After they finished talking about the chip, and had called the countess, Mikah considered her appointment for 10am, with the University of Rhylanor about the nomads.  Then, she checked the info on her Ident, about the concert Ms. Vik went to.  It was a Techno-Orchestral, forty-piece group, and Mikah was absolutely not interested in that sort of music.  So, she called Inger to tell the former administrator she was on her own.  That was just fine with Ms. Vik, who said "OK".  She also told Mikah her stateroom was locked, so she could return the shock cane the next day.  Mikah wanted to get back to organizing her data, but stopped to ask Zimzod if his HUD recordings could be projected or shared without damaging the electronics?  Brian returned to his reading, saying "Don't touch anything" as he headed up-deck.
As Brian left, both Mikah and Zimzod make a point of tapping many surfaces saying "touch", "touch", "touch".  Zimzod confirmed they could off-load all of the video and data from his HUD, but said the meeting on the following day was only to decide the size of the payday.  He agreed to go with her to the university, and even suggested they review the video and sensor data beforehand.  Realizing they may need Brian's help with the HUD, Mikah comm'ed the lounge to ask Brian to meet them at Zimzod's stateroom.  When Brian asked, "Really?" she said they needed him as they started heading up to the main deck.  When they got to Zimzod's stateroom, Brian asked, "What now?" in an annoyed voice.  Mikah explained, in a curt voice, that they needed to make sure they could play back the data and video from Zimzod's battledress.
After Brian accepted that, Zimzod opened the door and they stepped in.  Mikah saw, as she looked around, that there were more dye packs than she expected to see.  In fact, she realized Zimzod may have bought twice as many as she had thought!  She made a mental note of this as Zimzod removed the battledress helmet from its place on the armor rack.  On examining it, Brian pointed out the standard data port in an almost automatic attitude, suggesting they hardly needed waste his time.  But they had him check the cabling and items from the maintenance kit to find they could plug it into any standard computer and have it recognized as a storage drive.  Brian also asked if they had a projector, so they didn't have to hand the files over to the university folks?  Mikah and Zimzod agreed this was a good idea, and decided to hit the shopping concourses and pick up an inexpensive projector.  When they told the others they were going shopping again, Mikah turned to Zach, telling him he should stay on the ship.  Zach said he had no problem with that as Mikah opened a comms for a port taxi.
Once in the port taxi, they ask to go to a good electronics store and the ride cost Cr 5.  In the store, they found a wide variety of brands and models, with prices ranging from Cr 500 to KCr 10.  They eventually chose a projector that could tie into the HUD's cables and their chip reader for Cr 2,000.  Zimzod paid for it so he'd have control over the projector and all the connections to his gear.  It tied to all standard power and data connections with data paths being both dedicated and open wireless as well as via provided cables.  As they were returning home, Mikah asked about the chip, "So what do you think this is?" and Zimzod answered, "Damned if I know."
In the ships lounge, Zach moved from reading the news to checking his mail.  He found he had nothing but hate mail from former associates at Open Skies.  Zach eventually went to his stateroom to sleep, not setting his alarm as he had no particular plans for the next day, beyond recovery.  On the bridge, Aiden secured from his nav-training and headed to sleep, setting his alarm for eight thirty.  As Zimzod and Mikah returned to the berth, they saw Rol and Emkir returning from the poker game.  Mikah asked, "How was your night?"  Emkir quickly answered, "Profitable", having won Cr 220 in a happy voice.  That was followed directly with Rol's flat, "Not", hiding the fact he actually won Cr 20.  Emkir answered Rol, saying, "Well, I guess, between the two of us we probably broke even."  Jokingly, Mikah asked, "Lost that much, Huh Rol?" and the retired marine answered, "I'm not built for gambling."
Noticing the bag Zimzod was carrying, Rol asked, "Where've you been?" and Mikah answered, "Shopping."  Rol asked, "Get anything good?" and Mikah said, "Projector."  Rol asked if this meant they got a death ray projector and was told it was a computer projector, to display their data for the University.  As they chatted about the projector, and boarded the ship, Mikah mentioned the candies, saying there might still be some left.  They then explained the evening's events and the candies.  When Rol and Emkir checked the box, they saw it was fairly large, and only a third had been eaten.  Both officers decided to try a piece as Mikah checked the bridge, to find Aiden had gone to bed.
Rol's opinion was that the candies were OK, but nothing to write home about.  Emkir thought the one he ate tasted pretty damn good.  Zimzod, who had watched for an expected reaction, was disappointed.  Deciding he must have grabbed the wrong one, he figured 'what the hell' and tried a second candy.  This time, he was rewarded, as the second one tasted pretty good to him.  Going their separate ways, Rol went to his stateroom.  He planned to get up and make breakfast the next day.  Emkir stayed up an hour more, working on the glyphs from the Risek starport before setting his alarm and going to bed.  Mikah and Zimzod set their alarms and everyone was asleep by the time Ms. Vik returned to the ship.  She didn't set her alarm.
Monday, 198-1112: Morning Off To Sell The Data      At 7:30am, the alarms started going off.  Done with his daily routine, Rol went to the lounge to cook.  Zimzod joined him, to heckle the cook until he could provide food.  Eventually, Mikah and Brian's alarms went off and they began their morning routines.  By the time Mikah and Brian were done, the food was ready and Rol and Zimzod were eating.  Mikah broke out some of the coffee stash she'd bought for the ship, to make a pot for those who wanted it.  Rol cleaned up and, as he did so, chatted about their plans.  When asked, Rol said he had a meeting with Admiral Khimuru Uuela later that day.  He then went to his stateroom and checked on his security program.  He found he'd made a bit of a mistake and the his stateroom computer's file system was over-filling, because it was not cutting and dumping old data.  He killed the program, realizing he had to do a bit of debugging.  Down the road, Rol also wanted to do a bit of research on the Mora System.
Zimzod chose to change and clean up before leaving for the meeting with the university folks.  Mikah said she planned to wear a suit.  This happened while Emkir and Aiden's alarms went off in their staterooms.  Both did their morning routines and Emkir chose to dress down for the day in a ship's jumpsuit.  Brian rushed his chow so he could head below decks to meet the port engineers.  By the time Emkir and Aiden emerged, they saw Rol working on a computer terminal and Mikah heading for her stateroom.  No one else was visible in the lounge, but there was food.  Zach woke around 8:45 and didn't do his morning exercise before cleaning up and heading out for food.
