As she asked, an attendant in the hospital woke Mikah. Doing her best to neaten up a bit before hand, Mikah called Ursara's ship and got a crewman. She said she wanted to leave a message for the Countess and he took down the explanation she gave about the gems and Lord William. Mikah said she'd have one of her crew pick up the items, as they had some issues the night before. Mikah made sure the crewman made note of how apologetic she was, but that Lord William had insisted on buying the gems directly from her. She said she couldn't change his mind. After she left her message, Mikah cut the line and called Ms. Vik to have her pickup the stuff.
While the comms on her bedside slightly disturbed Ms. Vik's sleep, she didn't wake. When Mikah got Inger's voice mail, she left a message to have her go to Ursara's ship and get the gems to deliver to the IRIS office. After that, she called the University of Rhylanor, in hopes of getting to Doctor Thrauld. But the person who answered was a grad student who seems to have no interest in anything other than getting the call done. Despite this, Mikah left a message saying they'd had a last minute request to meet with Duke Leonard and his people. That woke the kid up, and he quickly became much more professional!
"Because of the Duke's request", Mikah said, "we will have to delay meeting with the Doctor's team until they were certain of their schedule." She promised to update the Doctor later that day and reschedule as soon as she could. Once off the comms, Mikah considered the coming day and wondered when the Duke's office would let her know when the meeting was set for? With no other information, Mikah set her comms to wake her at 2pm and grabbed some more sleep in the doctor's break room.
Still Sorting Loose Ends      At the berth, Aali not able to sleep after the night's activities. Leaving Emkir, who fell dead asleep when his head hit pillow, she dressed in a shipsuit and brought her still-jammed gauss rifle into the lounge to work on. As those in the berth woke up, they found Aali 'bugged out', with the vid-screen playing three separate news feeds at once and her gauss rifle completely disassembled on the lounge table before her. When asked, Aali said the only news on the night's events were reports of a 'serious fire and fatalities' in the office structure. As the news continued, the sparse details released suggested an underworld deal had gone south. Speculationg by law enforcement said that led to the shootings and an attempt to destroy evidence. The reporters suggested law enforcement were being unusually tight lipped about the event.
There was no great surprise among reporters when a rumor surfaced that that the Duke's schedule had been changed for the day. But no one had any hard details or been given any facts. Other rumors suggested His Grace had left the planet, and no one seemed aware if he'd travelled off-world or even out of the system? These rumors seemed to be growing in number, though it was pointed out that the system government was carrying on as normally as ever. Those in the berth exchanged a few glances each time the subject of the shootings came up. When asked about her gauss rifle, Aali said that, when the shooting started, she'd tried to open fire. She really did. But nothing happened, and she wanted to figure out why?
She'd found it was jammed, but was not able to get it unjammed. As Ms. Vik talked with the obviously still 'in shock' engineer, she asked what the problem was as she started scrounging around for food. Aali showed Inger where several needles had gotten jammed in the passage from the chamber to the barrel. As the two ladies investigated the jam, Brian came over and the three decided it would be best to wait for Rol because he was a trained armorer. Inger kept Aali engaged until Emkir emerged to join them. Once the Admiral took charge, he led Aali to the galley for tea before killing all but the TAS news feed. He then did what he could to soothe her before leading her back into their shared room. Then, Emkir worked to calm her the best way he knew how... Ms. Vik checked her comms and found she had gotten a message.
Checking the message, Inger found it had been from Mikah, asking her to go to Countess Ursara's ship, recover the jewelry and bring it to the IRIS site to be destroyed. Once she had "lunch", Inger called for a taxi and went to the Countess' berth. Paying the Cr 10, Inger was greeted when she called into the ship and told the crewman she was there to pick up Dame Mikah's package. As she was expected, Ms. Vik was led to a sitting room where the Countess joined her. It was obvious she was handling some business and very graciously gave Inger the jewelry, in a protective box, telling Inger to tell Mikah she was sorry the deal had to change. She did say she looked forward to seeing Mikah again, and asked to have Mikah give her best to Lord William when she could.
Ms. Vik handled the meeting politely, and then went out to grab another taxi and ride to the IRIS facility. En-route, she called and delivered the messages to Mikah's voice mail. Once at the office, after paying another Cr 10, Inger knocked and identified herself. Once allowed in, Ms. Vik handed over the case with the jewels, explaining it as she did. As she stood watching, they processed the jewelry, case and all, through a device from which came a pile of ash. Done there, Inger took a Cr 20 taxi back to the berth.
