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Last Updated    May 2 2018
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Dealing With Zach's Sins

No Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy
     In Arcea's office, Zach had been pushed into a corner, with Arcea's leg breaker set as his guard while the boss made his plans.  Because that was the bruiser's only job, Zach couldn't overhear the muted talk between Arcea and those in the room or on the comms.  Zach knew that, until things changed from the outside, he was stuck and powerless.  He just hoped something changed before he got shot, because he was pretty certain he'd found the guy carrying that bullet with his name on it as things sat.  Fifteen minutes passed before Zach thought about saying he needed to call his team.  He was surprised as his comms started to buzz just before he spoke.  Answering, Zach said, "Ah, there you are..." only to be cut off by Mikah saying, "Put Arcea on."  Caught by surprise, Zach paused a bit before calling Arcea to join the conversation.

Curious what their next play would be, the boss told Zach to put the comms on speaker so he could hear and be heard without getting too close.  Certain someone was playing him as a chess piece, Arcea didn't want anyone knowing exactly where he was in the office.  There was no telling if some team was moving a bomb around.  Zach just said, "Going on speaker" for Mikah's benefit as he switched the audio to public.  Hearing the movement of people on the far end, Mikah said they were coming to get Zach.  She also told him IRIS wanted to debrief Arcea and his people.  As she said that, Arcea flashed a look of mock surprise at the moves everyone had expected since IRIS had been exposed.  Mikah did her best to make it clear the IRIS agents, and their combat armored backup, were just for security and nothing more.

Arcea's face darkened as Mikah said they wanted him and those who were there when Zach exposed the Quasar Viper to come in.  Arcea didn't lose track of what the Knight was saying as she said IRIS had an offer for him.  Still, he dismissed the comment because Mikah'd said she'd let IRIS deal with that.  Zach could tell he didn't seem to believe her, but also didn't seem to care what she was saying.  After saying her piece, Mikah sweetly said goodbye to Zach, as a sarcastic kiss goodbye, and signed off.  The silence spread and no one in the office was looking happy, especially Zach.  Looking at Arcea, the merchant said, "I will go with you, and support you with IRIS."  Arcea laughed, saying, "If you make it that far", and the laugh was as much a threat as the words.

Zach tried to keep the play rolling as he shrugged and said, "Yeah, well.  You know..  If we all make it that far."  The words only served to increase the anger in the room as the social temperature dropped even faster.  Before the words faded, Zach saw Arcea reach for his handgun and knew this was not a warning or threat.  The distance between them made it impossible for Zach to jump at Arcea.  But, since the muscle was fixed on him and not aware of Arcea's actions, he hoped to catch the man before He realized the end had come.  The first move worked out, as Zach dodged to get a desk between himself and the muscle while Arcea shot the wall where he'd stood.

Others in the room started freaking out while the leg breaker moved to grab Zach.  Committed to his path, Zach bolted for the nearest door and arrived just as the enforcer slammed into him.  Zach was pinned between his body and the wall.  Zach struggled while the thug easily converted the pin to a vice grip and dragged him back to Arcea.  Realizing the thug was much too strong for him, Zach tried to use his height to over-balance the man and break his grip.  Sadly, the man knew his work well and Zach's attempts failed.

Forced in front of the boss, Arcea looked Zach up and down as he let the situation sink in.  He then demanded Zach tell him what his "friends" had planned?  Being as plain and open as he could, Zach said, "I have no idea" without realizing he was rapidly throwing away any value he could have held.  Arcea considered this and Zach desperately added, "You know as much as I know.  I wasn't in on any of those conversations..."  Without comment, Arcea cut Zach off as he casually aimed and fired his revolver, shooting Zach in the left thigh.  Arcea's hopes for information faded as Zach lost consciousness and the thug holding him let him drop to the floor.

The Debris Of An Already Dead Plan
     In the quiet sounds of the IRIS transport, Rol told Dame Mikah it wasn't the smartest plan to tell Arcea when they would be arriving.  The knight verbally smacked him back, saying he should perhaps get more involved in the planning before he criticized already spilled milk.  Rol tried to say he meant his comments for any future plans but his words had been directed at the moment, not the future.  The chatter quickly ended when Mikah snapped at Rol's lack of involvement.  Soon enough, the crew got to the office, which was in a structure built against a station bulkhead.  True to the floor plans IRIS had sent, they could see all the entrances and exits as expected.  Randomly, the IRIS agents told Aali to keep an open comms line as they moved in, and she confirmed that with Zimzod.