Before his breakfast, Emkir went past Rol saying, "Thanks for cooking."  Ignoring the fact that they had planned to start physical training that morning.  Rol said, "Enjoy it.  See you in an hour.  Cargo deck", trying to sound menacing.  Emkir lightly answered, "Ok.  I'll be there."  He then turned to Aiden saying, "So Aiden, you want to join us for our work out?"  Aiden started to say, "I guess so", before asking for details.  He was told by Emkir to ask Rol, as he was in charge of that.  Turning to Rol, Aiden asked, "Will I live?" and Rol replied, "That's the point."  Against his better judgement, Aiden decided to join them.  As Aiden and Emkir were eating, Mikah and then Zimzod eventually emerged from their staterooms.  Both were in suits, and Emkir was completely surprised by this appearance.  He asked, "Wow!  Where are you two off to?" and Mikah joked, "To get married." in a deadpan.
The joke was not, at first, obvious and took everyone in the compartment by surprise.  Even Rol, stopped and said, "What?" in some panicked surprise.  It was Emkir who finally asked, "And how many hours are you guys going to be married for?"  Mikah broke the truth to them saying, "Zero. We have a presentation with the University of Rhylanor today."  Eventually, the conversation and jokes ended and the two scouts went back to their food.  After his research was done for the moment, Rol very noticeably gathered up a cup, a salt and pepper shaker and a chair.  Without saying a word, he headed down to the cargo bay to wait.  Quietly, Mikah stepped over to Zach and told him that, since he was on light duty, he could contact Captain Diievard, to clear up exactly what could and could not be said to Duke Leonard's people?  Zach asked if she wanted him to follow up on some of the ideas for incorporating the crew to make money, and she said that would have to wait for later when everyone was there.
In the cargo bay, Brian had greeted the engineers from the port and they'd set up a technical command center for their work.  When Rol got there, he saw they were also moving in and out of the space when they needed parts or supplies.  As he set the chair down, Rol noticed that some of the technicians had glanced at him and one was still stealing glances at him.  Finally, one of the techs asked, "Excuse me.  Aren't you that Major Kaihvos guy they're all screaming about?"  In a level voice, Rol answered, "Yes.  Your point?"  The reaction backed the tech off as he looked Rol up and down and then returned to his work, exchanging whispers with the other techs.  This increased the number of glances Rol got.  Deciding to put some of his own spin on things, Rol asked the techs, "Is there a foreman here?"
They pointed out who was in charge as they also did their best to take a step back uncertainly.  Rol stepped toward the foreman as Brian returned to the cargo bay from engineering.  Looking up, he saw most of the techs backing up with Rol advancing.  Taking in the scene, Brian said, "Rol, don't kill my engineers." in a matter of fact voice.  Looking at Brian, Rol sighed and said "Fine." in a plaintive tone.  Brian said they needed to get stuff done and asked what Rol needed?  Rol said he was hoping to get some training done.  When Brian asked what kind of training, Rol said he planned to give Emkir and Aiden some hand to hand training.  Brian rolled his eyes and said, "Just don't get in the way of the engineers."  Rol sat down, letting Brian explain what he wanted the engineers to do.  The foreman and Brian talked, but Rol still noticed some guarded looks in his direction.
Finishing Breakfast      Emkir and Aiden were finishing their breakfast when Ms. Vik came out of her stateroom, dressed casually.  She asked the two men, "Is Dame Mikah awake?"  Emkir said, "She and Zimzod just left.  Apparently, they were going to the university.  They were rather well dressed."  Nodding, Inger said, "OK I guess I'll catch up with her later."  Then, with a brightening face, she asked, "Any chow left?"  Pointing to the remaining food, Emkir said, "Help yourself.  We didn't eat it all.  How was the concert?"  Smiling back as she started serving herself, Ms. Vik said, "It was good.  It was fun.  What'd you do last night?"  Emkir said, "Oh, the usual." and Inger remembered, "Oh, that's right.  You went gambling didn't you?"  And without waiting for an answer, she asked, "How much did you lose?"  Proudly, Emkir answered, "None."  with a smile and Ms. Vik said, "Really?  Good night!" in a congratulatory tone.
Also at the table, Zach chimed in saying, "I got stabbed." and Inger, who'd been there when he and Mikah returned to the ship, asked, "Again?!" in a shocked voice.  As confused as always, Zach responded, "I never got stabbed before." and Inger said, "You have to learn to stay on the ship."  Zach continued to not realize how his comment sounded as he defensively said, "I didn't get injured before." and Inger asked, "Didn't you get stabbed yesterday afternoon too?"  When Zach said the day before was what he was talking about, Inger said, "Ok.  I thought you meant again, 'Cause I knew you got stabbed.  I was here when they brought you back to the ship.  I thought you said you got stabbed because it was something new."  Checking the candies she put out, and seeing many still in the box, Ms. Vik said to Zach, "Well, I bought some candy.  Have some." in hopes that would make Zach feel less needy.  Zach admitted he'd had some the day before and liked them.  Ms. Vik plated food for herself and settled in to eat.  After he finished, Zach decided he'd call Captain Diievard and see what could be discussed and what could not.  With Mikah's suggestion, Zach also planned to talk to those aboard the ship, as he could, about incorporating.  He also planned to pick up his computer from the store upgrading it.
Training A Dog To Think      When they finished their food and cleaned up, Emkir said to Aiden, "I guess it is time for us to take our lumps like men."  They both went down to the cargo bay, to find it in use by the engineers, with Rol sitting on the chair he took from the lounge.  He was holding the cup and condiment dispensers.  When they arrived, Rol stood asking, "So, did you guys have a good meal?  Get a full belly?"  Emkir answered, tongue in cheek, "Well, we have this really great galley chef, you know?"  Rol answered, "Well, I hope you can keep it all down.  I'd hate to have a mess on the deck.  We're going to keep it light today, as it is the first day."  While he spoke, Rol set the cup and shakers down next to the chair and looked at the two men saying, "Choose your weapon."  He made it clear he meant those items.  Aiden stepped forward first, taking the cup, and Emkir then took the chair.  Still watching them, Rol picked up the salt and pepper shakers before asking, "Now.  What do you think your odds are of beating me?"