Brian's Recovery Method      As well as working with the ladies, Brian had checked on Wall-e, who was picking the bones of the dead 'droid at that point. Glad he came to check before the 'droid went looking for instructions, Brian checked the piles to see there were more potentially good parts than he thought there'd be. Eying the pile of slagged parts, Brian realized there were any number of things he could do to get a few credits for those too. They could be recycled for their component parts and materials. While he considered what to do with the parts, Brian led Wall-e to the wrecked grav vehicle in the ship's cargo bay. He explained that the control and sound console had to be recovered intact, as well as the grav modules. Everything else had to be stripped out as Wall-e had done with the 'droid parts. Wall-e said it understood and moved into start disassembling the vehicle's cabin as it planned removing the sound system and controls console. Brian watched it start and, once satisfied, returned to set up a sale on the 'droid scrap parts before checking out the parts set aside as good.
It took Brian a bit to find a container for the slagged parts, and once he boxed them, he took a picture of the lot and set up a sale on one of the many auction sites on the station-web. While he said they were "As Is", he added to the selling points that the boards might have useable sections, recoverable components or recoverable precious metals. After fifteen minutes of doing that, Brian started picking through the pile of good parts for anything interesting. As he looked, there was not a singl ecomponent that was worth less than Cr 50 to Cr 100. He set the several-thousand-credit tentacle arm aside, as he planned to install it to replace one missing on Wall-e. Brian spent the rest of the day checking out the parts until the Duke's people called. He also eventually took a break to call the financial advisor about his shares in Dankunlig Trading.
When he answered, the advisor was very excited and pleased that Brian had called, and asked when the Knight wanted to meet? The man said he had a fair bit of information and recommendations to make. As Brian asked about the information, the man said Sir Brian's shares were now worth about Cr 60,000! Brian checked the time to see it was just after noon, and said he could set up an appointment for later in the week, given his current commitments. The advisor asked for verbal permission to start making forecasts and taking non-binding actions on Brian's behalf regarding the shares. Because this wouldn't change the value, or obligate him to anything, Brian agreed. After that, Brian went back to playing with his 'droid parts and considered when he'd have the free time to attach the arm? That would take the better part of a day to do.
Meeting The Duke      Eventually, Mikah woke as other doctors entered, left or relaxed in the break room. She checked her comms to find two messages. One was from Ms. Vik and had to wait when she saw the second was from Lord William's office. Checking that message, she saw that she was asked to check in with security at the hospital. They would bring her to Lord William's office and then she and he would meet with Duke Leonard. Mikah checked the message twice to make sure it was just her and not the others. When she went to hospital security, Mikah found they had a car waiting for her arrival and quickly drove her over to Lord William's very comfortable offices in the University of Rhylanor. There, William went over the events of the night before with Mikah step by step, so they both understood every part of how the event unfolded. Once they were done, after half an hour's time, Lord William and Mikah were driven, in his car, to the Duke's station-side offices.
Once at the offices, they were led to a conference room where they found Duke Leonard and his Seneschal sitting alone and talking. At first glance, the Duke didn't look at all pleased. Despite this, he greeted William and Mikah and took the report as calmly as if he were receiving any other generic update. Once Mikah was done, the Duke thanked her for the report and said he'd discuss this issue with his Seneschal and get back to the crew on the consequences of their actions. He also told Mikah she and the other Knights were, for now, to suspend their meet and greet activities. That done, around 4pm, Mikah was put in a car and taken back to the berth.
The End of Another Evening      Eventually, as they woke, Aiden, Zimzod and Rol were given an explanation of their treatment. Aiden and Rol were told they should remain on light duty for the next two months to completely heal. When Rol asked about using medical slow drug to speed the healing, the doctor advised very much against that as he was not going to be in a medical facility or have nurses on hand if anything went wrong. There were some basic tests done to confirm the healing had begun and, in Rol's case, that they'd gotten all the fragments. But each was put in a car and taken back to the berth. Before he left the hospital, Zimzod did try to get in to take a prank picture of Zach. But he was being watched very closely in post-op, which was a restricted area. Zimzod eventually let them wheel him off in a chair to his car, muttering about getting a picture of Zach sleeping someday.
By 5pm, everyone except Zach was back at the berth. Once he'd returned, Zimzod began the never ending task of gear maintenance as he broke down the gear he used and cleaned everything. He also checked the slug hole in his executive armor, which was not made to be repaired after damage in combat. He figured he'd talk about that with Rol and see if anything could be done? Brian had done a fair bit of testing as the hours passed. To that point, he'd found more than a few components only appeared good, but a few were. Chief of these were a pair of actuator-interface boards that were worth, between the two of them, a couple of thousand credits! He set them aside to further test as he worked. While he still had a large number to go through, Brian was still feeling the night before and took a nap.
When Rol got back, he'd planned to clean and go over his gear from the night before. But as he walked into the lounge, he saw someone's gauss rifle had been detail disassembled with the parts still spread out on one of the tables. Puzzled why anyone would leave a weapon in that state, he wandered over to investigate it. It didn't take him long to find the jammed chamber end of the barrel. Judging by how firmly the needles were jammed, Rol figured it would take him a an hour to fix it without scoring the barrel or degrading the metal where barrel met chamber. Figuring he was going pull his tools to work on his gear anyway, Rol added that to his work list. He figured he could get the weapon reassembled and working for its owner as he dealt with his gear.
