saying, "OK", as if that ended the conversation.  This didn't stop him from saying, "This is a fairly serious situation, and should be handled by your ship's legal officer if you have one?"  The team members in the room had no idea how to react to this, as Mikah kept control of her reactions and said, "He is the ship's legal officer."  This time it was the Lieutenant's turn to control his reactions and facial expression.  Finally trusting himself to speak, he grimly said, "Well.  Let me have my people look over your armor so we can get done here."

Trying to lighten things up, Mikah asked how long the Lieutenant would be on shift?  But he was busy bringing his inspectors in to examine the various armor suits and didn't answer.  As the team watched, the inspectors examined the various armor items as completely and competently as they could without x-raying the stuff.  As they worked, Mikah, Aiden and Rol overheard comments to the quality and other aspects of the armor.  Especially as several of them smugly agreed they had ordinance that could penetrate the stuff if needed.

Eventually, the inspectors completed their report and gave it to the Lieutenant.  After he'd gotten, and read over, their data the officer completed his own paperwork and handed it to the three spacers granting them permission to bring the armor into the city, this one time, for purposes of taking measurements.  As he handed over the additional credentials, he reminded them to take care in where they parked.  Mikah answered, "Yes Sir.  We will be parking in the same spot we parked in before."

The Lieutenant told them the station address where they were holding Zach and Mikah thanked him again.  Past that hurtle, Mikah led the others out to the air-raft and flew them.  Again, they were an aerial attraction for those on the ground excited to see flying grav vehicles.  Arriving, Mikah very carefully selected the same exact parking space she had placed down in earlier, using the raft's location recording data to identify it.  As she did, she noted they were being watched by no less than three nearby teams of officers.

Off To Measure Up

     While they dismounted, Mikah saw that the officers didn't approach but remained very watchful.  It was not until they left the parking field with the duffel bags of armor that one of the teams moved to intercept them and request their paperwork.  The officers took a great deal of time inspecting the permits, making sure the paperwork was completely proper and nothing had been added to the duffles.  Finally, they asked the team's destination, and were told by Mikah that they were headed for the Seamstress' shop giving that address as well.  Hearing this, the officers asked if they minded being escorted to their destination?  Mikah surprised them, saying she preferred that and thanked the officer for his offer.

This pleased the officer, as he recovered his expression and waved over another pair of officers to join them.  While this happened, Mikah said, "We would be very grateful for that!"  When the group moved, one of the two pairs led Mikah's group and the other followed.  When they arrived, and entered the seamstress' shop, Mikah recognized all the women she'd seen before as well as the teen girl.  But everyone in the shop now seemed to look back at Mikah and the others as if they were mass murderers.  The girl was doing her best to keep herself as out of sight as possible while still being able to see.

Not seeing Ms. Vik, Mikah faced down their glares and said, "Well, here are the rest of the men.  Ms. Vik has not yet arrived, and I am ready to get into my combat armor for my measurements.  You can measure these guys too.  I assume you've already measured Zach?"  When no one answered immediately, Mikah added a bit of emotion to her voice and raised her hand asking, "The Seven foot tall guy?"  The seamstress unhappily said, "Yes" as Mikah was saying her last, and repeated "Yes" a bit angrily a second time after Mikah finished her question.

Opening and reaching into the pocket she'd secured the cash in, Mikah lifted the bills and said, "I have the money."  Seeing the cash, the seamstress started urging her women, who had stopped everything when they arrived, to get back to work.  Looking around, half exasperated at the Seamstress and half ready to kill Zach, Mikah saw that two of the "friendly" police officers had stayed outside the shop.  That helped because they discouraged gawkers.

When Mikah said she was ready to put her combat armor on, they didn't offer to help but did ask if she needed a changing room?  She said no as Mikah started removing parts of the armor suit from the duffel she'd brought it in.  After she'd started strapping on parts of the main harness, everything came to a halt again as a number of the women stood and backed off or stared at the process.  Ever aware of his surroundings, Rol saw the police officers also had slightly distressed looks on their faces.  And one was speaking into a radio.  All he could think was, 'Oh Great!'