Aiden said, "Somewhere between slim and none?" and Rol said, "Remember, I don't teach unarmed combat."  Emkir said it depended on how fast they could each move.  Rol took a new tack, to keep them guessing, as he asked Aiden, "Now, you've got a cup.  Do you think you can beat me with my salt and pepper shakers?" to which Aiden answered, "Maybe."  Turning to Emkir, Rol said, "You've got a chair.  Do you feel confident you can beat me with my salt and pepper shakers?"  Emkir answered, "I can keep you far enough away from me that you can't hit me."  Rol pushed, asking again, "Do you think you can beat me with my salt and pepper shakers?"  Not wanting to be pinned down, Emkir said, "Maybe, maybe not."  Standing taller and seeming to pull back, Rol said, "One of the first rules of fighting is intimidation."  His tone turned slightly mocking as he continued, "I've got a salt and a pepper shaker and you're not sure you can beat me with a chair."
As a joke to cut the tension, Emkir said that he was Rol, murderer of thousands, and they should be shaking in their boots.  Ignoring the comment, Rol turned to Aiden saying, "And you've got a cup.  How many ways can you kill a man with a cup?"  Not taking the question too seriously, Aiden said, "I can crack it for a shard to use as a shiv.  If I hit you hard enough, I can kill you if I catch you in the temples."  Nodding as Aiden spoke, Rol interrupted saying, "See.  Now you're thinking."  Aiden turned that into a joke saying, "I know.  Bad idea in a soldier.  I know."  His failure to take things seriously bothered Rol, though he kept that to himself.  Batting the bad humor aside, Rol pushed the key point.  "Like I said, I don't teach unarmed combat.  I teach how to win.  Now, given what you just thought, what can I do with the salt and pepper shakers?"
As Emkir answered, "Throw salt and pepper into someone's eyes." Aiden thoughtfully answered, "Projectiles."  Rol nodded as he also heard what Emkir said.  Happy with those answers, Rol said, "So let me show you how to use these." and spent the next hour showing the two helpful tips for what he might do in close quarters fighting and how they might use improvised weapons.  Rol's two students had all they could do to keep up with his exercises, while the reactions of the techs, as they needed to pass in and out, made for side drama.  Lucky for Rol, none of them was so completely unprofessional that they fled the ship and stopped doing the engineering work they'd been hired for.  After that hour of training, Rol decided to push the two, having them do two hundred jumping jacks to see if they could keep their breakfast down.
Up on the main deck, Ms. Vik had been looking through listings of museums more or less close to the ships berth on the station.  The main attraction, the Ancient artifact, was on the planet below, and she knew the crew wanted to visit that together.  Eventually, she took some listings and changed in her stateroom for a day out.  Taking her camera, Ms. Vik left the ship through the cargo bay as the men were talking.  She said to the three as she passed, "Have fun guarding the ship."  After she passed, Rol said to the two men, "Well, if you want to keep doing this we can make it a daily thing."  Rol watched, pleasantly surprised when both kept up close enough as they worked to complete the set.  Rol said they'd be done training for the day once they finished the reps and was going to head to his stateroom.  But he noticed something at the berth's entrance just after Ms. Vik left.
Mikah And Zimzod's University Adventure      Having called for a port taxi, Mikah and Zimzod passed through the cargo bay on their way out of the ship, carrying their portable computer, projector and a case holding Zimzod's Battledress helmet.  The timing was good, as the chime for the berth toned and Mikah could see the port-car outside.  The two Knights left the berth and got into the cab, telling the driver where they wanted to go.  They were told the charge would be Cr 10 and, once they agreed, they got moving.  At the main on-station campus of the University of Rhylanor, Mikah and Zimzod arrived to see an army of people outside their taxi.  The academics and professionals milling about were well mixed with geeks and apparent long haired esoterics.  The crowd were immersed in using, working on or talking into mobile devices and computers, or with each other or even writing on the floors and walls or having animated arguments.
But the most unusual sight of all were the tight cluster of military officers in the midst of, but not making contact with, the crowd.  The officers were most notable because they were clustered right on the approach to the entrance the Knights intended to use.  As Mikah paid the fare, Zimzod stepped out with the helmet carry-case.  He left the bag with the projector for Mikah.  He scanned the crowd and saw a few people had spotted their arrival too.  Zimzod recognized their looks as they seemed to assess the new arrivals, to see what part they may or may not be playing in the drama.  The large crowd grated on Zimzod's nerves, and he watched for threats as he waited for Mikah to finish with the cab.  Once she was out, with the projector bag, they checked the address markings against what they were given as more people assessed 'the new arrivals'.
Once they started moving toward the entrance, the officers appeared to start moving to intercept them.  As the two teams closed on each other, an academic with some apparent sense of authority stepped between them asking, "Excuse me.  Might I ask what facility you're with?" obviously expecting an answer.  Mikah said, "We have a meeting inside that address at ten o'clock with Professor..."  He cut her off saying, "Perhaps I did not make myself clear.  Which laboratory are you affiliated with?"  He appeared not surprised that those he was dealing with often failed to understand his very simple question.  Mikah bluntly answered, "We're not affiliated with any laboratory." expecting him to now get out of her face.  But the man proved his mental prowess as his face changed to one of excitement and he quickly, and a bit excitedly, asked, "Are you Dame Mikah?"
Looking the man squarely in the eyes, she said, "If you calm down, I may answer that."  The man's excitement changed form, to a sort of urgency, as he blurted out, "Can I ask you, like, a couple of questions?" stressing the word couple.  Mikah simply said, "No" and moved to push past him.  Sadly for the Knights, they were not the only ones who heard Mikah's name.  As word began to spread, changing from 'is that?' to 'That Is!' the crowd began to close in on the pair like a collapsing star.  This began while Mikah watched to see how close the military officers had gotten?  She realized they had only closed half the distance before the crowd eclipsed her view.  They were now swallowed by a knot of people calling out questions, requests for information and invitations to many facilities.  Realizing they were in the belly of the beast, Mikah decided to simply stand there, ignoring the crowd, while waiting for the officers to force their way through to her.