As Aiden returned, he saw Zimzod and Rol working on weapons and thought about removing all the firing pins from Emkir's weapons. When he figured he'd have to go into their room, with them likely in there, Aiden considered going in with guns blazing, to get his revenge. But he settled for gear maintenance while he planned to shop for new cloth armor for Emkir to buy him. Aiden also planned to replace the three used grenades, but was happy he didn't spend any ammunition. As he worked, Aiden asked Rol for ideas for better armor.
Mikah was the last person to return, and she joined the GI party cleaning gear and weapons. As she brought out her equipment, Mikah showed Rol the slug scar on the chest plate and he said it'd be easy to fix. To his practiced eye, he'd need a square inch of composite stock and less than half an hour's time to do the work. Aiden asked about his armor, saying he expected it was a loss and Rol said he'd check on it, as well as Zimzod's executive armor. Mikah decided that, since they wouldn't be doing the meet and greets, she could call Doctor Thrauld and set things up with him for sooner than she'd thought. She figured she'd have to tell the Doctor Zach had suffered an accident and wouldn't be available, as he was in the hospital. When she called, and Thrauld asked if they could make it the next day, Mikah agreed to arrive at 10am. Once done with the call, she told everyone they'd be headed to Rhylanor University the next morning, so no other plans should be made.
After that, since no one had any real desire to do more than clean or repair gear and relax before hitting the rack, the evening passed. During the quiet night in the berth, Zimzod did some gunnery work, getting back to his training. Brian spent several hours detail testing the actuator interface boards he'd found earlier. He was happy when they checked out 100% functional and ready to sell. Before he hit the rack, Brian took pictures of the components and started an auction for each, starting their prices at 50% of their value for a week's auction. He also linked the test results to the auction images so people could see how he proved the parts worked. While on the site, Brian also checked his first auction to find an offer of Cr 50!
Considering that a good dinner, Brian accepted the offer and figured he'd have to wait for the site to get him a response from the buyer. But the site asked him to offer a method of delivery, from having it picked up at his location to having it delivered to the buyer? He tagged it as "Pick up or you pay for shipping" and sent his confirmation out. Almost as if this was happening in real time, Brian got a message from the buyer, saying they'd show up the next day. Just for a bit of security, Brian checked out that buyer's activities on the site, and found they not only bought a lot of scrap but appeared to have a scrap yard of their own.
During the evening, Aiden decided to see if he could find a lead on selling the high passage he got from TAS? When he checked, he found all manner of social media posts looking to buy a passage cheap. Knowing it cost Cr 10,000 to buy, the former Scout scanned the posts and want ads. Aiden figured he could post it for Cr 9,000 and hope, or sell it fast for Cr 6,000. Eventually, Aiden posted his "for sale" at Cr 8,750 and sat back to wait. After that, Aiden scanned through the ads for pilots wanted, to see where he could offer his skills locally? When he saw that most of the ads were looking for longer term than he wanted to commit to, Aiden set up a "work wanted" ad. He described his situation as 'looking to fill in his time in-system with work while his ship was up for overhaul'. He gave a basic description of his experience and an honest assessment of his skills as a pilot. Aiden then paid the Cr 5 per day for a comms number through the ad board. The weekly cost came to Cr 60.
Working Out The Rest Of The Evening      Emerging later in the evening, Aali found Rol had fixed her gauss rifle and thanked him, asking how much she owed for the work? Rol shrugged and asked for Cr 50, which the engineer was glad to pay. When she asked for his expert opinion what happened, Rol said it just happened to be a misfire. He explained, as politely as possible, that how she tried to clear the jam may have made it worse. He did offer to show her how to more effectively clear jams in the future and she thanked him, saying she'd like that.
After dinner, most of the crew had gone out as Brian went into the cargo bay, where Wall-e had removed the console and sound system Mikah wanted and one of the grav modules. It was continuing to work at removing the second working grav module as Brian came in. He canceled his orders to the 'droid and ordered it into a space where he could work on it. Once he got the 'droid to position itself correctly on a work surface, Brian powered the 'droid down and began at least four hours of work to install the tentacle arm in one of the two vacant sleeves. While he had Wall-e open, and with a better idea of what parts he had from the other 'droid, Brian mentally cataloged those parts he could keep as spares for Wall-e.
This would help him know which parts he could sell off. Sadly, he had no components that would repair Wall-e's off-line systems. He planned to sell off those components he could, starting at 50% of their cost as he had with the two boards he'd already posted. Of course, that would happen after he tested each of them. As he was working, Brian got a comms from the berth. It was Emkir, who was spending a day with Aali, continuing to relax after the night before. The Admiral told Brian he had visitors at the berth and Brian went over to let the salvagers in.