Noting their reactions, Mikah took it slow and careful, showing off and explaining each step.  Figuring this couldn't get worse, Rol started deploying and putting on his combat armor too.  Aiden, not wanting to be the only one unarmored when the shoting started, started slipping into his cloth armor suit.  Despite their friendly and careful manner, the emotional temperature seemed to drop quickly as the eyes of the gathered women grew in size, and most backed further off.  One thing that certainly worked against them was the similarity in appearance, to a civilian, between Imperial Battle dress and combat armor.  That the "Special-Ops black-out" appearance of Aiden's suit, matched holo-vid assassin suits in many systems, also didn't help much.  Between Zach's actions, as told by the thirteen year old, and the small bit they knew of Imperials from vids and military exercises during the war, women in the shop were becoming less certain if this was a situation they'd survive?

Finally, the team were in their armor and the Seamstress came forward carefully and said, "Two days.  You pay.  In two days you get robes."  Aiden quietly suggested to Mikah that they should only pay half now and half later.  Hearing that, the seamstress said again, "You pay.  Two days from now, I give the robes."  Only, this time she held out her hand for payment.  Mikah considered pushing for the 'half now, half later' plan, but worried this would be seen as trying to change the agreement they had with the woman.  Given Zach's situation, and the growing cadre of police outside the door, Mikah paid up front, but also offered, "I'll pay you Cr 30 more if you get done sooner."

Nodding, the woman said, "Hold the extra credits for now", as if Mikah had passed some unspoken test.  She then turned and began scratching a receipt out.  Done with that, she took the cash as she gave the other women directions.  After the money changed hands, the others slowly started returning to work, carefully starting to measure the various team members as the seamstress herself took Zimzod's data from Mikah.  There was another quiet moment of 'the alien', as she started examining the clear plastic sheet the precisely printed data was on.  Flimsies were a method of printing the seamstress was not at all familiar with.

Soon, all the measurements were taken and, as Mikah removed her combat armor the seamstress said, "The tall one's robe is almost done."  Around them, work had started in earnest, and the crew saw they were no longer needed.  As they prepared to leave, the seamstress repeated, "You come back in two days.  You get your robes."  Removing their armor and packing everything up, the team followed Mikah to the door to join the police standing in the dark.  Looking up, and standing in the rectangles of light thrown from the shop, Mikah ordered the police, "Take us to the police station.  This one".  As she said that, she held out the silicon slice the Lieutenant had given her.   One of the officers took and read it.

Zach Wood's Legal Follies

     In the offices near their holding cells, the police had done their best to rattle Zach and see if his story changed, and it did not.  Soon, they brought him to the alcove with holding cells, one which he was facing with one each to either side.  Zach was surprised when he saw the teen he assumed was a nomad in the cell to the left.  They put Zach in the holding cell to the right, telling him he'd have to wait there for a bit.  After the police moved on, Zach tried to speak to the teen saying, "Hey Kid.  What'd the cops grab you for?"  Rather than answer, the teen sat unmoving, and stared back, showing no emotion or reaction.

Zach continued, saying "I might be able to help you." and the young man replied, derisively, "Really?" though neither the stare nor anything else about him changed.  Zach answered, "There's a possibility", as friendly as he could."  Responding in words that showed there was some drift between his language and Galanglic, the teen said "You're an off-worlder.  I am not talking to you."  He stressed the word "I".

Zach still hoped to reach the man saying, "Yes, I am an off-worlder." while maintaining his friendly tone.  The teen simply rolled his eyes.  Zach tried another tack, saying "Does that mean you do not want me to help you?"  As the former merchant waited, the teen simply ignored him.  After twenty minutes of silence, the police returned, and brought the shop keeper with them.  They first unlocked the cell door and asked Zach to step out.  Then, one of the officers turned to the keeper and sternly said, "Tell him."