The agents calmly left the vehicle as if they did this sort of thing every day.  Behind them, they organized the three armored figures so Rol and Aali followed the agents with Mikah taking the rear to cover their six.  They got to the door unchallenged, and a thug opened the door and stepped aside to let them in when they knocked.  Inside a reception like area, another thug said he'd take them to Arcea and turned to lead them.  They walked from the reception to a short hall leading back into the building.  That hall turned to the left at an angle as they walked past doors to the right and left.  These appeared to be small offices and a conference room.  All along the way, the team kept to their formation as best they could, until they reached the door to a larger office.  As each entered the room, they could see the remains of a card game and seven or eight people.  One of them, on the floor where he was bleeding from a leg wound, was Zach.  The others were arrayed across the far side of the room.

Seeing Zach on the floor, Mikah said to herself, "Damn!  I wanted to be the one to shoot him."  She took comfort that she could still be the 'last one' to shoot him.  As she also took in the scene around her, Arcea asked, "Who's in charge?"  The transport driver held up an Ident and introduced himself as the agent in charge.  Speaking more directly to him, Arcea asked what the plan was, and the agent countered by asking what happened to Zach?  Arcea shrugged and said Zach tried to run away, as if challenging IRIS to do something about it.  The agent shrugged, as if he could care less, and said that all those who knew about the artifacts were to come in for a debriefing, and to have their new roles explained to them.  The statement was delivered in a matter of fact voice that also conveyed the thought, 'Don't screw with us'.  Arcea's face hardened as he raised his revolver.

Instantly, as the three crew raised their weapons, the agents dove for cover and fire was exchanged.  Mikah called into her comms, "Shots fired!"  The storm of needles from Mikah and Rol's weapons ripped into the crime boss' chest and belly as his round, due to the jerking of his body, was fired into the ceiling.  Trying to fire, Aali realized something was wrong with her weapon!  A huge mass of a man jumped at Mikah from the side as they were firing.  He'd been standing closest to the door.  Catching the thug in her peripheral vision, Mikah crouched while completing her shot, and thanked her training as she deflected the force of the man's charge with her shoulder.  She barely had time to glance at the man, who had to have hit his head before falling at her feet.  Not an experienced combat veteran, Aali immediately started working to resolve her weapon issue rather than dropping the gauss rifle for her snub pistol.  That made her an easy target.

The other thugs opened fire as Mikah took a hit from a slug thrower just after shrugging off the flying thug.  The round didn't penetrate her armor though, and the rest of the fire seemed to have had similar effects at best.  Mikah had a thug at her feet and the room was filling with the stench of cordite.  Arcea was laying there, watching the vid of his shortened life flash before him while Mikah stepped back, switched her weapon to 'four shot'.  She then splattered the guy at her feet, lifted her weapon and switched to automatic.  The man, who was trying to rise again, took the concentrated burst to his chest and went down with a gurgling hole where the remains of his lungs were collapsing.  Mikah's second shot put a cone of needles out that simply chewed up furniture.  At the same time, she saw a thug firing at her but the rounds were not hitting.

Rol took the risk allowed to the heavily armored, selected the nearest thug and marched straight down on him, ignoring all inbound rounds.  As he did, he fired two bursts in an attempt to both kill him and unnerve the other thugs.  Rol's first burst ripped into the desk in front of the thug as the man shot Rol in the chest.  The round barely made it through armor and Rol took a flesh wound as he put his second burst right through the thug's head.  The IRIS agents were trading "pop-up fire" with the thugs.  Everyone could hear Aali complaining "What the frack is wrong with this.." as she struggled with her gauss rifle.  More fire from the others caught Rol, and he was lightly wounded from the rounds that penetrated.  But he didn't drop as the death cry of his victim managed to draw in the attention of the others.