These guys were fairly straight forward, driving their own electrically-powered transport and picking up what their bosses bought. When they realized what crew they were visiting, they were a bit awed by the situation, and one even remembered his favorite news show repeatedly showing Sir Brian's interview about Sir Rol. This slightly embarrassed Brian, who repeated that the media had mangled what he'd said. Brian was invited to visit them and they even offered to pick him up and bring him to their yard if he called in advance. Brian thanked them for the offer as he took their information. Beyond that, they paid the Cr 50 and took the scraps. After they left, Brian returned to working on Wall-e.
Much to Emkir's displeasure, Aali was still upset about having not been of any value the night before. As a result, she decided to head out and help Brian work with Wall-e after their evening was interrupted by the salvager's arrival. To annoy Emkir more, Brian very much welcomed the help, as it meant he could test the parts faster. After realizing Aali was gonna stick with the engineering, Emkir contacted Admiral Uuela and asked what was going on? The Admiral was glad to hear from Emkir, but was honest that he was working hard, as the data for his transfer had started coming through.
Uuela was hip deep in studying the fleet he was to command. So that chat was short, as Emkir wished his friend luck and signed off. Emkir shrugged, pulled up his research on the Risek glyphs and worked on them. During the hours he worked, Emkir wasn't sure if the Duke would call them. So he decided not to try and meet his on-line "friend". They did still share emails back and forth as he worked. Eventually, Emkir was the last to go to sleep. Before sleep, the crew set their alarms to wake up in time to get dressed and ready to go to Rhylanor University.    Monday, 205 1112: Interviews At The University
After waking and having breakfast, the crew called for a van to head over to the University of Rhylanor. Once they prepared, the ride over cost Mikah Cr 20. As they arrived, introductions were taken care of and they were settled in. Some in the auditorium were surprised at both the team's condition and the weapons carried by the Knights. Especially Sir Rol, who had his his left arm in a sling. But this was glossed over in the excitement of new data. It was mentioned, up front, that Rol needed to be at the Duke's Seneschal's office at one that afternoon, so he was one of the first interviewed. Because details from anyone who'd had direct interactions with the nomads were of key importance, Zimzod found he was to be interviewed by an entire team of scientists.
They were also very excited with the data they could review and copy from Zimzod's HUD storage. While the suit was screwed, they easily connected a computer to the helmet's data port to play and download the data. It turned out that, since the University had several military contracts, they could even properly format the playback of the suit's sensors. So, as the day passed, the scientists working with that data had been getting more and more excited. Especially when they could compliment that with Zimzod's own descriptions of his experiences. Rol completed his interviews and questions just after lunch, and went out to grab a taxi at about 12:30 in the afternoon. From there, he went to the Seneschal's office. The rest of the crew continued to face question after question. They were offered sand tables to draw out what happened in 3D, when and how. None were so besieged with questions as Zimzod. Eventually, the day drew to an end and they were invited to a banquet-style dinner. During that, they were asked when the crew wanted to accompany a research team down to the Ancient artifact? Zimzod got especially excited about that trip.
Looking at his chrono, and seeing it was too late to do it then and there, Zimzod asked, "What about tomorrow?" at almost the same second that Mikah did. As the Doctor began to answer, Mikah asked him to hold up as she called Brian and asked if the next day was good for him too? Brian said he was up for it and asked Aali if she'd like to come? Aali said she would, and was sure Emkir wanted to come too. Brian said, "Good for him", and told Mikah they were all in. Once that was done, the timing was set and they were told when to be at the University to receive the required orientation. After dinner was finished, Mikah said she was taking a separate taxi because she wanted to go to the hospital to check on Zach. His transplant surgery should have been done by then. Rol had taken a taxi to the Seneschal's office earlier so the rest present were on their own.
Doing The Paperwork At The Seneschal's office      Once he got out of the taxi and arrived at the Seneschal's office, Rol was led into a conference room. There, a high level deputy to the seneschal and his team handled Rol's paperwork, to insure nothing went wrong. As Rol worked with them, they went over the rights and responsibilities of a Knight Defender of the Quadrant, and then the Right to bear Arms. In all cases, they reminded him that all these rights were "within reason", stressing the words. It was explained that Rol's actions were available for review by the Duke or his appointed staff. Looking at Rol directly, the Seneschal continued, "So events like last night...', again stressing 'last night', "...shall not be tolerated without appropriate reason."