The shop keeper said, in a very grudging voice, "I have been told to apologize.  I will apologize."  Zach magnanimously said, "Apology accepted."  When that was done, some of the officers asked Zach to follow them and the others led the shop keeper off.  Bringing Zach back to what he thought must be one of the detective's desks, they gave him back his possessions.  As Zach took his things back, the officers explained that there had been charges, for making a false accusation, that were being pressed against the man as well as those Zach pressed.  They also told Zach they found inconsistencies in the man's version of events.  They finally got him to admit he tried to change the prices.  Since Zach's testimony in the matter had already been taken, he wasn't needed for the trial to happen.  That meant the charges against him had been dropped but they still asked him to return to his ship.

Rather than return to the ship, Zach mistook the "question" to mean he had options, and said he wanted to continue shopping.  It was then, the police made it clear they expected him to return to the port.  Taking his recently returned permit, filled out by the Lieutenant at the port, Zach did his best to politely push back.  The lead officer took Zach's permit to read as Zach said he wanted to buy some more books and other materials.  Not happy with what he was reading, the officer returned the permit and told Zach, "You can shop", and Zach took the permit back, saying, "Thank you."

Before he left, and as the officers started going about their work, Zach asked one of the men near him, "What's the nomad kid..."  Before allowing his question to fade off.  The officer stopped what he was doing, looked at Zach and pointedly said, "That, is none of your concern."  Zach said, "Well, if I decide to pay his fine, it may be my concern."  The officer's look became significantly annoyed as he again pointedly, and perhaps with a bit of menace, asked "And why would you want to pay his fine?"  Standing his ground, Zach answered, "My own personal reasons."  The man sighed and picked up a handset from a device with buttons on it and punched in a sequence.  As Zach realized this was a communications device, the officer's expression read, 'No accounting for the idiots you meet on this job'.

Soon, he spoke to someone saying, "Yeah, it's me.  I need the particulars on case number 654564."  He then listened for a bit before hanging up, and said to Zach in a sarcastic tone, "Well, you're in luck.  His case is not dependent on a fine, so you can't pay it", stressing the word "can't".  He continued, saying "By the way.  It seems your crew have arrived and are waiting out front."  Zach answered, "OK, umm...", but the look on the man's face suggested he didn't want to deal with the merchant anymore.  Saying, "Yeah, OK.  Thank you for your time.  I appreciate it", Zach left.

Getting Paid, Together and Out

     The crew left the seamstress' shop, surrounded in a large crowd of officers as they made their way to the police station.  Eventually they reached a station that seemed to be both larger than the ones they had seen and built to make a visual statement.  This building was a representation of the power of the law in the city.  Ironically, as they got there Ms. Vik had finally arrived at the seamstress's shop.  The seamstress was pleased to have another customer until she saw it was another off-worlder!  Reacting to the looks she was getting, and not sure what she'd walked into, Ms. Vik asked, "What?  What'd they do?"  When that didn't get an answer, Inger asked, "If I apologize, would that help?"  Ms. Vik quickly saw nothing was helping as the ladies took her measurements.  The Seamstress told her, darkly, "The robes will be done in two days."

Inside the police building, all eyes shifted to the group they made up.  Mikah took advantage of that attention by stepping up to the nearest officer watching her and asking, "Where do I pay this thing?"  As she spoke, she held up the ticket she was given.  Mikah was directed to a window where she was allowed to pay the fine, which was processed quickly enough.  That done, Mikah asked the attendant in the window where they were holding Zach, or where they were in the investigation?  When she was told they were still investigating, she asked if there was any idea how long it might take?

As Zach finished trying to change minds, the officer said, "Get back to your ship safely" with no real emotion at all.  Coming out front, and seeing Mikah and the team, Zach said, "Hi Dame Mikah.  How are you doing?" in a tone suggesting he was welcoming a long-time friend he had not seen in years to his home.  Mikah responded in a sickly-sweet tone, "Fine...How are you doing?"  As he happily answered, "I'm fine", she growled, "Back to the air-raft!"