Releasing The Hounds
     In the vehicle, Zimzod heard Mikah raise the alarm and said, "OK!  Let's go in.  Shoot anything that moves except for our people." as he stepped out of the vehicle.  Brian cringed, but checked his revolver and followed orders and Emkir could only think about moving in to help Aali.  As Zimzod led the charge, he saw a person kick the office door open and lift what appeared to be an accelerator rifle.  In the open anyway, Zimzod's gauss rifle was leveled and set for a '10 shot' as he let off a burst at the door.  Zimzod took a flesh wound to the chest, but could see he hurt the guard, who'd pulled back from the door.  Seeing this exchange, Brian dove for cover yelling, "Oh Shit!  Oh Shit!" while Ms. Vik also dove with less fanfare.  Aiden took a knee, bringing his LAG up to snap a shot as Zimzod's fire drove the thug back.  At the same time, from the back of the team, Emkir raised his weapon trying to fire as he aimed.

Emkir's aim was badly off as he also jerked the trigger.  That dragged the barrel of his rifle down and he ended up shooting Aiden in the lower left back!  As Aiden's shot hit the building near the door, Zimzod could hear a scream and firing behind him and moved to take the door.  He knew he'd hit the guy in the door.  Now he thought they'd need something defendable if the screams and fire behind him meant a counter-attack from behind.  As he hit the door frame and covered the entrance, Zimzod called back for Aiden to move up and support his position.  From her position on the ground, Ms. Vik heard Emkir scream out, "Oh Fuck!"  She turned to see the Admiral standing in the open, holding his rifle and looking out through his sights ahead of him.  As she followed the line of sight, she saw where Aiden had gone down on the ground holding a bloody hand against his lower left back, just above his ass.

When Zimzod's call came back, Aiden yelled, "I'm hit."  Zimzod looked back to see how bad things were and saw Brian and Ms. Vik taking cover with Aiden down and Emkir standing in the open looking like he was having a weapons malfunction.  Bringing his revolver to bear, Brian moved up to the door to support Zimzod, because being out in the open wasn't safe even if you were on the ground.  Ms. Vik quick crawled to Aiden's side to see he was lightly bleeding from a wound that seemed to have penetrated his cloth armor.  As she arrived, Emkir also rushed up babbling about how sorry he was.  Ms. Vik turned to him with all the authority she could muster and said, "Get your ass in there!  I'll take care of Aiden."

It took a heartbeat or two for the order to sink in before Emkir shrugged and rushed to where Brian had joined Zimzod at the door.  As things resolved in his backfield and Brian arrived, Zimzod was satisfied when Ms. Vik ordered Emkir forward.  Not having the time to worry about Aiden, Zimzod considered the door.  Realizing he had not gotten grenades from Aiden, Zimzod turned to the two others and said, "Watch the door.  If anything comes out, waste it."  He then rushed back to where Aiden was down.

As Inger cut into Aiden's armor, the only things she knew to do were 'apply positive pressure' and 'hope for medical back up real soon'.  Of course, she tried not to think of the police units that would also arrive with them.  At the same time, in-between his cursing, Aiden stayed in the game by setting the bipod legs on his LAG to create a defensive position.  Zimzod arrived and realized, for the first time, that Aiden was actually shot.  Taking that in while not having time for it, Zimzod asked, "Do we have people behind us or something?" as he scanned the area around them.  Aiden snapped, "Emkir fucking shot me!" wincing more as Ms. Vik applied pressure to his back.

Despite the situation, Inger could barely keep from busting out laughing at the tragic comedy of it all.  Zimzod just matter of factly replied, "OK!  He's going in first."  When Zimzod asked, Aiden said he had three grenades with him.  Aiden wasn't coming with them so Zimzod took all three from the wounded Scout.  When he returned to Emkir and Brian, he scanned their defensive postures and called out, "OK!  don't shoot me!" as he moved up to take a glance into the room.  Brian quipped, "That's his department." as he nodded towards Emkir.  Nodding, Zimzod pulled the pin from a grenade, released the spoon and held it for a 'two-count' before throwing it inside the door.  Then they all leaned back from the opening.

The blast was accompanied by a scream from inside as Zimzod popped another grenade and started counting.  After cooking that for two seconds, he threw the second grenade in harder, hoping to land it deeper into the building.  The second grenade bounced a bit before exploding, and Zimzod felt it go off closer to the door as it kicked debris out!  This suggested the room inside the entrance was not a very deep one.  He also counted himself lucky the thrown debris didn't hit his people.  Moving up to the right side of the door, he had Brian take the left side and lean against the jamb for cover.  They then took positions and scanned over their sights, with Emkir covering their back.  They scanned and a small entry room that had been properly trashed.