The deputy seneschal made it clear these granted rights could be revoked, and the events of the previous night were still under review as far as the Seneschalate was concerned. After that particular speech, the man continued advising Rol of his duties and limits before they finally got to the point where he signed his life away to the Duke he'd given fealty to. After that, the deputy told Rol His Grace's staff were reviewing the events the night before and he'd hear from them once a decision was made. Rol said he was, of course, at the Duke's disposal and thanked the man and his staff before being wished a good day and excused. Rol then spent Cr 20 for a ride back to the berth and arrived about 5:30pm.
Checking On Zach      In the hospital recovery room, the world started returning to Zach, along with a lot of pain despite the anesthetics. But that didn't bother the trader, as he could feel his leg and figured everything must have worked out well enough. As he was waking, a nurse paged a doctor who came over to attend Zach and handle the many steps they had to complete when the patient reawakened. As Zach got an idea of his surroundings, they didn't look like any hospital room he was familiar with, or a ship's sick bay. So Zach fixated on what appeared to be a doctor and said, "Ooow". The doctor apologized for the pain but said it was to be expected until the transplant knitted. Not sure if it was the drugs or something else, Zach repeated the word back, asking "Transplant?" The doctor slowly and methodically explained, in 'drugged patient speak', that his leg had been too badly damaged to save. They had to amputate it and give him a transplant. Trying to make sense of his thoughts, Zach could only ask, "You had one my size?" He was told they had a large selection of spare parts. Zach nodded in a drowsy fashion and said, "That's good to know."
When it appeared Zach's immediate questions were asked, the doctor suggested Zach might want to have a replacement grown from his biology, or a more fitting prosthetic replacement created. The term "your biology" confused Zach, who didn't realize the doctor was referring to a limb grown from his DNA. The doctor had to spend a few sentences assuring Zach they had not grafted a non-human limb to him after mistaking the differences between Darrians and stock Humaiti. The doctor also said they'd used anti-rejection retro-virii to prevent rejection from ever becoming an issue. Once that was done, the doctor left Zach in the care of the unit nurses to care for him and the other patients as needed. Eventually he got dinner through tubes as he lay in the bed. Zach finally snuck a peak under his covers to see a leg which did not come from an albino! As he spent his evening getting used to the idea of being a two-tone human, Mikah arrived.
When she saw him, Mikah happily said, "So, you're alive!" When Zach only said, "Owww" she smiled as she said, "Awww", and then gleefully continued, "How ya doin?" as she slapped the calf of his new leg, causing a ripple of pain for Zach. Zach looked at Mikah and said, "I guess I lived through that." and Mikah agreed, "Sorta." Zach said the doctor told him about the leg. Pranking him a bit, Mikah asked why there were leaves on the leg, and Zach just nodded saying, "My last name is Wood, after all." MIkah just giggled as she told him to stay away from the K'Kree. When he asked how long he'd been out, Mikah said it was just the one day and told him he was lucky. When Zach asked what happened, Mikah said, "They didn't kill you" in a tone that made him aware she was a bit disappointed.
When he asked what happened with the Arcea, Mikah just said he didn't have to worry about that crime organization any more. Any of them. When Zach said that was unfortunate because Arcea was a good man, Mikah pointed out that he shot first, so he couldn't have been that good. Zach did he best to shrug as he said, "Well, look what was coming for him." But Mikah made it clear he wouldn't have been shot if he hadn't opened fire first. She didn't add the unspoken, "Not right away anyway." Changing the subject, Zach asked Mikah how long he was going to be out of action, and she said, "A while." This didn't satisfy Zach and he plaintively asked for a better answer. She simply said he'd have to ask his doctors as they did the transplant. Changing directions again, Zach asked how long someone with a leg transplant was usually out for, and Mikah just shot him, "About a year" to scare him more. She laughed at the stunned look on his face before saying it was really a couple of months.
Despite the shorter time period, he was still worried about the time lost. As Zach chewed on that, Mikah threw in the kitchen sink, reminding him that he'd have to go through rehab too. She made sure he knew he was not going to just be able to get up and start walking. He just nodded and said he was figuring he'd just lie there for a while. Mikah agreed that was likely the best idea, then asked Zach if he'd mind if she took a picture of him? Zach said he would mind and asked why she would want a picture? Mikah said she didn't but Zimzod wanted a one. That was all Zach had to hear to say before he refused to close his eyes for a picture. After that Mikah promised to talk to the doctors and let him know what she learned. Zach said, "I'll be here." and she laughed, saying "Yes you will. Enjoy the drugs!" as she turned to leave the recovery room to look for the doctors.
As she did, Zach closed his eyes and started to drift off, missing it as Mikah slipped back into his room and snapped a picture of him. Then she left, looking for the attending because she was sure the primary doctors were off-shift and relaxing after six to eight hours of surgery and treatment. At the nurse's station, Mikah asked for the attending in Mr. Wood's case and presented her credentials. The nurses directed her to the doctor, who said they wanted to keep him in-hospital for recovery for the next week, at least. Then they'd scan the hip and examine the incisions to be sure the tissues were knitting properly. After confirming that, they'd feel safe moving him. The doctor said they planned to treat him with medical slow drug after he was stabile, so he wouldn't even be conscious for the next two days. But he'd heal at a rate of one month per day. Mikah, who had worked with Med-Slow, nodded and agreed with the diagnosis and treatment.