And while Zimzod took his cue from Mikah, he also took this as an opportunity to practice intimidating anyone who did not keep their distance.  The former marine figured, if he could menace them into swinging first it was not his fault.  And the helmet bag was sturdy enough to safely be used as a dandy kinetic weapon if swung.  The officers finally proved Mikah right, as they forced their way through the crowd.  Mikah was surprised to see they were in Imperial uniforms rather than Rhylanori.  After forcing an envelope around the pair, the senior officer straightened his uniform and addressed the Knights.  "My Lord, My Lady.  We have some questions for you before this meeting."  Looking at her chrono, Mikah said, "The meeting is at ten o'clock", not mentioning it was scant minutes before ten.  Mikah then continued, saying, "If you get us into the building then, sure." and waited to see if the officer would grow a pair?
The officer considered her comments before saying they had some other facilities prepared for the discussion.  Taking a more solid footing, Mikah asked, "Exactly where are we going?"  When the man said they had some offices nearby, Mikah asked, "How nearby?"  The man again considered before answering, "Ten minutes."  When Mikah asked if that was walking time, he said they had a vehicle.  Mikah also noticed that, while restive, the crowd were cowed by the aggressively defensive nature of the officers who had surrounded them.  Mikah asked, "What's this about?" wanting more information before making any decisions.  He told her, "Well, you have claimed to have high quality sensor information regarding the natives of the Jae Tellona system."  She interrupted him, forcefully saying, "Yeah.  We have it for sale."  Ignoring that, the officer continued, "Our Colonel was told by his Admiral to investigate what value this had to the Imperial Military?"
Mikah once more interrupted him saying, "If it is valuable, you're gonna pay for it."  And when he answered, "Well, we can always have a conversation with Duke Leonard about that."  Mikah answered, "Well, I'll have a conversation with Duke Norris about that."  With a patronizing smile, the man asked, "And how many months are you going to wait for that to happen?"  Still digging in her heels, Mikah replied, "I'll wait as long as it takes.  We can just go back to our ship."  At this, the officer said, "So you are refusing to talk to us at this time?" as if he had won a point of some sort.  Not liking how those words felt, Mikah let some of her anger feed into her words as she said, "Look.  We have to make a living.  The military has screwed us ever since we left on this mission, and I'm sick and tired of it.  So, if you want the information, you're going to pay what they're willing to pay." as she pointed to the throng of academics and geeks.
Bringing himself to attention, the officer said, "I'm sorry you feel that way My Lady."  He then bowed slightly and, when he straightened up, barked an order.  The group of officers then began fighting their way out, leaving the Knights to the mercies of the crowd.  At first, those watching didn't know what to make of the situation.  They were used to the Navy simply taking what they wanted, because they legally could.  Of course, that didn't last long and, though they took advantage of it, they still had to fight their way through a significant amount of the crowd's mass.  Sometime after it started, Mikah and Zimzod became aware that a group of people had pushed out from the entrance, and were fighting their way toward them.  Hoping this was relief, rather than some other group of geeks, they fought their way to the group.  Those from the building were university security, and a few members of the team Mikah and Zimzod were supposed to meet with.  Fighting the crowd got easier as they finally made their way into the structure and were lead through more information groupies, to an auditorium.
Once into the anterooms for the auditorium, they were greeted by a number of academics, with thanks for coming and inquiries about the need for facilities, equipment or even a caff or other drink?  Wanting to get things done, and already annoyed, Mikah asked who was in charge?  After a number of titles and responsibilities were discussed, Mikah was told a Doctor Thrauld would be the chief scientific person involved.  And he would likely be double checking all the equipment in the auditorium, to make sure nothing was missed.  Having gotten his name, Mikah asked to speak with him and was led into a services room.  Mikah saw, as they walked, that there were eleven groups of people sitting expectantly or eagerly as they waited, organized into blocks.  Each of the groups had a placard identifying the organization that group represented.  The ten other groups were seated around a main group from the University of Rhylanor.  In the audio/visual services room, Mikah's guide grabbed a mic and said, "Doctor Thrauld, would you come to the technical room?"
Watching the playback monitors, Mikah saw the people in the auditorium, and saw one man look up from a clustered trio.  He then nodded at one of the cameras and started making his way to the booth.  After a few minutes the man arrived with what appeared to be an aide.  Entering, the Doctor scanned the group and extended his hand saying, "I assume, My Lady, that you are Dame Mikah?"  They shook hands and he turned to Zimzod saying, "I assume you are Sir Zimzod?"  He again offered his hand and, after the introductions, he said, "I am honored to meet you.  Welcome to our University.  I am very excited that we will be able to discuss the information you've gathered and I'm hopeful that it is everything you have suggested it is."  Mikah said, "OK.  What about payment?" and the Doctor smoothly replied, "I would respectfully remind you that this is what this meeting was set up to determine.  We hope to examine what you have, to determine what value can be placed on the data?  As a result, it is a bit early to discuss anything except the process.  After we have examined your information, I expect we'll be talking numbers.  But it is a bit early."
After she accepted that, Mikah also told the Doctor about the military interest in the data, and the incident in the quad.  The Doctor didn't seem concerned at all about the military incident, and simply made it clear there was no official connection between them and himself.  He also made it clear the University only rented space from the station, so they could only prevent the Navy from entering their facilities proper.  Outside the doors was public domain.  As Mikah stipulated that there should be no recording or scanning of the data and items she brought, the doctor reminded her that they were only looking over what she had to offer, and not examining things in detail.  That meant they needed to record the meeting itself, to provide information to those fund raisers and others who would sign the checks Mikah and Zimzod wanted.  Nothing more.  He appeared completely above board, and Mikah accepted his word.