Satisfied there was no one left alive in the room, Zimzod advanced into what appeared to have been a reception space and saw the opening of the corridor heading back to the left.  Not sure how far down the snake hole he wanted to get, Zimzod called Mikah, asking how far in they were?  Mikah sounded busy as she answered and said they were in an office about three doors down a short corridor.  Advancing into the corridor followed by Brian and Emkir, Zimzod saw the corridor turn harder to the left, with some doors to the right and left.  He also noticed a trail of blood.  Stopping to get an idea where the trail led, Zimzod followed it around the increasing, but not obscuring, bend and towards a door on the right.

The Other Side Of The War
     The noise of weapons fire in Arcea's office was added to by a huge explosion and screams from outside the room.  Over her external mike, Mikah shouted, "That must be Zimzod" as she brought her weapon to bear again and prepared to take down another victim.  But the blast had shaken the morale of the remaining thugs, who'd seen their boss and his chief enforcer taken out while one armored figure was simply executing people.  Even after taking rounds directly to the chest!  So Mikah and the others held their fire as the thugs dropped their weapons and raised hands.  Even as it seemed the battle was over, another explosion followed the first.  With this, the rest of the thugs surrendered and Mikah started looking for a corner far from the doors, where she could corral and hold them.  This was interrupted as she heard something moving behind her at break neck speed!

While she tried to decide if it was Zimzod and his team, one of the IRIS agents spun and fired into the passage behind her.  Hearing the thud of a body, Mikah turned to glance, and saw it was a thug with a handgun.  He was down with a hole through his chest and a really surprised expression on his face.  Shrugging that off, Mikah started herding the remaining thugs into her selected corner.  At the same time, she comm'd Zimzod saying they had their room under control and he should clear the rest of the floor.  Zimzod followed the trail of blood to the door of Arcea's office.  There, he saw the others over the body of the guy he'd followed.  Stepping into the office, Zimzod grabbed one of the prisoners to use as a human shield as he, Brian and Emkir proceeded to clear the other rooms.  Zimzod led the prisoner around while the man submissively did as he was told while begging for mercy and claiming he was not a crook.

The 'shield' protested he was only a curator from a local museum.  The guy cried for his life as Zimzod vaguely remembered this had started because Zach showed the pictures to a museum curator.  That meant there could be no mercy, even when the man peed himself in fear.  Before they left the office, one of the IRIS agents asked about their grenades and even asked for one?  Mikah said no but Zimzod gave the agent one anyway.  When Zimzod asked the curator about a now-abandoned room with lit workstations and desks, the prisoner said this was an office for Arcea's legitimate company.  He figured the workers must have fled when the shooting started.  Eventually, Zimzod was able to clear all the other rooms and find a hidden "back door" the team didn't have covered.

After he got the grenade, the transport driver told Mikah to get her people out of Arcea's office.  As she stepped over to grab Zach's collar and drag him out, Mikah noticed the bulked-out looking autopistols the IRIS agents were guarding the prisoners with.  From what she saw, they really looked like hand-held submachineguns.  When she asked if she could get one, she was told she couldn't in a tone suggesting the agent felt she was wasting time.  When Mikah protested that they'd given the agents a grenade, the agent pointed out that she could buy grenades at InstellArms and couldn't get those there.  After the crew left the room, the IRIS agents went back to the door where the one agent popped the grenade and threw it into the crowd as the other opened fire.  That done, they stepped out, closing the door behind them.

The muted screaming ended as the grenade exploded and, after a two count, the agents went back into the room before the team heard them hosing the room down with weapon fire.  Not sure what was happening back in the office, Zimzod's team heard the sounds and he joked it must have been the curator's lucky day.  Despite Zimzod's cheer, the man was not feeling the love.  Getting Zach in the hall, Mikah slapped a tourniquet on the leg to stop the remaining bleeding and started checking the others while IRIS finished "mopping up".  Since everyone except Zach could walk, they regrouped once Zimzod's team had cleared the building.  They then went out to the bus after one of the returning IRIS agents shot the curator in the head.  Seeing that, Zimzod just muttered, "I guess it wasn't his lucky day then." in a tone that showed no remorse.