Dinner And The Evening After      Around 4:30, the bulk of the crew had returned to the berth to find Brian and Aali working on Wall-e, who was powered down. Those who went into the lounge found Emkir working on the glyphs. As they settled in, Rol returned to the berth so Mikah was the last to return. Mikah had been paid the Cr 27,900 from the University, and said that they needed to break out the cash to everyone. But first she paid Ms. Vik back the Cr 45 she spent on taxies to deliver the jewelry from Countess Ursara. Then they did the math, reminding everyone of the deal made as they left Regina after being loaned the Hotel California. Off the top, Cr 8,372 was paid into the ship's funds, and from that Aali was paid her month's salary of Cr 1,000. Then Mikah and Zimzod got Cr 1,674 each, towards paying back the loans they made originally to buy the ship's equipment. When the math was done, the ship still owed Mikah Cr 164,426 and Zimzod Cr 35,326. Then, everyone except Aali got a Cr 209 share each.
Zimzod stepped in, because he'd said Zach shouldn't get paid because of his screw ups. But Mikah joked that he had to be paid so he could pay her doctor's bill. As everyone laughed, Zimzod accepted her decision. Once the cash was dealt with, Mikah reminded everyone they had to be at Rhylanor University at 9am, so they could join the research crew going down-well to the artifact. Everyone had heard about this and were excited, as it was the only ancient site the Imperium even admitted existed publicly. That it had been opened for tours was even more astonishing, even if those tours were very limited. Some of the crew had taken that tour, and some like Brian multiple times. But this gave them access beyond that tour, with the right to covertly take pictures and even video! This was something very special even for anyone of high rank, and they were all enthusiastic about the field trip. So when they went to sleep later, they all set clocks and got a good night's sleep.
During the evening, Mikah sent Zimzod a copy of the picture of Zach dozing off in the hospital. Zimzod then spent the entire evening altering the picture, adding all sorts of graphics to it including a 12-inch dildo sprouting from Zach's forehead. He also added the legend "Dick Head". Rol decided to cook a steak dinner for himself and the crew to celebrate their survival, and Mikah said they should have a party. Several people agreed, and Brian suggested they should hire strippers. While Rol was cooking, Zimzod printed one of his modified pictures of Zach to post in the lounge. After dinner, Zimzod considered his executive armor and realized he'd need to replace the chest piece. With it being 7:30p, and with the lack of sleep he'd suffered the night before, Zimzod hit the rack. Mikah and Ms. Vik followed his example. Brian asked Aali if she was up for more work on the 'droid parts for two more hours, but Aali decided to spend the time with Emkir.
After Aali turned Brian down, and before Emkir could lead Aali off, Aiden stepped up saying he wanted to talk to the Admiral. Seeing the look on Aiden's face, Aali decided to help Brian for a little bit at least. As Brian and Aali went off to work on the grav wreck, Aiden tried to make it short and sweet, saying he expected Emkir to pay for the cloth armor they had to cut off him and the grenades used in the fight. Emkir looked Aiden in the eyes and, while apologetic for the accident, said the shot 'was' an accident. This popped Aiden's cork as he roared, "Who shot who?" and Emkir drove back that it was an accident without giving any ground. As Aiden started to say, "Well..." Emkir continued saying, "Next time, don't stand in the line of fire!"
Aiden glared at Emkir and said, "I don't blame people for their mistakes, but I do ask that they pay for them." Emkir answered that it wasn't his mistake, pointing out that the grenades had nothing to do with the shooting to begin with. When Aiden said, "They saved your ass, didn't they?", Emkir held firm and said he was not paying. Aiden made his stand, that Emkir should pay for the armor and Emkir turned away from him saying, "We'll see." Aiden called after him, "We will" as Emkir went to collect Aali.
Avoiding the fighting, Rol went back to his berth to get back to fixing his armor. When he got into the space, the first thing he saw was the inflatable sex doll Sir Brian had. Picking the doll up, Rol walked out into the lounge and asked, "Did someone's date end up in the wrong cabin?" This happened as Aiden and Emkir were just finishing their fight, but they were the only ones in the lounge. Brian and Aali had gone to the ship's cargo bay and the grav wreck. Aiden just looked at Rol and shook his head while Emkir, after a sideways glimpse, giggled and smirked as he walked away. Rol just set the doll down in the lounge and returned to his stateroom.