Turning suddenly, she looked at some of the uniforms in the area and asked, "Oh officers?  Can we have an escort back to our air-raft?"  Mikah found the officers were very willing to escort them back to the air-raft.  Zach interrupted this, as the officers began forming up, and said he had to go back to the seamstress' shop to pay the little girl for escorting him.  Almost gritting her teeth, Mikah said, "OK.  We'll all go back." stressing the word 'all'.  Again, the officers started preparing and Zach said, "Oh, I don't think we need this massive escort."  Mikah came down hard on him saying, "Yes! We do!" emphatically.

At the same time, a sergeant leaned close to Zach and said, "It was never about need, Sir."  Zach thought about that while he noticed, for the first time, that some of the officers were actually armed with revolvers!  While they prepared to get moving, Zach tried to explain his little misadventure to Mikah, to point out this wasn't his fault.  But, after a few sentences, Mikah pointedly and angrily said, "I don't care", with a glare backing her words up.  Zach tried to further explain that the other guy was under arrest, and Mikah flatly repeated, "I don't care.  So, pay the kid, or whatever, and we're getting out of here."  Realizing he shouldn't push things further, Zach said, "OK".

As they moved, Zach remembered he had to stop at a bank first and Mikah pointedly said, "I have extra credits.  You'll owe me."  Zach agreed and, after a pause asked, "Are we gonna pass a book store on the way?"  Mikah answered, "Only if you want to get shot.  By me!" as her anger started slipping through.  Once back at the seamstress' shop, Zach walked in, to everyone's surprise, and the place fell to silence again.  Zach saw Ms. Vik, who was completely blown away by the team's arrival wrapped, as they were, in a huge police escort.  But, she thought, it certainly explained the attitudes in the shop. When the teen girl wouldn't come anywhere near him, Zach gave the seamstress the Cr 10 to pay the girl.  She looked darkly at him as she took the cash, as if he were poisoning her.  Zach then tried to explain things to the woman, who interrupted him, making it clear she cared even less than Mikah had.  After Zach's business was done, the police escorted the team on the most direct path back to their air-raft.  Ironically, they passed right by a large book shop, though neither Mikah nor the officers let Zach stop and shop.  When he made a fuss about it, both the police and Dame Mikah were emphatic that they were not stopping until they got to the air-raft.

Arriving, Mikah said he was coming with her on the first trip back to the ship, as the air-raft could only carry four people.  When Aiden volunteered to stay behind, Zach demanded to know why he was being mistreated when he had been exonerated?  An officer told Zach, quite frankly, that yes, he was exonerated.  And yes, the other man was arrested.  But there was no evidence Zach had not tricked him into it.  And Zach was a disruption and an outsider.  Despite him not being guilty of anything, they didn't need to like him and were escorting him to leave.

Mikah stepped in, asking if it would be OK if she left Aiden and Ms. Vik, who never got in trouble, behind?  She politely explained that the air-raft only carried four at a time.  The officers agreed to allow them to wait on their own recognizance.  When Ms. Vik heard this, after what happened at the seamstress' shop and hearing Zach's arguments with the police, Inger said, "I'm not sure I want to!"  At the same time, Zach turned to the former port executive and said, "Ms. Vik..." only to be cut off by her statement.  Ms. Vik continued, asking "Could a cop stay here just because?"

Turning to the police, she said, "I don't know what is going on.  And I am not sure I want to know right now.  But is it OK for somebody to hang out with me until they come back to get me?"  Realizing Inger wasn't likely up for any favors, Zach turned to Aiden saying, "Hey Aiden, do me a favor.  There is a book store right down there", as he pointed where they'd come from.  "Can you go in and pick me up a book on astrology and star charts?"  In the meantime, Ms. Vik was muttering out loud about going to a coffee cafè or something to sit in safely.

Aiden turned to Zach and asked, "Astrology or astronomy?" and Zach confirmed he meant astronomy.  Aiden said, "So what do you want?"  Zach said he'd like some star charts to navigate by, in case something happened.  This sparked a conversation between Mikah and Inger, during which Ms. Vik handed over the information she came up with and decided she'd be safe so long as she was not near Zach, or any other troublemakers.  At last, Mikah got into the air-raft with Rol, Zach and piled their combat gear in the fourth seat for the flight back to the port.  In the air-raft, Zach pulled out the book he'd bought and prepared to hand it off once they were back at the ship.  If Zimzod wanted it.