After a pause, the Doctor said, "OK.  Then we are in agreement?" and Mikah answered, "Sure."  With that, he lifted an arm to indicate the door out onto the stage and allowed Mikah to lead the way.  As they made their way out onto the stage, there was a light amount of applauds as those waiting perked up.  First, Mikah and Zimzod were introduced.  And then each group and its lead researchers were introduced, with each allowed to make some statements of thanks for being included and what they brought to the table.  Sadly for the Knights, this took up the entire first hour of the meeting.  As this was going on, Mikah murmured to the Doctor that she could use some of the caff he'd mentioned.  An aide rushed off to get her a mug.  Zimzod mentioned scotch and was told they couldn't get anything alcoholic, but could provide soft drinks.  So, the Knight decided to show off his ability to be stoic.
After getting down to the meat of the meeting, the questions broke down into groups.  First, they asked specific questions about the type of information available?  What was sensor-based, and from what sensors?  What was observed, and by whom?  What were the conditions under which things were seen or detected?  Then they started asking how much of each type of data was gained, and again did their best to categorize the data into describable types.  Finally, they asked about tests run on the data, to confirm it, and what tests were performed on their sensors and other instruments?  Mikah ignored the vibrations from her comms while she answered questions with Zimzod, figuring anyone who had her comms info should be able to handle any disaster themselves.
They got through the questions about the data before the teams started working on questions about the how and when each of the items was collected.  This involved taking the two Knights step by step through a time line of each incident, specifying when each type of data were gathered?  The academics were very careful not to request too much detail, in order to not insult the Knights.  This was largely because no deal had yet been made and so any of their institutions could end up being the high bidder.  So long as they didn't get excluded due to behavior.  While some pushed, they were batted back quickly and easily, and some of the Academics acted as moderators, keeping people in line.  The session ran for about three hours, until they came to a pause in the questions.  Then, Doctor Thrauld stood, saying they had what they needed and asked the Knights if they would join him while the rest discussed?
When they agreed, they and a small group were led from the auditorium and out of the structure.  As they made their way, guided by security, some of those camped outside started gathering and trying to ask questions or get invitations to join them.  The Knights also noticed the campers had been joined by the media.  From local to major, the news organizations had come following the story.  Their reporters were also interested in speaking to both the Knights and Doctor Thrauld, to get the details for their viewers.  The Knights were led to a very well-appointed office, where they relaxed.  Aides asked them what they would like for lunch and rushed out to fill orders.  It was 1pm, and they agreed they could eat as those left behind in the auditorium continued their work.
Arrival Of The Media      Elsewhere on the station, Ms. Vik found an interesting display of the worlds of the Spinward Marches.  The halls were much like a similar set of buildings and displays on Regina.  She decided to spend some time looking into the various worlds that they may or may not visit on the way to Mora, as well as visiting the Mora system displays.  She also planned to read up on that system, as well as Duchess Delphine.  Inger found the planet was a water ball.  Scattered on the surface were many small spits of land, scattered through archipelagos and the conical islands created by volcanic up thrusts.  As she was enjoying the displays, Inger got a comms from the ship, and wondered if she should answer it?  Aboard the Hotel California, Brian had been working with the port engineers, cleaning up a great many things that had gotten past him in the past month.  While they worked, he tried to get some feel for the engineers, and asked about some good places to look for an engineering 'droid, or 'droids in general?  While not very comfortable, especially having to pass through Rol's "training" repeatedly, they were professionals and worked through it.  Brian got some answers to some basic questions. He was also told of a 'droid shop down-well that might have some good used gear.
As Emkir and Aiden were finishing up their jumping jacks, Rol saw someone was buzzing at the ship berth's personnel entrance.  When he checked, he saw there was a group of casually dressed people at the entrance, carrying bundles and what might be tools.  Stopping, he asked the others if someone called a tech team for something?  Emkir said the tech team was inside working with Brian.  When Emkir offered to check with Brian and the team, Rol hit a comms panel and asked Brian to come out and look the people over.  When he did, Brian said he had no idea who they were, but pointed out they seemed to be wearing some sort of IDs.  At the same time, Aiden wanted to be sure he could respond, and lock things down if the unidentified visitors intended to cause trouble, so he went to the bridge.  As Brian went back into the ship, Rol headed for the berth entrance, followed by Emkir.
While they walked, Emkir surprised Rol by asking to have another class before breakfast the next day.  Rol said, "If you want." and paused to see how far the Admiral was willing to push this.  "The question is, do you really want to continue?"  Without Aiden there, Emkir said, "I could use the drill.  I've been spending too much time sitting around."  Nodding to Emkir, Rol looked up as they got close, and saw the IDs were press badges!  He also realized they had seen him, and some had broken out cameras to film him, or were speaking excitedly into the comms panel!  Accepting damage done, Rol stopped to glance at his chrono while turning to ask Emkir, "Why don't you handle this?"  The retired marine then went back to the cargo bay as some of the press members started urgently knocking on the plexiglas.  Emkir nodded and Rol went back to the cargo bay.  Getting to the door, Emkir tabbed the comms panel and Rol heard him say, "Welcome to the Hotel California.  Can you be helped?"  The man at the comms introduced himself quickly as a reporter for a local news organization.  He continued rather excitedly, saying they'd hoped to speak with Major Kaihvos, who had just gone back into the cargo bay.  He finished up asking if Emkir could ask the Major to come back out please?
Putting on his best business face despite his appearance, Emkir smoothly asked, "What would this be in regard to please?"  They said they wanted to interview the Major regarding the book by Sir Jeremy, and get his feelings on the situation.  Emkir pulled himself up as if somewhat insulted, and responded, "He's been doing great and wonderful things to help the Empire, and to expand the great and wonderful Imperial armed forces.  And he is very busy with his many secretarial duties and keeping various Imperial military organizations informed."  As he made his speech, Emkir noted the man was manipulating some sort of PDA-like device.  When he finally finished his statement, the reporter said, "Admiral Meshrumiikiim, can I quote you on that?"  Emkir said, "You may quote an anonymous source." with a slight smile on his face.  But the reporter said, with a conciliatory expression, "Well, I'm sorry Admiral, but that is usually agreed to before any statements are given.  And, as you are already making statements..."