Near midnight, Zach woke to a small team of medical personnel arriving at his bed with a tray and some items. They said they were giving him a drug to help him heal faster. They explained it would knock him out for the entire day. More than half out of it, Zach could only nod and make sluggish and incoherent cracks as they swabbed some skin on his bicep, injected some needles connected to tubes and then connected them to IV's and other equipment. Then the world faded away as they injected the drugs through the IV's into his arm.    Tuesday, 206 1112: The Visit To The Artifact
As Rol woke and went into the lounge to cook breakfast, he found his "girlfriend" still sitting where he left her. She was slightly wilted, due to air loss. Aali had left their stateroom before Emkir, who's hopes for morning play slowed him a bit. She emerged into the lounge at roughly the same time as Mikah and Brian. All stepped into the lounge to see the naked doll sitting at the table while Rol cooked. Brian and Aali had seen the doll the night before and were not as surprised as Mikah. Mikah, who had seen it before, just said, "Damn, that slut gets around!" At the same time, Brian said, "Rol! Did you have a good time last night? Sally looks a little worse for wear." Rol just dead panned that the autopilot didn't work out as well as he'd hoped last night.
As Aali ignored the situation, Brian casually walked over to "Sally", moved her one seat left and sat where she'd been. When Mikah asked, "Do you really want to sit there?" Brian smiled and said, "It's my spot." with a straight face. As people woke, they were each faced with the sex doll as they joined the others for breakfast and chatted about the planned trip. While they ate, they joked about the picture of Zach, and then joked about making sure to take pictures of the artifact, to show Zach what he'd missed. Eventually, they joked about adding Zach's dildo-picture into pictures from inside the artifact.
Soon enough, the van from Rhylanor University arrived and they went to the required orientation. There, they were told the "Do's and "Don'ts" and firmly told no weapons would be allowed. Zimzod had to put his autopistol and throwing knives into a lock box with Mikah's autopistol and Brian's laser sword. After that, they moved to the university's flight bay and boarded a cutter which took them down-well, to a landing field by the artifact. The crew spent their day touring and exploring the artifact. At times, they saw the regular tourists, who were restricted to the public areas of the artifact. More than once, they caught looks of envy, or even anger, from tourists wondering why they were allowed free range? As well, they couldn't leave the public spaces, and their comms and image capture gear had been secured because it was illegal to take pictures in the site.
On more than one of these occasions, Emkir gleefully waved and called greetings out to the tourists. He said he hoped they were enjoying his tour, or taunted that his team were having more fun than they were. Despite the tourist baiting, Brian and Zimzod, who'd read and seen everything published on the artifact, were pleased to find there was so much more that was not published. Not surprised, but very pleased. As they gushed over their discoveries, they were quietly reminded that taking pictures and vids was illegal even for them. While they were not being stopped, if any of their pictures hit the media the Imperial government would have issues. So any pictures were for quiet and limited sharing at most.
Additionally, Rol and Zimzod went out of their way as they explored, to try activating anything that looked like it might be a control or access panel. Sadly, nothing they did caused any result they could identify. As they worked at their antics, one of the University researchers joked that, at that very minute, the lights were probably flashing off and on in the Terra system more than 300 parsecs away. Another laughed at the joke and said that Terra's moon was likely humming too. Giving that up, they explored more and found a structure called the "tea cup ride" for no apparent reason anyone could identify. Ultimately, the team got something of a tour from the researchers and came to realize how little even they knew about the device.
As they learned about the few items for which functions had been figured out, they were more and more impressed with the fact that no one could tell what the artifact might have been intended for. It also became more and more apparent that the planet of Rhylanor may have actually been built around the artifact!! This blew more than just a few minds, and spoke volumes to the power of the Ancients who'd built it. As they enjoyed their time in the artifact, no one seemed to notice Emkir, who was sending a stream of texts and emails to Zach. Not aware Zach was out cold, Emkir was sending messages like, "Enjoying the Artifact of Rhylanor. Glad you're not here." with evil emoticons. But eventually the trip came to an end, and they returned to the cutter, and then to Rhylanor University.
Returning To Orbit And The Ship      At Rhylanor University, Doctor Thrauld said he was hosting a dinner for his senior research staff, and invited the crew to join them. They happily joined in. While they shared a table with the Doctor, he was often away from the table, talking with other researchers. They didn't try to get into the clusters of conversations the researchers were having, but enjoyed the meal. When they were on the way back to the berth, Mikah got a call from the Duke's Office saying the Duke would like to speak to all of them the next day at 11am. Mikah asked if the Duke was coming to the station or they were going back down to the planet, and was told they would let her know.
About the same time, Brian got a call from one of Lord William's staff, saying Lord William and his friends would like to see his book collection that evening. Brian confirmed they were returning to the berth and was told they knew where he lives when he offered directions. When Brian said, "Whenever he wanted to come over, he was welcomed." Mikah muttered "No he's not!" now that she knew what his day job was. Checking her comms, Mikah saw she had a message from Dame Ashlee, asking if Mikah had a chance to discuss their job offer with her crew? She called the Knight back and apologized for not having had a chance, saying they'd had a bad week. She did promise to speak to the crew soon.