Returning To The Ship

     As Mikah lifted off, Aiden headed for the book store and Ms. Vik looked for a cafè to grab some stim and try to recover from her companions.  Fifteen minutes later, Aiden found the shop and went in, to see what they might have.  As he looked, Aiden found a small shelf of books labelled as "Astronomy", but there was not really a selection there at all.  This was a suggestion the locals didn't have much use for looking at the sky, while trying to eke a living from the sand.  Giving up on that one, and grabbing a generic book on the subject, Aiden looked for books on desert critters.  He found a comprehensive book on desert survival.  Taking a copy from the shelves, he went looking for any books they might have on hand guns.  After a decent search, he found nothing on the subject.  So he headed to check out and was charged Cr40 for the two books.  After making his buys, Aiden headed back to find the cafè where Ms. Vik went and meet up with her.

By this time, Mikah had landed at the port for inspection, and the Lieutenant and his people had come out with checklists.  They checked each item to make sure she returned, as promised, with everything she'd taken into the city.  They asked about the "filling" for the cloth armor suit when Mikah showed them the armor itself.  Mikah said they had to leave him in town for the next trip, as the air raft could only carry so much at a time.  Once the inspection was done, Mikah told him she'd be right back to pick up the others and the Lieutenant said she just needed to stop so he could see she wasn't carrying anything new.  After dropping off Rol, Zach and the gear, she turned back and made her touch and go inspection before returning to the market square.  On the way, Mikah called Ms. Vik, asking where she was waiting and if Aiden was waiting with her?  Inger said, "Well, I'm at a cafè nearby and Aiden...  No, Aiden is not with me.  He is at a book store nearby, and I've got some caff from this cafè."  Mikah thanked Inger and then signed off.

Back aboard the ship, Zach found Zimzod and gave him the desert survival book.  The merchant then returned to his astronomy research.  As he worked, Zach eventually learned the locals didn't use astral navigation because the world turned at a speed that made tracking stars useless.  When he told Zimzod this, the former Marine pointed out there were stations whose positions could be predicted through the night.  Zach said "so?" and Zimzod told him, "Plot the math to navigate by the stations and set up charts yourself."  Agreeing that might work, Zach started working on that.  Zimzod spent the rest of the day studying the book for survival tips and information.  He read up on the local plant and animal kingdoms, using what little there was in the ship's Library data to try to confirm data.  Zimzod also considered building a portable solar still, but realized he'd need parts from "town".  And from what he'd begun hearing from the current trip, that might not be the best idea.

While the others were off ship, Emkir stood bridge duty.  As he worked, he constantly looked for any way to improve his ability to watch the activities on the port.  The very obvious military nature of the facility, and the frequent movement of armed teams, had him concerned for the ship's security.  When Rol got back to the ship, Emkir called him to the bridge to talk about installing surveillance cams inside and outside the ship.  Once the Admiral explained his concerns, Rol reminded him they had bought the suite of bugs, tracking devices and mini-cams in the Inthe system.  After an hour planning, they knew they had 30 micro-cams and the parts needed to design a security system.

Mikah called Aiden after talking to Ms. Vik.  When the pilot answered, Mikah asked, "Where are you and why aren't you with Ms. Vik?"  Aiden reported, in his best military style, "I went to the book store to get the requested volumes and I am en route to meet up with Ms. Vik at the cafè."  Mikah sternly said, "Alright.  No deviation.  Just go straight there", and Aiden answered, "Oh, I ain't that stupid."  On his way back to the cafè, Aiden did see a news stand and decided to stop and pick up a news tablet for Cr 1.  When he made the buy, the vendor said he needed to return it to a stand to get his recycling credit.  Aiden asked what that was, and the man half-heartedly explained it was a government thing, giving a reduced cost of living.