Mikah led those carrying Zach out the door as she saw Ms. Vik doing something that looked like she was giving Aiden a back rub.  She could only say, "Really?!?!  Really?  He gets a massage??"  As Aiden bit back the choicest curses and sputtered about Emkir, Mikah finally asked, "What's wrong with him?"  Ms. Vik said, "Ask Emkir."  Realizing she missed this 'inside Aiden' joke, Mikah asked Aiden if he could talk?  She wondered if the sputtering and cursing was part of a fugue caused when he was shot?  Pausing to take a breath, he said, "Only if it's to swear...  Yes, I can talk."  Mikah then asked if he could move and he said he could.  With that, she told him, and everyone else, to get on the bus.  She knew IRIS said they'd provide distractions, but she also knew how thickly this place was covered by local law enforcement.

The Wounded And Loose Ends
     As he was helped up, and saw everyone coming out of the office entrance, Aiden asked what happened to the weapons?  Mikah said that was IRIS' problem.  Not theirs.  When Aiden protested that they could salvage some of them, Mikah turned on him saying, "We've got three wounded, including you, and your worried about a couple of little guns?!"  Aiden weakly answered, "I'm just saying..."  Rol backed up Mikah saying, "It's not relevant at this time." and Zimzod piled on the bandwagon with that opinion.  Having stepped in, Zimzod asked if anyone grabbed the digital device with the pictures, and Brian volunteered to go back in and find it if it wasn't destroyed.  But as he tried to head back inside, one of the IRIS agents stopped him and told him not to worry about it.  When Brian tried to make sure the agent understood what he was on about, the agent again told him not to worry about it.  More forcefully this time.  Shrugging, Brian returned to the team saying, "It's handled."  Zimzod said, "Outstanding." with a wide smile.

Zimzod then waved Mikah over and turned to Aiden saying, "Hey, welcome to the club!  Right Mikah?"  When Mikah angrily said she didn't shoot Aiden, Zimzod said, "Yeah, but you shot me."  When She asked, "So?" Zimzod said Aiden had joined the friendly fire club.  When Aiden asked, "So that's two now", Mikah said, "But you haven't been shot by me." with a warning tone in her voice.  Aiden answered, "Yeah, I'm still breathing."  About that time, they could hear the sounds of emergency response vehicles, so they got on the transport and started moving.  As they finished boarding, the last to board saw the van's external surface change, chameleon-like, to the appearance of a med-transport.  With that, they slipped through the wave of on-coming police and med responders as if they were already transferring victims to medical support.

As they moved, the IRIS agent who wasn't driving turned and asked who was wounded and who was medical?  Aiden sparked up saying, "I'm wounded and Emkir's about to be!"  Zach's wounds were obvious, and he was still unconscious.  Aiden had been shot in the lower left back above the ass, and Rol had a light wound to the center chest and a significant wound to the left chest, below the shoulder joint.  Zimzod also had a flesh wound to the chest.  So, there were four wounded.  Mikah took the time to explore the bullet scar in the chest carapace of her armor.  As she did, Mikah identified herself as the doctor, and checked on Zach before starting to cut Aiden's armor off.  Others helped Rol out of his armor and laid him out for Mikah to examine.  Zimzod said he was a paramedic and could treat himself as he only took a light flesh wound.  He then said he'd help with Rol if needed.  Mikah ok'd that as she stepped through triage and determined that she could go back to working on Zach without someone dying on them by surprise.

While she worked, Zimzod grabbed antiseptic and spray-on skin from the transport's med-kit and asked for a hand from one of the free crew.  Emkir stepped over to help.  Mikah's triage showed that Aiden's wounds should just be muscle damage.  Rol's upper left quadrant wound might have had some bone damage, due to bullet fragments.  Mikah planned to go in deep on that once done with Zach.  After Zimzod was finished disinfecting and treating himself, he went over to carry out the same treatment on Rol's center-chest flesh wound.  Injecting anesthetic, Zimzod joked, "Want some morphine?"  Rol joked back "I got some better stuff, Man.  Look at the butterflies..."  Zimzod just said, "OK.  We'll talk about that later."  Zimzod also set up Mikah's porta-scan, to look for metal fragments in Rol's upper left quadrant and center chest areas.