Emkir interrupted the man saying, "This was an unauthorized statement however..." only to be cut off by the reporter.  Now smiling wolfishly, the man said, "We'll make it clear that Admiral Meshrumiikiim's statement was unauthorized."  Emkir tried further damage control, firmly saying, "Admiral Meshrumiikiim was not aware he was making a statement officially at this time, and was merely trying to grease the wheels of information, as it were.  And do you the favor of turning my not inconsiderable skills at oratory in your favor.  Of course, they can be turned against you just as easily."  Having heard Emkir speak his piece, the reporter replied, "And we could also do you the favor of making sure this is from an unauthorized source.  If we were to, perhaps, get an interview with Major Kaihvos?  Realizing he had no traction at all with the reporter, Emkir said, "I cannot speak for Major Kaihvos."  The reporter asked, "Can you bring him out here to speak for himself?"
Emkir searched for a resolution as he said, "I don't know if I can bring him out here to speak for himself.  Having such an interview in such an ignominious place as a docking bay would reflect badly on the press and the exalted position they hold in our society.  And perhaps we should have any such interview as that in a more comfortable circumstance.  Say, where liquor is available.  Perhaps the Major would be willing to make a signed statement if I could..."  But the words failed him as he did not know where to drive the conversation to beyond that.  Emkir was, perhaps historically, speechless as the reporter stopped ignoring the white wash pouring from the Admiral's mouth and said he understood Emkir's feelings.  He added that they'd love the opportunity to set up an appointment for an interview.
Faced with that, Emkir said he'd see what he could do and asked who they should contact?  The reporter held up his Ident and bounced his information to the Admiral's ident.  Hoping he could finally get some play, Emkir said they would very much appreciate it if there was not a media circus on their doorstep, suggesting it might well jeopardize the dealings going on aboard.  Sadly, the reporter made it clear he couldn't leave until he got an interview, and pointed out that they were just the first media team to arrive at the berth.  His final advice was to clear their berth by actually granting interviews and taking control of the situation as best they could.  Emkir saw a glimmer, and said it would be better yet if they could establish a single organization to work through, for exclusive interviews.  That sparked the reporter's desires.  He said it would certainly satisfy his superiors.  Emkir told the man he'd see what he could work out.
Leaving the press at the entrance, Emkir went back into the ship, and comm'd Rol, asking where he was?  Rol said he was in his stateroom and Emkir asked if he could come up and chat?  Rol glumly said "Sure."  On the bridge, Aiden saw the build-up of beings at their berth entrance, and decided to call station operations to ask what was going on?  One of the operations techs answered, and checked a camera feed from their bay saying that he had no data on what was going on there.  The group were not breaking laws, or damaging the station so it was not station business.  He did point out that the media were the media, and this happened often.  The tech did ask Aiden if there was a crime the pilot wanted to report?  Since the press hadn't committed a crime Aiden knew of, he said "No".  Noting that Emkir had left the press, and returned to the ship, Aiden secured the bridge and went out to see what was going on?  When he found Emkir, the Admiral was just beginning to speak to Rol about the situation.  as Aiden asked what was going on, they explained and Aiden asked if they should let the rest of the crew in on the situation?
Zach's Conversation With Captain Diievard      As the others went about their work, Zach relaxed for a bit before cleaning up after breakfast.  Done with that, he found the contact data for Duke Norris' offices and Captain Diievard.  Having gotten into contact with the officer, he explained both the problems he faced, as well as those facing his crew.  While the Captain knew about the Quasar Viper, he didn't know the details, or of the Warrant.  This created issues trying to find any way for him to help.  After some discussion, which the Captain took part in after accepting they did something important, Diievard agreed to look into things to see if he could help at all?  While he admitted he didn't know the whole story, Diievard felt things were rising to a significant level.  But he felt just knowing about the destroyer gave him a starting point.
Then Zach saw a tech approach the Captain and lean down to whisper something in his ear.  When the man stopped, Diievard looked first at the tech and then at Zach before again looking back at the now departing tech.  the Captain then gathered himself and said, "I've just been notified that your ship is under, siege?"  The pause, and way he pronounced the last word, indicated his level of confusion.  When Zach could only ask, "What?"  Diievard continued, explaining he'd just been told all the news agencies in the system appeared to be converging on the Hotel California.  He asked if Zach could explain the occurrence?  Confused, Zach said, "Hold on", having just seen Emkir and Aiden separately cross the lounge behind him.
Looking over, he saw Rol, Emkir and Aiden clustered in front of Rol's stateroom door.  Seeing the group, Zach told Captain Diievard to hold on while he called to the group.  When he asked what was going on with the media, Emkir told him, "The media have found out who our Major is."  Realizing what that meant, Zach turned back to the screen and said, "You do realize that Major Rol Kaihvos is a member of our crew?"  Hearing this, Captain Diievard dropped his face into his hands for a moment before looking back up and saying, "Well, Mr. Wood.  I will do what I can.  I can't guarantee you anything.  Especially under the current circumstances.  But I will do what I can."  As Zach thanked him, the Captain repeated that oft heard mantra, "Any servant of the Duke, we will do our best to help."  Before signing off, the Captain firmly recommended they find a way to resolve the media circus first.
Considering A Plan      Now that they were aware of his presence, Rol asked Zach who he was talking to while considering making former merchant stew.  Zach said he was working with Captain Diievard, from Duke Norris' office in-system.  As they straightened out what was going on, Emkir dominated the conversation.  He emphasized that the press were looking for an interview with a Hero of the Imperium.  This characterization even took Rol by surprise.  As Emkir suggested this was the reason why they wanted to do the interviews off the ship, Rol pointed out that the ship had been discovered.  On the subject of the media, Zach said there had to be huge numbers of talk-vid hosts who'd kill to interview Rol.  Emkir was thrilled to have such an innocent and accidental validation of one of his points.  This spun the discussion in a completely different direction.
Finding himself dragged into the situation, Rol asked Emkir what the details were and what kind of money was available?  Rol pointed out that he had no real experience with the press, but remembered Emkir's performances and work on Inthe.  There, he'd earned the Knights and himself Cr 5,000 each.  As they talked strategy for carrying out a media response to the press, every aspect of the idea was mentioned to a degree.  And they realized they would need security assistance to carry out interviews.  Especially if they were to go to a major vid show.  Considering that, they remembered the Admirals owed Rol a favor, and just might be able to help.  The one thing Emkir was seriously concerned about was someone attempting to assassinate Rol en route to any interview.