Finding Ms. Vik, she ignored Aiden, and he quickly decided to crack the survival book and ignore her back.  By the time Mikah got there, Aiden was sitting, reading the survival book while Ms. Vik sat nearby, sipping at her Cr 5 drink and ignoring Aiden.  Inger also ignored how her life had become as interesting as it had.  Mikah called the pair to tell them she'd landed and they should mount up, so they could return to the ship.  Inger and Aiden returned to the parking field and climbed into the air-raft.  Once they were all loaded, Mikah lifted off and made her way directly back to the port for their final inspection.  As the Lieutenant again emerged from the office with his team, he looked over the group before looking at Mikah and saying, "I see you found the fillings."  She glumly answered, "Yeah, unfortunately."

When the Officer saw the news tablet, he mentioned that their recycling laws required that any recyclable items bought be returned for recycling before any ship was allowed to lift off.  Aiden glumly said, "Perfect", and Mikah said, "We'll return it when we're done with it."  As the inspection team tossed the air-raft, again, the Lieutenant congratulated Mikah on resolving their legal issues, with a smile.  Mikah answered, "Well, thank you. We try." Aiden threw in, "We're very trying."  Turning to Aiden, the Lieutenant said, "I believe that." in a tone that suggested the pilot should be less proud of that fact.

Finally, they were passed through the check point and returned to the ship where Mikah asked, "So is it dinner time yet?" while looking at her chrono.  As they came into the crew lounge, Zimzod looked up at the three and said, "You fuckers!  It wasn't me this time!" with a smile on his face.  Zach faced the former marine down calmly saying, "The problem is resolved."  Rol simply said, "No Boom today. Boom tomorrow" as he started working on cooking chow.  Aiden finished Rol's recitation of the ancient aphorism saying, "There is always a boom tomorrow."

As They Returned To The Ship

     Once Mikah dropped her off, Ms. Vik grabbed some chow and went to her stateroom for some "alone time".  She was pissed at the annoyances that seemed to pop up in every system.  She murmured, "Every fucking port, man" as she played some vid games, wrote some x-mail and generally felt a bit homesick until dinner.

On his return to the ship, Aiden found Zach in the lounge doing research.  Locating the merchant, Aiden said he'd gotten the local newspaper the merchant asked for and handed over the very "old tech" datapad.  Zach thanked him as he took the "newspaper" and looked over the front screen.  After that, Aiden asked more details of Zach about the fabrics and materials he and Mikah had seen at the seamstress' shop?  When Zach asked why he hadn't looked himself, Aiden pointed out they were kind of rushed with all the police around and all.  His tone made it clear he saw this as Zach's fault.

Aiden's main concern was to get anything they could use to protect their weapon's exposed points.  Parts like muzzle breaches and weapons ports, into which grit might get to cause damage.  When Zach asked, Aiden said he was not so much concerned with sand as he was the grit and dust which might be ground down small enough to infiltrate most fabrics.  Zach admitted he and Mikah hadn't seen anything fine enough at the shop to deal with that.

Setting The Schedule For Departure

     Mikah called over to Dulcinaea, while Rol cooked, to ask the Countess for a timeline on her plans?  The Countess said her people would be arriving soon and Mikah's crew should be prepared to leave in a day and a half at mid-day.  They had set this up in a deal with the local port that met the local government's requirements.  Of course, that timing was a problem because the robes Mikah had ordered wouldn't be able to be picked up for two days.  When Mikah told Countess Ursara about their robe orders, explaining the idea for the robes and extra fabric, Ursara appeared slightly annoyed, but waved it off as she consulted with one of her crew.

Mikah asked her if their crew had any needs and the Countess said her people were prepared.  Getting an answer back from her crewman, Ursara told Mikah they could change the timing, to leave in two days' time.  The Countess then asked Mikah how many of her staff were coming into the desert?  Mikah said she was bringing a total of six including herself.  After a pause to consider, Ursara suggested they should have a class on riding the caravan beasts on the port the next day, since they now had extra time.  When Mikah agreed to that, she said she'd tell her crew and they ended the call.