At the same time, the transport had a few pints of synth-plasma they could hang to start pumping into Zach and bring his blood levels back up.  Mikah was glad for that, as she worried that what she'd have to do would cause more blood loss.  With the tourniquet on, there was no rush, even if it was more and more likely he'd lose the leg to deprivation.  While he was waiting for treatment, Aiden gave Ms. Vik a heartfelt "Thank You" for her help.  As they settled into working, and the IRIS agent moved forward to talk to his partner, Zimzod told the others IRIS wouldn't be concerned about treating the wounded if they were just going to kill them.  Rol joked that, they perhaps, had some questions to ask first.  Zimzod said, "They had to ask the dead guy, but he's already dead" as he pointed to Zach.  Mikah said, "No!  Zach has to get better so we can shoot him." with the very satisfied expression of a woman who knew she'd get what she wanted.

Eventually the transport pulled into the garage-style entrance of a non-de script structure and came to a stop in the garage bay.  The crew were helped to off load to an area prepared where they could continue medical treatment until an officer arrived to debrief them.  When the agents left them, Mikah asked, "So this was the good guy?  What are we gonna have to do to the bad guy?"  Rol said, "Discredit him."  They talked about the meeting with Tarulli that Zach wouldn't make and Aiden said Tarulli would hear about the massive firefights and explosions at Arcea's place.  That meant Tarulli might just lay low in fear of what happened to Arcea.  They all agreed that Tarulli likely already knew "something" happened.  They also agreed he'd figure out Zach was involved somehow, if not contacted with a believable explanation why he wasn't.

The crew figured they had to decide how they wanted to shape what Tarulli learned of the incident?  Suggestions were made about what they could tell Tarulli.  Ideas ranging from 'pretending to be robbers who now had the goods and Zach' and saying he had to deal with them now, to claiming Zach was robbed and the goods were lost or destroyed.  Zimzod suggested they call Tarulli and tell him Zach and Arcea were hit and hit hard by some larger power.  That Arcea was dead and Zach in critical condition, and it would be in his best interest to destroy the datapad and pictures before they came for him too.  That he should pretend this never happened.  Aiden liked that plan, but suggested they run it by IRIS before acting on it.  Zimzod agreed.  Mikah agreed the plan was good and said they shouldn't give any more details than that.  Leave the rest to Tarulli's imagination.

As they switched talk to who should make the call, Zimzod's biggest concern was having a video connection, so they could see Tarulli destroy the datapad.  But it was felt it would be more effective if Rol did the video while in his combat armor.  The combat damage to his chest-plate would be apparent as he threatened to come for the crime boss.  They considered using Zach's body as a threatening prop in the communication, and how they could "dress him up" to make things even more dramatic?  Finally, they had things settled enough to move ahead with the plan, without consulting IRIS.  Rol made the call using Zach's comms.  The others made sure no one else was in the video field.  Rol got back into his armor and shifted into 'interrogator mode' before taking Zach's comms and calling Tarulli.

The screen brightened quickly as a man Rol didn't recognize came on and said, "Woods!  I was beginning to think you were standing me up..."  His voice faded off as he saw a battle armored figure on his comms screen.  When Tarulli asked, "Who is this?" Rol did his best to come across menacing as he answered, "That isn't important.  Zachariah Wood has been taken care of, as have his associates in this matter.  He came to you with a certain set of items for sale.  It would be in your best interests to forget these items, and to no longer have any dealings with them.  We just took care of some loose ends regarding these items.  And you would not want us to have to deal with further loose ends."  Rol stressed the word "you", to make sure Tarulli got the point.  As Zimzod prepared to remind Rol to see Tarulli destroy the datapad, the crime boss cut the connection.

The Debriefing And Loose Ends
     Done with the call, Zimzod got Rol down on his back again so he could finish working on the former marine's wounds.  The chest wound was dealt with, but Zimzod hadn't stopped the bleeding.  Nor had he fully scanned the shoulder and chest for slug fragments.  Zimzod finished that up before moving to Aiden to work on his wound.  As he worked on the others, Mikah concentrated on Zach.  She had to admit that it didn't look good at all.  The blood loss was bad enough, but the damage to the entire leg, due to both the thigh wound and blood starvation from the tourniquet, made saving the leg very unlikely.

The more she worked, the more Mikah considered the options of a prosthetic or a re-grown limb.  At the very least, a transplant for the short term.  Finally, she got Zach stable enough to work on, but Mikah knew she had to get Zach to a hospital.  When she asked, Mikah was told they couldn't move him yet and had to wait.  After half an hour, another team arrived, including the agent they had talked with on comms from the berth.  Sitting down and calling the crew together, the agents spread out a huge collection of datapads and other devices saying it was time to take care of the debriefing.  There were a few questions, confirming Zach's condition was stable, before a medical team took him to a hospital.