Once back at the berth, Brian checked his auctions and saw he had a number of bids on them. He was very happy people were buying. The rest of the crew relaxed in the lounge, sharing the space with the sex doll. They joked about the things they could do with the doll to embarrass Brian in front of Lord William. Overhearing, Brian boldly said they couldn't possibly embarrass him before suddenly realizing the challenge, in a panic, and that he should put the doll away. Once that pebble started rolling, the avalanche began as Brian did his best to clean up as best he could and set up the books.
Rol also cleaned up a bit before relaxing for the evening. Ms. Vik decided to check out a movie off-ship, and looked through the listings for something interesting. She soon settled on looking for a science fiction flick. Aali giggled as Emkir jokingly suggested a Science "Friction" movie and Ms. Vik just said, "sure" in a dead pan. Inger found an action / adventure movie about a dyson sphere and ordered a ticket. Mikah called over to Countess Ursara, and again apologized for the gems before they discussed the coming Tellona Diamond auction. Ursara reported the growing good news on that to Zimzod, who was hoping to earn enough to fix his battledress or even buy a new set of armor.
Mikah again suggested Zimzod should make a pass at the right Duke, though her joke eventually included Sally too. Once laughs from that died down and the call was done, Zimzod led Mikah to the side and asked if she wanted to help prank Zach? When she asked what he had in mind, Zimzod explained that he was thinking of picking the lock to Zach's room and planting some of his exploding dye packs... As soon as Mikah heard that, she shut Zimzod down saying, "No no no!" and saying she'd had exploding dye packs up to her hairline. Once he saw he wouldn't get to play with the dye packs anymore, Zimzod realized the only value he could get from them was to take a loss selling them back to Instel Arms.
Jumping onto an Instel Arms web portal, Zimzod opened a conversation with a customer service tech. Since he had 18 of the dye packs left, Instel Arms offered him an outright trade of seven flash-bangs for the dye packs. When Zimzod agreed, they said they'd send a truck out to swap the goods. After that, Zimzod worked out, careful of his wounds, as he waited for the folks from IA. Seeing what Zimzod was doing, Aiden pulled up IA's portal and started browsing for replacement armor. When Instel Arms arrived, and Zimzod completed his deal and then hit the rack.
Lord William's Visit      Eventually, Lord William and his friends arrived, to the delight of the remaining media in the bay. Because he was the Duke's brother, a news story hit the news about Lord William's visit. Sudden rumors popped up they'd been involved in undisclosed military actions on the station two nights before, with the added the twist of possible covert Ducal approval or guidance! That stopped Brian cold as he demanded, "How'd that get out??" But no one could answer the question and he needed to greet Lord William. As he moved on, the rumors continued on the news feeds, suggesting at least one of the crew was being treated for serious combat injuries. As Brian greeted William and his friends, he leaned out the door and waved, making sure to point out his "good side" to the press. William and his friends casually wandered into the berth lounge and greeted those there, noting their activities.
Brian invited them to sit and offered and served them drinks. When they asked wht he could serve, Brian admitted they had whatever the auto-vend system could provide. As everyone sat and drank, Brian moved into his room and slipped on protective gloves before bringing out the books, one by one. The men were very appreciative of the books, and they wanted to make offers. But these were Sir Brian's prized collection. Lord William helped cover for the fact that Brian no longer had the book he had really wanted to sell since the destruction of the Quasar Viper loot. As the conversations mixed, Brian learned the group were a local Baron, a Count and a few Knights. As the evening progressed, several offers were made, but none that Brian was willing to accept. Despite that, the men did have a very good time chatting about their book collecting passions and, with Lord William's help, the evening went very well. Eventually the group left and those in the berth hit the rack.    Wednesday, 207 1112: Surfacing Briefly From The Fog
Very early that morning, Zach woke in his hospital bed to find himself attended by a team of doctors and nurses. He felt desperately hungry as well as groggy and unable to concentrate. The medics said they needed to inject him again. They told him that he could be moved back to his berth and the care of his ship's doctor when he recovered from the medical slow drug. They also recommended that, since he was a ship's crewman and not getting direct care on Rhylanor, he get an automated mobility aide, like a gravChair or exoskeleton to help handle his duties. They made it very clear Zach should not expect to handle any duties needing more than working a keyboard from an acceleration couch. When Zach understood that, they also made it clear they didn't know how close any rehab work would come to returning him to his former state. They went so far as to ask about insurance for extreme procedures? Zach just said that he had none and would rely on Dame Mikah.
_________________________________________________________________________ Next: Storm Clouds And Sunshine