Thinking out the angles, Emkir suggested an interview to the general media should be given, to build up interest and raise the financial rewards.  Zach disagreed on that, and they debated ideas back and forth until they decided that the most money would be gained if they threw crumbs to the general media and waited for the bigger fish to call them with offers.  Rol agreed with this, so long as he could set ground rules and limits.  The first was, 'no commitments to answer any questions about classified material'.  Both Emkir and Zach agreed with that.  Zach proposed getting a list of questions, and pre-approving those questions and those questions only, which Rol liked.  Moving on from that, Rol said he wanted full control of the venue for the interview.  Finally, he wanted confirmation that when he said the interview was over, it was over.  Those were his ground rules for even suggesting an interview would happen.
As Zach reiterated his suggestion that they get and pre-approve all questions, Rol added a fourth limit.  The retired Marine wanted it made absolutely clear that he was speaking as a private civilian.  Not in any suggested capacity or for any Imperial organization including the military.  After Zach and Emkir again agreed, Zach said he'd write up a basic contract, including all the points they discussed.  Rol could then take that to a lawyer to complete.  With that agreed, Zach said Rol could use it to protect himself against the media.  After the decision was made, Rol turned to Aiden and Emkir and suggested they do what he was going to do.  Take a shower.  Before heading off to spiff up, Emkir tried to lock down Rol's preferences on where he'd like to have the interview?  While the ship would be safer, bringing press aboard would be a security problem.  Rol said they had a more immediate issue to deal with, getting everyone's attention.
When they asked, Rol said they needed to call Mikah, as their Captain, and let her know what was going on now that the news was spreading.  They agreed, and Emkir said he'd do that while Zach suggested reaching out to Ms. Vik, to make use of her station-side contacts.  They then argued if Ms. Vik should be called before or after Mikah.  Zach's position was that Ms. Vik was more likely to be able to do something about the situation, while Rol's position was more likely to be caught up in the chain of command.  Zach volunteered to call Mikah and tell her there was a horde of media outside the ship, then he'd call Ms. Vik to ask her to handle it.  But Emkir said he'd need to be more specific.  Zach answered that, saying he'd give her the details if she asked.  Finally, as they debated, Rol got annoyed and said, "Do you want me to make the call?"
That prompted Zach to act, and he comm'd Mikah.  As Zach called Mikah, Rol headed for a shower while Emkir went down to tell the media to come back at nine the next morning.  Zach actually called Mikah while she was on the stage of the auditorium at the University of Rhylanor.  Because her comms were silenced, and she was involved in possibly making a lot of money, Zach didn't get an answer.  So he left a very basic message about the media mobbing the berth to get interviews with Rol, and that he would be calling Ms. Vik to help resolve the problem.  After that, Zach comm'd Inger, who wondered if she should before she answered it.
Accepting the ship was her ride and, and the ship, at the least, had her entire wardrobe in it, Inger decided she might as well find out how she'll lose everything?  Ms. Vik answered, saying "Whaaaat?"  After she dragged out the word, Zach said, "Hi Ms. Vik." and Inger asked, "What'd you do?"  She figured they would've called Mikah for help if it was not something bad.  Zach said they did nothing.  When she didn't immediately respond, he said, "The press has found out where Rol is berthed", letting the sentence trail off.  Committed to relaxing, Ms. Vik playfully asked, "Is that what's going on?" as if she'd been hearing about it all morning long.  She did admit to having seen some kind of frenzy on a kiosk she passed that was broadcasting news.  Zach said, "Well, that's us", making Inger feel very happy she was not back in the berth.  Zach continued, explaining how the press were banging on the berth door trying to get an interview with Major Kaihvos.
Wanting to share her sense of well-being, Ms. Vik said, "Well, that's good.  Why should this port be any different than the other ones?"  Going with the flow, Zach said, "Exactly what I was thinking.  I was just hoping you could call up your friends in operations and maybe they could thin the crowd out a bit?"  Inger considered this for a moment and then explained to Zach that trying to chase the press away only drew more media attention.  It was like throwing fuel on a flame.  When Zach asked if it was her opinion that they should let it all blow over, she asked if anyone had made a statement to them or not?  Zach had to admit he didn't know, but said he thought Emkir spoke to them.  Biting her tongue, Inger finally said, "Peachy."  There was a brief pause before Zach started to say something, but Ms. Vik interrupted him asking, "Has he started a cult yet?"
Figuring what the hell, Zach joked "I believe he's working on it.  But I don't actually know what was said.  So, we'll have to see if a cult develops.  We'll just have to wait and see."  Inger couldn't say more than, "Well, isn't that special."  Not sure what to say next, Zach said he was going to write up a contract, so they could get Rol set for guest interviews on the top vid shows for money.  That, he hoped, would calm the frenzy and make them money in the process.  Grabbing onto this, Ms. Vik asked if this was one of those things where the ship was going to band together to make money and Zach said it was.  Clearing her mind, now that there appeared to be a real financial reason for it, Inger said, "OK.  Let me call my friends in operations and see what there is that I can help with.  I'll see what I can do and call you back."
Zach agreed and thanked her for lending a hand.  He also said he'd spread the word that they needed to leave the press alone, rather than try to get them to leave.  He did ask her if stoking the fires of the press might not help them score more money?  She reminded him that Emkir handled that back in the Inthe system, so perhaps he should ask the Admiral.  Finally, Zach thanked her for her help and she told him she'd call him once she had some more information.  Inger said she just hoped to return to the ship without having to fight her way in.  Again, Zach started talking in circles, wondering if starting things to drawing in more press would raise interview offers.
Rather than fuel his ride around the circle by answering, Ms. Vik just let him fade out.  When he finally said he appreciated her input, she cheerily said, "Not a problem."  Before she could cut the connection, he said, "Oh.  How is your field trip going?  Are you having fun?" and she answered, "Well.  I was."  Defensively, Zach said, "Well, you still can.  I mean there's no rush on this.  We're not going anywhere soon."  Inger agreed, and thanked him for making her day sooo much more special.  Once the connection was cut, Zach waited for the guys to get done taking their showers and cleaning up.  As he was dressing after his shower, Emkir looked at his ship coveralls and realized they'd never set up to get ship crew patches.  He resolved to mention that the next time the crew were all together.