Soon after that, several technicians arrived with one of the agents.  He supervised recovering the artifacts the crew had loaded onto the transport at the berth.  That done, the questioning started.  The exhausted team were led through every step of the incident repeatedly, and in excruciating detail.  At the same time, another team of technicians assembled what looked like a kiln.  After powering it up, they started feeding the artifacts into it.  From what the crew could see, everything that went in, including the metal, came out as grey ash.  Brian was ready to cry for the loss of money the destruction represented.  Aiden appreciated the process, even when they destroyed the cutlass and scabbard he had.  He was disappointed when they evaluated the watch and fed that to the fires.  He'd hoped it was not identifiable.

Not able to take it out on Zach, Aiden interrupted the agent debriefing him to point at Emkir and say, "You...owe me!"  Emkir simply shrugged innocently and said the loss of any artifacts were not his fault and they were all suffering due to Zach's mistakes.  Finishing with Mikah and Zimzod, the agents reminded the two they would do their best to cover up what they could but a report to Duke Leonard would have to be made.  And that would be up to the crew.  Mikah confirmed with the agents that Leonard knew everything covert, so they could answer to Leonard for everything.  When Mikah asked if they understood this included the IRIS activities, they said she'd understand when their boss got there.

Not sure what that meant, Mikah accepted what she was told at face value.  Time moved deeper into the new day and Mikah and Zimzod had been debriefed and waited.  The agents were finishing with the others when they caught a whiff of comms saying their boss had arrived.  Perking up at that, the two began looking about for new arrivals until Lord William entered the room with a small retinue.  When she saw him, Mikah didn't even try to hold back her laugh.  Introducing himself this time, it was in his official capacity as the Senior managing IRIS Agent in the Rhylanor Sector!  They greeted each other as the crew suddenly understood the many technicians and vid-screens they saw in his box at the Renewal Festival.  And it became apparent Lord William knew more about them than they ever thought possible.

He did grimly thank the team for the many hours of "entertainment" they'd provided as they started to talk.  On that, Mikah joked back, "Always happy to serve" with an edge of sarcasm.  They got down to business and William confirmed that Leonard knew all about IRIS' activities in Rhylanor sector.  He then asked them, "What would you like to tell me about this little, miscarriage of justice?"  Mikah led off, explaining how their intent to sell the artifacts went wrong as Zach failed to investigate and protect their secrets, and let the cat out of the bag.  She also said she felt they'd also failed because of those who resisted modifying the artifacts, to prevent them being identified.  They then moved on to discrediting Tarulli, and it was made clear they didn't need to act any further than that with the second underground figure.

Regarding Zach's involvement, his underworld connections were likely burned to the core, and Tarulli would obviously have some issues with the merchant that they'd need to watch going forward.  Several of the crew said that may not be his worst problem as William asked what the crew planned to tell Duke Leonard about the fiasco?  Zimzod half-asked, half-said, "Umm, what you want us to tell him?"  When William said to tell Leonard as much as they felt comfortable with, Mikah suggested they tell him as much as they knew.  Since they knew they had no secrets from Leonard and could spill it all, William announced that he was having all the wounded taken to a military hospital.  The rest were returned to the berth for the time being.

Zimzod, Rol and Aiden were led off as a team had already moved Zach.  William said they'd reconvene later that day, at the Duke's station-side offices, to meet with Leonard and his Seneschal.  This made it more obvious the crew would not be able to meet with Doctor Thrauld's team at Rhylanor University and Mikah saw she'd have to call the doctor and give him a reasonable excuse.  She decided to go with the tried and true, "They'd been summoned by the Duke", as no one argued with that.  Moving past that, Mikah also realized she had to get the Fer d'Lance cut diamond and other gems back from Countess Ursara.  She planned to call the Countess around 7am, and use the excuse that Lord William expressed a desire to buy them directly from her.

Mikah would apologize for cutting Ursara out of the deal, but explain she wasn't in control of the decision and would find a way to make it up in the future.  With that, Mikah explained her plan to call Countess Ursara and get back the gemstones, so William knew he was supposedly buying them directly from the Knight.  William agreed that she could handle it that way, and there should not be issues.  As things became less formal, William asked about the book Brian wanted to sell and the knight had to admit it came from the Quasar Viper.  William confirmed that he and his friends were still interested in seeing Brian's collection, and might make offers, even if Brian wasn't interested in selling the books they saw of interest.