Recalling the inspector's comments when they'd returned to the port, Mikah found Aiden and asked about recycling the newspaper?  He shrugged and told her he'd only bought it for Zach, who'd asked for it.  When she heard that, Mikah wasn't surprised, and was also certain something would go wrong.  So, she hunted down Zach and asked him about the datapad?  Zach's response was very self-certain, as he said they'd take care of it and it wouldn't be a problem.  When she saw his screen, tracking objects in the sky, she asked Zach about his work and he explained was working on night navigation charts for Zimzod.

After that, and with some misgivings, Mikah threatened Zach to be sure he recycled news tablet.  She then settled down to do some computer research on random subjects about the world that might be helpful.  After some time, Mikah took a break and asked Zimzod about the book he'd asked them to buy.  As Zimzod leafed through it, she asked if he'd seen anything of value?  Zimzod complained, "Not a fucking thing."

He went on, saying, "The book says everything is edible and drinkable, and half that is wrong, compared to what's on the computer."  Not sure which source was correct, they looked at the records in the ship's Library Data, which contained chemical details.  Mikah checked the data against her medical knowledge, and they worked to figure out which source was correct?  In the end, it appeared the book was written for tourists, who should never wander into the desert to begin with.  Especially with no locally hired guides.

Last Kicks Before Dinner

     As the day passed, Rol and Emkir finally designed a pattern to set up security cameras and sensors, both in inside and outside the ship.  When Rol asked if this was cleared with the Captain, Emkir lied saying, "Yeah, she told me to do it on my own time."  They planned to shoot cams down corridors inside the ship.  Outside, they'd shoot under the tail aft, under the sensor dish outward and on the gun turrets.  They also started looking into the wireless encryption modes on the cameras.  Finally, Rol had to cook dinner, delaying further work until an hour afterwards.

While Rol cooked, Emkir picked up an air-raft flying onto the port campus on the ship's scanners.  The raft crossed onto the port, as he watched, and landed close to the exterior of the Dulcinea without stopping for inspection or official clearance!  Concerned, Emkir announced this on all ship comms.  Mikah called over, and was told the Countess was currently busy but they were secure.  Mikah thanked them and broke the connection.

As the crew gathered for dinner, Mikah announced the riding classes the next day.  Both Brian and Emkir announced they wouldn't be taking part.  Brian pointed out he'd have enough work to do without trying to pick up useless skills.  When Emkir said he'd be minding the ship with Aiden, the former scout said he'd be taking part in the lessons.

After dinner, Zach returned to his work on night navigation.  Brian asked the ladies if they would help him in engineering for two more hours?  Brian also planned to work a few hours after that on his vacc suit training.  Mikah and Inger agreed, and helped Brian while Zimzod continued to read the survival book.  Aiden worked on preparing his gear before settling in to read the book he'd bought from town.  After working in engineering, Mikah planned some time to set up a travelling med-kit and prepare her gear and combat armor.

Emkir and Rol started deploying the cameras.  As they headed out to the air-lock, Mikah asked what they were up to and they said they were installing an exterior cam system for the ship.  Overhearing the questions and answers, Aiden asked about the range on the cameras.  Rol said they were not that far, meant for fairly close-in security around the ship.

As their work continued, Zimzod noticed they'd moved inside the ship and asked what they were doing?  Rol joked, "Just rigging the ship to blow."  Emkir followed his lead, adding to the joke.  Zimzod just went back to ignoring them after checking out one of the cameras.  Still, he kept his eyes on 'where' they were placing cameras.  When the network was laid out, Emkir rigged the bridge audio and alerts to his stateroom.  He then went to sleep, listening to the state-run news feeds as white noise.

Done helping Brian, Ms. Vik racked out.  Mikah set her alarm for 8am and went to sleep too.  Brian set his clock to get 8 hours sleep and planned to work more in engineering the next day.  Rol set his clock to wake him early, to cook breakfast.  The rest of the crew set their alarm clocks around 9am, to be ready for these "classes" Mikah had announced.

Next: Learning to Ride and to Drink Before Leaving