When he came out of his stateroom, Zach called Emkir into the lounge and they started talking about Inthe, and comparing that to their current situation.  Zach brought up antagonizing the press, and the likely effects it would have on Rol's price point.  Emkir said they should ask Rol how he felt about it?  When Zach persisted, Emkir had to verbally push him to understand they couldn't cut the retired Marine out of the loop.  Soon Emkir was sitting, listening as Zach re-hashed the same issues over again.  Who to sell to, questions about security and if they should go off-ship for an interview.  As they sat sawing old wood, Aiden emerged from his stateroom.  Aiden saw Zach and Emkir debating.  Emkir took on the large and smaller fish as they came.  Emkir suggested having the smaller shows come aboard the ship, using that to lure in the big fish.
Zach said that would reduce the price the big fish would pay.  He insisted they needed to start with the big ones.  Then, Zach asked what Emkir thought he should say to the reporters in the bay?  When Aiden threw out a sarcastic comment, that Emkir should say they were accepting bids for interviews, Zach said that was a fantastic idea.  Emkir decided that, rather than going down to the crowd below, he would start doing research, to see who was the biggest local name in info-tainment.  He would check talk shows on the station.  As he started working, based on his former experience in the system, Emkir decided to style himself as Major Kaihvos' publicity agent.  He started making calls, to see if he couldn't figure out who they wanted to approach first.  Rol emerged to find Emkir starting his research while Zach and Aiden continued to discuss the various ideas.
Once Rol was briefed on the discussions so far, he suggested they let the media fight it out.  Announce they'd be considering signing a deal for one exclusive interview with a particular agent and let them fight to be the top agent.  But Rol suggested someone call station security, given the risk presented by the growing crowd of media outside the berth.  Like the interview discussion, this expanded along speculative lines as none of the men bothered to actually look up the station's rules and restrictions.  Rol kept fairly on target, suggesting the crowd could not actually impede traffic and cut off access to the ship or cross traffic.  Aiden made a crack about resolving the problem themselves, and Rol said they couldn't.  Pointedly, he asked the former Scout if he wanted Marines on his ship?  Aiden tartly responded, "I have marines on my ship." stressing the word 'have'.  Zach corrected that to, "hostile marines", but was forced to admit the marines already aboard were pretty hostile.  Rol looked at the two of them and said, "I'm not a marine, I'm a civilian."
Striking Out Blindly      Finally, Emkir called station security, saying he wanted to give them a heads up on the situation and let them know about an increasing danger to the station.  The agent on the call said they were aware of the situation, and were wondering what the ship's crew were planning to do about the issue?  Emkir said they would not be allowing any of them aboard the ship, and would like to see them prevented from becoming a hazard to themselves or others.  When Emkir asked what security would suggest, the tech asked if there was a particular crime they'd like the members of the crowd charged with?  Emkir suggested they be pushed back to not impede traffic, or accidentally hurt someone.  The tech said this happened so often that station security couldn't get away with just that as a charge.  When Emkir asked if they ever hurt others, the tech admitted that happened, but only rarely, and said teams were ready.
Emkir's hopes the station would step in faded as it was apparent they aware of the situation.  He was assured that everything was in hand.  If anything illegal happened, security would quickly step in.  Deciding to try another tack, Emkir brought up his concerns about a possible assassination attempt.  The tech on the line very obviously didn't take that concern seriously.  First, he asked for more details, to get enough on any actual threat to refer it to an inspector.  When Emkir started explaining his concerns, based on the reason for Major Kaihvos' celebrity, the tech said security was well aware of the Majors' situation, and alleged history.  Emkir said that, none the less, he had concerns that someone might try to take restitution through violence.
The tech suggested they come into a security station to talk to an inspector about enhancing the ship's security, and the costs to the ship for that extra service.  Sitting listening to this, Aiden said that whoever they sold interviews to needed to be made contractually responsible for the cost of security.  Emkir nodded him away as his comments didn't need to be heard by the security tech on the line at the moment.  When Emkir started fishing for costs, the tech said Emkir would have to talk to an inspector directly.  He confirmed that Emkir would have to come to a station security post to do so.  Emkir checked his chrono, seeing it was about 11:30am, and set up an appointment to come in and speak to an inspector at 1:30 that afternoon.
Making The First Decisions      While Emkir was talking to security, Rol called the office of Admiral Uuela.  He got one of the Admiral's aides and proceeded to leave a message that he couldn't get to the office that day as agreed.  But once he said his name, Rol was routed to the Admiral directly.  When Rol explained the issue, the Admiral asked if Rol was ready to travel at the moment?  Rol said he'd be ready in half an hour, and the Admiral said he'd take care of things.  So, Rol needed to be ready in an hour.  Not sure what the Admiral intended, Rol simply thanked him and the connection was cut.  Then Rol returned to discussing a basic statement they should give the press, just to be able to move in and out of the ship.
As Emkir finished with station security, he said he'd need to leave the ship to talk to them about providing additional protection.  When Rol heard this, he confirmed what time Emkir was planning to start fighting his way out of the berth.  Once he knew that, Rol revealed that he had some kind of ride coming, thanks to a certain Admiral.  When he mentioned this, Emkir said, "Admiral, not meaning me I hope?"  Rol said it was his friend, Admiral Uuela, and asked if Emkir might like to hitch a ride?  Emkir thought this was a great idea, while privately wondering what his friend would be up to and what kind of show they were about to see?
As they sat and relaxed, waiting for the show, Emkir worked on getting Rol to agree to some kind of statement to give the press at the berth about their plans.  Rol was against stirring the pot, but accepted that they had to do something to see if it reduced the crowd.  Rol also agreed to let Emkir say that, after due consideration, Major Kaihvos' had elected to grant one exclusive interview.  And that they'd be accepting offers at the earliest convenience.  When he asked Emkir's opinion, the Admiral said it sounded as if Rol was starting a bidding war, and he heartily approved.  Rol apologized for the situation they'd been put in, due to his unwanted celebrity, but hoped it would lead to them making some good money.  Rol also recommended they keep station security and the dock master's number handy.
_________________________________________________________________________ Next: Mid-Day Madness