In the end, the IRIS agents working on their artifacts from the Quasar Viper allowed the crew to keep the following items:

        Aiden kept nothing when they destroyed the Silver and gold cutlass in silver,
             jewel-covered scabbard and Platinum watch.

        Brian kept the "Dawson's Christian" vid-chip from the mid-900's but lost
             the Antique Family copy of the Code of Ledriasda ( religious text w/lots of
             scribble, adherents have a moral obligation to preserve intelligent life ).

        Emkir kept the gold Dice, the white gold computer/wrist watch and silver
             band, the silver ring with pink Spinel gem, the gold cuff links with
             opals and rubies and the gold inlayed white gold medal Star(Church of
             the Stellar Divinity) on a silver chain.
        IRIS did take the unidentified artifact in locked carry case.

        Inger kept the Holocube of Capital, the New Roman Church Cross, the 3"
             wide ˝" thick blue amethyst Heart, the gold bangles, the gold ring w/
             light blue sapphire stone surrounded by diamond chips and the silver
             inlayed gold Tort.
        IRIS destroyed the jeweled gown, the 15ct sky blue topaz cut into a one
             wing aircraft, the 30ct sky blue topaz GravBike figure on ribbon, the
             2ct diamond in gold engagement ring and the gold/silver jeweled (many
             small gems) compact case

        Mikah kept the the 4" tall "Angelic figure" seemingly cut from a single rich
             "pale aquamarine", the silver "dangle" earrings with gold Imperial Starbursts,
             the intricately "woven" lanthanum bracelet and the Sylea braided
             bracelet with strands of white and yellow gold as well as platinum strands.
        IRIS destroyed the carved-bone figures of a family in a real wood box, the
             10 ct deep red garnet cut into the shape of a swimming water creature,
             and the 14 inch polished lanthanum necklace w/diamond cut to a
             Fer d'Lance.
        IRIS took the 4" stellar mist Topaz "light dome" and platinum ring w/onyx and
             silver quartz stones.

        Aali, Rol, Zach and Zimzod had nothing from the ship, so they neither
             lost nor kept anything.

Checking In At The Hospital
     By the time the crew were back at the berth, it was past 4am. Mikah went to the hospital once Lord William was done with her.  The walking wounded were kept at the hospital, where they were given drugs to allow them to sleep after treatment.  Aiden was simply treated with growth enhancers, synth-muscle, synth-skin, antibiotics and anesthetics.  Rol's procedure was a bit more involved as there was minor bone scarring from slug fragments, which were also hunted down and removed.  In the end, both men were told the wounds should knit and heal over in three weeks’ time.  But a full and proper healing of the muscles would not happen for about two months, during which they should remain on light duty.  Zimzod's wounds were superficial, and he had treated himself already.  Despite that, they put him under as they had the rest, and made sure.

Before going under, Zimzod realized he missed his chance to take a picture of Zach lying shot, and complained to Mikah, who was checking on them all.  Mikah supervised, and saw Zach's condition had worsened.  Still healing from the stabbing six days earlier, Zach's body had not yet recovered from the shock and internal issues, and would likely not have for another week or two.  Now, with the serious blood loss and intense systemic shock, doctors had to use serious systemic boosters and other measures to keep him alive.  In the end, Zach's leg had to be removed from the hip, and they planned to transplant a replacement limb from cryo-storage.

After that, they'd treat him with medical slow drug, to speed up his initial recovery.  Treated with a retro-virus to prevent rejection, Zach should be able to recover with a minimal, but permanent loss of mobility and dexterity.  This was, of course, unless Mikah wanted to buy him an electronic prosthetic?  Or the team had the time and money to grow him a new leg, or clone him a replacement?  In the end, Mikah wasn't interested in paying when they could do the transplant for free.  Zach would have to accept suffering for his mistakes.  Now sure Zach's surgery was being handled, and after watching them manage the wound the amputation caused, Mikah was brought to one of the doctor's break rooms where she could sleep.  Getting to sleep around 4:30am, she told an attendant to have her woken at 7am and settled in for a nap.

Next: Days Of Fallout And Recovery